Sorry for the lack of bad news
“Irrelativity” is on the road as Barry tours his solo shows through the U.S. and Canada this summer. This dispatch is from Winnipeg.I have some bad news.The bad news is that there’s no bad news in this week’s tour report – no tales of small or bored audiences, hateful reviews or personal neurosis. Check back next week and I’ll see what I can drum up, but for now, nothing but good news. First, let me get you caught up. I arrived in Winnipeg last week after a 27-hour drive from Toronto. The drive wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d been warned. It was actually quite scenic, and I got to spend 2 pleasant nights sleeping in my van.Once in Winnipeg, I hit the ground running – I find the place where I’ll be staying (with a brave person in Winnipeg willing to host a Fringe artist), unload my van, drive to my venue, put up my sandwich boards, pick up my posters and flyers, race to a press conference where two guys stand about a foot from my face snapping pictures while I pretend that this is a normal thing for someone to be doing, record a quick radio spot for CBC, check in at the main festival HQ, do a three-hour technical rehearsal then head to the beer tent. Whew. No time to put up posters or hand out flyers. Sure, I guess I could have done that instead of going to the beer tent, but c’mon …My first show was the following day. I arrive at my venue to find a line has already formed, a line that will soon grow until it is larger than the theater will hold. A sold-out show. On my opening show!And the people really dug it, laughing at the parts I’d like them to, sometimes in places I don’t really need them to. Wow.My next show was on a Thursday at 2 in the afternoon – not a very good time to see a theater show, right? Yet it was packed – a few seats short of sold out, in fact. Wow. The third show, the next day, was at an ever worse time – a Friday at 1. And it sold out. All three of them were great shows – the audience seemed to be really enjoying them, and I was enjoying performing them.My fourth day in Winnipeg I had a day off. I slept in very late (thank you, beer tent), wandered around “my” house a bit, then went out for some breakfast (lunch). I stopped in a grocery store to buy some water and I stop to pick up a copy of the Winnipeg Free Press. It’s the big paper in town and is doing extensive Fringe Festival coverage. They hadn’t printed a review of my show yet, so I thought, you know, maybe today’s my lucky day.I scan the top of the paper to see how much the weekend edition costs, and in the upper right corner I see a picture of a guy with a really big hand, making a kind of goofy, skyward-looking face. Hey wait, that’s me!Right under the picture it reads “5-Star Reviews, and the man who met Jesus.” That’s me!Inside the paper there’s a big feature article on me, the man who met Jesus. The article makes me sound like not too much of a weirdo, considering the whole having-lived-in-Jesus’-basement thing. There’s also a review of my show, calling me “a skilled and passionate storyteller” and saying that my show is “gutsy, gut-busting, brilliantly told, hugely entertaining and gently thought-provoking.” Five stars!Wow. That’s me!I still have five performances of “Jesus In Montana” left here in Winnipeg, the second largest Fringe Festival in Canada. And, after that, five more cities to go!As I strolled into the beer tent on my day off, my show having gotten the highest rating possible in the paper that matters the most, my picture splashed (well, a little splash) all over the city of Winnipeg, I was on top of the world. Other performers describe the Fringe tour as a roller coaster, never knowing what audiences, or critics, in each city will think of you and your show. For now, things are going as well as they possibly can. I’m meeting creative and interesting people, seeing great shows, being appreciated, people are laughing at my jokes, people are buying me beer.Ahhh … sorry for the lack of bad news, but for now, life on the road is good.Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays.Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays.