The Denver band Watch Yourself Die is not satisfied with the typical relationship between performer and audience. A passive listener will not make it through unscathed. The name of the band is no mistake, it speaks to an inevitable journey inward, a kind of ego-death, or the disintegration of the known.
At a Watch Yourself Die show you will witness Ray Diess, lead singer and songwriter of the group, parade around the venue throwing himself into people’s laps, yelling directly into their faces, climbing into trash bins, and writhing on the floor, amongst other acts.. One might mistake him for a clown.
On the contrary, according to Diess’, he is a “bouffon” – a “bouffon” is a modern French theater term used to describe a style of performance within the art of mockery. The bouffon is not laughed at, rather the bouffon helps us laugh at ourselves. Watch Yourself Die’s goal is to push mockery to the point of parody, poking fun at the status quo, social norms, and cultural dogmas.
Diess’s idea is to expose covert power dynamics between all people. He embodies an ever-changing, paradoxical character that is both beautiful and disgusting, intelligent and idiotic, charming yet flawed. He insults and flatters the audience, and in doing so, he challenges people to contemplate their immediate judgements. Is he to be trusted? In some cases the audience is sent into a reactionary state – they joke back, take part in his pranking, and dish out some mockery in return. And ultimately, the energy in the room is liberated.
The therapy of comedy releases people from the drudgery of the mundane. Inhibitions seem pointless, the seriousness of everyday life is stripped away. Watch Yourself Die shows us that, yes, a part of our self-importance does die when we learn to let go– and that’s pretty cool.
Check them out live at D3 Arts March 10th!