Barry Smith: Irrelativity
August 18, 2008
Barry is on tour, performing his comedy shows across the United States and Canada all summer long. Today’s dispatch comes from Edmonton …
I will never play with one of those cup-and-ball toys again.
You know the one I mean ” there’s the ball on the end of the string, and you’re supposed to flip it up and make it land in the little cup-on-a-stick thing that the string is attached to. Well, I just happen to be pretty good at this game, because there were no girls in my neighborhood when I was a kid. This is the same reason I’m accomplished at juggling and spinning things on my finger. All very valuable life skills. When you’re 15. Sorta.
See, I’m pretty good at the cup-and-ball thing. It’s easy for me, and natural. I can see and feel it. Cup. In. Ball. Make it so. But just yesterday I tried, on a whim, to do the cup-and-ball game with my eyes closed, knowing full well that there was no way it would ever happen. This decision came after showing off my skills ” cup-and-ball skills ” to some other fringe performers gathered in a back yard. They were impressed. Then again, they’re actors, so there’s a good chance that they were just acting impressed.
I put my hand over my eyes, just as a joke, really, and I flip the ball up toward the cup. Not even close. I do it again. Not even close. I do it again, and it goes STRAIGHT INTO THE CUP!
I had witnesses. It happened. A miracle! I put the game down and vowed to never, ever touch one again, because what’s ever going to happen with the cup-and-ball thingie that will top that? What, I’m gonna flip it up, land it in the cup and it’ll spontaneously create a cure for cancer? No. I’ve peaked. And it’s good to know when you’ve peaked.
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Meanwhile, I’m performing my show here at the Edmonton Fringe. Opening weekend was a big hooplah, as this is the oldest fringe theatre festival in North America, and the largest one in Canada. It’s the biggest week of the summer for me. So far I’ve gotten a great review in one paper, an awful review in another, and only had one show scheduled during the big exciting weekend. All my friends are selling out their shows amidst the excitement. I checked my advanced ticket sales for my next show, which is much later tonight, and I’ve sold a mere 10 tickets. In a 180-seat venue! What the hell? What am I doing wrong?
I’m starting to think that last year’s tour of Canada was the theatrical equivalent of the eyes-closed-cup-and-ball trick. It was a summer of being as close to a rock star as I can imagine, and I loved it, of course. I was lauded, embraced, showered with media attention and nearly collapsed under ticket sales. Every move was perfect, I could not miss. This summer the ball has been bouncing off the rim of the cup a bit more than it’s been going in. Which is not bad, but, you know, once you’ve had THAT moment …
OK, no more cup-and-ball analogies. I promise. I hope.
Saskatoon, where I just came from, was particularly demoralizing. One show I did in Saskatoon actually earned me a grand total of $-3.50. How can you earn a negative number? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I’m guessing that someone who didn’t actually pay came out and demanded their money back. I’ll not be back to the ‘Toon anytime soon. It’s pretty sad to let Saskatoon beat you down, now that I think about it.
OK, snapping out of it ” I’m in Edmonton, a brand new city, a brand new opportunity.
The van’s running smoothly. The coming week holds great promise for some good shows and full houses. The weather is perfect for theatre-going. I have a bicycle. I’ve only had one really bad zit all summer long. Every day is totally different; new challenges, new people, new chances for Canadians to make fun of me simply for being American. No real chance of falling into a rut.
Yes, looking forward from this point on.
Oh, and look, on the table … it’s a Rubick’s Cube!
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