Saturday, April 6, 2013

How Do You Handle (Super-Temporary, Light-Weight) Fame?

Los Improviachis playing CIF 16 at Upstairs Gallery
Last night was the second night of the Chicago Improv Festival where Salsation had a show. Two nights previously I put together a quick showcase of Salsation productions (Word Up, Los Improviachis, and Salsation Improv) and this night was going to be Los Improviachi's major CIF showcase.  We had been working hard for the last two weeks playing shows, promoting our appearances, and putting in work to bring something new to the table.

We played on a triple bill for the evening and we were the only musical act.  I got a slot going second as it was a new venue and traffic/parking on a Friday night in Andersonville always sucks (I was in the car for 2.5 hours to get to the show on time) so I accommodated having both actors and audience showing up late to the gig.  We took a little bit more time warming up than usual but felt good going into our set.

Feeling good. Ready for action.  Then all hell breaks loose.

We have a fantastic show!  I have to admit that I thought it was going to be a weird show with the group kind of being in our heads while warming up.  But once we took the stage, we brought Los Improviachis to life on stage as usual.  As soon as I uttered, "You can continue clapping for us.  I don't mind."  They responded by keeping the applause going.  At that point, I knew we owned that audience and would have a great show.

After we played, we hung out for a few minutes backstage and packed up.  We exited down the harrowing steps from the third floor of the building onto the street level and hung out in front of the venue a tiny bit.  Frankie struck up a conversation with a dog owner passing by so we decided to chill out where we were.  Just as we got ready to leave, the audience from our show begins their exodus from the venue.

Things got weird at this point.

One of the ladies we played to in the audience came down first and struck up a conversation.  She told me how she read a recent article about the show and came just to see it.  She went on about how much she enjoyed the show and had a lot of fun.  Then I ran into people who came to see the show as a result of catching our triple-feature showcase previously.  That was totally unexpected.  They also told me how much they enjoyed the show and how great it was.  As the rest of the audience kept exiting, I was getting lots of "Hey, good job" shout-outs and hand shakes from complete strangers.

As a performer, I live for these kinds of moments.  I dream of getting on stage and people giving me standing ovations afterwards, beautiful young women throwing themselves at me, and three course feasts being held in my honor.  The reality is I usually do a show, nobody I know of shows up to the show, and I get in my car and head home with the personal opinion I did a good job.  To get even a taste of accolades was surreal.  I didn't really know what the hell to do with myself or how to respond.  I found myself feeling out-of-sorts and awkward.  The only thing I could say that I felt was gracious and humble was "Thank you" over and over again.

Over all it was cool and lifted my spirits (and ego).  This little dream project of mine is living up to the potential I know it has.  I'll continue pushing it to greatness (and learning to keep myself in check while we get our props).

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