A break from fiction to discuss the weekend. It was an artistically heavy two days. I spent Sunday filming “The Pissed-Off, Pissed-On Santa,” notable particularly for the good humor with which my Three Legged Race cohorts Doug and Derick accepted wearing a pair of soaking-wet Santa pants while having a glass of water thrown on said pants, and having the same pants tossed in his face, respectively.
Despite that, Sunday was the relatively mundane day—we’ve done a number of videos and we’re getting the hang of it. The new-to-me experience was Saturday, when I taped… wait for it… a radio show.
Yes, you can hear me live on Sunday, December 20, at 7 am on WCPT radio (820 AM) in Chicago, or streaming on their website. I believe it will be archived on their site as well, although I’m not certain.
To be honest, I don’t know too many details about the show. It was done by Democracy Burlesque, a show that I was a part of for a couple years, up to a couple years ago. But I left on good terms, so when they needed people, I got a call. The general concept is that it’s a parody of War of the Worlds, from the perspective of a right-wing talk show host being invaded by liberals who are really simultaneously socialists and fascists.
The whole thing, as I understand it, came together quite quickly, as is typical for DB. I was asked to write some song parodies on Thursday for recording on Saturday, and a guy was there writing the third act while we were recording.
What about the actual recording? Well, it’s a radio station, so they have impressive microphones, and the engineer used Adobe Audition to do some preliminary editing. I wish I could edit video as quickly as he put sound clips together—I tend to agonize over the videos, cutting to precise frames and often overlapping sound to correct little glitches. It helps, so I’m gonna keep doing it; it just feels like there should be a better way.
I was there for about five hours, and something like 8 sketches in total were recorded (I was in about 4 of them). The highlight, definitely, was the dying elves. Seriously, I don’t know why they don’t sell voice modulators that will make your voice sound like a chipmunk when you’re just walking around talking. Nobody in the world can be sad when you are talking like a chipmunk.
Did I learn any great radio technique? Probably not. I learned that there are some microphones that you talk directly into, and others that you talk sort of sideways to and at an angle, but I’m not sure I could tell them apart in the future. The engineer had to have me re-record a few things because I was closer to or further from the microphone than my scene partner, but I think that’s something that an engineer can see much better than the performer.
The big adjustment for me was really taking off the producer hat and just performing. That’s surprising; I really don’t think I’m a natural as a producer or a leader. But with Three Legged Race, I am one of three full partners in the group, so I am actively involved in all of the decisions and periodically being, quite literally, the guy who’s telling people where to be, what to do, and when to do it.
While I look back on DB fondly, one thing that I think is fair to say is that (to be stunningly diplomatic) it’s got an overabundance of leadership. A lot of artists think that all artistic endeavors should be collaborative, and I can see the appeal… but at a certain point, you just gotta do your job and let other people do theirs, even if their job is telling you what to do and your job is doing it.
I was kind of annoyed early on in the process because I didn’t realize that. It took probably an hour and a half for me to remember that I wasn’t directing or producing, and therefore the decisions ultimately weren’t mine, so I didn’t need to worry about them, and it didn’t matter if I knew a way of doing things that was a million times easier, because the time it would take to fight over it would take longer than just doing it the director’s way.
Directing and producing is really hard work. I would love to have some side projects where I’m just a performer and don’t have to stress out about every aspect of a show. And yet such an opportunity comes along and the transition really wasn’t easy. So, while I never thought this would be the case, I guess I enjoy the power of producing as much as anyone else.