Monday, February 5, 2007

Interview with Chris Hampton of the WYSIWYG Talent Show

Stage Buzz Interview by Byrne Harrison

Chris Hampton is a blogger and co-creator of the WYSIWYG Talent Show, “a monthly showcase for the oft-overlooked genius of bloggers in or visiting New York City,” which kicks off its fourth season on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, at the Bowery Poetry Club.

BH: Since there are probably quite a few people out there who have no idea what the WYSIWYG Talent Show is, can you tell them how it all came to be?

CH: We’re an all-blogger reading/performance series and we do monthly shows at Bowery Poetry Club. We did our first show in February of ‘04. Andy Horwitz and I were at a party, swapping Valentine’s Day stories, which led to a couple of bad-sex-on-Valentine’s-Day stories, and we got to talking about how everyone has at least one bad sex story, and we started thinking it would make for a really funny show. So we decided to try it, and being bloggers ourselves we thought having all the performers be bloggers would be an interesting angle. The first show was such a big success that we decided to make it a monthly thing. It’s not about bad sex every time — it’s about all kinds of stuff — but we still do that every year as an anti-Valentine’s Day event because it’s just too much fun not to.

BH: So this month’s performance is your anti-Valentine’s Day show, ‘Worst. Sex. Ever. IV.’ Along with the annual gay pride show, this one always sells out. What can a first-time WYSIWYG audience member expect?

CH: Cocktails, lots of laughter and schadenfreude! Your own sex life will suddenly seem SO great by comparison.

BH: You’ve performed in several of the ‘Worst. Sex. Ever.’ shows. What dirty laundry have you aired in the past?

CH: At our very first show I told the story of how a past girlfriend once tried to surprise me with a sexy evening. Except she worked at this group home for developmentally disabled men, so she ended up sneaking me in there for the whole thing. Not very easy to get your groove on when there’s a guy pounding on the door yelling about how he pooped his pants.

BH: Unless that’s your thing, I guess, but let’s not go there. Can you give us a hint about what you’ll be doing for this year’s show?

CH: This year I’m going to be doing a roundup of all the bad sex I managed to have in 2006. I think I might do a PowerPoint presentation.

BH: Going back to the themes for a moment, WYSIWYG has covered everything from bad roommates to lousy jobs to high school trauma. Any topics that are especially near and dear to you?

CH: The bad roommates one was awesome, in part because of what I think may be my favorite line ever at a WYSIWYG show. One of the perfomers told us all about how his hellish roommate was once in the next room with a guest and he heard, through the wall: “Make a mess for daddy!”

Maybe you had to be there.

BH: Actually, I was. That image was seared into my brain.

CH: I have to say, though, that my favorites are the annual “Worst. Sex. Ever.” and “Extremely Gay Gayness” show. They’re just always hilarious.

BH: Now that WYSIWYG is entering its fourth year, I imagine you’ve seen a lot of talented people perform. Do you have any particular favorites?

CH: Hmm. Maybe Susie Felber’s story from a show about summer camp experiences. Her mother was one of those touchy-feely moms who think ALL children are special — so she innocently and cluelessly signed Susie up for a camp for “special” children. But it’s REALLY hard to pick just one!

BH: Fair enough. What do you think it takes to be a good WYSIWYG performer?

CH: I think you just have to have an interesting story to tell and an ability to put it out there in your own voice.

BH: Not always an easy task, I imagine. If someone wants to take the plunge and perform at WYSIWYG, what do they need to do?

CH: They have to have a blog, since that’s our whole schtick, and they can just visit our website and they’ll find all sorts of info about the show, including upcoming dates and contact information.

BH: What’s planned for the rest of the year?

CH: We’re experimenting with not doing themes each month. I’ve had a lot of people who would be great for the show but didn’t have stories or material that matched any of the upcoming themes, so we’re opening it up and making it something of a free-for-all. So far it’s been really fun!

WYSIWYG Talent Show: “Worst. Sex. Ever. IV.”
Wednesday, February 14th
8 p.m. (Doors open at 7:30)

Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery at Bleecker

For advance tickets, click here.