How I Spent My Summer...Improv Playhouse

I've had the opportunity this summer to direct the film camp program at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. This job provided endless rewards, one of which is the movie I'm linking below. I was not given any structure other than that we had to "make some movies" which was great because it meant I could teach a class all my own. 

We had to make something from nothing, so I drew on my experience directing improv in college. This meant fostering specific ways of thinking: fearlessness in ideas, justification of craziness, A to C thinking. Picasso said that children are the real geniuses and he's right, they have the raw creativity buzzing around to make something truly unique and fiery. Rival food stands, a communist bully, a tomato being eaten by a pizza, the kids' ideas all came from such a fun part of the brain. All I asked was that they justify that crazy. The fun so often came from making it all make sense, giving it intent.  

We had limited resources so we used cardboard to make bees wings, bags to make hats, and paper and markers to make cop uniforms. This kind of resourcefulness gave each movie its own honest charm. Some of it made me really feel like a big kid again.

I taught 4 different classes at two week spurts. Here's one movie from my final class. The idea is that Trump hates Shrek so then the Church of Shrek, well...you'll see. The Lynchian dream sequence. Oh man. Enjoy! 

Working with the NEW COLONY...a dream come true!

Well it's been announced from Broadway World! So now I can finally share that I've been cast to play Bill Nutting, the brassy 1970s tycoon, in the new play MERGE produced by the New Colony. This is a really fun role, one that pulls on my ability to play big, shiny characters and my love for diving into research. The New Colony allow their actors great agency, especially with a new premiere, and I'm excited to work with such great fosters of artistry (bad band name: Fosters of Artistry). 

A young Bill Nutting. About to make a fortune in quarters. 

A young Bill Nutting. About to make a fortune in quarters. 

Good Evening With Pat Whalen...Videography/Editing

For the last few months, I've been working as a camera operator for Good Evening with Pat Whalen, a late-night talk show sponsored by Jackalope Theater. Every month, I learn something new about Chicago, its local politics and its arts scene - and I do so from behind-the-camera as a part of Underscore Films. Here's a recent video of ours that I did the earliest edits on. I'll be sure to upload more as it comes up. This show sells out every time, so if you want to come make sure to buy in advance! 

Los Secretos de Santa Monica RECAP

Every time I get to do something like this, all I can think is how lucky I am to be doing it. 700 people? They oughta get me nervous, right? Truth is, it's hard for me to choke because I love this job so much. And when you're happy and your job is to be funny, it's all gravy. Steve Martin mentions in his memoir that his stand up years are where he "felt funny." I'm feeling like I'm at the beginning of those years, man. It feels great. 

That feeling can be a trap though. I've sat through plenty of comedy shows where nobody laughed, where instead everyone is just thinking, "Wow, this guy sure thinks he's funny." Personally, in comedy, I always remember the crowd is talking to me. When no one's reacting, I don't think, "They're wrong, I need no adjustment,"  I adjust.  

With Los Secretos, that adjustment was grounding my character's discomfort, listening to my scene partner, the wonderful Elsa Monroig, and letting my improvisations be about our relationship, not about me getting a cheap laugh. David Mamet says, "Every line is a character trying to get what they want." I just wanted to get to the Mayors house and find a girlfriend. All the best lines came from people seeing me struggle .

It all comes back to theory. Freud said we laugh because we feel superior. Latinos don't get to feel "superior" to gringos so often -  look at our current climate. I was a gringo who couldn't colonize. Sometimes in losing you win. That's comedy.