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Austin Actors
Phil O'Hearn

Acting, Comedy and Cats
by Phil O'Hearn

September 2002

Almost all comics have some cat jokes. Perhaps it is because comics have to find a way to relate to the audience through some shared experience. And everyone understands something about cats.

My wife and I have cats. We have two cats, a brother and a sister. My wife has names for them. I call them Poop-a-lot and Puke-a-lot. Our cats are amazing. We live in a three-story townhouse and we keep the litter box on the ground floor. It's amazing that those cats can poop on the ground floor and scatter little cat poopies throughout the entire house, even up onto the windowsill of the bedroom on the third floor. I don't know how they do it. I tried it. I couldn't do it.

Cats love warmth. They love it when we take clothes out of the dryer and put them on the bed. They snuggle up in the nice warm clothes. Sometimes our cats get ahead of themselves. Sometimes we open the dryer door and they jump right in. It's true. This happened just the other day. I opened the dryer door and the boy cat, you know him, Poop-a-lot, he sniffed around and he jumped right in.

I talk to the cats in baby talk. "Does the wittle kitty want to go for a wide in the dwyer?" About five minutes later my wife comes in, "What's that thumping sound in the laundry room?" "I...don't know," I say. We go to the laundry room. My wife opens the dryer door. You know how they say a cat always lands on its feet? That's not true. The cat comes tumbling out. He sure was warm! But he doesn't have as many lives as he used to.

I recently did a student short film which, accidentally, included a cat. The film was Tom Flynn's DELUSIONAL. I played a psychotic, blood-drooling clown. And a neighborhood cat became an extra, a walk-on actually. This cat is noted in the film's credits. And the cat did suffer, as all artists do. While curiously investigating our set, the cat found a sticky rattrap. Are you familiar with these devices? They are coated with a glue-like substance that sticks very strongly to the rat's feet, or, in our case, cat's feet. I helped the cat escape from this device. Fortunately the cat was not a SAG member, or we may have had legal problems.

If you get a chance to see DELUSIONAL, you will see this cat and a pretty darn good film too.

Phil O'Hern
pohern@austin.rr.com

Phil O'Hern started his performing career as a boy preacher (really). Then he became a reclusive poet. Then he became a stage actor. He has performed more than fifty stage roles including Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, and Sir in The Dresser. Since moving to Austin, Phil is concentrating on stand-up comedy and film acting.

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