by Shannonn Kelly
05:12AM, EST, March 12, 2012
As promised last week in my blog ‘“Musing on Social Media“, I’ve introduced the feature “FaceBook Friend Of The Week“. This week I turn the spotlight on Tony and Emmy nominated playwright, screenwriter, producer, former schoolteacher and father of 4, David Bar Katz.
David’s FaceBook Stats:
Studied at Williams College • Lives in New York, NY • From Philadelphia, PA • Born on February 17 • TV Likes’ • All In The Family • West Wing
One of his ‘Movie Likes’ is the 1938 classic, “Angels With Dirty Faces” starring James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, Humphrey Bogart and Ann Sheridan. A movie I think, that has one of the all-time coolest lobby posters.
I first came to know the name David Bar Katz when I noticed his name in the credits as the co-creator, producer for the 1995 FOX TV show “House of Buggin’“, the first all-Latino comedy show in network history that was extremely funny yet viciously axed by the network after airing only 4 of it’s 10 produced episodes.
Having one Spanish speaking / looking parent, I felt “House of Buggin'” was made for me. I loved John Leguizamo and especially his dancing, so of course I squealed with delight when he opened the show with his old school disco and break-dancing moves. Luis Guzmán (among others) co-starred and in particular I was blown away by how funny Guzmán was in many of the sketches. Up to that point he had just scared me. Guzmán was especially hilarious as a hot mess Latino tranny vying for Arts Grant funding. As for Leguizamo, I’ll never forget “Portrait of a Cockfighter” and the “Endangered Piñata Sactuary” sketch. “You can change the channel or you can save a Piñata.”
When FOX TV executives approached co-creators David and John saying they wanted to change the cast (read: “complexion”) of the show, David and John strongly opposed. Fox could care less and abruptly cancelled the show, spinning it into “MADtv” with only David Herman (I think) surviving as the lone cast member transitioning to “MADtv”. Of course Katz and Leguizamo got zero credit for creating an ‘edgy’ sketch show that paved the way for MADtv.
In 1997, Katz and Leguizamo completed the one-man Broadway show “Freak” which Katz refers to as “some kind of John Leguizamo-in-Concert-Richard-Pryoresque-Extravaganza”. The coming-of-age story won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show in which Leguizamo recounts his life starting from a zygote to the start of his career portraying the variety of male and female characters that he encountered along the way.
Katz says in his foreword for “Freak” that:
“as the writing began, something horrible happened: real emotion raised it’s ugly head. Our writing sessions, which had initially been made up of riffing on jokes, were turning into in-depth psychoanalytic sessions. In my little office we were delving into all the love, sickness and horror that are the grist of an ethnic person’s life. We both adored our grandmothers, were both Momma’s boys, and both had a love/hate relationship with our fathers – we loved them; they hated us.”
As a member of New York City’s LAByrinth Theater Company, Katz has had six plays mounted between 2006-2011 with heavyweight stars such as, Sam Rockwell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ellen Burstyn, John Glover and Eric Bogosian in his productions. Bogosian says Katz is: “…an important, incisive, scary, funny playwright. Always full of surprises.”
Katz proves these words to be on point in his play, “The History of Invulnerability“, “where the fantastic stories of Superman swirl with tales of Jews at Auschwitz during World War II.”
When even in a less than kind review, a critic uses the words: “savagely funny dialogue”, you realize this is a writer you’ve got to have a conversation with.
If you’re an aspiring or seasoned playwright or a stage actor, actress or fan that loves the ‘boards’ or even a fan of comic books (Katz is a big comic book fan), send David a FaceBook private message or a ‘Friend Request’ today at this link.
He just might have something “savagely funny” to say…