- 3 weeks ago
So yesterday I went to Shia LaBeouf’s #IAmSorry.
It’s right across the street from the BuzzFeed office in LA, and there were only a few people in line (this is before the word spread), so I figured why not.
This picture was taken while I was waiting to go in. Ha ha, I’m hilarious. At the time, I figured it’d be… I dunno. Just something. A mild amusement or momentary diversion. Something to see and shrug about and then get back to work.
I left feeling oddly emotional and affected by the whole thing.
After being patted down by a security guard, you enter (only one person at a time) and can choose from several items on a table. They didn’t say why. We’re supposed to make our own interpretations, I guess. To me, they were symbols of ways you can feel about Shia LaBeouf or something. A whip for punishment (or Indiana Jones), Hershey’s Kisses for forgiveness or love, stuff like that.
I was drawn toward a bowl of what looked like fortune cookie fortunes, and read a few. They were angry tweets, directed at Shia LaBeouf.
And that just kind of hit me, in a bad way. Like, I wouldn’t want to have all that hate directed at me. It’d make me want to die. And I wouldn’t want to direct all that hate at somebody. And there are probably hundreds of thousands of these tweets — this bowl is just the tip of the iceberg.
I actually didn’t want to carry that item, so I picked the copy of Daniel Clowes’s The Death-Ray (since I’m familiar with that book) and entered the next room, where Shia LaBeouf was waiting.
And here’s what hit me — and it seems obvious, but it’s way too easy to forget: he’s a person. Yes, with a paper bag over his head and doing some weird art stunt, but he’s still a human being, with thoughts and feelings and everything imperfect that goes along with being a person.
I noticed the tattoos on his hands and realized this is just some guy who’s dealing with a lot of ridiculous and stupid and difficult stuff (like we all are), a lot of which is his own fault, and I started talking to him.
Not about much, and I can’t remember the specifics, only that it’s a shame how human beings sometimes treat each other, and that we forget how we’re all mostly the same. I think that’s when the trouble starts — when we forget that. And it’s even easier to forget when we’re hiding behind a computer screen. Life is rough, and we sometimes make it rougher for ourselves, and in the end I just said, “Keep on keepin’ on,” and left.
I never would’ve expected to feel empathy toward someone whose name I can’t even pronounce, but there I was, choked up over the shittiness of the world. All thanks to some guy wearing a paper bag on his head.
Afterward I talked to some coworkers about the experience and it was amazing how everyone had a different reaction — from annoyance to confusion to bemusement to wanting to ignore it in the hopes that maybe he’ll shut up, and all of those reactions are correct.
Art’s what we bring to the table, after all (and here I wish I could post that Ad Reinhardt cartoon of an abstract painting saying “What do YOU represent?”), and for some reason I brought a lot of empathy. I was surprised. Maybe I’m more of a Buddhist than I thought I was.
I talked about it with my friend/coworker Ari later, and he filled me in on the whole Clowes/plagiarism debacle (I only knew a tiny bit of the story). He didn’t see the exhibit (or whatever you want to call it), but his reaction was much more critical.
He felt I was being manipulated, which is true. To quote Homer Simpson, “I AM the highly suggestible type.” And I think that’s true of art in general — it’s trying to manipulate people. Maybe in some specific way, or maybe to just get a reaction or experience.
Some people have to express themselves. Some people have to try and get a reaction. Sometimes these traits overlap, especially with artists or people too used to performing or trapped in the Hollywood game or the young and foolish.
I’ll probably never know Shia LaBeouf’s intention for his whole #IAmSorry thing, whether he’s trying to make an artistic statement or if he’s having some kind of mental/emotional breakdown or if he’s truly sorry or if he’s a sociopath asshole monster (who is still a person) or if he’s doing an elaborate promotional stunt for another Transformers movie or if he just wants to get attention or reactions from people. It could be any of these, or all of these, or none.
I won’t know. But I do know what I got out of the experience.
- 10 months ago
If you didn’t get put on a Harold/Lloyd team today, go ahead and despair. Give yourself a day to be really mad, get drunk, second-guess yourself, and play the “Why did ____ get on a team? I’m funnier than _____” game. Overreact. Self-indulge for the rest of the day. Text bitchy shit to your friends.
But just today.
Tomorrow the sun will rise and the wicked paddlewheel of life will churn on, ever unabated.
I guarantee you — FUCKING GUARANTEE YOU — that there were dozens of people good enough to be put on a team who weren’t, for space reasons. If you had a good audition you were probably one of them. Being good enough to be on a house team is ONE criterion. Being lucky is another.
If you want to be on a UCB house team, etc. then you probably will. Just not today. But if you love this thing like I think you do, take comfort that it’s resilience and durability that are going to put you on a team. Not one good audition. Plenty of people on teams now had to audition five or more times. There was a three-year stretch where I couldn’t get on a team, after having been on teams for years. I just “wasn’t a good fit.” And look at me now, motherfuckers.
Tomorrow, start an indie team. Start a practice group. Book some shows. If you think you had a quality audition this time around, think about how you’ll be next time after doing two shows a week for six months. And yeah, do two shows a week for six months. I don’t care where. Just do them.
Because there are other great people besides you who didn’t get cast. And they’re gonna be doing two shows a week.
Keep the faith. Love this thing and it’ll eventually love you back. Final piece of advice? Don’t say any dumb/mean shit on the internet. That stuff has a way of being forever.
- 1 year ago
- 1 year ago
Nick Steven’s roast of Guy Fieri is HI-LARIOUIS.
I’m currently in the thick of The Friars’ Club’s second ever “So You Think You Can Roast?” competition, where comedians and jackasses alike audition to win a coveted spot as a comic who participates in celebrity roasts. For someone who can’t really get his own shit together but enjoys busting the balls and pointing out the flaws in others much more famous and successful than myself, it’s a pretty friggin’ good time. To get to partake in the verbally caustic takedowns of people I look up to, or will never be as accomplished as? Good time on ice. Roasts have been a staple of the comedy community for decades. From those iconic Dean Martin boozefests to the bombastic Comedy Central free-for-alls, making fun of someone is the best way to let them know you care about them. After all, the adage is “you only roast the ones you love”. Which is mostly true…and brings me to the video.
For an audition we were able to choose anybody we wanted, and come up with a 2-3 minute roast of them. For a hundred different reasons Guy Fieri just popped in my head like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. No real need to explain the how and why. Plenty to have fun with. In fact keeping it to just under 4 minutes was nearly impossible. Anyway, this is my audition video for the roast festival…an audition that earned me a spot at the roast of Padma Lakshmi (“host of “Top Chef”) last Friday, February 1st. Which went really well. No feelings hurt. Many a tasteless jokes made. If all goes well more roasts will be partaken in soon. Hoping I qualify for the chance to roast Dennis Rodman on March 15th. Last I checked there was only a LITTLE you could speak of mockingly, with a smirk, about The Worm. Says the die-hard Celtics fan.
Video from the Padma roast soon. You stay classy, tumblr.