K.I.S.S. It: The Evolution of Deadpool

Posted: August 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

Nick Cave says that a song isn’t finished until it has toured. The song he records in a studio isn’t finished, it’s just a jumping off point. It changes and evolves in performance until it feels right. I feel the same way about burlesque. It doesn’t matter how much time I spend working on the act, it’s still a work in progress until I’ve performed it enough to feel right.

I spent a LOT of time working on Deadpool; Reading the comics, practicing sword fighting, working on that fucking costume. I made this awesome costume, that came off in really cool ways. I had a soundtrack and a story line and a bunch of references. But when I put it up in front of a crowd, the reaction was a slightly confused “meh.”

It was disappointing, to say the least. I did the act a few more times, wasn’t happy with it, and put it away for a while. I knew the act didn’t work but I didn’t know why, so I didn’t know how to fix it. My mentor told me to get rid of the costume.

“It’s too complicated,” he said. “Too elaborate. You’re spending all your time focused on the costume and that’s not fun to watch.”

My mentor is usually right about things but I would stab myself before getting rid of this costume. He was right that it was too complicated, too messy, I was trying to do too many things. But the costume wasn’t the problem, the act was. The costume was the best part. The rest was a mess of sound effects and sword fights with imaginary people and an imaginary bomb and then I turned into a lady for no reason. I had a story in my head, but it wasn’t coming through. Worse than that, the act wasn’t fun. And Deadpool is  nothing if not fun.

So I threw out everything but the costume and went back to basics. I think the best nerdlesque acts can answer the questions Why is this character taking off their clothes? and How does this character take off their clothes? That’s your whole act right there. Why is Snape taking off his clothes? To seduce Harry Potter. BOOM. Great act. Why would Data take his clothes off? To understand burlesque. Half of Data’s storylines are ‘Data tries to understand ____’ so it was a perfect fit.
With Deadpool, I was trying way too hard. He wasn’t really taking his clothes off, he was taking off his limbs when they were wounded because he has these regenerative powers and then he turns into Lady Deadpool because, um… well…

Back to the beginning; Why is Deadpool taking off his clothes? Well, how much provocation does he really need? Zero much. He doesn’t need much reason to do anything, that’s one of the reasons he’s fun. Deadpool taking off his clothes just because he felt like it isn’t all that interesting. What if someone he wanted to kill was at a burlesque show? Bingo.
One of my favorite comedy tropes is “Oops, I’m suddenly on a stage and now I have to perform.” It was great when Bugs Bunny did it. It was great in Adventures in Babysitting. It was great on Scrubs, even though the set up is problematic.

Scrubs_J_D_s_gay_marriage_Blue_man_group

The cartoonyness of Deadpool made this the perfect trope for him.

Once I’d made this decision, it was just a question of *how* he would strip. Would Deadpool be classic? Stripper-y? Probably not. He would be goofy. He would break rules. He would jump off the stage. Deadpool is a peacock so there would have to be at least a few rhinestones but he’s also a cartoon, so not THAT many rhinestones. (I hate the idea that burlesque MUST have rhinestones. Joker would punch you if you tried to rhinestone his costumes. Mine would anyway. Jared Leto’s or Frank Miller’s or Grant Morrison’s would probably be into it.)
Deadpool would want to dance to something modern, hip, probably cheesy, at least a bit silly. I’d already been doing ridiculous dances in my own home to a mashup of Call Me Maybe and Head Like a Hole so it fit perfectly. As a final touch, I got the incredibly talented Dick Move to add his shockingly accurate Ryan Reynolds voiceover to make the story crystal clear. Because Deadpool would have a voiceover.

Finally the act WORKED! It didn’t just get better, people fucking LOVED it.

Mary Cyn as Deadpool

Look how happy those people are!

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