Critique from an expert

The Annoyance's Lilly Allison

“The same things that entertain us now are the things that entertained us as babies. When we see a clown wearing a ballerina tutu and cowboy boots, it makes us giggle. We don’t expect it. When we flip the parts over to make the full ballerina again, with her hair in a bun and wearing ballet shoes, it’s not funny. It’s normal. But when we flip it to see that clown head again, we almost can’t help but laugh.”

-Lilly Allison (bio)

Sketch comedy teaser

I plan on expanding on this very soon, but I have to share part of my experience from this morning. In my workshop, I asked Shadowbox Cabaret’s head writer if any of their six writers were women. “Not to put you on the spot,” I assured him.

“Yes, two are women,” he replied. “And they write our foulest, most offensive jokes. If you read in the Dispatch someone in a review saying, ‘I can’t believe they did that,’ one of them wrote it.”

More to come.

Stand Up Comedy in Columbus

Finally, comedy with pictures. Last night I went to check out the first night of the Columbus Comedy Festival. I walked in during Comedy Revolver’s set and wasn’t immediately clear about what was going on at first. There were four guys, one standing and the other three sitting behind a table on stage at Wild Goose Creative. One guy was doing stand up while the others chimed in, usually with a joke at the expense of the comedian standing. I got to hear sets by three of the four guys, who rotated, or revolved, so each had a turn entertaining the audience. They are pictured in this Dispatch article about the festival, and last night they joked they’d gotten a lot of comments about their take on the famous “Dogs Playing Poker” painting.

Comedy Revolver; Standing, comedian Jeff Burgstrom

All of them were very funny, the fourth guy whom I made this determination of based on his comments and asides. The only thing was, it seemed a little disorienting with the four of them up there, constantly interrupting and one-upping each other. I realize what I’ve just said is more or less the point of their act (and the Dispatch article confirms this), which is fine, except it took a really long time for the poor guy standing at any given time to get through a bit. In fact, the last guy who went up was ultimately rushed off to make way for the next event, and since he’d been interrupted by his partners several minutes earlier, his last joke was never concluded. The untold joke.

Parlor Tricks, taking on the winter Olympics

At 9:30, Parlor Tricks, one of the game improv troupes I had seen earlier this month at The Thirsty Ear, came on stage. While they played many of the games I had seen a couple weeks earlier, it’s not like there were any repeats of material because, in improv, the punchline’s never the same twice. The audience suggestions trigger the scene and they take a different direction every time. Sure, there were some similarities, and I noticed they had the same people playing the same roles in the games (the same two men were the Olympic announcers in one “repeated” sketch and the same man and woman were the athletes, but the sport was different and the jokes fresh. Incidentally, both times I saw the Fake Winter Olympics Sport Broadcast sketch, one of the Olympians ended up murdering the other. But at least it wasn’t the same Olympian or cause of death both times).

8th Floor Improv

After Parlor Tricks, a troupe I hadn’t seen yet performed. The group, 8th Floor Improv, is made up of several OSU students and they were very talented. One of the women in my improv class told me she heard they practice three times a week, perhaps as part of a theatre class? I’m not sure. In any case, they were very funny. Also, don’t assume as I did that college students will only do improv about being college students. They had a much wider spectrum of characters beyond being themselves, from plumbers to parents to gangsters in a botched drive-by. I couldn’t stay for their whole set because it got to be too late, but I hope to see them again.

The comedian performed between events; his name is Dean. I can't find his last name listed anywhere. Sorry, Dean he Comedian

I am more and more looking forward to my Saturday work shop on sketch writing. It’s only $5 if you want to come along. I will probably be going to more of the festival on Saturday after class, and if all goes well, I hope to shoot some short video there. I will at the very least be bringing my camera so I won’t have to rely on my phone. The iPhone being a sentient being and all, it knows I love it, but sadly it just doesn’t produce the highest quality photos.

On a final note, it turns out our improv instructor has deemed our class worthy of an actual performance at the end of our class. Since the festival’s going on and our workshop with The Annoyance takes both Saturday and Sunday, it will not be this weekend. Instead, those invited are welcome to attend our one time only performance on Tuesday, March 2 at Wild Goose Creative. If you are reading this, you are now invited. Even if I don’t know you, I promise I won’t think you’re too weird for showing up to my amateur performance. Come introduce yourself; I’ll be the one with blonde curly hair, trying not to throw up for nerves.

A cool display at Wild Goose Creative

For your musical education

I made a CD for one of my cousins yesterday. It started out with me burning a copy of a local band’s EP for my uncle, who was interested in hearing them (They are Saintseneca, by the way, and three of its four members are from my small hometown). After I burned that, I decided to make a playlist of some Pandora finds I had recently downloaded. Then I burned a copy of it for Brett, who seems to like a similar stream of bands as me. I didn’t really know what he’d think of the gesture, or even the music, since it’s a little heavy on female vocalists. But I did it anyway, remembering that Owen used to keep me well supplied with a steady flow of music when he was in college, and even after we were both graduated, on occasion. As a result of having a sibling, my musical tastes are well integrated with his, and I’m really okay with that. More so, I am really glad for it. I’m not sure if Brett will like my CD, or even listen to it, but it seemed like the right thing to do. Worst case scenario, he hates it. Best case scenario, he makes me a CD right back.

The “What I am Listening to This Month” Playlist (Feb. 24, 2010)

  1. Rogue Wave, “Chicago X 12”
  2. Ani DiFranco, “Both Hands”
  3. Brand New, “Jesus Christ”
  4. Tegan and Sara, “Living Room”
  5. MGMT, “Kids”
  6. Loquat, “Swingset Chain”
  7. Ben Folds feat. Regina Spektor, “You Don’t Know Me”
  8. Eisley, “Trolley Wood”
  9. Iron & Wine, “Boy With A Coin”
  10. Metric, “Twilight Galaxy”
  11. Peter Bjorn and John, “Young Folks”
  12. Levy, “Rotten Love”
  13. Bloc Party, “So Here We Are”
  14. Tegan and Sara, “Where Does the Good Go”
  15. The Airborne Toxic Event, “Sometime Around Midnight”
  16. Rogue Wave, “Lake Michigan”
  17. Sufjan Stevens, “Chicago”

When I gave it to him he said he’d heard Rogue Wave and liked them, anyway.

The show must go on

If I am blogging during this self-imposed blogging hiatus, am I taking a hiatus from my hiatus?

Despite the tumultuous life I’ve been living this month (what, me exaggerate? Never) I am still doing improv. I missed class due to a work conference and another class had to be rescheduled due to snow, but the whole thing wraps up this weekend with our promised work shop with a woman from Chicago’s Annoyance theatre.

Also, between classes, I have taken a couple evenings to explore the local improv scene in Columbus. One Tuesday night I went to The Thirsty Ear and saw four different troupes, all of whom perform “game” style improv, most notably popularized by “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” I mentioned doing Improv Night at my old college house and failing spectacularly; now I know why. Game improv and two person scenes are completely different animals. You tell me to speak only in song titles and if I don’t I lose, I will plummet like a rock. However, as it turns out, if you tell me I can get on stage and say the first thing that pops in my head, and that there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer, well, I might just find words. I might do better at games now that I have some experience under my belt, but I am pretty sure I am nowhere near the league of the talent I saw that night on stage. The troupes I saw were Fake Bacon, Parlor Tricks, the Shimmy Shake Project and one guest troupe whose name I can’t find. Oh, and you guys, I am pretty sure I saw the next Seth Rogen up there. No joke.

Not only does my class wrap up this weekend, but starting tomorrow, the Comedy Columbus Festival kicks off for the next three days. See the full schedule here. This isn’t just improv (although you’ll see a lot of it); this is the local stand up scene, which I am extremely excited to see for myself, and also there’s three work shops on Saturday that sound amazing. Unfortunately two of them take place during the time I’ll be with my improv class, but the one I am most interested in is at ten that morning: A work shop on comedy sketch writing, led by a writer for the Shadowbox. I just read about this today and I seriously have never been so excited about waking up that early on a Saturday before.

I got my laptop back last month. Two weeks ago it died again. Randomly, last night, when I half heartedly tried to turn it on, it worked. So I was able to save the few pages of my screenplay I started. And if I save often enough I may be able to add to those pages before it dies suddenly once more, as it seems prone to do. If the festival wasn’t starting tomorrow after I visit my brother and sister-in-law, I’d be heading to my coffee shop to force some creativity, but alas. Maybe I’ll be feeling inspired Saturday after my writing work shop and class.

So you may be wondering why I am being so weird. I don’t blame you. The short version of the story is this: I no longer live with, or date, my live-in boyfriend. He didn’t do anything wrong. We just are not each other’s “the one,” like we thought we were in college, when we were different people. I am feeling pretty sad, and he probably is, too, but we are going to come out of this stronger. Or at least I have to keep telling myself that or I will freaking lose it. Thanks for your calls and general reachings out. I am staying with family right now, who have been extremely understanding and supportive. There are no kinder, more generous people than my aunt and uncle. I don’t know what I would be doing right now if not for them.

And so, please stay tuned, because this weekend is going to be legen– wait for it — dary.*

*So, Eileen got me watching the first couple seasons of “How I Met Your Mother” this month. Hilarious!

“Boston,” Augustana

She said, I think I’ll go to Boston,
I think I’ll start a new life;
I think I’ll start it over
Where no one knows my name.
I’ll get out of California
I’m tired of the weather
I think I’ll get a lover and
Fly him out to Spain.
I think I’ll go to Boston,
I think that I’m just tired
I think I need a new town
To leave this all behind.
I think I need a sunrise;
I’m tired of the sunset
I hear it’s nice in the summer;
Some snow would be nice.

Blogging hiatus

I realize I haven’t posted once until now for the month of February. I’m not going all Salinger on you (RIP), I’ll be back. I’m just taking a break at the moment to get some thoughts straight. If you are someone I know, I welcome your call, e-mail, text, etc. But I am not ready to blog my heart out just yet. Thanks for your patience.


The Sleeper Hit