I am a theater artist who is prone to divide audiences, or at least get  one review that rips my work to shreds. I have come to terms with this -mostly because I think I would prefer to provoke strong reactions from people rather than have them walk away saying “man, that girl really knows narrative structure!” or “that dysfunctional family sure was quirky!” However,  I have always found it weird how a common theme amongst my haters is that they always go out of their way to point out three specific things:  how I am not clever, funny or intelligent. I  never intend to be clever, funny or intelligent , I just tend to be honest about what comes out of me when I am writing, without  trying to “be” anything in particular.  I write like that because that is how I write.  I don’t really know how to do anything other than that.  Coincidentally, I also happen to enjoy work where I leave the theater with a visceral feeling which doesn’t necessarily have to be  intellectual or rational. Like for instance, I loved how Faye Driscoll’s hilarious yet frightening  There is So Much Mad In Me awakened a deep rooted sadness in me while somehow reminding me how beautiful people can be or more recently, how   James Carter’s Feeder: A Love Story gave me flashbacks of some creepy men of my past who could be reading this blog right now: Yeep!!!!

That was an obvious senseless ramble- but I am thinking about all of this, because I’m going through feedback forms from a reading for my play, Death For Sydney Black and amidst the encouraging, thoughtful comments that every writer enjoys to read, I find this one (there is always one):
How did The Play make you feel:


Any Misc. Feedback?


Ahhhh. Yikes. Okay. But it happens. And thus I was about to move on- until I saw this interview from my new BFF, Rebecca Black. (yes, I’m selling t-shirts. Because this is Amerrrrrica).

I don’t really have anything to say about the interview except that it’s made me think about the difference  between constructive criticism and bullying. And also, I wanted to mention Rebecca Black on my blog one last time (see: Yesterday Was Thursday, Thursday) because it’s getting a lot of hits (3600 in the last two days to be exact. So um. Rebecca Black, Rebecca Black, Rebecca Black, Friday Friday Friday google google google).

Which segues into the second reason I am thinking about all of this.

I know what it’s like to be a hater (GO CUT YOURSELF REBECCA BLACK! j/k, I’m broke- buy a t-shirt) and sometimes, I can’t tell if my criticisms are actually constructive or productive or just plain mean and personal-   so I refrain from giving my opinion unless it is specifically asked for.  However, I  recently went to a friend’s comedy show (The Love Triangle Show: 3rd Friday Of Each Month) where a Certain Stand-up Comedian decided that it would be really fun and original to make jokes about the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan. And although I have been busy blogging about sillier things to keep my mind off of it, I have family there  and this whole earthquake disaster has affected me and them in very confusing, overwhelming ways. So naturally, I am going to get really pissed off/sensitive  when this  Certain  Stand-up Comedian, who prompted to make sure everyone in the room was white (literally) before telling his jokes about Japanese people, starts to do the latter.

I know what it’s like to work hard on something and  have it completely dismissed as a piece of trash by someone.  It sucks. And although this might sound cliche,  I consider comedians artists too  (that shit seems hard you guys). So I almost felt sorry for this guy as I revealed that I was actually not white (gasp! I know)  and that making jokes about this wasn’t cool and he fumbled until he made some desperate comment  about how he shouldn’t piss off Japanese people because they all know kun-fu (barf) and I called him a racist.  My anger lead me to a binge drinking session which culminated into yet another tearful fight with a cab driver who he asked me what language I was speaking on the phone to my mother and proceeded to tell me I don’t look Japanese at all (magically-it ended well and we managed to shake hands by the time I got home).

Someone who heard this story made the excellent point that  “inappropriate jokes” like this are only a problem worth fighting against if people are actually laughing at them. Nobody laughed when this guy told his jokes. Gilbert Gottfried got fired for his. So maybe my heckling wasn’t exactly necessary. Was it constructive? I don’t know. Bullying? Maybe? But I feel like he bullied me first. Like, I know it’s not my job to spread awareness about this Certain Comedian’s idiocy, the silence of the audience said it all, and  my only job throughout this tragedy is  to do what I can for my family.  And it certainly didn’t make me feel better when the Certain Stand-up Comedian  told my friend to tell me that he was “sorry if he made me mad or  whatever” and it doesn’t really make me feel better that I probably ruined his performance (though it didn’t make me feel bad either).

In turn, I know the person who wrote those negative marks on my feedback card will hate my play no matter what and that makes me feel kind of at peace. Maybe it just hit too close to home or they were just bored. Who knows.  Like my half-boozy rantings to Certain Stand-Up Comedian’s act, the comments weren’t constructive enough.  But I can’t really dismiss the comments as bullying either, because she/ he’s just telling the truth about a reaction he/she had and that is valuable. And I’ll keep working on that play despite the NEVER AGAIN comment and ultimately, I don’t really care that much.

And as for the Certain Stand Up Comedian, he, like Rebecca Black who will probably keep capitalizing on her fifteen minutes with really shitty music no matter what her haters say- will probably keep making jokes about the disaster and not care that much either…well until he loses a job or something.

We all seem to just keep going.

But I can’t help but wonder, as I read that one negative feedback form over and over and over,  if  he too, is playing my attempt at heckling in his head over and over and over…..

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