Tag Archives: comedy

005 Comedy Structure: Rule of Three

At the foundation of almost all comedy is structure. And one of the most common, and most useful structures, starts with a simple concept: the number three. Take a look at how and why three is woven into the fabric of some beloved jokes.

The Space Race

Looking into the space race, in the timeline between Sputnik and the first moon landing, and our silly, silly nuclear sabre rattling.

The podcast says “a couple days late.” I made it a full week, just to release on a Wednesday. You’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

Clowns and taxes

While doing taxes, (of course at the last minute) I always end up meandering over things I’ve done over the last year. This one was kind of cool. At the height of that idiotic media-invented “clown hysteria” last October, the good folks at Good Morning Washington reached out to the experts of Washington DC’s Clown Cabaret to get a more educated perspective. Check it out. I’m the blond. The one wearing pants. 🙂

http://wjla.com/features/good-morning-washington/clown-cabaret-joins-gmw

As GMW mentions, you may find more information about Clown Cabaret at our website.
www.clowncabaret.com

37, 38, and 39/365 Goat, Ding-Dong, Universe: Catching up with God

I’m behind on my blogging by nearly two months, so I’m strategizing a solution to catch up. I can put it off longer, decide not to continue, or just f**ing do it.

On the plus side, I have been sticking to my guns, doing my #ALittleArtEveryDay #365Project, every day since July 19, 2016, but I have had roadblocks to getting the blogging done about it. So I’m endeavoring to double and triple up on the images per blog post, to see if I can tie a block of them together with a unifying concept. This group is from August 26-26, which was just a week before bringing my “God: The One Man Show” to the New York Clown Theatre Festival, so my mind was running wild in that vein.

Since my original idea with this 365 project was to “do a little art every day, to see what develops,” I do from time to time try to illustrate something I feel I’m not very experienced at. I’ve shied away from drawing things, or learned to “fudge” things to make them look recognizable, since photorealism is so bothersome. Nobody can tell you that you drew a stick figure goat wrong.

In any case, one of the prominent items on God’s “to do” list in the show is to create goats (and gravel). I have never sat down and said, “I’m going to learn animal anatomy.” Convergence of ideas, so here. Here’s a goat. Like the God in my show, I have created … GOAT! (scroll down for more bloggishness)

Day 37 Goat and Gravel. Fans of God: The One-Man Show, (Nov. 10-13, 2016 in Baltimore) might be amused by the reference.
Day 37 Goat and Gravel. Fans of God: The One-Man Show, (Nov. 10-13, 2016 in Baltimore) might be amused by the reference.

 

38 Ding Dong

I have always kind of wondered about the relationship of God and Lucifer. I mean, they once were friends. They had a spat. God never forgave him. I’m sure that’d be kind of tough for both of them, evidenced by the 6,000 year silent feud, only broken once by a wager over poor Job.

If I were Lucifer, I’d probably occasionally do something passive-aggressive as is illustrated below. It was fun making the Pearly Gates.

Going along with the "God" theme, though "Satan" or "the devil" never appear in the show.

Going along with the “God” theme, though “Satan” or “the devil” never appear in the show.

39. The Universe (1)

What says, “God” more than amorphous, undulating nebulae, billions of light years away? Really, I was just playing with watercolors. I find them to be aggravating and a hell of a lot of fun. I did intend to paint the Universe on a 5″x9″ piece of watercolor paper, but personally, I’m not entirely pleased with this first attempt. Many people have offered positive feedback. It’s somewhat frustrating as an artist to find people resonating with things I really don’t like. Not that I hate this one; I just don’t love it like some people seem to. I have learned to just smile and say, “I’m glad you find enjoyment from my art.” It’s a tough lesson to learn.

More calibrating my brain for my New York run as God. I do feel that playing with the visual concepts does help me better embody the character.

More calibrating my brain for my New York run as God. I do feel that playing with the visual concepts does help me better embody the character.

 

 

Being a winner

imageI have a blog. “Big deal,” you’re probably thinking. “Anyone can get a blog,” right?

Well, do you have a blog? No? Ha! Score one for me!

Having a blog is one of the best ways to get the world to think you are important. I know this to be true because I said it. And I am important. Because I have a blog.

Oh, sure you could get yourself a blog, like on blogger or wordpress or whatever else place you can find online and then write thoughts down for people to read so they can make you feel important. Sure, you could do that. But even if you do, and you are important, whose blog are you reading now? Huh? Whose?! Ha! Score two for me!

Don’t get me wrong; I really appreciate you taking time to read this blog, but I just wanted to gloat about the fact that if you don’t have a blog, I have at least one more reader than you do! Wahoo!

Suppose you are a person with a blog. Perhaps you think that makes you important. You are correct. That is true. But again, where are you? Reading my blog! Ha! Three points! Score!

Now it is possible you have a blog that has more readers than mine. Hm, I haven’t thought about that. Good point. Three-one. My lead.

But wait a minute, if you have a blog and it has more readers than mine, then it must be interesting, pertinent or useful. With fewer followers, I need not be confined by such constraints. Game, set, and match! I am invincible!

Playing God

Rich Potter, as the Creator of the Universe, has a last-minute deadline frenzy, in "God: The One Man Show" at Greenbelt Arts Center, Feb 19-28, 2016 www.GodTheOneManShow.comIt’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. 

It’s still strange to hear the word applied to my work. I just wanted to write funny shows about things that were on my mind. Now I’m a playwright. Go figure. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I didn’t know. I guess I wasn’t as omniscient as I thought.

About those clowns…

Horrible Sambo-level caricature of a clown, left, encounters (but does not notice) a more subtle, natural clown.
Horrible Sambo-level caricature of a clown, left, encounters (but does not notice) a more subtle, natural clown.

When I first started this blog, I had the intent to talk about creativity. I got sidetracked by all this boring “productivity” stuff. Granted, it’s very important to be productive if you want to be creative, but I’m going to shift gears a bit here. As stated elsewhere, I am a comedian. A variety artist. A juggler. A clown.

Clown.

It’s a loaded word. It is generally considered an insult. “You clown,” “those clowns in Congress,” “quit clowning around…” and the relative neologism, “ass-clown.” However, in theater (and circus, which is an extension of theater), the “Clown” is generally a welcome relief from tensions (Hamlet’s gravediggers, for instance), or between death-defying acts in the circus. This has of course changed with motion pictures putting Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Stan and Ollie, Abbott and Costello, Dick Van Dyke, Red Skelton, Steve Martin and Jim Carrey on the screen, where the clowns become the protagonists. The everyman. Even the hero.

What is a clown? The term is believed to possibly come from Icelandic klunni meaning clod, or Low German (a great source of our basic English vocabulary). The theatrical tradition can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where a dwarf was known to perform tricks for the court. Of course, that’s only recorded history; who knows before that? Certainly as long as humans laughed as a release of tension, and manipulated objects and bodies to create music, art and dance, the intentional inducement of laughter must have been included in there somewhere. That’s what clowns do. And more.

Just as early civilizations saw art, dance and music as a way to connect to the spirits, laughter, often a Sacred Clown has been part of the ceremony. That idea has popped up in many civilizations, and one could argue that the beloved Trickster character of many a folk tale is an extension of that. Whether it’s the Wise Fool of King Lear, the completely laughable idiot Curly of the Three Stooges, or the trickster Till Eulenspiegel with a wry penchant for defecation, these characters have touched culture after culture in generation after generation.

So again, I try to answer: What is a clown? There are many different definitions, even within a theatrical context, from “a comic character in a play” to “the people in those costumes in the circus” to “M. Night Shyamalan, after his first two movies.” In simple terms, it is a type of actor who specializes in physical or verbal comedy who plays the role of him (or her) self with comical adjustments to certain personal affectations. But still, I find that/those definitions unsatisfying.

After nearly 30 years being a clown on stage and in the ring, I still haven’t fully answered the question myself and I don’t think I ever will; every time I have thought I knew, I’ve learned more to expand my definition. If you held a pie to my head and demanded I give an answer, I would hem and haw and deliberate. In the end however, I would eventually say something like this:

We are all idiots sometimes. We all see the world slightly differently in our private moments when other people can’t see. Many of us are embarrassed by these differences. We are all different from each other and that is beautiful. We are all highly competent at some things and horribly incompetent at others. We try to hide our incompetence and highlight our competence, but when we relax too much, it leaks out. And that is normal. That is funny. That is beautiful. That is the Clown.

The Clown is you.