Last Saturday I performed at the 10×10 Variety Show in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the town in which I live. Last year the 10×10 Festival was primarily a visual arts festival that was held over a week. This year the festival expanded to a two week program and included several music and staged performances as well as 2 comedy nights, a trivia show, and then the variety show that I performed in. We were commissioned to be funnier than Newt Gingrich and I think we gave him a run for his money.
The venue for the trivia and variety shows is the New Stage for Performing Arts which is right on our main boulevard, North Street. The theater has about 80 seats with some tables and when I showed up for the variety show, it quickly filled to capacity. The theater manager brought in another dozen chairs and several additional people opted to stand for the show. I saw another 12+ people turned away who wanted to come to the show. It was astounding. I had been going to and performing at a music venue in town called Chameleon’s, which was nice enough to start a comedy night a few months ago, but the most the show had ever got was about 35, not that I’m complaining.
I guess it’s about marketing to the right group at the right time. Because this show was part of a festival that had a marketing budget in the first place and because the festival was marketed to the email lists of several different venues, the collective effort was successful in filling this theater to beyond capacity. Getting more people involved, and more importantly, throwing a little money at marketing can pay big dividends.
When I arrived I was told that I was going to be closing the show which was an honor and a privilege not to mention a little intimidating. I tweeted to Brody Stevens, who I performed with in New Orleans, to give me strength, and he responded. It was a mixed crowd but since there were quite a few older folks in attendance and I wasn’t sure how my material was going to be received. It turns out that I got a lot of general support, but my set was particularly popular with the ladies, several of whom came up to me after the show to discuss specific bits. I think I finished the show of 10 acts very strongly, some people said I “killed” which is an idea that I can’t agree with. Who can really say that with confidence? At any rate, I’d really like to thank Ben Elliott of the New Stage for getting me involved with the show and for running the show so well (he’s also a great performer), and to Nicki Wilson, artistic director of the organization. I hope to stay involved with the theater and to support it in any way that I can from now on. For more information on the New Stage, check out their website.
If you came to the show, thank you very much! If you didn’t come to the show and you live in Western Massachusetts (the Berkshires or Pioneer Valley) the NY Capital District (Albany + suburbs), or Southern Vermont (Bennington), please consider coming to a show in Pittsfield. The area is less than an hour away from you and the quality of performers and venue is extremely high and totally worth your money.
Really cool people that I met that night were:
Alex Reczkowski – who performed in several transitional bits in-between the main acts. Turns out Alex has spent time in Hungary, and myself being half-Hungarian, we were meant to hit it off.
Andrew Joffe – who read a prepared piece and acted as a judge during another transitional piece. He turned out to be very knowledgable about the best works of many classic and contemporary comics. I believe he’s involved with productions at the New Stage, much like Alex.
Darlene White – was perhaps the only other true standup comedian on the bill that night. She did a great job batting for the other sex and thankfully she had some risque material that made me feel more confident about my set.
Drew Jacobs – is a guy who plays comedic songs but what sets him apart from a lot of comedy songwriters is that he can actually really play the guitar and sing. He had a couple numbers that had the entire room singing along. Find out more about him at his website.
Anne Flournoy – was there to watch premieres of her web series, The Louise Log, starring Christine Cook as Louise. Anne has had films included as part of the Sundance Film Festival and was incredibly nice to me after the show. Her series is hilarious and new episodes begin airing in March. Find out more at http://TheLouiseLog.com
Rhymes With Armadillo – is a sketch and improv duo made up of Barby Cardillo and Seth Brown. I’d met Seth many months ago when he bravely held a monthly open mic in Williamstown. Seth is amazing and the improv’d musical numbers he did with Barbara were definitely a highlight of the night. His website is www.RisingPun.com and his hip hop handle is Ham-STAR and you should definitely see him rap, he will blow you away!