blog: After Chappelle's Show, Neil Brennan's one-man show 3 MICS

So I heard part of a segment on the Leonard Lopate Show last week, an NPR show I’ve been listening to for decades on which Leonard Lopate interviews all kinds of smart people. This segment was different from any other because Lopate was laughing so hard that he could hardly choke out the questions for his guest, Neal Brennan. I managed to lock it in that Neal Brennan was the co-creator of Chappelle's Show, a hilarious show. And I promptly forgot about it.

And then on my Sunday afternoon stomp around Lower Manhattan when I had my big epiphany, what appeared before my eyes but the theatre where Neal Brennan’s one man show 3 MICS is playing until April 16. (The Lynn Redgrave Theatre at 45 Bleecker Street near Lafayette Street in Noho with tickets for as little as $21).  

Taking this as some kind of sign, I pried myself away from the rewrite and went to a sold out performance last night. I loved it.

Brennan is magnificently funny, real and sometimes very vulnerable as he moves among three different microphones. At one mic he does one-liners, at the middle one ‘emotional stuff’ and at the third one, stand-up comedy. He covers a lot of ground: family, depression, his experience with anti-depressants, student loans, his girlfriend experiences, his violent alcoholic father, 12 step programs, self-esteem, racism, the problem with having famous friends and a whole lot more.

As an artist, I found it incredibly inspiring, encouraging and moving and wish that every artist in New York City and beyond could get to see this before it closes.

No pictures were allowed during the performance so I snapped this one just before the show. It’s possible that Brennan will take 3 MICS on the road so maybe people in other parts of the country/world will get a chance to see it. I hope so.

Go Big or Go Bust: Down To The Wire with Thanks to Sam Smith and Razia Iqbal of the BBC

I frequently listen to the BBC World News on the local NPR station which broadcasts for an hour starting at 9 AM on weekdays. But when I flicked on the radio the other day, expecting to hear the reassuringly authoritative and professional voice of Razia Iqbal reading the news, I was surprised to hear music. And it wasn’t just a sting of music at the end of a story, the music went on and on. Double-checking that the radio was set to WNYC, I figured the BBC must be doing an interview with a musician and went about cleaning up the kitchen.

But when Razia Iqbal finally did come on, her voice was hardly recognizable. She was irritated to the point of petulant: “Well I have no idea why we had to listen to such a long piece of music there!” and then went back to reading the news.

I was dumbstruck. Listening to this woman for years, I have never heard anything even approaching personal emotion, much less unprofessionalism. But before I could dry off my hands to Google Image her, she was back, a dark and almost nasty tone in her voice: “And now we’re going to listen to even MORE of that song!”

The song, The Writing’s On The Wall by Sam Smith, continued. And as I listened to the passionate (soaring and cringing) finale, the lyrics ripped my heart right out of its safe little cavity behind the ribs:

(selected lyrics)

How do I live?
How do I breathe?

Tell me is this where I give it all up?
I have to risk it ALL!

It occurred to me that higher forces had interfered with poor old Razia’s broadcast and I considered shouting at the radio: THAT WAS FOR ME, RAZIA!!  I NEEDED THAT!  Because in fact, I’m so scared about this imminent pitching thing that I’ve been bloodying my fingertips ripping off anything that resembles a hangnail.

I know I’ve got to give it all up, whatever IT is. The control I guess. THE FEAR. I’m trying to psyche myself out asking: “What’s the worst that can happen?”  I’m not actually ‘risking it all’ … cause even though it FEELS like I might die of fear or humiliation, I’m not going to die.

Leave it to another filmmaker to stun me with his crazy logic, my old/new pal Joe who knows first-hand about the path that lies ahead of me: “If fear of pitching holds you back, then it's your life purpose to go and do it anyway no matter what. No matter what the result or fear in doing it.”   

My first serious practice pitch is on Friday.  I’ll let you know how it goes. Check back Friday night. (Early Valentine's appreciation to all who click the 'Like' button below ... RIGHT NOW.)

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