Saturday, February 20, 2010

Acme Stands Up

Catch me Sunday, February 21st at 8:00PM for Acme Stands-Up, a stand up show to benefit the American Heart Association.

I'll be performing alongside ACME Comedy alumnae Jamie Kaler (My Boys), Michael Bunin, Adam Gropman, Annie Girard, Jamie Brunton, Josh Paget, Kevin Small, Matt Champagne, Sara McLain, Simon King, and Tom Clark.

Tickets are $5 (proceeds going to the AHA), comfy theater seats, no drink minimum. It doesn't get better than that! Check out the event on Facebook or go to http://acmecomedy.com/#6 for all the info!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Acme 2 Nite Saturday and Other Assorted Fun

I love weeks when I'm involved in a bunch of shows. It makes me feel like I'm earning the air I've been sucking up, as opposed to being a freeloading mooch crashing on the couch of Life, trying to duck out on chipping in for groceries as Life gives me an exasperated eyeroll to find out I spent my whole night playing Sims 2 AGAIN.

So Saturday was the big prep for the Acme2Nite sketch show.

I met up with Joanne (a.k.a. Melanie from The Fall of Paul) to run through some lines. We tried to hit Waffles and More up in Encino (why does Encino feel like a vacation? I gotta get out of town more...), but turns out my favorite little hideaway has turned into Waffles and More People. So we went to a little Russian teahouse instead and bothered the cranky chefs with line-throughs of some sketches involving faux Russian accents and a pretty fair representation of The Cuss Words Of America.

After brunch in the gorgeous 74-degree weather (suck it East coast! You may have art and culture, but we can wear flip flops and tube tops in the winter!), I headed over to Ralphs to pick out the most attrocious Valentine's day gifts I could pick out. I settled on singing cards, a balloon bouquet, and an Elmer's candy heart, which I always wanted as a kid SO BAD because it had a plastic rose and LACE on the heart box. Mom kept insisting on giving me See's candy instead. I was so abused.

I then headed over to Goodwill to try and find a pair of camos for a military sketch only to get home and see that I missed that my character was in the CIA and as long as I doubled up on the control top pantyhose, I could probably fit into one of the dusty suits sitting long forgotten in my closet and call it a day.

I downloaded some of the worst love songs I could find. It was a toss-up on the throw up factor and then realized that I am officially a part of the problem. ITunes doesn't know my library is a selecion of The Most Horrible Hits of the 80s and 90s and gosh, I hope they don't decide to start suggesting music to me based upon past purchases. I'm sorry, America, that I contributed 99-cents to Music To Stab Out Your Eardrums.

Drove pell mell to the theater, landed just in time, and got in the single run through we got before curtain.

So, I'm a pretty traditionally trained actor. I've been doing this for about 20-years now and always felt that rehearsal was a pretty important thing in putting together a show.

With the new timeslot of Acme2Nite, we, unfortunately, don't get a run through in the space before we put it before a live studio audience.

I was pretty sure we were about to take a nice, hour long swim in the River Stinks, but much to my surprise, it turned out to be a good show. We're allowed now to bring back old sketches, which is so much fun and a lot less pressure. And then with the new sketches, we suddenly had the freedom to go off book and improvise a bit since, heck, no one can be expected to remember 40-minutes worth of script word for word without a rehearsal.

I felt really good about the stuff I got to do and I couldn't have been prouder of my fellow castmates who jumped into my zombie valentine sketch with two feet. Nothing like seeing your undead, blood covered buddies having a zombie makeout session on the dance floor to put a grin on a girl's face.

Afterwards, the Giddys were there to hug me around my neck and whisk me off to French onion soup at The French Market, our favorite after hours hangout for great food and great transvestite hooker watching (and the ladies were looking lovely. The night was just young enough that the beards hadn't come out yet). We chatted and recounted and laughed till our faces hurt and ushered in Valentines day sometime between the fried zucchini and grilled cheese sandwich courses.

Hollywood Dream Role 2/12/10 in Review

Last Friday night, I got to do Hollywood Dream Role with the fantastically talented Elaine Hendrix.

I'm in this show!


I can't even imagine how mindblowingly terrifying it would be to step out onto stage and improvise with a rowdy bunch of random actors and Elaine rocked it hard.

Her dream role would be to star in a romantic comedy/horror film.

Hollywood Dream Role with Elaine Hendrix


So we were happy to oblige.

It ended up that she was a rich girl engaged to a rich boy, until their car hit a snowbank and flipped. Pulling herself from the wreckage, she found a sad little cat. And then passed out. She woke up to find herself alone in a creepy mansion with a murderous madman. Meanwhile, a poor mechanic from the wrong side of the tracks, well, his truck broke down and he sought shelter in the mansion and stumbled upon Elaine in her solitary confinement.

Turns out the cat was evil.

Hollywood Dream Role with Elaine Hendrix


And was controlling the madman.

That's me dead on the ground...


And Elaine had to kill it with a gun she named AIG. Or Goldman Sacs. Or Wall Street. I only heard the naming scene. I was playing the corpse at the time.

It was an absolute hoot and one of those shows where you go, "Only made possible through the power of improv..."

Hollywood Dream Role with Elaine Hendrix


The Acme Comedy Theater is undergoing a really exciting renaissance right now and I am so excited to be a part of it. Hollywood Dream Role, Theater Sports, the sketch shows... It's pretty cool to get to play with this pack-o-awesome!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pluggity Plug Plug Plug

Just a reminder that tonight, I will be appearing in Hollywood Dream Role with Elaine Hendrix! Tomorrow night, I'm in a mess of awesome sketches in Acme 2 Nite!

Discount tickets available at Acme Comedy.

And the very first sketch show I ever did was with John McDermott at Second City back in 2003. I was pretty sure at that moment I Had Arrived. So cute, right? We remounted some of the "Best Of" sketches (see below) at iO West a few years later. Such good times...



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yesterday, in improv rehearsal, I got to play a blood thirsty zombie were-sheep, I was forced to try out my hand at an hispanic accent and failed gloriously in Frankenstein-like mix of Italian and Irish, and tried to escape a spider alien invasion with my true love, Tad. Astroid hits, gun battles, Irish moors, chases through tunnels...

That, my friends, is why I love improv.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Acme 2 Nite

And if Friday wasn't exciting enough, I'm in the sketch show Saturday night and one of my sketches involves zombie. I won't tell you which one. But I'll give you a hint. The word "Zombie" in the title.

I'm in this show 2/13/10!

Host: ACME Comedy
Date: Saturday, February 13, 2010
Time: 9:00pm - 10:30pm
Location: The Famous ACME Comedy Theatre in Hollywood
Street: 135 N. La Brea Ave.
City/Town: Hollywood, CA

A mix of brand new sketches and some classic favorites, plus the latest entertainment news/nonsense in the Excess Hollywood segment.

Tickets: $5 online, $10 at the door.

http://www.acmecomedy.com/#4

Hollywood Dream Role 2/12/10

I'm in this show!

Unscripted Hollywood Dream Role
Special Guest Star: Elaine Hendrix
Host: ACME Comedy
Date: Friday, February 12, 2010
Time: 9:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: The Famous ACME Comedy Theatre in Hollywood
Street: 135 N. La Brea Ave.
City/Town: Hollywood, CA
Tickets $8 online, $12 at the door:

http://www.acmecomedy.com/#1

What happens when a celebrity lands the role of a lifetime, but there’s no script, so the actors have to make it up as they go? Is it a Dream Role, or a Nightmare?

This week starring Elaine Hendrix (Good Intentions", "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2", "The Parent Trap", "Superstar", "What the Bleep", "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion", http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005006/)

Each week our celebrity guest star joins ACME’s top improvisers to create a film-like story, based on the guest star’s choice of genre and a “dream role” they’d love to play. Action-adventure, film noir, romantic comedy, horror - anything! What follows is an unscripted tale with shining moments and scenes that go delightfully wrong... all to fulfill our guest star’s desire to play their “Hollywood Dream Role"!

This week starring:

Maurissa Afanador
Jeff Ahern
Brian Breiter
Kate Danley
Matt Key
Susan Peahl
Tony Rago

Directed by Joseph Limbaugh
Produced by Dan Kane
Title Theme by Jonathan Green

This is an Online TV Show, broadcast LIVE from the Famous ACME Comedy Theatre in Hollywood. To watch live online, go to http://www.acmecomedy.com and click "Live Broadcast"!

The Mighty Is

Past couple days have been fun. I'm reading a book by Keith Johnstone called Impro. It's totally hippy dippy, but in that fantastic non-new age-y, overthrow the establishment, step out of line and think out of the box, WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP sort of way.

For instance, he suggests drawing something and talks about people who believe they can't draw and how the idea that we can't draw is a symbol of The Man crushing our creative consciousnesses.

Now, I can't draw. There is nothing that comes out of my hand that I want to look at and/or subjugate anyone to gaze upon.

But the whole book is about going beyond the boundaries of "good" and "bad" and just effin' doing something for the sake of the experience, which is something I really need to get behind. Last week, I tried sitting down to Write Anything and the Muse was cockblocking me right and left.

So I got out my markers and drew a picture of a princess and a castle and a green dragon.

It was pretty darn horrible.

But then I wondered, "I wonder what it would be like to draw with my left hand?"

Turns out my left hand has a certain palsy charm to it.

huh. turns out my left hand can sorta draw.

Now, I found out about this book because of an improv class I took a million years ago. The teacher had suggested it and I bought it and then promptly decided to read trashy vampire books for the next three years, instead.

I'm currently retaking the improv class because my brain don't work so good, though. I got knocked on the noggin last year and I'm slowly gaining back the IQ points I dropped. Brain damage, rusty performance skills, stiffled creativity... Who knows what was feeding the monster, but I was failing miserably at improv and sketch.

Sunday in class, though, I decided to actively fight the urge to be "clever" or "witty" or "smart". And it worked in a very juicy, soul satisfying way.

Last night, I had to pitch some sketches for Saturday's show (see: Acme 2 Nite) and, for the first time in a bit, I didn't come away wanting to bathe with toasters. In fact, I had a pretty darn tootin' good time.

So, young grasshopper, as the wise old kung fu masters have tried to impart upon us since the dawn of lip sync, there is not good or bad, just is. But what a glorious Is is that Is. And that's where I is today.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sleep Walk With Me - A Narcisistic, Self-Centered Review of a Mindblowing Show

Last night, the Giddies took me out to see Mike Birbiglia's show Sleepwalk with Me, which was showing in the tiny, 100-seat UCB theater for $5.

I liked Mike's work from This American Life, but I had already heard his sleep walking story. I was sort of gearing up for a fine enough show and a good time, but you know, it would be like dinner at a friend's relatives house. Lots of listening and sitting and some laughs as folks recounted stories from days passed, stories you've already heard before.

Instead, for $5, I got to experience a transcendent piece of art.

I remember the first time I stepped onto a real stage, it was in a little playhouse on the Presidio of San Francisco. The stage had been painted to look like the 100-Acre Woods and the theater's Winnie the Pooh cast was running a workshop for our Girl Scout troop, teaching us the difference between stage right and stage left.

But then they turned on the lights.

The seats faded into black haze. The world was suspended in time and no longer existed outside of the amber glow I stood in. The heat from those lights warmed my bones and I felt this profound sense of peace.

I had found my home.

As I watched Mike's show last night, I realized I haven't been home in many years. Sure, I've been doing projects right and left and seen shows right and left, but not for love of the work. It's like I've been doing the fast food drive-thru version of theater and laid out before me was a five star meal. And I realized perhaps my discontent with my acting life is that I'm tired of eating $1 burgers, even if they come with a cool plastic toy.

Through the ages, folks have talked about the theater being a sacred space. Theater, at its best, is holy. As Mike unfolded his story last night, there were moments where 100 people held their breath at the same time, where 100 people sat forward on the edge of their seats, and 100 people burst into laughter in a great big group soul cleanse. As I left the theater, colors were more intense and the world looked different.

I have been privileged enough to have shared in the world of last night several times in my life, to have been involved in projects where the audience's heart beats in time with yours. It is home. Those moments of grace are what have fed me these twenty years on the stage.

But I woke up after last night’s show, not even realizing that I have been sleepwalking through this life. It was as if you hopped on a plane to San Francisco and touched down and walked around for years, but then one day, after searching up and down for the Golden Gate Bridge, realizing that actually, you are in Prague. Not a bad city, but not where you had been trying to get to.

I realized that LA is filled with a lot of noise. Deals and applause and a whole population of artists, myself included, who have sold out their craft to the dreams of a pyramid-like, get-rich-quick scheme. It took a show like "Sleep Walk with Me" to wake me up. It took watching a performer so profoundly committed to telling the truth to see the truth in my own life. He did not shout to the heavens nor blow things up in a pyrotechnic spectacular. His show was him, a book, a stool, and the quiet truth. He told a story no one else on this planet could tell. He did so with commitment and awareness. Nowhere in his bones was an apology of "less than" as he looked at things most people would only recount with a few whiskey shots under their belt. It was a show filled with profound, mature humor and love for his experiences, a warm embrace of all the small heartbreaks that add up to a glorious masterpiece of life. It was that exquisite "broken hallelujah" that Jeff Buckley sings about.

Today I feel an immense sense of peace. I saw my home off in a distance. I shared space with "My People", and I have not seen the members of my tribe for awhile now. I know that I will lose this sense of connection, because that is what happens, but I'm trying to hold onto it. I'm hoping that writing it all down here, lamely trying to capture the holy epiphany of last night, it will help me remember. My whole future depends upon remembering the truth that was revealed in that tiny little brick theater for $5. I get so overwhelmed by the noise--- my crazy head was starting to think perhaps I should resign myself to a life of making labels and typing memos. Was it Einstein who had that quote about how a fish will think himself stupid for not being able to climb a tree? The sand I have been drinking for water is not water. I am in Prague and am thousands of miles from my home. I have been gorging myself on McDonalds french fries and last night was reminded that there is a higher calling, there is sweeter meat to fill my belly. There is something I can do that no one else can and I have been too... not enough... to commit to that thing. Instead, I have been worried about the size of my thighs and their failure in providing me financial security in a world of film.

That is not my home.

Profound quiet in the warmth of 1000 watt light bulbs as 100 of my closest soul mates breath in and out in sync with me...

That is home.

I am tired of eating McDonalds in Prague.

Today begins the adventure in getting back.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fall of Paul - Episode 4!

The Fall of Paul - Episode 4 is now online! This one holds a very special place in my heart because it features the onscreen talents of The Taint. The guys who created all of that super cool music you've heard in every episode? Well, now you get to see their faces, INCLUDING the face of Mr. Giddy, whom you may only have only seen in still pictures in Giddy Girlie's flickr stream.

It also holds a special place because the guy playing Paul (a.k.a. James Cutts) moved up to San Francisco. As such, we're sort of on a semi-permanent hiatus, so this may (or may not!) be the last one. Sadness! It was a ton of fun while it lasted. And will be when it comes back! But you know what I mean...

Without further ado, The Fall of Paul - Episode 4.