12:11 am - FRI 8/2/02
Both have the same basic premise: Women ignoring the attractive men in front of them because something else has their attention (In one case, it's a black SUV; In the other, a buffet featuring a particularly savory mayonnaise).
I find both commercials kind of unpleasant, but that's probably okay; No one's trying to sell me the black SUV, and I'm too cash-strapped for luxuries like mayonnaise anyway, no matter how savory it might be.
But beyond finding the commercials in question vaguely disturbing, perhaps even a tad offensive, they just seem a bit "off"; I mean, isn't it supposed to be guys who can only focus on one thing at a time?
I've been thinking about a customer at work lately, one of the handful of "regulars" I recognize (If you don't count our homeless people--"Jingle Bells", "The Shroud", "Feet", "John Walker Lindh", and that whole crew).
She was in the Britney Spears Pepsi commercial that aired during the last Superbowl (Or maybe it was the one the year before), the commercial that ends with the odd image of Bob Dole having to calm down his apparently over-stimulated dog (The impression is that Bob and the dog are both hot for Britney. I don't know who that unappetizing notion was supposed to sell Pepsi to, but it sent me running for a Coke). Anyway, this customer was the heavyset woman in the diner--Or was it a bowling alley? I forget--who imitates one of Britney's moves as she watches Britney on tv (It's very artsy; You see, she's watching the commercial, but she's also actually in the commercial. What's the word for that? "Post-modern"? "Deconstructionist"?. Help me here, someone...).
This customer--whose name I've never gotten--seems to think she is the life of the party. She's an actor, obviously--As she told John O. during one visit, the Pepsi commercial paid her rent for the year--and I guess she does stand-up as well.
The hitch? She is painfully, horribly un-funny. She actually sucks any pre-existing humor out of the room. The last time she was in the store, the more she tried to be funny, the more the world seemed to me a grim and joyless place, where death would provide sweet release.
This was a few weeks ago now. So why am I still thinking about it?
I'm sure part of it is jealousy. I want someone to put me in a commercial, so I'll be able to pay my rent for a year
(In the commercial, she's basically used as a visual joke--"Oh, isn't it funny that the fat lady is trying to dance like Britney?"--so talent, or lack of same, doesn't really enter in).
Another part of it is just annoyance at being put on the spot; The last time she was "making with the funny", there was nothing I could do. I was trapped at the register (John O. was there as well), and no matter how non-commitally I responded to her attempts at humor--within the bounds of being professionally courteous, of course--she just refused to pick up on the fact that, given the opportunity, both John and I would have bolted from the bookstore in order to escape her unfunny assault.
And that last thing connects to what, in my mind, is the most interesting aspect of her continuing to plague my thoughts; When someone tries to be funny and it just doesn't work for me, whether on stage or in real life, in addition to a sense of annoyance--at having my money and/or time wasted, at having a boring world made, for that period of time, just a little more boring--I find myself curious about just why this person is not funny.
And what did I come up with, in the case of "Pepsi Commercial Woman"?
Well, I don't think pure, undulterated neediness is funny (At one point, when a customer I was waiting on during her "routine" failed to show any reaction to her "zingers", she went on at some length, after the man left, as to what his problem was. I wanted to say, "Well, maybe it has to do with the fact that YOU'RE NOT FUNNY", but again, professionalism prevented such a burst of honest emotion).
I also don't think anger, in and of itself, is particularly funny. It's of course a pretty key ingredient in comedy--Particulary standup--but you still have to do something funny with those angry feelings, not just expect them to be inherently funny because you're saying them (At one point, she was ragging on her "pretty sister", who's "jealous" because "I'm on tv and she isn't. HA HA HA!". She obviously thought this was standup material, but it just made me feel sad, that this middle-aged woman was still going over childhood slights, and doing it in front of two people she really didn't know at all).
But I think more illuminating than any of this was the fact that she was totally clueness as to how off-putting she was to both John and myself (I'd say both John and I are funnier on any given day than this woman has ever been in her life).
I think some people don't get the idea that performing is communication; If you're trying to be funny, and you don't seem to notice or care that my eyes have glazed over, my responses have become increasingly rote and robotic, and I'm all but shoving you out the door so you'll quit being "funny"...well, if you are that lacking in perception, or any sense of connection to me, as a person or as your intended "audience", I'm probably not going to want to hang out with you, and I certainly don't hold out a lot of hope for your ultimate success as a performer.
If performing, whatever you're doing, isn't the act of sending a message, then what the hell is it?
Am I sounding mean? Bitchy, perhaps? Well, there's just something about all this that bugs me.
There's the stuff I said about jealousy ("Why did this unpleasant, untalented person catch such a big break?"), about being annoyed at being put on the spot (I don't like having to be "fake"), being made even more bored than I usually am, etc, but I think there's also an element of fear; I want to believe I'm a good actor, a talented performer, that I have something real and special to offer, but whenever I come across someone who thinks they're God's gift to the creative community when they're obviously not, it makes me feel a little anxious. This person might be kidding themselves about the nature and extent of their "gift", but could I be doing the same thing?
I'm uncertain about the "nature and extent of my gift"--the longer between gigs, the more uncertain I get--but I think I am different than this very unfunny woman I'm talking about. I think there's at least a touch of artistry wrapped up in my neediness, at least some desire for connection when I express my anger or pain or what-have-you, and I think that if I'm going to ask for your time and attention in order to talk about myself, I have to, at the very least, "check in" every so often to see if you're enjoying yourself.
Well, I've been a pretty good boy: I called Cenex on Wednesday and today, and a couple headshots are ready for tomorrow's mail.
Calling Cenex today brought up a pretty "hairy" dilemma...
There's a call for "hairy" guys for an episode of Scrubs shooting on Monday. You're supposed to either drop off a picture of your hairy chest/back, or come in and have them take a Polaroid.
Now, I am a hairy guy, a very hairy guy (Look up "hairy" in the dictionary, and there's a picture of me, covered in fur). And I've never been very happy about it--Particularly the cosmic joke that's made hair sprout wildly on every part of my body, more and more the older I get, while falling out the only place where it actually matters (My gigantic head)--and I'm not nuts about being a national joke because of this unfortunate, albeit cosmetic, affliction.
But on the other hand, that's the hand I've been dealt, and I'm not sure I can afford to be in the "dignity business" right about now.
So I don't know...I don't really want to do it, to be honest, and I have the "excuse" of it being a work day, but I'm thinking that if I call tomorrow morning, and they're still looking for guys, I should probably drive there and have my hairy parts photographed (They suggested that being overweight would help as well, so maybe I won't make the cut. I have a bit of a "spare tire", but I'm thinking they really want hairy fat guys, for that totally unappealing effect).
I was thinking the other day that it might be best if I didn't give voice to all my dreams and plans in here, at least not until they're--Voila!--a done deal.
I know I don't write every bad thought I'm thinking in here, because I'm embarrassed or uncomfortable about them, but by the same token, I may not want to say "I'm thinking about doing this or that", trying this or that thing, because I tend to be my own worse nay-sayer on that front, and given any excuse, like someone else saying "nay" along with me, I'm likely to let those things die an ignominious death.
Because I'm weak that way.
It occurs to me that I have a major problem with harboring things. I don't mean to, I don't want to...but I do.
It makes things very hard for me, because long after the fighting's over, when all the apologies have been made and the hands have been shaken, I'm still feeling stung by the things that were said.
And I'm not going to tell you I'm still mad, or hurt, or whatever, cause what would be the point?At this point, it's ceased to be "my problem with you", and has become my problem with me.
And you won't know unless I tell you.
You don't know right now, as a matter of fact. _______________________________________
I first noticed this back when I was working out with Chris back in Lansing, but it's come to mind again here in LA: I used to think muscles would automatically make you look "tough", or "cool", or "sexy", or "something", but interestingly enough, it's very possible to be an ugly guy with muscles, or a nerd with muscles, or a guy who radiates general un-sexiness...with muscles. Most guys I see at the bookstore with muscles just look like geeks who've spent a lot of time at the gym (Granted, geeks who could tie me in a knot like a @#$! pretzel, but geeks nevertheless).
And while I often see women in the bookstore who make my eyes want to pop out, Tex Avery-style, more often I see women who have spent a lot of time on breasts that look perfectly phony, who are so skinny they look like they'd snap in half in a stiff wind, or who are so buff they look downright bulletproof.
Sadly, I think sexual appeal, on a physical level, comes down to things you can't really help, for the most part; Bone structure, symmetry, that sort of stuff. You can do the best you can do with what nature handed you, but that's about it.
(And I know any number of people are going to tell me all about how it's what's on the inside that's "sexy". But that's not what I'm talking about right here.)
I've realized I also have a little bit of a prejudice about overtly "muscular" men and women. To me, that kind of body, and the necessary attention involved, just seems to say, "My focus is not only on me, but on maybe the most superficial aspect of 'me', therefore I am probably uninteresting and not worth your time".
I'm overgeneralizing wildly here, but what can I say? It's my journal, and I get to do that.
On Wednesday at the bookstore, both Peter MacNichol (Ally McBeal) and Lisa Hamilton (The Practice) dropped in.
There was a part of me that wanted to say something, but then I realized how awkward it would be. What would I say--"I really enjoyed your show, until it started to suck and I couldn't waste time on it any more"?
Well, I think I've been catty enough for one evening, and it's very late, so I'm gonna call it a night (Or a very early morning...).
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