Reflections on my fringe show

Posted: August 2, 2013 in advocacy, aspergers, comedy, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Well, the fringe festival is over so I am now going to reflect on this amazing experience.
Pre-fringe I sent out all the emails to all of the contacts that Fringe suggested, which was like 4 weeks ahead of time. I thought that everyone would be interested in my story because I am egotistical like that. I have a hard time taking the perspective of others, therefore, when things go badly its because of something I did and when things go well it’s because I got lucky. Nevertheless, in my head the world revolves around me. Therefore, when I did not hear back from anyone other than the Jewish post and Shaw at first I got really discouraged. (I still think the Jewish post, had the best article of the bunch =0 ). Maybe, I had miscalculated and it turned out no one would be interested in the message that I had to say. Maybe, only people with aspergers would care and everyone else would prefer something lighter. This was a stand-up comedy which is light, but also about a weighter topic Aspergers. My blog never had the biggest audience after all. Therefore, I began worrying that my fringe show would be a flop.
Slowly, however, three weeks after I had sent out all the emails, two weeks after I stopped thinking anyone cared and four days before the fringe festival started. I started hearing back from CBC and the Winnipeg Free Press. When CBC first contacted me I was in a hurry and had just woke up from my nap so wasn’t really coherent about what was going on. Therefore, when they interviewed me for the website I was just confused and thought that was that. Then they contacted me again to do a radio interview, at the radio interview they also talked about doing something for tv but when nothing happened that day I moved on. The television department actually contacted me the day before I was performing. On top of that I was still writing my fringe festival show because the original script was too darn negative.
My mom was still convincing me, however, that not everyone would be interested and only people impacted by the disorder would come to my show. On top of that people with Aspergers rarely like to leave their house so I thought my audience would be tiny.
In addition, I had got my tech time wrong and only out of mercy from the tech guy steve who waited late were we able to practice at all. I only knew, I got my tech time wrong because my mom called me on my cell-phone I had been out that day with some people putting up the great posters that Cory Falvo made for me.
The first night of my show I knew was going to be huge because it was all my parents friends who had read the article in the Jewish post and therefore, had come out to support me. Therefore, I figured I’d have at least one packed house and only one packed house. I was okay with that, because frankly I was not that comfortable with my material after writing and learning it all in a week. Granted it was based on my five years of stand-up comedy but everyone told me stand-up comedy doesn’t do so well in the fringe festival. Also, it wasn’t like I was on the pinnacle of Winnipeg stand-up and had already been looked past for many big shows like the Winnipeg Improv festival. As a result, I had every right to be concerned. Forunately, for me there were lots of people who came out to support me. My brother’s friends parents all the way-out in the country even drove in to support me that night.
The next day, was Friday. I was very nervous because my show started at 5:45 and my shift at work ended at 5:15. Forunately the two were very close to each other. Nevertheless, I was very nervous about not having lots of time to prepare, mentally that is, as my show had no props. I was flabbergasted when I got there and there was a huge line-up. The place had sold-out. The show is very strange for an audience member to know when to laugh because at the heart of it, the jokes are about something really sad therefore, it was hard for them to know when it was okay to laugh and not feel like they are laughing at the person with the disability. It is made tougher by my pedantic speech as a result of my disorder. I have faced this challenge often as a stand-up comedian and I didn’t know how this would fare for my show. This ended up not being that big of a problem. Nevertheless, I wasn’t thrilled with how my show went. My general awkwardness at the end of my worked in my favour, however, as the audience loved it. I wrote this off as a freak occurence and that my audience sizes would normalize for the rest of the shows. That my third show no way would anyone come out I mean it was at a god-awful hour of 11pm on a day that had been raining hard and was still coming down hard. Nevertheless, lo and behold this show almost sold-out as well. There were 5 seats still available.

I was a bit worried how, the critics would take it, however, as my show was barely 35 minutes at that time and I said it was a 42 minute show. One critic hated this and gave me a medicore review a 3. The other big critic, however, loved my show and gave me a 5 stars. Which is a miracle, since five star reviews should only be reserved for the best shows like the Hot Thespian Action one or Crumbs. You know, shows that would sell out automatically whether or not they got 5 stars.
After hearing both shows complain about my show being short. My brother and I stayed up late the Saturday before the Sunday show, my 3rd show, and worked really hard to add 5 more minutes. One of the jokes that came out of this session actually became one of my best jokes.
After getting the 5-star review I also got two super generous reviews from complete strangers in the Jenny’s which is the unofficial fringe newspaper. My shows now started selling out really quickly. I could only hope that the message that I was trying to send about people with Aspergers being just as capable and worthy as anyone else, despite having our shortcomings socially was getting through. One show sold out 5 minutes after tickets going on sale I’ve heard.
The final hurdle came after I won patron’s pick. I was going to be going up against the best shows from other venues in the exact same time-slot. Amazingly enough, the press and word of mouth was good enough that it was the only show that sold-out in advance.
The most rewarding part of the festival, however, was not selling out shows but having strangers who I did not know come up and talk about how they could relate to the show and how they too had Aspergers and appreciate what I had done. Some of them even shared their own stories.

In September, the show will air for one night only at the purple room as a fundraiser for Aspergers Manitoba.

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Comments
  1. kruus@mymts.net says:

    Bravo! Way to go! You are an artist and a professional the way you work at constantly improving your show. That’s what artists and pros! When I saw your show I thought it was great, and that it was easy for you to write it, not much work at all because it was about your life. I had no idea you had worked so hard and continued to keep improving it during the show’s run, in response to feedback and criticism. But that’s what pros do, they make it “look” effortless because of the background hard work they put into it. Keep working on your show and improving it by adding to it. (The more the better). Then, take it on the road eventually! Do the Fringe Fests across Canada – there’s category for a 5 plus city tour. Best wishes! Kyllikki Anne Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2013 19:22:01 +0000 To: kruus@mymts.net

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