Friday, January 29, 2010

Puttin' The AIDS in 'MY AiDS'

I wanna go back to this horrible title again for a minute here. 'MY AiDS'. What is with the AIDS, right? You might be wondering, 'does Dan have AIDS?' or 'has Dan ever had AIDS?' Or you might just be thinking about what you had for dinner last night.

No, I don't have AIDS. I have never had AIDS. For a person who has HIV, I have thankfully steered pretty clear of coming anyplace close to having AIDS. So why do I have a show called MY AIDS and not MY HIV?

First and foremost MY AIDS rolls much more trippingly off the tongue. But more importantly, AIDS is kind of absolutely terrifying. So why give my show such a terrifying title?

Because I have to.

I first heard of someone referring to being HIV positive as 'My AIDS' years ago. A friend of mine worked with a woman who was HIV positive. She was a large, black woman who wore her AIDS like a badge. She had no shame or embarrassment about it. In fact she told stories about how if she wanted a seat on the bus, she'd start coughing and hacking and then apologize with , "Woo- hoo! My AIDS is kickin' my ass today!" If the line in the supermarket was taking too long, "Oooooh! My AIDS is making me tired!" She got a seat and she went to the front of the line. This has always stayed with me as radical, brave and unapologetic.

And not to mention, totally fucking hysterical.

The night I was diagnosed with HIV, I was with friends. We watched Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic. At one point in the show, she says for whatever reason in her bratty, little, faux ignorant way "...when life gives you AIDS... make LemonAIDS!" I laughed very, very hard.

Because I had to.

What do you think of when you think of AIDS?... The 80's? Tom Hanks? Magic Johnson? Ryan White? When I think of AIDS I think of a cold that won't go away... muscle failure... slowing down... facial wasting... hospital beds... IV's... machines...

So I am just gonna keep on laughing as hard as I can... and I hope you'll laugh with me

Because we have to.

Love me,

You can buy tickets for MY AiDS at

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rehearsal?!! Who Needs It??!!

Rehearsal, my friends, is apparently for amateurs. Who needs it? Not this guy, that's for sure. Now do you suppose this is because I am such a well trained artist with a perfectly tuned instrument who is entirely honed in on his craft?

... not exactly. Surprisingly however, my director and I have decided that in the case of MY AiDS rehearsals, less is more. As you may have read below (if you are one of my three avid readers... Hi Lisa, Meg, and Justin!), I have been working on this piece for over a year. Sure, the piece has evolved, but I have been writing it, reading it, and performing it for small and medium sized groups for some time now. I still don't have my lines memorized but hey, it's my story. If I forget them I'll just make some shit up!

My trusty director, Dave Solomon, after rehearsal one evening, looked at the schedule and said, "I think the best thing we can do here for the piece is to rehearse less". I of course thought he was crazy. How could you just not want to spend as much time as humanly possible listening to ME? Aside from that, I have discoveries to make, connections to establish, new secrets to unearth, deeper emotional layers to dive into, new jokes to dream up. Dave in his dry, acerbic way was just sort of like, "Yeah that's great and you can do all that if you want, but you don't need fifty hours of rehearsal to do it in".

It didn't take me too long to come around to see his point. It is my story. It's all there inside me. I don't have to get inside the head of my character or some other playwright. And ya know what's not super awesome? Performing a one man comedy for an empty room. Now, as long as I am awake I can crack myself up. But sometimes, it's just not enough. Too much of that leads to a rote, stiff routine. What we came to realize was that with a piece that is so conversational, so inherently spontaneous and so reliant on my relationship with my audience, it's actually detrimental to rehearse it too much.

So goodbye leg warmers! So long breathing exercises! Sayonara dream journal and character motivation worksheet! I'm gonna heed this advice and take the extra time to oh, I dunno... memorize my lines maybe? We'll still rehearse now and again but all I need is YOU!

See you at the show!

Love me,

You can buy tickets for MY AiDS at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Downward Facing Danny

I try to do Yoga. Is Yoga with a capital "y"? I'm not sure, so throughout this post I will sometimes capitalize the word "yoga" and sometimes I'll leave the word "Yoga" in lower case.

Anywho, I try to do yoga. I'm certainly not a Yogi. I'm sure you have to travel to someplace with no electricity, eat very raw veggies, not speak for a long time, and fold yourself completely in half in order to become a yogi. I am no good at any of those things.

My yoga experience began with my buddy Pat coming over to my apartment to get me started. Pat is a serious student and teacher of the Yoga. He is however, Pat. How can I describe Pat? He's kind of like the Cat in the Hat of yoga. He's loud, goofy, cracks you up while you're trying to hold a pose and likes to make animal sounds. This is my ideal way of learning any ancient physical and mental discipline.

While I still meet with Pat regularly, I've started attending a yoga class at my local Y. The teacher is nice enough. She kind of reminds me of Helen Hunt. The class is pretty big, predominantly female. Predominantly soccer moms. I'm the new guy so it's a little awkward but I hope that soon enough we will all be comparing nursing habits, sharing tofu recipes and trading sexual fantasies about Jack Johnson.

These women kick my ass! I know I'm not supposed to be focused on what others around me are doing but as we go through the poses they are sleek and graceful in their $200 Lulu Lemon stretch pants and I am a shaky, wheezing mess who is soaking through his 3 year old Hanes tee.

My least favorite is a pose called "lizard". It's like a combination of both a squat and a stretch that tears up your groin and pulls your hips out to kingdom come. As the teacher cooly instructs to "relax into the pose", I start to feel a deep seething hatred for her and all of the fleur-de-lis mats around me.

But as I continue to stretch and hold the pose (and other psychotic, mind boggling poses I think are actually tricks Indians made up to play on Westerners) I remember to breathe. I wouldn't go so far as to say I can relax into it, but lately when I leave the pose, I feel a certain sense of triumph. I also feel a certain release.

At the end of the last class, I had a huge buzz. I zipped through the rest of my day feeling so refreshed and almost giddy.

I have decided not to buy a new pastel seaweed sports bra... but I'm actually kind of excited for class tomorrow!

Love me,

You can buy tickets for MY AiDS at

I Rediscovered MY AiDS!

No I did not randomly walk into a clinic just to test positive all over again. (Oddly enough though I have imagined doing exactly that...)

For the most part, doing your own one man show is a lot of fun. I suggest you give it a try...unless you have a vagina and then you should probably do your own one woman show. But hey, I'm not here to put people in boxes.

I digress. Again, it is a lot of fun. It certainly helps that I find myself very entertaining but sometimes things do get stressful. Along with telling stories and telling jokes I have to have the following conversations and thoughts running through my brain: 'Is a Saturday night show at 10:30 too late?'...'Is this chair in the budget?'...'Should I cut that section?'... 'Will there be any press coming?'... 'Is $25 too high a ticket price?'... 'Does this shirt make me look fat?' All important questions.

Suffice it to say Ambien free nights are few and far between.

However a coupla days ago, while on a brisk jog through my hood Sunnyside Queens, I realized some stuff. I've been creating this show for almost a year and a half now. It all began with me click clacking away on my computer. Then I started to read it for friends in my living room. In September I did a little presentation of it at The Gay Center here in New York. That was a really encouraging experience that convinced me I needed to move forward with the piece.

So I am.

The fact of the matter is that this is no longer me in my living room surrounded by my friends who adore me. This piece however, should always feel like me in my living room surrounded by my friends who adore me.

With this in mind I had the best rehearsal I've had yet. I re-connected with the piece and why I started cobbling it together in the first place.

I need to just keep it open, honest, simple and fun.

That should be easy enough...

Love me,

You can buy tickets for MY AiDS at

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Different Blog All About ME!

So earlier today I was doing some work online (and by "doing some work" I mean frantically googling my own name like the self obsessed neurotic that I am) and I came across this awesome blog posting about me!!! I read it on this totally random website by this person who is a complete and utter stranger whom I have never met in my life ever. You can read the blog posting HERE

OK so maybe the website's not so random...

And maybe I kinda know the writer... for like 10 years.

Fine. You got me. He's my BFF. His name is Michael Francis Hartney II. Or as I like to call him: Michael France Jolie. He's a really funny actor and comic who cracks me up and keeps me sane on a regular basis. (that's his headshot up there on the left.)

But I swear I have absolutely no idea where he got the notion to write such a wonderful piece about me that I can access for further promotional use...

Love me,

You can buy tickets for MY AiDS at

Title Of Show

'MY AiDS' is an absolutely terrible title for a show. It's often said that your title is your biggest marketing tool. This particular title is not exactly my strongest selling point. If we weren't clear on this already, the 'AIDS' part of the title does not refer to the presidential, sleep, study or hearing kind but the actual Aquired Immune Deficiency Sydrome kind. Once that becomes clear to somebody, I think it kinda hits them over the head. It's a bit in your face and somewhat inappropriate.

And maybe that's why I love it.

We (and by we I don't mean just me and the voices in my head) have tried making it a bit more accessible. We've given the title a fun font to try and convey the humor of the piece. We have also added the little sub title "...A comedy".

I think in print and on line this is all working out rather well but when you have to say it out loud - speaking those words becomes another thing.

When I tell a stranger (or as I like to call them 'Future Fan') about the show, give them the title, and quickly tell them what it's about, my spiel is usually: "Yeah I'm doing this one man show. It's called MY AiDS and it's my story about being HIV positive and becoming an adult and stuff ..."

Slightly awkward pause that may only be in my head... and then I follow it with "IT'S A COMEDY!!" Then I hand them my spiffy little show card.

You'd think a person who runs around talkin' about his AIDS in his own one man show would be comfortable with telling people about it. Not true. Every time I mention it I still flinch a little inside. There is the slightest quiver in my gut; the sometimes not so slightest bit of embarrassment.

And maybe one day all of that will go away.

And maybe it won't.

But I'm gonna try to be more brave.

In any case, it's much easier I think when you have to say things like "Oh, I'm doing a tour of Footloose. Yeah I'm playing the Lori Singer character".


Love me,

You can buy tickets for MY AiDS at

Monday, January 18, 2010

Origin Story

Before we go any further with this blog, I suppose it might be helpful if you knew the background. If you haven't already, you should start by reading the first entry of the blog. That might be helpful and it's kind of awesome. Go ahead... have a read... no no, I'll wait...

...(looking at watch)

...(looking upwards and whistling with utter boredom)

All done? Are you sure? OK!

So as I mentioned previously, I'm not an actor and I'm not a writer. Well that's not altogether true. I do have a theatrical background. I went to college for theatre. My acting career, however peaked in 11th grade when I played Sheridan Whiteside in my highschool's production of Kaufman and Hart's The Man Who Came To Dinner. I triumphed playing an acid tongued, wheelchair bound old queen. Big stretch. It's all my family talks about to this day.

It is true however that I've never written anything. Up until now of course. This would explain my terrible punctuation.

I do apparently have some talent. It turns out I have excellent oral skills. I tell a really funny story. For years I have been regaling friends, acquaintances and even a few strangers with stories about the subject I find most fascinating: ME! I'd tell stories about my mother, my grandmother, my friends, a horrid job and so on. These stories after so many years found themselves a little bit cemented. Soon friends were requesting for me to recount a certain incident or anecdote. I found I had an arsenal of tales that I was often being encouraged to put to use in a much more public way.

I didn't want to do stand up comedy though. I decided to challenge myself in a different way. My goal was to take all the funny stories about latin lovers, grouchy grammas and bullying bosses (you hafta see the show) and wrap them all around a central theme that is very difficult for me to talk about. Enter the AIDS.

In the end I set about crafting a monologue wherein I'd confront being HIV positive, make people laugh really fucking hard and have everyone connect and identify not just with me but with each other.

Big challenge huh? Did I rise to the occasion? You let me know starting February 13th at Urban Stages.

Love me,

You can buy tickets for MY AiDS at

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An introduction to me, MY BLoG and MY AiDS

Well Hello! Welcome to my blog. Chances are if you found this you are A) already a very good friend or B) stalking me. I embrace both possibilities.

My name is Dan Horrigan. I am not a writer. I am not an actor. I am however HIV positive and apparently kinda funny. In spite of and because of these things I have created my own solo show called MY AiDS. The piece is a funny and honest autobiographical monologue about being HIV positive, becoming an adult and finding the perfect set of kitchenware.

I've been working on creating the piece for over a year and am now gearing up for a 3 week New York run. I am absolutely thrilled...

... and totally terrified.

One of my fears is that nobody is going to see the show. Now this may be classic performer insecurity but the truth is that aside from my own delusions of grandeur, I am not famous. I am not famous and HIV is not easy to market as a comedy. So in order to combat my fear that nobody will show up, I have decided to promote the show and myself via a blog that nobody will probably read!

Makes perfect sense right?

But maybe that won't be the case. It could turn out that chronicling this experience will end up being a blog-o-sphere sensation. People will be entertained and moved by my thoughtful and witty insights. Readers will identify with my everyman struggles, be impressed with my quirky charm, and flock to see the show. The blog will then be re-packaged as an international bestseller and made into a major motion picture in which Chris Messina plays my husband. Chris Messina will then decide that he's gay and he will fall in love with me on set. We will have an ocean side wedding with tiki torches, bare feet and lots of billowing linen. The blog will either be removed to increase book and sequel book sales or be infrequently updated by some poor starving intern.

OK, I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.

Whatever happens, I hope you're with me for the journey.

Love me,

You can buy tickets for MY AiDS at