Two young women tried to follow me past security into the backstage area. They were intercepted by the security men in blue. Why are they always men, except when they are not? Why is it always a blue shirt, except when it’s black? I digress, why did these two women want to get backstage?
This past weekend, I had the joy of shooting Comics Come Home, or #cch23, a benefit comedy event for The Cam Neely Foundation. I had the privilege of shooting on both sides of the curtain and got to observe and photograph all the frenetic energy. I am afraid I do not have a lot of insight into what is so appealing about the other side of the curtain. I know what it is for me, but for others I think it is simply for no other reason than it is the unknown side and we are a curious species at heart. Today, with phones with high quality cameras in every pocket there are less and less areas where the landscape remains a mystery. However capturing the beauty of the spirit with a cell phone remains elusive.
With this in mind, I share these photos of both sides of the divide and suggest that nothing in life is ever a two-sided endeavor at all. When done right, the curtain and the stage are just a flimsy divide or a prop in a much more beautiful demonstration of humanity. There are of course the entertained and the entertainers… however there is so much more. There is food service. There are spouses. There are sons and sisters in-laws. There are future x-husbands, there is the band, who arrive in stylishly un-stylish clothes and morph into decked out performers from the cocoons of their dressing rooms. There is front of house and don’t forget back of house. There is production crew, and people who work side by side each other and sometimes only know each other by their departments or roles like lights, sound and riggers. There is the previously mentioned security in blue, except when they are in black. There is the media and the fake media (hi!)… They all converge, collaborate and magic happens. In shooting these events and watching the interactions, I think I am starting to see in the eyes of the players where their strengths are and where their insecurities are. It is great fun to see the spark of wonder in the intern’s eyes as the celebrity is walked to a dressing room. I am growing certain that if you want to really understand how these events work you need to find the sage hand whose eyes are weary of your every move and how your misstep will fuck up their day. Learn how to not fuck up their day, get a smile out of them and engage them and you might get to hear a great story or two, or even get behind the curtain.
Denis Leary, Jimmy Fallon, Lenny Clarke, Juston McKinney, Jeff Ross, Robert Kelly, Lil Rel Howery, Mo Amer, Jared Freid, the Enablers led by Charles Roth and surprise guitar by John Mayer.