Reminiscing over Rob Torres, a masterful physical comedian, my friend and hero, taken from us too soon.
(I’ll get back to posting about my visual art soon. Been a busy month.)
An NBC reporter, referred by a friend in the business called asked me one question: Is this current strange wave of clown hysteria directly hurting your bottom line?”
I responded that for me, the answer is “no, as I don’t advertise myself as a clown, but I am one. This problem, however has a much bigger scope than my income this month vs. last month, but rather a growing trend in this country, which has been hurting the image of our art form, in the USA, for decades.”
I would have also mentioned there are different types of clowns. Not like the “Auguste, Whiteface and Character,” which any reporter on clowns should know of before calling me. By “different types of clowns,” I mean very different types of performers who call themselves clowns. Just as one can Paint by Numbers or illustrate the Creation of the Universe on a chapel ceiling, Clown is a complex profession for such a simple, Germanic word.
I might have touched on the sadness I feel for our society as a whole; a piece of childhood is lost as children have less access to this memory touchstone to symbolize their youthful wonder and joy. This is a sense of play we grow out of as we mature and spend our whole lives wishing we could recapture. Clowns, really good clowns, can bring that to you.
I would have mentioned how in the 30 years I’ve practiced, studied, wrote and produced three very different theatrical clown shows*, I have changed styles a few times and my definition of “clown” has changed, adjusted and expanded far beyond my Dunning-Kruger inspired first-year definition. I would have mentioned there have been clowns on Broadway, in movies, on TV, and you loved them, and YOU NEVER KNEW THEY WERE CLOWNS!!!”
So yeah; that is what I wanted to say. But before I could get started on information that I think would add necessary nuance to an obviously sensationalized story, he said, “So, you’re sure you haven’t lost any business… [person who referred me to you] said they’d lost a lot of business.”
I said, “No, not currently but I –”
“Thank you, goodbye.”
I have to learn to be more a politician and get in my talking points before I answer their question.
* (OK, I co-wrote and co-produced two of the three with my very talented partners. But I like to think my input was *ahem* useful.)
It’s actually kind of weird to think of myself as a playwright. I never did much theatre in school, aiming rather to do variety performance: juggling, comedy, magic, clown… I always thought of my performances as “shows.”
So now I have written a new show (God: The One-Man Show), and co-written two shows (“Delusions of Grandeur” and “The Heist” with Matthew Pauli and Karen Beriss) over the last 4 years. People keep referring to these shows as “plays.” I guess yes, since they have all have at least some semblance of a story arc, characters and drama mixed in with the comedy, but it’s weird to me to call them plays.
But if they are, then I guess I’m a playwright. I’m up there with William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and that self-absorbed weirdo performing in the local church basement shouting about gender issues and hydrogenated fats.
I actually paused blogging for a while because I thought I had to finish the posts of my 2014 European Adventure. I got immersed in the experience and didn’t have time to document every potato I boiled or every Guinness I drank. I realize now I don’t have to complete that before moving forward. At some point, if there’s enough demand, I’ll tell some stories about Europe, with a year or so of perspective. My plan to finish writing a new show went into mothballs, because another show got written instead. Such is life with ADD.
Since then, I’ve produced a handful of cabaret shows, wrote, rehearsed, designed, produced and promoted, “God: The One-Man Show,” created illustrations for an educational program for NASA, wrote about 15 minutes of solid standup comedy, designed 3 T-shirts for various projects, and am in the process of figuring out how to fund further development of “The Heist,” a film noir physical comedy about three hilariously inept gangsters. It’s always weird to think I’m getting nowhere and look back to see I guess I’ve done a few things.
Still, I’m currently finding a need to boost my productivity. The art stuff is the easy part. Selling it is the unfortunate result of living in a Capitalist society. If it can’t convert to money, its worth is dismissed. My mortgage company will never accept a painting or a comedy show as payment. My goal is to do company events for every institution I’ve ever paid a bill to, and get back all that money. A guy can fantasize.
Procrastination, distractibility and some life-curveballs all present the opportunity to get off course. I’m reaching out to people smarter than me. And people looking to achieve similar goals. The former is like a personal trainer for my business; the latter, like having a gym buddy to keep you honest.
My gymnasium is my laptop, my phone, and my databases. Unfortunately, my gymnasium has weights scattered all about, and is covered by a few layers of dust, cobwebs, and broken dreams. Experimenting with some productivity software. If I like it, I’ll endorse it here. But here’s hoping I can get my business brain in shape. Currently it’s a slothful 400-pound gnome walking with a cane. Ugh. Off the couch, brain! Off the couch!