Too Much Sass


By: Danny Blanda

*Please read with an appropriate level of sass.

A quick story to preface:

At the KCACTF Region IV Irene Ryan Acting Competition preliminary meeting, one of the heads of the event acknowledged a personal blunder the conference had made. Only certain rooms had a piano for an accompanist to play in. By mistake, the festival had placed actors who were singing in rooms that lacked the required accompanist. The speaker apologized by saying, “We accidentally have made this mistake and we will fix this before the first round.”

There was a vocal semi-sarcastic rebuttal  from the audience including, “Yes you did!,” ““That’s right you will!” or my personal favorite, “Mmmhhmmm…”

The speaker had already acknowledged the faux pas and was addressing it appropriately, but members of the packed audience still felt the need to express their personal feelings in a sarcastic fashion. Was it funny, sort of… but it came across a bit snippy. Laughter rewarded these marks, but everyone in the room knew what the vocal replies were really trying to say. This was a classic case of sass.

Some say that sass goes back as far as the cavemen; some say it came from the French, but it has in fact been originated and handed down by the ancient Greeks. This is because only the ancient Grecian theatre could house all of the proper ingredients to invent such a thing as sass. Here is the chemical breakdown of the ingredients for sass:


  1. The Ego: In an artistic environment, one has a tendency to run into Egos. Theatre is no exception to this. An Ego places a primary focus on “the self.” The Ego wants to boast and enhance “the self’s” best attributes. Egos can be both beneficial and detrimental to an artistic process. Though Ego’s help enhance drive and a desire to succeed, they also can neglect those around “the self.” Sometimes this can be done without remorse or courtesy for another. Egos tend to coincide with…
  2. Opinions: and everyone’s got one. People have a tendency to place their personal opinions on a pedestal. There is a “My Way or Not Broadway” mentality.
  3. Collaboration: Even the best of artists are forced to work with someone else. Let’s face it; even a one-man show has a crew. To complicate matters, people’s opinions will time and time again be conflicting. When conflicting opinions reach a boil…
  4. Confrontation occurs. In an artistic process (and life in general), we try to avoid confrontation at all costs, but sometimes we can’t. It happens. However, instead of being direct with fellow artists, people occasionally will attempt to say something… without actually saying it. This is known as:
  5. Sass: A passive aggressive byproduct that says something without having to say something. Therefore, people feel that sass allows them to say things and not be accountable for any “accidental” cruelty or malice that is thrown. Let it be stated; there is no room for maliciousness in any process.

Sass can be fine in doses and can be in fact funny, but when it gets out of control it can be judgmental, rude and eventually lead to malice. At the end of the day, artists and specifically theatre professionals are here to help create and share an artistic journey/story. This has been a pleasant reminder to monitor one’s sass level in order to avoid harming the shared love of the arts for another.