Aspen performer turns heads in N.Y.
August 29, 2005
Barry Smith’s ultimate goal is to make it in his hometown of Aspen and perform his one-man show, “Jesus in Montana: Adventures in a Doomsday Cult,” at Aspen’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.For a consolation prize, Smith might have to settle for making it in New York City.Smith won an Overall Excellence Award for Outstanding Solo Show at the New York International Fringe Festival recently. The tall, uncommonly lean 38-year-old whose humor column, “Irrelativity,” appears Mondays in The Aspen Times, performed “Jesus in Montana” five times over the last two weeks at the Village Theater, a 300-seat venue in Greenwich Village. The Fringe Festival included more than 180 performances, of which some 40 were solo shows, Smith estimated. Smith was one of three winners of the Overall Excellence Award in his category.”It was just incredibly phenomenal high creativity, beautiful chaos,” Smith said of his experience in New York. “Like an artistic boot camp, hanging out with lots of other writers and performers.”Smith said the mere experience of performing his show – about a real-life experience a decade ago, when he was convinced he was living with the reincarnation of Jesus Christ in Missoula, Mont. – was the highlight. The brushes with fame were small ones: “Someone asked to take their picture with me. And they weren’t completely creepy,” Smith said. “I also signed a few photographs and posters, but I thought they might have been joking.”It was not the major rock-star treatment. But I was on a stage in New York, and people laughed at my jokes. That might be the closest I get to a rock-star moment.”Or maybe not. In attendance at one show was Kirsten Ames, a talent producer for the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. “That’s our next plan, of course, the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival,” Smith said.Ames wasn’t the only one paying attention. Smith was reviewed in The New York Times and New York magazine, in both instances favorably.”All my reviews were good. Unless someone kept them from me. Some were even great,” Smith said. “Not bad for a nobody who nobody every heard of. I had a buzz, as they say in the festival world.”Smith had at least one frightening moment. In the middle of one performance, the battery in his remote control, for the video portion of his show, died.”That’s up there in my top-five list of worst nightmares. But I dealt with it as only an AV guy could,” said Smith, whose day jobs do, in fact, include being an audio-visual technician.Smith is in some classified discussions to perform “Jesus in Montana” elsewhere. He’s got his eye on Montreal’s Just for Laughs, Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival and off-Broadway. They are lofty goals, but two months ago, so was the New York Fringe Festival. Smith says he sent in his application, on the day it was due, on a whim.”I’m thinking this will open a lot of doors for me. That’s my plan,” Smith said. Other plans include resting for a few days and feeling proud of himself.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is email@example.com