There's something that I find quite disconcerting, performing here in Tokyo.
Friday, August 14, 2009
It's the silence.
Once we are at places, we are backstage, methodically going through some last minute stretches, turns, props (cause you know, ACL has just so darn many), conversations with each other--and all of this activity is masked by the cacophony of sounds coming from the audience.
They are chatting, situating, finding their seats, popping in some gum before the black out or whatever, the point is they are making some noise. Some blessed noise. And I never even realized how much I find that wall of accidental noise to be comforting. To be evidence of an energized audience, a reason for me to be all dolled up, stretched out, warmed up, lip-sticked and powdered.
But here, they sit silent as the grave. Oh, but surely it changes once you guys start performing, you might think?
They sit there, politely smiling and yes, clapping when it absolutely calls for it (as in, you are standing there no longer moving or speaking and the music has stopped), but they rarely laugh.
Yet at our bow, they applaud like crazy, sometimes even standing up which is highly different for the Japanese. It is their custom to only give a standing ovation at a closing performance, and rarely even then. But they gave us one at our opening, which was quite an honor. And once we exit the stage they sit there and clap in unison, even in rhythm, for a long long time, hoping, I suppose for some sort of encore. Little do they know that we are already in robes and crocs and have no intention of stepping back onto the stage. At least not till the next show.
But still, how nice of them to show their appreciation.
It would just go a really long way to get some of that appreciation scattered throughout the entirety of the show. It'd really help to distract from the pain in the feet, the hunger you feel, the fact that maybe we are only in the 2ND number and have a ton to go. It'd really help to know that they are with us as we tell our stories, make our jokes, sing our songs.
And in America, an involved audience MAKES SOME NOISE.
I keep telling myself it's cultural, it's okay, it doesn't mean they don't like the show, but I will be honest and say that it's still pretty hard to get past. It still feels a little like the show is great, we're just ready for an audience. A live audience, for goodness' sake.
But it's actually pretty hilarious to hear the complete silence that follows almost every punch line in the show. And then to hear our own pitiful attempt at filling the silence with laughter; the laughter from people who have heard that joke every day now--sometimes twice!--for a year and a half.
But still, we try.
And on a completely different note, I saw this at a restaurant tonight, listing the different sizes for a particular salad:
Regular: 850 yen
US-Size: 1300 yen
Uh-oh. So now there's the regular size, meaning you know, a healthy normal amount of food to imbibe in one sitting, and...US-Size??? As in, come on over Fatty McButterpants and kid yourself into thinking that you'll "eat light" and "only order a salad," but it will be huge, dripping with dressing, just plain TOO MUCH, and utterly, unequivocally American.
We get it, Japan, we eat too much in America.
One plate from Texas Roadhouse could feed a family for a day.
The irony of the way you define your sizes is not lost here.