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Friday, October 31, 2008

Supporting Actor is Offended by Article

I have offended one of the Supporting Actors in our show (although I'm not sure who) in observations I made in the article Christian Starr Featured on ESPN. Unfortunately, before I learned I had offended someone, I revised the original article because I didn't like the wording. Now we can't refer to what might have been the offensive material. Frustratingly, the offended person hasn't yet identified himself or left a comment on the blog so I must rely on hearsay to understand what was offensive, which probably is what got me into trouble in the first place.

Nonetheless I'll try to simply clarify a few things:

-- I started as a member of the Stunt Team (now officially called "The Supporting Actors" but I'll call them "The Comedy Team" to differentiate) so I fully understand and respect the team's contribution to each show.

-- I agree the members of the Comedy Team are Supporting Actors, but I argue that so are the Cowboys, Indians, and Musicians; just not everyone has text (including one member of the Comedy Team).

-- That the Cowboys and Indians don't have text does not reduce them to "Extras", which would be the next level down on the so-called theatrical hierarchy of roles. They are Stunt Men and Supporting Actors like the Comedy Team but with non-speaking roles.

-- At various moments each of the above groups of Supporting Actors transcend "Supporting Actors" to become starring actors, with spotlights and all eyes focused on them. Thus on a practical level "Supporting Actors" doesn't really differentiate the Comedy Team from the rest of the non-Principal actors much better than does "Stunt Team".

-- I strongly disagree that "Comedic Actors" and "Comedy Team" are derogatory terms. (The Artistic Coordinator hinted this evening that the offended person(s) felt I was diminishing their status by suggesting they be called "The Comedy Team" or "The Wired Ones" - a comedic name for the Comedy Team.) Up until I became Buffalo Bill I only played comedic parts and even now I lean towards comedic moments. I take issue with anyone who feels comedic acting is somehow not distinguished, as I'm sure would many actors.

-- I agree that being comedic does not necessarily mean acting like a blathering fool, though in rare cases that's the perfect choice. Good comedy is much more difficult than just acting silly. It involves understanding human nature, empathic listening, being emotionally accessible and responsive, having an excellent sense of timing, being willing to play the straight man, empathic listening (it's worth mentioning twice), having a strong sense of character and scene structure, etc.

-- Comedy is tough. Distinguished comedic actor Desi Arnaz writes "An actor who is good at comedy can also be very good at drama, but not necessarily vice versa." Ben Stiller said, "I don't devalue comedy as compared to drama. Not one bit."

-- The Comedy Team has an important responsibility and as such is a highly distinguished team in my view. Being part of The Comedy Team should be considered an honor in my opinion.

As an example of how difficult comedy is, the sideline comments I made in Christian Starr Featured on ESPN were meant to be light-hearted, fun, and even comedic. Obviously that didn't translate universally. Any offense given was unintentional.

Keep in mind that you can leave comments, anonymously if you like, by clicking on "Comments" below an article. It's a very efficient means of expressing discontent or disagreement, or agreement, with things I write.

3 comments:

Clay Smith said...

Trent,
Titles are important for one's self esteem. I have made slight adjustments to aide in this as it pertains to me.
1. METALLIC BOVINE BARRIER TECHNICIAN (FENCE BUILDER)
2. AGRICULTURE POWER PLANT OPERATOR (TRACTOR DRIVER)
3. LINEAR TERRA REMOVAL EXPERT (DITCH DIGGER)
4. PEDIISTRIST EQUINE (HORSE SHOER)
5. BOVINE HUSBANRY EXPERT (COWBOY)
6. HISTOICAL RESTORATION SCIENTIST (FIXER OF FALLING DOWN BARNS BECAUSE I’M TOO POOR TO BUILD A NEW ONE)
7. WELDER (DIRTDOBBER)
8. VETERNARAIN ASSISTANT (DIGGER OF A DEAD CALF OUT OF A COW WHO WENT INTO LABOR 4 DAYS AGO AND I JUST FOUND HER AT 10:00PM SATURDAY NIGHT AND THE REAL VET KEEPS THROWING UP AS THE FETUS COMES OUT IN PIECES)

Since giving myself these titles I feel much better.

Clay Smith

Anonymous said...

Chicken chasing, rodeo clown stunt cooks......
Wade

TIM said...

Sounds like things have not changed. Enjoy it fellas, complaining about the preferred nomenclature is not a option anywhere else. And thanks Clay!! I will now refer to myself as one of the above mentioned professionals. Whatever falls upon that day!
Cheers, TIM