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. 

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