Why a lobster roll gave me an upset stomach.

I love a nice summer lobster roll.  It must be my “wicked” New Englandish roots.

The other day, I found myself at a lobster roll place (can’t really call them restaurants – in fact they shouldn’t be restaurants – they should be shacks, or huts, or the aforementioned “places”) that had a few different types of rolls to sell:

  1.  The classic “original” roll
  2. The spicy roll with cajun spices and a special sauce.

So, here’s the thing, and why I’m taking up some blog space talkin’ about lobster meat on a hot dog bun . . .

See, I love a spicy something.  But I also love what I know – and when I want to eat a lobster roll, (which ain’t the cheapest thing in the world, mind you) I want to make sure I enjoy it . . .

So, when faced with the decision of what I knew and what I didn’t know, (even though I thought I miiiiight like it) I went with the comfort of what I knew would leave me satisfied.

And that’s what made me a little sick.

I may be a little food-risk adverse, I know, but something tells me a lot of people feel the same way about their food dollars . . . and their entertainment dollars.  (See, here’s where I’m going to try to bring it together and wrap it up in a take-out box for you.)

If a person who loves movies is faced with the decision of seeing a flick or seeing a musical,  guess which one they are going to choose over and over again?  They are going to go with what they know they love over experimenting with something new.  If a person who loves classical music is faced with going to the philharmonic or going to a play, they are going to go with what they know they love over experimenting with something new.  You get the point.

It’s basic human nature to live within our entertainment comfort zone, especially when live entertainment is so dang expensive. 

So, if we know all that . . . how do we get people like me, who are locked into their patterns, to “try the spicy lobster roll”?

Sure, you could say “discount”, but that’s just become our go-to answer for everything.

If we really want to build a new audience, we’ve got to get a friend to give us a bite of theirs.  

See, you and I will devour theater first, and other forms of entertainment second.  We are the biggest weapons the theater has in building a new audience.  We’ve got to find a way to get the devotees to do more of the audience development for us.

Because if my buddy who had been to this lobster roll “place” had offered me a bite of that spicy sandwich, I would have jumped all over it, because if I didn’t like it, I hadn’t risked anything.

What I’m saying in this crazy food-based analogy . . . is that we need more “bring-a-friend” initiatives for Broadway.

What about bring-a-friend-for-free?  Or, let’s find a way to reward people-like-you (cash? prizes?) when you bring someone to a play that has never seen a play before.  How do we get it into our theatrical social conscious that the future of the theater depends on new audiences, and it’s all of our responsibility to not just encourage, but to bring, new people to the theater?

You and I can agree that the theater is the best party in town.  And luckily, every show is “plus-one”.

Oh, and at this party, they are serving all different kinds of lobster rolls.  (See how I brought that around full circle?  🙂  Phew, that was a doozy.  Thanks for staying with me.)


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.