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Producing: The Variety Show, Part 2

March 31, 2013

Ok, so you’ve booked your space and now it’s time to focus on The Show – aka, the fun and creative part! In this installment (part 1), I want to chat about ways to make the show a reflection of what you want to achieve with it.

Let’s start with the first and easiest way to do it: Call your friends and ask them to perform whatever they want. Easy-peasy.

But, if you want to get more specific, ask yourself: What do I want out of this? Do you want to show your core group of friends/family/fans that you are your type most perfected – or the opposite – to break out of the type you’re usually cast as? Do you want to show the world you can play an instrument? That you write poetry? Sketches? This is your chance to be in 100% complete control of what you are performing. Pick something that you love and, even may be a little scary – it will push you to achieve greatness.

The last thing you want to do is your stock song or stock monologue. Blah! Why put yourself through the effort of putting on a show if you aren’t going to really go balls to the wall on every front?

When you have an answer to the “What am I going to do in the show?” question, you can then take it to the next step – which is to find the theme or a hook for the show. Themes are more broad, umbrellas really that people can work under, while the hook would be something more specific – like “mash-ups,” for example. From here, you can probably find a title that fits, which will give your audience a clue to the type of variety show they’re in for.  (And then from there, reach out to your friends and ask them to perform whatever they  want under that theme.)

For example, the show referenced in post 1 was a variety show titled: “A Prelude to the Morning After.” Now, we didn’t really want to limit our friends, rather we preferred they showcase what they thought their strongest piece was. We gave everyone a 10 minute limit and a few days before the show, we checked in to see how long their set was. We chose not to limit our friends to what they could perform – whatever choice you make is correct, as long as it’s a choice.

Finally, you can take that all a step even further and if you are a writer or director, make the night a showcase for your work. Film it, and have that on file as an example of your work for potential future collaborations. This moves a little away from a variety show, but it’s still fun, collaborative, and malleable.

There are obviously countless ways to go about pulling a show as loose as this together. Have you ever been in a show or put one up that used one of these, or another methodology? I’d love to hear about it!!

From my brain to yours,


One Comment leave one →
  1. April 3, 2013 6:31 pm

    I love variety shows! Well done for producing them. In the UK, I worked a lot with a great guy called Paul L Martin with his variety show, Cheese and Crackers. Check it out if you are ever in London: And keep us informed when your next show is on!

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