'Six New Anecdotes', by Wayne Macauley

Illustration by Ben Juers.


A Comedian well-known on the so-called comedy circuit for his dry tales told of a childhood lived in a small country town in which he, the Comedian, always played the loser, having married a pop singer and aspiring actress with whom he now lived in a large house in Camberwell, could not understand why one night at a high-profile comedy venue a heckler should stand up and start repeatedly screaming the word Hypocrite! at him. Indeed, it was said of this Comedian who shortly after this incident retreated behind the high walls of his Camberwell mansion, that he was never so funny as he had been before it, although in the opinion of many he had never been funny at all.


An advertising Copywriter who set out one day to write a short, narrative-driven advertisement about gambling addiction found herself afflicted a few days into this project with what is known as writer’s block and was soon consuming no less than a bottle of vodka a day in an attempt to dredge something up out of her poor swamp of a brain. After two months of this and with still no more to show for her efforts than a page of notes and some rough sketches the Copywriter, in a moment of unexpected inspiration, rang her employer late one evening and asked could she work on the alcohol campaign instead, for reasons she seemed reluctant to go into.


A Musician who believed his art exclusively to be the art of the twenty-first century in that it produced nothing of solid form and therefore left no waste behind and was therefore of all the arts, indeed of all thinkable creative endeavours, the one most in sympathy with the needs of a seriously-threatened future, was disappointed upon waking up one morning and looking around his room to find cluttering it the accoutrements his fame had unwittingly bought. That afternoon the Musician rang his manager, an old and loyal friend, and announced his intention to retire immediately from the music industry and over the following days he sold or threw away all his stuff. He now lives in a treehouse in the Atherton Tablelands, making, so it is said, for a small and dedicated fan base, one-note ambient compositions supplemented by bird calls.


A Television Celebrity who hosted a high-rating afternoon game show and was well-known in his private life to enjoy, as they say, the good times, was charged recently with speeding after being stopped by the police in his Saab on Punt Road. But, incredulously to some and to many incomprehensibly, the Television Celebrity was last week let off the charge after a campaign of almost religious intensity played out in the pages of a well-known gossip magazine. The chief architect of this campaign, a twenty-four-year-old (single) hairdresser from Moorabbin and longstanding chairwoman of the Television Celebrity’s fan club, had, she revealed, exclusively, been working twenty-four-seven to secure her hero’s release. Upon hearing this the Television Celebrity was obviously deeply touched and decided immediately to send to this young woman as a gift of appreciation a signed photograph of himself with the words in appreciation written up along the side. Imagine the Television Celebrity’s horror, then, when in an interview in the next issue of the gossip magazine in question, this young (single) woman from Moorabbin should shamelessly declare to the interviewer her intention to marry the Television Celebrity, adding that she had, indeed—to the Television Celebrity’s dismay—already made the necessary wedding arrangements.


A Visual Artist who had booked a gallery and was in the final stages of preparation for a new show to be called, ironically, Works With Titles No Longer In Fashion, in which various installation pieces would be called, variously, Faith, Hope, Belief, Sacrifice and so on, was unfortunately forced to postpone this show after receiving what she said was an unprecedented offer to make a large one-off work for display during an upcoming conference of international delegates from the worldwide charity industry, a commission that would, she said, not only pay the Visual Artist a total of twenty-three thousand Australian dollars but raise her international profile to an unimaginable degree.


A struggling Writer who in his early career had expressed the fond hope that if nothing else he might in his later years take off a certain literary prize set up through a famous writer’s bequest to reward annually a literary artist who in the opinion of the judges had not received sufficient recognition in his or her lifetime was recently awarded this prize, but posthumously.

Wayne Macauley is a Melbourne writer. His latest novel is Demons.

These anecdotes originally appeared in The Lifted Brow #23.