The deadline for applications for inclusion in the 2002 Melbourne Fringe Festival arrived and Fiona Scott-Norman, Eddie Perfect and I sat at the Perfects' kitchen table. We wrote a description of a show about a clapped-out Vietnam-vet/pop-star/TV gameshow host named Cliff Hanger. During the subsequent weeks the three of us had a wow of a time devising Cliff Hanger in Catch A Falling Star.
Early photos of Cliff and Eddie don't reveal Cliff's face, mainly because we didn't know what he would look like at the time the shots were taken, some weeks before the season. I was keen to work with Emily Taheny, whom I'd met through her sister (comedian) Fiona O'Loughlin during my time as a Cheese Brother, so we wrote a cameo for her as Cliff's trophy wife Cherise.
Eddie wrote all the original music for the show, but we included a couple of covers: Cliff's signature tune My Boomerang Won't Come Back, an 'Australiana' medley and a medley of Vietnam-inspired tunes. Cliff also performs Meatloaf's Two Out of Three Ain't Bad with his lovely wife, and Cherise rips into Woman In Love in an attempt to seduce Eddie. But it's Eddie's originals that form the musical backbone of the show. Who's Gonna Catch A Falling Star? for example, is a Kurt Weill-esque number summing up Cliff's sadness at being forgotten both personally and professionally. It's beautiful with just the right amount of bitterness. Then there's the vaudevillean swing in Two Dogs and Eddie's compulsive bastardry in I Just Can't Be Nice. Something for everyone.
We performed the first season and received great press, accepting the Fringe Award for Best Cabaret Show. The next year we received Green Room Awards for 'Most Innovative Use Of Form (Cabaret)'. A season at The Adelaide Cabaret Festival followed but it was not until 2004 that we were able to perform the show at The Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Emily's and my commitments with Comedy Inc on TV prevented us from arranging any earlier seasons.
To view a section of Cliff Hanger In Catch A Falling Star, click here or on the image below (QuickTime movie 60MB). iPHONE VERSION CLICK HERE
The quote of which we are most proud came from a review published in the Adelaide Advertiser: "Cliff is sexist, racist, homophobic... and hilarious." Well, that's the way we made him.
In 2004 I was proud to perform as Cliff in a show with longtime friends and collaborators John and Fiona Thorn in Cliff and Pastel Together Again at Last! This was a show created from a list of cabaret songs John and Fiona provided that were staples of Fiona's character Pastel Vespa's band. I literally took the list and wrote gags about Cliff and Pas having had a relationship in Darwin at the time of Cyclone Tracy. Crazy days!
Cliff has provided me with many enjoyable experiences performing at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival (2003 and 2004) and the Famous Spiegeltent in Melbourne (2004 and 2006).