Actors be warned! For the last few years, I've been working behind the scenes at City Hall to get a tough new law on the books. It wasn't easy, but I'm proud to say that with the help of a lobbyist who met Jack Abramoff, I've finally pulled it off. So on the first of April, a statute goes into effect that bans one-person shows from being performed in the city of Los Angeles.
Let me explain the parameters of this controversial but much-needed law. Any actor—male, female, or other—caught performing alone for longer than 20 minutes in a theater (or theaterlike venue) will be considered guilty of a misdemeanor, and said actor will be imprisoned for 90 days and fined $5,000. Those who start their performance by lighting a cigarette or interacting with a projected image will be subject to additional penalties.
Getting this law enacted was hard work, but it was so worth it. Some of you might be wondering why I chose to slay this particular dragon. Well, a few years ago, during the writers strike, I decided that making money off the sweat of actors wasn't enough to keep me happy. My inner child needed more. So I tried helping the homeless. But you know what? They never say thank you. I also tried working with kids who are dying, but they were too clingy.
My girlfriend at the time saw how bummed I was at not being able to find the right cause, so she decided I needed a night out. Much to my surprise, Amber dragged me to a one-woman show called "Single in Hollywood." Her former roommate was the performer-writer-director. As I watched this lost soul complain about her love life for 90 minutes, I realized my path was clear. She was a cancerous tumor. I was a chemo treatment waiting to happen.
The next thing I know, I'm presenting my case to the 15 members of the City Council. Some of them argued that one-person shows are a victimless crime. I challenged them by introducing pictures of dazed audience members. You see, that's the thing about these monologues. The actors who create them aren't just hurting themselves. They're hurting all the friends and family members who show up every other Monday night. (Watching a one-person show is like inhaling secondhand smoke: You may not have a lit cigarette in your mouth, but you're still gonna get sick.)
I also reminded the Council that suicide is illegal in every state except Washington. So if a police officer comes across a citizen who is about to take his or her own life, that officer is compelled to act. An actor performing a one-person show is no different from a depressed man who's about to kill himself. He must be stopped!
Finally, I closed my presentation by asking one simple question: Is there anything sadder than watching one delusional actor portray every member of his dysfunctional family in a half-empty theater? The entire City Council nodded silently. This convinced me that I was on the right track.
And now, several years later, my dream is about to become real. I'm also pleased to say that officials from Chicago and New York have contacted me to request more information. That's a good sign. With any luck, a nationwide ban on one-person shows could be in our future.
During the month of February, my statistics show, 196 one-person shows opened in the city of Los Angeles. Most of them were performed in tiny black-box theaters with an average audience of 12 friends. Thanks to my new law, the madness stops April 1.