A quick reaction to doing FringeNYC

by david

It’s 6:15 on August 25th. At 3:30, I left the stage after my sixth and final performance of Dumber Faster at FringeNYC. I’m on a train, passing–as I type this sentence–through Bridgeport, CT on my way home to Boston. The show opened 13 days ago, and in that time I have been busier than at any time in my life. I need some sleep and some normality to come to more  solid conclusions about the whole experience, but this train has internet access, so I thought I’d throw up some quick, unpolished, unfiltered first reaction. Don’t expect award-winning narrative. Just a list.

* The final show: there are a number of possible explanations for it, but the last show was one of the best performances I’ve ever had, if not the best. It wasn’t flawless, but I did more with the flaws than I typically would or could. I had fun. I was relaxed. The audience was generous. I got big, wonderful laughs where I hoped to hear them, saw a ton of very welcome faces in the audience, and felt like everybody left getting what they hoped for. There are no shows in this run I’m ashamed of, but the sixth and final was undoubtedly the one I…

* Holy crap, I just saw a Wayne Manor-sized batswarm outside the window. Watch yourself, New Haven!

* that last one was really something.

* There’s a stand-up in Boston named Al Park who uses silences better than almost anybody. I think I’ve finally gotten about 15% of what Al’s doing with silences, and it’s amazing what it can do, especially when you’ve been running your mouth without pause, which, if you’ve seen one of my shows…

* I am LOUSY at self-promotion. If all there was to it was being annoying on Facebook, I’d be the king of effective self-promotion, but I’m increasingly convinced that Facebook isn’t all that useful for promotion, without spending money, and I’m not sure that with a limited budget Facebook is the place to spend it (although not having tried, I’d be very interested to hear from those who have bought FB ads for small shows). For a guy willing to stand on stage and talk about almost anything to almost anybody, I’m terribly, cripplingly shy about handing out postcards, contacting press, or selling my show.  There are undoubtedly many considerations that go into deciding to hire a publicist, and then choosing the right one, but I realize in retrospect that the stress of thinking it was all on me and my director took its toll. I was far more stressed about promoting than performing. I think the strength of the final performance was in part the result of knowing that was all behind me. The only thing I could do for the show was to do the show.

* Don’t construe that last comment as a statement of disappointment in the outcome of the show. I had certain goals for the show, and I met almost all of those goals (as well as an unexpected achievement that I’m excited about and will blog about very soon). The FringeNYC staff and volunteers have been awesome, and provided a thousand opportunities to promote the show through them, with them, and beside them. If you’re gearing up for FringeNYC, take advantage of all of that, but ALSO weigh the costs and benefits of your vast advertising and publicity options against a realistic assessment of what you know how to do and what you want to accomplish. Ron, the festival’s publicist, provides some very honest and useful guidelines for making these decisions. But, look, publicity is a job, and not all of us are equally well-suited for it or have the time or expertise to do it well. Recognize that for every single thing about which you say “I can take care of that myself,” that’s something you have to make time for, commit yourself to, and accept that perhaps somebody else could have done it better if it had been their job. You can save time and stress at the cost of money, or save money at the cost of stress and time. Sometimes money is worth less than stress and time. I don’t think I got the perfect balance, but I don’t think I was too far off the mark.  If I could go back in time two months, I might have said “I can take care of that myself” maybe two fewer times.

* Which reminds me: many people you know are extremely generous, and want you to succeed. They’ll help if you ask. Not everything requires hiring help. Sometimes it’s just about asking.

* Heidi and Andy’s couch is more comfortable than some beds.

* The La Greca brothers, who run FringeNYC’s Variety Power Hour, really should be podcasting year round, or hosting something. They’re super nice, and a riot. Somebody had better — soon — post photos of Jeff La Greca with his face entirely covered in clothespins. Dude kills me.

* Missing the closing party for the festival is a bummer, but I–sorry if this is corny, but it’s true–I really miss my daughter and wife. I am, at heart, a homebody, and I’m very glad I’ve been in New York, but I’ll be very glad to have breakfast with the kid tomorrow morning.

* No lie, Elena Holy and Britt Lafield better have some NYC landmark named after them. If you meet them, buy them drinks. I’ll pay you back.

The show opens in Boston in just over two weeks. The Boston run has a whole new first act with guest storytellers. I’m super-excited about it. It’s gonna be really fun to do this show at home with the guests I’ve recruited.

But excuse me if I don’t think about it at all tomorrow or Monday. I’m wiped out.

Last but not least: Thank you to everybody. Everybody. Except that one guy outside the 440 Studios. Everybody else. You’re a peach.

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