Do you like movies about Gladiators?
In honor of me being on an airplane today, I revisit the movie Airplane. I remembered there being a ton of jokes in this, but I don’t know that I realized just how rapid fire they came. Every minute of Airplane has at least a couple gags…I was kind of surprised how dirty a lot of them are. This is a movie I’ve seen many times since I was a kid. It’s kind of filthy! My parents didn’t want me and my brother in the room during National Lampoon’s Vacation during the scene where the Grizwold’s meet up with the cousins because of the dirty talk. That’s nothing compared to a good majority of Airplane!
I think the fact that there are so many jokes is why the movie holds up today and is still a really funny movie even if you don’t get all the references. It holds up simply because of the sheer volume of jokes. Also, the jokes land because every actor is playing it straight, with the exception of Stephen “Leon’s getting larger” Stucker, who plays it broad…and that being out of character from the rest of the movie make his moments hit hard. Today’s spoof movies are filled with Stuckering…which is term I’d like to coin, meaning playing a character over the top. Did you see Liam Neeson on Life’s Too Short? He plays a ridiculously silly scene completely straight and it’s a modern day masterpiece.
Before this, Leslie Nielsen was primarily known for serious roles. He’s great here playing it straight. I look at him mugging on the Naked Gun posters and just cringe. Lloyd Bridges kind of fell into this trap later too. Fortunately Peter Graves and Robert Stack never got campy. I’m not looking them up. For all I know they died shortly after. Unless they’re still alive. In the words of Scott Aukerman “R.I.Possible?”
Final note, I still get excited every time I see Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks in something that I grew up with. I remembered him in Beverly Hills Cop, but I practically jumped off the couch when he showed up in this as one of the air traffic controllers.
Tomorrow we walk through the valley of death.
In 2014 I made a huge leap of faith from my long time home in Michigan to the great unknown in California. It was and continues to be scary.
This is a place that’s much more open to helping you when you’re a visitor than it is when you’re a resident. When I would visit, I got on the best shows in town because I knew a handful of people and could say, “Hey, I’m going to be in LA the second week in June, can you put me on?” Now that I’m here, there’s no urgency. I’m just another mouse trying to get a piece of the cheese. As far as comedy goes, honestly, I’ve done more here as a visitor than I have as a resident.
That was a horrible surprise. Here’s a nice one. Acting is another story completely and I’ve been lucky enough to get cast in a few things. It’s not much, but it’s a start.
I sold a script for an episode of a web series for Funny or Die. I moved here to write. I thought I was ahead of the curve because I already had a couple scripts written and knew a few people who were involved in television shows one way or another. The harsh reality is that I am no different than a good chunk of the people out here trying to get jobs as writers or sell scripts too. It’s been a rude awakening. Many dies I was to give up. I want to cry. I feel overwhelmed. I feel in over my head.
That brings me to my New Year’s resolution. Louis CK generates a ton of material and opportunities for himself. I resolve to approach every day of 2015 with a “What Would Louie Do?” mentality.
What would Louie do? He’d create. A lot. All the time. He’d be open to opportunities. He’d work hard. He’d be focused. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve been lazy. I’ve been lazy here and I’ve been lazy in Michigan where, quite frankly, in some aspects I had more opportunity. I’m going to write. I’m going to create. I’m going to take risks.
To keep myself in the habit of writing, I’m going to resume something I tried to do way back in the days of Myspace. 365 Days of Movie Reviews. Starting tomorrow and every day in 2015, I’m going to write something about a movie. It might not be much some days, but it will going to be something. If I miss a day, call me on it. Because if I’m slacking there, I’m probably slacking elsewhere too.
Happy New Year.
I’m back home January 2nd through 17th. Apparently I missed the snow so much that I wanted to endure it again!
Here’s a run down of the shows I’ll be doing when I’m back.
January 2nd and 3rd, I’ll be at Laffs Inc Comedy Club in Toledo. I’m headlining so you’ll be able to get a whole bunch of me there. I’m not sure who’s opening, but I’m guessing it will be somebody good. I’m excited to check out this new club. I’ve heard the the crowds are small, but the club is great!
January 7th and 8th, I’m at Go! Comedy Improv Theatre in Ferndale. The 7th, I’m doing their Standprov show. It’s basically improvised stand up. I don’t know a whole lot about it other than it’s an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. On the 8th, I’m doing a double header show there. First, I’ll be doing an hour long regular comedy show with my friends Steve Lind and Bob Phillips. Afterwards, you’re invited to stick around to check out a trial run of a game show idea I have based on the game Cards Against Humanity. I’ll be joined onstage by some super funny friends like Jeff Dwoskin, PJ Jacokes, Kent Tucker and Heather Kozlakowski. And what’s even cooler is that you have a chance to go home with a fabulous prize!
January 10th, Steve Lind and Bob Phillips joins me again at the Pix Theatre in Lapeer for our The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Show. It’s a chance to me to play again with two of my favorite people in the world. It’s going to be a great 90 minute comedy show in a really awesome theatre.
January 15th-17th, I’m at the relocated Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase opening for the very funny Roy Wood Jr. I worked with Roy out here and he’s amazing.
So I hope to see everybody when I’m back.
For free entertainment, I managed to get myself on the list to get free movie screening passes. Recently, this has gotten me into a couple of super advance screenings of movies that aren’t due out for months and months. Contractually, I’m not allowed to say anything about the movies, but there wasn’t anything in the confidentiality agreement about talking about the screening process. So let’s cover those in the broadest terms.
After the movies everyone in the audience gets questionnaires. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. Every opinion is the same. My opinion doesn’t matter any more or less than the guy in the American flag shirt with the cut off sleeves…and yeah, that guy really exists. My opinion doesn’t matter any more or less than woman who kept misplacing her child because she was doing something else. My opinion also doesn’t matter any more or less than that child, who also gets a questionnaire! Technically, my opinion matters less than all the aforementioned people because I’m too old.
Before the movies, staff members will go through the line asking everyone how old they are. I was told by one to never tell anyone again that I’m 42. When it comes to screenings, I’m 34. I’m flattered that they think I can pass for 34. Yeah, I could. I’m a rough looking 34, but a great looking 42! I can’t even get screening passes using my information. I have to get them using my girlfriend’s information because she’s in that prime demographic of females 18-34. For real, I’ve tried to get passes inputting my information only to be told that the screening was full. I tried again using her information and…voila…enjoy your movie!
The questionnaires cover the obvious. What did you like? What didn’t you like? How about those actors?
I saw a big comedy movie scheduled for 2015. There was a sequence where a Slayer song was used, unbelievably and appropriately well. Whoever did the music for that absolutely nailed it! It was a song where the mood fit the scene, as did the lyrics. I may have been the only person to note that afterwards. Looking around the screening room (yeah, this one was so early that it wasn’t even in a theater, it was a tiny screening room at the studio), I saw people cringing at what I was guessing their dislike of Slayer. Maybe they even made a note of that on their form. That’s disappointing. If more people note that they didn’t like that moment than the people who note that they thought it was a subtly cool choice, that moment may be gone and you’ll never get to see it.
Sometimes I’m wrong. I think my second biggest strength as a human is being able to freely admit when I’m wrong. My first biggest strength is my ability to pat myself on the back! I saw a supernatural horror movie the other night where one of the character dies by a hair dryer falling into the bathtub and electrocuting her. The first note I made on the “what didn’t you like?” section of the survey, “hair dryers falling into bathtubs can’t kill you.” Really?! That’s where I chose to draw the line in suspending my disbelief? I was fine with all the supernatural stuff happening, but apparently I couldn’t get past a technical flaw. For the record, circuit breakers would prevent you from being electrocuted if an appliance fell in your bathtub or swimming pool. While I believe that to be true, I’m not willing to test it out. I’ll save that for my doppelganger Adam Savage and the Mythbusters crew.
When you go into a movie knowing you’re going to be asked to make note of the things you didn’t like, you’re going to be looking for things not to like. Some movies aren’t meant to be inspected under a microscope. We’re not talking Paul Thomas Anderson movies here, because I’m guessing he never has to put his work under the scrutiny of test audiences.
The question that bothers me the most is the one about what you thought about each main actor. Sometimes actors get bad roles or bad direction. Maybe they’re cast in the wrong role. One of my favorite actresses was in one of the movies I saw, but her character was one note and she was extremely under used. So when asked what I thought of her in the movie, what could I do? Do I say she wasn’t good, even though I know she’s actually pretty great at her craft? Or do I say she’s great, even though she wasn’t in this movie? This particular actress is primarily known for television. What if poor screening results from this keep her from getting more movie roles even though she’s normally really good?
While I appreciate the free movies, I don’t think the opinion of test audiences should really matter. I get the importance of having someone tell you to maybe take another pass at things. Whenever I post something new here, punk rock poet/actor Jimmy Doom is always quick to let me know when there are spelling or grammatical mistakes. When I write a new script, I always send it to comedian/writer Nick Anthony because he not only understands that craft on a level I don’t yet, but he also doesn’t pull any punches. It’s important to have people who are honest with you…if their opinions matter. I think we can all agree that maybe George Lucas should have asked Steven Spielberg what he thought of anything he’s done since Return of the Jedi. Maybe he did, but Spielberg wasn’t honest. Jimmy and Nick are both great writers. Their opinions matter because they understand the craft and they’re honest. The opinions of random people in a test audience shouldn’t matter, but they do.
But seriously, thank you for the free tickets!
In the past week I’ve watched both The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The World’s End. Both are movies that got me thinking a lot about nostalgia.
Wallflower takes place during the 1991-1992 school year. It was two years after I graduated, but the world was very familiar. I had groups of friends I bounced between back then. I had my closest friends in John and Bill who never overlapped. John was my metal head buddy and together we played video games and went to concerts. We’d drive around late at night and talk about girls. Bill and I went to the community center and shot pool or we’d go to the movies. I also had my own personal Wallflowers.
Sometimes I get discouraged about losing weight. Since it happens gradually and I see myself in the mirror every single day, I don’t tend to notice the change. So for shits and giggles…well…and motivation…I look at old pictures of myself.
I’m down over a 100 pounds from my heaviest. When I lost weight the last time (I’ve bounced back and forth quite a lot over the last few years. I’ll probably die like Luther Vandross or James Coco if I do that again) I’d reward myself with buying smaller Read the rest of this entry
Thank you again to everyone who came out to the Comedy Castle this past weekend for my CD release party….and thank you especially to those of you who supported this new album in advance through my Kickstarter!
Now is the chance for everyone else to get their hands on my third album “nowadays.“. I’m really proud of this one. While it’s the dirtiest thing I’ve ever put out there, it’s also the most personal. The CD opens with a little skit that kind of harkens back to the old Read the rest of this entry
I have a couple non-comedy things coming up that I’m really looking forward to. My friend Jared Stroup has written a great screenplay that he’s gearing up to produce. There’s a really fun…and sizable role in it that he asked me to play. I’m super flattered and honored! I’m beginning to feel my limitations as an actor. I think sometimes people have a natural talent for things and sometimes they don’t.
My first love is music. I really wanted to be a musician. Growing up all of my friends were musicians. I was in a handful of bands to the dismay of my bandmates who had to carry my load. I think playing with good musicians helped me get better, but I just didn’t have what it takes to be good. I’m noodling around with a bass now and am probably as good as I was twenty years ago when I practiced a lot!
I’m hoping I’ll find some secret talent when it comes to acting. I just watched a clip of a thing I shot over the past year and was pretty disappointed. I think I did a passable job in Deadpan, but those were words that I helped write…and a character that was based pretty close to myself. Jared’s movie is going to be the thing that makes me decide if I want to keep trying this…or maybe check out an acting class. He and I have talked about my worries. I have a lot of confidence in him as a director though. Read the rest of this entry
When I was 16 or 17 years old I bought an Almighty Lumberjacks of Death cassette probably from Rock of Ages or Flipside Records. I never saw ALD live, but I certainly knew who they were. ALD were Detroit punk rock gods! That album “Always Out of Control, but Never Out of Beer” struck a chord with me. The songs ranged from fun anthems like the eponymous Almighty Lumberjacks of Death to the socially thought provoking Motor City Trick or Treat. Jimmy Doom was my guy. He was a local icon, but he was also dealing with the same girl problems I was facing because why else would he write Devil Girl?
I loved that album.
Fast forward years later and I meet Jimmy Doom. My memory of this could be way off. I was working at one of the many many comedy clubs called Wise Guys. I think every third or fourth state may have a comedy club called Wise Guys. Doug Stanhope was coming to town and we wanted to do something different to book his opener. I had the idea of having a contest. To find Detroit’s most extreme comedian, we’d have Detroit’s most extreme entertainers judge it. I brought in locals who wrestled in the WWE, Detroit Derby Girls, and musicians including Jimmy Doom. Even though I was probably maybe a little bit of a creepy fanboy, we hit it off.
If you’re 35 or older and grew up around Detroit you probably remember the Detroit Zoo talking animal commercial from the early 80s. I don’t think a week goes by that something doesn’t jog my memory about this ad. Well…I made a parody of it. It may actually be the first thing I’ve posted on Youtube that doesn’t contain anything objectionable!
I’m going back and forth between thinking I’m the worst uncle in the world getting my niece and nephew to say bad words into a camera and realizing that they at least hear way worse at school every day. Nevertheless, I thought it would be funny.
During my CD recording, I spoke a little bit about how my parents tried to shelter me and my brother. That only worked until outside forces invaded.
So last week I recorded my third comedy album. I had a sold out show at Go Comedy Improv Theater in Ferndale, MI. I couldn’t believe how many people from different chapters in my life showed up to support me. Five days later, I’m still glowing!
My buddy Erik Kitter opened for me. Erik used to work for me when I managed a Gamestop. He’s kind of like a little brother to me. Yeah, I already have a little brother, but if you know the two of us then you know he’s definitely the one who is way more mature! I bought Erik his first drink when he turned 21 and well…I don’t know…I tease him mercilessly, but that’s kind of what you do to a little brother…who isn’t a head taller than you and collects guns!
Ever since I lived in New Orleans about twenty years ago, I had the feeling that I would love Savannah, Georgia.
In my mind it was going to be like all the good parts of New Orleans without the public drunkenness and abundance of frat boys exchanging beads for boobs. Side note, if you’ve always romanticized the idea of going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, ask yourself this question. Would I like to be stuck in the middle of the world’s largest obnoxious and anarchic frat party? If the answer is no, but you still want to see New Orleans when something else cool is happening, go any other time of the year because something cool is always happening. Go for Halloween or Jazz Fest. Those are both great alternatives. If they idea of being in a giant awful frat party is something you’d enjoy, then what are you doing on my website?
I don’t agree with the idea that there’s no such thing as a bad audience. Comedy in itself is a ridiculously challenging art form. Think about it like this. You have one person relaying words to a group of people who have nothing in common other than the fact that they’re all in the same room at the same time. That one person has to not only try to relate to everyone, but do it while the wait staff is walking around, people are in various states of intoxication, money is being exchanged, and who knows what other baggage was brought into the equation before it even began.
Last year I did a show in front of a group whose mission was to create a safe internet environment for children. Before the show I was dreading it. I thought how on Earth could my silly potty mouth and socially incorrect song and dance act entertain these uptight assholes. They ended up being one of my favorite audiences of the year. I never hang out with people after the show because I’m painfully shy in crowds. I’d rather be in front of a crowd than inside of one. These people were great. They had a great sense of humor even when it was aimed at them….which it was. I know how every single story I tell on stage ends. I never know how some off the cuff riffing is going to end. I also don’t have a filter on my uncontrollable urge to say just about everything that pops into my head on stage. I’ve always been a person too who likes to see how far I can push things, so I’m sure I pushed them pretty far when I saw they were game for anything. It was a really fun night.
Maybe it’s nerves or the adrenaline rush of doing what we’ve waited all day long to do, but many comedians tend to talk a bit too fast on stage. Comedian and owner of the Komedy Korner, Leo DuFour once suggested when I got off stage that I slow down and enjoy my time like I would a delicious meal. Maybe that was a health tip and I’m forgetting that I was scarfing down a Poutine platter at the time….it was Canada after all. Let me find another example.
One of my best friends asked me after a show why I don’t speak on stage like I speak normally off stage. He was right. I didn’t believe in my material at the time so on stage I would yell and ram my jokes down the throats of the audience as quickly as I could.