“Something is always going wrong.”
This was the first warning I received when I said I wanted to be an actor. I was up at that fancy dancy art school I spent a year at when I was fourteen, referred to by its adoring prisoners as “The Bubble”. I was speaking to a skinny gay boy from Israel.
He was about the same age as me, but he’d been acting since he was barely potty trained. And these were his words of advice–and caution.
But then I had this acting teacher. She was crazy. And her advice? “STOP THINKING!”
When you’re in front of an audience, there’s no time lapse. There’s no “Let’s fix it in post!” A second of silence sounds like an eternity in purgatory, and at that point you need to shut up and do SOMETHING. Make that shit up if you have to.
I was born crazy. In middle school, the popular kids mocked me behind my back because I thought it was funny to quack like a duck. All. Day. Long.
When I was thirteen, I applied to one of the best arts-focused high schools in the world, and somehow got in.
When I was fourteen, I decided to pursue a career in something that I had no real knowledge of. Nope, I’d never really tried it, but dammit, I wanted to do it!
Five years later, it’s still with me.
When I was just shy of my fifteenth birthday, I left behind the untold opportunities that a prestigious boarding school can bring in favor of my rural hometown and small-time theatre in nearby cities. And I fucking fell in love.
When I was seventeen, I volunteered in Detroit for the fourth summer in a row. And I knew I was made for its cracked sidewalks.
When I was eighteen, I blew my shot at film school in LA because I couldn’t bear to leave it.
When I was sixteen, I lost my religion.
When I was seventeen, I sort of got it back.
When I was nineteen, I became a deacon.
When I was eighteen, I tried stage managing, and suddenly all of crazy was MY PROBLEM.
Also at eighteen, I got a job at a hotel, and learned just how insane (and sometimes mean) people can be.
Now I’m on my third hotel, and I’m doing a lot more than running the front desk. The crazy is well contained and well cared for.
When I was nineteen, I discovered improv and started doing weird shit with no plan for no reason in front of a live audience. Princess-monster-fur-baby eggs implanted in Robin Williams’ corpse? Yes, please.
Now I have enough crazy ass stories to last me a thousand years.
So here it is: Stories about yodeling ostriches, wooden stage backgrounds falling out of the sky, weird hotel guests professing their love for me, sliding down a huge hill on my ass while playing guitar, an eloped baptism that nobody knew about, water shooting out of the wall, everybody forgetting their lines, falling on my ass in front of a full house, and praying that nothing catches fire–again.
Art is designed to break the rules. You have to be head over heels for the insanity.
Let’s talk about what happens when you fall in love with madness.