Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In honor of Young's birthday, here's an old picture of him high-fiving Wonder Woman.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Drinks and $2 burgers.

Martin is back from his honeymoon.

Me: How was Miami?
Martin: Great.
Trupe: I heard the hotel was bad.
Martin: It was rundown, borderline seedy.
Nick: It had a five seed rating.
Martin: Not the best place.
Me: That's good luck, though, right?
Martin: Yeah, in the Philippines it's good luck.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comedy question...

Is it funnier if the person in the normal-size yellow chair is super-happy or super-sad? I go back and forth.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Young does some multitasking: watching the presidential debate, memorizing his lines and playing 'Final Fantasy: Tactics' on the Nintendo DS, all at the same time.

Friday, September 26, 2008

While writing jokes for the 'You Don't Know Jack' game, I would frequently write in bizarre and complicated sound effects, knowing that other people (Poland) would have to figure out how to make them work.

I seem to have done the same thing with this Whirled News sketch show, writing a scene that involves video, audience participation, wired voting paddles... basically a lo-fi DIY take on real-time polling. I wrote the sketch thinking mostly about how it seemed like an amusing idea, and very little about how it would actually work.

Luckily Glynn and Chin have figured out all the technical stuff, turning my dumb little idea into a very cool interactive piece that I'm excited about performing in the show next week.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I hate memorizing lines, even when they're ones I wrote for myself in my own voice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

For those that are curious, this is what my Mustache Day costume looked like.

The t-shirt I bought in North Carolina during the Joe and Shelby wedding trip (I hadn't packed enough shirts so had to buy some at a Dollar General). The hat was a random joke-purchase during a yearly cabin trip to Blueberry Island.

The mustache is now gone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

After over two years, we've reached the 100th episode of the free online 'You Don't Know Jack' game, and... we've decided to stop.

Don't worry, that's not a bad thing. There's a lot going on behind the scenes at work right now, some of it involving YDKJ, some of it involving other stuff... and I really can't talk about any of it. Except to say that it's all rather exciting.

You can check out the 100th episode here. As part of the send-off there are eight different endings depending on how well you do. Some are wacky, some involve different recurring characters, some are surprisingly heartfelt(-ish).

[My favorite, I think, is the one where Cookie, the host, starts sobbing in despair and begins riffing on PD69 (I've changed his username here), a strange messageboard troll we were plagued by/fascinated with for a while. "[sobbing] I don’t have any friends at all. This is the only thing that sustains me. [blows nose] You know, I even miss that son of a bitch PD69. I [beep]ing hated that guy. I hated him with a passion. Ah. We all thought it was Nate. Was it Nate? Was that Nate trying to just [beep]ing ruin everybody’s life with that bull[beep]? Nah… it was some dude. Some very lonely dude. You know, probably a chronic masturbator. Lives at home… with his mom. Probably has a cat. I understand. We’re the same. We’re the same PD69! I’m no one to judge. I’m really not. He without sin, cast the first stone, you know. [long sobbing]" I wish I could take credit for that writing but it was all improvised by Tom Gottlieb, who does the voice of Cookie.]

The reactions in the comments section have been overwhelmingly positive, although, so far no one seems to have figured out there are multiple endings. They keep vaguely referring to it as "fitting" or "epic," not giving each other enough clues that they're hearing different things.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The sketch show is fast approaching and we're finally getting some stuff up on its feet.

Young: I just realized that everything I wrote for this show requires a ridiculous costume.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

During the wedding reception, some of the older guests told Sarah and I that the priest reminded them of Robin Williams in "that wedding movie where he's the priest." We politely responded that we hadn't seen that movie, but, yes, the priest was very funny.

Here's Sarah with the bride, Kara.

Kara: The priest was great. But it was weird... we had to have these pre-wedding sessions, and at one point he asked us, "What if Kara gets a big opportunity and has to move to Hollywood? How would you both deal with that?" And I was, "Oh, that's in the past. I've given that up." He leans in, very serious, stares me in the eyes and says, "You haven't given it up." What?! He says, "I don't believe you. You haven't given up on your dream." I was like, you're killin' me here, Father! [takes drink] And just now, as he was leaving, he stopped me and whispered, "I'll be praying for you, that you make it big."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Up in Wisconsin for, yes, another wedding. This one for one of Sarah's friends.

We didn't have much time to hang out in town before the wedding, but we did get to take some pictures in this awesome normal-size yellow chair.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Amanda's birthday/Mustache Day at work. Everyone wore their costumes and mustaches to Fogo de Chao for lunch.

Here's Chris, Evan and Shane. I especially like Evan's Old Time Saloon Bartender costume.

Amanda: What are those things on your arms?
Evan: These? I don't know.
Shane: They keep your sleeves dry while you tend bar.
Evan: Really? Huh.
Amanda: Of course. Of course Shane knows that.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chin recently returned from Hawaii where he spent a week teaching classes at a newly opened improv theater there.

Chin: The ethnic make-up of the state is really interesting. There's no real majority. You know, 20% white, 20% asian, 20% native hawaiian. A big balanced mix. And it's the most natural thing in the world. But the weird part is, even with all that mixing of cultures... beginning improv students still start a lot of scenes by saying, "Johnson, get into my office."
Me: They say Johnson?
Chin: They say Johnson.
Me: They don't mix it up by saying, like, "Mekehiki, get into my office?"
Chin: No.
Me: I just made that name up.
Chin: I know.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I spent a long time considering what caption to put with this picture, but I suppose it speaks for itself.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mustache Day at work is Friday. Like the 12 Days of Christmas, I like to celebrate a full workweek of mustache options, slowly paring it down as the week goes on.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You may have read about CERN, the experiment in Switzerland where a giant proton collider was built to, as I understand it (and I almost certainly misunderstand it), simulate the Big Bang on a small scale and create tiny universes. This could give us a lot of insight into our own universe, but its mostly gotten a lot of press for, you know, the fact that some people are worried they'll create a black hole that will suck us all in or rip a hole into some Lovecraftian tentacle-monster dimension.

Science doesn't make for the best headlines, so that's probably why it tends to be reported with that news-of-the-weird/we're-all-going-to-die angle. Well... the Wall Street Journal has found an even news-of-the-weirder angle on the story. Improv.

Apparently Charna and some other improv teachers flew to Switzerland to run the CERN physicists through some improv exercises. This isn't really all that new. Businesses hire improv training centers and groups to teach team-building and communication all the time. Still, it's weird to read a head particle physicist quoted as saying, "Improv has got to be more difficult than doing physics. You have to think in milliseconds." Weird and neat... but probably wrong. I mean, after a couple hours of classes I still wouldn't know how to begin to operate a, "17-mile circular tunnel designed to smash protons together at nearly the speed of light."

Then again, if you made a Venn diagram of physicists and improvisers, there would be some overlap, even if it were ever so slight. The article quotes one scientist as quipping, "Do my bosons give you a hadron?" I don't know what either of those scientific terms mean, but its nice to see that dirty puns are universal.

You can check out the Wall Street Journal article here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

All of the speeches during the reception (held in a very cool art studio) were really well done. Solid showings all around.

My favorite, though, was easily Marianna's father.

Father: [in a thick Polish accent] I have a reputation for not saying much. Some might even say I never speak at all. But, forgive me, tonight I will be talking a very long time, I think.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Martin and Marianna's wedding.

More rain. Not that you could tell inside the church.

"In the Philippines, rain on your wedding day is good luck," the priest said, the booming, echo upon echo, Voice of God acoustics of the church making that old chestnut seem more true. Sitting out in the pews I found myself wishing I'd been asked to do a reading in the ceremony, just to hear my own voice bounce off itself a million times, reverberating from on high.

The priest seemed to enjoy it. He was a bit of a showman. "No one is in the unique position to get a better view of the bride coming down the aisle than the priest. Not even the groom. Sorry Martin, it's true. Ha ha."

Some of his bits worked better than others, though. "I would like to tell a joke. Here goes. 'I hope today... ISN'T the greatest day of your lives.' There. Joke."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Timmy: Are you going to be at the show tomorrow night?
Me: No. I'm going to be at Martin's wedding.
Timmy: What?! Martin's wedding?! I wasn't invited to Martin's wedding!
Me: I think it's a really small guest list.
Timmy: Meador, are you going to be here tomorrow night?
Meador: No. I'm going to Martin's wedding.
Timmy: Oh come on! I performed with Martin for a year! I'm sending him an angry text message!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

As we get closer to the election and closer to opening the Whirled News sketch show we've added some actors to our sketch cast. Laura and Adal have sat in during our improv show several times and Melissa is part of Stir Friday Night, "Chicago's premier Asian American sketch comedy group." Chin directed their most recent show, 'Horry Kow: That's Lacist!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hansen sent me a link to a promotional video for his law firm that he stars in.

Hansen: Me and a couple other people were given a small budget and the task of creating interesting marketing videos to attract future employees.

It's really great. If you have any interest in watching Hansen pimp strut through the halls of his law office, occasionally shooting balls of energy out of his finger (and why wouldn't you want to see that?) follow this link and click on the video labeled 'The Bonus.'

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Now that I work upstairs, I don't really see the people downstairs that much anymore. Like a wacky neighbor in a sitcom, though, I do pop in from time to time to hang out and see if there's anything good to eat in the fridge.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Here's Knauf during the wedding, checking out the foreboding storm clouds. He flew in from Denver where he's been performing as the ringleader for the Squirm Burpee Circus since leaving Chicago.

Later, at the reception we talked about the last time I'd seen him, at his going away party, and how he'd been working on a plan to stick it to his old boss.

Me: Did it work?
Knauf: Yep. He drank it.

Basically, Knauf had poured a bottle of liquor into a basin, dipped his balls in it, poured the "ball-infused" liquor back into the bottle and resealed it. He took photos of the process and made a picture book that he sent to his old boss in the mail after they shared a going away toast of the special drink.

Me: So... you had to drink your ball drink too?
Knauf: It was worth it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The reception ended with Joe and Shelby riding off down the road on a tandem bicycle to their wedding night cabin.

Joe: We're actually just riding it out of sight. There's a car waiting for us at the bottom of the hill.

Thinking the night was over (except for some drinking back at the hotel), Sarah and I headed for the shuttles. On our way, though, we ran into some of Joe's family that asked if we were up for "one more thing." They handed us each a paper with handwritten lyrics and across the top the words, "Songs for the Shivaree (sp?)"

An hour later, we were outside Joe and Shelby's cabin, serenading them.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

After some drizzle, everyone in attendance moving their chairs inside, a break in the storm, everyone moving their chairs back out, and more ominous rumblings and sprinklings that I was convinced was going to lead to a torrential downpour midway through the ceremony... suddenly, right before the vows, the clouds parted, the sun came out, and minutes later, Joe and Shelby were running down the aisle, newly wed, and barely wet.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Midway through relaxing and enjoying the rehearsal dinner, those of us on Otis that had been able to make it down for the weekend (Marc, Gandy and Duffy) realized we were supposed to do some kind of improv game during the toasts portion of the evening.

Shelby: Didn't Joe tell you? He was supposed to tell you weeks ago.
Arnie: No...
Marc: He means yes. Right?
Arnie: Oh. Yes. I'm sure he e-mailed us. In fact, yes, he e-mailed us. I must have forgot. It's not Joe's fault.

Despite being improvisers, we're not particularly fond of coming up with something at the last minute. Especially at a special occasion.

Instead of doing a short improv game (which is not really the kind of improv we do), we got everyone there to sing, 'My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.' It's an effective audience warm-up exercise that Joe does when he hosts at iO. Everyone in the room sings the song, standing up (or sitting down) on every word that starts with a B. And there's crazy fast standing and sitting at the end with "bring [stand] back [sit], bring [stand] back [sit], oh bring [stand] back [sit] my bonnie [stand] to me to me." Like that.

It's goofy campfire-style fun, and although I doubt it particularly impressed anyone there ("Boy, I've got to go check out that Chicago improv!"), it was a nice little game involving something we think of when we think of Joe.

As soon as we got back to our seats it occurred to me that we could have ended by saying something like, "We're glad Joe has finally found his bonnie." Then again, I'm not 100% sure "bonnie" actually means "love" or "girl." I could have accidentally said, "We're glad Joe has finally found him mom."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

On the road. Joe and Shelby's wedding is this weekend in a secluded part of North Carolina. It was either fly, rent a car and drive three hours, or just drive the whole way. We decided to drive the whole way.

Sarah's friends Verni and Mary Beth came along for the ride.

Me: So... wait... where are the hurricanes right now?
Verni: Pretty much where we're going.

This shot was taken during one of the few moments when it wasn't pouring rain (or we weren't eating at a Cracker Barrel).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's politics season. Like any good American, I'm trying to keep myself as informed as possible. But I've got to be honest, I've been watching the Republican National Convention mostly for the jokes. Not their jokes, my jokes... rather, the jokes I'll need to be able to make in a Whirled News show or the jokes I need to write for our upcoming sketch show.

It's interesting to see all sides scramble to define what "character" each candidate becomes. It's most obvious with Governor Palin right now( but to some extent it's true with all the players). She's a Hockey Mom. She's a Cynical Ploy. She's a Nutjob Hiding Baby Conspiracies. Everyone won't completely agree, but eventually some kind of generally accepted persona will stick.

And a big part of defining that will be the comedians. The jokes we hear, the impressions we see. Just like how everyone that does a George H.W. Bush impression is really just doing an impression of Dana Carvey's impression. Or, it's like "finding the game" in an improv scene (something funny happens and the premise of the scene presents itself and everyone jumps onboard, working together on the shared joke). They're oversimplifications, sure, but every presidency I've lived through can be boiled down to their joke persona (Dubya, Slick Willie, Nah Gonna Duh It, Wellllll....).

During last weekend's Whirled News show we did a scene about Sarah Palin's beauty pageant past, improvising vice presidential debates with an evening gown competition. It was funny and well received (especially the idea of Joe Biden in a dress). We talked about writing it up for our upcoming sketch show, but it already seems a little off-the-mark to me. Look, in case you couldn't guess, I'm not a fan, but I don't think vapid pageant queen is going to be the lasting joke. I think there are truer jokes to be had that are funnier(/scarier).

Mostly, while watching her speech, I kept getting distracted by the giant Liberty Bell picture behind her. What was the secret message I was missing? Is Liberty Bell code for something I don't get? Every interpretation I could think of was fairly negative. Besides the crass one (which, I have to admit, I did say out loud, and it made Sarah, my girlfriend, laugh, but shake her head disapprovingly), the only thing I could think was "The Liberty Bell is a powerful symbol that none the less doesn't actually work."

By the end, I had a few more ideas about who she is (Tracy Flick? The Weakest Link lady?), but I'm still not sure what will still be funny about her in a couple months.

[An odd side-note. There's a rumor swirling around my extended family that one of my uncles briefly dated Sarah Palin. I don't know if it's true (a cousin texted an aunt who told my mom). He's one of my favorite uncles, but I only really talk to him at the occasional family Christmas, so it would probably be rude to e-mail him and say, "Hey, did you really date her?"]

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jokes. Where do they come from?

I've cracked a lot of jokes in my time, and as someone surrounded by funny people (at work and socially), the air around me is always full of them.

But I've never come up with a JOKE. You know, of the school yard, "tell me a joke" variety.

Steve-o: I came up with an honest to goodness joke once. It's pretty good too. You know the old, "What do you call a man with no arms and no legs in the water" jokes?
Me: Yeah. Bob.
Steve-o: Well I came up with, "What do you call the girlfriend of a man with no arms and no legs?" [wait for it] "Carrie."
Me: That's pretty good.
Steve-o: I know. And I've been waiting 20 years for it to catch on, for it to come back to me. I want to hear someone tell me that joke. But it never has.
Me: It definitely has that joke quality.
Steve-o: Pass it along. Tell people. Get it out there.

Monday, September 1, 2008

'Friday Night Tailgate,' the sports show Steve and Jordan "report" for, had it's season premiere... well, Friday night. They did several segments and bits in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This picture is of one of the early ones in the hour and a half long show.

Jordan: Hello, I'm Jordan.
Steve: And I'm Steve.
[Jordan thwacks Steve in the arm]
Steve: ... and I'm Mosher.
Jordan: And we're here in front of the Mosher-Jordan Halls.

I hung out briefly with Steve this weekend after he was back from his exhausting first week.

Steve: One night, I guess it was Thursday, Jordan and I went to a sports bar next to our hotel. And Jimmy Fallon was there. We debated whether we should say anything to him, but he was by himself and seemed friendly to his waitress so we went up and said hi, mentioned some people we knew in common, you know, Lutz. He invited us to play bar trivia with him. He was really nice, really funny. We hung out for, like, three hours. Two different drunk guys came up to him at different times and called him Jimmy Kimmel. Anyway, he was really nice. The next night, Jordan and I come back to watch our show on the big screens. The same waitress as the other night is there and she tells us she feels bad that the night before she couldn't figure out who Jimmy Fallon was. "I knew he looked familiar but I couldn't put a name to the face." And the whole time, our show is playing right behind her. I asked her, "Do you know who that guy is?" pointing to the TV. "Nope." "You've never seen him before?" "I don't think so." "That's him. That's Jordan." "Is everyone you know on television?"