PREVIEW WEEK #2: FEAR OF BLACK WEDNESDAY

So last night was the first preview of our 2nd week of previews — the day I call “Black Wednesday.” Let me explain —

About 15 years ago when I was but a clueless starry-eyed lad with big theatrical dreams and little theatrical knowledge, I wrote a show entitled “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” which debuted in New Jersey’s American Stage Company. Being anidiot novice, I was simply thrilled that an actual professional company with actual professional actors was performing my show!

The first week of our preview period went terrifically. People were laughing and applauding and I thought to myself — “This is easy! I have a gloirous career as a writer ahead of me! Hurrah!” Following our Sunday performance, we took two days off, with me certain that I had written a beautiful hit that audiences would forever love. Thus, filled with this newfound brio, I returned to the theatre on Wednesday expecting the hilarity to continue. And on this day, the actors Helen Hunt and Hank Azaria were in attendence (they were friends of the director) so I had real life STARS in the audience. I was living the dream, baby.

So the show started and the curtain rose on my sure-fire laughfest and — no one laughed. Not during the first scene, nor the second nor the third. Okay, there may have been a few politie twitters during the show, but trust me, they were those horrible ‘sympathy” laughs that audience members make when they’re watching a show they don’t find remotely funny but they feel sorry for the actors.

Tell you the truth, I don’t really remember if we even got sympathy laughs or not, because by then I had entered the “dark hole of playwrighting” — that despondent place where a playwright thinks — “I have no talent! I am a fraud! My work has amounted to nothing! Nothing! Nothing!”

Okay, now I bet you nice Toxaholics are saying — “C’mon Joe, it couldn’t have been that bad!” Oh, yeah? Do you have any idea what a sketch comedy becomes when no one laughs? It becomes a series of dramatic vignettes — shallow dramatic vignettes. Not pretty. Hank and Helen were very polite about the show, but by the time I saw them afterwards I was envisioning a possible career as a bartender. This day — the Wednesday when previews re-start — has forever been known to me as Black Wednesday.

Back to the present! So last night, I entered Toxic with powerful memories of Black Wednesday messing with my head. But lo and behold — no Black Wednesday for Toxic, baby! The cast was somehow even funnier than ever and the audience ate them up with a toxic spoon (sorry, I don’t really understand what I just wrote there. Instead, let me say — “the audience laughed their asses off.” There, that makes more sense.) But thank you, Theatrical Gods! Has the curse of Black Wednesday been broken forever?

(By the way, happy ending to the Black Wednesday story — that audience was a total aberration. I Love You became the biggest hit ever at American Stage and then went on to run twelve years in New York City. Wouldn’t it be great if ALL stories had a really happy ending like that? Sigh.)

Okay, a couple today’s rehearsal pics for ya —

Nick Cordero had to work out a few things while wearing his Toxic mask, but he didn’t need to get into the rest of his costume. So here is what The Toxic Avenger would look like if he went to a prep school —


And here is preppy Toxie rehearsing the “Helen Keller joke scene” with the brilliantly funny — and I don’t throw either of those words around easily — Sara Chase.


And here is what it would look like if an actual mutant freak came to see the show and he put on a collared shirt for the evening.

And since Toxaholics have been demanding begging mildly suggesting that I post another pic of myself, here I am standing next to a handsome cardboard cut-out that rests right outside of our theatre.


Okay, Toxaholics …

Truly, Madly, Deeply, but not too Deeply that it becomes gross,
Joe