Tuesday, April 01, 2014

"The line forms here...."

Mike Birbiglia was coming to town, thanks to the fine funny folks at Theater 99.

Mike is well-known as a comedian, writer,actor and director.

The advice on the website was "It's NOT assigned seating folks. so arrive early, around 7:00 for the 7:30 show."

Hey, I'm an experienced live performance attendee so I showed up an hour before the show at the Charleston Music Hall.

And headed for the end of the surprisingly long line.

That kept snaking down the alley past 39 Rue du Jean.

Past Coast.

Past the three new dining places that just opened in the old, empty 3-story tobacco barn that, years ago, housed Club Tango.

All the way to Hutson, the next street over from John Street. Yikes.

Inside, I was lucky enough to find a seat in the 4th row, almost on the aisle, so I was happy.

Seat secure, I went back to get a beer and bumped into the key people at Theater 99.

I congratulated them on the huge turnout.

Brandy Sullivan said it was only the third time they had used another venue and it was their first and largest sellout with 800 persons. 

Greg Tavares, (glasses),  the other original founder of Theater 99 and Sean Sullivan (hat) were all smiles as people continued to stream in for the Birbiglia show. 

The show started right at 7:35.

Mike's on his "Thank God For Jokes" tour and had to be pleased with a totally-filled Music Hall.

From my point of view, other performers will take note of a packed venue and perhaps consider adding Charleston to their tour stops.

A win-win for our city's entertainment scene.

Mike started by letting us know he is an "on time" person.

Not someone who arrives late, feeling fashionable and good looking.

"On time can be hours and hours while late is just a few seconds. You have all day to arrive on time."

Unfortunately, for them, he spotted a couple down front who were late and tried to sneak in quietly and take their seats.

When there are empty seats in a filled place, especially close to the stage right (your left) the seats later being occupied gave him a terrific target.

He engaged them in conversation, asking what they had been doing all day.

They responded "this and that" and he said they were the kind of people who say "Oh, I'll be just 5 minutes"  with no real sense of time.

Growing up, his family would go on vacation and leave for the airport 45 minutes before flight time.

 He added, "we lived 45 minutes from the airport."

At two times during the show, he dropped down on the stage and - briefly - was NOT a stand-up comic.


He was describing himself at a Yoga class and showing some of the forms and positions he assumed. 

His wife was running late and asked him to save a spot by placing her mat next to his. She later decided not to attend.

He had shooed away several people who had wanted the empty space he said was being saved for his wife.

Naturally, at the end of the session, they assumed she had died or was sick. They asked "Is she OK?"

Always in search for a joke, he had the actual wording of a brief but intense verbal blast that Director David O. Russell had shouted at a well-know comedic actress.

It was profane and biting. It had naughty words.

Mike had debated if he should actually use it - he had promised his mother he would be a "clean" comic and not use vulgar terms.

The advice he received was:
1. it was very funny
2. it was actually a quote
3. how could he NOT use it?

So he did and we loved it.

We understood that when on a tour, he would test material, see how it goes over and either keep polishing the bit or drop it completely.

I have no idea if his mom voiced an opinion.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

At last, it appears the Music Hall is being used more and more.

Glad to see it active and not closed and dark for months at a time.

Wonder if the general admission policy will become the norm?

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