" ..I've always been terrified onstage, and have hidden behind jokes, concerned with tricking the audience into thinking I'm funny.."
the Dots Time, Aug 17, 1999
Sometimes I feel myself getting smaller. A woman talks of an hour long train commute from New Jersey, how comfortable the seats are, how she can work on the way to work and I consider a move to New Jersey. I start to plan my life around a job that was temporary when I took it a year ago. It's interesting, I'm good at it. It pays well. It pays at all.
I was wish I was a diva alcoholic, because I want an intervention. Gay men will never dress up like me. (This thought this is the premise of a great Laura Kightlinger bit. so I'll stop now, but you get the point). I wish someone would save me from 18 hour work days with the same intensity heroin are talked out of the needle. Control freaks aren't wild. We don't do anything that would worry our parents, especially as their age.
"There 's just one thing missing," my agent said over the phone. She was chewing on carrots.
"The jokes are there, the writing is there, the experience is there, it's all there, sitting in this pretty box, but nothing is tying it together. I don't know how to explain it better than that. There's no theme. There's nothing to make a casting director say, "yes, I can see a show around this girl."
"It's an easy thing to get," she continued, "and it's right under our noses, but you have to figure it out. If you can sum yourself up and then put the jokes in that equation, you'll have something someone can grab onto. If you can do it in the next two weeks and have it for the LA showcase, well, this is development season. They're looking to make shows."
We discussed Roseanne and Brett Butler. Roseanne told you everything in three jokes, so did Brett. Margaret Cho did, too. Less than three, actually, ("Moran!"
Margaret: hip gen-X Asian;
Roseanne: sarcastic, blue collar housewife;
Brett: smart, divorced and Southern.
I think she's right. My jokes lead independent lives. Some hang out with the other jokes in their respective chunks, but chunks are pieces that can be moved from top to bottom, left to right. They work, they are good, but they don't tell much. I am a master of concealment, if I want to be and now I need a thread, a revealing thread, that sews all these little colonies together into one monopolistic empire. Then I can take over indigenous nations of brown people and control their banana exports.
Somewhere deep inside my guts, I've known this is the problem. I've always been terrified onstage, and have hidden behind jokes, concerned with tricking the audience into thinking I'm funny. I write good jokes, I perform them well. I can kill and then leave the stage thinking "thank God no no one found out I'm not funny." Probably that's why I came to New York, to have that paranoia pummeled out of me. So I can do more than write effective jokes, so I can connect and be comfortable with piles of people looking into my heart.
Can I pour my whole self into three adjectives that will fit onto a playbill, a tv guide? Yeah. It'll be not me but an image of me that I can fill out into a full person onstage, onscreen, online.