Get A Job

Things have screeched to a standstill. Why? I got laid off.

Happened at the end of September. I had the choice of getting laid off, or staying on in a part time capacity, depending on available work. Long story short, I couldn’t accept the uncertainty, so I took the lay off.

But don’t cry for me, Argentina. As hard as this may be to picture, it was the nicest lay off you could possibly imagine. I’ve been laid off before, and trust me, this was the gold standard of lay offs. With the severance and paid out unused vacation, I should be okay for a couple of months. I’ve already talked to a temp agency, and I’m pretty confident I’ll get something soon.

It just means that creative and social stuff, like blogging for example, became a low priority. I’m probably over adjusting. Just because I’m unemployed doesn’t mean I have to become a hermit and eat tree bark. But I don’t want to get comfortable with sloth either. And believe me, I can get pretty comfortable with sloth.

More positively, I’m still doing improv. I wound up back in Friday Night Stage Match at the Brave New Workshop Student Union, and I’ve been doing sets there. I just wish I got back into it in a less whiny fashion, but there you go. Sometimes pointless Internet bitching isn’t so pointless. I’ll be up again on October 12, October 26, and November 2. That’s at 8:00 for $5.00, folks.

Also, I’ll be in the Drinking Game show for December, by Shadow Horse Productions. The movie will be Scrooged and I’m slated to play the Bobcat Goldthwait part. That’ll be at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, date and time TBA, as they say.

Also, it looks likely that Someone Is Wrong On The Internet will be remounted sometime in late winter/early spring. But there are a fair number of ifs involved. Stay tuned.

What else?

  1. I learned not to drink mead at the Renaissance Festival, because bees will drown themselves in your drink, and your bee sting allergic companion will freak.
  2. I also learned not to brag about all these people you know who work the Renaissance Festival, because they will hide and you will look like a putz.
  3. I found out Crossfit will keep you active and in shape, providing you don’t define “active and in shape” by your ability to climb stairs or sit on a toilet, as you won’t be able to do those things because Crossfit will fill your thighs with lava.
  4. And being jobless is a good time to do laundry and cook. Just made a huge-ass pot of chili that will feed me for a week. If only I could be so productive when employed.

Toodles.

Whither Improv?

Once again, I’m orphaned from the world of improv. I elected not to put in for the lottery, for the Friday Night Stage Match at the Brave New Workshop Student Union, because I wanted to audition for some improv shows coming up at HUGE Theater. And I did audition for those shows. Well, technically I did. In actuality, I got up on stage and stunk up the place. Pretty much every bad improv habit I have reared its ugly head and belched. Overthinking. Trying to fix scenes. Going for the joke. So no, I didn’t get cast. I wouldn’t have cast me either based on what I did that day. So I won’t be in any improv for the foreseeable future.

Why the heck do I keep doing lousy improv at HUGE? I don’t get it. Get me up on stage at the Student Union, and I’m fine. But at HUGE I’m Lame-O McStifferson. Maybe I feel more pressure at HUGE, because I’m more likely to know most of the audience. Or it could simply be bad luck. I don’t know.

I am without an improv team again. HUGE held an improv mixer, in which a ton of people got together to do improv and find other people with whom to form a team. A great idea and a marvelous service. However, the lottery for Improv-A-Go-Go was held August 1st, and contact info for mixer participants wasn’t forwarded to me until August 2nd. Argh! Efforts on my own haven’t been too successful either. I have this bizarre knack to ask people to form an improv team right after they’ve decided to commit to a different team, or move out of town, or go back to school, or quit improv completely.

Lots of improv teams form sort of spontaneously. A bunch of people take a class or a workshop, they all dig each other, et voilα! Improv team! Alas, class and workshops tend to be offered right when I have no time or money. Many is the time I’ve gnashed my teeth in frustration as I watched yet another workshop go on to do great work and get a regular gig.

I’m sure not having a concrete idea of what to do doesn’t help. Do I want to do Harolds? Some genre riff? A whole new structure? Well, yeah, I want to do all of those things. But it seems like that is the sort of thing that needs to be decided on as a group. But I can’t get a group without an idea, and I can get an idea without a group.

This has happened long enough and often enough that I can’t help being a little paranoid about it. After all, I’m the common thread in all of this. But I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I never get helpful feedback, unless statements like “try harder” and “keep trying” are something you’d consider helpful. I need a bit more than that.

I don’t see how someone can be any good at any creative pursuit if they’re not doing something creative on a regular basis. My go-to creative activity has always been improv. I don’t have the eye-hand coordination for visual art, my singing resembles an elk on ‘ludes, and with joints as flexible as carbon rods dancing is out of the question too. How am I going to progress as a writer or an actor without improv?

Well, another Stage Match lottery will come up in a few months. I guess I’ll just play Skyrim until then. But hey, if you’re up for any Deconstructions, La Rondes, or Armamdos, let me know, okay?

Aprés le Fringe

Holy wow, the Minnesota Fringe Festival was a good time. So why so long to write about it? The biggest reason is simple exhaustion. Man, I was tired. Staying up until bar close every night, even with no job the next day, really takes it out of you. There were some movies to catch up on. There was Valley Meadows’ CD release party (one heck of a night of musical comedy). But mostly, there was Skyrim. After denying myself video games for weeks, I finally dove head first into Skyrim. Ah, Bethesda Software. Not the most compelling games I’ve ever experienced, but their unique, mysterious combination of graphic prettiness and game play make time vanish like little else. “Well, I’ve got an hour. I’ll just collect the bounty on this one bandit chieftan, and then go see this show.” Boom! Suddenly, it’s past midnight. That happened the odd dozen times or so.

Those were the time sucks, but there were also some slipperier factors as well. The feedback I got from Someone Is Wrong On The Internet was quite frankly stunning. Well in excess of the feedback I got from Death Perception the previous year. I made a creative decision to mitigate my geek tendencies and tell a story solidly set in the real world, mostly just to prove to myself I could do that, and I succeeded way beyond what I expected. I couldn’t really process it, and it led to a certain inertia. Hugely positive feedback can be overwhelming. Any thanks I could express verbally or through writing just seemed inadequate. People have been very kind, and I am very grateful.

So what’s next? Shit, I don’t know. I definitely want to remount Internet at some point, but new work? That could be anything. Where could I put it up? Should I do something realistic again? What if I wanted to go back and do something weirder and sillier again? Will the people who liked Internet reject a wackier, less structured piece? These are unanswerable questions. Well, unanswerable until I actually do something and get people’s reactions to it. But while I’m sitting here on my butt, blogging into the ether? Unaswerable.

Also, I need to figure out what to do with this here blog thing. I coughed up the dough for the URL, I should probably do something with it. I don’t want it to be a big dumb plug machine. That’s what Facebook is for. I don’t really want to review stuff. I don’t want to rant about the state of the world. But now that the Fringe Festival is over, I can slap something up here without feeling guilty. We’ll see.

Anyway, I need not to do anything for a bit. My day job has started back up, and that will soon swamp my mind for the rest of autumn. Something will take shape. At least it will once I get a few more missions completed in Skyrim. You hear that, you undead Nord kings? You’re goin’ down.

Journey Into Terror

Well, I’m in the Minnesota Fringe Festival again, and I’ve barely got any time left to get my show together.

This is not a new situation. Everything I’ve ever done has come together late. My method, if we can be generous enough to call it that, is to fret and stew and worry and panic for weeks, and then throw everything together in a mad rush. Somehow it works. Or rather, it has worked so far. We could be way overdue for a fall here.

I’d like to think that what’s happening is this: my subconscious is doing all the writing. The stewing and brooding is the part of the writing that doesn’t involve typing. I’d like to think that. What is probably going on is just blind terror, spewing everything out in blind terror because there’s no time left to over-think things. Lord knows over-thinking has been a major problem in my life.

Right now, I’m deep in the woods of Whatthehellamidoing. I can’t see the forest for the trees. I’m too in the middle of everything. I don’t know if the funny bits are funny. I don’t know if my character is sympathetic. I don’t know if there’s actually a plot. What if people think it’s more autobiographical than it is? What if people think it isn’t autobiographical enough? But everyone doing some bit of creative work goes through this phase in the creative process, I tell myself. And I should know. But what if I’m wrong?

Last year, I was in the Fringe Festival with a show called Death Perception. I was big sweaty mass of fear throughout the whole writing process. I put it off and I put it off. I wanted to do the show. I didn’t want to do the show. Finally, there was no time left, and I threw what felt like the biggest Hail Mary pass of my life, writing most of the script in a blaze. I didn’t have an ending for the show until 4:30 in the morning, the night before I had tech rehearsal. I sighed. What was done was done. But once the run was over, I was astonished how many people told me the ending was their favorite part. Chalk one up for fear.

So odds are good I’ll stagger into tech right after an all-nighter, bleary-eyed, mainlining coffee, and bumble through a run, script in hand. And it’ll be fine. Unless it isn’t. We can’t predict the future. That’s life, isn’t it?

So that aside, please come to my show! Someone Is Wrong On The Internet, presented as a part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, at HUGE Theater, 3037 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN. Show times:

Saturday, August 4, 8:30 PM

Sunday, August 5, 2:30 PM

Tuesday, August 7, 10:00 PM

Wednesday, August 8, 10:00 PM

Saturday, August 11, 10:00 PM

Now to write the son of a bitch.

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Stage Match

For years, Six Ring Circus was the Brave New Workshop’s student showcase. Kind of like an ongoing grad school for improv. Well, it’s gone now. In it’s place is Stage Match, and I’m in it.

Six Ring was the crucible in which most of Minneapolis improv was forged. There were other outlets, Stevie Ray’s, ComedySportz, and much later HUGE Theater. But (and I could be wrong) I think Six Ring predates them. All of those organizations owes a ton to the Brave New Institute. For ages, Six Ring was the only venue where a new improviser could get in front of an audience, do their thing, get a fire lit under their butt, and improve. I’m going to pull a statistic out of my ass right now, but I’d imagine 95% of all Minneapolis improv you’ve ever seen and enjoyed owes something to Six Ring. It was really the primordial atom of Minneapolis improv’s Big Bang.

It’s sad to see Six Ring go, but I think Stage Match has the potential to be an exciting replacement. For one thing, it’s on Friday nights, prime time for live entertainment, as opposed to the hinterlands of Tuesdays. For another, instead of set teams, it’ll be more of an ad hoc set up, with improvisers regularly working with new people. It’s a new era, people. And we need you to support it.

Opening night is tomorrow, June 29th. I’m scheduled to be up June 29th, July 13th, July 20th, and August 24th. Tickets are a measly five bucks. Please stop by and keep this improv thing going.

http://studentunion.bravenewworkshop.com/SUPerformances/StudentUnionShows.aspx

Procrastination

If there’s a single thing that ruins my life, it’s procrastination. There are a large number of things that ruin my life (847 at last count), but really, it all boils down to procrastination.

I am in the Minnesota Fringe Festival again this season. I’m doing another one-man show, entitled Someone Is Wrong On The Internet. And by “doing,” I mean “staring at Microsoft Word and wondering why it doesn’t have a button I can click to automatically compose a show.” Many writers say the hardest part is just getting started, but come the fuck on.

Oddly, this situation does not have me panicked. Call it experience. Writing last year’s Fringe show, Death Perception, was a terrifying experience of a late start and long stretches of not doing shit. I didn’t come up with an ending for Death Perception until 4:30 AM the morning before I had tech rehearsal. I did tech script in hand, throwing myself on the mercy of the court, so to speak. Occasionally, I’d be thrown by this weird noise, sort of a burbling murmur, muffled by walls and glass. I was shocked to find out it was the tech, laughing. The script worked! So anyway, I have some small track record of getting shit together at the eleventh hour, and that is an immense comfort.

But I am panicked that I’m not panicked, if that makes sense. I just have an ice cream sandwich and it goes away.

It’s not like procrastination is without benefits. I have never been so on top of laundry in my life! I had so many clean clothes, I needed to clean out my closet. Ragstock is about to be flooded with a lot of Nineties-era shirts. That was a nice little project to get done. Lacking industry in your personal life? Just write a show! You’ll be living in House Beautiful in no time.

Wow. It’s past 7:00 PM already? I’ll get started tomorrow.

 

PowerPoint Karaoke April 2012

Every once in a while, I’m in this thing called PowerPoint Karaoke. It’s a monthly show down at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, produced by Theater Arlo. My friends Bill Stiteler and Melissa Kaercher come up with a bunch of weird-ass PowerPoint slides, and the guest performers improvise a presentation.

People don’t always get the concept, so here’s a video of the show from April 2012. The hostess is Sharon Stiteler, and the judges are Bill Stiteler and Joseph Scrimshaw. The contestants are Dawn Krosnowski, Joe Bozic, and myself. Oh, and this other guy named Bill. Bill Corbett. He was in some puppet show. I forget the name. Greg the Bunny maybe? Let’s go with that.

This video covers the whole show, so it’s a big honkin’ 54 minutes long. The me-centric bits are from about 4:00 to 14:40, and about 44:45 to the end . But check out the other bits when you’ve got the time. It’s a lovely video, it is, with a nice split screen effect so you can see the performer and the slide… at the same time! I love living in the future.