New York City

What We're Loving: The Sports-Comedy Connection, Funeral Planning, Old Virgins, Hard Boils

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison returns with his famous SNL preview, Jonda Robinson knows why there are only one set of footprints, Brittany Smith has some recommendations for your trip back to 2006, and Ryan Callahan is easily upsold. saturdaynightlive-logoSaturday Night Live is back this week, which means it’s time for my semi annual (annual as in yearly, semi as in never before) take on the upcoming season. I really do view each year of SNL like the handful of sporting teams I follow. All offseason long I watch as they release and acquire talent, hoping for the big move that puts them over the top and back to relevance. Also, like a sports fan, go into each year with the blind optimism that this year will be better, before watching my expectations crash back to Earth by Thanksgiving.

Here’s why I’m excited (Bullet pointed lists lead to maximum excitement!):

  • Cast reduction.
    • Fewer players means more stage time for those that remain, which means that we’ll actually get to see their talents this year.
  • Michael Che to Weekend Update.
    • Fantastic writer and proved on The Daily Show that he’ll be fantastic behind the desk
    • His move also removed Cecily Strong from Update. I didn’t mind her, but I like what I’ve seen out of Che better and think that she was better in her first season when simply concentrated on sketches.
  • Streeter Seidel added to the writing staff
  • Fortieth Anniversary
    • It has to be good if it’s an anniversary season, right?

- David Allison

secondcity_grandmasrecordsI have to admit that I don’t use Twitter as effectively as I could. I often forget to look at it, then I become overwhelmed at all the tweets I have missed, then I scroll to the most current ones, causing myself to pass over a lot of 140-character gems. Fortunately this week, even though I probably missed out on a lot of important world news, I didn’t miss out on Aidy Bryant (@aidybryant) sharing one of her favorite scenes from the Second City archives.

The sketch is called “Grandma’s Records,” and while I had read it before, I’d never seen it performed. The set-up is that Mother Superior, beloved nun and music lover, has passed away. Her friends are preparing for her funeral and hope to find a suitable record from her collection to play at the service. As with most things in sketch comedy and life in general, there are some hiccups along the path to completing this task. Seeing it performed brought new life to it for me, and there are some specific things to watch out for:

  1. Rachel Dratch’s retelling of the “Footprints” story is fantastic, and it’s the only way I ever want to hear that story again. Also, it reminded me that my own grandma had this story hanging up in her house for most of my life.
  2. Scott Adsit’s physicality in the scene is great, and watching him react to the songs on the records makes them that much funnier.
  3. The songs themselves will make you laugh, and one will even change your perspective on Herbert Hoover’s “chicken in every pot” promise.

In case you’re still on the fence about whether you should watch it or not, I’ll tell you that Tina Fey plays guitar in it. If you can say no to laughter and Tina Fey, you’re a stronger person than I am. - Jonda Robinson

ElizabethOn a weird whim Saturday night I found myself watching the HBO Miniseries from 2006, Elizabeth I. The drama puts Helen Mirren at the height of her Helen Mirren-est, playing the Virgin Queen, being sassy, and hooking up with dudes 30 years her junior. Basically fulfilling all of my fantasies for post-menopausal life.

The show follows the queen in the later years of her life still trying to find an advantageous suitor in order to keep England as a European superpower. What makes this difficult though, is the love she has for her long-time staffer, the Earl of Leicester. Since she cannot marry him as he is but a commoner, she does what so many of us have foolishly done and asks that they remain friends. Now, I don’t care who you are, beloved sovereign of the most powerful country in the world or not, you can’t be just friends with the person you wanna bone. Then, the Earl dies and his adorably shaggy haired son, (Hugh Dancy), takes his place as the queen’s confidante. Eventually he too falls for the queen, but once again, because he is not royal, the queen will not marry him. He then proceeds to knock up one of her hand maidens and the queen pulls the pimp move of blessing their marriage, only on the condition that Hugh Dancy is still allowed to hook up with the queen. Baller. Status.

If none of this is enticing enough, you also see a young Eddie Redmayne sporting Jersey Shore-level terrible extensions and the queen constantly referring to herself as “we”. So run, don’t walk, to your stolen HBOGo account to watch an 8 year old show about a woman who died 400 years ago. - Brittany Smith

StrandBooks800My sojourn in New York continues. Last week, I covered two of my favorite things to do in the city: Walk and Eat. This week, I'm still loving both activities (in fact, I had a pizza called a "Fraggle Rock" from Roberta's the other night at Madison Square Eats. Mozzarella, ricotta, squash, cranberries. Have you ever wanted to marry a pizza? Because I wanted to marry this pizza), and I have added a third favorite New York activity: Book Shopping.

My nights have been largely free over this past week, leaving me much time to walk around the city and enjoy the many book stores. Over the past few nights I have been able to visit two of my favorite book stores: Strand Bookstore and Mast Books. Strand reminds me of the Half Price Books super store off Northwest Highway, except that the stickers they place on the books come off easily and the staff has no interest in helping you at all. Seriously, every time I have asked someone for help in that bookstore, they respond with a combination of anger and panic, like I'm interrupting them right as they were about to hide a corpse. But The Stand is worth it for the treasures. They have more books about presidents than you can even imagine. And I'm sure you can imagine a lot of books about presidents. (The previous sentence was directed to Ryan Goldsberry.) I could spend several hours in the basement looking through the racks of essays, letters, and biographies. That's not an exaggeration. That's what I did on Tuesday.

From the outside, Mast Books looks like a little museum. On the inside, they have a lot of art books and photography books and used books that cater to the East Village crowd (Bukowski, Fante, Vonnegut). They also have the coolest little collection of crime novels. The other night I found some Black Lizard paperbacks from the 80's that were re-issues of books from the 50's, forgotten hard-boiled works with titles like Bury My Grave Deep and Kill The Boss Good-By. At the register, the cashier pointed out a stack of similar books she had yet to shelve. The stack contained several books by Charles Willeford.  I bought those books. She must have seen me coming a mile away. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Calories, Creativity, Love Not Meant To Be, Donut Metaphors

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Ryan Callahan goes first,  Jonda Robinson celebrates the creative process, Brittany Smith loves trash, and David Allison takes a walk in another man's shoes.  nycskyline6A rather our-of-the-blue job offer led to a sudden work trip to New York City this week. Now that I'm here, I get to do two of my favorite things: walk around the city and eat. I don't get many chances to walk around in Dallas, unless it is to my car or from my car or between DCH and Uncle Uber's. In New York I walk everywhere. And I get to see all the sights: crazy people talking to no one, crazy people talking to people who aren't listening, people in suits, young college kids walking in packs and pretending to be Vinnie Chase, and couples fighting. I've been here two nights and I've spent both of them walking aimlessly around the city and people watching.

With all this walking I work up quite an appetite. In the past two days alone, I have eaten FIVE slices of pizza, two from Two Boots, two from a tourist trap named "Taste of Little Italy" and one that cost only 99 cents. The 99 cent slice was the best. I've also managed to eat a schnitzel sandwich and three delicious risotto balls from the Arancini Bros booth at Madison Square Eats. Oh, and on a scout yesterday the owner of a restaurant would not let me leave without eating some of his veal meatballs and homemade garlic bread. Little did he know he was playing right into my plan. (For the record, my plan is "eat whenever possible.")

I still haven't had time to visit the Red Hook Lobster Pound for one of their Connecticut style lobster rolls. (Warm, fresh lobster meat piled on a toasted hot dog bun and covered with melted butter) but they, too, have a booth at Madison Square Eats. It's only a matter of time.

If you ever happen to find yourself in New York in the fall, or really any time, I suggest walking everywhere. You'll save money on cab fare, you'll get exercise, and you'll stumble across some extraordinary eateries you won't find anywhere else. Join me again next week, when I'm probably going to write about Strand Boos Store.  - Ryan Callahan

10649706_754258354815_8449199643302227645_nI believe that we’re all programmed to create. It’s why three-year-olds make Crayola masterpieces, why musicians pen lyrics and pair them with music, why chefs cook up masterpiece dishes...etc., etc. Recently, I had the chance to help create something that didn’t exist before with my Level Three Sketch Class at Dallas Comedy House. They are an absolutely fantastic group of people, so indulge me this week as I express my love for my sketch mates and the sketch baby that we created, a show called Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations.

When we began the task of creating this show, we started out with a discussion of what was going on in each of our lives. As usually occurs in life and through comedy, we found out that hey, we’re not all that different! We had some of the same issues, questions, and ideas and that we were grappling with in life, and we went from there on our journey. Our writing room became a safe place to write commentary on real issues, propose seemingly silly ideas, and collaboratively put together the pieces of our sketch puzzle without fear of being laughed at--only laughed with--which lead us to some fun, crazy places that we never would’ve arrived at on our own.

So maybe this post seems like a shameless plug, and maybe it is. I’m definitely not going to discourage you from coming to our sketch show this upcoming Thursday night at 8:00 pm at Dallas Comedy House (click here for tickets). We’d seriously love to have you. Even more than that, though, I encourage you to figure out whatever your creative outlet is and put yourself out there to pursue it and work with others on it. If you’re anything like me, it’ll be good for your mind and soul, and you’ll probably even have some fun along the way. - Jonda Robinson

guilty_detective_story_196003I recently found out that a friend of mine is moving to another city, so in his memory, I wanted to invest time into taking in something that he enjoys. This week I’m loving crime stories! But I didn’t want to buy anything, invest too much time, listen to a dumb audiobook or put much effort in at all. With these constraints in mind, I searched Google for “crime short story,” hoping that I would find at least one. 0.39 seconds later, I was staring at 84,100,000 results. Finally, a break in the case!

The short story, “Death By Scrabble,” was fresh, like the wet glaze on a new batch of Krispy Kremes. I stared down the tale, making i contact with it’s many vowels. There I found an innocence, a cheery disposition one doesn’t normally find on the pages of a website obviously created from a template.

As I worked my way through it’s paragraphs, I began to realize that I might be the only person on the internet currently reading this story. I looked left. I looked right. Nothing. It was just me and this tale, like a protagonist and an antagonist in an alley just before the denouement.

The tale ended and I sat there, confused. What had I just read? Throughout the entire piece there was no robbery, murder, not a dastardly deed in sight. Like any good detective, I retraced my steps and realized that I simply clicked on the number one short story, not the number one  crime short story. Thwarted again. - David Allison

Love PrisonI should start this off with a disclaimer: I’m not a gutter person, I just like gutter people things. I eat McDonald’s twice a week and I keep up with the Kardashians, I’m a kid from the ‘burbs through and through. This is what led me to A&E’s new social experiment, Love Prison. Love Prison is the beautifully unholy marriage of Catfish and Orange is the New Black; it takes people who have been flirting online and sticks them in a house for a week without connection to the outside world.

On this week’s episode we meet Rosie and Chris who have been talking online for two years. To understand the type of girl Rosie is, imagine 99% of the women you see in Uptown. Rosie mentions three  times in the first fifteen minutes of the show that Chris is not the type of guy she normally goes for, in that he probably doesn’t have an HGH dealer. To put a finer point on it she adds that not being into fitness is a “deal-breaker” for her. Another deal-breaker for Rosie came when she had to retrieve her own salad dressing from the table during their first dinner. (The nerve of Chris to think she could reach it!)

For Chris, the deal-breaker came when he learned that Rosie had been dating two other men while they had been talking whereas he had been saving himself for her and had been “unconsciously waiting for her before they started talking”. Chris then doubles down on the crazy by calling his mom right after their first kiss, tells her about said kiss and then proclaims that Rosie is the “kind of woman he’d like to bring home."

These people are garbage and this show is garbage, but one man’s trash is this girl’s treasure. - Brittany Smith