Michael Biggins

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Michael Biggins
Michael biggins aka blackout 2010.jpg
Born Michael Bigansky
Queens, NY
Other names Blackout
Occupation Actor, Writer, Director, Comedian, Talk Radio & TV Show Host, Philosopher & Sound Designer
Known for Prank caller Actor Trickster Talk Show Host
Website
http://blackout.com

Michael Biggins (born as Michael Bigansky) is an American film actor, writer, director, and radio and TV show host best known for performing under the name of Blackout in a wide variety of pranks, prank call recordings, radio and TV shows, films, and original characters created and performed under that performance name. He has stated that Blackout is an alter ego trickster persona and that he uses that name when performing various comedy or philosophical works, and his real name – Michael Biggins, when acting in dramatic or commercial roles. When performing on stage or in films as Blackout, he usually wears a hat of some type and is particularly fond of Victorian era top hats and canes.

Biography[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Biggins was born in Queens, New York, and moved to Florida at a young age shortly after his parents divorce. He got the nickname Blackout and made his debut as a performer on Piper High School high school radio station WKPX in Sunrise, Florida when he was just 13.[1] While in radio class and when he first went on the air, lightning struck the transmitter antenna. The lightning strike blew the antenna in half, causing an electrical blackout in the school for several hours, and bringing the radio station down for over 6 months. The students held fundraisers to fix the antenna and other repairs. Since he was the only person on the air when this happened, his teachers and fellow students started calling him by the nickname Blackout and it stuck.

Having nothing to do as a DJ during the several month period that the station was off the air, Blackout started recording original prank calls and creating elaborate stories and characters in studio B (the practice and secondary production studio at WKPX). The actual on air studio was studio A. Many students and teachers would refer to studio B as 'studio Blackout', because of the amount of time that Biggins (now referred to on air as Blackout) spent recording in it. He would record his various sketches and prank calls on huge 1/4 inch reel to reel tape machines which were standard recording equipment for radio stations at the time and then dub them to more portable cassette tapes and distribute them around school and encourage people to copy and give them away. It is during this 6 month time period of 88.5 WKPX being off the air that he also procured a 1-800 number called the Kookline which was a voice mail box, that could handle 8 multiple callers at the same time. Biggins would change the prank call or sketch anywhere from once a day to once a week, and some of the messages would be in excess of 45 minutes. Callers would enter a secret code (269 which is the word BOX on a telephone keypad) you would be greeted by Blackout saying, "welcome to my box", which eventually turned into "welcome to Blackout's Box".[2]

Early career[edit]

Biggins is best known on the internet as his Blackout persona, and for being the first to stream prank calls in real time with RealAudio 1.0, and then later releasing streaming videos and a live streaming radio show far before Shoutcast or social media sharing networks such as YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, or any other media sharing sites existed. His website Blackout.com was registered on July 25, 1995[3] and contains thousands of hours of his original material from pre 1995 on to the present,[4] all streamable and free. Some of the older material is still in the old Real Audio format but can be played using a multi-codec player such as VLC media player.

Albums / discography[edit]

Blackout has hundreds upon hundreds of prank calls and sketches, most of which have only been released for limited times during his live radio show or on his website. All of Blackout's material has been or is currently offered free on his site. He has mostly been financially supported by fan donations and by several different corporate sponsors and friends who helped keep the site going for so long and in paying for the extreme bandwidth costs. While currently there is nothing for sale from his site (the store is still there but the order links don't work), he did put out three albums for sale of what he considered to be some of his best prank call material:

Blackout's Box - The Insanity Volume I [5][edit]

A 70-minute CD, originally released in 1998, which contains the following tracks:

  1. The Dog Beaters
  2. The Sins of Kilty O'Neal
  3. Grandma & Jacklyn
  4. Gimme a Smart One
  5. The Rrrrrrooksnitchzien Society
  6. The Hair Catastrophe
  7. I've Got Talent Part One (starring Mikey Christopher Lewis)
  8. A Crackhouse Christmas (bonus track)

Blackout's Box, The Insanity Volume II [6][edit]

A follow up CD released about a year later that is considered a much darker album, with pranks that take on a slightly more serious, if not somewhat harassing, tone at times compared to most of Blackout's other pranks which are more along the styles of theatre of the absurd or Surreal humour. The tracks on The Insanity Volume II are as follows:

  1. Are You Crazy?
  2. Take Your Medicine
  3. Hello Motherf&*ker
  4. Gimme a Smart One
  5. Corporate Shit
  6. Malcolm & the White Boys
  7. Yoyoyoyoyo
  8. Chen Lee and the Burning Pot of Fire

In addition to the actual standard audio tracks, this album is a Mixed Mode CD that had an additional 4 hours of original material that could be played when inserted into a computer cd-rom drive. In addition, Blackout signed most of these discs and very few are in circulation. Blackout's last official album that was released and sold on a physical CD medium was entitled:

The Quanicles – The Quan Chronicles – The Greatest Prank Call of All Time[7][edit]

It is one album with one track, wholly dedicated to one single 45-minute recording that is a series of prank calls to one family with a son named Quan, where Blackout takes on the roles and voices of four characters in real time, trying to convince Quan that a battle is still raging somewhere in the jungles of Vietnam, and that Quan must come and join his brother and fight. Blackout plays four different characters during the call and often talks to himself as the characters with some taking sides with Quan, and some against him. The characters that Blackout improvises on the spot are: Master Shredder, an ancient Ninja master from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame, Matt Cheddar, a young boy whose name is a play on the name Master Shredder, Joanna, the Southern Loving Bell operator, and John Dandel, the police officer and authority figure who holds a form of phone court to solve the mystery of who is prank calling whom. The Quanicles was very well received and garnered a huge fan base and very positive reviews from prank call fans and popular humor sites around the world such as I-mockery.com.[8] The Quanicles can be found in several forms all over the Internet and on YouTube as well as the original 45+ minute series of calls on Blackout's official site. Many prank call aficionado sites[according to whom?] list The Quanicles as one, if not the, greatest prank-crank call series ever made, or at least have it in their top ten lists of greatest pranks of all time[according to whom?]. While Blackout did sell these albums, they were in very limited numbers and the material on them was always available for free on his official site and still is at the current time. His manic energy and character switching style in these calls has been compared by several reviewers[according to whom?] and magazines[according to whom?] to that of radio host Phil Hendrie and actor-comedian Robin Williams.

Critical success[edit]

Blackout and his website / radio show was the main focus of an 8 page South Florida's New Times.[2] and has also been commented on and interviewed in many local, national, and international magazines, newspapers, and websites. The first world wide notability being a full color full page review/interview in the 1998 internationally distributed UK based magazine .NET (a magazine very similar at the time to WIRED magazine). Issue 44 Spring 1998, page 13 [9] has the article, and additionally Blackout.com has held the number 2 humor spot since 2002 to current (2010) in the largest selling actual printed (2 million + copies) internet guide book of all time: Harley Hahn's Internet Yellow Pages.[10] Harley Hahn's review of Blackout is as follows: "Every time I visit Blackout's Box I end up laughing and laughing out loud. This Web site features crank phone calls made by a wonderful, talented actor. These recordings are, by far, the funniest such calls I have ever heard. If you need a good laugh right now, you know what to do."

Blackout has also been involved in numerous notable pranks that have garnered national attention such as when he prank called actor Christian Slater and kept him on the phone for almost an hour after he got the actors's phone number from Paris Hilton's leaked sidekick phone device.[11] This call received notice from shock jock Howard Stern's show where Howard Stern was quoted as saying, "this dude who runs an internet radio show broke Christian Slater's balls for 45 minutes...it was hysterical." [12] He was also on Good Morning America live from Times Square promoting the Blue Man Group,but as one of his characters - Trumpet the complimentary Dinopup. In the Good Morning America segment, Trumpet complains that he hates New York because, "it's too expensive." [13]

Film contest and after[edit]

In 2007, Biggins worked in the movie Film Contest? in which several filmmakers are competing to win a 5 million dollar budget to make the movie of their dreams. Biggins plays the character Milton Butterfly, one of several competing film makers vying for the 5 million dollar prize.[14] He is credited as actor Michael Biggins in the film, but thanked as Blackout in the official film credits and on IMDB. Ironically, in the movie, the character he plays, "Milton Butterfly," is an eccentric Willy Wonka looking type DJ / Film Maker. The film won Best Feature in the 2009 Delray Beach Film Festival.[15]

Biggins' also has a long list of theater / stage credits and has appeared as the lead 'Trevor' several times in Bedroom Farce, as well as major roles in The Foreigner, Noises Off, Greater Tuna, The Mousetrap, The Wiz, Is there life after high school? and other plays, with his last theater role in Florida being that of skyBOY in "Grandma Sylvia's Funeral",[16] an audience participation comedy that ran at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. After that, he moved to Orlando and worked for various theme park companies doing voice overs for rides and interactive character work.

Current activity 2008 to present[edit]

After about a two year hiatus, he relocated to New York City and rebooted his radio show "Blackout's Box LIVE" from a studio in Manhattan, slightly changing the name to "BLACKOUT RADIO" as well as "BLACKOUT LIVE" because he thought that "Blackout's Box" was perhaps too confusing to people or too hard to remember and spell correctly into web browsers. He wanted people to easily remember him as Blackout, and that they could always find him at his Blackout.com official website. This is when he publicly released his logo / sigil to identify and imprint his Blackout identity visually.[17]

His show also changed somewhat from a purely comical nature to a slightly spiritual / philosophical slant, which gained some new audience members praise and annoyed some older fans who tuned in purely for his blatantly over the top prank calls and characters.

As of 2010, his radio show went on temporary hold as he decided to restructure it. Many old shows are still streamable on demand from his official website, which has been up for over 15 years since he was a high school freshman. His show is scheduled to re-open officially on his own 24/7 radio & TV blackout network on 11/11/11 (a number of supposed important personal significance to him) accompanied by a complete redesign and relaunch of the website. In NYC, he shifted his focus primarily to acting & film making and opened up a production company called Blackout's Box Studios as can be seen from his official Facebook page.[18]

In January 2011, he re-opened his blog but put it on a separate domain Blackout's Blog (http://blackoutsblog.com) than his official site. His blog description is as such:

One man with a hat saves the world through serious silliness. Welcome to Blackout's Blog, where pop culture meets spirituality. These are the insane rantings of a trickster from the Trifid Nebula trapped in an outsane world. All writings are Holy Texts from The Thrice Great Book of Stink (the first two Holy Books of Stink were lost)& The Sacred Holy Teachings of the Thrice Great Okapi. Father Franker Fatter O.E.O.O.OH

The blog is a combination of satirical pop culture absurdest humor mixed in with occultism and new age references.

Blackout/Biggins is currently performing in Off Broadway shows in NYC and is also very active in the independent film community on both the talent and technical sides. His IMDB listing shows him as an actor, sound designer, and director of photography on several projects,[19] and on his website message board and his official Facebook Blackout page he has stated that he is currently working on releasing a full length feature film called "DESTINY ORIGIN" [20] which will be a two part sci-fi philosophical tragicomedy with the second part being named "ORIGIN DESTINY" [21]

The two films are one story, with the names spiraling into each other like a DNA strand. Both films are being shot back to back using the latest high end high definition digital film techniques for a theatrical release. He has not stated the first film will be shot in conventional 2D and the second film in 3D.

He was the sole sound mixer on an official Sundance selection short film (AWOL) and was nominated at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Blackout TV & Blackout Radio launch 24/7[edit]

As of 01/01/11, Blackout redesigned his website and began the beta test phase of broadcasting Blackout TV 24/7 on his site and on smartphones using Livestream technology, and his new live interactive TV show, Blackout's Box LIVE! Sunday evenings from 9pm to 11:59pm eastern standard time.

In early April 2011 he also launched Blackout Radio, a 24/7 comedy & awareness or 'silliness & spirituality' radio station in a deal with a company called TuneIn that provides a free app of the same name that allows Blackout's station and talk show to be heard wireless and globally on almost every smartphone, computer, and tablet type device as well as some newer model automobiles. At the station launch, he put up 2000+ hours of previously recorded shows from 2002 to the present into rotation. Many of the shows contain prank calls, bits, guest interviews, sketches, character monologues and much material that was never isolated and made available on the site or on his albums if you had missed it on the live show. He also put out a call for talent on his website and official Facebook fan page that he was looking for show hosts who are 'massively intelligent, funny, aware, and creative' to come up with original shows to fill the 24/7 lineup for both his TV and radio networks while he himself continues to do his live show Blackout's Box LIVE! on Sunday nights. His show is also available 24/7 via a conventional shoutcast 128k cd quality stream.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role
2005 Power Play Host
20 Something Host
2007 Film Contest? Milton Butterfly

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]