...and the art of laughter and pain.
Actor, comedian and writer Taylor Negron called Windy City Times from a cold and foggy California beach, armed with comments about fake people and Hollywood-obsessed culture.
"I saw a woman at the gym with a Vassar sweatshirt, rocket abs, and a tiny, little ass the other day," Negron said. "The only problem is she was 64. See, I had to write Satellites-it's the only way I could get through it all." Negron is bringing his unique show, "Satellites," an evening that blends tragedy and comedy with storytelling and music, to Chicago during Thanksgiving weekend.
The actor, known largely for his appearances in numerous '80s comedies, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Aristocrats," entwines episodes of his life with music by violinist Lili Haydn. Negron takes a new approach to storytelling, sharing stories such as his experience as an assistant to Lucille Ball, where he reveals "the tears behind the clown." He also shares tales about the trouble he and his childhood gay best friend caused, among many other personal stories.
Negron is excited to share "Satellites" with Chicago before the show heads Off-Broadway. He chatted with Windy City Times about music, orgies and reality TV.
Windy City Times: When did you get the idea to combine storytelling with music?
Taylor Negron: My cousin was the lead singer of the group Three Dog Night. When I was a kid, when "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog" was playing on the radio, my family, including my grandma, would literally get on the table and start dancing. I always thought music was such a powerful conduit. It really coagulates everybody. You hear a song and it just vibrates. I love music.
I have this line in my show, where I say, "No matter how low it's gotten for me, and how sad and despondent I've become, I will always hear the song 'I'm Still Standing' by Elton John, and then I'm completely restored again."
I like the juxtaposition between tragedy and comedy, and there is just something intrinsically warm and vital about the violin. It can sound like an orgasm. It can sound like whining, like crying or like ghosts are coming. She's [Lili Haydn] huge. We're able to have this huge panorama of emotions.
WCT: Are audiences surprised because they are so used to knowing you, for example, as "the pizza delivery guy from Fast Times as Ridgemont High?"
NG: We've all grown up together. I was in high school with everybody. I'm the first Gen-X slacker in movies. I was the one who was too old and overqualified for my ridiculous job as a pizza boy. We all grew up together, although I'm currently a year older than everybody else, of course. But I think the audience will see me, love me and remember me, and see that I'm maturing, becoming wiser and taking more risks.
WCT: This is a change of pace for you because you've done so much character acting over the years.
NG: Well I am in that, when I read the stories, I become the character.
WCT: That's true, because they are different parts of your lives.
NG: Yes. And there are different people, like this one scene where I'm invited to a gay orgy during Hurricane Katrina. That's one of my stories that I talk about in "Satellites." Somehow I was stranded in New Orleans, and a Christian queen invited me. It's the whole seduction of me, and the seduction of these people who wanted me to go to this orgy. I play all the characters. So, it's like a personal thing and I get to play myself. But then I get to show you what it's like to be a cowboy. And I'm good, real good. [Laughs]…Sometimes you just have to go in for the kill. In a way, "Satellites" is going in for the kill, because it demands people to be there. The audience is required to pay attention. There are no excuses because you have a funny guy, a brilliant cello player and a marvelous violinist. It's conspiring to make you feel something.
WCT: Do you hope people go home from the show, and say, "I need to take care of my soul now?"
NG: Yes. And the overwhelming theme of the show is that, its kind of a Nietzschean tone, where sometimes the very worst thing that could happen to you is the very best thing. We're always running away from the bad things, but sometimes the bad thing is the short cut, where you can become a more understanding, apologetic and courageous person. Culture has made it hard for us to be human. Like, men are treated badly if they show emotion. And then this new kind of metrosexual men have been mowed over by really small, bitchy …women with these terrible, sad guys with them. …Heterosexuals should be banned from marriage. They should be forfeited the right. I don't understand why people come down on that. Why isn't Britney Spears in prison? Now it's all up to us to sort it all out. I really like communities. That's why I'm doing this show. Because how many different "Ugly Betties" do we have to watch? …That's why this writers strike is great. It's a chance for us to step back and ask what are we doing here? There's some good stuff, but there's a lot of shit out there.
WCT: In that care, what do you think of reality TV?
NG: I love it for all the wrong, elitist reasons-to say, "See? I'm right. People are stupid as posts." …I say that VH1's "I Love New York" is my favorite reality show because it's like macramé night at Alcatraz. Reality shows show our complete pre-occupation with celebrities. If anything, it tells me that I need to get out more and fuck more people. I think people, like in the movie "Network," need to turn off all these shows and let it all out, start making out with strangers and heavily coming on to people, go to museums and flirt and hold hands with all members of all sexes and ages and have a free-for-all of love.
Reality television, if you fall for it, will ruin your life. You need to turn it off and get out of the house and at night, go to shows, go to museums, go online, have an orgy.
Review by Amy Wooten of The Windy City Times