Category: Blog

If you’re like me you stare at your computer screen and think, my God, why did I announce this was a regular thing in that first blog entry?

The first one is so easy. The idea pops into your head. It just happens and then you’re drunk with the success of it and think, “I’ll do this regularly leading up to FRIGID NYC and Edinburgh Fringe. I can show people what it’s like to get ready for a festival like that and maybe get a laugh or two in the process.”

You damn fool. You just buried yourself in the very beginnings of the creative process, that place where you have to move past inspiration and into the production of consistent content.

You think that because you write every morning you’re bound to have plenty of mineable ideas. But as you read through your writing you realize: “Damn, I meander all over the place. I’m like one of those monsters, I mean tourists on the streets of NYC who can’t walk a straight line.”

And some of this shit that comes out is unexpected, like you sat on the can and suddenly there’s a cockatiel pecking at your ass and reciting Britney Spears lyrics.

Oops I did it again.

And you did. You landed yourself at the beginning of the creative process where you know nothing whatsoever about your subject and the voice in your head keeps telling you to give up because you’re a fraud.

And you agree that’s the truth. You’re faking it, making it up as you go. You need to become an expert in:

  1. Who you are
  2. That show you’ve been doing on and off for a year
  3. How to ramp up to the next level

And you know next to nothing about 1 or 3. Maybe you know something about number 2, but you’ve made enough scatalogical jokes for this blog entry and you can’t keep falling back on that.

It’s going to be an excruciating journey of discovery. You’re gonna fail. Publicly. So, so often.

But you’re going to enjoy those failures, because you’ve done things the other way, the not doing things way. And you’re tired of failing like that.

You have no idea where you’re going, and that’s actually pretty cool.…

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In earlier performances of Voice of Authority I’ve had sometimes as much as a half hour before the show on stage, so I’ve played my own pre-show music and greeted the audience on their way in.

As much as I love doing that, I get the impression I won’t have that time this year, so I’m doing the pre-show music in advance and posting it online. Starting now.

In Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking, she puts into words something that I’ve slowly, very, very slowly been discovering over the past five years or so. Probably even longer.

Professionals know they’re winging it.
Amateurs pretend they’re not.

At David Lawson’s Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show the other day, I told a story about setting a toilet on fire in middle school. And just as I paint a picture of sitting in the principal’s office, I blank. Completely. It’s almost like I forget I’m telling a story. I’m just looking out at the people in the chairs.

I start to see the concern in their faces.

I get it. Everyone has this fear of blanking in front of an audience. Forgetting your lines. Getting it wrong, or worse, not getting it perfect.

When I’m younger, I’m on stage a lot, and I do worry about being perfect, and since we’re being honest here, I judge the people who aren’t. It’s even possible I make a less than charitable comment or two behind their backs.

But when I go back on stage after 15-year hiatus, I notice something I never did before. Those foibles, the mistakes, the unpredictable moments? They’re amazing.

If you learn to embrace them, that is. And yes, that’s scary, but it can be so cool.

I’m on stage for Bye Bye Birdie nine years ago, playing Albert Peterson, and I’m on the phone with Henry Luce. The prop phone falls off the wall to the ground. “I’m sorry about that Mr. Peterson,” says Mrs. MacAfee (my brilliant actor friend Lisa Lynds). Without thinking, just being me, I say, “It’s okay, I’m pretty sure he’ll call back.”

That laughter from the audience was so real. And in the second act, I walk out for a scene where I sing Talk to Me over a prop pay phone and it crashes to the floor. I look at it for a second, turn out to the world and ponder: “What’s up with the phones in this town?”

Those are the two clearest memories I have of that show, and they get me the job that gets me into Equity.

I guess it’s living in the moment, not hiding anything from the audience, just allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Here we go, and we have no idea what’s gonna happen. Or in Palmer’s words, we’re winging it. Together.

And in Astoria, when I see the looks of concern, I know you’re all on my side. You want me to get this because you can feel this moment a little too acutely. And it feels vulnerable.

How about that, I say. Completely forgot where I was for a moment, a 13-year-old boy at the Georgia State Latin Convention with a pack of matches and a toilet to burn.…