Saskatoon, spoofs and Spalding Gray
“Irrelativity” is on the road as Barry tours his solo shows through the U.S. and Canada this summer. This dispatch is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.I have entered the Black Hole of Saskatoon. My show run finished midweek, meaning I have about four days before I have to be in Calgary for their Fringe Festival, so I figured I’d hang out in Saskatoon, see some shows, rest up a bit and, as it turns out, do way too many shots of tequila.And for me, one is way too many.I have seen the sun come up way too many times now (again, one time is too many) here in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Which may also mean “Your liver now hates you.”I took part in the Saskatoon Fringe tradition known as Spoof Night, where performers put their names in a hat for a chance to spoof other shows on the tour, and have their shows spoofed as well. I was hesitant, but since everybody else was doing it, I did it, too. This is no time to think for myself.Spoof Night spans two evenings, each show starting at midnight, and is open to the public.I went to see the show I was assigned to spoof, a solo show called “The Tides That Take,” and had no idea what I was going to do. I came up with something at the last minute. It was an OK bit, and the crowd seemed to like it – I basically played a blues song (surprise) and read some words that I’d made up a few minutes before, each of these things loosely spoofing what went on in the show. However, my bit suffered by having to follow what was probably the best spoof of the night, poet Rob Gee spoofing a show called “The Fugue Code.” Tights were involved, as was a powdered wig, and even though I was backstage I couldn’t stop laughing. Nothing funnier than tights and a powdered wig. Really. Especially in Saskatoon.Later that night my show, Jesus In Montana, was spoofed by Mark Scott, who calls himself The Kiwi Joker. He did a great job, I thought, and for the most part spared my feelings. Others were not so lucky in the feelings-spared department. Night two the evening descending into more of a roast. It made for a bit of an awkward evening afterward as the performers all congregated in the bar, but didn’t seem to be anything that tequila couldn’t smooth over.But I can’t be all that sure, as this all happened last night. We’ll see what moods are like this evening. Maybe somebody will propose Poke Each Other in the Eye Night. That should make it all better.My final show in Saskatoon was my strangest so far. About two minutes after starting my show – those two minutes where I try to really capture the audience and set the tone for the next hour – the door opens, flooding light into the dark, projection-friendly theater. OK, so it’s actually a high school auditorium that we are all pretending is a theater, but that’s not the point. The door opens and someone walks in.Then someone else walks in. Then three more people. Then five more. Then five more again. I had no choice but to stop the show and let everybody in. The technician turned the house lights up so everyone could find their seat, which took a few minutes. So much for momentum. I stood awkwardly on stage while a total of 20 people ambled in.As thrown off as I was, I couldn’t help but laugh – it was just too comical. One person coming in late is distracting enough, but this was like the doors had been opened for the first time. Were they all in the bathroom together or something?I remembered the time when I saw the late Spalding Gray performing one of his monologues at the Wheeler Opera House. I bought advance tickets and made sure they were good ones. But we showed up a little late, and when we walked in he had already started his show. The usher told me that I should sit in the back, and I said no, I want to sit in my seat.She said, “That’s rude” and showed us to our seats, which were in the middle of a full row down front … excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. And now, 10 years later, I realize the usher was right.Sorry, Spalding, I didn’t know. Hopefully you got a good story out of it.Read more about Barry’s tour adventures at http://www.barrysmith.com. Barry’s column appears here Mondays.