Story – Robert McKee's Creative Storytelling Magazine Issue 005 – Drew Carey - Page 34

MCKEE INTERVIEWS MARK WHITNEY to get to the point where I can say that in a sentence. You know what I mean? I had a very unclear vision early on. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do, but I was completely unclear as to how to do it. That was the problem, and this was very frustrating to me because I’m a guy who has worked on radio shows, I’ve done a lot of TV commercials, and I’ve toured the United States doing seminars for corporate America. I’m no stranger to being on my feet, but the business of connecting my personal story to the universe really fucked with my mind for about three years. I just couldn’t figure it out. Everybody that does this says, “Well, there’s no road map.” I want a fucking roadmap! [laughter] Okay, somebody give me a roadmap. So you’re just out there—everybody starts with a zero sum game and everyone has the story of how they figured out how to do what they do. Well, for me, what I wanted to know how to do was I wanted to know how to—comedians disagree on this— Since George Carlin died, I have learned by reading about him and stuff that he has written and that people have written, I have learned that his HBO shows that he performed were one-person shows. It wasn’t stand-up comedy—he wrote it out in script form, in Courier New, double space, and he committed it to memory. RM: Yup, yup. MW: He went out and he delivered it the same way every time, word for word. RM: Why does that surprise anyone? MW: I think the reason it surprises people is because there’s a whole contingent of people that perform stand-up that say you need to be doing your writing on stage, RM: Oh yeah, yeah. MW: If you’re not writing on stage, then you’re not doing it right, and what I wanted to do is to be able to do both. So my one-man show is now a hybrid. I have the set piece that is committed to memory, and I rehearse for every minute of that show. If I write a new minute, I rehearse ninety minutes or two hours to own that new minute— to really own it. When I say own it, I mean that I will be able to deliver it frontwards and backwards with music playing in my ears at a high volume and my wife telling me to make the bed and all these distractions going on, because the one-man show in stand-up comedy is very different from acting. If you and I are doing an Oscar Madison or Felix Ungar, we’re performing for each other; we’re not really performing for the audience. That’s Story Magazine // Issue 005 why they talk about the fourth wall. It’s actually a wall between us and the audience. RM: Indeed. I’ve directed over 60 plays, and the constant note that I gave to actors was, “No, no. Don’t you do it. Make him do it. Make him do it!” MW: Perfect, that’s exactly what I’m saying. RM: I don’t care what—“make him do it!” As long as actor A is trying to make actor B do what character A wants B to do… MW: You’re telling them to push each other, in a sense. RM: “Make him do it.” And that’s acting, and you’re right, stand up is… MW: So I walk out in the studio theatre there—the show you watched. I got 250 sets of eyeballs staring at me. They’re talking to each other and they’re checking their pocketbook and she’s going, “What did he say?” There’s all this shit going on and I’m trying to do a show. It’s like, “Can you people just dummy up and receive the show, please?” It’s so difficult to master it at a level where you can deliver it at a high level. I want to take it to another level—I want to be able to leave my script and be in the room like