Thursday, November 30, 2006


A couple of weeks ago I saw Ian W. Hill's first-rate production of Václav Havel's dense and intriguing play, Temptation (where not only President Havel but Madeline Albright was in attendance) with George, Joanne, MattJ and Patrick.

Since Temptation, including intermission, nearly hit the three-hour mark, we started talking afterwards about how rare it is nowadays to see an Off-off show that passes the 90-minute mark in terms of running length. George's show, In Public, was only about 70 minutes long. So was Nosedive's own The Adventures of Nervous-Boy. Even Nosedive's next play, Suburban Peepshow, is only about an hour long.

This seems to be a common trend with current Off-off plays. In fact, I perused my list of the plays I've seen so far this year, and 65% were less than two hours. Only one of them, Temptation, exceeded two and a half hours.

[UPDATE/CORRECTION: Matt Freeman pointed out in the comments section that his play, The Most Wonderful Love, was two and a half hours long. For some reason I didn't remember it surpassing the 140 minute mark. So make that two shows I've seen this year that exceeded two and a half hours.]

In his blog, Patrick (a.k.a. Charlie Willis) wrote:

"It occurred to me afterwards that perhaps we're doing a disservice to our actors in OOB in so frequently presenting 75-90 minute plays, though that seems to be a gift to our audiences. The muscles, skills and stamina required to keep a 2-3 hour play aloft aren't exercised very often. I believe that's one of the reasons why audiences are so rarely willing to commit to the experience — not because it's so terribly difficult to sit through a three-hour show (depending on how comfortable the seats are), but because the actors project their own exhaustion upon the audience, convincing that audience that it's just too much. After all, our culture DOES value 'the bigger the better'. You'd think they'd embrace the two-and-a-half or three-hour show as a great deal. Twice the entertainment for the money."

Now, I'm not necessarily saying plays need to be longer (seriously, I've never sat down in an Off-off-Broadway playhouse thinking before the show starts, "Please let this be longer than two hours."). As an audience member I'm often relieved to hear that a play has a short run-time. But still, I wonder how much of that is due to being both spoiled and conditioned? Do I just have a short attention span that prevents me from being able to sit comfortably through a play that lasts longer than two hours?

Well, no, that's not necessarily the case. A lot of it has to do with being burned by unpleasant theatrical experiences that have seemed to go on For. Ever. I agree with Patrick the Poopsmith (seriously, how many more nicknames are we going to give Nosedive's whipping-boy? I think we can come up with a few more.) that part of this is due to actors and audiences of Off-off shows being so conditioned to demand and expect short plays that we're often thrown when confronted with a play with a formidable running length.

It could very well be due at times to actors projecting their own exhaustion upon the audience.

I know that ultimately the run-time is irrelevant. I've seen amazing productions of Hamlet that run a little over four hours (including intermission) without once checking my watch during the show. I've seen plays that have run no longer than 70 minutes that feel like an eternity. (This is the same for most works in other media; I've read 1,100-page novels that have made me want more when I come to the end and 80-page novellas that make me wish were over by around page 20.)

So far, Nosedive has staged one play of mine, Ruins, that ran three hours long (including two intermissions) back in 2002. We received good reviews and good attendance for this show, but we also received some flack (of course) for the long run-time (something that can't and won't be changed about Ruins if it ever is to be staged again. The length is the length and I have no intention to make any substantial cuts, apart from some minor pruning here and there, which would only shorten the show by about five minutes at most). Our shows have hovered between 70 and 100 minutes ever since.

Recently, Pete expressed interest in putting on another epic-length play some time in the near future. Perhaps that's what will happen with my As-Yet-Untitled-And-Unfinished-Superhero-Play-Based-Very-Loosely-Off-Watchmen, since it's certainly shaping up to be a long play. But as always, we shall see.

Dragging it out,

James "Long-Winded" Comtois

Yeah, I'll Admit It

Evil Dead: The Musical was fun. We were in the "Splatter Zone" (i.e., third row) and got sprayed with a lot of fake blood.

The house staff was nice enough to give us ponchos.

Still, I think some of our effects for The Blood Brothers Present worked better, so nyeah.

A true connoisseur of high-brow art,

James "Earl of Frumpshire" Comtois

Monday, November 27, 2006

Morphy, Breathed and Storytelling

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday (as I did), as it's now time for us to all go back to work. Until Christmas, anyway.

While being back in New England this weekend (Vermont for most of my Thanksgiving, New Hampshire for the tail end), I, along with my sister, Ben VandenBoom and Marsha Martinez, went to go see a play in Portsmouth, NH featuring "Old School" Nosedive vet Chris Bujold. The play was a new work, Paul Morphy, written and directed by Noah Sheola, about the life and times of the man considered to be the greatest chess player who ever lived.

Although the play did indeed have minor problems here and there, it was overall a nice and fun show about a man given a rare gift for something in which he has no interest. I was engaged in the play from beginning to end.

Watching this very simple, no-frills show, we (Ben, Becky, Marsha and I) were struck by how rarely we see shows like Paul Morphy nowadays, especially in New York.

In my fair city, most productions are trying to outdo everyone with impressive effects, Big Ideas, convoluted designs and In-Your-Face Polemics trying to Change The World, but rarely do they just want to tell a story.

Storytelling often, in fact, takes a back seat in New York theatre.

I'm not trying to point any fingers here. My company and I are often equally guilty of this. I suppose it comes with the territory of trying to Make Your Mark in the City That Never Sleeps. I imagine that the need to "outdo" everyone else is not nearly as strong in small towns as it does in New York (or other cities where competition is fierce and you have God-knows-how-many plays put on by God-knows-how-many companies on any given night).

There are obviously exceptions here. In fact, I'm winnowing down the options for my upcoming "Best Of" list for the end of 2006 (so far, all plays staged in New York) and I'm happy with everything up for consideration. And I don't mean to imply that all of New York theatre is pretentious and incoherent. But wow, a whole heck of a LOT of it is.

I think this is because we get so caught up in trying to impress everyone we forget about just telling our audiences stories.

(I also don’t want to give the impression that this was a Great or even simply great play. According to my friend Chris who was in it, the writer/director just wanted to write a simple character study and had no ambitions of making Paul Morphy The Next Great Play. Again, it was simply a very good and enjoyable piece that you don’t see the likes of often in the Rotten Apple.)

I am reminded of cartoonist Berkeley Breathed's response to an interview question about whether or not a comic strip can be socially relevant without resorting to pop-culture references:

"Ya know, just reading those words 'socially relevant' made me physically wince just now. Our job is to make people smile. If my cartoons stray into — I'm sorry, I can't type them again ... those words you used above — it's an accidental byproduct in the effort to make ME smile."

Yes, Mr. Breathed's Bloom County strip engaged in social and political satire and dealt with hot-button topics du jour. But what made the strip work was that he never lost sight of his primary goal, which was to make the reader laugh.

The makers of theatre — which, although not as populist as the comic strip, is really different by only a matter of a degree or two — should keep in mind engaging the audience should be their (our) primary goal.

Anyway, since I don't have anything to plug at the moment, I just thought I'd mention this.

Still woozy from all the tryptophan,

James "Big Turkey" Comtois

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I'm off to Vermont. I’ll return on Monday. Have a good holiday, everyone.

Eatin' a bird,

James "Thurman T. Turkey" Comtois

Ps. If you’re either too young or too old to get the reference in today’s nickname...ah, to hell with you.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Altman, 1925 – 2006

Film director Robert Altman died on Monday night at a Los Angeles hospital at the age of 81. The cause of death has not yet been disclosed. Joshua Astrachan, a producer at Altman's Sandcastle 5 Productions in New York City, told The Associated Press that a news release is expected later in the day.

Seen as one of the heavyweights of modern American filmmaking, the Kansas City, Missouri-born director directed such films as M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville and Short Cuts. His latest film, A Prairie Home Companion, was released earlier this year.

Mr. Altman is survived by his third wife Kathryn Reed and five children.

To read an interview with Mr. Altman conducted by Rob Kendt, click here.

Now needing to see more than just Popeye,

James "I'm A Little Behind" Comtois


Monday, November 20, 2006

Getting Laughs, Even

The REVAMPED: The Superhero Diaries fundraiser show went very well, with The Vampire Cowboys getting a packed house of enthusiastic audience members. Our entry, "Captain Moonbeam and Lynchpin," was received quite nicely. I was surprised it got so many laughs, especially since it's a rather humorless script to read. But the audience found it quite funny. I also enjoyed all the other contributions to the show ("Ellie" by Lloyd Suh and "(Blac)cident" by Chad Beckim being my personal favorites).

Like at last year's REVAMPED show, I had what the kids call "a blast." I really can't thank Abby, Qui, Robert and the rest of the Vampire Cowboys enough for inviting me back to participate. Also many thanks are due to everyone who came out and saw this, as well as to Ben VandenBoom, Ben Trawick-Smith (who performed in it) and Patrick "Charlie Willis" Shearer (who ran the slideshow).

For those of you who will be in town during Thanksgiving week, starting tonight, playwright Joshua James is having a limited run of a collection of his shorter works playing at ManhattanTheatreSource. Douglas Ullman Jr. directs. Tickets are $15. I'm hoping to see this before I climb aboard a bus headed for New England in two days.

Too cute for words,

James "The Next Shirley Temple" Comtois

Friday, November 17, 2006

This Sunday...

Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company presents

REVAMPED: The Superhero Diaries

A one-night-only event featuring NYC’s hottest writers

One free beer with admission (as well as drink specials)

Featuring the writing talents of:

Chad Beckim

Andrea Ciannavei

James Comtois

Graeme Gillis

Lloyd Suh

Fights and music from the Vampire Cowboys: Dan Deming, Maureen Sebastian and Andrea Marie Smith

And the magical wonders of The Amazing Amazini

Tickets: $20

One free beer with admission

Sunday, November 19th, 2006 at 8 p.m.

at Bowery Poetry Club

308 Bowery

For tickets and information go to

Plugging like there's no tomorrow,

James "Attention Whore" Comtois Turns 10!

The invaluable Off-off-Broadway resource turns 10 this Sunday. On November 19, 1996, was launched on the Internet. (It was called Martin's Guide to New York Theatre back then.)

If you would like to make a donation to The New York Theatre Experience (the site's nonprofit umbrella company), click here or mail checks to:

The New York Theatre Experience, Inc.
P.O. Box 1606
Murray Hill Station
New York, NY 10156

Make checks payable to The New York Theatre Experience, Inc.

Congratulations, Martin! And happy birthday,!

Wanting some cake,

James "Party Crasher" Comtois

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dancin' Through This Week

Wow, it's Thursday already. This week has gone by mercifully fast.

On Monday, we had our reading for Suburban Peepshow, the next scheduled Nosedive play. Since people laughed a lot throughout, and since it's intended to be a comedy, I guess that means the reading went well. Again, I offer many thanks to all the actors who participated. You guys were great. Nosedive Central is currently perusing spaces to put up this monstrosity, hopefully sometime in March (pending of course the availability of space and money).

Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company's REVAMPED: The Superhero Diaries fundraiser show is now a mere three days away, so we're getting all the final touches together for our entry, "Captain Moonbeam & Lynchpin." Again, it's going up this Sunday night at the Bowery Poetry Club.

Did I mention the price of admission includes a free beer?

And for those of you (like me) who missed last night's blogging panel at CUNY, you can listen to the podcast here. According to panelist Matt Johnston, the evening was a success.

Give it a listen. There's some good stuff here.

Since it looks as thought I have nothing to do for the rest of the day at my day job, I suppose I should take this time to write more of that as-yet-untitled-superhero-play-based-loosely-on-Watchmen (see previous post). When will a rough draft of this be done? I have no freakin' idea. But trust me, folks. I'm dancin' as fast as I can.

Putting Savion Glover to shame,

James "Happy Feet" Comtois

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"India Relief"

Per Joshua James's One Scene New Play challenge, here is a scene from my As-Yet-Untitled-And-Unfinished-Superhero-Play-Based-Very-Loosely-Off-Watchmen. It’s actually two scenes meshed together as one, and it’s pretty long, but at any rate, here it is.

Karen's apartment, Washington Heights, New York. There's almost no furniture, mostly boxes. KAREN, in her late-30s, is wrapping up plates in newspapers and putting them in a box and on the phone. She looks mildly exasperated.

KAREN: Yes, mom. (Sighs.) Look, I don't want you worrying about this, okay? I'm...I didn't say that. I didn't say that. I do appreciate it,! I'm not going to go, okay? I don't have time for it. And you need need to ask me about this first, okay? Oh, stop it! (Guy enters. She waves to him and gestures she'll be off the phone soon.) Don't be giving me that you know that's not true but you can't just assume that I'm constantly open whenever you find something, okay? You know, look. friend's here, I gotta go. We'll talk about this later, okay? Fine. All right. 'Bye. (Hangs up.) Jesus Christ!

GUY: Hey.

KAREN: You made it!

GUY: I did. Was that your mom?

KAREN: It was.

GUY: (Smiles, already knowing the answer.) How is Mrs. Fisher? (Karen makes a dismissive, "Don't' worry about it," gesture. Guy looks around.) You're really doing it.

KAREN: I really am.

GUY: You'll be back.

KAREN: No, probably not.

GUY: How long have you been living here?

KAREN: Twelve years.

GUY: Wow.

KAREN: A third of my life.

GUY: Yowza.

KAREN: Time to move on.

GUY: How does it feel?

KAREN: Feels fine.

GUY: She lied casually.

KAREN: No, really, I'm...I've been here way too long.

GUY: You think?

KAREN: Should have moved out a long time ago.

GUY: Well, I'm going to miss you.

KAREN: Oh, we can get all mushy tomorrow when I actually leave.

GUY: Right.

KAREN: You still have access to a car?

GUY: In the garage getting charged up as we speak.

KAREN: Okay, good.

GUY: (Sees picture on top of an open box. Looks at it.) What is this?

KAREN: (Sees it. Laughs nervously.) Oh. That. Heh. Yeah. That was one of my old...arch foes.

GUY: Really?

KAREN: Well, sort of. Though...not really. He just...heh...uh...he liked to dress up in a costume and break into buildings just so he could get beat up.

GUY: You're kidding.

KAREN: No. Took me a while to figure out what was going on. I thought, "Hey, he's breathing kind of funny. He having an asthma attack?"

GUY: (Laughs.)

KAREN: When I retired he sent me that.

GUY: Huh. You keep some weird company, Tigress...

KAREN: Oh, don't call me that.

GUY: Sorry. Couldn't resist.

KAREN: (Pause.) Well...?

GUY: Well, what?

KAREN: Did you...?

GUY: (Sighs.) I did.

KAREN: And...?

GUY: And...never again.

KAREN: (Nods.) Probably for the best.

GUY: Yeah.

KAREN: Now...don't be too hard on yourself. It's not easy.

GUY: I mean, I kept reminding myself that I wasn't going to get hurt. I couldn't get hurt. But my knees still started shaking, anyway. I thought I was going to fa


KAREN: Did you?

GUY: Sort of. I mean...not really, no. (Pause.) It does hurt, you know. Hurts like a motherfucker.

KAREN: I bet.

GUY: I mean, no broken bones, not even a cut, but...feels like being hit in the chest with a brick.

KAREN: You actually got shot.

GUY: Yeah.

KAREN: Jesus.

GUY: Scary as all hell, too.

KAREN: It is.

GUY: Well, never again.

KAREN: At least you tried.

GUY: Yeah. Guess so.

KAREN: And I mean...the Senate's going to add further restrictions on vigilantism, anyway. It's almost completely illegal.

GUY: I know. They'll probably outlaw Kevril soon.

KAREN: They're planning on it. It's already illegal in some states.

GUY: Yeah. Well, guess it was fun for you while it lasted.

KAREN: Was it? (Pause.)

GUY: (Pause.) The TV still hooked up?

KAREN: Yeah. I thought you'd be coming over and would have a fit if it weren't.

GUY: Thank you.

KAREN: What time is it?

GUY: Six-forty.

KAREN: Turn to the news. (Guy turns on the TV.)

WOMAN'S VOICE: ...At the OsirisTech press conference CEO Jeffrey Michaels announced that Saudi Arabian media company InvestCorp has bought a 40% stake in OsirisTech. Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Saud bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz joined Michaels at the podium today as the announcement was made.

JEFF'S VOICE: The idea that these two nations can no longer work together in a global community is a thing of the past, as is the notion that we can only work together for the trading of obsolete fossil fuels. This is a great business opportunity and I am proud and excited to be a part of this historic event.

WOMAN'S VOICE: This marks the first joint endeavor between a U.S. and a Saudi Arabian company since 1991. Minister Abdul Aziz said at the conference that Saudi Arabia has spent the past several years shifting its economic focus from oil to media companies, and is delighted to be working with OsirisTech. A reception for OsirisTech and InvestCorp employees was held after the conference at the Windows on the World restaurant.

GUY: You know what's weird?

KAREN: What?

GUY: I kinda miss gas stations.

KAREN: Really?

GUY: Kinda.


GUY: I don't know. Always associated gas stations with growing up, for some reason. I guess when I learned to drive. I thought it was really cool.

KAREN: I don't miss them at all.

GUY: I guess so. But I kinda do. A little.

KAREN: Huh. (Pause.) Don't know why he wants to do business with the Sauds.

GUY: He wants to make money.

KAREN: Yeah, but he's already got money.

GUY: Well, he wants more.

KAREN: Yeah. So, what do you want for dinner?

GUY: (Shrugs.) Whatever you want. It's fine with me.

KAREN: Okay, I'll figure something out. (Goes through kitchen.)

WOMAN'S VOICE: ...In addition to visiting very enthusiastic kids at P.S. 114 in Brooklyn to talk about the dangers of drug use, Overman visited the White House today to talk with the President about their options with what to do for New Orleans...

GUY: Overman's on TV.

KAREN: Oh, yeah?

GUY: You ever meet him?

KAREN: What's that?

GUY: Overman. You ever meet him?

KAREN: Uhhh...sort of. Yeah. Once. Back in the '90s.

GUY: Really?

KAREN: Yeah. There was this...India Relief benefit. At one of those press junkets.

GUY: Wow.

KAREN: Yeah.

GUY: What's he like? (She doesn't answer.)

(Lights change but no break in scene. Karen and Guy exit. TOM SHANLEY, a.k.a. "Overman," enters. He is dressed in very fashionable "business casual" attire, is completely bald and has blank white eyes. He comes downstage and sits down in a chair placed centerstage. An INTERVIEWER enters.)

INTERVIEWER: Hi, hi, sorry I'm late.

(The Interviewer extends his hand to Tom, who looks at it with curiosity. Then remembers, right. You shake it. He shakes the interviewer's hand. Note: Tom is what you'd call a...let's be kind..."cold fish," For reasons we'll find out later. He's not the warmest - or relaxed - person you've met, offers almost no facial expression and seems to have no sense of humor. Despite his heroic status, he almost always manages to creep out whomever he's with.)

TOM: It's fine.

INT: It's nice to meet you. I'm Jim.

TOM: Tom.

INT: Now, okay. need anything? Coffee? Water?

TOM: I'm fine, thank you.

INT: Okay, great. Here's your mic. (Hands it to Tom, who puts it on his shirt. Interviewer puts on his.) Let's just test the levels. Speak at regular volume.

TOM: What would you like me to say?

INT: Just say anything. We just need to get the levels down. Keep talking.

TOM: Although I'm not unused to interviews, I don't believe I've done one like this before.

INT: Oh, you'll do fine. Let's face it. These are pretty softball questions...

TOM: That's what I mean.

INT: Well, you yourself. I guess. Or...just do the best you can. We'll edit it to make you look good. Don't worry.

TOM: I'm not worried. You wanted me to keep speaking. That was the only thing I could think of to say.

INT: Oh. Well, heh...okay, then. That...did the trick then. So, I guess we'll start rolling.

TOM: Okay.

INT: (In "We're On Camera" voice.) I'm speaking here with a man who needs no introduction. Sometimes referred to as "The Man of Miracles," more commonly known as Overman, born Tom Shanley. Now, Overman. Or do you prefer Tom? Or Mr. Shanley?

TOM: Whatever you're comfortable with. I have no preference.

INT: Okay, right. So...Overman...? (Tom doesn't react.) You're here with us today because of the recent famine that's plaguing India. Can you tell us what India Relief is all about?

TOM: It's a fundraiser established to ship approximately 40 million tons of food over to India due to the region's recent famine in order to prevent millions of deaths. A long-standing drought that's affected 80% of the country has decimated the nation's crop output and subsequently caused its economy to collapse.

INT: That's awful.

TOM: Yes.

INT: What got you involved with this?

TOM: I've been asked by the President to participate.

INT: Yes, at the charity ball.

TOM: Correct.

INT: You'll actually be surrounded by several other crimefighters, correct?

TOM: That's what I've been told.

INT: Have you met any of them before?

TOM: I don't believe so, no. But then again, they usually wear masks.

INT: (Laughs abruptly. Realizes Tom wasn't trying to be funny. Gets a grip on himself.) Ha. Heh. Uh...yes, right. Heh. Well...are you looking forward to meeting the rest of your crimefighting fraternity?

TOM: Fraternity?

INT: Well, yes.

TOM: I don't know these people. Perhaps it will be nice to meet some. I don't know how much in common I'll have with them.

INT: Right. Well...changing gears, congratulations on your handling of the situation in Waco.

TOM: Thank you.

INT: If you hadn't intervened, that could have ended up disastrously.

TOM: That's what reports say.

INT: Were you at all scared?

TOM: For myself? No.

INT: Well, that's not surprising. You are indestructible.

TOM: I don't know about that, but I can withstand a lot.

INT: Right. But were you scared you weren't going to get the job done?

TOM: Fear is an abstract concept. I wanted to succeed rather than fail, and knew that failure was a possibility.

INT: Okay. Well, last question: is there anything you'd like to tell the people watching this back home in the U.S.?

TOM: Don't break the law. We're closer than you think.

INT: And...okay, we're out. Thanks, thanks, that was great.

TOM: I hope you got what you were looking for.

INT: Uh...sure. Yeah, we can piece something together. (Extends his hand again. This time Tom's a bit quicker to accept it.) Now, who do we got next...okay, Tigress. If you see her out there, can you send her in?

TOM: I don't know who that is.

INT: Oh. Well, she's dressed up like a Tiger. Should be easy to spot.

TOM: Okay. (Tom stands and walks away, Interviewer exits.)

(Karen, dressed in her Tigress outfit, enters. She sees Tom.)

KAREN: Oh my God, hi!

TOM: Hello.

KAREN: It's you. I's really you!

TOM: Who might you be?

KAREN: Oh, sorry. I'm Tigress. It's an honor to meet you.

TOM: It's nice to meet you, Tigress. I recognize the name from the news.

KAREN: Oh wow, really? Well, okay. You can call me Karen. My real name's Karen Fisher.

TOM: I'm Tom. Tom Shanley.

KAREN: This is such a trip! I mean, I got frisked pretty thoroughly coming in here. Those military people are real hardasses. You go through the same thing?

TOM: Not anymore. They know me pretty well.

KAREN: Wow. Cool. You know, my mom's gonna freak about me getting to meet you. I can't believe we'll be working together on this.

TOM: There isn't much required of us, as far as I know. From what I understand, this is mostly an opportunity for photos.

KAREN: Yes, well, still. I'm sorry to gush, but I'm really nervous.

TOM: I'm sorry to hear that. You shouldn't be.

KAREN: So...the papers are starting to say that you can fly. Is that true?

TOM: No. News reports have greatly exaggerated my abilities.

KAREN: Oh. But you can still deflect bullets and, like, disarm tanks by head-butting them, right?

TOM: I suppose so, yes.

KAREN: Wow. (Pause.) So, are you going to go to the meet-and-greet downstairs tonight? I hear Ramses will be there, and The Peacekeeper...

TOM: I've met Ramses. He's an interesting person.

KAREN: Really? They say he's the world's smartest man.

TOM: I wouldn't know anything about that, Karen.

KAREN: Oh. Well, I hope to see you tonight at the-

TOM: -I should probably warn you, Karen, that I won't be able to have sexual intercourse with you.

KAREN: ...

TOM: The Pentagon has reason to believe that my sperm could be toxic to normal people.

KAREN: ...oh...

TOM: It was a pleasure meeting you, Karen Fisher. I think they're expecting you inside for the interview. Will you excuse me? (Exits.)

KAREN: ...oh sure, of course... (Looks sort of stunned, confused. Lights change back as Karen removes her hood/mask. She's back in her apartment with Guy.) He's...he's intense. Or was. I met him just the one time over ten years ago.

GUY: Hey, you brought out the suit!

KAREN: What? (Looks down.) Uh, yes. I guess so.

GUY: Gotta say, it still looks hot on you.

KAREN: Thanks. Uh, are you fine with us just ordering from Tikka To Go?

GUY: Yeah, that's fine.

KAREN: Okay, I'll call them.


© 2006 James Comtois

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tomorrow: On Blogging & Criticism

Tomorrow at CUNY's Segal Center is a panel discussion on blogging and criticism. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend as I'm up to my eyeballs in rehearsal for REVAMPED, but for those who are free, this looks like an event worth checking out.

The panel, moderated by George Hunka, will feature Aussie blogger Alison Croggon of Theatre Notes telephonically from Melbourne, Australia. Alison's a prize-winning poet and playwright and editor of the Australian literary magazine Masthead.

Andy Horwitz, associate producer at P.S. 122 and editor-in-chief of, will join the panel (in person) to talk about the challenges of running a blog for the downtown theatre community and his (and others') visions of what the blogosphere can do to support and energize the community.

Also in person will be blogger, director and all-around groovy guy Matt Johnston, whose blog seeks to stress "the creation of a dialogue and encourage multiple perspectives in theatre and performance." Matt also writes reviews for and was most recently the stage manager for In Public.

The panel is at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, November 15) at the Graduate Center's Martin E. Segal Theatre, 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street. Admission is free.

Doing all his long-distance
calling at CUNY's Segal Center,

James "Hello, China?" Comtois

Monday, November 13, 2006

One Down, One To Go

Friday Sunday Night Fight Club's "Circo Pelear" has now come and gone and went quite swimmingly, if I do say so myself. I for one had a lot of fun, as did (it seems) the audience. Thanks to creator/producer Christi Waldon for inviting me to participate, everyone involved in "The Day it Snowed Tortillas" and everyone who came out and saw this.

Now, the bulk of this week will be spent polishing the rough edges on "Captain Moonbeam and Lynchpin" for Vampire Cowboys' REVAMPED: The Superhero Diaries this Sunday at the Bowery Poetry Club. But first, tonight we have our first reading for the next scheduled Nosedive show, Suburban Peepshow. I'm very curious to hear how this play sounds out loud.

I apologize for having this space being solely reserved for shameless plugging of late; I hope to change that in the very near future. Obviously, these shows have been the only theatre-related items on my mind these past few weeks. But also, when I try to weigh in on some of the other issues going on in the theatre blogosphere (arts funding, the ethics of posting negative reviews on blogs, the pros and cons of script development, what Aaron Sorkin's problem is), I find myself just staring at the blank page for an extended period of time before giving up and moving on to plugging "Captain Moonbeam" (or "Tortillas" or whatever).

My suspicion is that this is due in part to having already written on these subjects many times a while ago and having nothing more to say on them (apart from a sentence or two). This is also due to the bloggers who have brought up these subjects have already written eloquently on the subjects better than I could hope of doing, so I find my own two cents to be of little interest to anyone, including myself.

So, in the meantime, I'll spend this week plugging the REVAMPED show on this site and hope to spend next week (and after Thanksgiving) blathering on about other subjects.

Still kinda liking Studio 60
even though it's pretty damn lame,

James "Dyed-In-The-Wool Sorkin Fan" Comtois

Friday, November 10, 2006

One Last Reminder

This Sunday night at Galapagos in Williamsburg is "Circo Pelear," Friday Night Fight Club's Spanish Fighting Circus. Come see my rendition of a story by Santa Fe storyteller Joe Hayes, "The Day It Snowed Tortillas."

It's only seven bucks and there's free beer from 7 to 8 p.m.

And, on a completely unrelated note, for those who saw the Borat movie (my short review: Damn Funny), Salon does a breakdown of what was staged and what wasn't in it.

And apparently those frat boys in the movie are suing!

I hope to see you guys at Galapagos on Sunday.

Fighting tortillas,

James "Victory Over Lettuce" Comtois

Thursday, November 09, 2006, the Bush Administration and Kitsch

Sidney Blumenthal has written an op-ed piece for entitled "Fall of the house of kitsch." In it, he describes "kitsch" as being "imitative, cheap, sentimental, mawkish and incoherent, and derives its appeal by demeaning and degrading genuine standards and values, especially those of modernity" and points out that the Bush Administration's entire core of values is completely based on kitsch.

Mr. Blumenthal writes:

"The pathology of Bush's kitsch is the endless reproduction of vicarious hatred of the 'other,' who is the threat to the sanctity of what kitsch represents. The 'other' lies beyond the image of the lurking terrorist to the lurking Democrat -- 'America loses.' 'You're either with us or with the terrorists,' Bush said famously. You either have a 'pre-9/11' mind-set or a 'post-9/11' one, according to his strategist Karl Rove, who carefully set the terms of demonization. In the great act of kitsch, Bush et al. apotheosized their fiasco in Iraq into a battle against Hitler -- 'appeasers' ... 'Islamofascism.' By impersonating a historical context, they projected themselves into it."

Anyway, give it a read.

Pure camp,

James "Tacky" Comtois

Tortillas and Superheroes

"Circo Pelear" is now just three days away, and I think (hope) we're ready with our piece ("The Day it Snowed Tortillas," based on a story told by Santa Fe-based storyteller Joe Hayes). Now, as to whether or not we're ready to perform "Captain Moonbeam and Lynchpin" for REVAMPED: The Superhero Diaries by November 19 is another story. Fortunately, we've still got some time for that (10 days).

Actually, I'm just being paranoid. Rehearsals for "Moonbeam" have been going very well (which, of course, is what makes me paranoid).

And Pete just made up this e-flyer for the REVAMPED show.

Pretty cool, huh?

Still giddy about the election results,

James "FWEEEEEEEEE!!" Comtois

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rumsfeld Resigns

From The Associated Press:

GOP Says Rumsfeld Stepping Down


Filed at 12:51 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican officials say Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down. Word comes a day after the Democratic gains in the election, in which Rumsfeld was a focus of much of the criticism of the Iraq war.

The Democrats Win Back The House!


Okay, so it looks as though that the Dems may still be a viable Party after all. This is very much good news.


James “Partisan Hack” Comtois

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Midterm Madness

Well, I just voted and am awaiting the results of the midterm elections (even though New York is a dyed-in-the-wool Blue State, which means there’s a 99.9% chance it'll remain blue). I will say that if the Dems don’t do well in this election, then sheesh, they may be done as a Party.

In the meantime, you should check out George Hunka's and Allison Croggon's corresponding essays on government-sponsored arts funding. I have very little to say on the subject that I haven't already said before, so I'll just hand the floor over to them.

Anyway, get out and vote already.

Rousing rabbles,

James "Rabble-Rouser" Comtois

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pictures and a Review

My Internet connection is running slower than usual today, which means rather than give myself added grief and frustration of trying to post a 1,000-word entry and not have it get posted, I'll be making this one short n' sweet until I can figure out just what the hell is wrong with said connection.

Pete just posted the photos for The Blood Brothers Present: An Evening of Grand Guignol Horror up on Nosedive's site, which look very cool. You can check them out here.

Also, Hunter College's The WORD posted a very nice review about the show (and the company) here.

And I guess with that, we'll be putting the subject of the Grand Guignol show to bed. The next few entries will be about the upcoming shows I'm involved in (both Friday Night Fight Club and Revamped) as well as progress on the next Nosedive play, Suburban Peepshow, which should go up sometime in March.

In the meantime, check out the pictures and the review.

The eye candy of the theatre blogosphere,

James "Delicious" Comtois

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sunday, November 12

It's time for another FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHT CLUB! Only it will be on a Sunday, actually. Sunday, November 12th at 8pm at Galapagos Art Space in the oh-so-fabulous Williamsburg, at 70 North 6th Street.

This will be our biggest and brightest show ever...CIRCO PELEAR hosted by the lovely and delicious MISS ALLISON featuring the artistic stylings of Evan J. Hamm, Steve Rockhold, Michael McGuire, Melissa Nearman, Jason Schumacher, Nathan Lemoine, James Comtois, Katherine Harte, Nathan DeCoux, Daniel Granke, Melissa Ruchong, Amanda Ennis, Catherine Gasta, David Ellis, Christi Waldon, Rocky Noel and Aaron Epstein.

Many of you have not yet experienced the Friday Night Fight Club and it's time to break you in...right...with a CIRCUS!! Not just any circus, but a Spanish Fight Circus at that. There will be Wild Animals, dancing, Sexy Ladies, pantomime, Clowns, drinking, Transvestites, dueling and more fun than you've had or seen in a long time...So come out and party with us and be amazed at the wonders of our kind.

There will be FREE BOOZE from 7-8 p.m. and the tickets are $7 at the door.

So, come out and bring your friends and some tricks, too. Be prepared for a few surprises...

Your carnie barker,

James "Woof" Comtois

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Beginning Captain Moonbeam

Last night was our first rehearsal for "Captain Moonbeam and Lynchpin" for the Revamped: The Superhero Diaries show on November 19, which went very well. We managed to block about 90% of the show and plan on blocking the remaining 10% on Thursday.

Oddly enough, I had written out how I wanted the first scene to be blocked before the other two actors showed up. When Ben VandenBoom (one of the actors and co-director of the show) arrived, he had apparently blocked out the first scene as well and showed me the blocking.

It was exactly what I had written down. As in, exactly what I had written down.

I don't know if this is a sign that we're both uninspired directors or are eerily simpatico with this piece, so I'm going to go ahead and assume the latter for the time being.

I'm thinking this is going to be some fun. I'm not only looking forward to people seeing our piece, but I'm also looking forward to seeing the other writers' pieces.

Tonight we run through my short piece for "Circo Pelear." Yeah, it's going to be a busy week.

Washing his tights,

James "Up, Up, And Away!" Comtois

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