The Story Behind The Primary Instinct (Part 1)

David Chen approached me last January and said, “Why don’t we do a concert film. Can you tell stories for an hour or two?” David does things like that all of the time. He makes suggestions that unleash a sea of work, fear, and hopefully triumph. The story of The Primary Instinct is the latter.…

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A New Lesson From Long Ago

First Published backstage.com Oct. 30, 2014 I was a student in graduate school at the University of Illinois. It was the first year of its master’s program in acting and, consequently, they didn’t have a handle on who would teach what. They lassoed in a woman in her late 70s or early 80s to teach…

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Big Time in Hollywood, FL (Part 2)

The first challenge involved with Big Time in Hollywood, FL was that the creators, Dan Schimpf and Alex Anfanger, conceived the show as ten episodes telling one story. In other words, it is a serial. That seems like a simple choice of exposition. It is not. It means Big Time is like one very long…

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The Method of No Method

Originally published backstage.com Oct. 2, 2014. I was working on Big Time in Hollywood, FL, a very funny new show for Comedy Central (premieres March 25). We were on break and I asked director-sometimes-writer-always-executive-producer Dan Schimpf, “How many times do you get to the set and find that you have to change your game plan?”…

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Comedy and Henri Bergson

Originally published backstage.com Sept. 4, 2014. Photo from Kayatana Stamps. When one thinks of comedy, one rarely thinks of Henri Bergson—quite possibly because one has never heard of Henri Bergson. I was surprised to learn not too many years ago that Bergson was considered the greatest thinker on the planet…at least according to another great thinker,…

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Transitions

Originally published August 7, 2014 backstage.com Photo source: Backstage, Clay Rodery. I was teaching my comedy class at Kalmenson & Kalmenson when I discovered one of my students was very adept at improvisation. I asked what her background was. She said she was a writer and an acrobat. An acrobat? Yes. She was studying aerial…

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Horror Vacui

Originally published July 10, 2014 backstage.com One of my favorite classes in college was art history. Our teacher introduced us to a concept that sounded like something from a science fiction movie: “horror vacui.” She explained it meant fear of open space. The Egyptians were afflicted with it. In their art, they had the need…

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The Words That Hurt

originally appeared backstage.com June 12, 2014. In improvisation, you have to be your own writer, director, performer, and editor. I have one rule: You are not allowed to be your own critic. All actors want constructive criticism. That is the only way we can get better. However, there is a line. I have always doubted…

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