It’s been a good year for me, with some personal comebacks, as well as setting the stage for future comebacks. Let’s take a look at my goals for 2010.
1. Do 75 shows this year. I achieved this, and finish out the year with 86 performances. This has been my best acting year in a long time. “The Last Straight Man In Theatre,” while not a box office hit, got great reviews and a wonderful response from the people who saw it. Some people told me that they quoted the show, and that it had a “mnemonic quality.” The show played to sparse houses (and amazing reviews) in Fresno and dwindling audiences in Ottawa (with more incredible reviews). Then the show did a U.S. midwest tour, playing to tiny houses in Kansas City, becoming possibly the lowest grossing show in the Minnesota Fringe, and then picking up with one great one-off show in De Pere, Wisconsin and actual decent box office (including the one and only sold out show!) and continued sky high reviews in Indianapolis.
I came back to New York in September and did a ten week run of the show at an artist collective space in Brooklyn called Flushnik Studios, at the cross section of Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Williamsburg. I got no press beyond a few listings, but people came out and supported the show and supported me. The show ran every Saturday night and each Saturday I had a different opening act. Improv, singers, bands, comedians. It ran the gamut. The show ended up making a tiny profit, and I’m very proud of that. Three years ago I produced a play (which I also acted in, but didn’t write) that spiraled out of control for me in terms of costs. I’ve learned from that, and it’s a step forward for me to be able to produce a show in New York again, and this time not lose money.
The second half of that comeback for me was being cast in “Black Peter” as Kris Kringle. I was once again in a play in New York, and it had been a long time since I had done that. A musical, with puppets! I was cast as a direct result of “The Last Straight Man In Theatre.” The writer/producer of the play, Pat Quigley, lived at Flushnik and saw my show several times. He told me about “Black Peter,” I read the script, auditioned, and was cast. The play ran for four weeks at Stage Left in Manhattan, beginning Thanksgiving weekend. The show was a challenge, hard work, and a great opportunity. I wasn’t sure how I would do in it, but in the end I received good feedback and was very pleased with the cumulation of the work that we did. It was a pleasure to work with the team involved with it.
This summer into the fall into the winter was the longest streak I’ve had doing live performances in years. I think it’s evidence that if you stick around long enough, you’ll get another good streak. With “The Last Straight Man In Theatre,” I think that the festival circuit is not the place for this show. I plan to do it in a few more festivals, and that’s it. I think the show takes some concentration, and when people are going from show-to-show in a festival they aren’t really primed to stop and focus. They want something that goes down easier. I understand that. The show is more likely to have success as a stand-alone show, in a run of its own or at a regional theater. The show played two regional shows this year to much success, in De Pere, WI, and Wellsboro, PA.
2. Go to the gym 200 times, meaning once a day for 200 days in 2010. I didn’t make 200, but I came fairly close with 184. Last year my goal was 100 times and I completed with 138. Plus last year’s goal was achieved halfway through the year and by the time I got to the cold months of November and December I didn’t make it to the gym very much at all. This year I went consistently throughout the year.
3. Book goal – read “Personal Days,” which Gabe loaned me. I read it and gave it back to Gabe when I saw him at Wellsboro in October. Read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” I read it and didn’t care for it, and I have gotten grief from Tommy Nugent and Howard Heyman about that. This goal was achieved then.
4. Writing goal #1 – Write a story that I’ve had in my head. No, I did not do this. My writing was kind of neglected this year. Even my usual tour blog was replaced by a vlog (which helped accomplish another goal). In 2011 it will be very important to me to get back to writing.
5. Writing goal #2 – Write a TV pilot version of “The Last Straight Man In Theatre.” Nope, I didn’t accomplish my writing goals this year. This one I would like to do in 2011 and see what transpires with it.
6. Fan goal – Put up 3 new videos. This was accomplished. During my midwest tour I put up daily videos, resulting in 45 videos. And, yes, the series finale is in the works.
7. Procrastination vs. Goal goal – Make at least 100 calls to colleges and booking agents to get my solo show “Hooray for Speech Therapy” booked into colleges. To be honest, I can’t believe I actually achieved this, but I did. I finish the year with 114 calls.
People have told me for some years that my show would be perfect for colleges. Well, easier said than done, but at the end of March I was working at a day job for a few months, and began structuring my half hour lunch. I always ate at work, and spent fifteen minutes eating and fifteen minutes making 2 calls to schools, and sometimes a follow-up call as well. I’ve never been a great phone person, but I wanted to get the word out. I sent emails, too, and did research online learning about who to contact and the best way to do it.
When that spring semester had ended, I had booked two schools for the fall. When the fall came, one of the shows had to be rescheduled, so I just did one – Clarion University, PA. The show went exceptionally well. It was the 79th overall performance of “Hooray,” and I realized while doing the show how far I’ve come. I hadn’t performed to such a large group of college-aged people before, but I was quickly able to gauge the crowd and see what they were responding to. I could direct my performance toward what was working with the crowd, and the show was a huge success. I’ve been doing that show since 2003 and it’s still growing, and I’m still growing as a performer. I can’t wait to do it again. I hope to even do a festival with it in 2011.
At Clarion I learned about the American Speech and Hearing Association convention in Philadelphia in November. I went to it! I attended during the student day and approached tables during the graduate school fair, as well as people from stuttering organizations and students. Some people were nonplussed, but many people were interested. From that, as well as from more phone calls I made, I have four possible college shows for the first half of 2011, including the one postponed from 2010. I’ll keep working on it and work on making it grow. Any leads or advice are welcome.