Too soon to post, I know. America only recently awoke from this nightmare. This article appeared in the Chicago Tribune on November 27, 2009. I have not asked for permission to use the logo, but figure this is free advertisement for that wonderful newspaper.
Published June 18, 2010, in the Chicago Sun-Times.
About 15 years ago, at a one-day office temp job somewhere on Michigan Avenue, one of my co-workers discreetly pointed to a man just out of earshot. He had an athlete’s frame, a drill sergeant’s posture, and a general’s bearing. In the hushed tone that we little people use in the vicinity of greatness, my co-worker said, “That’s Stedman.”
“Wow,” I whispered back. “Who’s Stedman?”
After a pause befitting the moment, she said, “Oprah’s boyfriend.”
Sometimes before an improv show—a show, by definition, where you have no idea in advance what will happen—it helps to convince yourself that you are a bad ass who can handle anything, even failure. I often listen to the braggarts of hip-hop, the pissed off nihilist-moralists of punk, or the hypermasculine caricatures of the blues and classic rock to get me into the right state. The rhythm of any decent music helps you slide into the rhythm of comedy, but the lyrics can add an extra dose of attitude. Last night’s mental prep: “Streets of Fire,” by Bruce Springsteen.
“Streets of Fire” is a metaphoric portrait of the individual being tested by life and society. Why, it’s the path we all must take, and you are on it right now, my friend. But nuts to metaphors. A half-hour before an improv show I have no time for metaphors. I need to imagine that I am weathering, with an arrogant indifference, streets that are literally on fucking fire.
Dennis O'Toole is an all-set cobra jet creepin' through the nighttime. He lives in Chicago.
If you need to reach me, dial:
denotoole AT SYMBOL gmail DOT co LETTER M.