John Cunningham for mayor

Paid for by John Cunningham

Tonight we went to Weinland Park in Italian Village to shoot John Cunningham’s response ad, which we will air a week from tomorrow on our Facebook page and YouTube channel. It was a lot of fun and Bill did great as usual. He’s so funny and he really gets the character, even though John Cunningham is nothing like Bill. He ad-libbed a really funny bit at the end that I left in, with some text running over top of it advertising the show’s website. It’s done and edited but we aren’t airing it until Friday, after Aryeh’s first one hits Monday morning.

Aryeh purchased just now, and Stacey’s been hard at work designing the site. I wrote some content last night and we should be pretty well on track with that before Oct. 1, our series premiere.

On Sunday, we’re filming Aryeh’s two campaign ads back to back at Owen and Jamie’s house, on their porch. I wrote the scripts last night and Aryeh made some small changes to them today. He seemed pretty happy with them. If his turn out like Bill’s did, we’ll have some pretty amazing promotional material to run before the show starts up.

Meanwhile, I’m taking the plunge and purchasing Final Cut Express tomorrow. As soon as that sucker comes in I’ll be shut up in my room editing on no sleep for days. I can’t wait!

Here we go…

Filming began this evening on “The Candidate.” It’s late, so I can’t say a whole lot about it. Just know that it was awesome, and we are 1/6 of the way through production. That is more than 0/6, and that is important. Everyone was awesome, the shots looked and sounded great and I feel awesome right now. One of the scenes was pretty complex and involved an unusually large prop, but our actor pulled it off perfectly and we got the shot. Pictures to come, but not until tomorrow night.

Speaking of tomorrow night, we’ve got our photo shoot with our candidate, played by Bill, my improv instructor from earlier this year. He is naturally hysterical and has the skills we felt we needed in someone to pull off this absurd character well. I am glad he is such a good sport and is willing to go through with my silly photo shoot ideas. I’ll likely post those tomorrow as well.

Day 2 of filming is Wednesday, but it’s just some simple interview segments that will be shot in a chair in my office, one by one. The heavy-duty stuff picks up Thursday, but my brother will be our DP that night (and the following week) and my friend Christine has volunteered to work crew. We still need someone to run Camera 2 (aka, my Flip Cam) but we’ll figure that out in due time.

A warmer trip to Chicago

I should be going to bed because I have to go to Twinsburg for work tomorrow, but I just really want to write.

Chicago was a great experience. Going there this time, the first time after I began to imagine what it would be like to live there, was important for me. I wanted to see how I felt there with this new idea for myself and my future, and it felt right. I was by myself a few times on this trip, and walking alone and navigating the city was exciting and fresh. This was also the first time in several visits that I was there when it wasn’t November, and I have to say, Chicago is gorgeous in fair weather. Maybe this conclusion means I should go back once more in the dead of winter before I decide for sure I want to live there.

Waiting on the red line

I rode to Chicago Friday with two women from improv, one of whom I’d taken my intro class with and one I’d met only two days earlier. I immediately got off on the wrong foot with one, who I was supposed to tell that the other woman and I would be arriving at her home by 7:45 that morning. I forgot, and she was clearly displeased but graceful about this unexpected arrival. An hour and a half and one breakfast at Panera Bread later, we hit the road as planned.

Outside the iO

Our carful arrived in Chicago around 6 p.m. Central time. The two women had reservations for an 8 p.m. show at the iO, or Improv Olympics. I rode the red line with them to the theater and, since I had a reservation with the rest of our group for the 10:30, I went off to get dinner by myself. I called my uncle, who lived in Chicago for a long time, to ask for a restaurant recommendation. I couldn’t find either of his suggestions, but since one of them had been a Mexican place and that sounded amazing at the time, I found a different one. After I ate I called one of the other travelers and found out they were on their way up. I walked back toward the red line to meet them and ran into them outside of the iO. It was still early, so we went to a bar across Clark St. to wait for the show’s doors to open.

We saw iO’s Improvised Shakespeare Company and it ended up being my favorite show of the trip. Five men dressed in Shakespearean clothes took an audience suggested title (“The Merchant of Penis”) and improvised an hour long show about a male gigolo. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. They are well versed in Shakespeare and take a class on the Bard once a month or something like that, to stay completely on point with their genre.

Bubble tea from Chinatown

The next morning, Saturday, I woke up later than anyone else in the room. The two women I’d rode up with left for Chinatown and offered to wait on me. I told them I’d catch up with them shortly, since Chinatown was only six blocks or so from where we were staying. I got ready and met up with them with my video camera. I carried the camera with me all day Saturday but ultimately only shot about eight minutes of footage; I probably won’t do anything with it, either. For people so used to being on stage, I could tell they were for the most part collectively uncomfortable on camera. As a videographer you’ve got to respect those kind of feelings.

I was kind of the odd one out of the group, since I am no longer taking improv classes and I opted out of the workshop Saturday afternoon. Most people left for the workshop at the Annoyance around 12:30, and I took the bus to the Magnificent Mile. The last time I’d been there was this past Thanksgiving, with Brandon’s family and that awareness made me really miss all of them. But, I tried to get past that and focus on the wonderful feeling of independence I had, all alone in a city I love, trying on dresses in stores with no one to rush me. Not that Brandon or anyone ever did, but not having to worry bout anyone else’s schedule or agenda was a nice feeling.

Showing team spirit

The Stanley Cup, in which the Chicago Blackhawks were competing, was going on while I was there of course, and I saw two interesting displays of support; on the bus ride up Michigan Avenue I saw a very formal looking public building with two stone lions outside– and they were wearing giant Blackhawk helmets. Then, outside of Tiffany’s, a male statue was not only holding up a very classic looking clock, but wearing a hockey jersey.

The Uptown Broadway Building near the Annoyance

Nearly four hours later, I navigated my way (via a useful iPhone app) to the Annoyance theater and waited for someone to call and let me know they were out of the workshop. They called around 5 when I was waiting in a Border’s Books and walked to a Starbucks near the theater to meet them. Together as a group again, we took the bus to a restaurant favored by many of the improvisers who’d taken a trip to Chicago last fall. We ate dinner and then watched two very different shows at the Annoyance.

The first was a three person troupe from Detroit, and they were really good. Almost every scene involved all three of them but they kept it going and fresh and interesting all the same. The second show was called Swear Jar, and it was actually scripted comedy, sort of. It was pretty dark, to be honest, but I knew it would be going into it, as that is the Annoyance’s reputation. It had some great moments, and some very inspired musical numbers, but I still maintain that Shakespeare was my favorite show of the trip.

A cool show poster I liked in the hallway at the Annoyance

On Sunday morning, I declined a second trip to Chinatown and slept in instead. I don’t know why, but I was exhausted almost the whole trip. I also forgot to pack my contact lenses so I had to wear my glasses the whole time, which I hated. I grabbed some coffee and a banana for breakfast and we headed back to Midway airport, where our car was parked. Then, we headed home. I slept at least two hours of the trip home, and then slept for another 11 hours that night.

Tomorrow I’m going to a Young Professionals of Columbus meeting, an organization I’m finally joining at my uncle’s suggestion when I actually voiced my very real concern of losing friends in the days after Brandon and I broke up. Nearly four months later, I know I still have some of those friends (enough of them) and I don’t really need to join YPC to go out and meet new people, but I want to do so. I want to take advantage of the opportunities in this city as much as I can, and I am looking forward to the people in YPC I’ve yet to meet.

Road trip plans

I just bought the third “Glee” CD (that show is an iTunes money-making machine). Now that I can actually understand the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” from the slowed down arrangement Rachel and her mom sang, I realize it’s a wildly inappropriate mother-daughter duet. Almost as bad as this song being sang by Michael and Maebe on “Arrested Development”.

I bought some snacks for the trip to Chicago tomorrow; last night I went to Wild Goose Creative for a See You Thursday improv show to meet two of the three women I’ll be rooming with, since we didn’t know each other. They both seem very pleasant and good natured and I look forward to spending LOTS and lots of time with them this weekend. The four of us will be sharing a room for two nights so we best be getting cozy. On the plus side, since we’re fitting four to a room, we’re each paying less than $50 a person for both nights.

I found out last night that there’s an improv workshop involved Saturday afternoon. This I had not bargained for; I was under the impression that we were just going to WATCH improv, not perform it. I thoroughly enjoyed my intro class but by the end of it, I knew I was done. I like the improv culture, love the people, the creativity and all that, but I am not an improv performer. And that’s okay! I don’t have to do it all. So, even though I felt bad, I e-mailed the organizer of the trip and asked him not to reserve a spot for me in the workshop. He was cool about it. On the plus side, I might get a couple hours to myself in Chicago on Saturday.

I’m leaving the house at 7:30 a.m. to meet the ladies at one of their houses before 8. Then we’re getting breakfast and we’re hitting the road with the others, caravan style, shortly after 9. We’re going to at least one performance tomorrow night, and two on Saturday night. We’re heading back Sunday. It will be so nice to have Monday off after all that.

I’ll be blogging via iPhone so check back all weekend. 🙂

My improv debut

I was so nervous on Tuesday evening I could hardly stand it. I was more nervous then than I could recall feeling before any of the plays I did in college, and there were a lot more people I knew in the audience at each of those then there were the other night. The difference is those memorized lines and cues; going up on stage without a thought in your head as to what will happen next is terrifying. It can also be invigorating, if a scene happens to go well. If it tanks, you have to put it out of your mind and brace yourself for going up again. The most you can hope for is to end on a high note. Fortunately, I did, in my own opinion.

Calling a report in on a very ugly dog

I’m not sure how many scenes I did, but we performed for 50 minutes. Once we got started, I almost completely forgot to feel nervous, and tried to enjoy whatever scene was going on at the moment. My uncle was there like I mentioned, and afterward, he told me I had a very expressive face. He’d noticed this in my plays in college, he said, and the trait carried over into my improv. I was surprised when he also said I was gesturing more than a lot of people; I couldn’t tell you what I was doing with my arms after a scene, because I am still so unaware of my own movement, so I assumed I was staying as stiff as I felt most of the time.

I honestly don't remember which scene this was

I think in the above photo I resemble Kristen Wiig’s least funny SNL character:

It's Gilly x 2

Hahaha, I act like I actually watch SNL often enough to know all of her characters. No, really; I love Wiig, but Gilly is super annoying. On a total side note, Lilly Allison said she rarely watches SNL, and if she does, it’s because she accidentally happened across it on TV on Saturday night. I couldn’t believe it.

My new favorite picture

My uncle documented the potential train wreck that was my improv debut last night, which was very kind of him. He even found some nice things to say about it. More on this soon, but for now, a photo says a thousand words. This is my new facebook profile picture, having finally conquered the I Can Haz Cheezburger lolcats photo after a two week reign. I change photos pretty quickly, I’ve realized, so two weeks is a long time. May this one reign even longer.

I really did take that improv class you guys

I’ll see you in court

Well, hopefully not. I’m being summoned for jury duty for two weeks starting March 22. Have you ever had jury duty? Do they really need you that whole two weeks? Should I bring a book to read? I mean, are we talking a lot of down time or will I be in a court room all day? I’ve talked to one person who had a first hand experience and a couple people who know second hand, and it sounds like I won’t know all the answers to these questions until I get there.

I am really hoping I’ll get to work on my screenplay during that two weeks. If I can, it might not be so bad.

In the mean time, I’ve got a show to do. I’m on stage in less than two hours, and there will be family members there to document the event. This makes me feel good and bad, all at the same time. Thanks, family!

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)

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