Right, so it would help if I gave you the video…Now enjoy.
Right, so it would help if I gave you the video…Now enjoy.
this is one of my favorite sketches. I love how it turned out. I produced and performed in “The Vagina Monologues” all four years in college. For “Net Flux”, I did a parody.
I’m proud of the staging. I didn’t want them to just stand there in the middle of the stage. So I told the guys to try this. Even after the first try it was really cool. We had to declare some travel routes at times ( “Brad’s just going to step back, so walk around the outside”) but that was so minor.
The guys did such a great job each time in rehearsal and on stage, bringing little details out to hit it home, from the hand holding to the fists held high, to being the shoulder to cry on to being strong for others.
Brad did a great job as narrator. This is no laughing matter. These stories are about the trials and tribulations of growing up male.
Jim, who has stage managed and helped with “The Vagina Monologues”, read “The Scrotum Workshop” inspired by “The Vagina Workshop”. He captured the drama and emotion that is often used in it’s female counterpart.
Chris read “My Pleated Dockers” inspired by “My Short Skirt” and “My Angry Scrotum” inspired by “My Angry Vagina”. The first one he is very controlled and matter-of- fact as he needed to be. The second one, as you’ll see, he steps forward controlled only to burst with fed up anger,Southern accent drawling, audience doubling over.
I’m going to send it to Eve Ensler. I think she’ll have a sense of humor about it. Until then, enjoy.
Let me know what you think.
I’m uploading videos of my sketches and thought I’d explain a little more about them.
In “Netflux”, we flipped the sexes of well-known characters to see how the stories would be different. I made the 3 Kings in the nativity story 3 queens. How would that be different?
The queens would probably already be mothers so they would bring practical gifts, something to help Mary, a first time mom. They’re not bringing frankincense, myrrh, and gold. What’s a baby and a mom going to do with that?
They bring a onesie (embroidered with “Future King”) so he stays warm, a donkey car seat so he’s safe on the trip home, a busy box and mobile so he’s occupied and quiet, and a wind up swing so when he gets finicky, Mary can put him in and he’ll be out in seconds. It’s much more of a baby shower and experienced moms helping the first time mom.
Brad Rickert did the omen duty playing the Virgin Mary. He played a great first time mom who was nervous and excited. Ana Radice, Victoria Montalbano, and Jami Primmer played the three queens with gorgeous heavy Jewish accents. Each time they did the sketch it made me so happy. It was just like I’d imagined it and how I wrote it. Chris McGillivray and Jim Vozzella played two of the three kings who were late because they didn’t ask for directions.
I had them come in up the stairs to the stage so it looked like they were coming in from outside and travelling from far away. They sang “We three queens of orient are, bearing gifts and travelling far…”
Chris suggested a way to improve the button on the scene, the end line, that really made the scene. Jami earlier in the scene says, “You can tell who his father is.” Brad says, “He’s born in the image of man.” “Ye-ah…Okay.” We call back to that line at the end when the kings come in. Jim says, “You can tell who his father is.” Brad says again, “He’s supposed to be born in the image of man.” Originally I gave Jami the last line, “Not with that schnozz.” Chris brought up a good point. She’s already seen the kid. It’d make more sense for one of the kings to say what everybody’s thinking, but not supposed to say. So I gave the schnozz line to him and it made the scene.
It took almost all my biblical knowledge to write, but it’s one of my favorites and makes me smile. They did it so naturally well.
Hope you enjoy it.
The Cabaret yesterday was awesome! I’ve been looking forward to it for a while, but didn’t expect it to be the reassuring hand on the back or the hug around my heart I needed.
It was put together by Eric Malmquist (ericmalmquist.com) and his organization Singers on New Ground. I met Eric at the Bite Size Variety Hour a couple of months ago where I sang my song, “We Have to be Nice to the Nazis”. He paired me with composer Sarah Ritch of Anaphora (sarahjritch.wordpress.com).
After weeks of writing, rewriting, and emailing back and forth I sat in The Green Mill with my parents for the Cabaret. I wasn’t able to make the rehearsal so I would be hearing the songs, titled “Songs About Love” for the first time with the audience. My dad was ecstatic my work was at The Green Mill. He said it was on par with Second City. I don’t know if that’s the music aficionado in him or the proud dad.
My songs were sung by tenor Jacob Christopher with Kevin Reeks on the piano. I am so thankful Eric paired them with my songs. Sarah did an outstanding job with the music. Jacob has a gorgeous voice and performed beautifully. There’s a little stage with a column in the middle. He would lean on it when appropriate for emphasis of being in love.
The first song, “The World is Better (When You’re in Love)”, comes from the point of view of someone under the influence of love’s most severe side effect: optimism. It sounded like a haunted waltz in the best of ways. It was beautiful, and there was a power about it that made you want to be cautious.
The chorus of that song was one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard. The combination of the words, the music, and his voice met and melded into something that made me say “Wow” and “I wrote that.” I couldn’t believe I had written that. I couldn’t believe I had helped create something that beautiful.
The audience actually erupted in applause after the first song. It was the coolest thing. They had not applauded after any of the other first songs; they waited for the end of the set. I think it was because there was a succinct end to my song (I don’t know).
The second song was inspired by actual events. I was waiting in line to see a show. The line wrapped around the block for a theater that held 70. The couple behind me decided to make out. So I wrote a song about being in that delightfully awkward situation (very close quarters, not wanting to lose my spot in line, where do I look?)
People laughed (I kind of feel luckily). Jacob did a great job again.
I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to write more, have Sarah whip up music, and put Jacob and Kevin back on stage. I was excited when I heard the music to “Be Nice to the Nazis.” It was like I had created a statue and the music director brought it to life and put it in its world. I had a similar feeling when I worked on the song for my first Second City show and hearing the cast sing it. I can still remember the tune and how the room felt when the cast sang it. Everyone smiled.
I felt that yesterday ten fold.
I’d been scooting around in a bit of my own personal bell jar and the cabaret was the loving arm around my shoulder, pointing me towards a potential door.
I can’t wait to get the recordings so I can share the talents of Sarah, Jacob, and Kevin with you.
I’ve hand written the novel out. It’s nowhere near in order. I wrote what I wanted when it came to me. Now I’m typing out what I’ve written. It’s really fun. It’s like a huge jig saw puzzle, turning over pages to find the piece that fits several pages earlier. Can’t wait to see the finished picture. I’m going to have to create the missing pieces along the way, but that’s okay.
Everyday we have Robert Frost moments. Moments where two paths diverge in our woods and we choose the one less travelled and all the difference it makes.
Soon after I started Second City, I had a ticket for a concert. I felt very awkward at this band’s concert. I was always the most conservatively dressed while the rest of the crowd looked like Anime characters. I had a rough day at work. One of the managers probably drained me. People on the phone or people in person not understanding, not caring, but wanting their way. After a day of that, I drove into Chicago.
I exited onto North Ave and stopped at the stoplight. I painfully had to go to the bathroom. It was at least another hour before the doors to the show opened. I knew where the bathroom was at Second City. I could turn left and head into Bucktown for the concert or turn right and head for Second City. I turned right.
I parked in the garage instead of hunting for a parking spot. After going to the bathroom, I asked myself, “Now what?” Do I pay for parking only to pay for parking again a couple of minutes later. I’d never seen a Second City show. I saw the travelling company in DeKalb. That’s how I ended up training at Second City. I went to the Mainstage box office.
The show was sold out but I could be on a waiting list. Another path diverged. Should I stay or should I go? I’d be out $5 for the concert and miss being immersed in a sea of immaturity at Subterranean. If I didn’t get into Second City I could still make the concert. So I said I’d wait.
Doors opened. People poured into the theatre. The box office waved me up. There had been a no-show. There was going to be one at Subterranean.
I sat with a family from Boston. the woman’s husband had been here last the one night John and Jim Belushi were on stage together.
And the show started. I was filled with a light and energy. I felt like a little kid seeing theatre for the first time. I wanted to do that (which was good because I was in training to do it).
At the end of the show Boston wished me luck on my comedy endeavors.
I made the right choice that night. Not only did the show inspire some sketches and show me what was possible onstage, the police had been called to the concert shortly after it started. The drummer and lead guitar had been thrown out of the club. It turned out to be the guitarist’s last show with the band, but I don’t regret missing the show. I had a much more memorable encounter with them later.
So my mom and I are opening a tea shop. I feel good because I know I’m helping her. It has helped me get organized. Up in the morning. Work out or go to the shop. In the evening, I have time to write. When you have a lot of time, like all day, you have a lot of fluff time. You look things up. You do other things. I try to see how much I can get done between 9 pm and midnight. I can speed handwrite. I can read what I’ve written or (at least figure out a word by looking at the others). I’m very good at having To Do lists and going down them.
I don’t have time for writer’s block on my novel. It’s take the first idea that comes and try it. Go with the flow until you have to say, “Stop.”
Opening the shop has inspired some freelance articles I’m looking forward to developing.
Funny how when you’re busy you become more efficient…
I enjoy British comedy. Some people can’t stand it. Some people say they don’t get it which I don’t get. What is there to get? You watch and you laugh because it’s funny. Part of it is I grew up on it. Part of it is I like my comedy dry and deadpan. Maybe it’s the accents, but I’m pretty sure it is the delivery.
I think a lot of British comedy (or at least the ones I watch(ed)) stem from a theatrical background. Plays they understood, so why couldn’t you film the play and call it a television show? All about the entrance. John Inman was on a show called “Are You Being Served?” It was set in a department store. Everyone arrived for work and entered the show by stepping off the elevator. You couldn’t wait for him to come off the elevator. It would be outlandish, over the top and hilarious.
Someone described another show, “Little Britain”, as self effacing humor. A lot of British comedy makes fun of traits, traditions, and all things about being British. They think the stiff upper lip is funny as well. Characters become caricatures. We know them all too well and sometimes they can be too close to home.
What I like about a lot of British comedy is they are very good at zeroing in at truth and hypocrisy. So many of the characters come from a place of insecurity and pain. They then fight to hide it, to protect themselves, pack themselves in pride and a sense of self so people think they’re all right. You can’t help but like them because you know what they’re going through.
Here are some recommendations for people who would like to get into British comedy:
Are You Being Served?–Set at a department store. Double entendres and puns abound.
The Black Adder-Rowan Atkinson as the Black Adder, different centuries, same fun. In later seasons, look for Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.
Mr. Bean- Rowan as the original man-child.
Keeping Up Appearances-Patricia Routledge is a lovable snob who wants to move up in the world, but only succeeds in isolating herself. She’d be horrified to discover how rude she actually is.
The Vicar of Dibley- Dawn French, half of Ab Fab (another great comedy), is a woman vicar is the smallest of the small towns.
The Catherine Tate Show- You’ll be saying “Am I bovvered?” to everything.
Little Britain-2 men, 9 millions sketches (not really). Narrated by Tom Baker, for you Dr. Who fans.
A Bit of Fry and Laurie–Yes, Hugh Laurie is British and here he is with the amazing Stephen Fry. Met in college and launched careers in comedy. Will inspire you if you’re into comedy.
Fawlty Towers–John Cleese as the hotel owner who says what anyone who has ever worked in a hotel wants to say. Not funny if you work in a hotel.
Then of course there’s Monty Python, but then you already know about them…nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.
If you find yourself unable to change for your health or well being, you might consider evolving for the sake of your writing.
You’ll enjoy writing a whole lot more. You know you are a good writer and know why you are writing. A lot of stress is eleviated just by knowing those two things. Your confidence improves so you show up to write more. You consider taking more risks with your writing, then you actually take the risks.
You are able to improve your story. It becomes a lot more interesting to you and the readers. You can talk about actual issues instead of the same old “one day my prince will come, woe is me” romantic comedy. You can write the new romantic comedy because you are new. If you’re looking to be saved, you can’t write about someone who has already figured out they need to be the hero of their own life. You can’t identify with it. You can empathize all you want, but it’s an experience a lot like looking on the otherside of the window.
If you are evolved, your characters will be more evolved or you have the freedom to work with them. You understand them on a different level. They have these traits because they are this way. If they challenge these beliefs in this manner, they may end up this way. It’s a more empowering interaction than your writing exercises of filling in characters traits. It feels so much more honest. Because you are more aware of yourself and why you are the way you are, you bring the same awareness to your characters.
Because you trust yourself and your characters, you’re able to challenge them more. Stakes can be heightened to insurmountable odds. You know they will be okay if you want them to be (or if that’s the way the story is going).
It’s nice not having issues to resolve in your writing. It feels like an open canvas. You have ideas and what you need to create them. All you have now is time and the ability to enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with you, which is why I like to use the word “evolving.” Challenging and quieting your inner dialogue frees up a lot of space and allows for opportunity and possibility.
I love it when characters take over. I get to sit there and be a medium. I get to discover the story like a reader.
You just watch the movie in your head and write down what you see. You write in as much detail as possible to convey what your seeing so another person can see what you’re seeing, convey how it makes you feel, the lighting, color schemes…
Then the characters do something unexpected. I had an idea of what the story is and where I wanted it to go and it is still going in that general direction. I have characters off roading, taking the long road, taking detours, and picking up hitchhikers. I just think it’s funny when you write something and you wonder, “Who wrote that?” The character says something that sounds so true but you go, “What? Yeah, he loves her, but he just told her. He’s supposed to save that until the end.” Well, he just did. Now what?
Someone told me the story knows what it wants to do, you as the writer just have to get out of the way. I agree. I still get in the way, but I’m getting better. I need to trust the story.
I’ll hear something or get an idea and kill the flow of the story. The characters will get quiet. Everyone was fine until the writer wanted to feel included so she jumped in and put her two cents in. It’s like the author doesn’t know what’s going on.
But the ensemble of the story wants the author to feel good so they try it. They go along with it. They do the scene a little rigid, looking out the corners of their eyes. They know it’s not working, but they’re trying. The author will figure it out and won’t interrupt next time. This scene will be rewritten later. We take all suggestions. You need to try it to see if it will work.
It’s been fun getting out of the way of the story. Even if it wasn’t where you expected to end up, it’s still good. It’s like a road trip with friends. You have a destination but you see something and need to stop to take a picture. You create memories. The journey is more important than getting there, so enjoy it.
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