I had two awesome, unplanned bits that happened in practice. Both monoscenes.
First, I’m a preacher. I fake read a bible passage at the beginning of the scene. We later learn that one of the characters is only at church to plug his business. A bunch of insane stuff happens. Later, I fake another passage and vaguely repeat the story of Jesus overturning the money lenders tables in the temple. As soon as I said it, I realized just how wonderfully it fit with my partner’s character, and I didn’t even plan it! Amazing!
Second monoscene begins with a character whose game is describing the essence (instead of appearance) of his wife while trying to shop for clothes for her. We go on for 20 minutes, forget about his wife, when suddenly, during an exchange involving his wallet, I point to it and say, “Oh, is that a photo of your wife?” And I totally unconsciously brought everything back together and buttoned the scene, without a single dedicated thought.
I really like stuff like that. BRAINS ARE SO WEIRD GUYS.
I should go around interviewing couples I encounter on the subway and ask them how they met, what they like about each other and what their favorite memories are. Then I’d take their picture and put them online at some website, like SubwayCouples.com. And people would go and see all these nice, interesting (because every couple is interesting), and in love people and I think it’d be really positive.
Seriously mulling this over.
(Also, a little weird and creepy but everything worth doing starts a little weird and creepy, and eff the haters anyway)
I was on the subway last night, about 2:30 in the morning, coming back from Queens. Around Union Square, a man in his late 20’s gets on the train with his petite, asian, and severely drunk girlfriend. We head a few stops into Brooklyn and it’s clear he’s trying to get her ready to depart. He’s struggling to get her to her feet while carrying their bags, so I chime in, “Need some help getting her off the train?” He’s very appreciative and says sure.
So me and this guy each take a side and hold this girl’s arms around our shoulders as we carry her off the train and up the approx. million stairs at the Atlantic-Pacific stop in Brooklyn. Once above ground, it turns out we’re walking the same direction, so we go another block or so; him on the left, me on the right, and a barely conscious Japanese girl between us.
While walking back, we make a little small talk. They were out, she just drank too much. Her name is Fumai (I forget the guy’s name). They asked me my name, and I told them. Fumai chimes in.
"Joe’s a good name. Joe’s are good guys. You’re a good guy Joe. I’m going to name my kid after you."
The male “Ab Shot” has the same reputation as the MySpace Shot—it’s an Internet cliché that supposedly everyone thinks is only for bozos. To wit: a journalist was visiting our office recently, and when we told her we were researching user photos, the first thing she said was “please tell me people hate it when guys show off their abs.” We hadn’t finished running the numbers yet, so we confidently reassured her that people did. The data contradicted us.
Instead of having a bunch of writers make shit up, OkCupid cataloged 7,000 photographs and then examined how people actually behave.
OkCupid is actually really cool company behind the scenes. I love that they do analytics across their site. Plus, from a nerd perspective, they’ve got a massive infrastructure and run a lot of really cool custom C and C++ software.
The brewhaha over the Massachusetts Senate election has got me thinking about health care reform again. I have a blog now so I figure I should exercise my right to say something inflammatory on the internet.
However, my little Tumblr post was turning into an Infinite Jest-style rant, so you’ll have to settle for this:
(In the context of entitlements from the goverment:) Aside from a social security number and a birth certificate, what’s the difference between between a poor American and an illegal immigrant? Neither is providing tax revenue.
Poor Americans cost more to have and contribute less.
“The answer is as easy as it is counter-intuitive: Tumblr is a New York company and Posterous is a Silicon Valley company. Or, to put it another way: Posterous is an engineered product, while Tumblr is a designed product.”—
“There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” - Milton Friedman, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits
Google has received wide and well-deserved praise for their rejection of China’s censorship. In my opinion, a more profound implication of Google’s move is an implicit rejection of the orthodox view - most famously associated Milton Friedman - that a business’ sole responsibility is to increase profits (without breaking the law).
You’re dreaming if you think Google did this out of any corporate nobility. They did it because they realize a deal with the Chicoms is a deal with the devil, and they’re going to be better off as a company either out of the country or doing business as usual.
And one could argue that even doing business in China isn’t ‘open and free competition’, so Google was previously ignoring Friedman’s business compact.
I’m reading The Second City Unscripted, which is a book of interviews with various Second City people woven into a single narrative (much like the Live From New York book about SNL). It’s interesting and fascinating and amazing to think about all these huge names in comedy being in their early twenties hanging around a theatre doing comedy and it seems like an utterly amazing experience.
Then I look around and see all the brilliant work my friends are doing and it just makes me want to commit harder to everything, to really dive in more and just embrace everything, and most importantly, work harder myself.
So I’m sketch 301 right now and it’s been awesome. I’m generating a ton of material and the class itself is fantastic. I’ve never laughed so hard in a sketch class before as reading some of my classmates stuff. It’s really pushing me to write what makes me laugh, not what I think other people will laugh at. I find that the stuff I was always good at (structure, tone) are ‘nice to have skills’ but compensate for stuff being actually, cosmically, unexplainably funny. I’m really trying to unearth that in my own stuff, and that means write write write!
I’m writing a sketch about an old man reminiscing about his prostate’s glory days to a young guy at a urinal. COMEDY GOLD
Working here is awesome and is most likely better then where you currently work. You should probably quit your job and join us… Just saying. Please forward to anyone you know who might be interested :)
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Our primary stack is PHP on a custom MVC framework, Apache, MySQL and Memcached running on virtualized solaris and linux machines.
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From what I hear, New York has evolved it’s own style of improv. It’s very fast, very aggressive, and heavily game driven. That’s not surprising; UCB curriculum (and a heavy desire to be funny) push NYC improvisers in that direction. It’s what we see day in and day out around New York.
Christina Gausas and Scott Adsit are Chicago style improvisers. They work slowly and from characters. They worked slowly, but literally every sentence they said was either a character move (meaning they revealed more of themselves to their partner and audience) or a game move (playing an established trait or pattern). Every single line was crafted as something the other character could react to strongly.
This isn’t to say the set was nothing but over the top moves; it was some of the most grounded work I’ve ever seen. They had total confidence in themselves and their scenes. Not only that, but they respected (to use a phrase Christina loves) the power of their words. Every single word had a function in the scene, as did the moments without words.
I remember one particular moment especially: A husband and his wife were at a drive in movie, seeing precious, in a car without a radio (so they could only see, not hear, the film). The husband mentions after he wants the wife to move back home. She demurs. And then she simply rested her head on his shoulder and they watched the movie. It was silence not out of fear or an attempt at comedy, but out of the reality of the scene. They let the audience really soak in that snapshot of those lives.
I think too often we play so fast and aggressive that we forget what improv is capable of. Not just jokes or crazy scenes, but real characters and moments created entirely in the moment. That stuff has a place (and maybe even a commanding place within the New York community), but it would be nothing but beneficial to slow down every once in a while and aim a little higher, dig a little deeper, and see just how real we can make our characters and their lives.