Studio Fridays: ‘Anyone who talks about their art in an elevator is a sociopath.’
Adam and I had lunch the other day at Isa, a farm to table sort of joint in Williamsburg. Overhead three helicopters kept circling the neighborhood and flying low and tight. Adam asked ‘What could three helicopters do that one couldn’t do?’
I was telling him about the project I’m producing with Steve Soroka- which is easiest to describe as a Brother & Sister comedy meets Sliding Doors with Gwenyth Paltrow. Are you laughing yet!?! The conceit sounds sticky but Steve’s writing is sharp and it flows.
The thing about telling stories, about describing your work in progress is that it often feels like the project itself is running away from you. It’s an effort to define a thing in motion. When I am most lucid and when it seems important that the person understands, I try to approach this like a physics problem with the equation and the variables explained, giving an indication of the expected result. Other times I am the detective describing the perpetrator. In the best cases, I am more like the victim.
I remember an afternoon in grad school when my friend Francesco, who was just then becoming an abstract painter, skipped out on a lunch time lecture about professional practice. There was a sign up sheet and bullet points on how to start ‘building your career.’ Francesco raised his eyebrows when he got to the ‘elevator pitch.’
‘Anyone who talks about their art in an elevator is a sociopath.’
Since deciding to produce this project, I have been talking with everyone I know who works in film or television or comedy about the best practices for bringing a thing into the world. Strong opinions on everything are flowing through my mind, contradicting, swallowing entire afternoons. We have given ourselves a strict deadline- the late submission for the New York Film pilot competition.
Do you like comedy? Want to work in the industry? Hey come be a PA on this project. The pay is lousy and the hours are terrible, but damn- the days will fly into a dreamlike mystery tunnel of optimism and purity, a devil may care attitude will consume your rational mind as you ponder the
It’s fairly amazing that anything ever gets made in highly collaborative creative fields. There are so many opportunities for art to fail, and so many issues that have to be resolved in fair and pragmatic ways.
For posterity I’m writing this, but also because I think it’s true:
My job is to allow Steve to do what he’s best at. It’s an exciting thing to enable and empower someone whose work you admire. Over the last year and a half I have seen him consistently find the funny in the ethers of improv.
I’m thrilled to be working with him on this. Steve seems to assume that later we will fight to the death over a saltine cracker. Isn’t that how these things have to go? But currently we are in a productive and panic induced bliss state.
Since joining the PIT House Sketch team a few weeks ago I have been working on unique ways to fit more time in the day. One life hack is memorizing lines while I walk my dog and run other errands.
On the plus side this has a calming effect on the otherwise chaotic spiral of worry, contempt, fear, lust, confusion, etc., that generally consumes my inner dialogue between the times I’ve set aside for applied outlets for those things.
On the negitive it has turned me into a raving public lunatic. In one sketch I play a vampire named Vladimir. The voice I’ve given him is an exaggerated Leslie Neilsein cartoon of a vampire - and so now I am walking down the streets by myself speaking in a high vampire saying ‘Children of the Darkness, Brothers and Sisters, tonight we dine on human flesh!”
Pictured above is a shot from my studio where we hosted a passover Seder. I am not jewish but I love someone who is and so this happened. It was extremely fun, which I’m told is not the adjective most often associated with a Seder.
I am currently in Sarasota Florida to celebrate easter? which should give you an idea of the cultural relativity and contradiction I’m gorging on. I’m writing the end of this post in a kind of frantic pace as my nieces and nephews work on sharing toys and dancing. My life is increasingly a disconnected series of ******** vignettes ******* with only the slenderest ****** moments of ******** continuity.
Maybe someday I will settle into a comfortable groove and google my old habits and laugh at the chaos. Maybe I will be able to summarize my plot lines and story arcs in a sensible and exciting way.
As it stands I am circling erratically, scouting targets, chasing every instant with some giggling abandon. I think I know what the third helicopter is for.