i’m all riled up with nowhere to go.
Congrats to Eric and Trejo, who have been nominated for Austin Critic’s Circle awards for their work in “Boys Life” and “Time Banditos” respectively. I’ve never been to an acting awards ceremony. Since I’m sure this’ll be a toned down affair (it is Austin, y’all…), I’m planning on getting all gussied up, rolling out a carpet for Eric and taking pictures while he walks. Then I’ll ask who he’s wearing and ask if he has anything to say to his fans. Then I’m gonna get really drunk on martinis at the ceremony and bitch-out all of the other nominees. Then I’ll do a dance on the table and tell everyone to kiss mama where she pees.
It’s the least I can do.
It’s a running joke, that “Come touch daddy where he pees” thing, said when seeing a creepy person, or if you’re trying to be creepy. But it’s really too creepy when you change it to a “mama” thing.
Yesterday I was going to write about the “Smartest Kid in America” or whatever crap that was on FOX that sends poor, smart kids into twitching fits of stress, but I realized that I was so angry about it, that it was best if I didn’t say anything at all.
But today, I’m still upset about it.
I only watched bits and pieces, flipping back from other shows. I did watch the last fifteen minutes, because I couldn’t believe that it was still going on. Clearly the runner-up had been doing these contests for years. He had that “can you repeat the question” style down. I also felt bad that these kids had to put up with Dick Clark mispronouncing half of the questions, stammering around and leaving words out of the sentences. The pressure on these kids to perform was so great, I felt bad for the kid who was so upset about losing that he forgot to shake the winner’s hand. I felt bad for the kid who didn’t realize he had lost, and was about to walk over to the “winner’s circle.” I felt bad for the last three, and mostly for the last two kids.
There’s a scene in “Magnolia” where the quiz-kid has to go to the bathroom, but they won’t let him. I’m not going to ruin the film for the ones who haven’t seen it. Just know that I was crying that entire scene. I know that feeling. I know that feeling of being expected to behave and perform and have the knowledge of an adult– better than an adult, but still get treated like a child or a pet. I know that pressure of having to know all of the answers and feeling like too many people are going to just be terribly disappointed in you if you didn’t know it. “I don’t understand. You’re so smart. How could you get that wrong?”
I did a competition in High School called Academic Decathlon. Ten events over three days. You were part of a team of nine from your school. Three “A” Kids, three “B” Kids, and three “C” kids. The letter was a representation of your grade point average. How horrifying. I remember that there was much discussion about who would actually be a better “B” kid than a “C” kid, and I recall that at least one of us in the “B” kids had an “A” average, but they figured we’d out-score the other “B” kids. I had heard rumors about kids taking lower grades in the Academic Decathlon class to qualify as a “C” kid and pump the scores up.
Math, Science, Arts and Literature, Essay, Speech, Economics, History, Geography, Interview and the mother of them all: Super Quiz.
Can you believe we had scores on our personality? How well we spoke? How well we could interview? Super Quiz was a five-question competition. Every kid got five questions. The topic? NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS. All of them. Any question about any of the Nobel Prize winners. Just five questions. Completely made or broke your team’s score. It was incredibly stressful.
You know what? I just don’t want to think about it anymore. I’m moving on. But, man. Stressing the smart kids and making them do smart tricks is one of the saddest things in the world. Really.
Please run out and get the latest issue of Bust. Margaret Cho is my hero:
The inside world of comedy is notorious for its misogyny.
“The sexism that is in comedy is just ridiculous. All the women comics I know work and are as successful, if not more successful, than our male counterparts. Yet, we’ll never get the respect from the boys, never. None of us do– not me, not Ellen, not Roseanne or anybody. Never, no matter how famous you are, it just doesn’t register with them. They don’t give it up to you, they don’t validate you as being anything. There is a prevailing notion among the male comics that the women aren’t really supposed to be doing it, that they’re not funny. There’s a reason why these men are in comedy: they’re just fucked up and the primary symptom of fucked up men is that they have a problem with women. They don’t want women to be their peers. They want women to stay in the places where they can identify them: they want wives, they want girlfriends, they want mothers, they want sisters. They don’t want colleagues.”
I don’t necessarily agree that this is an “All Men” kind of statement, but this does hold true. Men get nervous when a funny girl comes around, and often you’ll see them write women as the “girlfriend,” the “whore,” the “upset girl who someone pukes on.” You’ll hear a girl say, “Yeah, I was The Tits in that scene.” That’s when we know that we aren’t getting anything good because we’re just used as stage dressing. I’ve written things that the men were like, “Why is that funny?” And then when it worked they were all, “I guess it’s because you sell it.” Not that it’s funny, just that I can “sell.” I hate it when men just decide to do the scenes in drag instead. That they can’t conceive of a woman pulling off their vision, and so they cast themselves in the parts, instead of trying to find a funny woman. That’s one of the things that I appreciate about “Mr. Show.” They use their other actors and give them a chance to shine.
What Margaret fails to mention here, however (and probably because this is a girl-power magazine) is that some of the biggest misogynists in this business are women. Non-funny, pretty comic girls HATE funny girls. They loathe them. If a man is funny, he’s the sexiest thing in the world. If a girl is funny, she’s either a “dyke” or she’s a “slut,” or some sort of “pet.” They hate the funny girl. I understand the jealousy. I don’t understand the back-stabbing. If you’re nice, chances are the funny-girl had friendship issues as a kid and would love to let you be funny with her.
Being validated has come up a lot in this interview. Why do you have such a need for validation?
“There are a lot of reasons. I had a very difficult upbringing. My father is great but he was absent a lot, so I had to really adapt to my situation and be very charming with people I was with because I didn’t know who was staying or who was leaving. I would always try to make [my father] stay. My mother was always really unhappy with him, which is maybe why I put up with bad relationships because she was so stoic about it. She was like, this is my fate. Also, I was never considered pretty when I was growing up, which was very painful. I was very overweight as a teenager and the only way that I found that kind of acceptance or love was in performing. When I started doing comedy, it was very clear to me that that was a way to get approval. So there were so many reasons and needs to be validated. I needed to be validated all the time.”
Validation. Constant validation. I understand that. I was just saying to my friend yesterday that no one really understands what I do for a living. “If you say ‘I’m in comedy,’ they automatically assume that you’re a stand-up comedian. When you say that you aren’t, and that you do sketch and improv, they think you put on little skits for dinner theatre, or you’re taking classes to learn how to be funny. When you say that you are an actor, they want to know what movies you’ve done. They don’t go to live theatre. When you say that you’re a writer, they want to know what books you write, and if you think you’re the next Danielle Steel. If you say you write for webzines, they think that you have a little “WeLcome 2 PaM’z PAGE!” site that you throw up Backstreet Boys pics on. If you say that you’re in web design, they think that you make pretty pages and code and are a big geek. If you say that you do voice-over work for anime, they think that you are responsible for all of the bad Kung-Fu ever dubbed. If you say that you Americanize anime scripts, they think you know Japanese. If you say you write for the paper, they think you interview people all day long and go to where The News Is. They don’t know what a column is. Especially a Tech Humor column.”
So, yeah, I’m thinking about how I’m going to visit family in a week, and I’m not sure how I’m going to answer, “So, what do you do? Your mom tells me you write.”
Okay, back to Busy Pamie.