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Multi-hyphenate seeks campy fun, festivals and furry drama

August 19, 2007|Lynell George

Danny Schmitz can't remember when he didn't see himself as a multi-hyphenate. A writer-director-actor-producer, Schmitz has been performing since he was 9, when he, of course, wrote, directed and produced one-man shows that he staged in his little sister's bedroom back in Minnesota, "with her as the sole, captive audience member."

The venues (and audiences) got bigger over time as Schmitz trapezed from improv comedy to producing sketch comedy shows, writing and acting, ultimately becoming the founding artistic director for the Bryant Lake Theater in Minneapolis. Schmitz, who now lives in L.A., is the producer-director of the Buzzworks Theater Company's raucous sendup of the 1950s play and film "Bad Seed," at the Lounge Theater in Hollywood through Sept. 23. He also plays the lead character, the 8-year-old murderess Rhoda Penmark.


Best reality show: "Meerkat Manor" (Animal Planet). It has the same dramatic elements as "Survivor," "The Bachelor," "The Amazing Race," "Dr. Phil" and "Supernanny" but without all the human beings, inane conversation, griping and bad acting. Those [animals'] characters are so well developed that you sympathize with every one of them and his or her intense need to fit in and survive -- except for Flower, the dominant mom, who wears the radio collar. She's such a bitch! Other favorite TV shows: "Strangers With Candy," "The Daily Show."


I bought an iPod last November, and I haven't turned it on yet. I found out it holds a thousand songs and got so overwhelmed that I put it back in its box. If I ever do break it in, I'll probably just keep one song on it at a time. Top selections might be a cut from "Helen Reddy's Greatest Hits," starting with "Angie Baby," then rotating weekly with songs from the Guess Who, "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Earth, Wind & Fire. Otherwise, I like to let the experts choose my music for me, a club with a good DJ -- Jack FM, and Akbar has a great jukebox.


I'm writing a memoir right now, so I've been reading others' stories. David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Dave Eggers. But not just the greats either. The most inspiring ones can be from the clearance shelf at A Different Light. They boost my confidence. I read them and think, "My life definitely has to have been at least that interesting!"


That guy who puts everything in the blender. He put an iPhone in there, and when they showed it in slow-mo, it stayed lit up until just before it was pulverized!


I prefer to go to Videoactive [in Silver Lake] and roam the stacks. Then I usually go home empty-handed, turn on the TV and find some Lifetime movie. Example: " 'Flirting With Danger,' Suspense (2006). Charisma Carpenter, James Thomas, Victoria Sanchez. A man falls for a mysterious woman who was involved with his late friend." Favorite movies: "Airplane," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (the original 1956 version).


Festivals. I don't care which festival. If there's a festival, I'm the first one there and the last one to leave. My festival fixation began at the Minnesota State Fair when I was a kid. I just love the people-watching. I still go back there and count the older couples that have dressed themselves exactly alike. Sunset Junction was my favorite L.A. festival until they raised the price and drove out the folks that made it great in the first place.


I think that participation is the key. If you get involved in something, you're less likely to criticize it, worry or complain about it. If you're at a play, applaud; if you're at a karaoke bar, sing; if you're on someone's blog all the time, write a response. Showing up somewhere and just gawking is counterproductive and, to me, a little freaky.


-- Lynell George

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