Author: Sean L. McCarthy

My life as a clown

I’m the clown on the right, silly! The first and only time I had seen the real circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, I was but a wee little lad. My grandparents from Lynn brought me to Boston Garden, and I was amazed by an even littler lad named Michu, who in the mid-1970s toured with Ringling as "The World’s Smallest Man." (the Hungarian-born Mihaly Meszaros (1940-?) later put on the ALF suit(?!) and showed up in Big Top Pee Wee) Anyhow. I looked up to Michu (literally/figuratively/whatnot) because he turned his short stature into star status. That was the closest I got to Ringling until 1997, when a newspaper I worked for outside of Seattle sent me to Clown College auditions for a first-person assignment. Since I performed with a Seattle improv troupe at the time (Fresh Art Entertainment, now defunct, with several members now appearing in TheatreSports!), it seemed like a fun and natural fit. Didn’t get the Ringling job. If I had, I probably would’ve gone, just for the adventure (and perhaps the stories I could tell and write afterward). But a Seattle clown company offered me a job after the audition, trained me in the art of clowning and sent me on birthday parties and company picnics that summer (including Microsoft’s big shebang, in which I did not see Mr. Bill Gates but did...

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Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream

Katie Johnston Chase of the Globe weighs in with a fairly positive review of Jimmy Tingle’s new one-man show, "Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream." We saw the same show. She got more space for her review. I think mine manages to get more perspective on Tingle for those who do or don’t know him well. Then again, I’m biased. Here is what I wrote in the Herald… Satirist Will Durst once observed that the one-man show differs from a typical stand-up comedian’s act only slightly, offering more theatrical qualities and life lessons.Jimmy Tingle, who hosted Durst in his namesake Davis Square venue earlier this year, delivers on both counts in "Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream.”Befitting his "cafeteria Catholicism,” Tingle’s show has the air of a joking confessional.He looks back to his beginnings at the Ding Ho in 1980, reminiscing about his fellow comics and their own pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. "Where do you see yourself in 25 years, Jim? I see myself in Davis Square! In a basement! Preferably on the Red Line!” he said. "I have a simpler dream.”Over the course of 90 minutes, Tingle shares how he and other Americans, from the Pilgrims to the newest immigrants, pursue their dreams here.The old pope, the new pope, gay marriage, stem cell research, the ineffectiveness of torture and the war in Iraq, the messiness of democracy and of the...

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Nick Park talks Wallace & Gromit

I met Nick Park, creator of Wallace & Gromit on Monday morning for a brief chat at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston. Here is the story I wrote that appears today in the Boston Herald… What do Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Gumby have in common with King Kong?They all made their screen debuts through the intricate art of stop-motion animation.Most of today’s animated projects rely on computer graphics, so to see not one but two new films based on stop-motion marks a happy coincidence for those who still practice the old-school, handmade techniques.Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, directed by Burton and Mike Johnson, opened yesterday. Nick Park and Steve Box bring Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, to theaters Oct. 7."It’s a small club,” said Joey Kolbe, who teaches animation at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. "It really is. It’s a whole different breed of animator. Sort of a hermit, to be exact, whereas the computer animator is more of a politician, if you will.”Park, who created Wallace and Gromit as part of a student film project more than 20 years ago, acts like a proud parent while discussing his plasticine characters."The strength of Wallace and Gromit is that they are clay,” Park said during a visit to Boston earlier this week. "Everybody’s played with...

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DJ Hazard records a new CD

Don’t expect jokes about the Emmys, hurricanes, politics or anything current when DJ Hazard records his new stand-up comedy CD this weekend at The Comedy Studio in Cambridge."I tend not to have anything topical, anyway,” Hazard said. "It takes me a long time to figure out what to say about something or somebody, and then when I do figure out what to say, they’re dead.”Or out of the public eye."Even the current administration, you’d think you have eight years to write something. Not me. I’d shy away from writing jokes about George W. Bush because he’s a lame-duck president, and three years from now, these jokes won’t work. Why bother?”Truth be told . . ."I’m lazy,” Hazard confessed. "I write a bit, and it’s like, OK, this is good for 10 years.”Hazard has been making New Englanders laugh for longer than that, as a founding member of the Ding Ho Club. Louis CK cited Hazard as an influential mentor."Somebody said to me, ‘Wow, you’re like a raw naked nerve on stage. You perform like it’s your last show ever.’ I do. I always hope that it is my last show, that I’ll get offstage, some wall will open up and aliens will say, ‘You’ve done well. You’ve passed the test.’ There’ll be gobs of money, showgirls, a big throne, turkey. There’s got to be turkey.”Turkey?"The nice thing about turkey...

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Jill Soloway has a reading and a show

Arrived late to the reading/performance by author Jill Soloway and her sister, Faith, at the Cambridge YMCA theater space Thursday night, but not too late to see the Soloway sisters sing and banter, not too late to hear Jill Soloway read from her collection of essays, Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants. Afterward, I introduced myself to the Soloways. Faith’s exact words methinks were these: "Oh my, an actual man showed up!" Yet another reminder that for much of my life, I’ve either felt like (or sometimes even sought out an identity as) the other. Conservative guy at the liberal college paper. Liberal guy at the conservative daily paper. Poor guy at the rich man’s party. Rich guy in the poor man’s town. White guy in the majority-minorty party. Actual man at the all-female party, surrounded by feminists, lesbians, feminist lesbians, feminists and their whipped men. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I actually enjoy being "the other" more than being around people like me. Hmmmm. OK. That’s enough self-reflection for one post. Here was my interview with Jill beforehand… You wouldn’t peg me as the kind of guy who’d read a collection of 21st-century-feminist essays, but then again, why are you trying to peg me? You don’t know me. And you probably don’t know Jill Soloway. Tonight is your chance to correct at least...

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