"I guess I have a lot of problems, so many that I don't have time to go into them all in detail. Suffice it to say I'm anal, obsessive, vain, quick to temper, overly introspective, lazy, judgmental, insecure, and self-righteous. Probably the most annoying thing about me is that I'm hugely opinionated. But I kind of make up for that by always being right."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Unsettling Accounts (Part 1)

This is a cautionary tale -- not funny, but heartfelt -- about four good friends I lost by mixing money with friendship.

The first was Jeannene Hansen. She was an ardent supporter from the earliest days of my first one-man show, and many nights after a performance we would go over what had worked in the show and what hadn’t. She was also just a wonderful person, and for years one of my very best friends. But when she put together a proposal to produce that show theatrically and I rejected it in favor of a more experienced producer, she cut me out of her life. Though I have no memory of having led her on in her quest to produce the show, I believe it is entirely possible I did, and, if so, I am truly sorry. It was a heady time for me, and I can be a selfish prick. I recently sought Jeannene out on the Internet and was happy to see that she is very successful, having written the definitive book on holography. There was also a picture of her in one of the articles, and she looked great.

A similar thing happened with my friend Kevin Pollack. He and his partner, Lucy Webb, produced my second one-man show at a theater in San Francisco. They were both incredibly supportive and nice. We had an agreement that they would also produce the “special” of the show, if there ever was one. When I was getting ready to do a sitcom loosely based on the show, they wanted to produce it through their production company at Warner Brothers. I wanted them to as well, but both my manager and my agent convinced me that it would hurt my chances of getting it on the air. They took this rejection as both a personal and a professional affront. Which, if I’m really honest with myself, it was. I don’t know Lucy all that well, but she is one of the funniest women I have ever met. But it’s Kevin I really miss. Nobody could make me laugh the way Kevin did. He’s one of those genuinely funny people who can “riff” on any subject and have you on the floor. And who would have guessed that he could act, too? Today, I find myself ashamed that I chose money over these good people.

(To be continued)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Stop Teasing Me!

I love movies. I own a 73-inch high-def TV, and over 4,000 DVDs. Probably the worst thing I could imagine seeing, before settling back to watch a great movie, would be footage of my children being tortured. Thank God that’s never happened. The second worst thing I could imagine seeing would be actual scenes from the movie I’m about to watch. As strange and perplexing as this may sound, this happens all the time.

Ignoring the fact that seeing part of a movie right before watching that movie often spoils it by giving away crucial plot points, I can’t understand why studios insist on pitching a movie to me that I’ve already bought or rented. What is the point of this “tease,” other than to infuriate and confound the viewing public?

I guess maybe I should just be happy that filming my kids being tortured is apparently less cost efficient than simply ruining my viewing experience by giving stuff away.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Thespian and Proud

Last weekend I premiered my new show, "Happiness," at The Marsh in San Francisco. It went pretty well. To cover my bases, though, I’m calling it a "workshop" so I have a good excuse in case somebody thinks it sucks. Opening night was a little like going in to take a big final in college, where you don’t want anybody to talk to you before the test because all of this information is kind of teetering in your brain like a big old pile of pick-up sticks. If one is somehow disturbed, the whole stack could come down.

In a way I can’t believe I’m going through this again. My biggest fear in life is looking like a fool in front of people, and here I am putting myself in a position where that could happen. In fact, in the beginning of mounting a new show like this, it almost has to happen. Every night I replace stuff that didn’t work the night before. I move stuff around. I insert material I ad-libbed in the last performance. And I get lost.

There is no feeling in life that can quite compare to having a "brain freeze" in front of a bunch of people who paid good money to see you. You try to look cool while you scramble to remember what the hell you’re supposed to say next. You smile at the audience, then saunter over and take a slow drink of water, while your mind screams, "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!"

Another moment I treasure is when I say something that struck me as hilarious when I first wrote it, but as I deliver it to the audience they stare at me like I just took a big dump on stage.

Which, in a way, I suppose I did.