‘Nest’ Nuts Net 5 Ed Heads

As that Variety-esque headline screams, the reviews are in.

“I hope you take this as a compliment… I really HATED you!!!”
– Random Audience Member #1

“You’re a complete bastard!!!”
– Random Audience Member #2

“As your mother, the woman who played a major role in your conception, I can only wonder – where did all that RAGE come from?”
– My Mom

Oh, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette gave the Gateway Players’ Production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest a rave review. Their highest in fact.

[edhead 5.0]

I’ve slightly modified their scale (they use stars from 1 to 4) to suit my own wicked purposes but whether we’re talking 5 Ed Heads, 2 Ebert Thumbs or 4 Shiny Gold Stars, the fact remains the same – we pulled a Pokemon and caught them all. We aced it.

As I write this, I am enjoying a little R&R between production weekends. After the marathon session that ran last week, starting with our technical rehearsal on Monday and running nightly (with only one day off) through the three live productions that dotted each weekend day/night, this little siesta was well-earned by my fellow hard working cast mates and newfound buddies. Some day, I’ll walk you all through the whole process, making sure to embellish all the backstage sex, lies and videotaped shenanigans, but as we’re in the midst of the show – merely taking a breather between curtain calls – I want to tread lightly on any show spoilers. I was fortunate to help entertain a good number of friends and family during each of this past weekend’s performances and have another healthy contingent standing on deck for the next salvo so I would hate to spoil anyone’s enjoyment.

That said, I did want to let y’all in on a few little anecdotes to whet your appetite. If you reserved tickets for this weekend’s show – Good On You – because as of yesterday evening, we are all SOLD OUT!!! As my cousin Jason declared on his site, “You’re like The Producers of Southbridge”. A fact that had me scrambling to my contract looking to see if there was any legalese preventing our director Dave Corkum from extending our initial booking to 50 additional weekends including 4 ON ICE performances. If anyone’s looking for me from February 2nd through the 21st, 2009 – I’ll be somewhere in Luxembourg entertaining the royal court of King Alexander von Halenstein IV. And come May ’09, we’ll find out once and for all if the soothing, melodic sadism of Aide Warren plays in Peoria.

So for those of you clutching hard to those Golden Tickets for this weekend’s show, I think the reviews speak for themselves. You are in for a good time. And if you don’t have a good time, I’ll beat one in to you. I know what you are thinking. Our Ed (or Eddie – depending upon which side of the family fence you reside) could never be that mean. He’s a veritable angel of mercy – why, everybody knows it. He’s unselfish as the wind, toiling thanklessly for the good of all, day after day, seven days a week. Well, you’ll see. In this show, I’m a bitch… A BITCH!!!

While I’d like to tread lightly on spoilers or any backstage dirt, I do have one tale that needs to be told before I lose total recall of it. Remember, I have to see these people in a couple of days and the regimen of pushes and shoves that I and my fellow Aide Williams dole out during a given performance has left their share of scars and remembrance – I don’t need to give this cast any more fodder for revenge. As it is, if you’re reading this, I am likely already dead.

But there are a few little morsels I can jam into your cake hole which shouldn’t ruffle too many feathers. And plus,  as the old maxim goes – it’s funny ‘cause it happened to someone else.

Take Scanlon for instance.

(Editor’s Note – To avoid a repeat of last year’s flurry of slander suits that came my way when I openly mocked the Jonas Brothers as Hanson 2.0, I’m not gonna’ drop any actor’s names. Sure, there’s a picture of him clear as day below but the subject of said picture is clearly that gleaming salt shaker. Pay no mind to the dude raging above it).

Anyway, a few weeks back, I wrote that if I ever find myself in a foxhole, I want a thespian alongside me as these theater-types kick unholy amounts of ass. At the time, I offered up Michael Crawford as my personal Kimbo Slice. ‘F the Phantom, I say. If I’m storming the beach at Normandy, I want Scanlon by my side. If he can muster up half the mustard that he hurled at a poor defenseless Applebee’s waiter then just imagine what he could do against the Axis of Evil.

I’ll set the table. It was Friday night and we had finished our first live performance. This was the night that “THE CRITIC” was in the house so everyone was a bit on edge. One screw-up and suddenly we’re looking at a [edhead 1.0] review and it would be back to the bread lines for the lot of us. I’d played enough dime nickelodeons and plus-sized burlesque shows that I’d be six feet under and pushing up daisies before I beat my feet in retreat back to that side of the street. (You think Scanlon is fierce – if my 9th Grade English Composition teacher catches wind of that last sentence, it’s back to dangling participles for this young wordsmith).

Anyway, the grease paint splashed on my mug may be relatively wet but I’ve seen enough to catch on that when “THE CRITIC” is in the house, you’ve got to bring you’re ‘A Game’. No chance we could crawfish that night. So, we did what all professionals do when the chips are down and it’s for all the marbles and the clichés are stacked. We each downed a jug of Red Bull and Boone’s Farm and stumbled onto the stage of history. (Or wait, is that what Kevin Millar does?)

While we hit a few technical difficulties, with lights dropped a tad bit too early, we clearly kicked ass. We Got Game!

If I can break the 4th wall and dispense with the silliness for a moment, I can honestly say that I am incredibly proud to be but a minor cog in this talented machine. My self-imposed marching orders before plunging into this project were quite simple, try to rise from ‘Suck’ to ‘Middling’ and don’t gum up the works. Being as amateur as they come, my greatest fear was that I would either derail the entire show or somehow convince Dave to stage the whole production in the nude. I can assure you, future audience, that neither fear has manifested itself – YET!!! Although now that we have [edhead 5.0] we can do whatever the hell we want, so bring on ‘The Puppetry of the Penis’, I say.

Anyway, this is a top-notch group of people. Not just talented actors (which they are – in spades and leagues above me) but also, truly great people. It’s been two months since I’ve been folded into this ensemble and as this production has come to life, fueled by our collective energy and passion (and HEART), our personalities have freed themselves from any early, guarded restraints. This group has meshed and I think that really feeds the show. We have a lot of laughs and many more to come (even more so when they catch on to what I have planned for the Cast Party).

All this is preface to the rest of the tale. I wanted to pay homage to a truly great group of people – more than a cast, just genuinely nice individuals who have added further definition to my life. And I wanted to humanize the beast that emerges when the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, and Applebee’s applies too much salt to one man’s salt-free nachos.

That man is Scanlon, or at least, that’s his stage name so keep those high-powered attorneys at bay, Mr. ScanMan.

Following that epic performance, most of our group meandered on over to America’s Favorite Neighborhood Bar and Nacho Emporium, Applebee’s, for a few wobbly pops and all the ½ price appetizers our meager stipends could afford which you theater insiders can quickly deduce left us noshing down on all the creamers and ketchup packets we could stomach. When you’ve seen the show and you’ve taken in (or been splashed by) the geyser of drool that erupts from Ruckley’s mouth every eight minutes or so, you’ll realize quickly that some of us crammed much more of that vile sustenance than others. That Ruckley. He is soooooo Method.

Now, big spender Scanlon wasn’t having any of the condiment-inal breakfast. Not the guy who drops $35.00 on a shot of whiskey like its tap water. He poured through the handy-dandy placard announcing the discount warmed-over apps left looming about since the early dinner rush – leap-frogging the Awesome Blossom and Buffalo Pizzadillas in favor of a big, hearty plate of good-old American nachos con queso. With only one dish to prepare, the legion of wait-staff that we had assembled en masse around us sprinted for the kitchen to prepare Herr Scanlon’s delicacy.

Within moments, they arrived with a feast fit for a Burger King. They deposited the tray in front of the persnickety patron and faded back on their heels, their peepers waiting with baited interest for Scanlon’s triumphant “Yay” or deflated “Nay.” He took one bite and closed his eyes.

For a moment, there was nothing but calm upon his countenance but then, like those first, fledgling ripples in a water cup that heralded the feared T-Rex arrival in Jurassic Park, slight tremors began to travel across the surface of his face. His brow creased. A crimson tide washed across his complexion. His eyes opened and they had turned to blood. The Eye of Sauron was upon the waiters and slowly it cast its gaze upon them in rapid succession. As each met that stare, they withered. One may have exploded in shear horror, although it was tough to tell. All those flying fragments of red and gristle may have just been the pico de gallo.

“TAKE IT BACK!”, Scanlon commanded.

“I’m sorry, me Lord. Does though not desire our fine confection?”, said the head waiter in the turn of phrase that is all the rage these days.

“TAKE IT BACK!!”, Scanlon repeated. Each word delivered with such venom that all around him, the cockroaches and rats that reside in the rafters above rained from the ceiling.

“I’m sorry, my liege. But what seems to be the problem?”, the foolhardy waiter offered.

And once again, Scanlon unleashed hell.

“TAKE IT BACK!!!”, he roared.

All across town, the signs of the apocalypse manifested. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes… The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… Mass hysteria!

And then he offered this little morsel.

“NEEDS MORE SALT!!!!”

So, they snapped to and took it back to add more salt. When they returned, the battle resumed. Again, he took a bite. Once again his eyes closed. And again, we’re ‘Armageddon It.’ But, this time he pulls the old bait and switch and demands no salt. So they snapped up the cursed chips and cheese and performed a saline exorcism. Within moments, they return and once again he takes a bite. This time, he demands extra salt. But not just any salt.

Dead Sea Salt.

They launch an expedition, traveling clear across the world to fetch their lord the precious salts he requires. Upon their return, he takes a bite.

TOO SALTY! TAKE IT BACK!!!!!”, he demands.

Back and forth this exchange goes, the two parties dancing a twisted Tango of Death. The sands drain from the hourglass but time freezes for the lot of us. We’re frozen in our places – our eyes glued to the unfolding drama. When will it end? “Da’ horror. Da’ horror.”

At last, salvation arrives in the form of last call. Suddenly Scanlon’s eyes go blue, the seas quiet, the Earth heals and all is right with the world. For one more night, at least. We settle the tab and shuffle towards the exit. Outside, we pass the night manager who’s posting a sign: “Help Wanted – One Waiter”.

I guess that wasn’t the pico de gallo.

The following morning, I wake with a splitting headache. Fragments of the night before spill across my blurred morning vision. I chalk these phantasms up to night terrors. No way that was real. No way that madness happened.

The next night, Saturday night, we ran the show without ‘THE CRITIC’ in the house – meaning we ran it pants-less. After that, it was off to Uno’s to toast Night Two and take in Game 6 of the ALCS. The whole group is together again and full of good spirit.

As the Uno’s waiter begins making his rounds, taking our appetizer orders, he arrives at Scanlon. A hushed pall settles over the crowd. As a tumbleweed rolls across the table, somewhere in the distance, a lone crow caws.

Waiter: “Good evening, sir. Welcome to Uno’s. May I take your order?”

Scanlon: “I’ll have the nachos… (Long Pause) Oh, and hold the salt.”

And like that snake eating its tail, what goes around – has come around again.

Comments now closed (20)

  • I took in the Sunday show, so I can say that Ed is one mean bastard fo’ sho’. He’s a loud fireplug stomping around and pushing patients twice his size. He nails it with the help of that freshly shaved cabeza and a scowl that really did make his Mom question if that was her son.

    As for the rest of the cast, a job well done indeed! I often found myself looking to each of the patients to see what each was doing in the background, Cheswick and Martini in particular. The same was true when the aides or nurses would pack themselves into their tiny station box.

    I guess the best praise I could levy is that I wish I were coming back to see it again this weekend, so for those that haven’t yet taken this in, you are in for a treat.

  • Hats (or Pants depending on the night of the show)to you and the cast for a tremendous performance. Don’t worry Claudette, The inspiration of rage comes from your son sneaking into a friends dorm to use their computer to play Star Wars in college surely was his inspiration!

  • Damn you Mr. Warren…. due to the rolicking laughter caused by reading your indepth description of a certain character… I just spilled my wine all over my crisp white uniform…. You know what this means don’t you….. 2 weeks in Geriatrics cleanning BED PANS….

    You are an amazing writer as well as a true up-n-coming STAR… Your wife has the most beautiful voice… and YOU are a brilliant Actor!!! What fortunate children you have!!!

  • @Nurse Ratched – You just spilled your wine all over that crisp white uniform? You’re talking to the wrong guy. Williams has laundry duty!!!

  • Ed,

    I just read the blog on Scanlon feasting at Applebee’s. You really have a gift, dude. Your stuff is entertaining and point to a very creative mind.

    Please don’t stop.

    Jimmy Scanlon

  • Question on “all the backstage sex, lies and videotaped shenanigans”….was I hallucinating? Nobody pays attention to me, I miss out on all the fun.

  • @Billy – That was just poetic license (although I may have caught two bats “doing it” in the rafters… or it might have just been that drafty barn shaking them in the breeze). I figured if sex sells, I might as well do everything I can to sell copies of this Blog.

    @Everyone – Speaking of which – I’m now charging $10.00 a hit, and its retoractive, so some of you frequent readers better still be holding tight to those Stimulus Checks ’cause Aide Warren and his (ahem) ‘associates’, are gonna’ come a callin’.

    (Kidding, of course. Who would pay for this drivel?)

    @Martini – Maybe we’re all the ones hallucinating and you’re the sane one.

  • At this writing I am less than 24 hours from Overture ( anyone my age will immediately start singing the Bugs Bunny theme…)and I can’t wait! I will be eying Mr. Scanlon with caution…and probably with a salt shaker in my bag in the event that opportunity presents itself…I’m so glad that you have opened yourself up to this, maybe more to come and I look forward to them all…unless you make good on that “Puppetry” threat. Having seen the original production, I reeeaaallly think that it’s best enjoyed when you aren’t related to anyone in the cast.

    I will post my impressions after I’ve seen the play. Don’t think for a minute that there isn’t another critic in the house!

    And what did you mean by bats in the rafters???

  • @Aunt Sharon: I just returned from Dress Rehearsal and once again, each time I walk off stage, some member of the cast calls me an “A$$hole”. Be prepared to wish you weren’t related to me. In fact, on the way out the door, the Producer asked me if “nice Ed” was planning on attending the Cast Party. Jury’s out on that one.

    I did offer up once concession. For every person I have shoved, slapped or hit on stage over the last two weeks, I will down six or several beers Saturday evening and then pour myself into one of our prop straight jackets and allow them to line up and get their revenge. It’s only fair.

    I did a full sweep today. No bats. Don’t worry, it’s a converted barn so it’s clean (AND HEATED!!!). You sit on real seats (not bales of hay). That whole bat fornication thing was just another one of my little stabs at poetic license. About the only thing on the up and up at this site is the name of the writer. Unless I start using my middle name.

    The Bill Zone?
    Bill’s Blog?
    William Tells???

  • Bats “doing it” ?!?!?!? Sweetie, you ain’t seen nothing till you’ve gone up to that prop room on a dark night. Wild Kindom doesn’t have so much wildlife!

    And of course the barn has seats…we’ve come a long way since Mickey and Judy were putting on shows there (If you don’t know who Mickey and Judy are/were you’re too young to be beating on poor old men in an institute.)

    And as far as Martini being sane…well, of course he is! Who types up the Patient Council Minutes on his Corona 320 Selectric, Who passes out the best appetizers at the party, Who finds the BEST Bobby Vinton albums to play, Who cleans up Ruckley’s dool, Who won a silver medal in the Gateway Olympics, Who blindly follows the crowd happily on any tangent, Who defends the ward against enemy combatants in the dayroom AND WHO, I ask you, has the MOST invisible friends on the ward….372 to be exact? Jeesh, you think an insane person could do all that?!?!? Someone has to look out for the rest of you!

  • …and PS, don’t go changing your name to Bill or Will or William or anything else…I’m confused enough…isn’t that right George?

  • Martini is right. He’s the hardest working schizo in show-biz.

    In fact, he’s collected enough drool to clone his own army of Ruckleys.

  • It’s friday afternoon just sitting down for some lunch and decide to finally catch up on some emails. 164 new messages in mailbox….uuuuuggghhhh! So after diligently deleting SPAM, something catches my pretty little eyes. Ed Humphries Cuckoo Nest Post…AAAAAAHHHHH redemption, finally something intelligent to read…….i have sandwich stuck in my throat and juice spilling from my nostrils…..Awesome!

  • Oh great, I sidelined Sandra. Looks like we’re going to need a new “lady of the night” this evening.

  • I recovered slowly, but I will be in the basement with high hair and fishnets. Bring it on Biotches!

  • Well, I’ve seen my second Humphries stage debut in as many months, and they couldn’t have been more different than if they were running against each other for President. No beautiful Alps, no beatific nuns, and certainly no fresh-scrubbed faces being serenaded by a soaring songbird that radiated through to the audience. Instead we have an institutional green set, no nonsense nurses, a cast of asylum inmates being led by a renegade, and all under the control of the out-of-control Aide Warren, our own Mr. Ed. Anybody else dressed in that much white would have been selling ice cream to the little kiddies, but here his starched shirt and pants just gave gave him an extra stiffness that told the audience not to be looking for a tender redemptive moment at the end of the play. This boy was not bending.

    The play itself was wonderful. The minimal set worked beautifully, and the characters were perfectly cast. Taking OB1’s advice, I watched the inmates in the background while listening to the dialogue, the silent action between them was priceless, and I am certain, different every night. At one point with Martini, I told Ron to make him stop or I was going to have to leave the theater.However, nothing prepared me for dear sweet, master-of-the mushy-stuff Ed’s performance as Aide Warren.

    From the moment he entered, roughing up his ” patients”, we knew we were seeing as side of our blessed nephew that has just never come out at family parties. Even in the background, he looked pissed and irritated that he had to come into work today…and yet, he would feel better if he could just toss one around. He scowled and grimaced, and even seemed to be having conversations in the nurses station that told me he was endlessly complaining about them and what he would reeeaaaalllly like to do if he ran the joint. His fight scene was awesome, and if I could have gotten down from my seat, I’d have helped the Chief TAKE YOU OUT!! But he seemed to be doing okay on his own.

    All in all, it was a great staging of a great play.I truly hope that you continue this untapped talent-if only to give ” the other Ed” an outlet before he hurts somebody we love. Plus, your stories are pretty good. And you are now a verb, as in ” Pulling a Warren” or ” I feel a Warren coming on!”

    I think Uncle Ron said it best at the intermission when we were talking about Raging Ed…
    ” This is coming waaaaay too easy to him…”

  • Great show!! Those 5 “Ed’s Heads” (and the great review on the Worcester Telegram site) are very well deserved.

    And I didn’t know that Ed had all that rage buried deep within him… If I had known that, I would have been more careful when I was stealing his beer while we were roommates…

  • Ed, Just wanted to let you know that Luther and I really enjoyed your show last night. You really went deep into character, it was great to see. The rest of the cast took on their characters in depth as well, there was someone interesting to observe wherever my eyes went. I was also admiring the set, (the window and control room in particular) Great Show! Would love to come back for more Gateway Players shows.
    Jeanne