I’m finally getting some good sleep these days.
Recently, I was stage-managing the incredible Varietease show at the Guild: a cavalcade of comedy, song and, indeed, titillation.
This basically amounted to many long evenings that blended into each other as we moved closer and closer to show time.
By the time we were nearing the end of our run, I was feeling slightly delirious. The added combination of a frantic sexual frustration certainly didn’t help.
(Exhaustion + Mounting a burlesque show + Fiancée away for two months = General loss of sanity. See I can do math!)
The chemical soup churning in my brain sure wasn’t feeling too healthy.
I actually had a dream one night that I was leading a group of performers to a stage. We ducked into a corridor and suddenly were lost. I spun around looking for the right door that would lead us to the stage when the actors disappeared.
Before I could start to panic, I became lucid, realized how boring and obvious the subtext of the dream was, then promptly forced myself to wake up.
It was at that point that I stopped silently whining and started to embrace my foggy minded self.
You could consider it my own little sleep deprivation experiment.
As well as my stage-management duties, I was performing a piece in the show that had me playing a cheesy Vegas style stand-up comic. I had originally written a six-minute set that flowed from one cheap joke to the next. But when I took the stage, something interesting happened.
My frustrations and exhaustion slipped away and this character took over. Behind the ruffled shirt and handlebar moustache, I watched in slight awe as the most bawdy things slid out of this guy’s mouth.
I recall retorting something incredibly rude to a heckling audience member and wondering: “Where the heck did that come from?”
(Fortunately, it worked really well.)
I would jump from the material I wrote, to bantering with the band and poking fun at the audience’s or my own expense.
Behind this character, my general exhaustion took me to a place where I was completely uninhibited. My unconscious was starting to take over. It was exhilarating and frightening.
I’d like to think I’d choose the exact time when I become absolutely shameless, but this lounge-lizard obviously had other ideas.
I’m usually a quiet and reserved kind of guy. Contrary to popular belief, I’m actually quite socially awkward. I get all my extroverted satisfaction from performing. While some people might find that strange, I think there’s nothing wrong with the dichotomy.
Even regular stand-up comedians are playing proto-characters of themselves on stage. They just run their anxieties and quirks up to a whole new level and put them on display for other people to laugh at. No wonder there’s a lotta neurotic comics.
Now I’m not saying I’m a huge fan of altered states, but if you’re an artist (of any discipline) and you should find yourself in a similar position of slight insanity, you may as well lean back and see where the ride takes you.
However, if you start to unconsciously grow a handlebar moustache, be ready for the consequences.
Anthony Trombetta is the host of Coaster’s Comedy every other Wednesday at 9 p.m. The next show is June 18. If you want to help him sleep/forget his fiancée, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.