Lauren Weedman calls from prison. No, she isn't in prison—she's at an L.A. prison, volunteering for an organization called Friends Outside to help incarcerated women prepare for life after release. Since solo performer and former Seattleite Weedman is loved in these parts for what might best be described as painfully observant humor, you have to ask if she's found anything to laugh about in jail. Yep. "At orientation, for access to get in, they [show] you some slides," she says, before taking on the voice of a deadly serious prison employee. "'On this first slide, everything you see on this table was found in an inmate's—well, I'll say it: his ass.' And there's, like, 19 bullets, a broom, some pamphlets . . . and a Bible. They keep amazing amounts of stuff up there. So there's always comedy." There is always comedy for Weedman, even in the juxtaposition of her failed marriage and a lie she told in college about being raped. Not especially gut-busting material, you say? You haven't seen Weedman self-immolate for your entertainment. In the faulty but fascinating Wreckage, which she has revised after two previous local runs, Weedman hilariously admits to the pile of emotional debris she'd made of her life by trying to "sell" herself to friends, lovers, her husband, and, ultimately, the entertainment industry. She's not the only one in the performance who takes it on the chin—there's a delicious re-enactment of a post-separation Thanksgiving dinner spent with unbearably sincere couples—but, as she explains, Weedman is always her own punching bag. Seattle Weekly: How do you feel about being in a special issue called "Bumbershoot for Freaks"? Lauren Weedman: For one second, I thought you were going to say "Bumbershoot for Fat People." But "Bumbershoot for Freaks"? I feel honored. Is it going to be me and a face painter? When people hear about your show, it doesn't exactly sound like a laugh riot. How do you sell it to people? It's the train wreck–ness of it all. Because the whole thing is about: How can you not see what you're doing? How can you not see what you're putting in motion in your life? It's funny, because I do tell some people how [the lie] got started—that someone overheard me, and then it got out to the next [person] and the next—and some people immediately start laughing. I did the show in Albuquerque, and it seemed like everybody under 50 was laughing at it and would come up to me afterwards. It seemed like a generation of folks that was into looking at how fucked up we all are. What's the strongest reaction you've received? One guy was like, "Hey, I just want to tell you: I would never date you." Yeah, thanks for coming to me, because I was about to chase you down. Someone today who I work with at this jail thing said, "Oh, I just so appreciate all the therapy you're able to do for yourself." That to me is the worst reaction I could get. That's my worst nightmare. Do you think there's such a thing as too much information from a solo performer? How do you decide where the line is? I guess if it doesn't get a laugh or it stays too heavy. I mean, there are other things I could tell: "My grandmother died believing I was raped!" I could really fuckin' lay it on. But the whole point is to examine the fact of me selling the story: I'm examining myself, and at the same time, it's me in Hollywood. When I'm telling the story to the audience, I'm pitching. And that's the point of it, and I don't think everyone gets that. They forget that this is just Hollywood, baby. And then it's at the end where I realize, "Jesus Christ, I'm an asshole." Do you feel like you're constantly a spectator on your own life? Yeah. I was complaining yesterday about Jeff, my boyfriend, and I was going, "God, I just wish he had self-awareness about how he sounds sometimes. I wish he could just joke about what a dork he is." And whoever I was talking to [said], "That's what you do." Has your ex-husband seen or heard about Wreckage? Yes, his parents came. At first I thought they were giving me a congratulatory hug, and then it went on and on. They wouldn't let go. Kind of like, "Oh, Lauren. Dear Lauren. Pray for her." [My ex-husband] has seen it, but he's not really expressive about all of his reactions. He said, "Lauren, this is what you do. So it doesn't bother me at all." I always feel like if anybody's hurt, I'm the one that looks like an asshole. Which is fine—I don't mind if I take the blow. firstname.lastname@example.org Lauren Weedman's Wreckage is performed at Theatre Puget Sound Stage during Bumbershoot at 6:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 3, and 3 p.m. Sun., Sept. 4. www.bumbershoot.org.
Bumbershoot's been a family-oriented event since its early-'70s inception. Even so, this year's music lineup—despite Devo and later, after that band dropped out, Iggy and the Stooges—seemed even safer than usual. So we decided to search out the festival's odder corners. We don't claim to present them all in this package, but we do claim that the four events we're highlighting—the "In Resonance" sound-art exhibit; the ballet-meets-hair-metal of Buttrock Suites; stand-up comic Todd Barry; and Wreckage, the one-woman show by Lauren Weedman—will give you something you weren't expecting. Which is, of course, the entire point of an event like Bumbershoot.
Bumbershoot Music Picks — Our guide to the festival's highlights.
The ABCs of Bumberfood — Rich Amador of Sugee's Giant Strawberry Shortcake explains it all for you.
Short Film, Long Gestation — It took 10 years to harvest Fruits—one of many titles to be shown at 1 Reel festival.
Her Brand of Humor — Local lit mag brings funny women to Bumbershoot stage. No, really.
Performance Picks — Are We Scared? and STREB.
Visual Arts Pick
Bumbershoot music schedule grid (pdf).