Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Comic Potential*

I love this. I really do.


I got that from Kung Fu Monkey, the very awesome blog of writer John Rogers (et al.). It's also a great place if you want an inside glimpse at the writing of a TV show.

I love it for a couple of reasons. A) It is awesome. B) I makes me think about my approach to plays.

Despite the more serious nature two scenes I've posted in the New Play Project so far, I consider myself a comedic writer, essentially. It took me a long time to get there. Comedy is pretty debased in our current scene. While most good plays have elements of humor and good gag or two in 'em, the idea of calling something a "comedy" seems to conjure up images of bad sitcom jokes and strained farce and an easy, everything-is-resolved ending. Not the stuff of "real" drama, life-changing, earth-shattering stuff, where clothes are rent and hair is pulled.

Looking at the clip of Jake Shimabukuro playing the ukulele, it made me think about how limited our collective imaginations can be. The ukulele is having a bit of a resurgence these days, but in, essentially, a comic format, as my friend and rad lady in general, Megan Kingery shows here:



It's funny and sweet and light and airy. You're not going to say something serious with a ukulele, something heartfelt and meaningful. But...maybe you could...



Maybe it's just a different way of using it, mixing up those expectations. In the comments to my scene from AT HOME AND ABROAD, Anonymous said:
It feels a bit like a lot of thrillers - innocent, average guy forced to go undercover, a connection he'd rather forget, family member in trouble, etc. The Hollywood-style "familiar template with one new twist".
Yep. And that's in there and intentional. A twist on something familiar is the basis of art, of innovation. Taking something that has only been used one way and tweaking it for another purpose is the backbone of theatre. It's the beauty of genre writing: some of the weight of the story is off your shoulders so you can delve into other areas, explore other parts of the world. One of the things that theatre's obsession with the new has cut us off from is more genre writing, more thrillers, more, yes, sci fi, or grand guinol, or even bodice-rippers. And more comedies. But, maybe, like the little ukulele, it can be rehabbed...



*Title Cf. One of my idols and one of the great comic writers.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
joshcon80 said...

I consider myself a comedy writer too, but also feel like that's limiting in the theater scene. Like you say, comedy (along with genre0 are debased by institutional theater,which is reason number 75 why theater is dying. Certain people only want to see "Ruined" when they go to the theater, you know.

Like i said in a blog a month or so ago, "I own 'Brokeback Mountain' on DVD but usually when I go to the shelf I come back with 'Reform School Girls' in my hands.

Also, somebody tell Isaac to put down that god forsaken ukulele already!

99 said...

Ha!

For some reason this made me think: why aren't there plays you have to see high to get? Where's The Big Lebowski of theatre (other than the 2 G of L)? Where's our Harold and Kumar? Why the hell do you need a graduate degree to enjoy the damn theatre?

joshcon80 said...

EXACTLY. That's why I've been hating on the talk about so-called "great plays" that's so popular on the blogs these days.

I keep thinking, "Bitch, I don't wanna see 'Angels in America' every time I go to the theater. What's wrong with these people?"

joshcon80 said...

Somebody ought to write a post on this. "The Campaign for Stupider Theater."

99 said...

Towards A Dumb Theatre, maybe?

ukejackson said...

Power chords are easy on guitar, but they are even easier on a uke.

cgeye said...

I think that disdain for the hilobrow is behind all the namecalling of work with the popular impulse as "too-TV" or "cinematic", when that's mistaking facile presentation or lack of theatrical sophistication for crowd-pleasing content. Those are separate issues.

Negameister said...

Thanks for the shout-out, "99 Seats!" :) Megan

99 said...

No, thank YOU, Megan, for the awesome ukuleleing. Not a word? Who cares...