Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chris Shares A Handful of Childhood Memories

One of my earliest memories was of running away from home. I was probably 3 years old (1972) and I packed a little suitcase, threw in some ‘nilla wafers for emergencies, snuck out the back door, crossed the Big Ditch and made it all the way to my Aunt Cathy’s house (less than a block). As I recall, life was tough out on the open road: a dog barked at me, I stepped in the water and had a wet shoe, and due to poor planning I ran out of ‘nilla wafers shortly after crossing the Big Ditch. I’m sure I ran away to protest the Viet Nam war as well as the fact that my Mom would not let me eat my desired amount of ‘nilla wafers before dinner.

I remember my step brother, Dwayne, and I were once telling lies to each other about where we came from (no way we belonged in this family). As I recall, we both told separate (but absolutely true!) stories about how we grew up on Mars. After we were through, we each realized there was a major hole in our stories: how come we never met each other on Mars? The answer was simple, of course, when it came to be known that I grew up on the light side and Dwayne grew up on the dark side. Of Mars.

I remember one time when my younger brother, Danny, who was probably five at the time, tried to horn in on my joke telling territory with this little gem: “Why did the chicken swim like a duck?” Punchline: “Because he thought he was a duck!” My parents laughed at this and it made me mad. How dare he encroach on my territory? Comedy was my thing! I didn’t even think it was a joke, much less a funny one. I think I reacted by telling a “why did the chicken cross the road” joke or acting retarded. Thinking back on it, maybe his joke is actually comical in some psychoanalytical way. I still don’t know. My fear is that it is possibly funnier than anything I have ever written since then.

I remember once visiting my Grandma’s house and for some reason my brothers did not make the trip. My two girl cousins, Shaney and Robyn, were also there and were my only source of entertainment. We mostly played Uno, Checkers and Candyland to pass the time until one day they decided to “start a club.” For kids, “start a club” usually means “we don’t want to play with you anymore so we are going to go over here and talk about you.” So they started the Wild Horses Club. It sounded like a great club to be in for a seven-year old with nothing else to do, but they wouldn’t let me join because I was a boy and also because I didn’t “love wild horses enough.” After some pretty good begging on my part (and more likely on orders from my Grandma) they let me join. Be careful what you wish for, right? During the first meeting I got a taste of what the Wild Horses Club was all about, namely, wild horses. They talked about what color of horses they liked to pet, how they would braid their tails and manes, what they would feed them, what they would name them. After sitting through this for a few minutes and realizing I did not, in fact, “love wild horses enough,” I quit the Wild Horses Club and started the Killing Ants By Various Methods Club of which I was the only member.

There is a picture taken when I was five years old of me and my brothers sitting on a bean bag chair in our t-shirts and tighty whities wearing an assortment of fake moustache and earring stickers that we got from a box of Cracker Jack. I sort of remember the moment this photo was taken, but looking at this picture a few years ago I noticed how shoddy the furniture was in the background. I mean, it was in bad shape--faded, holes in the fabric where the padding showed through, springs popping out. I’ve heard the phrase “We never knew we were poor” quite a few times, but when I saw this picture I realized it applied to me. More importantly, I also learned that I should never let money define my happiness and no matter how bad things get financially I will always look good in a moustache and earrings.

One more: I remember once out on my Grandpa’s farm he let me and my older brother, Jeff, drive the riding lawn mower around the yard (this was the 1970’s and a perfectly acceptable activity for small children). My brother and I would both sit on the seat and take turns steering. At some point I decided he had steered enough and I pushed him off the mower so I could have it all to myself. When you are four years old you don’t usually think these things through, so rather than push him off the side I pushed him off the front of the mower--at which point I ran over him. He went under the deck, legs first, his head and torso sticking out (he somehow heroically managed to grab the deck which kept him from being dragged underneath it). I was frantically trying to figure out how to stop the mower (I was an excellent steerer but stopping was not in my skill set back then) but couldn’t figure out how to do it. In the meantime my Grandpa had reluctantly tossed his beloved Swisher Sweet, sprinted over (the only instance any of us ever recall of seeing him run), and all in one motion jerked me by one arm off of the mower and stopped it. My brother was fine (the blades were fortunately the kind you can disengage and the adults had at least done that). I’m sure I got a spanking or some other punishment but for the most part it was seen as just another day in the life of a five-year old in the 70’s.

For me, however, it didn’t end there. For years I secretly felt a lot of guilt over this incident and I always had the morbid thought of what would have happened if those blades were not turned off and my brother’s feet would have been cut off. I realize I was just a little kid at the time and really not to blame, but I always carried a bit of shame with me over this incident.

Flash-forward about 15 years later and my brother had become a huge Star Trek fan. We were watching one of the original episodes that featured this guy, Captain Pike, who had this chair built for him because aliens had done something to his mind, I don’t remember what, but he could use this chair to get around and it looked sort of cool (in an old Star Trek episode kind of way.) Well, as I watched that show and realized how much my brother liked Star Trek, I decided that if he didn’t have any legs because I had pushed him off the front of a moving lawn mower when we were kids, then ran over him because I didn’t know how to stop the lawn mower, I would have gone out after watching that Star Trek show and built him Captain Pike’s chair. I think he would have really liked the gesture and I now I no longer feel any guilt over the incident.

And finally, while I’d like to tell you about how I learned to dance like Michael Jackson in my downstairs bedroom while listening to Billie Jean over and over again, I think that story is going to stay between Michael Jackson and me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mmmm... potato chips.

Seriously, next week I'll get the whole "Sunday" thing right. The fact that the Pride parade takes place more or less in my own backyard gave me an excuse to start drinking at 10 a.m. and call it a night when it was still technology day time.

I've been trying to hold back on a particular subject, illustrated by a particular ad campaign that has been running for a few months now, but one additional viewing of a Frito Lay "Only in a Woman's World" TV spot today, and I couldn't sit idly and watch absolute crap in progress. I'm not the first female to point out all of the missteps that occur in the process of marketing to the fairer sex (Sarah Haskins does it a million times better than I ever will), but seriously? You can't just draw up some little sassy cartoon everywomen with odd-looking cartoon boobs and make them spout stupid, tired clichés about scales and PMS and diets and pilates. Just because it is, in some fashion, relatable, it is neither humorous nor endearing. Show me a woman that saw any of these spots and peed in her pants laughing, and I will show you a woman with incontinence issues that I am probably not friends with.

Of course, I may be jaded, but I'm also not a dummy. If these spots weren't working in some manner, Frito Lay wouldn't blow their ad budget on glorified Cathy cartoons. But the thought that you can reach into an entire gender's inner psyche by way of "Haha I ate an entire chocolate cake now I'm going to work out for six hours to burn it off I'm so moody let's go buy shoes" is demeaning.

Me? I steal my shoes from homeless people.

Happy America Week! Let's Celebrate!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are blessed to live in a country where this week is a short work week. Why is it a short work week? Because AMER'CA, that's why.

YEAH AMER'CA!!

This Saturday marks the day that we've decided to call the birthday of our great country, even though this is kind of an arbitrary choice considering that the first battle of the American Revolution took place on April 19th of 1775 - well over a year before the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th 1776 - and that the British didn't surrender at Yorktown until October of 1781, that the last battle was a navel engagement on March 10th 1783 and that the Constitution, which officially set up the government that we know today, wasn't ratified until June 21st 1781.

But whatever, we had to pick something right? And July 4th is it! And since it's every American's right to have a day off from work (unless you work in the food service or retail or entertainment industry) because of the Fourth, and since the Fourth is on a Saturday this year, everyone (except the food service or retail or entertainment industry) gets Friday off.

This includes me.

Most people celebrate the nation's birthday by drinking beer, grilling meats and watching things blow up in the sky. But not me, my friends. Because I take my AMER'CA seriously. That's why this year, I am inviting you all to join me as I exercise my rights by participating in the Bill of Rights Derby!

Using the Bill of Rights as a guide, exercise each and every one of those first ten rights guaranteed to you by the crusty old yellow piece of paper that is the cornerstone of our nation. (You know, the Constitution. The founding document of our nation's government. You've read it, right? Or have a copy of it? You can find it on the Internet, right? Right?)

Here is the scorecard I will be using, along with some suggestions for how to practice each Amendment.

Amendment Score Card:

First Amendment: “Free Speech/Press/Religion/Assembly.”
Exercise your right to hold a demonstration where you pass out pamphlets promoting your new religion. Be sure to use a lot of profanity and deny the existence of the holocaust while you’re at it. This is your right.

Second Amendment: “Right to Bear Arms.”
Go out and buy a weapon. This may include but is not limited to fire arms. For instance, a good old fashioned Medieval mace might do the trick. This is your right.

Third Amendment: “Protection from Quartering Troops.”
Call up a member of the Armed Forces and invite them to a sleepover party to be held at your house/apartment/hovel. Then, when they arrive carrying a copy of Sixteen Candles, deny them entry to your house/apartment/hovel. This is your right.

Fourth Amendment: “Protection from Unreasonable Search and Seizure.”
Call up a member of the local police department and invite them to an Easter Egg hunt at your house/apartment/hovel. Then, when they arrive, refuse to let them into your house/apartment/hovel, citing the requirement for a warrant to gain access. This is your right.

The next four can be done all at once.

Fifth Amendment: “Due Process/Double Jeopardy”
Sixth Amendment: “Trial by Jury”
Seventh Amendment: “Civil Trial by Jury”
Eight Amendment: “Prohibition of Cruel and Unusual Punishment”
Commit some sort of crime wherein you at least cause damage in excess of $20. Get arrested, post bail and then be tried by a jury of your peers. Then, be found innocent and get off scott free. After that, refuse to be tried again for the same crime. Also, don’t get beaten by the police. This is your right.

Ninth Amendment: “Protection of Rights Not Specified in the Bill of Rights.”
Do something that the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights specifies that you cannot do. Like walking naked down State Street while carrying a large sign extolling the virtues of classic Marxism. Or pretending to be the King of France. This is your right.

Tenth Amendment: “Powers Not Delegated by the Constitution Belong to the People.”
Celebrate this by refusing to pay income tax. This is your right.


Each right practiced gets you one point. You get a bonus two points for being tried and going to the Supreme Court with an additional point awarded for them ruling in your favor and an additional two points for them declaring something unconstitutional.


Good luck! Check in next Monday and let us know your progress!


AMER'CA!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hanne Hiob, Rest in Peace


All this talk about Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon. It's a shame when the death of someone truly great and influential like Hanne Hiob famous for her role as Ulla Denger in 1960's "Die Nachbarskinder" (opposite the dashing Hans Elwenspoek) is overshadowed by the death of people who just happen to be more famous than herself.

The daughter of writer Bertolt Brecht and opera singer and actress Marianne Zoff, Hanne hid from the glitterati rather than throw herself in its spotlight as did these other three deadbeat-its. Instead, she devoted herself to pacifist political activism... oh...

You know what? I thought it'd be funny to complain about the death of some actor I'd never heard of being "overshadowed" by someone else's death, when I wouldn't have heard about his/her death even if literally nothing happened all day long, but as I'm researching Hanne Hiob, I'm realizing that I actually should be annoyed that her death didn't spark much news. I like her. She received the Aachen Peace Prize the same year as Father Roy Bourgeois, who I also admire for his steadfast annual protests at the School of the Americas (WHINSEC).

RvD should offer to perform at this year's protest. Would there be anything appropriate we could actually do there? Whaddya say, gang? Aside from being for a good cause, it's an opportunity to get up-close and personal with Martin Sheen, The Indigo Girls, and giant, creepy, nightmare-inducing puppets--something for everyone!

Okay, so this blog entry didn't go at all where I thought it would. Sort of like my recent sketch about a flea circus. I guess that's what freewriting is all about.

I stand by the original intent of this blog entry. I think if I'd picked someone equally obscurely famous as Hanne Hiob, and that person did NOT live as noble a life, my original concept would have really worked and right now you'd be feeling immensely satisfied and full, as you do at the end of any good blog entry.
Below, a giant creepy puppet tramples a group of protesters using techniques learned and cultivated at the School of the Americas (WHINSEC).

I just don't get it

Ed McMahon died a couple days ago. Farrah Fawcett died yesterday morning, and apparently Michael Jackson's heart just couldn't take that news so it gave out shortly thereafter. First off - my condolences to any media buzz about Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett, because as soon Michael Jackson died your coverage was all but over. Just like the Mother Teresa and Princess Di scenario (which still upsets me to this day).

Second off - three big entertainment stars die, 2 well before their time. Michael Jackson's death alone is a world shaking scenario. Any way you slice it, the guy was a massive world renowned figure. So there is a lot of energy in the air all ready. My question; What kind of ridiculous dip shit fuck headed douche bag king (or queen) ass sniffing fart eater people feel it is necessary to start rumors that Jeff Goldblum and Harrison Ford have also died? I don't understand the point behind this kind of internet prank. It isn't funny on any level, and I don't say that because I don't think people should joke about death. I'm a pretty firm believer that anything can be funny if timed and delivered properly. But I don't see any point in starting a rumor like that, especially in the midst of all the real deaths that were happening. Plus, when you first heard Michael Jackson died, did you believe it immediately? I sure didn't, and neither did the 8 improv comedians I told right after we finished a sound check (I received the news mid sound check). For the first 5 minutes or so they thought I was doing a bit. So why start a bit/rumor about other people dying when the real people dying was hard enough to believe, especially the same day 1 2 punch of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson? Especially a rumor that is going to almost immediately get refuted. Are people really that starved for attention, or is there some other self serving purpose? I really don't have any answer. It really dumbfounds me. I am dumbfounded.

Dumbfounded.

On a different note - I have been watching Michael Jackson videos all morning, and it is kind of amazing how many situations he solved and fights he won via the power of dance. I sure hope Iran is watching.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Make It Weird

ROBOWRITERS ASSIGNMENT

One thing I always stress in classes and, to no avail, in RvD meetings, is the need for scenes to be grounded in logic. The audience needs to be able to relate to what's going on and be able to buy what's going on. That said, I also love it when a scene goes weird. Twilight Zone, David Lynch, dada weird.

What most writers don't realize when they try to write something weird is that the audience still needs to be able to grasp the basics of what is going on. A main character still needs to have a strong want that's easy to understand. But that's all you really need. All I need is one character emotionally invested in trying to fit in and everyone else can be a nun on Jupiter playing ping pong.

So, the assignment? Write a simple scene. Make it weird. And let the weevils dine on your forehead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sage advice

Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only real cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas. To relax, as it were, in the womb of the desert sun. Just roll the roof back and screw it on, grease the face with white tanning butter and move out with the music at top volume, and at least a pint of ether.

- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Chris Othic’s Very Short Interview With Megan Fox




(Megan, looking really, really hot, sits down in an undisclosed location to talk with RvD’s own Chris Othic to promote her new movie, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Below is a transcript of the interview.)

Megan Fox: Hi.

Chris Othic: Hi, Megan. Is it Mee-gan or May-gan?

MF: May-gan.

CO: I work with this girl and she’s a Mee-gan. She’s also a Vee-gan.

MF: Really?

CO: No. I was just trying to be funny. You know, with rhymes.

MF: It wasn’t really very funny . . .

CO: My writer friends say that a lot. I also had a joke about a “pea gun” but--

MF: Please, don’t. Why are you wearing duct tape on your crotch?

CO: My wife made me. So we wouldn’t have sex.

MF: She thought I would try to have sex with you?

CO: It’s actually for your protection.

MF: Oh.

CO: Selma Hayek wasn’t so lucky . . .

(Awkward pause)

CO: Actually, it was just a waitress in a Mexican restaurant but she looked a lot like Selma Hayek . . .

(A lengthier awkward pause)

CO: I think our waiter kind of looks like Clay Aiken, don’t you?

(A super lengthy awkward pause)

CO: So, uh, Transformers 2.

MF: Yeah, you know, I’m so over the whole promoting the giant robot movie.

CO: Too bad. I had a joke all ready.

MF: That’s unfortunate.

CO: Okay, it wasn’t all worked out but it was supposed to be something about you “transforming” the shape of penises across America.

MF: Huh? That’s gross!

CO: You know, like how the robots change shape only it would be penises that were changing shape.

MF: I get it. I get it.

CO: Revenge of the Fallen--that could be a penis reference, too. I could do a whole act, I bet.

(She makes a face. Then awkward silence)

CO: Like, the word trans-boners. I have some more--

MF: Who are you with, again?

CO: The Robot vs. Dinosaur blog.

MF: You guys are a movie blog?

CO: No, comedy writing.

MF: Are you sure? You’re not very funny.

CO: (feigning hurt) Zing! You zinged me, Mee-gan.

MF: It wasn’t a zing, it’s tr--

CO: I just zinged you there. You didn’t notice. I called you by the wrong name. Mee-gan.

(Silence)

CO: You’re “skexy.”

MF: What?

CO: It’s a word I made up.

MF: What does that mean?

CO: You’re one of those women who are scary and sexy.

MF: I’m scary?

CO: But also sexy. It’s a compliment.

MF: But, scary?

CO: Not scary like the little girl in The Ring, scary. Scary like, if we had sex, you might eat me when we were through. Not that I wouldn’t be into that, if, you know . . .

(Sounds of tugging at duct tape)

MF: That’s--you’re kind of freaking me out here.

CO: Just give me a minute, here.

(More tugging)

MF: Look, I better go now.

CO: Wait, check this out, I made up this picture of your body with a praying mantis’s head.

(He shows her the picture while still tugging at the duct tape)

MF: Um, that’s--

(She frantically starts looking for her publicist)

CO: And here’s one where you are making out with yourself in the mirror and you have a tattoo of my face on your back.

MF: Um, I gotta go.

(She starts to leave.)

CO: And then here we have Clay Aiken’s head on your body. This one is extra skexy.

(She’s running now.)

CO: That would look even skexier with my face tattoo on it.

(She’s gone.) (Pause)

CO: Hey, waiter . . .








Monday, June 22, 2009

The Hangover

After weeks and weeks of complaining about the terrible weather and how cold it’s been for June and how that has sucked, it was finally hot and June-like this weekend. And how did I handle this shift to summer? Why, by hiding in a movie theatre where the heat and humidity couldn’t get to me.

I saw two movies this weekend, The Hangover and Away We Go. Since I need to draw these out so that I have something to blog about the rest of the week, I’ll only be talking about the one here. You can check out my blog about the other sometime later this week at my other blog, Clever Title.

Today let’s talk The Hangover.

I had heard a lot of raving about this movie prior to seeing it, which normally means that the damn thing is hyped and that I’m going to be disappointed when I get around to seeing it. So, to break up the hype a little bit, I will say that the movie is not the most brilliant thing you’ll ever see. It’s very funny, buy it’s not the funniest thing ever made, so don’t go to the movie expecting to have your mind blown.

That said it was definitely worth seeing.

Basically (brief plot summary goes here) the movie is about a group of guys that go to Vegas for a bachelor party, have a crazy night, and then in the morning wake up and the groomsmen can’t find the groom. They spend the rest of the night trying to remember what the hell happened in an effort to locate the groom and get him back in time for the wedding.

The story is structured around an interesting mechanism, which is that we never get to see the actual bachelor party. One scene, they are heading out to party. The next, we are waking up with them the next morning in their supremely trashed suite. As a result, the audience gets to sort of experience the confusion of the groomsmen as they retrace their night in an effort to remember what the hell happened. It’s like Memento, except funny.

One thing I noticed from a writing standpoint was the amount of sign posting they did throughout the movie. It seemed like a crazy thing would happen, then the guys would remind us that they can’t remember anything that happened the night before and then, one they managed to get out of the crazy thing, Bradley Cooper would tell everyone to calm down and then they would rededicate themselves to the overall goal, which was finding the groom. I think that was necessary just to keep the movie focused, but I wonder if that was blatantly noticeable to anyone else.

There were some good character performances from the groomsmen (Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis) and the various other small parts they encountered along the way (even from Mike Tyson, who very clearly can’t act but it’s okay because he’s Mike Tyson and he will punch you), and Bradley Cooper did a good job of being the straight man and keeping everything grounded. I think that and the fact it’s a structurally interesting piece of writing makes it worth the ticket price.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Comedy-tacular!

This is going to be a stellar weekend of comedy. The TBS "Just For Laughs" festival is happening all over Chicago this weekend. (Not really sure why this event got organized. I guess just for laughs.)

Tonight I'm seeing Brick, a highly acclaimed (and somewhat disbanded?) Chicago sketch comedy group. Sunday it's Michael Showalter, of The State, Stella and (my favorite) The Baxter.

But the coup of grace really happens on Sunday at the Bob Odenkirk and David Cross and Friends and me in the audience show. Aside from an actual Beatles reunion show where John and George were raised from the dead, there is no live show more worth seeing than this one. Just in case anyone who reads this blog is uninitiated to Bob and David, here is a classic Mr. Show sketch.



Here's another picture of Bob Odenkirk with a passerby. (Bob is the white guy who is smiling.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

America, America, this is you!

So everyone remembers America's Funniest Home Videos right? That delightful little clip show hosted by Bob Saget where people would send in their VHS tapes showing a kitty doing something cute or dad getting hit in the balls with a bat or 5 people on a bobsled crashing into the side of a house while Bob Saget did ridiculous voiceover's and even more ridiculous jokes to intro them in or extro them out. Well if you didn't know, it is still on TV. Of course it looks different and is now hosted by Tom Bergerson, but it is still on TV. Even with You Tube and Google videos and however many other file sharing video clip thing-a-mahooves are out there America's Funniest Home Videos is still on TV.

When the show was being conceived I would assume that the early meetings went something like "So I have this idea where people send us their VHS tapes of friends and family being really cute or getting hurt, and then we show them to everyone in America." "Well that's all well and good, but who in their right mind is going to send us embarrassing clips of themselves to be broadcast across America." "What if we offer cash prizes. The best/worst video each week gets $10,000 and entered into a grand prize contest for $100,000?" "Yeah, that might work. Cash rules everything around me. Cream get the money. Dolla dolla bill y'all." Now that is truly an American idea - embarrassing others for the sake of possibly winning money.

So now we have You Tube (I highlight You Tube as it is still the most popular video clip medium I know of). Thousands upon thousands of people around the world doing essentially the same thing that America's Funniest Home Video started. Only now there is no money involved - at least outside of the occasional sponsored contest or the occasional viral video that gets so popular people get a real commercial out of it. Some video clips you find are amazing or inspiring, but the ones we really want to see are the weirdos and/or idiots an/or unfortunates that are injuring or embarrassing the hell out of themselves. And a lot of these clips are uploaded by the weirdos and/or idiots an/or unfortunates themselves. No cash prizes, no chance at fame, no dignity. Just "Hey, look at me. I'm an idiot." "You are! *chuckle chuckle chuckle laugh* Let's watch you be an idiot again. Hey everyone, come look at this idiot!"

I know this blog entry isn't the most well thought out or written out piece, but it illustrates something - a slow decline. Every day we get closer to 'Ass' being the number one selling movie in America. If you don't know what I mean by that, check out the movie Idiocracy. Or just watch this You Tube clip:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

(I am officially a blog-day whore, chronically stealing other people's days because I cannot get my shit together early enough to post on my designated day.)

I also know this has been written about millions of time before, but lately I’ve been hung up on the ideas of inspiration and motivation as they pertain to writing. I’m cursed with what (mistakenly) appears to be a pretty dim fire in that most of the time, I don’t want to write anything. This apprehension is equal opportunity, as I don’t want to write brochures for work, or e-mails to friends, or blog posts, or sketches… it’s not that I hate writing; I love to write. It’s that I dislike producing anything I find unawesome, which unfortunately is inevitable, especially since I am roughly a 9.67 on the 10-point imperfection scale.

This fear becomes a problem when faced with only a few seconds to respond to an e-mail – I just won’t respond at all. Better nothing that a quick, impersonal reply, right? Probably not. Better no sketch than a dumb sketch about a man who lives inside a camel carcass, right? That one’s debatable. But in general, I’m trying to remind myself that it’s better to continually produce than to wait until you think your brain is finally primed to create something miraculous.

People would rather receive a short e-mail, rife with misspellings, than no e-mail at all.
Everything produced has potential.
There is humor in a camel carcass.

A Few Things I’ve Learned About Comedy

It’s always funnier on the out.

That just means when you say something really funny, leave, so you won’t be tempted to say something else and everyone will realize you just got lucky the first time.

It’s a great feeling to hear that huge roar of laughter just as you step into the wings.

Fart jokes, people getting kicked in the balls, jokes about bodily functions, those are funny because everyone can relate to them. But good comedy should be like a really good Disney movie. You need some jokes that the adults are gonna like, too. So you have to have some clever humor, something witty, like a play on words or a great observation about the world or relationships. Like a guys says, “I was driving in my car at just below the speed of sound, and I sped up just a little, and there was a sonic boom, and then you know what happened? My wife suddenly became more bearable.” And all the smart, married people in the audience will maybe chuckle a little.

Then someone kicks that guy in the balls, and everybody else will laugh.

I tried to make up a rule of comedy I am calling “The Male Underwear/Footwear Correlation.” Jack Black is an expert in the use of this. It goes sort of like this: A guy in his underwear is funny, but never as funny as a guy in his underwear and also wearing shoes. I don’t know why this is, but it’s true. Something about the juxtaposition. And socks and shoes are funnier than just socks. If it’s black socks and dress shoes, even funnier. As for the underwear part, tighty whiteys are funnier than boxer shorts. I’m not sure if speedos or banana hammocks are funnier than tighty whiteys. I’m still working on this part of the formula. But it is possible that shoes and underwear can be extrapolated out to the point where a man wearing a diaper and a pair of snow shoes may be the funniest possible version of the Correlation.

Also, male full frontal nudity is hardly ever funny. I think the exception might be someone wearing a tank top and footwear, but nothing else.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. Too much.

I think the difference between sketch comedy and improv is it’s a lot harder to create bad sketch comedy than it is to create bad improv. With a sketch you have to write a first draft, read it to your friends, do a rewrite(s), agonize over every word, cast it, then rehearse and perform it. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, if it sucks, someone will discourage you from actually producing it, or they will help you make it better. With improv, you are only ever one audience suggestion away from performing a bad scene.

So with improv you are more or less just tossing out a bunch of first drafts at the audience.

The comedy for improv and sketch is different, too. A lot of it has to do with the audience’s expectations. They will laugh at a well crafted joke whether it was written or improvised. But they will laugh at the situation more in improv, because they know it is being made up on the spot, without a net. They are a lot more forgiving. They will also laugh at something because they know an improviser has just dug themselves a hole, and the scene becomes about that improviser trying to dig themselves out of it. The audience will go into the hole with them so they can watch.

With sketch, if you dig yourself a hole, nobody gives a shit if you can get out of it, because once you’re in the hole, the audience ain’t gonna follow you into the hole. They’re thinking “You should have covered the damn hole in rehearsal.”

I think sketch writers should take a turn at writing some stand-up comedy, at least once in their lives. If nothing else, it will make them see the importance of crafting a good set up and punch line. I see a lot of punch lines that are funny, but if the order of just two or three words were changed in the punch line, it would be even better. Same joke, just better. That’s the craftsmanship part of it.

The joke should hit them on the last word of the sentence.

I think ad-libbing in rehearsal is helpful, but as an actor you shouldn’t take it too far. Respect the script. Someone has (hopefully) spent a lot of time agonizing over every word in that script. But sketches are works in progress, so it’s okay to play around with it. It’s up to the director to kind of set the mood for how far you can stray from the script.

The first place to start when ad-libbing is to memorize what’s written. I had an actor at one time who was off book before they had even bothered to memorize the lines. That’s a good way to get a writer to punch you in the mouth.

I think if it’s funny, it stays. You can never have too many jokes in a scene, or in a show. The audience is there to laugh. The only time I think you have to get rid of a good joke is if it derails the scene by screwing up the logic or the pacing or if it’s coming from the actor or the writer and not the character. That’s where the director has to step in and protect the show from the killer joke you just made up. You have to keep the integrity of the scene.

I love a well executed, high concept scene. Like clash of context, or a social satire, or a great parody. But I think the scenes that audiences really love and remember are character scenes, where there is a really strong character. If you look at SNL and all of the scenes that went on to become movies (good or bad) they were all character-based.

Actors love character based scenes, too. Give them a great character and it’s like giving them the keys to a high-end sports car.

After they see a really high concept scene, audience members say it was “smart.” But then they try to tell their friends about it and end up doing the whole “I guess you had to be there” thing and then they just do their Ace Ventura impression and everyone loves it. So characters.

When it comes to comedy, the most common note I have heard as an actor or given as a director is “Louder and Faster.” That’s not just a sex thing, either. And it usually fixes the problem--in both areas.

Jokes about cancer, rape, abortion, etc., I used to think they were funny, but now I’m not so sure.

Of course, I think one of the main purposes of comedy is to be able to deal with some really bad things (like rape, cancer and abortion) that we wouldn’t normally be able to deal with. We laugh so we don’t cry. So jokes about cancer, rape, and abortion, there must be some good ones, I just haven’t written any lately.

A lot of times the difference between a tasteless joke or a tasteful joke is whether the humor is directed outward or inward. It’s not the fact that we are joking about the holocaust that’s funny, it’s the fact that the person telling the joke is oblivious to what everyone else thinks about what he is saying that is funny.

You can get away with almost anything if it is coming from a character. What I mean by that is I could never call someone the n-word, but if I wrote a redneck or racist character that would use that word realistically in the scene, you can get away with it. It helps if you are making fun of that character’s ignorance, though. And there should be a kernel of truth in it, too. And it better be funny.

Sometimes good humor offends, but that’s okay, unless the person you offended is holding a knife or a gun and you’re not standing near the door.

When people ask me what I do, I used to say “I work at so and so, but I want to be a comedy writer.” Now I just say “I’m a comedy writer and I also work at so and so.” It’s liberating.

When something happens to me, or I see something interesting, I usually say “That would make a great scene.” I say that so much my wife and friends get tired of hearing it. But that’s how I know I’m a comedy writer, because I’m always thinking like one.

The other way to know you’re a comedy writer is if someone is paying you, but I haven’t made it to that point yet.

If I’m standing next to you and you say something funny in a normal conversation, I will tell you “That’s mine. I’m taking that.” Then it’s the first one who puts it down on paper.

I bet over 90% of all the sketches I’ve ever written have never been produced. But I don’t mind, because I equate writing sketches to doing pushups. So by the time I write a scene that goes before an audience, it’s pretty damn strong.

Writing a lot of stuff also frees you up so you can write some bad material and get it out of your system. It takes the pressure off. Every scene doesn’t have to be perfect because no one will see it except for you and maybe your close peers. If it flops you can just stick it in a drawer and move on. Maybe someday your kids will discover it and think you were a horrible writer.

I think to be a good comedian you have to have a certain mindset about life, like “I get no respect” or “The world hates me” or something like that. You have to feel like you are getting a raw deal.

For me, the mindset is “It’s always one thing.” I feel like I’m doing pretty well in life, but a lot of times I’ll look at a situation and think “This would be great if it wasn’t for that one thing.” My example would be how I often have dreams of flying, and they are awesome, except for the fact that I can usually only fly at like seven miles per hour, or at a maximum height of sixteen feet. So I wake up and think, “Wow, that was an awesome flying dream, but damn, only seven miles an hour?”

So even my dreams are unsatisfying.

You always hear, “It’s all in the timing.” But what does that really mean? A slow pause or a quick retort? When in doubt go with Louder and Faster.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Facebook

Hi Friends,

In an effort to share embarrassing details about our life, stalk people we've only met once and reconnect with sketch groups we haven't spoken to since high school, Robot vs Dinosaur has started their own Facebook group on the old interwebs.

We figure the more friends we have, the more popular we are. And the more popular we are, the more we can CONTROL YOUR MINDS!!

JOIN US!!


JOIN US!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Snuff Box

What is the best way to learn how to write brilliant sketch comedy? Watch brilliant sketch comedy. My gift to you: Snuff Box. Written and performed by Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher, Snuff Box did a six episode run on BBC3 in 2006. Each episode follows a strict format but still manages to be totally original and completely deranged.



I don't know how to feel about this video...

but it's actually kind of heartwarming. Turn up the volume and open your mind.
(A post with more words and less turtle/boot love to come tomorrow.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Arj & Poopy

This is great...



And so is this...



And if you liked those...



But my favorite one is this...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

About me

Name: Geoff Crump

Me on a good day:


Me on not a good day:



Place of current living: Chicago, Illinois
Population: 2,740,224








Place of growing up in: Machias, New York
Population: 2,482







Place of graduation: Pioneer Central Schools



Place of not graduation: Nazareth College




Stupidest thing I have ever done: Feeding a wild bear out of my hand

Like father, like son



My dog: Rudy



The first play I ever did: The Diviners



The first musical I ever did: Oklahoma!


Me as a child:

Me as an adult child:


Most interesting place I have worked: Disney World


Least interesting place I have worked: The game room at Nazareth College (watched a lot of pro-wrestling though. Too sweet!)


Longest relationship: Erin Crump, my wife. 7 years (so far)


Shortest relationship: Laura Feligno. Technically 3 days


JV soccer:


Varsity soccer:


My 3 proms (In order of senior year, junior year, and sophomore year):



Me and my dad, after I accepted my Bishop's Award for Altar Server Excellence:


My mom feeding a wild deer from her mouth:


One of several failed attempts at doing a quick, cheap, headshot:



Don't forget to get your TV converter box.

Robot Dinosaurs?

My money is on Robot Stegasaurus.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

RoboWriters Wednesday!

The Assignment

Write a scene based on a moment in history.

There are a few ways to approach this...

1) Literally, show us your twisted take on the moment. Have your scene take place on the boat when Washington crossed the Delaware.
2) Show us the moment before.
3) Show us the moment after.
4) Peripherally show us. Maybe the scene is about two guys on the dock or between two of the soldiers in the back of the crowded boat.

And don't forget the option of Clash of Context or genre parody. Washington crossing the Delaware might be a nice Clash of Context with the film Titanic.

VIDEOS!


Here are two videos I made out of the editing class I took last week.




Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wherein 39-Year-Old Andy Gunderson Writes Letters Of Apology To Some Of The Women Of His Past, For Transgressions They May Or May Not Be Aware Of



Dear Callie,

I would like to apologize for my inappropriate touching, kissing and hugging of you back in Aunt Tina’s sandbox when we were toddlers. I realize most people think of this as cute behavior, but at the time I know I was stepping over the line. Thank goodness you were strong enough for both of us. There is no telling where it would have led to if your cries had not awakened Uncle Archie from his gin-soaked sleep. Please accept my apology.

Yours truly,

Andy
_____________


Dear Natalie,

Regarding the short time we spent in my grandpa’s tool shed back in 1976 (we were seven years old): I just wanted to say I’m sorry. You showed me yours upon the promise that I would show you mine, and I failed to live up to my end of the bargain. Enclosed is a picture of mine (it is current). I hope that we can once again be friends.

Yours truly,

Andy

Enclosure
_____________


Dear Sandra,

Let me come clean and state that the booger that was left in your chair in Ms. Tulley’s Fourth Grade class was left by me, not Willis Washington. I thought it was unfair of you to accuse him falsely, but ultimately I feel responsible. I didn’t realize it would make you throw up like that--on spaghetti and meatball day no less! You certainly have a gentle disposition! Thus my attempt at juvenile humor ended in open embarrassment for you and hidden shame for me. Please forgive me.

Yours truly,

Andy

P.S. If it is of some comfort to you, I could no longer eat spaghetti and meatballs after the incident.

cc: Willis Washington
_____________


Dear Katrina,

I am writing to apologize for that first kiss we shared under Amy Tatum’s walnut tree (the one in the back yard). As you may have realized by now, it was my first kiss (ever--thank you!), and after learning the ropes I realize it might have been a little too much tongue. One of my later girlfriends (who took the time to teach me proper kissing technique as well as locate the clitoris) described it appropriately as “all tongue, no lips.” Knowing better now, I do apologize. I do not apologize, however, for groping your left breast. I know it offended you, because you slapped me, at which point I tried to grope your right breast. I do apologize for that. But I stand by my right to at least try to grope a breast once while in junior high, and with all the tonguing and stuff I was getting mixed signals.

Yours truly,

Andy
_____________


Dear Rita,

I hope this letter finds you well. I just wanted to apologize for something I wrote on the bathroom wall right after our break-up back in sophomore year at Reedville High School. You were certainly not a “hore who sukz football playerz dikz [sic].” That was not true, and I apologize. I did learn that you actually did a lot of this type of thing during senior year, but due to the timing of my indiscretion, I feel I wronged you.

Yours truly,

Andy
Former Captain of the Fightin’ Flyers
Henry County Community College Intramural (flag) Football Champs - C Division

P.S. Maybe we can get together and catch up sometime!
_____________


Dear Sally Jane,

I would like to apologize to you for a slight transgression perpetrated by me against you back in Junior year. It seems there was a hole in the janitor’s closet adjoining the women’s showers, and myself and a few others watched you and some of the other cheerleaders bathing. I realize it was wrong. I only take solace in the fact that I was one of the few fellows who were not touching themselves during the incident. Please accept my sincere apology. I hope to see you soon.

Your bro,

Andy

P.S. Please don’t tell Mom. I will send her a separate letter of apology for transgressions against her--not of the sexual variety, thank goodness!
_____________


Dear Melissa,

I’m sorry about the thing I did to you while you were passed out after the Sadie Hawkins Dance in the fall of 1988. It was just plain wrong. Please, please accept my most sincere apology. If we were to ever resume our friendship, I can promise it won’t happen again.

Yours truly,

Andy

P.S. I’m pretty sure Ben Harris owes you a letter of apology, also. I’m not positive as I left the room for a few minutes and he was alone with you. I’m just saying.
_____________


Dear Becca,

I am writing to apologize about the circumstances of our break up during the summer of 1988, right before college. You were right about Stacy the whole time, but I was too blinded by her superior body to realize it in the heat of the moment. If I could do it over, I’m not sure I would have the strength to not sleep with Stacy, but I definitely would have resisted the urge to sleep with you the following week, thereby avoiding the whole embarrassment caused by transmitting that nasty STD. Please find it in your heart to forgive me and do say hello to your sister for me, if you are still on speaking terms.

Yours truly,

Andy

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dear Business Associate: Don't Write Like An Idiot

One of my BIGGEST pet peeves of the professional world is when PEOPLE use unnecessary capitalization, EXCLAMATION AND QUESTION marks, bolding and italicization in THEIR email!!!!!! If you’ve read my blog, CLEVER TITLE, you MIGHT have seen another post where I complained about THIS problem?????!! It IS a problem that persists, though; ONE that pertains SPECIFICALLY!!! to work related email that is meant for OTHER business professionals. It is UNACCEPTABLE TO ME that people write like spastic fourteen year old children to each other while TRYING to conduct business for which YOU are paid money!!!!!!!!! You are GROWN-UPS, for chrissake!!!! Learn to act like A grown-up WITH OTHER grown-ups when doing grown up THINGS!!!!.?!!?! IT IS NOT THAT hard.

IDIOTS!!!?!?!!!??!?!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Do I Stink?

Ever find yourself in a situation where the BO you're smelling is ethereal enough that you can't quite find it's source? Even those of us who are on a daily shower schedule are not outside of BO's sticky reaches. The shirt that sits in the washer a couple hours too long before being put in the drier is an unforgiving beast. The quick jog to the post office and back to your desk can be enough to overrun the blockade of antiperspirant you've plastered in your "hot zone."

When in this situation, bad as the smell may be, I must sniff out its source before I can relax, secure in the knowledge it's not me. There's also the fear that, whether guilty or not, the people on either side of me are already passing judgment on me, while the real culprit is out there, allowed to run free, and likewise frame other such diligent washers as myself.

Well, I happily declare myself sinless at last night's performance of Tom Stoppard's "Rock 'n' Roll" at the Goodman. When the lights came up at intermission, I could clearly see the exposed, inflated, reddened, shimmering right foot of the woman to my left. I smelled it all through the second act, too; but oh, how relieved I was to not be at fault.

I didn't really enjoy the play.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Screw the flowers; where have all the vacations gone?

So this technology thing, in case you haven't noticed, is pretty much everywhere. It is so much everywhere that it really feels like I just can't get away from it. Some of that is technology's fault, and some of that is my fault. When I leave the house I could just leave my cell phone behind - but what if my mom called to chat, or work called because a customer needed their service turned back on immediately, or the president called because I was the human race's last hope to save the Earth from mutant alien Nazi bikers from nebula 99?

For a very short time I had the opportunity to have a "remote" job, which essentially means I work from home. But thanks to my laptop if I so chose I could also work at a coffee shop or tea house. The laundromat I go to has wi-fi access for fuck's sake. I could do laundry and work at the same time. I could go into the bathroom at the laundromat and take a dump while my clothes are washing and continue to work. It's a multitasker's wet dream. That got me thinking that if I got one of those fancy network cards STOP! side bar - I just saw a Klondike Bar commercial in which a very hairy man got his pubic hair waxed....

That got me thinking if I got one of those fancy internet cards that jam into the side of my laptop I could work from anywhere at all. How exciting! I could just go to the zoo and sit next to the lily pond and work all day. How peaceful and techno-yoga. At first it seems like a wonderful setup. No waking up extra early and dragging my tired self into a cold an heartless office. I can literally wake up, turn my computer on, and start working. And I sleep naked. How quickly I realized how terrible it actually is.

Sometimes I like being alone. Sometimes I need to be isolated. Sometimes I need an damn escape. With recent advances in technology it is becoming harder and harder to get the fuck away from the world. Badder news is that it is only going to get worse. The number of places in the world you can go and not be connected to the grid is shrinking at an alarming rate. That coupled with my misguided work ethic basically means that no matter where I would normally go in the world, including on vacation, I can always be in touch with work 24/7. And I would check in on work too. It's happened before. Again, I could just leave my phone and/or laptop behind but it is actually difficult for me to do that. I have to fight my predilection for the need to feel available at all times, and it isn't an easy battle for me.

When I was a kid my family would go to the Adirondack Mountains every summer. We would rent a cabin for a week at this little camp/resort called Brynilsen's Viking Village. There were no TVs, there was only 1 phone in the whole resort, and there sure as shit weren't any computers. I remember one summer there was a family that stayed at the camp and they brought a TV and VCR with them. I must have been 9 or 10 at the time and I remember thinking how stupid it was for them to do that. Why in the fuck (I started swearing at an early age) would you want to sit in your cabin and watch TV when you could go swimming or climb a mountain or go into town and visit all the little touristy curio shops or play cards or run off into the forest to find big pieces of fungus growing off of trees that you can draw pictures on? I remember being pissed off when the nearest big town got a McDonalds. I wouldn't be surprised if the camp had it's own internet cafe cabin at this point.

I just want a vacation. A real vacation. Not a trip back home to Buffalo where we have to run around and visit family and friends, not a staycation where me and the wife get a hotel room for the weekend in the city, not a 1 day trip to Wisconsin Dells. I want at least a week of just me and the wife and dog off somewhere with no threat of being interrupted by phone calls or emails. I'll make it happen somehow. And you should to - except you'll need to get your own wife and dog.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

RoboWriters Update!

ROBOWRITERS ASSIGNMENT

This week, write a scene that uses the whole theater space as a location. For example, a classroom, with the audience as student, or the whole theater is a swimming pool with the lifeguard on stage and the audience is the pool or swimmers in the pool.

PODCASTING

We've been talking about RvD doing a podcast and are exploring the technical side of such an endeavor. I have been taking a class at Columbia that has been schooling me in Garage Band and iMovies - two applications I have on my laptop and have barely touched in a year.

Here is my first foray into editing in iMovies. Enjoy. It's very thrilling.


video

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Things Chris Might Possibly Have Said At His Bachelor Party In October 2001

7:00 p.m. - “Okay guys, thanks for coming! It’s gonna be off the hook! I’m excited to have all my friends here because I LOVE YOU GUYS! But listen, no hookers tonight, okay? I wouldn’t do anything like that. But I did bring some condoms just in case! Just kidding! No really, I brought some condoms.”

7:30 p.m. - “You guys are paying for my dinner, right? Great. I’ll have the 26 ounce porterhouse. I’d never get that if I was buying! I love you guys! Awesome!”

8:45 p.m. - “Who bought me the chocolatini? I’m not drinking this.”

8:55 p.m. - “Wow, that chocolatini was actually pretty good.”

9:10 p.m. - “Dave, paying that random girl to throw a drink in my face, that was classic! Good one! I love you, man! But I’m going to have to send you the dry cleaning bill. Seriously. This is my strip club shirt.”

9:30 p.m. - “I love this limo! Check it out. Power windows!”

9:45 p.m. - “Wow, this strip club is awesome! Who’s buying me the first lap dance? I’ll take that blonde over there, she’s hot! Cue up the Def Leppard!”

9:55 p.m. - “Good one guys, not telling me this was a drag bar. He smelled real nice though.”

10:15 p.m. - “Cool! This place is more like it! And the girl from Penthouse is giving me a lap dance! Wow! I love you guys! Hold her off a minute while I go to the restroom and take off my underwear.”

10:25 p.m. - “Okay, very funny. You switched the Penthouse girl for the big stripper while I was in the restroom. Nice. 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' will never be the same. She smelled real nice though.”

10:40 p.m. - “That was really nice of you guys to buy a lapdance with the Penthouse girl for the best man. Willie really looked like he was enjoying himself. Can we leave now?”

11:15 p.m. - “A karaoke bar! Awesome! And they have Huey Lewis on the song list! Even better! I love you guys! Let's go buy this bachelor some shots!”

11:25 p.m. - “What’s in this shot? It tastes like gasoline.”

11:35 p.m. - “What’s in this shot? It tastes like gasoline.”

11:45 p.m. - “What’s in this shot? It tastes like gasoline.”

11:55 p.m. - “Waz innish shtz? It tstst lk gslnnne.”

12:15 a.m. - “It was great when they threw me off stage for inserting the F-word into The Heart of Rock and Roll, wasn’t it? Do we really have to leave?”

12:25 a.m. - "What are we doing at this Motel 6? I thought I told you no hookers! You're the best friends a guy could ever ask for. I love you, guys.”

12:35 a.m. - "This hooker's not a dude, right? Seriously. I'll have to wear an extra condom."

12:40 a.m. - "I saw her naked! She's the real deal! Thank you, Jesus! I love you, guys!"

12:50 a.m. - “You guys set me up! Not cool! Untie me, now! Guys! Guys!”

1:05 a.m. - “Come on! Wax?! You could at least shave me! Owwwwwww!”

1:15 a.m. - “I said no pictures! No pictures!”

1:25 a.m. - So you’ll untie me if I put on an adult diaper? That’s a good one. I love you guys!”

1:30 a.m. - “All is forgiven if you hand me my beer. Screw it, let’s do more shots!

2:35 a.m. - “Waz innish shtz? It tstst lk gslnnne.”

2:40 a.m. - “Waz innish shtz? It tstst lk gslnnne.”

2:45 a.m. - “Waz innish shtz? It tstst lk gslnnne.”

2:50 a.m. - “Waz innish shtz? Blarghagahahaghahgh!”

2:55 a.m. - “Hey check it out! I can jump from a speeding limo while wearing a diaper!”

2:56 a.m. - “I lost my diaper.”

2:57 a.m. - “Must . . . pass . . . out . . . now. I love you, guys.”

11 a.m. - "Ohhhhhhmmmyyyyyyffffuuuuuccccckkkkkiiiiinnnnngggggg
hhheeaaadddisspppoooouuunnnndddddinnnngggggpllleeeaaaaseekkkkiiiiillllllmmmmeeeeeee. I hate you guys.”

Monday, June 1, 2009

FIRST!?

I just want to be the first person on the interwebnet that says "The refrain/chorus/whatever of Pearl Jam's new song they played on the 1st Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien is an exact duplicate of "Gut Feeling" be Devo

Crump

Theatre of the Lazy

I hope this comes across as a clear, cogent thought and not some ridiculous self-aggrandizing diatribe. At this point, running on three hours of sleep with no good excuse other than I’m a big nerd (“A huge ass book about Lorenzo de’Medici! Wow!”), that’s about all I can hope for.*

This morning, on my usual tour of the local blogosphere, I read a review on Don Hall’s blog of The New American All-Stars in which he basically called out the improv group in question for not caring enough to do a decent show. I haven’t seen the show or the group, so I am not prepared to comment either way on whether or not that was a fair assessment.

I am prepared to comment on the comment section though, which quickly became an opportunity for people to vent their frustrations on Improvisation as an art form. Which I’m certain was not the intention of Don in posting what he posted. But the most prevailing condemnation is that so much Improvisation amounts to “theatre of the lazy.”

While Improvisation and Sketch Comedy are not the same, they are artistic cousins (in Chicago we usually share actors, performance spaces and even bills) and I think that this particular fault can be applied to Sketch as easily as to Improvisation. I’ve only been in Chicago for about three and a half years – not long enough to be a truly opinionated master at anything but long enough to have a few suspicions. And while I’ve seen some great improv and some great sketch comedy in my time here, I’ve also seen a couple (and maybe even been a part) of big steaming piles.

As we here at Robot vs Dinosaur head back to the writer’s room to plan our next show, this post becomes a very good reminder to me of why we formed.

When Joe Janes originally brought all of the writers together during those first primordial writers meeting two years ago, we naturally had that sit-down that every group has where we talked about what we wanted to be as a group. We writers all had varying degrees of experience in the local sketch comedy scene, but the one thing we kept coming back to was our desire to do quality work. We didn’t want to be just a group of people who slapped together a show at the last minute because somehow they had managed to land a Skybox show and needed material, any material, immediately. We wanted to make sure that our shows were unique, well written and well rehearsed.

At the end of countless rewrites, weeks of rehearsal and all, at the very least I have the satisfaction of knowing, regardless of whether the audience loved it or hated it, that what I put out was my best effort.

We also naturally wanted to be funny.

This is not to say that Robot vs. Dinosaur shows are the greatest ever (I would never say that publicly but know that I'm thinking it), but I do think it’s important to remind oneself that quality matters.

I know that we get a couple of people coming to the blog looking for Robowriter’s assignments and so forth. So, for all of you aspiring or practicing comedy writers and actors out there, I guess my point is to commit yourself completely to whatever it is you do and concentrate on making something of the best quality you can. That’s really the only way to get better at what you do.

And… post.

*Note to self: eliminate dangling participles.