So last week, I went to perform my comedy/juggling act a local juvenile detention center. At first, I thought it would be immigrant teens separated from their parents at the border. The revolving door quality of the facility makes it difficult to predict who will be in at any given time. All that could be counted on is the age: 14-17 year olds. Not my typical demographic, but I jumped in with both feet anyway, to “give back” to some who may not normally be exposed to the type of entertainment that I do. Hat tip to Alain Nu, the Man Who Knows, for connecting me to the fledgling program.
I spent the last couple weeks teaching at a summer youth circus camp. Some insights into learning theory, comedy theory, childlike thinking, and a touch of scatology.
Day 36/365. FML. Not a commentary; just busy relaunching a show in Brooklyn NY a couple of weeks from now and don’t have the time and brainspace to do a pretty pretty picture. So back to my ink-first quickie-simple style which fills so many sketchbooks.
In doing so, I find the pleasure of the simplicity of communicating an idea with as few lines as possible. I find that penciling first makes the playground the paper, but with ink first, most of the work takes place in my head, as erasing is not an option.
On the one hand, I can make a bolder statement with a more complex idea by drawing it out first, then laying the indelible ink (and colors) on afterwards; on the other hand, the more simple image that was thought out first has the more iconic feel.
I guess it’s similar to music: you can painstakingly write out your notes and create some amazing stuff, or you can internalize your scales, open yourself up to improvisation, and play Jazz. it makes sense in words, but I’m not sure a viewer will immediately look at this image and think, “Jazz.” (Interestingly, R. Crumb, known for not using pencil, is also a great Jazz aficionado.)
Or maybe it’s more like juggling fire torches: you practice with them unlit. You can do much more crazy things when they’re not lit, to experiment and find your parameters. That way, when you light them, you can do less crazy things, but operating in a lower threshold of difficulty to please an audience while not causing a disaster. Ink first can be one stroke away from disaster.
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.