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What We're Loving: Dinosaur Sonny Crockett, Murder Jokes, Awkward Reactions, Competitive Grannies

imageEach Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison celebrates anachronisms, Ryan Callahan digs up literary treasure, Amanda Hahn avoids playgrounds, and Ashley Bright gets emotional about strange grandmas. 

Was_(Not_Was)_-_Walk_the_DinosaurThis past Sunday I had the pleasure of checking out The Benson Interruption of Jurassic Park: The Lost World at the Alamo Draft House Richardson.  If you’re not familiar with the concept of the show, standup comic Doug Benson (Doug Loves Movies, Super High Me, Last Comic Standing, w33d) invites comics to join him to provide commentary on a film of his choice.  Really fun show and I would highly recommend checking it out the next time he comes to town.  BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS WEEK.  If you’ve ever been to any Alamo Draft House, you know that instead of mundane movie trivia, they generally show a collection of shorts beforehand that ties into the film they’re playing.  And it was during this preshow programming that I was reminded of the most fantastic song; “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was).

Was (Not Was) was (is no longer) a band consisting of David and Don Was that created such forgotten songs as “Robot Girl,” “Oh, Mr. Friction,” and, I’m not kidding, six different songs that include the word “freak.”  “Walk the Dinosaur” was their opus and they respected it as such by selling it out to any and every movie that had even a tangential connection to dinosaurs.  The Flintstones, Theodore Rex, Dinosaur, Super Mario Brothers, and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs all included the hit in one way or another.  There are many parts about the tune that I enjoy, but far and away my favorite is the blatant disregard for any sort of timeline.  Let’s take a look at the following verse:

It was a night like this forty million years ago

I lit a cigarette, picked up a monkey, start to go

The sun was spitting fire, the sky was blue as ice

I felt a little tired, so I watched 'Miami Vice'

I’d let the reference to a cigarette slide (Addicts, find...a way) but Miami Vice?  Why is that a thing?  But dropping in modern verbiage isn’t just a one off occurrence:

I met you in a cave, you were painting buffalo

I said I'd be your slave, follow wherever you go

That night we split a rattlesnake and danced beneath the stars

You fell asleep, I stayed awake and watched the passing cars

Where did cars come from?  I’m not a songwriter, but I believe that you could probably find another word to rhyme with stars.

One night I dreamed of New York

You and I roasting blue pork

In the Statue of Liberty's torch

Elvis landed in a rocket, rocket, rocket ship

Healed a couple of leapers and disappeared

But where was his beard

I think they gave up by this point, so I’m going to give up making light of it.  I genuinely think I put more work into this article about the song than they put into the lyrics. In closing, go to the Alamo Draft House in Richardson for the movies, get their early because the shorts they find are dumb, but great. - David Allison

anewleafA few months ago, I recommended the latest issue of McSweeney's, which featured sci-fi and mystery stories culled from anthologies edited by Ray Bradbury and Alfred Hitchcock. Thanks to that anthology, I have discovered the joys of reading Jack Ritchie. Mr. Ritchie (I don't know him well enough to call him Jack, with him being dead for 30 years I probably never will) wrote my favorite story in the McSweeney's anthology, "For All the Rude People," a wickedly delightful tale of a man driven to murder by rudeness. His books are out of print and hard to find, but I was lucky enough to find a collection of his stories at Half Price Books. 

Mr. Jack Ritchie's stories are a boon for  anyone who seeks to write stories or tell stories or be involved in stories of any kind. He is a master of economy. He can cover more narrative ground, with more wit and vigor, in 1,000 words than most writers can in an entire novel. And his tone! He tells stories of the highest stakes, stories of blackmail and murder and betrayal, and fills them with dry, sardonic sentences like, "It was another ten minutes before Francis was quite dead," and "He was, of course, referring to the body of my wife." The stories themselves read like crime stories created for The Twilight Zone. Nothing is what it seems, and there's a twist waiting at the end. If you're ever in a used book store and find a collection of Jack Ritchie stories, do yourself a favor and pick it up. You won't be disappointed. If you are disappointed, keep it to yourself. Nobody likes a whiner.  - Ryan Callahan

urlAll things involving David Mitchell and Robert Webb are so jaw-droppingly creative and enjoyable that each deserve their own 1,000 word post. But this week, the thing that I am loving the most from them is Peep Show. At the recommendation of a friend, I watched this British sitcom obsessively in college but only recently rekindled my passion for it. In Peep Show, the camera angle is always from the perspective of a character in the scene. This allows you to get the best possible view of everyone’s reactions to the awkward, petty, immature main characters and roommates, Mark and Jeremy. Mark’s dry cynicism foils Jeremy’s innocent optimism, but both men are horrifyingly relatable at times. In one episode, Mark gets repeatedly bullied by children in his neighborhood. They yell at him, calling him a pedo, as you hear his inner monologue reminding himself, “You’re definitely not a pedo.”  I, myself, avoid jogging by playgrounds in case any bold children decide to call me a fatty as I pass, and I think of that episode every time I do.

When watching, you’ll want to repeat scenes to revisit all the exclamations and facial expressions you missed when laughing the first time around. I have never paused and rewound anything as often as I do when watching Peep Show. Sometimes it’s for a longer scene where Mark decides that leaving a drawing of a swastika on his crush’s desk at work would be funny. Sometimes Jeremy has a mental breakdown and pisses himself. Sometimes it’s just for one, short line (“for better or for worse, the 60’s happened, and now sex is... fine”). But regardless of how absurd it can get, Peep Show is so smartly written and acted that it still feels realistic. The characters, as juvenile and selfish as they are, will grow on you and warm your heart. You’ll laugh when they (frequently) fail, but you’ll still cheer when they win. Waste no time! The entire series is available on Netflix and for free on Hulu.

For more David Mitchell and Robert Webb, watch the phenomenally clever sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look (also free on Hulu). For a quick work/study break, watch clips of David Mitchell being snarky on the game show, Would I Lie to You? - Amanda Hahn

chopped-logo1I'm what the internet folk call a "cord cutter."  I have not had cable for many years.  I'm not always hip to the know on new Comedy Central shows unless they're available online.  I have my mom's HBO Go login and her Netflix, so I'm current on HBO shows, but behind on most everything else.  I have my own Amazon Prime, which I use mostly to stay current with Mad Men.  I'd buy each episode the night after it aired.  Because I'm afraid of the word torrent.  This week I've used my Amazon Prime too much.  I've went on a Chopped spree.  I wake up in the morning and I watch an episode while I get ready.  I watch an episode while I'm winding down for bed.  I have judges that I love (Jeffrey Zakarian, Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli) and I get overly excited if all three of them are on the same episode.   I have judges that I dislike (Amanda "Fartbag" Freitag - I wish I could take the credit for that nickname, bald man that is so awful that I care not to learn his name) that sometimes I feel tempted to end the episode if there is a concentration of bad judges.  I never do.  I am way too invested in the basket ingredients.  I immediately start thinking about what I would make.  I love curve ball ingredients like gummy teeth or cheese doodles, but I prefer a well-balanced basket because I prefer to see good meals come out.  My blood pressure starts rising when it's down to the clock.  Though I'm certain some of the clock closeness is just editing.  I get very upset when someone doesn't get their food on the plate.  My emotions are far too invested into a cooking competition.  I recently watched an episode where all four of the contestants were grandmas.  I cried.  Actual tears touched my cheeks.  I cried watching an episode of Chopped.  Oh boy. - Ashley Bright

What We're Loving: Nazi Hunters, 90's Rap, Awkward Conversations, New Passions

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Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison will improve your life, Ashley Bright shares an inside joke, Ryan Callahan watches a proud man stumble, and Julia Cotton realizes hitting isn't her thing.

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I’m very easily addicted to things, especially entertainment.  I know that if I like something, I’ll jump in with both feet and binge watch it until it’s done (My record is fifteen episodes of LOST in a day) so I tend to be cautious when it comes to wading into the waters of a show I haven’t seen.  So I understand that you may not immediately make time to watch all the things I’ve recommended.  That’s cool. But you need to block off this afternoon and watch Danger 5 immediately and start the rest of your now better life. Danger 5 is an Australian television show that aired in 2012.  The Aussies follow a tv model similar to the BBC, so only six episodes of the program exist.  It’s really difficult to describe the show, but it a 1960s aesthetic and follows a group of Thunderbirds sort of characters as they traverse the Nazi Globe, trying to kill Hitler.  Oh, and in the first scene a team of Nazis, led by a talking dog, pilot a blimp and steal the Eiffel Tower.  It’s absolutely insane, but I love every minute of it. Watch it for free on Hulu. - David Allison

Fear_of_a_black_hatWe all have a movie, book, album, TV show, snack food, what have you, that feels like only you and your friends know about it. It's like a secret clubhouse where you keep all of your inside jokes and in-depth conversations. I was introduced to the movie, Fear of a Black Hat, many years ago by a friend. Last month, I was finally able to obtain my own copy of the DVD. So, I bribed a friend and my roommate with beer to watch it with me. And I remembered just how much I love this movie. First, let's just get it out of the way: yes, it is a mockumentary and yes, it is remarkably similar to This Is Spinal Tap, right down to the group having a history of managers dying instead of drummers. Replace glam rock with early 90s rap and you have Fear of a Black Hat. Nestled in a time after the LA riots and Rodney King's beating, but before hip hop culture was so pervasive in suburbia, 1994 was a year ripe for a rap satire. It pokes fun at Tipper Gore's age of censorship with songs like, "My Peanuts." It tackles topics like racial tension and artistic integrity with songs like "Guerillas in the Midst" and "P.U.S.S. Why?" respectively. The writer/director/star, Rusty Cundieff, went on to direct some of Chappelle's Show and Human Giant, which makes perfect sense with the humor of this movie. So, I've just taught you the secret handshake by telling you about this movie. If you can't find your own copy of this DVD, you just come over to my place; we'll eat popcorn and laugh together because "I am just like you, I'm just a human being." That inside quote will make sense to you after you watch the movie or after you watch the music videos on YouTube. - Ashley Bright

WestWing-Cast_thumb[2]Recently, I introduced my girlfriend to the wonders and joys of The West Wing, (the series, not the actual complex, which is far from Dallas and heavily guarded.) She was hooked immediately, and we've been burning through the series,  two or three episodes a night. This week, we watched my favorite stretch of shows in the entire series: "Gone Quiet," "The Indians in the Lobby," The Women of Qumar," "Barlet for America." When I think of The West Wing, or talk about why I love it, it’s these four episodes from season three that play in my mind. This was the show at its best. “Barlet for America,” the episode where White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer) testifies before congress is, for my money, the greatest hour of television ever written. And right in the middle of this great run of episodes in this great series there stands a comedy scene of sheer brilliance. From “The Indians in the Lobby,” President Jed Bartlet’s (Martin Sheen) call to the Butterball Hotline. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQsvcs9IB8A I love this scene for the essential irony at play: President Bartlet is a brilliant politician who cannot tell a convincing lie, a master orator who stumbles for words when put on the spot. Barlet, as written by Aaron Sorkin, is the smartest guy in the room full of smart guys. In this scene, Sorkin turns the tables, and shows how, when we’re not prepared, even the best and brightest have moments of mental paralysis, how we can say too much and talk ourselves into a corner, or how we can say too little and seem a simple fool. Watching this scene is like listening to Bob Newhart, or reading Jack Handey;  settling in with an old friend who has taught me so much over the years. - Ryan Callahan

Whip ItI don’t care that Ellen Page is gay any more than I care that Greg Proops is straight. I like that dudes play football and I will never burn any of my expensive Lane Bryant bras. My adoration of Whip It does not come from any type of feminist or ‘need for gender equality’ mind set. I like this movie because it is about me falling in love with the Dallas Comedy House . Bliss (Ellen Page) is a begrudged pageant girl who longs for something to be passionate about. She finds fulfillment through the world of roller derby. There is racing. There is punching and kicking. There is blood. There are bruises. She is intrigued and terrified. This will be her new thing .

I watched this movie during a very alone era of my life. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t lonely. It was just that for too long I had been doing everything that other people expected me to do. I didn’t want to anymore. I longed for something to be passionate about.

I did a Google search for ‘dallas roller derby’s’ deciding that I, too, would join a league. I went to a live match and quickly realized, no… I would not be doing that. I am not athletic. I do not like bleeding or being hit, kicked, shoved, hit, tripped, hit, scratched, hit or hit. Also, I cannot roller skate. Still, I was impressed by these women. The thing I was most impressed by, though, was the line outside of the skating rink that wrapped around the building to watch them. I then realized that my heart’s truest desire… is to be seen and adored by droves and droves of people. That night, a Google search for ‘open stage’ led to ‘open mic’. In that search, I found videos of performances at the Dallas Comedy House. There were jokes. There was laughter. There were cheers. There was applause. Sometimes, there was silence. I was intrigued and terrified. This would be my new thing. - Julia Cotton

What We're Loving: Kid Detectives, Inspirational Humans, Dead Men Fighting, British Conversations

CommunityEvery Friday, DCH performers, teachers and students offer their recommendations for things to watch, read, see, hear or experience. This week David Allison suggests a tip to Hulu, Sarah Wyatt spreads the gospel, Ryan Callahan finds stories that keep him up at night, and Nick Scott has his  preconceptions shattered. Thursday night, NBC will air Donald Glover’s last episode of Community. Cue crying montageEven though he’s just thirty years old, Glover has an incredibly diverse career that many comedy fans may not fully be aware of. He’s showed off his ability to rap on Community and under the moniker Childish Gambino. He’s written for 30 Rock, (and provided the occasional cameo). And, along with the Derrick Comedy members DC Peirson and Dominic Dierkes, created a series of fantastic sketches that tackle issues like werewolves in radio stations and Bro Rape.

Mystery TeamI’m going to assume that everyone is watching Community, so my recommendation this week is a great movie called Mystery Team. After hitting it “Internet big” a number of years ago, Derrick Comedy took a step back, pooled their resources and decided to make a movie.  The film follows the story of  three kid detectives that have grown into high schoolers, but refuse to give up their investigative hobby. I love their ability to play the dumbest characters (Peirson plays a trivia braniac, Dierkes a strong man and Glover a master of disguise) in very real situations. Also, it has some great support lent by Jon Daly (Rafflecast and Kroll Show) and Bobby Moynihan (SNL). Moynihan steals every scene he's in. The entire film is fantastic and necessary viewing for comedy fans, especially because it’s free on Hulu. - David Allison

Andy DalyAndy Daly is the funniest guy I know. We’ve never met but I feel like he would be cool with me saying that. You probably know him best from his stint on MADtv back in the day, but he is so much more than that. Andy Daly is killing it in the comedy game. He is everything I aspire to be as an improviser, comedian and human being. He is a great listener, he always follows the fun of a scene, his characters are off the hook and he just seems like a genuinely great person. He has a new show, Review, set to debut on Comedy Central this spring, one day after my birthday. He also has a new podcast, The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project, debuting in February that promises to be truly amazing. This podcast came about because of his amazing characters on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast. Cactus Tony, Chip Gardner and Don Dimello are just a few of his creations that I urge you to do yourself a favor and listen to immediately. I have never laughed so hard by myself than I did while listening to the Cactus Tony episode of Comedy Bang Bang. Daly is also wonderful and underrated as Principal Cutler on Eastbound & Down. I hope this post reaches every corner of the globe because people need to know the comedic gold that is Andy Daly, and I am happy to spread that gospel. Daly is about to blow up, and he would totally be OK with me saying that. - Sarah Wyatt 

McSweeney's 45McSweeney's Quarterly Concern Volume 45: Hitchcock and Bradbury Fight in Heaven is catnip for short-story lovers like me. Inspired by two anthologies—one edited by Alfred Hitchcock, one by Ray Bradbury—which McSweeney's Editor Dave Eggers found at used-book sales, this collection features a fine mix of old sci-fi and mystery/suspense stories, from the obscure but brilliant (Julian May's Dune Roller) to the often-anthologized and brilliant (John Cheever's The Enormous Radio) to the simply brilliant (Franz Kafka's In The Penal Colony). With the exception of new stories from Brian Evenson, China Melville, Benjamin Percy and E. Lily Lu, everything  in this issue was pulled from anthologies edited by Bradbury or Hitchcock in the 1930's, 40's or 50's. Also included, and of particular delight, are the original introductions. Hitchcock's introduction is predictably brief and droll and familiar in tone to his TV intros, while Bradbury's is a hidden little gem, a paean to the revitalizing powers of stories, which offer the reader "that sense of living on the margin of impossibility." Once I opened this compendium of classic tales, I found it nigh impossible to put down, and I continued reading and reading late into the night, repeatedly convincing myself that I could read one more story before bed, just one more. - Ryan Callahan

the_trip_poster01Watching two moderately known British actor/comedians eat a series of meals throughout the English countryside doesn't seem like that great of a concept for a TV show or movie. At least that's what I thought until I saw The Trip. Originally a television mini-series on the BBC, in 2010 it was re-edited into a single feature-length movie for American audiences. The movie stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as exagerrated versions of themselves, hired to travel to multiple fancy restaurants throughout northern England. The two spend most of the meals doing their excellent celebrity impressions and riffing on pop culture, but the movie also explores Coogan's character's inflated sense of self and struggle to be a good father, as well as Brydon's desire to be at home with his family rather than out doing celebrity things. But it's the chemistry between the two that makes the movie/show work.

Outside of perhaps remembering his part as the Director in Tropic Thunder or as the lead role in Hamlet 2, some of you may be hearing of Steve Coogan for the first time recently, as he was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Philomena in this year's Academy Awards. In my list of comedic heroes, Coogan is pretty high up there. I've watched just about everything he's done, including some unfortunate movie choices. Anything featuring his Alan Partridge character is a must watch. All of his talents are on display in The Trip, and it's interesting to see him, even fictionally, comment on his career. Brydon I was only familiar with thanks to Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (also starring Coogan and directed by Michael Winterbottom, who also directed The Trip), but all it took was watching him share one meal with Coogan and I was on board. I would say more about the movie, but it would it would be as entertaining as having someone describe someone's impression or joke later. Better to just watch. And if you can, I highly recommend finding the original BBC show, as much was cut out before releasing it as a film for American audiences. RUNNER UP PICK: The 9/11 Commission Report - Nick Scott