Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Sometimes as a working artist, you have a meeting with an Industry Person. This is someone whose job is to buy the work of performing artists. There are plenty of nice ones, so I'm not knocking them per se. Without fail, though, they always ask this question:

"What's next for you?"

They want to know what your next project is, what your next show will be, the next direction for your work. Why do they always ask this? Probably a few reasons. Not being an Industry Person, I have to hazard guesses.

Perhaps one reason is to take the pressure off the work you are currently trying to sell them. Maybe Industry Person feels the truth of things: that selling one's performance work is stressful and it's a buyer's market and that sucks because that's a lot of pressure pressing down on something that just wants to flutter and breathe and be. Maybe the conversation got heavy and the Industry Person likes it light. So they try to focus on the future, hoping it's less confronting to talk about than your current present.

Also, they probably want to know if your next product is something they might want to buy. Either in addition to or instead of what you're currently offering.

Hey, who can blame them? Industry People want what we all want: good working relationships with colleagues. When they find someone who meets the basic requirements for Good Colleague—you answer emails, you can spell, you treat them courteously no matter what's going on in your life—they want to know if they can continue to have a working relationship with you. It's way easier than trying to find someone else who is courteous and can spell. They want the nice option they already know.

The problem is only for us, the artists. Frankly, thinking about our commercial viability, thinking about our work as a series of products, well, it might just kill what we do—kill it dead.

Here's an example I can think of: um, myself! I came up with a good show. It's cheap (solo, with minimal baggage), innovative, and fun. It's led to a lot of touring and performing opportunities all over the place. I did one good one! I win! But of course you never win. The thing is, that might be the only show I've got in me. Seriously. I mean, maybe, at least. I definitely might not have another solo show in me—see every blog post I've ever written about how fricking lonely solo-touring can be. These days I'm focusing more on teaching, exploring local performance opportunities, writing. I've also become way more interested in interactive experience design, escape rooms and games. All of this boils down to me not being able to tell an Industry Person What's Next.

This is what I tend to say: "You know, I still really love doing this character and this show—it still feels really fresh to me, and although I'm interested in a lot of different things, I don't actually know what's next."

Sure, it feels momentarily bad, when you realize that you might not be a viable product, that you may not be an Industry Person's best bet for those long-term relationships, that if you don't have a What's Next, in their eyes, you barely have a What's Now.

But we have to honor where we are, and what the Muses have already given us. We can't get too greedy in this life. We don't have to apply capitalist principles to our art-making, just because other people do. Just because it feels gratifying to our capitalist veins, our capitalist capillaries, to have those moments of capitalist blood beating through the body UNHHHH, SOMEBODY'S PAYING ME MONEY FOR MY ART UNNNHHHHH. Yeah, it's fricking awesome. Does it mean you need to think of yourself as a product farting out products on somebody else's idea of a schedule? Yeah, have fun with that. You see what happened to Season 3 of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" (and if you haven't seen, for satan's sake DON'T WATCH SEASON 3). You see what happens to every artist who has to crank shit out on the regular. Art does not respond to factory conditions. I mean, neither do people, once we start really going for this train of thought. But seriously.

Maybe it's fine to not know what's next. I'm not saying it's fine, like, you'll still get Industry People to return your emails. Most of the time, I have no idea how to get Industry People to return my emails. They do when they want to, they don't when they don't.

I'm saying it's fine like you're still probably a worthwhile artist, even if you don't have another Insert- Artform-Here all ready to pitch. You've made something valuable that gave you and a lot of other people joy. Once in a while, in your dark nights—with the unknown unfolding in front of you, like a ribbon from a future birthday party for a friend you don't yet know—focus fully on what you've already done, and let it surround you, and just sometimes, let it be enough.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Soooooo back in the olden days, right, there was a King, and there was a Jester. The King was a man, and he was the Establishment, the Power, and all the patriarchal Patriarchy you can shake a patrician pater at. And the Jester was also a man, but he was a little man, relatively speaking. He was not the Power, he was the "fool"—and in the fool we see all the important stuff that makes up clowning: high ridiculousness, physicality, willingness to be the joke, willingness to subvert, mock or at least hold a lil' mirror up to the King so that he can see himself. The fool is Humanity: an embodied reminder that the human experience is about more than Civilization and Hierarchy. It is about the madness and glory of just being alive and going through this ridiculous shit called Life!

All amazing shit, and pretty wrong-headed that it's in the "disempowered" figure that all the truest lessons live. But that's the patriarchy for ya. I'm wondering, though, if maybe I can keep the patriarchy offa my clown for a minute.

I'm going to use the word "clown" in this blog entry, even though I try not to use it in mixed company. We're among friends, right? We'll define "clown" as the comedy realm which is without a fourth wall and rooted in vulnerability. And we'll try to go back to Never Using The Word Clown directly after.

In my clown world, I hear the word "stupid" a lot. Clowns call each other "stupid" as a compliment, a signal that a clown is really in the zone, really being human. I hear myself using it too. It's useful; so much comedy is trying soooo hard to be clever. When you see the opposite of that kind of cerebral comedy—body comedy, heart comedy—maybe you have to call it stupid, just to signify the refreshing contrast.

Nonetheless, "Stupid" or "Idiot" never really felt good to me personally. My particular frequency of clown has never been activated by the idea of being a stupid idiot. If I may speak of "my clown" for a moment, ahem ahem, my clown is brilliant, my clown is a mastermind, my clown has lots of determination, my clown will get it done, my clown cannot get it done because the world, man, but hey, my clown abides.

And I've been wondering about that idea of calling on the clown to be stupid—whether it's really a call from one man to another to be anti-patriarchal, to do the anti-male thing and be vulnerable, and fail, and be loved. But here I've been womaning along my whole life and nobody needed to tell me to do all that, or rather, that's what everyone and everything has told me to do all the time. And so to call my clown stupid might be, essentially, in this fucked-up world, maybe a little fucking redundant.

I get activated by words and phrases like Ferocious! Monster! Killin it! Wipin the floor with it! Destroying it! Slayer! Who's a slayer?! You're a slayer, you big slayer! Triumph! Conquest! Roarrrrr!
Big fierce words make me want to get out there and really go for it. Of course I'm still gonna be vulnerable, that's a given. I'm so vulnerable maybe don't call my clown stupid to my face. Maybe that's some locker room talk, some macho shit, maybe some other clowns need that, and I need something else.

And yet, I get that it totally still makes sense to talk about the clown being stupid or an idiot. If only because you're in comedy class, or comedy circles, and those cultures should be funny, and sure you can say "oh, that clown is so HUMAN, so VULNERABLE", but it's not as funny a thing to say as "That's fucking stupid, amiright. That person's an idiot."

So I'm just asking the question. Answer it as you like.  

Friday, November 3, 2017


My first love was a senior when I was a sophomore, and he was really good at Model U.N. He was already in Early Decision to a good college, and he wooed me with elaborately constructed mix tapes and slyly effusive notes done in cursive and colored pencil, and the kind of banter I had only dreamed about and watched on Moonlighting. He introduced me to Elvis Costello and Woody Allen—I mean, my teenage heroes. He had a girlfriend at another school, which was confusing for me—actually, really shitty and confusing—but he was my first love and I didn't know any better. He would take me out and cuddle me and hold my hand but never more. And after months of this, when I was like, what the eff—he cut it off, sort of, but kinda also led me on for maybe another 5 years. It was a bad first love, frankly—and it was made worse because the music and movies he turned me on to became my music and my movies. So it was hard to get rid of him, without that lingering feeling of gratitude which can sometimes be confused for everlasting love.

Elvis Costello, Woody Allen, David Lynch, Philip Roth, Raymond Chandler... I look at these artists who shaped my voice, who helped me understand my voice, my anger, my funny, my clown, my me, and they're pretty much all woman-hating assholes. I remember reading an interview with Elvis Costello when I was 16: "People look at my lyrics and they think, He's a misogynist. But I love women! Honestly." What could be a more misogynist answer than that? Even then I knew, I guess, but what could I do?

That's what I grew up on, artistically: I grew up sucking on the woman-hating teat of angry white male artists. I grew up forming my artistic anger, my existential rage, coloring in the outlines that they had drawn for me—a world in which, frankly, women suck, and men suck too, but maybe not as much or not as cleverly, not as indelibly. My artistic inspirations flowered in the soil of a white male ecosystem, a white male eye.

And sometimes a moment comes along—when you re-read the interview, or you really see the teacher you've learned so much from, or the man you thought you could trust—suddenly you really see them and they are so small and broken—and you realize, whoa, have I been conditioned to see these guys as mentors and leaders my whole life, has my entire being shaped itself around the worship of these flawed, flawed little boys....

And then #metoo doesn't feel enough, because to say #metoo is to say that it happened to me, when what I feel is that, along with and worse than that, it happened inside me, from age 15 and long before, when the art inside me joined with what I thought was the Divine Truth of the art of all of my influences—their words and music promised liberty to me. My soul thought it married a fellow victim-saint, and it really married a perpetrator. And to see that both that liberty and that sainthood are so tainted, to feel how rotten they are—how rotten I am...

That's the problem. That's the moment when you wonder why you didn't stick with the Indigo Girls and Jeanette Winterson. You wonder what was it inside you that picked the wrong men, in literature, in record stores, in life. Or were there ever any right men to pick? I picked men who echoed my sense of powerlessness and anger and urge for personal freedom, men who all would screwed me over had I known them personally, and the ones whom I did, did.

And in those moments when you see them for what they are, sure, it is a growing time, it is a good time to transform and spend more time listening to Bonnie Raitt and reading Zora Neale Hurston. Sure. But in those moments when you long for your past, for those teenage moments in which you fell in love with music and books and movies, and for that matter, men, you realize that those moments are kinda gone for you. And all the little Harveys inside of you don't have a home anymore, but stagger around, lost, plucking at their little-boy suspenders and wondering whom they matter to anymore.

I think it's probably different now, for other women artists. Or it must be. Soon. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017


There's never a bad time to tell everyone you know that you live with depression. They all live with that shit too.

It is, of course, a question of degrees, and a question of how we manage it. Some of us manage it way better than others. I have had times in my life of not managing at all. In my late teens and early 20's, depression ate my soul. It wanted my body, too, but I didn't let it have it.

DEPRESSION is a terrific word. It really does capture the experience of having an elephant sitting on your life force. Maybe nothing so cute as an elephant. But something big and heavy is pressing you down, and you don't feel like you are even in there anymore, really. You've been pressed away.

I've been lucky, in that meds and therapy worked when things were very bad, and now, exercise and breathing and mindfulness do a pretty good job keeping the elephant cute and manageably-sized. Sometimes when I'm running on the treadmill and a particularly inspirational 80's pop hit comes on I run even faster and my blood beats in my brain: I'm alive, I made it, I got through and I do it and I do it for that little back-in-the-day Me who didn't know if she was going to get through. I run and run for her.

Unsurprisingly, or maybe surprisingly, but probably not, working as a performer can bring a lot of dark shit right back to you. I don't exactly understand the brain chemistry of it, but I have theories. The kind of performing I do seems to cause a big rush of chemicals to flow through me, so that, afterwards, I'm high as a skyscraper off my own brain. But the next day, especially a few hours before my next show, it's like the skyscraper was never there.

At first, I don't think I really understood what a weird cycle I was on. Showbiz! my mind said, and I went on drinking coffee, eating sugar, checking my email in bed and doing whatever-the-fuck.

I keep a show journal. I journal before each show, done it for years. I started it to clarify my thoughts, get my head in the game, write out any new jokes, priorities for the show, but then I started to notice that entry after entry started with something similar to I don't want to be here/ I don't want to do this show/ I'm so unhappy. After flipping through pages and pages of this garbage, I thought, what the shit?

The shit seems to be that my brain goes through a cycle of some kind of pre-show depression and post-show euphoria. Nowadays I think of my brain as cleaning house to make way for the post-show chemical party. But it took at least a year or two of journalling for me to really see the pattern. And of course, now that I've seen it, the mood swings are less dramatic. The euphoria is less, sure, a little, but that's fine, it was kinda crazy in there anyway. And the depression is less. That is the most exciting thing.

Here I am at the Edinburgh Fringe again. Last time I was here, two years ago, it was hard, mood-swing-wise. I didn't feel in control of the chemicals in my brain. But I've done a few of these big long festivals now. It's all about self-care and exercise and journalling and rest. Does that make me boring and uncool? Of course it does! Does it make me sane in my brain? Yes, it does that too!

And I run. I run for the Me who couldn't run. Then I get up in front of people and we hit the highs and lows together. We do it for those who can't. We all do it for those who can't. We run for everyone.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


When we’re kids, we have far fewer choices. Being a kid means that you have to spend your time filling workbook sheet after workbook sheet with polynomial solutions. It means you have to listen to someone talk at length about the economy of Finland. Sometimes it means canned peas. It means you have to endure things that you didn’t choose.

When we grow up, hopefully, we get a lot more choices about what we want and don’t want to endure. And yet, when it’s time to sit in an audience and watch a show, sometimes we end up feeling like we’re twelve and it’s Fish-Hatcheries-In-Helsinki all over again. 

Sometimes, not liking a show can make us mad, with all the madness of years of a child’s lack of power. We wish we were the kind of douchebag to unwrap a candy or let a cellphone ring. We want something to happen! We don’t want to watch the show anymore! We scan the room for life, everyone seems glazed over, wanting to be somewhere else——we become filled with righteous indignation. Especially if we, too, are artists. We take it personally. 

I have taken some shit personally in my life. I spent the early aughts in New York City being furious at the improv comedy scene there. Seriously, I was so mad. Who was I mad at? No one, of course. Nobody did anything to me. But I bristled against most of the art that I saw. And then I went off and got pregnant with that anger and birthed an art baby that’s pretty interesting to me, and in general, I like the artistic path I’m on. And actually, I credit my anger, or at least, I give it its due as a shaping force for my child-artist soul as it tried and still tries to figure out what it wants. 

But I wish someone had told me then that I could calm the fuck down and let some of that anger go. Or that it was okay, that it would all lead somewhere. 

Anger, as they say, can be healthy. If you are not a Angry-all-the-time person, that is. It is healthy to have feelings, to allow yourself to have feelings, even when they aren’t cute and cuddly feelings. And it’s good to be passionate about things! Look at you, having strong opinions! That means you’re alive! That means you’re invested! That means you’re not passively receiving your experiences like a defeated automaton, not you! You’re engaged with life! Go on!

The downsides of artistic anger, however, are many. Your anger is so personal that it really feels like the artists responsible did something to you.  You see them at a party and avoid them. You act like they stood you up for coffee. Douchebag! your heart cries silently, to your own childhood, to the world, to no one. 

It wasn't fun, but watching improv comedy for years that made me mad made me better. It put me on a path of clarifying what’s important to me on stage, and getting better at delivering it when it’s my turn to get up there. The artists who anger us, for whatever reason, do not deserve our personal animosity; they’ve done nothing to us directly. They’ve opened a dialogue between us and ourselves about who we are and what we like. And this is a blessed thing.

These days, when I’m watching something that doesn’t tickle my taste, I “play at home,” to quote a friend. I consider the possibilities for revision, reconstruction, improvement, enlightenment. I can practice my art from right there in my seat. 

Of course, it’s still your time, and your time is valuable. You’re right: some people shouldn’t be charging us money to watch them do their art. I know. But geez: some people charge us money so they can build weapons of mass destruction. You paid twelve bucks to watch garbage that isn’t hurting anyone? You lucky puppy. 

We have to have so much gratitude for artists of all types!
Thank you and may Satan bless you, everyone, for sucking and not sucking, all! 

Friday, June 30, 2017


I once paid a lot of money to spend a month in France studying clown and bouffon with a master teacher. I'll call him Riffippe Shmaulier. I spent the month crying. I mean, I was in an adorable little town outside of Paris, living in an adorable little flat and eating the best cheese and pastries, so it wasn't that bad. But considering all the money I had shelled out to work on my craft, it was pretty shitty. 

The second-to-last day of class, Master Shmaulier had a former graduate in to assistant teach, kinda. The assistant had us do some martial arts stuff to warm up, cool. Then, when class started and it was my turn to stagger out on stage, terrified as usual, something different happened. The assistant sidecoached me. Not a lot, you know, but he fucking gave me a clue what to do. He gesticulated with his face and body—for a few seconds—to indicate that I should give more, now, a lot, right away. Ohhhh my brain and body said. So then I did that, and I killed the room. Just like that. After almost a month of total failure, one little note changed the game. And I killed the next day too, because a teacher had—oh how shall I put it—taught.

A few years ago, I took a 5-day physical theatre workshop. I flew across country to do it. I was excited about it, the teacher was well-known and respected, I looked forward to a lot of learning. And I definitely learned some stuff; it wasn't all about crying that time, at least. But my first three days, I wasn't "doing it right." I wasn't succeeding on stage. I knew that I wasn't, but I didn't know why. Finally, at the end of Day 3, I asked my teacher point-blank for some feedback, and the teacher gave it. OHHHHHH said my soul. Then I totally got it and found success. But if I had gotten that feedback on Day 1, how much further could I have progressed?

My point here is, there is a philosophy among many performance teachers that you should wallow in your own shit, or, figure it out for yourself. Some of these teachers are just lazy teachers whom nobody taught to be a teacher and they don't want to be a teacher anyway; they want to be on The Daily Show but here they are being a teacher and you are stuck trying to learn from them. They don't give you personal feedback because that would involve them having to think about your feelings and what would best land on you, and they can't do that because their brain is a punchline in the monologue of a late night talk show host, and their heart is a spec script. 

But we’re not even talking about those teachers. 

We’re talking about teachers who actually care about teaching—and when those teachers are letting you figure it out for yourself, as their pedagogic method, in a short-term workshop environment—that seems especially too bad. 

And, actually, what is really wrong here is Time. These master teachers probably came up in a time, and spent a lot of time, figuring it out for themselves. They probably had, what, at least 2 years to wave long sticks around in a dance studio and find themselves. It must have been great. It's amazing to have the luxury to discover success from within. 

But I don't know that many people nowadays who can afford to spend two years with long sticks in dance studios—AND I'M NOT KNOCKING THOSE LONG STICKS. I love those sticks. I carried those sticks all through college. I gave a graduation speech about those sticks!

I'm just saying, a lot of people don't have two years or even six months. A lot of people have a night, a weekend, a week, maybe sometimes a month. Metaphorically speaking, they have a twig or a branch, not the whole freaking stick. 

It is your teacher's job to make sure some learning gets done no matter how long the class is. Teaching means more than disseminating information. It means giving each student feedback on how it looks like they are incorporating that information. No matter if the class is three hours or three years. Feedback is what makes people get better at things. 

And of course there is such a thing as too much feedback. It is a balance. We want to keep our classes moving, plus there's only so much a student can absorb at once. But we can keep our students on i.v. drips of personal feedback, all the time. 

Once I feel like I see enough of a student to get a sense, I set a little personal goal for them in my mind. If they can get this, or, at the very least, hear this, at the end of our time together, cool. And everyone's got a different little goal. And each student might have their own goal that is independent of the goal you have for them. And all of that is good.

But none of it is wallowing in shit. 

We have no time left to wallow. Not everyone gets a long stick in this lifetime. 
But everyone deserves a little wood. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Imagine the biggest bed you've ever seen, a California King next to a California King next to a California King and so on and so on. It looks amazing, this bed, you've never been in a bed so expansive—a field of daisies and clouds for you to rest upon, an endless relaxing silken desert of dreams. Why wouldn't you get into this bed? You deserve it, right? Of course you do! 

Just watch yourself. Because once you start climbing into this bed, the edges blur and disappear, and then it's just you and bed and bed and you, for all eternity. You may never get out, and no one else may ever get in.

Consider deeply before you make a solo show. 

What is it about solo shows? A shit-ton of performing artists either have one or want to make one. I  see it in their eyes when they come up to me after a show. 
Oh I have an idea for a solo show... 
oh there's this SOLO SHOW I want to make...
Wow... you have a solo show, I WANT A SOLO SHOW...


Is it the obvious financial advantage of not having to split your potentially-paltry monetary compensation? Is it the ease of not having to work around anyone else's life choices but your own? Is it some sort of marker of total success—if you can get 'em to stand up just for you, then you're REALLY THAT GOOD and maybe the WHOLE WORLD WILL WAKE UP AND SEE YOU FOR THE MESSIAH OF PERFORMANCE THAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS SECRETLY KNOWN YOU ARE... 

Those are all reasons why I made a solo show. Here's another one: ever since I was first getting on stage as a little kid, I have always felt more connected to the audience than whomever I was on stage with. There have been moments where I felt connected to a fellow performer, certainly, but for whatever reason, I have always felt some sort of film around myself when I'm on stage, a thin filmy membrane that feels like it is directly flowing into the audience's membrane, like we're in the membrane together... we vibrate together, the audience and me, and thus forms a weird gelatinous force field that prevents me from feeling something as deep with other people on stage, because I don't need it somehow, because when it's me and them I'm already whole...

How did that filmy membrane develop? Who knows. All sorts of ways. It could be a pathology or a virtue or none of the above. But it's for sure that filmy membrane that really propelled me to go it alone, and still does, more than the finances or the convenience or the imagined glory. 

Do not misunderstand me. It is profoundly lonely. It is, possibly, unsustainably lonely. If we are thinking of the Artist Life as a marathon and not a race, it may not be the right call in the long run. Difficult to say. 

It's worth considering deeply what your reasons are for making solo work, and understanding what the bad parts are going to be upfront. 

Here are the bad parts, bullet-numbered for your ease of reference:

  • You're alone.
  • You're alone.
  • There's no one else.
  • There's just you.
  • It's lonely.
  • It's isolating.
  • Do you hear me? Total Solitude. 
  • And no one else will really understand, not really. Other solo artists, sure, but they are so busy with their own bullshit that they don't have time or energy to absorb yours. You're on your own.
  • You're by yourself. 
  • Is anyone else there? Anyone at all? NO! 
  • Just you!
  • Do you get what I'm saying?
  • ALONE! 

And yet, maybe it's going to be great! I have great experiences all the time. 

You know what's great? That feeling after a show that has gone well. It is the closest I have ever come to utter peace. It's better than a day at the Korean spa. It's the absolute best. You're high on life and nothing at all. You're utterly centered. 

Maybe you're wandering around in a park you find near the venue, because you're too jazzed to go home but there's nowhere else to go, so you just wander around this park in the dark and the drizzle and you watch the city lights twinkling not so far away, and in the park there are some young men playing some sort of role-playing tag-game with their phones, and you think that's cute, and you eat the two chocolate turtles that an audience member gave you, and you don't need a thing, no-thing, not one thing. You are complete and you are with the world and the world is with you and you're not lonely in the least because you are with everyone.

But technically speaking, let's be honest, you're still by yourself. 

My opinion is always the same, when it comes to figuring out if anything performance-related is going to work for you. Build a 10-minute solo piece and perform it a lot and decide if you love it so much you wanna marry it. Because that is the only reason to make a full-length solo show. You gotta be willing to marry yourself over and over and over again. Does that sound nice to you? Have at it. 

Consider your options, that's all I'm saying.

If you actually like performing with others, if you feel unity on stage with others, then for satan's sake go with that. Go with it despite your ego's calls for more attention. If you feel really good and connected on stage with other people, you will probably prefer that to solo performing, and the audience will probably prefer you that way as well. 

More people make solo shows than should. That's okay. Just the same, does the world really need your solo show? Do you need it? Just think about it, that's all I'm saying. 

Once you get into that big empty bed, there's no guarantee you're ever coming out. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Accidents make me proudest. Of course, accidents shouldn't make me proud because they are, after all, accidents. So maybe pride isn't the emotion. Gratitude. Accidents make me feel gratitude. But I'm proud of my gratitude for those accidents. All very non-Buddhist, probably, but anyway.

Regardless, lately I've been feeling especial pride about a part in my show. It came from a rehearsal, years ago, back in the Early Years of Butt Kapinski. I was trying to make sure the people watching the rehearsal understood what I was saying, and I asked them if they were clear, but because of Butt's speech impediments, it came out as "queer." And it was funny, but it also ended up being incredibly important thematically, as the show developed to be queer, the character is queer, the audience is queered.

So at every show there's a moment early on when I ask the audience, Is everyone clear (queer)? And I wait for everyone's delightfully-multilayered affirmation that yes, they are clear, and also, yes, in a way, they are queer, or willing to be for the course of the show.

It's not unusual that someone pipes up at that point and says they're not queer. It feels defensive, but not necessarily aggressively so, just testing. So I clarify for that person that I'm really making sure that they are CLEAR, as in, comprehending what is going on (but yes, it still comes out like "queer"). And at that point, they tend to give in (or on rare occasions, realize that this is the wrong show for them, and duck out, god bless).

Lately I've been thinking a lot about consent, and I realized recently that the reason why I love that Is everyone queer moment so much, and why I'm so grateful I accidentally found it so many years ago, is because that is a moment that seems to get consent from the audience. It's not conscious on their part, necessarily, but I do think this moment is one of the reasons why everyone gamely plays along. They just feel asked, somehow. And they feel like they've said "yes."

Now, just because they've said that they're "queer" does not mean that they have given consent to do the other crazy things that I ask audience members to do. They have not agreed, in that moment, to hit or kiss me, to sit on other audience members, and so on. I have to get consent for those things too.

That's more complicated. That's about sensing, hinting, approaching with caution. If you're paying attention, you can tell who's up for it. There are those who are sitting there looking delighted, those people are definitely up for it, and maybe too up for it, depending on what you need from them. There are those who are really focused on you, you can feel their intense level of presence with you, those people are up for it too, but they may not be as crazy-from-the-word-go as the first category. Sometimes this second group is the best group, because their level of playing along is a bigger surprise. Then there are those who are kind of with you. They might give you what you want, but they're more of a gamble. And of course there are all the shades in between these groups. Audience members are individuals. I have to treat them as such.

"You also get away with doing what you do because you're a woman," a male comedian friend once said to me. "I'm so jealous of you because of all the things you can do to audience members that I can't."

And he's right about that! Ha ha ha, patriarchy! When it comes to getting away with unbelievable levels of audience interaction, female performers can wipe the floor with their male counterparts! We win in this arena, girls! Centuries of being oppressed has made it far easier for us to dominate our audience members and have them like it! It was all worth it, after all!

But really, it's also about the fact that if there's one thing I would like to believe I do, I pay attention to my audience members. It is the most important thing I do. It is the most political thing I do. It is the only way I can combat the gazillion performers who have given audience inclusion a bad name with their tiny-ego-inspired abuse, their wah-why-aren't-you-laughing-audience-it's-your-fault, their conception of their audiences as authorities to be undermined. It's not that way anymore, bros! Your audience is not your parents who didn't love you enough! Your audience wants to be your friend, and you who bulldoze and energetically-assault because you think it doesn't matter or because you think it makes you a big man, you scar audiences for the rest of us. You make them all afraid when they don't have to be. 

It's not just a gender thing (even though it often is). A woman could still be a bulldozer, hypothetically. It's just that she usually isn't. Because consent is something a bitch knows in her bones. So female performers do tend to naturally be more gentle in this way. And men can be subtle if they want to. I've seen plenty of that. They can't do all the things that a woman might be able to do, true, but they can dance along that spectrum, they can flirt with the same boundaries. They just have to be cautious motherfuckers. In this and all things, dudes!

There is a mistaken assumption among some performers who interact with the audience that by buying a ticket and sitting down, audience members have given consent. But they fucking haven't. They agreed to sit down and passively absorb entertainment and clap at the end. They did not give consent to be hauled up on stage or to be made fun of or to any way be a part of your show. That's not to say they won't, I'm just saying, they haven't yet.

There are loads of ways to get consent, right?

Just get it, that's all I'm saying.