A self review
“Irrelativity” is on the road as Barry tours his solo shows through the U.S. and Canada this summer. This dispatch is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Yes, I’m in Saskatoon. Say it out loud. It’s fun.I’ve learned something about myself here at the Saskatoon Fringe Festival. I’ve learned that I’m a sensitive, spoiled little baby.Luckily I’ve also learned that I’m a hypocrite. So that kinda balances things out for me. All across Canada, I’ve been getting amazing reviews and full houses for my “Jesus In Montana” show, really just the best time I could ever hope for. During the last few days of the Winnipeg Fringe, I got a mediocre review in some little known weekly mag. One of the papers here in Saskatoon chose to reprint this review, so there it was in print before I’d even done my first show. Why did they not reprint any of the great reviews I got? Because clearly they hate me.A local reviewer came to my first show and the review was published the next day – four stars. And it kinda mirrored what the forwarded review said, as if they’d used it as Cliff’s Notes. But listen – it’s a four-star review. This is not a bad review. It’s actually a really good review. But it’s not a five-star review, so I’m walking around whining about it. Other performers congratulate me on my good review, and I poo poo it, saying it was OK. They look at me like the spoiled little baby that I am, telling stories of how they did backflips of joy at their first four-star review. I feel like I’m back in high school again; only instead of being graded on the correctness of my math exam, I’m being graded by some arbitrary reviewer in Saskatoon, and their opinion of me means the difference between success or failure, triumph or misery, glorious life or a slow, embarrassing death …OK, OK. Not really.It’s easy to get swept up in this kind of thinking on this tour. The performers have a clear and uncomplicated relationship with the critics – when they say nice things about us, they are right, when they criticize us in any way, they suck. This is the subject of many of the on-tour discussions.Now, as someone who’s been getting good (accurate) reviews, I’ve given many a pep talk to my new friends who have gotten not-so-good reviews. I’ve reminded them how nobody likes everything, especially not when it comes to art, about how a reviewer has their own baggage that they bring with them and that their opinion of you has as much to do with what they had for lunch as it does with how good your show is, about how if you have a really good show word will get out and reviews don’t matter all that much, about how it’s all just about the experience of performing anyway, about how blah blah blah …But as soon as I get the slightest word of criticism, I curl up in the corner and whimper about how much of a failure I am and how I never should have left the house. Sure, it’s kinda cute for a while, but it’s a very, very short-lived while.So, hypocrisy and hyper-sensitivity. Apparently that’s me. Thanks Saskatoon. Let the party begin.The funny thing is, this is exactly what I wanted from this summer. I’ve never done anything even close to this before – leaving the confines of my safe and supportive community and heading out into the world to see what happens, putting myself and my strange story of being in a religious cult on stage night after night, opening myself up to the opinions of people who don’t know me and have no reason to be nice to me (except that they’re Canadian). My hope for the summer was to have new experiences and, yes, to learn some things about myself. I was hoping that these things might be good things, like that I’m a better dancer than I thought, or that I have an uncanny knack for guessing lottery numbers, but instead I get hypocrisy and whininess.And I’m only in Saskatoon! I’m only halfway done with this tour! If I’m not careful, I might learn more! No. That’s it – no more learning. From this point on I’m just going to focus on how much fun it is to say “Saskatoon.” Barry Smith appears Mondays. Read more about his tour at http://www.barrysmith.com.
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