Pagliacci

I had a one man show several years ago. It was called “Nerdography: the Story of a Nerd” and it explored my own personal nerd history and of the word itself. I did it once at iO’s Slugfest and then twice more at the Live Bait Theater. Then, 9/11 hit. That was a Tuesday. That Friday, after days of crying and trying to contact family and friends back in New York, I went to the theater expecting to just sit there by myself. I had absolutely no desire to do the show, but then 5 people showed up. People I didn’t even know. In my mind, I was screaming, “What are you people doing here? Go home and curl up into a ball!!” Then an audience member I did know said to me, “Oh, I’m glad you’re here! We had to get out of the house and away from the TV. Thanks!”

That show may not have been the best show I ever did, but that five person audience each got comic books, action figures, trading cards, candy, some even came on stage and learned to fight like Captain Kirk. And for 50 minutes we all laughed at a nerd instead of cried for the world.

It is a privilege to perform for other people. If you charge money so that people can watch you improvise especially. All privileges come with responsibilities and the comedian’s responsibility is to make others laugh when his heart is breaking. Heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says “But, doctor…I am Pagliacci.”

Whenever, there’s a choice between nothing and show, a choice between a party and a show, I always choose the show. The show goes on- you never know who needs it more.

12/12/12 It was a very good year

Had a great year. Seriously. Made some wonderful new friends and reconnected with some old ones. I was able to do what I love to do; create new shows, teach improvisation and perform improv. Without hyperbole, I think I’m the luckiest man alive.

I took this photo!

I took this photo!

Last February, I flew over to Great Britain for the very first time to teach improv with The Maydays. I spend time in both Brighton and London. I visited my old friend Sherlock Holmes, ate too much English breakfast and, according to my records,  drank 16 cups of tea in 7 days. I went to watch a lovely Mayday show and this happened: “I don’t know who you are but everyone’s pointing at you so I thought I’d come over and introduce myself.” Then this—

Innkeeper: Good morning, Mr. Chin. How are you?

ME: I’m good, thank you. And you?

Innkeeper: I woke up. When I don’t wake up I’ll worry. Fancy a cup?

 

I had an absolutely brilliant time and I can’t wait to visit England again.

In April, the great folks at the Theater for Public Policy brought me over to the Twin Cities in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We rehearsed their show a few times and I taught some other classes as well. I really like their show and their focus on actual Public Policy. While I was there, I took the chance to visit some landmarks I had never visited before: Denny’s, Walmart, Mall of America and Huge Theater. All great American places that we should all visit. Between TPP and Huge Theater, Minneapolis is a great place for improv. Wish I could visit more often.

The Avengers! Molly, Adal, Jason, Cesar, Louis!

The Avengers! Molly, Adal, Jason, Cesar, Louis!

The Avengers movie came out and I was very pleased with it. The Chicago Improv Festival had a sudden cancellation and I was asked if I could put together a team. Like the Marvel superheroes, a seemingly random group of people I assembled came together to do the show and to be honest, it was super great. That show’s influence would be felt later in the year.

There was a bit of hullaballoo on this very website (in the comments) about ownership of improv forms and concepts. I’m working on an essay about that. Check out the source material here.

On August 4th, a variety show I created (and would host) premiered at the iO Theater. It’s called SATURDAY/Saturday and features all iO peoples (it’s open to all alumni, veterans, students and more.) We got some great reviews and the show has been a hilarious addition to the iO landscape. People I would never have met or worked with have been important contributors to the show and they’ve gained both media attention and experience. It’s been running for five months (!) and has an open run at iO! If you’d like to be a part of the show it’s as simple as sending me an email. When I first got started at iO, I simply walked up to Charna and asked if I could do a show. She said, “what’s your idea?” I told her and I then I did it. (it was “Crisis on Improv Earth! An Improvised Comic Book!”) I realize how lucky I was and I want to return the favor to the hundreds of performers and students that travel through iO’s doors.

 

We re-elected the President and that made me very happy.

Whirled News Tonight. NOW in its TENTH Year! Simply amazing. An incredibly unique combination of satire, improv and cast synergy. Without hyperbole, you should really come see this show and be amazed.

(most of) The MayDays came to Chicago and played with Whirled News! (and not one of them slept with me, damnit.)

(most of) The MayDays came to Chicago and played with Whirled News! (and not one of them slept with me, damnit.)

The show TMI is running at iO right now and it’s something I created and I play in. It’s based on asking the cast (and eventually the audience) very personal questions which then provide the basis for some very personal scenes. This format was initially seen in The Avengers show we did for the CIF. Callback? Or did I rip myself off?

 

Thank you so much 2012. It was a great year.

 

(ha! As I getting ready to post this, I got a phone call from a well known talent agency asking if I would like to a)audition for a commercial, b) be one of their clients. That was out of the blue. Thanks, 2012!)