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Kris Noteboom

Hollywood Fringe Postmortem

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I’m a little late with this, but after the experience of the Hollywood Fringe, I pretty much didn’t want to think about it for the two week break I had before getting back on the road.

So, now that I’m back on the road and bored, it seems like a good time to finally report on what was an extraordinarily underwhelming experience. So, here goes…

Orange County…

I actually arrived in Southern California a few days before I was scheduled to do anything at the festival. My reason? Seeing one of my best friends Jeff and his wife and two kids down in Orange County. That part was fun. I hadn’t seen Jeff in years, and I’d never met his kids. They’re freaking adorable. I read them bedtime stories at night. And, Jeff and his wife Jessica are great, even if they do watch a bit too much reality TV for my taste 😉

The one thing I will say about Orange County, though, is that it’s exactly as cutoff from the rest of the world as you’ve been led to believe. Extraordinarily rich and white, the OC struck me as a very self-centered place. I could give a laundry list of things I saw that appalled me, but I’ll save whatever bile I can muster in this article for the festival.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in the OC.

Hollywood…

I booked a small efficiency apartment about a half mile from my theater through AirBNB. The very first thing that stood out, and would prove to be a constant annoyance, was there wasn’t any dedicated parking for tenets. It was all heavily regulated and monitored street parking. I managed two parking tickets in the first few hours I was there. After that, I had to keep myself on a tight meter-feeding schedule. Parking easily ended up costing me over $20 unbudgeted dollars a day. Just my first taste of how expensive that city is.

The apartment was on Lexington Ave. The nearest big intersection was Santa Monica and Highland. That sounds like a pretty good location for people who only hear these street names in songs and movies. In reality, though, Hollywood is actually not that great. Sure, there are pockets of well-developed, nice ares. But, generally it doesn’t live up to its romanticized image.

Having been to Hollywood before (albeit 20 years ago), I knew this. And still, I was more than a little disappointed to see that the particular stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. my theater was on was definitely not one of the nice areas. Not that it was terrible. It was just shabby. Next door was a convenience store decked out with barred windows and safety glass in front of the cashier. Though, I never felt unsafe. I’ll give it that.

My venue was perfectly nice. I performed in the East Theatre, which is part of a group of theaters called The Complex. My experience with the Complex and with my tech director Rebecca was great. I have absolutely no complaints there. They were wonderful.

The fest itself, however, is incredibly underwhelming.

So, here’s the deal. Hollywood Fringe is a BYOV fringe. Bring Your Own Venue. That means instead of booking directly with the fringe, the artists book with the venues who then tell the fringe who is performing.

This is how several of the really big, established festivals (like Edinburgh) do it because they have huge built in audiences and they’ve gotten too big to manage all the venues themselves.

Hollywood Fringe is big, but it doesn’t have a built in audience. The only shows I went to with decent crowds were locals, and the audience was made up of a bunch of their friends, not festival goers.

Of course, the other big problem Hollywood has in this regard is no pass system. With a performance festival of any sort, you really want the ability to buy some sort of all inclusive pass. This saves you from having to shell out full price for each individual show. Even with the discount button they sell (which gets you a total of $1 off), the onus is still on the audience member to seek out each individual show and get their tickets. It’s tedious and not cost effective.

Every festival should have a festival pass. One price, get into any show you want.

Also, at this point, these festivals should invest in app development. Or at least a very mobile friendly website, so people can reserve on the go. Hollywood actually does this, though the app does still have some flaws.

For artists, this BYOV system puts all the pressure to build an audience on them.

Look, it’s already expected at a festival that the artists do A LOT of advertising. But, with Hollywood, it was in overdrive because there were precious few audience members to get.

Granted, I didn’t do everything I could have to drum up more audience members. I could have done more. I didn’t send out press releases and try to get reviewed. I didn’t perform at the Fringe Central cabaret. I didn’t make a lot of posters, relying instead mostly on quarter page flyers. Etc.

Look, I realized after Dallas that I didn’t have the next Swimming to Cambodia or Sleepwalk With Me on my hands, so I’m now treating this tour as a learning experience. And it’s working. The show gets better with every performance. Last night (July 11) was my best show yet, and I’ll write about that soon.

Still, though, I averaged 4 audience members per performance. Granted, my summary in the guide may not have been awesome, but it’s not too different that what I wrote for the Capital Fringe guide and I’m getting plenty of people in DC.

Outside of the fringe itself, the thing I hadn’t planned on was the utter loneliness of being a solo performer on the road. I’ve heard comedians talk about it before. Two of my favorites, Louis CK and Patton Oswalt, have both done lonely road jokes. But, it’s totally real.

It’s very lonely when you’re on the road by yourself and don’t work until 9:00 at night. And, attempting to fill my days with something other than cabin fever led to spending more money than I should have, simply because I was fighting boredom and homesickness.

I can only think of one other time in my life when I got homesick, and that’s when I was a little kid. But, I got so homesick on this trip.

Overall, I had trouble meeting people at the fringe. I just really didn’t connect with the vibe. And, since even as a participant, I was gonna have to pay full price to see other shows, I usually didn’t. (All fringes should have free participant admission. How is this not a thing?)

Of course, I also had one of the best nights of my life when one of my best friends, James Kimbrell, drove down from Salinas to see the show. He brought some great beer from the Firestone Walker Brewery and we stayed up super late talking and catching up. It was the best time I had on the trip.

Especially considering that some of my other local friends didn’t come to the show, many not even RSVP’ing to my invitation. That was a bit of a gut punch.

In fact, there have been a few gut punches in getting this thing started, and it usually stems from expecting something from people who have given every indication that I can expect something, then giving nothing. But, that’s for the postmortem article that will encompass my entire fringe experience at the end of the summer.

But, James Kimbrell will always hold a special place in my heart, if not already for the previous 20 years of friendship, then definitely for that night. Thanks, James. You’re a truly great friend.

For all the disappointment I’ve already experienced with this endeavor, it’s even more important that I point out the friends who have my back. On this trip, James Kimbrell and Jeff Norwood were amazing. This trip would have been a million times harder than it already was if it weren’t for them.
That said, I did manage to make some new friends. And, I saw some cool shows. Not always at the fringe, though. I’m going to write another article detailing my adventures in the LA comedy world.

I doubt I’ll ever do Hollywood Fringe again, but for a first time on the road learning experience, I’d say it was an overall educational experience. Now, I’m at Capital Fringe. So far, it’s better. A little.

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The Lonely Road: Four down, one to go…

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I should have written in this blog more. But, here I am only a few days from going home and this is only the second post.

It’s not like I haven’t had time. I’ve had pretty much nothing but time. I’m all alone halfway across the country from most of my friends and loved ones.

Of course, I didn’t anticipate being as alone as I’ve been. And, that’s been part of the problem.

I have several friends in the Southern California area. And, through four shows, two have them have attended. One of those friends, I think it’s safe to say, is actually living in Northern California. But, James drove all the way down to see my show and spend the evening with me. He ever brought some great beer from the Firestone Walker Brewery.

The other friend who has come to a show, Leah, I actually haven’t even known that long. We’ve really only met once before. And yet, she came to the show, and she brought friends. It was really great.

But, outside of those two bright blips, the trip has been lonely.

The actual Fringe Festival hasn’t provided much solace either.

The first day I was in Hollywood, I showed up for my tech rehearsal. That went great. My tech director, Rebecca, is awesome. I really can’t say enough nice things about her. Everyone else, though…

It seemed like everywhere I went people looked at me like I was an alien. Here’s the square looking middle-America guy wandering around trying to talk to people.

I get it. To them, I looked like some buttoned up guy. Wearing my white button down, khaki pants, and blue blazer. Of course, I wear these clothes in a kind of ironic way. It’s how people like me are supposed to dress, so I do. People at home recognize it for the shabby parody it is, but the beautiful, stylish people out here haven’t reacted so well. I even threw off the comics at The Comedy Store (blog post coming) for looking so put together and square. As Iliza Shlesinger told me, “You look like your parents had money.”

Those of you that know me know that I’m actually pretty introverted. Outside of my comfort zone of friends or family, I’m pretty kept to myself. So, it’s already really difficult for me to have to go up to people and try to talk up my show. And for them to look at me all sideways makes it even harder.

Thus, I haven’t done a lot of on the ground marketing. It’s something I’ll have to get better at.

However, there are significant problems with this Festival that are not my fault, and I’ll write another post about that once it’s over and I’m safely out of town.

So, I’ve had four of my five shows. Here are the attendance figures for each show: 7, 1, 4, 4.

Sixteen people have seen me perform.

It’s cool, though. I’ve met a few really cool people. And, I’ve used the small audiences as an excuse to work on things in the show. Try stuff out. For instance, I’ve been able to get the runtime down to 56 minutes…until last night. It went so well last night, all four people were constantly laughing, that I ended up going about 10 minutes over. Oops.

So, there are spurts of excitement. But, the rest of the time has been incredibly lonely.

I long for home. I long to see my family, and friends, to go hang out at the cigar shop, to cuddle up with Katelyn on the couch. I miss home, which is something I never anticipated.

I know now why celebrities have entourages. This would be so much more fun with someone here with me.

Last night was kind of the climax of all this. I’d just finished my fourth performance. Only four people showed up, but they were the most receptive audience I’ve had yet, which was awesome… Unfortunately, it all caused me to go way over time. So, that was a bummer. These things work on strict schedules so it’s a big taboo to use more than your allotted time. Also, for the first time, I had several no-shows from my reservation and Facebook event invite lists.

I was still feeling good, though, so I went over to the Fringe Central bar for a drink and to hopefully meet some more people. It was like I wasn’t there. Everyone already had their little groups set up, and I’m not one to go randomly barge in. So, I had one drink and left. I rolled through a drive-thru so I could have at least one hot meal that day, then went back to the apartment I’m staying in and sat in front of the computer watching Netflix until I fell asleep.

Now that the shows are almost over, that feeling of wanting to go home is increasing exponentially everyday. Especially as we go into a weekend where normally I’d get to spend it with my girlfriend.

Admittedly, I shed a few tears. It’s been hard.

The upside is that the show is really coming along and I’m getting better and more confident in my performances. But, the traveling alone kind of sucks.

Oh well, I’ll be home in a few days. It’s almost over. I have one more show tomorrow night, and I know that at least a couple of my friends are coming to that one.

I’ll write more about this in the coming week or so. There are lots of observations about fringe that I’m picking up.

Until then, 4 down and 1 to go.

An Inauspicious Beginning…

This is the first in what will (hopefully) be many entries as I travel the country this summer with my one man show, And Then I Woke Up, to various fringe festivals and the like.

This isn’t Day 1, though. That was technically last Thursday, opening night at the Dallas Solo Fest.

The entries in this blog are intended to be more about the road. Also, I was still so busy preparing in the days leading up to and during the fest that I didn’t really have much time to blog.

So, I’ll give a quick post-mortem on the 2015 Dallas Solo Fest…

It was okay. Brad McEntire does a great job with the fest and there are some really talented performers this year. Among them, I’m definitely the most amateur. And, it showed.

Opening Night was nerve-racking, though not as much as one review from a friend who has access to my Facebook page would have you believe. To me, it was the normal run up to a show. Stressful, but optimistic.

That said, I was definitely nervous. Ironic, given that I talk in the show about how performing has never scared me.

Pretty early on in the opening night performance, I got a little lost. My concentration was shaken early from an overworked voice that was on the verge of throwing in the towel. It cracked and quavered with every rise of the voice. It got to me and I lost my place. Not for long. I soon found it and the rest of the show went fairly smoothly. I dropped a few lines, including a bit that would prove to be pretty much everyone’s favorite in the last two performances. But, I got through the whole thing relatively unscathed. The (admittedly minor) scathing would come later when the reviews came out. Scattered compliments that got the wind knocked out of them by some pointed criticisms.

But, it was my first performance. Kind of. Really, it was the first time I ever performed an entire, complete piece that I wrote. I’ve performed smaller sections of the show in public. But, this was the first time it was all ever presented in one place.

So, considering that, I guess it’s not too bad.

After all, half the show had never been workshopped. I have no director (yet). This was about as true to “one man show” as you can get. This was a Kris Noteboom joint all the way. And, just like with my writing, it turns out I need an editor.

There’s no shame in that, for any other writer/performers reading this. Pretty much every great writer of the last several hundred years has had an editor. A good editor is worth her or his weight in gold. I learned this when I became a journalist and saw that Mark Lowry was able to take my rambling sentences and make them sound much better.

Forgive the self-congratulatory tone…but both reviews said, in one way or another, that I’m smart, talented and funny. Lindsey Wilson of Culture Map called me a “wordsmith”. Amy Martin (of my employer Theater Jones) said: “Woke Up is full of zingers, witty phrases, and bon mots to make a dependable hour of laughs.”

I can work with that!

But, both reviews also noted that the show is sometimes unfocused and a little too exposition heavy. They’re right. I’ve taken enough writing classes at this point to know that “too much exposition” might end up being my epitaph.

Arguably, I’ve gotten much better. Taking a short story creative writing class last semester helped a lot. The story I eventually submitted for publication went from over 10,000 words in the first draft to just over 5,000 after a couple of revisions.

So, even as this blog post is already well over 600 words, I’m getting better!

My performances on Saturday and Sunday went much better than Thursday. Those opening night jitters were exorcised, but I also just got more comfortable with the material with each passing day. Also, my voice recovered, somewhat.

In the end, a lot of family and friends came to see me perform. That was very meaningful. I’ve been telling these people for years that I’m working on something. I’m glad they finally got to see me. And true to being good friends, they all said they liked it.

Ultimately, I was right that it was more difficult to perform in Dallas. I’ve been a critic for the past five years. I don’t have a lot of friends in the theater community, but I’m friendly with all the other critics. To that end, the only part of my reviews that miffed me a little was when my private Facebook postings (which only my friends would have been able to see) were used as a plot point. It made me sound like I was having a breakdown in the days leading up to the show, which wasn’t really true. I’ve performed in front of audiences hundreds of times. I’ve spent 6x more time in my life performing than being a critic. The week before a show is always stressful.

Anyway, I’m not complaining. The reviews were accurate and fair. It’s not the greatest show in the world. And, that’s okay. It’s my first.

And, yes. I’m telling everyone right now, I’m not destined for Broadway just yet. But, you should come out and see it anyway. People have seemed to enjoy it and have been laughing a lot.

So, there’s that.

And, that’s the post mortem.

Now, I’m in LA for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I perform Friday. For now, I’m visiting friends in Orange County. I’ll post about that next.

Stay cool.

My Indiegogo Campaign

Hello, all!

Today, I have launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the 2015 Summer Tour of my comedic one man show, “And Then I Woke Up”.

Well, actually I launched it last week. It took me forever to make a video for it. I got in my head – or rather I let other people get in my head – and got to where I was really overthinking it.

This isn’t a huge campaign. Id say it’s fairly modest.I’m not trying to appeal to millions, though if I do, cool.

So, what is this for?

There are a lot of costs associated with going to these festivals around the country. They basically provide the opportunity to perform, while I provide everything else. And honestly, that’s really great. For us non-professionals that want to try and build our work into something, these festivals are a great way to get exposure. But, in the meantime there are travel costs, lodging costs, food, publicity and advertising, having enough to make sure I can keep paying rent while I’m gone, and biggest of all, venue fees. It costs money to run these venues and pay the well-deserving staff. That’s on me as the producer of my show.

All in all, I’ve estimated that this tour will cost me about $12,000 when it’s all said and done. To date, I’ve already spent close to $3,000. And, you’ll notice that my Inidiegogo campaign is for $6,000. That’s because I expect to put in just as much, and probably ultimately more, than I would ask anyone else to put in.

And, that goes to the incentives as well. It’s not a lot of trinkets that you’ll never wear or use. It’s mostly stuff that I have to work for. Whether it’s performing, collaborating, straight up working, or brewing, I tried to make my incentives something that I had to work to earn. I believe in working for what I get, and I thought this was a good way to run my campaign.

So, check it out. And please donate. I appreciate the support.

Also, please “like” and “share” liberally. These campaigns aren’t made by just friends and family. They’re made by friends of friends, friends of family, and friends I haven’t even met yet.

Thank you for your time and thank you for your support.

Hooray for Hollywood!

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I’ll be performing at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival

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Where: The Complex in The East Theatre (6468 Santa Monica Blvd)

When:

Friday, June 12 @ 9:00

Saturday, June 13 @ 7:00

Monday, June 15 @ 9:00

Thursday, June 18 @ 7:30

Saturday, June 20 @ 8:30

TIckets: On sale May 1st http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/ (I’ll post direct links on the 1st)

This is my first out of town show ever. It’s super exciting! Also, looking forward to seeing all my LA friends (and begging to sleep on their couches).

Also, don’t forget. Tickets for the Dallas Solo Fest go on sale tomorrow @ www.dallassolofest.com

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BIG NEWS!!!! Mr. Noteboom goes to Washington!!!

“…and then I woke up.” is traveling to Capital Fringe in Washington D.C., July 2015!!!

That’s right, everyone! My shows has been accepted to the 2015 Capital Fringe festival in Washington D.C. I’m extremely excited. I love D.C. It’s such a great town. And the chance to perform and make new friends and connections is super awesome.

More news on performance dates and venue to come in April. Stay tuned!!!

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!! “…and then I woke up.” is in the 2015 Chicago Fringe Festival!!!

I don't need no freaking script! The thing on the music stand is my Zoom audio recorder. We filmed the performance.
I don’t need no freaking script! The thing on the music stand is my Zoom audio recorder. We filmed the performance.

I’m extremely excited to announce that my one man show, “…and then I woke up.” has been accepted to the 2015 Chicago Fringe Festival this coming September!!!

More details as I have them.

Great day! Thanks to everyone who has helped me get to this point so far. Especially Fred Curchack, Thomas Riccio, Brad McEntire and Audacity Theatre Lab, and Erin Singleton and everyone at Nouveau 47 Theatre!

This is the beginning of a great journey!

“…and then I woke up.” at the Audacity Solo Salon!

Monday night, December 8th, I performed a 20 minute selection from my solo show “…and then I woke up.” at the Audacity Solo Salon at the Margo Jones Theater in Fair Park, Dallas. The evening was hosted by Audacity Theatre Lab boss Brad McEntire, and featured performances by Brad and local writer/performer Adam A. Anderson.

I don't need no freaking script! The thing on the music stand is my Zoom audio recorder. We filmed the performance.
I don’t need no freaking script! The thing on the music stand is my Zoom audio recorder. We filmed the performance.

The evening was awesome! Brad opened with a selection from his solo show Cyrano A-Go-Go, the story of his entry into the theatrical world through Edmond Rostand’s play about the man with the big nose.

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Adam then gave his spoken word performance The Creation of an Asshole. It was dazzling. Rhythmic, rhyming, and brilliant.

Left to right: Adam A. Anderson, Brad McEntire & me!
Left to right: Adam A. Anderson, Brad McEntire & me!

Finally, it was my turn. Unfortunately, I was in the process of losing my voice and had somehow neglected to take some water up on stage with me. Nonetheless, the performance went very well. There were plenty of laughs, and the notes I got were things that would be corrected in the context of the full show. In that, performing only 20 minutes of a 60 minute show means there are some references that don’t quite make sense unless you’ve seen the first part of the show. But, that part has been workshopped to the point of being finely tuned. This middle bit was getting its first real spin outside of a classroom. Had to see what it could do, and came away happy.

The full show should be on display soon! Watch this space.

Dallas Morning News names “A Very Nouveau Holiday” as one of the Top 5 shows to see this weekend!

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Opening tomorrow, A Very Nouveau Holiday, of which my show Playing Santa is a part, was named by Dallas Morning News theater critic Nancy Churnin as one of the Top 5 shows to see in Dallas this weekend! Don’t miss it!

http://artsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/12/five-top-theater-picks-with-a-little-help-from-the-nouveau-holiday-elves.html/

“Playing Santa” – Two guys, dressed in the iconic red suit, are waiting at an audition to play Santa Claus. How exactly does one audition to play Santa? Come see the hilarious results for yourself!

My performances are specifically on Thursday and Saturday for the next two weekends (11th, 13th, 18th & 20th).

See the link for details.

https://www.facebook.com/events/375880529237000/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&pnref=story

Photo by Robert Hart www.roberthart.com
Photo by Robert Hart
http://www.roberthart.com

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