Although being a writer is all I’ve ever set out to be, I’ve also enjoyed getting up on a stage and messing around from time to time. I recommend this for any writer, humorous or not, because it will focus your thoughts, help you connect with an audience and force you to pare away dead weight.
JazzPoetry…TRUTH! Performance Art Company terrorized many an audience in its heyday. JPT! introduced their ideas of Fleischkomikteater (“theatrical meat-humor”) to an American public that sorely needed something to help them wake up. Their stage version of Macchiavelli’s “The Prince,” complete with whale songs and four-legged stilts, is not to be missed. Except that they never perform anymore. To explain the act here would be pointless. It was an experience to be lived, and like all seminal eras in the arts, it will be nostalgically remembered by all who saw it and didn’t get hit with a piece of flank steak.
“A two-man assault on all three of those words…
Out-and-out painful in its sheer stupidity.’
– Chicago Tribune
“One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.’
– Bernie Sahlins, founder of Second City
McCracken After Dark
My friend and piano teacher Kara Kesselring approached me in 2003 about doing some topical comedy for the (now shuttered) Noble Fool Cabaret in downtown Chicago. With the celebrity of right-wing blowhards growing like a fungus, we took it to the next logical level and created a show that combined “The O’Reilly Factor” with “Playboy After Dark.” As I transformed myself into the talk-show troglodyte Jack X. McCracken and Kara morphed into my liberal trophy wife Anita, we invited our audience into our sumptuous Georgetown home for a swingin’ bipartisan good time.
“Garner’s McCracken is as funny as Rush Limbaugh.
Thankfully, Garner doesn’t believe what he says.’
– Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General
|Audio: Democratic Hopefuls (Song)|
|Text: Tribune article|
Theatre of the Bizarre
“Theatre of the Bizarre” was a long-running cabaret show I hosted and co-produced at the Elbo Room in Chicago. At the invitation of my friend and co-producer Steve Ginensky, I donned the persona of Armando von Shtuppenvald, German art casualty (remember Mike Myers’ Dieter character on SNL? Okay, now picture him as funny) and hosted a motley assortment of comedy and variety acts every Wednesday for over two years–the stranger, the better. Alumni from TOB have gone on to greater things in many directions, including The New Yorker, the National Poetry Slam and the Upright Citizens Brigade. Also arising from this show was Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, which is the reason you’re even reading this right now.
– Chicago Tribune
“There may be weirder things in Chicago,
but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything odder
…an evening of anachronistic, irreverent satire.’
Waveland Radio Playhouse
The Waveland Radio Playhouse used live radio broadcasts as a format for having some chaotic scripted fun onstage. Three of us worked hard all night to bring to life 100 or more characters in a single show, while providing live sound effects, music and snafus to keep things rolling. Among my favorite episodes are the cliffhanger “He Dies in the End,” the melodrama “Doctors’ Hospital of Medicine,” and the swashbuckling “Clambeard the Pirate.” We played a number of venues in town, as well as trade shows (the Batesville Casket Company sales convention was particularly memorable).
The tentpole performance (wait for it) of WRP was the clown noir drama, “Rex Koko, Private Clown”. And now, Rex has not one but three novels available as print-on-demand paperbacks, e-books and even a dramatic podcast. Check out the Rex Koko website (http://www.rexkoko.com) for all the details!
Many thanks to Pat Byrnes, Dan Shea and Jordan Polansky for some of the best times ever.
– Chicago Sun-Times
“A steady onslaught of clever humor.’
– Chicago Tribune
“Just a riotous show.’
|Audio: Doctor’s Hospital of Medicine
Audio: Suddsy Storybook