Will Franken: Things We Did Before Reality
Tell us about your show?
I've been compared to a television set on LSD. Extremely high-speed, quick-change, one-man sketch character comedy with a penchant for the absurd and the devoutly sacrilegious. Notions of contemporary postmodern reality, political correctness, and social niceties are skewered across the board. I give my characters just enough rope to hang themselves and their public executions are hysterical.
In five words or fewer, why should we see it?
Because. I. Want. You. To.
How have your previews been going?
Well, I haven't had my previews yet. But if they're anything like my fantasy, they're going to be the greatest thing that ever happened in the world ever.
How are you going to keep it fresh for the full three weeks?
I've got a huge backlog of material to draw from. So most likely, I'll be changing out pieces and rearranging the structure on a nightly basis. Part of the beauty is that I've never performed in Scotland and so my greatest hits over here in the States will be brand-new on your turf.
Is it ultimately worth coming to the Fringe?
Absolutely. This opportunity is probably the best thing that's happened to me in quite awhile in terms of career opportunities. Not to mention that the UK has long been my influence when it comes to comedy. I believe in bringing the element of the theatre back to the comedy clubs. And I think that's part of the underlying subtext of the Fringe.
Do you have a guaranteed, sure-fire flyering technique?
At the moment, no. But perhaps in some absurdist character's voice, I might be able to ply myself at soliciting with some essential verve.
What's your health regime for the Fringe?
I had planned on quitting smoking before leaving, but it doesn't look as if that's going to happen between now and my flight. I'll probably try to lay off the smokes at least two hours before showtime, though. I find when I do that, I have an even more boundless reserve of hyperactive energy on stage. I'm assuming that I'm going to eat better over there as well. I've fallen into a rut recently here in the States with fast food, Chex mix, and soda pop. I heard haggis is good for the heart and lungs. Or that it's made out of that, I forget.
What's the worst mistake people make at the Fringe?
I'm not sure, never having done the Fringe before. But my guess it would be falling into the trap of unrealistic expectations. Being that there's so much happening simultaneously, it's imperative to remain the calm eye in the center of the hurricane. Or as my Scottish friend Frank from Bank Nock says, "Don't panic."
Last year's Fringe was all about the London riots. What major news event do you think will force you to hurriedly rewrite your 2012 show?
Well, I have some ideas -- or fears, but I'm reticent to voice them until I get over there, not being sure how strong political correctness is in Scotland at the moment. Sometimes even the voicing of a prediction can get you in trouble. But we can talk privately, if you like. For now, I'll just say 'The Olympics.'
Do you pay your taxes?
I don't know how to answer that question without either lying or telling the truth. So I'll pretend you didn't ask it.
What was your favourite joke when you were a kid?
Well, it's not a joke per se, but the Flying Circus episode where they were having the Election Night Special really blew my mind. Especially the part where John Cleese is reading the name of the very silly candidate, which includes gunshots, toy whistles, and snatches of Petula Clark songs. I remember seeing that at around twelve years old and thinking, 'I'm not crazy after all!'
Who else are you hoping to see while you're in Edinburgh?
Pope Benedict. But he never shows up for the Fringe anymore now that he's 'made it.' As far as people who are going to be there this year, I definitely want to see Paul Provenza's Set List, Eddie Pepitone's Bloodbath and, if I get the chance, The Rubberbandits.