A few months ago, after blogging about meeting John Leguizamo and seeing him perform. I was inspired by the experience and was thrilled to be contacted by Bisbee’s Obscure Productions shortly thereafter. They asked for my participation in their annual comedy show. I decided to see if I could take blogging one step further by a performing an original monologue. From page to stage!
The show wrapped up this weekend. I really did quite well and feel satisfied with myself for making the attempt and succeeding. The performance was taped but alas, it was the Sunday afternoon matinée and the small, very sober audience made the gig fall kind of flat — OK, smooshed is more like it. In lieu of an embedded video, I have decided to post my script. Sadly, the timing and facial expressions (as well as my physical antics) are missing from the performance. Please use your imagination. I have to give a special nod to Doug for inspiring me with the story of his friend who shares the same disorder with me that is mentioned in the monologue.
Ramblings From the High Desert
You ever notice these days everyone seems to have some sort of a disorder or dysfunction? ADD ADHD OCD ED.
I was visiting my mother a few weeks ago. She was sitting there in her rocking chair doing her needlepoint with the TV blasting away in the background and every other commercial was for Viagra. Here I am with my eighty-year-old mother, Eunice, and the Viagra guy comes walking down the street talking to his reflection in the window.
Going to the doctor?
You going to ask him this time?
Our erectile dysfunction!
What really creeps me out is the fact that all the people in Erectile Dysfunction land are oblivious about this guy talking to himself. If I was walking along in Bisbee and saw some guy talking to his reflection in the window about his erectile dysfunction, I’d probably — actually in this town, I’m surprised I haven’t seen that yet…but it’s only a matter of time. Dog, Cat, Mouse guy…Erectile Dysfunction guy! He’s not so bad. He’s just a big old softie.
Then the announcer does that whole fast-talking thing about all the scary shit that may happen should you decide to try Viagra. Heart attack. Drop in blood pressure. Stroke!
…well I certainly hope so…it’s Viagra…
Then, my favorite part comes on with the announcer saying, “In the rare event of an erection lasting more than 4 hours, seek immediate medical help to avoid long-term injury.”
Oh my God! I’m sitting in a room with my mother while the man on TV is talking about a four-hour long boner!!!
ADD ADHD OCD LMNOPD — I don’t know… These are real conditions and millions of people have them. I’m not trying to poke fun but I often wonder; are that many people really developing all these conditions or are we just taking normal personality traits and defining them as disorders? Of course I can’t really imagine a connection between Erectile Dysfunction and someone’s personality…
For years, I considered myself a very normal, down-to-earth guy. I’m not that complicated. It was surprising to find out that my independent little idiosyncrasies have now been categorized into some sort of “condition”. Yeah…I have a disorder.
You see, it’s no secret, I yearn for the attention of others…as evidenced by me standing on this stage. The desire to entertain and hang onto your attention is great enough for me to put myself in the spotlight — doing my own material — and risk looking like a complete ass. People say to me, “You just have that type A personality. You thrive on chaos. You love the thrill and excitement from putting yourself into extreme situations.” Well I’m here to tell ya…this is not thrilling. It’s scarier than shit. But I can’t help it.
This desire is not just set for the stage. If I walk into any establishment where there’s karaoke…well, let’s just call it a night ‘cause I’m not leaving until I’ve done Boots Are Made For Walking — twice. I also have a tendency to be Mr. Lampshade at parties. I get rather “on”. People frequently approach my partner of 16 years and say, “Oh my God! Cobban is so funny. You must love living with him. I bet he constantly has you in stitches.” To which my partner says, “Yeah…he’s a laugh riot.” Then he gently warns them, “I’m only going to say this once; If you keep paying attention to him, he wont stop.” I had no idea these traits have now been defined as a condition. I have CADD. — Center of Attention Deficit Disorder.
My diagnosis of CADD brought a lot of clarity to me. I didn’t know how much of a self centered ass I really was. My therapist says it was in denial. A couple of weeks after I was diagnosed, I was sitting alone in my living room kind of revisiting my childhood. You do that when you have an epiphany. Revisit the past and make connections. Suddenly everything started to make sense! As a kid, when I was alone, I would make up dialog in my head and then say it out loud with feeling. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just knew I had to find a way to make people pay attention to me.
Over time, I started to get sloppy. On several occasions, my mother caught me. It was so embarrassing having her walk in right when I was in the middle of a dance number. <<pantomimes doing big dance number and getting caught>> “…nothing, I’m not doing anything”, or a heated argument scene. <<pantomimes arguing and getting caught>> “…don’t look at me.” Eunice would just shake her head and close the door. Even though I was filled with shame, I just couldn’t stop doing it.
I knew something about me was different — the kind of different you don’t tell people about. At school, in the hallways, I heard them. The other kids. Whispering behind my back, calling me a thespian.
What third grader knows what a thespian is?
One day, our class decided to do a play. I went to parochial school. The story was a modern-day retelling of the Prodigal Son. I got the role of the father. Arthur Frontzak got the role of the son. We rehearsed a few times. I had no problem delivering my lines. Then something strange happened, our teacher, Mrs. Lawton, switched Arthur and me. I was playing the Prodigal Son. I was playing the lead…
From what I remember, the play went well. It all went by so fast. My first applause was like heroin. It changed me. Don’t be fooled by those elementary school plays! You know, where one of the kids is a big flower. It’s a gateway device that leads you to the harder stuff. I was hooked. The next thing I knew I was doing improv — never did mime though. I always stuck with the natural stuff. Miming…you don’t know where that shit comes from.
As I grew up, I was determined to become a star. Not just an actor, a star. I wanted to be famous. I did more theater, considered porn, joined a band and tried modeling…modeling…now there’s a fucked up business. Imagine being an insecure nineteen year old with center of attention deficit disorder and being at an open call where the agent picks up your headshot in front of everybody and goes, “Uhhh…hello! We’re looking for perfection…<<drops the imaginary headshot>> and you’re not it.”
It’s one thing to hear that once, it’s a whole different ballgame to hear it repeatedly. It really damaged me.
And really, modeling, when you look at all those magazines in the checkout line…does anyone really look like that? I have to tell you, as a guy; I can relate to yet another disorder, BDD — body dysmorphic disorder. People with BDD can’t stop fixating about a flaw with their appearance. It doesn’t matter if it’s minor or imagined. With all those unrealistically beautiful “touched up” models staring at us off the magazine racks, it’s no wonder people develop these conditions.
For most of my life, my one ear stuck out farther and lower than the other. Many people I knew said, “Oh you can hardly tell. You should love yourself for who you are.”
Yeah? Well, screw you. I hated it.
I’d see a photo of myself and my ear was like the first thing I’d see. There’d be this giant ear with my little head attached to it going <<vocal SFX: wah wah wah – like a glowing ear>>
It got so bad, I started super gluing it to the side of my head when I went out on dates. One time, I was in a hurry and I didn’t put enough glue on. Halfway through my dinner salad, the seal started to give way on my ear and it suddenly went pop! Subsequently, my date’s eyeballs also went pop! It was like one of those first and last dates. It was shortly thereafter that I came into a bit of money and went to a plastic surgeon and had my ear fixed. It was by far, one of the most painful things I have ever experienced in my life…and I’d do it again.
When I’m in the checkout line, I see the Men’s Fitness cover with the with the guy sporting the big pecs and huge arms (the guns) wearing a Speedo — because he CAN, and I think, <<full body droop>> “I’ll never be like that.”
I work out, run and eat well and I will never look like that…because that guy on the cover goes to the gym for a living and has probably been Photoshopped beyond recognition. And seriously, I feel sorry for him. He’s smokin’ hot, filthy rich and can basically have sex with anyone he wants. He’s not happy…
Modeling didn’t work so, as a last ditch effort, I tried to screw my way to the top. The only problem is; I slept with all the wrong people…a lot of the wrong people. Note to self: hookup with the director, not the driver and the gardener…and the UPS driver — I thought he could deliver my script. I thought I had a connection. Some people screw their way to the top. I screwed my way into…the free clinic…but people payed attention to me. <<insert girlish giggle>>
I think what finally helped me learn to control me CADD was age. Yeah…aging. Getting older. When you’re young, all you can think about (other than yourself) is how life is affected by you.
“Oh my god there was an accident in the next county? I wonder what I was doing to make that happen?”
Young people ponder the great intensities and mysteries of life. What makes things work? Why do people act that way?? Why do these things happen to me in this life???
When you get older, it gets so much easier. You do not come to some grand conclusion. You do not figure out the great mysteries of life and how everything works. You just don’t give a shit anymore.
Why did that person say that to me??? ‘Cause he’s an asshole! Ta dah! Mystery solved!
Another great outlet for managing my CADD is community theater. This is like my methadone clinic. I get my attention fix in a controlled environment with professional help — <<looks offstage>> what? I’m running out of time?
<<moves front and center stage>> My name is Cobban. I’m recovering actor and I have CADD….. <<to the audience>> OK, that’s where you’re supposed to go, “Hi Cobban!” Let’s try it again.
My name is Cobban. I’m recovering actor and I have CADD. ((Hi Cobban.)) Thank you for letting me share with you. You’re all part of my recovery.