EVERY JOB I'VE EVER HAD - Barry Smith
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EVERY JOB I'VE EVER HAD - Barry Smith

Paonia, Colorado, United States

Paonia, Colorado, United States
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The best kept secret in music

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"really spoke to the students" - Letter


In Every Job I've Ever Had, Barry Smith takes the audience through a whirlwind tour of his life by way of the various jobs he's held. It's a narrative about Smith's pursuit of happiness, in which he tries to reconcile working to earn money with “following his bliss.” Accompanied by a multimedia presentation including PowerPoint, sound bytes, and video clips, Smith's hour-long monologue was engaging, enlightening, and often hilarious.

As Smith begins his show, he informs the audience that he has never really had a career and, for that matter, has never even written up a resume. The rest of the show is then devoted to the creation of this resume, which basically entails a list of every job Smith has ever had. Every job. The show's title is not hyperbolic. Beginning with Smith's first paid work—scraping gunk off of the engine of his dad's Corvair—and continuing through the standard post-collegial employment (file clerk, messenger, fruit picker abroad), and eventually ending with his current jobs—performer, columnist, A/V guy—no job is left out, and the result is a unique and in-depth look at Smith's life to this point.

Every Job I've Ever Had is full of clever and entertaining insights into the working world. Smith reminds us that, unfortunately, most people think that “what you do” is “who you are”; he compares applying for jobs to an Easter egg hunt; and he helps us to remember that it's as important to know what you don't want to do as it is to know what you do want to do. He recites the well-known litany we use to talk ourselves down from quitting a job, notes that any job, as bad as it may be, is much better abroad, and bemoans standardized job-aptitude testing. It's clear that Smith is well acquainted with the world of employment (and unemployment), and he's more than willing to share all he's learned.

The story arc of Smith's life is familiar enough, especially to anyone who has ever entertained aspirations of a career in the arts, as his early days are characterized by an aversion to work and a preference to instead create or perform, illustrated by tapes of Smith's homemade radio dramas and rap music videos. Through high school, gigs like juggling for cash or videotaping weddings promise the possibility of enjoyable employment, though Smith's father is careful to reinforce the mentality of “pay, then play.” Combining the two, as Smith learns, is unlikely to be profitable.

A series of menial jobs after high school and throughout his 20s brings Smith to the nadir of his career and life trajectories, as a crappy job (literally) and a car accident result in brain damage, a period of depression, and what appears to be rock bottom. From this point, though, Smith slowly begins to find work creating, being artistic, and doing what he loves. This “from the ashes” rebirth is heartwarming and, perhaps more importantly, believable. The story never gets overly sappy, and it never feels like your heartstrings are being pulled deliberately. In essence, Every Job I've Ever Had is a bildungsroman on stage, Smith's journey through life showing that it is indeed possible to combine play with pay, though the road is far from easy.
- Port City Lights - Vancouver


Barry Smith has a rock-solid history of successful multi-media solo comedy shows that somehow shine the spotlight on Barry’s appreciation of humanity so well that you somehow manage to forget all that whizz-bang Power Point™ technology he uses to tell those captivating stories. Following on Jesus in Montana, American Squatter and Me, My Stuff and I (aka Barry Smith’s Baby Book), Barry brings us his Employment quadrant to compliment the Spiritual, Family and Material quadrants with which Fringe-goers have become familiar.

And, really, we are so familiar by now, aren’t we? I mean, I feel like I’m related to Barry, knowing all that I do about his childhood, parents, grandparents, teenage pals, skateboarding days, squatting and scrounging in London days and sleeping with the doomsday cult in Montana days. I leave his shows speaking with a Louisiana drawl I never knew I had. But this review is about Barry Smith’s show and I have to try to get over feeling such familial affection for him and give you the straight goods on its quality. Never mind that he’s such a likeable, charming guy…

It’s really very good. I was in a nearly full house that he had eating out of his hand within the first five minutes. The connection between the performer and the audience can sometimes be strained or awkward but Barry sincerely gives an honest and authentic gift to the audience and there’s a palpable appreciation from the audience for his efforts. If you’ve ever had a crummy job or wondered where the heck your career trajectory may be headed, this is the show for you. If you’ve been blessed with an easy go of it and everything is just ticketty-boo for you, this may be the show that will make you wonder what you may have missed.
- Plank Magazine, Vancouver


ASPEN — At the end of “Pulp Fiction,” Jules, played by Samuel L. Jackson, tells his partner Vincent (John Travolta) that he is retiring from the hit-man business. Upon hearing that Jules' plan is to simply walk the earth, meet people and have adventures — no career plan, no job — Vincent says, “They've got a word for 'em — they're called bums. Without a job ... or legal tender, that's what you're gonna be — a f---ing bum!”

But the fact is, that's not what everyone calls it. There's a grand tradition of proudly dropping out of the pursuit of employment and a paycheck. After spending two years on Walden Pond, as frugally and work-free as possible, Thoreau reported on simplicity and his experience of feeling in harmony with the world. When the Dude, from “The Big Lebowski,” recounts his “career” — roadie for one Metallica tour, participating in several sketchy protest movements, “a little of this, a little of that”— and admits that his working life has “slowed down a bit,” he reveals no regrets over missing out on a desk, a 401(k) and Casual Fridays.

Like Jules, Thoreau and the Dude sought enlightenment and freedom in their absence from the career-minded world.

Add Barry Smith to those who don't equate the lack of a steady job to being a bum. In a clever, coherent, expansive and oddly inspiring multimedia, one-man show titled “Every Job I've Ever Had,” the 44-year-old Aspenite (and Aspen Times columnist) travels through his decidedly unambitious work history. The show, which was workshopped at Steve's Guitars in Carbondale and debuted this past summer at fringe festivals in Ottawa and Vancouver, had its Aspen premiere Thursday at the Wheeler Opera House.

Smith begins by telling of his fascination, as a kid in the first years of grade school, of learning to write: Through focus, ambition and attention to detail, he elevated his scribbling of the number ‘2' to a veritable art form. His efforts are rewarded with a warm inner glow: “If school work is this satisfying, I'll bet real work is going to be even better,” he muses, to knowing laughter.

Yes and no. The jobs Smith gets are not always satisfying in the moment. Clearly, the gig of cleaning out the horrifically clogged sewage system of a London hotel, using only a stick, caused no job envy among his contemporaries. But the point of the show — and of Smith's existence, as he points out — was that jobs were not about climbing a ladder of increasing status and pay. Work wasn't even primarily a way to get life's bills paid. Work was something you did to gather anecdotes, photos and skewed wisdom, to be used later on in a life that was centered as much as possible on the art of storytelling, not the next job.

There may have even been a subversive genius to the way Smith accepted employment: Many of his menial jobs, like videographer and juggler, equipped him with the skills he now uses in the job that truly matters to him — writing and performing one-man shows. Being an A/V guy may have been boring beyond words — he's got the stunningly boring scenes to prove it — but the experience has come in handy. Smith's shows — his previous works, like “Jesus in Montana” and “Me, My Stuff and I,” have been performed in New York, on college campuses, and on the Canadian fringe festival circuit — have a vital visual element, and in “Every Job I've Ever Had,” the videos, photos and graphics work like exclamation points on his story.

The job that Smith has excelled at since he was a kid is collecting and saving stuff — photos, report cards, video, posters. So “Every Job I've Ever Had” does a thorough job of documenting, to hilarious effect, each chapter in Smith's journey: certified photocopier, security guard, engine block scraper.

While the show details Smith's career path, it also illuminates greater truths about our relationship to work. Smith points out that an adult in an office isn't much different than a kid at an Easter-egg hunt. You have to dress up, work hard, compete with others. The big difference, he says, is that the adult is not there by choice. In one of his keenest observations, Smith notes that designing one's résumé is the most important font-type decision we will make in our lives.

Personally, I take comfort in knowing Smith is out there, a reminder to our achievement-oriented culture that the workplace can also be seen as a playground for alternative-minded types. He has taken a Zen-like, Dude-esque approach to jobs, and it has paid off in one, a cool job; and two, an absorbing story.

Barry Smith abides.
- The Aspen Times


If you've ever wondered why this community is so lucky to have an event like the Rogue Festival, then you need to catch one of the five remaining performances by Rogue favorite Barry Smith.

His multimedia comedy presentation of how all of the bad jobs he's had in his life -- from engine scraper to busboy -- have been the magical fuel for a brilliant show is the perfect example of the gift that's Rogue.

His observations on his own life would be funny enough if performed as typical stand-up. The addition of the visual elements just put a jocularity jolt to every line and word.
Smith's funnier than 90% of the comics working on screen or TV and you'd have to spend 10 times the ticket cost to see someone as entertaining as Smith if you went to Vegas. You want to know what's so good about Rogue? Spend two minutes with Smith and you'll know.
- Fresno Bee


Over the years we’ve learned a lot about Barry Smith. From Jesus in Montana to American Squatter, his one-man Fringe shows are slices of his own life so autobiographical that they literally just consist of Smith talking about himself.
What sets them apart, however, is Smith’s dry wit, strong sense of plot and accomplished use of technology to help sell the story. PowerPoint presentations are never more fun than when Smith employs an otherwise boring format to dress things up with text, photos and video, and it doesn’t hurt that he has decades worth of material gathered by one of those guys who has been handling a camera or Super-8 from an early age.

This time he happily chronicles the many ways Mr. Smith Never Went to Work. Sure, he’s been employed in countless dead-end jobs, but at no point did this comedian ever get his act together to hold down any 9-to-5 drudgery.

Amen to that! Every Job I’ve Ever Had is a reminder to the rest of us that there’s life (and laughs, and joy) beyond the company cubicle.
- Vancouver Sun


How's this for a closing line? "Don't wait for brain damage to sort it all out." While writer/performer Barry Smith (who brought us Jesus in Montana, American Squatter and other wild rides) isn't recommending you go out and get hit by a bus, "mild brain damage" resulting from an accident sent him on a trajectory that led to "following his bliss" and getting paid for it. But not before he suffered through a lot of bad jobs including trying to sell his drug-free urine to athletes suspected of doping. Now he writes a humour column for the Aspen Times in Colorado and does clever Power Point comedy on the Fringe circuit. And although Smith jokes about his book of poetry Ode to Mustard, poet Jem Rolls--another Fringe regular--says Smith can honestly add "poet" to his resume. - Waterfront Theatre


There is a performer at the Rogue Festival who is known as The Reverend Nuge. He was, at one time, an ordained pastor who has since left the profession and cultivated a life as a secular performer. His shows are very entertaining and thoughtful and well worth the price of admission.

But for me, the real secularized pastor — the real shepherd of performing souls–of the Rogue Festival is Barry Smith. Up until now, his previous best work was Jesus in Montana, a piece looking at a time in his life where he sought the second coming of Christ the Lord on a compound in Montana. It was his best work seen at the Rogue — until this year.

Smith’s Every Job I’ve Ever Had surpasses his previous shows, offering up a funny, touching, and moving look at being a seeker and a wanderer in a world where one’s work defines one’s self.

It sounds pretty heavy– preachy, even. But, like the best sermons and testimonies, it isn’t. Smith’s exceptionally specific and honest writing structures his multimedia presentation of his life through work with a deft hand. He inspires laughter in the audience, but not out of sense of superiority or knowing cleverness, but rather through a connection that allows entire audiences to recognize themselves in Smith’s experiences. His way of landing a punch line and revisiting his former triumphs and tragedies digs deeper into the next segment of his story, opening up the audience’s sympathies bit by bit until the next thing you know, you’re feeling each step of his journey with him.

Smith’s writing is some of the smartest you’ll find at any fringe festival in the U.S. and the seamless way with which he integrates multimedia into his storytelling is magnificent. But even without his chosen format, Smith could take this story and tell it over a cup of coffee and still have people enraptured– simply because Smith gives so much of himself in an effort to reach out and connect with others, that you cannot help but to follow his lead and aspire to his kind of singular honesty and bravery toward life’s experiences.

Barry Smith is the best of the Rogue Festival. Here’s hoping he continues to mine the vast resources of his life in new and engaging ways. . . All the better for the rest to follow his lead.
- Kings River Life Magazine - Fresno


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

"Every Job I've Ever Had" - Barry Smith

Employing an original mix of comedy, monologue and multimedia savvy, Barry Smith presents EVERY JOB I'VE EVER HAD, a funny and engaging exploration of life as a seeker and a wanderer in a world where one's work defines oneself. Inspired by Smith's own off-the-beaten-path career choices, his fresh "modern monologue" educates and inspires today's young minds and tomorrow's gainfully employed.

"Barry's show was a refreshing guide to career exploration. In the midst of job searching, resume building, and grad school applications, Barry served as a wonderful reminder that we can find happiness by following our passions, even if they are slightly off the beaten track." - Bryn Kass, Senior Class Council President, Tufts University

In addition to live performance, Smith has penned his weekly humor column for The Aspen Times for 18 years, He also conducts writing and journaling workshops.

Barry Smith lives and writes in Paonia, Colorado.

NACA
NORTHEAST LECTURE SHOWCASE 2012
MID-ATLANTIC LECTURE ALTERNATE 2012
SOUTH LECTURE SHOWCASE 2012
NORTHEAST LECTURE SHOWCASE 2011
MID-AMERICA LECTURE SHOWCASE 2011
CENTRAL EDUCATIONAL SESSION 2010

FESTIVALS
• 2012 – Rogue Festival
• 2011 - Edmonton Fringe Festival
• 2011 - Vancouver Fringe Festival
• 2009 – San Francisco Fringe Festival
• 2009 – Rogue Festival
• 2008 – Edmonton Fringe Festival
• 2008 – Vancouver Fringe Festival
• 2008 – Rogue Festival
• 2008 – Orlando Fringe Festival
• 2008 – Montreal Fringe Festival
• 2008 – Ottawa Fringe Festival
• 2008 - Toronto Fringe Festival
• 2008 – Winnipeg Fringe Festival
• 2008 – Saskatoon Fringe Festival
• 2007 – Saskatoon Fringe Festival
• 2007 – Calgary Fringe Festival
• 2007 – Edmonton International Fringe Festival
• 2007 – Victoria Fringe Festival
• 2007 – Vancouver Fringe Festival
• 2007 – Rogue Festival
• 2007 – Orlando International Fringe Festival
• 2007 – Ottawa Fringe Festival
• 2007 – Toronto Fringe Festival
• 2007 – Winnipeg Fringe Festival
• 2006 – Vancouver Fringe Festival
• 2006 – Uno Festival of Solo Performance
• 2006 – Montreal Fringe Festival
• 2005 – New York International Fringe Festival

Awards:
• Fringe Greatest Hits Series - Edmonton Fringe Festival, 2008
• Best of Fest - 2007 Winnipeg Fringe
• Critics' Choice Award - Vancouver Fringe Festival 2007
• Best Production Finalist - Montreal Fringe Festival 2007
• Held Over - Edmonton Fringe Festival, 2007
• Encore Series - Vancouver Fringe 2007
• Outstanding Solo Show - 2005 New York International