We are happy to welcome guest celebrity blogger Peter Scolari, the three-time Emmy Award nominee for his work in the situation comedy "Newhart." Scolari, who is currently in rehearsal for the new Off-Broadway comedy White's Lies (performances begin April 12 at New World Stages), will blog for Playbill.com all week; his third entry follows:
Whoever said, "Dying is easy, comedy is difficult" was a clever one, but most likely still alive at the time of his utterance.
I'm Peter Scolari, and I'd prefer not to test the merits of such a comparison...
Greetings from New World Stages, where we are soon to enter the limbo of tech rehearsals for White's Lies, a new comedy by Ben Andron, which begins previews this April 12th. Check your local listings.
I have blogged herein for a couple of days now and yesterday's already infamous "Designer Run-through" blog was a comedic near-death experience for me. I survived, but some who read it and enjoyed it are now feeling ashamed and unclean.
To them and to their families, I can only offer my heartfelt condolences and warm wishes for a speedy recovery.
Are you ready for a segue?
I'm working through stuff today - the trusting of comic instincts, a hideous chore; the search for different solutions to age-old problems in staging and writing.
And sometimes, if you've been around as long as I have as an actor (36 years this fall, Oy! Such a child star), then you may find yourself in the unenviable position of quarreling with what seems to be going well...
My mother sent me a card at a propitious moment in my young life: "When your cup runneth over, watcheth out"...
I don't think it came from Hallmark...
And it's just that sort of wry comment that both warns and encourages -
The first great encouragement I received as a young actor was from my mentor Michael Lessac: "Have the courage to fail."
A warning from the late Jack Albertson, who said after praising an early Off-b'way performance of mine: "You seem like a nice kid - If you can do something else for a living, do it. Its a terrible business."
I was so disheartened I decided I'd never give up, and I've wondered many times since: "Was that his intention, to trick me, so that I might have greater incentive?"
I never saw him again and he passed some years back, so I'll never know...
And now with White's Lies we are at the first of what may be more than a few critical junctures -
Questions in our hearts and minds about what works, what do we have here, and the most dreaded of all pondering: "Is it funny, am I, are we," and by the way, "How's that whole 'courage to fail' thing working out?"
George Burns once said something along the lines of: "Tragedy is when something terrible happens to you, comedy is when it happens to somebody else."
Its a funny thing to say, but for me, its relevance ends with that -
I'm not unique among those who have more than once made their living in comedy in conceding that it is from a brooding, moody core, a restlessness, that I originate what I do.
And I believe that analyzing comedy is like dissecting a frog: "You learn a lot, but it doesn't go very well for the frog" (possibly paraphrased from E. B. White, I'm not really sure, I heard it so long ago...).
What do you get when you combine two water fowl?
"A paradox" -
(Don't worry, that hurt me more than it hurts you now..)
And therein lies the heart of the matter:
"It's the heart that matters"... (Counting Crows - I'm fairly sure about that one)
I guess the truth of why I've stalled today my homage to S.J. Perelman and Woody Allen, who have inspired my previous two postings, is to tell
you of another inspiration:
Yesterday, as a cast of would-be fools and text-pirates, we bonded -
And it began with the passion of a person who surely has the "courage to fail," but who would rather not, and to that end proposes we do what
we can do as a team, and that nothing else will serve as a substitute.
She knows who she is, and so do the rest of us...
So whether or not we score with the critics, and sell out regularly because or in spite of them, I can assure you we will make you laugh if
you are ready, willing, and able...
Dying is easy? Maybe...
I wouldn't know and I won't be able to tell you after -
But comedy is fear and insight that by luck and love, sometimes by hook or crook, converts to absurd joy...
Good news - This posting wrote itself.
Tomorrow I'll be silly again...