I was fortunate enough to see Sarah Silverman the weekend for a one off show in London. I love Sarah’s material. I’ve seen plenty of You Tube clips (warning may cause offense) and TV appearances. But unfortunately, she just seemed to regurgitate all the best bits from her concert DVD Sarah Silverman – Jesus Is Magic.
The thing is when she sang her caustic songs, she forgot half the words. Then, after being in stage for only 45-50 mins if that, she ended the show. Nearly 3,500 people were pretty hacked off. The show was late starting, I’ve heard rumours that she was late arriving although that’s unsubstantiated. We were kept waiting in the foyer for more than an hour with no communication from the management about what was going on.
Don’t turn your audience against you… unintentionally
The crowd chanted about her to come back on stage for an encore, but she seemed pretty disgruntled and said that she had no more material and we should all go home. No more material? After I’d paid more than £90 for two tickets? Are you joking?
Apparently, this was the one time she wasn’t.
How can a world class entertainer run out of material? I have seen numerous world class comedians, Eddie Izzard, Lee Evans, Billy Connolly and they have all had enough material to return for an encore. The only exception was Bob Hope, but the guy was in his 90s and could barely remember who he was let alone do an encore.
You don’t want to turn your audience against you. Now, there are some exceptions. I know that Glaswegian comedian Jerry Sadowitz is quite confrontational with his audiences. But they go there expecting it. That’s his comedy reputation and perspective.
Upsetting your audience by leaving them waiting for an hour and then short-changing them on the show is not the way to go about things.
Headliner Gig or Comedy Superstar Show?
The gig was, at best, an extended headliner act fitting for a comedy club. If I’d spent £10-£15 I’d chalk it up to experience, but not £45 per ticket. The support act, one of the guy’s who appears in her show, was sick. We had two comics who had appeared in the show come on, with no material, waffle briefly before introducing the support act who spoke to us briefly via webcam. Real bad. Then he introduced clips from the forthcoming second season of her show. Wow, thanks for the cheap plug.
The encore for what it was ended up being a short Q&A of sorts with an annoyed mob. She was cajoled into singing another song. The punter who suggested it actually knew more of the words than she did. Just embarrassing.
Other reviewers said pretty much the same.
So… what can we learn from this?
If there are delays to a show or to a speaking event, communicate with the organisers and make sure that they communicate with the people that matter… the audience. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
If you have to do a 30 minute speech, prepare an extra 15 minutes. If you’re doing an hour prepare an extra 20-30 minutes. It just makes sense to me to overprepare.
Don’t belittle your audience. What Silverman said in her encore was “what are you guys doing here? You had a great show. Go home!” If nearly 3,500 people aren’t moving something has to be wrong. If you have agreed to a certain amount of stage time, deliver what you agreed. Don’t go over, but also don’t go under. Especially if the audience is expecting more “bang for their buck”.
In conclusion, I am still willing to pick up a copy of her DVD because she is a great comic. I would, however, be interested to see if she can move beyond the cutesy delivery of caustic jokes and give us more of her opinions on things rather than feeling like she has to shock us the whole time. Her London debut was pretty shoddy. The material was top notch, although it doesn’t seem like she’s written any new stuff for a couple of years. Beyond that, the gig at the Apollo was badly put together and badly managed.