“That Person Could Be Dead. It’ll Be Hilarious.”

LABA fellow Richard F Saudek (clown) talks to Brian Dailey (juggler) about their theater piece, DEAD and ALIVE. In the piece, after finding a dead body, a man feels obligated to perform the Jewish rites of shemira, or “guarding” the body. But the body has other ideas.

Dailey and Saudek will perform it at LABAlive III: LIFE + DEATH, Thursday, May 23rd at 7:30pm, at the Theater at the 14th Street Y. Click here for tickets.

BPD: I feel like we’re trying to have a fun time talking about topics that are maybe usually not talked about in a fun way but we’re just being like “that person could be dead. It’ll be hilarious.” 

RFS: Yes. 

BPD: At the same time I’m kind of hoping to make people sad. Am I allowed to do that?

RFS: Absolutely. I think it’s a thin line between crying really hard and laughing really hard. I think the audience will be laugh-crying at a sort of existential condition happening in front of them.

BPD: So pretentious. 

RFS: But the show won’t be!

BPD: It’s fun. We’re going to be doing some sort of classical circus archetypes…I’m a little nervous about it cuz my main sort of resume is avant-garde circus, but I’m excited to waka waka with you—

RFS: Great. 

Brian Dailey. Photo: Nancy Behall

BPD: If I’m acting really off-putting onstage, it’s really only to try and make you laugh more deeply. 

RFS: Absolutely. And if I am going through some sort of existential crisis in front of you, it’s to make you laugh. 

BPD: I’m going to be concerned cuz you’re kind of a bit of a Francophile, so I feel like this existential crisis could be like deep in your classical mime training.

RFS: Gimme a break.

BPD: I want to get in the nitty-gritty. 

RFS: Let’s nit and say we dit.


BPD: So. When’s the last time you juggled in a show that you felt like—

RFS: There should have juggling in it? It’s been awhile.

BPD: When was the last time you did demonstrative circus skills rather than clowning or mime? 

RFS: It’s been a long time. I haven’t ever been good enough to have my own “act.” I’ve pursued another route in terms of performance, been much more interested in character work. 

BPD: I think the show is going to be fun. I mean, I know we’re trying to deal with some serious topics of loss, death and protecting a soul from becoming a burden to itself and having some dybbuk situation. We don’t want a dybbuk.

RFS: We want to debunk da dybbuk.

BPD: Today rehearsal went pretty good. 

RFS: Yeah, that went really well.

BPD: I think we even accomplished everything on our list. 

RFS:  We made a list? 

BPD:  I wrote down things trying to take on some of your burden.

RFS: Thank you. 

BPD: Thats kind of the theme of the show anyway.