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Performing Arts

Going green

The human lizard comes to Norman to share his philosophy and talent.

Joshua Boydston February 8th, 2012

Erik “The Lizardman”
Sprague with Rundus,
Jeramy Westbrook,
and James & James
7 p.m. Thursday
113 N. Crawford, Norman
$8 advance, $12 door

The show doesn’t stop when comedian Erik Sprague exits stage left. The full-body tattoos, forked tongue, Teflon horns and sharpened fangs make sure of that.

Aka “The Lizardman,” Sprague has undergone a series of body modifications to help him become, by most appearances, a lizard, and the crowd’s attention is always on him.

“My body is a gigantic coloring book at this point,” Sprague said.

He hatched the idea for the project as a graduate student studying the philosophy of language. After reading litanies of diaries from sideshow freaks and old circus performers, he approached his body as performance art and social experiment — not only by altering his body, but learning a sword-swallowing, suspension and laying over a bed of nails. “I braced myself for being totally ostracized and outcast,” he said. “As it turns out, the overwhelming majority seems to think it’s cool.”

In a lot of cases, an encounter on the street leads The Lizardman to making a person’s day. “Just by going outside and walking around, I can have a pretty profound effect on people,” Sprague said. “Cars swerve and cause accidents and things like that. It’s weird to think I have that involvement in other people’s lives just trying to make myself happy.”

He doesn’t claim to be doing divine work, but he has done his fair share of motivating people to strive for their deep desires, however weird.

“If someone can see me onstage and I inspire them, that’s great,” he said. “Even if I just make them laugh, I’m all set. I’m not changing the world, but there’s a chance for impact.”

While sideshow stunts and the like remain Sprague’s bread and butter, he increasingly has focused on storytelling and stand-up comedy. His show is an amalgamation of all his interests — stunts included — and he’s got a wealth of oddball experiences to pull from for his act.

“The nice thing about being a professional sideshow freak is that a lot of weird things happen to me,” he said. “My own life provides a lot of jokes.”

His style has been compared to Henry Rollins, Doug Stanhope and Joe Rogan … but The Lizardman is quick to point out he is one-of-a-kind.

“I’ve got a unique take on most things,” Sprague said. “I’m pretty much the only guy with a green face talking about any of these things.”

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