Notes of the stage |

Notes of the stage

Barry Smith

By the time you read this, my one-man show, “Jesus In Montana,” will have finished its run at the New York International Fringe Festival.Just in case anyone ever asks me, “What goes through your head while you’re up there on stage,” I’ve taken careful notes so I can answer accurately.— Wow. I’m on stage. In New York. That’s pretty cool, right? I mean, New York. Wait, I have to say some stuff now, because everyone is just staring at me.They laughed! They laughed at my opening joke! Well, start spreadin’ the news! I’m a hit! I’m a hit in New York City! Here comes the next joke … I know they’re gonna love this one.What happened? They barely chuckled. What did I do wrong? I said it exactly the same way I said it during the last show, and everyone laughed that time. Now they’re just staring at me again, like I’m some exotic performing monkey or something. What’s the matter with you people? Don’t you know how much of my heart and soul I’ve put into this show? How dare you just sit there with your smug East Coast arms folded, staring blankly at me!They laughed! They laughed at a place in the story where nobody has laughed before. They get it. These are my people. They totally get me. This could be the best show I’ve ever done. Ever.Are my pants unzipped? I don’t feel a breeze or anything, but I’ve just realized that I don’t remember if I checked my zipper before going on stage. Maybe that’s why they’re laughing where people don’t usually laugh. That would be just like them – snobby, jaded, pompous New Yorkers. I hate these people. Who would just sit there and let me stand on stage with my pants unzipped? How am I going to check? There’s no way I can continue without knowing what is or isn’t going on down there. And it isn’t like I can subtly grab at my crotch like an old-school rapper. Probably should try to concentrate on my performance.Hey, maybe I’m dreaming! Of course, that would make perfect sense. I’m dreaming that I’m in New York standing on a stage with my zipper down. So if I’m dreaming, then that means I can fly, right? OK, they laughed again, but I’m almost totally positive that it’s because I’ve just stopped in the middle of what appears to be an actual, non-dreaming show and jumped straight up in the air with my arms spread out. It’s completely out of context, but it got a laugh, so I should consider leaving it in. But I still don’t know if my zipper is down or not. I’m thirsty. My water is all the way at the other end of the stage, and I’m not going back there for a while. My mouth makes weird sounds when it gets dry. And I’m speaking into a microphone, so it’s like super-cottonmouth times 10. I’m hungry, too. I should have finished that sandwich. Oh, no. Did I just say “sandwich” out loud? I’m supposed to be talking about Jesus, and I’m pretty sure I just said “sandwich.” That one will be hard to shrug off.I should concentrate. Really, really concentrate. And I will. Starting now. Startinnnnnngggg … NOW!Hey, is that person asleep? That guy there in the third row. He is! His eyes are completely closed! What the hell? What am I doing wrong? Why is he asleep? It’s because I suck, right? I suck and everybody knows it and if it weren’t for basic politeness they’d all be asleep, too. I knew it. I knew New York would hate me. Well, guess what, New York – the feeling is mutual! I don’t need your stupid – hey, he laughed! He’s not asleep, he was just closing his eyes so he could concentrate on every brilliant thing that I said! Whew.Right. Concentrating. That’s what I just said I was gonna do. And I am, too. Starting now.Only 55 minutes left to go.My butt itches.Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at

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