Vampires are hot, especially moody, tortured ones willing to share their centuries of experience with inexperienced teenagers and sparkle away into the night. Apart from the Catch a Predator creepiness, Edward of Twilight and his sparkly minions are ripe for send up. Enter Joseph Scrimshaw, and his latest piece, The Sad Vampire Comedy Hour, which opens this weekend at the Bryant-Lake Bowl.
Why mix vampires with standup comedy?
Joseph Scrimshaw: I find the modern take on the dramatic sullen emotional vampire -- Angel, Edward Cullen, Bill from True Blood, all handsome McBroodingPants guys -- inherently funny. It's such a strong contrast from brutal monster to whining heartthrob, I thought it would be funny to create a character who knows he's absurd and wants to share that with an audience for the attention.
The show is also about standup itself -- about all the different ways to do it, about figuring out who you want to be onstage, about figuring out who the audience wants you to be, how to balance those things, and specifically how comedians brand themselves to get noticed.
The plot of the show will reveal that I wanted to do standup as a vampire because they're so damn popular. From that point, there will be some amount of audience interaction as they decide who they would rather see standup from: me or my vampire persona.
Does this mean you are preparing two separate routines, or are working with the same general material with two perspectives?
There will be comedy from me and comedy from me while playing a vampire. So, it won't be two separate routines, but different perspectives wrestling with the same main themes: Why do specific things connect with audiences? How can creators/writers/standup comedians bridge the gap between being true to themselves and giving the audience what they want?
What would the vampire community find funny?
My vampire persona weighs in on all of the different mutations of the vampire mythos. Right now, he has the same reaction I had to watching Twilight for the first time: "I felt like I was watching a YouTube video of a 13-year-old girl relate what she thinks the plot of Dracula might be."
He'll also be reading some emo poetry and trying to hypnotize people live onstage. What is there for the vampire community not to like?
Any thoughts on what is driving the whole "sad" vampire phenomenon? Does it feel like it may be running its course, to be replaced by the "tough kids with bow and arrows" genre?
I think we're interested in the traditional vampire because of the mystery, the sex, the power, the fascination with something that looks human but hides a dark, disturbing reality. I think the modern sad vampire has taken all of that and rounded the edges a little bit by creating bad boy boyfriends who know they're bad and want to change." Sucking blood has become the new "he's really deep and sweet, I just wish he didn't smoke cigarettes."
Based on the fact that "Teen Paranormal Romance" has its own bookshelf at Barnes & Noble, I don't think sad vampires are going anywhere. I think they'll be joined by more and more sad monsters -- the distant mummy, the inattentive zombie, the emo chupacabra, maybe?
But yes, I also think we're headed toward a lot of things that will look like The Twilight Games in which sensitive monsters get shot by teens with arrows.
What else do you have in the hopper right now?
The Obsessed podcast and live show is going strong. I'm starting work on my 2012 Fringe show which will be a comedy about fear tentatively titled Nightmare Without Pants. The show will star theatrical luminaries Shanan Custer, Michael Booth, Anna Sundberg, John Middleton, and myself.
I'm also working on a new standup show about dating advice for smart, geeky people. I'll be performing it live at the sci-fi/fantasy convention CONvergence this July. We'll be recording that performance to sell as a CD/digital download.
Besides that, I'll be performing around town with the Rockstar Storytellers, doing some writing and performing with Minnesota Public Radio's Wits, and like all creative writer types I spend too much time on Twitter. I'm also working on some screenplays, and thinking about doing a Kickstarter for something.
IF YOU GO
The Sad Vampire Comedy Hour
7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through April 28
Bryant-Lake Bowl 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
For tickets and information, call 612.825.8949 or visit online