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#Ashtag Week 22: Shmurdering 2014

Happy almost new year, folks! We are officially in the future (according to movies and such). Before we kick off this week's edition, I'd like to announce that starting in January, #Ashtag will scale back from a weekly to a monthly release. It will appear the third Monday of every month. Mark your calendars, and prepare yourselves for pop culture feasts. Let's dive into this week's most popular things on the Web. Currently, the No. 1 search on Google is "Twitter." Twitter is having some technical difficulties at the moment. Some tweets have time stamps of December 2015 and some are incorrectly stamped from last year. Maybe the social media giant has figured out time travel and this is some guerrilla way to announce it? Twitter is also having a bug where Android users are being booted off of their account. I can't think of a sci-fi explanation for why that is happening. Oh, maybe computer data remains of Steve Jobs are waging war against all things not Apple?

Ashtag221Another top search on Google is rapper Bobby Shmurda. Shmurda spent his Christmas behind bars after he was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder, gun charges, and more. His attorney, Howard Greenberg, stated that this arrest was because, "The government hates rappers...and are jealous of a brother on the way up." That could be it or it could be results of the Wire-esque investigation the NYPD had been conducting on Shmurda and his crew. I actually don't know if it's appropriate for me to be using Shmurda like it's his last name. Bobby Shmurda is a stage name for Ackquille Jean Pollard. A rumor spread that Pollard, nope, that doesn't feel right either, Shmurda was killed in his jail cell at Rikers Island. I am now going to let you in on a secret. I didn't know that Rikers Island was a real place. OK, I think maybe I knew that it was real, but I don't think I thought it was currently operational. In my head, it was like Alcatraz or Arkham Asylum. Either way, I now know that Rikers is a real place and is still a functional jail.

Ashtag222One of the top YouTube videos this week is "Best News Bloopers 2014." Since, you're not getting a pop culture compilation or best-of-the-year list from me, I'd like to recommend you watch this gem instead. I watched this entire 15-minute video and chuckled aloud several times. There's a little kid at the 11:10 minute mark that is just adorable. For my next birthday, I'd really like for him to do a video card for me. I can't imagine he'll have aged too far out of his cuteness by then. Is this a strange request? It may be, but I mean it. Please someone make it happen.

To wrap this week up, I'd like to say thank you for joining me on my popular culture education so far. I look forward to learning much more in 2015. And just to note, I haven't been playing the Kardashian game, but I have been getting alerts that her mom and sister are now somehow involved. #Ishoulddeletetheappfrommyphonebutikindawannacheckoutthefam

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of and an instructor for the DCH Improv Training Program. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

#Ashtag Week #20: An Attempt to Gather Up the Year

Tis the season for end-of-the-year lists. I know we still have a few more weeks left of 2014, but this is week 20 of #Ashtag, which sounds like a strong, even number to do a "Top of the Year" list. Since we've only had 20 weeks of #Ashtag, that leaves 32 weeks un-turned. We could have, and most likely did, miss some significant pop culture. So this week, we will gather up the year's top Google searches, hashtags, music videos, and YouTube videos. Some of Google's top searches are divided into categories, such as Actors, Animals, and Athletes; the tops for those were Jennifer Lawrence, dog, and LeBron James, respectively. The categories get even more specific, like Chemical Elements, Business People, and DJ's; gold, Oprah, and Moby, respectively. Good for Moby, he beat out Skrillex and Deadmau5, who were both in the top 5 searches with him for DJ.

Ashtag 201

The top 5 list for Scientists were, in order from one to five: Stephen Wolfram, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk, Thomas Jefferson, and Plato. Plato has a note next to his name stating that he is down two spots since last month. The list surprised me by having Wolfram as No. 1. The rest of the lists seem to have more mainstream number ones. Here is where I reveal that I'm not as brainy as you might believe. I don't think I've ever heard of Stephen Wolfram. After some research, I can tell you that he is known for his contributions to theoretical physics and once spoke as SXSW in Austin.

The top 5 list Space Objects, in order from 1 to 5, is Moon, Earth, Sun, Mars, and Pluto. Next to Pluto's name, it says up three from last month. Vengeance for No. 5, Plato! Pluto, Plato, both No. 5, you see what I did there. The No. 1 searched song on Google this year is "Happy Birthday to You." And with that, it is confirmed that I will not be learning much about pop culture with Google's searches of the year.

Ashtag 202

Two of the top hashtags of the year are #love and #beautiful. As sweet as that is, we won't be learning from that. So, we're moving onto the top music videos of the year. The No. 1 video this year is Katy Perry "Dark Horse ft Juicy J." I've heard this song many times, but I've never watched the video. Katy Perry reminds me of the villainess from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in this video. Or maybe it's the effects that bring me back to the Power Rangers. I'm not sure. There is a part where a fat suitor brings her Twinkies and Flaming Hot Cheetos. The Cheetos burn her tongue, and it upsets her. Boy, don't mess with magic. That's the lesson here.

Well, my attempt to soak up the year's pop culture in one week proved to be somewhat fruitless. I may dive into every best-of list that comes out in the next week and see what I learn that way. Oh, on another note, I am still lightly playing the Kardashian game. I have the option to buy my own private jet, but it would require spending real life money. #aintgonnahappenkim

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of and an instructor for the DCH Improv Training Program. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

Doing Dallas: Howdy, Partner

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. If there is one thing you should know about me, it is this: I CANNOT DANCE. Seriously. In high school, I came dangerously close to failing my “Beginning Ballet” course because I could not for the life of me do some syncopated running waltz step thing. The teacher took pity on me, though, and attempted to comfort me by announcing to the class, “It’s alright, Chelsea. Rhythm simply eludes you.” Needless to say, anytime I am presented with the opportunity to showcase my lack of rhythmic talent in front of other humans, I sprint in the opposite direction. I have no idea what came over me, then, this past week when I decided to give Texas two-steppin a try.

We came. We danced. We conquered?

It’s a Good Idea to Know What Two-Stepping Is Before Going Two-Stepping

With my lack of dance skills, I really should’ve seen this one coming. I should’ve watched YouTube videos and practiced dancing with a Swiffer for months within the safe confines of my bedroom. Instead, I threw caution to the wind and prayed that by some miraculous act of God I would step out onto the dance floor and be possessed by the ghost of cowgirls past. I mean, how hard could it be to take two steps?

Well, it turns out that two-stepping actually involves taking three steps—two quick and one slow. WHAT?!? It was the syncopated waltz step thing all over again! Standing on the side of the dance floor in full SOS mode, my Californian friend and I did the only thing we could think of to do: Google “How to Two-Step.” Speed-reading through Wiki-How pages as skilled dancers whirled by, we quickly discovered that a written two-step instructional in no way prepares you to actually two-step.

Two-Stepping Is Like Skiing Backwards

The moment of truth came when I was asked to dance. Though I confessed to my boot-wearin, cowboy-hat-sportin partner that I had never two-stepped before, he assured me it would be fine.

“For girls, it’s just like…skiing backwards. Just glide.”

“Oh. Great,” I lied. See, my skiing skills might be the only thing worse than my dancing skills. The one time I went skiing, I couldn’t figure out how to stop and plowed full force into a security officer at the bottom of a hill. Graceful, I know. While visions of this accident flashed in my head, other thoughts plagued me as well. “Is my arm supposed to be over or under his? What did the Wiki-How say again? Why is he stepping on my feet? Will he be able to tell that I have two packs of gummies in my pocket?”**

Feeling self-conscious, I was acutely aware of the fact that watching me dance was like watching a baby giraffe learn how to walk: unbalanced, wobbly, unsure. After taking an awkward, slow-moving lap around the dance floor, the song that seemed to never end finally drew to a close.

“Thanks. That was fun,” I lied again. I mean, I couldn’t just tell the guy that I’d rather stick bamboo shoots under my fingernails than dance publicly.

“Want to go again?”

“I…I have to…pee,” I lied for a third time, before wiggling off into the welcomed shadows of the sidelines.

** Note: The gummies were a snack I’d forgotten to eat on the car ride over.

Jenna with one of the many Jack Daniels statues.

Thank God for Jack Daniels

Having publicly humiliated myself enough for one night, I decided to call it quits on the whole dancing thing. Observing from the sidelines, though, I noticed some interesting things:

—There were no less than five statues of Jack Daniels scattered throughout the establishment. For this, I now rename Cowboys Red River, “Whiskey Mecca.”

—I saw a man get arrested in the parking lot. The cops threw him against the car and handcuffed him behind his back. I can now sleep easy at night knowing Law & Order accurately portrays an arrest.

—Two separate, 50-plus-year-old men attempted to photobomb our Snapchat pictures. For this, I now re-rename Cowboys Red River, “Senior Men’s Mecca.”

—Mechanical bulls are not just things of movies. They actually exist, and people actually ride them.

The night was a real Texan experience, something I can cross off my bucket list. And, though I’m never gonna dance again, should I ever return—I’ve got my eyes set on that mechanical bull.

Chelsea is a Level 4 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!

 

DCF 14: Grant Redmond

9192418Grant Redmond performs many times at the Dallas Comedy Festival. You have literally no excuse to miss him. The other day, Grant took the time to talk with us the other day about his comedy origins, his philosophies on life, and his thoughts on fictional Michael Bay films.  How did you get started in comedy?

I was in a writing group with Christian Hughes (my now roommate and fellow local comic) in high school. We would write and perform sketches for the entire school every Friday. After we graduated, I had no real creative outlet aside from writing competitions at the worthless college I was attending. A friend of mine, who was also in my high school writing group, posted a video of him doing an open mic in Austin, TX. I had no idea that just anyone could try stand-up. Google informed me of an open mic at the now deceased Hyena’s in Arlington. So, I stayed up all night and wrote 5 horrendous minutes of “material”. You can imagine how it went. People were nice, but I was no George Carlin. Shit, I didn’t even know who Carlin was. Open mics became something I would do whenever I was in town from college. Not very often, but it kept me interested. Years went by and suddenly I decided that college wasn’t as important to me as stand-up was. This coming August will mark the two year mark since I moved back to DFW and really hit the stage hard. I’ve found a group of like-minded comedian friends and a club that feels like home. The aptly named Dallas Comedy House.

Who were your influences growing up, and who influences you now? Whose work excites you?

The first comedy album that I ever listened to was Mitch Hedberg: Mitch All Together. I wouldn’t say that my material was influenced by him, but he is definitely the reason I started listening to stand-up. I’d say I’m most influenced now by Louis CK. In the sense that I talk a lot about myself and all my physical and social deformities, I can clearly see where he has guided what I like to talk about.

As far as whose work excites me, no one can beat Rory Scovel. Every time I see him, he is doing something different. Rory is very “in the moment”. He can riff unlike any stand-up I’ve seen in person. Amanda Austin was nice enough to ask me to host both of his shows during The Dallas Comedy Festival this year, marking the happiest moment in my short stand-up “career”.

What makes festivals special?

Festivals are special because it isn’t just a show. It’s a week of comedy. That rush that we get right before a show starts gets to last all week long. Whether it be before I am on stage, or about to watch a show that I’m excited for.

What is your philosophy of life?

People love to say that life is short. Well, it’s not. It’s long. It’s stupid how long life is. I’m 25 right now and I feel like I’ve been here forever. But, why not fill that time doing something that you love? I’ve never understood people who just settle for anything. Your job, your significant other. That is so much time that you have to spend doing (ha) both of those things. Don’t settle. Chase! I don’t know much. But I do know that I’m not going to turn 50 wondering about the “what ifs” of life. I’m going to reflect on the “I did”.

If your act was a Michael Bay action movie, what would be the name and plot of the movie? 

At the moment, it would be called “Untitled Michael Bay Project” because I’m still early in my development. I’ve got a general idea, but also have a lot of tuning to do. Thus far, the plot would be a lot of clips of me deleting my Google search history.

See Grant perform at the Dallas Comedy Festival on Tuesday, March 18th (shows at 7:30PM and 10:00PM,) and on Wednesday, March 19th at 9:30. Get your tickets here.