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Tuesday, 18 October
Indeed, What A Feeling. Oh, What A Feeling That Was

Tonight was the night! After an interminable rehearsal period spanning almost an entire week, tonight we opened our complete rape of the immortal film Flashdance!

It was important to me that the day lead up to the big event perfectly, which is why I woke up this morning and immediately smashed my alarm clock to smithereens.

I honestly really did. I've never done that before. But I was obviously possessed by the spirit of Flashdance! You gotta follow your dreams or you'll end up as some junkie stripper, or something! And that morning, my dream was: more sleep! So I did what Jennifer Beals would do, and picked up my alarm clock and crushed it against my nightstand until it stopped making noise; it sits there still, a broken thing, but for all that no less proud of me for facing my demons . . . the demons of, well, waking up and facing work.

(In truth, of course, as happens distressingly often, the fucker went off, and I in my morning fog couldn't figure out how to turn the goddamn thing off. I stabbed at every button I could think of, but it kept up its miserable blatting, so I pounded it until it was dead. So tonight I have to use my cell phone alarm, which I understand far, far less than my dead alarm clock, so I assume I'm going to be out a couple hundred bucks tomorrow morning when I can't make the thing stop howling out the T-Mobile jingle.)

I spent the whole day at work thinking about tonight, and all the things I would need to keep straight in my head, like, where's my script? And where is my drink? (These events are, according to long tradition, simply impossible to face without drinking through the entire thing. Part of it is to simply deal with the fact that it is all so thrown together chaotically, one requires a certain boneless quality to be able to careen around the stage so crazily; another thing is, well, actors like to drink. It also helps us enthusiastically embrace the unbelievable amount of raunch that inevitably gets shoehorned into these shows.) Anyway, to ease my panicky mind about all these issues at work, I decided to not do any work at all, and you know? It really helped!

Then, after a short time at home, Preparing As An Actor Does (read: remembering to put in my contacts), it was time to go to the theater. Which is actually a bar. Handy! I immediately ordered a whiskey, for vocal purposes. A castmate saw this. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Warming up." She stared at me for a moment. "I can't believe I almost forgot to warm up!" she cried, and raced to the bar. I felt us coming together as an ensemble. Everyone else was soon warming up.

We lounged backstage as the audience started to come in--hey, the audience was really getting into the act too! They all started warming up! We peeked at them through the moth-eaten curtains when we weren't fussing with the prop table, which is a pool table with a sheet of plywood on top of it. (Hey, it beats the setup we had at Pocatello Flats Community College and Grill.) It's always fun looking at the audience from behind the curtain. "They look like ants from here!" squealed K. I looked at her. "They're ten feet away from you, K," I said. "I took a lot of mushrooms earlier," she sighed.

It was time to prepare. I began putting on my costume--khakis and a blue shirt, items I had specifically selected for their innate hilarity. (When I asked for costume notes, the director had distractedly specified that I should wear not only a shirt, but also pants, so this was important to me.) No way I was gonna let Hollywood icon Michael Nouri down, if he's still alive!

And then--moments before the curtain didn't go up, because we don't have a curtain, . . . it was time. It was time to lay my hands on the Talisman. The object that would allow me to fully infuse my character with substance, with life, with essence. It was the one thing that would bring my character into a fuller reality.

I touched it tenderly before picking it up. It seemed to glow from within, like a baby who has swallowed a lit cigarette.

I lifted my Humor Wig and cradled it in my hands. It was misshapen and black, and seemed to radiate its own internal light. It was a mystical Humor Wig, and I knew that once I placed it on my skull, I would become a Comedy Shaman.

I would read from my script, right there in my hand.

I would almost nearly get some of my blocking right.

I would make people grudgingly laugh, unless they happened to be laughing at unrelated events happening in other parts of the world.

All because of the Humor Wig. I was told--I blush to confess this for I do not wish to boast--that I resembled Gino Vanelli. And when all was said and done, and the audience was sated with laughter, I was clapped on the back and congratulated by my adoring public. "Were you in the show?" gushed one fan, and another enthused, "Can ya empty this fuckin' ashtray or somethin', please?" I basked in the radiance of these stolen moments, and sipped my whiskey--an actor's training does not end as the curtain comes down.

I sat alone in my booth, sipping whiskey, apart from my fellow actors, and reflected. I had done it. I had come through the evening unscathed, had so utterly scorched the stage boards with my comic skills that--it must be said--the audience had not dared once to laugh at me. But I had not done it alone.

Across from me sat my Humor Wig. It did not deign to sip from the whiskey I had purchased for it as congratulation, so I pulled it to me. And I toasted the Humor Wig as my equal. With the Humor Wig at my side--or, probably better, on my head--there was nothing I couldn't do.

There was no need to act at all.


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Comments


Well shoot, if a frigging flying elephant can have a feather I guess we’ll let you keep your humor wig.

Comment number: 005651   Posted by: Lung the Younger on October 18, 2005 01:54 AM from IP: 80.58.34.109

That was so touching, I had to wipe a little stunt tear from my eye. I feel like I was there. Thank you for that.

Comment number: 005652   Posted by: laura on October 18, 2005 10:36 AM from IP: 71.40.125.185

We're you living inside yourself? Or did you just wanna stop? Because remember, the world ain't right without you, babe.

Thinking about those nights in Montreal ...

Comment number: 005656   Posted by: Broad on October 22, 2005 04:03 PM from IP: 24.12.243.202

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