Amy Poehler

Comedy Centerfold: Brian Harrington

Welcome to Comedy Centerfold, where we feature a Dallas Comedy House performer and get to know him or her a little better by using questions that Playboy centerfolds are usually asked. Brian HarringtonWe were spelunking in Bluespring Caverns in Bedford, Indiana, when my flashlight died. Brian Harrington was dangling below to my left, about to lower himself into the cave when he saw me swinging in the darkness. He ascended to my level and gave me his flashlight because Brian Harrington is that kind of guy. Also, he doesn't need a flashlight in the darkness like a normal human being because he echolocates like a bat. You know what else echolocates? Dolphins. Brian Harrington is the dolphin in the Dallas Comedy House ocean, ready to give you a ride toward the beach or defend you from sharks. You know where else sharks reside? Caves. True. Look it up.

Hometown? Denison, TX. It’s the last town on 75 before Oklahoma, the birthplace of President Eisenhower (who quickly moved to Kansas at the age of two, but we still name everything after him), and also some guy from Magnum P.I.

Guilty Pleasures? Big Brother. This will not go under my favorite TV show because I know it’s not good, but it’s so good. I have watched every season since it premiered (yeah, I was in 6th grade. I was weird), and I have no intention of stopping.

Also, beer.

Ambitions? I recently conquered one of my ambitions, which was to enjoy what I do for work. What’s next? I’d love to write something people read that isn’t a questionnaire or a bar menu.

Best Concert? Honestly, I’ve only been to a few concerts. Don’t hang me, but I’m not actually a big fan of concerts, especially concerts of acts I don’t really know. However, my first concert was in high school, and it was the Vans Warped Tour at Smirnoff Music Centre (now Gexa). That was a lot of fun because everyone still really liked watered down punk music in 2003, which is what I still listen to.

Favorite Book? I don’t read as much as I should. I love Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please. Favorite book since high school, though, is the quintessential “nobody gets me” book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Favorite Movie? Jesus, this is a loaded baked potato of a question. I’ll have to give two: Halloween and Empire Records.

Halloween was such a simple concept that just became too much with the sequels (some of which I still love) and remakes. It’s hard to remember that in the original, Michael wasn’t Laurie’s brother, there was no backstory or mythos, he was just a lifeforce. Then Empire Strikes Back came out and everyone had to be related.

Empire Records takes place over the course of one day in a record store. It’s the most 1990s movie that captures the decade without over-exaggerating it. If you haven’t seen it, it will make you feel good. If you haven’t seen it, you can borrow mine.

Favorite TV Show? For anyone who knows me, no surprise here. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the smartest show with the stupidest name. If you’ve ever thought, “I should watch that show,” you should, but you have to commit that you will watch through the end of season two. They made season one with 20 bucks and a synthesizer. Season two changed everything, and there are arguments to be made that it changed the entire landscape of scripted television. I could write a book (see above, re: ambition) about it, so it’s best I stop here.

Also, Big Brother.

Pets? Many of you have already met Xander. He’s a German Shepherd mix and topped off at 60 pounds. He is now three-and-a-half years old and is the best soul I’ve ever encountered. When you leave the country for a week and have several unsolicited offers from people to dog-sit, you’ve got a good one.

Foods I Crave? I’m always lookin’ for somethin’ more savory. If I was only allowed one meal for the rest of my life, it would be taco salad.

People I Admire? For anyone who knows me, no surprise here. Joss Whedon writes what he wants and how he wants, which has led to so many fantastic pieces of work. He writes characters as equals. Almost every press junket he does will include a journalist asking “Why do you write strong female characters?” to which he responds, “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

Dream Role? I used to want to be an actor, but I didn’t take as much of a liking to it in high school as I thought I would, so my dream role wouldn’t necessarily be in front of camera or on stage. If any producer, however, wanted to be part of my “I-was-just-walking-down-the-street-and-they-pulled-up-and-asked-if-I-wanted-to-be-in-this-little-show-and-the-rest-is-history” story, I would consider it. (Producers, I usually walk around the Bishop Arts area). I think my dream role would be behind the scenes writing for a comedy with a small and devoted fan base. I would also like to do an action movie, any action movie, where they pay you to train and get hot and know karate.

Favorite Song to Sing? Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You.” Some day, I will hit that note without helium. Most likely, no one will be around. But I’ll know it happened.

Good First Date Idea? I’m always a proponent of the Alamo Drafthouse, but if dinner-and-a-movie is a little passé for you, I would personally love something physical like an obstacle course. Do those exist? First date obstacle courses? Someone please make this. (Please include a zipline.)

You can see Brian perform in the following troupes and shows:

Tabooze  Friday, June 3, at 10 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at 10 p.m.

Pretty People With Problems  Thursday, June 9, at 8 p.m.

The Roast of George RR Martin Saturday, June 18, at 11 p.m.

Sketch Revue Shows in July, TBD

Comedy Centerfold: Jessica Dorrell

Welcome to Comedy Centerfold, where we feature a Dallas Comedy House performer and get to know him or her a little better by using questions that Playboy centerfolds are usually asked. Jessica DorrellJessica Dorrell is a badass. I don't mince words. JD, as I've never called her, once wrote for this here blog as an intern. But that's only a microcosm of her story. Time is short, so I'll touch on a few highlights: She invented Pyrex glass. She dined with Morrissey in Monaco in the mid-80s after the Smiths broke up. She rescued a pod of dolphins from a sinister underwater warlord hellbent on turning said dolphins into land-walking dolphin-bots. I could go on, but what you should really do is go see her perform in the troupe Summer Girls (May 14, May 28, June 9, and June 23) and a yet-to-be-named lady troupe (June 2).

Hometown? Age 0-12: Arlington, Texas. Age 12-19: Humble, Texas.

Guilty Pleasures? I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures; I’ll own up to all the terrible TV and movies I watch. That said, I can devour any 1990s teen drama you put in front of me in one weekend, and I’ll watch any horror movie that someone says is “just alright.”

Ambitions? I really, really, really want to visit a volcano and a lighthouse. I also want to eventually be able to make a living by just creating weird art with people I love.

Best Concert? It’s a tie between every time I’ve seen The National live and last year when I drove to Houston to see Drake in concert.

Favorite Book? I’m a serial “buy too many books and not read them fast enough” person. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite book, but ones I’ve really enjoyed recently are We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee.

Favorite Movie? A three-way tie between Vertigo, the original Halloween, and Scream.

Favorite TV Show? 30 Rock!!! It’s the perfect show. I also really enjoy a nice Chopped marathon.

Pets? I have two! An aggressively, cuddly 9-year-old tuxedo cat named Penny and a very weird and adorable 6-month-old demon/mystery puppy named Pickles!

Foods I Crave? Queso. Always queso.

People I Admire? All the ladies in my life – I’m lucky to be friends with a bunch of strong, independent, smart, hilarious women and they inspire me daily. My mom! She is the original strong, independent woman in my life. My boyfriend, Jude, because he’s the smartest and funniest person I know and he makes the best steak. Comedy wise – Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Chris Gethard – I think they all embrace the weirdness inside them and channel it into really, really smart comedy.

Dream Role? Something where Jenny Slate and I are best friends and we just traipse around NYC eating ice cream at every place we see that has ice cream. Or a really scary murderer. Or if I could tie those two together, that works also.

Favorite Song to Sing? "Private Eyes" by Hall and Oates (clap clap) and anything Nicki Minaj.

Good First Date Idea?
 A queso crawl – you just go to a bunch of different spots with queso in one night.

Book Review: "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler

Yes PleaseI’m going to be honest. I sat down to write this review about 45 minutes ago, and have been online watching clips of Amy Poehler ever since. I can’t help myself—she’s addicting. Aside from being one of the most talented comedians to ever grace the earth with her presence, she’s also an entrepreneur who co-founded the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater; a mother of two; an actress, writer, producer, and director; an inspirational YouTube success; and now, an author. And her book is good. Really good. So good, in fact, that I sat for an entire day—eight hours—reading it and doing nothing else. My butt went numb in the process, and I had to sleep on my stomach that night to re-inflate it, but the experience was worth it because I got a glimpse into the genius mind of comedy goddess Amy Poehler. Amy PoehlerYes Please is Poehler’s 329-page memoir, filled with glossy pictures from her youth (and also glossy pictures not from her youth; see photo on left), on-point observations she’s made about life, such as “Doing sketch comedy on live television while pregnant is like wearing a sombrero; you can pretend to be a serious person but the giant hat gives you away,” and deep life truths, including “It’s important to know when it’s time to turn in your kazoo.” She approaches her story non-linearly, jumping within chapters from topics as varied as divorce and childbirth to stories about professing her love to Ashton Kutcher and sitting on George Clooney’s lap at the 2013 Golden Globes. Although sporadic at times, Poehler’s refusal to stick to a sequential timeline give her vignettes a more realistic, conversational flow; it is as if she is sitting in front of you and dishing about her life, skipping from story to story as certain memories bring to mind others.

For the most part, Poehler is candid about her life. She openly discusses her recreational drug use in a chapter entitled, “Obligatory Drug Stories, and Lessons I Learned on Mushrooms,” freely discusses her reliance on nannies in “Every Mother Needs a Wife,” and offers her “World Famous Sex Advice” in a chapter under the same title. She does, however, shy away from the details of her divorce from Will Arnett, admitting it is “too sad and too personal.”

Fleeting mentions of the divorce do appear numerous times throughout her writing and show a side of Poehler that I wasn’t quite expecting. Even though her memoir’s pages are glossy, I never expected Poehler to gloss over the gritty parts of her life. I did, however, expect her darker recollections to be coated in classic Poehler comedy. Instead, certain vignettes showcase a very real, very vulnerable Amy Poehler sans much humor. For instance, the chapter “Bad Sleeper” underscores Poehler’s struggles with anxiety and exhaustion, “Sorry Sorry Sorry” offers an apology for an offensive Saturday Night Live (SNL) sketch she performed, and “My Boys” addresses both a perspective-altering trip she took to Haiti and the challenges of motherhood. I found “I’m So Proud of You” to be one of the most interesting chapters, as it tackles the difficulties faced by women in a male-dominated industry. While all of Poehler’s seriousness was initially unexpected, her displays of vulnerability made me fall even more in love with her; she can turn on the comedy and charm one minute and then switch to a serious, no-nonsense attitude the next. This was enlightening to see, and, while immersing myself in Poehler’s stories, I came to view her more as a person and less as an untouchable Hollywood entity.

As a crazy SNL fanatic, my favorite part of Yes Please is the chapter Poehler devotes to her favorite SNL memories. I wish she had written more about her seven years on the show, because “Humping Justin Timberlake” is chock-full of hilarious anecdotes. Among the many entertaining tales, she recollects doodling explicit images with Will Forte during an NBC sexual harassment meeting and breaking character while shooting “Debbie Downer.” I couldn’t stop laughing as I read this chapter and could totally feel the spirit of Lorne Michaels in these pages. It was great.

I so recommend Yes Please. Whether you’re searching for answers to the meaning of life, wanting to experience the human condition through the eyes of a blonde Bostonian comedian, or just trying to get the scoop on this Seth Meyers guy, this book is for you. And, after you’ve finished, I suggest you hop onto YouTube and watch every single Amy Poehler clip, because by the time you’re done reading Yes Please, you’ll feel like she’s your new best friend.

** Fun Fact: I had the opportunity to attend one of Amy Poehler’s book publicity events in New York this summer, and she used these to encourage people to buy her book:

Yes Please fortune cookie

YES. THAT IS A PINK FORTUNE COOKIE. This is just once again proof that Amy Poehler is a genius.

Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

What We're Loving: Obligatory Horror, Celebrity Visits, Meta Batman, Silly Writing

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison fulfills a legal obligation, Jonda Robinson teases human trafficking, Molly Jakkamsetti goes deep Keaton, and Ryan Callahan asks that you hold him accountable. MV5BNTUxNzYyMjg2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTExNzExNw@@._V1_SX640_SY720_I believe that I'm legally required to write about something Halloween related in this space this week. Like if I don't then they, whoever they are, will check me into a facility where unwilling persons check in, but they don't check out. The hard part about that forced assignment is that I feel like so many of the cool horror films are just kinda gross. For me, gory films that are created just to sicken the viewer are kind of like that overly competitive asshole who starts throwing shit when he loses at bar trivia; you're doing something that's supposed to be fun, so just calm down. Not to say that there shouldn't be blood, guts, or gore in film, I think that stuff is great if it happens in the right context. I should still enjoy watching the movie right? Is that too much to ask?

The best example of the sort of fun horror movie that I love is Cabin In The Woods. If you haven't seen it, the 2012 film does an amazing job of telling two stories concurrently. The micro view follows a group of college kids that are travelling to a CABIN IN THE WOODS. The macro view focuses on the architects of the scenario. Meta is the dumbest word in the fucking world, but it's very apt in this example. This was unquestionably one of the most fun experiences I've ever had watching a movie in the theater, regardless of genre. It's got blood, but the blood is like fun blood.

And if you want to see a live horror movie, come out to DCH on Friday to check out the improvised horror movie! The Friday show at 10 p.m. includes actual fake blood! - David Allison

2On Tuesday afternoon I got home and was greeted by a most welcome face—my good friend, Amy Poehler. That’s right, she was waiting for me at apartment. I had known for weeks that she’d be arriving that day, so I was thoroughly excited about hanging out with her. So far, she hasn’t disappointed.

Ok, so you’ve probably guessed that it was not the REAL Amy, but her book, Yes Please, that showed up at my doorstep. While I haven’t had a chance to read all of it yet, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve taken in so far, and I have enough faith in Amy to say that I will love it. At the very start of her book, Amy declares that “writing is hard” and admits that “blood was shed” in the fight for her to get this thing written. She offers many stories from her life, her take on certain topics, and even sex tips (for girls AND guys!).

Amy is a source of inspiration for me and so many others, so instead of blubbering on any longer I’ll close with two quotes from her so I can get back to my reading:

  1. “So here we go, you and me. Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready.”
  2. “I have the Angelina Jolie of vaginas.”

Never change, Amy—never change. - Jonda Robinson

awesome-birdman-teaser-trailer-michael-keaton-is-a-superhero-again-michael-keaton-goes-meta-batman-in-birdman-trailerBirdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance:  Let me start by saying although people much more qualified than myself have already praised this movie, I’m throwing in my two cents of support. It’s about a former Hollywood superstar who is trying to restart his career with a serious play on Broadway. And Michael Keaton, who starred as Batman in the 1989 and 1992 blockbusters, plays Riggan, whose alter-ego is Birdman.

While much of the movie focuses on Riggan’s internal struggles with insecurity and fear surrounding his "comeback," it is also about the art of acting. It is about what is real and what is not on and off stage. Edward Norton is hilarious as the New York theater actor who comes in to "save" Keaton’s play, right before previews. Zach Galifianakis plays Riggan’s delightfully harried agent. The whole movie looks like one long, uninterrupted take. This amazed me and really drew me in. The soundtrack is jazzy, adding to the cool New York City vibe, where it was filmed. And if you’re still not interested, there’s Emma Stone as Riggan’s cynical daughter/personal assistant. Naomi Watts as the starry-eyed actress who is new to Broadway. Did I mention Edward Norton is in his underwear at one point? It’s meta and weird, and I want to see it again. Critics are praising Keaton as they should. I have enjoyed his work since Mr. Mom. That’s his 1983 comedy with Teri Garr where she works and he stays at home with the kids. Not unusual now, but back then WOAH!! - Molly Jakkamsetti

imgresIn the hopes of making up for my absence the past few weeks, I humbly offer TWO things that I am loving.

Loved Thing Number One: A Load of Hooey by Bob Odenkirk. There has been no show that influenced my sense of comedy more than Mr. Show with Bob and David. As I have said before, my favorite ever comedy sketch: "The Story of the Story of the Story of Everest" comes from Mr. Show. Hooey is Odenkirk's first book, and I will say that it is all rather very silly. There are brief speeches, unabridged versions of famous quotations, and even a short play featuring Hitler, which will no doubt draw the ire of Nick Scott. The book reads like a comic's notebook, but one that has been polished. It's also the quickest book you'll ever read.

Loved Thing Number Two: National Novel Writing Month. Starts tomorrow. If you have always wanted to write a novel, but have always made excuses, here is your chance. Sure, you'll write a terrible, sloppy first draft, but you will have a draft, and that is so much better than just having an idea. It's 1,667 words a day. Many of them can be the word "and." You'll be done in no time.

I have attempted NaNoWriMo (that's really what people call it) twice in the past, failing once and winning once. Finishing a 50,000-word novel is considered a win. Sadly, there is no parade. Unless you have an abundance of action figures. I'm giving it another try this year. I am making this announcement publicly so people will give me a hard time if I don't do it, and badger me about my progress. Who's coming with me? - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Single Use Acronyms, Suicide Prevention, An Abundance of Body Oil

dch_what we're loving_02_28_2014Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Ashley Bright cries alone, David Allison shapes pop culture, and Ryan Callahan will never sleep again.


This_american_lifeThis week I listened to the latest episode of This American Life. It's been awhile since I've listened, but I've been a fan of the show for many years. This week, while I sat at my desk alone, I listened and I laughed out loud and teared up. Alone at my desk. Typical This American Life listening for me. This latest episode is #518: "Except For That One Thing. "If you're not familiar with TAL (This American Life for the purpose of this this article only; if you approach me and say TAL outloud, it is unlikely I'll know what you're talking about), each episode has a common theme and each act fits into that theme. This episode features stories about things that are perfect Except For That One Thing. Act One is a radio drama based on a short story featured in B.J. Novak's book, One More Thing. It's about a perfect first date except that the fella is an African warlord. It's funny. Act Two is about how we could all be eating hippo meat instead of cows, if only the Internet was around a hundred years earlier. It's also funny, but this one's educational. Tig Notaro is featured in Act Three, so of course it's funny. And Act Four is when I cried. It's a really good episode. If you download the TAL app on your mobile device, you're able to save your favorite episodes, such as:  Episode 172: "24 Hours at the Golden Apple." That's a good one. Each act of this episode is divided into time segments at a diner off Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. The people are diverse and the interviews are incredibly interesting and entertaining.  For those of you going to Chicago for the Improv Festival, listen to this episode. Listen to it on your way there. And then go to the Golden Apple. And then take a picture, post it, and tag me in it. Please and thank you. - Ashley Bright

gethard120402_560Quick follow up before I get to this week’s recommendation.  A few posts ago, I discussed one of my favorite new shows, Broad City. Due exclusively, I think, to that post, Broad City got renewed for a second season.  Let’s keep changing the world!

Anyone that follows pop culture has a couple of favorites.  Maybe it’s a celebrity that shares a similar set of morals.  Or it might be someone that makes great decisions on what projects to take. Or maybe this person comes across as cool in interviews.  Why we like certain famous people varies greatly, but we’ve all got a few who regardless of what project they take on, we’re going to follow. One of mine is Chris Gethard.

Chris Gethard is predominantly known for his New York Cable Access television program, though you might also know him from his book or improvisational career.  He performed The Chris Gethard Show at UCBNY until 2011, when he was introduced to the free world of Cable Access.  As long as the necessary paperwork is filled out, anyone can make a television show about anything, which is probably why his show is about everything.  The Chris Gethard Show doesn’t really seem to have a discernible structure or consistent format, except that he usually takes calls and is happy to showcase anyone’s talents.  The latter is what makes the show special to me.  It’s an hour of television that makes you feel like you can do anything, because everyone on screen is getting support for the dumbest thing or part of them that they don’t normally allow others to see.  This mindset extends well beyond the show because of Gethard’s interaction with viewers; the dude has literally saved people’s lives.  His post in response to anonymous fan on the verge of suicide is an inspiring piece that I try to look at a few times per year.  The Chris Gethard Show was recently given a pilot order, so they’re not currently doing a weekly episode, but here’s an archive of every episode they’ve ever done.  As I said earlier, everyone has a famous person they like, so search through the list and find one where Gethard interviews someone you know and appreciate, like Amy Poehler or Bobby Moynihan.  Soon enough, you’ll be addicted to the show and bemoaning the fact that there are only three Sandwich Nights. - David Allison

ric-flair-49ers-panthers-orderIt would be a lie to say that I'm loving anything else this week other than the WWE Network. Since its launch on Monday, the Network has consumed me. There are many stripes in the rainbow of pop culture which I cherish, (books, comedy, movies, Criterion Collection Blu-Rays,) but nothing ranks as high as professional wrestling. Now, before I continue, allow me to answer the question that you have in your head. Yes, I know pro wrestling is fake. Just like I know that Robert Downey, Jr. isn't really Iron Man. Just like I know that Westeros is not a real kingdom. Now that I've defensively answered your fictional, judgmental question, let’s move on. I have been a fan of wrestling for as long as I can remember. There's wasn't a first show that reeled me in, nor a single match that turned got me hooked. As far as I can tell, it was always there and I loved it. And I loved everything about it, not just the morality tale of good versus evil, where good will always triumph in the end, not just the fake sport aspect which allows for stories impossible in the real world, but everything about the show: the interviews, the characters, the entrances, the shows within the show. Only in the world of wrestling can a thing like Piper's Pit exist. Only in the world of pro wrestling can a person like Ric Flair exist. That alone is enough to justify the existence of pro wrestling. My life now has two distinct eras: The Before Network Era (B.N.) when life was gray and flat, each day filled with the dull ache of sameness, and The After Network Era, (A.N.) where life is vibrant and lush, each day ripe with joy and endless possibilities. I could watch pro wrestling 24 hours a day. Now I can. It's a godsend. The god in this case being Ric Flair. Woooo! - Ryan Callahan