Don’t Quit!

Don’t worry, this isn’t an inspirational post about making sure you get to the finish line of whatever you’re working on (In fact, sometimes it’s important NOT to get to the Finish line).

This is a post to get you to go see Don’t Quit Your Night Job, an improv/sketch comedy/musical/cavalcade of stars that takes place once a month.  It’s face-hurtin’ funny, stars some great talent, and the proceeds go to charity.

Yes, go to laugh your a$$ off and see some Broadway stars making fun of themselves, but also go for this reason:

Last year, a commercial run of Don’t Quit tried to make it Off-Broadway.  It didn’t work.  I think it could have.  Do you?  How could you have made it work?

Oh and big props to the creators for not letting the failure of a commercial run stop them from doing what they love to do and what they do so well.  It would have been easy to “quit” after that, and most people would have.  They deserve some credit for keeping on, keeping on.

Oh crap, here I go, turning this into an inspirational post again.  Dang it!

The 4th F!

In my post about the 3Fs, I forgot an F!

And it’s an important one.

The fourth F is . . .

F*** it.

Great producers know when to give up.  Great producers know when to close a show, when to stop throwing good development money after bad, and when to move on to something else.

It’s tough, because as artists we get very emotionally attached to our projects/children.  But like investing in the stock market, you have to know when to sell a loser.  It actually takes more courage to close a show than to open one.

We will all have to do it at some point in our careers.  So embrace your inner swearin’ sailor and say F*** it.

I Went To Church At An Airport.

When I travel, I like to take the first flight out in the morning.  Less chance of being delayed, and I usually sleep better than I did when I saw  In My Life.

Recently my first flight out had me at Chicago’s Midway airport too early for me to head to my hotel.  So, I bought a WiFi connection, got a bagel, and set up an office.  Then, I heard an announcement:

“Catholic mass will be celebrated in the chapel at 8:30.  All are welcome.  The service will last 30 minutes.”

30 minutes!  As someone who was raised Catholic (hence Altar Boyz), I’ve lived through homilies that were 30 minutes alone!  And here’s a chance to relieve some Catholic guilt and say that I’ve been to mass, with only a 30 minute investment?  Done and done.

There is no question that the modern audience, for church or for entertainment, loves a short show.  Don’t your ears perk up when you hear that a show you are about to see is a short one?  Don’t you cringe when you hear that August: Osage County is 3.5 hours long, despite the great reviews and word of mouth?

Why is a quote like “90 minutes of Heavenly Hilarity” better than one without the time reference?  (tip:  if you ever get a quote that says your show is 90 minutes, use it like a toothbrush – 3 times a day).  Is it because attending the theater is a chore?  Just like church?  Is it because the theater isn’t a comfortable experience so we don’t want to be trapped?

Is it because everything in our world is shorter and faster (we’ve gone from letters to faxes to emails to text messages), and that this advancement and fast-paced lifestyle is bleeding over into entertainment?  (First sitcoms then 2 minute YouTube videos and next, micro-clips on our mobile phones?)

Or (and I worry about this one), is it because audiences aren’t enjoying a majority of the theater they see, so they want to know that if they don’t like it, at least they will be back on their couch in time to watch Will and Grace in syndication on the CW?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that when I try to get people to see my shows, it’s a lot easier after I tell them they are ALL less than 90 minutes.

From a totally commercial perspective, it’s something to think about when creating your shows.  It’s easier to sell short.

I mean, don’t you all enjoy my blogs more when they are shorter???

Stats Courtesy of Business Week

Network TV Ad Spending in 2006        16 billion
Network TV Ad Spending in 2007        15.5 billion

Internet Ad Spending in 2006              4.1 billion
Internet Ad Spending in 2007              5.2 billion

Duh.

But watch out, with this kind of growth on the ‘net, we could be looking at a lot of clutter pretty soon (how many email discounts for Broadway shows do you get in your inbox every morning?).

The best Broadway Producers I’ve ever worked with are always exploiting the current trends and at the same time are also figuring out how to take advantage of the next uncluttered space.

Ah, The Double Standard of Entertainment

A debate of ethic proportions has emerged amongst Broadway producers recently.

The question . . . would you hire this man?

The entertainment industry has always had a “we’ll hire you no matter what” attitude towards anyone with box office potential when it has come to drug use, DUIs, and even domestic violence.

Does this crime warrant more concern?  Less?

Will there be protests at the theater?  What if there are underage cast members in the show?

If we continue to hire individuals with bad track records, never mind criminal records, are we just teaching them that they are not accountable for their actions?

And are we teaching future artists that they don’t have to be accountable as well?  Or is the only thing we are accountable for the actual accounting.

Is it strange that companies across the world have drug tests for the simplest of tasks, yet there is no drug testing for Broadway employees, whether they are lifting fellow dancers above their heads or whether they are lifting heavy scenery above a dancer’s head?

And do we not have drug testing because we all know that a huge majority of actors, etc., would fail?

I don’t have an answer to whether or not I’d hire Mr. Barbour, but I do know this:

I’ve been trying to get this guy to do a musical for a long time.  God help me if it ever happens.

What would you do?

X