I’m an improv nut. For the last five years on average, I’ve played in two shows a week. I went to other peoples’ shows when I could, some multiple times, and much of the time just out of support, not because they’re great shows or anything. I’ve also put on (directed, produced, whatever) more shows/seasons than I can remember, and yet, I still can’t get people along to see my most innovative shows.
You could say, “well maybe you’re just shit.” I’m not, but there’s an old improv saying “you’re only as good as the last show I saw you in”, so maybe the last time people saw me was many many years ago? Still, some of my friends don’t even come, even the players who I’ve played with recently, so its not like they’re over seeing Richard do yet another improv show. Its like they consciously just don’t want to come and see something new that I’m in.
Initially I thought it might be because they weren’t cast in the show, maybe they’re just jealous they’re not in it, so they refuse to come. That can’t be the case, because I don’t believe my friends, or even players, would be that petty. And anyway, its just one show of many, so big deal. When I first started, I would go and see every show I could, even the ones I wasn’t interested in. Some of these I would have liked to be in, but that’s just life, even if you’re the best improvisor in town, the group mind is more important in a cast than how skilled you are. Successful shows, even if you’re not in them, mean more shows to play in, and that’s just good for everyone.
Then I thought maybe its the “well, you didn’t come and see mine”, but that’s also petty. If I didn’t see their show, then its probably because I was just plain couldn’t make it, and I usually try to apologise for that anyway.
Maybe players just don’t want to see different types of improv beyond Sydney’s formulaic short form. I can understand that from some, that’s all they play. But there are a lot of Sydney people who’ve recently got the long form bug, yet few of those come to my shows either.
So finally I figure maybe its just that I’m not good at publicity. I’m not a professional publicist, and my shows are pretty niche so can’t cost justify one, but I know for sure that with the publicity we do that the Sydney improv community well and truly know when my shows are on.
I don’t know. It makes you want to stop doing shows, both innovating and playing. It would be so easy to just revert back to playing in regular Theatresports shows and be done with it. In fact its probably easier to just move away altogether and back into film and radio.
Improv is all about making others look good, being supportive, and not having an ego. Maybe a lot of Sydney players need to learn a thing or two. Or maybe I just need to play better short form.
Or maybe not.
Its just weird, I can’t figure it out…