Inspirations with Joe Iconis

artistpage_joeiconisfamilyJoe Iconis is a musical theatre writer, MTF Advisory Board Member, and well-known rabble rouser. His concert act, Joe Iconis and Family, plays the final show of their Feinstein’s/54 Below residency tonight at 9:30 pm.

I was tasked with writing a blog for MTF about my inspirations and I am embarrassed to say that I’ve found myself completely uninspired to write this particular blog. My inspirations are wide-reaching and numerous and it’s completely overwhelming to think of writing about only a few of them.

Perhaps I’ll write a piece about my ten favorite films. But who cares? Anyone who knows me could probably hazard a guess at what most of those films are and why I chose them. And how could I only pick ten? If I only picked ten, I wouldn’t be able to include Serial Mom or Sleepaway Camp. And wouldn’t it be so embarrassing for me if I wasn’t able to include Serial Mom or Sleepaway Camp?

Perhaps I’ll write a piece about my favorite plays, or musicals, or condiments, but, why? What’s the point? If the point of a blog post like this is to get to the heart of me, to show a little piece of myself, isn’t it a cop-out to just write about why I think Hedwig And The Angry Inch is a brilliant piece of musical theater? Or why I think Wasabi Mustard is a complex and provocative sandwich topping?

How could I possibly express my inner-most thoughts and offer you, the reader of this post, something new and intimate and Real? How can I give you some insight into my world? And how can I do this without getting up from the couch?

I’ve got it. It’s just come to me, like that part in Sweeney Todd when Mrs. Lovett gets the idea to turn people into pies. I’m going to give you a private glimpse into my world. Into my day-to-day life. I’m going to take you inside my Gmail Inbox. This is going to be like a bootleg version of MTV Cribs.

My wife (the Brilliant actor/writer Lauren Marcus) is currently in the other room. I’m going to ask her to shout out five words. I’m then going to search those words in my Gmail and post a conversation that features the word in question. With commentary. Hopefully, you will gain some insight into what makes me tick. Or you’ll just be bored and fall asleep and knock over that candle on your nightstand and your whole house will burn to the ground. But don’t worry, you’ll get out in time. See? Aren’t you glad your mom made you do track in middle school? “But it conflicts with the Spring Musical, Mom!” “Honey, if your house is burning down and you’ve only got one minute to book it to safety, Legally Blonde Jr. ain’t gonna help you!”

Here we go.

FROM: Shakina Nayfack
TO: Me

I’m glad you are reading GERALD’S GAME. Is it as intense as I remember it being when I was 12? Did you arrive to the dick necklace yet? Please quote me the passage when you get there.

Lots of love,

I am famously not well-read, but I really love Stephen King and I am slowly making my way through his body of work. I’ve always been a fan of films made from his books (the great ones like The Shining and Dolores Claiborne and the terrible ones like Thinner and Sleepwalkers) so it’s been nice to read the stories in King’s own words. I think he’s such an inspiring writer and I really respond to how confrontational his language is.

This email is referencing his book Gerald’s Game, which was recommended to me by MTF-Founder and great friend of mine Shakina. I first got to know her well during the summer of 2012 when we were working on my musical The Black Suits at Barrington Stage Company. I’m glad I reread this email so I could be reminded that one of the things we discussed when were first becoming friends was the dick necklace featured in a Stephen King novel from the mid-90s.


Zack! Question.

Here’s the situation- Charlie is playing some fun shit in the band this year (trumpet! a keyboard hooked up to a computer) but he’s more than likely not going to be around for the sound check portion of our tech day. If you were around and game, I’d love to have you play some of his parts during the sound check. I’m completely illiterate when it comes to technology and music so I fear that if Charlie’s not there to answer questions or test out the equipment, it’ll be a bit of a shitshow.

It made me sad to read this email from two and a half years ago because I still feel incompetent when it comes to technology and how it relates to music. It’s particularly notable that I refer to Charlie’s midi set-up as “a keyboard hooked up to a computer.” It’s charmingly ignorant. Like an elderly Amish man referring to a flat screen TV as a “fidgety painting.”

FROM: Jeremy Morse
TO: Iconis and Family

Lads and lasses,

I miss your beautiful faces so much. Kick some leprechaun ass tonight at the Beechman! And please drink a green beverage for me.

Much love,
Your Irish liliputian,

This is an email from my great friend and frequent collaborator Jeremy Morse. We did a St. Patty’s Day show at the Beechman in 2014 and Jeremy couldn’t be in it for some reason. I think it’s nice that he sent this email. It’s polite. Like something they’d teach you in Musical Theater Concert Etiquette School. (Lindsay Mendez is the headmistress of that school, obviously.) Something I will say about everyone who participates in my shows- they are not only monumentally talented, but they are all good, kind-hearted, polite people. Truly not an asshole in the bunch.

TO: Jason SweetTooth Williams

Hey dude-

Dude, if you’re in excruciating pain, you need to get that taken care of. There’s nothing to freak about. The worst thing that can happen is that you have to postpone a show. Big freakin’ deal.

This email is in reference to a longer conversation about Jason’s hernia, which, at the time, was causing him immense pain. He almost cancelled his solo show because of it, but, obviously, he didn’t because another thing that defines many of the Iconis and Family members is our work ethic. Most of us have the work ethic of a 1920’s coal miner. People have done Iconis and Family shows with broken bones, high fevers, stomach flus, bleeding limbs, concussions, and anything else you can think of. There have been at least two occasions (that I know of) where cast members lost control of their faculties during a concert of mine. Does that disgust me? On the contrary! I love it! Theater ain’t for wimps! So many of us put The Show before our personal well-being and I appreciate the gutsiness and sheer stupidity of that. I think there’s something very rock and roll about performing a showtune with a bleeding hernia.

FROM: Jennifer Ashley Tepper
TO: Me

“Jason is going to a Lamaze class and Lance is going to a Knicks game” is the MOST Baby The Musical thing you’ve ever said.

Jennifer Ashley Tepper is always on brand. Always.

NOTE: Joe received no one’s permission to reprint their private emails.


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