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Category Archives: Improv/Comedy
Zero Percent Down, 100% Fun
Having a network of blog friends gets you some pretty sweet perks sometimes. Like RobC getting me tickets to preview a show from the best Toronto comedy club there is: Second City’s 63rd review 0% Down, 100% Screwed.
Man I love Second City show titles. So topical.
I’ve been to SC shows before and I had found that individuals within the cast were always out to put themselves above the troupe by going a bit too heavy on the need-for-attention factor. This time around, the cast of 0% Down felt like a cohesive, funny, and sharing group. Having done improv before I know that getting a team together and having them click without egos or advancement of personal agendas, is nothing short of a miracle. This particular show felt like they not only had created harmony on stage that screamed professional comedy troupe, they would have jumped in front of a comedy bullet for each other if they had to.
The show’s content was your typical sketch/improv comedy content that went from political (Steven Harper entertaining an agreeable Hillary Clinton while Laureen Harper ruins upholstery as Obama orated hypnotically), to topical (a Guantanamo Bay prisoner and a 70s sitcom have so much in common), to downright odd (Fox News attempting to bring their shining example of news journalism to Canada). But here I am 3 days later and I’m recalling the good moments with clarity. Cheap comedy washes off, this show doesn’t, purely because the cast worked so well together. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few lagging moments that can happen in free-forming improv, but I would say the show is 99% polished and well advanced for their March 11 release.
All members of the cast were funny, all had their shining moments, but I want to single out three people from the cast:
Marty Adams: You may know him as the guy who tattooed his chest for Fallsview Casino commercial – backward, in the mirror. His initial scene of playing an 18 inch dwarf was transforming (he’s actually 6ft plus and over 250lbs) had me believing he was gnome-ish. like many larger, physical comedians before him (Candy, Belushi, Farley), you get a sense that Marty stands to create a name for himself purely because of the kinetic, yet honed energy he brings to a scene.
Kerry Griffin: I took a class taught by Kerry at the Bad Dog Theatre and he was bright, attentive and very supportive. I get that feeling that he’s a king pin in this group. He brings a maturity to the show yet drops the odd F-Bomb with the best of them, to keep you off kilter. He’s the king of scene manipulation and while all around him on stage may be drying up, you can tell that he’s brewing something in his sharp mind, 4 steps of everyone.
Finally, Leslie Seiler: Leslie was tasked with two scenes where she had to engage the audience and create scenarios from their suggestions – not for the feint of heart improvisational artist. Yet she showed great control while pulling ideas from shy people. In one particular scene she actually fell off the stage during an overzealous moment of triumph. With stunned silence (do we laugh??!?) the audience waited with bated breath as to her condition. Without comment, she rose from the front row and still in character, used her accident to move the scene on while smiling wildly letting us in on her goof up. Leslie’s most notable when she blithely hauls out one of her fully realized characters, like the way-past retirement, bitter, WalMart greeter begging for shoppers to kill her. Or the psychic charlatan, suspiciously trying to pick up men in her audience. She reminded me of a youthful, updated Andrea Martin and I will be looking out for her in the future.
So, in a word: go. This show is not your typical SC show. It’s got more personality than politics, more clever than cleaving.
Updated 020909 for some wicked grammatical errors. I apologize.
All Hallow’s Eve
On Thursday I responded to an ad on craigslist for REAL tradespersons to be in a Govt of Canada/Ontario(?) commercial, no experience required. Off goes my headshot and a white lie of my skills and the headhunter calls me within 30 minutes.
I blush! That fast!
Okay I know what you’re thinking, I barely know which way a hammer goes (the heavy sidey thing hits the flatty sided thingamagigger). But I did do cedar siding for cottages around my home town when I was a teen so it’s not THAT much of a stretch, okay? With all my butch clothes from working at the Black Eagle, I had a ton of clothing options, so I was pretty hopeful to get a callback. (taps fingers)
Auditions were just like I remember them from Queer As Folk: the actors greeting each other and exchanging work info like hobos giving rail riding tips. Plus there were a few REAL tradespeople who I avoided in case I got called out. One guy had drywall dust all over him and I was instantly jealous of his character choice.
I’m called and I saunter past the actors trying out for office parts. All eyes on the REAL guy going in.
I stand and deliver a 30 second monologue of my skills. Done! The guy before me was equally fast so I couldn’t tell my chances.
After, I met up with SharkBoy and went into HomeSense to oo and aa over bear lamps.
Shrug. Wish me luck.
How To Make SharkBoy Laugh Pt#6
Speaking Norwegian makes it that much more funnier.
Sunday night I was able to tick off a point on my Bucket List, if I actually had a list:
I finally did stand up comedy.
It wasn’t much more of a stretch from improv although, ironically, I found it much more terrifying to get up in front of an audience with a script than getting up there with no idea what’s coming next.
I got a call from my old teacher Gord asking if I wanted to do 5 minutes of stand up for a wedding benefit for two people from my old improv class. Why he thought I was doing stand up, I don’t know, but without thought, I said “Yes, let’s” (The old improv mantra).
For the past week I’d brainstormed some stuff about weddings and relationships and I had come up with some pretty shocking stuff (A dick! In my ear! I’m never going back to Bed, Bath and Beyond in San Francisco!) until I got an email on Thursday informing all the acts: “Keep it G-Rated, kids in the audience.”
Son of a bitch.
Friday/Saturday I had to salvage as much as I could and re-write. What follows is my kid-friendly (?) wedding-centric set, improvised rifts included (family should know that this is comedy, not truth. Anything I might say I do for laughs and appreciate you allowing me to make fun):
Vangie and Rain (the engaged)! Congratulations! You two aregoing to have so much fun!
(less sincere) So much fun.
Rain & Vangie came to my gay wedding two years ago. Yah, big gay wedding. Great day, I had no regrets on the day, except for the drag queen not being able to perform ’cause she caught fire but that’s another story all together.
Gay marriages are great-
(Two chaps hoot and clap)
My gays! Married? No? When?
Like I said, gay marriages are the best. Straight guys hear me out! No really. Okay there’s an aspect you might gag on, but the best part about marrying a guy is that… Well. You married a guy!
Your sock are all over the living room;
You can equally hate your in-laws (baby doll voice) Christmas is ruined!;
And the toilet seat is in the right position most of the time: up.
That was cliché and I apologize.
The thing about marriage is that it’s the same dynamic no matter what the set up: gay, straight, farmer/goat common law… The same. They’re just re-wired differently for each.
Example: I married a fairly masculine man. He’s no Richard Simmons. Beard, girth, great guy. But yet, as macho he is, we can’t go to a tropical hotel or a camp ground or a cottage without me entering into the bathroom doing reconnaissance with one shoe in my hand. I’m the spider-killer.
And I hate those buggers too.
I’m the slob in our relationship. I mean I pull my weight (wave at gut) but I’m a guy. I get distracted. One moment I’m elbow deep in the toilet, scrubbing away and BAM suddenly I’m playing XBox. The husband walks by the TV room, sees me and says “What the hell are you doing?!” (Baby doll voice) I don’t know how it happened.
After two years we’re still developing these dynamics. Just recently we got a bigger place and I was able to pull my stuff out of storage. Let me tell you that unpacking your stuff in front of each other is exactly like undressing in front of each other for the first time. With the lights on. You really do bare your soul because you’re showing an aspect of your personality.
Rain, I am sure you experienced this, being a sci fi geek. When I was unpacking, I pulled out the 12″ Star Wars Boba Fett action figure and was met with:
Siiiiiiggh” (looking around room)
See, in a gay relationship, since we both can decorate, the one who actually decorates is the one who can sigh harder.
And as you repack your action figure, you think to yourself “Welcome to a lifetime of compromise.”
But it’s worth it.
You’re going to experience something not a lot of people get to do. You have another person’s promise of love, respect and commitment. You have their promise that if you say the stupidest thing at a party, you’ll still have someone to go home with.
And you get to wake up every morning and next to you is someone you know will have your back when things go bad.
And that’s the best feeling in the world.
And so is rolling over and farting on them.
Thank you Rain and Vangie for inviting me tonight and I wish you all the best!
Back From The Dead
I got my computer back up but it’s… different… somehow. It’s slower with a lag or sorts. I’m convinced it has a virus in it or the cat chewed on power converter in the back.
While I figure this out, here’s a semi-Safe For Work video for you, from the all-women comedy troupe, Smack The Pony.
Asimov’s 30 Laws of Robotics
Why didn’t I think of expanding on those flimsy, unfunny laws?
One of my faves:
14. A robot must harm my ridiculous hooker ex-wife, Brandi Asimov, whenever possible, because she does not count as a human being because she has no soul.
(Via Boingboing to SomethingAwful)
One For Rick Mercer
Exterior, day. Long shot of a ferry boat in Toronto Harbour.
We see two gentlemen looking over a laptop out in the open deck of the ferry. The one with the laptop is an awkward looking, 30-something guy, his over-the-shoulder friend is silent yet looks inquisitively at his friend’s screen. “Also Sprach Zarathustra” starts to play.
Laptop guy: You have to wait for the last moment before placing your bid.
He hits ENTER on his keyboard. An error sound “DONK!” is heard. “UPLOADING” flashes across the screen and a loading bar graphic creeps slowly along the top window.
Laptop Guy: Come on…! Come on!!
He fiddles with the laptop broadband aerial. Time is running out! Suddenly “Also Sprach Zarathustra” stops abruptly when we hear:
Handsome Laptop Guy: Alright!! Playoff tickets!
Medium shot through the crowd. Background extras clear the way to reveal Handsome Laptop Guy sitting with Hot Lady, across from Awkward Laptop Guy – an almost mirror image. Except, of course, they’re attractive.
Handsome Laptop Guy notices Awkward Laptop Guy. Handsome Laptop Guy waves and says:
Handsome Laptop Guy: Hey!
Awkward Laptop Guy pauses. His eye twitches. He rises and approaches the couple. POV shot from Handsome Laptop Guy’s seat – upshot of Awkward Guy looking right into camera: his face red with frustration.
Medium side shot of Awkward Guy bringing his laptop down upon Handsome Guy’s head. Brains and blood everywhere. Hot Lady screams and the crowd scatters as Awkward continues to bludgeon the man with his laptop with inadequate connectivity.
Awkward Laptop Guy: Damn you! Think you’re so smart with your fucking gadgets that work and shit! Die! I should have killed you back at the airport! My life is ruined because of you!
Rogers logo crawl.
Catch My Fall – Comedy on the Danforth
I’m doing a quick and dirty hour show tonight at Timothys (corner of Chester and Danforth, Chester subway) with Gord Oxley, Jane Luk and Dave (mumblemumble)! Best seats are available at 8:45pm, show starts at 9, drinks after commence at 10pm.
Come see me fall on my face! I havent been on stage in MONTHS! Weee!!!