Ever get annoyed? Ever feel like someone needs to be told where the dog died? Or handed a crowbar and a tub of Elbow Grease to help them pry their head out of their arse? Congratulations--you've come to the right place.

And when I'm not commenting on the latest thing to piss me off, I'm trying to figure out my own twisted life. Because, hey, I'm like that.

On a gentler note: for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, and other assorted bullshit: You are NOT alone.

And if you're looking for a laugh, search on the key word "fuckery." It's just my little thing (as the bishop said to the actress).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WHY hasn't Alcoholcaust arrived YET?!?!

OK, yesterday I was royally cranky (I reread the post--wow, did I go on rant! Wow! Haven't lambasted Courtney Love like that in a loooong while!); today I'm an all-out blogging madwoman--wrote two posts this a.m.

And the first... the first is about Mr. Celebricrush, his new DVD, and yet more exposition on the Empress's Theory of Theatre and Comedy. (Today's pic was snatched from Facebook--I DID NOT take it, but I did add the bubble. I'll be forgiven, considered how hard Jim has been pushing people to buy the disc. Gotta give the man credit--international comedy headliner, and he still hustles like an up-and-comer. YEAH!)

Jim Jefferies is posting the early reviews of Alcoholocaust. I am getting antsy for my copy.
The positive reviews are NOT coming as a surprise to me (or anyone who is a fan of the man). I made the comment in my review of his show at Caroline’s about what an amazing storyteller he is (and yes, I am peppering for my copy to arrive, and yes, I am kicking myself for not paying for expedited shipping, BUT I’m a fucking librarian trying to pay off massive student loans and who has lost an expensive fucking contact lens for her royally fucked-up astigmatic eyes, so give me a break!).

Those links:

I made the comment in the post “The Bottle and the Damage Done” about how annoyed I got at the audience response in New York to Jim being sober. One of the reviewers commented how the DVD is his last on the booze and wondered how he’ll play without it.

For any fans of Jim reading this and wondering: he’s better off of it.

I said in the review of him live that he has ginormous balls on stage—that testicular fortitude does NOT come from alcohol (and yeah, I realize it may have taken him a little time to get that, but I’m not his shrink and I know what I have to go through to get my fat arse on stage; I am not giving anyone else any shit about their rituals and crutches; performers are a superstitious and high-strung lot—DON’T FUCK WITH US!!!! :-D I mean, I’m the one who fervently mumbled Henry V’s “God of Battles” prayer in the wings while waiting to go one in every fucking show I ever acted in; ditto, directed). So any fans wondering if they should go and see him sober (considering how legendary he is for performing fucked up AND considering how some of his better-known routines involve both alcohol and drugs), BUY YOUR FUCKING TICKETS NOW! GO, GET OVER TO HIS WEBSITE, BUY YOUR FUCKING TICKETS, AND COME BACK AND READ THE REST OF THIS!

I’ll wait. Jim’s worth it. (And there are damn few men on the planet I’d say that about and the list gets shorter every day.)

What’s got me excited—aside from the thought of getting to see different material than is on Contraband and I Swear to God—is that I’m finally going to get to hear the brothel story (the joy and pain of the interwebs is that a) I find out about cool stuff I wouldn’t otherwise know about, and b) I find out about cool stuff I wouldn’t otherwise know about and can’t get my hands on IMMEDIATELY. I have the patience of a cat). This story—about taking a childhood friend with muscular dystrophy to a brothel to lose his virginity—has been buzzed about for months. He didn’t perform it in New York (“Nah, not in a one-hour show like this,” he said when I mentioned it), but it is on the DVD, AND the DVD is 75 minutes long.

Note to self: check and see if there are any extras on the disc. The biggest disappointment about I Swear to God was that there were no extras (not unusual with HBO comedy releases), but it’s also what makes Contraband a piece of gold—you get both nights plus a bit of fuckery with an interview Jim did on the street after the second show, including a bit of silliness with passersby. (Y’still should’ve taken y’shirt off, Jim! ;-) Mind you, would have love to have heard the exchange with Eddie Izzard in the hallway after Jim came off stage—I’m wondering if this was the tour Eddie was doing whilst filming Believe. Oh, to be a fly on the wall, eh? :-)

That’s another recommendation for watching, BTW—check out Believe. DAMN good documentary about The Process and the fact that succeeding is all about your arse: working it off and putting it on the line, just fucking going for it.

Second note to self: put Dressed to Kill on the buy list for this month’s wages. Screw Xmas.

Another thought on substances… well, I had another thought, but it’s gone now. Wait, it’s back. There’s been a lot of ink wasted on Jim’s vocabulary (and if you check out the clip on You Tube that Brett Vincent posted with all the cusses edited into one roughly two minute string—hysterical, honestly, Jim should turn it into a rap song, fer fuckssake)—one of the reasons I dig Jim’s stuff is his use of language. Again, it’s why Carlin succeeded and Eddie Murphy failed—Carlin used the vulgarity as punctuation; Murphy used it just to use it. Jim walks the line and walks it well. [There's another post coming about language usage, but I'm still working on that one.]

Language is a form of music—think about why you pay attention to when some people speak and tune out others. It’s about rhythm, cadence, tone and word choice—the same as a song. You listen to what flips the switches in your brain. Whenever I direct a show, THAT is what I listen for, and any actor I’ve directed can tell you of that moment when I’ve either stopped a scene fussing at my ear because the words have hit my ears like a sour note, an off-key phrase—I can hear it. That’s how I, as an audience member (and honestly, as a director because I watch damn near everything with a director’s eye, it’s a disease, I swear), experience a show. It’s why I get so vehement when something is bad and so ecstatic when something is good—it’s like great music, when words and performance come together just right, a harmony that is as much for the soul as the brain. This is a part of great comedy—it’s the harmony of word and thought and delivery, REAL storytelling, the kind that hits you not just in the funny bone, but also in the heart and soul.

Going back to Eddie Murphy, another reason why he’s acting and not doing standup right now is about truth. I saw Raw once; I laughed, but I never had a need to see it again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched I Swear to God and Contraband. Ditto for Carlin’s later standup DVDs, and Robin William’s 1986 & 2002 HBO specials. I can quote my way through them, like a sing-along (actually, they’re my background “music” when I’m cleaning or crafting). And I still laugh. STILL laugh, even though I’ve heard some of these bits a hundred times because there’s always something new to find—something in the cadence, the facial expression, the delivery… a word I may have missed or a gesture. Raw… nah. I remember the “You ain’t got no ice cream” bit, and that’s about it. No truth, or at least no truth that meant anything to me.

Great comedy is no different from great literature or a great film--it comes from a place of truth—the heart, mind and soul working together to create a story that, while the details might not be completely factual (sometimes, you have to change a few details to protect the innocent and the guilty alike, and to keep yourself from either being sued or incarcerated), is about simple human truth. Now, truth is subjective, and my truth is not your truth—what reaches my soul and plucks its strings will be a different matter for someone else. I don't know if every bit of "I Am the Egg Man" is true, and honestly, I don't want to know--it's a brilliant fucking story, the right combination of filth and pathos and complete utter bravery--you CAN'T get up and tell a story like that in front of a room full of heavily drinking humans unless you've got great big clanking brass balls because you KNOW some oik in the audience is going to take it literally and give you shit. Ditto for the story in the South African comedy club story, and all the "small dick" cracks (although one of the guy friends made the comment that only a man hung like a small pony would have the balls to get up and say that publically; y'know, I'm not sure if got the phrase HLSP from him or he got it from me... so many people have been picking up my catch phrases of late... weird). Reminds me... gotta post a piccie of the finished Jim Sox.

There’s a review of Jim on the web by Scottish guy who’s living in the States (I want to say Chicago; when I get on-line, I’ll look it up; I know he saw him at Lakeside) who heard him do the brothel story; the reviewer works with the disabled, and his combined reaction was one of weeping and laughing because he KNEW what Jim was talking about, understood it at a gut level, and the story provided a catharsis. (That's what got me so hooked on his comedy--there is a pain there that I recognize, someone who's been cut deep enough to get to the point of not giving a fuck and decided not to let the bastards win. That's where yesterday's rant came from--if I've stayed alive all these years with all the stupidity in my life, where the fuck did THOSE idiots get off dying so stupidly?)

[OK, found the info: Graham Rae in 3:AM Magazine. Here's the link: http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/you%e2%80%99ve-got-to-be-obscene-to-be-heard/

And THAT’S the word I’m looking for—catharsis. It goes all the way back to the Greeks (and fuck knows, I find the ancient Greeks bloody boring) and the original concept of theatre—to provide a catharsis for the audience, a moment of emotion cleansing (the word literally means "purge" or "cleanse"). That’s the whole point of live theatre, live performance—to feel something you can’t experience in the workaday process of life. In short, we make it safe for the audience to feel--to experience deep feeling, intense feeling--that many cannot acknowledge in ordinary life.

A long while ago, I had to write a paper for a comparative lit class and I discussed King Lear, Twelfth Night and Black Elk Speaks, and elaborated my concept of the Holy Fool (there was also an African novel in there; don’t ask me the title or the author because, honestly, it bored the piss out of me; I only used it because I had to have two sources from the official reading list; Black Elk met the criteria and so did the other one, and of course, I had to bring in Shakespeare). Black Elk has a chapter on the Heyoka ceremony—a shamanic comedy experience, basically, in which those who have the vision of the thunder beings are destined to be sacred clowns--holy fools--or Heyoka--and act out absurdities to make the rest of the tribe laugh. When the Heyoka happens in Black Elk, it is during a time of great stress and brings a necessary lightening to the tribe.

Sound familiar?

Shakespeare’s fools are a slightly different story. Today, we have an image of the jester—the fool—as a mere clown, a tumbler and faller of prats, someone for the nobles to hurl abuse and food at while he entertains. This is a corrupted image and it negatively impacts a LOT of Shakespearean productions. If you forget the label of “fool” and LISTEN to the dialogue of Lear’s Fool and Feste in Twelfth Night, you will hear the nascence of today’s standup comedian—“bitter fool,” Lear calls his follower, and indeed, more acerbic commentary on the state of the state can’t be found on The Daily Show. Olivia chastises Feste, “You see how your fooling grows old and people dislike it!” when his words hit far too close to the mark for her liking.

Again, sound familiar?

It’s why I have so little time for a lot of shit that’s called “comedy.” At my first open mic, I was talking to an actor I’d directed who’d gotten up and delivered (before I performed—I was too high afterwards on adrenaline). I wasn’t impressed with a lot of the material I’d heard, and he told me to be kind; it was open mic. He was both right and wrong—right, because people were trying out material; wrong, because, well… a lot of it was going to go nowhere, and ditto for the people delivering it. Kudos for having the cojones to get up there—if you’ve never done it, you don’t know what’s on the line, believe me. At the same time… Nah. A couple of sparks, yeah, but no bright lights.

Harsh? Yup. Have to be, though. Performing—whether comedy, acting, music, whatever—is BRUTAL because to be the best, you have to give EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. Your heart and soul are on the fucking line with every word, and I don’t think I’ve met any kind of artist in my life who didn’t deal with some kind of anxiety issue, and finding the balance of life and career… there’s a reason why celebrity gossip is salacious: when you give it all, it’s all there, and people want it. And when you’re “on,” you’re fucking irresistible.

I never went pro as an actor because I knew fifteen years ago that I didn’t have what it takes to live out of a suitcase without any guarantees; my mother’s health was failing, my health was failing, and quite frankly, I had lost my “muchness” (Tim Burton’s Alice was utterly fucking brill and I’m kicking myself for not seeing it in the cinema). I’d lost my audacity, that crazy spirit I’d had at UMass. Emerson, Edward, Darth Thespia and my life had killed it. That, and it scared the FUCK out of me the way people were drawn to me when I was “on.” (Think I’m kidding? Ask Vicki about the guy in Frenchy’s when I was shopping and was “on”—cool, but really disconcerting.) And, at that point in my life, there was no way I could have dealt with it, so instead of going for success, I let myself come pretty damn close to dying.

Now… now, facing losing my family’s home and not having to worry too much longer about my mother’s care and having my own health coming back, now… I can feel that spirit returning. Who the fuck knows what the next year or two will bring? I’m single, I’m talented, and I am audacious—I’ve proved to myself that I haven’t lost that essential spark, my unique “Riz-ness,” that has drawn some of the finest people on the planet into my circle of friends. I’ve written a damn good novel. This blog… this blog is definitely fueling the rewrite of the one-woman show (and yeah, I’ve started looking at available venues and rentals for next year). And I’m noticing that in the coterie (isn’t that a beautiful word? Say that word out loud—THERE’S music in language if ever there was!) of friends I’ve surrounded myself with, all of them are immensely talented in their own art.

Exciting time to be alive, wouldn’t you say? I would, and considering how I’ve been feeling the past few days, it’s good to be able to say that. Ah, the joys of body chemistry--so nice to have it back in balance.

So watch this space for my review of Alcoholocaust—you know that the bastard will be in the DVD drive of this lappie within half an hour of being received (hey, I’ll need to get myself a fresh coffee and get comfy first).

And Jim, if you happen to glance at this (or anyone close to him does), I hope you’re keeping sober and keeping well. You don’t need the booze or the drugs to be brilliant, babe, and you’ve got the talent AND the charisma to do whatever the fuck you want (hey, if Robin Williams can win an Oscar for Good Will Hunting…). Can’t wait to see you next time you play Boston (although there are better venues than the Wilbur; when are the new US dates being announced, dammit?!?! I really don’t want to drive to Jersey in the dead of winter; and IS THERE ANY WORD ON THE US RELEASE?!?!* I’ll subscribe to the fucking cable channel if I have to; oh, wait, I’ll already own the DVD. How can I convert more to your fandom if I have to show your best material on my laptop and half my friends aren’t in Boston?! Yes, I’ll stop being a pain in the arse), and the offer to buy you dinner stands because I love to prove a man wrong (even if it is all just jokes up there).

Fuck, I’ll even COOK you dinner if someone will lend me a decent kitchen. And speaking of which… time to get some breakfast and a shower and get my arse to work. The paying kind, as opposed to the kind I’m hoping will pay. *sigh*

*BTW, for the US fans, STOP WHINING about the fact that Alcoholocaust hasn’t been released over here because 1) there’s a damn good reason (there is a clue above); and 2) I Swear to God isn’t available in the format the rest of the world uses. You want it NOW, order it from the UK and WATCH IT ON YOUR FUCKING COMPUTER like I do. OR drop $50 on ebay or amazon for a multi-region DVD player.

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