Monday, May 09, 2005

What Kind of Month Has It Been

So, as I was rolling around in my own sick in the subway car, “minding my own,” as the kids say, playwright and SlowLearner blogger Mac Rogers enters the car and tries to strike up conversation with me.

Clearly, he can’t tell I’m “busy.”

“Omigod omigiod, Mr. Comtois!” (He always calls me “Mr. Comtois” or “sir” for some unknown reason. I try to tell him it’s okay for him to call me “James,” but he just never feels comfortable being so casual with such a great guy and playwright.) “I’ve heard so much about your new play, Dying Goldfish, I can’t wait to see it omigod omiogd I so live in your shadow omigod why are you so successful with the ladies omigod I wish I was dead.”

I rise up from my grime and try to give him a, “Uh, look bitch, I’m in the middle of something!” look, but he doesn’t notice it. He just keeps nattering away at how great he thinks I am.

(I’m not saying I blame him.)

I mean, okay, I’m paraphrasing a little here, but that was the gist of our interaction, despite how Mac is “spinning” it.

* * *

Our first weekend of Dying Goldfish has now come and gone, and we’ve got three weekends left. I gotta say, I’m pretty effin proud of this one, and everyone involved should be, too. Mad props to Patrick (Charlie Willis) for being a “quintuple threat” as actor, producer, stage manager, sound designer and stage hand for this show, and Ali Golden for taking the “Comtois Challenge” (as she puts it) in making a really kick-ass set for a script that is not…how shall we say…“techie-friendly?”

You guys should check this play out. Seriously. It’s good.

* * *

You should also check out (dig the cheesy segue, eh?) our off-night series, “Nosedive Productions Presents.” We’re featuring a few performances during weeknights from other performers that Nosedive & crew is fans of.

Here’s a list of off-night events:

Wednesday, May 11 — Stand-up comedy from Bryan Fenkart and friends. Featuring Bryan Fenkart (star of Nosedive’s Mayonnaise Sandwiches), Dan Bocchino (Nosedive fundraiser regular), Tom Serafini, Derek Sonderfan, Ben Walker and Ray Gutierrez.

Wednesday, May 18 —Sketch comedy/improv group “Stranger Than Fiction.” Stranger Than Fiction, a group aiming to be the first name in New Hampshire improvisational theater and comedy, is conquering NYC in their “Broadway” premiere.

Monday, May 23 — Strain Relief II, A Tom X. Chao Fundraiser Variety Show & Party. Playwright/comedian/performance artist Tom X. Chao will be raising funds for his forthcoming summer Canadian fringe festival tour and local performances at the Brick Theater's Moral Values Festival. (After-party with all-you-can-drink complimentary wine included.)

Tuesday, May 24 — Penguin, by Adam Wade. (One of my “Top 10 faves” for 2004.) Wade, a bespectacled 29-year-old with a New Hampshire accent and a confidence deficiency, chronicles his high school years through song and short monologues in his one-man show.

Wednesday, May 25 — Nosedive Productions’ fundraiser house band “Cars Can Be Blue.” Featuring “Faggot Dance Party” (homoerotic electro jams and dick-sucking disco beats). Plus, they're bringing a keg.

You guys should check these events out. Seriously. They’re good.

* * *

I know I have promised a “Rewind: Allston” entry, but I figured to at least do some more (obligatory) plugging of the current show(s) rather than get too bogged down into writing my thoughts of the second play. I realize, also, that a series done this way would be a bit inconsistent, since I’ve already posted an older Jamespeak about the 3rd play (The Awaited Visit) and I really don’t have much more to say about play #4, Ruins (well, that’s a lie. I most certainly do have things to say about that show, but I don’t know if I—or anyone reading this—would be up for a 15-page Jamespeak entry, especially if they haven’t either read or seen Ruins).

And I swear I have no intention of writing a “Rewind: Two Parties” entry.

So, will I be finishing “Rewind: Allston?”

The answer: [shrug] maybe.

I will say, however, that I was quite surprised and pleased that “Rewind: Monkeys” did generate at least some interest in reading the script. I mean, my mom finally decided to bit the bullet and figure out just what the hell I’ve been doing down here in New York.



You guys should check this play out. Seriously. It’s good.

* * *

My friend (who I referred to obliquely in my “Family Values” Jamespeak)—Scot Williams (you may know him as Jesus in our fundraisers, the music writer for Mayonnaise Sandwiches, musician for the “Take Another Hit” video, or Christmas Present in A Very Nosedive Christmas Carol)—recently read it and responded. Scot’s far too nice a person to tell me that I should GFM, which I of course appreciate. But here is a sample of our exchange, with him augmenting his point and me mine:

--- Scot Williams wrote:
> BTW, I read Jamespeak. Funny, I always assume that people
> know what the hell I'm talking about when I use certain words,
> just because they have such resonance with me.
> For me, family has (only recently) become sort of a code word.
> Family is (again, to me) the place where one is most
> completely one's self—strongest, funniest, smartest, but
> also most harsh and selfish. It's the place where one learns
> to be human, where, regardless of how much you rub each other
> the wrong way, you are still essential, and no fights,
> disasters or pain can ever change that.
> I come from a family that has always had a sense of "us
> against the world", on the one hand, and a very inclusive
> sensibility on the other. Also, the arrogance level of my
> family is pretty high, and we find each other terribly
> impressive, even in spite of the fact that we are all quite
> aware of our mutual shortcomings and foibles (sister's an
> alcoholic, father's got a temper, mother's a control freak,
> son is terrified of failure, etc., etc., etc.). The
> Incredibles resonated with me because of the sense of "no
> matter what," about the family bond, and the sense of
> understanding each other even when the rest of the world
> can't.
> Tenenbaums worked for me for a similar reason. Here's a
> family, all terribly talented, all terribly impressed with
> themselves, forced to confront disappointment and heartbreak
> and failed expectations. Royal comes in to try to reclaim the
> family he lost, wreaks havoc, and has a great time. Even in
> the fighting, the stupid mistakes, the bluster, there's still
> a sense of people, through all the confusion, trying (and in
> some ways, succeeding) to learn how to live together and how
> to love. That's the kind of story I dig - I'm all about the
> redemption, baby.
> Of course, I don't assume that anybody else will like it.
> Could be just me... Anyway.
> You know, I almost didn't write an explanation, because I
> figured if you were really interested you would have talked to
> me about it (not that I'm offended. I'm just sayin'), but
> then I figured, what the hell. No sense letting an
> opportunity to pontificate go by...
> all the labor,
> s


I was also wondering when I'd hear your thoughts on the last Jamespeak (I left your name out simply due to both wanting to post it as soon as possible, considering it's now sporadic usage, and posting my POV up before discussion, I suppose. Again, I hope that's okay).

And heck. I knew you wouldn't be able to resist the cyber-bait.

Is family the place where one is most completely one's self? Personally, in many ways, I would actually say no. Although I'm not disparaging family, I would probably say that family is the place where one is most self-conscious.

[Update: it’s the “no matter what” part that makes me a little reluctant to let up. Not that I wouldn’t want/need my family to be there for me when I’m “knee-deep in the shit,” but isn’t there, or shouldn’t there be, a limit to this? Again, I bring up the literal “family feud” reference (the Hatfield/McCoy feuds) and the more extreme references of the parents of serial killers loving their sons “no matter what” (“What did those awful, awful people do to my baby boy Jeffrey Dahmer?”) or children loving supremely abusive parents “no matter what.”

Not that Scot or I have these relationships with family members, but I still think it’s a point worth considering.]

(Interestingly enough, I had read "The Last Day," the final Cerebus volume by Dave Sim, which goes into painstaking detail about how redemption is often found by completely breaking all ties from family members, which he talks about having to do.
Although I'm not 100% with his viewpoint—my relationship with the other Comtois has not been as contentious—I can see the value in refusing to gloss over the really ugly parts of family bonds, and viewing "bonds" in terms of "shackles." Sim: "I don't miss my parents any more than I miss my placenta." Ouch. I mean...ouch.)

Yeah. "Royal Tenenbaums." Really not a fan, especially since it seems to gloss over the real hatred that the characters have for one another and themselves (it was just done too cute and tongue-in-cheek; although I don't need for movies/plays to be gritty and miserable, I do think if you're gonna tackle/explore a subject, you should...well...tackle/explore a subject). Owen Wilson's drug habit and misery is presented as a joke. Same with Ben Stiller's hatred towards Gene Hackman, and Gweneth Paltrow's almost suicidal depression. The movie had too much of an ironic detachment towards it characters, something I have a tough time stomaching (with, of course, some exceptions).

Overall I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your words, but again, this is a subject that I've been on a "kick" with (i.e., Mayonnaise Sandwiches and Dying Goldfish, and God willing, Kronos Unbound if/when it gets completed in 2010, and covers probably the more contentious aspects about family bonds) and figure it's always fun to deliberately misconstrue my friends' words in order to serve my own ego.


The fonze of the theater blog,

James "The Fonze" Comtois

* * *

Well, I’ve nattered on enough in this space for now. It’s time for me to resume rolling around in my own sick.

I’ll be less absent in this space than I have been.

“Promise, James?”

The answer: [shrug] maybe.

Minding my own,

James “I’m Busy” Comtois

May 9, 2005

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