txtshow (on the internet)
Created by and starring Brian Feldman
Presented by RhizomeDC
If at first you fail… Well, when I fail I like to give up, but Feldman is made of sterner stuff. This is his fourth attempt to perform “txt” on Zoom, and my second or third attempt at participating. This online pandemic world we live in is NOT favorable to theater events. While parking is cheaper and you can bring your own beer, there’s no sense of audience or shared discovery. But if you MUST do a show online, “txt” might be the archetype. It’s one performer, one set, one focal point, and the script is written by the punters who get neither credit nor residuals. Tonight Feldman climbs the Wall of the Three Forces of Evil: Not enough audience, Blocked Twitter accounts, and no home internet. I never knew he had a motto, but it’s: “I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got.”
We begin in the “waiting room.” It requires a plug-in, so I do the download boogie: “Please wait, the meeting host will let me in soon.” Fine. He wants my camera on. That’s a problem because I don’t think I have one, and I’m more casually dressed than normal. It IS getting on summer. I go for a drink, and now my screen says “Zoom.” Someone must have let me in. “Bolt, the Zoom Assistant,” asks me questions. Various Feldman family and hangers-on are already in, and they chat aimlessly. Someone bangs pots as they clean up from dinner. Someone else chews loudly. A still frame announces, “The Best Show You’ll Write All Year.” That’s a bit depressing as I just finished a short play that might actually be funny. But I’ve prepped some things to say. I’m ready to rock and text. It’s 7:08. Feldman runs late but it looks like his tech is GO. Genny Yosco gives us a pre-show. She’s hyper perky and has a professional headphone, but she’s a bit over the top. Feldman dresses in black; he looks like rabbi crossed with a diamond merchant. He sits at a pure white table against a pure white background. It’s GO time! Text suggestions come flying in faster than bad news at The White House. I’m not sure how many participants participate but I see Feldman’s mother and father, a young man with a slightly out of focus face and lush tropical wallpaper backdrop, a woman with a pierced lip, and another dressed to the nines. Viewers drop in from far corners of the globe – Tokyo, India, and even distant Winter Park.
Great material flies. The “Dreidel Song” gets a rewrite with “penis” replacing “Dreidel.” It’s comedy gold. We ask, “Are these lap dances gluten free?” Feldman kisses the camera, and someone tries to pick up a date from the audience. I make Feldman read reviews I’ve written about him in the past. The images are clear, sound is excellent, and the cameras dances around as we speak or laugh. Laughs remain plentiful all the show long as Feldman burns through a mountain of material. With the pacing fast even the offensive jokes are funny. It’s a stellar performance. And I wish I had been there. It’s always better live, but this digital experience wasn’t too horrible. Maybe someday I’ll get comfortable online. Brian sure is.