A Performer’s Guide to Facebook

Facebook is a blessing and a curse.  For performers, this is more true than for the average Joe.

As a creative person, please observe these rules during your visits…

1) Less is more.

Remember, brevity is the soul of wit.  If you post about everything in your life, your audience will hide or straight-up unfriend you.  While the audience is your friends, even friends will grow tired if you never shut up.  So be judicious with your status updates and other posts.

Similarly, if you invite me to every single show, my chances of attending are low.  If I see only a select few invites, I’m more likely to come.  Years ago, Michael Patrick O’Brien once sent a personalized MySpace message directly to me, inviting me to come to his show.  After I attended, he thanked me on my wall.  He didn’t just randomly stick invitations in a shotgun and spray them all over Chicago.  That’s why I came.

2) Volume doesn’t equal success.

Life as a performer is feast or famine.  For all of us.  All of us.

Some friends will let their excitement over success overwhelm their better judgment.  You got cast in a show?  Great.  Post again on opening night.  We don’t need daily updates about how wonderful the project is.

And when the dice aren’t tumbling your way, checking Facebook can be downright corrosive.  “That guy seems to get cast in everything,” you say to yourself.  He doesn’t, but he never posts about his failures.  Take all the bullhorn screaming with a grain of salt.  If you have to tell everyone you’re successful, you’re not successful.

3) Support your friends.

Be attentive to your colleagues online.  Clicking the “like” button or even leaving a “Congrats!” on their post takes you less than one second.  But it creates a disproportionate self-esteem boost for the person on the other end.  When someone posts their video, just click the like button, even if you never watch it.  And if you’re a true friend, make the time to watch the stupid thing.  At the very least, it may inspire you to create something of your own, if not collaborate with that friend.

And on the rare occasion that someone really nails something, share it with your friends.  Be a good gatekeeper.  Let the light shine through.

4) Limit your time.

Facebook is humanity’s greatest time-suck since masturbation.  Essentially, it’s the same thing.  Ego masturbation.  A little of that is okay.  (Ten minutes a day?)  Any more than that and you risk being sucked into a self-congratulatory black hole from which there is no escape.  The good and the bad of Facebook increase exponentially the more time you spend there.

5) Clicking a button is no match for action.

Facebook is not real life.  No one will eulogize you by remembering how hilarious your comments were.  No TV producers are sitting around, combing Facebook statuses for the next great writer.  Audiences don’t buy tickets to read your wall.

Shut down your browser and open a word processing program.  Write something.  Film something.  Collaborate.  Meditate.  Get out in person to support a friend’s show.  Go do an actual hobby somewhere.  You are not a prison inmate.  You can travel and live how you choose.  Don’t waste your limited time clicking a “thumbs-up” button on cat pictures all day.

I understand the lure of the site.  I was in the Second City Conservatory so long ago, I had to make a Geocities page to try to advertise the thing.  On show nights, I’d take chalk and scribble show info on the North Avenue sidewalks.*  Promoting shows back then was an impossible pain in the ass.  But now, it’s too easy.

Listen to your muse.  Follow her.  She will never steer you to Facebook.

* Immediately after that, a Piper’s Alley security guard poured water on my chalk advertisement and erased it.  I waited ten minutes, then stole his watering can and put it backstage at the ETC theater.  I wonder if it’s still there…

Got an improv question?  E-mail me at boilingpointimprov[at]gmail.com

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