Power Outage

The Press Conference At The End Of The World may have been the highlight of my acting and writing semi-career. Big crowds, enthusiastic response, actual profit. All the things I worried about proved to be non-things. And To Mars With Tesla won the encore slot at it’s venue, for having the most attendance. It’s really impossible to figure out how I could have had a better Minnesota Fringe Festival than I did.

So why did I take so long to mention this? Well, right after the Fringe, I went on a family vacation to Maine. It was something my parents and my brother had planned for quite a while. So I was unplugged in Maine for about a week. If you haven’t been to Maine, just imagine a trip to northern Minnesota, and swap out all the walleye with lobster. But I jest. The scenery around Acadia National Park is just astounding. If big rocks and waves and forests excite you, and yes seafood, you should hustle your butt over there sometime.

But I tend to be one of those people who needs a vacation from a vacation. I came home and did aggressive amounts of nothing. It was like nothing squared. After the marathons of CONvergence, the Fringe Festival, an upcoming birthday/middle age crisis, and vacationing with small children and elderly parents, the sudden nothingness kind of swamped me. The temp job I had petered out, so I didn’t even have day job drudgery to occupy my mind. It wasn’t the good kind of nothing, like a revitalizing nothing or a peaceful nothing. My power supply was cut. I just shut down.

Anyway, I’m sort of waking up again. If nothing else, there’s this whole thing of employment I need to address. So I’ve been posting resumes, deleting spam about really terrific insurance agent franchising opportunities, and wondering how much longer I can survive on microwave burritos.

I’ll be funny again. I just haven’t been able to summon the energy for a few weeks.

Speaking of funny again, I’ll be a voice actor in Fearless Comedy Productions’ Big Fun Radio Funtime , at the Bryant Lake Bowl September 12th at 10:00 PM with audio sketches by people such as Tim Wick and Courtney McLean. And I’ll be in the Fearless Lab show at Honey on September 10th at 7:00 PM. Thank you, Fearless, for giving me something to do in September.

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The Writing “Process”

It’s been an odd couple of months of too much and too little. I became unemployed around mid-June, and used my new free time to devote myself to writing my show for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. For said writing, I used an unusual method called “sitting on my ass and goofing off.” It hasn’t resulted in a lot of word count.

Procrastination is hard work! Worrying about a project, then worrying about various real world and personal problems as a way to avoid worrying about said project, and then worrying about all the worrying you’ve been doing can really take it out of you. I have felt extremely tired and overworked doing jack shit.

A lot of the worry comes from not having a clear idea of this thing called a “plot.” I had no sense of a plot at all when I did Death Perception in 2011. It was pretty much just stream of consciousness kvetching, saved by the structural conceit of being stuck with Death in a sort of “trapped in an elevator” scenario, and the ending was just what I had at the end with no time to spare. But it worked! The process with Someone Is Wrong On The Internet was almost the opposite. I had the end in mind from the get-go, and the problem was how to get there. I wrote a bunch of little vignettes and strung them together in the most logical manner I could. And it also worked! I was on a roll. A roll that I did not feel I was consciously controlling, but a roll nevertheless.

My 2013 show is called The Press Conference At The End Of The World, and the writing process is falling somewhere between Death and Internet. I have kind of a beginning, and kind of a middle, and kind of and end, but nothing firm. It is proving to be a much more plot-oriented sort of piece. I feel I need to have the beats planned out in advance, rather than the zen-like “just let it happen and we’ll fix it in post” semi-approach I used in the past. And it’s murder. Slow, unrelenting murder. I’ve never written like this before, and it’s kind of terrifying.

Ah well. I have done this to myself, and I shall have to sprint to the finish line in a more teen drama sort of way than is usual. Hard to picture, but true.

It occurs to me this has been a terrible piece of self-promotion. I think in Self-Promotion 101, whining about how hard it is to write is the second thing they tell you not to do, right after standing behind a cow.

Oh! Just because I like to complicate things, I’m also in a second Fringe show: To Mars With Tesla!, a remount of the English Scrimshaw Theatrical Novelties production from last year. Bad timing and bad luck kept our initial run from getting much of an audience, so I’m glad to be doing it again. It’s everything you want in a show. Tesla versus Edison! Silent movie comedy! Steampunk! Inappropriate grabbing of boobs!

Here are links to my two Fringe Festival shows. Click on links. Forward links. Stick links in one of those My Fringe 5 thingies. Promote the arts and shit.

http://www.fringefestival.org/2013/show/?id=2530

http://www.fringefestival.org/2013/show/?id=2504

And Lo! The Trickle Became A Flood

Jeepers. All my life needed was the Minnesota Fringe Festival lottery, I guess. Things went from not-so-much to too-goddamn-much pretty much overnight.

My number was drawn again, for the third year in a row, so I will be in the Fringe again. And English Scrimshaw Theatrical Novelties was also drawn, so I will also be in the remount of To Mars, With Tesla! with me as steampunk Thomas Edison. For those of you who can’t count that high, that’s two Fringe shows I’m in. Which I’ve done before, so no need to panic.

Also, I’ve elected to try out for Vilification Tennis as a part of their amateur show. Refereed insult comedy, often of an offensive and inexcusable nature. I’ve done stuff with the Vilification people before, sketches and other additional material, but I’d always shied away from the actual act. Didn’t seem to be in my end of the comedy pool. Too aggressive. Too exposed. Too this. Too that. But I’ve gotten over those nagging doubts, so I’m giving it a whirl. This means I need to come up with 50-100 one-liner insults in the next couple of months, which means I need to write 500-1000 one-liner insults and chuck the 90% that will inevitably suck. That a not inconsiderable chunk of writing there, but doable. Edging a bit up on the panic meter now.

But! I’m also doing Vilification Tennis’ Game Show Show in March. Which is the show before the amateur show. I’ve been a part of the Game Show show for a few years now, and it’s one of the best times I have on stage. So I’ll need to write some wacky game show questions for that. Not 50-100 of them, but a few. And I’ll probably need to write questions for the GPS Trivia Contest, which will be somewhere betwixt the two Vilification shows. Okay, a bit more panicky now.

And! I’ll be contributing a script or two for Big Fun Radio Funtime. Sometime in early Summer or so. Panic rising…

Oh! And I’m job hunting. I will be almost certainly unemployed in a couple weeks. And the likelihood of me landing another job that would let me have copious time off in the summer to hammer out a show of some kind is roughly nil. Ah. There it is. Full-blown panic.

I may be over-dramatizing this a bit. (Me?! Over-dramatizing?! As God as my witness… Never!! Cue thunder and lightning.) We’ve done Tesla before. I knocked off a couple dozen Vilification insults last night. And there’s no problem with me doing another one-man show for the Fringe. (I’d like to do something with other people sometime, but I hinted about it after the lottery, and people left so fast there was a red shift.) So I can probably squeeze this all in, with a little bear grease and a giant shoehorn.

It was President’s Day today, so I had it off. Signed up with another temp agency downtown, walked through Uptown, watched some Ken Burns documentaries. A good breath-catching day before all this shit comes 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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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.