So here we are.
Earlier this week, the Tony nominations were announced.
Just hours after those announcements, I performed a cow and a chicken for some international Sesame Street inserts. Some might say that this was a step down for me, since eight years earlier, my name was read on Tony nomination morning. Theatre folk tend to look down on playing a cow. Look at Louise in Gypsy. I don’t know how theatre folk feel about playing a chicken. It’s never come up.
Theatre folk are funny. They sing that there’s no business like show business like no business [they] know, and that everything about it is appealing. Of course, we know that they’re talking about the happy, delightful show part and not the evil, evil business part (that is something else altogether). Still, even with this in mind, think about that statement of song: everything about it is appealing! What they don’t sing is the giant asterisk after that: *except for roles and jobs we think are beneath us or crassly commercial!
I certainly don’t mean to generalize. Many people understand that an actor’s career is fluid, that it must generate income to survive, and that all areas of performance -- regardless of medium, venue, quality or prestige (or lack thereof) -- are valid. But no other time of year amplifies the very long nose that the theatre world likes to simultaneously look down and stick up than at Tony time.
I may not have been a nominee, or even eligible for any awards this season, but at least I was working nomination morning. So were a lot of other actors. Not all of them, but a lot. I’m not sure that any of them were holding up cows like I was, but I’m certain that some of them were probably holding up Vagisil boxes and tubes of hemorrhoid cream. I’m not sure how many other actors were clucking and mooing that day, but some of them may have been pretending to suffer from indigestion or acid reflux, and so perhaps the vocal emanations were similar.
And for every actor who spent Tony nomination day as a puppet cow or a fake doctor or an animated bean, or who spit out partially masticated burgers into buckets right after the commercial’s director yelled cut, or who voiced fifty throat-numbing takes of death in an audio booth (by fire, bullets, machete, slow bleed-out and then generic dying, ten of each) as a videogame soldier, there were literally hundreds of other performers who would have loved to have booked that job.
So no, being a cow is not a step down. There may not be an award for it, but dammit, I love being a Muppet Performer. Plus, I’m a pretty decent cow.
I’m a much better chicken, though. A kick-ass chicken. But I’m telling you now, I don’t really need an Emmy inscribed with Outstanding Chicken in a Preschool or Children’s Series on my shelf. Try explaining that to visitors. (Or writing that acceptance speech.)
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.