Thursday, December 10, 2009

FINALLY Coming out of the closet

No no no not that closet. Not to worry honey. I still like you and boobs.

I just watched Julia Sweeney's "LETTING GO OF GOD". Expecting stand-up comedy, this was more of a one-woman theatrical work. Perhaps even more of a philosophy lecture. I rarely talk about it, but this video, currently running on Showtime, really summed up way to many thoughts of my own far better than I could ever say.

The show's focus is Julia's conversion from Catholic to Atheist. She talked about how what was once a conversation with God, became a question of existence. She discussed years of research looking for God, from bible study to science class to submersion in nature, that only lead her away to conclusions opposite from her original hypothesis.

Now I am not yet ready to say I am an Atheist. But I have had many serious discussions with myself. For a long time I said the cliche "I believe God Created Man and Man created religion" But after a while it sounded cliche. As Julia Sweeney talks, she says she discovered science and free thought late in life. I discovered it early but guilt kept me from jumping to conclusions. I would think "So God, are you or are you not really up there?" Growing up a good Catholic going to CCD, getting Baptised and Confirmed, getting married in the church, singing in church for a living, i heard a lot more pitches for God than against. And most of the Anti-God crowd were more arrogant, drugged, hippied etc Not folks I respected as intellectual or sources of useful thought or information.

BUT I left "religion" behind - meaning "MAN's" interpretation, worship and use of God to justify selfish or unreasonable and irresponsible or sometimes even violent behavior- when I was 13ish. My home Church was attacked by fanatics. Let me tell you fanatic Catholics is a fearsome bunch. A middle school age girl with Leukemia was allowed to pass because "It was her time". This is not typical Catholic I know. Not even typical protestant etc. But it was the beginning of the end for me. There were a lot of other details that I am not 100% sure of as true or not, but the important thing, that is when I began to second guess it all. Problem was, I loved the spiritual teachings, but disagreed way too much with the practice and practical application of religion. Especially as there were so many interpretations. And for every interpretation, there were fanatics claiming their way or the high way.

In high school I slowly drifted away further. As late as Junior year I was still going to teen nights at church but I think this was because we did have some cute girls there. I thought the two adult males leading teen nights were creepy and the nun running the CCD program evil and spiteful... in other words - Old Skool Catholic.

In college, while performing Harold Hill in Music Man, a good friend of ours said she was getting awards for memorizing the bible. Further she was learning proofs for God. Now this really shook my ideas of science and philosophy. A "proof" as learned in geometry and continued in applied sciences, is taking the unknown and using known principles to directly OR indirectly prove something. As actors/musicians go, I was a very good math/science guy. On the other hand, religion is mostly based on "Faith". How could one use science to prove a concept based on "Faith"? I have long forgotten the examples, but I gave new meaning to "Devil's Advocate" as i argued all she did was prove Gravity etc. Something about a Frisbee rising and falling I think it was. Now she was a very nice person and meant nothing but the best. But this was what closed the final religious chapter in my life.

Over the past 20 years since the only time I have been to church has been to Weddings, Funerals and when paid to lead or sing with the choir. Every time i feel at home - I hear soothing words and spiritual thoughts. But never enough to lure me back full time. I can't really remember the last time I went to church for myself. I went a few times for my wife.

So where do I stand now.

The funny thing I feel sorry for those that never knew religion. I learned a lot from it. I still have not denounced God. Not 100%. Watching Julia's piece I feel better that if I ever do, there will be life after. I still believe that there is or at least could be something out there watching over us. I still let my private thoughts become conversations with God. I feel, that if I am wrong, and there is a God, he will be forgiving that I am not second guessing his existence because I desire to sin - murder, rape, steal, covet etc. I still feel Godly guilt every time my mind wonders of these extremes. But it is because of those trying to shove God down our throats that convince me, if these are the new prophets, God is not the choice for me. Extremists and Evangelicals equally turn me off to THEIR idea of God. For decades now, i lived selfishly thinking my private relationship with and interpretation of God was enlightened. NOW?.... I don't know. Not ready nor do I ever want to preach my thoughts as a way to convince others i am right or to think like me. There are enough assholes in this world doing that.

AP on Tiger Woods

So this is the TOP headline listed on YAHOO today. A news article about a new subject. SERIOUSLY? This is the best you got.

AP - The Tiger Woods sex scandal has been a boon for online publications, even though it hasn't generated the same amount of Internet traffic as Michael Jackson's death or President Barack Obama's inauguration.

Does anyone take the "NEWS" serious anymore. This from the AP. Anyone not think "NEWS" is an entertainment business? Anyone think "NEWS" is a service to the American people. "NEWS" does no more than numb and dumb us down when it is supposed to inform and educate.

With Obama declaring war, Senate shoving legislation down our throats and Americans bullied in the Italian Kangaroo Court, top billing goes to a "NEWS" story about a "NEWS" story as if they were comparing box office records for TWILIGHT versus DARK NIGHT.

I need to go to therapy for "NEWS" Addiction right along side Tiger and his Sex Addiction. Don't get me started there. SEX addiction is different from using money and power to set up an elaborate system of HOs waiting for you at every corner. That is called excess. An international organization of prostitution on speed dial is called total disrespect for your wife and kids. All this BS about additions and syndromes just gives self blowing PhDs a reason to bore us on CNN and the like. You want the real name for Tiger's "Problem? It's called "I'm the president of the USA and if I want a presidential intern BJ, That's what I get" syndrome! It's called "I got a way with it once, let's do it again until I get caught" syndrome. It's called "I'm a Kennedy, whats a few murders among brothers" syndrome. It's called " Money and Power allows one to be a total Douche Bag" syndrome.

RIGHT NOW GET $20 tickets to

LMAOff Bway

Wednesday, December 9, 2009



This is my third blog on the subject. My frustration is less and less about the substance of possible reform, or dangers of keeping the status quo, and more and more about the reality of what lawmakers are trying to pass. SERIOUSLY Can any of you truly state for certain, what is in the current bill? What will the final bill be? What is the true motivation for each senator PRO or CON? Than stop trying to tell me you are for or against the reform cause I doubt you know squat beyond what the CNN, FN and MSNBC blowhards are trying to sell -er - um I mean - tell you. YOu really need to watch CSPAN itself to watch the Senators and Congress people (Yeah PC) shit diarrhea of the mouth - AKA rhetoric - themselves. Or at least that is what I thought....

I often tell folks to watch CSPAN. Watching CNN and fellow Newstainment channels present but a small cleverly shaped version of the real world. Depending on the anchor and channel you are watching, the "TRUTH" has a number of interpretations. So I like to watch CSPAN (in short spans as more than 10 minutes watching politicians ramble leads to suicidal tendencies). To see the real deal. To get the unfiltered "truth" on politicians etc

Just a few days ago I saw Chris Dodd and Max Baucus arguing Medicare reform with republicans that had just finished a very intensive presentation complete with flow charts and other visual aids. Looked like a college class from 40 years ago on how to present corporate proposals. Very low tech etc. The best part, neither side could agree on the definition of "MEDICARE". Arguing over Medicare Advantage, Republicans argue that their constituents will loose coverage with new bill, while Democrats argue Med Advantage is not Medicare at all. It was quite funny with Baucus keeping a cool head while Chris Dodd popped capillaries to the brain, foaming at the mouth as it to say how dare you argue my brilliance. No wonder this guy is in trouble. He was really coming apart. Baucus just kept saying, well a few folks might lose their gym memberships.

Apparently Medicare Advantage is a "private program" paid for by the government. Private firms seem to be making a fortune off of the program. No point in discussing now what the bill will do as it has already changed and will change some more.

But the point is, the whole situation is a mess. Medicare, Health Care, Congress and the "NEWS" folks covering it all. I respect arguments for what should be done. I have a hard time trusting anyone that tells me what's really going on in congress. One side is owned by lawyers fighting tort reform. The other is owned by insurance industry fight health care reform. The only person helped by status quo - Lawyers and Insurance folks. Until we start really paying attention, why should congress pay attention to us.

So once again, I call for a total replacement plan. For the next 10 years, vote for the new guy or gal. Vote out the incumbents. Term Limits can be put in place by us. We do not need more legislation. If these guys don't get it done or do it wrong, GET THEM OUT OF THERE!!! Republicans, Democrats etc

RIGHT NOW GET $20 tickets to

LMAOff Bway

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Perceptions - In the End HE LOVED US!!!

What is Improv? The simple definition creating music, theater, art etc from scratch or based on a theme, exploring new directions etc.... In its application, Improv takes on dozens of possible styles. Beyond Long Form V Short Form, You have the one person shows, two person shows, .. ten person shows; You have the understated - "Lets try not to be funny" versus the over the top trying WAY TO HARD to be funny; The straight play versus big broadway styles; In other words there is no one way to do Improv. In this city (New York) The down town theater style reigns supreme as the bench mark of "Good Theater" Less is more. Starving artist is better than successful commercial actor.

I had a patron come to the show tonight. Almost two hours early, he had a comp ticket from one of the many papering websites out there we recently listed to help promote LMAO ( This gentleman presented himself as one who sees a lot of theater. Running out of fresh ideas and seeing free tickets avail, he gave us a shot. But even as he arrived he had questions. I engaged him in a 45-60 minute discussion about what our show was about. Upon hearing the word "IMPROV" he decided to run out the door in horror and disgust. Or at least almost. We talked further, asking where he had scene Improv. He mentioned seeing Baby Wants Candy ( I think that is what he meant - "Musical improv show at the fringe") And he liked that. But anything else he despised. He talked about a one man show, a few UCB presentations etc. I had to explain while the best Improv might be in NYC, certainly the best talent base, you have to sift through endless number of student and showcase productions to find the pros. Still an hour early he left. I was surprised to see him back at five minutes before show time. I can only imagin he went and got tickets for FELA!, only to return once FELA was canceled due to injury and illness.

90 minutes LATER

After the show, fearing the worst (even though this show kicked the ass out of LMAO) I ducked away to clean up. Spero was the cornered for 45 minutes. Apparently, we are Gods gift to improv. "Genius" " Brilliant" etc I would argue we are far from it, but I really think this brings up a growing concern I have about the IMPROV community.

Years ago, Improv in general (and still is) the scourge of theater snobs even though Improv is the corner stone of any good theater development. The actor and writer and director often if not always use Improv as a tool to develop new works or to re-interpret classics. But actual IMPROV performances were beneath these theater snobs. In recent years, we now have a whole class of IMPROV snobs that I feel give the whole art form a bad name. Mostly because the IMPROV these snobs promote is not in least entertaining beyond their friends that keep getting dragged to the same shows. There is a very small community that like a certain style of Improv heavily promoted in NYC. That community is very devoted and return enough to keep a small showcase theater filled often. Or these theaters like smaller comedy clubs, produce enough amatuer shows with friends and family packing to make it look busy and popular. Other shows that charge $5 and star TV names having some fun on an off night will sell out no matter how crappy the actual show is. Many theaters make most of their money off of teaching classes and promising the chance of being discovered by SNL etc, when all they are doing is creating income for themselves and new fans. But 90-95% of the real world - paying public as opposed to starving artists and students - want to see a real show. It is possible to make Improv a real show. With professional actors with real experience on big stages etc. I have to say here that I am not against long-form improv. The Harold and other examples are amazing when performed by professionals. But they are also incredibly painful when performed by wannabe comics as opposed to real actors.

So we converted another non-believer out there in the theater snob world that is actually possible for Improv to be a viable source of entertainment full of talent driven thought provoking humor mixed with zany slapstick. Tonight's show was a great blend of political savy, pop culture bashing and original characters and scenes but also included some rocking music and crazing bouncing off the wals physical humor. I even threw in some tricky tap dancing - Maxi Fords and Double - Triple time steps. We have kids in the room, 20-35 yos looking for edgier comedy and a few of the theater folks 60 plus hanging out by them selves. They all left with a smile and most with roaring discussion of the show.

So what is point?

I still do not know how to describe this show to convince you (say the guy/gal on the street) to come see this show. When i say what it is, i often spark the images of a lot of crap they have scene that scares them away. But nearly all that see the show love it. There is a reason Phantom and Mamma Mia make so much money while theater snobs globally trash the shows. They are fun. Easy to understand. Simple melodies most can hum along to or even sing in the shower. Nothing brilliant in the artistic creation, BUT brilliant there efforts to appeal to the masses.

As an actor i would love to perform Mamet and Shakespeare and numerous mindful scripts in the centuries between, spending all day long perfecting the rhythm of speeches and the depth of characters. But I have to admit as a theater goer, the best show I have everyscene on Bway is Crazy for You. Gershwin music, slapstick comedy and amazing Tap dancing. That being said I would still see some crappy scifi movie to numb my mind.

As a singer/musician I would prefer Opera or really experimental Jazz. Challenging technique and classical skills and/or exploring new depths of dissonance and rhythm both intrigue me. But I find it painful sitting through most opera for three ours. Although one of my favorite past times is to sit in a corner at a Jazz club and listen to musicians converse in the language of notes, harmonies and rhythm selfishly assuming I am the only spectator realizing the true genius of the experience while most try to talk and drink and clap appreciatively. Their background entertainment is food for my soul....

Still not wrapping it up am I....

Well I am tired. Exhausted. Cold. But far from bitter. We had 5 amazing shows. Friday night in Beacon Falls, CT. 4 Shows in 2 days at the theater. Crowds varied in size and responsiveness, but the casts were amazing. And the response upon exit was consistent. AWESOME!!!


Give LMAO a shot. 2500 audiences in 5 years cannot be wrong. The 100s of regulars that we see monthly, the dozens of schools that come every year with groups of 100-200 student because the teachers love us, and the 1000s of skeptics that leave the theaters converted into IMPROV fans cannot be wrong. And not only are we trying to raise Improv to another level, we are producing it under a union contract, employing many up and coming as well as establish Bway/Tv credited performers.

See you at the theater