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Research Gathering Phase for #HFF19

I spent the last several days in Las Vegas doing research on the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival, walking around shopping malls listening to the town hall recordings, and sort of floating through the alternate universe of Vegas hoping to come up with some ideas.

Last week I was struggling to think of a single one-man show that I'd ever enjoyed. I kept asking people the wrong question, I was asking "what was the most successful one man show of all time?" and all I could come up with was "Mark Twain Tonight".

Anyway I was in the shower and remembered this one:

I was about 10 years old when this ran on Broadway and it was a big hit, I believe it won a Tony award. My grandfather had the cassette tape of it and I listened to it endlessly, I knew every word. For whatever reason, I asked to see the show over and over again and my grandfather obliged, I think he took me to see it three times (possibly more). I was the only ten year old in the theater. I was mesmerized. Looking back at it now inbetween the stand up comedy he actually gives very detailed notes about how to do a one man show. ("You notice there's no furniture? Turns out furniture has nothing to do with a show. Did you ever go to a furniture store and they showed you a comedian?")

Having grown up going to and being around so much theater, all this knowledge is in my head somewhere, I just have trouble recalling all of it now that I might actually need it.

I still didn't see how this would work as a musical. I asked a friend if he had a bootleg copy of the Bruce Springsteen broadway show and he forwarded it to me (I haven't watched it yet). While in Vegas I went to see the Paula Abdul tour. About fifteen minutes in I realized I wasn't watching a concert, I was watching a one-woman musical with some backup dancers. I had all of the reference and framework that I needed.

Paula Abdul at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas 2018
Paula Abdul at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas 2018

Then I went back to watching a staggering eighteen hours of town halls and workshops in the course of a few days.

Here's my takeaway from it:

1) Work with a venue that offers a turnkey solution (box office, stage manager, etc).
2) Price your tickets around $12, offer discounts to everyone and their mother, give away free tickets to festival volunteers.
3) Go into this endeavor knowing you are going to take a loss (which is a hard one for me to accept, but better to have this part of it laid out for you up front).
4) Be really nice to people and offer no criticism of their work because they, like you, are taking a loss.
5) Do a preview, do everything you can to fill the preview with people. Offer preview tickets on a pay-what-you-wish scale with a suggested donation.
6) Be very very very prepared for your technical rehearsal, know that you may not even get to finish it. Make your technical requirements as simple as possible.
7) Be prepared not to do anything else during the months of May and June
8) A variety of ways to buy advertising but the most important are the website for the Fringe and if possible bid on the auction for the back cover of the Fringe guide. This ad apparently sells in the range that it costs to rent a theater for five performances.

The benefits of this are

1) Being able to present your work as you intend it to be seen
2) Become a part of a local community

I started to have an idea for the work and I went down to the Paradise Buffet (the most old school Vegas buffet you will ever encounter) and started to sketch out those ideas

Paradise Buffet on Fremont Street in Las Vegas
Paradise Buffet on Fremont Street in Las Vegas
The working title of the show is going to be
"How To Be A Rock Star"

The tagline is
"*No Experience Required"

And the summary is 
"Sam Pocker teaches you how to be a rock star using common household items."

I'm not sure what will happen this week because of the holiday, but this is the path I am currently on with the show. I'm thinking of having a poster done next so there is some idea to work with from there. 


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