This thing was supposed to go up SO much sooner!
I managed to cross off a bucket list item AND manage to help out Special Olympics by tossing myself into the icy cold Atlantic Ocean a few weeks back on Super Bowl Sunday.
So how was it?
It was incredible.
I got down to the beach (or down na’ shore if you say things New Jersey style) and had no idea to what to expect. It was SO many people, I think the count was close to 10,000 ocean jumping maniacs? Plus they brought their crews, and all of a sudden we had close to 20,000-30,000 people, all out for the cause, but 30,000 people about to do some crazy stuff? The vibe was GREAT, it was a real party atmosphere, costumes, food, all kinds of things going on, mix it in with guitar players, dj’s, and it turned out to be this incredibly festive time…
Then it was time…everyone started running towards the ocean, I jumped in (just a bathing suit, no shirt or anything, after all, if you’re going to do it, DO IT, you know?) so I jumped in while blasting bare chest with 10,000 of my new friends, oh yeah, it was cold, SOOOOO cold it almost felt like a burn. But hey, I was in it, so I swam out to the medical staff in scuba gear and high fived them all before swimming back to shore and bundling up.
What a fun time. However, your toes and ears take the longest time to thaw out, and I kept reaching down to make sure I had pants on since I was cold and numb (fortunately, pants were on)
All in all the day raised just under a million dollars, and equally as important? I met the police officer who was caught on youtube dancing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”. All in a day’s work. (Wow 31+ million views on this! http://youtu.be/8XFBUM8dMqw)
Definitely going to have to go jump in that icy cold ocean again next year for the cause…see you all there? I’ll likely be the guy double checking that his pants are still on while dancing to Taylor Swift.
Take care and be good,
This thing was supposed to go up SO much sooner!
Something I do a lot is try and help out wherever I can. Special Olympics is an organization that always needs help. So about 6 or 7 years ago I went out of my way to help wherever and whenever I could. A few months ago at their annual fall festival, I was doing my part (I was helping the Olympic games on the volleyball courts).
Now the Special Olympics are for warriors to win medals and compete with intellectual disabilities of some kind. When I’m there, I’m inspired. There’s no excuse to not hit the gym or play a sport or do something physically. Any excuse I may make is nonsense because these athletes are doing amazing things, they do their best and they try their hardest.
Now normally that would just be something I’d just do and shut up about it. On the last function, there was an athlete there in her 20’s or maybe 30’s, I was talking with the coaches and athletes and the coach told me this story about this young lady.
She wasn’t born with any intellectual disabilities, she was born and grew up without them, until high school. She attended a swanky high school (I was told the name of it but won’t mention it here) big tuitions are involved and “prestige” is attached to the name of it. So this young lady was just doing normal high school things, classes, activities whatever and for whatever reason…she started to get picked on, and picked on, and picked on. She was picked on and bullied relentlessly, until one day, her lights went out. She didn’t speak or acknowledge anyone or anything for 5 years. After 5 years she emerged, but was dealing with a severe case of schizophrenia after that. She was never the same.
This broke my heart. I watched her as she sat on the sidelines (she has an attack many times a day where she just would sit, you couldn’t tell there was anything going on with her, her attacks were all internalized) so she wasn’t able to compete in the games. This is her life now. This wasn’t a disability she was born with, this was something that happened to her because of cruelty, because of meanness. Now this, is of course where assho-- um, "cynics" may say “well who knows what her state may have been to begin with before the bullying” but wouldn’t that be the same situation for any of us? Who knows what anyone is dealing with on a daily basis. Who knows how long, we or anyone can be pushed before maybe something like that could happen to any of us? So it was a reminder to me, to remember to be a little nicer to folks, because I don’t know what they may be dealing with or what sort of struggle in their life they may be dealing with. (Side note to any bullies reading this, "SUCK LESS. Thanks"-ed)
So after that, I wanted to do more. I wanted to raise a little funds and awareness, and what I’ll be doing this Sunday in a mystical magical place called “Delaware” is jumping into the icy Atlantic Ocean for the annual Special Olympics “Polar Bear Plunge”. I have no idea what to expect, I was told that I'll likely look silly and the sand is something no one sees coming, it’s just icy icy cold. It’s all good, I’m belly flopping into it. It’s the least I can do. Maybe the great Otis Redding was right, maybe it’s a good thing to “try a little tenderness”.
Stay tuned, I’m sure there’ll be a picture of all of this coming, so, to be continued....
Take care and be good,
“But you better be careful
You still got to watch yourself
You wanna be crazy
So you wanna go crazy
Let's go crazy”-THE CLASH
“Ice-T is the only person who does things that completely jeopardize his career just to stay awake.”-Chuck D
WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT PICTURE ALL ABOUT? That’s a still shot from a one man show I’ve been doing called “Barrel on Broadway”. We’ve been doing it in NYC, but the long term goal of it is to travel with it a bit, but not so much a “tour schedule”, the idea behind it is sort of a “POP UP SHOW” where maybe that day or night before we announce it, do it for free, get some laughs, hoot and holler a bit and have some fun. Each show will always be different, it’s all improvised, we’ve talked about some pretty nutty stuff, all through the character of “Barrel Richards” where a review came in that described that character of Barrel as “a cross between Jeff Foxworthy and Adam Sandler” which isn’t too far off really…
But things like Barrel, things like this upcoming film “Charm City”, these are definitely some “less than safe” projects, and I realized I may have been playing it too safely career wise lately. Last summer, I was in for a big television show, and they just kept bringing me back in, great right? (believe me I’m not complaining about this, many worse things than an acclaimed show liking you)? Just over and over and over, this was my summer, just traveling to this amazing TV show, each time, because the nature of this show evolved so quickly where characters would change, written in/written out etc etc, and I started banging my head against the wall “another trip where things change last minute just over and over again” and realized, the key after locking myself into so much on this, was to stop looking for “the hit”. The philosophy to a lot of this in showbiz is “get a hit, something that makes money, gets mainstream and it’ll be easier to get your more personal stuff done.” So I got hung up in there, looking for a home run swing, when really, maybe the base hit is what wins the game. I dug into some “less guaranteed” projects, less commercial stuff. I got back on stage, we’re about to finish a film I think is so funny but is it “funny ha ha” or “funny WHOA WHAT AM I WATCHING”? That’s for you all to decide, but it’ll be out soon. I’m writing a pilot, with a fantastic actress, one you may have not seen on the screen in a while but is as good as it gets, I’d love to get a very dark script “Steven on a Monday” in front of a camera this year, I’ll be back for another season of fun with Upright Citizens Brigade in the spring, I think what makes things go is to have that feeling of possible failure, the feeling of uncertainty the feeling of “oh man is this going to not work?” but that’s exciting, that feeling is a good feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be honest and still chase that hit from time to time, but maybe not make it THE focus. So that’ll be my 2015, my “year of living a little more dangerously” who knows where this’ll go, but I’m jumping right in. Hope to see you all on the other side…
Take care, be good, and live a little dangerously,
My piece for the "That Summer" series. Coming soon (but here it is now for free!)
There was a summer not so long ago, when I very first got a start into show business. Not so much as a “hey, my buddy's buddy's buddy is doing a film in his backyard”, but I signed my first agent deal. I had no idea what to do after that, the agents would throw these parties and I didn’t have a clue how to act at them, I would wear this plaid suit to go with my hair that was always sticking up, trying to be Paul Westerberg from “The Replacements” (that "Paul"suit, sort of close, pictured above, 2nd pic? That's me and the man himself, I didn't tell him about the suit). That entire hot summer, I’d be wearing that ugly suit at these functions, this plaid wool 8 dollar suit I found at a Goodwill. What was I thinking.
There was excitement every single day, excitement with the feeling of the “unknown”, excitement at getting sent to an audition, or getting to New York City to go audition for MTV, to go there, having not much of an idea where to go, I knew MTV was on Broadway but WHERE was Broadway? It didn’t matter, I practically skipped through New York in excited nervous anticipation, WOW NEAT they sell bootleg movies up here? Only five dollars? OH OK! Every second, was new, exciting, blissful. MTV studios, full into the “TRL” era, was booming, I went in to audition for the MTV show, I GOT THE PART! OH WAIT NEVERMIND THEY JUST CANCELLED THE SHOW. Didn’t matter, there I was in New York City, there I was at MTV, there I was in my Paul Westerberg looking plaid suit, I couldn’t be stopped, I WOULDN’T be stopped.
That very next month, in Philadelphia, I’d gone and booked a role in a small film called THE BIG STORE. It wasn’t a Groucho Brothers remake, but still...a film! With trailers! And a budget! And makeup people! A "motion picture"! WHOA! I get to set as a soldier, and I think my part was cut down. It didn’t matter, I was on set! I was living at home at the time(because cancelled MTV shows and cut down film roles in indie films don’t pay anything) but I instructed any calls that came my way “Sorry, Tim’s not here….HE’S ON LOCATION”. I think my part in The Big Store ended up being me saying “Yeah….yeahhhhhh….yeah” in a scene of a craps game on a bus coming back home from the war. Sadly, the Academy didn’t take notice of my “Yeahs” BUT IT DIDN’T MATTER, every day was fantastic, every day was a brand new fresh adventure. A casting place called me “Want to be in a carpet infomercial in North Jersey for no money?” I said “YES SIR! CAN I WORK EVERY SINGLE DAY ON IT!?” and they said “Are you joking? Um, okay man”.
That summer also brought me a film that I’ll never forget, “TELL ME EVERYTHING” which unfortunately, like “The Big Store” would never come out, but you couldn’t stop me, it was this great “Punk Rock Girl meets Frat Boy meathead and LOOOOOVE HAPPENS” film. I played Frat Pledge Oat Bran, and I’m pretty sure, with a major film, with a character with an actual name, actual make up people, actual trailers, that my head was about to explode with joy. I’m not sure if I actually did it, but I think I even offered to go get the director and cast and crew coffee between takes. I was THAT excited.
Fall came around, and after a summer filled with all these show biz “first times”, little by little, I started to navigate my way around New York, I started to learn the routines of the “show biz” functions, and I ended up donating my Paul Westerberg suit back to Goodwill. With this business, success comes, failure comes, little parts of excitement come and go, but nothing comes remotely close to that summer not so long ago. Here I am a bunch of years later, and I look back on that naïve summer so so fondly, the music I’d play in the car on the way to these auditions (“The Replacements” of course) or how excited I’d be when I'd talk to my local hot dog vendor when I’d order 2 chili cheese dogs "to go" and “HEY I’M ABOUT TO BE IN A CARPET INFOMERCIAL, LOOK FOR ME SOMETIME ON LOCAL ACCESS AT 4AM!”
These days, when someone is about to get started in “the business” the first thing I say is “Have fun, do the work, but have fun, really enjoy these new people and experiences” because along the way, those are things that are special, those are things that you'll really really miss.
“Tiny venue, intimate atmosphere, funny acts, surprise guests. Upright Citizens Brigade Theater has all the elements needed for a fun time.”- An audience review (Thanks YELP!)
I’ve been working with the good and brilliant souls of Upright Citizens Brigade for the last few months in New York City. I’d felt that lately I’d been caught in a bit of “development hell” where things would get written, filmed and shelved…or things would get picked up, funded and sent into “turnaround” (aka a black hole where film and tv is NEVER EVER SEEN AGAIN) and in that sort of life, you can find yourself working non stop for a year or two, and yet never have anything come out, it can be a wildly frustrating feeling, because, as un-hipster as this may sound, I love it when my stuff gets seen, I love it when an audience connects, I like making audiences happy. It’s not cool sounding, but it’s how I feel, it’s why I do this line of work, I want to see you smile, laugh, clap, think, dance a little, I love it all. So when things got gridlocked and stuck “in development” I realized more and more I wanted to connect with audiences on a “live” level, get back to my roots a little bit, and that’s where UCB came in, the chance for that immediate gratification, the chance to work live and terrifyingly without a net, the chance to go goof off in NYC for a bit which is always a great feeling to go be around that energy of the big apple. What I DIDN’T expect with UCB, was the philosophies everyone had, the way a joke would be deconstructed and reconstructed with detail, pacing and purpose. The “why?” for the scene. All of this, on stage, all 100% improvised with crowds, roaming around NYC late at night, seeing TV stars, movie stars, comedians, widely known and not, and just some great improvisors who really cherish the art form of it… do this exact thing, giving monolgues, improvising scenes based around them, sitting in on each other’s scenes, it’s been an amazing sense of unity to be a part of and to witness. The equivalent is something like when you see “the rock and roll hall of fame” ceremonies on TV and at the end of it, everyone gets on stage for this huge jam session. Just these talented folks, working off each other to focus on doing a great job.
Just last weekend, in front of a packed house, right before show time, where there’s nerves, there’s all this energy, you can really feel the crowd, it’s a buzz…and one of my crew leaned over and said to me “I think I’m about to pass out” and then she went out, DIDN’T pass out but was hilarious and had a great show. Big crowds, no set plan, no idea what jokes and stories would be told? That feeling maybe wasn’t “I’m going to pass out” but maybe a feeling “oh wow, I feel ALIVE”.
Now as we wrap up these days of summer, I’m back doing a little of this “Hollywood” development stuff, I’ve been inspired to take a few half done projects with some of these characters in mind, maybe get them finished up or put a new spin on them. But for every bit of that, I’ll also be out there with that UCB crew and these good people, maybe popping up at the most random places, maybe off in New York, unannounced and fueled on 1$ dollars slices of pizza, cracking jokes and doing sketches late at night at any given time, 7 days a week…just looking to connect with the crowds, get that “buzz” looking to feel alive and most importantly, just hoping to make you all happy.
Take care and be good,