Story – Robert McKee's Creative Storytelling Magazine Issue 005 – Drew Carey - Page 33

MCKEE INTERVIEWS MARK WHITNEY tially a spoken word festival. So people are doing a play that they wrote for 60 minutes or they’re doing a rewrite of Shakespeare or they’re doing a lot of one-person shows. They’re fringe festivals, so people come in and they get an hour and they’re uncensored— RM: To do whatever they want. MW: You do whatever you want. You end up paying like 500 bucks, and you get to keep the money! You keep the money—at least 70%, sometimes 100% RM: You lost me there. You pay to perform? MW: You pay for the venue. That’s basically what you’re paying for. It’s usually about 500 bucks if you get in. You pay an application fee of about 50 bucks, they pull your name out of the hat, and you pay about 500 bucks for your venue. You get a tech person, someone selling tickets and they have a website and people buy tickets. The point is this— RM: With the tickets sales—you get your money back? MW: You get to keep the money. You get at least 70%, sometimes a 100% and the point is this: These are independent art festivals, which means 95% of it is pure shit. When you go to one of these festivals, with a great show, you will sell out the run! RM: Some things are pissing you off. RM: Of course you do. MW: You make 20 to 25 thousand bucks and nobody knows who you are. The same guy who is reviewing the Broadway tour of Mary Poppins for the Washington Post is reviewing your show. You end up with a portfolio full of reviews. Mark Twain meets Lewis Black. Fine, I can work with that. RM: That’s marvelous: the people, the opportunities. MW: He walks out and says the same thing every time: “I’m gonna start tonight with a few things that are pissing me off.” RM: “Children.” MW: And then he’s off. Exactly. RM: Children, right? Then he starts in on kids. [laughter] Comedy, in my point of view, is the angry art. What motivates the comic is anger. MW: Unbelievable opportunities. RM: Now let’s talk about this. You get an opportunity and you decide you are going to go to one of these festivals, or maybe there’s an open mic night somewhere. Let’s talk about material. You want to be a comic. I think that is a common ambition. Not for everybody, but there are people—enough of them. MW: Yeah. Imagine a comedian comes out for an hour and talks about how great things are. Oh I really want to see that show! MW: There’s a lot of them. Like cockroaches. RM: Now, you got a lot to be angry about because you got dealt some really bad cards. But did you start with that when you were a stand-up—when you first started in the one-man show business? Did you start with your biography—your autobiography—or something else? RM: They want to be comics. One of the questions I would always ask of anybody who wants to be a comic is, “What is pissing you off?” MW: Yes, the one-man show was always intended to use my story as a metaphor to reflect back “zero-tolerance America” to the audience. That’s what it’s always been. MW: That’s how George Carlin started every one of his 12 HBO specials. RM: From the beginning? Story Magazine // Issue 005 MW: Well, it’s taken me five years