Post Vancouver Post

There was just so much to do in Vancouver that I didn’t have time to fully record it all here in the way that I wanted. I’m home now, so I can start reflecting on some of the things I witnessed.

Let’s start in the toilet. This is easily the most detailed “Must Wash Hands” sign I have ever seen. This was obviously designed for people who are washing their hands for the very first time. It warms my heart to know that Canadian employers don’t discriminate against those who lack even the most basic hygiene skills.


Here’s a little something I saw at the coffee shop:


I just really like that combination of words, especially when presented without punctuation:

“Yes, a Regular Medium Supremo, please. Better make that a double. And leave room for cream.”


Not sure what to make of this one (above). It’s like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designed the menu for this Indian fast food place.



Canadians clearly loves them some toast.

“Would you like a bagel instead?”

“No way – I’m sticking with toast. I’m a toast man from the word go. Toast for me, all the way. In fact, in my world, there is no substitute for toast. None. And if I were from a different part of North America I’d stomp a mudhole in your ass for even suggesting one.”


I heard that cannabis was legal in British Columbia, or at least tolerated. I decided the best way to find this out for sure would be to get my hands on some and smoke it. Some people learn visually, some aurally, others tactically. I learn by smoking things. I’m sure there’s a word for that. Besides “pathetic,” I mean. Anyway, here’s what I learned…


First of all, I learned that it’s cheap. Imagine this little container (above) twice as full, which is what it was before I smoked half of it and decided to start taking pictures. It cost me $10. Canadian! That’s so cheap that it’s like giving the guy nothing!

“Thanks for the high quality BC bud, what do I owe you?”

“Oh, just give me a handful of gravel from that driveway over there and we’ll call it even.”

Now, I never found out for sure if it was legal, but I did notice a very polite sign on the bus that nudged me towards a more pleasant and safe smoking experience:


See how helpful Canadians are?

I know, I know – bad pun. But I didn’t write them. I just took the pictures…



Vancouver Reviews Are In…

Here’s my review from the Vancouver Sun, with a really nice picture:

Faith meets PowerPoint in a weird trip: A charming and clever play follows the writer’s complicated relationship with Christian fundamentalism
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

By Peter Birnie
Waterfront Theatre

Barry Smith grew up in Mississippi, bathed in the waters of Southern Baptist fervour. In a beautifully detailed dissection of his journey through Christianity, Smith presents a PowerPoint lecture like no other.

Forget the way this dubious device is misused at so many boring business meetings — Smith and his director, Lynn Aliya, create a seamless PowerPoint flow for the screen standing next to Smith, mixing bits of video with photos, subtitles and plenty of pages from The Bible.

Add the actor’s strong sense of showmanship and a gift for deadpan, and all that’s needed is a solid premise. Smith’s is brilliant — that no matter how many times he has tried to flee his fundamentalist roots, they just keep tripping him up. From the “Paul is dead” prophecy surrounding The Beatles to his own bizarre dealings with a Montana cult obsessed with what else but the Book of Revelations, Smith’s wanderings all over modern America are charmingly weird.

With hints of George Carlin and even Hunter S. Thompson (I wonder if Smith’s friend “attorney Dave” is Samoan), Jesus in Montana is a clever and endearing plea for, as Smith says, “a world that works.”


Jesus in Montana
Stage 4, Waterfront

Another very smart, funny show about our nutty world. Barry Smith explains how he grew up fundamentalist in Mississippi, lost his faith, re-embraced it in adulthood by joining a Montana cult led by a retired chiropractor claiming to be Jesus, then lost it again. The theatrical zing comes from Smith’s fabulous use of powerpoint — from home movies to Bah’ai history to a deconstruction of Beatles’ iconography. Think Bill Cosby’s “Noah” routine as performed by Michael Moore.


OK, internet access is iffy at the moment. I still have 3 more shows, one of them at 10:30 tonight. More pictures and stuff tomorrow.

Vancouver Fringe Pics…

OK, so here I am in a beautiful city, experiencing what I’m told is unusually beautiful weather. So what do I do? Take pictures of signs and other words.

Here’s a non-verbal one before we get started…


See? Real nice…coffee and scenery. Cool. Now, on to my strange obsession with pictures of words:


Seems like a valid enough warning. I mean, trucks on your sidewalk is something that could affect you personally.


I live in Colorado, so I don’t know a whole lot about seagulls. Do they all look as sinister as the one on this warning sticker? Or has it been retouched? It looks kinda evil and calculating, no? Like it could easily read, “Warning: Protect your children, eyes, genitals and VISA card number from seagulls.”


I like graffiti with a message.


Again, a good bit of info to pass along.


Obviously, given their use of two versions of communicating the need to have their display glass not be touched, it has become a bit of an issue. Probably rogue seagulls entering the shop and touching the glass…


This is the “content checklist” that is outside of each Fringe show. These checks don’t apply to my show. I get “Solo performance, adult language and religious content.” I think a worthy goal would be to create a show that allows you to check every single box, including writing “Penguin sodomy” in the “Other” box. Next year…


Here’s a little crowd forming outside of my venue, the Waterfront Theatre, well before my show last night. It was one of my best shows ever – I felt good, and the audience was really into it. We all had fun and laughed, and the house was nice and full, especially for a Sunday night at 9:15. Here’s my view from the stage, pre-show, with Vaseline on my glasses…


Really nice spot. After the show I went to a party with some other performers. Later in the evening we played Trivial Pursuit (hey…it was Sunday night at 2 a.m.) I somehow managed to answer a pie-earning sports question, and, given that I was surrounded by actors who know nothing about sports (I also know nothing, but I just lucked out on this question), I was suddenly looked on with much suspicion – who’s the American sports-knowing freak!? Then the party wound down and looked, at least partly, like this:


Aren’t they just the cutest little cluster of Fringe performers? Awwww….



Self Promotion at the Vancouver Fringe Festival…

I’ve never been interested in sales, yet I am now a salesman, and it is me that I am selling. Well, my Jesus In Montana show, technically, but really it’s me, since I’m the guy in the show.

Here are the top three things that people say when you hand them a flyer that says “Jesus In Montana” on it, one that looks like this:


1) “Are you Jesus? Ha, ha, ha…”

2) “Oh, I didn’t know He was in Montana. Ha, ha, ha…”

3) “Are you Jesus? Ha, ha, ha…”

But you have to overlook such weak and predictable stabs at cleverness and press on with what I believe is known in the business as the “elevator pitch.” I have my pitch down to about 45 seconds now (seconds do count), but I can also do the 20-second version if I have to – like if people are running away. Longer versions are always easier, if you have such a luxury…

Sometimes people react as if you are trying to hand them something vile and horrible – and these are people walking out of a fringe show, so they know what the deal is.

“Would you like to hear about my show? All the times and dates are written on this handful of warm puppy shit that I’d like to hand you. C’mon, take it. TAKE IT!”

But those cases are rare. I really love flyering – it’s a chance to spend a few minutes with little clumps of people and see if you can win them over, like a little mini-show. I’m going to do some of it today, in fact. After a nap.

I saw 3 shows yesterday, and I’d recommend all of them: “The Best of the Pajama Men,” “The Excursionists” and “Jesus Christ: The Lost Years.” Go to the Vancouver Fringe web site, linked HERE, for info on these shows. I haven’t seen “Drama Queen” yet, but have gotten to know the writer/performer Alex Dallas, and she is smart and funny, so I have no doubts that it will be wonderful as well.

And come see my show tonight, 9:15, at the Waterfront Theatre. Unless you’re reading this post months from now…

Vancouver Fringe Opening

It was good – just over 100 people on my opening night, and they laughed and pondered at appropriate moments throughout the show. Got my housing situation somewhat figured out, though it will probably be in flux until such time as I get home. Took lots of pictures of graffiti and coffee cups, but my camera/computer cable is locked away, so those will have to wait. New computer is working fabulously. Writing in choppy, fragment-like sentences now to my liking.

New Computer, and Just in Time…

Here’s a picture I took of my new computer:


My hand is not deformed, I’m just doing the intricate little 3-key combo that makes the computer take a picture of me while I take a picture of it:


Though when I look at that picture, I have to admit that my hand looks pretty strange.

Funny, this was meant to be a post about how I got a new computer JUST in the nick of time to head to the Vancouver Fringe Festival (my show, Jesus In Montana, is multi-media, and runs off of a computer, so you can see the exciting drama potential, right?), and about the “infinite loop” potential of having a computer  that will photograph me photographing it, but instead I’m realizing that I have freakishly large and potentially deformed-looking hands.

I’m not an animal! I am a human being!

Anyway, I leave for Vancouver tomorrow…I wonder if they’ll let me on the plane with my freakish hands, what with these tight new security measures and all…