Producer Jerry Cobb is trying to write the next big Broadway comedy, if only he can manage some troublesome characters and escape his melancholy.
Meta-theatricality, farce, slapstick and pratfalls ensue in Robert Caisley’s new play “A Masterpiece of Comic … Timing!” The world premiere of the play is Sunday on B Street Theatre’s mainstage, previews begin Saturday.
Caisley is in Sacramento to launch his new comedy. He joins Insight to explain what it’s about.
On the purpose for “A Masterpiece of Comic … Timing!”
Caisley: While all of my plays have had a comedic sensibility to them — a comedic point of view, in all other the plays, the comedy has had a serious purpose: the comedy is to get at something a little darker. In this play, I have to say, shamefully, the only purpose of the comedy is to just make people wet their pants. I really want people to laugh.
On the satisfaction in playwriting
Caisley: There is actually no greater joy than hearing an audience laugh at something you have written — alone — in your room in front of your typewriter. I can’t actually conceive of anything that I could put in a play that would cause a group of 300 people in one room to spontaneously cry. But I can conceive of things that would make people spontaneously laugh. And there is nothing quite as intoxicating as being in that room when that happens.
On taking advantage of all possible elements of comedy
Ruyak: This play has slapstick, farce, pratfalls — it must be a pretty physical show.
Caisley: Yes, it is a very physical show. The phrase that we keep hearing in rehearsal is “have we scraped the bottom of the comedy barrel yet?"
On the play-within-the-play concept
Caisley: That’s awfully audacious a title. How could I actually write a play that calls itself a masterpiece of comic timing and I thought what if somebody was actually faced with that prospect? What if somebody put a gun to my head and said ‘ we’ve paid you and now you have to write the play that lives up to this extraordinarily high expectation?’
The title came first and then I just had to have an image I thought of a playwright being forced against his will to write something that he finds trite and soulless. Literally being tied to a wheelchair, only his hands free so he could hit the keyboard of his typewriter. So the image came before a plot.
To the extent that there is a plot in this play, I’ll be very disappointed. I tried to leave as much room possible for jokes. So if you detect a plot, please don’t tell anyone.”
On his multiple plays that he’s worked on
Caisley: I am incredibly famous, Beth. I can’t believe that nobody knows about me yet.