Friday, March 13, 2009

Yet Another Another Year...

Not much to explain beyond... I've started another 'Year' blog and you can find it here.

(Some of you may have noticed that a few days ago I accidentally posted an entry to THIS blog here intending to post it to the new blog. It was deleted within minutes but I've had a few people mention it to me since. Anyway, see you at the new place.)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pssst... the show's over.

With just a few hours left in this calendar year, I thought I'd take a moment to officially say, "yes, this blog year is done," for those of you who, like a theater audience confused by the fact that the house lights didn't come up or there's no music playing, are confused about whether there's more show left.

Well, this show is done.

But check in from time to time. I don't currently have any specific plans for another 'Year' blog, but I'm sure I'll get around to doing another one eventually. And in the meantime, I have various other projects in the works that I'll be sure to let you know about soon.

For those of you sad to have lost a little part of your daily internet routine, I leave you with a few things listed on the final page of '14,000 Things to Be Happy About' by Barbara Ann Kipfer. "Provolone cheese." "Frothiness." "Exploring your unconscious." And one that I'd like to think is ambiguously spelled (even though it's almost certainly not), "Improving yourself."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

That's our show! Thanks for coming. Don't forget to tip the waitstaff!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

... and lights.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I don't perform with anyone on Otis anymore (except for Shotts's brief, and now finished, sit-in stint with Diplomat Motel) but we still get together for a few longstanding annual events like Gandy Gras and, tonight, Otis-giving. Not shows, just dinners.

Lauren wasn't able to come because she moved to New York, but since we scheduled the dinner for Monday, one of the few nights the Second City Mainstage is dark, Shelly was able to stop by.

Duffy forgot to thaw out the turkey properly but we still all stuffed ourselves on sides.

It was the first gathering I can remember where no one brought up doing an Otis reunion show or trying to get a couple slots at the Playground (or shooting videos), but we did talk about how nice it would be to get together for some drinks for New Years.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It was good to see my nephews Ty and Will.

Julie: We told them they were going to see Uncle Arnie. We asked, "Do you know who Uncle Arnie is?" They said, "Uncle Arnie is funny."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The whole family flew down to Atlanta for Senior Night, Allie's last college volleyball game. Or actually, her last home game. Actually, no, her second to last home game. But anyway, Senior Night.

There was much discussion about whether we should all go on the court for the family picture.

Julie: I drove all the way down here. I think that's enough.
Matt: I'm going out and I'm just the brother-in-law.
Arnie: People will point at you and scream that you don't belong.
Sherry: Isn't it just supposed to be parents?
Arnie: There are an awful lot of us.

Eventually we decided to all go out. I did notice once we were out there, though, that most of the other senior just had their parents with them, and the announcer explained that their grandparents, etc were "watching from the stands."

We had this picture taken which Mom was hoping to use for her Christmas cards, although maybe not since you can barely see Julie and Will is completely hidden behind Allie's head.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Recently we've been dedicating a little time at work to playing party games. Board games, video games, random games people play. We play games and then ask ourselves, what did we like, what did we not like. What makes a good party game.

Today we hooked Poland's camera up to the big TV so he could be on a team with Steveo for Cranium. One teammate in Chicago, one in Michigan.

Here they are playing the Cranium question type that is essentially Pictionary. Steveo draws and holds the picture up to Poland's camera.

Poland: Hole! Shirt! Shirt hole!
Amanda: The clue is Place. Shirt hole isn't a place.
Allard: Time.
Steveo: It was a laundry mat! See!
Poland: I can barely see anything.
Me: This is really stupid. I'm glad we're doing this.

All in all, I've got a pretty good life.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One of my original ideas for this blog was for it to be loosely structured like a long form improv show. Heading off in all directions to start and then coming together with connections and call backs at the end.

My feeling about the blog over the last few months is that it never really went anywhere, and there were some good bits but it's mostly just kind of there.

Chin: And this is different from a lot of improv shows how?
Me: So I've succeeded in making my blog a bad improv show?
Chin: Write that.

Bad is maybe too strong a word. I've done some bad improv shows, bracingly bad, but, and maybe I'm deluding myself here, those are a rarity. Of course, the truly transcendent ones don't happen often either. Most fall under the category of Unrealized Potential. Good, but not as good as they could have been.

Still, people were entertained and fun was had. The last thing you should ever do is bail on a show before it's over because it's not as good as you want it to be. Sure, you could, as I'm doing now, break the fourth wall and comment on the show, be honest about how you think it's not so great and see if that honesty can take you somewhere interesting. But maybe the audience doesn't think it's a bad show, and it's probably best to keep moving forward, projecting confidence (being an expert) until the lights go out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

As I've mentioned before, when SNL is hiring, one of their (many) usual places to look is iO. SNL talent scouts come and see a showcase here once or twice a year. I've done some, I've not done some.

There was an all-women showcase a few weeks back and from that showcase, eight very talented Chicago improvisers were flown out to New York to do the infamous SNL audition where you stand on the show's stage and do five minutes of material while no one laughs. Among the women invited were Shelly (from Otis) and Steve and Jordan's girlfriends (who both obviously have identities above and beyond being girlfriends, but I haven't mentioned them on the blog before so I'm referring to them as that for simplicity's sake).

Steve: [from a conversation that week] It's funny. On Wednesday my girlfriend is going to be performing for Lorne Michaels and I'm going to be... what... interviewing a glee club.
Me: Yes. But you'll be interviewing a glee club on your national cable sports show.
Steve: Well, sure.

(It's worth mentioning that Steve had his own SNL callback a few years ago.)

Unfortunately, none of the Chicago women were hired.

Anyway, that's a long intro into mentioning that Charna recently said to me in passing, "The next time there's an SNL showcase here, you're at the top of the list." Very flattering, very nice. I don't really do characters or impressions, but still, it's nice to be on that list, even if it would be slightly wasted on me.

There was an SNL showcase last night which I wasn't in.

Charna: [via e-mail] There was only one slot left and I decided to go with Alex, but you're on the top of the list for the next one.

This didn't particularly bother me. I don't consider myself unworthy (or above it) but SNL performer isn't really in my skill set. Still, they're looking for writers so I submitted a writing packet through Charna.

I brought the packet to the showcase concealed in my bag. I felt slightly embarrassed about it, like a taxi driver with a screenplay tucked under his seat in case a celebrity steps in his cab.

I ran into Megan outside the theater.

Megan: Time to watch Alex do the showcase and pretend I'd actually want my boyfriend to move to New York.

Charna was very nice and made a point of tracking me down during the intermission to get my writing packet. My cover letter read, "Hello. Tonight at the iO theater in Chicago, there was a talent showcase for Saturday Night Live. The probably wise decision was made to keep the amount of performers down to a reasonable number. Sadly, this meant that there was not room for me to participate. Charna has assured me that I was 'the very next person' so, if you happen to hire everyone you see perform tonight and then find that you have one more writer position to fill, keep in mind that I am the next person and would probably be a logical candidate for that job (unless, of course, Charna was just being in nice by saying that I'm the next person, which is certainly possible)."

Too cute? Probably. And the sketches in the packet weren't particularly SNL-centric (except for one topical Obama sketch from the Whirled News sketch show), but like my lackluster Second City audition earlier this year, I'm trying to make a point of going after things. Putting myself out there, at least. The next step is probably putting myself out there in a way that is more than least.