By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Time to start over again.
Soon, Weedman found herself back in the comforting embrace of her gay ex-boyfriend from Indiana, who was living in Laurel Canyon with his partner. “I spent most of my early depression there, after the divorce, and then moved out so I could Internet date more freely without their judgment.”
She moved into a place on Franklin and Argyle. “I hated it,” she tells me. “Yeah, I know [doing caricature of vapid Angeleno], It’s a great strip — Birds! My friend John was like, Lauren, that’s your area, it’s so arty, like you. You’re gonna love it there. There’s a place there, the Bourgeois Pig, it’s your place. And you go in there and I’ve never seen so many people write like this — type, type [stretches out], Oh, gosh. Type, type, Oooh, it’s sooo hard.”
In L.A., where all the clichés hold true, but where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts, she may have found her muse. If Bust, which is both a valentine and a scathing indictment, is any indication, Los Angeles and its legion of strivers (foremost among them Weedman herself) will provide a bottomless well of material.
“When I first moved here, people were like, let me tell you something, Lauren, You and I are sooo alike.You read the newspaper, I read the newspaper.”
Then, there’s auditioning. “When I’m just an actor, sitting out with the actors, and, literally, it’s like [self-important voice], Who took the pen from the sign-up sheet? Can I have that back, please? Thank you, pay attention. Even that little thing, I’m like, oh boy, I’m not 37 years old sitting here. I’m like, This is not my adult life. This is not where I’m supposed to be.”
But still, she can’t help herself. “I feel sometimes the fact that I’m even in L.A., I’ll feel as if I have some crack addiction, like I’m even trying to do this, something’s up with me. It’s like, what am I doing here?” she says. “I’m like auditioning for Fat Al, where it’s like, We don’t know if he’ll be a man, or fat, but just read the part.”
Sure, there’s that. But Los Angeles has provided other things she may not have expected. Like a home. She’s in a great relationship with Weatherford, a friend who became a lover and a collaborator. He’s a widower who has a nearly grown son. Of course, that too is a great source of material, stuff that hasn’t found its way onstage yet, but has been the subject of several hilarious short stories — one of which, “I’m Hugging You With My Voice,” appeared in the literary journal Swivel and recounts the difficulty of making love while staring at a picture of the man’s ex.
“For the first time in my life, I could see how being blindfolded was hot,” Weedman writes. “But pictures of Hannah were all over the house, which wrecked me. Obsessively staring at her photos, and attempting to show how okay I was with the whole situation, I would chirp, ‘This is a nice one. Oh, and this one too! Look at her here! I see she’s wearing a sweater so I take it it was wintertime?”
One of the things that is apparent from Weedman’s stage shows, aside from her obvious acting and comedy chops, is how well they’re written. Each has a fully realized narrative arc, which makes them so much more engaging than a lot of solo shows in which people just get up there and puke out their drama. So it’s not surprising that she’s developing a bit of a side career in the literary world. Her story “Diary of a Journal Reader,” which also first appeared in Swivel, made the Dave Eggers–edited Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2005, and the collection A Woman Trapped in a Woman’s Body: Stories From a Life of Cringe comes out from Sasquatch Books in the fall. She’s also recently received a fellowship to the prestigious MacDowell Colony (“Or, as my friends call it, fuck-fest 2007 . . . not my good friends,” jokes Weedman), where writers like Mary Gaitskill and Arthur Bradford (author of the quirky collection Dogwalker) and genius composers and playwrights and architects and visual artists go to plan world domination.
So the question remains, who is this girl? Is she the woman blowing minds onstage, where her precious, nuanced, scathing, brave, hilarious pieces have the room they need to breathe and grow and get under your skin? Is she a budding humorist, like an Amy Sedaris, only funny? Or is she the woman who keeps trying to find fame, fortune and a place on the screen, currently toiling away in stuff like Reno 911, and VH1’s Best Week Ever and other forums that just seem too small to capture the thing that is Lauren Weedman? The question hangs in the air as the restaurant empties of its other four patrons (local’s-favorite?). It’s a question that demands a cigarette, and we repair outside to smoke.
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