Broadway Vocab 101. Why is a flop called a turkey anyway?

Happy Thanksgiving, readers!

It’s ironic, don’t you think?  We spend this one day pounding back slices of turkey, and we spend the rest of the year trying to avoid producing one.

And why do we call a flop a turkey anyway?  Why not an owl?  Or a swallow?

Well, these are the types of questions that keep me up at night, so I decided to do some Gearching (I’ve decided that the word search is now so inextricably connected to Google that we should just combine the two words), and share the results with you, on this fowl-filled day.

So why is a Broadway show that flops called a turkey?

It all comes down to IQ.

Apparently, a turkey is a pretty damn dumb bird.

Don’t believe me?  Well, I found one web post from a dude who used to work at a turkey farm and breeding facility that gave two examples of IQ-challenged turkey behavior:

1 – The pens of the farm had to be equipped with specially designed water bowls which would keep a minimal amount of water in the bowl and shut off while the turkeys were drinking. Why?  Because on occasion, a turkey would “forget” to lift its head while drinking . . . and drown.  And this guy saw it happen.

2 – Large scale turkey farms regularly use artificial insemination to get the turkeys to reproduce.  Why?  Because if they didn’t, the turkeys just might not around to it on their own.

So the birds are stupid.

And in 1927 (coincidentally, the year that Show Boat opened), someone decided that flops were stupid too. (Probably because everything looked stupid compared to Show Boat.)

And thus, a dud became a turkey.

Now that I know the answer . . . I still like owl better.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

We’re having a Tony Party and you’re invited!

Tony night is my favorite holiday of the year.  Yep, that’s right, for me (and I’m sure for you, too) it qualifies as a holiday.

It’s better than New Year’s, better than Thanksgiving . . . and hey, if you’re a nominee, it can be better than Christmas!

Well, what better way to spend the holidays than with friends and family. So, we’re throwing a Tony Party and all of you are invited!

BroadwaySpace.com is sponsoring the bash which will take place at my favorite wing place in the city:  Blondies on the Upper West Side.  They’ve got super wings, and super-sized TVs all over the place, so you’ll be able to get a great view from any angle.

And, this is the coolest part . . . we’ve got two super-awesome hosts who will be giving you their running commentary on the festivities all night long . . . Current Hair stars, Annaleigh Ashford and Kyle Riabko!  (And I hear they are working up some pretty cool surprises, including a song or two, to keep you entertained during commercial breaks).

In addition, here are a few more things we have planned for the Big Night:

  • A Tony Pool with a BIG prize!
  • Raffles and contests for cool prizes including free tickets to shows like A Little Night Music, Million Dollar Quartet, Lend Me a Tenor and more!
  • Surprise special guests
  • Broadway Karaoke after the awards
  • A “Quiet Room” with its own large screen TV for those that want a more private viewing
  • And more!

But the best part of the night is going to be spending it surrounded by other folks who are as passionate about the theater and Broadway as all of you.  If you’ve been to one of my socials, imagine that . . . times 100.

There is a food and beverage charge of $25, if you reserve your wings in advance. You’ll get unlimited wings, moz sticks, chicken tenders, fries and veggies, as well as unlimited sodas.  There will be a cash bar . . . and I hear the bartenders at Blondies are already working up a $5 specialty drink called the Tony-Tini!  At the door, you’ll pay $30, so reserve in advance.

The room can only accommodate a limited number of people so reserve now, and you won’t end up wondering on June 13th, “What am I gonna do tonight?”

It’s gonna be a blast.  I can’t wait.  In fact, if I can’t be at Radio City up for an award, then this is the only other place I want to be.

See you there!

THE BROADWAYSPACE.COM TONY PARTY
with Hair’s Annaleigh Ashford and Kyle Riabko

Blondies
212 West 79th St. (between Broadway & Amsterdam)
Doors and Wings at 7:00 PM
Show starts at 8:00 PM
Sunday, June 13, 2010

(Arrive early to play the Tony Pool and to get a good seat)
Karaoke immediately following the awards until ????

Unlimited Food and Soda
$25 in advance
$30 at the door

Reserve today.  Click here.

10 Things this Producer is thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I love holidays.  Family, food, and big box office numbers.  Mmm, mmm, good.

In addition to being thankful for the flock of tourists coming to town from now through New Year’s, here is a list of my ten other theatrical thankfuls this year.

1.  The Producers of Avenue Q had the courage to try an unprecedented downsize with their move Off-Broadway.  By doing so they kept over 50 people employed and just may have opened up a whole new ‘avenue’ of distribution for Broadway shows of a certain size.

2.  I got the rights to a book called Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage.  It’ll be the female version of Defending The Caveman.  Give me 12 months max, and it’ll be up.

3. I moved into a new office, and already it feels like we’re ready for something bigger.  Offices are like aquariums . . . always get the bigger one, because when you get it home, you’re going to want it.

4. The Independent Theater Bloggers Association (The ITBA) was formed and now has 40+ members!  The bod chose a group of award winners for the 2008-2009 season, and at the same time just may have unofficially declared the start of the new media revolution in the theatrical industry.

5.  My Dad had a subdural hematoma, had emergency brain surgery, and is now better than ever (ok, that’s not theatrical, but if anything deserved a standing ovation on this list, it would be this one).

6.  Thanks in part to new management and in part to NPH, the Tony Awards ratings were up 20% in key demos!

7.  My investors, as well as a whole slew of theatrical investors, stayed in the theatrical waters this past year, despite the choppy economy.  They understand that investing in the theater is like investing in the market.   Diversify, stay in the game, and the one that we’re all waiting for will come.

8.  Michael Riedel at the NY Post mentioned the BroadwaySpace.com “50 Most Powerful People on Broadway” article in his column not once, but twice.  I’m thankful that I only commissioned the article and didn’t write it, because I heard there were some really happy people and some really peeved people.

9.  Leslie Arden signed on to write music and lyrics for Somewhere In Time.  After several years of searching for the right person, I found her.  I felt like Richard Collier himself.  The first reading will take place in the summer of 2010, if not sooner.

10.  Finally, I’m thankful for my readers.  Not only have you multipled over the last 12 months, but the comments and discussions that are emerging on the blog are exactly why I started writing in the first place.  We’re increasing the volume of the conversation about making Broadway, Off-Broadway and theater in general work, both artistically and financially.  And when we do that, we all benefit.

And now I’ll sign off this entry with the same Kenism I used last year:

Enjoy your T-day. Just remember . . .

Eat a turkey.  Don’t produce one.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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