Spirituality Blows with Rhys Nicholson
I don’t believe in much. God, spirits, Meg Ryan’s face… none of it has ever seemed legit. Not because I think I’m above it all, I just can’t be bothered. Who has the time to have faith in anything? I barely believe in myself and I can see me. But last month against all my feelings I went on a ghost tour. Why? Because I work in an industry that demands constant creative output and I’m running out of shit to say.
The Internet has ruined everything. I used to want to be a writer, it sounded incredible. It seemed like all you needed was a pair of thick-rimmed glasses, a bottle of Canadian Club and an emotionally unstable bisexual lover. I wanted to be a writer because it appeared to involve very little actual writing. Then the World Wide Web came along and f*cked it all up for everyone. No longer could we dream of Harper Leigh-ing it. These days if you want to write professionally you better have 8 articles ready with a headline that sounds similar to “10 Reasons You Should Be Reading RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 4 Recaps”. I’m only human, there’s only so many angles I can have on the cultural ramifications of Hilary Clinton’s comments about Pokémon Go. If I’m honest I’m still not completely clear on what Pokémon Go actually is but I keep hearing the name thrown around so i thought I’d mention it to seem hip.
"Who has the time to have faith in anything? I barely believe in myself and I can see me."
I’ve had similar trouble when trying to write stand up. I seem to spend a large amount of my time these days doing stuff that doesn’t feel good for the sake of 5 minutes of comedy. It’s this system that led me to join a group of people as we went on a guided tour of what was basically a sewer. First of all, let me just say how much I love tours, who doesn’t love a tour? It’s like looking at things, but someone else tells you how to feel about it, it’s like classy peer pressure. The venue was the underground tunnels of an old hotel, and supposedly one of the most haunted places in the world, which is a nice way of saying “one of the most visited places in the world by people who have ‘Magic Happens’ bumper stickers”. I counted six of them in the car park. These same people also had a lot of crystals hanging on their rearview mirrors. Bless.
The hotel was grand and old but in that quintessential Australian way (less Vincent Price and more Budd Tingwell.) I reckon I’ve seen spookier real estate on the Sydney rental market. When we got inside we were greeted by our escort into the eerie unknown, he had the incredibly un-creepy name of Simon. I’m not sure what I was expecting him to be called, but Simon was not it. Maybe Cornelius? Or Edgar? Mop? The name Simon doesn’t exactly bring up the heebie-jeebies, to me it conjures thoughts of poly-weave business shirts and tax time. Simon wore a three-piece op-shirt and a pair of converse shoes. Because of this, in my mind I started to call him Dr Whom.
The first thing he did was assemble us in a stony walled room to ask if we felt anything different in there compared to outside. Uh yeah Simon, we’re in-side now: It’s heaps different. Some lady replied yes so Simon said “that’s because there are spirits in here…” and waltzed into the next room with purpose. This is when I realised there probably isn’t any formal qualification for this type of work. I mean, to be a guide at let’s say, an art gallery or history museum, I’d imagine it helps to have some knowledge about art or history. As it turns out, to usher a crowd through a haunted site, you’re only adeptness seems to be thick eyeliner and a weird verbal cadence.
I have a feeling Simon and the rest of the group didn’t like me very much. This could be because they sensed I was a skeptic but it’s more likely because I asked questions like “how do the spirits feel about the all female cast of Ghostbusters?” and whenever possible I would say loudly “Ghost tour? Oh no there hasn’t been a ghost tour ‘round these parts in over forty years!” Then I would laugh maniacally. This was received with near silence every time. You gotta make your own fun.
“Ghost tour? Oh no there hasn’t been a ghost tour ‘round these parts in over forty years!”
As we travelled from room to room, Simon recounted tales about the ghouls that lived in the walls. One of them they called Ol’ Jim (not even joking). Ol’ Jim wore a plaid shirt, hiking boots and was said to often push men around. Plaid shirt? Comfortable shoes? Sounds more like an Ol’ Bev to me. When I asked who Ol’ Jim was, Simon remarked, “We actually have no historical documents to confirm who Jim could be”. This sent the group into a tizzy of unease while I was left wondering what was so fucking scary about a possible clerical error?
Also, on a side note, where in the hell are all the ghosts of people who died within the last 20 years? It’s always stories like “Twas the year 1799. She was a milk maid and a ship fell on her sailor husband so she threw herself down a well and now they haunt this harbor warning strangers of the perils of love”. It’s never: “In 1997 she ate some chicken that wasn’t quite cooked and she shit herself till she died. They say you can still hear her voice around the deli section of Coles”.
The rest of our journey turned into more of a real estate tour. It was less “the dead live” and more “take note of the fine fittings and trim around the windows”. There was a feeling by the end that maybe we were all meant to make an offer on the house.
As we were saying goodbye I suggested that when we die we all meet up there to catch up (for old times sake). No one laughed but a white guy with dreadlocks genuinely agreed to do it.
As I finish writing this I feel like I should have some sort of spooky Carrie Bradshaw “and that’s when I realised…” moment. But the only thing haunting me is the amount of money and time I spent that afternoon. Although I guess if this experience has taught me anything, it’s that I do have faith in something. I have faith in the fact that people will always believe in nutso stuff so douche bags like me can write passive aggressive online content to pay rent. That seems solid.
By the way on the off chance you’re a ghost and you’re reading this, feel free to come and spook me but be warned, I do some weird shit when I’m alone in my house.
Rhys Nicholson is a comedian, follow his good times here.
Illustrations by Cyrus Bezyan.
This is the third in a series of written commissions for Comedy Central Australia. Over the next few months we will showcase pieces from some of Australia's best comedians and writers. Keep your eyes peeled and subscribe to our newsletter below to stay in the loop.
Win Tickets To Jim Jefferies' Aussie Tour PLUS Meet The Man Himself!
Attention die-hard Jim Jefferies fans: Here's how you can meet old mate...
Check Out The Star-Spangled Stand-Up Tour Coming to Sydney and Melbourne!
Want 2 for 1 tickets to some of America’s freshest talent touring Oz?
Win A Comedy Central Snack Box To Celebrate 420!
To celebrate the 20th of April, we’ve created a snack box like no other.
Yippee Ki-Roast, Mother F@$%ers! Bruce Willis Is Comedy Central's Next Roastee!
“This ain’t the first time I’ll be tied to a chair and held hostage by a group of humorless assholes for a couple hours,” - B. Willis.
Celebrate Pi Day By Winning Tickets To Jonathan Pie's Live Show!
It's a day to celebrate pi, eat lots of pie, and win tickets to Jonathan Pie! You're welcome.
Tell Us Your Most Extreme Fast Food Combo & Win Tickets To Jim Gaffigan's Live Stand Up Show!
What's the craziest junk food combination you can think of? Get creative and you could win a double pass to his latest show!
Comedy Central is Bringing Back the Ultimate Comedy Festival: Clusterfest
The three day festival of comedy, music, installations that is the ultimate Clusterfu-fest...
12 Questions With Guy Williams
NZ Comedian Guy Williams loves (and hates) being interviewed... here are some more thoughts from him on that very topic.
12 Questions With Rose Matafeo
Ahead of our festival in NZ, we asked Rose Matafeo some questions about comedy, comedy and comedy...
11 Questions with Guy Montgomery
Curious about the life of a comedian? Here are 11 questions we asked to get some insights ahead of our festival across NZ!
Guess Jimmy Carr’s One Liners and Win Tickets to his Live Stand Up Show!
How well do you know Jimmy Carr’s comedy? Find out and you could win a double pass to his latest show!
NZ is Getting A Summer Comedy Festival...
Hold on to your jaws… Comedy Central is presenting a comedy festival In New Zealand across four big nights.