Attempting to come together to honor Eurydice Dixon
In a night of stand up to remember the young comedian’s life, a question emerges: how much laughter do we have left?
First, there was shock. There was anger and confusion. There were takes and irrational words and helplessness. There was insults and abuse. There was vandalism and solidarity. There was detachment and ranks closing. There was labelling and forgetfulness. There was division and finger-pointing. There was acceptance and progression and moving on. And after everything which came from the fallout of Eurydice Dixon’s death there came exhaustion.
To what end? To what betterment? To what agenda and to what direction? We lose the nuance of discourse when faced with yet another tragedy like the one that befell Eurydice. What happened to her doesn’t happen every day in Australia, but it’s a flashpoint after an inexorable build up. A cruel punchline. A bad joke. It’s what can happen when we lessen the vigilance on the issue. Behind the scenes, the experience that so many women have to endure. Isolated yet connected by it.
It’s a lingering shadow that so many have to deal with. Responsibility thrust upon them, not because they should or are required to, but because the current culture we live in demands it. And that’s exhausting, it’s despairing, a tunnel without end. Women shouldn’t be required to have that responsibility. To always have to be on their guard like they’re night watchmen on The Wall. And it will happen again, at some point. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, maybe six months or a five years from now. And we’ll go through the same process all over again.
Of course I arrived way too early, thinking I would need to camp out to get a premium spot for the evening before realising I simply looked like an out of work security guard with delusions of grandeur outside of George’s Bar in Fitzroy. Friend Karilyn arrived and we decided that with both of us feeling rather peckish we should find a local concern to purchase such goods. Of course we both seized up with the prospect of having the wherewithal to select some place, any place to eat but that was the struggle we found ourselves in. Anyway…there’s not really a payoff to that, we got pizza. (Go to Shawcross on Brunswick St if you’re ever in Melbourne and are after pizza that makes you all tingly inside.)
George’s Bar is roughly themed on the character from Seinfeld and other famous George’s throughout history. So of course, at any opportunity during the night I was throwing out Seinfeld references to a continuously vexed Karilyn. The place has a dive bar feel to it: all dark wood, music that didn’t go past 1995, a lurid neon Budweiser sign. A tight-knit vibe, the kind of place where it feels part of the scene instead of being helicoptered in like so many recent additions to the Melbourne bar scene. We got our spot (again after some deliberation since we were crippled with choices), we got our pints, I once more considered that I could probably give this whole standup thing a go with anecdotes that don’t really go anywhere. The excruciating details of everyday life daring people to laugh. Anti-humor really, which I’m pretty sure isn’t a thing.
Because let’s be honest, we don’t really know how to fix this. We get caught in our bubbles, our echo chambers and shut out everything else. We talk of inclusivity and intent and working out the problem but we struggle with the detail, the particulars. Step back, and the complexity is stripped away. The solution could be simple, but implementing it runs up against the sprawling distinctions of people. People who may agree on a solution but want to do it their way, or no way. Even if they don’t admit it. A really shitty thing happened and it’s caused a lot of sadness and pain. I mean, how many layers do you want to add to that to make it line up with an agenda? It just simply shouldn’t happen.
A lot of this probably isn’t new to people. I don’t profess to be an expert or extremely knowledgeable on social issues and the struggles that women have faced. But I know to pay attention, I know to observe and try to understand how we got to this point and the circular logic that we trap ourselves in whenever a terrible flashpoint such as this explodes. And that we shouldn’t forget, even if it’s been over a month or over a year. Remember and strive to be constructive with this memory
The sensitivity ratcheted up with people just looking for a reason to get angry at something or someone. If it seems like I’m dancing around the root of the problem, it’s because I don’t know where the root of the problem is. Or I’m unwilling to tack on an absolute to it — I live in a constant state of uncertainty (which is a paradox in itself). Things are such a morass, with islands dotted in it that it becomes an almost impossible endeavour to figure out. Things are so intertwined, the constriction tightening every single minute, that all the disparate voices becomes just this cringing, jagged mess of noise.
At the same time, the reason that we were there lingered. The questions asked, the reasoning, the why and the how. Two twenty something’s attempting to understand it and the world at large just that little bit more. Could change occur? Would it be in increments that one could barely register? What would be the threshold where these tragedies become a thing of the past? Is that even possible in a world so vast, with so many people, with the random fluctuations of the universe basically what we are up against? Surely it’s naive to think it can be completely eradicated because there’s no such thing as a utopia, and human nature will forever be flawed, right? Or can it truly be washed away? Do we have the capacity within ourselves and the world at large for such a thing to come to pass? Dare we hope and retain the grains of optimism?
Karilyn really wanted a globe decorated teapot, if only money wasn’t an issue. We both fretted because we had no loose change to donate. A common occurrence it seems these days. I seem to always be short of coins to give even though I’ve got a great big tin of them at home. Every single time I’m out, I forget about that tin until I’m halfway to my destination, and then naturally, I’m left in a state of anxiety that I’ll have my car windscreen washed at a set of lights even though I politely decline because of my lack of loose change and I’ll look like an ungrateful bastard (which has happened a few times now). What constitutes rounding the bases when it comes to dating, keeping the ball in play, the baffling paradox that is the ease of matching with someone online yet the difficulty of actually establishing a genuine connection with a person.
None of the hand-wringing, none of the shouting and violence and shots across the bow on social media (a double edged sword of nuclear proportions) changes the past, or attains a productive present, nevertheless creating a potentially hopeful future. It doesn’t bring back Eurydice Dixon or anyone across the globe who becomes a victim of this violence. It’s not about one problem, one simple label. It has to be restorative and understanding. Compassionate and daring to reach out. The acceptance that we aren’t going to agree on everything. To take small steps, to compromise but to not back down. To think long term, to provide a future where a woman doesn’t have to feel like she should have brought a Swiss Army Knife before walking ten minutes home. That’s not a just or civilised society, where perpetual and very real fear shadows a woman who just wants to be regularly safe.
Clearly we were ready to laugh. The lineup went a little something like this: Donna Collins, Thomas McMahon, Caili Christian, Marc Oszchkar, Duff, Urvi Majumbar, Geoff Setty, Tony Magnuson, with Luka Mullar headlining and Nicky Barry MC’ing. And they all made sure that we laughed and reminded us that sometimes it is the best tonic in times of confusion and grief.
There was a Muslim joke that got people jittery. One about periods (the female kind), others about depression (not financial), unemployment, broken dreams, teaching, forks, being gay, being straight, smoking, not smoking, being poor, being a parent, being asked for I.D. Jokes about drugs and sex, old white men, staring into the void, fidget spinners, seagull footprints, muscled men kicking down trees, forgetting a punchline, beer, plastic bags, feminism, forced conformity and Nazis. Donations and auctions were had, with all proceeds going to the The Welcome Group, a charity that helps and supports refugees with getting settled across Melbourne, and one of Eurydice’s favourites. There for The Welcome Group was Krystal Egdell and Penny Daly.
It was joyous and confronting, heartwarming and daring. My favourite kind of comedy straddles the absurd and the brutal asides of everyday life. The offhand delivery of a line or two that’s almost goes completely unnoticed. It might not even be that funny, but it’s a moment of realism or a strange reference and I’ve totally lost it. Or the comedy that’s like a force of nature and you can’t help but be whisked away by it’s gravity. The gamut was run wide tonight and it was welcome. A respite but also an understanding. Maybe some of it wasn’t everyone’s taste, maybe people got offended or uncomfortable in some moments where a bit comes off in a way that’s not exactly…subtle.
But that’s the idea of expression and the privilege/right/freedom/whatever that we have here in Australia. And yes, I get it, it’s not perfect, and there are many people who are oppressed and voiceless and don’t have it as great others and it’s baffling as to why that can’t be changed, and the rhetoric gets combative and extreme and everyone gets smacked with a label or a side without even realising and people say things are terrible, and then people say things are the best they’ve ever been, and we don’t do enough for a particular group, and… For at least a night like this, we could at least smile and laugh, and maybe discard surface differences to just understand and be decent and enjoy what we are lucky to have.