PAR Portfolio – 1080 words

Artist statement

I am a comic artist that tries to create non-literate comic moments that are live in the space and often blur the boundaries of reality and performance. I am interested in making the audience feel deep guttural moments of laughter and extreme emotions constantly guessing what is coming next in the performance. I try to create an authentic comic experience. Content that exists live in the moment and also create digital content afterwards which is often from live recordings. I like to play games and try to create a ‘live audience’ (Rudlin & Crick, 1960) which is interactive. This is in response to how passive I feel mainstream comic performance often is. I incorporate elements of physical comedy, clowning, DIY aesthetic (Daniels, 2014), improvisation (Johnstone, 2007)  and chance in my performance, which draws on classic commedia forms such as the arlecchino and other forms of persona and mask work is often at play. A core mechanism is the idea of fun and playfulness in my work which often is now missing in mainstream contemporary comic work ensuring that my performances stand out on any bill, festival or event.

Performance As Research project/Tom Short’s Special

For my PAR ‘Tom Short’s Special’ I decided to stage my comic work as a comedy special and American style tv show as I believe this has a lot of room for experimentation and exploration.

 

 

My key inquiries were an avoidance of deadly theatre (Brook, 1968) and to create ‘non-literate [comic] phenomena’ (Bevis, 2016) rather than just literate comic moments. I am interested in Allan Kaprow’s chance and happenings (Kirby, M and Dine, J 1966) as I believe these are the most exciting art form and help push me away from deadly theatre and the passive comic experiences that I believe contemporary comedy has in abundance due to how cheap comic performance can be to create for television. This is currently exacerbated further by the oversaturated nature of the comedy industry. Andy Kaufman is a big influence for me particularly the deception of the audience to heighten the comic experience.  

I tested the PAR project out at the Edinburgh fringe as an external research project. As my work is so interactive I require an audience to do a lot of my experimentation which I think makes my work exciting from conception to execution. When working with clown lab they said ‘A clown can not exist on his own’ (Robinson, 2019). Which was a big element behind my decision to make this an external research project. Another reason was since I was looking to subvert the comic industry, to stage elements of it at the Edinburgh fringe helps my purpose in the piece. Edinburgh Fringe has heavy links to the contemporary comedy industry. 

The piece can only exist that one time because to do it again would be counterproductive and the recorded version is in my mind now a different work. The live deception elements at play and interaction between live and recorded media means that I managed to make a happening as Kaprow would define it. A blurred piece of art and reality leading up to, during and after the performance as the PAR project will be turned into a recorded special for distribution online further blurring the nature and intention of the piece.

Video, particularly online video is probably the best way to document the intent and focus of my performance especially when I have control of the editing process. I don’t think video can ever fully capture my work outside of live performance. I feel it is somewhat a short coming to how stripped back contemporary comic performance is, combined with how video does not capture properly comic non-literate phenomena (although it is possible). 

PAR Annotations

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I picked this outfit as an echo of Late night with with Conan O’Brien (1993), The tonight show with Jay Leno (1992) and Andy’s Funhouse (1979) as a clue as to what people were about to see and what was going to be subverted.

 

This is my tour of Sealife in Blackpool which I filmed before the course began. I created it in the run up to the PAR as one; an opportunity to practice my comic documentary skills again, and two; as a continuation of my output of these type of videos. This also gave my documentation in Edinburgh further credibility to have it as a series of comic site specific investigations rather than a one off.

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I purchased an arlecchino mask which I used along with some other commedia masks as an opportunity to experiment with the classical mask and persona work I have developed. I practised some mask work in the streets. Eventually the masks formed part of the set in the PAR as a subtle nod to what theatrical elements were at play.

PAR Feedback

I have some of the audience feedback here:69574164_422003091855323_2654270341316083712_n.jpg

I am pleased that the risk taking was noticed, although I dialed back on the random chance for the piece I was worried that the risk may be lost.

69853419_877120972739021_713278473115795456_n.jpgThis I feel is a sign my want to incorporate DIY aesthetic along with failure and clowning was performed effectively. 

PAR Research

Much of my PAR research has been blogged here 

My PAR piece is built on the research and experimentation from my ACP and DYP modules.

My ACP piece came from wanting to subvert the hegemonies in mainstream stand up or at least as I saw them. However I felt too restricted by the voiceover utilised and sought to break this up.

My ACP piece can be seen here.

Much of my ACP research was documented here.

My DYP project was birthed from how I felt restricted in my ACP work and wanted to add more elements of chance and risk which I managed with the chance wheel.

My DYP piece can be viewed here

My DYP research was documented here

Each of my works I have felt have been their own entity and paradoxically part of a linear body of work. My ACP and DYP projects have given birth to various aspects in the PAR. Examples being the awkward silence and the telling the same joke routines being directly taken from the DYP work and the chance I created by asking for a joke from the audience which had immense amounts of risk involved. The ACP work was channeled in the video segments particularly the live reactions to recorded medium which is something I am interested in exploring more in the future.

Bibliography

Bevis, M (2017) Comedy a short introduction. Routledge. London

Brook, P. (1968) The Empty Space. London: Penguin.

Daniels, R. (2014). DIY. Chichester. University of Chichester.

Johnstone, K. (2007) Impro. London: Methuen Drama.

Kirby, M and Dine, J. (1966) Happenings. 1st ed. Routledge. London.

Robinson, A. (2019) Clownlab, Performers playground. The Lowry.

Rudlin, J and Crick, O (1960) Commedia Dell’arte : A Handbook for Troupes. London: Routledge, Print.

Audio visual references

Andy’s Funhouse (1979) ABC. August 28th

Late night with with Conan O’Brien (1993) NBC Universal. 13th September

The tonight show with Jay Leno (1992) NBC Universal. 25th May

 

 

 

Willy Wonka

In my search for inspiration, I have looked at Willy Wonka specifically the Gene Wilder interpretation of the character . The part that I find of the most interest is his introduction of Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory (1971).

It is the first time he is seen by the audience and the characters and he has a slow meandering introduction complete with a cain. This is followed by what appears to be a fall which becomes a forward roll to great applause. This was a deliberate choice by Gene Wilder

“When I make my first entrance, I’d like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I’m walking on and stands straight up, by itself; but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause…from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth”

(Wilder, 1970)

from that point on to be able to be taken at face value and an ambiguity to his words and actions. I think that I wish to be able to replicate this will heighten any comic action I do especially when you consider how effective this is for an entirely fictional character within a work of fiction. my stage persona whilst still not entirely a work of fiction it is based on a real facet of myself which should bring an authenticity to my piece, performance and comic actions.

Bibliography

Wilder, G (2012) Letters of note. http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/06/part-of-this-world-part-of-another.html

Paramount pictures. (1971) Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory.

Krusty the clown

I have found that as my work continues I get compared to krusty the clown. I like this comparison. one because I am a fan of the simpsons but also because of the fact thatkrusty is The simpsons wauy of subverting the entertainment industry which is something i look to do with my work moving foward.

Key Krusty moments that stick out for me include When he takes over an emergency broadcast ‘Coming at you live from the civil defense shack in the remote Alkali Flats of the Springfield badlands. I’ll be beaming out Hour after hour of unscripted, unrehearsed comedy featuring, uh, you know, uh, Professor Gas Can! Uh, and, uh, former president, Ike Eisenhower! Let’s get busy!’Screen Shot 2019-09-06 at 2.30.18 PM.png

When he upsets the Simpsons (and Milhouse) and gives the line ‘It’s a joke, when you give me that look its a joke’. Which alludes to the darker side of comedy (which is alluded to through the arlecchino) and suggestes the blurred lines and power dynamics that comic performers can have in situations both on and off stage. It is also IFvrr6R454z1Wn8a6Iu7H1UKcagUd0MiAeJYR0wXHyE.jpg

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh fringe

I have been very busy at the fringe however the benefit of doing my wheel of misfortune show is that I am able to incorporate parts of the PAR into the show to test them out.

I am currently working on awkward silence which is the 6th option on the wheel. It is giving me lots of opportunities to play with the crowd and try to create a live audience as i am trying to with my studies into commedia. it is different each time which reminds me of the 9 view points work i did with Richard and my experiments with Jo.

I am also working on the joke section where I repeat the same joke over and over again to the point of it being ridiculous.

I intend to continue to perform the wheel of misfortune as I feel it has endless possibilities and I feel has the ability to evolve as it has done twice now into the to PAR. once with my studies into historical clowning from a key context point and now again with my ability to incorporate elements into direct performance.

 

Andy’s funhouse

I watched Andy’s funhouse (1979) for research. There were several points I have taken from it.

He started with almost a best of his stand up to that point which is something I will look to incorporate.

He also had plants with long time collaborator Bob Zmuda playing a stage hand which he was mean to. I definitely want to emulate this with my own stage hands. The thing I like about Andy’s misdirections is that there are clues that they are taking place if you look deeply enough. If Andy had used different plants each time it would have been harder to know that a happening was taking place. However the fact he frequently used Zmuda in this role means that if you know Zmuda you know that what you are viewing is false. As a result I have asked people I have collaborated with in the past to fill these roles. I have asked AJ Hill and Maisy Whipp whom I have interviewed and utilise in my youtube videos so if you follow my work you will be able to spot the signs too.

Andy also incorporated happenings in having a point in Andys funhouse where the screen becomes white noise. I wish to incorporate this in the video content and will work errors into them that blurs the line of reality.

Bibliography

ABC Andy’s funhouse (1979)

 

the scratch thoughts

I performed my scratch routine. it was very useful. It did not go as I planned it to and I think that this is all the better for this. I went into this with a lot of emotions especially because i had a mental health appointment. I found that the moment i showed my work and started to react to it live in the space gave me the idea that i need to frame it in order to be effective. I have gone back to an idea I had since the beginning of the course. to stage a performance in the format of the late night American talk show. I think I have seen enough of this format, i think it will be appropriate vehicle to show the VTs, and allow me the freedom to experiment with the live. it should also feel like a continuation of my work from ACP and DYP. I also don’t think it is a coincidence that Andy Kaufman found these shows a good place to experiment within live and recorded mediums also.

Arlecchino notes

The Arlecchino or harlequin is perhaps the most well known of the Zanni or lower class clowns in Commedia.

I think for me to be focusing on the servant subclass of clowns specifically definitely helps to accentuate the comic potential of the piece as it taps into and highlights the relationship between the comic performer and comic audience; the comic is providing a service to the audience in the form of entertainment and laughter.

The Arlecchino is known for telling lots of jokes and stories whilst performing, I feel this is a very important anchor point and allows me to keep my performance still connected to modern comic performance techniques and staying true to the comic form moving forward rather than my work evolving past comic practice.

They are gullible, childish and absent minded. energetic and athletic.

The arlechino is also clever and crafty, I think that my own work taps into, my own experiences and social background in and out of the comedy industry I think  means I am often underestimated, once a cause for frustration but I now see as an opportunity to subvert expectations and allow myself the opportunity to blur boundaries in my own work to create contemporary comic performance.

The Arlecchino channels anarchistic behaviour which I feel is very much in the vein of speaking truth to power that traditional and effective comic performance can evoke and is also tapped into in my explorations of DIY theatre.

They were very colourful. multi coloured patches.

Often utilises slapstick, I have found this has been useful in creating non literate comedy rather than the scripted comedy that has arisen with the deadly theatre that has arisen in the comedy industry.

They are sometimes attributed to animals such as the cat, the fox and the monkey due to their cunning nature. I think that ignorance can definitely be played with to again blur boundaries for comic performance.

Some people believe that the mask has demonic elements, perhaps a hint at the darker side of the comedic voice?

It is known as a prankster, sometimes small pranks and sometimes elaborate. this is something I wish to further explore as i believe it can be used to blur the boundaries of reality which I believe helps comic performance become live. in my own show which I am creating for the PAR i wish to utilise this prankster trickery which I think only goes to further increase the tension in the live space. that tension is crucial according to Jimmy Carr and Lucy Greaves (2007).

A contemporary example of the Arcchelino, is Bart Simpson someone who I think is very notable as The Simpsons aired in 1989 the start of the post-post modern era a very tumultuous political time similar to now in the west which I feel may be one of the reasons that his character is so successful due to drawing on these old tropes such as: street smart, prankster who uses practical jokes and of low status yet showing truth to authority such as Principal Skinner.

Another prominent post postmodern example would be Jim Carrey’s performance as the titular character in holly wood adaptation of The Mask (1994) in which he serves to through a masked persona, effectively subvert modern laws and societal hegemonies.

This assimilation of commedia tropes such as Arlecchino I hope with lead to more work due to Arlecchinos and commedias history as part of an ensemble I hope that by exploring the comic potential of my act in these ways I will be able to explore other formats more easily and have my act inserted into future projects more easily and be effective in those in terms of subversion and blurring of boundaries and realities which I think helps make those project more interesting just by inserting my new found performance style into.

Bibliography

Carr, J, and Greeves, L (2007). The Naked Jape : Uncovering the Hidden World of Jokes. London: Michael Joseph,

Gration, S, and Peelgrane, N (2008). Commedia Oz: Playing Commedia in Contemporary Australia. Strawberry Hills: Currency Press,

Rudlin, J (1994). Commedia dell’Arte: An Actors Handbook. London: Routledge,

Gordon, M (1983) Lazzi: The Comic Routines of the Commedia dell’Arte, Performing Arts Journal Publications: New York