Yesterday I drove down to Chestertown, MD and Washington College to see my ole friend (or is that olé friend? oleo friend?) Mike perform his monologue Monopoly!, about Microsoft, Parker Brothers, and Nicola Tesla, inventor of the DEATH RAY (true!). I knew the monologue would be brilliant--almost anything Mike does is brilliant--but it was nice to experience it First Hand, nonetheless.
Mike does a kind of storytelling that weaves his own life in with Larger Concepts. His break-out work, 21 Dog Years, was mostly his own life; Monolpoly was mostly Larger Concepts. This is a good thing. Frankly, I suspect that as he's gotten more successful, his life has gotten less interesting and less suited to storytelling, or at least the kind of storytelling he's done. The danger is that, eventually, he may create the kind of inside-baseball show about "touring the country doing monologues" that I find insufferable, kind of like when film school students make movies about film school students, or animators make movies about animators. So far, he seems to have avoided that, although one section of Monopoly, where he tells the story of the show's opening (yes, he talks about the show you're watching during the actual show!), comes dangerously close, and is easily the least compelling part of the evening. He can get away with it because he's so darn entertaining, but nevertheless... Then again, maybe I just found it less interesting because I've done theater before and know the ins and outs and... well, it's just like any other job, really.
After the show, Mike, his wife and director Jean-Michele, Josh, the professor who had invited him to perform, and I went out to a local restaurant/bar to eat and chat. I suspect we all (even Josh, who knew Mike and JM from New York) just wanted a quiet evening of Catching Up; I know I did. However, it was not in the cards, as many of the folks who were at the show were also having a drink or two, and wound up mobbing Mike (in a pleasant way). A couple times, JM looked at me meaningfully, as if to say "See what it's like being a Pluto to this Sun?" (In fairness, she didn't actually say this and I don't know if she'd even describe it that way as a joke. JM, after all, is Mike's collaborator, director, and great love. They're more like Pluto and Charon, continually orbiting each other, one slightly better-known but both essential.) Anyway, for this reason JM and I talked a lot more than Mike and I, which was fine, except that I was inarticulate and befuddled as I often am when confronted with a beautiful woman I don't know very well. (The only reason I can talk to K is that we've been married for twelve years. Otherwise, I'd be all "Who is this tall gorgeous Swede and why is she laughing at my jokes?!")
Eventually, I left and I drove home, arriving at about midnight. I may have been hallucinating from exhaustion on the way home, unless I really did run over a deer with Father Guido Sarducci's face.
One more thing. Longtime readers may remember that as this blog started, I would occasionally get debilitating fits of envy about Mike's success--horrible, embarassing, and selfish acts which nonetheless I just couldn't help. I fully expected another one to happen after the show yesterday, but it didn't. Why? There could be many reasons--maybe because Mike doesn't blog about his actual life anymore; maybe I've finally come to terms with my own strengths and weaknesses as an artist; maybe I'm actually growing up--horrors! But the possibility I find most interesting--and one I may develop a film around--is that now that I've had some modest success of my own, I've realized that people might be envious of me, just as I was once envious of Mike. It's strangely reassuring--and yet just as selfish as it was before, innit?