Barry Smith: Irrelativity
August 25, 2008
(Barry is on tour, performing his comedy shows across the US and Canada all summer long. Today’s dispatch comes from Edmonton, Canada …)
In about two hours I’m going to do my last performance of “American Squatter” in Canada, bringing this summer’s total to more than 50.
So you can imagine how excited I am to have finally received my worst review of the summer. It’s in some local rag that I’ve been told nobody actually reads. This review (two stars) contains an amazing sentence. Savor this for a moment:
“Those who grew up and fell head first into the 1980s punk rock drug haze are able to reminisce on what Smith’s brain cells can remember from the time to tell.”
This is an amazing bit of literature, as it manages to be an attack on me personally while simultaneously trampling the rules of grammar. Oh, and all the while totally missing the point of my show! Awesome. Thanks, Kim Misutka from Vue Weekly. I look forward to hearing from you after you Google yourself and find this comment.
Meanwhile, over at the other paper, the one people read, the reviewer said that “American Squatter” is “… a show that reinvents the solo confessional/memoir.” She meant that in a good way.
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Midweek I did an amazing, sold-out show here in Edmonton. It just killed, lots of laughter and applause and energy and enthusiasm. The next day there were only about 20 people at my show, and they just stared at me for an hour. There was the occasional chuckle, but that may have been because of a funny text message someone received during the show.
So, which is it? Sold-out hit or mildly amusing, barely attended hour? A guy with no brain cells showing home movies or a reinvention of the solo confessional? Two stars or five? By “it” I mean my show, and since my show is a show by me, about me, performed by me, it’s hard to not make the leap from “it” to “me.” Which is it? Which am I? Two stars or five?
A few weeks back in Saskatoon, a city that scarred my soul, two reviewers were sitting right next to each other. One of them fell asleep during the show, as I mentioned in an earlier dispatch, whereas the other is the one who claimed I was doing all this reinventing.
Which is it? Which am I? Reinventor or human lullaby?
Don’t answer that. I should probably figure this out on my own.
– – – –
Earlier in the week, my show was canceled because my venue got struck by lightning. Seriously.
It was only my second show in Edmonton, and it was late on a Sunday night. The rain clouds had just opened up, so the people who braved the storm to see my show were soaked. I was inside setting up my equipment for the show ” computer, projector, screen, remote, water bottle ” most of which are electricity dependent, when there was a loud crack and the stage went dark. People ran over saying they just saw the bolt hit our building.
Last year I was touring a show that poked a bit of fun at Jesus, so I’m surprised that it’s taken so long for lightning to find me. Maybe God really is an American, like George Bush thinks, and therefore had a hard time locating Canada. I still have some more shows scheduled for the summer, so there’s ample opportunity for them to be canceled due to tornado, frogs or locust.
After the lightning hit, I considered doing the show campfire-style, with everyone sitting around the warm glow of the computer screen while I spun my little tale, but my computer battery wasn’t charged enough. Plus, there’s every chance that it would have been a pretty lame idea.
Gather ’round, children, while I tell you a tale … next slide, please …
– – – –
Now I’m about to do one last show in Edmonton, and, as always, I have no idea what will happen. Will there be people in the audience? Will they laugh or stare? Or sleep? Will it be fun? For me and them? Will they think I’m five stars or one? Will the show be canceled due to a sudden plague?
And, most important, will I ever be able to stop asking these questions?
(Next time ” A new city, a new show …)
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