Following the theory that one thing often leads to another, first David Chen at Slashfilm recorded the stories, and then they became a popular download on iTunes, which led to their being picked up by public radio, most notably by KUOW in Seattle and WFPL in Louisville, Ky. That led to a book deal with Simon & Schuster. Now they have become a one-man theatrical performance.
An actor has a series of interesting problems when performing a one-man show. The most inescapable one is that you are the show-all of it. The playgoers become aware of this after about eight seconds. The performer must stay ahead of them. There are several ways to do this. Some actors rely on technical elements, such as changing lights, costumes, sets, or props.
I choose not to do this for one reason: I don't want the success of my performance in the hands of an unknown technical crew with a one-hour mic check and lighting rehearsal right before the house opens. I want the burden of the show's rhythm in my hands.
Financially, I am returning home with a percentage of the box office in my wallet. After paying hotels, meals, airfare, the theater's cut, and David Chen's cut I have netted a negative $200.
However, at the Boston show, I was given a set of Davy Crockett drinking glasses from Nancy Campbell, one of the directors of the fundraiser. At the Brooklyn show, I met several of the fans of the podcast who have been ardent listeners for the last two years. I had a beer with my editor from S&S and my literary agent. I met a man who flew from Poland to meet me because of the story I wrote about Auschwitz, where his grandparents were killed.
So when you add it all up, I figure I am deeply into profit. An actor can never discount the value of experience. It can keep you warm on cold nights, too.