I direct all the time. I call myself a writer, but I often feel I spend far more time directing than writing.
I really hate directing.
In all probability, the primary reason I hate directing is because I feel I’m just not very good. I don’t feel I have a good instinct for creating interesting stage pictures. I have don’t critique my performers well because it often takes me three or four days to really settle on what I think needs to change. I have a very hard time telling people no.
For Vilification Tennis, I’m a performing director. My job as the judge is to guide the actors on stage. I’ll drop subtle hints about what is working and what isn’t working. I control the tempo of the match. My responsibility is as much to help the performers do the best job as it is to assist in guiding the audiences response to their performances.
I’ve been doing it so long, I barely think about it any more. I just know how to control the flow of the show and most people don’t even notice that I’m doing anything at all, which is as it should be.
Because so much I do is onstage, I often neglect the offstage piece of cast development and show coordination. While we can put on a very good show with a small amount of prep work, the more time we put into the show, the better the onstage product becomes.
The cast is large and as their skill has improved over time, it has become clear that we need to cut back a few performers.
All of my performers are very good or they wouldn’t be in the cast. But you have to make decisions. You want to use the best possible people and that sometimes means the very good don’t get a chance.
The job of a director is to put the best possible show on stage. It is not to make sure that they don’t hurt the feelings of their performers.
As I looked at our show last year, I thought about the fact that we have been improving as performers but I haven’t been improving as a director. I’ve been regressing.
It wasn’t just Vilification Tennis, either. I have a great time putting together Big Fun Radio Funtime but I know my performers want more direction out of me. When we read through scripts, I need to give them ideas on how to approach the material.
That’s my job.
As usual, my best ideas come about a week after the performance when I think “that scene might have worked better if the character had sounded more annoyed.”
Directors direct. That is their job. I may think I’m absolutely awful at the job but if I’m going to keep doing that job, I need to be committed to doing it right.
What I learned is this: there are times in our lives when we are tasked with doing something that we can’t do well. When that happens, we need to work to do it better than we believe we are capable. If we do that, we might actually get better.
This weekend, Fearless Comedy will be putting on Die Laughing, a fifty hour comedy marathon. Right now, it looks like we might get hammered with a massive snow storm as the event starts but that doesn’t matter. We’re going to make this show happen.
The good news is that the entire event will be streaming so you can watch it even if you decide to cower in your home. And I’ll be doing a lot of performing that weekend. Here’s a schedule if you are just going nuts wondering when I’ll be on stage again.
Friday, April 4th, 7:00 PM – Big Fun Radio Funtime
We’ll be doing encore presentations of two of our favorite scripts and then Geoffrey Brown and I will perform 30 minutes of original Citizens’ Band tunes! We’ll also introduce our weekend long songwriting challenge.
Friday, April 4th – 10:00 PM – Vilification Tennis
There will be insults a-plenty and Duck Washington will debut as our newest cast member! Also, Kelvin Hatle will present his brilliant “News from Lake Vilbegone.”
Friday, April 4th – 11:00 PM – Geeks Without God
We’ll be recording a live podcast featuring comedian Patrick Bauer. The topic will be Tarantino movies. Pop culture reference!
Saturday, April 5th – 4:00 PM – PowerPoint Karaoke
I’ll be sitting in judgement on comedians who are making up a presentation from scratch! Is it far that I judge them? Yes it is fair! For I am ME and I SHALL wield petty power!
Saturday, April 5th – 8:00 PM – 12:00 AM – Hosting
I won’t be the star of the show but I’ll be introducing them!
Sunday, April 6th – 1:00 AM – Geeks Without God
Our second live podcast will feature Elizabeth Ess! We are going to talk about Hobby Lobby and birth control. Should be totally filled with comedy about knitting. There is also a decent chance I’ll be bald at this point.
Sunday, April 6th – 2:00 PM – Judging a Book By It’s Cover
I’ll be hosting this silly game in which contestants must describe the plot of a book based only on the cover illustration.
Sunday, April 6th – 6:00 PM – The Dregs
The Dregs will be doing our music and comedy thing with a special challenge to help raise money. Song choices go to the highest bidder!
Sunday, April 6th – 8:00 PM – Fearless Lab
A completely random hour of Fearless Comedy! And I’m the host! If Geoffrey and I get paid to write any songs, we’ll be performing them during this final hour of the marathon! It’ll be awesome! I’m using all exclamation points because I’ll probably be hopped up on Five Hour Energy Drink at this point in the weekend!
Big Fun Radio Funtime is just over a year old and just performed our sixth show. I’m at a bit of a crossroads right now because I think that we are getting a lot better artistically, but I can’t figure out how to get people to come watch the show. While I know I want to keep it running through the end of the 2014, I’m not certain of our fate beyond that.
The major problem I face is the amount of work compared to the level of attention that work receives. We are averaging 20- 30 audience members per performance. Can we get more? I just don’t know. So I’ve been doing a sort of cost/benefit analysis on the whole effort.
Friday night was Big Fun Radio Funtime and I wrote a script for the show about a Zombie AA meeting. I think it turned out quite well so for today’s comedy blog, I’m presenting the slightly edited script for your amusement.
Bob: OK, we’re just about ready to start. Can everyone have a seat? Great. Thanks everyone. Before we start, I just wanted to give a big shout out to Carrie for bringing the snacks and coffee. Thanks Carrie!
Bob: OK, so, welcome to BA. I’m Bob and I’m a zombie.
Group: Hi, Bob!
Bob: It’s been three years since my last brain. A little bit of personal history – I’m a fast undead zombie. I died just a couple of days before the mysterious event that caused us to rise from our graves to terrorize the living. That means I’m still pretty fresh, as zombies go.
At first, I ate brains because all the other zombies were doing it. It just seemed like a way to fit in. But eventually, I found that I’d grown dependent on brains even though I was dead so I didn’t actually require any food to survive.
So why was I obsessed with the brains of the living? It just didn’t make sense. I finally realized that I had to stop.
Just like all of you, I’m tempted every time I see the living but I’m taking it day by day and trying to remind myself that it isn’t the brains that I love, it’s the feeling I get when I’m eating them. Thanks for listening.
Group: Thanks, Bob.
Bob: Now, does anyone have anything they would like to share this evening?
Carrie: I would!
Bob: Great, Carrie! Come on up!
Carrie: Thanks everyone. Hi, I’m Carrie and I’m a zombie.
Group: Hi, Carrie!
Carrie: It’s been about eight months since my last brain. I’m what they call a “Rage” Zombie because I became a zombie through a fast acting virus that turned me into a bloodthirsty maniac who craved nothing but brains. The first few days were a rush, I have to say. I’ve never felt so alive.
What they don’t tell you, though, is that it’s a virus and, you know, your immune system still works. So after a few days, my fever broke and I wasn’t feeling all that angry any more. There were some lingering side effects, though. I mean, I still get…..frustrated every once in a while.
Like really frustrated. Like punching the wall until all of the bones in my fingers break frustrated. And when I get frustrated, I get hungry and brains just calm me down, you know?
Carrie: Exactly! I mean, I don’t enjoy slaughtering someone by tearing open their skull so I can devour their sweet sweet brains while they are still alive and screaming for mercy, but I love eating the brains.
Bob: Hey, can someone get Greg some coffee?
Putting it Together is my Monday “artist talking about art stuff blog”. The title comes from “Sunday in the Park with George,” the best (and possibly only) musical that is entirely dedicated to an artist talking about his art. Is that pretentious enough?
As an independent producer, I understand that I’m not going to succeed unless I convince other people what I’m doing has some merit. This means I have to engage in the process of self promotion.
Watch my stuff!
Read my stuff!
Listen to my stuff!
STUFF STUFF STUFF STUFF!!!!
I’m not very good at self promotion.
Boy do I have a lot going on at the convention this weekend. While I have no idea why anyone would be interested in tracking me around the con, just in case you have an interest in stalking (or avoiding) me, here’s what I’ll be up to at the convention.
Thursday, July 4th
6:00 PM – The Mark Time Radio Show. I’ve been a voice actor on this show for um…about ten years? This year’s show is an expanded version of “The Sword in the Couch,” which was featured at the first Big Fun Radio Funtime show.
7:00 PM – Opening Ceremonies. I wrote and directed the Opening sketch and I’m pretty happy with it. All I can say about the sketch is that it is going to be awesome. It s also filled to overflowing with amazing talent. I also contributed a little bit of writing to the rest of Opening Ceremonies and rumor has it I might be helping out with at least one bit.
9:00 PM – Super Spy Smackdown. I will be the Master of Ceremonies for an epic battle between the greatest super spies ever assembled. Comedy commentary will be provided by a team of experts including Tim Uren, Joseph Scrimshaw, Dawn Krosnowski, Kelvin Hatle, Caroline Symcox and Christopher Jones. As always, Melissa Kaercher will be running the tech.
11:00 PM – Vilification Tennis takes over the Fearless Comedy Room Party in room 224!
About a week ago, I debuted my newest comedy show, Big Fun Radio Funtime. The idea behind the show is to have a quarterly show that features work by several different writers. That’s where this post comes in.
I know a good number of writers in the cities and I’ve contacted some of them. Mostly the ones I was pretty sure would enjoy writing something in this particular comedy sandbox. Actually, to be honest, they were the people who I could think of off the top of my head shortly after I had the idea for the show.
I missed a whole bunch of other people. Some pretty obvious. Some not so obvious. Maybe you were one of those folks.
So if anyone out there is waiting for an invitation, here it is. Do you want to write for the show? Tell me so. I need four original 10-12 minute scripts per show so I’m going to run out of people on my first contact list in a hurry.
You don’t have to be local, either. I can direct the script and I’ll make sure you get an audio copy of the show so you can impress all of your friends.
Drop me a line. Comment on this blog entry or on Facebook. Send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
I’d love to feature your script at one of these shows. I just didn’t know you wanted to write one!
And on a separate but equally important note – I want to feature solo songwriters and voice actors at each show as well. Do you do one of those things? If so, you could be doing it for me!