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What happened to the dreamers inside us – Vol. 6
Meet Chris Holcom. Chris has been with Jobsite since our 1999 production of Clive Barker’s The History of the Devil, and he still hasn’t stopped talking about that show. CORRECTION: It was actually Y2K: Yearn to Know – but I like my original story better.
Added neatness, Chris and Jaime Giangrande become Mr. and Mrs. Holcom on May 26.
Chris plays several of the swing characters in the show, and I don’t want to say any more than that or it gives away a few fun surprises. The guy knows how to have fun though with character parts. He played all the cops and a few wacky old men in our production of We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! last summer.
Ok, so umm, what the heck is going on in that picture? How old are you, what are the circumstances, etc?
I was maybe 11 or 12. The picture was taken at my grandmother’s house probably around Christmas time. My aunt and uncle were in from out of town and they had twin toddlers. I was taking a shower and found the kids’ bubble bath and started playing. The flash of the camera was a little unexpected.
So, after seeing that, are your parents somehow to blame with what’s wrong with you now?
All of my success and neuroses can somehow be traced back to my family.
Didn’t I hear your dad was a funeral director? What was that like to grow up around?
Yeah. My old man owned and operated Thornton & Holcom Memorial Home and Crematory. It was a pretty cool childhood. The office was an old converted mansion with a basement and hidden staircases. Lots of places to explore and play. There were certain rooms there that were verboten, but my sister and I basically had the run of the place. Some people thought it was a little odd, but I didn’t know any different. If ever asked what my father did, I would reply “He works with dead people.”
Big fan of Six Feet Under?
My fiancé says she’s marrying me because I look like Nate Fisher. She’s a huge Six Feet Under fan and got me watching them. I’m at the beginning of season 5 right now. There’s shit on that show that I watch and nod and think, “Yup, been there.”
Do you think that sort of environment had anything to do with you growing up kinda gothy and into horror films and special effects?
Absolutely. I’ve had an opportunity to view death from a perspective few people have. You can’t grow up the way I did and not have it affect you somehow. But I don’t think it had a negative effect. That place was where my imagination blossomed.
What did you “want to be when you grew up” around the age that photo was taken?
An Air Force officer, thoracic surgeon or police officer depending on which day you asked me.
How did that work out for you?
Well … as an actor I can now pretend to be any of those …
Any siblings? Ages of them in relation to you?
I have a sister. She’s 3 years younger than I am.
What were your favorite TV shows from that time?
Oh god. Well that was around the time Miami Vice had jumped the shark. I watched a lot of syndicated stuff. Old Star Trek, old Batman and I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Were you a reader? If so – what?
Was I ever. My dad would get pissed because I’d read at the dinner table. I wanted to read Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but my mother forbade it. I wound up borrowing those books from my best friend Eric and reading them secretly.
Did you have a favorite toy?
I really got into computer games. All the Sierra and MicroProse stuff: Space Quest, Police Quest, Gunship, Silent Service. Man I loved Gunship…
If you could have been any superhero – who would it have been?
That’s a toss up. At the time I was really into Batman and the Flash. But any hero who has no super powers and can still kick Superman’s ass is the superhero I’d want to be!
Were you an inside kid or an outside kid? In either case, what were some of your favorite regular activities to keep yourself entertained?
I split the difference on inside vs. outside. That was about the time I started swimming competitively, so that was a lot of outside time in the pool. When not swimming I was riding my bike or watching TV or playing Gunship.
What’s THE dumbest thing you ever did as a child in regards to flagrant disregard for your (or anyone else’s) safety?
There were NUMEROUS incidents, but the best one might be the fire extinguisher incident. In addition to the funeral home, my dad had a safety products business on the side. He sold fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, that kind of stuff. He stored a lot of his inventory in the basement of the funeral home. Well, I had the bright idea that my friend J.O. and I should play a game of tag in the basement using the fire extinguishers. We turned out the lights and started blasting at every sound. We must have gone through a half dozen fire extinguishers when we started to feel VERY light headed. So we went outside and got some fresh air. That was probably a pretty good choice seeing as we were in a confined space using CO2 fire extinguishers. My father was a little upset, too.
Did you have a favorite pretend game?
With the imagination I’ve got everything was a pretend game.
Ok, I’m going back to that picture. I’ve described it to a few people only to have them say “I thought you asked for kid pictures – that sounds like what he does all the time …” Have you re-staged this shot, even if for just a personal collection?
The big difference between then and now is that picture was a candid shot. These days I like to think of myself as having grown as an artist. So I have naturally progressed to such works I call the “Darth Vader” and “Harry Potter with a sunburn”.
You play quite a few characters in the show. As a matter of fact, you’ve done that in several Jobsite shows that I can name top of mind – what do you like about playing multiple parts in one show? Is there anything you dislike about it?
I really enjoy being a character actor. There’s a level of freedom and eccentricity you don’t have as a leading actor. It’s basically wearing one mask, dropping it and picking up another. It’s fun. The only downside is that costume changes can be a pain in the ass.
What’s your favorite moment on stage this time around in the show?
I’m really liking the new “dream sequence.” It’s brand new to this incarnation of the show and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to make of it when I first read it, but hot damn if it hasn’t come to life.
Ok, I’m looking at that damn picture of you again. It’s so very Chris. You’ve never stopped playing, have you? What’s made you remain able to keep that spirit in you?
I won’t lie. It gets a little more difficult as I get older. Sometimes the pressures of bills, responsibility and living in this day in age brings things to a head. I feel like I’m going to explode. Just then, one of those “moments” happen. I’m inspired to do something idiotic or I see something idiotic and it recharges me. It keeps me hungry. Keeps me from giving up. There’s more to come. I think I’m a late bloomer.
Do you feel like you’ll ever really “grow up,” despite the taking on of what’s considered “adult responsibility?”
I’ll be turning 30 at the end of the run. That’s a very symbolic milestone I keep hearing. The other day I was with my mom and I was wearing a “I Have Gas!” t-shirt. My mother looked at it and said with a smile, “… never gonna grow up, are you?” Not if I can help it.
Why do you think most other people lose that part of themselves?
Sadly I think it’s the world we’ve made for ourselves. There are so many insignificant things we’ve convinced ourselves are important. Some price must be paid. Unfortunately most people don’t realize how hefty a price it is.
What’s the goofiest thing you ever do when no one is looking?
I look in the mirror and make faces at myself.
Have you ever gotten busted doing it? How did you react?
I come close from time to time. If anybody walks in I make like I’m looking for zits or something.
Why should people get off their asses and pony up their hard-earned cash to see this play?
People should get off their asses and pony up their hard-earned cash to see this play because they will be amazed by the fact that a curmudgeonly, cynical bastard like Shawn is capable of creating such a touching, funny and beautiful piece of work. (Personally I don’t think he did. My money says Neil wrote the whole thing on his own.)