music

Put a Little Care in Your ‘Oke

Cesar Bearded Buddies I’m not exactly what I would personally describe as “shy” but I am pretty anxious, awkward, all that and yes, you know this by now, I’ve covered it. Don’t worry, that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. What I do want to talk about, though, is how much I love watching and experiencing what being on a stage brings out of a person.

I can imagine that the idea of being on stage, in front of a crowd, is completely paralyzing to some, and that’s perfectly understandable and valid. But, to others, simply by stepping foot on stage, you’re able to meet an entirely new and different person that you didn’t know existed.

Comedy in all of its forms will tell you a lot about someone. Comedy can be rather therapeutic. Let’s be honest, if I’ve been mad at you in a scene for being lazy, dirty, unmotivated, or anything of that sort, it was likely genuine anger inspired by an ex-boyfriend. Comedy can allow a person to come out of her shell, show an audience who she knows she's capable of being, but were maybe too afraid to show to others. If you pay close attention, there’s a good chance that you’ll get a glimpse into a person’s very real life through comedy. Under those lights, it’s your opportunity to show the world what you can do. I don’t say that to add any pressure, I say that to only reinforce what a glorious moment being on stage really is.

Aside from improv or stand-up, though, I think that maybe one of the most telling forms of the performing arts is most certainly karaoke. Why? It’s everyone’s chance to prove that they’re actually a rock star. No longer are you a teacher, a copywriter, a photographer, a social media manager, a historic arms and armor dealer (I’m naming actual careers of my actual, very diverse friends), you’re now Katy Perry, Patsy Cline, or maybe even Lionel Richie, whether you sound anything like them or not.

At the most recent Bearded Brothers Karaoke, I made sure to take the stage with others. I did this, not only because it’s sometimes more fun, but because, for whatever reason, in my head, which has a tendency to blow things out of proportion, doing karaoke at Dallas Comedy House (DCH), in front of the many talents I witness on a weekly basis, was just too much to tackle all on my own. It was a night of memorable performances, though, and what actually inspired this blog post. That night, I believe we all met the real DCH student Shawn Meyer through his most epic, “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

Portlandia

For the purposes of full disclosure, you should know that if I am performing alone, I’m THAT person about karaoke. I may as well be Dave and Kath from Portlandia, taking voice lessons to perfect their rendition of “You Can Call Me Al.” I pick songs based on whether or not I know I can nail them. I take having a microphone in my hand way too seriously.

And, then there’s a thing called Punk Rock Karaoke. You pick a song, you sing that song, they’re your actual backing band. There aren’t monitors with the words, nothing to indicate when you’re to come in, just a real band and its support. There are two very different versions of Punk Rock Karaoke but the one I have performed with, in my eyes, is the only one that matters. They’re a touring act featuring members of many of my eighth-grade favorites (OK, maybe, I still listen to most of them), including Eric Melvin of NOFX. The chance I had to be on stage with him was the only time I’ve ever taken a karaoke risk like, signing up for a song that I really didn’t know that well. You better believe, though, that I wasn’t letting this performance opportunity go to waste.

Megan karaokeI would become Brody Dalle (you can take a break here and head on over to Google) but not without the help of a bartender and listening to the song multiple times, alone in the bathroom of Prophet Bar to make sure I could handle the task.

I’m happy to say that it went pretty well but was ultimately fun and gave me what is, without a doubt, one of my favorite memories of the more recent past. The, at times quiet, reserved, sometimes bumbling, and often meek Megan Radke, became the no-nonsense, intimidating, rough around the edges queen from The Distillers.

Very, very long story short, harness the power of the stage and show the world (or at least the room) what a powerful presence you really are!

Megan Radke is currently a Level 4 student at DCH. She is a copywriter and social media manager by day and an essayist and mediocre musician by night. She is a constant consumer of books, music, film, and all things comedy. She is also great at racking up copious amounts of credit card debt with spur-of-the-moment travel.

24 Karat Goldapps Present The American Songbook

Cameron Goldapp and Lindsay Goldapp Imagine a simpler time, such as the 1950s, when duos dominated the air waves. Sounds refreshing, I do say. If you do say, too, then come out to the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) on Thursday, June 4, to see 24 Karat Goldapps perform a show featuring classic American standards and dancing.

One half of the duo, Lindsay Goldapp, sat down with me at her computer for a Gchat to tell me more about the show. And because it's instant messaging, we talked about other things, as well (edited, though, for grammar, punctuation, and clarity).

Lindsay Goldapp Hey, we're just Gchatting and not video chatting right?

Jason Hensel I'm back...had to make a Smoothie King run. Yeah, just Gchatting.

Lindsay Goldapp Oh good. I look like a total scumbag.

Jason Hensel Don't you know? Scumbag is the look of the year.

Lindsay Goldapp You can't fool me, Jason.

Jason Hensel Speaking of fooling...tell me about this show.

Lindsay Goldapp It's just this dumb thing we're doing, and we're gonna be so stupid. I was chatting with Zach Muhn yesterday, and his exact quote was, "I love stupid shit, and you guys are the dumbest. This is going to be great."

Jason Hensel What makes the show the greatest, dumbest, stupid thing ever?

Lindsay Goldapp I know that doesn't actually tell you anything about the content of the show, but I just think it's high praise. So I started in music. I have this musical family. My dad's a bluegrass musician, and they're all great blah blah blah...I'll tell you that story some other time. But the point is, I started in music, and I've done musicals my whole life and I have this deep, abiding love for campy musicals and trite old-fashioned plots and the idea of there being "a simpler time." Cameron and I both love the American standards and all of the old crooners—Frank, Dean, Ella, Lena, so on and so forth. So we just really wanted to lampoon that time and that style (lampoon/pay tribute/honor/satirize...however you might see it).

Jason Hensel Kind of like a vaudeville show?

Lindsay Goldapp Yeah, I think so, but one that knows how absurd it is. I have this running list of dream shows that I want to write/create and this was one. My husband is the best, so he was on board.

Jason Hensel Meta vaudeville.

Lindsay Goldapp Sure, let's coin in that.

Jason Hensel Done. What are some of the songs you'll be singing?

Lindsay Goldapp “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “Mack the Knife,” You Make Me Feel So Young,” “Fever,” that sort of thing.

Jason Hensel I love all of those songs! Will y'all be in costumes?

Lindsay Goldapp How could anyone not!? They're America! We will be. I'm a big stickler for production value, so no matter what kind of project i'm doing—big or small—I like to commit 100 percent.

Jason Hensel I hear ya. I like when a show has put some thought into the overall experience of the show.

Lindsay Goldapp Like it could be a 15-minute improv set in a nursing home, and I'd be like, "No jeans, and we need an entrance." Same here. I guess it's especially true with this stylized show, because we're asking you to be a part of this ridiculous universe.

Jason Hensel Will there be audience singalongs? Also, will there be live music or will you sing to pre-recorded backing tracks

24KGoldappLindsay Goldapp I won't spoil the show by revealing the content. And no, we have a musical director. A good musical director is so important, and Colten [Winburn] is a gem. Also my dad thinks "canned music" (his phrase) is an abomination.

Jason Hensel Anyone else in addition to you, Cameron, and Colten involved in the show?

Lindsay Goldapp Zach Muhn is our director. He's a national fucking treasure.

Jason Hensel We should encase him in the National Gallery.

Lindsay Goldapp Finally someone agrees with me.

Jason Hensel Can we get a show where Cameron and Zach just stand on stage and vape for 30 minutes? Tyler [Simpson] can run side commentary, and they can react to his play-by-play.

Lindsay Goldapp SUBMIT IT NOW.

Jason Hensel I'll submit it, and then everyone will be too busy to practice.

Lindsay Goldapp Cameron and Zach together, onstage, in any capacity is pure gold. Hahahahaha yes. Wait did an emoticon just pop up and laugh? Because I typed hahahaha?

Jason Hensel Little animals pop up.

Lindsay Goldapp Jesus Christ. Gchat has jumped the shark.

Jason Hensel Some unlisted number just called me from North Dakota on this Hangouts program.

Lindsay Goldapp Bizarre.

Jason Hensel Yeah, and it happened right when you typed hahahaha.

Lindsay Goldapp That thing overestimated how hard I laughed, I think. Anyway, this show.

Jason Hensel Hahahaha. Yes, the show. Y'all did this show in Chicago, too, yes?

Lindsay Goldapp We did not. We did a different sketch show together.

Jason Hensel Ah, gotcha.

Lindsay Goldapp That one wasn't stylized like this. That was more of a straight sketch show. We wrote the sketches, but we also wrote original songs. We didn't write the songs in this one. We wanted to do the standards.

That was my first sketch show right out of graduating from Second City, and It's something I'm proud of but I'd like to think we've learned a thing or two since then.

Jason Hensel So, this show is a one-time deal, yes?

Lindsay Goldapp Well, stay tuned on that. We want to get it on its feet in front of an audience. We really like to challenge and push ourselves comedically (Gchat says that isn't a word, but I call bullshit), and we're definitely doing that with this show. We've done a lot of sketch, but this vaudeville thing is definitely new territory for us.

Jason Hensel Personally, I'm excited because I love when new, different shows are produced at DCH. And I love the old comedy/vaudeville style.

Lindsay Goldapp Yeah, I'm always jonesing for new stuff.

Jason Hensel For years, I've wanted to do a commedia dell'arte show, but it's never gotten off the ground.

Lindsay Goldapp OMG dude. I used to be in a commedia group. Holler at me.

Jason Hensel HOLLER!

Lindsay Goldapp Fair. I like the idea of exploring where comedy came from.

Jason Hensel Me, too.

Lindsay Goldapp But I also have reservations about how well it would play with a modern audience. So, I don't know if that means you modernize the form or go meta or what.

Jason Hensel I think it would be a fun and challenging problem to work on.

Lindsay Goldapp For sure. I also always worry about doing comedy for comedy people. Like, sure, some comedians know what commedia is and they might appreciate the art but if a regular Joe-off-the-street comes to that show, will he "get it" or find it entertaining? No idea. Again, probably a fun and challenging problem to work with,

But I never want to just do comedy for myself. Like, yes, it should make me tick and be self-expression and what not, but, like, I gotta get dem laughs.

I can't ask an audience to come watch something that isn't funny just to fulfill a comedy dream of mine. They're paying money!

Real money!

Jason Hensel I think it comes down to marketing and promotion. I've been to plenty of plays that are supposed to be funny, for example, that I didn't find funny at all. Still, I didn't mind paying because I knew I was watching a play and not some random show. I invested money, because I knew the troupe/cast/venue invested in the performance, too.

And you have to let audiences know that.

Lindsay Goldapp And I am so glad that you're a person who feels that way and that people like you exist, because I have a hard time sitting through art that I don't thoroughly enjoy. I don't know when I got that way, but I think it was when I had my kid and started thinking, "Ugh, I spent $50 on a babysitter and another $50 on tickets, and I could just be home playing with my kid who will be 18 and move out in the blink of an eye," or "Ugh, I could be asleep."

Jason Hensel I tend more to that second reason, being asleep, more often now, too, just for the record.

Lindsay Goldapp I used to be a "I'll sleep when I die" person, but then I had a kid and didn't sleep for a year, and now I'm a "I'll sleep wherever whenever" person.

Ugh. That kid. He ruined me and saved me all at once.

Jason Hensel I hear that kids are sleep thieves. OK...let's wrap things up with one more question.

Lindsay Goldapp Shoot.

Jason Hensel I just posted a story in the performers Facebook page about comedy's second boom. What kind of second boom do you foresee for the comedy scene in Dallas and the community around DCH?

Lindsay Goldapp OOO, great question.

So, I think Dallas is playing a little bit of catch-up, which makes sense. We're a more conservative community that wasn't full of venues, etc.

I do really think that the comedy here has sort of mirrored the community and its values, and now that DCH has grown and found its weirdos, outcasts, and progressives, we're going to go warp speed. That's also probably a reflection of the city itself. I mean, Dallas went blue in the last election. Liberalism isn't just a political party. It's a forward way of thinking and a culture that invites innovation and exploration and change.

So, I think that DCH, Addison, Four Day, etc., have introduced Dallas to comedy and how to enjoy and explore it. I think the comedy community is going to be further inspired to push themselves comedically (again, "comedically" not a word...psssh).

Anyway, that's waxing philosophical on this topic, but I really do think it relates to the community and I'm so so so so happy that it's all happening. We were so scared to move here, because we were just around so many creative people without any boundaries and we were so relieved to find DCH and its band of weirdos, outcasts, and artists pushing Dallas.

Jason Hensel And we're equally glad y'all moved here to add to the weirdo pot.

Lindsay Goldapp Thanks. We're just stupid idiots who like to get laughs.

Jason Hensel Aren't we all? Last thing: Send us out with a song that could be in your show.

Lindsay Goldapp Man I'm deciding if I want to pooch a joke. No. I don't. So here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIAEAVKcKrs

Jason Hensel Excellent choice. Thank you for the interview, and I'll see you at the show!

Lindsay Goldapp Thank YOU, sir! Make me sound pretty and skinny, OK?

Jason Hensel Of course. I'll only quote from the waist up and shoot from above.

Get your tickets now for 24 Karat Goldapps Present The American Songbook on Thursday, June 4, at the Dallas Comedy House.

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 Year-End Spectacular (Part One)

We've loved many things this year - books, movies, tv shows, websites, people - but these things we loved  the A-Number One Best.   

fe66b2db92fc4b458530464df6bbf9fbWomen on TV fall mostly into three categories:

- terrible stereotypes of dumb girls and bad jokes (every show on CBS) - super-hot girls getting murdered (every show on the CW or ABC Family) - better-but-still-somehow-a-stereotype smart women doing intense things who have no time for love (every show on NBC).

This is a huge bummer for the majority of women who are sometimes cool, sometimes self-conscious, sometimes funny, sometimes angry, sometimes hot, sometimes gross, but always women.

Thank you, Broad City.

Ilana Glazer and Abby Jacobsen have nailed stories about being a woman, and more specifically, being a millennial woman. They’re just trying to get their lives together—bad jobs, weird love, gate-crashed parties, god-awful roommates, and sweet sweet Bed Bath & Beyond discounts.

It’s so refreshing to see a true-to-life friendship on TV where two women go through some serious weirdness together, but always have each other’s backs. They’re gonna get into the weeds with buying drugs for the first time, ending up with two guys who desperately want a four-way, or getting way too drunk at your birthday dinner. They’re gonna be ugly sometimes, be mean, and do gross things to and for one another. They’re gonna fight. They’re gonna yell. It’s not always pretty, it is always funny.

Even as ugly as it can get sometimes (because that’s real life), for the love of Carol Burnett, they’re real women telling real stories. We need that. - Noa Gavin

8 Out Of 10 Cats Does CountdownI love word games. I love game shows. Wheel of Fortune is one of my favorite shows of all time. If there's game in the title, I probably like it. I like trivia. I also like comedy. Along this theme, what I loved in 2014 is 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. It's a mash-up of two things I love: word games, and British accents.

Let me explain. Countdown is a British game show that is a combination of word games, and math games.  It's a panel show where comedians make jokes about current events. kind of like Best Week Ever, but it also shows these same comedians doing poorly at math! What more could you ask for? Plus, tt's been around since 1982! That's a long time!

8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown is hosted by comedian Jimmy Carr, with a rotating cast of comedians including Jon Richardson, Sean Lock, Joe Wilkinson, Rhod Gilbert, and David O'Doherty, all vying for the prize of a countdown teapot.

If you're like me and like to jumble letters in your head to think of other words, and also like to laugh, then give 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown a try, and tell 'em Jua sent ya. – Jua Holt

Interstellar1-210x300Sometimes when you admit to something you love, you have to be willing to look stupid. I feel foolish admitting this, but my favorite thing from 2014 is one line out of a movie, Interstellar. You know, the one where it’s the future, Earth is dying, and Matthew McConaghey has to find humanity a new home.

John Lithgow is his father in law. He remembers life before Earth was a dried up dust bowl, and in one moment he pretty much blew my mind. He is talking about the way things use to be: how there was a new invention just about every day, how every day was like Christmas, and how there were 7 billion people on the planet, every one of them trying to have it all.

His wistful look at the past (our present) made me think. Why are we all trying to have it all? We can’t possibly, but at least in our minds (or maybe just my mind) we want to. We think we can. And we get upset when we can’t. And we (I) throw fits when things do not go our way. But hey, there are 7 BILLION OTHER PEOPLE also trying to get their own way, and we just aren’t all gonna get it. And in the movie, there is a stark contrast- humans go from trying to have it all to struggling to survive.

I have thought about this a lot. More than the black holes, relativity, or other sciencey stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the special effects in Interstellar were cool, but Mr. Lithgow’s delivery in this scene made an impact on me. It sure beats hearing Michael Caine recite "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" ONE MORE TIME. - Molly Jakkamsetti

Jack-Links-Sriracha-Beef-JerkyWell, they did it. Show’s over, go home. Competition quelled. In 2014, Jack Links, purveyor of fine, dried beef snacks, offering classic variations of their “jerky” such as: cracked black pepper flavor and (my old favorite) carne asada with real jalapeno, ventured out onto the proverbial limb and landed on what will be remembered as their ultimate jerky incarnation: Sriracha Beef Jerky. Let’s get one thing straight - I’m not one of those jerk-off, try-hards that loves to tout their love of Sriracha sauce as some kind of hipster/foodie virtue. I just have an unnatural affinity for beef jerky, and I love spicy stuff.

This is the best gas station snack available. It’s spicy without being too spicy. It’s chewy and beefy. It’s a primal, visceral, delicious experience. You finish a bag knowing you’d give your next breath for there to be another spicy, meaty shard lingering at the bottom of the pouch. You think about your life. You think about the news. You realize you forgot about the crushing weight of existence for a few minutes as you inhaled this fantastic foodstuff.

I scoff at doofuses who walk right by this ridiculously delicious snack option in favor of literally anything else. Just last summer, I witnessed a young man pilfer a pack of Cigarillos with Jack Link’s Sriracha Beef Jerky plainly in sight, risking incarceration for a cheap, Georgia O'Keefe vagina desert flower reprint when an original Frida Kahlo is within view. Who can say what became of that young man? Hopefully he went on to make better choices. I guess I just don’t get it. I don’t get why other people don’t eat this at every chance possible, because I do. I love it. The end. Of this article. – Tim Brewer

811This year, I loved something that you can’t really measure in critical acclaim. I guess if there was something for it, “feels” would be a just description. 2014 was 12 months of real relationships with real people: new and old friends, a continued spark of love for my wife and learning to take more time for myself and the things that interest me. So as I look back at the things I loved the most, each is surrounded by these little pockets of happiness that involved the people in my life. Inside jokes, learning people’s pasts, their futures, and ultimately giving up a piece of myself in return along the way.

What I’m trying to get at is this: among the quiet hum of the things we ingest on a daily, yearly, life-long basis, take a second to push aside the veil of pride that accompanies your likes and dislikes, and think about the people who shaped, affected or made your 2014 an all around better experience. I know I will.

Oh, and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was probably the greatest cinematic experience of the past decade from writing, acting, directing, score, execution -- everything. Man, those drums accompanying the movement of that film just had this kinetic burst, didn't it? High praise for that film.

But also, people. People are what matter. – Andrew Plock

anna-kendrick-pitch-perfect-650-430I’m crazy. I don’t just love things. I obsessively love things. And the person I love the most that isn’t a family member or friend is Anna Kendrick. If you’ve had a conversation with me, seen my iPhone case, or follow me on Instagram, more than likely you picked up on my love. Why do I love her so much? She’s funny, beautiful, intelligent, talented, driven, humble - I could go on. She’s basically everything I want to be. And I truly feel that if we were ever to meet, we would become best friends. Her tweets make me laugh. Her face makes me smile. Hearing her talk brings pure joy to my heart.

Anna’s birthday is August 9th. My birthday is July 9th. I KNOW. Our birthdays are a month apart. How destined to be best friends are we?! My birthday this year was very special. I had a show a few days after my birthday. After the show, I was talking to Sean, my best friend. Sean steered me towards the lobby of DCH and waiting for me was a cardboard cutout of Anna Kendrick. I was surprised, happy, and touched. I couldn’t believe that Anna (I know it’s not the real Anna) was in front of me. She was all mine. Sean orchestrated the surprise with our friends. So thanks Sean, Amanda, Ashley, Britney, Carolyn, Clarence, Clifton, Dana, Jonda, Jua, Mike, Milo, Nick, Rob, Sarah, and Weikei for giving me the thing I love most this year – Anna. I don’t deserve to have such sweet, caring, understanding, wonderful friends.

Are you interested in joining the Anna Kendrick fan club? I suggest you watch Pitch Perfect, 50/50, and Up in the Air. After you watch those, you can join me in watching her upcoming films, Pitch Perfect 2, The Last Five Years, Cake, and Into the Woods (out December 25th)! – Monica Pantharath

ArianaGrandeLast week I cried to Ariana Grande. It was very unexpected and a little scary because it was such a visceral reaction that I wasn’t ready for. See, I spend most of my time thinking about pop music and recently I’ve been wondering about the difference between a pop song and a POP SONG. A pop song is usually boring and released in May, just in time to capitalize on the breezy summer months. Its cultural importance is fleeting and the song is uncomplicated. There are many of these. A POP SONG changes lives. A POP SONG is important. This song serves all of your feelings on a neatly decorated dessert platter and leaves you to clean up the mess. It’s the difference between Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and Britney’s “Toxic.” There are always tears during this song.

This year all of my emotions were served to me by Ariana Grande. Before I heard “Love Me Harder,” I had no real opinion on her. She was a singer who existed; a ponytail with vocals. Ariana caught me off guard. I was sitting in my car eating when Ariana’s now trademark vocals flowed through my speakers over a synth pop beat. She was pleading for the love of her life to “love her harder” if he wanted to keep her. Listening to that, coupled with the fact that I was eating an ugly sandwich alone, had me tearing up by the 45 second mark. By the end of the song, I bought her album. What surprised me was how much of a personal connection I made with the song. She, like all of us, deserve the best kind of love. With “Love Me Harder,” Ariana put me completely into my feelings and solidified herself as a pop star. I just hope the next time she does this to me I’m more prepared. – Jerrell Curry

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