Jesus in Montreal – in the morning
I’m in Montreal at the moment, performing my “Jesus In Montana” show at the Montreal Fringe Festival.A fringe festival is an artistic free-for-all, barely reigned in chaos, and generally a week and a half of anything-goes creative debauchery.Part of the fringe idea is that the artist has to convince a slice of the potential audience to choose their show out of the 90 that are available. Each performer has to hit the streets herself, putting up posters, handing out fliers, pitching his show in the few seconds of attention that people will give you. In my case, I’m handing out fliers with the word “Jesus” written pretty prominently on it, so there’s a lot of explaining to do right away.”It’s not really about Jesus, I promise. I mean, it is, but not in the way you might think. OK, then. Have a nice day.”Thus far the printed press has paid me no mind, so when I learned that I had landed an interview on a major TV network – on sort of a “Good Morning America” show, only for Quebec – this was very good news. It’s the real deal, my national TV debut, and I really need to not blow it. That’s the last thing I remember thinking on the Monday night: “Don’t blow it – Go out Monday and hang out with a few other fringers, but turn in early, you have a big day ahead of you. Rest up. Be in top form. Don’t blow it.”So imagine my surprise and delight when I glanced at my watch on Monday evening and found that it was 4 a.m. Tuesday. I was still at the official after-hours fringe club, chatting away like it was noon. I had to be at the TV station in three hours. I looked at my watch again and it seemed to now be 5 a.m. Brilliant. I made my way to the place I’ve been living the last week, a couch in an apartment full of nocturnal twentysomethings, and decided that my best course of action would be to not go to sleep at all – I’ll just push on through, and somehow be vibrant and perky and engaging on TV. Apparently I don’t make my best decisions at 5 a.m.Two torturous, REM-free hours later I’m at the station. I’m whisked away by an assistant and directed into the makeup room, where liberal amounts of powder are brushed on my shiny forehead, and even more under my eyes, which must have looked like briquettes by this point.More whisking, off to the green room. In walks a cheesily dressed and coiffed guy who will also be a guest this morning. I remember thinking, wow, the Tom Jones look must be big in Canada. Then the guy tells me that he’s a Tom Jones impersonator. This is bad. This means that I might actually be hallucinating.Whisk – I’m in the studio, a microphone is pinned to my shirt, the host, an attractive and intelligent woman, sits next to me. She says some stuff about what we’re gonna do when we go live. I nod. Well, I guess I did. Seems like the kind of thing I would have done.We’re live! She reads an announcement about another event in Montreal, a drumming event featuring such drums as the “djembe.” I’m no expert, but happen to know that “djembe” is pronounced “jim bay.” She pronounced it “duh jim bay.” I thought it would be helpful if I corrected her – live, on the air. The tiny part of my brain that was still getting oxygen managed to talk me out of this.”So, Barry … ” she said, turning to me.And that’s all I remember. It was a four-minute interview. I was a zombie, on interview-quip auto pilot. “And thanks for joining us …” she said. Someone handed me a tape of the interview and I was whisked back onto the street, where I blinked absently into the Montreal morning.”Don’t blow it,” I mumbled to myself, and stuck out my hand to hail a taxi.Read more of Barry’s exploits on tour at his blog, http://www.barrysmith.wordpress.org
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Sean Beckwith is taking advantage of his column space this week to inform the public of the Best in Jest.