But we're not a football team; we're a ragtag group of writers, actors, and musicians, and besides, he probably hates sports metaphors, anyway. He is, however, the guy who anchors Bloomsday on Beaver Street and whom I build the entire show around.
If you were at the Killarney Rose on June 16, then you’ll recognize Byron Nilsson as the emcee, my surrogate host, the big guy with the radio voice who did the opening monologue, all the introductions, performed in his own play, and to top it off, sang a cappella a dirty Irish ditty about a photographer and his Nikon.
Yes, there’d be a Bloomsday on Beaver Street even if Byron Nilsson didn’t exist. But the fact that he does exist, and is willing to travel 200 miles to perform at the Killarney Rose, makes my job of organizing, promoting, writing the script, and preparing my own reading, a task that’s not completely overwhelming.
It’s profoundly liberating for me to know that when I’m putting together Byron’s monologue and introductions, he can be counted on to deliver the jokes as professionally as any late-night talk show host, and he’ll know exactly where and how to improvise—all with minimal rehearsal.
And in the hours leading up to the show, as I’m getting progressively more nervous about my own performance, worrying if anybody is going to show up, and thinking I just want to get this over with and never do another event again, there’s Byron sitting on my couch, tapping away on his laptop, looking about as nervous as a man getting ready to eat dinner.
He is, in short, a calming influence who raises Bloomsday on Beaver Street to a level of professionalism that I wouldn’t be able to achieve on my own, and he makes me think that in years to come, anything is possible. Maybe we can even save literature.