Performed at the Tasmanian Open Stand-Up Competition 1998, Heat 1

Good evening. My wife and I came back from overseas a while ago. Went all around the world, America, Europe... spent all of our money. Came back through Sydney, and the bloke at Customs asked us, 'Anything to declare?' And we said, 'Yeah: we're unemployed.' We just wanted to let the government know... so they could start saving up for our dole payments. They could send the hat around at the next cabinet meeting. Just like World Vision: 'Only $145 a week can keep a needy young Australian like Rory in food and shelter.' Peter Reith would never cough up, though.

It was a bit of an anticlimax, coming home and having to look for work again. Tromping down to the DSS again. Getting into the line marked 'Dole Bludging Losers' again.

Except it's not the DSS now, it's 'Centrelink'. And it's not the CES any more, it's 'Employment National'... and a bunch of others with weird names. 'Drake Jobseek'. That one's obviously aimed at Seinfeld fans. 'Got to loooove the Drake.' Or else it's aimed at male geese. H.G. Nelson could do the ads: 'Go to Drake and be a complete goose!'

A lot of these new job-search companies are run by charities, like the Salvation Army. I've signed up with the one run by the Guide Dogs. They reckon that once I finish their training course I'll have steady employment with plenty of outdoor exercise... in a leadership role.

Of course, once you do get a job, you're never satisfied. You always want it to seem more important than it actually is. Like, this time last year, I was a Research Assistant. Now the 'research' bit, that's okay. 'Hi. I do research. You want to know something? No problem; I'll just research it for you.' But the 'assistant' part—that's a bit of a downer. It screams 'low status'. It's like being a sales assistant. It'd be much better to be a 'Research Officer'. Officers are important. Police Officers, they're important. You don't get Police Assistants, do you? 'Can I help you with those handcuffs?' No. So why be a Research Assistant when you can be a Research Officer? Imagine getting pulled over by a Research Officer. 'Did you know that you were travelling at 125 km per hour in a 60 zone... which is 16 percent above the national average for this time of year?'

We all want to make our jobs seem more important. But how do you do that when you're unemployed? All you do is get money from the government for doing nothing. So someone asks, 'What do you do, then?' And you say, 'Um... I facilitate the increase of expenditure at the Department of Treasury.'

'Oh,' they say, 'so you're with Treasury?'

'Actually, I've been seconded to the Department of Social Security.'

'Oh yes. And what do you do there?'

'Um... I... assist in queue-length maintenance... and I write a fortnightly briefing paper for the staff.'

Now, it so happens that I've brought along my own briefing paper, for those of you who haven't seen one yet. Here it is. A genuine Dole Diary. See? I wasn't just making it all up to impress you. And this hair—this is real 'three months without an interview yet' hair.

Anyway, the Dole Diary. It's a beauty. Look at this: page one. 'There are steps that you can take to help open the doors to employment One of the most important is to plan your job search.' That's all one sentence. Obviously one of the most important steps isn't to use full stops properly.

Then you look inside, and there are spaces for you to write the details of all the employers you've contacted. Apparently this is 'to show Social Security that you are meeting your obligations to actively seek work'.

Now, I'm sorry, but I reckon this is entirely the wrong approach. If they really want to catch dole cheats—if they really want to know what we shifty, money-grubbing, millionaire dole-bludgers are up to—they've got to ask better questions. They want questions like, 'When did you get up this morning?', and 'How many soap operas did you watch today?', and 'You're not reallllly looking for work, are you?', and 'If Ray Martin offered you a job on Hayman Island, would you take it?... Even if it involved licking the beach clean with your tongue? While wearing a clown costume?... We knew you weren't really looking for work.'

They'd catch me with the getting-up question. I'd be like, 'Dear Dole Diary, slept in until 10.30... p.m.' I love sleeping in. It's so warm, and peaceful. You can just drag the doona over your head, and pretend that the outside world doesn't exist. You're safe and sound in this big fluffy cave. Like when you were five. Did you ever do that when you were a kid? With the torch? You wriggle all the way down to the bottom of the bed, and at the end of it you're in this bigggg cave. And there are even cave paintings on the walls. Of Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster.

Speaking of the Cookie Monster reminds me of something we saw in Germany on our big trip. There's a CD in the charts over there with techno remixes of the songs from Sesame Street. 'ErnieBertHipHop&Co.: 20 Monsterhits aus der Sesamstrasse'. Which sounds excellent at first, but then when you listen to it, not only is it techno, but all the tunes are different, and the words are in German. Because the show is dubbed into German there. Which unfortunately makes it really obvious that the 'Krugelmonster', as they call the Cookie Monster, is actually just a fat old Bavarian doing a silly voice. 'Kruuuuugelll! München, münchen, münchen.' (Someone spotted the Bavarian reference there—well done!)

I saw Sesamstrasse on TV while I was there, with 'Bert und Ernie'. Bert was getting really annoyed with Ernie—as usual—and yelling out, 'Eeeerrrnie!' He sounded like something out of 'Cabaret'. 'Life is a caaabaret... Eeeeerrrnie!'

Another good thing I bought in Germany was a CD with a techno version of the German McDonald's jingle. This wasn't the 'It's Mac Time' one that we all know and love—no, it was a different one. Called 'McDonald's ist einfach gut'. It went 'Einfach gut... McDonald's ist einfach gut...' Which, not knowing any German, I figured meant 'McDonald's is in fact good'. Someone translated it for me when I got home, and said it actually meant 'McDonald's is really good'. Which I reckon is worse. 'Really good... McDonald's is really good...'

But even better than all that wacky German stuff were some of the shops in Holland, in Amsterdam. They speak English really well there, and there were all these shops with weird English names. Like the 'Free Record Shop'. Completely untrue—I tried to take them up on it, and they got really pissed off with me. And there was a men's clothing shop called 'Sissy Boy'. You can just imagine the young studs flocking to that. And one for the girls: there was a women's clothing shop called 'Itchy Bitchy'.

Anyway, speaking of Amsterdam, and Germany, and the Dole Diary, makes me think... one thing I'd really like to see is the Dole Diary of Anne Frank. Just imagine it: 'Dearest Kitty. Terrible news! This morning the Gestapo found the secret Annexe and dragged us all onto the street, where they kicked and spat at us and told us to get a haircut and find a decent job. Then they herded us like cattle onto a truck and drove us to the dark, forbidding gates of Centrelink, where we were paraded before Herr Howard and his lackeys from the dreaded Department of SS. Herr Howard screamed at us, "You haff not handed in zis diary for ten months! Zat is a breach of departmental guidelines for vich you vill be GASSED like ze DOGS you are!"'

Of course, nowadays they don't gas you for breaching the rules. They just cut off the gas, because you can't afford to pay after your dole's been stopped for twelve weeks.

Thank you, and before I go, let me just add that I am a dedicated, hard-working individual who seeks a rewarding career in the field of stand-up comedy. Goodnight!


Performed at The Spectacle, Hobart, 10 May 1998; broadcast on ABC Radio 7ZR.
This page: 6 February 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1998, 2000, 2001 Rory Ewins