Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving Year-End Spectacular (Part Two)

We've loved many things this year - books, movies, tv shows, websites, people - but these things we loved the A-Number One Best. U-Talkin-U2-to-Me-HiIn 2014, my favorite thing in comedy was the Dallas Comedy House. No doubt about it. But since this blog belongs to them, it would make me feel like a total sell out if I just wrote about how much I love that place. AND I’M NOT A SELL OUT. I streamed a Dead Kennedy’s album this week!

What I’ve loved this year more than anything else has been the Earwolf podcast U Talkin’ U2 To Me? Somehow, I didn’t write about this show once in any of my fifty (I’m the Takashi Miike of What We’re Loving) entries into this blog in 2014. That changes today.

U Talkin’ U2 To Me? is a podcast with a simple premise; Scott (Aukerman of Comedy Bang Bang) and Scott (Adam Scott of Parks & Rec and Party Down) sit down to discuss the work of the band U2. Originally, they were going to record the show for a month or two in advance of the release of the 2014 U2 album, but when it was delayed for months they decided to keep recording. And they created some of my favorite audio I’ve ever heard.

The lesson that I’ve drawn from U Talkin’ U2 To Me? is something that I’m going to try and apply to my work even more in 2015. Their show is technically really bad. They don’t stay on point, they record in the middle of the night so they’re delusional, and with the work schedule that both of them have, they are usually exhausted. The thing that makes their show special is that you can tell they legitimately love what they’re doing. There are so many important elements to performance but they’re all pretty meaningless if you don’t have fun and enjoy it. This podcast reminded me of that and thus, was something that I truly loved this year. - David Allison

images2014 is almost over you guys! How excited are you to just end this mess and start fresh in 2015? Personally, this year has been crazy trying for me. Between family issues and life smacking the crap out of me; emotionally I am drained and January 1 cannot come fast enough. Despite it all though I’ve had some pretty fun experiences and learned some junk about myself.

So this post of “What We’re Loving in 2014” is completely about me. Yup! All me, me, me.

Growing up I was never much of talker. If I ever had to get serious about something I would just write it out in order to avoid the awkward conversation. Talking sucked. Back then writing came easy and that was my outlet. That was because I wasn't aware of the rules of writing. Honestly, I am still unaware of the rules of writing. I often joke around and ask real writers what an adverb or adjective is and I always get a good chuckle from it. But seriously, what are they? I have no clue. It is in my complete ignorance that I find myself most proud.

I didn’t start writing articles and blog pieces until this year because I was embarrassed by my lack of skill and knowledge. I just didn't want anyone to see me as not all that smart or funny. Mainly the latter. Don’t get me wrong, as a actor and a comic I’ve written plenty of things but they were and are more of a ramble than a structured piece. It wasn't until my friend DeAndre decided to start his own blog driven website that I considered writing. He asked all of my friend if we wanted to write and being the supportive person I am I said sure. Did I mention my lack of basic knowledge in the rules of writing? Well, after months of stalling and all my friends writing awesome pieces about various topics I bite the bullet and wrote a fun piece about Girl Meets World - that is sequel to Boy Meets World that follows Cory and Topanga’s daughter Riley. (By the way, the show is terrible. Save yourself and your childhood memories by not watching it) Needless to say I was extremely scared to submit that piece for fear of what the person editing my little article would say. In fact, below is the warning I placed at the beginnning of the article to absorb any potential judgement:

Hey so before you make this bleed with your red pen there are a couple things you should know. I am not a writer and I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m just a girl who is sometimes funny, hears voices in her head, and thinks it’d be interesting to write out the conversation they have. Please don’t jugde me too hard.

Yup. All that lovely insecurity came directly from me. Truth is I’m extremely insecure about everything. Why else would I want to be an actor? Submitting any sort of work for other to read or view is terrifying to me so the fact that I do this for a living is pretty scary. I don’t like talking to people after shows and I feel like I’m being a jerk imposing my thoughts and ideas on random strangers. In my heart of hearts and deep down in my cold cold heart I know that is not true but who listens to the voice of reason? Ultimately, I just want people to like me and the crazy things I have to say.

What I discovered that I love this year is my courage. Like I said, I’m terrified of everything and that one silly little article showed me that its okay actual try something and put yourself there. You see I don’t know what I’m doing and I okay with that. I think that is what makes this whole writing thing that much more fun. Since my Girl Meets World review, I’ve writing a bunch of stuff including some fun bloggy pieces for the world famous Dallas Comedy House. You may have heard of it. It’s important for me to mention a couple of things about my new found courage though

1) I will still never ride a rollercoaster. 2) Yes I’m still super insecure but at least now I can deal with it. 3) Make like Nike and Just Do it. You never know what you’re awesome at. 4) I still have no clue what an adjective is and I don’t care anymore either.

- Rachel Hall

20141125_RawGOTN_articleMy favorite thing about 2014 was Concessions Kane. I thought it was a funny idea and it made me laugh. - Mike Corbett

 

 

 

 

personalgrowthFor me, 2014 was a year of tremendous growth – of facing discomfort and stepping outside my comfort zone to grow as a person. There were plenty of tears, heartbreak, and misery in 2014 for me, as tends to the be case in life. However, there was even more laughter, joy and friendship throughout the year.

A lot of times we feel like growth has to come dramatically, from some stirring New Year's resolution to hit the gym for two  hours a day. We slink into feelings of failure when such grandiose dreams fail to come true. I’ve learned that it takes no such lofty ambitions to achieve great rewards. Seven years ago as a High School senior, I had to eat lunch in the bathroom because I was too terrified of people to actually sit in the Cafeteria. Even though I’ve come a long way, getting to know so many people at DCH was still a daunting task.

My growth came in small moments – sometimes doing something uncomfortable in improv and getting to know classmates and troupemates. More often, it came from deciding that I needed to hang around the bar at DCH and make myself talk to people, despite the utter discomfort and initial hours spent lurking in the corner trying to pretend I was texting someone on my phone. I would rather have gone home and played Assassin’s Creed from the comfort of my couch, but that wouldn’t help me grow as a person. So I stayed, endured the awkwardness, and somehow managed to not only feel comfortable around lots of people, but to make amazing friends and enjoy myself. I’m so thankful for the opportunities that were given to me, and I intend to make the most of them! I forced myself out there, and eventually....slowly....it paid off! – Ryan Vicksell

american-music-pop-music-collage-2014In the year 2014, I became a year older. My legs, my arms, my lungs, my brains, etc. all became a year older. That is no surprise, of course, but the one thing that is really shocking is that my musical taste in 2014 became much younger. So, what happened? Well, if you are like me, then the music that you were loving in 2014 was fresh and alive and brimming with……youth!

This is the year that Lenny Kravitz released a CD that never charted in the US, Green Day put out a collection of “greatest hits” that no one wanted, and U2 gave every iTunes customer a free album, which we promptly complained about and deleted from our libraries. Instead we bowed at the throne of Lorde, tickled our “Fancy” with Iggy Azalea, and were “All About That Bass” with Meghan Trainor. I literally own sweatshirts older that all of them, yet they have somehow managed to craft music that is sticking with me far better than many of the heroes of my past these days. Heck, the band whose sound that I am crushing hard on right now are the “Cool Kids” of Echosmith…….and two of them are still in HIGH SCHOOL!

It took a little getting used to, especially when I attended The Neighborhood’s show this summer and realized that I could possibly be the oldest person in attendance not chaperoning a child. Slowly but surely this year’s catchy hooks infiltrate your brain, however, and eventually grab a hold of your heart. American Authors are there to make sure I have the “Best Day of My Life. “I Wanna Get Better” thanks to Bleachers and Fall Out Boy inspires me to rise like “The Phoenix” and aspire to be known for “Centuries”. Suddenly those old limbs seem revived and able to run longer when attached to an iPod full of 2014’s glorious earworms.

I don’t know what 2015 has in store, but if it sounds anything like 2014, then I am all ears. - Glen Smith

1505644_10152390427495350_581480141263445905_nReview on Comedy Central was the best TV show I saw all year, Guardians of the Galaxy was the best movie, and Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely was my favorite read of the year, but the one thing I love over and above everything else was the Dallas Comedy House. I'm not afraid to be a sell out.

I started taking classes here at DCH in October of last year. A year ago around this time I had my Level One Showcase with a little group known as Canadian Tuxedo. Never in my life has I felt such joy. I came to DCH expecting to find a whole bunch of comedy nerds who were bitter and judgmental and mocked me for being so sweaty. Instead I found a whole bunch of cool people who were creative and fun and welcoming. Over the past year I moved through the levels of improv and sketch, joined a few improv troupes, collaborated on some sketch shows, and made some of the best friends I've ever had. For the first time in a long time I found a place were I felt like I belonged. For the first time in a long time I found a place where I could be myself.

The past few months took me away from Dallas and way from the Comedy House. I miss it every day. Right now I'm working at what is essentially my dream job. There's no way I would be here if not for DCH. There's no way I get this job without saying "Yes, and" to life. There's no way I can even do this job without the ability to dive into writing a scene or a sketch and write improvisationally. My 2014 was spent largely at DCH. I was creatively transformed; rebuilt and made better, as a writer, as a performer, and as a person.

Thanks to everyone at DCH who made this past year so wonderful. I'd thank people by name, and highlight their awesomeness, but I'd inevitably leave someone out and Mike Maiella would get mad at me. (In this scenario, Mike is the one I leave out. And we all know how he gets when he's riled up.) But I really couldn't end this without saying to the assembled members of Canadian Tuxedo, Johnny Soso, H.A.M.F.I.S.T., Chili's to Go, our Level Five Class Whose Troupe Name I Forgot, Finale, Primary Colours, Duck Duck Pants, Awkward Silence, Neapolitan, Sketch One, Sketch Two, Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations, and the assembled cast and crew of The Investment, The Theft, and Boost!, I love you all and miss you all so much. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Aural Pleasures, Pleasant Surprises, Overwhelming Choices

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison drops science, Jonda Robinson makes a shocking admission, Rachel Hall can hear words, and Ryan Callahan sets a hook for next week. radio dial with lightsWell my name’s rapping David And I’m here to say I like listening to rap music on the radio like e-ver-y day

Oh, didn’t see you there! Sorry about that, I was just trying out the new skills I’ve earned after listening to rap on the radio for the last week and a half. For all you uncool listeners still checking out “rock and snore” music on the other stations, let me tell you about the awesome music of 93.3 and 94.5. What they do is take a fresh beat, lay down an informal poem, and voila, rap music!

Radio stations 93.3 and 94.5 changed their programming on 11/15 to exclusively play hip hop from the nineties, aughts, and today. Obviously hip hop stations have been around forever, but this is the first one that I’ve seen that combines the nostalgic fun of listening to songs from your childhood and rap. I’d highly recommend giving the station a listen.

So next time you’re in a car check out rap music it’ll take you far- away from here back in time to a yesteryear so just to recap my name’s David I like to rap and realize nothing rhymes with David - David Allison

bb9271ceee885807c899b0a98b406f3b[1]I’m about to use a phrase I don’t get to use very often as of late: I really enjoyed the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live. This season has been a little rough, but I faithfully tune in, like a sports fan who knows her team will probably blow the game but watches anyway, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Well, this past Saturday the team at SNL pulled out a win in my book with their Thanksgiving episode, featuring Cameron Diaz as host and musical guests Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.

First of all, anytime Lil’ Baby Aidy is on the scene, I know I’m going to enjoy it. She and her girls were back with “Back Home Ballers,” touching on all the perks of coming home for the holidays--having access to a stocked fridge because your mom went to Costco, doing a load of laundry for just one sock, and your mom putting out “bowls, bowls, all type of bowls.” My favorite part is when Aidy has to deal with the neighborhood paparazzi and make small talk with Jean, because her reaction is about the same as mine in that situation.

Another highlight for me was the “High School Theater Show,” and I can’t even really explain why. Maybe it was the fact that it reminded me of the seriousness with which I took not-so-serious things in high school. Maybe it was the biting commentary on the death of Main Street, censorship, and our addiction to social media. Or maybe, just maybe, it was all those boxes. Either way, it made me laugh, and I enjoyed seeing so many members of the cast on stage together.

I enjoyed a lot of other parts of the show as well--the "School House Rock" cold open, Kate Mckinnon’s Angela Merkel on Weekend Update, Kenan’s poetry interpretation of Friends, the Night Murmurs ladies, and the always entertaining Bruno Mars. If you haven’t been checking out SNL lately, I’d recommend you give this one a chance. - Jonda Robinson

Innovo_Audio[1]Growing up I was always very voracious reader. Getting me to read was never an issue for my parents. I always read above my reading level, and by the time I was in seventh grade I had already Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Twice. Not to brag (even though I totally am) but I was incredibly smart. My parents never forced me to read so I’m not sure what fueled my adolescent love of hard books and libraries but I think I’ve narrowed it down to two extremely important moments in my life.

1) Watching I Love Lucy for the very time as a kid. The very first episode of Lucy I ever saw was “Lucy thinks Ricky is trying to murder her.” In this episode, Lucy is captivated by the murderous novel she is currently reading. She gets so caught up in the book that her reality becomes distorted causing her to believe that Ricky is trying to kill her. Being that into a piece of literature, minus the part where you think your husband is going to kill you, is pretty awesome. If you haven't seen this episode immediately drop what you're doing and do so; or stop being my friend.

2) I really wanted to be a lawyer. Again, I have no clue why but it even at the tender age of four I knew being a backup dancer for MC Hammer probably wasn't going to happen.

Unfortunately around the time I became a teenager, joined the band, discovered Saturday Night Live, and realized that the no one would ever love me the way the Backstreet Boys would, reading fell by the wayside. In fact, if someone told to read a cool article in whatever girl magazine was popular in the late 90s or early 2000s , I would proudly proclaim I didn't know how to read. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read a few since then but it’s definitely not something I make a habit of. I am not proud this at all. I’ve admired those with bookshelves full of worn books due to the amount of times their owner has read them. My bookshelves are just full of DVDs, vinyl records, and textbooks from school. Not cool.

This would have remained true if it wasn't for a very late, but oh so on time, discovery. Books on tape. Where have they been all my life? For the record, I know audio books have been around for quite some time; I just never paid it any attention. Books on tape have shown themselves to be the greatest invention since the scrunchie. Yes, I believe the scrunchie is up there with wheel, fire, and the stoplight. If you’re a girl/boy who has long hair, has ever had long hair, or a man with daughters, you will agree with me. Books on tape are the equivalent to that strange piece of advice you get from an uncle but always brushed off until something big happens and you realize he was right.

Who came up with this beautiful idea? Does he or she have a Pulitzer or whatever other great literature awards there are yet? They should. It is because of this super hero of knowledge that I have “read” the most amount of the books ever. Literally, I feel like I have listened/read so many books right now that I could successfully take down Ken Jennings in double Jeopardy. Three-to-five collective hours of listening to someone read to you throughout your drive to work, getting ready for the day, or preparing for sleep and you’re done. This is amazing. Never again do you have to worry about having the proper lighting or your eyes getting tired. Audio books are the answer. Now all I have to do is buy the actual book to place on my bookshelf. That way I’ll have a visual representation of how learned I am. - Rachel Hall

100bullets[1]Choosing only one thing to love this week is simply beyond my abilities. There are too many entertainments pulling at my heart. The penultimate episode of Sons of Anarchy was so good that I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat. Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice beguiles me with its flaky charm and barrage of jokes,. The comic book adaptation of Frank Miller's Robocop 2 screenplay has kept me company on a few cold New England nights. A visit back home for Thanksgiving rekindled a passion for Azzarello and Risso's 100 Bullets and led me to their other works, like Spaceman and Jonny Double. To praise one would be to slight the others.

December also brings the annual tradition of best of lists. Also know as "Hey, Ryan, here's a bunch of stuff to buy. Immediately. Why are you waiting?" These lists often serve to remind me of all the great things I've read and watched this year, while simultaneously shaming me for not having watched or read everything that someone might be considered good. You know, in case someone mentions a book or movie at a party and they ask what I thought of it, and I have to say I don't know of it, like a idiot. I live my life to avoid moments like that. Not-knowing is the worst. I can only assume you live the same way. That's why, starting next week, and for the rest of the year, What We're Loving will take a look back at 2014. Hopefully we cover all the bases of goodness so you won't be left feeling like an idiot on New Year's Eve because you never heard of Elect H. Mouse  State Judge. - Ryan Callahan

 

What We're Loving: Archive Obsession, Target Exclusives, Winter Weather, Fake Real News

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison thinks he's better than you, Jonda Robinson has her spandex ready, Rachel Hall drops some truth for men , and Ryan Callahan steps in a pile of Sorkin. Original_New_Yorker_coverThis week I’m loving something that I’m embarrassed to share. Embarrassment is a very difficult emotion for me to feel, because I unabashedly love most pieces of pop culture for which others hide their adoration. The inspiration for this feeling comes from the fear of coming off like an elitist asshole, so before you continue, please remember that I am one of you and not a snob. Do you forgive me? I need to know that you do and that you won’t judge me before I share it. Promise? Promise me! OK. This week I’ve spent a lot of time reading the archives of The New Yorker. The reason I’ve waded through the backlogs of such a fancy publication isn’t to find black-and-white pictures of interpretive dance, instead the goal of the dig was to find every single thing that my new favorite writer, Simon Rich, has ever created. And it was worth the effort because he is phenomenal humorist.

Simon Rich has the cliche resume for a great comedic writer: he once worked at Saturday Night Live and was president of the Harvard Lampoon. You can check out the archive of his creative writing for the New Yorker here, but before you click the link, prepare to lose the rest of your afternoon. Rich does an amazing job of creating realistic outcomes from an absurd premise. The best example of this talent is seen in "Guy Walks Into A Bar," which is an amazing continuation to what happens after a standard guy-walks-into-a-bar joke comes to an end.

So do yourself a favor and check out the writing of Simon Rich, partially so you can enjoy his work, but mostly because I don’t want to be the only one obsessively searching through The New Yorker’s website. - David Allison

taylor-swift-1989-deluxe-album-coverYes, I do own Taylor Swift’s newest album, 1989. Yes, I did buy it the day it came out. Yes, I did go to Target so I could get the deluxe album with bonus tracks. So what? Listening to T-Swift bumpin’ and blarin’ through the Bose system in my sweet sedan makes me feel like I’m hanging out at a super wholesome club—which, if you know me at all, if “wholesome nightclubs” were a thing, I’d be there, sporting a cardigan and dancing awkwardly to “Blank Space” while it plays at a level that is both respectful and responsible.

Don’t worry—1989 is not what I’m here to talk about this week. The thing I want to present to you, in case you haven’t enjoyed it yet, is the aerobics video that pairs perfectly with the first single off the album, “Shake It Off.” If you’re in a bad mood, watch this. The outfits! The moves! The happy, fit people! They’ll get your endorphins going by just watching them shake it off.

If anyone wants to collect enough people and spandex to re-enact this, I’m in. All in. -  Jonda Robinson

wintersocksThe temperature today and for the rest of week is set to be in the mid 40s. Nothing to rejoice over for northerners, but here in Texas it means two extremely important things: 1) Finally a season other than summer has begun, and 2) ladies can stop shaving their legs.

That’s right, it is officially the most wonderful time of year. Sorry to break it to you guys, but us woman folk look forward to this all year long. The summer months are very unforgiving, and as women, we are constantly reminded to look beach ready. That means sun-kissed skin, fresh out the water hair, and shaved legs. But who needs those things when it’s 50 degrees outside? NOT I SAID THE FLY. The fall and winter months bring so many options for the unshaved leg. Boots of all heights, tall schoolgirl socks, maxi skirts and dresses, and oversized everything are all on trend for the upcoming months. Fashion camouflage for those who may be scared of looking frumpy is a thing so go out and explore your favorite stores because you have options.

This is our time. Whether you are single, dating, or married, know that you’ve worked hard this year making sure your legs were looking great and now nature is telling us to take a shave-cation. Retire that razor, because that’s why God invented tights! No more need in feeling self conscious because you forgot to shave one day; take solace in the fact that the only thing you have to maintain are your eyebrows. You deserve this. TREAT YO’ SELF! - Rachel Hall

newsroom3Two years ago I gave The Newsroom a chance, mostly due to my undying love for The West Wing. I did not like what I saw. The show was the worst of Sorkin: excessive pratfalls, smugness, and the belief that smart people show their smarts by speaking in lists. One scene in particular, which featured Jeff Daniels and his news team discussing the jersey scene in Rudy, so irked me that I took to Twitter to ask if Aaron Sorkin has ever spoken to real people or been in a room with real people or watched real people from across the street. You could say this particular scene struck me as phony.

Then the other day a TV blog I read praised the first episode of the new season. I'm nothing if not suggestible, so I gave the show another shot. The third season premiere was quite good. Good enough that I decided to go back to the beginning and give the show a chance. I watched the first season over the past two nights and have already finished the first two episodes of the second season.

Either time has been kind to the show or I have mellowed over the past two years. I found the show fun, witty, and full of all kinds of good Sorkin bits, like people being really sarcastic and people being really honest about their flaws. And it has Sam Waterston, and Sam Waterston is probably the best person ever. Sure, there's still all kinds of bad Sorkin, like the casual misogyny, the romantic subplots that no one could possibly care about, and the sudden tonal shifts. But when the show is good, it is very good, in a very West Wing kind of way. The Osama Bin Laden episode and the Gabrielle Giffords episode in particular got me all choked up. And the Rudy scene wasn't as bad as I remembered either. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Disfigured Narrators, Success Waffles, Interstellar Misleads

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Ryan Callahan is superficial, Jonda Robinson believes in waffles, and David Allison aims for the stars.  imgresWolf in White Van by John Darnielle is a book I judged by its cover. Okay, it wasn't solely the cover; I read the inside flap of the dust jacket and the blurbs on the back. but the half-hypnotizing-half-headache-inducing cover sold me on the book more than anything else. The cover was like a Magic Eye painting. It pulled me in with the promise of worlds hidden in plain sight.

Wolf in White Van delivered on that promise. But. unlike a Magic Eye, which reveals a schooner or Micky Mouse, Wolf in White Van creates a world that, when squinted at, reveals an entire world hidden in plain sight: a desolated wasteland where everyone is alone and the only options are go forward or die, where the game never ends, and where our goals and dreams will forever be out of reach. The book takes place entirely inside the head of Sean Phillips, the creator of a mail-order role-playing game who lives primarily in seclusion due to an accident as a teenager, which left him horribly disfigured.

Wolf in White Van has no plot. Sean's narration jumps between the past and the present, between the game he created and the real world, all a series of overlapping memories. Through the memories, more information is revealed. We learn more about Sean, his game Trace Italian, the terrible accident that led to his creation of Trace Italian, and the terrible accident his game caused. The novel is dark and beautiful, full of evocative sentences and well-observed moments between a young man and his parents.

John Darnielle is apparently a well-known musician, the vocalist for the band the Mountain Goats. I knew nothing of his work prior to picking up his book. But now I'll have to listen to all of it. Or buy all of it, listen to one song, tell myself I'll listen to the rest someday, and move on to another interest. - Ryan Callahan

imgresWhat do you believe in? Yeah, this just got deep. The reason I pose this question to you is because it’s a question I’ve recently asked my eighth grade students. We’ve spent the past week studying up on what others believe and figuring out how to pick and portray an idea that we really believe in. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time checking out what other people believe at www.thisibelieve.org.

The website belongs to This I Believe, Inc, a “not-for-profit organization that engages youth and adults from all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing brief essays about the core values that guide their daily lives.” Based on a radio program that ran in the 1950s and was hosted by Edward R. Murrow, it’s a place where individuals can publish essays explaining their beliefs on a topic, with the end goal being to encourage people to have a respect for the beliefs of others. When I was browsing the site, I decided to check out the “humor & laughter” section, because hey, I like humor! I like laughter! I was not disappointed when I stumbled upon an essay entitled “Give Me a Waffle,” because waffles are delicious and a great way to celebrate successes, deal with whatever is going on in life, or distract your friends when needed.

The website features thousands of essays on a variety of topics, ranging from everyday people talking about courage to Albert Einstein explaining his belief that we should put service to others above our own gain. Check it out, and maybe you’ll feel inspired to let the world in on something that you believe. - Jonda Robinson

lsff-logoThis week, I’m loving the ol’ silver screen herself, MOVIES.

Most cinematic attention this weekend will be directed toward Interstellar, which seeks to answer the question, “Can Matthew McConaughey fly a spaceship as well as he can drive a Lincoln?” I am very excited for this flick, but I’m sure you can find detailed breakdowns of it from much more qualified people that have a PhD in gaffing or whatever. Because of that, I want to use this space (GET IT??????????????????????) to talk about the opposite end of the spectrum—The Lone Star Film Festival.

Each fall, Fort Worth hosts a showcase for independent filmmakers and movies with very little distribution, known as The Lone Star Film Festival. It’s a five-day event that not only includes full-length films and shorts, but also gives us local yokels a chance to interact with real-life famous people! For example, 2013 saw Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Duvall participate in a Q&A (which is movie insider slang for Question and Answer) about their motion picture, Jayne Mansfield’s Car. I’m most excited for the short films, a medium that is a great opportunity for emerging artists on a tight budget to create something fantastic.

You can find out more about The Lone Star Film Festival by looking it up on the Internet. - David Allison

What We're Loving: Obligatory Horror, Celebrity Visits, Meta Batman, Silly Writing

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison fulfills a legal obligation, Jonda Robinson teases human trafficking, Molly Jakkamsetti goes deep Keaton, and Ryan Callahan asks that you hold him accountable. MV5BNTUxNzYyMjg2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTExNzExNw@@._V1_SX640_SY720_I believe that I'm legally required to write about something Halloween related in this space this week. Like if I don't then they, whoever they are, will check me into a facility where unwilling persons check in, but they don't check out. The hard part about that forced assignment is that I feel like so many of the cool horror films are just kinda gross. For me, gory films that are created just to sicken the viewer are kind of like that overly competitive asshole who starts throwing shit when he loses at bar trivia; you're doing something that's supposed to be fun, so just calm down. Not to say that there shouldn't be blood, guts, or gore in film, I think that stuff is great if it happens in the right context. I should still enjoy watching the movie right? Is that too much to ask?

The best example of the sort of fun horror movie that I love is Cabin In The Woods. If you haven't seen it, the 2012 film does an amazing job of telling two stories concurrently. The micro view follows a group of college kids that are travelling to a CABIN IN THE WOODS. The macro view focuses on the architects of the scenario. Meta is the dumbest word in the fucking world, but it's very apt in this example. This was unquestionably one of the most fun experiences I've ever had watching a movie in the theater, regardless of genre. It's got blood, but the blood is like fun blood.

And if you want to see a live horror movie, come out to DCH on Friday to check out the improvised horror movie! The Friday show at 10 p.m. includes actual fake blood! - David Allison

2On Tuesday afternoon I got home and was greeted by a most welcome face—my good friend, Amy Poehler. That’s right, she was waiting for me at apartment. I had known for weeks that she’d be arriving that day, so I was thoroughly excited about hanging out with her. So far, she hasn’t disappointed.

Ok, so you’ve probably guessed that it was not the REAL Amy, but her book, Yes Please, that showed up at my doorstep. While I haven’t had a chance to read all of it yet, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve taken in so far, and I have enough faith in Amy to say that I will love it. At the very start of her book, Amy declares that “writing is hard” and admits that “blood was shed” in the fight for her to get this thing written. She offers many stories from her life, her take on certain topics, and even sex tips (for girls AND guys!).

Amy is a source of inspiration for me and so many others, so instead of blubbering on any longer I’ll close with two quotes from her so I can get back to my reading:

  1. “So here we go, you and me. Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready.”
  2. “I have the Angelina Jolie of vaginas.”

Never change, Amy—never change. - Jonda Robinson

awesome-birdman-teaser-trailer-michael-keaton-is-a-superhero-again-michael-keaton-goes-meta-batman-in-birdman-trailerBirdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance:  Let me start by saying although people much more qualified than myself have already praised this movie, I’m throwing in my two cents of support. It’s about a former Hollywood superstar who is trying to restart his career with a serious play on Broadway. And Michael Keaton, who starred as Batman in the 1989 and 1992 blockbusters, plays Riggan, whose alter-ego is Birdman.

While much of the movie focuses on Riggan’s internal struggles with insecurity and fear surrounding his "comeback," it is also about the art of acting. It is about what is real and what is not on and off stage. Edward Norton is hilarious as the New York theater actor who comes in to "save" Keaton’s play, right before previews. Zach Galifianakis plays Riggan’s delightfully harried agent. The whole movie looks like one long, uninterrupted take. This amazed me and really drew me in. The soundtrack is jazzy, adding to the cool New York City vibe, where it was filmed. And if you’re still not interested, there’s Emma Stone as Riggan’s cynical daughter/personal assistant. Naomi Watts as the starry-eyed actress who is new to Broadway. Did I mention Edward Norton is in his underwear at one point? It’s meta and weird, and I want to see it again. Critics are praising Keaton as they should. I have enjoyed his work since Mr. Mom. That’s his 1983 comedy with Teri Garr where she works and he stays at home with the kids. Not unusual now, but back then WOAH!! - Molly Jakkamsetti

imgresIn the hopes of making up for my absence the past few weeks, I humbly offer TWO things that I am loving.

Loved Thing Number One: A Load of Hooey by Bob Odenkirk. There has been no show that influenced my sense of comedy more than Mr. Show with Bob and David. As I have said before, my favorite ever comedy sketch: "The Story of the Story of the Story of Everest" comes from Mr. Show. Hooey is Odenkirk's first book, and I will say that it is all rather very silly. There are brief speeches, unabridged versions of famous quotations, and even a short play featuring Hitler, which will no doubt draw the ire of Nick Scott. The book reads like a comic's notebook, but one that has been polished. It's also the quickest book you'll ever read.

Loved Thing Number Two: National Novel Writing Month. Starts tomorrow. If you have always wanted to write a novel, but have always made excuses, here is your chance. Sure, you'll write a terrible, sloppy first draft, but you will have a draft, and that is so much better than just having an idea. It's 1,667 words a day. Many of them can be the word "and." You'll be done in no time.

I have attempted NaNoWriMo (that's really what people call it) twice in the past, failing once and winning once. Finishing a 50,000-word novel is considered a win. Sadly, there is no parade. Unless you have an abundance of action figures. I'm giving it another try this year. I am making this announcement publicly so people will give me a hard time if I don't do it, and badger me about my progress. Who's coming with me? - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Apologies, Honesty, Logging Towns, Not Using Your Hands

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison makes up with an old friend, Jonda Robinson might be the voice of her generation, Molly Jakkamsetti sleeps with the lights on, and Ryan Callahan catches an international disease. WEEZER-2014Imagine one of your favorite friends. Got one? Ok, good.

Now, imagine that you first became friends like 15-20 years ago. You used to hang out all the time, you’d introduce them to your friends, you two were inseparable. It seemed like they just got you. Still there?

Next, picture that like ten years ago, this friend started acting really weird. They began to hang out with a different crowd, acted differently, and just seemed like they were more interested in their new friends than you. Imagine that feeling of weirdness, of betrayal.

Lastly, visualize this friend showing up this week, back to being the cool friend that you remember from twenty years ago. HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE? Years after you’d written them out of your life, because of choices they made, they came back with something that said they’re sorry and that they understand the mistakes they’ve made. Not only would you be able to enjoy their current company, but you’d be able to look back on all of the other memories you shared over the years in a completely different light.

This is my relationship with Weezer. If your story with them is anything like what I’ve just described, then you should check out their new album Everything Will Be Alright In The End. It’s not Pinkerton or Blue, but it’s still really good, mainly because Rivers Cuomo spends the first half of the album apologizing. Don’t believe me? Start with “Back to the Shack” and enjoy them again. - David Allison

urlIf I’m being honest, the thing I’ve been loving since we stepped into the month of October is candy corn. I can’t explain it, especially considering all the other superior Halloween candies out there (shout out to Reese’s Pumpkins), but those tri-colored triangles have become my drug of choice lately, and my local Walgreens is my dealer. I don’t want to make this whole thing about candy, though, so I’ll tell you about the book I’ve been reading while feeding my addiction this week, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl.

The book is a work of nonfiction consisting of essays Dunham’s written about different areas of her life in an effort to “tell you what she’s ‘learned,’” as the tagline reads. While I’m not a fan of everything she does, I respect her work, and I’m slightly fascinated by the fact that we are so similar. For example: she was born in 1986, and so was I; she created, writes, and stars in her own popular show on HBO, Girls, while I created a Tumblr where I post my own stories that are popular with my best friend; she is dating Jack Antonoff, lead guitarist for Fun., and I have listened to Fun. on more than one occasion. I know, right--it’s crazy!

Lena brings the same raw honesty to her book that she incorporates into her work on Girls, so if you’re a fan of the series you’ll enjoy her essays. While in life she may have always been scared of everything (see her essay entitled “Therapy & Me”), in her writing and performing she comes across as unafraid and unapologetic for who she is and the the things she has to share. I appreciate that about her, and I thank her for inspiring me to give myself permission to do the same. - Jonda Robinson

638cde9b3752a092c559747fcf184a27Twin Peaks is coming back, and I’m not talking about the Hooters-rip off restaurant! Can you tell I’m excited?! I remember watching the original, yes in 1990. Boy was I a fan. I bought the Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. I had the soundtrack on a cassette tape. I even tried to tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue (that’s from season one). I was all in.

I liked the goofy characters, especially FBI special Agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle Machlachlan. Something about his straight laced persona offset by his weird fascination with coffee and jelly donuts… oh I’m sorry what was I talking about? Oh yes, the show, of course. I can’t talk about it without a minor spoiler alert- the evil Killer BOB. (If you have to ask why he is called Killer Bob, well that’s the spoiler). That character still freaks me out. There is one scene where he just sits at the edge of Laura’s bed, doesn’t say anything, he just sits there. DAMN! Now I have to sleep with the lights on.

There’s an argument to be made that I only liked the show because I was a moody teenager who felt like “no one understands me and I want to live in this imaginary world in the Pacific Northwest with dancing midgets.” Yeah, that could be true. To test this theory I went back and rewatched the pilot, and I can report my adult self enjoyed it. It’s a nighttime soap opera for sure, with people cheating on their spouses and trying to screw over business rivals. But with a cop crying at the crime scene and a lady wearing an eyepatch, yelling about hanging drapes, I laughed at the weirdness of it all. I hope the new episodes on Showtime live up to the hype. Mark Frost and David Lynch, I’m thrilled to see what you produce. - Molly Jakkamsetti

Unnews_soccer_virusI have a confession to make. Over the summer I was exposed to a virus from a foreign land. The past few months the virus has grown stronger, as have the symptoms: increased heart rate, sore throat, and chills. Now the virus has taken over. I am highly contagious, and find myself unable to leave the house. Obviously the virus I'm talking about is soccer fever. Did you think I was talking about Ebola? Seriously? It would be in rather poor taste to make Ebola jokes in this town at this time. People are dying.

Unlike Ebola, soccer fever has never killed anyone, as far as I know. (Full disclosure: I've only been paying attention to soccer for a few months. My knowledge is limited.) It has, however, led to the occasional drunken fistful or brawl or riot. Luckily, I watch soccer alone, or with my cat. And she's very small and easily beaten in a fight.

Soccer fever tends to strike me every four years, coincidentally in the months during and immediately after the World Cup. The symptoms usually fade by football season, but this year, thanks to gross administrative incompetence and my dawning realization that men who make millions of dollars to commit violence might not limit that violence to the playing field, I can't have any fun watching the NFL. So soccer it is.

Fun fact: in the rest of the world, what we call "soccer" is called "football."

Follow up fun fact: If you did not know that already, you are too young to read this grown up comedy website.

Thanks to NBC Sports and beIN sports, I'm able to watch or stream many games from the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A. Apparently these are very important leagues, each with their own stars, styles, and rivalries. As a novice, I really don't know what's going on half the time. I just know that I like watching the pretty goals, and the game doesn't stop every three minutes because someone has a serious head injury. - Ryan Callahan