by Andy Capp
Creative inspiration is everywhere. At that particular moment I woke up in a place that was dark, damp, and cramped. I discovered just how cramped when I tried to stand. I wasn't quite to my knees when the back of my head collided with the ceiling (?!), adding a whole new dimension to the pain already roaring through my brain.
I confess that I always wake up to a few moments of confusion, but this time the clouds weren't clearing. If anything, they were developing into a severe storm of panic. Where was I? How did I get here/do I get out of here? And what's so DAMN FUNNY?! The last one came to mind because of the laughter...hysterical, piercing, the last thing my exploding head needed. "SHUT UUUUUPPPPP!" I struggled to my feet, remembering too late that this was the wrong thing to do, treating my skull to another whack from above and my ears to another chorus of screeching hyenas. What the hell was going on?!?!?!
That stale, musty smell was what brought it all back. The bachelor party, the Vodka Sours, the shots, the great bar band I just had to sing with, the Whiskey Manhattans, the conversation that went, "I love you man...No, REALLY, I love YOU man!" The upside down Margaritas, the beer....
Drunk. Stinking, passed out under the table drunk. Stinking, passed out under the table trying to get up without crawling out from under the table first drunk. That's what I was. That's what my friends were laughing about.
I'm not about to tell you that anything positive came out of that little binge. The seventy-five pound head the next day along with the intimate conversations I had with a certain porcelain fixture were two big negatives, and I don't want to think about everything I did or said during those disturbing gaps in my memory of that evening. I'm also not going to give you a temperance lecture. Yes, some people have serious problems with the bottle, and there's nothing funny about it. They need help. We all know that and hope they get it. I'm not encouraging drinking; I'm not knocking it. All that said, I'd like to move on to the topic of this column: Creative Secrets of the Common Drunk.
As I mentioned at the top, creative inspiration is everywhere, and there are lessons we can learn from our inebriated brothers and sisters, lessons that, without drinking, can free our creative spirits like, well, like spirits free a drunkard's inhibitions.
1. Ignore Your Limitations. A friend in college had a party battle cry, "Drink, drink and DON'T STOP!!!!!" Translated to Creative terms, the sky's the limit. Go for it. Forget all the excuses. We've all been lured by the traps of, "If I only had..." or, "I can't do that because...." The person who wants to get a good load on doesn't care about their limitations, and while that attitude is far from healthy while drinking, it can take you to a whole new level when creating.
2. Question Others' Ideas. Case study two: Jack is always opinionated, but after a few beers, his is the ONLY right answer, and he's not afraid to let the world know it. On certain occasions it can be downright obnoxious, but when creating, it can open all sorts of new doors. Why do something the same old way? Because someone told you to? Because that's the way it's always been done??? That's the way of the sober follower. To be creative, one must stumble ahead like a drunken leader, looking for new ways to do things, never satisfied with the status quo, and never afraid to speak up when somebody's baby is ugly...like say, a client who writes and/or produces their own spots?
3. Blurt Out Whatever Is On Your Mind. Why do drunks end up with slapped faces and blackened eyes? Because they were begging for it, say the inflictors. It's true. Something about alcohol does break down judgmental barriers between brain and mouth, and while this verbal form of diarrhea can have dangerous consequences for the average sot, the creative person can find a host of new, exciting ideas by simply letting go, giving the mind free reign, without judgment of each thought as it comes out. Get the ideas out first; decide if they're right or wrong later. It's hard to keep the mental referee out of the game, but easier to score more creative points by ignoring "the rules" for a while.
4. Laugh If You're Happy; Cry If You're Sad. True confession time...I'm a weepy drunk. On the handful of occasions that I've had extremely long talks with Misters Daniel's or Beam, I've ended the night bawling like a baby. Other people I know find everything tremendously funny when drinking (especially the fool crying in his beer). Those emotions are real, if amplified. They come from a place deep inside that the creative person needs to find when writing. Real emotions touch people. Real emotions are something everyone can relate to. How do you REALLY feel? Chances are, all of your listeners feel/have felt the same way. Use the emotions you're feeling. Open up and make your Creative human.
5. Don't Be Afraid To Make An Ass Of Yourself. Do I really have to give you an example of this behavior in a drinking person? It's terribly important for a creative person to let go the same way, yet I'm amazed at how few are willing to. They don't want to do a character voice because they might sound stupid. They won't jump up and down or use hand gestures in the voice booth because they might look stupid. They won't laugh or cry while reading copy because people might think they are stu.... You get the idea. I've worked with some voice-over people whom I've WANTED to give a few shots to...okay, maybe not, but they really needed to loosen up. It's a fact. To be Creative, sometimes we have to do silly things. It comes with the territory. If you're not willing to be foolish, this is the wrong business to be in!
A Final Note To The Politically Correct: Again, I want to make it clear that I'm not telling you that to be more creative you have to drink. What I'm saying is, when it comes to drunks, do as they do and not as they drink. Creative inspiration is indeed everywhere, and right now I could really use a couple rounds of research....