Scared Silly

This week, one of my horror plays was produced in Chicago. The producers interviewed me and asked what about the play creeps me out. After the fact, I realize my real fear is that I may not scare the audience. Worse yet, they’ll laugh out loud at parts that are supposed to be scary.

I love to hear an audience laugh at something I’ve written. I was often amazed at the stage readings of GEEKS! THE MUSICAL at how many people laughed at jokes I thought may have been too esoteric.

But I’m not sure what’s worse: hearing laughs when it’s supposed to be scary, or not hearing laughs when it’s supposed to be comedic.

For that matter, I’m not sure what is easiest to write (or should I say what’s less difficult). I seem to have a knack for making people laugh with my fiction, so I usually run with that. But every once and a while, my dark side rises, and I have to tell a story that is far from funny.

But will it scare an audience? Especially one that varies from night to night. What scares people in theater? What scares you?

I remember seeing a revival of The Exorcist with somebody who had never seen it before. I was as terrified by it as I was when I was a kid (why did my parents let me watch that?). But he scoffed, “That wasn’t scary.” Is it because I attached a childhood fear to it? Or was he more desensitize than me?

(By the way, they are making a stage play of The Exorcist. I’ve no idea how they’re going to pull this off. You need a really strong kid actor for starters. But I digress…)

The same goes for humor. People find Adam Sandler funny. I don’t get it.

And I’ve watched too many plays that call themselves comedy and don’t hear the audience laugh at all. Is it the audience? Or is it the writing? Part of me believes if a writer is going to label his piece a comedy, they damn well better make the audience laugh.

Though somewhere in Chicago, somebody could be saying it should have been my job to scare them. Or worse yet, calling it the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. These are the nightmares I wake up screaming from.

Yes, this wasn’t a very funny blog today. But don’t worry, now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’ll be funny the next time. I hope.

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3 thoughts on “Scared Silly

  1. There will always be someone (probably a lot of someones) who don’t respond to your material the way you’d like them to. We all know it, but it still sends daggers through all of us.

    I guarantee there will be more people who get scared than not.

  2. I think what scares us is closely tied to what we believe to be true.

    I can’t watch slasher films (Wes Craven’s “Last House on the Left,” “House of 1,000 Corpses” ) that portray realistic situations that could possibly happen. That scares me.
    “The Exorcist” still scares me because of my religious upbringing. It’s a situation that I believe happened, no matter how much it may have been fictionalized, adapted for the film.

    But I can relax and enjoy films such as “Nightmare on Elm Street,” because it’s pure fiction.

    Isn’t it?

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