Too bad there wasn’t an intermission. And especially too bad I was sitting in the front row in spitting distance of the actor-playwright and in his plain sight. Worse still, too bad I shook off several well-intentioned wake-up nudges before I was caught in dormis delicto (in sleeping offense).
And so much for victimless humor since the rightly offended actor — dropped his persona and without skipping a beat called me out before God and audience for my indelicate slumber.
It’s true that given our healthy egos, it’s hard to embarrass a lawyer. But give this guy credit for giving a snoozing patron his due. There was more — but I’ll spare myself the additional indignities.
Not like I didn’t deserve the chortles from the crowd. But with as much as 90-minutes of uninterrupted preachy soliloquy, I probably wasn’t alone in the Land of Nod. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if others sitting behind safely shadowed in darkness well beyond the stage lights, didn’t perhaps think ‘there but for the grace of God ‘ or ‘better he than me.’
Like as not, I know how the actor felt. As a practiced speechifier, I’ve been on the receiving end of somnolent audience members. So much for making eye contact with the audience when their eyes are shut.
Existential philosopher Albert Camus said “Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people sleep.” If you speechify long enough, you either develop a thicker skin or you get better material.
Out of the mouths of babes.
Unconscious meditating or sleeping? Some may think it’s overwork. Nah. Or undiagnosed showtime situational narcolepsy. Are you kidding? Or better still that all my years of getting by on 5 to 6 hours of sleep finally caught up with me. Not yet.
I doubt I’m suffering chronic insufficiency of what Macbeth called “the Chief Nourisher in life’s feast.”
Age has nothing to do with it either. In my late 20’s, a young nephew who occasionally accompanied me to the show would on returning home, happily pronounce a movie’s merits or demerits to family, “It was a good movie because my uncle didn’t fall asleep.” Sooner sleep than boredom. Truth out of the mouths of babes.
Sleep as arbiter of entertainment.
Instead I prefer to believe in sleep as arbiter of entertainment. Engage your audience or entice Morpheus.
Any wonder then that over the years, I’ve thought the best and easiest to understand entertainment rating system is the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Little Man” created by Chronicle artist Warren Goodrich. Forget stars, letter grades, thumbs up or down or the rotten tomatoes other critics use for rating shorthand.
After more than half-a-century, if you want to know one person’s opinion of what she thinks of an entertainment’s value — next to the empty chair, it’s the Little Man.
So when a show’s bad, I follow his cue. Just don’t sit in the front row.
Photo Credits:15 minutes d’entr’acte by Albert Guillaume at Wikimedia Commons, public domain; Kids+ culture = ?, by midiman at Flickr via Creative Commons attribution license; IMG_1977.JPG at morguefile.com by pedrojperez; Front row at Girl Talk, by Harry Heng at Flickr Creative Commons attribution.