Mister Gallimaufry

With apologies to Mister Cash—who will, no doubt, spin in his grave—I intend to belt out “Folsom Prison Blues” for the singing portion of my audition tomorrow night. 

As for the monologue, I shall perform a few paragraphs from Mister DeLillo’s White Noise. It is a very good thing that the author will not be in attendance. (Not that he is expected.) You see, I am preparing to deliver the piece as Mister Skilling might. You know Mister Skilling. No, not the one who is currently incarcerated over the Enron scandal. The Skilling to which I refer is the legendary meteorologist of “Chicago’s Very Own” TV news. 

There is indeed a reason, albeit semi-logical, for the choice of wielding my world-famous and fiercely disputed (as being world-famous) Skilling impression by way of DeLillo’s written words. (I can’t speak for his spoken words. For starters, I’ve never heard him speak.) Nay, there are, in fact, several semi-logical reasons. (Several at minimum.) But then, there are several semi-logical reasons for anything anyone does, anywhere, at any time. No? 

I shall implement “my” Skilling, in part, because the DeLillo “monologue” is, at least on the surface, about developing a passion for weather. Scratch the surface, and we shall see that, more importantly, the piece is about using the study of meteorology as a coping mechanism. 

Please note that, up until this point, I have always prepared for my roles using a semi-“Method” method—meaning, broadly, that all of my characters have been, shall we say, imbued with some significant degree of emotional “truth.” 

Alas, I am incapable of delivering the first three lines of the DeLillo “monologue” with any true, any genuine, any bona fide, any wholehearted sincerity. Every time I take it from the top, my training fails me, be it the (in this case futile) conjuring of Emotional, Memory, and/or Sensory Recall. Therefore, I shall instead bullshit the first three lines—but bullshit them “as” might my Mister Skilling. (To be sure, your take on Mister Skilling will differ from mine and anyone else’s.) 

Allow me to add, or clarify, or at least make plain, that, insofar as I am aware, Mister DeLillo’s character is nothing like Mister Skilling, save for a shared interest in meteorology. 

Since you’ve scrolled all this way, allow me to quench your curiosity by quoting the three lines to which I refer: “My mother’s death had a terrible impact on me. I collapsed totally, lost my faith in God. I was inconsolable, withdrew completely into myself.” 

This is curious for three reasons. (Three at minimum.) That is, this inability of mine to express the aforementioned first three lines with any heartfelt honesty. 

Firstly, my mother is very much alive. Thank God. The shock of such a loss would rival the extraterrestrial impact that hypothetically led to the Triassic–Jurassic Extinction Event. But to say the least, like a sandcastle, I would crumble apart at the mere touch. Moreover, the ruins of my faith in all of existence would fit in well with the wastelands of Mars. No, you’d have better luck consoling Cassandra. And if nothing else, a black hole in the pit of my stomach would take shape, swell, and swallow me, and you, and the warming world whole. 

Secondly, to be clear, I haven’t much faith in any variety of deity. Consider all the shit the one “Almighty” seems to put up with. I can understand if all of Creation is a bit too much to handle. So why not delegate? But maybe don’t give any more responsibilities to the angels and the saints. Were I You, I’d fire all their lazy asses. If You really want to get anything done, it seems You’ve got to hire a few fiends. Take it from this heathen, fiends tend to be a motivated lot. 

Thirdly, I am only getting better and better at steeling myself against feeling anything at all—which, incidentally (or perhaps relatedly), is very bad if you seek success as a dramatic actor in modern America. (Or so the acting profs will tell you; their keyword being: “vulnerability,” as in the onstage expression of it.) 

But, for a number of reasons, it is absolutely necessary to steel myself. 

My current “job,” as it were, is to “care” for a grandparent. On the face of it, sans quotes, this is absolutely true. In other ways, it is utter baloney. Yes, I make most of the meals, I order and dispense all of the medication, I houseclean, I launder the clothes, and I do some chauffeuring. But these duties are not as time consuming as you might think. That is, unless, of course, I am performing them poorly. But I digress. But then, that is all this really is: one long digression. Actually, you might say that of life itself. Granted, some lives are very focused, but most of these aren’t human. Regardless, the steeling bit will come into play once said grandparent’s biological makeup decides to call it a day and “shuffle off this mortal coil.” 

But perhaps it is simply more fun to pretend, in any situation, that you are somebody else. Case in point: When Mister Slater was just starting out in showbiz, he pretended he was Mister Nicholson. (Or so I thought I read somewhere. Apologies to Mister Slater, if I am mistaken. And while we are apologizing, apologies to Mister DeLillo, and Mister Skilling, too. Also, apologies to you, dear reader, for suffering through this drivel. Why do you do it?) Hencethus,* my choice to approach a DeLillo character as might Mister Skilling. 

Bottom line, on stage, be it comedy or tragedy, you must entertain. And so long as you can be an entertaining fake, who the fuck cares? It is, after all, always, always, always better to be fake than boring

Hencethus, might I benefit from playing The Fake offstage, as well as on? Offstage, I am a pathetic bore. (Surprised?) That, or I am annoying, or cantankerous, or creepy, if not simply odd. So, instead, I must be Mister Skilling. Or Mister Shatner. Or come across as might Captain Solo, or Captain Picard. Or, perhaps, play someone closer to home; mask myself over with my best impression of Mister Wench, or Mister Yom, or Mister Blender, or Mister Rosenzweig, or Mister Schmidt, or Mister Temby, or Mister Ahlberg, or Mister Uppling, or Mister Delfani, or Mister Cornelius, or Mister Wolff, or Mister Bloomberg. Or you. What I really ought to do is compile and portray a synthesis of all these aforementioned personalities. Perhaps, then, I will have finally found myself. 

31 July 2005 

*[07/31/22: Consider it coined.]

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