|Hey, Hey, Look at ME!
||[Apr. 3rd, 2012|02:43 pm]
When I was younger, I toyed a bit with stand up and with improv comedy. Stand up is HARD. Especially for me, because I can only take so much one-on-one attention and then I want to scream “stop LOOKING at me!” Which, if your timing is right, will make the audience weep with laughter. But it is sort of psychically scarring if you’re serious. As I was. I’ve been known to get uncomfortable on DATES because I couldn’t handle the focus. Maybe I could have gotten over it. But one thing was guaranteed at the time, when I was young and a pregnant woman could stand around at a party with a drink in one hand and people would rush over to…refill it, and that was that every comedy club was filled with cigarette smoke…and I was pretty certain that any standup career would be brutish and short, since I’d need to take three days to recover from any show. |
And improv was fun, but I kept winding up in dysfunctional groups that either couldn’t get booked to save their lives, or were populated by people who thought that any bit that contained references to an enema or penis was the height of hilarity. There were always the people in the group that liked working with me, because I balanced out the wacky and could pull off Sydney Biddle Barrows (go ahead, we’ll wait while you google) and Miss Manners but then the wacky-enema-penis crowd thought I wasn’t “edgy” enough.
I don’t get on stage much anymore, except for the little tiny one I build around me…like my tiara, it’s always there, I’m just the only one that knows when it’s activated. It’s a choice (choice, ha!) that I regret from time to time, with a reasonable amount of tristesse, especially when I’m around people who throw down the “oh, why don’t you take your clipboard and go manage the toilets and let the actual performers do what we do best” card. And I really want to go full Imperial Dragon on them and start throwing my resume back at them…but then think, oh, what’s the use, it’s been a long time and it will just seem childish and apparently they’ve forgotten that you’re the boss and no matter what they decide, you can completely overrule it. (There has to be SOME kind of reward for worrying about toilets, isn’t there? Random moments of despotic tyranny, that’s what I get.) (And to be fair, it’s not our cast or staff that has that attitude.) But whatever, an actor, an performer, can’t swing a cat without running into one. Someone willing to hold the clipboard and argue fuel surcharges with the toilet guy, calculate kegs, and forecast budgets…that I can do. I am doomed to provide the unfun, unfulfilling, yet very necessary skills, instead of the ones I want to deploy, because that’s what’s needed. And I’m powerless in the face of NEED.
Whatever. Someday, if I still feel the drive, I’ll have a show. In the meantime, I’ll keep working to make myself more replaceable.
So when I reviewed the rehearsal schedule and saw “Site Tour” I really thought nothing of it. I usually get my five minutes of stage time every morning, haranguing the cast about paperwork, or parking improperly, or using sunscreen, or other administrivia. This weekend, I was scheduled to do the Tick Talk, so I did get a couple of minutes to see how many people I could teach about surviving in the tick-infested mid-Atlantic, dispelling rumors and myths. And busted more than a few with a really vivid description of how the disease-causing bacteria gets into your bloodstream…the tick has to vomit before it pulls out of you (I didn’t go with any of the obvious bad date jokes there, there were kids in the audience) complete with a graphic replay of what happens when you try to apply heat to a tick to get it to…pull out prematurely.
But then I got tapped for giving the Site Tour. Which at first I wasn’t happy about at all – seriously, trooping 80 cast/crew members around a site that 50 of them know pretty intimately and trying to project across an open field with lawn mowers, generators and circular saws cranking? And what the hell was I going to say? “Here is the Little Green Field where we joust.” But apparently, scratch a little deeper and I’m as much of an audience whore as the rest of my compatriots. Coming off the success of my Tick Stand Up, I didn’t struggle with volume – the fluorescent lightbulb with bad ballast that is my brain finally chinked all the way on and it occurred to me: Der. Warm-up. You should try it more often. My bit of morning meeting – wraps up JUST as I get warmed up.
Anywhoo, so yeah, hey, seriously, there’s a herd of an audience that’s following me around and I’m just sad I didn’t have time in advance to prepare a Prop – an umbrella with an interesting finial, or something. But then again, do the tour guides at Disney even do that anymore? And, I did have actual information to impart, but managed to sneak in some humor – and an audience of improv actors can be the best or worst audience in the world, having been on a tour with one group when the guide said “Okay, walk this way”. But they behaved beautifully, handing me material to work with, instead of closing a bit for themselves, or just being disruptive. I know we’ve got some really talented people on cast – but it was very cool to get a chance to see how much the whole beast has improved and an ensemble. Damn.
Plus of course, I got my ten minutes of hey, look at that, it’s not all atrophied completely!
Which explains what happened the next night in the bar.
But that’s a story for another day.