Monday, October 19, 2009

The Audacity of Nope

So the new show that I'm in called The Audacity of Nope has certainly received some interesting press. Chris Jones of the Trib announced our title a couple of weeks ago on the front page of the Live! (Question - is this Live like - "Live" every day as if it were your last or Live - like Saturday Night "Live"?) section as some sort of reaction to Chicago's failed bid for the Olympics. Nevermind that we came up with it back in June, and that there was a lot more animosity toward the president at that time for not following through on some important issues and for being as he always has been, non-committal on supporting gay marriage. But, we were thrilled that this news did play into our overall theme of "NOPE". But we're also getting a thumbs up from more conservative blogs because of our title...too soon? Such fun that our title is stirring up so many assumptions! Want to see for yourself? Get some tickets!

Personally, I'm in a tricky place because as a straight person, I do not think it's my place to be the voice of gays or anyone besides myself for that matter. I'm no Oprah. But, in terms of the President and most politics, I do have opinions. This revue has been named in such a way that expectations of the content and themes are being assumed. It's extremely exciting to be a part of such a fragile thing as an "irreverant revue" whether given that description under the guise of a title, or past productions and reputation.

I'm really digging the mild controversy and real interest in our show. We've got some stuf up our all art, comedy doesn't hold anything sacred - with the exception of the quality of the joke itself. The key is timing.

The thing people don't understand about comedy writers and comics in general is that we shift gears very quickly turning tragedy into comedy much faster than normal people. It's something we HAVE to do to entertain people in a timely fashion. It also can silence rooms of "civilians" and end dinner parties early (why we like to socialize with each other).

It's also a survival mechanism. We have to "get there" faster so that the comedy is already bakd when the public decides they can finally exhale. Take 911 for example. I was in a comedy writing program during this time - in the second level of a five-level course - so still pretty early in the process. My class was on Wednesday nights. To my surprise our class was not cancelled, further our instructor asked us to put aside our sadness and stress and try to "find the funny". Most of us, myself included, freaked out, and started to leave when he asked us to sit and explained that this is also a way to cope. There is humor in every tragedy, you have to know where to find it. For starters, it's never the victims. Go after the criminals, the talking heads reporting on it, nature's reaction. Slowly, but surely, our pens started moving. I thought very hard and then remembered, at some point during the day of coverage it occurred to me that Katie Couric was dressed a little slutty that day. (Who wears one barrette?) Then other people's observations started to come out too. The luggage of two of the terrorists didn't make their flight. Pretty much everything Ashleigh Banfield said.

Later, when our show was produced, people were ready, and we had volumes of sketches to work with - there was no delay of "okay, now let's sit down and write about this". That would have been too late.

There is always constant pressure on comics to produce timely, truthful and thoughtful material - before everyone else thinks of the same jokes - and we're kidding ourselves if we think that people aren't also thinking the things we say before they do - duh, it's why they laugh!

Comedy is a game of being 10 steps ahead and keeping an open mind about everything you do. I wrote a song called Shame - which is no longer relevant because Obama revealed his intention to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and a tentative oppostion to DOMA recently. I worked for hours on the song, then just scrapped it. You have to be very happy to throw ideas away, no matter how wonderful. The beauty is the mind is an incredible thing, and so is life. There is always something funny going on and new ideas to discover.

Until next time, it's back to the drawing board for me...and here's a video for you!


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