Monday, March 31, 2008

Babylon Babylon Fundraiser

Since Colorful World is cast, yet rehearsals haven't yet started, I figured I'd take some time to plug another event that I plan on attending this eve. Join me?

As a means of raising funds to finance production costs of maintaining a thriving mercantile/religious/political metropolitan center on the eve of its spectacular downfall, Piper McKenzie and The Brick Theater present:

The First Ever
Fundraising Fête

At the Kush Lounge
191 Chrystie Street, Manhattan
Monday, March 31 7-9 p.m.

A mere $10 will get you:

Drink Specials
1/2 Price Hookahs
Little Tchotchkes

and Performances such as:

Bellydance by Amantha

Adam Swiderski's painfully earnest singer-songwritery goodness

Lyricist of the Blasé Romaine Belavacqua

The inimitable Cousin Hubie

A Middle Eastern dance lesson from Rasha Zamamiri and, by special arrangement with Piper McKenzie, a musical appearance by Bill "the Yeti" Yetison

The pre-YouTube world premiere of The Babylon Babylon Coming Attraction Promo Trailer Film Teaser

And (as the kids say) MORE!

All proceeds go directly to the ever-mounting production costs of Piper McKenzie's latest show, Babylon Babylon, written and directed by Jeff Lewonczyk, opening at the Brick April 18.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Coming Very, Very Soon...

Nosedive Productions Presents

Colorful World

A new play by James Comtois

Directed by Pete Boisvert

Abe Goldfarb* — Jessi Gotta — Marc Landers — Jason Liebman*
Mac Rogers — Patrick Shearer — Ben VandenBoom
Christopher Yustin

*Denotes member of the Actors Equity Association

The 78th Street Theatre Lab
May 8-10, 15-17, 22-24, 29-31, Thursday through Saturday, 8 p.m.

In 1988, the world discovered a man who was indestructible, impervious to pain, and able to destroy a tank with his mind.

In the early- to mid-nineties, a craze where vigilantes dressed up in flashy costumes and fought crime took the nation by storm.

Now it's 2005. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are still standing. Hurricane Katrina has decimated New Orleans. The Iraq War is coming to a close. And several former costumed crimefighters realize their marks on the world are more akin to those of has-been rock stars.

This is Colorful World, Nosedive Productions' latest full-length production that takes on the superhero genre. Far from a pulpy comic book-style romp, James Comtois and Pete Boisvert (The Adventures of Nervous-Boy) envision a world radically changed by the arrival of an invincible man, and not necessarily for the better.

Colorful World will be performed at the 78th Street Theatre Lab (236 West 78th St. at Broadway) May 8-10, 15-17, 22-24, 29-31 (Thursday through Saturday). All shows are at 8 p.m. and tickets are $18. Subway: 1 to 79th Street; A to 81st Street; or 1 2 or 3 to 72nd Street. Tickets will be available soon.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008


Colorful World is now fully-cast! BOO-YAA!

We've got a great lineup of talent in this show, folks, with a nice blend of elder Nsoedive vets and Nosedive newbies. You're not gonna want to miss this.

I'll give you more details very, very soon.

A total tease,

James "That Chick You Met At The Bar Last Night" Comtois

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Rainbow Kiss Review For

My review of Rainbow Kiss is now up on

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At one point Ewan MacGregor's character Renton shouts out in the movie Trainspotting: "It's SHITE being Scottish!" Simon Farquhar's brilliant new play... [keep reading]

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Three-Day Weekend!

Well, we've finished auditions for Colorful World, which really was an "embarrassment of riches" going in (pretty much everyone who auditioned, which was a mix of Nosedive regulars and people whose work we've admired for a while, did so beautifully) and I sent Martin my review for Rainbow Kiss, which should be posted on Saturday night.

I just have to proof something at my work and I am done for the week. WOO-HOO!

I'm spending my Saturday night seeing this piece of awesomeness again. Then on Sunday, this.

Anyway, have a good weekend, folks.

Checking the fuck out,

James "Yo' Mamma" Comtois

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Slay at Theatreforte has asked what the value of theatre is, and many people have been answering. I'm pretty much offering a non-answer here (i.e., more of an explanation as to why I'm not answering).

Do other creators in other media ask themselves this? Nobody asks what the value of music is, or the value of film.

I mean no offense or disrespect to the idea, but frankly, I'm getting pretty sick of having to justify my existence every three to six months. Yes, I've been asked the question before and I've answered it, but I do think I'm pretty done with the subject.

And the thing is, this question isn't being asked by people outside the realm of theatre blogging (maybe this is because people aren't so rude as to ask in parties: "Why the hell do you write plays?"), so I find it more than bizarre that people involved in theatre don't find the values of theatre self-evident. Again: no musician goes, "Why does music exist?" So what's up with the self-loathing amongst playwrights, directors, designers and actors?

(Yes, I find asking this question a form of self-loathing. I could be wrong, and people are welcome to correct me on this, but there's such an air of desperation about the question.)

I'm sure there will be some good, insightful answers to the question in the blogosphere. I just wanted to explain why you won't find one here. I'm tired of justifying my interests, passions and overall existence.

A wet blanket,

James "Irrelevant" Comtois

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The Dojo Strikes Back

Joshua James brilliantly explains why The Empire Strikes Back is not only the best Star Wars film, but why it's also in and of itself a great film.

Stroking his Wookiee,

James "Solo Pilot" Comtois

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Auditioning on St. Patty's Day

We're holding auditions for Colorful World tonight and tomorrow night, so with a little luck, we’ll have this puppy cast by the end of the week and begin rehearsals shortly thereafter.

True, this means I have to hold off on starting the second season of The Wire (I finished off the first season this weekend after my sister lent me her boxed set last week), I can't wait to start the real work for the play.

I’m also not exactly crippled with grief that I'll be too busy to check out the bars tonight. Although yes, I am a drunk, I despise the bar scene on St. Patrick’s Day.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on the progress of Colorful World as events unfold.

Drinking green beer at the audition studio,

James "Theatre Professional" Comtois

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Michael Gardner Talks Of Going Underground

You like my "witty" headline? Ah? Aahh...?

Okay, fine.

Anyway, Michael Gardner, creator/director of the The Brick's adaptation of Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground, talks to Gothamist. Check it out.

And if you still haven't seen the show itself, check that out as well. It closes March 22.

Crashing dinner parties,

James "Disgusting Whore-monger" Comtois

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Very Well Said

Take Daniel's advice. Stop hemming and hawing and just do it.


James "GO! NOW!" Comtois

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

1408 (Mikael Håfström, 2007)

I find myself rather surprised to be writing an entry on this recent horror film, primarily because of my overall apathy towards the current spate of PG-13 horror films (Gremlins notwithstanding) as well as my overall indifference towards most current American horror films in general (not that I haven't seen any good horror movies made in the last decade, I have; it's just that very few I've seen have made a huge impression). I guess 1408 is the exception that proves the rule (George Romero’s film’s notwithstanding).

Mikael Håfström's film 1408, based on a short story by Stephen King, is perfectly cast, expertly paced, and grounded just enough in reality to make the story captivating.

Plus, let's face it: it's pretty gosh-darned creepy.

1408 is a take on the "Haunted Hotel/Haunted House" motif, although those thinking that this is a retread of King's novel (and subsequently Stanley Kubrick's film) The Shining will be mistaken: whereas the core of The Shining is Jack's alcoholic demons coming out of the woodwork to eat him alive, the core of Håfström's film is the protagonist confronting profound feelings of grief from the loss of his child.

However, like The Shining, 1408 plays on people's inherent fears of hotel rooms. What makes the titular hotel room so ominous is its banality: rather than emulate the hotel room and lobby of the one in Barton Fink, it's décor mirrors about 90% of the hotel rooms I've stayed in. "Hotels are a naturally creepy place," the hero states at one point in the film. "Just think, how many people have slept in that bed before you? How many of them were sick? How many...died?"

What also makes 1408 exceptional is that it's ostensibly a one-man show that more or less takes place in one location (one could argue that this could make a pretty good stage play). The casting of John Cusack is inspired; he's arguably one of the most genuinely likable performers working in film today. His smug and charming persona mirrors our own skepticism and his confidence...

(Cusack really sells the line: "I know that ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties...don't exist. And even if they did, there's no God to protect us from them, now is there?") the audience a false sense of security.

In 1408, Cusack plays Mike Enslin, a hack writer who writes a series of books based on supposed haunted houses and haunted hotel rooms. He thinks it's all a bunch of bull, but what the hell? It's what he gets paid for.

At one point, Mike gets an anonymous tip about room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel in New York, and decides that that's where his next trip will be (he even notices what the numbers in the hotel room add up to). The hotel manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) pleads with him to stay out of that room, and points out that 56 people have died gruesome deaths in that room, most of them by their own hand. What's wrong with the room? According to Mr. Olin, it's simply "an evil fucking room."

Does that scare off our intrepid and non-believing hero? Of course not. Mike Enslin insists on having the key, and Mr. Olin (who's ultimately legally obligated to rent out the room) reluctantly obliges.

And of course, was Mr. Olin just blowing smoke? Well, hell. We all know Mike Enslin's not going to have a peaceful and undisturbed slumber in this hotel room. This is, after all, based on a story by Stephen King.

Sure enough, weird shit starts to happen, from ominous the radio clock playing the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" despite being unplugged to the phone melting in Mike's hand to (something simultaneously very funny and ultra-creepy) the toilet-paper roll refolding itself into a neat little triangle when Mike's back is turned.

Not only that, several ghosts from Mike's tortured past, including his dead father and his dead daughter (whose premature death ended his relationship with his wife), decide to keep him company.

Despite the fine writing and direction, I'm not 100% sure just how effective 1408 would be with an actor other than Cusack: he carries the bulk of this film on his shoulders. You truly empathize with Mike Enslin and his terror and pain, and part of what makes the movie succeed as a horror film is that you really want these nightmarish atrocities to stop being inflicted on him.

Ultimately, 1408 is a brilliant example of how the slow and steady building of tension and suspense can offer scares over violence and gore. This is especially noticeable when you compare the genuinely scary PG-13 1408 to the completely un-scary R-rated Hostel and Saw films.

Checking the sheets with UV lights,

James "I'll Sleep in the Car" Comtois

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Fight Girl Battle World

Ever wondered what it would look like to see Star Wars live on-stage? Now's your chance. Fight Girl Battle World may be the most relentlessly fun show Vampire Cowboys has staged. And if you've ever seen a show by them, you know that's really saying something. If you've never seen a show by them, now's the time to start.

Everyone on board, led by writer/fight choreographer Qui Nguyen and director/video designer Robert Ross Parker, has brought their A-Game to Fight Girl Battle World, which, from the fights to the puppetry to the soundtrack to even the hilarious opening PSA with Boba Fett and a tauntaun (if you don't know what a tauntaun is, to hell with you), is pure fun from start to finish.

Fight Girl Battle World tells the story of ex-military General Dan'h (played by Temar Underwood) who, after feeling guilty about annihilating the human race, goes on a quest to find E-V (Melissa Paladino) and Adon-Ra (Noshir Dalal), the last humans in the known galaxies, and get them to...well...mate (what E-V and Adon-Ra have to say about this is irrelevant) before Commander G'Bril (Andrea Marie Smith) and President Ya-Wi (Jon Hoche) hunt them down and destroy them.

Along for the ride is LC-4 (Paco Tolson), E-V's endearing-yet-kind-of-a-dick robot sidekick and J'an (Maureen Sebastian), General Dan'h's ultra-sexy pilot (oh, wait; J'an's a dude).

Many kick-ass battles, chases and fights ensue.

Fight Girl Battle World riffs on many tropes familiar to geeks like me (Star Wars, Tomb Raider, even Isaac Asimov's Laws of Robotics) but still manages to stand alone as its own coherent story. It's also funny as all hell.

Some things I particularly got a kick out of (that I'll describe in a cryptic enough way so as to not spoil it for y'all):

* An outer space dogfight a la Star Wars/Battlestar Galactica done as hand-to-hand martial arts combat scene.

* General Dan'h's ship's "warp drive."

* The President's shape-shifting.

* The use of frames and pantomiming.

* The lizard J'an and E-V ride.

* pretty much every single fight scene in the show.

* Gree-Gree (I ain't explaining this at all, folks. Just buy your damn ticket and see for yourself).

I've always been amazed - and continue to be amazed - by how Robert and Qui manage to make the action and humor in their plays simultaneously over-the-top, yet never push the jokes too far into straight-up camp. It's funny, but it's never so ridiculous you stop caring about the story or rooting for the characters.

I'm also amazed that the Vampire Cowboys folks have never repeated themselves. Even though it clearly has the company's sticky little fingerprints all over it, Fight Girl Battle World is a completely different theatrical experience than Men of Steel, Living Dead in Denmark or A Beginner's Guide to Deicide.

This is definitely the company's most ambitious show to-date: the ambition that the cast and crew have brought to the table with Fight Girl Battle World has clearly paid off.

I really can't recommend it enough. Tickets for this thing are gonna go fast, so get them as soon as you can. Trust me, you're going to have tons of fun seeing this.

Off quarding himself,

James "Flimrack" Comtois

Also features Elena Chang and Kelley Rae O'Donnell.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Ian From Praxis Theatre Interviews Mac Rogers

Check it the fuck out, bitches.

I particularly like:

"No matter how sophisticated or subtle you think your play is, at some level the audience can sense the innate basic movement of the piece, and can sense just as keenly when you’ve gone off the rails. They start shifting in their seats. They start getting hungry and tired."

Very well put, Machary!

Layin' the smackdown,

James "Gentle Giant" Comtois

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Movie Quote Quiz

Mr. Joshua James tagged me with a meme that looks like fun. So let's play.

Here’s how it works:

Look up 15 of your favorite films on IMDb and take a quote from each. List them below. When someone guesses the quote correctly, I cross it off the list.

Here are mine, some are patently obvious, while others may be less so. Leave a comment with your answers.

Below are the answers, with credit given to those who first answered correctly.

1. What about glitter? When I was a headliner in Paris, audiences always liked it when I sparkled. This is right, lil' Becky Comtois: Ed Wood.

2. Ned, you remember that drover I shot through the mouth and his teeth came out the back of his head? I think about him now and again. He didn't do anything to deserve to get shot, at least nothin' I could remember when I sobered up. Ian got this one: Unforgiven.

3. You, flock of seagulls, you know why we're here? Why don't you tell my man Vincent where you got the shit hid? Correctamundo, Mr. Freeman: Pulp Fiction.

4. France isn't - you know - perfect, or anything, but - it's just - oh, slightly less evil than the United States. This one, I admit, was a tough one, which is why I don't think anyone caught it: Crumb.

5. She's not my special lady, she's my fucking lady friend. I'm just helping her conceive. Both Pete and Kid Sistois got this one: The Big Lebowski.

6. This may smell bad, kid, but it'll keep you warm until I get the shelter up... Ugh. And I thought they smelled bad on the outside. Actually gonna have to give this one to Mr. MattJ (though, very close, Adam): The Empire Strikes Back.

7. They just shoot a bolt in their head, and then retract it. It's just BOOM-shht-BOOM-shht. Right again, Becky and Pete: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

8. Hi, there. I want to talk to you about ducts. Right again, Freeman: Brazil.

9. We're about to make film history, right here... on videotape. That's absolutely right, Pete: Boogie Nights.

10. I have to get more pudding for this trip to Hawaii. As I just said that out loud I realize it sounded a little strange but it's not. Well done, Adam: Punch Drunk Love.

11. You're a beautiful girl, I couldn't imagine you'd have any interest in me except as an amusingly cranky eccentric curiosity. Kid Sister Comtois is on a freakin' roll: Ghost World.

12. This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Well, it used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to *eat* it. You're hypocrites, all of you! You have a problem with what I'm saying, Larry? You got it, Pedro: Groundhog Day.

13. My grammy never gave gifts. She was too busy getting raped by Cossacks. Correct again, Mr. Szymkowicz: Annie Hall.

14. When you see the girl in the picture that was shown to you earlier today, you will say, "this is the girl". The rest of the cast can stay, that's up to you. But that lead girl is "not" up to you. Now you will see me one more time, if you do good. You will see me, two more times, if you do bad. Good night. Correct again, MattJ: Mulholland Dr.

15. So this guy walks into a bar and he says to the bartender, "Can I use your phone?" The bartender says, "Sure." So he wipes his ass on it and the bar - What? Ah, shit. I just told you the punchline. Been telling this joke so fuckin' long, I knew I'd fuck it up. And, as I figured, Kid Sister got this one as well: The American Astronaut.

Seeing too many movies,

James "Well-Balanced" Comtois


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Zombies on YouTube

You know what I'm psyched to see in less than two hours?


Oh. Yes.

Super deep,

James "Intemellect" Comtois

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Stuck! Review for

My review of Stuck! is now up on

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What an odd and fun little play this is. Writer/performer Jennie Franks has created Stuck!, a one-woman show where she plays a woman locked in a basement bathroom... [keep reading]

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