sketch writing

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: Prepared Material, True-Crime, Fake Crime

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison can handle the truth, Jonda Robinson likes it real, and Rachel Hall assigns homework. 10270314_10152469666271935_5549480507233317716_nAs someone that performs comedy at the theater for which this Internet page exists, I have been known to use this weekly space to talk up shows that I’m doing. This week, I’m breaking all the rules, because what I’m loving is a show at the Dallas Comedy House THAT I AM NOT IN. I know, I didn’t think it was possible either. What I’m loving is !Cambio Cambio!, the latest sketch revue at DCH.

Sketch comedy is something that the Dallas Comedy House put a lot of effort into teaching in 2014. There is now a three-level program in place, from which you learn what it takes to put on a sketch show AND you get a four-week run for whatever revue your class created. In this case, the class put together a smart showcase that does a nice job of mixing funny moments in with truth. A favorite scene was where a pig must leave it’s owner to live life on its on terms.

Once this goes up, you’ll have two remaining opportunities to see the show (12/4 and 12/11 at 8pm). And once you check it out, sign up for the sketch program! You’ll learn a new craft and grow as an actor.

OH! And if you want to sign up for sketch or improv classes, then take advantage of the Black Friday sale coming up. You save $50 off of any class at the Dallas Comedy House if you buy them the day after Thanksgiving. Do it! - David Allison

serial-social-logoI have always been a fan of true crime stories. As a teenager I was fascinated by Ann Rule’s book, The Stranger Beside Me, in which she recounts her true story of working on a crisis hotline with serial killer Ted Bundy and slowly realizing that he was the murderer everyone was looking for. Later it was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood that drew me in with its beautiful prose and ghastly tale of murder in a Kansas farmhouse. Nowadays, If I run across Dateline telling the sordid details of some relationship gone wrong, I can’t pass it up.

Considering all of this, the currently popular podcast Serial is right up my alley. I started listening to it this week, and I’m so intrigued by all the details. The podcast features host Sarah Koenig (producer for This American Life) investigating the details of a true story over the course of a season. Currently she’s looking into the 1999 murder of high school senior Hae Min Lee in Baltimore. Hae’s ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was 17 at the time, is currently serving a life sentence for the crime. As the story unfolds over each episode, new details are unraveled that call in to question what really happened. Is Adnan really the killer? Did the jury really get all the information? There are lots of twists and turns along the way that so far have provided more questions than answers. I’m really, really hoping we get answers by the end.

I highly recommend checking out Serial on your daily commute, or run, or lunch break, or whenever you preferred podcast time is. If you’re anything like me, you’ll move quickly through the episodes in search of answers, making your own assumptions and hoping that truth will be found. - Jonda Robinson

TheFollowingNetflix is awesome! Duh. Nothing new there, Rachel. Yes, we all know Netflix is awesome until it isn't. Who hasn't discovered the greatest show of all time, binge watched all seven seasons in one week, then the complained about how dumb Netflix was because there is nothing to watch! Well, I am here to fix your Netflix blues with the current greatest show of all time—The Following.

Not to long ago at work, I stumbled into a conversation that was not Game of Thrones, Scandal, or The Walking Dead related; these are all shows I started and am now hooked on due to peer pressure and a need to feel like I belong. The show they were discussing was called The Following starring Ren McCormick (a.k.a. Kevin Bacon). It centers around a extremely handsome and british serial killer named Joe Carroll and his cult of aspiring killers. Essentially the show goes like this (don’t worry there are absolutely no spoilers, so please continue reading). Years ago a detective, Ron McCormick, looking to make a name for himself in the FBI, devotes his a career to catching a serial killer who is terrorizing a college town. The killers’ victims are all women in their early 20s, the weapon used is a knife, and the signature of the killer is removing the victim's eyes. Did I mention this show is normally aired on FOX? Through some great TV detective work, Ren learns that the serial is in fact popular English professor and failed writer, Joe Carroll. Also through the discovery, Ren is almost killed and Joe Carroll is sent to prison. Super long story short, Carroll—with a lot of help—breaks out of prison, and serial killing terror begins to reign over the U.S.

Shonda Rhimes has nothing on the writers on this show. Never in my life have I actively been nervous and a little scared to watch a TV show. Not even that crazy clown on American Horror Story disturbs me like The Following does. Allow me to channel my inner Stefon and say this show has everything! Love, murder, action, mind tricks, Kevin Bacon, and excellent fitted jeans, hot British guys, adorable man ice. What’s adorable man ice? It's that thing where Shawn Ashmore, Iceman from X-Men:Days of Future Past, makes you feel all the feelings. This show will have you distrusting everyone and full of anxiety. In fact, I may have had an anxiety attack watching this! In all seriousness, The Following is the most suspenseful show on FOX and on TV.

Episode after episode, I watched Ren put clues together, and episode after episode, I was genuinely shocked at what I saw and what would come next. Unlike most shows where you learn its formula and eventually stop watching - I’M LOOKING AT YOU SCANDAL - this show will have you guessing and thinking well after you finish it. Just give it a chance, you guys. Go watch the first episode and then tell me what you think in a week. I say a week because you get hooked, call in from work, and binge watch this show. Kevin Bacon has never given us a real reason to distrust him; look how he convinced an entire town dancing was the answer. Oh, and at no point during the show does Kevin Bacon shout “LET’S DANCE” while chunks of glitter fly in a old building on the other side of the tracks in a red velvet tux. Sorry. - Rachel Hall

What We're Loving: Calories, Creativity, Love Not Meant To Be, Donut Metaphors

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Ryan Callahan goes first,  Jonda Robinson celebrates the creative process, Brittany Smith loves trash, and David Allison takes a walk in another man's shoes.  nycskyline6A rather our-of-the-blue job offer led to a sudden work trip to New York City this week. Now that I'm here, I get to do two of my favorite things: walk around the city and eat. I don't get many chances to walk around in Dallas, unless it is to my car or from my car or between DCH and Uncle Uber's. In New York I walk everywhere. And I get to see all the sights: crazy people talking to no one, crazy people talking to people who aren't listening, people in suits, young college kids walking in packs and pretending to be Vinnie Chase, and couples fighting. I've been here two nights and I've spent both of them walking aimlessly around the city and people watching.

With all this walking I work up quite an appetite. In the past two days alone, I have eaten FIVE slices of pizza, two from Two Boots, two from a tourist trap named "Taste of Little Italy" and one that cost only 99 cents. The 99 cent slice was the best. I've also managed to eat a schnitzel sandwich and three delicious risotto balls from the Arancini Bros booth at Madison Square Eats. Oh, and on a scout yesterday the owner of a restaurant would not let me leave without eating some of his veal meatballs and homemade garlic bread. Little did he know he was playing right into my plan. (For the record, my plan is "eat whenever possible.")

I still haven't had time to visit the Red Hook Lobster Pound for one of their Connecticut style lobster rolls. (Warm, fresh lobster meat piled on a toasted hot dog bun and covered with melted butter) but they, too, have a booth at Madison Square Eats. It's only a matter of time.

If you ever happen to find yourself in New York in the fall, or really any time, I suggest walking everywhere. You'll save money on cab fare, you'll get exercise, and you'll stumble across some extraordinary eateries you won't find anywhere else. Join me again next week, when I'm probably going to write about Strand Boos Store.  - Ryan Callahan

10649706_754258354815_8449199643302227645_nI believe that we’re all programmed to create. It’s why three-year-olds make Crayola masterpieces, why musicians pen lyrics and pair them with music, why chefs cook up masterpiece dishes...etc., etc. Recently, I had the chance to help create something that didn’t exist before with my Level Three Sketch Class at Dallas Comedy House. They are an absolutely fantastic group of people, so indulge me this week as I express my love for my sketch mates and the sketch baby that we created, a show called Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations.

When we began the task of creating this show, we started out with a discussion of what was going on in each of our lives. As usually occurs in life and through comedy, we found out that hey, we’re not all that different! We had some of the same issues, questions, and ideas and that we were grappling with in life, and we went from there on our journey. Our writing room became a safe place to write commentary on real issues, propose seemingly silly ideas, and collaboratively put together the pieces of our sketch puzzle without fear of being laughed at--only laughed with--which lead us to some fun, crazy places that we never would’ve arrived at on our own.

So maybe this post seems like a shameless plug, and maybe it is. I’m definitely not going to discourage you from coming to our sketch show this upcoming Thursday night at 8:00 pm at Dallas Comedy House (click here for tickets). We’d seriously love to have you. Even more than that, though, I encourage you to figure out whatever your creative outlet is and put yourself out there to pursue it and work with others on it. If you’re anything like me, it’ll be good for your mind and soul, and you’ll probably even have some fun along the way. - Jonda Robinson

guilty_detective_story_196003I recently found out that a friend of mine is moving to another city, so in his memory, I wanted to invest time into taking in something that he enjoys. This week I’m loving crime stories! But I didn’t want to buy anything, invest too much time, listen to a dumb audiobook or put much effort in at all. With these constraints in mind, I searched Google for “crime short story,” hoping that I would find at least one. 0.39 seconds later, I was staring at 84,100,000 results. Finally, a break in the case!

The short story, “Death By Scrabble,” was fresh, like the wet glaze on a new batch of Krispy Kremes. I stared down the tale, making i contact with it’s many vowels. There I found an innocence, a cheery disposition one doesn’t normally find on the pages of a website obviously created from a template.

As I worked my way through it’s paragraphs, I began to realize that I might be the only person on the internet currently reading this story. I looked left. I looked right. Nothing. It was just me and this tale, like a protagonist and an antagonist in an alley just before the denouement.

The tale ended and I sat there, confused. What had I just read? Throughout the entire piece there was no robbery, murder, not a dastardly deed in sight. Like any good detective, I retraced my steps and realized that I simply clicked on the number one short story, not the number one  crime short story. Thwarted again. - David Allison

Love PrisonI should start this off with a disclaimer: I’m not a gutter person, I just like gutter people things. I eat McDonald’s twice a week and I keep up with the Kardashians, I’m a kid from the ‘burbs through and through. This is what led me to A&E’s new social experiment, Love Prison. Love Prison is the beautifully unholy marriage of Catfish and Orange is the New Black; it takes people who have been flirting online and sticks them in a house for a week without connection to the outside world.

On this week’s episode we meet Rosie and Chris who have been talking online for two years. To understand the type of girl Rosie is, imagine 99% of the women you see in Uptown. Rosie mentions three  times in the first fifteen minutes of the show that Chris is not the type of guy she normally goes for, in that he probably doesn’t have an HGH dealer. To put a finer point on it she adds that not being into fitness is a “deal-breaker” for her. Another deal-breaker for Rosie came when she had to retrieve her own salad dressing from the table during their first dinner. (The nerve of Chris to think she could reach it!)

For Chris, the deal-breaker came when he learned that Rosie had been dating two other men while they had been talking whereas he had been saving himself for her and had been “unconsciously waiting for her before they started talking”. Chris then doubles down on the crazy by calling his mom right after their first kiss, tells her about said kiss and then proclaims that Rosie is the “kind of woman he’d like to bring home."

These people are garbage and this show is garbage, but one man’s trash is this girl’s treasure. - Brittany Smith