Barry Smith: Irrelativity
July 12, 2010
Thus concludes the first leg of this summer’s Canadian tour. I got to experience a Canadian earthquake. I caught the tail end of the G20 riots where I narrowly avoided steering my van into a “police presence,” which would clearly not have gone well, as my van is essentially cop catnip. I did two things I’ve never done before – an “Ignite” talk (Google it) and a set of standup comedy. I also ate so many chicken schwarmas that I developed a zit right on the very tip of my nose. All in all, a very eventful month. I also put up lots of posters, handed out lots of fliers, did lots of shows and saw lots of shows, – experimental, underground theater shows with names like “Phone Whore” and “A Freudian Slip of the Jung” and “To Grill a Mockingbird.” OK, I made that last title up, but someday I want to write a play and title it that.Here are some random thoughts from the road.• Note to audience members: I’m not a TV set. I can see you! Especially if you sit in the front row. So when, to use an actual example, the woman in the front row decides to whip out a bottle of lotion and start lotioning her feet during my show, well…I’m right here! And trying to do a show! I realize you probably noticed a little dryness on your heel when you sat down, and I appreciate how these things need to be addressed as soon as possible, but please…at least sit in the back. They specify that you refrain from taking pictures or doing any texting during a performance, but I guess the list needs to be expanded to include EVERYTHING that you shouldn’t do: acts of personal hygiene, Jenga playing, mud wrestling, yodeling, washboard playing, etc… well, mud wrestling would probably be OK.• While on the road I get a little OCD about my backpack. I have it with me constantly, as it’s loaded with road essentials – fliers, posters, scissors, glue stick, my computer, my wallet, American-Canadian dictionary/phrase book, another tube of glue stick, keys and whatnot. To lose it would be a real setback in my ongoing pursuit of having life not suck, so I prefer to never even take it off, but occasionally I have to. If I’m sitting down I like to lean it against my leg, then I obsessively reach down to touch it just to be absolutely certain that it’s still there. But it’s just occurred to me how incredibly filthy this thing is. I’ve had it for years, and in addition to daily home use it’s been dragged across Canada a few times, through airports, used as a pillow while napping in the park and set, temporarily, on the floors of some unimaginably disgusting places. Just being against my back all the time would have been bad enough. Now it’s like a large bullion cube of filth. If you need a disease, you could just dip my pack in a cup of hot water. Maybe I should wash it. I guess that’s my point. I think it used to be red.• Sorry to continue with the audience bashing, but…some people just can’t handle their wacky theater, so they’ll walk out during a performance. I’ve seen this happen in a few shows, but my favorite was during a modern dance show. The dancer had just emptied a basket of trash onto the stage and was dancing around with it. She turned it upside down and put it over her head – bound to happen, right? Modern dance and all – and as soon as she did the guy in the front row (ALWAYS the front row) jumped up and walked out. This seemed pretty rude to me, until I realized that maybe he just had a strong desire to lotion his feet and didn’t want to do it during the show. • As you read this I’ll be driving home from Canada, because I need to be back in Aspen in time for “What’s Your Story? – The Sequel.” It’s happening this Sunday, July 18, at the Theatre Aspen Tent. It’s an evening of true stories told live on stage without notes, stories by locals you probably know, or know of: Ray Adams, Naomi Havlen, Su Lum, John Masters, Mitzi Rapkin and Lo Semple. When I did this show last year it sold out and people were turned away, so if you want to see it – and trust me, you do – I suggest getting advance tickets from the Wheeler Box Office.
Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.
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