Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Finally, finally, finally ” after a three-month break from performing my new show, Barry Smith’s Baby Book, last seen at the Montreal Fringe Festival at the start of the summer, I opened it last night at the Vancouver Fringe.
And it was …
Well, before I tell you how it went, let’s catch up a little. You know … drama.
I arrived in Vancouver a week ago, well-rested from my time in the mountains. I used my new energy in a productive manner ” I hung up posters for my show, I handed out flyers like crazy, I ate my weight in B.C. salmon every day, I got back on the coffee.
I have coffee issues, which I’ve written at least a dozen columns about, so this won’t be another one of those, I promise. Coffee is an intense drug for me, and I thought I’d fully rehabbed from it. But in the past week I’ve discovered that it’s a lot easier to pick up an old drug habit than you might suspect, so if you’ve been putting such a thing off because you think it might be too much work, well … go for it.
The coffee has given me an updated sense of confidence, enthusiasm and overall joy de vivre, as well as a desire to introduce more French expressions in my life. Yes, with a brain full of coffee, I’m definitely a bon vivant. Lord have merci.
So yeah, the past few days have found me newly coffeed up and working the crowds ” handing out my little flyers, giving little blurbs of my show, trying to be clever and witty and charming in the face of doing something that is by it’s very nature incredibly annoying and invasive. I handed out about 600 flyers in three days. This may not sound like a lot, but I don’t just hand them to people and walk away ” each one is accompanied by a little talk. That many little talks equals a whole lot of talking.
I felt like I’d done all I could do, yet an hour before my first show I had a few nagging questions:
1. Will anyone show up?
2. Will the people who show up like the show?
3. Will I remember my lines?
Like I said, I hadn’t done this show for three months, and even though it was well-received in Montreal, you just never know.
You just never know.
That has to be the take home message for my summer ” you just never know. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take things for granted anymore after this. I started out the summer with big expectations, and they were sometimes dashed. Well, “dashed” is a bit dramatic ” that’s probably just the coffee talking ” merde.
So, yeah … an hour before showtime, I have to make peace with it all. I knew there’d be a reviewer in the audience, as I’d seem him earlier, and he told me he’d be there. But after a summer of reviews and anxiety and expectations standing in the way of experience, I think I found a bit of calm. All I can do is do my show, right? People are gonna show up, not show up, laugh, not laugh, critique, not critique, puke, not puke. I don’t get to worry about things I can’t control, no matter how much the coffee tries to convince me otherwise.
One minute before showtime I crunch up the last sliver of my Fisherman’s Friend, take a drink of water, check to make sure my zipper is up (again), and say a quick prayer to the god of randomness.
I step on stage when the music plays, and … … people clap. Then they laugh. Then they laugh some more. And a lot! And there’s a lot of them! And for the next hour, every time they’re supposed to laugh, they do. They clap and giggle and smile. And I feel connected and joyous and so lucky that I get to do this for an hour of our collective lives. And after two weeks of being on the road, flyering and postering and rehearsing, it felt good to get back on stage again ” finally, finally, finally.
I have a show today, Sunday, at 1:30 ” just a few hours. Will people show up? Will they laugh? Will they sleep?
You just never know.
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