When I started covering the cabaret scene, there was a line I heard from several performers. It was used when they were telling a punter to stop a private conversation, or inviting them on stage, or just reminding them that, yes, performers can see and hear audience members sitting metres away from them.
What they said was: “This is not television.”
It’s a funny line but it also gets to the heart of what makes cabaret special, distinct not only from TV and cinema but from most theatre: the lack of a fourth wall. A cabaret show makes eye contact and reaches out a hand. It is homemade. It invites conversation. It promotes the exchange of ideas and respectful collaboration. It cares what you think. It is warm. If you love it, it will love you back.
Television is cold. It is produced industrially in adherence with market values. It wants you to stay home alone, consuming a diet of cynically conservative populism made of sentimentality, escapism, prurience and nostalgia. It doesn’t care what you think as long as you keep receiving.
That, of course, is a slight exaggeration. Is all TV bad? No. Is all cabaret good? Of course not. Are there other forms out there that allow people to explore progressive ideas about art, self-expression and collaboration in ways that don’t revolve around making money? Hell yeah. And those are the things this blog is interested in, from new ways of exploring sexuality on screen to the latest developments at the Leake St graffiti tunnel.
So why don’t you just switch off your television set and go and do something less boring instead?
See you there.