I Have a Good Memory

Performed at Raw Comedy 1999, ACT Finals

Well, I hope I can remember what I was going to say tonight. I've got a really bad memory... When I was a student I used to worry about all the stuff I had to remember for my courses—as you do—y'know—knowing the occasional fact does wonders for your university career. Like, if you're doing English, it helps to know that 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a book—and not a Mexican cocktail. Or if you're doing history, it helps to know that Captain Cook did not, in fact, chase a chook all around Australia. Or for maths, that even though 376608 spells 'BOGGLE' when you hold your calculator upside down, this isn't actually much use in first-year Algebra.

So I had to remember all this stuff, but I wasn't too good at it. And then one day I was home sick with the flu, watching the late movie on SBS: 'Aguirre, Wrath of God'. I don't know if you've seen it. It's about this bunch of Spanish conquistadores floating down the Amazon River looking for El Dorado, and their boss Aguirre gradually goes all feverish and mad while his soldiers get eaten by piranha. They're doing a Hollywood remake, apparently, with Jim Carrey as Aguirre... and Fran Drescher as the piranha.

Anyway, this winds up at 1 a.m., and I do a spot of channel surfing—and I find this talk show. And I think, 'That's interesting—Danny Bonaduce has his own talk show. Good for him.' So I start watching it. He's talking to this amazing guy called Kevin Trudeau. Now, Kevin looks like a total twonk, but he has... a mega memory. He can remember the name of every person in the studio audience. And whole lists of words, like, um, 'list'. And 'word'. And the number 376608. And what's more, he's willing to share his amazing memory secrets with us, the viewers! And I'm sitting there, all feverish, thinking: 'El Dorado'.

Well, I must have been really sick, because the next day I still thought it was a good idea, and I actually rang the convenient toll-free number at the bottom of your screen, and asked them how much, and they said Three Hundred Dollars, and I thought 'Jeee-sus!', but then I thought 'El Dorado!' and pulled out my credit card and started paddling upstream, and before I knew it I was the proud owner of Kevin Trudeau's Mega Memory on 24 long-playing cassettes.

Now, you know how it is when you buy something, and you think 'what the fuck have I done?'. But you feel you should give it a go, just to try and salvage something from the whole sorry business? Well, that's how I felt. So—I did the course. The whole thing.

It was pretty weird at first, because these tapes actually had production values—they had music, and some perky blonde American doing the intros, and ol' Kevin himself, all smooth and twonkian. He sounded just like HAL out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And he was always giving you these self-help tips, like when he tells you to say to yourself, again and again, 'I have a good memory... I have a good memory... I remember things easily... I recall things easily... Dave... what are you doing, Dave... I really think you should be less forgetful, Dave...'

The actual memory techniques were pretty straightforward, so I might as well tell you what they were—here you go, you're getting a three hundred dollar value right here and now—they were: pictures and action. That's it. You don't remember words, you remember pictures and actions—the more graphic and violent the better. Basically, it's the Arnold Schwarznegger memory technique. You turn words into pictures, and then mentally attach them in an extremely violent way to things you already remember, like the parts of your body, or things in your house. It's like, 'I must remember to ask my boss for a raise... so I'll just imagine the Terminator jamming his head into my freezer.'

And the uncanny thing is, this works. Because five years after doing those tapes, I still remember half of Kev's examples. I can't get them out of my head! Like the shopping list with carrots on it, which you remembered by hammering the carrots into your knees. Or the car-keys you left on the coffee-table, because when you put them down you imagined the table exploding. Or the word 'category', which you remembered by breaking it into syllables and turning those into pictures: 'Category: cat, a, gory. A bloody, gory cat!'

The trouble is, unless you want to remember the sentence 'The categories are carrots and car-keys' by imagining a bloody gory cat hammering carrots into his knees on an exploding coffee-table, the whole thing is too much like hard work. I mean, you've got to practice thinking up the pictures and actions to go with the words. By yourself! It's just as bad as the work I was trying to avoid in the first place!

So much for Kevin 'Bloody' Trudeau.

But I think I've found the answer. I just found this book—this is down at the ACT Library, it's a real book—called 'Brain Boosters: Foods and Drugs That Make You Smarter'. Apparently, you don't have to do hours of tapes, you just have to eat the right foods and do the right drugs! Now that I can handle. And what kinds? Well, the very first page I turned to was all about: grass. Cool, I thought, drugs that make you smarter! But it turns out they mean actual grass, the lawn variety. You're supposed to eat grass. Except humans can't digest grass properly... so you have to juice it first. You drink grass juice. You finish mowing the lawn and then empty the catcher into the blender, and gulp it down. Apparently it's chock-full of brain-boosting nutrients. Well, I'm convinced. After all, just look at those grass-eating mental giants of the animal kingdom: the cow; the sheep; the wildebeest!

But I don't think I need it, really. After all, I have a good memory; I remember things easily... although—I do feel like a dandelion thickshake with a compost chaser. So I'll see you at the bar after the show!


Performed at The Gypsy Bar, Canberra, 23 February 1999.
This page: 6 February 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1999, 2000 Rory Ewins