why weird al is almost a monk
Well, it looks like I’ll be uploading in the afternoons for a little while, like a few weeks. Most of you won’t even notice the change, but those of you who wait for ten a.m. central time every day to see a new Squishy, it may be a few hours later in the day.
I heard from the people at my new play yesterday, and got the rehearsal schedule. Combined with my Monks rehearsals, I will be rehearsing seven days a week until September, when I will be rehearsing three days a week and performing six shows a week (Thursday through Sunday). This will all culminate in October, when I’ll have my Aspen audition one week after the closing weekend of the show.
That means for four weeks or more I’ll be driving straight from work to rehearsal. I’ll leave the house at seven-thirty in the morning, and won’t get back until about eleven-thirty at night.
It’s times like this when I stop and wonder if it is all worth it. It really only takes a few seconds before I say, “Yes. Yes it is.” I’d never do this kind of commitment for an office job. If I got paid for my theatre like I do with my job it wouldn’t even be a question. I have to do this job so that I can spend all night working on various shows and plays and such. Because I feel lonely and bored without them. I can’t imagine not working with the Monks right now, not even for a month. It’s been a constant source of work and energy for coming up on two years now, and I would miss those people so much if I left, even for a little while. That’s why I’m going to keep working with them around the other play. Because as pissed as I get for whatever reason every once in a while, they are my second family, and I would hate to miss out on a month of what’s going on.
A few weeks ago we were doing a sketch in honor of Episode I coming out. It was a song written by one of the cast members many years ago. It told the story of the Star Wars trilogy, film by film, to the tune of “American Pie.” We did it about five times, and I never could shake that Weird Al vibe from it, and eventually we got busy with BS4, and dropped the sketch.
Last night, watching VH-1 Behind the Music, I saw Weird Al Yankovic singing a song about Episode I to the tune of “American Pie.”
Weird Al always parodies new songs, doesn’t he? Of all the songs about all of the films, why Star Wars and why “American Pie?”
Things like that happen to us all the time.
I wrote a sketch about a competitive couple playing a board game that would do anything to win. I was told that one week after we performed it SNL had a sketch with Bill Murray called the “Competitive Couple” where they would do anything to win at Yatzee.
You just have to sigh, take a look at what you’ve written and realize that it is no longer your work anymore. We can’t just sue Weird Al, I’m sure he asked the “American Pie” powers that be for the rights to use the song, and we were just doing a harmless spoof for a couple of weekends at a comedy club. The Competitive Couple sketch was never filmed, so we have no proof of ownership from an earlier date.
We see sketches that we do show up in other places all the time. Are there spies and scouts coming to our club and using our material? Are they following us to Los Angeles? Or is it true what they say that there are only five jokes in the world, and we happen to come up with the same things that other people do in other states, in other cities, in a very similar way, but they have better access to the national public?
Either way, it’s depressing, because, as I said, we aren’t getting paid. Often times you have to defend your work. “I know this is funny!” you have to say to your fellow actors. The proof is in that you just saw the same thing on a network, or on MTV or whatever. But although you are vindicated that you thing was indeed funny (or at least amusing), you have to let that piece go. And sometimes you really liked it.
I think, probably, that there’s just a finite amount of funny things, and people just put new spins on old jokes, and sometimes they come out very similar. The more paranoid members of my troupe are out looking for bugs and satellite dishes and such, but I think I’ll still talk on my cell phone. People do steal in this business. That’s part of the business, I guess. People take from each other all the time. Usually they change it a bit or put their own spin on it, but you can’t always stop that. Who knows? Someone could be turning in these Squishy entries in some high school creative writing class somewhere. I can’t stop that. How would I know, right?
Copyright is a tricky thing when your faced with a medium like the internet, where you really have very little control who is accessing your work, or the theatre, where you don’t know who came to see your show and you don’t know where they went right after, or who they work for, or who they talked to. It’s as simple as someone saw our show three months ago, found the “American Pie” sketch amusing, told it to a friend on the phone (“All I really remember is ‘Bye, Bye Mr. Elephant Guy’ and it was about the band blowing up on the ship in Star Wars, just like Buddy Holly and company in the song”), and that guy who heard the story was reminded about it the next time he heard “American Pie” on the radio, and then told it to another friend (“I think it went something like, ‘bye, bye, duh-duh elephant guy’”), who happened to have a friend who knew Weird Al. The subject of Episode I comes up and someone says something as innocuous as, “You know, for some reason, whenever I hear anyone talk about Episode I, I think of the song ‘American Pie.’ How weird is that?”
“Weird? Why ‘Weird’ is my first name. I’ll help you out with that problem. How ’bout ‘My, My, This here Anakin guy?’”
From our stage to Weird Al’s lips, and he never knew where the inspiration came from.
Three days until my one person show. Oh, hell, I’m just going to call it my one woman show. Maybe my one grrl show.
Right now, it’s my one scary show.
Eric says it doesn’t suck. That’s good, right?
(If you plan on coming, it’s this weekend and next weekend, Friday and Saturday night at Hyde Park Theatre as part of the Late Night Series. That’s a fancy way of saying it starts at 11:00pm. And I’m second. It’s me and Matt, he of the phrase “NATCH!”)
We went on the radio this morning for about three minutes. We’ll be on again tomorrow for an hour.
It was really cool when I walked in and they offered me coffee. First Austin, next Howard Stern.