Call Me (ex)Blue
June 29, 2015 9:17 AM   Subscribe

The Exit Interview: I spent 12 Years in the Blue Man Group
"In our conversation with Issac Eddy, we found that he was far from silent about his experience as a Blue Man. From the struggles of learning drumming for the audition, to how the behavior of dogs informed his performance, to his portentous final show, Eddy let us in on just about every aspect of his time under the Blue, and why he decided to be a human again."
This is the first in a new series from Atlas Obscura called Exit Interview, where people leaving interesting jobs talk about their work and what they're doing next.
posted by JoeZydeco (28 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
This seems like a good jumping off point for starting an Atlas Obscura podcast, which I've wanted for a while now.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:32 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow. This is the first time I've heard that the Blue Man Group exists outside Arrested Development. Mind blown.
posted by penguin pie at 9:55 AM on June 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow. This is the first time I've heard that the Blue Man Group exists outside Arrested Development. Mind blown.

Prepare to be re-blown:

The History of the Frozen Banana Stand
posted by ryanshepard at 10:01 AM on June 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


I went back and forth between 'Blue Man Group Blue' and 'I just Blue myself' a couple times, but then I was, like, 'you know, neither one of those are that good.'
posted by box at 10:17 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I would have asked whether they are working under the shadow of Tobias Fünke -- as someone vaguely familiar with them from before AD, I seriously can't think of them in their own context anymore.

Also, to continue ryanshepard's derail, I grew up in Newport Beach and a huge amount of the stuff featured on the show was real (although I never saw a Christmas pageant). Even beyond all the particulars, they nailed the sense of place remarkably.
posted by bjrubble at 10:19 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


How is Blue Man Group 25 years old? Wow.
posted by GuyZero at 10:23 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Prepare to be re-blown:

Well done. Bottoms-up to you, sir.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 10:30 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


How is Blue Man Group 25 years old? Wow.

We saw the show in Astor Place when I was just a wee lad, so I believe it. I think that was the 2nd location, after Boston, maybe?
posted by smackfu at 10:38 AM on June 29, 2015


How is Blue Man Group 25 years old? Wow.

From remembering the commercials they were in for Intel back in the mid-90's, I had the opposite reaction. I kind of figured they'd always been around, like Mannheim Steamroller.
posted by KGMoney at 10:46 AM on June 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


I wonder, had anyone sort of franchised an art performance concept (outside of traditional plays or musicals) before this?
posted by thelonius at 10:51 AM on June 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


An old high school friend of mine was the technical director for BMG for a couple of years, and it was simply fascinating to get a glimpse of all this from the behind-the-scenes perspective. This article added even more depth for me now. I've seen the show 2-3 times now in Boston, and it never fails to intrigue me.
posted by briank at 10:52 AM on June 29, 2015


I wonder, had anyone sort of franchised an art performance concept (outside of traditional plays or musicals) before this?

Cirque de Soleil, which is still somewhat cool, started as an actual travelling circus and slowly morphed into the monster that ate Las Vegas and became the McDonalds of big-ticket entertainment.
posted by GuyZero at 10:54 AM on June 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Improv is a comedy club franchise (there are probably others)--not quite the same, but maybe worth mentioning.
posted by box at 10:58 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


He mentions the vaudeville tricks that Blue Man Group keeps secret. There was a case here in Chicago a couple years back where someone sued them claiming that they shoved a camera down his throat during an interactive portion of the show. They eventually had to reveal the trick in court in order to prove that at no time during the trick was any camera ever shoved down anyone's throat. They may still have ended up getting it sealed as I don't remember reading the particulars of the trick.
posted by lagomorphius at 11:07 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I found parts of this to be low-key moving and even inspiring, but in a way I can't quite articulate. I just love how clear-eyed he is about what he's done and what he wants to do with himself, and how he's worked to make that vision come true.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:10 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder, had anyone sort of franchised an art performance concept (outside of traditional plays or musicals) before this?

Gallagher II?
 
posted by Herodios at 11:31 AM on June 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Good article. It's been interesting to me to see how Blue Man Group started as this sort of weird, artsy thing; eventually got some mainstream notice; and now has evolved its own set of traditions & institutional characteristics to the point where it's repeatable like a play, Broadway musical, or symphony.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:15 PM on June 29, 2015


They may still have ended up getting it sealed as I don't remember reading the particulars of the trick.

Spoiler alert
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:17 PM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Funny that it wasn't even weird and artsy for that long. Like it was founded in 1991 in NYC, and was being franchised to Boston four years later.
posted by smackfu at 12:31 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The BMG also do corporate gigs that... well, let's just say that a friend was at a big event one evening hosted by $techcompanywhosehardwareyouown, where the BMG were the highlight of the show. Later, after chilling with his tribe at the bar in the venue, said friend got a bit lost trying to find his way out. He opened a door into a large room where there were stage lights, a trio of Blue Men and... another trio of Blue Men. Who looked strangely familiar. Who turned out to be the CEO of $TCWHYO plus two of his senior henchmen. Who were most unhappy to be eyeballed by a mildly tipsy trade hack in their state of extreme Blueness. "I didn't see this!" he yelled while backing out, and nothing was ever said subsequently.

He's not sure whether it was some sort of theatrical group therapy/training session, "part of the package" for fun and giggles, or a special request from Mr Blue and his Two Blue Meanies.

Odd things happen at these events.
posted by Devonian at 12:57 PM on June 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I tried out for the Blue Man Group once! They had an open audition in downtown SF in what must have been early 2002. (I had just broken up with the guy I was seeing--who had taken me to see BMG in Vegas!--and I took a sick day from a job I was frustrated by... and I decided to do something ridiculous.) I was up for anything.

I have never otherwise auditioned for a performance-type gig* but it's exactly like those scenes in movies & TV shows where you go into a room and there's a ton of people sitting around who look vaguely like you. At this point they were probably allowing women to audition, I don't remember if there were any there. Nobody talks. I think we were called into the next room in small groups. There were just two "tests" to pass to get through this stage of the process - I don't even remember if I gave them a résumé.

Test #1: Put on this latex bald cap and stand by this wall. Because they were looking for a certain type of uniformity, they were only selecting people who were between 5'10" and 6'1" and presumably had an unremarkable head size/shape. (I'm a little taller than the range, but I stooped over a little.) I passed.

Test #2: Take these drumsticks and copy this rhythm. (Which... I don't know how I would even have thought I'd make a go of it at this point. No coordination.) Reader, I failed miserably. Like, within five minutes I was politely escorted back out onto the street in time for lunch.

*OK, well, once I somehow got myself invited to the Washington Nationals' mascot tryouts, but I think I signed an NDA. Takeaway: those costumes reek like boy howdy and it is very hard to not fall down.
posted by psoas at 1:33 PM on June 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


He's not sure whether it was some sort of theatrical group therapy/training session, "part of the package" for fun and giggles, or a special request from Mr Blue and his Two Blue Meanies.

Part of me wants to think "ooh weird Stonecutter esoteric activity-maybe-sex-party", but it was probably a corporate video being filmed as a private joke/message to someone/etc.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:01 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]



I wonder, had anyone sort of franchised an art performance concept (outside of traditional plays or musicals) before this? I believe Stomp was formed in 1991 in the UK and had at least two troops touring the US by 1995.
posted by HappyHippo at 2:41 PM on June 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


You know, for a long time I thought the Blue Man Group was just some goofy promotional gimmick that Intel came up with, like the Silicon Valley equivalent of Ronald McDonald or King Burger.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:57 PM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see a count of just how many banging-drums-theatrically groups there are. It seems like there are always ads in the subway for Blue Man or Stomp or Cookin' or whatever.
posted by Bugbread at 5:56 PM on June 29, 2015


I'd like to know more about the "old, old clown exercises". Good to know there are still things that cannot be Googled.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:06 PM on June 29, 2015


I have seen BMG 5 times now - 4 times in Chicago and once here in Toledo. They never fail to delight me.

My favorite photo of the Monsters and their girlfriends was taken with a Blue Man in Chicago - my four darlings grinning like nad, and the Blue Man sort of smirking. The show had been so much fun!

How fascinating, to get a peek behind the scenes.
posted by MissySedai at 10:05 PM on June 29, 2015


I always associated them with Mummenschanz, which has been around since 1972.
posted by benzenedream at 3:55 AM on June 30, 2015


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