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What We're Loving: Movies That Age Well, Adult Contemporary Television, Finding True Love, Chilly McFreeze Audio

imageEach Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison travels to childhood and back again, Ashley Bright cries at work, Amanda Hahn finds her husband, and Ryan Callahan has baffling expectations.  MV5BMTgzNzk3OTg2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTIyODc5._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_I’m a relatively sentimental person. Whether it’s looking at old Facebook photos or just finding smaller shirts that used to fit, I enjoy looking back at the past. But when it comes to movies, I rarely take the time to revisit films I used to love; I’ve been burned too many times. For example, did you know that Blues Brothers isn’t that good? I know you’ll say that it’s sacrilegious for me to say such a thing on a comedy website, but it’s kind of boring and doesn’t hold up. Hell, most movies don’t hold up because they were made for a certain era that’s now known as bygone. Recently though, I had a breakthrough. I found a film that I loved as a child and I continue to love as an adult. That movie is Drop Dead Gorgeous. Released in 1999, Drop Dead Gorgeous is a dark comedy about a teenage beauty pageant in Minnesota. If you haven’t seen it in a while (Or, heaven forbid, if you’ve never seen it) you probably don’t recall how deep the cast of characters for this film is. I love how many memorable performances there are in such a small movie. I mean, you could probably remember that Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards are battling it out as likeable/unlikeable caricatures. But you need to revisit this film to rediscover the adorable/hilarious trailer park friendship Ellen Barkin/Alison Janney. You need to watch Will Sasso dangle from a car door. You need to watch Adam West host a pageant. You owe it to yourself. - David Allison

MV5BMjExNzA1ODMxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY4MjQ2OA@@._V1_SY317_CR15,0,214,317_AL_I like some neat things like Japanese metal, Bukowski, and zines. I've drank David Lynch coffee. I like Avon more than Stringer. I've bought speakers from a fella off Craigslist. I need you to remember this when I tell you about what I'm loving this week. It's not underground. You've likely heard of it. It's adult contemporary television on network TV, and I love it. I love the Braverman's. Every week, I sit at my desk and cry at least once while watching (mostly just listening to) Parenthood. This week I teared up three times. Three separate times at my desk. At work. In front of other people. Listen. I'm not ashamed. It's a great show. It's a bit hokey at times and you'll feel things, but it's great. I want to be Camille Braverman when I'm in my twilight years and have a backyard just like that. Lord, bring me a Zeke Braverman to marry when I grow up. You'll laugh when watching it. You'll become invested in the characters. And that's the thing with this show, it's lead by the characters and not the plot. I started watching it as a brain rinse after watching Breaking Bad. I'd watch one or two episodes of each. I got hooked. There's some actors from HBO lining the cast if that gets you going: Peter Krause from Six Feet Under and Wallace from The Wire popped up in a few episodes in season two. Sure, it gets sappy and hits topics like cancer and having a child with autism. But its set in Berkeley and there's some pot smoking, that's cool, right? Most seasons are available on your streaming service of choice. Watch it and let's you and I chit chat about some family drama. - Ashley Bright

WWL HahnEveryone, I’m glad I have your attention. This is a very special “What We’re Loving” post for me. Today, I would like to introduce you all to my future husband, Bridger Winegar. He’s worked as an intern and production assistant for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and he’s the most consistently funniest person I’ve ever internet-stalked. So…no, I’ve never met him, but I know he is my one true love. Everything he has ever said or posted on any medium has made me laugh. Since it’s no longer 2010, I know it’s strange to still be obsessed with someone’s Twitter feed. But you guys, I’m obsessed with his Twitter feed right down to his bio. It says nothing but “Here we are on our third date,” and it tickles me to my core. If you ever see me spacing out or there is a lull in our conversation, there is a 95% chance that that sentence is running through my head. His weirdness is so creative, and he’s bold with his moves. The strange things you daydream of doing or posting, but never follow through on, he’ll do. His Pinterest boards are a perfect example. They make me cry from laughter. There’s an entire board with nothing but George Lucas’s neck. Another is devoted to pictures of his knee. If you decide to check out any others, be sure to take a peek at his Amazing Vocalists board. He’s goofy, strange, and delightful. I have no idea what he’s currently working on or doing, but he deserves more fame, and I’m making it my life goal to spread the word about him. So if you’re in the mood to meet someone that will make you think, “Wait what why?!” Bridger Winegar is your guy. But back off, ladies. This psycho is mine. - Amanda Hahn

steveaustinshow300x300Recently, a few people who would know recommended the The Steve Austin Show, the podcast with former pro-wrestler and current direct-to-video action star "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Even though "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (henceforth abbreviated as SCSA) was the man who brought me back to the pro-wrestling fold after a long hiatus in the 90's, I hesitated to listen to his podcast for the same reason I hesitate listening to any podcast. Most are bad. They feature people who either pepper each sentence with a string of words such as "um" and "like" and "you know" (the vast majority of wrestling podcasts) or who try so hard to be funny that you can feel the flop sweat drip through your headphones (the vast majority of comedy podcasts). Well, it turns out that SCSA, one of the greatest promo guys in the history of the wrestling business, is really good at talking into a microphone. I have no idea why I expected anything different, except for the fact that I am an idiot. The Steve Austin Show is an entertaining listen, and not only during the interview portion when SCSA talks with guests like Paul Heyman and Dave Meltzer and William Regal about the wrestling business, but also during the opening section, when SCSA talks about what's going on in his life and what's going on in his head. Traditionally, this is the section of the podcast I skip. But not on this show. SCSA has the most important quality any entertainer can have: sincerity. I'll put up with a lot of things: self-pity, ignorance, foolishness. But if I think you're being disengenuous, if I think I'm being fed a line, I'll tune out. When SCSA speaks I believe he means what he says. Which probably makes me a mark. But at least I'm a mark with something to listen to when I'm driving. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Non-Spoiled Snooze Alarms, The Theater/Theatre Dilemma, Sexy Jesus

imageEach Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Ashley Bright puts the swagger in your step, Julia Cotton questions reality, and David Allison knows where they keep the best gold.  921435

Over the past ten days or so, I've been almost exclusively listening to the bluesman, Howlin' Wolf. I have no albums of his, so at home, I listen on Spotify. At work and in my car, I listen on YouTube because I'm a cheapo and I cancelled my Spotify subscription. I've tried to skip around and listen to other things, but I've been fiendishly obsessed with Howlin' Wolf. Even the song "How Many More Years" that has been on one of my phone alarms for years (yes, years. I need to upgrade my phone) is in the repeat mix despite being one of my snooze sounds. Being a snooze alarm usually ruins a song for me, but not this one. You may think of Blues music as sad, 'I lost my dog in the river and I ain't got no pants' music, but just as there are many shades of the color blue, there are many moods of the music. Howlin' Wolf has plenty of songs you can dance to. Most of my dancing consists of me bobbing my head while typing emails at work, but it counts. And if you want a surefire swagger to your step, play "Back Door Man" in your ears when you walk into a room. I have yet to check the jukebox at Twilite for his music, but if that song is available, I guarantee you it will up the sexy bad ass in every person in the place by at least 25% while it plays. - Ashley Bright

proudAh! The theater… or is it theatre?  If you are a TRUE thespian… stop wasting time and just go enjoy We Are Proud To Present A Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known As South-West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 at the Undermain Theatre (I’m not taking a side...it’s how they spell it).

This super meta, satirical look at the process of actors putting together a show is also a sort of history lesson. But further, it is an exploration of how we obtain and then convey that history. How do we tell the story of those pasts that we did not witness nor do we have explicit documentation or recollection? We usually end up confusing it because we fill in the holes. But if we didn’t try to fill them, would that be worse?

When we recount a story from when we were 5-years-old, we fill in the holes as we cannot fully recall ourselves that young, but still want to tell a complete story. We fill holes with ideas about ourselves that we are aware of now. Ideas based on home photos or media we’ve consumed about an era. We even use ideas that we really wish were true things… whether they are or not.

When I was 5, my mom, brother and I went to see Oliver & Company.  Mom was in a good mood and just wanted to have a fun family night.  It was completely spontaneous and it was on a school night!  We missed the first 5 minutes, but we watched the rest and then stayed in the theater (we all agree it’s ‘er’ when it’s the movies) and watched it again all the way through.  It was the greatest family day of my 5-year-old-life!  Except the internet just told me I was actually 7 when O&C was released.  Why do I think I was 5?  Also, my mom would tell you... it was a horrible day. There was no heat in our house with cracks in the seams of the walls and cold air was getting through. She and my grandmother were at odds, so we could not go to her house.  My mother had planned a reason for us to be out of the house and then get home late enough so we would sleep through the cold for as little time as possible before having to get up for school the next day.  Our trip to the movies was a strategic plan.  How important is it to know that there were different realities to that day?  How does my brother remember that day?  How did my grandmother?

We Are Proud To Present… exposes ramifications that result from filling in information based on guided or misguided intuition.  It is an impeccable ensemble piece with some of the best actors in DFW.  It is a darkly hilarious and quite thought provoking ride that is definitely worth strapping in for.  The show runs through April 19th. You can get tickets here.

Then you can get into the history behind how to spell theater/theatre. - Julia Cotton

mzi.bglfzfdjI 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.

My goal with a lot of these selections is to provide you with a recommendation for a piece of media that is easy to find.  Maybe the soundtrack is streaming on Spotify or you can find a copy of it on Netflix or Hulu, basically if you want to see it, you can with minimal effort.  Today, UGH, today, I have to recommend something that isn’t easy to find.  When you do find it though, you’ll be all like “Oh man, David, that was worth the effort.” Remember, they don’t put bricks of gold on the surface, they bury that shit in the ground; sometimes you have to dig.

Today’s recommendation is the soundtrack to Hamlet 2.  The soundtrack includes the collection of songs from the 2008 Steve Coogan vehicle Hamlet 2 and is divine.  If you aren’t familiar with the film, here’s a brief synopsis: Steve Coogan is an actor/director and isn’t very good at being a human.  The play that he ends up writing is home to many of the best songs on the soundtrack, namely “Rock me Sexy Jesus” and “You’re as Gay as the Day is Long.”  In addition to the track list from the musical, you can also find some amazing covers of classic hits like “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and “Maniac” performed by a gay men’s choir.  Maybe it’s because my mother directed a similar choir for years in Colorado, but I can’t not love an album/movie that includes hits from such a choir.  Still on the fence?  The whole soundtrack was put together by the Ralph Sall experience, which is headlined by the man responsible for “Whoomp” from Addams Family Values. That should be enough. - David Allison 

Ear Candy: TIP and Pre-Recorded

I just got back from New Orleans, and boy oh boy do my eyes need a rest. If your eyes are tired of eyeing, then check out the following podcasts from DCH players and shakers. The Improvised Podcast with Amanda Blake Davis

Pre-Recorded Late Night (click to download MP3)

Aware of any other DCH-affiliated podcasts we should know about? If so, please let us know in the comments. Thank you.

Ear Candy: Pre-Recorded Late Night

Pre-Recorded Late NightIn a world that knows no bounds, improv can infect you anywhere (if you didn't just read that in a deep movie-announcer voice, what's wrong with you?). Case in point: Pre-Recorded Late Night. Hosted by baton-waving Jay Frosting, guests are invited on for interviews; however, they don't know who they are or what they do until they're introduced. Frosting records the show via Skype, edits the audio tracks, and then posts the shows as podcasts.

"The show began as Pre-Recorded Late Night Live during the free-for-all Block Party at the Dallas Comedy House," Frosting said. "I've wanted to host a late-night talk show as long as I can remember, but I also love satire and watching 'regular folk' who have no media training try to get through an interview.

"I also wanted an excuse to get stage time with lots of different performers, for my benefit and theirs," he continued. "So every week I'd invite new people and get suggestions from the audience maybe five minutes before showtime for who the guests are. Also, I look good in a suit."

Frosting says that most late-night talk show hosts are in the habit of asking prepared questions and knowing the answers ahead of time.

"I enjoy mocking that by surprising our guests with an absurd job or life story and following them down the rabbit hole of ridiculousness," he said. "What's especially funny to me is when we're satirizing a real trend like extreme couponing, and then that episode becomes popular in iTunes, and I can only imagine the shock on the face of the listener who didn't know it was satire."

Pre-Recorded's guests include DCH teachers and students, such as Landon Kirksey and Scott Lowe. And next week, Amanda Austin will be a guest.

"We'll mix up the straight-and-absurd interviews with some Armando-style improv scenes from time to time, and for people who like that part the best, I heartily recommend the podcast 'improv4humans' by Matt Besser," Frosting said.

As in any art form, evolution is key to survival and relevance.

"We're considering bringing in some kind of topical news monologue or Weekend Update-style segment," Frosting said. "We'll also have special guests from time to time, like an interview I just did with Jessamyn from MetaFilter, which should be available the week of January 16th."

Frosting says that one of the things that sets the show apart is the editing.

"I remove all the filler and ums and uhhs so that the listener's time is never wasted, and I can, for example, adjust awkward silences to be just long enough, or rearrange whole segments to happen in a different order," he said. "As the straight man, I even get a weird thrill from editing out a suggestion I made during the recording so that it sounds like it was the other person who came up with the idea. It's the most powerful tool I have for supporting my teammates."

You can listen below to an excerpt from a recent show. Once you get hooked, and you will, tune in each week and think about being a guest, too. To paraphrase Mojo Nixon, improv is everywhere.

Ear Candy: The Improvised Podcast

You know what's just as fun as watching improv? Talking about it. That's right, you can learn a brickton about the improvisational arts by hearing war stories and best practices from other performers. While there are several good podcasts about improv available online, we're partial to one in particular: The Improvised Podcast. It's hosted by DCH teachers and performers Chad Haught, Landon Kirksey, and Tim Yager. Each week they bring in a guest improviser and talk about improv. It's a great podcast and a wonderful way to get some extra improv education.

For your eardrums, check out the most recent podcast that features Molly Erdman.