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Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Death of Caesar

As I've been putting together a new version of Let's Revue, I've decided to revamp a piece--it's really more of a one-act play than a sketch--called "The Death of Caesar" that I wrote years ago for the audio comedy team I was then a part of. The Rule of Three version was good, and it took us to a new level of complexity in recording technique. We had a mix of it that made people almost pee themselves while listening to it that one of my then-partners--a guy who could find small items from the remotest sectors of his life in a matter of moments--managed to lose. The second mix--and both mixes were done by the same fellow--flat out sucked. Since that fellow had profound problems with passive-aggressiveness, one can imagine how accidental I find that sequence of events. And when one member of a team decides that it is good for his ego to sabotage the efforts of the whole, then you have no team at all. It is, in retrospect, no wonder that Rule of Three died.

Which is all ancient history, but was something that I've needed to get off my chest for a while now.

There was one part of the original script that always ate at me, though. Part of the premise was that it was a recording of an old time radio show called The Mercurochrome Theater on the Air Featuring Orson Wellfed, Certified Genius. It was introduced by Orson, and then the playlet was performed. I originally wrote the part of Julius Caesar based on a sketch I had written a dozen years earlier than that in which I imagined Groucho as Caesar. In the Rule of Three version, this was tempered into Caesar as Borscht-Belt comic, a part that I played. And that was fine, except for one thing. I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that Caesar should have been played by Orson instead.

This was reinforced when I realized, some years after Rule of Three had died, that the theme of the piece was concerned with the way that envious societies have of tearing down and betraying men of genius. And having Orson portray Caesar would only strengthen this theme.

And so, that is what I am doing. Oddly enough, there's a fair bit of material that I can retain, but I think the work as a whole has improved. Of course, I've been tweaking all of the material, trying to tighten and improve as I go along. That should always be the goal: to produce the best version possible without wallowing in egotism.

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