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David Whitehouse and a Lifetime of Making People Laugh

Behind Closed Doors, Credit Jeffrey “Buzz” Crisafulli

By Lydia Weyrich, senior account executive at Irvin Public Relations

David Whitehouse is a metaperformer and the director of digital content and design at Columbus performing arts company, Shadowbox Live. David has been with the company for 30 years, and his latest creation and performance can be seen at Behind Closed Doors until June 2.

Lydia: How did you get started in the arts?
David: I grew up a fan of comedy, but my hometown didn’t have many outlets for kids like me. I was the best offensive guard in the orchestra, and the best violinist on the football team. Once I got to college (Miami of Ohio), I tried theater, improv and even formed a sketch comedy troupe. Making people laugh became my favorite thing to do.

Holiday Hoopla 2022, credit Jeffrey “Buzz” Crisafulli

Lydia: What led you to Shadowbox Live?
David: I moved to Columbus after college to get a job with my brand-new journalism degree. I called every theater in the city to see if I could turn that degree into an internship writing press releases. The only place to take my call was Shadowbox Theater. They found out I had a theater background, and soon the PR internship interview turned into an audition. They hired me on the spot with a starting salary of $0, and I jumped at the chance. Soon I was performing in front of a live audience. I was hooked.

Lydia: What is something you wish you knew as a performer just starting out?
David: We’re all on our own journey, so don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others. It can create negativity and obstacles that hinder growth.

Lydia: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
David: Homemade nachos, gangster rap from the 80s and 90s, and the first two seasons of “Arrested Development.”

Credit Jeffrey “Buzz” Crisafulli

Lydia: What does your creativity process look like?
David: For writing, the process starts with an idea or a funny exchange—then, I try to tease it out to see if there’s a story to the idea. Next, I’m plagued with self-doubt making me hate everything I wrote. Then I revisit it in a week, and don’t hate it quite as much. And finally, I show it to people I trust for feedback. They say either, “There’s nothing here. Stop torturing yourself and pitch it,” or, “This is a great concept. Stop torturing yourself and finish it.”

For comedic acting, I read the script to see what the “job” of the character is—each role has a job to do in service of the comedy. If a sketch calls for a mild-mannered introvert, I figure out how I can bring those qualities to the surface onstage. My favorite part, though, is rehearsal. I work with so many talented actors that we all discover new moments onstage. And because our work is original, we work with the writers to help mold the characters for the biggest impact.

Let’s Get It On 2021, credit Jeffrey “Buzz” Crisafulli

Lydia: If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
David: I’m a nostalgia junkie, so I have terabytes of family videos from the past 60 years—I’d combine them into one movie, and watch that on repeat, endlessly. Or “Raising Arizona.”

Lydia: What are some of your favorite things about Columbus?
David: As a 30-year resident of the city, I can find a community for everything I was ever interested in engaging with. From my experience, Columbus is great for all the hip-hop lovin’, mountain bike ridin’, classical music playin’, comic book collectin’, comedy-nerd-soccer-newbs who are looking for great Mexican food, free art, and a network of people, schools and programs to help them raise a family. I love the city, and I don’t even follow college sports!

You can see David’s latest work, Behind Closed Doors, at Shadowbox Live in the Brewery District through June 2. Tickets can be purchased at www.shadowboxlive.org.

This article is part of a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council as part of the Art Makes Columbus campaign. Explore a calendar of events, public art database and artist stories at columbusmakesart.com. To learn more about GCAC grants visit gcac.org.

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