Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day 23: Laying Down (literally) 7/29/07

Open Mic. Comedy Underground. Danielle and I.

Danielle went first with the set she used last night at Mainstage. It didn’t go as well as last night and yet she still killed. She could read a dictionary onstage and the crowd would love her. She was hopped up on Red Bull and there was a mic malfunction that threw her off, but fuck, she is loved. She (who is of African American descent) came after two other black people and the first thing she announced was “I’ll be rounding out the black-bloc here.” It was brilliant, the crowd instantly loved her.

Having had a kick-ass set last night and having reworked most of the stuff I’m going to use on Sunday, I decided to dive off the deep end and use a very experimental bit I’ve been working on inspired by the work of Mark Newgarden (look him up… better yet, just go buy “We All Die Alone” which is an anthology of his work, did I mention that he invented the “Garbage Pail Kids”?) affectionately called the “Mark Newgarden” bit. It involves an incredibly poetic response to a mundane observation with crass insertions to break it up. To present it I laid on the floor facing the back wall and didn’t move as I spoke the entire bit into the microphone. I knew it needed at least one more rewrite, but I’ve been sitting on it for awhile and decided to pull it out and see what happened. It actually went over fairly well. All of the crass insertions got laughs (or as M.N. would say “laffs”), but what I didn’t expect was that the poetic stuff got a response too. That was good, but the punch-line hit the hardest. It was great, a WAY better response than I expected.

In writing it I knew I wanted to lay on the ground and do it, but now that I did I want to play around with it a little. I think next time (after a re-write) I’ll do some slow movement piece with it while having my back to the audience.

Danielle and I had a big deep and heavy (talk that is… pervs) about comedy and what we want and what we can do. The sky’s the limit with her and that’s obvious with just a week of open mics. I feel like the road will be harder for me because at this point I have no idea who I am. When she’s onstage she’s Danielle and there’s no mistaking it and you love her for it. The thing is that my day to day persona is such a mask that if I brought that up there I’d be lying to everyone. The irony being that I’m so associated with that persona (who has a lot more to do with Randy Pan than with me) that no one who knows me in life would recognize the real me on stage.

I was at a Bar-B-Que yesterday with some friends from the play, and I could watch myself playing a character for everyone. On the outside I was having a goofy old time, but on the inside I was depressed that my automatic reaction was to perform for everyone. The only time I could get real with anyone is when someone started to talk to me about theater. When it comes to art I can drop the façade and actually be real with people. There’s a lesson there, somewhere, if not about comedy then about being a fucking human being. We’ll see if I learn it, but until then, as Mr. Rogers sang “A clown, a clown, I think I’ll be a clown.

Lesson: The deep end is scary, but the jump is worth it.

Back-up lesson: “I wonder if I could put down for a moment my burden of lies, of lying- just put it right down on the floor beside me. I wonder what that would be like. Just for a single moment, while the breeze blows in, just to put it down, because I feel so joyful, crazy, naked, free, I want no restrictions on me at all.

Dear God, every muscle of my body aches with the effort of constant lying. I’m twisted, contorted- lying from the minute I get up each day till the minute I go to bed, and even when I’m asleep I think I’m lying. I can’t stop, because the truth is everywhere, it’s in plain sight-

Listen to me, my darling. Just let it happen, just let it happen just for this moment, just for tonight, and then tomorrow we’ll go back to lying again, as if it never happened We’ll pretend it never happened. We’ll forget that it happened.” From "The Fever" by Wallace Shawn

1 comment:

Richard Jensen said...

Man, Jake. Those are three great back to back posts. Hopefully, I'll get to see you work it when I come up in October.
And yeah, I know that feeling. When I'm with a large group of people, I tend to be a performing monkey myself. I wish I could say something smart here but all I can offer is empthy.