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AEC v1.0.4

“I’m Just Going to Let People Have Their Own Reactions” – Interview with Ryan Crawford, Host and Producer of ‘Nervous Breakdown’

Brandon Gorin, David Piccolomini and Ryan Crawford are putting on Nervous Breakdown at PhilaMOCA this Friday, a show that will feature stand-up comics (Ryan Shaner, Chris Wood and Tommy Pope), live-tweeting (Steve Miller-Miller), and possibly angry tears. Read what Ryan has to say about the long, strange adventure it’s been to set it up, then be there on Friday to find out what happens.  It sounds like it’s going to be a real shit show—in a good way, though.

WO: The description for this event is “a comedy show, but tonight it’s OK to cry.” Do you expect the audience to be moved to tears? Or are the comedians on the show really sad about something?

Ryan Crawford: At this point, I can make no confident predictions about the type of emotions Nervous Breakdown will dredge up for people. But I’ve come to a place of acceptance about that. Cry, cheer, make love in the aisles at our comedy show. Whatever happens I’ll be by the side of the stage smoking a cigarette, all like, “Cool.”

Here’s the deal. This is the first creative collaboration between Brandon (T.) Gorin and David Piccolomini, unless you count how Brandon used to get up on stage and explain to people why Dave was bad at comedy. (They keep telling me they’re friends, but I’ve never seen any proof.)

Around the time we started discussing doing a show, Brandon had been thinking a lot about contemporary art and watching too much professional wrestling. He earnestly wanted to put on something that was part Dadaist performance piece, part SummerSlam. On the other hand, all of Dave’s cultural references consist of podcasts produced by marginally successful comedians. He just wanted to make a fun, goofy Friday night out for people. And me, I’m a gambler. The prospect of combining these two visions and actually pulling it off made me all tingly and breathless, because it struck me as the longest long shot in Comedy Town.

So we booked some fantastic stand-ups like Ryan Shaner and Tommy Pope. That was a big win for Dave. However, Brandon is still dead-set on chewing razor blades while he screams about the meta-modern art of CM Punk. The last time he showed me this trick, he actually sliced himself pretty bad, so – I’m just going to let people have their own reactions. Go ahead, cry. No judgments.

WO: Can you explain the format for the show? There’s a line-up of stand-ups, but you mentioned in an email you also want the show to have a premise and arc.

RC: It’s a stand-up comedy show followed by a Billy Cosby dance party. For those without any game, Bill Cosby did record several musical albums. And yes, they are totally danceable.

We got ambitious with the parts in between stand-ups. We started asking questions like, why do you have to have an affable host keeping the crowd warm between acts? Why do skits? Why not have two guys working out their very real creative and personal differences, live in front of strangers? When we asked these questions, we were drunk, and they were rhetorical. And now it’s too late for anyone to answer, or stop us.

WO: What can we expect from the other component of the show: “The projected thoughts of Steve Miller-Miller”?

RC: All three of us are big fans of Steve Miller-Miller. Brandon is particularly a fan of Miller-Miller’s workman-like approach to mocking Dave. We’re having him live-tweet the event from the booth, and projecting the tweets onto a screen behind the stage.

WO: All three producers are going to share the hosting duties, correct? How will you guys be splitting that up?

RC:
Well, initially Brandon and Dave were set to co-host. Honestly, I think three hosts is a bit crowded. But a few days ago Dave texted me and asked whether I’d be comfortable possibly replacing Brandon. The same day Brandon called and begged me to replace Dave. So yes, all three of us will be sharing hosting duties, and we will be allocating those duties according to who is the least butt-hurt at any given moment.

Full disclosure: Brandon and Dave aren’t currently on speaking terms. They had a blowup when we visited the venue, PhilaMOCA, the other day, in which Dave got so mad he stormed off into a North Philly sunset, abandoning his own car on Spring Garden with Brandon and me still sitting in it. Brandon said he was proud of Dave for finally standing up for himself. Then he stole Dave’s spark plugs, and we took the Broad Street Line back.

WO: Have you ever had a nervous breakdown? And/or do you expect/hope to have one by the end of this show?

RC: Do I hope to have a nervous breakdown? Sure, the same way I enjoy grinding my teeth in my sleep. Lady, this is my life. But yes, putting together this show has been a major stressor. Odds are that by show time we’ll all pull together under the symbol of mental instability for laughs, but I want it on the record that organizing this hasn’t been pleasant and the experience is getting filed under the broad category of suffering for one’s art.

Other odds associated with the show:
3.5-1 The comics band together and storm the projector to stop Steve Miller-Miller’s tweets.
4-1 Dave secretly hopes that Brandon cuts himself.
10-1 Brandon cuts himself.
15-1 Brandon cuts himself, and it turns out to be hilarious.
30-1 Dave gets his spark plugs back.
100-1 People make love in the aisles during the show.
1000-1 The people making love in the aisle aren’t two desperate comedians.
Even money someone cries.

Nervous Breakdown’ is this Friday, March 15th at PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th Street) at 8PM. Admission is $10.

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