Bill Murray

Better Call It Drama

Better Call Saul People who can make me laugh are my absolute favorite. Obviously, if laughing wasn’t my thing, I wouldn’t be at Dallas Comedy House learning improv. It’s through said learning, though, that is making it more evident to me just how talented, and multi-faceted, comedians are. And maybe most importantly, I’m learning that it’s not always just about the joke or the laugh.

I love Better Call Saul. I really love Better Call Saul. Maybe it’s a bit obsessive how much I love it, but I have a tendency to become a smidge obsessed with things like TV shows, films, music, podcasts – all of it. Via social media, I communicate primarily in gifs from my favorite aspects of pop culture due to said obsessions, if that helps you paint a more accurate picture of my infatuation with all things arts and entertainment.

The second season of the AMC show just started on February 15 and follows everyone’s favorite “morally-flexible” lawyer, Saul Goodman’s, transformation from Slippin’ Jimmy to his character in the wildly successful and beloved Breaking Bad. But, if I’m being honest, I love Better Call Saul because of Bob Odenkirk.  

Comedy fans will know Bob from Mr. Show, a sketch show also featuring David Cross that aired on HBO in the mid to late 1990s. Odenkirk also served as a writer on Saturday Night Live (SNL) for many years following his time at The Second City Chicago, writing sketches for Chris Farley (Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker, anyone?) and working alongside Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel. In more recent years, Bob and David released a four-episode sketch show for Netflix, W/ Bob & David, that followed a similar structure as Mr. Show but, as both comedians suggest, is completely different.

With such a background in comedy, it’s impressive to watch Odenkirk in Better Call Saul because it’s such a dramatic role featuring such a complex character. I’m not by any means suggesting that comedic characters can’t also be complex but Jimmy McGill, as well as many of the other Saul characters, really dives headfirst into the deep end. Sure, Better Call Saul will make you laugh but I don’t think the show can exactly be classified a comedy.

While it was mentioned following the first episode of the season during Talking Saul (Yes, like, Talking Dead but about Better Call Saul, also hosted by Chris Hardwick), watching Better Call Saul really makes me think about how many comedians are able to step into very dramatic roles and completely nail it. Maybe this doesn’t quite seem out of the ordinary but how many dramatic actors are able to be really, really funny? A few, but not as many.

What About Bob

Comedians make the jump often and they make it memorable. Bill Murray, a household name in comedy, known for roles in classics like Caddyshack, multiple Wes Anderson films, and my personal favorite since I was a kid (I have no idea why), What About Bob? It was with Lost in Translation that we really got to see Murray’s versatility and ability to do something, and be someone, completely different. Kristen Wiig, another SNL favorite who, thank goddess, brought us Bridesmaids, shines in Welcome to Me and The Skeleton Twins. You can Google this very topic and find list after list of comedians who kill sans jokes, but I can’t bear to leave out Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, Steve Carell in, well, take your pick, Foxcatcher, The Big Short, just to name a few.

Kristen Wiig Skeleton Twins

It’s undeniably exciting to watch a person, a person who inspires you yourself to be funny, no matter who that may be, a person who makes you laugh and is, at times, ridiculously silly, make you also angry, cry, cry happy tears or even be afraid, for them or of them. Or, at least, it’s exciting to me.

So, if anyone needs me for the next several Monday evenings, you can find me glued to my TV, rooting for Jimmy and Kim, watching him become Saul, drinking wine, and unintelligibly live-tweeting Better Call Saul like, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh #BetterCallSaul!!! 39 minutes in and I'm already losing my sh*t. So good. @mrbobodenkirk is the best.”* 

*Actual (censored) tweet from my actual (uncensored) Twitter account.

Megan Radke is currently a Level 3 student at DCH. She is a copywriter and social media manager by day and an essayist and mediocre musician by night. She is a constant consumer of books, music, film, and all things comedy. She is also great at racking up copious amounts of credit card debt with spur-of-the-moment travel.

#Ashtag #12 All Rolled Up

Raven-Symone and Oprah Twelve weeks a tagged. Yep, we have 12 #ashtags of learning about today's pop culture under our belts. We owe ourselves some silk pajamas or some fancy table linens. That's right; twelfth anniversary gifts are traditionally silk or linen. So, let's just pretend we're reading this from a lovely, linen scroll, okay?

This week's No. 1 and  No. 3 searches on Google involve sports. In fact, many of the top searches this week involve sports. We shall skip those.  The No. 2 search is Blake Lively. The actress is expecting her first child with her husband, Ryan Reynolds. The Internet is very excited about this news. As far as I can tell, the pair does not have a Hollywood couple nickname. I even conducted a semi-thorough search for one. Nothin'. I shall name them "Blyan." No, no, "Rake." Okay. I'm starting to see why one does not exist. Wait, "Ry-Blake?" Nope. There is no J-Lo or Brangelina for these two. "Blynolds?" Okay, okay, I'm sorry.

Teresa Giudice is the No. 4 Google search. The real housewife of New Jersey has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for fraud. Her husband, Joe, has been sentenced to 41 months. Joe admitted that he took out false loans in her name because "her credit was better." Teresa admitted that she needs to learn to read things before signing them. Her new goal is to "become a better person." I bet they get a reality show. I don't know the rules about filming in a prison, but it seems ripe for the picking. I hope they get one. I won't watch it, but I hope they get one.

There are so many top searches this week that aren't sports! I want to tell you all about them, but this fancy linen scroll only holds so much. Commence top search montage now! Okay, get a fast-paced, synthy, inspirational song of your choice rolling in your head. And go! Twin Peaks is back! David Lynch is excited about it. Raven-Symone told Oprah that she's "just a human that loves humans." She doesn't want to be labeled as gay or African-American. Hulk Hogan's son, Nick, is the first male victim of the Fappening. Bruce Jenner appeared in public with long, flowing locks. Montage complete! You may now stop the mental synth song.

Bill Murray

One of the top viewed videos on YouTube this week is "St. Vincent - Bill Murray Sings Bob Dylan - the Weinstein Company." It is exactly as titled. Here is what stood out to me as I watched this video. There is a lawn chair that is a love seat. A classic green lawn chair, but double the width. I didn't know such a thing exists. Just as I got excited about the chair, Mr. Murray sat down, and I noticed the chair rocked. A rocking, lawn chair loveseat! What anniversary is that the present? I desperately need this contraption in my life.

I'm going to try to stop thinking about this seat, so that I can continue. This week, I've once again subjected myself to popular music by way of the top-viewed music videos. I watched the entire video for FIBI's "Love is So Lame." It sounded like a whinier and non-catchy Taylor Swift song. Twice someone who sounded like Jay-Z said, "Turn the lights off" in what sounded like the intro to a rap interlude. The rapping never surfaced. I did not enjoy this song at all. I had never heard of FIBI, but based on this song, I do not like her. I mostly sat through the entire video because I was still in a daze thinking about that chair.

This luxurious, linen scroll is almost out of room, so I must now tell you about the Kardashian game. Kim graciously released an update to allow for marriage. And just like Kim did, you can get married in Florence. The city was added to the game with the update. I cannot maintain a relationship in the game, and will unlikely make it to a Florence wedding. People break up with me because I work too much. My only option to get them back is to charm them with K-stars, which I do not have because I will not spend real money. #realornotthesinglelifesformeiguess

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of the DCH Improv Training Program and is currently a level 3 sketch writing student. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

What We're Loving: Watchable Improv Videos, Suddenly Necessary Information, Fictional Fishing Trips

image (2)Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison digs for gold in a dumpster fire, Amanda Hahn decreases your productivity, and Ryan Callahan celebrates the return of the greatest thing ever.

Perfect Harold

Three facts regarding the last twenty years:

1.) An influx of new theaters has created an opportunity for more improvisational comedy performances than ever before.

2.) Websites like YouTube and FunnyorDie have made it easy to consume entertainment anywhere.

3.) The steadily decreasing cost of technology has made it possible for anyone to afford to create/upload videos.

Because of those points, it would make sense that the internet would be overrun with super funny clips from improv shows.  So much hilarity is being created every day on stages all over the US and the increased ease of posting these shows eliminates the excuse that improvisers are just lazy. People should be sending each other emails with subject lines like “Hey Auntie, check out this great organic opening by this team in Des Moines!”

Why doesn’t this happen?

BECAUSE IMPROV VIDEOS ARE TERRIBLE.  Like can’t watch past the introduction of the team terrible (BTW, no one wants to watch this segment, not even your parents).  I don’t understand how a festival organizer can sift through hundreds of videos in this dumpster fire of a genre. They’re the real heroes here.  With that said, there are a handful of good videos of improv shows that you can find online.  They’re passed amongst friends and fellow performers like a secret handshake.  “Oh, you’ve watched The Reckoning’s perfect Harold, you’re cool” or “Man, it sure was nice of that Ted Tremper guy to post all those great Middle Aged Comeback shows.”

Today, or whatever day you’re reading this (Time is CRAZY), I would like to introduce another entry into the pantheon of watchable improv videos.  In fact, I’m actually going to add a whole channel of videos.  The channel is NY Comedy and it’s a collection of great improvised sets from all over New York.  Most of them are good enough, but the real treat is watching the latest cagematch videos from UCBNY.  Cagematch is a weekly show in which two teams perform a set and the strongest one survives to perform the next week.  I’d recommend starting with the groups What I did for Love and F*ck That Sh*t because the confidence and true decisiveness with which each group plays is truly a pleasure to watch.  With a little hope, they’ll be more great videos where these came from. - David Allison

InternetThis is my fourth week contributing to this blog, and I feel like you’ve gotten to know me and my interests pretty well. You know I like awkward moments, learning, and weird people. So enough about me. What about you? What are you into?

…Okay, reader, no matter what you just answered, I have a website for you. One single website for anything you love. My dear reader, this week I am loving Internet is Useful (internetisuseful.com). In fact, right this very moment, I am loving this website. I just discovered it a few minutes ago, and I am already obsessed. Internet is Useful is simply a website to help you find other websites, organized by category. I’m finding websites I didn’t even know I wanted. No… needed.

- Want to find bands and artists that are coming into town and potentially discover new music? Check out gigfi.com. Just type in your city name, and it creates a Spotify playlist of artists that are coming to your city.

- Like documentaries? Find a bunch to stream at documentaryheaven.com.

- Want to know how to get one material stick to another material? (and freaking stay there!) There’s an entire website for that! thistothat.com

- And hey, are you a nerd?? Specifically, are you a nerd that wants to take a day trip?! Well, you’re in luck! Head over to nerdydaytrips.com. You can find a place travel back in time to the Victorian era. Or discover open stages for a variety show of magicians, comedians, dancers, and jugglers.Or you can keep it simple, and just remind yourself of all the Dallas museums you’ve been forgetting to check out or revisit.

Thanks to Internet is Useful, I have wasted so much time tonight bouncing from site to site, ranging from apartment finding websites to fitness websites to intentionally useless websites. Yes, many of the sites listed on Internet is Useful are already popular, but I am positive that you will find something new and helpful (or at least amusing) related to one of your interests. I’m so sure you’ll find something new, that if you don’t, I promise you one nerdy day trip – gas is on me. - Amanda Hahn

Gone FishinLet’s talk about something important. The NBA Playoffs are here, which means  the return of the greatest, most significant, most life-changingest television segment in the history of sentient thought: Gone Fishin' on Inside the NBA. It's back, guys! It's back!

For those unfamiliar with the segment, here's how it goes. When a team has been eliminated from the playoffs, the Inside the NBA broadcast crew (EJ, Kenny, Chuck and Shaq) send that team, and the city it represents, on a fictional fishing trip to signify the start of their off-season. EJ starts the boat, everyone puts on fishing hats, (EJ wears the captain's hat, Shaw a swim cap). They grab fishing poles and introduce a cheesy vacation photo which shows members of the eliminated team and celebrities and from that city, and Kenny Smith, always Kenny Smith,  packed into a boat.

The idea that all these people would actually go on a fishing trip together, all cramped into one little boat, fills me with such joy that I become a child again, giddy and happy, excited by the possibilities of the world. I am literally giggling right now as I type this. I am not kidding. That’s how much I enjoy this segment. I stay up late to watch it. I record it if I might miss it. I get excited right before they show the photo, wondering who will make the  cut.

The best part of the whole segment is that the guys have no idea who or what will be in the picture. Watching them see it, and figure it out, and get the jokes, is fifty-five percent of the fun. The other day, the Chicago Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs. Do yourself a favor and watch.

Between now and Monday six teams will be eliminated from the playoffs. That’s six boats. Six fishing trips. I haven’t been this excited about anything, ever, in my life. - Ryan Callahan