The other night I was on the roster of performers for Until Midnight. I was kindly requested to appear by Bricken Sparacino and Samantha Jones in this night of music, comedy, variety, burlesque, and theatre at the Zipper Factory Theater. Because of my publication submission deadline for Plays and Playwrights, I decided to do one of my untried pieces in which I emulate Karl Rove speaking to a room of conservative scholars.
That was all well and good but I was tied to my desk until 9:35 pm. And I could feel the allergy/illness/bodyache/fever/sore throat that’s going around overtake me. I arrived at the theater 10 minutes before I had to hit the stage and was told by Bricken I would be following the woman blowing up balloons. Then Mistress B walked by me. As you can see she cuts an unforgettable figure. That red thing at her nipple area is what was used to inflate the phallic balloons to techno music that said, “I’m making a penis” over and over again to a pulsing industrial beat. By the sound of things offstage where in futility I was running my lines, she seemed to have the crowd right where she wanted them.
To top it off, I found out there was someone on stage with a bell to ring when you hit 5 minutes. This was to keep the pieces brisk and not go over time. I had no idea how long my monologue would be. I figured it couldn’t have been over 5 minutes.
Being next to last, I could feel the audience fatigue coming off in waves. So I went out there and, true to form, got none of the reactions I expected. It would be a lot easier if audiences just did what I expected them to do.
I had recently read an article about comedy in Rolling Stone magazine. A few different people talked about how comedy is changing. People are looking for things other than punchlines. I think this piece went that way. Maybe it’s the reception of things that’s changing and I’m stuck in another place. Couch potatoes being replaced by laptop faces. I gave the last bit straight to Martin Denton. Sorry Martin. I felt I was slipping off the mountain and grabbed onto you to keep from falling to my death. Also, I thought Rochelle would, deservedly so, yell back at me if I did it to her.
Or I might be a little neurotic. I don’t feel I get to know how to play a piece until I’ve done it 10 or 12 times in front of an audience. In a “just shows to go ya” several people told how much I frightened them, including the bartender who grew up not far from Liberty University, where the monologue was set. I thought it was funny. Maybe my sense of humor is weird.
Until Midnight also has a post performance fun component. That night we went to the bar Stitch. As a performer, I got to have my hand stamped for $2 off drink specials. Everyone else looked like they were part of a LES Mardi Gras with balloon vulvas on their heads. I looked like a banker. Bad time to look like a banker. Someone had to vouch I was a performer.