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9:05 AM - Mon 9.29.14
I Have Reservations

I Have Reservations

Thanks to my friend Josh M., I recently saw comedian Marc Maron live (For the uninitiated, Maron's probably best known for his "WTF" podcast, which he does from his garage; basically, after neurotically monologue-ing about this-and-that for a bit, he interviews a comedian or actor or the like, in-depth, usually for somewhere between an hour, hour-and-a-half).

I've listened to a lot of his podcasts, and I watched one of his stand-up specials on Netflix awhile back, so it wasn't like this was the first time I was experiencing what he does.

But for whatever reason, it struck me, watching him live - "He's doing, in front of an audience, what I want to do in my journal".

In short, he's a very smart, funny, neurotic guy, with low self-esteem and "anger issues", working out his personal stuff - sometimes to comic effect, sometimes to thought-provoking effect, and sometimes to both at the same time - for the entertainment and edification of others.

(And he gets paid.)

My point in writing about him is not to try and turn you on to Marc Maron (He's not for everybody), or to analyze "how he does what he does" or anything like that.

The point is...I don't know...I guess I'm marveling at how someone is so revealing of themselves, flaws and all, in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people (Face-to-face, and through his podcasts), while I struggle to do it in private after decades of effort ( semi-private - I don't have a clear idea how many people read my journal, but I know there are at least a few of you "gluttons for punishment" still out there).

It reminds me of what's become a running "bit" in conversations I have about Shameless - I often tell people "I live in fear" that I'll get a script, and there'll be a scene involving my character naked, in some compromising position (It doesn't feel likely at this point...but it's a possibility - This is Shameless we're talking about, after all).

A scene with my character naked would have no purpose but to be gross, or funny, or grossly funny, for the audience, and my naked body being a source of comic horror for millions really pushes my "I'm-Sensitive-About-My-Looks Button".

Then I think about that scene with 80-something year old Jack Carter - I think in the second season - where he wore nothing but a baseball cap and a jock strap; it's hard for me to believe Carter had ever imagined his career going in that direction, but he was a champ (Maybe he was just happy that he was in his 80s and still working. Who knows?).

(For the record, I've "done nudity" already - I did "the nude scene" in Hair at LCC, back in 1982 - but that was in low-lighting, when I was as young and attractive as I was ever gonna get, and with a bunch of other people on stage for the audience to look at. Nevertheless, I always end that "I live in fear of having to do a nude scene on Shameless" bit with "...but if it does come up, I'll have to do it, because that's my job".)

Being sensitive about my looks is an ancient thing with me, and the struggle with "self-revelation" in here has been an issue for as long as I've kept a journal (Particularly since "going public" in the 90s), the push/pull of wanting to "reveal myself" while fearing that, if I do, people "won't like me".

But something I've been thinking about recently feels, while related, a little different than what I've written about so far.

As an actor, I have always felt like I had "unexplored depths" that people didn't see, "depths" (Of sadness and anger and the like) I would be able to plumb if/when given the chance.

But recently, I was flipping channels on tv, and I don't know what I landed on - I think it might have been some CBS procedural, but I'm not sure - but the scene had three people hanging from chains, as our bad guy proceeded to kill the chained-up person in the middle, with a knife, as the other two looked on, in understandable distress.

Of course, it's not the first time I've ever seen a scene of that nature - or worse - but for whatever reason, it got me thinking about how, "back in the day", when I was sure I had "hidden depths" and could do so much more than was being asked of me in community theater (in part because of my deep reservoir of anger and upset), this kind of thing was the stuff of extreme, "hard-R" horror movies, not network tv.

And my "default" notion of a "bad guy" back then would have been a character threatening to do bad things, but not actually doing them, because, in my "formative years", that's how "bad guys" worked.

Now, no one's breaking down the door to have me "plumb the depths" of anything - I'm barely called upon to "act" most times - but again, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

So I wonder - How deep are my depths?

And will I ever be asked to plumb them?

And if so, will I be able to?

And do I really want to?

It's become another "bit" of mine, when talking about my career, to express a desire to play "murderers and rapists and pedophiles", to joke about my "hangdog" face making me look "creepy/sad" all the time - not "creepy/scary" or "creepy/tough" - but how that could still work, because "I could be sad that I'm compelled to kill you".

But I don't know if that's what I really want.

In a pragmatic sense, I really do want those roles to "open up" for me, because I want to book bigger parts and make money and have a career as an actor.

But in an emotional sense, it's more...complicated; I don't know if it's so much that I want to play "creepy" characters as "I think that's the best chance I have to do more than the handful of lines I get to do on an episode of Shameless or what-have-you". It's what I see as "my way in", since I'm not going to get to be the hero, or play characters you'll have a rooting interest in, or anything like that...but I might get to be "The Bad Guy" (Even if that "badness" is badder than I ever imagined when I was a kid).


What's hit me, as I've been writing this, is that what all these things have in common is that there's some element of resistance to "revealing myself".

Which is a very understandable, normal fear - I have to imagine that most of you reading this would be pretty averse to publicly airing all your flaws and foibles, or appearing nude on camera, or demonstrating that you can, maybe all-too-convincingly, slip into the mind of a rapist or serial killer.

But here's the thing - I'm not "normal" (I'm not sure it was ever a possibility, but if it was, that ship sailed at least 52 years ago). And wishing I were/pretending I am gets me nothing at this point.

If I'm really going to be an "artist" of any stripe, I have to embrace who I am and what I've got to work with.

Cause why am I asking you to read my journal, or watch the show I'm on/movie I'm in/podcast I host, or read my (eventual) book, if I'm not going to give you something true?

I've gotta get over the impulse to hide.


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