Chris Gethard

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.

Dallas Comedy House Mentioned on This American Life

This American LifeShout out to This American Life for a shout out to the Dallas Comedy House (DCH). The mention comes by way of a story from Joel Lovell about Chris Gethard's new podcast, Beautiful Stories by Anonymous People. So, a shout out to Gethard, too. Gethard talks with strangers on his podcast for an hour about anything they want to talk about. In the episode featured on This American Life, a caller living in Denton says he wants to perform stand-up at DCH. The caller feels that his life is going nowhere and that he needs to do things to feel more alive. The mention happens around the 44:54 mark in the show. Here's the transcript:

Caller: [SCREAMS] Yeah. I'm 10 minutes away from Dallas Comedy House.

Chris Gethard: You're killing me. Do they have open mics there?

Caller: Yeah. Open mics. I've known for months. Open Mics Tuesday. I've got something ready.

Chris Gethard: You've got an act? You've got an act you want to try?

Caller: Yeah.

Chris Gethard: You're doing it tomorrow.

Caller: Yeah.

Chris Gethard: You're doing it tomorrow. What time is the open mic?

Caller: I think it's at 7:00 or 8:00.

Chris Gethard: You're doing it tomorrow.

Caller: Yeah.

Chris Gethard: You're going to do it. And here's what's going to happen, is you're going to go and it's going to go terrible. It's your first open mic. It's going to go awful. It's not going to be fun. You're not going to be funny and it's going to feel really uncomfortable. But you're gonna feel [BLEEP] alive, man.

Did the caller go to the open mic? You'll have to listen to find out.

Book Review: "A Bad Idea I’m About to Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgement" by Chris Gethard

Chris GethardI’m going to try my best to avoid this post digressing into a love letter to Chris Gethard, but I can’t make any promises. I like weird people. More than that, I like people that help foster weirdness in others. I find an immense amount of comfort in someone that can help people see that they’re not alone in trying to accept themselves and then give those people a sense of belonging to something. This notion is how I stumbled upon Chris Gethard. Gethard is a veteran improviser with Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), a stand-up comedian, an author, and host of his own weird-as-hell late night show, The Chris Gethard Show (TCGS). Just a few things about TCGS: It started as a live UCB show, which then went to a public access TV channel in New York (and then most recently found a home for a season at Fusion Network), and it billed itself as “the most bizarre and often the saddest talk show in New York City.” If I had to use one word to describe the show, it would be “honest.” The show has a topic each week and has a celebrity, usually a comedian, on to help with weird segments and answer calls from viewers during the entire show. TCGS truly gives a voice to its fans and viewers, reinforcing that they belong to something wonderful and weird that anybody can be a part of.

I could go on for hours and hours about how perfect and unique his talk show is, but I’m here for a book review, so let’s talk about that. A Bad Idea I’m About to Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgement is a collection of short, personal essays from Gethard, released in 2011 (yeah, I’m late, I know). I ordered the book after a recent nose-dive into the back catalog of TCGS episodes. Once the book arrived, I read it in under a week. Now, this might be a normal thing for normal people, but consider that I haven’t read a book in under a week in probably a decade and maybe this claim has more weight.

The collection of essays starts, quite literally, at his birth and spans up to Gethard’s present-day in 2011. Most of the essays are, at surface level, about growing up in New Jersey, moving to New York, breaking into comedy, and other typical “coming of age” tales you might expect to read from a comedian. That doesn’t mean the tales themselves are not gut-wrenchingly awkward and hilarious, but what stands out is how honest Gethard is about his struggle with mental illness and feeling lost because of it.

Gethard is brutally honest about a life-long struggle with anxiety and depression that always made him feel out of place in society. The book gives a voice to so many thoughts that I know I’ve personally had and deals with the question, “Am I going to be okay?” The overarching theme becomes his search for the answer to that particular question, and while the answer may not be black and white, the journey he takes you on to get there will leave you with a lot of hope.

Jessica Dorrell is a Dallas Comedy House graduate and performs in the troupes Wilma! and Summer Girls. You can see her in Stage Fright, a Halloween sketch show in October.

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