I'm on the verge of the Fringe. I leave Wednesday for Edinburgh, to perform my solo show, Learning to Pray in Front of the Television, at the Festival for the week of August 13-20. I would like to perform longer and was actually given the opportunity to do so by the folks at the Fringe, but my superior said no, and since his word is like the voice of God, I had to go along with it.
And when I say superior -- or write superior as the case may be -- I mean, full on, full out, full-frontal religious superior. As in The Sound of Music's Mother Superior-type religious superior, we're talking the full stop, no-holds-bar-Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act-here is the church-here is the steeple- Catholic religious superior superior. And if you don't know what the heck I'm writing about... well, get in line.
I'm a Jesuit, that is, a member of the Society of Jesus, the largest Roman Catholic religious congregation in the world. You might know us from our educational institutions, such as, Georgetown, Boston College or Loyola Marymount. Perhaps you've heard of some of our more high profile members: St. Ignatius of Loyola (our founder), St. Francis Xavier, Pedro Arrupe (he made the cover of Time back in the 70s), Daniel Berrigan (big political activist in the 60s), or Jim Martin, Steven Colbert's religious consultant in residence on The Colbert Report. Maybe you know the Jesuits through the Internet where numerous conspiracy theorists in their tin hats have indicted us for everything from the fall of the Roman Empire to the assassination of JFK. Or maybe you don't know us at all, and that is just fine.
I'm also a comedian. I did sketch and improv comedy for years in Chicago before deciding to change courses and enter the Jesuits eight years ago. The thing is, I never stopped doing comedy, even after I became a "Lord Lover" as some of my secular pals like to call what I do. It's a bit of a weird situation, I admit, being both a comedian and a Jesuit; living in two seemingly disparate worlds, the world of religion and all its accompanying reverence and piety and the world of comedy with all the irreverence and toppling of sacred cows that it necessitates.
Anyway, that's kind of the gist of my show, except funnier, I hope. Oh yeah and in between putting up my solo show in Edinburgh and all the shenanigans it entails, I'm also moving to Berkeley, CA from Chicago to finish up my Theology studies (it takes 11 years to be ordained a priest in the Jesuits) and so the past week or so has been spent packing, rehearsing, and saying goodbye to all the good folks I know and love in Chicago.
Last night at one of these farewell soirees (okay it was actually a retirement party for my uncle Chuck, but I like to think it was also a farewell party for me) my cousin Chris asked me how I felt about going to Edinburgh and doing my show. I said, "I feel like I want to vomit all of the time." So pretty usual for me and performing.
Getting ready to open a show is always the worst, all sorts of second guessing and doubt. I thought that being all religious now that this would go away. After all, I have faith now, right? No go. It's still there. And this day or two before departure is the worst. Everything is about anticipation and "what if..." and quickly spirals into a worst case scenario. And when I say worst case scenario, I don't mean, my show is not a success, no I mean that I wind up homeless eating my dinner out of a can. It's a very quick trip from Edinburgh to homelessness in my brain so I try to stay out of there as much as possible.
So that's me as I prepare to leave. I have to pack now. More later.
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