Hello! Today is my birfday, ’tis true. But this announcement is not about MY birfday. It’s about another Birfday that is soon-to-be. For, you see…
That’s not a jelly bean…
Yes, it’s true! A small handful of you are already aware of this, but Carrie caught the preggers! Sometime around Halloween she will release our wee beb into the world. It’s terrifically exciting! HAPPY BIRFDAY TO ME!
So, some brief info: mum and baby both seem to be having a completely normal pregnancy. We won’t learn the gender for another 5-6 weeks. And we won’t reveal the baby’s name until AFTER it is borned.
But here is my pledge to you: none of my online places (this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) are going to transform into thousands-of-baby-photos-and-non-stop-updates-about-baby places. ThisisChris.com will continue to be my pop-culture reserve (though updates might happen even LESS frequently), and I am probably going to almost completely abandon Facebook (I still get on there for Fools Play and my work, so I’ll still check messages and notifications and invites) because, frankly, I now have more important things to do with my time than dink around on Facebook.
If you ARE interested in baby updates, let me know. I might start up a second blog or something if demand is high enough.
Last Saturday, April 6th, something pretty spectacular happened. Fools Play Improv celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary. Now, how did we come up with that math? Because that’s when Me, Mike, Ed, Geoff, and Josh first got on stage. Sure, we weren’t Fools Play at that time. We joined another troupe. But the five of us getting up on stage was the beginning of our improv career.
And that was in April of 1993. Hence 20 years.
We’ve known for a long time that the 20th anniversary was coming, and we knew we wanted it to be somehow special. Not a bullshit “special” like most of our anniversary specials have been, but an actually-special special. And we figured one of the best ways to honor the last 20 years of improv was to include for reals as much of that history into the show as possible.
And so we reached out to performers who had been on stage with us at at all points in the last 20 years and asked them if they could come re-join us for one special night. And many did.
But that wasn’t special enough! Oh, no! Not nearly! We also reached out to past (and many lapsed) and present audience members, especially ones who had seen us at more than one venue, and asked if they could participate in the show as well. But not as performers. How, you ask? As interviewees for a set of “documentaries” that we produced about Fools Play, and aired live during the show.
Here’s the documentary that opened the night: The Story of Fools Play. I’ll let it speak for itself:
It was an incredible night. I was surrounded by friends and people I love, both up on stage and in the audience. An audience that was so packed that we ran WAY out of chairs, and we may have exceeded the legal, fire-code limit of the building (I’m not saying that we did… but…). Just take a look:
But the most special moment of the night for me came at the very end. You see, Fools Play has been around as an entity for 20 years, yes. But not everyone has been in Fools Play for all those 20 years. Josh split off with Joel to form their own troupe over a decade ago. Ed retired a few years back. Geoff took a hiatus one year to go to China, and now only performs part-time. Mike took an entire year hiatus to go to film school. So even though Fools Play has been around for 20 years, nobody has actually been in Fools Play for all 20 of those years…
Except for me.
That’s right: I am the only Fool who has never taken an extended hiatus or retired in all those 20 years. Sure I’ve missed plenty of shows here and there (probably more than 200 missed shows total), but the only break I took was when I was hospitalized for three weeks and the recovery afterwards… during which time I still performed in a show by phone, so that was more like taking sick days than it was taking a hiatus!
So I knew that this fact was going to be acknowledged. In fact we had a bit planned where the Whales would come interrupt our show and complain that none of us had been there for the full 20 years, and then my puppet “You” would show up and explain that I had! And that happened. But then something surprising happened after that.
My brother brought out a box and from it drew forth an award. An actual award that had been made just for me… and it lights up!
20 Years Full Time Performing
And then the over-packed audience full of friends and loved ones gave me a for-real standing ovation. Holy crap:
It was a very moving moment. I gave a speech. A surprisingly, honestly heartfelt speech! I transcribe it for you here:
Me: This is really awesome.
A lot of people have asked me over the years why I’ve done this every saturday night for more than half my life. I don’t know what idiot put a 15 year old kid on stage, but I think he’s somewhere around…
Ed: [Pointing at Howard] He’s here…
Me: He’s here! But I am eternally grateful.
Y’know, there’s many other things that potentially one could do on a Saturday night. But I don’t know why. Because this is, look around here. I met my wife by doing Fools Play. This audience is full of my friends and loved ones, and it’s just an amazing thing.
And, uh, this is actually heartfelt. Weird.
But it’s more than just a social thing for me. I heard a long time ago, I don’t remember who said it, but there’s a phrase that goes, “Happiness is an organism doing its intended purpose efficiently.” And I’m one of those rare people who know, I know what makes me happy.
What makes me happy is entertaining people.
Whether, you know, I have a blog that I update every once in a while. I write music. But Fools Play is so immediate. I get up on a stage in front of people and make them laugh. And it’s a huge, huge source of happiness for me.
And that’s really the reason that I’ve been doing this for 20 years, is because Fools Play is happiness for me. And I don’t see why it’s weird to do that for 20 years.
Mike: So chris, would you say that fools play for 20 years, that just isn’t weird?
Me: [In Weird's voice] “That’s not weird.”
So I just want to express my unbelievable gratitude to Fools Play for allowing me to do this for so long. And [to the audience] thank you for allowing me to be happy.
I of course said all of that while a puppet was on my hand. And, yes, I got a plug for this blog in the speech
Seriously, I cannot truly express how grateful I am to have been able to do Fools Play for the past 20 years. Here’s to 20 more.
Yesterday after din-dins we went down to the Tacoma Art Museum because it was the kick off of 2012′s Tacoma Arts Month (which meant you could get into the museum for free). There was some sort of awards thing, but we didn’t go to that. Instead we enjoyed some of the food & drink provided in the lobby, then wandered through some of the exhibits.
An Andy Warhol exhibit is opening this weekend, but it wasn’t open last night. Instead we wandered through Michael Kenna‘s exhibit. Michael Kenna is a black-and-white photographer. All of his prints are 8″ × 8″ in size. I really like his stuff. He tends to do scenes that have some haziness to them (and he really excels at scenes where you can’t tell where the sky ends and the land/water begins) with a shock of a pitch-black object (like a tree) in the foreground. Like this:
Kussharo Lake Tree, Study 7, Kotan, Hokkaido, Japan, 2007
Anyhoo, you can see a lot more on Michael Kenna’s website. We’ll probably go back later this month to check out the Warhol exhibit.
But a really cool thing that happens during Tacoma Arts Month is the Art @ Work Studio Tours thing that’s happening this Saturday & Sunday.
Basically here’s how it works: A bunch of Tacoma artists who have studio space around the city open their doors to the public so you can go in and see their actual artistic processes. Some of the studios even have hands-on projects that you can do. It’s a pretty spiffy way to see what’s going on in with your local artists. We’re looking to do some re-decorating and would like to support local people as much as possible, so we’re hoping we’ll find some good arts for our walls this way.
But that’s tomorrow. Tonight I’m going to Dorky’s. Y’know, for culture.
Last Saturday Carrie & I (and two of our friends) headed out to Leavenworth for its annual Octoberfest.
The verdict? Leavenworth was awesome. Octoberfest… not so much.
We all really loved walking around Leavenworth, eating in the restaurants (we went to Gustav’s for lunch, where I had a massive Reuben, then Baren Haus for din-dins, where I had a schnitzel done cordon-bleu style), and poking through the shops (we bought many cheeses at the Cheesemonger’s Shop and many meats at Cured).
But the actual Octoberfest itself was underwhelming. For several reasons:
It was held on one of the only ugly streets in Leavenworth, right up against this depressing, concrete facade. One of us joked that this was the “East Berlin” part of Germany being represented.
It was expensive to get in, and you didn’t even get any beer tickets with admission. Those were extra.
None of the beer offerings were in any way exceptional. You could get better beers in most of the restaurants downtown.
It was kinda frat-like. Or Douchey. Take your pick from those two adjectives.
I’m pretty sure this was another “I’m too old for this” moment. We left town before 10:00 PM (we were staying at one of our cohort’s parent’s house over in Monroe). That said, Leavenworth was lovely with its changing leaves and dramatic mountain setting. The food and drink outside of Octoberfest was delicious. And the company was delightful. Of course I didn’t take any photos.
I would love to return to Leavenworth in the fall sometime again, but I would completely skip Octoberfest and just go bar-hopping in the town itself or something.