Chicken Pod! (The Constant Struggle’s Newest Ep!)

Episode 6 of my brother and my podcast, The Constant Struggle, is up & we’d love it if you’d giver a listen.

This time around, Nick’s got a new writing deadline he wants to get to before he takes off to Scotland with his family. Will the trip inspire him to write something while he’s over there? We’ll see!

Will Brie survive her month of insane-work hours and continue to work on her comedy all throughout, or will she have a complete mental breakdown along the way?

Find out, by downloading the episode on iTunes or checking it out right here:

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/audio/postId/5711034?url=http%3A%2F%2FTheConstantStruggle.podbean.com%2Fe%2Fe06-chicken-pod%2F

Oh, and if you want to sign that petition to help get Kevin Smith Canadian citizenship, click here:

https://www.change.org/p/government-of-canada-grant-kevin-smith-a-canadian-citizenship?recruiter=309221733&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive

Struggle On, friends!

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Watch Sunnyside, Damnit!

Do yourself (and me) a favour and watch Sunnyside. It premiered tonight, and it was super funny, super original and super Canadian.

It reminded me of that improv game Goon River, except, they weren’t speaking in monologues, but it IS about town filled with fun, quirky characters. Although nobody died… so… maybe not so much like Goon River…Oh no wait. Someone died.  Cool.  Totally like Goon River.

Anyway… I really liked it! And not only because I know the creators, writers and cast personally and am super proud of their hard work not only being produced, but finding a broadcast home amidst a dark period of TV history in which few networks are willing to take chances on new ideas in general, let alone great sketch comedy ideas.

The show is co-created by Gary Pearson (who, if you’re a reader of this blog, directed a sketch show I was in back at Humber called #cliché: based on the novel Push by Sapphire) so… it’s cool, we tight. I think I also reviewed one, if not both of his novels here as well. What I’m saying is, I’m a fan.

The cast and writers are ALL people I’ve seen CRUSH around Toronto’s live comedy scene. Stand-up, improv, sketch. You name it, they’re made me laugh doin’ it. I’m super excited for this show, and I’m super excited for all the talented people involved/responsible for it.

Now YOUR job, reader, is to go watch the darn thing and enjoy it. That way, they can keep making it, and maybe more opportunities will arise for the hardworking hilarious people trying to make a living making YOU laugh! It’s a win win!

Is this too ranty for a post about a silly sketch comedy show?  Meh. I don’t care.

Watch Sunnyside, damnit.

Tim and Eric Confession

I have a confession to make.  I’ve been a huge dingus.

I won tickets to see Tim and Eric this past weekend at the Danforth Music Hall and it pretty fucking much blew my mind. (Not the confession)

Admittedly, I wasn’t all that familiar with the show/the guys prior to winning the tickets, (gasp) (the confession) other than the occasional praise and constant imitation (not that I would have known) from my Humber colleagues. I thought they were just making stupid noises and making up bizarre names for the hell of it. Turns out it was SO MUCH MORE.

I really should have been listening to them then because I’ve now become obsessed. 

This must be what people felt like while watching the Kids in the Hall in the 80s. Or the 90s I guess, considering I’m a bit behind in my discovery.

Either way, what I’m trying to say is… Mom and Dad, NEVER watch this show. Seriously. It’s amazing, but you’ll hate it.

I don’t normally like wrestling…

I was feeling a bit frustrated the past couple days because I really wanted to check out the opening of the new Second City main stage show, We Can Be Heroes, but tickets were sold out and short from showing up and sneaking in, I couldn’t really afford to go anyway. I attended one opening when I worked there and it was such a great atmosphere among the crowd, which was filled with Second City alumni and friends of the community just buzzing over the accomplishment and excitement of putting on a brand new show.

So, I wondered what I could do that would be comedy-productive, since checking out the new revue wasn’t happenin’.  I decided trying to get on at Yuk Yuk’s that evening would be that thing.  It feels like it’s been a century since I last performed stand-up comedy.

I signed up for Humber night and was put on the stand-by list.  I pretty much swam to the club in yesterday’s crazy downpour and enough people hadn’t shown up that I was given a set in the middle of the line-up.  The sent went really well.  The club wasn’t packed, but the crowd was so into it, they were laughing heartily.  Ahhh… music to my ears!  Granted, I was a little out of practise, but – I was still pleased with how it turned out.  It was also great to see some Humber folks, past and present still going hard at working on their craft.

When I got off stage, I checked my watch and realized there was still time to make it to the Second City Training Centre Tuesday night improv drop-in that I normally don’t drop-in on on Tuesday nights because I typically have class.  And after 8+ hours of work and 3 hours of improv, I’m normally pretty pooped.  Anyway, I went – attended, participated as “The Mighty Cheese” (which is now my wrestling name) and had a fun time playing some silly improv games in what is admittedly far to close to an actual WWE wrestling format for my comfort.  But we gotta break out of those comfort zones, n’est-ce pas?  I played a game working on emotional levels, and another sortof confusing larger group scene which was… shall we say… interesting?

What a fun and productive day!  New jokes were told, new improvisers were met, new underwear were worn (I wish – I’m broke!)

Next on the agenda:  I’m getting new head shots!   Sidenote:  I’ve been meaning to get this done for MONTHS!   (It’s FINALLY gonna happen!!)

This is the look I'm aiming for!

This is the look I’m aiming for!

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.

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