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I Don't Normally Post On A Saturday, But...

January 26, 2008

I've been getting some interesting feedback to the blog post I wrote yesterday about Will Franken's run-in with the management of the New York comedy club, the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Thanks to everyone for weighing in with their thoughts. What I'm sensing thanks to all of your comments is that Will's hat-passing at the end of his set one night recently at UCB was not a cut-and-dry issue. There are three different points-of-view at stake here: the performer's, the club management's and the audience's. And I now see that all of these perspectives are valid.

The facts about what transpired the night he passed the hat are open to debate. What the issue boils down to, it seems, is a lack of communication between the three groups. But I do think the audience has a right to know where its money goes. It's natural to assume that the performer gets a cut of the door money.

I think UCB should make its non-payment policy plainer to its clientele. One solution could be for club to be upfront on its publicity materials and programs that prices are low in order to provide a platform for artists and enable audiences to experience great performances for very little money. If audiences are clear as to why they're only paying $8 for a ticket, then it wouldn't be such a bad thing for the venue to place a collection box on stage or by the door on the way out. Then audience members can make their own decisions about whether to give a little extra to the performer if they enjoyed the performance. They wouldn't take offense at being asked for more money because they would know where their minimal entrance fee was going -- to pay for UCB's space, lights, publicity and all the other great resources that the organization provides.

To skip on to the various comments I've been receiving regarding Kasper Hauser. I wish I could understand why people think this group is funny. Their set on Friday night was mostly banal. The opening skit, in which two performers demonstrated how they beat Internet scammers at their own game was inspired, I'll admit. But it was downhill from there. I think I've seen a version of the priest-as-standup-comedian sketch a dozen times on TV and stage over the years. And another sketch in which some monks were given four minutes to break their vow of silence only to spend the precious time bickering instead of ordering pizza, was only mildly amusing. As for the miniature horse drag act sketch, the timing was all off, the group did nothing original with the drag part, and the horse stuff simply seemed random. If Kasper Hauser is one of the "best sketch groups" that UCB's artistic director has ever seen, then I fear for this's country sense of humor.

As for David Foster Wallace: He happens to be one of my favorite writers. In fact, his prose makes me laugh out loud. But who knows what's behind that book blurb?

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