I was a Moth Story Slam judge a couple weeks ago, and now I believe I'm well qualified to weigh in on one-man-shows. I wouldn't consider that a stretch at all. And as it happens, we went to a one-show on Friday night. I'm not going to name this particular one man, because as they inform judges at the Moth-- it takes some brass to clammer up on that stage, so don't give anyone a score less than 7.
This one-man was very forthcoming. He told us that he'd rented out the theater himself, paid for it on his credit card. He paid seven grand for a 15 night rental. The theater has 20 seats. Most of the audience got in with free tickets. Maybe 4 people paid $5. I don't need a formula in Excel to do the sad sad math.
Tom and I discussed the following:
- Why did the one-man not proclaim a one-drink minimum? If you give away free tickets, generally there's a catch. No one would be surprised. At least a drink minimum would offer one miniscule chance in hell of certainly not breaking even, but at least paying for a crif dog after the show.
- Possibly the one-man did not insist on a one-drink minimum because he had another catch in mind. After the show, he wanted the audience to give him constructive advice. Theoretically. Except the workshop portion of the evening last about forty five seconds because he'd invited a guitar player to strum a few tunes to close out the evening.
- Is it odd to invite a guitar player to close your one-man-show? If you were going to invite a guitar player, wouldn't you ask him to be your opening act? What is the purpose of a closing act beyond audience head-scratching and awkward hunched over dashes for the exit?
- If you have a $7k budget (or credit limit) and your plan is to level-up your act, can you think of no better way to do it than to rent out a theater? Maybe you could have hired a storyteller coach. I just searched the Google and looks like there are 866,000 storyteller coaches. Wouldn't it have been a better use of the shekel to pay a per diem and get actual constructive feedback from an actual professional who has a modicum of interest in your success, even if it's purely transactional?
I'm pretty sure why none of the above occurred. Because the one-man really had no interest in advice, especially advice that might slow down the time-to-limelight calculation.
I'd give the one-man a solid 7.