News for the ‘parody’ Category

Parody

Written several years ago–this one’s older than my children, actually–but with Into the Woods in movie theaters, it seemed worth digging out of the trunk…might have to record this one at some point…

Could I compose an original song?
Am I still able to?
Why have I chosen to fracture a fairy tale,
Maybe a fable, too?

Parody! Of a recognized style,
A pattern you capture with which to enrapture
A Sondheimophile!

I’ll write for the stage without going flat.
Or shall I diminish it?
Why am I left contemplating this hat?
Why can’t I finish it? A-a-a-a-augh…

Parody! Which exhibits your wits
(bits by bits)
And you put it together with
(myth by myth)
Such unlikely couplets.
(groan)
Parody! Far more silly than this,
(with its faults)
Filching a threnody, filking the melody with artifice.
(do I hear a waltz?)

If I could hope to infuse
Ev’ry line with confusing, internally rhyming,
Sublimely amusing connections of words,
I’d be ev’rything Broadway could wish for–
Then why no–
Do I know?
Jujamcyn’s gone mad.
I know something of madness,
From the moment I open their letter and think it gets better,
But it’s a rejection of stylish confection, a-hahahahahaHAHAHAHA

Parody! Mockery! Though
Bon mots flow readily,
Unless you’re Alessandrini,
You’re unlikely to work steadily…

Parody!
(keep it short!)
Maybe more curt…than vile…
I may be here awhile…

Posted: February 6th, 2015
Categories: music, parody, songwriting
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Burn That

Almost ten years ago, we produced our first show at Riverrun Theatre, Burn This by Lanford Wilson. In the midst of that, on a dare, I wrote the Dr. Seuss version of the story.

Needless to say, if you don’t know the play, don’t get so tense, cause this won’t make much sense. (Though I should note for clarity, one line refers to our lead actor in the show, Joel David Santner.)

Oh, the places we’ve been…

BURN THAT
with apologies to Dr. Seuss and Lanford Wilson

I am Pale.
Pale am I.

That Pale-am-I!
That Pale-am-I!
I do not like
that cognac guy!

Baby-shit Trans Am is beeping,
I jump out, shout, “Are you keeping
Those pop-up headlights,” that was it–
Do you like good food and shit?

Do I know you? Should I know you?
Should I, could I, would I know you?

Rob was light, some guys are dark–
Took forever just to park…
Fuckin’ fruit, fuckin’ fruit,
What the fuck, you fuckin’ fruit–
Let’s see what tomorrow brings;
Tits are such deceptive things.

There are times I’m a good listener.
[Listen, Larry, now he’s kissin’ her.] I can hear them, off in bed,
Freight train running through my head–

Morning all, let’s skip some scenes–
You know what our screwing means?

Pale, we didn’t start this out–
Well, yes, we did, without a doubt–
I do not like the way you think,
I do not like the stench of drink,
I do not like the way you talk,
I do not like your cocky walk.
Don’t be truculent, you fuck–

What’s that mean?

Think “like a truck.”

Great.

Now I’ll leave
So Bruce can enter–

[Lights up, we see Burton, center]

Burton, may I read your script?
I’ll be discreet and quite tight-lipped.

Sure, you may, then let her read it.
Maybe I should just go beat it…

Could you, would you, in a doorway,
Maybe wife way, maybe whore way,
Maybe while the snow is drifting,
Doesn’t need no heavy lifting–

I see your fox, I see your socks,
I see you getting off your rocks,
I would not, could not, in a doorway,
In a Santner or a Loehr way
No regrets, I don’t know why,
But I am not that kind of guy,
I will not go on blowing cocks,
Or suffer cheap dramatic shocks.
I will not eat you, Lar Am I,
Cause I am not that kind of guy.

Would you eat me on a plane?
Would you eat me on a train?
Would you blow me if you knew me?
Would you know me if you blew me?

I would not eat you on a plane,
I would not eat you on a train,
Or a ship or on a tractor,
Anywhere, you prophylactor,
I will not eat you, Lar Am I,
Cause I am not that kind of guy.

Could you, would you, with a goat?
I would not, could not, with a goat.

Would you believe, that’s a Seuss quote.
(“Who is Sylvia?” Albee once wrote.)

Time to go, this scene is talky,
Have a nice life, now Milwaukee….

Don’t be scared, I’m sitting here,
Stone cold sober, stunned like deer–
Larry left a note and shit,
A key, a thought, a theatre ticket.
That was you and me up there,
Tho we ain’t danced, and that’s not fair.

What’d he write,
The little bastard,
In his note–
No, read it faster.

“Pale am I, you lovely doll,
You’ve got to come, and that is all.
Cupid-like, I work my magic,
Why should love always be tragic?
As you both are diathermous,
Tell the truth, then go and burn this.”

I do not want you, Pale am I,
I did not want you, don’t ask why.

You do not want me, so you say.
Try me, try me, and you may.
Try me, and you may, I say.

I did not expect all this,
I did not expect your kiss,
I did not think I’d ever care,
Shit, man, crying in your hair.

Posted: March 2nd, 2013
Categories: parody
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The Title’s a Spoiler.

Picking up on the theme of making merry of Mamet, here’s scene seven from my play The Rough Guide to the Underworld, featuring a more specific parody. It’s set in a bar in the Underworld, the Tenth Circle…

Sexual Perversity Inferno

The play itself started life as a series of monologues, then expanded into a set of sketches. That was the plan. A revue. Until the characters began to drift from sketch to sketch and interact with one another. Suddenly, there was a story, a throughline, several tales woven in and out of each other.

Matthew Wilson, Kevin Pierson, Bob Rogerson, Laura C. Harris and Gillian Shelly in 'The Rough Guide to the Underworld' at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Washington D.C., June/July 2009.

(left to right) Matthew Wilson, Kevin Pierson, Bob Rogerson, Laura C. Harris and Gillian Shelly in The Rough Guide to the Underworld, at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Washington D.C., June/July 2009.

This particular thread involves a writer named Dante (no relation) and a film producer named Bobby. Of course, Mamet’s play Speed-the-Plow features a film producer named Bobby. What’s not as well known is his one-act follow-up, Bobby Gould in Hell. Add to that the fact that the first scene of Sexual Perversity in Chicago is a dialogue between Bernie and Danny. You can probably see where I connected the dots.

So the first minute of this scene is an almost direct parody of the first scene from Sexual Perversity in Chicago, except it goes off into film production instead of sexual conquests. From there, it spins into its own weird little story…

As for the scene title, all of the scenes in The Rough Guide to the Underworld have titles, which can be projected above/behind the action if so desired. In this case, the title isn’t so much a spoiler as a heads-up for Mamet jokes. There’s a different title in here that’s a spoiler. But I’m not going to spoil that part.

Posted: January 24th, 2010
Categories: parody, plays, the process
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Repetitive Christmas Tunes.

Here’s a lyric I wrote four years ago for my wife, who hates a certain Christmas song by Paul McCartney.

There’s not much to explain about this process, except for a wonderful discovery while writing. In the bridge sections of the song, I threw in a joke about John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is Over) as a throwaway gag. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized you could sing the two songs in counterpoint.

I’ll leave it to the musicologists to parse what that says about the respective songwriters. I’m just happy to have the extra joke…

(to the tune of Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney)

The Moog is on,
The organs beep,
We hear some bells,
And I might weep

Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes
Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes

McCartney’s on,
The song is bland,
A melody
I cannot stand

Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes
Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes

The choir of children sing their song
Ding dong, King Kong,
Sing-song gone wrong…

(War is over,
No, it isn’t…
War is over,
No, it isn’t…)

Ohhhh
Ohhhhhhh

Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes
Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes

The words are short,
They seem to be
One syllable,
Simplicity

Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes
Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes

The choir of children repeat their words,
This song is for the birds
Sing song, sing song (War is over)
Ding dong, ding dong (No, it isn’t)
Ding dong, ding dong (That’s John Lennon)
(No, it’s a cover…)

The music’s played,
The spirits drunk,
Let’s hunt him down,
Man on the run…

Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes
Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes

The Moog is on,
The organs beep,
We hear Sir Paul,
And I might weep

Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes (Song is over…)
Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes (If you want it…)
Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes (Song is over…)
Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes (Now…)

Ohhhhhhhhh
Christmas tunes

Posted: January 24th, 2010
Categories: music, parody, the process
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Nightdogs.

This is one of my favorite pieces, bar none.

Years ago, when I was still doing their marketing designs, the Hanover College Theatre put on a revue of sketches, short plays and songs under the banner title, “I Have to Say I Love You.” The only caveat for the artwork: don’t use hearts, don’t do the cliches.

I tried design after design, I went to rehearsals and watched the show, but nothing was coming to me. Finally, I asked the director what his idea of the show was, because–aside from love and all the cliches–it was escaping me. “Well, I’d like to think it’s like an issue of the New Yorker.” Stories, cartoons, short pieces. The first image popped into my head. Within the week, there were approximately 40 faux New Yorker cartoons, all in various styles, from Thurber to Addams, Arno to Chast, Gorey to BEK.

This was before I had children or cats roaming my home at will.

Eventually, all of the cartoons wound up on posters, cards, even programs. There were four variant programs, each with unique artwork on the cover and throughout. We mixed and matched so that–hopefully–no two people sitting next to each other got the same artwork.

This poster is one that I’ve captioned Nightdogs. It’s Edward Hopper’s famous Nighthawks painting as James Thurber might have redrawn it, albeit with a lot more chiaroscuro than Thurber would’ve used. A lot more.

Of course, that was the challenge, balancing the Thurber dogs with the Hopper style and staying as true to each as possible.

There are a couple of small in-jokes, too. If you look at the sign over the window, you’ll see the phrase, “My Diner and Welcome to It,” which refers to the celebrated 1969 sitcom My World and Welcome To It, adapted from Thurber’s writing. (You can see some of the show here if you’re curious.)

There’s also a reference in the sign to Thurber and Hopper as well as Charles Schulz, who acknowledged Thurber as an influence. If you look really closely, you might even spot where that influence went…

What did this image have to do with the show? Not much by itself. But as part of a larger campaign–with twelve different poster designs, six different flyers and four different programs–it set the mood. You were going to see something like an issue of the New Yorker unfold on stage. Some of the cartoons had more to do with the specific theme of love than others–and I do plan to share some of those later.

But this one’s my favorite of all.

Posted: January 24th, 2010
Categories: artwork, marketing, parody, the process
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Shakespeareal Perversity.

This is a piece written on a dare to share with some folks in the Boston area who are well acquainted with David Mamet. There was a good reason why it involved Othello, but that reason has been lost to the sands of time.

Sexual Perversity and Iago

All I know is, if it weren’t for actor Nick Newell, this little scene wouldn’t exist. For that, I think him.

Posted: January 23rd, 2010
Categories: parody, plays
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