Friday, December 09, 2011

The Fright Before Christmas

Art by Noel Belknap

Phillip Kelly and I produced our second variety show this past weekend, The Mr. Snapper & Mr. Buddy Rumpus Revue in: "KRAMPUSNACHT!" The through-line had me and the Rumpus Revue regulars playing a prank on Mr. Buddy. Since he had been a naughty boy all year, and since he still believes in Krampus, we decided to mess with Mr. Buddy a little bit. Little did we know that the REAL Krampus (played to the hilt by Scot Nery) was on hand. The through-line played out in bits and sketches between the acts.

Performing on our stage this time:

Comedy and Burlesque by Meredith Tittle (aka Honey Ima Home) and Red Snapper
Music by the Incredibly Odious Ari and the Capable Miss Puddles
A rap performance by Jayk Gallagher
“Gravinipulation” by our Craigslist Wildcard, Broadway Brian

We also had the usual slapstick hijinks of Chase McKenna as Billy and the absurd mimery of Jacob Smith as Pistachio the Mime. Phillip Kelly and I performed a couple of songs as well. At an hour and a half long, we need to either change our pitch or start calling ourselves “The Longest Hour-Long Variety Show in Los Angeles!”

Here are some observations and lessons learned:
  • Have a fall-back plan to cover for emerging issues. Holy smokes, the sound cue worked in rehearsal. But when it came time for Red to wow us with her fan dancing awesomeness, the sound cut out. As our booth op and the theatre manager struggled to fix it, Jake and Scot took the stage with some general, unrehearsed Tomfoolery. It worked in a pinch, but I think we should have a rehearsed bit that we can throw in as needed. (If it’s rehearsed we’ll probably never need to use it!)
  • Los Angeles is a crazy talented town. Our Craigslist Wildcards have practically stolen the show both times. These are complete strangers, folks, people we’ve never seen perform. The talent we know that we book are likewise incredibly talented. It boggles me that we are able to book such amazing artists.
  • We book acts that entertain us. This is the secret to a consistent variety show. Granted, we’re going for a patchwork quilt type of show; a Muppet Show-esque collection of eclectic acts. But since they are acts that Phillip and I book, they reflect our tastes, and our tastes define the show. Now, there is one thing that sucks about booking acts that you love: When you’re backstage preparing for the next bit, you can’t watch the performers you’ve booked.
  • Know your collaborators, trust your collaborators. Comedy depends upon trust. If you can’t trust the person you’re onstage with, you will hold them at arm’s length and nothing will land. You have to know and trust the people you share the stage with. That doesn’t mean you have to like them! I can hear the objection already: Laurel and Hardy couldn’t stand each other at the end, Martin and Lewis fought, etc. That may be the case, but onstage they knew they could trust the other performer. When that trust goes away, the partnership ends. (As it so happens, I love my collaborators.)
I would like to write a few words about Noel Belknap, the artist whose work has featured on our first two postcards.  In short:  She is terrific!  She perfectly captures the fun and fancy-free spirit of what Phillip and I do.  The image above set the tone for our show, as all good postcard art should.  Connecting up with Noel was serendipitous!

I will have photos before too long to share (from Markus Alias, another great artist!), and hopefully some video. In the meantime, enjoy this classic Mr. Snapper & Mr. Buddy performance:

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