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Criss-Cross Applesauce

love or hate ... life or death ... Betty or Veronica

The Thing About Genius
Improv Addict
Current Word Count: A Good Story and Good Words, 35, 076 words
What I'm Reading Now: Wolves of the Calla, by Stephen King

I haven't had caffeine today yet - the line at the Bucks was too long - so forgive me if this is incoherent.

I saw a show this weekend at ImprovBoston. Not an improv show, not a sketch show. I hesitate to call it stand-up, because that wasn't what it was. It was a man - a friend of mine, David Mogolov - telling stories about his life, monologueing about culture and politics and how it relates to him. It was called "There Is No Good News," and went about both proving and disproving his title. Parts of it were laugh-out-loud hilarious, but there was an undertone of seriousness to it. It was incisive, insightful. It was genius.

I don't bandy that word around lightly. When I find something I consider genius, I go for that thing over and over again, which explains my obsessions. I want to delve deeper, find more, uncover nuance and see things from different angles. It hasn't happened much at ImprovBoston. I'm not ... there are shows I love, and there are shows I enjoy, but rarely am I so vitally moved. It happened with the Groaners & Boners show, which reimagined vaudeville - something I never thought I'd see on stage. It happened with Writer's Block, which in turn inspired a novel I wrote in part to make sense of what I'd seen. And it happened with this.

Some people on here might go see it - and if you can, I implore you to go see it - so I won't drop spoilers. Broadly, I'll say that there are reveals in "There Is No Good News" that shook me to absolute silence. David's examinations of his own reactions to the world and to others made me re-examine my reactions. Who am I? What am I? These important definitions I'm not sure I have any answers to. Is it all just fumbling through life?

And here's something: two months ago, David asked me for some Springsteen recommendations. I launched into this whole gigantic email about Darkness and Tunnel and Magic, and he not only took my recommendations, he was involved with them, and we had conversations. I have this fear that borders on certainty that if he had asked me that question today, I would not have been able to answer as I did. I would not have felt qualified.

Look, I'm smart. I know I am. I have insights into human nature and the state of the world. I wrote three books dealing with God. I wrote three books dealing, somewhat, with 9/11. I keep dealing with depression and weird sex and writing and parents and adults who don't feel like adults. These are my novels. This is what I have to give to the world. And immediately after David's show, I ... I didn't feel dumb. I felt like I wasn't doing my part to creatively enhance the world. When you experience something that unexpectedly blindsides you with creativity, especially if you're someone like me, you need to move. You need to act. I've been busting my ass on this book about Stephen King, but right then, I needed to write some fiction. Some good American fiction. It's not one-upmanship. I'm never going to be a genius in the same way David Mogolov is a genius. But I have ways of putting my smarts out there. I'm good at what I do. I just need to make sure I never stop doing it.

And really? See the show. If you can, if you are physically able, see the show. Saturdays at 7 at ImprovBoston for the rest of the month. I don't know if you'll be as fundamentally moved as I was, but if there's ever a chance for that, you owe it to yourself to take it.