The Gorgeous Mosaic Wrap-Up

Gorgeous Mosaic FlierWe had fantastic crowds* at The Peoples Improv Theater and my husband turned in excellent performances in his solo show THE GORGEOUS MOSAIC.

I have a decent video of it to share with his manager and agent. The feedback from audience members tells me that this show’s got a lot of heart along with the humor. What to do with it next is the big question. Keep it at the PIT for a regular showing? Tape it and produce a CD/DVD of it? Take it to an Off-Broadway theater? How much should we re-tool it? Is there too much standup and not enough storytelling or was it just the right blend? So many questions that I hope won’t spoil the whole thing for us.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who made it out and I hope we’ll re-stage it again soon.

*Fantastic except for the dumb drunk chick in a sparkly hat sitting in the front row talking, cheering, & texting. Why anyone who is craving attention insists on sitting in the front row of a performance is beyond me. They must know that any attention they will get will be negative right? Ugh.

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My Husband is Awesome!

JOTW Time OutThis week has been a very good one for my awesome, funny, talented husband. His new comedy album THE FUN PART debuted on SiriusXM’s comedy channel and is available for streaming or purchase on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes.

Then, last night he presented his new solo show THE GORGEOUS MOSAIC at the People’s Improv Theater about his 23 years of living in NYC. In this hour show, he talks about awful apartments to the bizarre urban dwellers and hopes to remind us why we came to the concrete jungle and, more importantly, why we stay. It’s really funny but I find it very inspiring and sweet, too.

The New York Times, Time Out New York and Village Voice all selected the solo show as something worth watching in NYC this weekend. Time Out also ran this great joke (pictured right) of Christian’s from his comedy special THE FUN PART.

Finally, check out this Q&A with Christian and The Comic’s Comic. And below are screen grabs from his special and Netflix. Good stuff all around and I’m immensely proud of how prolific he’s been!

FunPartBanner  Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 1.17.43 PM CF The Wilbur

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Thank you to my fellow storyteller and writer Julie Threlkeld for asking me to take part in this Writing Round Robin Blog Tour Thingy™. To read Julie’s response to the Writing Round Robin Blog Tour Thingy™ and to check out her other work, click here. So, here we go…

What am I working on?
Good question! If bingeing on seasons one through three of Game of Thrones so that I’m caught up and the Internet can no longer ruin it for me is “work”, then that’s what I’m working on. During my downtime (a/k/a “As the HBO Go App’s Wheel Turns”), I’m tinkering on a few things.

1) I adapted my memoir about me and My Jailed Deaf Dad into a solo show which I produced and performed a few months ago. I am giving it a tune up based on those shows. I’m re-thinking the ending mostly and trimming off the fat in other parts. Maybe I’ll enter it into a festival or keep taking it to colleges if they’ll have me.

2) I’ve got a new solo show idea in mind about my love for David Lee Roth and how he became my spiritual advisor when I was a vulnerable teenager. I’m calling it “The Book of David” or “The Gospel of David” and the show will be like attending church service but with Diamond Dave as my lord and savior. I think it could be funny, charming and, believe it or not, insightful. We’ll see. I plan to enter it into the next SoloCom or another festival for new works.

3) This summer, I’m taking a class on TV writing. I’ve got in mind a sitcom pilot but need to get some book learnin’ under my belt. I’ve never considered myself a writer and, even after banging out a memoir, still don’t. It’s not the thing that makes my motor hum the way producing and performing do. But without a script, I’ve got nothing to produce. Hence the class. It’s mostly for fun but I never thought I’d get a book deal from telling stories for fun in Ochi’s Lounge, so who knows?

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Since my work is all autobiographical –blogging, solo shows, memoir– it is uniquely mine  by default. While our stories are universal, they come from our own experiences and points of view. I’d say my POV uses sarcasm and humor to counter some of the more brutal or sad stuff. Lately, thankfully, not much has been sad…just bizarre when it comes to living in NYC, having a comedian husband and a deaf dad in a Texas prison.

Why do I write what I do?
I was given a treasure trove of material to write with the family and life experience I got. I’d be a fool not to! Also, as a hearing kid in a deaf family, I was often serving as an interpreter and told what to say and how to say it. Having a mom who hated her private business being fodder for Deaf community gossip emphasized this even more. She gave me frequent warnings of not to tell anyone –even family– about stuff. Writing about my life with no boundaries or strict rules or fear is very liberating. The truth sets you free, yada, yada, yada. I’ve considered writing fiction but it’s a bit of an enigma to me. The endless possibilities overwhelm rather than excite me. And the fiction that I’ve thought about writing is all based on true events, so…yeah.

How does my writing process work?
By deadlines. Without deadlines I do not write. Once I have a deadline, I generally meet it. I took a playwriting class last summer during which I banged out my solo show. Since the show was based on my memoir, I wasn’t writing from scratch and it should be a cinch, right? But I had no deadline looming over me to say I need this script by X date. By signing up for the class, I was able to accomplish that goal. During the thick of writing my first draft of my memoir, I spent a lot of time cleaning house. Scrubbing, washing, dusting, organizing are all ways I free my mind to wander. There’s a lot of talking to myself, acting out, crying, yelling, laughing. Saying things out loud are important, especially if done in front of an audience. So I sign up for a lot of open mike type storytelling shows and work on my pieces that way as well.

So that’s it for me. Thanks, Julie, for tagging me! Next up on the are these terrific people:

DAVID DICKERSON is a writer, humorist, video blogger, teacher, editor, storyteller, and radio performer. I vividly remember the first time I met him in Ochi’s Lounge, the space I ran in the basement of Comix. That’s how instantaneously charming, smart as a whip and nicer than most he is. David’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Story Quarterly, The Gettysburg Review, and Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. In 2009, he released his greeting card memoir, House of Cards, which is currently in development as a sitcom with USA. He is now working on his next book, a road trip/travel narrative tentatively titled Tomorrow Might Suck Less.

JENNIFER TRESS is vibrant, intelligent, has the best laugh and is one fiercely driven lady.  She’s the author of the memoir You’re Not Pretty EnoughThough the book is a collection of funny, heartfelt stories, the title story refers to something her ex-husband said to her as the reason he was having an affair (which is why, ahem, he’s her ex-husband). She is also a speaker and the founder of the Project by the same name, which is aimed at building higher self-esteem by providing a forum and discussions around beauty norms and their impact on the individual.

JENN DODD and I had the same high school drama teacher back in Texas exactly 10 years apart and now we both live in Queens. She writes more sketches and characters than anyone I know. Her solo show No Show: A One Woman Show won the Best of Studio Award at the “Out of the Loop” Fringe Festival last month and Jenn has been a finalist in the Andy Kaufmann Awards. She is a graduate of Circle in the Square Theatre School, in the cast of the off-Broadway hit The Gong Show LIVE in which she plays multiple original characters, and is a member of The Final Edition Radio Hour. You can see her live every month at the The People’s Improv Theatre where she hosts the monthly character showcase Buttski & Glasscock’s New Talent Blow Out.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

So good. So, so, so good. Neil Patrick Harris is perfection. I first learned about Hedwig when I was still a tourist traveling to the Big Apple with my Ohio theater friends. We’d pile in a van, drive to NYC to jam-pack four, sometimes five shows in three days before the drive home.

On one such trip in 1998, Hedwig and the Angry Inch was playing Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theater. Torn between which shows to see during my limited time, I decided to skip Hedwig in favor of some other big Broadway show. It was a choice I regretted as soon as I saw my friend Eileen, fresh from the show and out of her mind with enthusiastic love for it and its writer and star John Cameron Mitchell. I couldn’t tell you what I saw that night instead.

I’ve loved the music for years, singing, screaming and weeping out loud in my car to Wig in a Box, Wicked Little Town, Origin of Love.

Last night I remedied my mistake by seeing it on Broadway. It moved me. Not just Harris’ fantastic (definitely Tony Award nominated, probably winning) performance but the journey of the show from Jane Street to here and my own from a tourist to a 14-year New Yorker. The art and love of it all had me in tears a few times. And the music. God, I love the music.

Don’t make the same mistake I did in 1998. Go see it.

http://hedwigbroadway.com

NPH Hedwig

Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel Sing “Confrontation” from Les Miserables

I’m in a really bad mood, but my husband knows just how to pull me out of the spiral. He sent me a link to this! It’s a combination of my loves Neil Patrick Harris & Jason Segel singing “Confrontation” from Les Mis. The only thing that could make this better is if David Lee Roth flew across the stage wearing spandex pants carrying a boom box.*

Bad mood is now on the back burner set to simmer.

*ETA: The How I Met Your Mother series finale included Neil Patrick Harris dressed as David Lee Roth. Head exploded!

Solo Shows & Storytelling

The first time I saw the Oscar-winning movie Midnight Express was the summer I turned seven years old. The Academy Award-winning film was based on the memoir by a young American named Billy Hayes who was arrested in Turkey in 1970 during an attempt to smuggle hashish out of the country by taping it all over his body. His sentence of four years was, for various reasons, converted to a minimum of thirty years to life. For trying to smuggle pot. Crazy.

Life in a Turkish prison is pretty horrific as you can imagine, and Mr. Hayes’ story left an indelible mark on my young, impressionable mind.  The movie is rated R for violence, a gay-lite prison sex scene (hubba, hubba), tons of nudity (including full frontal male, hubba, hubba, hubba), and a prison visit masturbation scene (hubb…oh…wait…this is heart-wrenching).

Obviously, it was highly inappropriate for me to watch it. Yet I did…alone…dozens of times thanks to a summer spent at my deaf grandparents who had cable TV. This should serve as a testament to powerful storytelling that a seven-year-old kid would watch a long, quietly intense drama about a Turkish prison experience.

midnightexpressLast week, I went to see Mr. Hayes in his solo show “Riding the Midnight Express”. It’s just him and a stool and a bottle of Poland Spring followed by a Q&A and book signing. He was generous of his time and gave us his all even though it was a light crowd on a Wednesday afternoon during  a snowstorm.

He told the same story he wrote in his memoir — the memoir that Oliver Stone turned into a movie that won an Oscar. After winning, I’m sure plenty would think, “Hang up the hat, dude. You did it!”. Now, 40+ years later, Mr. Hayes is touring the world with a solo show.

This is encouraging to me as someone who is worried that I’ve squeezed all the juice from the lemons life gave me.

My memoir is almost two years old and even older to NYC alt comedy and storytelling audiences. Now, here I am on a train to Rochester to give a speech at RIT/NTID and am in the early stages of producing a solo show of me telling the same old story. Really? YUP!

So the timing of seeing Mr. Hayes could not have been more perfect. There are billions of people in the world and all but several thousand of them have never heard of me, my book, my storytelling, nothing. Add to that, that I actually have a *message* of hope and societal change to share, why would I stop now?

I’m reminded of Mike Birbiglia, too. I saw him tell him tell his Sleepwalk with Me story many times as a long stand up comedy bit about ten years ago, give or take. It progressed to long form storytelling on This American Life and, most recently, a feature film.

Like Mike, I have other stories to share and hope to not be telling the same story in 40 years, but even if I am? Fantastic. What a privilege it is to have people come out, spend their hard earned money and precious time to see me. Thank you, each and every one of you, who have given me that honor.

La Soirée Giveaway & Discount Offer

I have FOUR PAIR of tickets that I am GIVING AWAY to see La Soirée, a sexy mix of cabaret, burlesque, circus sideshow and contemporary variety. Check out this video to see what I’m talking about!

It’s in NYC for a limited engagement after winning raves and wowing audiences from Paris to Sydney. You’re not gonna want to miss it and, hey, why not see it for FREE or at a discounted price of $49?

To win FREE tickets, simply enter here. Super easy, no strings attached.
LaSoiree

THREE EASY WAYS TO GET YOUR DISCOUNTED TICKETS:

ONLINE:  Visit www.ticketmaster.com and use code LSMKT

BY PHONE: Call 1-800-982-2787 and mention code LSMKT

IN PERSON: Bring a printout of this offer (download it here) to the Union Square Theatre, 100 E. 17th St.

Performance Schedule
Tuesday – Thursday:  8:00 PM
Friday & Saturday: 7:00 & 10:00 PM
Sunday: 5:00 PM

*Offer valid on select seats and subject to availability and prior sale. Not valid on prior purchases and cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions. All sales final; no refunds or exchanges. Telephone and Internet orders are subject to standard service fees. A $1.00 theatre facility fee is included in the price of the ticket. Limit 6 tickets per order. Offer does not include 11/7. Other blackout dates may apply. Offer Expires November 27, 2013. Offer may be revoked or modified at any time.

“PURE ADRENALIN-FUELED ENTERTAINMENT AT ITS BEST.” – Time Out London

 

 

Classic NYC Week

Highlights from my classic New York week in a nutshell:

— Worked on “The Following” where I cheek-kissed Connie Nielsen about 20 times & ogled Kevin Bacon for 12 hours.

— Ran 7 blocks through crowded streets in Queens & raced up 3 flights of stairs at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts to vote in the mayoral primary with only 30 seconds to spare before polls closed. It was as intense & stressful as any chase scene in a movie. I should’ve had German techno music playing in the background.

— Finished my Playwriting I class with a 1st draft of my solo show script.

— Invited to perform on the first ever Solo Comedy Festival #SoloCom at The Peoples Improv Theater with the script from ^.

— Got into a screaming match with a cab driver.

This week I’ll work on “The Good Wife”, hang with my protégé after school & accompany Christian Finnegan to his headlining gig in Virginia Beach. No screaming matches allowed.

May Days! May Days!

I drove back to NYC for one day and making time to see my two favorite Big Apple ladies. First I’m picking up my protege Jeaniah from school to see “Jurassic Park” in 3D followed by dinner with Jenn Dodd. Then it’s off to the RUBBER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! That’s Akron, Ohio for three whole days. I’m so excited to perform in my friend Eileen Moushey‘s play alongside some of my dearest, funniest, funnest acting buddies for the first time in about 15 years.

Then it’s a jaunt to Philly to perform 1812 Productions storytelling show raising money for Women Against Violence before I head back to NYC to see my buddy H. Alan Scott & take him to record an interview with Chemda Katg. Follow that up with another week at our cabin, throw in a 5K race, an appearance at the SouthCarolina Book Festival, a 10K race and another date with my protege and holy, wow…

May: I love you already!