28 July 2009

Red Snapper and Mr. Snapper channel Uma and John at the Monday Night Tease.
Some Random Thoughts on the Past Week

The marathon week that started with Monday Night Tease's 2nd Annual Quentin Tarantino Burlesque Film Festival on the 20th, ran through Comic-Con and Victory Variety Hour's Super Nova A-Go-Go in San Diego on Thursday, and up to Universal CityWalk for some hot marionette action on Saturday culminated in the bloody, sticky, loud and rollicking reprise of the Tarantino fest last night. [Note: As usual, I'm omitting the name of the marionette gig because it's for kids, and this blog certainly isn't!]

Mr. Snapper as Han Solo at Super Nova A-Go-Go, Comic Con weekend in San Diego.

Those pants are about to be torn off.

Some thoughts:
  • Burlesque is a perfect theatrical artform. A burlesque act is a distilled microcosm of everything live theatre has to offer. I could go on and on about this (and probably will at a future date) but performing rough and tumble popular (populist?) theatre is good for the soul.

  • There are enough photos and videos in circulation of me taking my clothes off to effectively bar my entry into politics. That is, unless I run as an LP candidate. In that case, the most I could hope for is local office. ("Councilman Moore" has a nice ring to it.)

  • Comic Con was equal parts intimidating and inspiring. The light post banners characterized the event as "a celebration of the popular arts," or something like that. Carve me off a piece of that!

  • I really enjoy puppetry, but I'm not sure what more I want to do as a professional. There was a time when I pursued an active interest in breaking through to the "next level" career-wise; working towards major TV, film, and commercial shoots. Now I'm afraid that might suck all the fun out of it. I like that it's not my main "job," rather it's something I'm good at that I get paid to do on occasion. I think that's good enough for me.

  • I've had the opportunity to chat with people about that new play I'm working on. It may seem strange -- particularly in Hollywood where every writer seems afraid to so much as breath the title of their work-in-progress, lest some unscrupulous so-and-so steal it -- but I get a lot out of hashing the story out to friends whose opinions I respect. Had a chat with Teo (a fellow burlesque dancer's husband) last night, and his reactions gave me a good sense of what story elements are the strongest.

That's all pretty random, but I'm in a random mood after the last week! Here are some photos from that marionette thing:

Photographer: Alright ... everyone do something wacky!

Me: How about you just take the damn picture?

Backstage. Nothing says "Summer" like long-sleeve, black t-shirts.

That's me on the far right.

Our audience. Huge! This concert was at Universal CityWalk, a noisy outdoor mall on the front doorstep of Universal Studios Theme Park. Out of frame, and to the right is a jumbotron monitor on which our spaceship is seen landing. A hot day, but a great day!

22 July 2009

Hello, Mom!

The only thing that keeps me blogging at all at this point are the text messages I get from my mom: "Hey my son! Time to update the blog so I can have a clue what's going on! Lov u!"

I realize how bad this sounds. As if I never call my mother -- HA! I do call her. As my wife and I have discovered, the blogging format is the perfect way to keep a large body of people up-to-date on the goings-on in one's life. This form of blogging has been criticized as "pet cat blogging," a self-indulgent blathering on of the minutiae of a person's day-to-day activities, as in "this morning, my pet cat did such and such."

Well, we don't have a cat (but Pam's dog has a blog,) and I'd like to know what the hell this medium of blogging is for if not self-indulgent blathering. I suppose I should blog about hot-trending topics, and pack the margins with advertisments and other revenue streams. Maybe you'd like to read yet another nobody's uneducated opinions on the news of the day.


So here's the update, Mom:

A couple of weeks ago, I made my solo debut as a burlesque performer. I got paid to take my clothes off for an audience of (mostly) strangers. Ergo, I am now a professional stripper. Technically, I've been paid to strip as a part of the "Pulp Fiction" number Red Snapper and I perform. But there was something about striding out on stage by myself that seemed to make it more ... something. Je ne sais qua. I don't know what.

I performed as Han Solo to Jerry Reed's classic song of smuggling awesomeness, "East Bound and Down." You may remember that song as the theme from Smokey and the Bandit.

Red is performing as Leeloo in a number inspired by the movie The Fifth Element.

We're reprising our numbers, along with the rest of the cast of Super Nova A-Go-Go, in San Diego for the throng of people attending Comic Con. Comic Con is HUGE! They average upwards of 125,000 attendees. That's THREE TIMES the population of Hot Springs!

Strangely, I'm not nervous.

This past Monday night, Red and I reprised our "Pulp Fiction" number for the Monday Night Tease's 2nd Annual Quentin Tarantino Burlesque Film Festival. I don't have pictures from this last performance yet, but here are a couple from last year:

We also reenacted the famous "ear" scene for a massive Reservoir Dogs group number! due to popular demand, we'll be repeating the show next Monday night. The show was mentioned on the radio as a must-see, and we were featured on the local NBC affiliate's website!

This weekend, I'm performing as a part of that certain marionette show, the name of which I omit so that kids searching for it online don't wind up here! we'll be on the mainstage at Universal Studios CityWalk.

That's pretty much it for now. I'll sign off with a few photos of me and my partner Phil Kelly as Mssrs. Snapper and Buddy. The first few are from a burlesque show, Peepshow Menagerie where we opened with a forty-five minute-long set of music and comedy. The last photo is from Theatre Unleashed's "The World's Smallest Renaissance Faire."

"Old McBuddy Had a Farm." One of our newer numbers, prone to technical difficulties, but hysterical! Audiences love it. Mr. Buddy never speaks, so his part in the song is pre-recorded on cassette tape.

"A Whale of a Tale," from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Each lyric is about a different girl, and Buddy acts each one out. This is the last verse, for "Harpoon Hannah." Buddy dons a tiki mask: "There was Harpoon Hannah, with a face that'd make you shudder/Lips like fishhooks, and a nose just like a rudder/If I kissed her and held her tenderly/There's no sea monster big enough that'd ever frighten me!"

Breaking out the big gun for "Buddy vs. The Dragon." This was a song we performed at the Ren Faire. It was so well received, we put it into our "normal" repertoire. I like it because I get to play the guitar. Buddy likes it because it makes him out to be a dragon-slaying hero.

It's hard to say, but I think we're performing "Whale of a Tale" here. It looks like I'm playing the little solo run on the uke while Buddy retrieves the Harpoon Hannah mask.

06 July 2009

How I Write a Play

I am in the midst of writing a new play, but I'm taking a break for ...

Andrew's Biggest Playwriting Secrets ... Finally Revealed!

1. THE IDEA: People always ask, "Where do you get your ideas?" Sometimes I'll just hit "Random Article" on Wikipedia or type in some random words on Google and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky." If that doesn't turn up something good, I'll either swipe a premise from a far better playwright ("Tracing Sonny" was in fact a rip-off of Glengarry Glen Ross) or just crib a plotline from old episodes of Felicity!

2. THE DIALOGUE: I really suck at dialogue; it's the hardest part of writing plays for me. But plays are 97% dialogue! In the words of Charlie Brown, "AAAAUUUUGGGHHHH!" So what to do? Sometimes I'll just have the actors talk in character until they say something I like, and then I'll tell them, "That! Do that!" Other times, I'll use Babel Fish to translate Spanish language "Novellas" and just change the names. And other other times, I'll dress up like one of my characters, and put myself in the actual situation in the real world, carefully tape recording everything said! On a play like "Pin-Up Girls," I'll use all of these tricks and more!

3. THE SCENE: It's important to describe the scene in painstaking detail, because theatre people have a hard time visualizing how a play should be produced. That's because the theatre is not a visual medium, like the superior art forms of television, film, and YouTube. Also, three to four pages of description make you look like a professional!

4. THE FORMAT: Some people make a big deal about the format of the finished script: Dialogue should run margin to margin, parenthetical descriptions should be indented, blah blah blah. I find it's easier to just use the movie script format. Also, by putting the dialogue in the middle of the page like a screenplay, it takes up more pages! Win-win (win)!

5. THE OPENING NIGHT: As a playwright, it's important to be recognized by the public. That's why I make a point of wearing a sash that says "Playwright" on it, and I always join the actors on stage for their curtain call. Bonus points if you pay someone to throw roses at you when you take the stage! I did that for "Torrid Affaire," and it made all the difference for the reviewers. Nothing says "class and talent" like having roses thrown at your feet! Hey ... it works for Rick Springfield!

6. THE REVIEWS: It's important to listen to everything the reviewers say, and to try and implement their notes by the next performance. One time this reviewer criticized the character of Slappy, the slap-happy ex-boxer turned custodian at the High Jinks Burlesque. Slappy had this gag where he'd stare at the girls while they were changing their clothes and drool into his mop bucket. The girls would see this, puts their hands on their hips and say "Oh, Slappy!" It happened, like, twelve times in the first act alone. After the review came out that called Slappy a "weak, two-dimensional crutch for otherwise humorless moments," I was sure to cut the character and replace him with "Seaweed," a cute creature from Atlantis who aspires to someday strip! Poor Seaweed -- he needs water to breathe!

7. FINAL THOUGHTS: Drink. Drink, drink, drink. Drink some more. You should be so drunk when you write that you're laughing at prepositions. That's how you write comedy.