This is not television.
We do not have access to a staff of Ivy League writers masking their east coast pretentiousness inside of humour and wit. We do not have access to the advertising monies of coca-cola, and Ford. The finished product is not wholly polished nor is it without flaw or gaffe. This is black-box, gypsy, living room comedy in it's purest form. and I know I'm biased, but that is the beauty of it all.
I know, it can be a little intimidating. I go to a lot of shows and feel a bit like an outcast, like I don't know anyone at the party. I assure you that a lot of the awkwardness comes from being outside of the comforts of your living room, or a dark movie theater where you are watching images of light bouncing on a cloth screen. We have become accustomed to the anonymity of it all. This I believe is for several reasons:
1. We live in an uber (pun intended) technical age, ney the future! All of our Marty McFly machines constantly intice us and spoon feed us snippets of contextless stories and sports highlights. We can shop for groceries, dinner, people all at the swipe of a finger. We have lost the ability to sit in a room with other humans and, what's the word I'm searching for, pretend? Yes, pretend. Such a remearkable word, do you remember that word? Do you remember what that feels like? Now people like Michael Bay do all of our pretending for us. We just simply fix our gaze on pixels and check out.
2. Strange strangers are strange. The vast spectrum of "theater people" can be really odd. As I said before, I often feel like an outcast when I just simply attend a show that seems interesting without knowing anyone or being personally "invited". You never know the dress code, hoodie, jeans, chucks, horn-rimmed glasses, hair tussled, man-arexia is really in in this environment. Self-produced shows lack bedside manner. No real presence of hosts ushering you to assure you're a. welcome and b. totally doing the right thing and no one is silently judging you. I mean that's the fear, right? Where am I supposed to sit? What if I need to sprint out of here and these people can all see me? They're all gonna laugh at me!
3. What if it's dumb? This is actually a very valid question. We don't simply have the luxury of changing the channel. I would challenge you, however to push past the vague "this is lame" and really dissect what isn't resonating with you. I once watched an elderly European woman cough up phlegm, chew it, and then swollow it repeatedly for an entire train ride from the Damen stop to Merchandise Mart. It was fascinating and disgusting all at the same time, my take away was a creative spin on the story of Sisyphus. My point being, "dumb" is a remedial way of saying "boring" and boring, we all learned as adolesents, is a "state of mind". We developed "boredom" almost exactly the same time we stopped pretending.
4. There is little to no benefit to me seeing a live show versus just staying home and being comfortable. We live in an interesting time. A time where if we are all honest with ourselves, we are secretly a bit relieved when plans fall through, or a freind cancels on us. I am not the expetion to this cultural phenom. I get it. I have what I like to call "Deisel socialbility" simply put, it takes a bit to warm me up, but once I'm moving I'm a force to be reckoned with. Regular life of the party when a scant hour before I was secretly hoping that the place I was going to had a small fire and of course no one was hurt. for myself, 99% of my excursions into the dark abyss of the "world" are in hindsight really fun and strangely refreshing. I call it "earning the couch" I've left it all on the dance floor and so when I'm recovering on my couch the next day, I earned it, damn it. The benifits include but are not limited to; life experience (in 10 years no one is going to reference that entourage marathon), Meeting new people (relax, put your head between your knees) at best you may be on your way to gaining new life-long friends, also heightening your chances of having sex with someone besides yourself (not that ther's anything wrong with that).
Perhaps, i've gone a bit off topic, so I will try to reign it back in. Lastly, and perhaps the most seminal reason live shows are better is;
5. I do them, duh.
5. Attendance produces encouragement, encouragement produces creativity, and creativity begets creativity. This is something I see all of the time. There is a saying that "everyone's a comedian when they leave a comedy show." There's a reason for that, when done right your brain is engaged and in go mode you want to keep playing. It's as if some invisible adult has arrived and said, "okay, say goodbye. we have to go home." we've just grown so accustomed to the leaving part that the transition back to "normal life" lacks the tantrums and wailing now. "doesn't it scare you, your will is not as strong as it used to be?" There is a supernatural energy (did I lose you?) that surrounds people in their creative element. Let's look at it like cocaine, shall we? Whether you have ever partaken in drugs or not (am I am not condoning it) surely you can understand that it is most effective in its purest form. Imagine your run of the mill no budget sketch/ improv/ one-act play is a tannish, off white, pure Bolivian cocaine and the 22 min sit-com is cocaine that one person had a vision for and then a team developed that idea and actors interpreted those ideas through the lens of their character and a different director ususally weekly interprets that vision yet again and advertisers look at these ideas and say "ok, this is sterile enough that we can promote our dishwashers and febreeze to this" and mass audiences watch it or they don't and network executives (who couldn't find original and creative programming if it were their genitals) interpret this data in units and "target demographics" and through this spectrum programs live and die. Their Cocaine is "stepped on" stretched to maximize profitability. This is why SNL hasn't been consistantly funny for 30 years. They aren't these rebellious youngsters anymore, they are the machine.
I could drone on and on about the contrasts, I'm sure this isn't the end of my rant, but I will stop here because the two fingers I am typing with are exhausted. I emplore you to seek out a low-budget, live show (second-city mainstage doesn't count, it's a virtual tour bus for Iowans and Shaumburgians to "experience what it's like to take in the big city") I mean real nitty-gritty shit. If you need suggestions just ask, I'm always looking for unsuspecting people to drag to shows with me. Also, coincidently, I happen to have a show up currently called "Beyond Say" at the Den theater (1333 N Milwaukee shameless plug). Just know that without you all of this goes away and then you're forced to watch the Kardashians.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world (I'm starving)" -Ghandi