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#Ashtag #25: A Constant State of Reverie

The Dallas Comedy Festival starts this week. Do not miss it! Welcome back, or hello, welcome for your first time. This is the monthly edition of #Ashtag, where I attempt to stay hip and "with it" by digging into current Internet trends.

We're going to get a little different for #25 though. We're going to peel back the curtain and take a look at the old fogey pushing the buttons: me.

Some of you may have asked yourselves, "How does Ashley stay so far behind pop culture to need to do #ashtag?" "How does she spend her time instead?," and "How did she not know what Drake was?"

I may be the only one actually asking these questions. Either way, we're getting the answers this week.

First, I have a short daily commute. I max out at about 10 minutes in my car at a time unless I'm making a special trip somewhere. I'm very lucky to live so close to my job(s). My car radio and I spend a limited amount of time with each other except when I listen to Think while I eat lunch in my car. Yes, I eat alone in my car a few times a week. I like it, and you can't stop me. But because of this limited radio time, I'm not hip to the pop music. Although, if we're being honest, I don't think a longer commute would make me inclined to listen to pop radio on the regs. This entire paragraph is moot. Let's move on.

As I've mentioned in previous #ashtags, I don't have cable. I'm what they call a "cord-cutter." I do keep up with shows that I like on Hulu and Netflix and even Amazon Prime. The most commercial action I get are the same handful that repeat over and over again on Hulu. It always blows my load when I'm at a home with cable of how out of the loop I am with the ad game. I have to sneak away from conversations where people start talking about funny commercials they've seen because I know nothing, and it's not interesting to hear about a commercial you haven't seen.

Moreso than my light TV and radio ingestion, I think my constant state of reverie can be blamed for my out-of-touchness. In case you're like I was not too long ago, reverie does not mean to revere something. It is "a state of being pleasantly lost in one's thoughts; a daydream." If you already knew that, kudos to your vocabulary.

I know the proper pro-noun is "who" for Drake. I was just joshin' ya.

I spend far more time dilly-dallying in my own head than I do paying attention to what a Drake is. This is not to say that I'm playing around in some wonderland in my brain, although it can be. I spend a lot of my time doing the brain equivalent of pacing around a living room. It can be very unproductive.

Luckily, I get to be productive at a real-life wonderland, Dallas Comedy House. I get to perform, write, teach, and do bits on bits with super funny and talented people. I spend so much of my time at this place, and I can't express how lucky that makes me feel. I get to spend most of my brain power on this art of comedy, where our medium is human interaction. Hands down, given the choice a million times, I'd always choose to be an out-of-touch oddball who sometimes feels old and ill-equipped for the real world over being savvy, hip, and technologically competent.

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of and an instructor for the DCH Improv Training Program. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House. You can also see her performing in the Dallas Comedy Festival starting this week!

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. 

#Ashtag: Ashley Gets Her Head Out of the Sand

For those of you who struggle to keep up with everything that's happening in the world, you're not alone. Follow Ashley Bright's journey to become "hip" again.  I fear I am becoming an old fogey at too young of an age. I am not hip to the jive of today's popular culture, and I've been out of the loop for many years. I just recently saw a picture of this Drake guy people talk about, but I could not identify one of his songs. Someone else set up Instagram on my phone (although yes, I do now use it).

It's time for me to get my head out of the proverbial sand. Against my better judgment, I am going to learn about what's cool and trendy these days. It was actually a challenge for me to figure out how to find what is trending these days. But I did it. I watched this week's top videos, which included children reacting to Gameboy and an illustrated debunking of brain myths. I looked at Twitter's top hashtag, #cashnewvideo. And frankly, I'm not exactly sure what it is. It appears to be somehow related to two young gentleman who do vine and YouTube videos. My goal is to learn more about this hashtag business as I continue to do this weekly exploration.

I checked in on the top Google searches for today, as well as the top read Wikipedia articles. Sports. Sports are very in right now. I must admit that I have not watched one second of the World Cup. I fear that makes me a bad American. Worse, I think I'm a bad global citizen. I mean I've overheard many conversations about it. I've seen the Facebook posts about the games, the bars the games are being watched at, or the handsome fellas on the field, but I haven't watched any myself. I don't have cable television, which lends a bit of the hand towards my World Cup ignorance. Without a television, I have to seek out what I watch, and I have not sought out soccer.

The #1 google search today is Josh McRoberts. Sports, I tell ya. McRoberts has verbally committed to sign with the Heat. I like watching basketball, but reading about potential contract, dollar amounts, and whether his addition will sway LeBron made my eyes get sleepy. So, I have nothing more to say on the subject.

Apparently this Wimbledon thing is a big deal?

Did you know Wimbledon 2014 was going on? Me neither. Novak Djokovic won the title in an apparent mental victory over Roger Federer. The only thing this sparks in my brain is that once in a video of UCB's ASSSSCAT, someone made mention of a tiny Roger Federer, which is to say I know nothing.

Miley Cyrus is the #2 google search today. And this is how I learned that she is in a Flaming Lips video. With Moby. I watched this video, "Blonde SuperFreak Steals the Magic Brain," and I did not dig it. It's a reverb-laden acid trip, and if you know my musical tastes, you would know that reverb-laden does not deter me. But this doesn't have many other layers under the reverb except for some squeaky loops and such. I typed that I was a fan of the Flaming Lips, even their newer stuff like Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I went to confirm that I had the album title correct and saw that it came out in 2002. My idea of "newer stuff" goes back twelve years. Does everyone understand why I need to dip back into pop culture?

I'm ready to learn about what today's young whippersnappers are into. Meet me back here next week, and we'll discover some more. Or I will discover some more stuff that you already knew, and you can laugh at how out of touch I am.

Ashley Bright is graduate of the DCH Improv Training Program and a teacher's assistant. She is a level 2 sketch writing student and intern for the DCH Blog. Find all things Ashley HERE.