Tag Archives: W.C. Fields

W.C Fields, (When He’s Right)

21 Apr

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This guy was known for his one-liners and one of his finest, “Never work with children or animals,” was spawned by his loathsome hatred for both, and frequent forcing to work with them anyway.

…P.S., he was an actor. 

(In case you didn’t know.)

…A profession where people without patience or discipline are not long for the world. 

…Talent frequently has nothing to do with it.  So we won’t cloud the atmos with any of that right now.  Here, we are only talking basic mechanics.  Can you physically sit still, or stand, or recite on command, or change costumes, or move to where you are supposed to be, on a specific cue? And can you shut the hell up and behave, the rest of the time.

…That’s all.

These two species, frequently cannot. 

…They fidget, and steal focus, and play to the audience, or refuse to play at all, or act out when they aren’t supposed to, and don’t when they are. 

…And they are cuter than you.  So every fucking person in the audience is going to be ten times more intrigued with whatever it is they are doing on total accident (like picking their nose, or peeing in the corner) instead of you with all your months of dedicated hard work invested in this highly emotional scene.

This is why W.C. Fields is a genius. 

Because he said it: the truth, that no one wants to admit, but know is true…which if you do admit, makes you a giant asshole.

I am a giant asshole. 

…And I’m totally okay with that, frankly.

This is why you will never see me doing a show like, oh..”Annie” for instance. 

That would be like hell. 

…Unless I was Hannigan, in which case I getta hate all the children on purpose anyway.

…And you’ll never see me in a film like “101 Dalmations,” made up almost entirely with animilia of every size, breed, and type, each trained in doing one thing that they never do on cue, but will do any time  you like, when the camera isn’t on them.

I frankly super lucked out with “Oliver!”…only cuz it was a bucket-list role and totally worth all the pain, added to the fact that our kids were all freaks of talent, and really good, delightful human beings.

…This is not usually the case.

It sorta broke the mold.

…And in “Anne” our under-agers are serious-minded young artists, that attack the work as such, so I tend not to think of them as anything other than “peers,” outright…

…But the cat?

Ohhhhhh….the cat.

We have a live Mouchie. 

Peter’s cat is a “cat”…not a “something in a box they talk to from time to time”…and as such, lives with us in the first act, and back stage for the second. On a harness and leash, he exists primarily in Peter’s room, for a few spotlight moments, and isn’t thought of much again ever after. 

…But he is real. 

Legit. 

…A giant, Buddha-like tabby with slothful inclinations…which works perfect on a stage full of screaming hysteria (mostly sourcing from me) and much door slamming.  He is usually quite good to just smoke his little peace-pipe of hooka-catnip-hash and stone out for the act, then exit at intermission and be done with it.

…But not tonight.

Tonight, Tinker was a pissed-off individual, and by GOD everyone was gonna know it!!

…We didn’t know why, or how, what was different than the norm, what may have happened to spawn it, but it began not long after intermission with small vocal complaints (mostly only heard by cast on stage), magnified in the Anna/Peter date scene with a gigantic dump of uncovered poop that clogged the air with putrification…at almost gag levels…for the following scene and a half, then ended…at the most poignant of scenes…the second to the last…with Anne, gazing out the attic window speaking her most famous words…before the Nazis come storming in to collect us all…with a collection of yowlings that grew, and grew, and grew…until the audience was in absolute titters.

…After all that we had worked for…

…One FUCKING cat was completely ruining it all.

By the time it was carried, still yowling, and stowed away in the dressing rooms, more than a few pissed casties rallied the end of our strength and focus and worked to regain what was left of our dignity and solemnity in the moment. 

We rallied.

…Because it was our job.

…And a large number of them were FAR more forgiving of the fur-creature afterwards than I was. 

Again, that “cuteness” factor wins people over, all the time.

…But not the hard-asses.

I didn’t speak to that bastard on PURPOSE…even while everyone else baby-talked to it, and scratched behind it’s ears, and wondered over it’s emotional state, and what could have bothered it so to act out today, when it had never done so before.

Me, I just slapped it dirty looks whenever I could and silently threatened to kill it if it sprayed my bag of theatre crap, sitting beside in on the floor.

…Admittingly: I am not a cat person. 

I like dogs. 

…But I don’t care if it is Fido, a finch, a frog, a 30-hand-tall horse: you fuck with something I’ve worked two months and two-and-a-half hours to build: We are enemies, pal.

It’s ON, Tinker!

It. Is. ON.

~D

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To Snark With The Best Of Them

10 Jul

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For my birthday this year, a very good friend, (we’ll call her K)…who knows me abnormally well, got me this book

…According to the Preface, it is handbook of biting wit, smartass zings, sly disparaging comments and snide remarks…which is claiming an awful lot really, as it is quite quaint in size.  This diminutive volume, is the type categorized by many as a “bathroom book,” wherein tidbits are stored in a variety of quips, slashes and barbs, edited and chosen specifically for their biting humor, their penchant for little known facts…and the amount of time identified to be “correct” for the average taking of the average poop.  I don’t really know what that means, but prob’ly something between: “sixty seconds,” and “not so long that your butt falls asleep.”

Not being one to enthrone myself in that tiniest of  tiny rooms in the house, I keep it instead on one of my stacks in the living room.  It’s fast-access for lazy moments where I don’t want to put in the effort to read a real book (with plot and all), but can’t be bothered to turn on the TV either.

…And it’s become a slipstream to a happier place. Because it’s bitchy.  And irreverent.  And it thinks like me…(only funnier.)

The real secret of this book, you see, it that it is a collection of some of the greatest verbal spars, comebacks, quips, bites, bitches, (and bastards) of all time.  I’m quite a fan of most of them, and have been for a long while.  Dottie Parker, Oscar Wilde, W.C. Fields…Bankhead, Allen, Levant, Rivers, Mason, Burns, & Benny to name a few.  Whatever mood of utter boredom and listlessness I pick the book up in, will be altered with money-back-guarantee within five minute max…because you cannot (I promise you) read the words of these masters of insult and wit, without a childlike wonder at the brilliance of how their minds are wired.

…Oh, to think of a comeback at the exact moment it is needed…and not at home in bed three hours later!  Oh, the bravado of genuinely not giving a shit who you offend in a public bout of completely inappropriate and politically incorrect banter!  Oh to be free to be sarcastic, saucy, and sharp, both hated and loved for it!

The reason these people are so uniformly revered  in their artform, is because they gave a damn enough to have a “go” at anyone, anywhere.  They were brave, they were ball-busters…and they were fucking brilliant.  Plus, they are like the best magic eight-ball of live Q & A brilliance EVER.  Check it:

Me: How old are you?

Oscar Levant:  I can remember Doris Day before she was a virgin.

Me: And how would you describe your life is one sentence?

Dorothy Parker: Ducking for apples – change one letter and it’s the story of my life.

Me: What are your thoughts about coworkers?

Bette Davis:  The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs.

Me: Uh huh…and education?

Dorothy Parker: You can drag a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.

Tallulah Bankead: –I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice.  That’s what I call a liberal education.

Me: Just out of curiosity, hows your Math?

Mae West: A man has one hundred dollars, and you leave him with two dollars.  That’s subtraction.

Me: Any particular thoughts on Politics?

Mark Twain: Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress.  But I repeat myself…

Me:  …And “Corporations?”

Noel Coward:  The higher the building the lower the morals.

Me: Do you have any thought about the “legalizing drugs” issue?

Tallulah Bankhead:  Cocaine isn’t habit forming.  I should know — I’ve been using it for years.

Me: Why do you think gossip is so addictive?

Oscar Wilde: My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.

Me: Aren’t you ever worried about what other’s might think of you?

Bette Davis: I’m the nicest goddamn dame that ever lived.

Me: Right.  I see.  How do you pick your next projects?

Mae West: Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.  I’ll try anything once.  Twice if I like it, three times to make sure.

Me: Here’s one for the “gourmets” in our audience…any kitchen recipes to share?

W.C. Fields:  I cook with wine, sometimes I even add food.

Me: And what are your thoughts on the recent health craze?

W.C. Fields: I never drink water, fish fuck in it.

Joan Rivers:  …Don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.

Me: And how’s your dating life ?

Mae West:  I’ve been on more laps than a napkin.

George Burns: …Sex at 90 is like shooting pool with a rope.

Me: Any last words to wrap us up?

Tallulah Bankhead: Codeine…bourbon.

…See what I’m sayin’?  Genius-freaks of awesome.

…And what’s doubly impressive, is that it’s so much more difficult to do comedy than drama.  Ask anyone who does it for a living.  It’s perfectly natural to play to a house of silent patrons doing O’Neill. You get crickets performing Noel Coward, and…well…that’s about the lowest feeling you’re ever gonna feel.  There are actual deaths that are less painful.  I know.  I’ve seen both. 

…When you’re playing the verbal spar of “snark” at the level that these people do though…it’s like a shock and awe equal to any physical feat of an athletic professional.  Only it lasts longer than a mere “era,” ages better than a fine wine, and will survive as long as words are used as an instrument of thought.  Just ask Shakespeare.  He was flippin’ boss at that this shit.

Point is: today wasn’t the greatest, but this little snarky guy, just happened to be.  It “be’d” so much that it got me to dig out my “Portable Dorothy Parker” to play with the big kids at the Algonquin Table for a while. Such a fat company of word-slingers…the whole lot of ’em, with perfect aim.

…Bastards.

I love ’em.

~D

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