joe brack relaxing at home

Joe Brack is the youngest actor in Washington DC to climb Mount Ararat carrying a crab basket of despondent Guinea pigs on his back. But this is so commonplace within the artistic community, I’m not sure why I lead with that information. I could also be thinking of someone else. Regardless, he’s a well-respected actor despite his obsession with the plight of small rodents. I sat down with him in an abandoned roller derby arena to learn what makes him work, other than food, oxygen, human contact, and liquids.

– – –

Strange: Good morning Mr. Brack, what is your show at the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival?

Brack: ‘My Princess Bride’: one man’s take on S. Morganstern’s classic tale of true love and high adventure.

Strange: As eye-clawingly boring as that sounds, I saw the show. How do you prepare for such an amaz . . . I’m very sorry, I misread that question . . . were you purposely trying to hurt my feelings?

Brack: If I had any impact at all on your “feelings”, whatever those are, I’ve done my job as an acting person. Least, that’s what I’ve heard around the Baldacchino tent.

Strange: It was a trick question I have no feelings. Because there was no effect one way or the other, have you done your job or failed? Further, do you still have a mind after I blew it to pieces with that paradox?

Brack: Sorry, I got a call on the other line. Did you say something?

Strange: You are astoundingly rude. Moving on, what is your next theatrical/artistic/revolutionary endeavor and how can we avoid it?

Brack: I am playing Rossencraft in Taffety Punk’s bootleg of ‘Hamlet: The Bad Ass Quarto’ . . . avoid it, HA!

Strange: So, why exactly are you an actor?

Brack: The simple fact that it grants me a profession that requires no “real world” skills. Zero responsibility. Amazing hours. That and all the attention.

Strange: So you’re saying you’re a societal leech?

Brack: I am a leech in the medical sense. I help society to bleed for it’s own betterment. To remove the fever from the masses is my true goal. I suck to aid in healing.

Strange: Well, you’ve certainly got the suck part down. Oh, so droll. Society hates you and your artsy brethren. Do you think we should be concerned about theatre artists?

Brack: Concerned, no. Make pretend can pose no threat unless provoked. Jealous of and voraciously attracted to, without doubt.

Strange: Speaking of voracious attraction, how would you react if you found out we were related?

Brack: I’d demand unquestionable, infallible, absolute, DNA proof and valid photo ID from all your/our female relatives.

Strange: I preemptively made calls. Again, just entertaining the possibility, would you call me Uncle Xander or some other term of endearment?

Brack: I don’t believe in titles. All my true blood uncles have nicknames given to them by their siblings when the newest addition to the family is born. Judging by the names given to my existing uncles: Jucifer, Pecker Blossom, and Disappointing Stain, I assume you’d be given a name reflective of your more likable qualities.

Strange: Superfluous Arm Nipple does have a nice ring to it. Can I still come to your family gatherings until we get word one way or the other?

Brack: You’re always welcome to the ranch, but beware of Uncle Initiation.

Strange: I’m curious Mr. Brack, what effect do the words of critics have upon you?

Brack: They are the only voice of reason. They are the note inside the bottle that floats aimlessly across the seas of self-indulgence and moral depravity. Judging an entire community, without actually being a contributing part of said community proves one’s superior abilities as a…uhm…as a philanthropist?

Strange: I wholeheartedly concur. If I wasn’t here to tell you how to feel about yourself, where would you be?

Brack: I’d love to try playing ‘Operation’. As a child Father never allowed battery operated devices in the house. He said it was a distraction from Mother’s duties. I remember in the school yard my fellow classmates would rave about this buzzing light up game, where one would attempt to remove vital parts of a hobo’s anatomy without touching the sides. Sounds intriguing and I’ve always wanted to give it a go.

Strange: My father and I played a game similar to your ‘Operation’ but it involved dissecting exhumed cadavers. While it was a spectacular father/son bonding experience, your version sounds much more satisfying. I also probably could have avoided my years of what I like to call “dark corner cowering fun time!”. These hobos didn’t light up after all.

Brack: . . .

Strange: Hooray! . . . Hypothetical Round: You wake up in waterbed, painted from head to toe in cottage cheese, next to Calvin Coolidge, why?

Brack: If I awoke with the chalky after-effects of my Dramamine/Lactaid cocktail, I’d think it would have to be Thursday, 7am central time. Otherwise; “C.C.” drunk dialed, I probably forgot the dry-cleaning again, and one of the little matadors had better have cab fare. Hypothetically.

Strange: Do the words “I have photos” evoke anything in you?

Brack: Topical cream and perhaps a daiquiri of the fruity variety…

Strange: So, you’re saying you’re not easily blackmailed or you want to take me on vacation and heal my stubborn rashes?

Brack: If you went camping, and one morning you woke-up to find a condom in your ass, would you tell anyone?

Strange: No, I wouldn’t.

Brack: Want to go camping?

Strange: . . .

Brack: . . .

Strange: . . .

Brack: . . .

Strange: . . . I think we’re done here.
– – –

You can see Mr. Brack in ‘My Princess Bride’ at the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival until today July 29th, 2012. Taffety Punk’s ‘Hamlet: The Bad Ass Quarto’ will be performed at Folger Theatre on August 6th, 2012 at 7 pm. I give you this information for your own safety.

Learn more about Mr. Brack and his evil plan at his website Joe Brack Takes Over the World


The Xander Strange Story, part 1

This is my father with his invention. He never told me what this machine was for exactly. Something to do with forgetting nightmares.

This is my mother at work, about to kill a rabid peasant. She always loved that gun. She named it Malachi after my great grandfather, who’s claim to fame was inventing a new strain of highly explosive parsley.

This is me (as a child) with our family dog, Mr. Rainbow Rasputin. He was allergic to human contact, barked in Dutch, and lived on a strict diet of saffron-baked turnips, but damn it, he was my best friend.

this is the house where I was born. my mother and father in their insatiable desire for solitude made the foolish decision to build a home miles from humans, food, or fresh water. our neighbors were a narcoleptic goat and a tornado. i used to play hide the rock with my other rock friends.

This is my twin brother and I riding goats. We had little money for other means of transportation and yet our father sent us to buy supplies from the nearest town, 67 miles away. I’m on the left, my goat’s name was Enoch. I never knew my brother’s name.

This is Dr Archibald P. Zing, traveling magician and the ruin of my family. He arrived at our homestead with a business proposition for my parents. We should have been halted that when questioned on the serendipitous discovery of our humble abode, he was revealed to be on the lam from the french foreign legion. His illusory specialties included eating pocket change, instantly knowing middle names, and ‘the comatose stare’.

This curious princess was part of Dr. Archibald P. Zing’s entourage, her name was Ridwan. She was mute, but spoke through the astral plane to my fevered brain. She told me when I first saw her to not listen to the good doctor, but rather to poison his morning porridge with hemlock and wormwood oil. She also said ‘Criticize their hearts and they will listen’, which at the time I didn’t understand.

This is Marjory the shape-shifter with Gabardine the kleptomaniac clown, and along with Ridwan the gypsy princess, they were to become my closest friends. Dr. Zing’s proposition to my parents was to start a circus on our substantial property, and my father and mother agreed. Marjory and Gabardine are seen on opening night, preparing for their popular act: ‘Stand Down and Weep, For I Will Open Your Eyes to Their Mistakes, Child of Eshcol’

This is the day I foolishly chose to begin my brief career upon the stage. Dr. Zing convinced me I would be a good fit for his daughter, Zephyr, and her act ‘le soupir de votre coeur azur et la grenouille’. She believed she could control any animal with her singing. This of course was false (inane creature that she was), so to make her feel special Zing created this humiliating performance. I was required to dance the polka when she sang ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and it’s best not to talk about what I had to do during ‘Good King Wenceslas’.

this is my father (left) at our lady of the borrowed blanket hospital, he had plunged from the high wire three days before after attempting a triple back flip with me on his shoulders (i managed to cling to the high wire, avoiding a similar fate). my father looks well enough here (his friend galen the mink is helping him smoke) but what can’t be seen beneath the sheets is the billows of cigarette fumes emanating from the bottom of his torso. my father’s adherence to Dr. Zing’s whims made him not long for this world*, saints (in who I don’t believe) preserve him (which I also believe would be impossible)!
* admittedly the smoking and holey mid-carriage probably didn’t help matters regarding the length of his life

These are the Doldersum Sisters of Humptulips, Washington. While my father was convalescing from his accident, Dr. Zing hired these girls to replace him in the Strange Lands Circus line-up. They were supposedly dancers, but would simply stand like this for 3 and 1/2 hours until the audience left the big top, while manic klezmer music played from an unknown source. I still have cold sweats if I hear a violin played too rapidly.

These are the Augenblick Brothers of Monks Hammock, Louisiana. Following the disaster of the Doldersum Sisters, Dr. Zing hired these colourful vagabonds (it should be noted that while it might appear they are dressed in costumes, this is simply their everyday dress). Their performances consisted of a disturbing mixture of inept musical contortionism and screaming in unison. Only one of the brothers spoke, Nip, (pictured top right corner) but only in verbs. The day he announced to the audience “chase, rob, murder, smile”, Dr. Zing finally seemed to come to terms with his mistake.

These are the winners of the 1st annual (and only) Strange Lands Circus beauty contest. With the performances beginning to lack in professional dignity or even artistic sense, Dr. Zing resorted to low class audience pandering. This particular effort was an unqualified success. Dorothy (left) won 1st place, most believe because of her rousing rendition of ‘La Marseillaise’ which she sang backwards. Dominique (right) who many felt was the fairer dame, was the runner-up. Popular opinion feels that her talent portion which consisted of hopping on one foot for half a minute before falling off the stage cost her the coveted prize.