Death & Rebirth: The Circle of Life…and stuff

 

There it is folks; shaking the President’s hand as I walk off with a brand-spankin’ new college diploma. The end of an era; an era filled with ups, downs, highs, lows, rape jokes and more uses of the c-word than I’d ever thought possible.  Yesterday, at the Toronto Congress Centre, along with a handful of my fellow colleagues, my parents & my man in attendance, I completed the final element of the Humber CollegeComedy: Writing & Performanceprogram.  And no.  That does not mean you get to stop reading my blog now.  Because as the title suggests, the end of my time at Humber is, just that; an end. An end to the daily classroom routine, an end to 9am stand-up & improv comedy classes, but I think most notably an end to one hell of a LOT of stressful social scenarios.

Phew.  Breath it in, readers.  Closure.

That being said, it also marks the beginning.  The beginning of a life devoted to humour.  From here on in, the performance and the quality of my work is in my hands alone and will not be judged or criticized by the same group of 11 others day in, day out.  (Until/if I get a job in a writer’s room.)  It’s the beginning of new sketch troupe potentials (Cumin Rice Violation, anyone?), the beginning of spec script writing, story writing in general, play writing, book writing, writing writing, the beginning of job hunting for something in the biz, as lame as the job may be.  The beginning of a life in which I received a hug from Andrew Clark. (Victory!) Also, very excitingly (ALMOST as exciting as the hug,) it’s the beginning of my improv training at The Second City.

I had my first class today with instructor Brian G. Smith who, I’m told, is an excellent teacher.  (So far, this stands true. :P) My classmates come from all sorts of different walks of life; journalists, mothers, actors, tradespeople & they all seem super nice/fun/cool.  Many of them took Level B together last term, so they’re all very tight & familiar with one another, but they’re quite warm and welcoming, so you don’t get that sense of high school cliquerie.

It’s also the beginning of my life with an air conditioner. (Better grad gift than a frame, I’ll be the first to admit.)

Beginnings.  Lots of them.

I intend to take on these new beginnings with poise, dignity and of course, humility.  Oh hey?  Did I mention I got top of my class at Humber?  Yup.  Honours Award for Academic Excellence.  No big deal.  What?

I’m actually really super excited about this. #nerd4life

READ THIS: “How The Comedy Nerds Took Over”

Hey blog-followers!

This is a really cool/interesting/revealing NY Times article explaining/defending what myself and most of my colleagues at Humber are getting into in terms of the alternative comedy scene & comedy nerdom.

It was written by Toronto’s king of the Comedy Nerds himself, Andrew Clark -> who also happens to be the program coordinator of Humber’s Comedy: Writing & Performance program.  (How’s that for comedy nerdy?)

Take a gander:

HOW THE COMEDY NERDS TOOK OVER

Between Jesus and Tom Green

Ladies and gentlemen, the founder of modern planking: Mr. Tom Green:

Every couple weeks at Humber, we have guests, people who have achieved a recognizable amount of success in the comedy industry, come speak to us about their experiences in the business.

See:

Dave Foley & Kevin McDonald

Mark Breslin’s Coming to Town

Last week was no exception.  What a treat to find out Tom Green would be taking a break from his stand-up tour to come talk to us Humber comedy geeks! #fun, right?

Breslin, Green & Clark Ltd.

Now let’s be honest, I’m not the #1 hugest Tom Green fan of all time.  BUT, as a friend (and former girlfriend) to some pretty huge TG fans, it’s fair to say I’ve been following his career for a long time now, I guess since he had his show on MTV. I feel like one of the few people in the Humber crowd that remembered his marriage to Drew Barrymore and his battle with testicular cancer (two issues that were, to my surprise, NOT brought up in the Q&A!) In fact, I’d even met him before, in his hometown of Ottawa.  He was doing a book-signing for Hollywood Causes Cancer at the Chapters on Rideau.  I told him he had a nice suit.  It was pinstriped.  I should probably read that book.

ANYWAY.  Let’s rewind.  Tom Green, Mark Breslin pointed out, is one of the founders of shock humour, reality television (of the non-sociological-research-based-variety) & comedy-rap. He was so influential in Canada that Macleans once had to decide between featuring Tom Green or Jesus as a cover-story!  (They went with Jesus, btw.)

He’s like the precursor to Ali G-type stuff in that he started subverting what TV is and going places TV hadn’t gone before.  (Humping a dead-moose, WHAT?)  Tom Green tapped into the American zeitgeist and started doing stuff that set the precedent for stuff like Jackass and a bunch of other crazy MTV stuff.  And for what?  Because he’d consciously taken note of the funny that comes from unsuspecting people’s reactions to bizarre situations.

Right?  We love that shit!  That’s one of the reasons shows like The Office are as funny as they are!

Sidenote: The main reason I’m writing this is so I can use words like subvert and zeitgeist.

Tom Green encountered some pretty significant difficulties seeing eye-to-eye with the higher ups in Hollywood, who didn’t really understand his vision.  One of his bits of advice to us was to know where to draw the line between keeping your vision intact and handling the bureaucracy of the industry. (Presuming we ever get that opportunity.  Fingers crossed)

Another was to separate yourself from the rest with your hard work.

Green admitted he never wanted to be a big-shot movie star, that he was given creative control of Freddy Got Fingered and that that’s why the movie is how it is.   His ambition was to be a Letterman-style talk-show host, and now he interviews celebrities on his Internet TV channel at tomgreen.com.

He’s also returned to his roots, touring the world performing stand-up comedy.  (Tom started doing stand-up at 15, performing at Yuk Yuk’s in Ottawa!)  I probably should have gone to check out one of his sets, but I was performing one of my own last weekend and I wanted to make sure I was prepared for that.

(It went really well, btw.)

Another great experience with an influential comic, thanks to Humber College.  (If this is the kind of stuff my tuition pays for, it’s totally worth it!)

Stay tuned, as one of my future posts will tell you the tale of the exclusive performance of Andy Kindler for us Humber kids at Comedy Bar!

I totally got him to say "My pie."

Be Excited!

I’m excited about all this stuff happening for LaughDraft and I’m simultaneously frustrated.

There’s lots to be excited about.  For one, there’s the upcoming Halloween show at Comedy Bar:

 

This is exciting because:

  • Its’ the first time we perform at Comedy Bar;
  • It’s the first time Humber contributes to our troupe (Free Food, anybody?);
  • We’re performing ALL NEW sketches;
  • It’s Halloween!
  • One of my sketches got in;
  • We might make some money if enough people come, which will help us with future projects, etc.

We were also selected as the one troupe from Humber to be submitted into the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival (which my class friends and colleagues are quick to point out is only due to the fact that we are currently the only performing-sketch troupe in the program so far this year.  To which I say: Default performance in SketchFest is better than no performance at all.)

Why this is exiting:

  • Two of the Kids in the Hall are performing in this festival. OMG!;
  • Other AMAZING sketch troupes are performing in this festival;
  • Our program coordinator at Humber, Andrew Clark, likes us enough to recommend us to the organizers;
  • We get to showcase 15 minutes of our best material to date (none of which was written by me… sigh.);
  • We get unlimited access to see all the shows in the festival;
  • Vest of Friends got to do it last year, and this year they might make it to Just For Laughs… just saying…;
  • Etc.

For everything there is to be excited about, it’s difficult because there are always some people ready to downplay the achievement, however meager it may be in our just-beginning careers and for what purpose?  I simply do not understand.  Are they still in that “it’s cool to be apathetic” stage?  Do they simply not want to be a part of this but feel obligated to stay on?  But again, for what reason?  I just don’t get it.

I wonder if it’s to do with the fact that I’m older.  Or  that apathy has naver been in my nature. I crave DOING.  I crave things to give a shit about!  Maybe it’s relative to what you put in.  I put a lot into LaughDraft, creatively and professionally.  I do a lot of the organizational aspects of it, I try to keep our meetings on track.  I often meet with Andrew to discuss Humber’s involvement and have done since the very beginning.  Because of that, I expect the same enthusiasm from all the others.  Here’s the problem.  It’s not them. It’s me.  Maybe I just have unrealistically high expectations. When something excites me, I expect it to excite the others in the group.  And it does some.  And others not.

And who cares, at the end of the day?  It’s no big deal.  But I do.  That’s the problem.