…And the blessed Irish shamrock with the fairest green of all

I recently finished working as a production coordinator on a TV show, the first TV show I’ve *really* worked for. (ie. gots paid)

One of the tasks to which I was assigned in my last job was to collect the scripts and segment descriptions from the Associate Producers on the show and send them to the hosts. The documents they would send are referred to as “greens” in newspeak. Three times a week I would send out an email to the APs asking if their greens were ready. Eventually, in an attempt to make this process more interesting for them, and for me, I started doing stuff like this:

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Right? That subject line makes you think!

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Getting creative with Google Translate.

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 It’s true. Don’t go to Chicago for the fish.

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Then I started to incorporate imagery to my silly emails.

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He’s not, for whatever that’s worth. He’s just the only one with “green” in his name that I could think of…

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I sometimes made them relevant to the people I was working with… (we did fashion segments)

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I incorporated some of my own taste…

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 Briefly turned into a greeting card company.

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…Got political. (Not shown, the email where I just directed all the APs to the Green Party of Canada’s website, I must have deleted that one. Or CSIS had it removed from my PC.)

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…Got Kermi-ed.

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…Got sporty.

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…Used idioms to describe my feels.

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Got market branding involved.

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…and finally sent them all off with an epic psych-out.

I feel like a few are missing, (I most definitely deleted the one where I sent a picture of a nice, healthy crop of marijuana.)

The point of sending them wasn’t to make a blog post out of them all. That was never the intention. But because it brought me joy to take a second out of my day to think of some silly way to make my co-workers day a little bit funnier, or happier, or at least to distract them for a millisecond, I thought I’d share them with you. I was, after all, pretty lucky to get to work there.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (Tomorrow)

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The Future of Canadian Comedy

At work today, as I was trying to get some people jazzed about their impending participation in a daytime television studio audience, I saw four female comedy writers/improvisors walk through the halls of the CBC. They stopped briefly to chat, one having recognized me from an earlier improv event we had both attended.  (eee!)

She proceeded to inform me they were headed to a meeting upstairs.

…And for a second, I felt really great about the future of Canadian comedy on CBC.

0505beaver

***

(Sidenote: I hope they remember this encounter if/when they get green-lit)

Con Round 4, Fringe Round 2, Head Spinning Round and Round

It’s been longer than I would have liked it to have been between blog posts, but there was a good period there were my sole energy was spent on trying to stay awake, and thus blogging became less of a priority.  I have a new bed now, so that seems to have helped the situation, for now.

Also, I just read something that really inspired me to keep writing my little CCCs.   So back on the saddle again I go.

Today I am beginning the first day of my 4th Second City Conservatory course.  This is, for those of you who are not aware, when we begin to write what will eventually become our own little Second City-style revue.  We’re down two (and nearly 3 for a while there) people from when we began the process in January.  (Was it January?  Let me go back and check…yup January.)  We’re starting fresh with a new teacher (this guy)  and we were just asked to read this incredible blog about creating a Second City show from the perspective of a former Main Stage director in Chicago.  I was glad to have had the opportunity to have worked at the Second City as a host, specifically because I was able to witness this process first hand. (Not through the eyes of a director, however – Melody didn’t think the surgery would be particularly beneficial on her end…)  However,  I got to see what it was like for one show to slowly absorb new material and evolve into what would become the next revue.  I saw it and I wanted so badly to be a part of it.   And here we are in Con 4, a taste of what it would be if we were performers on the Main Stage.

 

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I look forward to documenting (more closely hopefully) the process from here until our big sexy Conservatory 6 production.

***

Simultaneously, I am working at CBC still.

Simultaneously, I just moved to the suburbs.

Simultaneously, I continue to contribute my help, where possible, to the Canadian Comedy Awards Communications Committee.

Simultaneously, I try maintaining a relationship with a bear.

Simultaneously, I am working with my Water Wings partner on bringing the show a bit more up to snuff to take to Winnipeg, where hopefully we will get a bit more support from the community in terms of seeing our little comedy show and enjoying it.  We met a few days ago to discuss some modifications to the scripts, an edit here, an added dance here.  Things we can do to tweek the show and to make it better.  Not, because we didn’t think it was good before, but because these things are in a constant state of evolution.  What worked in Montreal may not work in Winnipeg.   What worked in Toronto didn’t work all the time in Montreal.  Adjustments, tweeks and rehearsals are critical within the next few days in order to ensure the show is superb by the time we bring it to Winnipeg. I had my first over-the-phone interview in French, by the way.  That was pretty excitant!  (But not in the France French way.)

I leave for Winnipeg in a week.  Holy crap.

I’ll have to miss two Con 4 classes for this.

And use up all my CBC vacation time.

But this isn’t complaining.  This is what has to be done.

 

2013 Humber Grads Stand-Up Showcase aka Payback Time!


Last night I was asked to attend and “evaluate” the second night of a stand-up comedy showcase exercise put on stand-up guru Larry Horowitz, for half the graduating class of the Humber College – Comedy: Writing & Performance program.  An exercise I recall a little more than I would like.  In fact, when I went back to my blog posts from last year to see what I had to say about my own performance in the showcase, this is all I was able to extract:

 If at first you don’t succeed…swear & curse a bunch, have a good cry, insult others who did better than you then immediately regret your bitterness, jealousy and resentment, wallow in self-pity, do harmful things to your body and mind… and try, try again.  – April 5th 2012

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Suffice it to say, I wasn’t pleased with my performance. Nor was I please with the results I’d got back from the evaluators who, like I tonight, had watched the showcase. And therein lies the beauty of time and experience. Oh how the tables have turned! Get ready, class of 2013, to feel the wrath of …the evaluator; someone who is taking your art and judging it on a completely subjective basis.   And watch out! I’m gonna be REAL subjectiv-y!

In all honesty, there were a number of strong acts last night. A cut above the rest was Darren Springer, whose mix of the wonderful and the absurd is just such a delight.  The bit about his father’s tone as he’s been trapped in the trunk of a car in Columbia is the perfect contrast of the ordinary in extraordinary circumstances. A classic comedy convention, but so well-delivered with such ease and comfort; you get the sense Darren really loves being up on that stage.

Other great sets tonight included the closer for the evening, Ryan Dillon – who’s got storytelling embedded in his genes, I’m sure. (Ryan’s a Newfoundlander.)  Sitting on a stool, he took us on a sad, sad, hilarious, but very sad journey growing up without a father – with a little insight into the airline industry.  (Did you know that if your parent is an airline employee, and they die, you get a free trip to DisneyWorld?!) Sarah White knocked the crowd dead with her sexy Star Wars switcheroo.  Colin North also had me giggling about his dead dad.  Come to think of it, dead dads were a bit of a recurring theme tonight.   Dead dads, and being a socially-awkward, ill-at-ease, unable-to-maintain-relationships-with-the-opposite sex, relatively dysfunctional human being.

That and masturbating.  There was a lot of talk about jerkin’ it.  It was a Humber show, after all.

I was impressed by the variety of voice work – lots of fun accents by Samia Darkazalli, Liron Jacobs and Jay Freeborn, who went into an elaborate bit about Pokémon, which normally I would care less about but because of the energy of the delivery and the fun wordplay, it stood out to me.  I’m a sucker for wordplay.

Ben O’Neil and his musings on the Kraken fit perfectly into the realm of the ever-increasing market share of nerd humour/culture.  Love it or hate it, you can thank (or curse) BBT for that.

It’s no surprise that I wasn’t a fan of the comparing women to dogs elements of the show or the multiple bits about racism, even the ones that were meant to call racists out on their shit, it’s just… I didn’t see a fresh take on it, and until then, I’d rather stick to what the pros have already said on the subject, rather than the not-so-deep musings of early-twenty something suburbanites.

That being said, it’s no surprise the acts that stood out to me can frequently be found performing in dives around Toronto to work on and improve their craft.  There is such a striking difference in quality and in confidence between those who perform stand-up regularly, and those who maybe memorized their set a few hours before last night’s showcase.

So, for those of you who do work hard, and practise a lot, and still didn’t get the grade-result you were looking to achieve in this exercise, don’t worry.  Even if you don’t end up performing stand-up in the Industry Show, don’t worry.  I said Don’t Worry! If you work hard you can totally get in Fresh Meat, have a live and professional taping of your set available to pitch to festivals, get an agent, book a Fringe tour and get a full-time administrative position at the CBC.

Trust me.

Young and Out of Work

This actually comes at a pretty appropriate time, given the fact that I didn’t end up getting the administrative job I’d interviewed for last week.  And I’m broke.  And unDERemployed.

It’s an interview with my school pal, who shall not be named, about how hard it is to find a job these days.  And, who makes a brief appearance?  None other than yours truly… dressed as a dog.

Yup.  First time I’m on TV, and I’m dressed as a dog.

Check it out HERE!

Employed with two major Chicago institutions: The Second City & Oprah

It’s been another one of those crazy-busy weeks where I haven’t had time to post too often, but last night – Friday – I was at Comedy Bar, where I’d been invited to read a monologue as “Thinking Woman” The Panel Show, a monthly show put on by (a bunch) of the guys from the awesome sketch troupe Shoeless.  (Seriously – any chance to see one of this troupe’s shows – leap!) – followed by a delicious tasty gelato with my best pal from the olden days Dina & her sister Jess.

Another big deal of the week was that I was hired to start working at The Second City as a host – which is a totally huge deal.  I know in the past I’ve been like – meehhh, I don’t know if I want a job in the evenings because it’ll interrupt with my abilities to go out and do comedy.  Yeah, ok BUT… working in a comedy club – not just any comedy club, the fucking Second City, seems like a pretty smart move, I’d say.  So many big comics got their start at the Second City.  And, I heard through the grapevine that if you work at SC, you can get discounts on improv classes, which is great, because I was planning on taking the A-E levels after completing my program at Humber.  Anyhoo – I start on Monday and am totally and completely stoked.

I also interviewed for and was asked to help out as an intern on a new show soon to be shot for the Oprah Winfrey Network.  I don’t know that I’m allowed to talk about what it is or whatever, but they were looking for interns and a pal and I from Humber went on down to the Corus Entertainment building down by the lake on Tuesday morning and got ourselves some good old-fashioned unpaid internships!

In addition to that, we met with and pitched sketches to our director, Gary Pearson, for our end of year Sketch show, taking place at the Comedy Bar mid-April.  I’m happy to say two of my sketches were selected to be put into the show – so hooray for that.  Consequently, Gary is the first person to make a comment about the high-concentration of sex-themed pieces the people in my class write.  No big surprise there.  But he’s the only person in this two year program to say: “Uh, enough.  Talk about something else!!”   There go my next three sketch pitches.

Tuesday was Round One of 2nd years’ Stand-Up Showcase at Yuk Yuk’s and HOLY COW was it a great show!  Solid 4-minute sets put on by half the people in my year, in front of alumni, other comics and a few big wigs.  It was great to see some people who don’t go out too often – sometimes they really surprise you.  You think, jeez!  Where have you been all this time?  Why haven’t you been doing this more?  My hope is that Round Two goes just as well, if not BETTER… because that’s the show I’ll be on, and it’s happening on my Birthday, so if it doesn’t go well, somebody’s going to be drinking away her sorrows instead of celebrating that night.

Why you scared?

Also – and nothing really do to with comedy school, Wednesday was “jab Brie in the arm day” at the doctor’s office.  Apparently my veins are difficult to find when I’m dehydrated due to mandatory fasting.  This was the result.  Bask in my pain.

Back to Comedy -> Saturday was the culmination of a project some of my school colleagues have been working on for the past little while.  They were to transform their 10-minute plays into radio plays with help from a pro from the CBC.  After much learning, editing, re-writing and other stuff, they finally recorded the pieces yesterday at Humber’s sound booth.  I still got to play one of the dogs in Ashley’s Dog Wedding: Rated Radio so what better way to spend a Saturday than trapped in a soundproof extremely warm booth?  No, but seriously, it was a lot of fun, even though my 10-minute play didn’t get picked to go on the radio.  Totally not bitter about that.  It’s really not a big deal.  Nope.  Not even a little bit. It’s cool.  I’m cool.  Everything’s good.

So as not to end on a (totally not) bitter note, last night I had somewhat of a high school reunion.  It’s fun to just hang out with people you’ve known from a simpler time – good ol’ Welland high school/cadet friend days.  Except…instead of MT Bellies, now we meet at Okrutny’s upscale downtown condo on Queens Quay and eat baked Brie.  Consequently, that is also my DJ name.

Cheers all!  Bring on next week!

 

 

LaughDraft vs. Ron James: A Comparative Analysis

It has been a busy week.  Most of the week was spent rehearsing and memorizing lines, leading up to LaughDraft‘s first live performance since our Launch Show back in June.  All this, while trying to keep up with school work!  You’ll be pleased to know that the show went very well!

The next day, I’d been offered a chance to check out a taping of the Ron James Show at the CBC building by my Sketch and Improv teacher, Robin Duke.  I figured, though he’s not necessarily a comedian targeting my demographic, what the hell!  Why not?  It’ll be cool to see a live taping of a comedy TV show and I’ve never been to the studios at CBC, so shooo, let’s go for it.

As such, this blog entry will analyse certain of the differences between these two shows; the LaughDraft SEASON OPENER and the taping of two of the episodes in Ron James’ 3rd season with his own show on the CBC.

Ready?

OK.

The Venue

Have you ever been to the CBC building?  That place is COOL!  We were up on the 10th floor in a studio not unlike those I visited during my tour of NBC Studios in New York.  The sound was crisp, the equipment was pro.  The set was very cool.  The air flow was very comfortable.  The seats were nice.  They had to bring more in to accommodate everyone who had come to the show that evening.

The Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture’s performance space is in a basement.  The sound was muffled by a perpetual talk-radio background for some unknown reason, the mics, not strong enough.  Some of the actors could not be heard at the back of the room.  The equipment had just been installed that day.  The lights, put up by our “crew” aka Joey, who had the day off.  The air flow was, wait… what air flow?  It was hot and humid as sweaty balls in there.  The seats were from IKEA.  If anyone else had come, they would have had to stand.  The pipes were dripping on spectators and performers alike.

Advantage Ron James.

The Crowds

Upon arriving to the CBC building, there were many security guards who directed us to where we needed to go to pick up our tickets.  Then we stood in a massive line in the CBC building’s main atrium? (Is it an atrium?) and waited for ushers (not-uniformed, I should specify) to bring us up the fancy scenic elevator, down the hall and to the left and finally to our seats in the studio.  The joint was packed.  Average age was probably 50ish.  Get ready for jokes about people who don’t know how to  use Twitter everybody!!  Consistent laughter, even when RJ had to repeat the joke over and over again to get it right for TV.  Which is weird.  Imagine going to a stand-up show and hearing the comic tell the joke, and then come back at the end of the set and say: “OK, apparently I messed this one up or you guys didn’t laugh hard enough, so here we go again!”  Stand-up would be an easier business if that were the case, methinks.

People drizzled into our show.  There was no gigantic line-up.  The outside was poorly lit, so I’m surprised people were able to find us in the first place (Thank you Paige and Ron for drawing the crowds in!) They’re just as good as ushers, and better looking at that!  AND, they actually looked happy to be here! BUT people could go right in when they arrived.  None of this standing around and herding people like sheep business.  No, not for us.  Although there was a bit of a cram as many of them in as possible like those evil chicken farms where they all poop on one another and get sick and stuff. Our venue had a nice amount of people in it, not completely packed, but just about.  Average age, probably 22?  (A much younger crowd than our Launch Show, which was interesting – Thank you first years!) Good laughter!  Absolutely no chance for telling the same joke over again.  If we fucked up or missed a line, we just kept going because we don’t have the luxury of an editing room.  This is LIVE people! People actually got excited for our stuff though, it didn’t seem so generic, laugh here, clap here. I think there was a bit more surprise to our show.  Not that stand-up monologues and sketches really compare in the kinds of laughter you get out of them, but still, ours felt good.

The Show

It was really cool to see a live taping of a television show and it was super cool that Ron James made a plea to get people to go check out live comedy.  I guess he feels like he owes it to his brethren.  He knows what it’s like to be working the circuit.  He’s made it, it’s easy for him now.  He has a team of writers, make-up, wardrobe, professional everything, GOVERNMENT FUNDING!

US?  We had fun.  We have the satisfaction of having put something together, worked our butts off at it, and performed.  No network censors.  No elaborate spending.  Just pure, raw comedy!!!  We’re just getting started.  We’re at the opposite end of the career-spectrum as RJ, and it’s an exciting place to be.

Advantage LaughDraft.