Rediscovering Sun Ra

Sunday August 28th, 2011 – Kenosha, WI

Weird isn’t always a bad thing. It depends on the kind. There’s good and bad weird just as there are good and bad fats, bacteria and I’m sure all kinds of other things that aren’t at the top of my consciousness right now. Crust comes to mind. On pizza or bread, it can be delicious. On underwear, it’s disgusting. Everything in life depends upon circumstances.

It’s time for me to get weird. I feel it. I’m sure there are those who think I’m already out of my mind and a certified card carrying flaming bag of nuts as it is, but I’m talking about calculated crazy. It’s a business decision, and I’m not the first to venture in that direction.

There are all kinds of entertainers who have gone that route. Lady Gaga is in the current crop, and she came from Madonna’s pedigree. Marilyn Manson came from Alice Cooper, who also spawned KISS. It’s not new, it just has to be new for me. I’m way too run of the mill ordinary as a comedian to get any real notice. I have a major flaw going against me.

I’m the wrong color. Maybe in life white males have an advantage, or did, but it’s a bad hand dealt to the undiscovered comic. It just is. Race is such an oversensitive subject that nobody wants to discuss it, but it’s a fact. White males have a disadvantage in comedy.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make it, but it’s a lot harder. I’m not angry about it but it does affect me and I have to deal with it. Other races can go on stage and tee off on white people, but if a white comic even mentions another race – the audience tightens up.

I’m not interested in analyzing it any more than I have to. It is what it is, and I regret we still haven’t gotten over it as a society, but we haven’t. I’m interested in breaking through the pack and getting paid for the lifetime of sacrifice I’ve made perfecting my life’s craft.

Doing what I’m doing hasn’t gotten the results I’ve wanted, so I have to change and try something else or accept the fact that I missed the mark. I don’t want to accept it just yet, so it’s time to tweak the recipe and see what happens. It’s worked for all kinds of others.

George Clinton is my prime example. He went weird in the mid ‘70s and decided to try an outer space gimmick, which worked beautifully. He invented a character and created a look, and the public bought it. I did. I thought it was one of the most interesting gimmicks I’d ever seen and still do. George didn’t invent weird, but he did adapt it to his own style.

I’ve been studying George for years, and I’m still a fan. One who George and as it turns out many others were influenced by was an eclectic jazz musician named Sun Ra. He was a very inventive master showman. He claimed to be from Saturn, and lived his gimmick.

I knew about Sun Ra, but am now getting back into studying him again. He was off on a wild tangent, and used weird to the maximum effectiveness. He also used outer space as a  template for success, and I love it. The King of Uranus fits right in to this, and I’ll reshape as many old style tricks as I can to make it all appear fresh. Nothing on this planet is new.


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