Barry Smith: Irrelativity
September 1, 2008
My “American Squatter” show is now retired from the summer tour, and it’s time to switch gears to the new show. I thought a good place to do such switching would be here in a campground in Jasper, in the Canadian Rockies.
There’s an actual festival going on right now that I could be performing in, but I opted out. Last year I did that festival, the Victoria Fringe, which happens during the short break between the Edmonton and Vancouver Fringe Festivals, and it was just too much. Last year I was on the same schedule ” doing a different show after Edmonton, a show that I had to relearn. I joked all last summer that I’d be relearning the new show on the ferry ride to Victoria, but when I found myself learning the new script on the ferry ride to Victoria, it wasn’t very funny. Add in the fact that the show opened in Victoria later that night, and it was not funny at all.
Also, I’m starting to question the room in my brain. How many hour-long monologues can I fit in my head? Is it like a computer hard drive where you can only store so much stuff? Will I have to toss some things out to make room? Like all the Monty Python movie dialogue I’ve memorized? If so, it may not be worth it.
So this year I’m doing things differently. Rather than racing to the next gig, learning lines as I’m walking on stage, I’m in the woods, practicing lines of dialogue to the birds and the squirrels and the trees, enjoying my time away from the city and the fact that I don’t, for a short time, anyway, have to hand out flyers.
Not that I don’t think about it ” handing out flyers. Like when I’m standing next to the river and a family of four walks up, and I’m all, like, “Quite the view, eh? Say, I’m doing a comedy show about me, starring me, that I wrote, and, well, I don’t have any shows left, but I have a bunch of flyers left over, and I feel a compulsive need to be handing these to people at all times, because that’s what I’ve been doing for nearly three solid months, and this is the first time I’ve had a break from it and I can’t seem to stop pimping my show to people and I’ll happily take a picture of you and your family next to the river if you’ll each take one of these flyers. No? OK, then, enjoy your visit. Thanks.”
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1. Don’t hang leftover posters on trees.
2. Don’t hand flyers to tourists.
3. Don’t yell at squirrels ” they aren’t mocking my new show, that’s the noise they always make.
These are things I need to remember, lest the park ranger feels the need to remind me of them. Again.
– – – –
My last show in Edmonton was just OK. I got a mention in the Edmonton Journal as one of the shows that should definitely be seen during the festival’s final weekend. The critic said that my show “redefines the solo memoir/confessional,” and that it is unlike any other show in the festival. Cool!
Unfortunately, when the final showtime came, not quite as many people as I’d hoped cared to see the solo memoir/confessional redefined. I didn’t check, but I have to assume that the other shows ” the ones that adhere to the old tried and true definition of the solo confessional/memoir and are exactly like all the other shows at the fringe ” did quite well that day. Oh well.
My time in Edmonton felt like a smoldering ember that never quite caught on. Things were looking good early on, but the show just never quite burst into flames. Maybe I didn’t fan it enough? Maybe I didn’t use enough charcoal lighter? Maybe my wood was wet? Some of these questions are too personal to ponder, especially as I sit here in the woods, trying to start an actual fire.
Vancouver holds new promise. A new show, a new me, rested and relaxed and infused with nature and soon to be well-rehearsed and … SHUT UP YOU STUPID SQUIRRELS! WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THEATRE?!
Critics. Everywhere you go …
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