Thursday, October 23, 2008

Street Magic the Reality

Here in Hollywood, it's about the good life. North Hollywood's Camp Paradise is where I spend most of my time. Day in and day out it's the nerve center from where all activities generate from. Work has been interesting lately. I think I might be making a breakthrough. Not the sort of breakthrough I was looking for or wanted, but interesting none the less. At work, I am taking daily advanced lessons in ego stripping. It's not been very fun or easy, but I feel like I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. For the last few years I've become obsessed with audience reaction, mostly because I was rarely faced with the reaction I was looking for (outward physical indications of approval: clapping, smiling, laughing). In a nutshell, I've decided to strip the performers ego and let go of that responsibility. I've discovered that just because someone isn't laughing or clapping, doesn't mean they aren't enjoying themselves. Face it, people are used to watching television with the same expressionless faces that they watch my show with. I used to think that it was my job to somehow snap them out of their, what can appear to be a catatonic stupor. There were bits and lines and techniques of getting the audience to react as one, "Are you ready to see the show. . . Gimee a YEAH!!!" that sort of thing. Or a line I wrote recently, "I get it. . . . Boredom IS the NEW Excitement!" all in the attempt to get my crowds on the street on the same page. NO MORE! It becomes less about them and what I expect them to do; and more about what's in my heart and mind as I focus on my own reactions to what I'm doing. Complex notions for a pea brain like mine. I'm not saying that I don't want my audiences to respond favorably, I'm just trying another way of getting there. . . or not. I used to try and turn the sour pusses. Now I'm more apt to ignore people who look like they have a mouth full of cum, and play to the people who are obviously into it. It's not my job to make them in to it, I just have to do the best job I can do. I like to think that I'm good, and that I have talent. Let the work speak for itself and forget the rest.

It's hard to forget the rest, when your not making any money. Times are still tough and this week has brought in the lowest numbers in recent history. I'm not proud of this, I'm just telling the truth. But the question I ask myself is. . . "If they're not paying you, and they're not reacting to you. . . WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING!" This is where my art HAS to speak. The work has to be able to stand on it's own, without cheerleading and with out contempt. It is what it is and so is the world, for that matter.


Mary said...

Tom, anthropologically speaking, you are the cheerleader for your work. It is part of the work. And you're ability to connect with the audience is part and parcel of your act. Indeed it is "your job".

When you are feeling a degree of apathy or even muffled hostility toward your audience, you should be aware that they will pick up on these subtle cues. You may not be aware that you are projecting this "vibe" but you are. And as someone who's known you forever you can send of some pretty strong vibes even when you are less then aware of it.

Right now, people are in a panic about the whole financial catastrophe, we're exhausted from the political campaign, and I've notices a general feeling of trepidation about "what's next".

Instead of being an additional stressor for them by sending out a frustrated vibe - acknowledge that is what is going on with them. And use your work to bring them some of the memory of mystery and joy and appreciation of the unknown.

You have a gift for that. Maybe you just need to find that child-like awe with the world in yourself again. And then share that with your audience.

Timmy Jimmy said...

Well put Mary, I too can use that great advice!
Thank you!