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History of the Moonbase

Kathleen De Vere | 24 May 2012 16:00
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One of the key things about being in a sketch comedy troupe is props and costumes. They're essential for setting the place and time of sketch and they allow the audience to see the same actor as one of many different characters from week to week. While nobody would classify LoadingReadyRun as a troupe dependent on our accessories, over the course of eight years, we've spent thousands of dollars acquiring our current collection of props and costumes.

This brings us to the issue of storage. Where does one store a collection that includes two plastic lobsters, six labcoats, a literal barrel full of guns and swords, three bins of assorted wigs and dozens upon dozens of hats? In an entire room, as it turns out.

However, we haven't always had that luxury. The first LRR prop room was Graham's room, a situation that wasn't ideal. Luckily about two years into LRR's history, Bill and Morgan moved into a house that was not only cheap, but came equipped with an empty dining room. This quickly became unofficial, then official LRR equipment and prop storage, even more so when Graham moved in as well. (This was the house where the first Desert Bus was held.) With the addition of some second-hand clothing racks and bins, LRR was finally able to start amassing what was to become a mighty collection of sketch comedy essentials. Amassing being the operative word, because after just a year, the collection of gear was starting to creep out of the dining room and into the rest of the house. A new solution would have to be found. Offsite storage. Offplanet storage. A Moonbase.

The origin of the term "Moonbase" to refer to LRR's office got it start in Graham's childhood. He had grown up watching the Martin Landau sci-fi show Space 1999 (I did too actually, but in New Zealand. It's not that good) and inspired by the show's main location of Moonbase Alpha, Graham referred to the (then) fictional LRR headquarters as the Moonbase.

The first Moonbase was a 10ish by 12ish room in a building on the very edge of a bad part of Victoria's industrial district. The building that housed it looked suspiciously like it should have been condemned, but Graham and Paul were assured by the landlord it was structurally sound. (This is where we filmed the second Desert Bus. You can see the entire room in the video Desert Bus Killed the Internet Star.) For $400 bucks a month LRR got all the electricity we could use (ha ha, suckers), a filthy communal bathroom, and windows that did not close properly. One particularly cold winter Graham spent the better part of a month shivering over a space heater, trying to edit videos with numb fingers while snow fell INSIDE. In retrospect it sucked, but it was ours.

After about a year in the Moonbase, we had an opportunity to move to the much bigger, much nicer office across the hall. Our square footage doubled and we got a whole other room, complete with shelves. James built some costume racks and it was awesome. For $600 bucks a month we still got free power, but we lost something very important -- insulation. Moonbase II was a sweltering death-trap in the summer and as cold as yeti's balls in the winter. The windows still didn't close properly. This is where we filmed Desert Bus III. Note that nobody ever, ever complained about being too hot while filming that, despite the fact that we had dozens of people crammed into about 400 square feet.

About two years ago now, the owners of that building realized that the only hope of improving its lot would be to remove it from existence entirely. By this point the entire back half had in fact, been condemned by the fire department. We had all been back there a couple of times and dubbed the frankly terrifying warren of rotting beams and garbage "creepy storage". There were a lot of mice and rats living there. (Sometime during our tenure in Moonbase mark II we lost Toast, the hero of the video Toast to some rodent nibbles.)

We were asked to move out when we could, and by pure fluke James found our current Moonbase almost immediately. It had everything we ever wanted: a separate prop room and studio, our own bathroom (which is still pretty filthy, but it's our filth), a location not frequented by the mobile outreach center for sex trade workers, and most importantly, insulation. We even still get free electricity. Moonbase Mk. III isn't huge (about 1200 square feet), but it's ours and we're not leaving now. I hope you enjoy this look behind the scenes look at the worst LRR chore, cleaning the office.

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