Flexibility and Naked Truths

Last weekend I did the “Barebods” show in Hollywood. This is a naked show – performers and audience. I did naked standup at Burning Man several years ago, so the “naked” part wasn’t that big a deal. (Well the audience was much better looking than at that Burning Man show, but that’s not important to this post) The naked truth is – it went only fair.

The show was both improv and standup. I was scheduled to do one 7 minute set. Two other standups dropped out, so when I got to the venue, the director said I had a 7 minute set and a 5 minute set each before a similar set by the headliner. You have to be flexible in this business. Fortunately I have plenty more than 12 minutes of material; but I have to take time to arrange it so I have strong openers and closers for each set.

Then we found out our standup headliner (and one of the stronger improv performers) had a minor accident on the freeway. He wasn’t injured ,but would be late. So the show schedule was being revised as we ran it – can’t do that piece, have to substitute someone for his role in this piece etc. You have to be flexible.

I did my 7 minute set early on. Lukewarm reception. The naked truth is that if I can’t get the audience on board with the first two or three jokes, I never recover. it’s something I need to work on.

The improv sets in the first half of the show went from pretty good to really flat, in part because of the on-the-fly changes to the show schedule. The cast was assigned specific improv sets so they would be doing what they were good at, so the substitutions meant that some were in improv sets that didn’t really fit their talents. It showed. We lost some people at intermission.

Our other cast member showed up during intermission, but we still weren’t following the show schedule. So when he was called out to do his standup set (he was billed as the standup headliner, remember) I assumed that I would not be doing a second standup set. After all, you don’t put someone on after the headliner.  But about halfway through the second part of the show, I was announced for standup. You have to be flexible. Since I wasn’t expecting to do a second set, I didn’t have a chance to look at my notes before I went on stage. I kind of stumbled through my 5 minutes. The naked truth is I have to prepare my set; I’m not a performer that is always “on”. A few laughs, but some of my “surefire hits” missed.

The second half of the improv went slightly better than the first, but still not up to what I know the cast can do.

The naked truth is not every show is fantastic. I had some friends (on full price tickets) in the audience, so I wish this particular show had been better.

I need to work on being good with less preparation. I need to work on getting the audience back no matter when or how I lose them. I plan on doing more shows with improv next year. I think it will help me with both of those.

Between the improv and acting in a drama in a few Fringe festivals, the naked truth is I may be doing less actual stand up in 2018. My hope is that I will become a better performer though the other work (i.e. improv and Fringe) and that will make me a better standup.

Naked or not.