Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Need of Two Brave Souls

Whatcha doin' Thursday? Yah, this Thursday. April 29th. Wanna come see my show?

Comedy Klatch

I need to bring two people. The tickets are $12 online, $14 at the door, but there will be free cookies! And coffee! And funny, funny comedy!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Saturday Night's Alright, Alright!

What? You can't make it out to the Acme on Friday to catch one of the improv shows? Don't cry, little camper. Dry up those sad tears. I'll be performing Saturday, too!

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

Acme 2 Nite
April 24th at 11:00PM
The Famous
ACME Comedy Theatre
in Hollywood
135 N. La Brea Ave
Hollywood, CA 90036

$5 Discount Tickets available Online
At the door, I think it's like... $10 or something... I also have a comp available to any of the shows I'm doing! It's yours if you want it!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Party over here! Party over there!

Hollywood Dream Role with Vivian Bang

Guess who will be sitting in on this Friday's Hollywood Dreamrole show with Vivian Bang? Just goes to show a little well placed arsoni...I mean. Someone in the scheduled cast unexpectedly had to drop out and I was fortunate enough to be asked to step in. Which I humbly accepted. Please ignore the marching band and fireworks going on in the background. I have no idea who ordered those. *kicking a tuba under the desk and pushing the dancing elephant into the closet*

So, yah. I'm doing the show this Friday at 9:00PM. And it looks like I'll be taking in another movie that was on the list of "Everyone in the Entire World Has Seen This Movie Except Kate" list. Seriously. When you find out what the movie is, you might not speak to me any more. I mean, we talk so much, you and I. Our teasing comments tossed back and forth betwixt here and flickr feeds. But this might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. And now that you mention it, I don't know how that camel got into a tutu. *tries to push the camel into the closet, but it is full of elephant. Pushes it into the kitchen, instead, whilst trying to distract you with tap dancing.*

So, in addition to Hollywood Dreamrole and the world's attempt to educate this poor, deprived girl who obviously spent too much time as a kid playing paperdolls and not enough time absorbing popular culture, my Theater Sports team, The Demographics, must defend our crown at 11:00PM in Theatre Sports!

Theatre Sports

What is Theatre Sports? Here's the official blurb:

TheatreSports returns to Hollywood with ACME Comedy TheatreSports!!

Two teams face off in an improv battle royale. Teams challenge each other to improv scenes, games and more! Three judges then decide their fate. Don't agree with the judges? Let them know! The winner of the competition returns next week to defend their crown!

Teams are made up of ACME performers as well as improvisors from all around town.

It's an all out fun war of comedic proportions.

Tickets available at the door - $8, discounted online - $5

http://www.acmecomedy.com/#5 for tickets

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hollywood Dreamrole - Kevin Farley

Hollywood Dream Role with Guest Star Kevin Farley

Due to the size of our cast, I only get to perform in Hollywood Dreamrole about once a month. But no blockbuster movie without a budget is complete without an unpaid P.A. position. Enter yours truly. Several of us kids rotate through this visible running crew position, helping to set up the scene with random bits of furniture, pull out the green screen, and write down the names as they are thrown out onstage on a whiteboard for the cast to use when they blank on who the heck they are talking to.

So I got to come out and play this past Friday with guest star Kevin Farley, Chris Farley's brother. His dreamrole was Jimmy Stewart in "It's A Wonderful Life". The audience retitled the show, "It Doesn't Suck After All".

When the guest star arrives, we run through some warm up exercises. Poor Kevin had to miss our Wednesday rehearsal to do a standup gig with some SNL alumnae, so he was thrown into the deep end. After running through the show, we take the guest star backstage and film the opening credits in front of a green screen.

Kevin Farley Filming the Opening in Front of the Green Screen

Kevin Farley on the Green Screen

Backstage with Kevin Farley at Hollywood Dreamrole

Backstage with Kevin Farley at Hollywood Dreamrole

We have a suit of armor backstage and Kevin kinda crushed on it a bit. He dubbed it 'Eff-face (just keeping things worksafe) and stated we had to touch it for luck before going onstage. So if kids twenty years from now at the Acme are rubbing a faux suit of armor before every show, the tradition began this past Friday night.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How to Fight an Anteater or Two Evenings with Walt Willey

So, let me just lay it out before you for the sake of disclosure, I never really watched many soaps. Nothing against them. It's just that they try to do things like "touch your heart" or "make you feel something" and "tenderness" gives this girl the ick. If I'm going to watch something, give me a well played Jackie Chan-esque martial arts battle to the death/pyrotechnic spectacular, preferably with some British spies or nifty spaceships thrown in for good measure.

My ignorance is the only thing that kept me from being rightfully starstruck-to-the-point-of-tongue-tied-dumbness when it was announced Walt Willey, a.k.a. Jackson Montgomery of All My Children, was going to be coming in to do Acme Comedy Theater's Unscripted Hollywood Dreamrole and I was scheduled to be in that show.

Now, what's kinda funny is that back in 2003, I was unemployed and a friend got me a gig lining up guests for autographs and handing out pins at the ABC Super Soap Weekend at Disney's California Adventure, which Walt attended. So, we actually had worked together and didn't even know it. If you've got a pin with his face on it from that weekend, you have a 1-in-8 chance that it came from my hand. Now, let's all go ride It's A Small World together, shall we?

But back to present day.

Now, Hollywood Dream Role has a really huge cast that rotates through each show. Some of the improvisers have been doing it for 20+ years and can sit you down and tell you some stories, kid. And then there are some of us newbies that come to rehearsal with little cartoon stars in our eyes. Both old and new, there has developed an ensemble that is there almost every week, whether performing or not, just because we frickin' love getting up on that stage to goof around with each other. For us, Wednesday night is the highlight of the week.

And what was really cool about the Walt Willey episode was that the cast was almost made up entirely of that ensemble. I won't lie to you Marge, there are faster and wittier folks out there, but no one can match the heart of the crew that was assembled.

The way that HDR (Hollywood Dreamrole for those in the know) works is that Monday we find out what our guest star's dream role is and we scramble like crazy to find out everything we can about that movie or genre. We get together on a Wednesday night and meet the star. We play some games and run an abbreviated episode of a genre that is different than what Friday's show will be (like, one guest wanted to do a Disney musical, so on Wednesday, we put her through a horror flick). And then we wish them a fond adieu, condemning them to 48 hours of wondering what the heck they got themselves into, and we run a couple more episodes to get ourselves into the groove. Friday night, we show up and play a couple more games with our star, open up the house, and it is game ON.

What I love about HDR is that it is about making a dream come true for someone. I think I can speak for almost every actor out there that secretly, in a little sheltered part of our heart, there is a movie or a show that captured our imagination. We can turn to that project when we're feeling blue and it reminds us why we do what we do and makes us think to ourselves, "Someday... if I just work hard enough..."

When we first started developing the project, we all got to step into the shoes of our dreamrole, just to see what it was going to be like for the stars. Mine is Scully in The X-Files. There was something so vulnerable and intimate about admitting that dream to a room full of my peers and rather than having them laugh and tell me I was too tall or fat to ever be Scully, to have them go, "Cool! I'm gonna be Mulder. She's gonna be the alien. Let's go!" And you know what? If I never get cast in anything for the rest of my life, I got to play my dreamrole.

So, Monday comes and we get the email stating that Walt Willey's dream role is Chief Martin Brody from Jaws.

Which made me go, "Crraaaaaaaap..."

See, back in the 4th grade, my friend Susan hosted a birthday sleepover and the movie dejour? Jaws III. Which we watched four times. And I still have panic attacks when I get into the ocean deeper than my kneecaps. It also didn't help that at the time we lived in San Francisco, which is the 2nd largest Great White breeding ground outside of the Great Barrier Reef and the fishermen regularly pulled sharks out of the water right next to where my brothers and I were swimming. I thought it was cool. Until I watched Jaws III.

So I had never seen Jaws and had built it up as this INSANELY scary film that I would never be old enough to handle. Of course, it being a mildly popular film that a few members of our audience were probably familiar with, faking it wasn't an option. And also, this was Walt Willey's dreamrole. Call me a sap, I don't take that lightly.

So, Tuesday night, I met up with Giddy and Mr. Giddy at WalMart (don't judge me. See: "Poor Actor") and found a copy of Jaws in the $5 bin.

Giddy was kind enough to draw me a picture on the tablecloth during dinner to try and pump me up for what I was about to embark upon that night.

In honor of my forced 1st viewing of "Jaws" this evening

Thanks, Giddy.

So I went home and plugged the movie into my little 9" portable DVD player and kept all the lights on and watched it on my elliptical so that if it got too scary, I could blame my movie break on dehydration and get a glass of water from the fridge. FYI-I was dehydrated about every ten minutes.

Wednesday night was rehearsal and Joseph, our director, let us know that Walt was stuck on set, but would hightail it over as soon as he was done and if he didn't make it to the theater in time, he'd love to take us all out for drinks afterwards.

In case no one has informed you, the fastest way to an actor's heart is through his beverage.

So we were already Walt's best friend when he arrived, but when he stepped into the theater... well, you know those people who have a way of making you feel like the most important person in the room? That was this guy. He came around to every one of us and, warmly shaking our hands, looked us dead in the eye and got our names. Despite a long day at work, he was raring to go and from the moment he came into that room, he was dedicated to being a part of our group 100%. He played our goofy games and one upped every quip that was thrown at him. He held nothing back, and that, my friends, is something every actor dreams of someday being able to do. To walk into a room with no sign of insecurity, no reservations, just being present in the moment with the other artists around you. We ran a biblical epic with him as the Moses character and I got to play his wife. I wasn't aware of it before, but he's a stand-up comedian, and man, that guy's brain is quick. He's got a super computer up there while most of the world is running on a DOS operating system.

And true to his word, he took the whole cast out for a round after rehearsal. I'm still kicking myself that I had an audition early the next morning and had to miss it (it was for Cirque du Soleil and I made it through to the four hour mark before being cut in the third round. Not too shabby for a first Cirque audition). At Theater Sports rehearsal the next night, the verdict from everyone there was that Walt was one great guy.

We showed up Friday night and Walt was already there as a bunch of us were just strolling down the street. We played a bunch of games and all of us hung out afterwards in the green room, talking life stories and such. Someone came backstage to say that Susan Lucci was in the crowd. The Acme Crew promptly yelled at said person and the butterflies in our collective stomachs hatched from their cocoons and took forth in full fledged flight.

We do this thing called the Circle of Love where, right before the show, we throw our arms around each others' shoulders and sing a song inspired by the genre. That night, we sang the theme to Jaws and then Mack the Knife. One of my favorite moments was standing there waiting for the call for places and Walt turned to me to say, bemused, "I'm nervous", to which I said, "Me, too", and then he looked at me and said, "You're just saying that to make me feel better. You're such a liar" and gave me a playful shove. If it hadn't been cemented in my heart before, at that moment, I knew he was one of my people.

We stepped out onto the stage and it was clear this was a "Show Me" audience. Sometimes, an audience is on your side from the get-go. This was a quieter audience and it felt a little like maybe they had been burned by bad improv before.

Since Jaws had already been done, Joseph asked the crowd for a monster animal other than a shark. One by one, there were quiet suggestions of "spider", "bear", and such, and then someone boldly said, "Anteater" and Walt said, "I like Anteater." So Joseph said, "Okay. An anteater. So, I guess the name of this blockbuster movie would be called... 'Tongue'? Or 'Snout'?" and without missing a beat, Walt replied, "I like tongue. Wait! I didn't mean..." And from that point forward, the audience was on our side.

One of the cool things about the show is that it worked out everyone was cast to play their strong suits.

Hollywood Dream Role Starring Walt Willey

It felt like being back in kindergarten playing make believe on the playground. Youk know. Except with a killer anteater. Michael Perkins thought up the brilliant idea to make a pool noodle the tongue of the anteater and its victims got sucked through the door a la Vacuum of Death.

I was watching the action go down as they stared at the invisible body of the girl killed in the opening sequence and thought to slip backstage, grab a gruesome rubber hand that looks like it has been skinned, and toss it onstage.

Hollywood Dream Role Starring Walt Willey

I didn't hit anyone or nuthin' and I throw like a girl. *buffs nails*

I was cast as the egghead scientist/Richard Dryfuss role. My tongue got tied in the first couple scenes as my brain had a wrestling match with my mouth, but I'm proud to say they decided to put aside their differences and work together for the greater good.

There is a blessed moment in improv where your mouth opens up and words fall out and you don't know where they came from, but gosh, they were exactly the right thing to say at the exact right moment, and the whole cast was just nailing the curveballs and knockin' 'em outta the park. Walt was so frickin' quick, he caught everything we threw at him and twisted it around to kill the audience dead. You watch someone like that work and go, "OOooooh. THAT'S why you've been working for thirty years in this industry and others haven't. Because you're awesome AND a genius."

I won't go too into the details of the show, just because it is going to be posted online soon at http://www.youtube.com/hollywooddreamrole, but it came down to the fact that it was up to him and me to take out the evil anteater. And we did in an epic "Jaws"-esque slow motion explosion that ended up with us in each others arms. And It. Was. A. Hoot. All I can say is that it is an honor to work with an actor so fearless and willing to Go There.

Walt Willey and his "daughter", Jessica Lovelace-Chandler

...wherever There might be.

I felt positively carried through the entire show, which is funny, because that was supposed to be my job.

Afterwards, we headed out to the lobby to take cast pictures and there was Susan Lucci and the cast of All My Children.

Hollywood Dream Role Starring Walt Willey

That lady is so beautiful and SO THIN. I could have fit her entire body in my pant leg. *wistful sigh* And if seeing her wasn't enough, THEN she came over to me and said I was really funny and so brave. I've been playing those words over in my head all week as I look back upon that night and just fly.

Hollywood Dream Role Starring Walt Willey

P.S. I might have started watching soaps. Don't tell Jackie Chan.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Last night's show

I'm still riding on the high of last night's Hollywood Dream Role show. Walt Willey was absolutely amazing to work with. One of the nicest human beings and, man, he was so frickin' quick on his feet. More pictures coming soon, but here are a few to get you started...

Walt Willey on the Red Carpet

The Cast of Hollywood Dreamrole Pre-Show

Backstage with Walt Willey

Backstage with Walt Willey

All pictures courtesy of the uber talented Michael Perkins

Friday, April 9, 2010

Walt Willey - Hollywood Dream Role April 9th

Guess who I get to act with this week? Walt Willey a.k.a. Jackson Montgomery on "All My Children".

Hollywood Dream Role with "All My Children" 's Walt Willey

He came in and worked with us on Wednesday and, I have to say, he is seriously one of the nicest actors I ever worked with in Hollywood and a frickin' workhorse to boot. Came straight from shooting, showed up and rehearsed, then took the whole cast out for drinks. Super talented. Super nice. AND he's got a frickin' awesome dreamrole. You should totally come to the Acme Comedy Theatre tonight and see things unfold. 9:00PM. Hollywood Dream Role. $5 tickets if purchased online. Be there or be square.

THEN, as if that isn't awesome enough, I'll be making my grand debut in Theater Sports. Awwwwwyaaaaah. Improv comedy. Head to head action. 11:00PM till midnight. Come out and keep me awake. Here's hoping the midnight giggles hit in time for awesome to be birthed.