Friday, December 4, 2009


Last night while most Oregonians were busy watching the Ducks beat the Beavers in a civil war fight to the Rose Bowl, I was watching Holidazed. Holidazed is a twisted christmas play currently showing at Portland Artist Repretory Theater. It’s a sometimes heart warming and always hilarious story about a middle class family who takes in a pegan street kid for the holidays.

Last night was the third time I’ve seen the show. I also watched it twice last year. Even the third time around, I was moved from belly laughs to tears. I would highly recommend this play to anyone living in the Portland area. And if you don’t live in pdx, I recommend talking to your local theater company and suggesting they buy the rights to show Holidazed next season. I know the writers are interested in expanding to other cities.

I know this, because I know the writers. Holidazed was co-authored by Marc Acito (author of the novels How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Muscial Theater and Attack of the Theater People) and C.S. Whitcomb (screen writer of more made for TV movies than I can list). I’ve met Cynthia at a number of local writing events, and I know Marc because I took a ten week writing class from him last fall. The reason I saw Holidazed twice last year is that one of our classes overlapped with the dress rehearsal, so we got to take a class fieldtrip to the show.

Marc is one of the funniest people I have ever met. I want to share one thing he taught me about comedy. Laughter open’s people up – literally when you’re laughing, your mouth is open. Be it a book, movie, or play, audiences tend to stay somewhat detached from the story. People can be entertained, without being moved – until they start laughing. Laughter opens an audience to the possibility of a deeper emotional tie to the characters, because they are already feeling something.

That’s why I’ve cried all three times I’ve seen Holidzed. Because I was laughing first. So when the story took a serious turn the tears couldn’t help but flow. And when in the next sceen it bounced back to comedy, I just laughed even harder. If Holidzed was a totally straight play without a single joke, it could still have been touching, but I doubt my emotional response would have been as strong.

Not all people are funny, and there is nothing worse than bad comedy. But when serious topics, like homeless twelve year olds at christmas, are addressed through comedy the emotional responce can be amazing. In my own writing, I need to work more on making my readers laugh before I ask them to cry. Speaking of my own writing, I just started a new book. I’ll give you more details on that later.

Joke of the Day

What does a snowman eat for breakfast?
Frosted Flakes

1 comment:

Stephanie Faris said...

It would be fun to see something like that, knowing the writers as you did. I love attending local plays, but I've never known anyone involved.