I met Beverly Bonner as she prepared to use some of my comedy material for a stage show she was producing. I had invited friends and family to the show. My spider-sense was tingling, because I wasn't sure that the show was going to be good. In the end, it was what it was.
I wrote a long email to one of my writer friends, one who hadn't been able to attend the show, to vent:
At first I was disappointed about you not being able to attend the showcase last night. Now, I’m relieved.
It was a train wreck.
A train wreck that my wife and kids witnessed. And our best friends. And some co-workers. And even a 2nd cousin.
My-oh-my. The woman who runs the show, Beverly Bonner, was like watching someone in drag doing Moms Mabley. I date myself, but that’s the only parallel that exists. It was overly-ambitious yet under rehearsed. She didn’t even pick my strongest sketches; Two commercial parodies in a sea of commercial parodies.
Maybe two people had any potential for sketch comedy. Only couple of sketches approached clever. And much use of the words “penis” and “vagina.” And their synonyms. Not necessarily in context.
Entirely too much use of an off-stage narrator/announcer. Two female actors looked alike and wouldn’t know how to project their lines to the last row if they had bullhorns surgically attached to their faces.
It’s the first time two of my bits were done on stage. One was simply weak. At only a page and a half it came off too long. The other might have potential in the hands of people possessing comic timing. The third piece was one I’ve done before and back then it was in the hands of a limited actor who was still able to nail it with the help of a very fine actor opposite him. Last night, it was about as flat as a tortilla on Jupiter (denser gravity) while being amazingly over-played. But at least you could hear them in the back row.
They had several musical numbers. The appearance of a cello player during one musical act may have been the highlight of the evening.
Bonner, the woman running the show, has been endlessly complimenting me on my sketches but after seeing some of the other things she selected, I have to question her ability to judge. Some of the stuff was bawdy for bawdy’s sake, and amazingly random.
I’m kicking myself for breaking my long-standing rule of not allowing the worlds of Writer Dan come into contact with Option Clerk Dan. I never in the past would have mentioned any shows that I was involved in to my co-workers. And there were some pretty good shows. But for this thing I let my guard down. Oy.
Everyone keeps asking me how I met this Beverly person; I respond “Craig’s List.” So let that be a lesson to all: Beware the internet. Another lesson; if you’re going to produce a weak stage show, DO NOT put in an intermission which will give half the audience the opportunity to escape.
It was a cringe-inducing, head-shaking evening. It’s the first time in a long while I’ve been involved in anything like this. I was getting desperate to re-join the creative community and maybe got my hopes up.
Bonner repeated her thoughts about me writing some material for her and her new partner (yes, she’s attempting to launch a career as part of a middle-aged/black/Asian Nichols & May type of act, only with more use of the word “booty”). I guess I might consider it, but I’m at a lost as to what I could come up for them. The possibility of pay was brought up, so that’s something to consider. On the other hand, she asked me to look over her opening monologue and she never sent that, so we’ll have to see how she is on follow-through.
I did not meet the cast last night. The show started late, ran long and I had to get wife and the kids started on the long schlep back to Staten Island. And I used that as my justification for just slipping out. Should make for an interesting email exchange later on. In retrospect, I should have simply sent everyone home, slapped on a smile and faced the cast. But I was really, really bummed out and fled. Not very considerate. I’ll have to figure out my approach on that.
Realistically, what was I expecting? I knew it wasn’t going to be SNL. But, I dunno, something with a glimmer of potential, the seeds of a possibility? Raw talent looking for an outlet. She said she was attempting to form a group geared toward Baby Boomers, but the demographics didn’t hold. A couple of performers were too young. They had one guy do a couple of rap songs which baby boomers so love. Another girl did a couple of Broadway tunes. And the band featuring the cello.
Seriously, the funniest part of the night may have been my bio entry in the “playbill.” (which I had volunteered to copy and fold).
Family and friends have been kind but realistic with constructive feed-back. Our writer friends were naturally sympathetic to the results and at least I didn’t have to explain it to them.
Well, now that I’ve vented, I guess I’ll have to shake it off and soldier on.
My wife kinda nail it. She called Bonner "a cartoon." She was an outgoing, bigger-than-life character and my life is very small, and I just was uncomfortable around her.
But here's where I learned a couple of things about Beverly Bonner; she was a hustler. She was always putting together that next show. She would team up with other talented people to attempt success as a comedy team. She worked to form comedy troupes. She had a public access cable show. She set up shop at the Broadway Comedy Club and made that her base of operations. And she was a fan of my material. It was around here when I learned about some of her past, and her acting career in horror movies.
In the end, I got a couple of bucks from the show out of the box office. I was wary of her, but I didn't shun her either. She continued to ask for sketches every so often and was using some in scaled-down showcases she was producing at the Broadway Comedy Club. That was fine. It didn't interfere with my life and it wasn't hurting me or costing me money. She dropped me a note in 2012; she was teaming up with another performer and thought I could write some material for her. She had an "Adam and Eve" bit she had started and wanted to know if I could punch it up. I did that. But, after a while, she kinda faded out of view.
A while later I answered another Craig's List. Someone looking for comedy sketches!
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