Dr. Strangelove

This is a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, for various reasons, but I thought about how fitting it would be to know how even the greats had their tough moments of eating shit on stage, and that should be motivation to keep on keeping on.

 

 

 

Not to ensure this doesn’t happen to me when I deliver my Maid of Honour speech tomorrow…

It’s Latin so it’s Gotta Be Good

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Last night I had the pleasure of hosting a fantastic comedy variety show at Musideum; that word, that name… you know any venue with a Latin suffix is bound to be awesome!  This amazing little space on Richmond St. was filled with hundreds of musical instruments, a beautiful grand piano and, in this case, a bunch of hilarious performers and a super-supportive audience.

The weekly show is put on by The Sandbox,  comedy troupe formed in the Second City’s Conservatory program, who’ve stuck together to continue their comic journey.  Damnit, now I’m describing the Conservatory program as a journey.  What have I become?

Anyway, The Sandbox kicked off the show with some great fun and lively improv.  They were followed by a musical comedy troupe called The Sour Keys, who were super impressive.  They performed songs ranging from adorably punny to really disturbingly cute.  Next on the bill was 2 Humans, a great little sketch duo set to perform at this year’s Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival (so go check them out!)  Finally, closing the billed show was a solid and hilarious improv set put on by well-known troupe Sneak Attack.  The night wrapped with an improv lottery jam, in which yours truly was invited to participate; and I was a dinosaur and a horned-up old lady at the LCBO hitting on a 19-year wine salesman.  Playing within my range, y’know.

Oh, did I mention there was a gigantic, awful, miserable snow storm yesterday?  And yet,  the Musideum was packed to the brim for the show with a warm and very supportive audience of people who just seemed happy to be there and were rewarded and delighted by the night’s hilarious performers.

What a fun night of comedy!  Even better, there’s a new Comedy Night at Musideum every single Wednesday, so next time – you can be there to experience the fun for yourself!

 

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.

#geekomedy

Last night, I produced the first ever edition of Geekomedy, a show intended to incorporate aspects of media & technology into works of comedy.  I myself made a silly intro with the Voice Plus voice-changing app on my iPhone (my BROKEN iPhone!) and later incorporated the technological element of the George Foreman Grill to my show, by making an audience member a panini.

See what a difference technology adds to humour, folks?  Paninis!

The wonderful and dynamic duo Laura Bailey and Josh Bowman improvised a conversation on Facebook chat for a segment they called “IM-prov.”  Proof that some of the funniest writing people can produce is at home in front of a computer screen IMing to friends/family/ex-lovers recently escaping the confines of the closet.

I heard a comment from someone who walked into the segment late, about how strange it was to walk into a dark space lit only with a screen, to complete silence, and to still be entertained thoroughly simply through the act of reading a comic scene take place right before their eyes.

See kids, reading CAN be fun!

Next up was a PowerPoint presentation by Ashley Moffatt – hilarious as usual, Ashley incorporated elements of her regular routine, but added some flash to it with amazing photos of her famous plant wigs and, dogs.  Dogs everywhere.   I think PowerPoint stand-up is such a great idea, similar to the way SNL’s Weekend Update’s jokes are amplified by silly graphics, or Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert’s stuff – it adds to the joke.  The joke itself is funny, but with the right animation, it can take a chuckle to a full-blown guffaw.

Camille Côté was up next, regaling us with the tale of an incredibly awkward textual encounter she got in after meeting face-to-face and talking to him for a whole of 10 minutes, who later make very bizarre assumptions about her in txt form.  She made a good point about how some guys can be really brave, but only behind some form of screen.    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to eating my bagel now.  (wink wink)

Finally, the fabulous physical comedy of Jorge Viveros brought to the stage a real-life Angry Birds game, where members of the audience could throw Jorge, the angry bird, into stacks of cardboard boxes for FUN!

Many thanks to the audience members who came out to support the show, even though right off the bat, the host told us we all stunk.  (Thanks a lot, Bob Banks!)  It’s OK though, he was referring strictly to our hygiene and not to the quality of our comedy, which makes it better, right?  Right?…

Anyway, here’s hoping there’s more interest in tech-themed comedy down the line.  I think the next logical step would be installing a transporter directly in the Comedy Bar,  saving time AND the need to dress according to the climate. (And allowing for an easier stumble home post-alcohol-consumption.)

Robo-Brie OUT!

More Firsts

Last night was the first time I performed on the actual Amateur Night at Yuk Yuk’s downtown Toronto.  I don’t know why it took me so long to get my ass up on that show, but nevertheless, it happened last night and it went… meh.  It was, alright.

It was a much less forgiving crowd than the Yuk’s experiences I’ve had so far with Humber nights.   Also, I had to take the bullet.  Which I hate, even when someone as awesome and hilarious as Mark Little is hosting the thing.

It was fun to see some fresh newbies who’d never ever done stand-up before as well as a variety of comics more, shall I say aged…, than those I’m used to seeing at the open mics around town.

IN SUMMATION, it was a mediocre first time.

Womp womp.

BUT, what better motivation to work harder and one day win over the Amateur Night crowd?!

Bring it, Yuk Yuk’s.

___

A seat belt on a bicycle.  What was I THINKING?