Friday, September 08, 2006

Where Were You...?

As August wound down, the Disgruntled Bit Players, the sketch comedy group I co-founded with Joe, were on the heels of our most widely heralded show, Gate 17. We had a very short break after closing, as we were planning on taking the same show up to the Vancouver Fringe Festival, if for no other reason than to a) see if the show traveled well, and b) make more money.

After a brief rehearsal period, where we added new material and worked in our talented director into the cast, up to Vancouver we went. I should say, the majority of us went; there were still a few people who had "jobs" they needed to tend to (for example, this guy), so they joined us on the day of our first show.

We arrived on Tuesday, the festival opened on Wednesday, and our first show was on the night of Thursday, September 6th.

We stayed at the Cambie Youth Hostel in Gastown, an area that became the site for quite a few silly shenanigans over the coming days (I was the first to fall prey to the japery, though it was entirely my own fault) . The Cambie is all right, however, a couple of my friends were subjected to the bedbugs, a danger I imagine is common to hostels in general. It sported a pub, which featured 1) a bathroom stall dedicated to being pissed on (literally, there was an impressively full pint glass atop the toilet), and 2) a couple of pinball games, a Lost In Space tie-in (mind-bogglingly easy) and South Park (Joe sold his soul to master it).

It was also half a block away from this bar, the name of which escapes me, and which has apparently changed its milieu several times over in the five years since we were there. At the time, it featured a vague midieval atmosphere, New Wave-y Britpop on the speakers, and cheap cheap well drinks...

Considering the success of the Seattle run of G17, I think we hubristically expected to take Vancouver BC by storm...Not because we thought we were big shit, but because the show was so good, that we figured once people had the chance to see it, the buzz would build itself.

Well...A combination of various misunderstandings conspired against us...Even though we took pains to plaster our poster anyplace we could, we simply didn't get the word out...In retrospect, there were newspapers we could've contacted, but hadn't, assuming that the festival would take care of us in that sense. Also, none of us were too fond of the gladhanding flyer distribution system that we were encouraged to adopt. We were hoping to do some busking with our "Gay American Boyscouts Sing 'Oh, Canada!'", but apparently busking was discouraged on festival grounds, for reasons unfathomable to me. Add to this the fact that the festival had moved from its home in the Castro district (Vancouver's equivalent to Seattle's Capitol Hill) to Granville Island, which was more posh and central to Vancouver's downtown core.

We were hoping to get a review, any review, from either a festival flunky or a local newspaper (see note about our newspaper naivete), but it hadn't happened by our Monday show.

More than anything else, however, was our venue, cleverly named something misleading, but was actually a tent. A tent which had doubled as a horse stable in some recent fair. I remember we ended up in this venue because we felt that the first option given to us was too small and remote. Well, the tent was better located, sure, but it was cold, cavernous, and stank to high heaven.

The combined audience during our first weekend was still less than the number of people in the cast. Kinda hard to do comedy of any kind in those circumstances.

And so, we came to Monday's performance pissed and more than a little demoralized. Ironically, it was our best performance up there. The group had finally said "fuck it, let's have some fun." We did. (E and Skot still giggle at the memory of steam literally rising from my head.) The audience, our biggest at five, may not have known what to do with us, but we didn't care; our first stretch was done.

At 6:30p, on Monday, September 10th, after G17's denoument (consisting of elderly terrorists blowing up the titular airport terminal, followed by a loosely choreographed dance number), the Disgruntled Bit Players unwittingly took their final bow to a smattering of applause, despite having four more performances to go.

We retired to the Cambie, where the responsible "job" folk packed up their stuff so they could head back to Seattle. Afterward, we went to Mideival Times, and had some mead before they took off. We finished up, they left, and the rest of us paid a brief visit to the Blunt Bros. cafe just before they closed for the night.

We were still wired, and decide to go to the common room, which was unusually empty. We met a couple of charming kids, one from England and his mate from Australia. Group discussion varied between music, colloquialisms and accents, general US v. UK/AUS stuff, Hollywood, and most coincidentally, geopolitics, how the US generally behaves in the world, how UStians seem to prefer to be in the dark, and the incredible amount we were all worried about GWB.

In the midst of all this, the limey wanted to get high, and had finally woken up his roommate in order to retrieve this "fat doob" that was handed to them. We dutifully smoked it, and at some point we noticed a kind of aggressive energy, some of us were grinding our teeth. The brit heads over, picks up the roach, sniffs at it and claims "yeh, it's laced. Probably with coke, but I think it's doesn't feel like anything heavier."

We stayed up. I finally went to sleep at 5am Pacific time...

Two and a half hours later, L is shaking me awake...Hmmmph? "Terrorists have crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center..." What? "Terrorrist have crashed into the World Trade Center, Jose'." Oh...Did we get reviewed?


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