Thursday, June 21, 2012

Risk's rewards

Something in Amy Poehler's interview show at the 92nd Street Y last week echoed what comedian Carl LaBove had said in the interview he gave Jester. At the end, LaBove talked about risk being key to creating the best comedy material. Asked about the difference between performing comedy and being a fan of comedy, Poehler said it's willingness to be vulnerable on a stage, and be embarrassed. In short, she said, it's "taking risks."

This is just two performers pointing to the same thing, but it strikes a chord. To be funny, a performer has to take some sort of risk; to be funny, a scene or a comedic work has to take some sort of risk. They have to cross some sort of line, and take a chance. And that certainly can apply to more than just comedy.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Expo

Managed to catch a little bit of the BEA Expo, the publishing industry's big annual show in New York, this week. At one point waited in the line for an autographed book from comedian Kevin Pollak (which will be published in the fall). I thought it worth noting here that Pollak went above and beyond what I've seen from most authors at this show, having been twice before in prior years.

Although he had high demand for his signature and a long line, Pollak brought a professional photographer with him so anyone who wanted could have their photo taken with him, without holding the line up. He also had questions and patter ready for every attendee. It really was a masterful marketing effort on his part -- above and beyond what I've experienced from other publishers, who can't be bothered to even respond to review copy requests that could promote their products, at a time when publishing is suffering.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Decline of AMC Theaters (and all movie theaters, for that matter)

Had a less than satisfactory experience at the AMC Orpheum movie theater on the Upper East Side last night. Gabi & I ended up there after I played softball in Central Park -- we bought tickets for a 9:50 pm show of Men in Black 3, and went to have dinner nearby before the movie. We had a little bit of leftovers in a bag with us by the time we went to the theater. They had a ticket taker and security person at the door that seemed more appropriate for a club than the movies, and they hassled us about the leftovers and wouldn't let us in.

I went immediately to the theater manager, who was basically no help. Apparently no one is ever supposed to eat dinner in the neighborhood and go to their theater to see a movie afterward. They offered to hold the food for us, but frankly, after being hassled like that, I wouldn't trust them with our food. I demanded and got a refund, and we ended up not seeing the movie and not giving this theater our business.

It is beyond stupid on their part, when home video is quickly surpassing movie theaters in attendance/business, to turn away customers with this lack of discretion. I'll certainly never go to that location again. We're already less often going out to the movies, because the ticket prices and concessions are so greedily inflated, and this pretty much seals it for me -- as far as the whole AMC chain goes, and maybe movie theaters in general. Who needs to be treated like this? Even if we were going to eat our outside food in the theater, which we weren't, why turn away paying ticket buyers when this location was far from busy, or full?

I'll risk sounding like a pompous ass saying this, but having just taken a course on "Leadership and Change" as part of studying for a media management degree, I don't think AMC Theatres is really getting what they're up against in their industry if they think raising prices and lowering customer service standards is really the way they will survive. It's certainly evident that's their current strategy from the experience I just had.