Arthur Koestler, the Dada movement, and James Joyce believed that creativity can be found in taking old art and remixing in new and interesting ways. How this remixing happens could be as deliberate as direct editing, or as random as pulling words of a cut-up manuscript from a hat.
I found remixed creativity in a transcription service.
I have a bad habit of not writing out scripts for shows before I perform them. Instead, I write down the major topics I want to cover, and kind of make-it-up-as-I-go-along while I’m on stage. When I’m not constricted by a pre-written script, I have a theory that I ad-lib ideas, jokes, and other turn of phrases.
(I called this a bad habit, as it also means I’m continually thinking ahead during the first two or three performances. I’m not always connecting to the audience as my mind is otherwise occupied. I’m intending to makes a complete script before my next performance, and many rehearsals!)
I recently made use of a transcription service to write out the script of my stage show “Rough Science: LIFE.” I didn’t envy the task that the transcriber faced; I pulled the audio from a video of the show, so the sound isn’t always clear. For the most part the finished transcript is very accurate, though littered with a number of sections where I’ve gabbled, been muffled, or I’ve used a not-so-common turn of phrase. The poor, faceless transcriber has done their best, yet some of these moments have clearly been befuddling.
For instance, according to the transcript, I said to an audience member: “Nick. Hi, Nick. You’ve got bunny ears.”
At another point, I apparently got a touch of Tourette’s:
Okay, okay. Well, eventually scratch that one off. Okay. Okay. No writing. Don’t write the equipment. Okay, there we you go. Any representatives of the museum here? Oh, bug off.
More strange interactions with the audience:
Male Speaker: Just now little seekers. Okay.
Speaker 4: Thank you, sir.
And the odd moment of poetry. Instead of “an apocryphal memory”, the transcriber heard “a pot full of memory.” I think I’ll keep that one.