I’ve been working on a thing recently. And by that I mean mostly thinking about working on a thing and not actually doing it.
But I have recently, through dramatically changing my approach to the project, managed to get the damn thing started. And it’s getting done.
Here was the problem. I pitched a thing several years ago. It included a full outline of what the thing was and a few specifics.
It wasn’t accepted that year, but I re-pitched the exact same thing the next year and it was. So now I had to make a thing that was very specifically mapped out over two years ago and while the concept still excited me the execution of it was done by a guy I now had two years of experience on. I didn’t want to do it his way anymore. But I had to.
Here is how I did it. Maybe this will be useful to you, maker of things.
- Started visually, rather than writing. I spent a good amount of time drawing stuff, characters, props, that kind of thing. I’m pretty shitty at drawing. But it was a new way to go at it. Made my brain work in different ways.
- Worked at it out of order. I’m generally pretty linear in work methodology, even when designing things that are non-linear in nature. I start at the start and work through to the end. This time I started in the middle and worked where I wanted to. I knew things didn’t make sense and made myself ignore it.
- No jokes. Yup. No writing jokes. This is pretty difficult.
- no stage directions. No getting bogged down in detail.
- all supporting characters just numbers. No naming them, no getting involved with them. Just making them be functional.
By applying these parameters to the work I was able to go from doing nothing but worrying about it to currently being about half done and moving forward at a decent pace.
Break old habits.
Get new ideas.
Make your deadline.
I end the show I’m touring at the moment with a straightjacket escape. I do the whole bit with a person out of the audience - innuendo aplenty, all that stuff and then perform the escape as a rather elegant metaphor.
Today I’ve got the girl up - her name’s Flo, or Fiona or Fee-o or something and I’m all “just heave, you’re going to have to hurt me, it’s ok, I like it” all that stuff and she’s kind of nervous and kind of weirded out but having a good time, but a weird time and a little bit hesitant - which is comedy gold - but eventually she heaves on it and the buckle bursts and the straightjacket breaks.
She is mortified.
I think this is hilarious.
For the first time ever in the history of performing this show I’m like “well, you’ve fucked the whole show now.” The buckle’s on the floor. Accusing.
This is the buckle for the arm strap mind - the essential component, the very essence of it being an escape. With no arm strap, there is no escape. It’s a guy undoing some buckles while pretending it’s hard.
I’ve got to do an escape, or - i wasn’t off the mark here - the show is utterly fucked. The whole thing has built to this point, without it, there’s no payoff to nearly an hour of material.
I survey the available resources and get her to wrap me up in gaff tape.
Show back on. All good. Pretty effective escape and the spontaneity keeps everything moving and people are still having a fun fun time.
The show finishes. I have 40 minutes until I have to start another one and no finale. I can’t do another gaff tape escape, not just “hey, here’s what it is.” It’s too weird and comes from nowhere.
I motor with two of the technicians to the university workshop.
Ï need a pop riveter! I’m saying and they nod and talk their tech language.
And a power drill to drill out the old rivets! ok ok ok they nod.
How long til the next show? 20 minutes they say and I plug the drill in and start trying to drill out the old rivets on the buckle.
They’re stainless steel and just get super hot. The leather of the strap that holds the buckle in place starts smoking…
A punch! Get me a punch! They rush back with a punch and hammer and I pop the rivets out with battering force, not before I’ve touched one while it’s still superheated and raised a massive blister on a finger.
Eventually I get four new rivets into the buckle strap, attached back onto the straightjacket. I leave a tech to clean up the massive pile of tools I’ve left as I sprint back to the venue to get the next show started. I have time to eat a piece of chocolate.
The jacket hold up for the show. It only has to do two more until the tour is done.
Why I will never enter a BDSM relationship with John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand
I have been watching the news, reading the papers and following various blogs over the last few weeks and have come to a sad and startling realisation. Were I given the opportunity to enter into a BDSM relationship with Prime Minister Key - with or without Bronagh - I would be forced to firmly decline.
Despite the world of experiences to be found in being John Key’s sub; the delightful power play, the wonders of being restrained and the dance along the boundaries between pleasure and pain, I could not in good conscience accept.
The reason is of course one of trust. When John is flogging me because I have been a bad slave, has tied a string with a 500 gram weight onto my balls to stretch them out, or has his fist in my ass because… um, just because; I want to know that if I say the safe word, he’ll stop, untie me and give me a cuddle.
But I don’t believe he would.
In the last election the NZ public decided to vote for a discipline based relationship. Some because they are masochists and like to be punished, others because they are sadists and figured John would share around his subs when he was done with them.
We chose it. It was consensual. We’re getting what we asked for.
However, when five thousand citizens march on parliament on the issue of asset sales that is the political equivalent of us saying the safe word. It’s time to take a time out, have a quick cuddle and make sure that everyone is still on the same page with what they really want.
And here is why I will never consent to one of John’s play sessions. Because I know that I’ll be sobbing “Poodle! Poodle, dammit! Poodle!” and he’ll just carry on grinning and reaming my ass with a fire extinguisher.
He has a mandate. Sorry New Zealand. You’ve been given a prime ministering.
Actually this isn’t really the behaviour of an elected official at all. It’s that of a king…
Yesterday somewhere between 2000-5000 people marched in Wellington against the government’s plans to partially sell state assets. This followed a similar sized march in Auckland last weekend and a week-long hikoi starting in Cape Reinga. After last year’s record low voter turn out, it would seem…
I write in sporadic little bursts. Stutters and jumps. constantly interrrupted by pacing about or looking out the window.
Even when I know what happens next i often can’t just write it down. I gotta mull it over. Stare out the window a bit. Give it some breathing room in the time between being an idea and being concrete words on a page.
I heard a pre-broadcast version of one of my radio plays. I was pretty pleased with it, but they cut the line “Do you have something inserted inside you sir?”
Pity, because it was pretty funny.
Some of you may know I have a play called Stag Weekend that I wrote with Brendon Bennetts It’s getting workshopped by Auckland Playwrights Collective and The Court Theatre.
That’s pretty cool. I guess i’m used to things moving forward pretty quickly, but stage plays seem pretty glacial in their development speed.
I heard that the end of the world will be rolling around again this year. Much like it did last year with the Rapture happening and all that.
I probably picked a bad time to start a load of long term projects.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in my house putting words in specific orders. Writing a book for adults to read is much more difficult than writing a play for children. It requires many more words. I got to 10 000 words yesterday I think. This is the most I ever wrote about anything. It’s still pretty shit but until it exists I can’t really start making it good. I’ve never been adverse to turd polishing.
It’s a booky thing to expand the world of the also currently in development 2 hander steampunk cabaret show. Merch sales!
I have half a radio play about cannibals written. Every time I open it, I read it and then close it again without doing anything. Stupid cannibals. Why can’t my protagonist defeat you?
I have somewhere between two and four directing contracts lined up. I think I said sometime that I would build all the props for one of them. Why did I do this?
Y&H will produce my play GAMEPLAN in Wellington mid-year.
Radio NZ will be broadcasting my radio plays DRONES and FORBIDDEN BIRDS EMBARRASSED BEES in the near future.
I will do two motivational speaking tours.
So, on paper I seem extraordinarily busy and successful.
SO WHY AM I BROKE? I EVEN STOPPED DRINKING! WHERE IS ALL MY MONEYS! STOP SENDING ME BILLS! I LOST MY PHONE AGAIN! ACK! RETCH! ACk!
(I am 64% complete on Batman: Arkham City. The hell with work. I’m Batman.)
There’s a weird energy in Dunedin tonight. It’s all halloween and occupy dunedin and random people swearing at each other.
I’m in livingspace apartments and trying to write somethign that was meant to be whimsical and fun but gets increasingly more violent and perverse the further I go. I think the swears floating up from the street may have something to do with that.
Or the copious amounts of jagermeister.
I leave to go live in Auckland tomorrow. I got a gig or three lined up. Maybe it’ll be ok.
Local train. Middlesbrough to Darlington. Noise cancelling headphones on, working like earmuffs, this train sounds like a bag of rivets thrown into a cheap washing machine. In front of me scruffy youth, whispy beard, greasy hair. Greaser nerd rather than greaser thug, headphones and laptop rather than headcase with lager.
Finger up nose, first knuckle deep. Look out the window. It’s not a crime, who doesn’t love a good dig now and then? In fact, thinking about it, my nose is itchy, maybe I should join in? Make a carriage feature of it. Resist.
Turn back. Hands conspicuously hidden. Suspect evidence disposal in progress. Some typing. Recall fact about keyboards containing inordinate amounts of germs. Shudder.
Can’t stop watching though. Subject has healing wounds all over knuckles of right hand. Perhaps he punched a guy? Fingernails are chewed and bitten, swollen at the ends. Idly rubs knuckle scabs. Sure. Check ‘em out. Make sure they are still attached, not infected, doing their job. Tendons in fingers tense creating a pincer - NO NO!
Furiously look out window. Crop circles of broken bricks. Scrub. Train lines. Don’t look back, don’t — glance back, exposed white meat, red leaking circle. MY EYES!
Back out the window. Must not look. Must not look.
Must. Not. Look.
I look. Fingers in mouth. Fingers out of mouth. Chewing.
I tell a lie at the end of my show (it’s scripted, I didn’t write it) which is “if you’d like to come up and say Hi i’d be really pleased to meet you.”
I think people can tell I’m lying when I say this as mostly they don’t. I prefer this. The show is the show, I’m not the person that was in the show, I’m way more boring and anti-social, let’s just leave it at that.
I have a sneaky suspicion, and I may be way off on this, but that socially aware people pick up on my non-verbal cues which are actually screaming “DO NOT COME AND TALK TO ME” and so concequently I tend to get a bias towards odd folk.
Best opening lines by people who do come up:
"You should’ve hurt yourself more."
“Where did you get the straightjacket?’
“So, socially I think I have the biggest problem with the ladies.”
“When you were talking about people with maps I just started crying… coz that’s what I’m like”
“I can’t believe you are actually a doctor!”
“say fish and chips”
“Do you want to come to the mac store?”
If I know New zealand primary school educators there’s going to be a rash of All Black acrostic poem assignments being handed out. Kids! Cheat! Just copy one of your Unky Dan’s poems here and watch as you get extra attention from your teacher, guidance counsellor and police community liaison officer!
I got back to the guesthouse where I am staying after a long walk and an even longer session of drinking with buskers. I washed my feet in cold cold water and then fell on the bed and passed out.
My jetlag woke me up, and I stumbled back to the bathroom, pissed and glugged down several glasses of water.
There was a knock on my door.
Why is housekeeping here I wonder. Surely it’s not 10am. What the hell is the time? How long have I been asleep for? Where are my pants? Maybe I imagined it.
"hello?" knock knock.
What the fuck? I pull on pants and open the door. Standing there are two eastern european beauties in their pyjamas. It is 2am. I am still drunk and 70% still asleep. I’ve seen adult movies, I know how they start. What the hell is going on?
“we hef locked ourselves out of room.”
“Do you have phone?”
“Oh. Right. Yeah, here you go.”
“Can you call? My english is so bad.”
So at 2am I take out the NZ sim card on my phone, put in the UK one i just bought. Activate the sim card by calling the top up menu, then find the after hours emergency number in the room info. Call, wake a guy up, explain the situation to him. hang up. Explain slowly several times to the pyjama-ed ukranians that he will be there in 20 minutes and they have to wait quietly downstairs.
Waiting quietly must’ve been lost in translation. I lie in my bed and listen to them chat back and forth.
Been on the go for 19 hours. Drinking a coffee so i don’t fall asleep in the airport and miss my flight coz you can’t go through the gate until the LAST POSSIBLE MINUTE.
Feel like ass. Reconstituted ass. not even the genuine article.
got another 13 hour flight coming up. Gonna sit down and put on headphones and sunglasses and take a pill and drift away to a land of sleeps where i will probably drool on a stranger.
STRANGERS! PREPARE YOURSELF FOR MY DROOL!
Wandering Comic Hobo
Drinker of poor quality wines
Cold Cuts a specialty
Magical wizard of theatrical happenstance
your mom likes him. In the ass.
Will work for food and praise
Eldest child syndrome
Tear this card up and your wishes will come true
Not a robot (unless that’s what you want)
Did a thing one time, it was quite good.
a lot of potential
Wearer of hats
This man stole my identity in 2006 in a barfight in winnipeg
Not redeemable for cash
In my 150 odd blog posts/reblogs/cute kittens far and away the most popular one has been DEAD BALLERINAS.
This says a lot about who is on the internet.
Now I am worried that I am glamourising death to the easily swayed.
Do not drown yourself in the Lake. You’re missing the point. Life is too too short. Being dead is only sexy until your body gets cold and stops being pliable. And that’s what, an hour max? And that’s if you don’t shit yourself, which I bet would show up really badly in one of those white leotards. You can do much better being alive. If it makes you feel better we can pop down to McDonalds and i’ll buy you a cheeseburger and some smokes. I know you live on that shit. I don’t think they do that spotlight thing anymore anyway, too many punters wouldn’t get it and would want a refund and nothing’s about beauty and everything is about economics.
Tonight will be my last performance at Scared Scriptless in the forseeable future. I have worked as a professional improviser for the Court Jesters for nearly ten years. I have met many of my favourite people through it as well as many of my favourite creative collaborators. My work there exposed me to the Court Theatre who have given me many interesting and exciting opportunities to act, write and direct.
Despite that I am glad to be leaving. There is little thrill remaining in it. I will never know if I can run if I don’t drop the crutch. But the unknown, the void and the danger in that - this appeals to a me that spent years touring Canada with a backpack of props, a chip on my shoulder and an exotic accent.
In the words of Captain Cook as imagined by Brendon Bennetts.
“Exploration! Adventure! Discovery!”
I’ve got a contract that will pay me enough to live on a fair while. I got a skillset that I carry around in my brain and in my meat flesh. I got a hat.
For those of an international persuasion, or those who avoid the news, internet and water coolers a quick recap. Here are the facts: (also, how are you reading this?)
1) NZ will host the rugby world cup in 2011.
2) Telecom NZ is a major sponsor of both this event and the All Blacks (I’m not actually fact checking this, but it sounds plausible- It’s one or the other or both, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR YOU PEDANTS. Or for fact checking, I am a creative free spirit!)
3) Telecom hired an advertising company to create an awesome, hilarious, provocative campaign to show their involvement and support of the national rugby team.
4) They came up with, “If you stop fucking, the All Blacks will win.”
5) Multiple people signed off on this. So many people had to agree with this for it to become a reality. Some poor advertising/teleco/casting intern had to let Sean Fitzpatrick do despicable things things to her in order to convince him to drive around in a fisting-mobile with a cock ring on it, that would not look at all out place in a Pride parade, while delivering a HUMOROUS and SUGGESTIVE monologue, after being given several valium. (no fact checking here either, conjecture at best)
6) NZ public loses it at how blatantly shit this idea is. Also several MUCH better jokes (I’d rather root for the All Blacks etc) are devised and meme-orised onto the internets.
7) Telecom bails on campaign.
And that is why comedy should be written by comedians. The problem is not “I thought New Zealanders would have a better sense of humour over this, but apparently you can’t say anything about the All Blacks” What the fuck? The problem is not that we don’t have a sense of humour, nor that the All Blacks are untouchable as material. The problem is the JOKE DOESN’T WORK. It isn’t funny. There’s your problem right there. If it’s in anyway ‘provocative’ and ‘edgy’ it’s because if makes no sense! It is the comedy of the seven year old who has found out if he shouts “Penis!” in assembly the other kids will laugh.
It also smacks of social conservatism, moralising and being told where I can and can’t put my bits. And I feel I can speak for a great number of people in this nation of ours when I say that my bits will go wherever they are allowed, as frequently as I can get them there, thank you very much. The spirit, and indeed comedy of New Zealand has always been ‘Jack is as good as his master.’ To try change that to “the master says you can only Jack” is never going to work.
In conclusion, I have a time critical project on and am avoiding it by writing this.
Today I have resisted the following IMMATURE and CHILDISH THINGS
- Drawing crying minotaur on myself with vivid
- posting obscure song lyrics as status updates/tweets
- sitting in the snow as an endurance test
- eating raw sugar
- working on anything that could be deemed useful or productive by the National Government
An old tradition of the ballet is that if a prima ballerina dies while in a show, they do the show the next day without replacing her and just move the spotlight through the space she would’ve occupied, marking out the path she no longer inhabits.
If you can correctly pronounce every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he'd prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.
Very soon my final two contracts in Christchurch will finish up. When that happens I will have a short while to potter about (maybe finish Mass Effect 2 on hardcore) do a smattering of gigs, spend a day or three in Dunedin watching Avenue Q and seeing my dear friend Kathleen Burns.
Then I have a month of things to do in the UK, talking to university students about how to not be dicks and seeing my dear friend Mister Javier Jarquin and his charming fiancee.
When I return to New Zealand I plan to move to Auckland as there are no large contracts in Christchurch that I could pitch for until at least February next year. So, I’m going to go see what I can scrape around and find elsewhere. Hopefully there is a space in their industry for me.
It is very nerve wracking, as I am leaving behind what was a succesful little mini-empire. But it is no more, it is fallen and I must move on.
If you have a gig, I’ll do it.
My skills are: comedy, improv, acting, writing, directing, juggling and barrel making.
I did a thing a while ago, where I was booked to write and perform a comedy lecture for the university of about a half an hour in duration with slides and things.
It was a lot of fun, we ended up having to do it extra times due to the popularity of it (caused in no doubt by the attendence of Misters Paul Ego and Leigh Hart from the television) and I must say I was very pleased with how my piece “Other People’s children 101” went. It had excellent laugh to talk ratio (primary goal) as well as being a bit offbeat and dark (personal goal)
I also got several tweets about the thing, saying how people had enjoyed it and whatnot. Boy, I thiought, the internet is great!
And finally as I headed off to the land of slumbers i received as a comment on my youtube channel
"You’re fucking shit. went to thing at university tonight what a waste of my time even though it was free. What a fucking wanker."
Boo. The internet is shit.
The longer I do these things the more I am impressed by people who decide to start careers in comedy or just generally put themselves out in public, esecially who make these choices later in life. If i’d known when I started what I know now about getting random asshats sending me hatemail or trolling my internets which is IN MY HOUSE NOT EVEN DURING THE GIG I dunno if i’d have the balls. But I was stupid and full of angry testosterone. And now i’ve dug my hole and must lie in it.
Yesterday i went to a meeting looking suspiciously like a hobo, in a suit, driving a sports car. The meeting was with someone i had never met but who wanted to engage my services as a comic writer. I said yes. I have a difficult task but i think a good deal. We shall see. I already wrote some jokes for them and that is ahead of schedule.
The outline is due on monday.
Today i was at coffee looking like a hobo in a hoodie most likely up to crimes, when i got a phone call. Did i remember that big project? Y’know, that one? Well it’s due in two hours, oh what’s that you haven’t done shit on it. Ok, i’ll see if i can get the deadline extended for you.
The outline is due Monday.
This afternoon i went to a meeting looking like a hobo with a hangover driving a stolen car. Everyone showed me reinterpretations of the pictures i had drawn for them except now they were good. I nodded a lot. I think one time i said something insightful. I’m so the director. I never knew that wanting everyone to have shiny buttons would be what broke the budget. Then we went to the pub.
Believing stuff is very important to me. If you’re making things in an imaginary world, as I do a lot of the time for most of my various works, you rely on the ability of the human brain to construct a separate reality from the one they are in. In the business we call this the ‘suspension of disbelief’ to make it seem safe. But it is not safe. Not at all. It is loaded with power and horror and worry and fear. There is no suspension of disbelief. There is just belief or not. We, as humans, are wired to believe. And as a theatre practitioner, an occasional magician and the writer and performer of a haunted walk I’ve learnt maybe one or two things about the convincing of folk that stuff which is imaginary is real. But first, lemme digress a little and talk about sports.
Those of you who know me will maybe be a little surprised to hear this but you know what I like to do every now and then? I like to get a bit boozed (no surprises so far) and watch the rugby. Yup. I like it. Only if the game means something, I won’t go watch Marist play St. Bedes and think that that means anything (on account of it doesn’t. It’s like me watching No Sex Please, We’re Sixty by The New Plymouth Repertory Theatre for acting tips) but say it’s some sort of final thing. Sure. I’ll even yell at the TV.
And as I watch it, despite my lack of A) sporting prowess B) knowledge of the intricacies of rugby C) aspirations to be a professional sports person I still believe. I carry that most quintessential NZ dream, I could be an All Black, if I got my shit together and did some running and whatnot. This is utter bullshit. There is not a chance I could do so. Not for a minute. But I get caught up in it. Caught up in the excitement of the moment. And this isn’t something I do regularly. Maybe once or twice a year.
Imagine if you did this once a week. I dunno, every Sunday maybe? You would be practising believing wouldn’t you? Getting good at it.
Here’s a thing about the internet (which I love dearly, but sometimes it is shit) no matter what you’re into, you can find someone else who is in to it as well. That’s so important I’ll say it again.
On the internet, no matter what you’re into, you can find someone else who is in to it as well.
What if that person kept reinforcing what you were into as well? You could normalise it just like that.
Then you could probably quite easily make the leap that people that didn’t believe the same things as you were inhuman, evil and threatening your way of life. I mean, you’ve done all this practice… what are they saying? That you can’t be an All Black? But that’s the NZ dream! Fuck them!
You’d probably get crazy angry. I mean you’ve invested so much in something that you’ve forgotten was never real.
Dogmatic, unthinking belief in anything is dangerous. Extreme belief even more so. The human brain is created to recognise patterns and draw meaning from them. If you constantly reinforce patterns that are based on imaginary terrors, on the fear of migrants ruining your country, on the correctness of one political system, on the purity of your crusade then you will find you can justify pretty much anything to yourself.