CANBERRA comedian Emo Parsonson's first foray into stand-up comedy was hilarious only in hindsight.
On the night in question, it was a train wreck.
He can still vividly recall the fumbling performance he put in on that ill-fated night in 2005, but now he laughs often and easily as he tells the yarn.
"It was a pretty big disaster really," Parsonson said.
"I lost my train of thought, the microphone lead fell out of the microphone, I didn't know what I was doing. It was pretty frightening. I just sort of ran towards the light by the end of it."
Fortunately, another budding comic by the name of Tom Gibson
- who'd just won the heat in question
- came up to him afterward and had a chat.
"Tom came up to me at the end and said "going first is always tough mate," and I just thought 'gee that's a nice thing to say.' I met him at the competition the next year, and I went a lot better that night," Parsonson recalls.
Seven years later and with both comedians well established in the Canberra scene, Parsonson and Gibson are starting up a monthly stand-up comedy night at the Royal Hotel, with the first gig booked for Thursday night November 1.
American comedian Tommy Dean will headline the show, and has already become a local favourite following his regular spots on shows including Spicks and Specks, Good News Week, and Rove Live.
"Tommy is such an underrated comedian I reckon. When you see him live, he's just incredible. Really subtle: he's not in your face or anything, and he's very clever as well.
"The last time I saw him he headlined at the Civic Pub, and he was probably the highlight of the year," Parsonson said.
Locals Tom Gibson and Hamish Hudson will also perform, with Parsonson filling the role of host.
He said he was looking forward to bringing a regular comedy night to the Royal Hotel, where he's had positive experiences as the regular trivia host.
"We've always wanted to come out to Queanbeyan. There's a vibrant little community out there that we haven't tapped into as yet...From what I can gather from the trivia nights we've been running it's really a great little town," he said.
As for how he managed to drag himself back on to the stand-up comedy horse after his first-gig fail, Parsonson said it took 12 months to work up the courage for another crack.
"I entered the same competition a year later, and it was at Tilley's in Lyneham and it was packed. I remember walking through the door and thinking 'What are you doing? Why are you putting yourself through this again?'
"It took a little bit of courage, but I got a couple of laughs, and I was pretty much hooked after that. It's a great feeling to write something down, learn it, polish it, perfect it and then deliver...It's just such a wonderful craft, and there's nothing better than going out and having a good laugh," he said.
To win one of two double-passes to the inaugural Royal Hotel comedy night, simply send us an email with your name, address and contact number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entries close Friday, October 26 and winners will be randomly drawn and notified the following week. One entry per person.