This video contains raw footage for the television show "Chicago Slices." Videomaker Skip Blumberg interviews actor and comedian Geoff Hoyle. Hoyle talks about his part in the "new Vaudevillians" tradition and his interest in studying the human condition and relaying it back to his audience.
00:00Copy video clip URL Open on the front of the Blind Faith Cafe in Evanston. Blumberg tapes comic Geoff Hoyle and a woman as they walk into the restaurant. The three place their orders. Hoyle, the consummate performer, entertains the viewer in a seemingly mundane moment. When asked why he doesn’t drink coffee, Hoyle responds, “If I drink coffee it’s like putting super gasoline into a lawnmower.” This lasts for several minutes.
05:31Copy video clip URL Hoyle entertains the viewer with some orange juice antics as he sits down for breakfast. Ahdee Goldberg comments on the restaurant’s natural food while Hoyle uses a number of flyers for his show as props to get a few laughs.
07:55Copy video clip URL Blumberg begins to interview Hoyle and asks him about the term “new Vaudevillian” and why those in theater do not like the term. Hoyle jokes about the fact that the term pigeonholes what he does on stage. He describes his frequent traveling around the world in support of his show and the stress that it causes his family. Hoyle also talks about the physicality of the show and the demands he must put on himself in order to get the best performance he can. “I mean I feel as though I’m playing championship something or other when I’m out there, and you only get one crack at it you know? This is the finals every night. There are no qualifying heats here. The audience has come to see the finals and you have to give everything you have every night.” Hoyle goes on to talk about the positive and negative aspects of a one man show. Blumberg also asks Hoyle about the differences between Chicago audiences and other audiences. Hoyle talks about how his show transfers over into different geographical areas.
12:43Copy video clip URL Hoyle states that the show went over really well in Chicago. “One of the main things that we tried to do every step of the way was make sure that it wasn’t just about my problems– that it actually resonated. I mean the show is about triumphing failure and we wanted to make sure that it was about everybody’s–it had resonance for everybody so it was about everybody’s triumphs and failures. So that when you’re talking about triumphing and failing on stage you’re also talking about triumphing and failing as a kindergarten teacher, as a mechanic, as a shop clerk.” Hoyle butters his pancakes in an entertaining manner.
14:28Copy video clip URL Blumberg asks Hoyle about the differences between audiences from different areas of the country. “If the material rings true or funny in a deep way, audiences get it. They want it.” Hoyle goes on to talk about the older people in his audiences and how they yearn for Vaudevillian performers. “People come up to me and say, [older man’s voice] ‘Oh there were hundreds of those guys. How do you know about them? You’re too young!’ You know, the older folks, they miss it. They miss the fact that it’s not around because there isn’t the training ground and there are not the houses to play. Television has taken it over and television produces the kind of work which is very unadventurous.” He talks about the differences between television and theater in more detail. Hoyle continues to eat his pancakes.
16:55Copy video clip URL Hoyle talks about his character the “Three Legged Man” and how he’s incorporated the character into his current show. He goes on to talk about how his current production came to fruition.
20:07Copy video clip URL Hoyle talks about some of the feature films he had been involved in. He then talks about the restrictions in the film world. Hoyle talks about his work in the film industry providing him with some much needed cash flow, as opposed to theater, which is where his heart truly lies. He goes on to say that he would love to do more film work, but that film industry politics have held him back from doing so. “I mean I’d love to do more film work and I’ve had ideas for films, but no one’s–if you talk to any one in L.A. they’ll say, ‘Geoff who?’ No one knows me. So it’s that catch-22 thing: you need to get a film to be famous, but you also need to be famous to get a film… So one just keeps pushing, you keep pushing, keep pushing, keep, you know, as Bobby Clark says in the show, ‘Just keep doing the work, you know? If it’s a success, you’ll be busy for thirty years. If it’s a failure, you’ll be busy for thirty years.'” Hoyle goes on to talk about Vaudevillian performers and their basic routines that stay with them throughout their career. He states that television has impeded many Vaudevillian performers because of television spanning such a wide audience.
24:27Copy video clip URL Hoyle talks about being interviewed by Studs Terkel on his WFMT program. “Studs is a true gentleman and he is also a brilliant, canny interviewer and he never misses a beat and you don’t know that he never misses a beat… You think he’s just like reminiscing half the time but he’s really–he’s got it all there. It moves like salt water taffy on a stick but it always comes out like ‘bang!’ you know?” He eventually does a brief Terkel impression. Hoyle then goes on to talk about some of his other interviews, both negative and positive.
28:45Copy video clip URL Blumberg asks Hoyle about the satisfaction he gets from performing. “In about week four of a run, you start to think, ‘Gee, I’ve got to do this again and I’ve got to keep this material fresh.’ But what makes it work every time is the knowledge that this audience has never seen it.” Hoyle continues to talk about the parts of the performances that really keep him going. He compares his performance to the timing of hitting a baseball in the MLB. “If things are going really well, and your timing is on, and you hit your stride– again it’s like playing a good game of Major League Baseball. You know, you can go up out there and you can strike out swinging or you can really wait for your pitch and hit that sucker right where you want it to and it goes and the audience is… and you build on that. And then your next at bat, which is your next joke, you know, you place it again and you manage to wait for it, time it right, and you just, everything comes together. And it’s that–you get high off that, because I suppose it’s like when you’re doing anything really really well it becomes a kind of, almost like an epiphany, you know? There’s a sort of a lucidity that happens. You get very energized. I guess the key tones in your brain start to pop. You could measure electricity coming from your finger tips you know, and people see that and they–it’s a transformational thing, both for them and for you. They see you being transformed and it transforms them.” Hoyle goes on to talk about the process of seducing one’s audience and the current round of Chicago shows. When asked if the recession has affected the theater business, Hoyle says that it has “definitely hurt.” He talks about some of the other items people are spending their money on other than theater. Hoyle goes on to talk about the experimental and intellectual aspects of his work on stage. He and Blumberg discuss the subject of Vaudeville performances in detail. Hoyle talks about the audiences and commentary included in Vaudeville performances. This lasts for several minutes.
42:04Copy video clip URL Blumberg asks Hoyle if he ever gets the chance to get out a little bit while on tour. Hoyle talks about the dislocation from his family and how it affects him. His answer is interrupted by noise in the background. He eventually says he is a “sponge” for daily material. He talks about how he acquires the information for his act.
45:57Copy video clip URL Ahdee Goldberg asks Hoyle how he tests out the material for his act. He states that he tests out a lot of the material out at the dinner table, but that his children are unforgiving. Hoyle goes on to talk about his children and their interests, specifically in theater. Hoyle also emphasizes the importance of detail in his performances. When asked whether he has any psychic abilities, Hoyle states that his work is very much more of a physical phenomenon. He goes on to talk about the need for imagination in the world.
54:14Copy video clip URL Cut to footage from Lake Shore Drive. Blumberg captures footage from in and around the downtown Chicago area, including shots of the Water Tower, the John Hancock building, and others. This lasts for the remainder of the tape.
59:29Copy video clip URL Tape ends.