Healthy Nappoholism, Watching Theatre, and Keeping Receipts

Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.

1. I don’t talk about this often enough, but the key to being a healthy Nappoholic is self-awareness. If you don’t stick to the program and come to the meetings, you may encounter the odd slip. The five most common are:

  • Peelapse: the inability to stop commenting on Donald Trump tweets
  • David Yeelapse: the tendency to start telling everyone to go fuck themselves
  • Bealapse: an offshoot of PTSD (most common among stage managers who have worked with me)
  • Paul Sun-Hyung Leelapse: developing a very public, socially awkward relationship with your cat and posting it to my Facebook wall
  • Creelapse: developing an unhealthy obsession with my favourite Corner Gas character, Davis

2. I’m not gonna lie. I found most of your Facebook Friendship Day movies formulaic and derivative.

3. I was walking down the road with Ella last week when a giant pickup truck that was parking jumped the curb a tiny bit and kind of lurched toward us, ever so slightly. I said to Ella, overdramatically, “Did you see that? That guy tried to kill me!” Without breaking her stride or missing a beat, she replied, flatly, “I know. I hired him to.”

4. Congratulations to Craig Lauzon for landing the LEAD ROLE in the new Acting Up Stage musical, These Eyes (Have Seen a Lot of Drugs): The Burton Cummings Story.

5. Had my hair cut last week and the guy offered me a receipt.

I said, “No, that’s okay. I don’t need it.”

He insisted, “You should keep it just in case.”

I said, “In case what? My hair grows back?”

6. Riverdale is a ridiculous piece of shit but it was almost worth watching to see how the all-supermodel cast makes Luke Perry look like a sixty-five-year-old homeless man who just got hit by a truck.

7. I rolled up Salvatore Antonio’s foreskin last week and won a free breakfast bagel combo.

8. I did a show called Jack in the Box almost thirty years ago, when I lived in New York, at a little theatre under the Williamsburg Bridge run by an amazing actor named Missy Yeager. It was a short run, a nice little two-hander, and we had a couple decent houses. But one night nobody showed up. Nobody. At all. Charlie Schiff, the other actor, and I decided to have a few beers on the balcony outside the theatre and, while we did, I called my mom to tell her what had happened. I had just downed a beer and started talking when one of my best friends, Dan Sturges, and two other people strolled up—about five minutes after the curtain should have gone up—to see the show. The rule was that as long as there were more people in the audience than on stage, we did the show. My mom was right in the middle of consoling me when I blurted out, “Ma, I got to go. The audience just showed up.” I hung up on her.

Sometimes I’m not sure which is worse, being an actor or being the parent of one.

9. When we were shooting Four Brothers, I suggested to John Singleton we do a sequel starring just me called No Brothers. He was much less enthusiastic about the idea than I had anticipated.

10. The first rule of Pink Bunny Club…

11. One thing that has changed a lot over the years is how I experience watching theatre. Firstly, when watching a show as a younger man, I was watching through a different set of eyes: ambitious, competitive eyes. I was jealous of guys like Jordan Pettle, Ari Cohen, Paul Braunstein, David Jansen, and Tom Barnett for working so often. I was blinded to their work by my own desire to be up there in their place. I wasn’t really watching what they were doing. I was watching what I would have been doing up there in their place and “how much better I would have been.” A natural phenomenon but a stupid one, and one of the marks of a rank amateur. I admire the shit out of all of these guys now and am humbled to call them peers and lucky to call them friends.

The second difference is my behaviour after a show. After that initial jealousy stage, when I became a bit more established, I made a habit of always going backstage to (sincerely) congratulate the actors after a show. I would sometimes be in the dressing before they were. My ego observed no boundaries, it didn’t respect their space. I just let myself into the backstage area like I owned the place. Every place. Now, I rarely even stay at the theatre at all after a show. I can’t get out of the building fast enough. Partly because I want to process and digest what I have just seen without all the static. I want to clarify for myself what it is I liked or didn’t like in the work I saw. And I don’t feel a need to jump all over the cast and creative team to express it, as I once did. I realized, somewhere along the way, that that behaviour was me trying to make that evening’s performance about MY presence rather than about the work itself. Who gives a fuck if I was there? Who gives a fuck what I thought? It was so presumptuous and egotistical on my part to assume anyone did. Like I was giving everyone such a huge gift by attending. Like THAT was the event. Fuck me. Now, I may wait outside only if I have a close friend in a show who knows I am there or whom I want to surprise, and only if I have only extremely positive things to say about their work.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the community. But socializing and working are two very different things. When I’m doing a show and I am done, I’m done. I gave you what I had that night and I need to check in with myself and possibly my castmates and stage manager about what went better or worse that night and why that might have happened. I hope people in the audience like my work but it doesn’t really fucking matter if they do or not. That’s their shit, same as when I’m in the audience, when my reaction is my shit. I mean, I’d be happy to talk about it the next day at lunch or online at some point—I am not precious. I read all the reviews as they are printed. It’s just that, in those moments immediately after leaving the stage, I haven’t really entered the earth’s atmosphere yet. I need to transition back into actual life before I can really participate in it. And, when I am an audience member, I want to afford the actors coming off the stage the same opportunity to rejoin their own rhythms before I impose any demands on their time or energy or headspace.

12. If an actor falls in the forest and no one sees it happen, who gives a shit?

Written By

Tony is Italian, he’s from Scarborough, he’s an actor, he’s a father, he’s a really good house painter, and he doesn’t believe that most things matter, ultimately, at all.


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