Bob Odenkirk

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.

Book Review: "A Load of Hooey" by Bob Odenkirk

A Load of HooeyMr. Bob Odenkirk was late for our lunch date. I sat in the Waffle House just outside the city limits of Los Gatos, California, waiting for him for an hour. I already had three waffles, two pieces of Texas toast (reminds me of home), and listened to “Achy Breaky Heart” four times on the jukebox. I was about to leave to go to the cat museum when my mobile phone vibrated. “Hello?” someone said on the other end before I spoke. Usually the person answering speaks first, but no, this person jumped the line.

“Hello?” the male voice asked again.

“Hello?” I replied.

“Hello?” was the response.

“Hello?” Now I thought this was a bit. Someone pulling my cardigan. It was cold in Los Gatos. Don’t judge me. It was a nice cardigan. I bought it off the discount rack at Macy’s in North Park Center.

“Listen.”

I listened, but he didn’t say anything.

“Listen,” he said again.

I listened.

“I’ll be there in three minutes. Traffic is a beast.” Then I heard the dial tone.

I played “Achy Breaky Heart” again on the jukebox.

Just as I was getting to my favorite lyrics, “Tell your brother Cliff whose fist can tell my lip, he never really liked me anyway,” in walked in Mr. Bob Odenkirk.

He was dressed in a black, slim suit, blue button down, and a charcoal tie.

“Well, well, look at you, Mr. Fancy,” I said, playing it cool that he was late.

“Listen. I know I’m late. I own that. But don’t make fun of this suit. My niece picked it out for me, and today’s her birthday. I’m going there right after this interview. So shoot.”

Mr. Bob Odenkirk was all business now. Or maybe he has always been, but plays absurd to throw us off the trail he’s creating. That trail, I’m told by third parties, leads to an underground bunker, which leads to an underground bunker under Archie Bunker’s house.

We didn’t have much time, so I shot right at him.

“Your book, A Load of Hooey, says ‘Inside is funny things.’ Who determined that?”

“That’s a good question, what’syourname.”

“Thank you. I’ve been creating it for weeks.”

“If you really must know, a blind, bald Buddhist monk said it, and I thought, why not, it fits. Do you not agree?”

The table was shifted, in a figurative sense, since the actual table was bolted to the linoleum floor, which was streaked with syrup residue and scuff marks from cheap shoes.

“I do agree,” I replied. “But I wasn’t sure at first. Then I got to ‘Didn’t Work for Me,’ and I knew that, yes, this is working for me.”

“You solved the puzzle.”

“And the ‘Happy Ending’ cartoon had me laughing audibly around my pet cat.”

“All cats love that cartoon. And old, gay men.”

“The Beatles piece was particularly amusing, mainly because I like the Beatles and know the real truth about Paul.”

“I was worried about that one, as they’re not that well known on this side of the ocean.”

“It was good. I could go on blowing smoke rings around your ankles, but it’s pointless. The point is, your book does include funny things inside it.”

“I’m glad I drove two hours to Los Gatos for you to tell me this. It reaffirms my life choices.”

And with that, Mr. Bob Odenkirk stood up in the Waffle House. Before he left, though, he played a song in the jukebox.

“Listen. This is Phil Spector. He will just kill you.”

I sat and listened. A wall of satisfaction rising up and over me.

Jason Hensel is a graduate of the Dallas Comedy House training program and currently performs in the troupes .f.a.c.e. (January 31) and the 1995 Chicago Bulls (February 8). He cannot ice skate. 

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: Airplane Safety, Independent Women, Pratfalls in Prose, Pratfalls Repeated

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison fears for the sanity of flight attendants, Julia Cotton goes to the movies, and Ashley Bright & Ryan Callahan share a love for pratfalls. Earworm alert! This week, I just can’t get the latest hit single from Virgin America Airlines out of my head. You know Virgin from their past successes such as: flying airplanes, landing airplanes, and failed music stores. Now they’re back and better than ever with their hit “Safety Video.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtyfiPIHsIg&feature=kp

“Safety Video” is a five minute long song created to get you outta your seat and dance! Strike that, they made it to tell you how to buckle your safety belt. That’s right, every flight you take on Virgin America Airlines now begins with a big budget music video directed by Step Up 2: The Streets’ Jon Chu. I could spend the rest of my life talking about how ridiculous the entire production is, but instead I’ve simply boiled it down to the three most fascinating things:

  • The oxygen mask rap
    • This segment is delivered by a little girl who had never been on camera or rapped (Please see bullet point three if you don’t believe me). Also, if the cabin loses pressure, that’s a pretty dark scenario wherein you have two minutes, max, to figure out the oxygen masks or you will pass out. That’s a bleak reality for a rapping kid to spit at you.
  • They missed stuff
    • You can use your seat as a flotation device. An important fact that is inexplicably skipped over. Then again, they didn’t have time for it because they had to spend a full minute showcasing another singing child who reminds you that smoking on planes is still illegal. I know that no one under the age of forty remembers a world where smoking on a plane was allowed, but we better make sure everyone is aware by dedicating 20% of the run time to it.
  • The making of video
    • It’s 6:12 and fascinating. The work that went into this boggles the mind.

I appreciate what Virgin America is trying to do, it’s a nice idea. Instead of forcing the crew to begrudgingly deliver a safety presentation, again, they’re creating something more consistent and memorable. That’s cool. But, I genuinely worry about the mental stability of Virgin's employees. Yeah, something like this is really cute and refreshing the first time, but a year from now? They’re going to go searching for the air marshal to put them out of their misery before the plane leaves the gates. - David Allison

MV5BMjAwMzAzMzExOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTcwMDA5MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_My little girl is the girliest of girls. She loves to dress up. Loves her nails painted. She says “so cu-ute” much more than I’m comfortable with. And all of the pink! SO MUCH PINK!!! She loves the fellas, too, and understands that a batted eye and a bowed head or look of confusion will yield her whatever she wants (which so far has merely been more pink things). Lazy feminism would have me believe that my daughter was going down a horrible path that would result in a life submissive weakness. Then we went to go see Maleficent, and I realized that my daughter had never seen Sleeping Beauty.

In fact, my daughter knows very little about the plots to most princess themed movies made before she was born. Therefore, she is not so familiar with ideas that more recent movies have seemed to set out to dispel: a lady is utterly hopeless and helpless and Prince Charming is the only one who can save her as he is the bearer of true love. Oh, and true love is INSTANT. Cinderella literally just danced with dude, left a shoe, he sends out a massive search and then... marriage. That carriage ride at the end of the movie was really more like the last scene of The Graduate. Lately, movies have begun with that ‘true love’ scenario in the first few minutes and then almost immediately call out the absurdity of falling in love with the first handsome man that comes around (see Frozen and Enchanted). The movies also offer that romantic love is not always the truest. In Maleficent, young handsome Prince Phillip does not bare the kiss to wake Sleeping Beauty and actually, he is barely even a part of the story. There are more solid journey stories with female heroines learning lessons that have less to do with finding happiness with a boy and more to do with finding strength and purpose within yourself (also see Brave and Tangled).

My daughter may wear a lot of pink dresses, but her legs underneath are full of scrapes and scars from climbing trees and hanging from monkey bars that she was once afraid of. She is indeed the girliest of girls. - Julia Cotton

9780241951590I haven't read the book in at least three years, but for the past week or so, I have repeatedly thought of a scene from A Confederacy of Dunces. Overall, the book is pretty darn funny, but there is one scene in particular that I remember making me heartily laugh out loud. If you're unfamiliar with the novel, it centers around a portly ass of a man named Ignatius J. Reilly. He works with a senile, old woman who always calls him Gloria. Because she thinks he is a woman named Gloria. In the scene that I've been thinking about, Ignatius falls down. Being the ass that he is, he makes a big production about being hurt. He doesn't want anyone to touch him in case his back is broken. Finally, the senile gal sees him and runs to help "Gloria." She insists on helping, but ends up falling down on top of Ignatius/Gloria.

I'm not doing the scene justice, but the first time I read it, I know that I laughed out loud. I may have clapped. Not a roaring applause, but one solid, happy clap of my hands. I do that when I really enjoy something. Sometimes I say "weee!" in my head when I'm really enjoying something. But I rarely say it out loud. Anyways, this book is quite funny. Particularly, this pratfall-ridden scene. - Ashley Bright

The deadline for DCH internships came and went this week. As part of the application, potential interns must name their favorite television show of all time, and explain why. The application states that this section might be a deal breaker, should the an applicant chose poorly. Each term, I name the same show: Mr. Show with Bob and David. Each term, I give the same two reasons: 1) Mr. Show is the sharpest, craziest, most absurd, best structured, and most influential comedy show of my lifetime. 2) Mr. Show created the single greatest sketch in tv history, "The Story of the Story of the Story of Everest" AKA "The Thimble Sketch." I can remember watching this sketch for the first time in college, literally doubled over with laughter, tears streaming down my face. I remember watching this sketch when I bought the Mr. Show dvds, and laughing so hard that my roommate lost control laughing at me. This kind of infectious comedy, that can reduce two grown men to rocking, snorting, crying, quivering mounds is the apex of comedy. It is what we all hope to accomplish. If you haven't seen the sketch, I suggest you take a gander. You do like things that are the best, right?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyrM7GxyzGg&feature=kp

Someday I'm going to live blog this sketch and annotate it second by second. I could write 500 words alone on Bobe Odenkirk's line reading of "Three times!" But for now I'll leave you with this fun fact: The live crowd HATED that sketch. The crew needed about twenty minutes to reset the thimbles between takes and the crowd had to sit there and wait, only to see them knocked down again. And again. And again. And again. And again. - Ryan Callahan