Eugene's tips for opening bands from The Onion : http://austin.decider.com/articles/euge ... nds,27652/
by Sean ONeal May 7, 2009 While itâ€™s hardly a guaranteed ticket to stardom, opening for a popular headlining act is a sweet gig: You get the same exposure, most of the perks, and a bigger cut of the door than youâ€™d ever get on your own, and audience expectations are so low that thereâ€™s nowhere to go but up. Of course, not everyone knows how to behave as an opening act, which is why Decider asked comedian Eugene Mirmanâ€”who will be warming up the crowd for tonight's Flight Of The Conchords show at Bass Hallâ€”to offer his take on how to make the most of your moment of reflected glory.
Hanging out backstage
Eugene Mirman: We have five different dressing rooms, and a place where we make people wait that we never plan on talking to. Thereâ€™s a room for beer, and then another room with the glasses for the beer. Itâ€™s a real pain. Thereâ€™s one room thatâ€™s antipasti, and another one for saladâ€”which they unnecessarily distinguish. They put the hot stuff in one room, cold stuff in another. If you can imagine, like, a Papa Ginoâ€™s buffet spread throughout a castle, with really dim office lighting. And then thereâ€™s the f*** room.
Decider: What goes on in the f*** room?
EM: Piles of blooming. Itâ€™s basically just a lot of beanbag chairs with people blooming on them. Itâ€™s very uncomfortable. As the opening act, I have to help put it together.
D: When trashing dressing rooms, do you start with the headlinerâ€™s?
EM: Actually, usually the only thing in your dressing room is a sad, crappy couch, so it would just be depressing to make it even more crappy.
Taking advantage of the rider
EM: I have my own rider, but itâ€™s easier to get it done if you put it on the headlining bandâ€™s. So thatâ€™s where I put the roller-skate shoes, crossbows, the saffron. I travel with my own wok, so I need lots of spices and oils. I always need fresh wasabi root. I have seafood flown in. The expensive stuff always goes on their rider when theyâ€™re not looking. Nobodyâ€™s going to get mad at Flight Of The Conchords for having $2500 worth of saffron delivered.
EM: Hereâ€™s a trick I learned long ago: Write your phone number in mirror writing on their breasts while theyâ€™re distractedâ€”say, by the chaos of fameâ€”so that when they go home and theyâ€™re washing their breasts in the sink, theyâ€™ll look up and go, â€œHoly s***, I have Eugeneâ€™s number.â€ This is also how I find love.
D: Do you find that being an opening act makes you second-tier to groupies?
EM: No, people want a piece of whatever they can get. But you also donâ€™t want a lunatic, which is why I communicate by writing a message that can only be deduced in a mirror.
Warming up the audience
EM: Itâ€™s important to prepare them for the worst in life. People come to forget their problems, and itâ€™s my job, right before I leave, to go, â€œDonâ€™t forget: Youâ€™re going through a divorce and thereâ€™s a recession.â€ Itâ€™s always good to end on a pensive note.
During the headliner
EM: Iâ€™m usually off building stuff, cooking things, making to-do lists. Itâ€™s my quiet time to reflect. Otherwise, itâ€™s just mayhem back there. All that free spaghetti.
D: When is the right time to run back onstage for an impromptu duet?
EM: Unfortunately, I donâ€™t really sing, so the best I could do would be to run back out and light my arm on fire. The perfect time to do that would be right after the last encore. I like the idea of people milling about trying to leave, and then they see a man running back onstage screaming with his arm on fire. Thatâ€™s how you create an Internet hubbub. The blogosphere erupts, Facebook unfurls its claws, and people say, â€œMan, we should have stayed.â€
D: Do you look at being an opener as a game of one-upmanship?
EM: I think of it more as a concerto, even though I donâ€™t know what a concerto sounds like. It has movements, right? Itâ€™s like a delicious play, one that can be truly savored. Iâ€™m the soup and theyâ€™re the lambâ€™s leg. You canâ€™t just go right to the lamb. Youâ€™d be like, â€œWhoa, this definitely needs some soup.â€ Lighting my arm on fire, thatâ€™s the crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e. Basically, Iâ€™m a sorbet that you canâ€™t get out of your head.