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It Ain't About the Tunnel, it's the Light at The End

Been meaning to sit down and blog for a while now but I’ve been a bit conflicted about it – on one hand I want very much to be really transparent and up front about how things are going on the business end of things but at the same time, I feel like part of my job is saying “hell yes we can do this” and posting bleak financials isn’t really the way to rally everyone’s spirits so I tend to stress out about this myself and focus on the fact that things around HUGE have been kicking ass in pretty much every other area besides money.

The shows have been great, the bar is open, Saturday nights have been full houses and generally the word seems to be getting around.  When people ask how things are going at HUGE I tell them the shows are kicking ass – which may have accidentally given people the impression that the hard part is over and it’s time to relax.

That may sound like a joke but it’s actually been a common problem at HUGE – I’ve had people come in and see that we use an iPad as our cash register and comment that we must be doing pretty great, when in fact we are incredibly lucky to have gotten the donations of technology and equipment that allow us to run the place.

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Target practice on the cactus, low on ammo, no supplies…

Two big things this week, so it seems to be time for another blog ::

The bar is open!

Last night, HUGE served the first drinks from our newly-approved bar area.  It has been a long, tedious, expensive and frustrating process that often felt like it was going nowhere – insert joke about it driving us to drink, har har.

Everyone kept reminding us how much it was going to help HUGE in terms of revenue but it was easy to miss the other really important reason to do it – the theater feels more like a place to spend time with friends.  Strange as that sounds, it’s totally true.  At the end of the shows the building would be dark and quiet and we would often find ourselves trying to decide on a place to go hang out that wasn’t too crowded to sit, too loud to talk or basically just enough of a pain to get in the way of hanging out together.

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Please do not feed the robots

Here is the weird HUGE schedule for the next couple weeks as we prep for the improv festival and get the bar area built (and a couple other surprises) – we will be working furiously to get everything ready in a few short days but there are still a couple dates to get your improv fix ::

Monday – June 13th, 8pm – Show X

Tpt is shooting a segment on HUGE Theater and we would love to have everyone there to enjoy the show and be part of the taping.  Hopefully the TpT camera crew can get in a turf war with another crew shooting nearby…Tickets are 2 for 1.

Tuesday – June 14th – Dark :: No Fight Club

Wednesday – June 15th – Dark :: No Drop-in class, No show

Thursday – June 16th – Dark :: No Show

Friday – June 17th – Dark :: No Show

Saturday – June 18th – Dark :: No Show

Sunday – June 19th, 8pm – Improv A Go Go

Monday – June 20th, 8pm – Show X – with special guest!

Tuesday – June 21st – Dark :: No Fight Club

Wednesday – June 22nd – Improv Mixer – No Show

Thursday – June 23rd – Twin Cities Improv Festival begins!

a Rut becomes a Groove, becomes a Grave

HUGE updates ::

Inspections –

After being open for a few months, someone apparently realized we had yet to undergo a couple of important inspections and sent the appropriate people our way with clipboards in hand.

Thankfully, we are not in trouble or at odds with the city over anything. They are doing their due diligence and we are making (mostly small) changes to comply with their requests.

Beer and wine –

This is the one everyone asks about, and the one that we never seem to make any progress on regardless of how many steps in the process we go through. Luckily we are coming to the end of the whole thing with a vote at the City Council meeting on the 27th of May.

Should they vote to approve, everything then goes to the Mayor’s office the next day and a whole new cycle of paperwork kicks in while we get approval to order from vendors and have to (very quickly) acquire the permitted coolers and electrical mods to store/serve the beer in question.

All told, the soonest we can sell would be June 5th – thanks to some weird rule about the license not taking effect until the following Saturday. I was hoping we would be raising a toast at the IAGG Anniversary Show but we should be all set for TCIF!

If you live in the area it would be great if you could call your city councilperson and tell them you would like to have a beer at your favorite new improv theater, to better enjoy “the arts”

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We drink, we dry up and now we crumble into dust.

Something new every day – that has been the mantra at HUGE during the daylight hours.  We don’t mess around.

I do actually try to get something new done or added to the theater every working day I have there, big or small, partly as a way to keep myself from getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of things there still are to do.  Sometimes it’s as small as a fishbowl full of cell phones, sometimes it’s new software on the tech booth computers to make running shows easier.  This week we made the “last” big addition to the theater by expanding into the backstage area.

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You couldn't have come at a better time

A quick blog update. It happened! You guys donated $5000!! That’s incredible! Here’s me handing my check to HUGE Theater President Butch Roy.
HUGE Theater President Butch Roy receives a check for $5000 from Jill Bernard. We need to work on our check-receiving faces.

(We need to work on our check-receiving faces.)

Thanks, you guys. I said earlier that people might’ve felt bad about making me spend my own money, but the truth is, it is worth well more than $5000 to me to know people want HUGE Theater to succeed. There are many of you, and you’re from everywhere and all walks of life. It’s incredibly gratifying. My heart is warmed. I cried, I laughed, I did a little dance.

Okay. Onward.

Insert Obscure Song Lyric Here

Butch normally writes these bloggie thingies, but I thought I’d hop in here for a second.

Through March 31, I’m offering $5000 of my own money as a matching grant, to try to get some traction for HUGE.   It’s true, I’m not rich.  I haven’t had a day job since I got laid off two years ago, ironically, shortly after making this video about how much I love my day job.   Since then I make money playing ComedySportz and teaching at improv festivals around the country, and doing the occasional voiceover or commercial.

I have a little bit of savings, my father gave us all our inheritance early.  He doesn’t need the money, he grew a big beard and lives in a trailer and volunteers at train museums in warm climates.  Logically, I should be saving that money for my retirement, because improvisors don’t get 401Ks.   Somehow I’d rather spend it on helping HUGE Theater.  I want there to be a home for scenic improvisation in the Twin Cities.  It’s important to me.

Here’s the question though.  Why does HUGE Theater need a big wad of cash right now?  Well.  We’re buried under construction debt, crowds are still at a tiny getting-to-know you size, and we’re still in the part of the beer-and-wine license process where the city takes your money, not where you make money.  We’re getting there, but we’re not there.

Won’t you combine your dollars with my dollars to get us over this hump?  There’s a lot of stupid things to spend your money on. Pick this one, this time.

http://www.razoo.com/story/Jillbernardchallenge

Thank you.  You rock.

Let me get you up to speed, it's up to us to up the need. Upheaval tucked up the sleeve

Lots of new things still changing around HUGE – adding shows and time slots and special events all over the place

I am still startled by the immediacy that running our space brings to the process, much to the frustration of our marketing people – instead of the normal process of deciding what is going to come next, sending press releases, building some hype and then launching a new show we’re looking at Friday late nights after Overheard In Minneapolis and it always feels like there should be MORE. People hang out, the night clearly isn’t ready to be over yet – so we can add a show. Right NOW. No lead time, no ability to promote properly.  BOOM.

Such is the weird, chaotic process in the beginning – once we find the flow of all the evenings we will be able to follow the normal process for the next round of programming…hopefully.  Trying to get a couple months ahead while still trying to catch up from the build and keep up with daily operations can be daunting.

So, be patient with us and be sympathetic for our marketing people.  But now, the updates!

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their numbers were few but they did the job of many

Credit where credit is due blog ::

Some things are changing at HUGE, many of which will be announced soon and most of them are a direct result of learning the reality of running a theater – putting things in motion and finding out that the way you planned things has many unexpected problems or doesn’t work the way you thought it would – and while myself, Jill and Nels tend to get credit for helming this big, meandering beast of a project I must point out to everyone that it is far easier to not know what you’re doing than it is to work for someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing.

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