Rob Christensen

What We're Loving: Comeback Stories, Little Lord Legs, Michael McDonald Deep Cuts, DCF14

DCH_what we're loving_3_14_14Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Julia Cotton speaks to the self-loathing narcissist in us all, Ashley Bright needs tiny legs, David Allison makes a That's My Bush reference, and Ryan Callahan shamelessly plugs his own work. 369Dan Harmon is the genius that introduced me to the love of my life, Donald Glover, by creating an awesome show called Community. Around Season 2, I found myself listening to every interview he did and then consuming everything he’d ever created. I could tell that he was a person who absolutely cared about humanity, honesty, harmony, and 'Harmon’. He was clearly a narcissist while simultaneously being very self loathing. It’s a personality combination that can lead one to often feel very isolated, often be misunderstood, and often get fired.

When he was fired from Community, I was heartbroken. I’d become so dependent on his voice that I felt a little more lonely and weirdly… rejected. It was like whoever fired him had also fired me.

Luckily, he began the Harmontown podcast. It is premised as a town hall meeting to plan the founding of a colony of like minded misfits. The question is ‘What do we need to form a functional society?’ The podcast features some improv, made up songs, and freestyle raps (that are clearly performed by a white dude in his 40s that is NOT named Eminem). There are many special guests (Bobcat Goldthwait, Robin Williams, Jon Oliver, Mitchell Hurwitz, frequently Kumail Nanjiani). Around episode 6, it was decided that each show would culminate with a game of Dungeons and Dragons (see Community S2:14). In that episode we are introduced to Spencer Crittenden - an audience member randomly chosen to be Dungeon Master.

Harmontown went on the road and was filmed. It documents Dan’s journey which ultimately leads him right back into the arms of his lost love (Community season 5!). It also chronicles him and his girlfriend going through relationship woes and eventually becoming engaged. Harmon suggests that perhaps the most interesting story is that of Dungeon Master Spencer as he takes an unexpected journey into celebrity.

The documentary really highlights Dan Harmon’s effect on the people who call ourselves “Harmenians”. What we have in common is this feeling of never quite “fitting in” and often feeling misunderstood and rejected. Dan Harmon has shown us how to take those feelings, and fuse them into creativity.

You can check out the trailer here. - Julia Cotton

Nigel-Lindsay-as-Shrek-and-Nigel-Harman-as-Lord-Farquaad-in-Shrek-The-Musical.-Photo-by-Brinkhoff-MögenburgI've had one of those go-go-go weeks, where I didn't make adequate media absorption time for myself. I did watch the True Detective finale, but so did everyone else and their dog. Dogs love Rust Cohle. I watched some more Sopranos, but I dabbled on that topic last week. I did have a Gilmore Girls watching evening with Mr. Terry Catlett. No, I won't be sharing the joys of Stars Hollow with you. In fact, I'm going to use this forum to ask you to share something with me. Let me explain. You may not know this, but TC (Terry Catlett for some of this entry) is a big fan of musicals. After watching Rory move into her dorm at Yale, we watched Shrek on Broadway on Netflix. I can't lie; I didn't really dig it, although there were some very inspiring stage setups. Here's what I did love: TC was absolutely tickled by Lord Farquaad's tiny legs. I had a giggle fit just watching him have a giggle fit. I've tried searching for more big bodies with tiny leg gags, and I've come up with nothing except for some unfortunate real-life body disfigurement. I saw some stuff I can't unsee. So, first, I'm asking for any videos of a similar tiny leg gag so that we can all continue giggling. Be careful on your search; I'm telling you there is stuff out there that will burn onto your eyes. Second, and more importantly, can someone help me make some tiny legs for Terry? I can provide materials and I'll do the legwork (pun!), but I need some help figuring out how to make them functional with bending knees. I should note that I cannot sew. I'm not sure if that's important. - Ashley Bright south-park-the-movie-back-cover-98981I love alliteration! In celebration of that fact, I’m creating “Movie Soundtrack March” to showcase great comedy soundtracks that go underappreciated. The only rule for my weekly pick is that the soundtrack has to mostly be comprised of original music.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are geniuses. You know that. The problem is that they’ve created so many amazing things (South Park, Team America: World Police, Cannibal, Orgazmo, BASEketball, Book of Mormon) people tend to lose track of things. Heck, just by attempting to create a list of their work, I’m sure that I’ll get critiqued because I forgot something random, like That’s my Bush. It happens when two people create such a consistent collection. Because of that, I’m going to highlight my favorite piece that they did, a soundtrack that they don’t get nearly enough respect for; South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.

The movie was the first time that South Park began to receive acclaim as something more than a show that gets by on the shock value of kids not acting like kids and the quality of each musical number was a big reason. For starters, you’ve got “La Resistance” and “Up There,” which are fantastic parodies of “Do you hear the people sing?” (Les Miserables) and “Part of your world” (Little Mermaid) respectively. Next, check out Big Gay Al’s one man show stopper “I’m super” and be reminded that people used to shop at Mervyn’s (And reference it in song!). Still not convinced? Well let me remind you that MICHAEL MCDONALD CREATED AN ORIGINAL SONG FOR THE ALBUM. Midway through the track, he just starts advertising his friend Keith’s car detailing business. Yes, not every track on the album is great, but there are so many gems that it is well worth revisiting. - David Allison

14517_10152631209974056_1575422524_nI'm loving many things the week: The Daniel Bryan angle on RAW Monday, learning that Night Hawk is a non-fictional producer of Salisbury steaks, watching my girlfriend watch Game of Thrones, (What!), but most of all I'm loving the anticipation for The Dallas Comedy Festival. This is my first festival and my first experience with the heightened intensity, the crackling energy in the air, the camaraderie as the DCH team hustles together to get ready. I'd call it the Super Bowl of Comedy, but that would probably get me sued, so I'll call it the SuperWrestlemaniaFinalsCup in Memory of David Von Erich of Comedy to be safe. Man, it really feels like the SuperWrestlemaniaFinalsCup in Memory of David Von Eric of COmedy around here this week! There's so much going on.

The Dallas Observer wrote about out "pretty killer" lineup, (quotes means you aren't bragging,) while the Dallas Voice was struck by the strong bonds formed at DCH.

Jason Hensel and I had the opportunity to speak with some of the talented men and women who will be performing at the festival. If you're a comedy nerd you'll appreciate the many discussions on craft and technique. If you're not a comedy nerd you are clearly in the wrong place and horribly confused. Take a deep breath and back away from your computer.

Comedy nerds, get to know some folks a little better:

- Executive Branch - Saffy Herndon - Gramt Redmond - Christian Hughes - Rob Christemsem - ZOOM! - Susan Messing - And more to come next week!

By the way, I'm still loving Rick Ross. Guys, it might be serious. - Ryan Callahan

DCF14: Rob Christensen

5727836Rob Christensen has lived in Los Angeles for seven years, but he’ll always be an East Coast guy at heart. A multi-talented comedian, writer, and actor, Rob took the time to talk with us while he was packing for a recent gig in New York to discuss LA comedy, the rhythm of performance, and the science of joke writing. Do you consider yourself an LA comic now? Or will you always be an East Coast guy?

LA comic. East Coast guy

What makes an LA comic different from an NY comic?

I cut my teeth in LA. It's a more media-conscious joke-oriented style of comedy. In LA it feels like the business is always watching.

Yet you remain an East Coast guy. Does the pace of life in LA drive you crazy? People seem to lollygag more than in New York.

I've adjusted at this point. I try not to let things bother me and I set my own pace. I'll probably end up back in NYC at some point.

I see from your website that you are a many of many talents - comedian, actor, writer, poet, artists, rapper - first, how do you find the time for all these pursuits, and second, do the different arts influence your stand up , or is each thing a separate sphere?

Standup comes first. Since standup is writing and performing it naturally leads to acting and other forms of writing. I used to battle rap but I'm far out of practice at this point. I couldn't stomach the constant conflict associated with it. I'm not a poet. HA! Maybe one day though. I don't want to limit myself.

How important is rhythm to standup?

My number one note about someone set it that their rhythm is off. Speed, inflection, alliteration, pausing. They're all tools that can make something funny. Sometimes I'll make the word in a punchline rhyme if it works just to add another layer. I'm no master though. I still figure out something new every time I get on stage. I think if you can impersonate a comic then he's probably figured out his rhythm.

You mentioned figuring out something new every time you get on stage. What's the last lesson you learned?

Specifically, I've been trying to tell a joke about a homeless guy sleeping on the street in front of a hotel for dogs. It's true life irony. It's ridiculous. I did it twice and didn't get the laugh I wanted. I went back and changed the order of the words to control how the information inside the joke was given. Last time I got up I got a laugh just by changing around the order of the words. I guess that’s a lesson on the dissemination of information. Funniest thing goes last.

If you don't mind going under hood too much, how did you specifically change the wording?

"…a homeless man, sleeping on the street, in front of a hotel for DOGS" is where it ended up. Originally I mentioned the hotel first and that didn’t work. I flipped it, but said “dog hotel,” and that didn’t work. When I revealed the dog part last it became funny. It added a twist or surprise. When I get the laugh I’ll start tagging it with one-liners. Then I figure out each tag and what order they go in. You can honestly work on jokes forever.

What would you like the audience in Dallas to feel or think after they see your show?

I want them to be happy from laughing. If that happens then I'll be happy from performing and we can all go party together.

See Rob Christensen perform at the Dallas Comedy Festival on Wednesday, March 19th at 9:30. Get your tickets here.