Last weekend I did the “Barebods” show in Hollywood. This show’s gimmick is that everyone is, well, “bare” – performers and audience. I did a “stripped” show at Burning Man several years ago, so I wasn’t unduly uncomfortable with that aspect of the show. But, the “naked truth” is – it went only fair.
The show was both improv and standup. A few performers dropped out at the last minute. I was originally scheduled to do one 7 minute set, but because of these changes I was suddenly doing 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.
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. With the schedule in flux, it looked like I wasn’t going to do a second set – after all the headliner was going to do both his sets in the second act, so we didn’t need me to fill that time slot. I was a bit surprised when I was announced -after the headliner- to do my 5 minute set, and it wasn’t a great set.
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 can become a better performer generally though the other work (i.e. improv and Fringe), and that will make me a better standup.
Naked or not.