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October 7, 2007
“Irrelativity” is no longer on the road, as Barry wraps up his solo show tour through the U.S. and Canada. This dispatch is from Aspen.And just like that, it’s over. The Irrelativity Summer Tour ’07 now exists only as a blot of red dots (one for each show) on the wall-mounted dry-erase calendar, hours and hours of video, a hard drive full of digital pictures and a suitcase bulging with press clippings, posters, fliers and obscure Fringe memorabilia. I’ve returned triumphantly from Canada with a little less hair, a little less body mass, a little poorer posture, a pair of seriously worn-out jeans, a temperamental van with a funny smell inside and a slew of Canadian Facebook friends.In summary – whew!I’ve been home less than a week so far, and I find that I keep getting asked the same questions. So I thought it appropriate to end my series of “On the Road” columns with …The post-tour FAQQ: In your last column your van broke down on the way to Fresno. Fresno!? Nobody goes to Fresno anymore! Did you make it to Fresno? And if so, why? A: There’s an annual event in Fresno called the Rogue Performance Festival. I performed “Jesus In Montana” there last year, and it went over really well. Sold out, good reviews, receptive audiences, all the stuff you hope for. They brought me back last Sunday for a single show – the last show of my summer tour. I assumed that, because of my previous success, the place would be packed. I mean, I’m huge in Fresno, right?The van gets fixed, I drive to Fresno with an hour or so to spare, do a quick technical rehearsal and wait for the masses to congregate. They don’t. There’s more of a trickling. About 20 people in the audience. I was anticipating five times that many. Or more.And here it was – the moment that the entire summer had built up to. I decided that, rather than be upset at the low turnout, I would be grateful that I get to do this at all. I mean, 20 strangers showed up on a Sunday night and paid money to listen to me talk about being in a religious cult. That’s pretty cool. And why would I do anything other than give the absolute best show I was capable of giving? Which, given a summer of practice, might actually be pretty good. Right?And so I did. And it was my favorite show of the entire summer – a summer filled with some seriously fun shows. But it all came together that night in Fresno. The audience was attentive and energetic and giving. I was in the zone. There was applause at moments when I would have been satisfied with a chuckle! Perfect all around.A few years ago, right after my second ever performance of “Jesus in Montana,” I was upset by how nonresponsive the crowd was. The night before, people were laughing, leaving me to think that maybe some of my show was actually funny. But the second night, not so much. Just some staring and blinking. As I moped around, complaining about my horrible fate, my friend Brad Moore told me that THIS is the reason you do live theater, for the glorious unknown. This, he said, is the reason you aren’t home watching television. And, he pointed out, no two shows will EVER be the same. Ever. So get used to it.And maybe, just maybe, that last show in Fresno is where I finally – after a summer of pondering this concept – understood. I love Fresno.Q: How come you don’t write funny columns anymore?A: Look, I’m just feeling a bit nostalgic and montage-y at the moment. I’ll get back to the juvenile, self-indulgent humor next week, I promise. Just let me have a moment.Q: You look tired. And skinny.A: First of all, those aren’t really questions. But, hey … it was a big summer. I’ll nap, and I’ll eat, and I’ll be fine. I was telling someone how tiring it can be, being on the road and all. She replied, “You don’t have kids, do you?” Meaning, look, Mr. Beer Tent, if you think traipsing around Canada doing your little show is tiring, try spending a day with a 2-year-old. Point taken.Q: What’s next?A: Well, I’ll be performing “American Squatter” here in Aspen, at the Wheeler Opera House, in a few weeks. This winter I’m going to write a new show, which I hope to take, along with “American Squatter,” on a tour through Canada next summer. Q: Where is Canada, exactly?A: Just north of here – I have a map I can loan you. Barry Smith’s column appears on Mondays.
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