Tuesday, June 30, 2009

While You Wait...

I worked for fifteen years with the same improvisational theater company. Let's plug them, shall we?

Impulse Theater in Denver, Colorado. Lower level of the Wynkoop Brewing Company.

My very first link....proud...proud...proud.

On the television series, "Whose Line is it Anyway?", they would call an audience member down, give them a microphone, and have them produce vocal sound effects for the scene taking place. I did that, professionally, for almost 2,500 performances. Enough self-promotion and shameless linking - this is all just background.

In the foreground is the fact that I performed with over 100 of the most talented people I know I will ever meet. At any given time, there were 15 to 20 working cast members. Every three or four years, after the cast had gotten wickedly experienced and felt the itch, a great number of them (always better than half) would leave the show within about the same two month period.

We called it The Exodus.

After every Exodus, we would bring in a new group of actors, train them in the show format and general improvisation, and turn them loose on the unsuspecting public. The audiences always changed with the actors. Relying on word-of-mouth advertising for almost our entire history, the words would simply start flowing from a new set of mouths whenever the new wave of actors would begin performing. The Exodus always happened before the slower summer season and, by the next fall, the crowd was right back where it used to be, mathematically. But a good percentage of the regulars had moved on, to be replaced by new regulars. It happened just that way four or five times during my tenure. We'll get to why I stayed as long as I did in another post.

Do you remember Andrew Dice Clay? A standup comedian of no mean skill, with a few impersonations in his bag - but he will always be remembered for The Diceman, a raunchy poet with misogynistic leanings who scorched the clubs and began playing full arenas during the height of his run. For years, the Diceman would play to packed houses.

At first, the attacks on his character by every politically correct celebrity and group on the list were a welcome boost to his gate and popularity. Eventually, either because The Diceman got old or Andrew got older, the criticism stopped sounding like applause and began sounding like, well, criticism.

So Andrew Dice Clay, not to be confused with Diceman, made a move to get away from the image that had earned him so much notoriety. But he never really got away from Diceman. In fact, he is attempting a comeback with the material and the character.

I am having a sale, today. Read one message, get the second message free.

The first message, from Impulse Theater, is that if you work on your craft and are expressing yourself to the best of your abilities, your audience will always be out there, waiting for you. This doesn't mean you don't tweet and get the Facebook and MySpace pages, because that is one of the ways it is done, these days. This message is for those who, like me, wondered if there would ever be an audience for their Art. There is, and enough marketing and creative barnstorming can get them for you.

The second message comes from Diceman, and it is a warning: Make sure you are who you want to be, as an artist, when your audience finds you. Once they do, right or wrong, they will define you by what brought them to the show.

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