Adam West

What We're Loving: Elton John Fans, Edith Wharton Allusions, Perfect Writing, Dynamic Performances

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison plugs without shame, Jonda Robinson catches up, Amanda Hahn looks back, and Ryan Callahan watches a master at his craft. elton_johnI’ve recently gone through and absorbed much of Elton John’s career in preparation for an upcoming show at the Dallas Comedy House on 8/23 at 10:30 pm (Shameless plug). Because he’s been around for like forty years, it’s easy to forget just how much stuff he’s done in his time. Yes, you know that he wrote “Tiny Dancer,” but I bet you didn’t know that he performed a show in Japan in a Godzilla mask? I’m sure that you remember his scores for movies like The Lion King, but I would imagine you completely forgot about his appearance in The Country Bears. And I bet you’ve heard his Marilyn Monroe tribute song “Candle in the Wind,” but were you aware that he re-recorded a version upon the passing of Princess Diana?

If you don’t believe that Elton John is great, ask the internet. Because of his amazing talent and theatricality, Elton John has long been a favorite of humans. And due to the wonderful existence of the internet, we can all enjoy the absurd efforts of these super fans. This one started out strong enough with a singing Sun, but quickly ran out of steam when I remembered it was anime. Set to the same song, this next entry is much more watchable, but lost me about halfway through when I failed understand if the robots were holding hands or passing robot pills. The true gem is this Christmas video, created by a Russian fan. Simply entitled “Merry Christmas to all Elton John fans!” this little number was inspired when a to be fan attended her first Elton show in Moscow. Part Holiday footage, part shots of curtains being pulled up to reveal Elton John at a piano, this one is a start to finish treat.

My favorite part about these strange fan vids is the effort that went into them. Seriously, real time and potentially blood, sweat, and tears were poured into a project that didn’t turn out that great. And they still posted it online, because they knew that other super fans would enjoy the work. That’s so cool to me! Elton John and the internet have created a space where anyone can be creative and they know that even if the end product isn’t as good as “Crocodile Rock,” their comrades will appreciate it. Let’s hope the Elton John fan club is out in full force on Saturday, August 23rd at 10:30 pm for my weird, fan vid of a show (Shameless Plug Shameless Plug Shameless Plug). - David Allison

Gilmore-Girls-College-Advice-11I’m hesitant to write about this, only because I’m super late to this party, but I might as well be honest and let you in on the thing I’ve been loving the past few weeks: Gilmore Girls. I was only recently introduced to Lorelai and Rory by a friend, and ever since I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Stars Hollow having coffee at Luke’s and getting to know all of its quirky residents.

There are many great things about this show that I could point out: the cozy setting that lends itself to a cast full of interesting characters, the relationship dynamics at play, or even the sheer amount of food that is consumed in the course of an episode (I only wish I could live on cheeseburgers and cookie dough and still look like Lauren Graham). One of the things I enjoy most about this show, however, is its abundant use of allusions. That’s right, folks, if you want me to get hooked on whatever you’re writing, throw in some quality literary/historical/pop culture references and I’ll jump right on board. The dialogue moves so quickly that if you blink you might miss one (ok, not blink, but whatever is the equivalent word for your ears), and I enjoy every fleeting reference covering topics from English monarchs to Edith Wharton and so many things in between. Even if there are many I don’t get right away, I appreciate the smart writing.

If you like Gilmore Girls, and love allusions like I do, I offer a book recommendation: Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.  And If you ever want to discuss all things Gilmore with me, I’m totally up for it now that I’m in on the jokes. I do, however, respectfully request one thing: no spoilers, please! - Jonda Robinson

024325This week I took a walk down memory lane. My friend/stand up/current DCH improv student Tyler Simpson and I were talking about terrible poetry. Which led to his very own poetry of his younger days.  I loved it. I love all of his poetry and writing because it’s perfect. It’s such a perfect example of a time in our lives that most of go though. It’s that time period usually after high school, or sometime in the early college years, where we all think we have life figured out. We can feel ourselves flubbing about, but we find romance in feeling like we’re lost or helpless, or that no one else gets the world quite like we do.

During that sweet little time period, we think we understand everything: philosophy, love, hardship, art, poetry, people. We get it all. We (or at least I did) joined clubs to try to change the world because our ideas really mattered. We (...or at least I did) teamed up with a couple of Marxists to try to combat racism all by ourselves. We joined a group to support the gay community at our college because we really thought we, as an individual, would make a dramatic difference at how people perceived homosexuals.

That feeling lasts until we mature, just a little more, and realize we don’t know a thing.

I don’t necessarily want to go back to that time in my life when I thought I could conquer the world. I do like knowing my limitations, but it was invigorating at the time, and so humorous now to look at now, what I created back then than I thought was not only decent but high quality. So this week, I’m putting out my third call to action (I’m starting to get straight up bossy up on this blog, y’all): Walk down some memories. See how far you’ve come. Or see how far you haven’t. Either way, you’ll learn a little something about yourself and hopefully have a few laughs at your terrible attempts at creating something cool or profound. - Amanda Hahn

112_0805_01z+adam_west_celebrity_drive+batman_and_robin.jpgOver the past week I've had a lot of time to myself. My girlfriend was away on a trip and I was home alone, much like Macaulay Culkin in that movie, My Girl. Unlike young Mr. Culkin I did not attempt to fill my down time by defending my home from an invasion of bees only to get stung by the bees and die tragically (Spoiler). I chose to spend my time home alone watching hours of the old Batman TV show.

For those unfamiliar, Batman ran for three seasons in the 1960's. It starred Adam West as the Caped Crusader and Burt Ward as Robin, The Boy Wonder. For the first two seasons, the show aired twice a week, with the first episode ending on a cliffhanger that was paid off in the next. The show was originally meant to be a serious action tale but once the producers read the comic they decided the only way the show could work was as a camp comedy.

When I first watched the show, as a child in the 80’s, I had no idea the show was a comedy. Now I watch it and I see it as the source for many of my ideas about comedy. It’s a comedy show about crime fighters. If you know me, you probably know that is something of an obsession of mine. It turns out many of my favorite comedy tropes – overly literal signs, super villains with themed henchmen, ridiculous gadgets that serve one narrow purpose – come from this show.

At the center of it all is Adam West, killing it as Bruce Wayne and Batman. Watch the way he struggles to keep his true identity secret. Marvel at the way he casually compliments Bruce Wayne as Batman and vice versa. Feel his pain as he tries to keep his hormones under control whenever Catwoman is around. We tend to stay away from hyperbole here in What We’re Loving, but I would like to say that Adam West's performance on this show was the greatest performance in the history of acting. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. IFC is running old Batman episodes every day. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Movies That Age Well, Adult Contemporary Television, Finding True Love, Chilly McFreeze Audio

imageEach Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison travels to childhood and back again, Ashley Bright cries at work, Amanda Hahn finds her husband, and Ryan Callahan has baffling expectations.  MV5BMTgzNzk3OTg2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTIyODc5._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_I’m a relatively sentimental person. Whether it’s looking at old Facebook photos or just finding smaller shirts that used to fit, I enjoy looking back at the past. But when it comes to movies, I rarely take the time to revisit films I used to love; I’ve been burned too many times. For example, did you know that Blues Brothers isn’t that good? I know you’ll say that it’s sacrilegious for me to say such a thing on a comedy website, but it’s kind of boring and doesn’t hold up. Hell, most movies don’t hold up because they were made for a certain era that’s now known as bygone. Recently though, I had a breakthrough. I found a film that I loved as a child and I continue to love as an adult. That movie is Drop Dead Gorgeous. Released in 1999, Drop Dead Gorgeous is a dark comedy about a teenage beauty pageant in Minnesota. If you haven’t seen it in a while (Or, heaven forbid, if you’ve never seen it) you probably don’t recall how deep the cast of characters for this film is. I love how many memorable performances there are in such a small movie. I mean, you could probably remember that Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards are battling it out as likeable/unlikeable caricatures. But you need to revisit this film to rediscover the adorable/hilarious trailer park friendship Ellen Barkin/Alison Janney. You need to watch Will Sasso dangle from a car door. You need to watch Adam West host a pageant. You owe it to yourself. - David Allison

MV5BMjExNzA1ODMxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY4MjQ2OA@@._V1_SY317_CR15,0,214,317_AL_I like some neat things like Japanese metal, Bukowski, and zines. I've drank David Lynch coffee. I like Avon more than Stringer. I've bought speakers from a fella off Craigslist. I need you to remember this when I tell you about what I'm loving this week. It's not underground. You've likely heard of it. It's adult contemporary television on network TV, and I love it. I love the Braverman's. Every week, I sit at my desk and cry at least once while watching (mostly just listening to) Parenthood. This week I teared up three times. Three separate times at my desk. At work. In front of other people. Listen. I'm not ashamed. It's a great show. It's a bit hokey at times and you'll feel things, but it's great. I want to be Camille Braverman when I'm in my twilight years and have a backyard just like that. Lord, bring me a Zeke Braverman to marry when I grow up. You'll laugh when watching it. You'll become invested in the characters. And that's the thing with this show, it's lead by the characters and not the plot. I started watching it as a brain rinse after watching Breaking Bad. I'd watch one or two episodes of each. I got hooked. There's some actors from HBO lining the cast if that gets you going: Peter Krause from Six Feet Under and Wallace from The Wire popped up in a few episodes in season two. Sure, it gets sappy and hits topics like cancer and having a child with autism. But its set in Berkeley and there's some pot smoking, that's cool, right? Most seasons are available on your streaming service of choice. Watch it and let's you and I chit chat about some family drama. - Ashley Bright

WWL HahnEveryone, I’m glad I have your attention. This is a very special “What We’re Loving” post for me. Today, I would like to introduce you all to my future husband, Bridger Winegar. He’s worked as an intern and production assistant for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and he’s the most consistently funniest person I’ve ever internet-stalked. So…no, I’ve never met him, but I know he is my one true love. Everything he has ever said or posted on any medium has made me laugh. Since it’s no longer 2010, I know it’s strange to still be obsessed with someone’s Twitter feed. But you guys, I’m obsessed with his Twitter feed right down to his bio. It says nothing but “Here we are on our third date,” and it tickles me to my core. If you ever see me spacing out or there is a lull in our conversation, there is a 95% chance that that sentence is running through my head. His weirdness is so creative, and he’s bold with his moves. The strange things you daydream of doing or posting, but never follow through on, he’ll do. His Pinterest boards are a perfect example. They make me cry from laughter. There’s an entire board with nothing but George Lucas’s neck. Another is devoted to pictures of his knee. If you decide to check out any others, be sure to take a peek at his Amazing Vocalists board. He’s goofy, strange, and delightful. I have no idea what he’s currently working on or doing, but he deserves more fame, and I’m making it my life goal to spread the word about him. So if you’re in the mood to meet someone that will make you think, “Wait what why?!” Bridger Winegar is your guy. But back off, ladies. This psycho is mine. - Amanda Hahn

steveaustinshow300x300Recently, a few people who would know recommended the The Steve Austin Show, the podcast with former pro-wrestler and current direct-to-video action star "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Even though "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (henceforth abbreviated as SCSA) was the man who brought me back to the pro-wrestling fold after a long hiatus in the 90's, I hesitated to listen to his podcast for the same reason I hesitate listening to any podcast. Most are bad. They feature people who either pepper each sentence with a string of words such as "um" and "like" and "you know" (the vast majority of wrestling podcasts) or who try so hard to be funny that you can feel the flop sweat drip through your headphones (the vast majority of comedy podcasts). Well, it turns out that SCSA, one of the greatest promo guys in the history of the wrestling business, is really good at talking into a microphone. I have no idea why I expected anything different, except for the fact that I am an idiot. The Steve Austin Show is an entertaining listen, and not only during the interview portion when SCSA talks with guests like Paul Heyman and Dave Meltzer and William Regal about the wrestling business, but also during the opening section, when SCSA talks about what's going on in his life and what's going on in his head. Traditionally, this is the section of the podcast I skip. But not on this show. SCSA has the most important quality any entertainer can have: sincerity. I'll put up with a lot of things: self-pity, ignorance, foolishness. But if I think you're being disengenuous, if I think I'm being fed a line, I'll tune out. When SCSA speaks I believe he means what he says. Which probably makes me a mark. But at least I'm a mark with something to listen to when I'm driving. - Ryan Callahan