When you think “anachronistic pirate improv comedian with an onstage talk show,” you think of Thee Bluebeard. The City of Milwaukee Official Municipal Jester Ann-Elizabeth Shapera describes him as “an effortless expert at the Fine Art of Walking Around Talking to People.” The indigo buccaneer took time from his plundering to answer a few questions.
1. How did you begin bringing comedy to the masses?
Bluebeard: The short story involves being myself for four days out of the year at Gen Con. I sold my art by being random and excitable at my booth. The character of Bluebeard just kind of happened at 100 miles per hour with no headlights. The character at the booth became a comedy show at other conventions and then I noticed that people were smiling afterwards. I wanted MORE people to smile and more ages of people to feel inspired. The drive to be funny and inspiring kept building and now I get to perform across the country at a regular basis.
2. How did you develop the talk show act?
Bluebeard: I used to have a stage partner but after 2 years of our little hobby show we split up and I thought I couldn’t do a show alone. I figured if only I had a random person at each show to bounce stuff off of . . . like a random audience member . . . who I might ask a bunch of questions of . . . like a talk show . . . HEY! The idea was born THAT fast while driving my car through Chicago.
3. What details do you zoom in on during an interview?
Bluebeard: Energy. I watch and listen how my guests are interacting with me and the rest of the audience. Are they scared or excited? Are they just quiet? The quiet ones usually carry both barrels full of something interesting if you ask that one random question. You have to make sure you don’t yank someone through the interview. Let them lead if they can and don’t push if they seem uncomfortable. Watch the energy. You can usually feel it before they come up on stage. Always be nice to their energy.
4. What can a guest do to bring things to a standstill?
Bluebeard: Mention a recent death or have a baby. I do pride myself on being able to field anything but if you tell me your husband just died 15 minutes ago or a child comes shooting out of your uterus ON MY SHOW I must admit I might be a little floored for a second or two. Also people who use the word “nothin’”.
“What do you do?”
“What would you LIKE to be doing if you could do anything?”
“Got any goals?!”
“Any reason we shouldn’t all gang up on you and strangle you with your under wear?”
5. What is the most unexpected thing an interviewee has done?
Bluebeard: Break dance. She was newly 5 years old and had even forgotten how old she was. I asked her if she could do anything. She said she could break dance. I said, “Do it.” She did. There is a video clip of it on my website. (http://www.theebluebeard.com/gallery/video/.) It stopped me. But I like to showcase the people on my show as something to be seen. I am already seen since I am the host. But imagine YOUR surprise when you discover the guy next to you has something interesting in his bag that he wouldn’t have even mentioned in passing had he not been asked. There are a million people out there with a story. I like to make them shine a little more if I can. Pass the spotlight to the rest of the people.
Bonus question: Which brand of blue hair dye do you prefer?
Bluebeard: Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint. I get it at Michael’s. Water-proof, sweat-proof, ice cream-proof.