I have a tendency to play two different types of characters: gay guys in jock straps and 65-year-old women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Again, that's Randomly Naked Gay Man or Woman in Her Mid-60s on the Cusp of Realizing Her Entire Life is a Lie.
What can I say? I have a wheelhouse. Unfortunately, in the Chicago comedy community, there aren't a lot of roles for a six-foot-three dude who excels at lady characters. There are tons of roles for a guy willing to take his clothes off, but most of them are for Methed-Out Go-Go Boy at The Lucky Horseshoe.
When I was in third grade, my friend Joe and I wrote a parody of the Three Little Pigs. I decided to make the third pig female and name her Edwina, because even then I was fighting for female parity on stage (or I just really wanted to wear a wig and polka dot dress). We performed for all the second, third and fourth grade classes. It was my first lady character.
Edwina led to roles as Juliet, Princess Leia, Barbara Walters and Blanche Devereaux in videos my friends and I made throughout high school. Miraculously, I wasn't out then.
The first show I was ever asked to do in Chicago was Skinprov at the Annoyance, which was also one of the greatest/most naked shows I've ever done. After that, I got cast as a leather daddy elf in a ridiculously fun Christmas show, wearing a harness and a jock strap (fun fact: If you're wearing a jock strap on an elevated stage and start doing a kick line, it gives the audience a perfect angle to view your butthole. Hi mom!) After that came an understudy role in an Air Force One parody in which I played the First Cub, a leather cub in a jock strap that sat on a bomb.
On the lady side, I've played Goldie Hawn, had a breakout role as sad giantess Sheila Cankleton in the play A Woman's Path, shot a video about Wicked fans starring as a woman named Barbara Jo Blazer, and played countless older women in sketch shows.
My biggest role to date has probably been as Al in Steamwerkz: The Musical, a show that was one of the funnest experiences of my life and where I wore nothing but a towel.
So, again, older ladies and naked men.
When I get asked to do a show, it's usually to play a nudie role. When I create a show and role for myself, it's usually an older gal with pashminas and emotional problems. Someday, I'm sure, this disparity will make sense.
This doesn't make me particularly "marketable," I've found. I doubt anyone has ever thought "We need someone to play the president! How about that guy who either always naked or always in wedge heel sandals and floral blazers?" Needless to say, I know I'm not at the top of a lot of casting lists.
I've auditioned for several agencies recently, and they've politely passed on me. It's hard to translate my skill set, I suppose. I love playing ladies, but giant men playing post-menopausal bipolar widows doesn't sell Mazdas (yet).
What makes me different makes me difficult to fit into standard roles. I get that. And, really, I wouldn't trade all my jock strap costumes and devastated older gal roles for anything.
've gone back and forth in the past, wondering if I should shy away from these roles and make myself more cast-able by playing straight men (with clothes on). But, somehow, that just doesn't seem as fun. And that's why we do this, isn't it?