The bad review.
When you’re at a festival, you know at some point that the reviewers will come. It’s often early and in my experience it’s always on your worst show. I can’t tell you the amount of performers who have walked off stage on opening night and thought … I hope nobody from the papers was there.
We check online several times a day just waiting. Waiting for the word. A bad review can really hurt you, A good review can go either way, and a great review can fill your entire theatre.
I have waited with bated breath for reviews many times over the years. Sometimes they have been 5 stars and you just relax, and other years it’s 1 star. Sometimes it’s lots of stars, with a bad review. Sometimes it’s the opposite.
As a performer we have a strange relationship with reviews. I have seen shows that got 5 star reviews and sold out houses in one town and then in the next they totally bomb. In Victoria it’s always fun to see what the papers will say. If the main arts critic in town likes the show people post it everywhere and if he hates it they always say, “Well what does he know? He’s just a sports writer!”
The last time I was at a festival in Vancouver the theatre critic liked my show, but then went on to give away the last 10 minutes of it. Can anyone say spoilers? My first year doing a show in Edmonton the reviewer gave away 16 of my punchlines. SIXTEEN! That’s a quarter of the show! So strange.
This time of year can be tough on theatre critics. It’s Fringe season. That means a lot of shows in a very little amount of time. Some of the shows are polished and amazing, and some of them are just damn awful.
One show two years ago became infamous because a man received – and evacuated – three mayonnaise enemas live on stage in Winnipeg. I don’t know how many people saw that show, but it has become a folk legend.
The worst review I ever got was from this very magazine! They said the writing was terrible and even shamed our audience for laughing. I’ve gotten better over the years. Now they even pay me for my terrible writing!
Victoria’s Fringe Festival is one of the most popular on the circuit. Hundreds of artists will invade downtown Victoria for 10 days of shows in everything from beautiful theatres to ugly old churches. This is the first year I’ve gotten into the Fringe since 2008, so even I will be there.
If you have never done the Fringe, come out. See shows! Take the risk. You might see a show that you hate, or you might see a show that will change your life!
When I was younger I saw Chris Gibbs do Antoine Feval at the Fringe and thought – I could never do a funny one man show! The Fringe changed my life … See a show. Who knows what it might do for you!
• God Is A Scottish Drag Queen II
Downtown Activity Centre
Aug. 28 – Sept. 6