Saturday 3rd – 7th May 2011
25SG Residency FeedbackI saw the residency at 25SG as an opportunity to work on what I would describe as my first comedy ‘gig’- titled Sit-down. Basically I knew I wanted to do some kind of performance/comedy crossover on the final day, and spent the time leading up to it writing, honing and rehearsing material.
Straight away I knew that I wanted to use the garage space for the event as it allowed for greater access for the viewing public (both internal and external views with two large windows.) Another factor for favouring this space was the practicalities of using slapstick props for my act which would have been unsuitable elsewhere in the house.
I wanted this performance to differ from my previous ones in-as-much as that I aimed to move away from the usual ‘deadpan/repetitive/economical’ aesthetic and instead create a more varied ‘act’ so to speak. So the usual clichés about “experimentation/pushing oneself out of comfort zones” etc. apply here.
What I quickly realised about the performance was the jarring contradiction between the quickness of a comedy gig and the snail-paced progress of my take on one. The slowness of the writing and performing of the gags juxtaposed with the delayed laughter that (sometimes) followed split the internal and external audience, who received the ‘punch-lines’ in different time-zones almost. Another key aspect was that my performance was non-verbal and largely silent, barring occasional musical interludes, so in the main the audience created the noise and ambience. This role-reversal brought about an unforeseen vulnerability and social awkwardness to the event.I guess the transient nature of the performance art audience differed from the more static and attentive one that would be experienced at a normal comedy gig. This made for a fragmented reception to the performance. On one hand this meant that some of the audience perhaps missed out on certain aspects of structure, narrative and maybe even some of the subtleties and sleight-of-hand? However on the other it was very much in keeping with the nature of such a gig in that the artist/performer had to work hard to keep the attention of the viewer.
I feel that I made some kind of breakthrough in regards to my practice with this performance. The various elements (jokes, comic theory, slapstick props etc.) have been a staple of my practice for a while now, though they normally remain as separate entities, either as critical underpinning or transformed into actual artworks. In this case however, they were brought together to blur the boundaries of the two.
Finally, I believe that Sit-down could well become a template for a future comedy/performance crossover piece; however, whether I have the courage to take it into the realm of pure comedy remains doubtful at this stage.
David Foggo May 2011
more photographs: http://www.artopolus.net/sit-down/