Paxton Vs Pullman
playwright Josh Carson dishes on his life as a bachelor, actor, and funny man. (No, ladies, he doesn't have performance anxieties!)
Is all of your writing & performance centered on humor? What are you goals as you create & perform? What response aside from the obvious 'laughter,' do you try to get from audiences?
Obviously, I like making people laugh. I work at a comedy theater, the shows I write are all comedy, I won’t stop cracking wise in any given social situation, so it’s easy to pigeon hole as a “comedian” [Which, why is it when people ask “Do you only do comedy” does it carry such a negative connotation? Funny is good.]
My goals with what I write and perform are to give the audience an experience. Something they’ll remember, something they’ll tell someone about later, something that gets them emotionally involved. Laughter is obviously a never-ending drug that I can never get enough of, but I think my favorite audience reaction are the smaller ones. If there’s a plot twist, ala Peter Gallagher smashing Pullman over the head with a bottle, and there’s a very audible “Gasp!” in the crowd. Or an “Awww!” at something sad. Or an “Oooh” at something ominous. They’re no longer there to just laugh, those noises mean they care about what’s happening to the fictional person on stage. They’re into the story, the character. They’re just plain involved. When those noises happen, I know we’ve done our job, that person is going to walk away with something a bit more than “Well, that was funny.”
Mostly though, I want people to have fun. That’s something playwrights seem to forget exists as they work out their neuroses and relationship issues in the darkest ways possible, and that always frustrated me. Not to say there isn’t a place for it. Some writers do that very well. But in college, I basically decided that there’s theatre that can change the world, and theatre that can make the world a better place to be. I decided to go for the latter.
How do your family & friends feel about Mainly Me?
I am extremely lucky to have such a great suppport group in my friends
and family. I know I can always count on one full house, and I know they
have faith in what I do, because I can tell when they're lying.
Which feeds you the most... which do you prefer, being a writer or a performer?
I prefer acting in the stuff I write.
And speaking of feeding yourself... Do you have the 'day job' or are you able to sustain your life with writing & performing?
I work some of the most god-awful, mind-numbingly boring and tedious temp jobs you can imagine. Jobs that will one day be taken over by either robots, or very intelligent chimps. These jobs don’t stimulate my brain, creatively or otherwise. They often times depress me. So, why continue to work them?
#1 Gots to pay the bills somehow until that one big show hits.
#2 I once heard Jerry Seinfeld say that when he was first starting out in comedy, he’d take horrible, horrible jobs. Jobs that he hated. So that, at night, when he’d stay up all night writing, or trying to get a spot in open mic night, he’d have motivation. He wouldn’t be swayed by some other glamorous job that pays well. The jobs that he hated always reminded him of what he loved most. It’s risky, but hey, it worked for him.
#3 I’m always the funny guy in the office. That’s just good for the ego.
I am of the opinion that no one can create real humor without first knowing drama, and most of my favorite dramatic actors also have a comedy background. I am prepared to name names & challenge to a duel if need be, but you are entitled to your own thoughts... Do you see any relationship between the two? And please defend your stance *wink*
This is completely true on all counts. Especially with the kind of stuff I write. Comedy and drama are much closer than people realize. They’re both primarily about pain. It’s just how the pain is executed. Do you want people to empathize, or laugh? The dramatic aspects of writing, i.e. story and character, are to me, what make the best comedies. If you don’t have characters worth caring about, you’re just up there telling jokes. Which, again, is completely fine if that’s what you want to do, but I find those are the shows, some of which I have written, are the ones that are quickly forgotten.
I believe it was Mel Brooks who defined the difference between comedy and tragedy as: “Tragedy is when I cut my itty, bitty finger. Comedy is when you fall through an open manhole and die.” Human suffering, for whatever reason, is funny, because it’s not us. We’ve either been there, and we can relate, or we’re just thinking “Whew! Thank God this’ll never happen to me.” Whether it’s the three stooges getting his in the head with all kinds of crazy crap, or some affable hero screwing up and losing the girl, if it’s not happening to us, it’s funny. Which is why the tagline of my upcoming show “Sober Cab” is: Laugh Because It’s Not You. Cry Because It Kinda’ Is.
At SK we make no bones about how HOT we find brains & humor. Do you think funny guys get all the girls?
Every girl says sense of humor is always important, and should a list arise, it’s always above looks or money or various other popular list items. I’ll say this, the sense of humor definitely doesn’t hurt, but it’s not a guaranteed pass to her heart or bedroom either. On the plus side, as I learn this, I just more material for my next show.
And along this line of thought... It is said that the lead singer grabs all romantic attention ~ who gets more babes/boys in the theatre, the actor or the writer?
There’s another category that isn’t listed: The comedian. And, forgive my sudden crudeness, a popular phrase around Mainly Me is “there’s no such thing as comedy pussy.” [I didn’t originate it, but that doesn’t make it any less true.] The batting order would definitely be Actor > Writer > Tech Guy > Usher > Comedian. Because, while the sense of humor is very, very important, how many stand-up groupie’s do you see? The lead singer is all about confidence and this whole bravado from the performance, comedians are all about insecurities and everyday things. It’s obviously not as romantic an image as the musician or athlete. So, they might go for the rock start initially, but you damn well know they’re gonna’ end up with the funny guy.
And what women are sexy to Josh?
I may have said this before, but I like those girls that you can't tell
if they want to kiss you or kick your @ss (Edited for work). I like smart,
funny women. Like Sarah Silverman or Tina Fey. Those are the perfect women.
Of course, the smart women keep leaving me, so maybe I should dumb it down.
What is it your best pick-up line?
I don't have lines per se, just make 'em laugh. That's a good "in". The
picking them up, that's easy. The keeping? That's where it gets tricky.
What current TV/movies does Josh think are the best as far as writing?
First off, Back to the Future is the greatest movie ever made. It has
everything movies should be. Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy and Angel and
all that jazz, is a fantastic writer, and a perfect example of how to have
you cracking up one minute, and crying the next. My guilty pleasure right
now is "Veronica Mars", another wonderfully plotted, well executed show.
[Hmmm, Buffy...Veronica, I wonder if I like blondes?] Moviewise, it's been
pretty slow. Batman Begins was awesome, Sin City was very, very good.
Wedding Crashers was a good time, but twenty minutes too long.
What does Josh watch late at night, when he's alone... You know, your
secret sinful shows or films... go on, you can tell us.. we'll never
Mostly I just watch the shows I Tivo'ed earlier that night. And then I
flip around, look for nude scenes.
What & who inspires you as a perfomer?
I love an audience. I don’t care. I’m a great big whore. Every actor is. They love the attention, they love the laughter, most of them love that moment when they’re recognized outside of where they work. If they came out there to see you, give ‘em their money’s worth. On show night, it’s all for them.
Who would you love to be on stage with?
There's many people I rescpect and admire in the Twin Cities, two years
ago, I never would have had the guts to ask to be in a show. Now, they made
up most of the cast of the last show. I'll work with pretty much anyone as
long as they're willing to have a fun time with it. I don't like diva's.
Who would you just die to have perform one of your plays?
Are we talking incredibly famous people? Too many to name. Larry David
springs to mind. Pretty much anyone from 'The Frat Pack' movies, ie. Vince
Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Owen and Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller. My big celebrity
crush right now is Rachel McAdams from Mean Girls, Wedding Crashers, and
The Notebook. [I totally didn't watch The Notebook, you can't prove
As I reviewer I am always interested in the 'did I get it right' aspect *wink* Reminds me of the old college 'artistic response' lessons, only here, instead of some dead artist whose thoughts are supposedly encapulated in the instrucor's mind, I have the chance to hear from you! So what grade do I get as a reviewer? How do you feel about reviews/reviewers? Are they mostly 'right' or mostly 'wrong?'
You actually nailed a lot of what was going on in PvP. Particularly your take on Tara Reid. I could go on forever about pretty much every character in this show, and how the audience reacted to them for hours on end, but that’s boring, and ultimately a tease since the show had such a short run, which is criminal if you ask me. I could literally write pages about that, but yeah, you did good. Reading your review I was like “Okay, I do kinda’ know what I’m doing.”
My shows don’t tend be that complicated in terms of messages and symbolism, because I’m not talking down to the audience. I’m talking to them. Reviewers are a necessary evil in some cases. They’re great advertising. I don’t dread them. It’s a thrill when they like something, it’s a thrill when anybody likes something. Of course the negative bothers me at times, but just as much from the person sitting next to the review. They’re just another audience member, just one that happens to have a large forum with which to voice their opinion.
Give us some insider info... it's just us ;) What other scripts or projects are you working on?
The big project right now is a re-mount of a show I wrote two years ago called “Sober Cab”. The pitch is basically, Seinfeld in a bar. The long version: It’s Friday night at a bar, and Sober follows the misadventures of four groups of people as they wade through the bar life, looking for love, sex, a refill, and a ride home. I’m tinkering with the script right now (Which an artist should never be allowed to do, cause they’re never truly finished). The show opens October 7th (My birthday!) and runs for about seven weeks. It’s Mainly Me’s first independent project. Our other shows have either been apart of the Fringe Festival or the BNW Summer Series. This our first venture out on our own. So the next few months should be relatively stress free.
What is Josh's definition of "Success?"
You know when you get a group of guys together, and they start ‘quoting’ their favorite lines from movies? I always like hearing people do that with my shows. Once again, it means they liked it, and they’re remembering the experience they had. Oh, that, and money. Lots of money. And maybe a few naked ladies here and there.