30 Rock

What We're Loving: Hacks!

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison turns hack, Amanda Hahn gets her hair hacked, Jonda Robinson might hack up a hairball, and Ryan Callahan learns some lesson from a LA hack. tina-fey3At this point, it's hack for a person who loves comedy to discuss the greatness of Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch. Ugh, we get it nerds, they're funny gals, under appreciated, could have been rocket scientists and once saved Earth by winking at an asteroid. It's quite common for each of them to be lauded with affection, especially from schlubs that like to do make 'em ups on stage for strangers. But this week has been especially kind for fanboys/fangirls of Dratch and Fey as their old Second City/UCB show has found it's way online. The quality of the footage is TERRIBLE. It honestly looks as if the uploader took a Beta copy of their baby steps, converted the footage to VHS, recorded the Dratch & Fey show over it, washed the tape in the dishwasher, hung it out to dry in the Death Valley sun and then decided to upload it to YouTube. Seriously, that's what happened. Even though it's not quite in HD, the quality of the comedy shines through.

Here's a link to the whole thing.

The show begins with dueling one woman shows, one with the intention of educating an audience to women's history and the other with the intention of educating an audience to women's anatomy. From there, Dratch and Fey delve into a really well put together combination of sketch, audience interaction, and monologues. Though the show only ran from 1999-2000, the complete package feels incredibly refined and tight. There's never much downtime and the whole set ebbs and flows so naturally that it's obvious why this sketch show is thought of in the pantheon of all time greats. Hell, the whole thing helped to inspire 30 Rock, so that alone makes it worth watching. The other part that really stands out to me is just how good Rachel Dratch is. That's not to say Tina Fey isn't great, but she's a movie star gosh darn it, we get to see her in stuff all the time. The aggressive innocence with with Dratch plays makes every one of her characters likable and will leave you convinced as to how underrated she is. And then you can finally join us in the chorus of people clamoring for more Dratch & Fey. -David Allison

tumblr_n9jvg93aIB1thkqcyo1_1280I don’t want to seem divisive or political with what I’m about to say, but I need to get it out there: I am a fan of cats. Many times I have said that if reincarnation is a thing, please, make me a cat so I can take naps for days. I recognize that not everyone is a fan of felines, though, such as my friend who believes that they are evil and the only thing keeping them from taking over the world is their lack of opposable thumbs. If she’s right, and they someday do rise up, I like to think I’ve given enough belly rubs that they’ll show some mercy on me.

All of that is to say that when cats are involved in something, it usually catches my attention. And this week that was the case when I stumbled upon the Tumblr “Confused Cats Against Feminism.” Now, when I first heard that women were against feminism and had their own Tumblr dedicated to the cause, I wasn’t really interested. Frankly it sounded boring to me, and I like getting to vote and stuff, so I was like “nah.” But then when cats got in on the party, I was like “yes, please!” There’s one with sage advice about who and what to trust. One who is against both vacuums and the women who wield them. One who believes in equal oppression of all humans. And one who just wants his belly rubbed, dangit.

You should check them out so you can enjoy their cuteness, be more informed about this cat cause, and also so, in the event that they do overpower humans and take over the world, you’ll be in their good graces. Also, if you have an anti-feminist cat in your life, get him or her in on this movement! - Jonda Robinson

1382258215Exciting news, everyone: I got a haircut this week. No, I’m not so vain as to write about how much I love my haircut. I’m here to write about the woman who cut it because I fell in platonic love with her. What I thought would be a normal conversation as she cut my hair turned into a fascinating talk with a fascinating woman named Alexis Lu, AKA Queen Lex Lu. It’s possible that you’ve heard of her already because she has her feet dipped into a million things around Dallas and Texas. She’s a hair stylist, make up artist, photographer, stylist, wig maker, rapper, actor, and a warm, funny person in general.

I warned her that I would stalk her all over the internet, but I did not tell her that I would be writing about her on a public blog. It’s okay though because it’s illegal to get mad at someone for writing about you if it’s nice things, right? …Right?? Right! Good, because I only have rave reviews for Lex Lu. I liked her so much that my new goal is to find reasons to hire her for various things. Do I need my makeup done before the next time go to a coffee shop to write in a corner by myself? No. Do I need to hire entertainment to rap for me while I get dressed for work in the morning? No. But I want to anyway, because not only does she do great work, she’s so pleasant to be around. Plus she has a song called ‘CAN’T FEEL MY FACE’ which makes me giggle because that’s a little too relatable.

I’ll end my post with week with another call to action: Hire this woman. She’s excellent. And just more proof that talking to strangers is the best possible way to spend your day. -Amanda Hahn

03Last weekend, my girlfriend and I watched Collateral, the 2004 crime thriller starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, directed by Michael Mann (Heat, Thief). I lived in LA when Collateral came out and I always thought that the film did the best job of capturing the way LA looks at night. It turns out, that was director Michael Mann's intention. He shot the film in DV, and even had the taxi cab that Foxx's character drives painted a particular shade, to capture the golden hues of Los Angeles streetlights.

I did not remember how much the film was about the nature of improvisation, not just on a thematic or performance level, but in the nature of its structure. The film has the structure of a great long form improv show; diverse elements and characters eventually come together, scenes mirror each other, there are call backs, and everything from the beginning is brought back at the end and tied together.

There are so many parallel scenes in the movie that play off each other - the twin cab rides of Jada Pinkett-Smith and Tom Cruise, the visit to the jazz club vs the visit to the night club, the two run ins with the patrol cops, the two visits to the first informant's apartment. Throughout the film, the same locations and characters are visited and revisited, but each time the suspense is heightened, new information is added. Old scenes take on new meanings. Like a great improv show, the movie does not endlessly invent new things; it takes what it has and escalates and escalates until the everything reaches a fever pitch.

The movie even has a scene of actual improvisation. Foxx's meek cap driver must impersonate Cruise's cold-blooded hit man, and acquire a hit list from a cartel heavy (Javier Bardem) at a night club. Foxx does not know what he's walking into or what to say. His only choice is to "Yes, And" the hell out of everything and hope that he's committed enough to his character to pull it off. That scene is one of the best in a movie full of great scenes, and rewards an engaged audience with its call backs and in-jokes.

I always thought Collateral was a brilliant crime movie, another example of Michael Mann's mastery of the genre. I had no idea it was also a brilliant improv show. - Ryan Callahan

Throwback Thursday: Hustle Man

imgresThursday night has always been the best night for television for me.  As an adult, I think my favorite Thursday night line-up has been whatever combination of Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, 30 Rock (they all swapped times a bunch), and then watching Grey’s Anatomy on DVR.  In honor of Black History Month (yes, it’s May, but every month is black history month!!!… or you can chalk it up to me operating on CPT ) I would like to take you into the living room of my household in the early 90s where my family’s Thursday night lineup was Martin, Living Single, New York Undercover, and the taped recording of Def Comedy Jam from the night before. We had a 42” wood grained Magnavox TV that my pops just kinda showed up with one day.  It was the biggest television we’d ever had and we didn’t care that we could not quite make out the channel numbers from the digital dial on the right panel.  It didn’t matter anyway.  Our cable was “hood rigged” through the RCA VCR on top of it.  We would have to walk up and change the channel from there until one day I saw my dad wiping down a very dusty Panasonic remote that had scotch tape securing the batteries in the back of it.  This remote was somehow compatible with our RCA VCR and the Magnavox TV. It was in that living room, on that television via that VCR, both operated by that remote, that I would be introduced to a man who, in the future, Tina Fey would help make relevant to Emmy nomination committees.  That man… is Hustle Man from FOX’s Martin - better known as Tracy Morgan.

Yes, before Tracy Jordan 30-rocked Liz Lemon’s world in 2006 as a millionaire movie star in New York City, Morgan hustled his way through the streets of Detroit popping in and out of the life of “Mar-iiiiinnnn” in the 1990s.  Hustle Man could not only get you anything you needed, he could also do ANYTHING: deliver pizza, sell flowers, plan weddings, teach a dog to rap -- as he would tell you, “You want it, I got it.  I ain’t got it, I’m gone get it.  So get it while the gettin’ is good.”

In a show that mostly relied on character work from Martin Lawrence himself, appearing on the show as nine different supporting characters (sing with me: “Forever Shenehneh…”), Tracy Morgan’s appearances as Hustle Man were a well deserved endorsement from Mr Lawrence.   Morgan owned every scene he was in with a commitment level that I aspire to.  I was always excited when Hustle Man came through the door.  My favorite time, though, was when he entered not as Hustle Man, but as saxophonist, Hustle Marsalis.  To this day, I cannot hear Average White Band’s “Pick Up the Pieces” without doing his choreography.

I loved Hustle Man.  I never got into it, but I remember feeling really good that there was a Tracy Morgan Show, and I was also very excited that Morgan got a spot on SNL even though I seldom watched him on it.  I was happy for Tracy Morgan because Hustle Man had made me so happy.   Also, I think maybe I believed that Hustle Man was a real person.  Someone had to be helping my dad hook up our living room television viewing experience.

Enjoy these Hustle Man clips.  Catch Hustle Marsalis at the end and dance with me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDhdZ36jZ5E

Julia Cotton is a DCH graduate and TA. She currently performs with Dairy Based.

What We're Loving: Life Experience, Cooked Hamm Sandwich, Illiterate Hollywood

photo (1)Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison finds a new favorite tv show, Ashley Bright might be the real Don Draper, and Ryan Callahan pays a visit to 1980's Hollywood.

imgresLook, I am well aware that Andy Daly has been talked about before on this website, specifically here and here. With that said, his new show Review is my favorite thing on television right now and you need to know to check it out.  The program is a stateside interpretation of an Australian show where a host, Forrest MacNeil (Daly), reviews and rates life experiences like doing cocaine, going to prom, and being Batman.  Each episode opens with the quote “Life, it’s literally all we have, but is it any good?” which is a perfect summation of what to expect.

The show is four episodes in and, unlike most shows of this type, each episode builds on the previous  Thus far, the peak has come in week three. The episode begins with his review of eating fifteen pancakes, a task he previously found unimaginable as he’s “never eaten more than two pancakes in a month.”  The way the episode heightens his pain in the next two reviews is beautiful and I refuse to spoil any of it.  Review can be seen on Thursdays at 9 pm cst on Comedy Central or you can just come over and we’ll watch it together. Either way works for me, I just want to make sure you check out this show. - David Allison

mad-men-season-6-jon-hamm-2I'll admit it: I'm partial to Jon Hamm. His appearances during the live 30 Rock episodes were some of my favorite moments of the show. And if I can personally relate to any fictional character, it's Don Draper. You may be thinking to yourself, "Geez Ashley, you must think you're quite the cool customer." I do, but I also relate to his less cool (i.e. slightly crazy) emotional complexities. Also, we learned in the "Zu Bi Zu Bi Zu" episode that Don's birthday is June 1 - so is mine! I've gotten off topic trying to convince you that I'm as cool as Don Draper. This week I watched A Young Doctor's Notebook starring Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe. I've only watched the four episodes available on Netflix, but it was such an intriguing 80 minute nugget that I can't wait to watch the rest. So far, two seasons of four episodes each have aired on BBC. The show is cringingly amusing. I literally cringed and covered my eyes while watching it. But I also laughed. It's dark and different and recommend giving it a watch. And not just because I'm partial to Jon Hamm. - Ashley Bright

jon-peters-book-0905-03Stories of behind-the-scenes drama and the clash of creative egos have always appealed to me. Over the past few years, books like Difficult Men, Pictures at a Revolution, and Marvel: The Untold Story earned a spot on my nightstand with their gossipy takes on artists and wannabe-artists behaving badly, boldly, and blindly. Hit and Run by Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters, which I read this week, tells the story of Sony's disastrous foray into the movie business. But that's not why I'm writing about it. I'm writing about it because it contains a treasure trove of the best kind of Hollywood stories: Jon Peters stories. Jon Peters stories are the best. For those who don't know, Peters, pictured at left carrying his business partner Peter Guber, is a famous Hollywood rags to riches story. A high school drop-out turned hairdresser, Peters became, thanks to then girlfriend Barbra Streisand, a producer on the remake of A Star is Born. Peters used Streisand's clout and his own brand of personal intensity to make the movie about his love affair with Streisand. It was a six million dollar home movie. And it was a hit. From there, Peters was off and running, using his relationships, his force of will, and his fearsome temper, to become one of the richest and most powerful producers in Hollywood, despite being largely illiterate.

Today, Peters is remembered, if he's remembered at all, as the man who wanted to make a Superman movie where Superman didn't fly, didn't wear his costume, and fought a giant mechanical spider. But in his day, Jon Peters was the 800 pound gorilla. Nobody did it bigger, costlier, or crazier. Hit and Run is full of Jon Peters stories: Jon Peters wooing Swedish supermodel Vendela by sending her a private jet full of flowers. Jon Peters visiting the set of Rain Main and asking Dustin Hoffman whether he played, "the retard or the other guy." Jon Peters breaking the jaw of a marketing executive and then hiding under a desk when the cops came. They don't make them like Jon Peters anymore, nor should they. Hollywood is, was, and will always be, the real Land of Misfit Toys. For a while, Jon Peters was the greatest misfit of all. I'm thankful that a man like him exists, and that I never have to meet him. - Ryan Callahan