Wednesday, December 30, 2015


I just created a new show. I started about 2 months ago.

It was not enough time. Then again, there is never enough time, and you can never start too early, and maybe you can never start too late. No, you can definitely start too late. I started a little too late, but it could've been way worse, and for that I am thankful.

My character is pretty seasoned. Not Don-Rickles-seasoned, but almost a decade in. Still love it and feel like it's home. My friend Emily "High-Kicks" Newton said it best. "I used to think playing a character was hiding yourself. But it's actually revealing yourself."

I still feel like that about Butt. So I thought, what the hell. Throw up a goddamn Xmas show. I hate Xmas. Butt hates Xmas. We both love to hate Xmas. What a great way to get through the holidays.

Except it was utter, utter hell. It was unspeakably, ridiculously un-pleasurable. Nothing is a bigger gift than having the opportunity and luxury to create a show, and yet I could not take proper pleasure in it because I was so nervous. Just a few sips too many on the cappuccino and I would go NUUUUUUTS. I'm not capable of doing this. I'm lazy. I don't have what it takes. It can't be done. It won't be done. Those who love me now will see it and instantly love me less, and it will signify the start of my decline as an artist and human.

I have now performed this new show, publicly, three times so far, twice for paying audience members. I am feeling slightly better about it. Here are the things that got me through:

1) I HAD GREAT OUTSIDE EYES. I worked with Chloe Ziner (Mind of a Snail) in Vancouver and Ember Knight of Webo Bagdad in Los Angeles. They are very different. Chloe is a shadow puppeteer, jammer, clown, bespectacled, jazzy Western Canadian. Ember is a punk rock voice-of-a-generation comedy-scholar. Both are extremely snappy dressers. Both are extremely supportive, great story-see-ers—they both have specific, clear eyes and pure hearts. They are both coming at the work totally selflessly and in the service of the truth. I am very lucky to work with both of them.

3) I USED VIDEO. Don't get me wrong; I also fucked up using video. One of my first breakthrough rehearsals, I thought I was recording, I was not recording. Nonetheless, I prevailed, and video did happen several times in the process, and it helped me support Chloe and Ember in outside-eyeing me.

4) I BREATHED. I did breathing meditation. Breathing meditation is so far the only one I can really do, and it's life-changingly good. I do it lying on the floor of my dressing room covered in a coat, listening to a guided meditation on my phone. My first night in Bellingham, I would have lost my shit entirely if it weren't for the breathing meditation.

5) I'VE ALSO DISCOVERED THIS THING CALLED TRE. Tension and Trauma Release Exercise. Pretty simple. Just make yourself convulsively shake from your core. It's pretty much like giving yourself a massage from the inside. I might have to get certified in this shit; it's like that. That helped a lot too.

6) SELF-CARE BITCHES. This is a shout out to all my gurlz. This is to all the little gurlz out there with dreams, and enough pluck and spunk to make it happen. We work hard! You hear that voice in your head that keeps screamin, 'yer lazy'? Well, you're probably not. In a few cases, sure, maybe you are. But mostly you're just hard on yourself. Give yourself a goddamn bath. Put nice oil on. Juice, for godsake. Juice.

You're going to get it done. Lookit me. When all's said and finished, I put on a show, and nobody walked out. Granted, they're very nice in Bellingham. And for the LA show, I gave them all mulled wine and cheesesticks. But still, bitches. I got it done.

And I learned a lot. I begin to feel the momentum of the thing, and the spine of the show becomes a dragon that I am just learning how to ride, and it's fun, now that I'm up here, and feel less afraid. Okay, cool. Now comes the more fun part, the editing and sculpting and discovering part. Okay, cool. Not so bad anymore. Could be okay. Could be fun.

It's not always pretty, but you can get it done. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015


hey Deanna I had an idea of something you might share on the blog. It's something that really inspired me from watching you this summer - specifically how you have never given up on Butt and persevered through the many iterations the concept had gone through, including all the times when it must have felt at a dead end. I have found it so difficult to find where to go with something once created and after the initial success or failure. Kinda like once something is created and a little bit established as itself there's a wasteland of what to do next. Maybe this is something only I feel but I think it happens to a lot of creators, losing momentum or confidence in the initial spark. Anyway I thought I'd suggest it since I don't think anyone talks about it.

I take requests for this blog. This one comes from my friend Jonathan.

Jonathan and I met when I had just found Butt Kapinski, about 9 years ago. I found Butt on a street corner in New York City. I was wearing my trenchcoat, as I did, because I was a big noir freak, and I said out loud, "It wath a dawk thtweet," invoking the speech impediments I had as a child, the ones my family continued to pull out whenever anyone wanted to say something funny. And as soon as I did it, I literally felt like YES! THIS! I'VE GOT IT!

I brought it to the clown class I was in at the time. I was so excited. The teacher watched with a furrowed brow, and then said, "Hmm. I don't think it's Clown." Over the years I've replayed that moment many times, and thought about all the things I wish I'd said to that teacher. But then I just say fuck it and have a bath.

Last summer, I got one particularly lame review in Edinburgh, from a "legitimate" theatre reviewer. One of his critiques was that I "leaned heavily on the audience for laughs." My whole thing is audience inclusion. I set audience members up to get laughs for the funny and awesome things they say and do. So this reviewer was 100% right that I was doing that, but he just didn't happen to think that it was a cool thing to do. Or, you know how that old saying goes: Hmm, I don't think it's Clown.

The point is, Jonathan, that every step of the way, there are stupid obstacles and critiques and bullshit. And if what you are doing is what you MUST do, you will not give a good goddamn what anybody says. You just won't. And if you find yourself listening to the I-Don't-Think-It's-Clown's (or IDTIC's) of the world, then probably you don't love your thing enough.

I don't feel like I'm helping. I think that building a character or a show takes a lot of single-mindedness and the kind of crazy commitment that feels deep and instinctual, like parenting. And if you don't have that feeling for a project, you don't have it. And if you do have it, then it isn't about "persevering." You don't even notice you are persevering. You're just doing what needs to be done.

That said, there are very few people who go it alone. Most shows and projects need an outside eye, or a team, folks to helm the ship, and push through those moments of IDTIC. Because we all have moments of doubt.

And here's another crazy thing I've noticed: put money into a thing, and you'll stick with it. I've started a few projects with friends, you know, just messing around, and they've all died in the water. Put your cold hard cash where your art is, and it'll be less easy to let go of.

So that's my solution to your dilemma, Jonathan: cash and craziness. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015


So, to be 100% honest with you, when I'm in LA I give workshops in my bedroom.

It is a very big room. It isn't exactly my bedroom. My bedroom has archway, an entrance, in the middle of it, so there's one room that is my actual bedroom: it has my bed and dresser and dentist lamp, and during the workshops, chairs and one big exercise ball.

(Just for the record, I recommend sitting on balls when one needs to sit. In my next workshop all of my students will sit on exercise balls when they have to sit, and they will bounce whenever they want to).

The "studio" part of the bedroom is empty except for wood floor, big mirror and a few lamps for lighting. It is about 8x10, not a huge playing area, but some comedy stages are way smaller.

Most of my workshops there have been 6-ish. Last night I started a new 4.

Don't get me wrong, the teacher-phallus in me wants BIG CLASSES with lots of Students Giving me that Big Phat Cash. But fuck that teacher-phallus, you know? I teach big enough classes elsewhere. Big classes are great for being able to work out your shit in front of something that feels more like an audience. But in terms of training the subtleties of your audience dynamics, small classes are the thing. Because each audience member counts so goddamn much. There are only 4 people watching you, goddammit, and if they're not at least having a good time then what the fuck are you doing in this art form? Of course everyone can make 4 people laugh, right?

Total wrong. It's a different way of working. It's hard; it's a rich starting place. There's way more elasticity between you and specific other people. It is an intense community (might I add, in my bedroom, not exactly, but kind of). If you are one with an intense community like that, and give back to it and nurture it in the Naked Comedy way, you will be able to create that dynamic in every room you're in. Guess what, YOU'll bring the nakedness, the community, the bedroom, the dream of intimacy among strangers united in love and laughter. Every room will drool over you. It's good to work this way.

And it's good to work this way as a facilitator. I get to really fine tune. I can work with one student on developing his physical instrument, and another on forgiving her audience, and another on finding bolder choices, and another on exploring her inner disgustingness, all in the same class. We need this kind of super-specific, tailor-made pedagogy, each of us, like the small child in the educational model of Enlightenment philosophe Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who walks arm in arm with his tutor in the woods, touching all the flora. It is a fierce wild thing, this comedy beast, and the closer knit our knights can be, the better we can all conquer and ride it into the sunset. Or at least onto Sunset. It's nice to be in LA, for a minute.