dallas sketch comedy

#Ashtag Week 7: The Fappening Photos Attached*

Thanks for joining me for another week of my pop culture education. As always, my learning comes by way of top Internet trends. The highest Google searches of this week are all about nudey pics. Jennifer Lawrence is the number 1 search followed by the names of several other female celebrities whose iCloud accounts were hacked. Hackers found a plethora of star nudity and posted it online. Folks got wind of the existence of naked pics and went on a searching spree. Number three of the top Google searches is the phrase, "the fappening", which is the clever name for the leak of all this nakedness. By the way, I already knew what "fap" meant, but I won't be explaining it to you. You can learn about it all by yourself. All by yourself. The most popular video on YouTube this week is "Little Boy Goes Off On His Mom For Getting Pregnant." He's adorable and he uses the word "exasperating." He brings up some solid logic like that babies cry and it is annoying. Sitting next to him in the backseat is his little sister who appears to be under two years old, so I understand his exasperation. Growing up, my sister repeatedly requested a little brother, which constantly upset me. I was the oldest of two daughters and wanted no more little siblings. My sister was enough. I wanted an older brother, but my parents would neither build a time machine or adopt one for me. At the end of this video, the kid resigns to the fact that a new baby is coming, but requests some earplugs. By request, I mean he says "buy me some earplugs." I like his style.

Another popular video on YouTube is "Apple Campus 2 construction video." I will admit that I fast forwarded through the 8 minute video. I'm not sure what is interesting about it. It appears to be an overhead view of a construction site. I'm sure I'm missing something. I wonder if the 1.5 million views consisted of people making it through the entire video without skipping any parts. Someone please tell me what I'm missing.

Last week the improv class that I have been a teacher's assistant for (a great group now in Level 5, check out their graduation show in about seven weeks) got me a book for #ashtag. The book is called Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture by Andy Cohen, a Bravo executive and a producer behind the Real Housewives chain of reality shows. It was a fast read. I did not learn much about today's current pop culture because most of it was about his obsession with soap operas and his start in production back in the early 90s. He met Susan Lucci. My favorite story in the book is when he got to hang out with Dan Rather, who sounds like a charming, manly fellow, but really #ashtag illuminating. It was interesting to read about someone who was in the biz and someone who cared so much about celebritydom. Maybe with some more #ashtag research under my belt, I'll care about it too.

The easiest, most non-informative but totally cool book you should read this week.

Since I learned last week that I am still very much out of the loop of pop music, I am forcing myself to watch the top music videos of the week. And let's be honest, as popular as the video may be, I won't be getting any hipper by watching videos of a construction site or a sassy little kid. So, I watched Drake's "Started From the Bottom (Explicit)." I had never heard this song before, so score one for education. I made it through about half of the song before I turned it off. Just so I don't sound like a complete hater, I'd like to say Rihanna's "Stay ft Mikky Ekko" and Justin Timberlake's "Suit and Tie ft Jay-Z" are also up at the top of this week's YouTube music video list and both of these songs are catchy and didn't make my ears annoyed.

I skimmed through the list of top music videos to find a name I was unfamiliar with and I found a video by David Guetta ft Sia. I've heard of neither of these people. The song is titled "She-Wolf." Listening to it, I had to assume that David Guetta does not provide lyrics, so I went over to Google to find out more. He is a French house DJ and music producer. He's been around for a long time; now I know.

I mean, let's be honest,...this is probably what my Punta Mita view would look like.

And for the update you've been waiting for all week: I'm still killing it on the A-list and I've bought my third home. This one's in Punta Mita, Mexico. #kardashianstillaintgotmy$butgotalottamytime

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She's a graduate of the DCH Improv Training Program and is currently a level 3 sketch writing student. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations. - A DCH Sketch Revue

10649706_754258354815_8449199643302227645_nThe newest DCH sketch revue, Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations, premieres this Thursday, September 4th at 8PM.  This sketch revue is the first revue created and performed entirely by students who have gone through the sketch program. Nick Scott, who taught this group for every level and directed the show, took the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about the show, the sketch program, and the difference between improv and sketch. (Full disclosure: I am a writer of and performer in this sketch revue.)

How is this revue different from the earlier sketch showcases? The sketch showcases were just a selection of funny sketches written within those levels. They weren't connected thematically or narratively. A sketch revue is a full show that includes sketches, musical pieces, and monologue elements that are brought together to serve a specific theme or idea. You get to both laugh (hopefully) and think (hopefully).

What can you tell us about the show? The show is an exploration of what happens when we have big expectations about life that aren't met, and the ways that we cope with that disappointment. Also there is a Millard Fillmore joke. It's a culmination of everything the students have learned in the DCH Sketch Program. All the elements they have learned from week one of level one on are in the show in some way.

How is sketch different from improv? Improv is raw and in the moment. You can refine your personal improv skill set, but you don't get to refine specific scenes. You also get a lot of leeway and added laughs from the fact that the audience knows that you are making it up on the spot.

Sketch is refined and prepared. You take that initial scene, find out what the beats are, tighten up the dialogue and action, and work on the performances to make it just right. The audience expects something more polished and refined since you're had time to work out all the kinks, whereas they might laugh at those very kinks if they were in an improv show. There is a more discerning attitude in sketch.

In improv, what you throw out there is the end product, so when someone throws out an idea, everyone else's job is to make that idea as successful as possible. In sketch you do that when you first run the idea, but then you have to be able to sit back and say, "Well this move should've have been done this way," or "This idea probably wasn't the best to begin with."

You've been with the current sketch group since level one. How have you seen them grow over the levels, and what challenges have you faced taking a group of improvisers and turning them into a sketch troupe? The biggest way I've seen them grow is in their performances. Not just within sketch. I've watched them in improv shows over the past 6 months or so, and I've seen them play much more confidently and get to ideas much faster. I think that's something sketch does, because you are forced to do the same scene over and over, and you can actually dig into a character. The more you do that, the more you're able to access it quickly, which shows up in both sketch and improv.

I've also seen them get a better grasp on what will and what won't work on stage. They might not even realize it, but their pitches and ideas have become much clearer and easier to work with as they're progressed. Getting improvisers to do the same thing over and over can be tough. The scenes lose that initial, on-the-spot energy. And it can feel like work rather than play. Getting a group of improvisers to adjust to that and still find their ability to play and enjoy the scenes can be tricky.

What have been some of your favorite sketches or monologues from this group? The Too-Tight T-Shirt Guy? The Neighbors Who Share A Love Deeper Than Food? The Whale Scene With the Guy Who Makes All the Black Fish References? Hmm. None of those really impressed me. Actually my favorite sketch is one that we never found a place for. It's about this guy, who finds out he is adopted ... And his mom is really hot.

That sounds like a winner! Anything else you want to say about the show? Yeah, it'll humor the Dicken out of you! ... I'm sorry.

Oh, boy. We really can't end like that. How is this revue different from the earlier sketch showcases? It will revue the Dicken out of you!

Charles Dicken's Great Expectations runs Thursdays in September at 8PM. Get your tickets here.

My Cat Has Goals (And Other Arguments Against Speciesism

by Sarah Mowery Since the dawn of time (since 200,000 years ago, rather), mankind has had the distinct advantage of being comfortably situated at the top of the food chain. We’ve gazed down at all the other animals, with their tails and their webbed feet and their adorable lack of fine motor skills and chortled, Dr. Pepper spraying triumphantly from our noses.

For thousands upon thousands of years, humans have proudly held the upper hand. Why? Because we can talk to and understand one another? Because we have opposable thumbs? Because we invented indoor plumbing?

Ah, the wonders of evolution.

Well, I took Biology in the 9th grade, and I’m here to tell you that 1. opposable thumbs are not that cool, I mean realistically I could easily type this whole thing and button my pants and stuff without them, come on, and 2. all animals are is humans who are different.

Not to get all PC on you, but thinking you’re any better than any other animal is speciesist and just plain wrong. Yeah, I’m talking to you, fellow mammals. In fact, calling them “animals” at all is pretty derogatory when you think about it. I prefer the term “People, Too.”

The truth is, there’s a lot we can learn from other People, Toos. Scout, the Feline American with whom I share my apartment, for example, is the most goal-oriented Person I’ve ever met. How many times have you, presumably a member of the aforementioned “Human” species and therefore obviously a huge bigot, crouched down behind the bathroom door to play with a rubber band when it somehow moves under the door crack beyond your reach, and thought, “Meh, there goes that toy. Guess I’ll go do something with my thumbs now.” Probably a million times!

Not Scout. Scout doesn’t give up. Scout has goals. Scout is going to roll around on her back behind that bathroom door, twisting and turning until she finds the angle that will allow her to slip her paw under the crack and grab the rubber band, huzzah! Could she have just walked around the door to the other side and easily gotten the rubber band there? Sure. But what fun would that be? Where’s the challenge?! Scout doesn’t take shortcuts! She stays focused and puts in the time and hard work required to achieve her goals. If Scout were Ferris Bueller, she would have run home on the damn sidewalk instead of cutting through those poor folks’ house or those random sunbathing ladies’ yard. This is also because she is not a falsely idolized miscreant, but I digress.

Unlike most “humans,” Scout likes to exercise during her free time. Here she is doing pull-ups.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all behaved a little more like those “animals” we so love to look down on? Everyone can make small, simple changes, to help the cause! Like napping more, or feeding your young by spitting chewed-up food into their mouths.

In conclusion, people are people. But People, Too, are people, too, and you “people” would do well to remember that.

Sarah Mowery is a level 3 student at the DCH training center and she interns for the DCH blog. Fine more of Sarah's comedy stylings HERE. 

 

 

 

In Defense of Safe DJing

By Sarah Mowery Dangerous in the wrong hands.

Right now I’m listening to my favorite mindless yet groovy playlist. A little bit of Biggie and CCR mixed in with some Lana Del Rey and plenty of Rolling Stones, with just a hint of early 00s nostalgia, a healthy dose of Motown, and, of course, “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen since, as we all know, no playlist is legally allowed to exist today without “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen.

It’s what I listen to when I need to be able to focus without being distracted by the urge to sing along with any of that maddeningly catchy Top 40 or, my personal kryptonite, Country. This playlist’s juxtaposition of modern and classic keeps me on my toes while seamlessly flowing together into the perfect stream of in-the-zone music.

This playlist is good for many occasions. It’s a people pleaser. It both allows people to converse without distraction and provides for those satisfying “I love this song!” moments that make you feel proud to have compiled such a perfect collection. It’s got something for everyone, and it’s not divisive like playing, I don’t know, Pitbull might be. It’s the playlist you can subtly put on in the background without anyone being like “Dude.. WTF is this.” It’s just cool enough that no one is going to question your taste in music, but just mainstream enough that you don’t look like the hipster douche no one wants to be around. We all have some version of this playlist, and after noticing some questionable music choices made by friends and acquaintances at social gatherings, I’m here to say that maybe we need to rest on this playlist a little more heavily. At least in public.

See, I don’t listen to this playlist all the time. When I’m in the shower, I have another playlist. It’s got a lot of Ke$ha in it, so what? I know all the words, OK? I like to dance in the shower, OK? And if I’m also using a mixture of Jack Daniels and multicolor glitter as body wash to fully embrace the spirit of the Ke$h then I guess that’s none of your business, is it?

This is normal, right?

When I’m on a road trip, I have another playlist. It’s not so much of a playlist as it is the soundtracks to High School Musicals 1, 2, and 3: Senior Year, so what? I am wont to reminisce on my youth, OK? Sometimes I need to listen to every song twice so that I can sing it once as Gabriella and then again as Troy, OK? And if I occasionally swerve off the road a little because I’m doing the full choreography to “We’re All In This Together” then maybe you should stop judging me and take a second to reflect on your own life, OK?

Those types of playlists are just as crucial to our sanity as the perfect Master people-pleaser playlist is, but they aren’t meant to be whipped out and flung around carelessly like a Christopher Walken impression at parties. They’re for personal use when alone, or with a small group of close friends, or at your cult gathering. Times when you really know the other people and their taste in music.

The perfect Master people-pleaser playlist is great because, like a t-shirt and jeans, it goes with everything. Hey, sometimes it’s even good for the office! But your “60s Afro Funk + Best Jazz Standards!!” playlist is more like a really tight speedo. It’s cool that you can pull that off and all, but no one wants to deal with that right now.

I’m all for freedom of expression, but when it comes to dictating what music is going to be put in other people’s ears, I think it’s only fair we all exercise caution. So next time you’re on iPod DJ duty at a party, or in the car with people you only kind of know, or at a place of business/retail and you get the urge to bump that dope new Andrea Bocelli track you just found, maybe just don’t. Maybe just stick with Drake and call it a day. You can blast Italian opera to your heart’s content when you get home. Being appointed DJ is not a right. It is a privilege with which comes great responsibility. Don’t abuse the power of the iPod. DJ safe, and always remember the Golden Rule: No Nickelback, please.

Sarah Mowery is a level 3 improv student at the DCH Training Center and an intern for the DCH blog. Find more of Sarah's comedy stylings HERE.