The rest of my Week of Culture was less spectacular, alas. I’ll explain. On Thursday I went to see Behind the Scenes of The Colbert Report at the Town Hall.
It was most interesting in the beginning. For the first half-hour, Stephen and the twelve writers on stage with him talked about how they constructed the show. Basically, it’s crazy hard work and you cannot have a life while you’re working on it because you’re working on today’s episode and the second you’re done with that you’re working on tomorrow’s episode. Or a field piece. Or getting props. Or an animation. Or learning about who Stephen is interviewing. It’s a never-ending cycle. After they all explained their day, they opened up to the audience for questions. FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF. THE PUBLIC WAS ALLOWED TO SAY WHATEVER INTO MICROPHONES. The level of fremdschämen I felt for these people was overwhelming. One woman stood up and said, “How do I become a writer on your show?”
Stephen said, “You have to submit a script with jokes in it.”
“Can I tell you a joke?” she said.
“Sure,” he said.
“What’s green and has wheels?”
“Grass. I was lying about the wheels.”
*The entire audience groans*
*I clutch my face and try to gouge my own eyes out*
*An angel loses its wings and falls screaming*
Here’s the deal: I purposely do not go up to famous people or people I admire and try to talk to them because I get very excited and basically piddle on the floor like an incontinent cocker spaniel. I feel like an epic loser, the famous person is usually not thrilled to be in the presence of someone having an episode of some sort, nobody wins. It’s not unusual, that’s what most people do when they meet someone famous. Now, knowing that that kind of thing is going to happen, why didn’t they have notecards in the entry hall for people to write their questions on and then, when the Q&A started, just read a bunch of those questions? You can curate the crazy while still having people feel like they are participating. Nope. I had to listen to people spazz out for an hour and a half. It wasn’t all bad. One of the intelligent questions I liked was, “Is there any topic that you won’t do?” The writers mentioned that they write jokes all day and it makes them desensitized, so when they write something they think is too much Stephen will say, “Is this fit for humans?” and they will pull a human out of the hallway and read them the joke. And then Stephen said, “Any joke where the victim is the punchline,” which I think is pretty classy. Here’s a Vulture article on the other things that were talked about.
Then on Friday I went to see Bill Burr at the Beacon Theater with Cricket. The Beacon has a gorgeous chandelier in the entry hall.
Underneath the chandelier were two bars set up on either sides of the room. Cricket went to the bathroom before the show started and I waited in the corner. It became extremely apparent to me that Bill Burr’s audience is primarily made up of the douchiest, frat-iest, date-rape-iest men I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like the Duke lacrosse team had been put through a copy machine and now there were a hundred of them. One guy standing next to me said to his friend, “Hey, I’m going to the bar, you want something?” and his friend said, “Yeah, I dunno, a mixed drink or something,” and the first guy said, “A mixed drink? What are you, a fag?? FAAAAAAG!!” And then he smiled at me and I tried to tamp down my feelings of disgust. Bill Burr does a bit about that, talking about his youth and how his guy friends do that, but then he talks about how it eventually kills them because they’re not allowed to express their feelings. You know what, buddy? You’re not Bill Burr. You’re not making a statement about society. Shut it.
Then Cricket and I went in and we watched Bill Burr perform and he was great and it would have been great if the drunk fratboy behind me would stop yelling. Every time Bill said something really clever the guy would say, “Here we go!” or “Yeah B.B.!” or something of that ilk. I’ve come to the conclusion that I really enjoy going to things, I just don’t enjoy the people around me. They ruin everything. Either they’re unwrapping a cough drop for fifty years, or they’re checking their phone, or whatever. I don’t like my co-audience members. Does no one know the unwritten social contract we all signed? The one where we can do whatever the heck we want in our homes, but when we go outside we say excuse me and don’t shout and close our legs on the train so others can sit? I feel like we as a group should re-address this. If I can follow it anyone can follow it. Seriously. People. Get it together.
Then on Saturday my friend K. had an extra ticket to the Justin Timberlake concert in New Jersey. I always say “never look a free ticket to anything in the mouth” so even though I’m not a huge Justin Timberlake fan, I was down with it. It was a great show, I must say. The set design was phenomenal and we had really good seats.
Hexagons! The set was covered in hexagons! I love hexagons, I really do. There was light painting and video footage and part of the hexagon background was made of scrim so lights showed through, it was just killer design. The only complaint I had was the lights above the stage were organized to form a sad, disappointed face. Occasionally it would appear to be a deity was looking down on Justin and his crew and thinking, “Has it really come to this?”
And then – lasers! All over the arena!
The red lasers went up and down all over the audience made me feel like a can of corn at the self-checkout in Stop-n-Shop. I said quietly to myself, “Please move your items to the bagging area.” And then I chuckled because I amuse myself. I thought that was the extent of the coolness that could be brought, but I was wrong. The entire front edge of the stage was glass that lit up and during one song it came off, rose up on pneumatic lifts and rolled down the aisles so Justin, his trumpeters and his back-up singers could slide past the entire audience on the ground level. Kind of amazing.
Here’s a video someone took of the glass part moving.
He did a bunch of songs there (including the best rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel” I’ve ever heard) and the the stage slid on back and went down and it was like nothing happened. So very rad. And then his did “Poison” by Bel Biv DeVoe! With the cheesy 90s dancing! I was so happy! I found footage from a different show, but it was the same.
Anyway, after I see Richard III tonight, that is the end of my evening galavants for a while. It’ll be good for me to get away from the public and go back into my little hole and craft. I need to build up a tolerance to humanity.