Posts Tagged ‘Winnipeg comedy’

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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Never judge any of your own work to harshly. This is a life lesson that I have learnt recently. I had lots of fun making a webseries called Library outreach where I went out into the community and interviewed other comedians about things in their lives and always tied it back to the library. In the end I felt like it was a failure. When the library insisted that I remove it from YouTube because it was giving people the wrong idea that I was part of an organized promotional attempt from the library which takes a longer time getting anything done and runs through more of a committee and many many meetings. At the time, however, I was not that upset because the views on the YouTube videos were dismal. A popular video got 100 views and most of those I felt like were from me. Therefore, I was ready to write the show off. Just yesterday something amazing happened, however. A big name Comedian who is well-known and has been on televised comedy shows and gets interviewed by Bill Mader wants to do my show. Turns out he is dating another comedian. A comedian who is from Winnipeg and I am good friends with, a one Aisha Alfa; who had previously moved to Toronto less than 4 months ago to further her career. When Aisha told him about the show he became interested in being in it when he passes through Winnipeg for the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, in which he is participating in the biggest shows of the festival. When I informed him the show was cancelled he got upset and me realizing how big of an opportunity that I am missing have decided to create a new interview web series called “It’s a Work In Progress.”

I went on Facebook the other day, to be confronted by sad news. That comedy at the Cavern was no longer operating. The bar was still there, they just did not find it financially viable to run a comedy night there anymore. I had taken it’s existence for granted, believing that as long as there was comedy in Winnipeg that there would be comedy one day a week at the Cavern. For the last three years I had been basing my schedule around doing comedy there. Not accepting  really early shift on Monday because I was going to be out late drinking and hanging out with my buddies until as late as 2 am some nights.

Hearing about the closure of comedy at the Cavern was absolutely horrible. Many great comedians, much better than myself, had had their start there. The worst part is that they had announced the end without giving us advanced notice. If there had been more advance notice many more people would have gone to say their goodbyes and pay homage one last time. I would have definitely made sure to have done a better set as my final one there if I had known the week before that it was my last one. It’s like having the last conversation that you will ever have with someone close to you, whether, that’s a family member, a cherished friend, a beloved teacher a fight over what channel to watch. Something so meaningless that you two don’t even remember what you had been fighting about the night before, but, knowing that it left a bad taste in both of your mouths and knowing that you will never get the chance to say that you’re sorry.

I hope in my heart of hearts that the Comedy night at the Cavern, knows I didn’t mean that horrible set and its last memory of me wasn’t of it. That it has fond memories of me and the times we had together, whether hanging out in the back being chatty Cathys with the other comedians or of being on stage. The show helped me learn to accept my Aspergers and who I am, and that I can be a meaningful voice in raising awareness of the disability. This whole blog would not have been possible if not for that night in that dank, poorly ventilated bar. Where they had drink specials of a pint of beer for $4 dollars.

The Comedy night, has done more to help me make friends and learn what it means being part of a group than anyone or anything else.  Sure the night will have successors, has its partner Thursday nights at the Rose’n’bee still fights on, despite its changes its changes in management of the bar. Also another open mic show opening up the same night just down the block at The Pulse opening up but who knows if I will ever have the same give-and-take relationship that I had with Comedy at the Cavern with any of the other shows. What I am trying to say is that Comedy Night at the Cavern will be sorely missed.

 

Holy shit, I get to be part of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. It’s a dream come true. Most comedians spend their whole career trying to get into their city’s festival. Granted I am not in the big Winnipeg show which is a showcase for all the local talent and is the biggest show for local comedians but getting to host shows at the library is still something right? It means someone recognized I had talent. Granted, I did have to email the producer Al Rae and beg him to let me in the show, which, frankly is not as cool as if he had asked me, but if he was worried that I would shit the bed he wouldn’t have put me in the show and allowed me to host as many noon shows as I wanted right? mean granted it is better to have a comedian to introduce the acts then someone who worked in the library. But if he was really concerned he could have done it himself right? I mean he was in the audience after all. Nevertheless, this was still an act of courage, and generosity and not the last involved in last year’s festival. I mean here is someone who does not know me all that well, willing to take a chance on me when people who I regularly perform with week in and week out are reluctant to put me on their shows where the potential of a turn-out is not nearly as high as any event for the Winnipeg Comedy festival. Especially in a location, that has been extremely successful in the past and has had a big turn-out as far as I can remember when they had comedians like Al Bolden amongst others. They have also invested some serious cash I am guessing because that year they have pretty big comedians such as John Wing and Sean Cullen coming to the library to perform. If I do a  terrible job, off the top that would  sour the mood for the rest of the comedians. 

    I went to the big kick off to the festival at McNally’s. The turnout was pretty good and I got to met the people who were working with Al. I asked one of the guys how many of the days he wanted me to host, thinking that I would be lucky just getting to host even one. They want me to host all of them,  however, due to personal obligations I am only available the one day. Forunately for me the one day I can make it is the biggest one. Where I will be opening up for Sean Cullen and John Wing and not one of the other days which are not devoted to stand-up but one of them is a funny book reading. The comedians on the night of the kick-off are the ever; hilarious Chantal Marostica, OBC,  Aisha Alfa and Al Rae. It is almost impossible to sit in a restaurant and not order anything to eat or drink. Unforunately, I just realized that I have very little money on me and I do not know whether or not they accepted Debit or Visa. Therefore, I order the cheapest dessert they have. It is delicious, and oh so chocolatey, and it makes a very nice treat while watching the comedy. However, the whole time in the pit of my stomache I am worried that I will be  unable to pay. I am good friends with the other comedians but still felt awkward about everyone knowing how broke I am. Well not broke, I have plenty of money in my bank account, that just doesn’t help me if it’s not on me right? What if McNally’s restaurant doesn’t accept cards? That’s crazy talk, right?  My decision to come was spontaneous and ill-planned out. In addition, I am still worried about making a good impression on Al. I mean he does, have a hell of alot of power when it comes to the festival and frankly I have only met him a few times. After the show I  anxiously await for the bill to arrive. When I look at the time and it’s after 12 o’clock so I step away for a minute. Not because I am trying to dine and dash, the thought has never occured to me. I just need to check in with my mom if I am going to be home after midnight, she’s overprotective like that. When I get back I ask one of the other people who’se working for Al on the festival where the bill is and they tell  me that Al had covered everyone’s bill. If I knew this I would probably have been a douche and ordered a few beers and not been so cheap with ordering the cheapest thing on the menu.  After the comedy show on my way home I stopped for gas. Just as I was going through the cards in my wallet to prepay for the gas I was about to buy. It turned out like an idiot I had forgot the cards by the computer from when I was booking tickets for the Debaters. Therefore, I drove home without getting the gas but in my head I was completely freaking out because I had been counting on those cards to pay my bill and if Al had not paid for everyone I would have been royally screwed. I have no clue what they would have done with me. Would I have gone to prison? Would they have called my home and had someone have to come down with money and bail me out? Would they make me have to wash dishes? For Al’s I will forever be grateful, even if I never perform in the festival again. Though, I personally think that I have the library market cornered. Right? “Come on, pretty please?”

  The realization that I had got into the festival as a result of someone else’s generosity probably made me more awkward than I already am. For example, I would talk to other, female, comedians who had extremely long lists of credits and  had been flown into Winnipeg from Los Angeles to do several shows, and then I would foolishly point out “hey I am not even supposed to be here, as a performer” but I am doesn’t that make me sexy. Wow it’s Steve Patterson, if I did comedy for the rest of my life I hope I have one-tenth the ability you have, and now I am gushing like a little girl instead of a comedian. I am not even the best comedian fan. On the last night of the festival, everyone was partying it up at the Academy Bowling Lanes and I went up to one of the comedians and said “hey, you look familiar have I seen you on television before?” and he being the nice modest guy he is said “yeah I was on a show called KIDS in the Hall” and then I being the smart guy that I am and knowing that there were two people from the show there, Scott Thompson and Kevin Macdonald said “oh, you must be Scott Thompson” and he politely said ” no that’s Scott Thompson” over there. That was so emberassing because pretty much everyone knows who they are. It’s like meeting the members of KISS backstage and going up to Gene Simmons and being like “hey aren’t you in a band? Holy shit, your in Kiss, you must be Ace Freehely!”   I have to say to Kevin Macdonald’s credit is he was extremely humble, easy-going, forgiving and had a smoking hot wife. I mean this woman was jaw-dropping beautiful.

    The actual day:  On the day of the performance, I got to the library by bus 15 minutes earlier than the time that we said we were going to start and I was busy trying to memorize the credits for John Wing and Sean Cullen two seasoned professional comedians. I remember John saying that he wanted to go before Sean because Sean was a really tough act to follow due to his unique relationship with crowds and the energy he brings to the room. I remember being suprised because I always thought John Wing was the stage time for an asian comedian. It’s not the John part that creates that illusion in my head but the last name Wing. Why this would be the case, I am still not sure to this day. I remember making jokes to a semi-awkward crowd who warmed up much more to the other guys than me. It could be because they are used to performing in places other than bars for young people. I also remember reading the credits on stage because I couldn’t remember them and then making a lame joke about how John was old because he had opened up for a band that I have never heard of. Not that I am a music guru or anything. 

What really stands out, however, is that there was an elderly woman sitting in the corner who knitted the whole time. When I tried to rift on this it did not fare well, but the other guys were able to get some good mileage out of this funny sight.  It was the most flabbergasting thing I have ever dealt with as a comedian. Who actually brings their knitting with them to live shows? I mean yes I have knit in front of the television or while listening to the radio but that is not directly in the eye-sight of the performers. You can’t believe how distracting and how much it threw me off to have someone more focused on their knitting than my attempt to try and entertain them and I have had my fair share of bored audience members who feel that it is better to shout out random things or talk with their friends than it is to listen to the show but never any knitters.

 Not only did I met Kevin Macdonald but I met tons of awesome people like the girls from Picnic Face. I also met this super hot chick the last night, who was just a girl who came to the party even though she was not part of the festival. I thought that she was  Jewish comedian Judy Gold,  even though she had red hair which is a clear sign that people are usually not Jewish. When I asked her about it she was very flirty and unzipped my sweater jacket that I was wearing. I did not know how to respond to that at all. I don’t even remember what happened. I am not the type of person that gets into relationships easily or even knows when a girl is flirting or just being goofy. It’s an Asperger thing really. Sherry Sutton was also at that party so it was really neat getting to meet her after watching her kill her show at the library the previous year. Talking about what life is like as a Lesbian who grew up in traditional Southern Texas. In addition, she congratulated me on a show where I had no clue how I did so had mixed feelings about afterwards. Her complimenting me was a huge boost to my ego. Because in my head I was thinking that’s incredible that you like me because you are a genuinely funny professional comedian and I am a local open mic comedian.

One of the best parts of being in the show was that I recieved a performer pass which entitled to go see all the other shows that were going on…. For FREE!! It also entitled me to going to afterparties which were incredible. Great food, great company and unlimited alcohol. As I have mentioned before I am not a huge drinker because like many people with Aspergers I don’t like to feel out of control as I already have so little of it when I am sober. Nevertheless, the idea of unlimited free alcohol sounds breathtaking to my ears. All in all it was one of the best experiences in my life.