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Yawning is applauding with your mouth

Barry Smith
Vail, CO, Colorado
Barry Smith
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Ugh ” it’s early.

Not normal early, but Fringe Festival early. It’s like 9:30 or so, and even though I’m up, I sorta just went to bed. Ugh.

I’m trying to pace myself, because I’m still less than two weeks into my four-month tour, but it’s hard to go to bed when you’re tempted by the beer tent. And by “beer tent” I don’t mean a tented area within whose confines beer is sold, but an actual tent constructed of beer. Or so it sometimes seems. Like now, for instance.

An exciting and tight-knit little community builds up quickly at a Fringe Festival ” a Fringe Festival being a free-for-all theatre festival, with comedy, drama, puppets, great shows, not-so-great shows, and, at this festival, anyway ” a camel. And this is why sleeping takes a back seat to socializing. Yes, a camel.

As I enter the beer tent I immediately see a dozen people that I know, as if this festival has been going on for years. And there’s food at this beer tent, including two ” TWO ” separate soul food places! This is what I imagine heaven to be like ” friends, food, beer, art. Except in heaven you don’t have to get up this early.

I’m only up early to write this column before my final Orlando show, because my deadline is sorta nowish. Doing a show still takes all that I have, and my fried catfish/hush puppy level plummets to a dangerous low and needs to be replenished at once. Often collard greens are also necessary. Writing is unimaginable.

Oh! Heres some news. My friend Holly e-mailed me a great bit of insight on people who yawn during performances. I don’t know why, but when I look down and see someone yawn, I tend to get thrown off ” What’s the matter? Am I boring you? Why don’t you like me? It’s because I’m a miserable little talentless worm, isn’t it? Stuff like that ” not a good time. She suggested that people yawn not because they’re bored but because they’re tired, and that they yawn because they want to stay awake. If they were bored and tired, they’d go to sleep, (which some of them do, but I covered that topic in my last column), but yawning means they want to stay with you.

Yawning, then, is really just a form of applauding with your mouth. That’s my conclusion, not my friend’s, and it may be a bit of rationalization, but I’m gonna try it out for a while.

You know how when you run into someone who you sorta know, but you’ve forgotten their first name, so when you say hello to them on the street you say, “Heyyyyy. How are you?” Which translates as: I know that I should know your name, but I don’t, and I’m hoping that my enthusiastic greeting will take the attention away from this fact.

Well, at a Fringe Festival the same thing happens, only it sounds like this: “I just saw your show. I really liked it.” Which translates as: I just saw your show, and I really didn’t like it, but given the nature of our social structure I have to say that I did.

I’ve seen about a dozen shows so far, and most of them I really liked ” a few, not so much. But the problem is that I’ll be hanging out with the creators of these shows in the beer tent for a while ” in some cases for months, as many performers are going on the same Fringe Festival tour circuit that I am. So, what worries me is that if I have to tell someone I like their show even though I didn’t, doesn’t that mean that others could also be doing that to me?

It’s way too early in this tour to be getting paranoid, but how do I know who’s telling the truth? These are a bunch of actors ” they’re trained liars. How can I tell if they actually like me and aren’t just being nice?

I think I have the answer. The only way to tell if they REALLY like me is if they yawn while I’m talking to them.

So far, so good.

(Read more about Barry?s tour on his blog at http://www.barrysmith.com)


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