Spotlight On: Michael Burgos of The Eulogy

michael-burgos-portrait-by-m-savova

The Scranton Fringe is a performing arts festival, returning for its second year September 29th – October 2nd 2016 to downtown Scranton. With over fifty productions/special events spanning twelve venues to chose from at the festival the task can seem daunting – we are here to help further introduce you to what the Fringe has to offer!

This show might seem familiar to some Scranton Fringe patrons – The Eulogy enjoyed a sold out (over capacity!) run during the 2015 Scranton Fringe Festival. If you missed your chance to catch this solo show last year, tickets are on sale now! Read on to find out more about The Eulogy and the man behind the speech, Michael Burgos:

1. Tell us a bit about The Eulogy and your personal background.

My name is Michael Burgos and I am the writer/director/producer/performer of The Eulogy. I’m based out of the Washington, DC area — I say “based” tentatively, as I’ve been touring the world with The Eulogy for over 14 months. It’s not the first time I’ve travelled for work, as I toured with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band — on the business end of the tour, to be clear — during the Magic tour.

I’ve been lucky enough to live in a few different cities domestically as well as a few cities abroad — most notably, I lived in Paris, France for two years while I studied acting there. All in all, I’ve gotten to spend time in 20 countires.

Training-wise, I have a B.A. in Theater from George Mason University and a Diplôme from École Philippe Gaulier (where I studied acting in France). I also have a B.M. from Berklee College of Music (I’m no Mozart, but I composed some of the music in The Eulogy).

When it comes to notable highlights, winning Best Comedy at the 2016 Adelaide Fringe Festival (the 2nd-largest Fringe in the world) was just an unreal experience. To go there as a complete unknown, with this weird, minimalist-production one-person show — and without any promo — and to walk away with one of the biggest awards in the world of Fringe, and Australia, was something I’ll never forget. (That said, please don’t come to the show with the mindset of “This show WILL BE and MUST BE the funniest show of my life because it won an award, god damn it!” If I’ve learned anything from touring around the world, it’s that there are so many different types of humor, and that expectations can sometimes get in the way of just having fun.) Anyway, my time at the Adelaide Fringe was such a dream.

Other highlights include:

* my final performance at the 2015 Capital Fringe, which was over-capacity and where I got an absolutely incredible standing ovation, which concluded an unbelievable — and extended — sold-out run.
the 2015 IndyFringe, which was just an incredible festival with amazing audiences, in a super cool part of the city. I also won my first award for The Eulogy there.
* the inaugural Scranton Fringe Festival. What an amazing community of people with such great energy, looking for — and creating — a way liven and enjoy their city! I had such a good time that the Scranton Fringe is the only Fringe festival in the world that I’m returning to with The Eulogy.
* the 2016 Atlanta Fringe Festival. Such a hard-working team of best friends who not only create art, but have created an outlet for that art with the Atlanta Fringe. In many ways, the Atlanta Fringe and Scranton Fringe remind me of one another — one-weekend Fringes that are five years old or younger, put together by a young group of friends.
*selling out a couple shows in the Belly Button [room] at Underbelly during the Edinburgh Fringe. To sell out in a room where people I absolutely adore have performed was humbling and elating for me.

Goodness! I have to stop myself; I could go on and on and on and on with highlights! In fact, I think I now have an idea for a book: Hightlights: The Eulogy World Tour. These were just a few.
2. What inspired the creation of The Eulogy?
I was in London, England in November 2014, and some friends were creating a clown show. I had gone to school with these friends in France; and even though I was around them during the creation of their show — even giving help as an outside eye — I wasn’t actually asked to be a part of their show. (To be sure, I love everyone in this clown troupe, and in hindsight, if I was them, I wouldn’t have asked me to be a part of the show either [I was awful at clown in school].)

While my friends made a show, I was showless; but I knew I wanted to be doing the same thing — making a show (just… not clown). I had spent nearly all of my resources to study in France for two years and I didn’t want to not create and perform after that. So I booked some time in a rehearsal space in London and just began devising solo. Ultimately, it was less out of inspiration and more out of necessity that I began creating what would become The Eulogy.

The Eulogy - Square

3. Tell us more about the show. Where have you taken The Eulogy since participating in the inaugural Scranton Fringe Festival? How has the show grown and changed since last year?

Even after 120+ performances, I’m not exactly sure what The Eulogy is. It’s awkward; it’s absurd; it’s theatrical; it’s dark; it’s light; it’s heady; it’s stupid; it (spoiler alert) brings the audience into the show with light participation; it may even be bizarrely touching. Sometimes I like to say it’s “a buffet of entertainment.”

I can also tell you that it’s not stand-up, and it’s not sketch comedy. Those with a narrowly defined sense of what comedy “is” or “should be” or may struggle with it, as, ultimately, there’s nothing to get; and that’s okay.

It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride of a show (a slow climb that builds and then goes through all kinds of loops), so I’d encourage those that enjoy keeping their arms raised at the front of a roller coaster to come.

Since participating in the inaugural Scranton Fringe Festival, I’ve toured through Australia (Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne), Germany (Tübingen, Berlin), Scotland (Edinburgh), and the U.S. (New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Rochester).

The show has not changed much since last year. I’m considering trying a new bit or two in the show to see if it might be able to expand in certain directions, but the show has maybe changed 3% since last year. The thing that has grown is me, as a performer. Performing with all kinds of audiences in all kinds of spaces with all kinds of set-ups and technical amenities has continually challenged me to figure out how to try and calibrate/optimize a performance based on a given set of circumstances.

4. What other productions in the 2016 Scranton Fringe Festival are you most excited about / planning on seeing?
I’m interested in seeing I’m Standing, The Dorothy Matrix 8-Bit Matrix, and Progressive Soiree.

5. In six words (no more, no less) what would you say to encourage someone to attend The Eulogy?

Fun weekends begin with fake funerals.