addiction

What We're Loving: Comedy Canons, Televison History, Self-Loathing Doctors, Classical Open Mics

image (3)Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison laughs in his cubicle, Ashley Bright runs for her notepad, Ryan Callahan sees a reflection of himself, and Amanda Hahn finds hidden treasure. Time_Bobby

It’s the best week of the year!  If you’re asking why, then you’re most likely not familiar with Comedy Bang Bang’s yearly triumph known as “Time Bobby.” AND THAT MAKES YOU DUMB.  Comedy Bang Bang is a free weekly podcast on which host Scott Aukerman invites guests both real and fake to join him in conversation.  Each installment of the show is different,  save for some recurring characters and, occasionally, recurring episodes.  Monday, May 12th saw the release of the third “Time Bobby,” a fan favorite episode which pits a Bobby Moynihan voiced orphan child named Fourvel (One less than Fievel) against Paul F. Tompkins’ Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.  PFT appears often on Comedy Bang Bang because of his quick wit, character range, and phenomenal rapport with Aukerman.  But even though we get to enjoy about fifteen appearances a year of Tompkins on the broadcast, he’s always at his best when he’s paired with Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan.  Most of the time that PFT joins in on an episode, he and Aukerman are against each other, so it’s a blast to listen to them band together against the Moynihan’s orphan boy.

I’d recommend taking a listen if you enjoy any of the following:

  • Mnemonic Devices
  • Knives
  • STARLIGHT EXPRESS (Note: I bought a sweet Starlight Express poster this week.  Jealous?)
  • Holding back laughter as you listen to podcasts in cubicles

Please remember that there have been previous episodes of “Time Bobby,” so if you’ve been unaware of the franchise until today, YOU HAVEN’T EARNED THE RIGHT TO LISTEN TO EPISODE THREE, SO DON’T ACT LIKE YOU CAN JUST WALTZ INTO YOUR PODCAST APP AND LISTEN TO THE LATEST ITERATION LIKE YOU OWN THE PLACE.  You need to be aware of canon.  The original was released on 3/26/12 (Episode 150), followed by the second on 4/22/13 (Episode 215).  Also, there was an appearance of both characters on season two of the Comedy Bang Bang television show, but Fourvel and Andrew Lloyd Webber were not on the same episode so THE TV SHOW IS NOT CANON.  Listen to them all and you’ll know what to do the next time you’re with a group of people and someone yells K.N.I.F.E. G.R.A.B.! - David Allison

urlThis week I watched America in Primetime on Netflix, a four-part documentary that originally aired on PBS.  The show is broken up into four episodes based on different character archetypes of television: "Man of the House," "Independent Woman," "The Misfit,"and "The Crusader."  Show creators, writers, and actors are interviewed, and most have the opinion that television is the greatest medium because the audience truly gets to connect with the character. (Except for David Chase, who created The Sopranos, who has a particularly sassy and refreshing opinion that 2 hours is plenty of time to get to know a character.)

In the first episode, "Man of the House," Norman Lear, the creator of All in the Family, said something that made me hit pause and run for my notepad: "I take life seriously.  I see the comedy in it.  I see the foolishness of the human condition.  I delight in it and I've used it."  Full disclosure: I ran for my notebook because the closed captioning said "abused" and I loved that, but after reviewing the tape, he definitely says "used."  I still love the quote enough to tell you about it, but I may not have ran so quickly for "used."  Each writer and creator has a similar sort of take on their creation.  They were writing human beings, fully dimensional human beings.  Carl Reiner talks about unintentionally pushing boundaries with The Dick Van Dyke Show because he wrote a character who actually respected his wife.

I'm going to presume that if you reading this on the DCH website that you have some interest in comedy as an art form.  If so, I recommend watching this series.  It's a real peak inside the minds of some of the greatest storytellers of the last 50 years.  It's a testimonial to the fact that character is more important than plot, which you may have heard from time to time in your comedy journey.  Note: DO NOT watch "The Crusader" episode, if you haven't yet watched The Wire.  David Simon lays down some beautiful truth bombs, but there are spoilers galore. - Ashley Bright

house-md-1024x768Recently I resumed an old, bad habit from my college days: falling asleep to TV shows. Instead of reading a book, or letting the stillness of the night watch over me, I've been drowning out my constant inner monologue with the scripted television's aggressive noise. After burning through the first season of Brooklyn 99 and catching up on Parks and Rec and Community, I needed something new to sooth my soul, something comfortable, something familiar, something like House, MD.  I've always been a huge fan of procedurals. They satisfy my inherent need for structure and closure. I loved the show when it first began, ten years ago, but stopped watching somewhere around season four, either because life got in the way or the show's formula (House gets it wrong three times before discovering a secret the patient has kept from him and nailing the diagnosis on the fourth try) grew stale.

Having never watched the final seasons, and wondering how it all ended, I decided to pick the show back up. Naturally, because I have a terrible fear of not knowing things, I started from season one. It's been ten years since I've watched these episodes, ten eventful years in my life. House is still a compelling show, (in fact, so compelling that's costing me sleep. I can always watch one more episode) but compelling for different reasons. When I first watched, I thought House was the coolest character on TV, a total bad ass, the smartest guy in the room playing by his own rules, destroying people with withering  sarcasm while getting high the whole time. Now I see the sadness. The way he pushes people away. The way his selfish actions harm the people who love him most. The way he takes out his self-loathing on everyone who comes into his orbit. Where once I saw so much comedy, now I see tragedy. And I see an accurate portrayal of an addict. The sarcasm is still funny, thanks to Hugh Laurie's delivery and timing. There are times when I see him cut someone down, or deflect a question with a joke and I think, "I should act more like that." Then I remember I did act like that. And it was really lonely. - Ryan Callahan

 

dariusOn Tuesday night, I needed to find a place to work. With my eyelids getting heavier by the minute and my bed seeming closer and closer by the second, I knew staying home was hazardous to my productivity. Around 10:00 pm, I decided to head to BuzzBrews Kitchen on Lemmon Avenue. I was hoping to find friendly waiters, endless coffee, and plenty of room to spread out my work. What I found was even better. I found live classical music – totally free. Initially, when I entered BuzzBrews, the first thing I noticed was that it was surprisingly crowded. The second thing I noticed was that it wasn’t filled with college students studying for finals. This was an older crowd of people in their late thirties and early forties. Almost everyone was drinking wine. Many men were wearing sport coats and fedoras. There wasn’t a textbook or computer in sight. The third thing I noticed was that the music playing in the restaurant was very pleasant. Quickly after this realization, I noticed the fourth and most important thing: the beautiful piano piece I was listening to wasn’t a recording. It was live. I didn’t know this before, but every Tuesday night from 8:00 pm until 12:00 am, BuzzBrews hosts an open mic for classical musicians. I’m so happy that I found this that I’m downright angry that I didn’t know about this sooner. The casual atmosphere with a touch of class was exactly what I needed to focus on work but still be relaxed. The music throughout the night ranged from a cappella singers to fiddlers to pianists. Some acts were mediocre, but others were fantastic. These hidden talents of Dallas kept my head bobbing, toes tapping, and heart tranquil as I pounded out all the work I needed to finish. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MncemQbYPpQ I know where I’ll start going every Tuesday night. But from now on, I hope to be accompanied by a glass of wine and a few friends, not my computer. - Amanda Hahn

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.

Danger_5_Poster

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