Steve Bujega - Summer Camp - Work In Progress
Leicester Comedy Festival, February 2017
This moderately turned-out basement venue crowd were treated to the very first public outing of Steve Bujega's new show, based on his recollections of his time as a Councilor at a summer camp in the US some years ago. He delivered 50 minutes of well thought out material, nicely structured with a strong narrative and peppered liberally with jokes. He introduced it right at the start as a new show and a work in progress thus preparing the audience as Guinea pigs, a common strategy but one which can backfire as although this certainly buys a license for some of the material to fail without harsh judgement it also elevates everyone from punter to critic and specifically asks them for their detailed opinion. This could well be the reason why his set was received quite coolly from this crowd who seemed happy but were not big on laughing out loud, perhaps compiling their inner review or else simply disappointed from the outset that this was not going to be a 'proper show'.
Bujega seemed more worried than nervous as he took to the stage which also didn't help set a tone of confidence in the room, but he soon loosened up and got into the flow of his new material and what followed was a very funny piece of work, which if nothing else, was a fine example of what a 'work in progress' should be. He barely referred to his notes or stopped to write anything down, he had the show in his head and delivered it very well for a first run-out. One has to assume that a stand-up of his experience will have been aware of the holes, stutters and dropped-gags he flew through along the way and will tighten them all up very quickly for future shows but even at this point there were plenty of laughs as he self-deprecated his way through what sounded like a very interesting and character-forming point of his young adult life.
Upon finishing the new material he seemed to take a deep breath and admit quite honestly that this audience had not received the show as well as he had hoped. There was no evidence of this as fishing for compliments but rather to open a brief dialogue with the crowd about his work. Sadly, this honest approach brought a correspondingly honest answer from the only punter whose opinion he sought and their lack of enthusiasm visibly took the wind out of his sails.
In the end though he need not have worried. There were laughs aplenty and it will certainly take more than this lukewarm reception to derail his efforts to work at his craft. With a few more attempts he will have a solid and very entertaining routine to deliver, and when it is advertised as a full show rather than a work in progress we will be able to fully see the measure of his talents.