So… you have, facilitating scene changes in the show, a band –
I don’t understand people’s fascination. It doesn’t seem-
Musical ninjas in a junk band? Come on.
It doesn’t seem like that extravagant of an idea to me. Seriously,
I guess it really doesn’t. It seems like a relatively pragmatic
And it seems as though you took something that you had to have in
the show, which were people to move things in and handle the puppets,
and you just chose to make them more of an interesting part of the
show. That seems to be the most basic way of looking at it.
Yeah, absolutely, I mean, that’s what I feel is relatively pragmatic.
I mean the show has all of these theatrical overtones, so that when
Truffaldino says “We made a wrong turn somewhere, maybe at the beginning
of the act.” It’s not just breaking the fourth wall, it’s shattering
the convention of the traditional relationship between the performer
and the audience, there’s a person to person complicity that happens
there and it’s written into the script and the idea of embodying
that in this roving band… yes… I just like the idea that they’re
some kind of bizarre hybrid between Teamsters and a house band.
Were they always musical in your original idea or was that a later
No, they were pretty much always musical. Here’s kind of what happened:
I realized that this was going down and I started thinking about
the idea and I started thinking of them as koken, I don’t know if
you’re familiar with that term, I think you are now that I chastised
you after I cast you as the Head Ninja and you asked what it was.
I dared ask a question.
So, what would you say that koken are, Tom?
The koken are-
[in the background we hear the smoldering funk of Prince come
over the speakers]
Oh, at this stage of the interview “Purple Rain” comes blaring on!
Fucking A. I definitely need another round of drinks.
I think we need another round of shots.
[Another round of shots are summarily dispatched
– this time we drank to Mike Dailey. Cheers, Mike]
Okay, so back to musical ninjas since we’ve been stalling since
Tom got drinks.
Why don’t you give a more replete definition of koken?
They’re used in some types of Japanese theatre to manipulate scenery,
puppets, and other parts of the show. They aren’t considered characters,
they’re simply facilitators on stage of the show action.
They’re a convention. If this guy comes out and he’s wearing all
black, he’s got a black bag on his head you just ignore him. He’s
Knowing that we were working with puppets and knowing that we were
going to dealing with some-
What kind of puppets are they dealing with?
Oh, they’re dealing with all kinds of puppets.
Chris Hainsworth is in a full body head to toe, possibly on roller-skates
[laughing] Not on roller-skates, oh my God.
He might be, in which case the ninjas would need to be pushing and
pulling him all around.
I was going to say…
It would be all over but the crying.
So, we’ve got him. We got the actual Green Bird puppet,
we’ve got Serpentina and we’ve got a multitude of other miscellaneous
yet devious puppets.
Since I knew that the koken (as they were then known) were going
to be dealing with the puppets, I knew that I was going to be seeing
them and I started thinking about koken and… it’s just so nineties.
Koken are so nineties. You know, I’ve got fucking twenty-first
century ninjas, man. And I’m saying that this is forward looking,
these are the ninjas of the future. Because, instead of just ignoring
them, we’re talking advantage of the fact that there’re people out
there and I’m trying to fill up those roles with some of the cooler
people that we know and the freakier people we know. The idea,
again, is to engage the audience on a different level. As opposed
to just having this thing, this person that’s basically just a thing
out there holding something up in the air.
And pretending he’s not there.
Exactly. Now we have this whole crew. And think there’s actually
some weird renegade thing happening. I think they’re developing
some secret hand signals or something like that because when I go
in there every once in a while there’ll just be mysterious laughter.
I don’t know what they’re doing.
I had a question about the ninja that totally escapes me-
“Ninjas.” “Ninjas.” It’s “ninjas”, Tom.
Is that truly the plural of “ninja?”
In my world it certainly is and at 3829 North Broadway –
I thought it was like “antelope” –
It’s different than “antelope,” he says with a starting to get glassed
over look in his eye.
I think we need another shot.
[Consulting the dictionary we discover that both “Ninja” and
“Ninjas” are proper plurals]
[And another shot was actually NOT consumed
at this point – what do you think we are? A bunch of incorrigible