It's Sunday afternoon as I write this. I can't publish this manually, because if I've read my call sheet correctly, I'm currently playing Dr. Isaac Parrish on Eureka. If we're on schedule, I'm working in a scene with Erica, Colin, and Neil. If my experience on the show so far is any indication, I'm having a whole lot of fun right now.
Final If: If I've pushed the right buttons in Typepad, this should have published about one minute after The Wheaton Recurrence finished in the Eastern time zone. If you haven't seen the episode yet, you don't want to click more, because it's going to be spoileriffic.
I remember being in drama school in my early twenties, and having at least a decade more experience than everyone else in the room except our teacher. I remember paying close attention all the time, even when I wasn't working on a scene in front of the class, or getting notes directly from her. I remember her telling the other kids in the school, many of whom were convinced that they were going to be The Next Big Thing (all of them except Salma Hyek were wrong) that they didn't learn anything about performing while they were actually doing it. They learned while watching other actors perform, and understanding why their choices worked or didn't work.
I haven't done a show like this in years, and I want to make sure that I am completely back in shape, I guess you could say, by the time we perform the episode next week. To make sure I get there, I spent the entire day, even when I wasn't in the scene, watching and listening, and remembering skills that I once used every day, but haven't even thought about in a very long time. By the time we got to my last scene of the day (God, I wish I could describe it, because it's hilarious) I felt confident, I felt funny, and I felt weird but also good.
Once we started rehearsing, I noticed something that had changed from yesterday's rehearsal: the script was just as funny, but it was more alive when we performed it. I guess that, having lived with the script for a full day and having run the scenes several times alone and together, those difficult-to-quantify things that make us actors (I guess we could call them "Dramachlorians") have started to do their thing. We're thinking about the scenes when we're not in them, we're hearing the characters in our heads, we're subconsciously applying the notes we got from the director yesterday, and what was a collection of notes and chords 24 hours ago is starting to turn into a piece of music.
I can't get into any real specifics, because we've reached that point in the production where any new insights or revelations that have happened (and they have) are all related to things that would certainly qualify as spoilers, or are observations that I feel would be unprofessional to share without the explicit permission of my fellow actors.
However, during rehearsal, I got to watch them take something that was already very funny, and then try several different approaches to one particular bit, each one funnier than the last, until they settled on something that I know is going to kill when the audience sees it. You know you're working on a tremendously funny show when the stuff they throw away is funnier than the stuff that makes it on air on other shows. I also have a new appreciation for how perfectly the writers on The Big Bang Theory balance the extremely geeky jokes that guys like me go crazy for, with the non-geeky jokes that people like my wife enjoy. It's a lot harder than it sounds to gently push a time machine through the eye of the comedy needle every week without touching the sides and making that one dude's nose light up … which sounds kind of funny, but trust me, is not.
First of all, for anyone who is wondering, the show's art department made actual cards with actual graphics and rules on them, and we all spent a fair amount of time making up some logical rules to go with the Mystic Warlords of Ka'a. As far as I know, there aren't official rules or an official card set, but I'm sure someone will create one within a couple of weeks if the show doesn't. (Oh please, oh please.)
When he first talked to me about working on the show, Bill Prady told me that I'd be playing a "delightfully evil version" of myself. This sounded like a lot of fun to me, but it was more difficult to find that character than you'd think. When I'm playing Fawkes on The Guild it's easy to slip into his kilt and be a jerk, but wearing my own clothes and essentially playing a stylized version of myself made it a real challenge to hit "delightfully evil" without veering into "not committed to being delightfully evil" or "just plain evil." Keeping that twinkle in my eye, and knowing that Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Version) is planning to scam Sheldon from the moment he sits down, was essential to this particular characterization working out, and I didn't completely find it until we'd run the episode a couple of times.
During one of the run throughs, when Jim did his Klingon bit, I turned to Kevin and asked him, "Did he just say 'revenge is a dish best served cold' in Klingon?" like I was trying to figure out if that's actually what happened, like maybe I misunderstood him. Chuck Lorre told me that it would be funnier if I was more exasperated. "You're just here to play this game, and now some guy is quoting Klingon at you. This happens everywhere you go," he said.
I sighed dramatically, and said, "Oh, it does." Everyone laughed, hard, and Chuck pointed his finger at me. "Yes. That is exactly the way to play that beat."
When Chuck gave me that note, I grokked how to play Evil Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory version), and I could see the comedy in every beat I played for the rest of the show.
Finally, I did a Q&A post about Creepy Candy Coating Corollary last month, before I knew I'd be returning to the show. You'll have to go through the comments to find the questions and my answers, but if you're interested in that sort of thing, I think you'll dig it. There is also a hilarious T-shirt in that link that you probably want to see, regardless.
Also, my second episode, which is titled The Wheaton Recurrence (!) airs April 12 on CBS. Tell all your friends, and that one guy up the street who washes his Camaro in jean shorts on his lawn every weekend … he needs friends.
I loved feeling the terror and exhilaration of trying something totally new (The Trade, with music) that was raw and unrehearsed enough to allow for surprises every night.
I loved how totally geeked out we all were to be working with each other, too. I mean, I knew it would be cool to meet Adam Savage – the guy's a freakin' genius, after all – but I was unprepared for how completely and utterly cool, kind, and enthusiastic he was. And his 100 wishes are wonderful, especially that he, like I, wishes for his children to have careers that they love.
I loved feeling like we were creating something unique and special, that people would be talking about long after it was finished.
I loved how much fun we had every night, even though I was exhausted down to my bones by the time we finished our last show Wednesday night (actually, Thursday morning).
I loved how wonderful the audiences were at all the shows. Geeks truly are the best crowd, because even when they heckle us (I'm looking at you, Los Angeles front row) it was done with enthusiasm and love. Yes, even the hecklers were, in their own way, supportive.
I loved that we released the entire show under a Creative Commons license, so anyone who wanted to could record and share the show online. There are tons of videos at YouTube and pictures at Flickr, as a result.
I love that I can blockquote myself right now:
someone recorded all of w00tstock 1.1 from Los Angeles, and uploaded it. It's an audience recording, so you can pretend you are actually sitting at Largo next to the guy who recorded it! If it's the guy I think it was, he had a magnificent pimp hat on. If it's not … well, now you know that there was a guy at w00tstock in LA with a magnificent pimp hat, and you have yet another reason to wish you were there, sukka.
>I love that that recording was done on a freakin' iPhone, and it sounds fantastic.
First up, a wonderful compilation … almost a montage … from the LA show:
Here I am, recreating the moment when Luke Skywalker saw the smoking hulks of his aunt and uncle. This probably isn't as funny out of context, but if you were at the show, you'll know why I was so amused by this. By the way, the flapping hair in the wind was all Molly's idea, and it killed at all three shows.
Kid Beyond absolutely blew my mind when he performed Wandering Star by Portishead … using only his voice to create loops. If you think this is incredible on video (and it is) you should see him perform live, especially if he brings his video mashups.
Finally, everything Molly did was simply brilliant, and her cover of Toxic is sensational, but I just adore her song about breaking up with Wikipedia:
When Paul and I talked about w00tstock a million years (or a couple months) ago, we hoped that it would be successful enough to justify the time we would need to put into creating it, we hoped we'd have fun working together, and we really hoped we'd draw enough people to make it worth doing future w00tstocks.
I don't think we ever seriously worried about having fun together, but I was very worried about actually drawing an audience. When we sold out two shows in San Franciso, and only had 20 or so seats left vacant in Los Angeles – where it is notoriously difficult to get people to come out to see shows – we knew that in the future, there will be w00tstock v2.x.
I want to thank everyone who was in the show, and especially everyone who came to watch us, for making the three days of w00tstock so memorable and wonderful. I can't wait to do it again.
Having clawed my way far enough out of fevertown to think and speak (mostly) clearly, I decided to take advantage of the lull in construction next door and record this week's Memories of the Futurecast.
Memories of the Future, Volume One, covers the first 13 episodes of TNG, so each week, I'm choosing something from one episode, and performing an excerpt for you. It will mostly be from the synopses, which is where I think the real humor of the book lives, but from time to time, I may work in some things from the other parts.
Two important things:
This does not mean the book comes out in 13 weeks. It comes out much sooner than that.
These are not excerpted from an audiobook. These are recorded specifically for this podcast. I'm not sure if I'll do a full-length audiobook, yet, but I'm open to the idea.
The Memories of the Futurecast works hard to earn its [EXPLICIT] tag. You have been warned.
I'm not 100% today, and as a result, the podcast isn't 100%, but someday we'll all look back on this and laugh as we flee the planet in a space ship.