Wake up and smell the cyclicus, America: The Digital Age of entertainment is on the verge of a Romanesque collapse. Once mighty empires Blockbuster and Hollywood Video have closed their doors. Netflix is getting all weird and schizophrenic. And the only thing to see at the cinema is the 3D reincarnation of your parents’ childhood, as told by producers who decided to save money by firing all the writers (
see don’t see Smurfs in 3D)
If ever there were a time to regress, that time is now. I invite you all to direct your attention to your own backyards. The local live entertainment scene is thriving in big cities and small towns all across America and if you’re not on board, then you’re missing out on some real, hidden gems.
Case in point: Luna’s Café, a small plate café and juice bar in Sacramento, CA with a maximum fire capacity of roughly 50 people (and an unbeatable plate of nachos). For over 25 years, owner Art Luna has opened his doors to local performers to showcase their talents, designating one night a week to each of the various performing arts – Music, Poetry and Comedy. On a stage surrounded by walls filled with the work of local studio artists, unexpected and largely underrated talent consistently disproves the myth that live theater is dead.
Art is not lost. It is alive and well in these small rooms all across the country. Keith Lowell Jensen (Comedian and Co-founder, Coexist? Comedy Tour), who spearheads Comedy Night at Luna’s, (Wednesdays at 8pm) explains the magic of these venues, “Stage time is based on quality and nothing else. The audience is required to act civilized, and intelligence is rewarded on both sides of the mic. It’s a formula that seems to result in amazing comedy shows and continued poverty.” Comedy Night at Luna’s has seen the likes of Kelly Pryce (Lopez Tonight), Ngaio Bealum (The Late Late Show, The Sara Silverman Program) and Mike E. Winfield (NBC’s The Office) drop in simply because they like the room and the people that fill it every week. Not to mention a wealth of local talent-on-the-verge, such as Michael O’Connell (Comedians With Disabilities Act) and Nick Aragon, who recently opened for Dana Carvey and Robin Williams.
From the corner of 16th and O in Sacramento, CA to the far corners of world wide web, there is no longer a requisite city for the cultivation of art. Just ask Plan B, a multimedia improv and sketch comedy troupe based out of Norfolk, VA. Founded by Brendan Hoyle (Artistic Director, Little Theater of Norfolk) and Jason Kypros (Actor/Writer/Comedian) Plan B have taken their craft “Back to basics. We don’t need to go out of town to do what we do. We can do it right here,” says Kypros. Creating videos as well as live sketch and improv comedy shows, Plan B has also found a way to utilize one of comedy’s greatest tools: the ability to create a voice for people who would otherwise remain unheard. “It’s one of those awesome art forms that allows you to talk about things that people don’t normally want to think about. Truth is told in jest.” Check out the latest dose of truth from Plan B on the web or catch them live, if you’re in the area.
Yes. That’s a mother load of hyperlinks. Because great art is THAT EASY to find, and it’s all around you! In the interest of journalistic integrity I feel it necessary to explain that this call to action, this beacon of artistic hope in a digital sea seemingly devoid of intellect is not delivered to you completely unbiased. Far from it, indeed. I am promoting my friends; my talented, deserving friends who too often go unnoticed for their hard work and dedication to their craft because of the ever-widening, fundamental gap between talent and recognition. And you should be doing the same! Step out into your own communities, find the gold and share the wealth. Or at the very least, have an honest laugh and go to sleep knowing that for one night, you were part of the solution and not part of the problem.
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