I’ll Show You My “Thing” If You Show Me Yours
It’s a LOVELY autumn day out today. Birds are chirping. People are out jogging to enjoy the brisk air. And the homeless men on my block aren’t waving their dicks at traffic as angrily as they normally do. All in all, a new standard of pleasant has been created today on this loveliest of days… and where am I? I’m inside my Upper West Side apartment, sweating and stressing about how to start this damn blog entry!!! This isn’t a complaint. This is a point. MOST OF THESE BLOGS OFFER WISDOM. New Musical Theatre dot com is chock full of strong minds who work hard in this business, and the contributors of these blogs are made up of these writers and even some of the fans and young theatre gurus out there. Advice, food for thought, fun stories, and references to homeless men waving their weird looking pricks at traffic are all found here. I find it important to bestow whatever bits and pieces I can to any up and coming writers or people in the arts who want to know more about the theater business and theater world- hence why it is more important for me to give this blog my attention instead of being outside on this lovely day. THAT being said, to all you readers out there, I hope that everything you read in these blogs and decide to take with you on your journey in the arts, you take with a grain of salt. I am very excited to be able to share my experiences with you, but as someone who is here to teach, I must say that I believe you can’t be a good teacher unless you are still willing to learn. THERE’S ALWAYS MORE TO GATHER OUT THERE!!! That goes for EVERYONE! Anyway… enough of this point. Onto something for you to chew on, you sexy buttheads!
How do you “make it” as a writer in this business? I get asked that question too often from naïve cuties who think, for some reason, that I have made it (and BLESS YOU FOR THINKING SO). Well, I don’t know the exact answer, but here is some advice based on my experiences that might help get you started and at least get your name out there. Ready?…. You need to have a “thing.” I know that sounds cliché and pretty generic, but I think it’s true. The ever growing fad of composers releasing albums (albums such as “I Could Use A Drink: The Songs Of Drew Gasparini” which is available here. … I’m such a whore) and also the fad of composers putting on concerts of their work (like my upcoming concert on December 13th… seriously I can’t stop!) has given all of us writers a slightly more competitive edge. Though we might be influenced by many of the same things, the reason this “competitive edge” doesn’t get in the way of us being supportive of one another is that we each have at least ONE thing that makes us different, thus creating a generation of new writers. Writers like Adam Gwon, Joe Iconis, Jonathan Reid Gealt, Ryan Scott Oliver, Kerrigan/Lowdermilk, and myself are all in this generation of new writers and we are all trying to do the same thing. Ignorant people would confuse any of us with any other one of us, but if you listen to this group of this generation’s new theater writers you will hear that we are not even CLOSE. We might be young writers with “contemporary” feels, but we each have at least one thing that sets us apart. Whether it’s a vibe, a rhythmic scheme we continuously use, a type of humor we excel in, etc… we each have our own THING. When you hear a Sondheim song you KNOW it’s a Sondheim song. I’m NOT saying don’t be well versed in every style, but sooner or later people are gonna wanna hire you based on your “thing” because no one can do it like you. Sometimes it’s hard to pin point… my advice to you. Listen to EVERYTHING. Get a taste of everything.
If it’s the fame you want, and talent (sadly) isn’t enough, that “thing” comes in handy and gets you noticed. Take my favorite example: Taylor Swift. A young talent… she sounded like a lot of pop/country stars, but as she progressed in her career, at least as far as I can tell, it seems like her thing became writing songs about each guy she’s ever slept with. That just HAPPENS to be her thing. Thank god she’s a 6 foot mega slut, because if she wasn’t who knows if she’d ever have enough new material with which to fill her next 3 albums. I’d like to go on record at this point to say that though I sound judgmental of Taylor’s “thing,” there isn’t an ounce of doubt in my body that suggests I wouldn’t wanna get weird on a couch with Taylor Swift… if, for nothing else, to get a song written about me. Possible song titles: “That Lumox Who Couldn’t Pleasure Me” or “The Scariest, Hairiest One Night Stand.” (Something to think about, Taylor.) I’m also not suggesting to you, the readers, to go ahead and use your whorish ways to find your “thing.” I’m merely pointing out an example… not the best, but one that worked for Taylor… because look at her. That 22 year old bimbo on stilts is a franchise.
Another story that I like to bring up is about another non-theater group of musicians. But they KNEW they had a thing. Oasis… remember them? Wonderwall? Champagne Super Nova? Awesome British rock group who exploded in the 90’s? You should. Before they were huge, they were offered a gig playing at a pub. The pub let them set the cover charge for their shows, and Oasis said: $50. Week after week they’d set their ticket price at $50, and week after week they played to zero people until one day people started coming… after WEEKS of doing this. The reason why is that people who kept seeing their flyers that said $50 for a ticket began to think: “wow… if they keep asking that much, they must be good.” Before you know it, Oasis exploded. They knew they had something. They knew that they took their influences, tacked on their thing that made them unique and kept playing to no one until it caught on… these guys meant business. Moral of THIS story: If you believe how great you are and how great the things you create are, people are going to start to believe you too.
Be like Oasis. If you tell people you do something well, enough times, they’re gonna start to believe you. OWN IT!!! Confidence isn’t only sexy as all hell, but it gets you in the room, and it gets your songs heard.
In the theater world, you want to write. You want to tell stories. You want to WRITE MUSICALS. Do it. But if you want to get hired, find that one thing you are great at so when you hear of the right job opportunity you are the first one to submit a song to try and get hired. Be everything you can. Be everything you want. But have that “thing” as ammunition. Know how to use it. Know that it’s yours. It’s hard to be an original in an art form that’s been pootin’ around FOREVER, but when you find that “thing,” it’s a game changer.
HAPPY WRITING TO YOU ALL! As long as you are trying to do the work, and working hard to do so, I’m a fan of yours. Keep at it!