My topic on todays musings is about expectations. How expectations can sometimes improve or hurt and experience. I’ve also found that people respond to expectations differently. Personally, I’m not a fan of overselling something, and that’s what gave me the idea for this post. It all started with Kalamazoo..
My wife and I had the opportunity to subscribe to the Adirondack Theater Festival this summer. We’ve done it a few times in the past as well, and always have a good time getting out to a show. According to their website the ATF is an avenue for new productions and scripts to get some attention while exposing the audience to quality and up and coming theater. And that’s all good, we haven’t had a bad experience there. I wouldn’t even call Kalamazoo a bad experience. There was nothing technically wrong with the show, it was funny, witty, surprising, well acted. Maybe a touch too long for not having an intermission. During the last few scenes I found myself anticipating the end of the show, only to be slightly disappointed when everything didn’t wrap up and they got set up for the next scene. Completely forgivable though, if it hadn’t been for one little note on the shows promotional material. Right there on the upper right hand corner it said “The Worlds Greatest New Comedy” And that’s where the expectation game comes in.
I think people react to expectations like this in two ways. One group of people hears something like this, and they fill in the blanks. They buy into the hype, and it can condition them to an even better experience. Someone who is exciting to see a movie they expect to be excellent, might still come away highly entertained, even if the movie wasn’t great. Because they wanted to, and expected to enjoy it. That’s where New Haven comes in. Specifically New Haven Pizza Years ago, my dad heard about a couple of pizza places in New Haven that are considered among the best in America. So he made the hour or so drive to check it out. Being so invested in the trip, and with high expectations, he had a great experience, and called me to tell me about it. And he’s been back many times since.
I’m the other way when it comes to hype though. Hype often drives me away, I like an underdog. I go more for the Andy Kaufman style, low expectations followed by something extraordinary.
Because of this, it’s actually better to not tell me something is the best, because that causes me to resist it a little bit. You’re going to have to prove it with a claim like that. For me, a pretty good play with too much hype, becomes a less pleasant experience.
The Adirondack Theater Festival is a brand. It’s new plays and musicals, so it’s not something you’ve heard about before you just know because the ATF is putting it on, it’s going to be good to great. The trust is in the brand, not the product. And overselling hurts the brand. The next show we saw was “THE unCIVIL WAR” tagline “broadway bound” something that is an undeniable fact, and something that could let you set your own expectation rather than hitting you over the head with it. And the show was hilarious. Somewhat Monty Phytonesque, well done on many levels, and might even be worth a trip to NYC to see again. But would I have enjoyed it as much if I had been told it was the greatest thing since sliced bread?