Friday, May 21, 2010

Side Man (Fall: 2000)

Everything else had changed by fall of 2000, why not me? I am notorious for ragging on the intense jazz fan, a personality conglomerate I have dubbed "Jazz Douche".

I've written about "Jazz Douche" before but here I will give you a quick recap of the dominant traits of this rampant sub-species:

How do you know if you are a "Jazz Douche"?

Here are some common indicators...

1. A beret that looks as if it was kidnapped off of the tete of Marcel Marceau's bastard nephew.

2. A storage space with alphabetized vinyl in milk crates.

3. Facial hair that requires constant attention yet still looks like some sort of rabid animal attack.

4. Fanny pack.

5. You say things like 'Dig?' and 'Cool, daddy-o.'

6. You know that Hector "Gobble-Neck" Ramsay played on the first take of The Kansas City Trio's version of 'Chatanooga Choo-Choo' but then he ate some bad fish so they had to call in Arizona Smith for the second take. But, see, on the second take, they had Arizona set up in the bathroom and his stand-up bass kept scratching up against the faucet so they wound up using Gobble-Neck's take anyway, in spite of the fish.

7. You can't play an instrument.

8. You play Santana records to get in your wife's pants.

9. You smell like bologna.

10. Your pants have pleats.

11. For a brief shining moment, you thought Yes was going to change EVERYTHING.

12. Listening to Frankie 'Two-Tone' Walters recording of 'Opus Etude Interlude No. 27 in A Minor' for the first time was the catalyst for ending your second marriage.

13. You wrote a short novel imagining a militia led by Miles Davis overthrowing the MTV Total Request Live set and playing 'Sketches of Spain' on an endless loop.

14. You used to have a hoop earring in your right ear until your boss at the convalescent hospital made you take it out because it was unsanitary.

15. You have an 'I'd Rather Be Be-Bopping' bumpersticker on your Ford Escort.

16. Your eyelids are heavy.

17. After you've had a few cocktails, you start raving about how everything would have gone differently if Chet Baker hadn't died...he'd have been the teen idol, the Beatles wouldn't have made such a splash, and the world would be grooving to Chick Corea a little bit more.

18. You have bad dreams about guitars.

19. You like Pauly Shore comedies.

20. You are deeply ashamed of it, but you secretly prefer Julie Andrews' version of "My Favorite Things" to Coltrane's.

There. If you need any further help in identifying a "Jazz Douche", either in the mirror or in your general vicinity, check back in with me.

When I got the audition for "Side Man" at Stamford Theater Works I knew I was going to get the part because the whole thing takes place in the 1950's jazz underworld of New York City. Bang, I got the part.

Dennis Delaney was the director and I liked him immediately. His wife Shelley was to play my mother. At various times in the play my character, who also functions as the narrator, steps back in time to play himself at ten years old, seventeen, etc. Dennis would later turn me on to The Shaggs and their profoundly disturbing album "Philosophy Of The World" for which I cannot quite say that I am grateful for.

But Dennis also took the time to make everyone in the cast a mix of jazz songs that he thought were appropriate for their character. I took it begrudgingly and muffled my "Jazz Douche" comedy routine. Lo and behold I realized upon listening to this assortment of compositions that "Jazz Douches" were one thing but jazz music was another entirely. I was blown away.

I let go my prejudice about the music and immersed myself in it for the duration of the play.

The play ran in Stamford so on the nights that we performed I would take the commuter train from the city with the rest of the strap-hangers. There was something oddly subversive about this. I was a commuter along with the rest of the bankers, executives, admins, nurses, doctors and lawyers. But my nine to five was on the tail end of their journey, it began at 8PM with me stepping on stage.

The play was an odd echo for me of "Biloxi Blues", another play in which I addressed the audience directly from within the action of the play. I had not done this since that play and it was like slipping into an old shoe. Dennis thought he'd need to allot time to developing this aspect of the play but quickly we realized that we didn't need to belabor it, especially since the rest of the play is so packed with challenging moments.

There are charmed rehearsal processes and charmed productions. This was one of them.

And for me it was capped by an experience that I will never forget.

There are few actors I look up to. I prefer to look ACROSS at actors from a place of equality. Being a fan does nothing for me. I cultivate the feeling that I am a partner, a peer, even with the most successful people I encounter.

Occasionally though, there are exceptions.

Stamford Theater Works was housed in a small red barn behind an exclusive prep school. It had an illustrious history and since many luminaries lived either in Stamford or nearby Greenwich it had strong support from many famous actors and writers.

Word came to us before a show that the one and only Gene Wilder would be in attendance. He was a friend of the owner of the theater and made a point to see all of the shows. Normally he stayed and spoke with the cast but since he was battling cancer he might not be able to do so this time and wanted to congratulate us IN ADVANCE for our show. Classy.

For Gene Wilder I am a fan. I am not on equal footing, never could be, wouldn't dare. As a kid I took "Young Frankenstein" into my cells. "Blazing Saddles" followed and he went so deep into my psyche that if you did a DNA test you might come back with a strange identification. He is like the Red Sox of actors, the local sports team that you root for reflexively, almost like breathing.

So to know that he would be sitting in the audience? An audience I would be addressing directly as a narrator? Wow.

Once the play started all knowledge of that flew out of my brain. This is a wonderful thing about performing. Everything else disappears. Migraines, back aches, heart break, hero in the seats? Gone. The show went well as I recall, it always did. The response varied night to night only because there were different bodies in the seats, not because the show was any different or better or worse.

The audience filed out and the stage manager let us know that Gene was waiting in the house to talk to us.

He was very frail. He walked with a cane. But he was extremely gracious and complimentary of all of our performances and the production as a whole. He mentioned specific moments that he enjoyed (managing to positively implicate the entire cast with just a few words) and then he was off, helped to his car.

I was blown away. I have been star struck very few times in my life and this is by far the most obvious example. I was nervous, I was sweating, I was worried that I might blurt out something stupid, all in all I felt like a kid about to ask his first girl to dance.

I left the theater on a huge high but also very concerned about his health. If he'd passed away that week I wouldn't have been surprised. But somehow he rallied! In fact, his recovery allowed him to perform himself in a series of Moliere one acts at the Westport Country Playhouse which Joanne Woodward ran for years. Melody hadn't moved to New York in time to see "Side Man" but she bought me tickets to see Gene Wilder sling his hash on stage.

And that day? He had become a peer to me, a guy who'd had some health problems and was back doing what he loved. He was magnificent that day, giving Moliere's crazy farce total reality and life.

So by the time "Side Man" closed I had lost some of my long-time animosity towards jazz and I'd slung MY hash for one of the greats.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Morning Milking Evening Milking, Mach I (Spring: 2000)

(Morning Milking Evening Milking opened at Theater For The New City in spring 2000)

A bird flew through a strange puff of smoke and was forever altered. It stayed a bird, yes, but all of a sudden it used to be a cat that had tried to chase it for years. So needless to say this bird was confused.

And ain't they all, fellas? Ain't all beautiful birds that flew through magic smoke confused? I've met a few myself and I know you have too. They say one thing and then pretty soon they're doing everything opposite from that. You try to expect the unexpected but what winds up happening is you lose your ability to foresee even the slightest of futures.

So what do you do then, huh? Do you fold yourself up into a tiny little origami swan? Or do you do like that real bird did and keep flying on, remembering your new history, experiencing anew your own desire to catch and eat yourself alive?

I don't know. I'm hungry.

There I was in New York City, thrown into a world created by Jim Farmer called "Morning Milking Evening Milking". I might as well have been the imaginary bird I just planted in your brain for all I knew.

His words are alive and they don't allow you any of your bullshit. If you think you're gonna get out of it unscathed you better think again because Farmer that little imp has other destinies in mind for you.

His loft hovered somewhere in Tribeca and would later be covered in dust that flew out from the falling towers. This was still over a year away by the time I saw it for the first time and I knew I was in for a magical ride the moment I read the first word.

All traditional description of rehearsal and production do not apply here. Suffice it to say that we were captured by the images in Farmer's brain. They brought us to a strange Tennessee Williams world where the normal interactions defined by pixie dust and mint juleps ceased to fully apply. We were on our own in that velvet jungle and the sweating palm fronds that slapped against the greenhouse of his imagination gave our fictional selves license to dream our own internal fun house magic shows.

Disorientation is art.

So is a stick of gum chewed and placed directly under your windshield wiper.

So is your cute little panties sticking out from underneath that skirt with the rabbits on it.

And when you showed up soaking wet on that sunny day I knew there was no turning back, that any and all references would be encircled by you, that you eclipsed the idea of you, that I had no alternative but to shatter my own misconceptions and replace them with utter faith and disbelief.

See I get violent when I am challenged and this ol' world isn't big enough to contain my rage. So that baby growing in your stomach that might or might not be mine and might or might not be yours is just another call to arms, one more slight to be endured while I shiver and shake with the never ending lust you've planted in my heart like a weed.

Oh baby. Come sit on my lap with your big pregnant belly and tell me everything gon' be alright in spite of what your daddy says. And don't even bring up yer Ma coz I swear to God I'll pull the roof down and build a dollhouse with it in which I'll torture every damn Barbie you ever owned. I know that's anachronistic and shit but you think I care? DO YOU THINK I CARE?

You know I do, baby doll. You know I do.

And there goes that bird again, back through the smoke that brought about the unspeakable change. Would the reversal of the action take the cat-past-life out of its birdbrain and restore it to some sort of virginal purity?

Course not, darlin'. Life don't work that way.

(Morning Milking Evening Milking opened at Theater For The New City in spring 2000)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Gentlemen of Verona (Summer: 1999)

I got the call from Nagle Jackson about a month after I'd returned from Chapel Hill. Nagle had directed "Beauty Queen" and had moved on to Shakespeare In Santa Fe, an outdoor Shakespeare festival he'd been directing at for years.

The actor who'd been hired to play Proteus had to drop out and Nagle thought of me.

I was reluctant to leave New York again so soon on the heels of having been away but the lure of doing Shakespeare professionally was too great. I had done the Public Theater Shakespeare Lab the summer before and 'Tis Pity She's A Whore the year before that and felt as if my calling might be in the classics. I had an affinity for it and a love of it.

So on rather short notice I was jetting off to the American Southwest to do an ancient comedy.

Nagle's directing style is about as subtle and hands-off as you can get. I don't know how he does it. He gets exactly what he wants but never seems to be enforcing his will upon anyone. He reminds me of the great coaches in sports who handle rosters full of superstars. The wrong hand at the helm could be disastrous in spite of all the talent. Any ego coming from the leadership position could send things spiraling out of control.

But Nagle Jackson is a pro's pro. And I feel very blessed to have worked with him twice in quick succession. It was very good for my confidence.

I only remember one difficult moment in rehearsal. We were working on a bit in which I begin losing my mind and basically threaten to force myself on my new crush. She tries to run away, I grab her hand and pull her close to me, she pulls away to the length of my extended arm and then I pull her back. It was a classic melodramatic piece of blocking that would maintain the romantic thrust without being creepy or violent.

I could not synchronize the lines and movements. We were pretty far along in rehearsals and the combination of blocking and words should have been easy for me to grasp. We spent more time on it than we ought to have and Nagle almost lost his temper with me. He got out of his chair and said smartly, "No, like this!" and proceeded to demonstrate exactly how it should go.

And what do you know, that was all I needed. So even in the ONE moment when he lost his patience he delivered the goods. An amazingly talented man. Also a playwright of some note and one of the most interesting sweet people I've ever met.

Seeing as our crowds would be upwards of one thousand people a night and we performed on a giant stage nestled high in a mountain campus, we couldn't settle for realistic or subtle depictions. Everything had to be writ large to reach people almost one hundred yards away.

The set was a giant pink adobe fortress, behind which stretched away a massive mountain vista above and a sprawling valley below. Truly the most spectacular setting for a play as you could imagine. The setting was vaguely Victorian or perhaps a bit later and the women wore corseted dresses and the men wore sharp suits and hats.

My challenge was to keep the audience on my side as I ditched my longtime love and ardently pursued my best friend's fiancee. But William Shakespeare does most of the work for you and the audience was immediately caught up in my madness, loving what it said about our own capacity for folly and passion.

Maria and Cashel came to visit for a short time and then Cash stayed with me once Maria left. He was two and a half. He loved going in the pool at the hotel I was staying at. Maria tried to bring him to see the show and from way back in the massive crowd I heard the small voice chirp, "Daddy!" She had to take him back to the hotel because he couldn't watch the show without yelling for me.

My parents came along with my mom's mom and it is one of the last times I spent with her in which she was lucid and present. So I'll always cherish that.

I made a lifelong friend in Ted Bettridge who played my best friend Valentine. I got to spend weeks with Tim and Laura and Reeve, my friends from Providence.

And I got to say those words. Even in perhaps his slightest work he still managed to grab the attention of a modern throng a thousand strong and whip them into a frenzy of laughter.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Winter/Spring: 1999)

After "Angel Wings" I truly felt at a crossroads. My creative circle had centered around the 42nd Street Workshop and I could never trust them again. We had trotted out an abomination as casually as I take my wallet out of my pocket to buy a coffee.

On the day after the night that we were to tech "Angel Wings" I had the worst audition (I hope and pray) that I have ever had.

Someone had obtained the rights to the novel "Trainspotting" and had written a play from it. The movie had come out in 1996 but no one had ever secured the rights to a theatrical play. Irvine Welsh, the novelist, apparently gave his stamp of approval to the project.

My agents called me and said I had an audition to play Tommy, described in the breakdowns as "a gentle giant".

The first audition was at about 5PM before I had to head to The Neighborhood Playhouse to start tech rehearsal.

The casting director had never met me before. She took an instant liking to me. She was a young hip Manhattanite and she immediately realized that I had not been submitted for the right part. She said I was definitely the Ewan MacGregor type. She said I should come to the callbacks the next day ready to audition for Renton.

Needless to say I was psyched. I was a bit concerned that my agents had gotten the submission so wrong which meant that I'd prepared for an audition that I wouldn't give. I was also worried because the tech would most likely go really late and I wouldn't have much time to prepare for the audition. Looming over all this was the damn play "Angel Wings" itself.

Of course the tech lasted til almost 2AM. Of course the next morning I got calls for three commercial auditions, last minute. I tried to work on the audition when I got home from the tech but I was way too exhausted. I figured I'd stay at home and work on it all day. But no, I headed out to smile and hawk products and hustle jobs. I bundled little Cashel into his stroller and headed into the city.

The three auditions were in three separate parts of the city. They were spaced out in such a manner that I'd be in transit all day long. Bringing Cashel to commercial auditions was a snap. He'd be asleep in his stroller or an actor I knew would sit with him while I put myself on tape.

But for theater or tv auditions it was more complicated.

I arranged with a friend to meet me at the Barnes and Noble near the "Trainspotting" audition which was at 4:45PM.

I'd barely been able to work on the long heroin fueled monologue, let alone the Scottish accent it required. As I sat in the hallway getting more and more nervous as I realized how unprepared I was, I heard the guy before me doing his rendition of what I would be doing shortly.

He was actually Scottish. Any tiny confidence I could have mined from the depths of my consciousness evaporated in that instant and by the time I entered the room I was a wreck.

The flirty casting agent hooked her arm in my elbow and walked me into the room, whispering in my ear, "Best for last", as I was the last actor they would see that day. I was about to prove her so wrong.

I started the monologue. My accent sounded like a drunk frat boy doing a Mike Myers imitation. Then it morphed into Sean Connery trying to do a Russian accent. And for a while there it was straight up Hillbilly.

I asked if I could start again. They said fine. Again a stream of unidentifiable American twisted into cartoon shapes started coming from my mouth. Again I said I'd start the monologue over. This last effort so unhinged me that halfway through I simply stopped, looked at them all behind their table, and stopped. I said, "I think I'm just gonna go. This isn't working."

And the casting director who thought I looked like Ewan Macgregor and brought me directly to callbacks and said "Best for last" less than three minutes earlier looked at me and said, "Well at least you know."

Needless to say, having to go perform "Angel Wings" for the first time in front of an audience that night was a hammer blow to my ego. I began seriously, for the first and only time ever, that perhaps I wasn't as talented as I thought I was, perhaps I just wasn't an actor after all.

A week later I got another audition that required an accent. "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" had been the toast of Broadway that year and was about to have its first regional production mounted at Playmakers Rep in Chapel Hill, NC.

A surge of determination arose in me and I was damned if I wasn't going to get that part. I decided before the audition that it was mine. In the audition I literally ate the scenes alive. The director was a gentle man who reminded me of many of my uncles. He gave me a few tweaks and I went with them unreservedly. I knew I'd gotten the part.

I went through the rest of the "Angel Wings" run less affected by having to abase myself nightly in front of strangers. I had a job. I was going to get my Equity Card. I was going to North Carolina.

Now, I've written here about meeting Melody on the campus there, in a series of posts centering around the legendary rock and roll club Cat's Cradle that sits in a strip mall right off campus. As follows: Cat's Cradle, Pt. 1: Alone, Combustible, Cat's Cradle, Pt. 2: What a Superdrag, Cat's Cradle, Pts. 3 Thru Now: Emmitt Swimming, Cat's Cradle, Pts. 3 Thru Now: Fate Taps Me On The Shoulder and Cat's Cradle, Pts 3 Thru Now: Emmitt Swimming, The Wig, The Almost-Fight, The Lie.

The personal side of this story is, aside from Cashel being born, the crucial event in my adult life.

But the actual theatrical event? Total magic from beginning to end. Pauline Flanagan played the twisted mother. Pauline was an Irish grande dame of the theater who had been in the original production of "Ulysses In Night Town" with Zero Mostel, she'd been a close friend of Harold Pinter who wrote with her in mind, and she was a consummate pro. This part is not an easy one and she was in her seventies. She was a monster.

The theater was a raised three quarter thrust stage which is to my way of thinking one of the most difficult playing spaces. You have all of the sight line challenges that come with playing in the round, all of the sight line challenges that come from being raised above the first few rows of seats, but with none of the benefits that those attributes can give if they are prominent.

Pauline and I had a moment in our last scene that we knew we could get a big laugh on. But the position of her rocking chair, raised on a slight platform above the rest of the floor, made getting this laugh very difficult. We schemed and plotted to wring that laugh out of at least one audience before we were through.

Every day the moment would come and even though our characters were antagonists we would share a funny little look every time the laugh didn't come. She was a blast. When we finally got it we celebrated like we'd just won Oscars.

This was the first time I'd ever done a part in which I'd recently seen the original done. The guy who played my part on Broadway, a great actor named Tom Murphy, had been indelibly burned into my brain. How would I escape that shadow?

Somehow our director, Nagle Jackson, managed to steer me away from the rocks. He made everything seem 100% natural and unique to us. I quickly forgot that the play had ever been done anywhere else. We took that thing and ran with it.

Rumor had it that Martin McDonagh might be coming to see it, seeing as this would be the first time his play had been taken and played without him having a big hand in it. But that never materialized.

So in the space of a few short months I'd gone from a terrible play done for nothing and the worst audition perhaps in the history of auditions to fully inhabiting the sick and twisted world that Martin McDonagh created in the fields of Leenane.

Pauline Flanagan passed away in 2003 after a long bout with Cancer. She had a giant collection of giraffes that she'd gathered over the years. People would buy them for her on their trips. She was that kind of person.

At the close of the play I wrote the following small book of poetry inspired by the play and the performances I'd been lucky enough to witness.

I called it Pageantry and Savages.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Angel Wings (Fall: 1998)

I know I've been lucky in my theater life. There were a couple of sub-par shows at URI, shows that didn't pan out the way anyone would have liked. There was one short-lived disaster at Looking Glass Theater that got shut down almost immediately. But for the most part I went from one fantastic show to the next, culminating in my NYC debut in 'Tis Pity She's A Whore'.

The Bell Curve was about to even shit out in a hurry.

At the time, being cast in 'Angel Wings' seemed like a coup of sorts. It was a new play written by Murray Schisgal who'd won a Tony, co-written 'Tootsie', and still co-owned a production company with Dustin Hoffman. He was in his mid-seventies but had a new play ready to go.

For the past year I'd been studying with a fantastic acting teacher named Sam Schacht. He had taught my sister at the New School Actor's Studio program which James Lipton has brought to the world via the Bravo specials. Sam taught a private class and I signed up. His studio was affiliated with a theater company, The 42nd Street Workshop.

They did a cold reading series and fostered new playwrights. I began frequenting their Monday night gatherings and did many readings of both classics and new works. I'd turned down a role in a play they were doing that would eventually turn into the 'Finding Neverland' movie. I went to a rehearsal and realized that I'd be pretending to be eight years old, probably wearing knickers and talking in a cute little boy Cockney accent and fled the scene. When it made its way onto the big screen I had a little moment of regret but I figured they'd probably get a REAL eight year old English kid. Which they did.

But 'Angel Wings' came along and I auditioned for it anyway.

I thought this script was cute and had some funny moments. It was absurd and I liked that it just WENT for it. A wealthy businessman who has alienated his whole family dies and comes back as an ugly misshapen hunchback. He has to get everyone that he fucked over to love him in spite of his outward appearance, to make them love him for his soul or he will be damned eternally. Funny, right?

Well, it might have been. But this production was about as wrong-headed as any creative enterprise I've ever heard of.

First of all, Schisgal insisted that it was not a farce but that it was a romantic comedy. In spite of the fact that there wasn't really a romance at the center of it and that characters did absolutely absurd things for reasons that were never quite clear.

For example, I played the young son of this mogul. I am obsessed with insects. I wear safari clothing and carry a butterfly net with me at all times. I fall in love with the young French woman who my father was romancing. In the scenes that I have with her I begin to talk with a French ACCENT. Not actual French, but English with a French accent. Now, this makes NO sense on the surface of it. If I wanted to woo her I wouldn't speak in a way that might make her feel self-conscious. So why do I speak with a French accent? The only plausible way to play the scenes is that I am so smitten that I have gone a bit bonkers, that my sanity has crumbled a bit. But, no...Murray insisted that I was merely in love with her.

Now, I of course bucked at this direction. And, keep in mind that Murray was never on the scene. He merely told the director what he wanted and what we were supposed to do. He didn't seem to understand his own play.

This made rehearsals excruciating. The director was trying to dig deep into the words, as if this were some Arthur Miller satire, or a long lost Tennessee Williams dramedy. We did improvs that lasted upwards of thirty minutes with actors just rambling on, jerking off to each other and for each other. I would leave rehearsal fuming but somehow still thinking that I needed to do the play. If something like this happened today I wouldn't be back the next DAY.

We rehearsed FOREVER. The dread in my stomach just grew as we ground whatever comic life existed in the script beneath our boot heels. Pretty soon we were in the space and I was wearing my costume and it seemed as if my worst fears were being realized. I was dressed like a Boy Scout, speaking in a French accent for no apparent reason, and doing pratfalls that barely made literal sense.

The sinking feeling in my stomach grew as we approached opening. There was a comedy black hole taking shape on that stage and no audience would survive the gravitational murder of it.

Now, often times the natural insecurity of the actor combined with the stress of mounting a production will cause bouts of self doubt. Performance anxiety will invade but that will be lessened as you delve deeper into how/why you are executing the piece at hand.

That was not how 'Angel Wings' went down. The further we got into the process the greater the distance we created between us and any semblance of entertainment. Shows like this are not just BAD. There is something to be said for throwing a play up on its feet and falling down with it. But then there is a special kind of production that enters some sickly realm of achievement, an inverse of excitement, a dead spot.

The audience is minding their own business, going about their lives, when suddenly you turn out the house lights on them and they very quickly realize that they are in quicksand up to their noses and they can barely breathe.

I have never felt that kind of hostility from an audience. The silence was AGGRESSIVE. Within five minutes of the first line a blanket of stoicism was laid over the gathered assembly like a sheet over a corpse. They could not wait for it to be over. This was a fait accompli before I ever MADE MY ENTRANCE.

Once I did, things got worse because my character is the most farcical aspect of a play that had been drained of any sense of lightness or farce. So what should have been one more oddball in the oddball soup seemed like the desperate act of a street mime - "Oh, they don't like me in a box with my little beret and white face and leotard so I'm going to GO UP TO THEM AND MAKE THEM INTERACT WITH ME."

When you can hear an audience moving around in their seats you know there is trouble. If they are engaged they sit still. And if there is movement the laughter will mask it. But if you can hear trousers against wood, heels on floor, hands rubbing necks, you are DOOMED. And we were DOOMED.

I remember slogging through my scenes with the French girl, carrying my butterfly net, speaking in a faux French accent, tripping over the back of a couch and landing on my ass, all to angry silence. I wrote a song about it called "Pratfalls For Crickets".

I left the theater every night thinking that it wouldn't be such a bad thing if I didn't make it after all, that I might just hang up the spikes if this is what acting was all about. In the space of a few short weeks I'd gone from excitement at working with a Dustin Hoffman ally to contemplating retirement.

Somewhere in space a galaxy was snuffed out of existence by the comedic inertia we invoked.