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Posts Tagged ‘money’

A Comic’s Life: The Hustle and the Heckle.

October 24, 2009 7 comments

Over the last few summers, my buddy Justin Bourne and I (www.jtbourne.com) took a liking to our budding local stand-up comedy scene that a local pub in Kelowna had initiated.  What started as a night of amateur-hour at best, slowly migrated into a stop on the Yuk Yuk’s tour, a stage with its own faux-brick wall, and appearances by some top notch talent that has appeared on various TV shows.  After nearly memorizing Jerry Seinfeld’s “I’m Telling You For The Last Time,” and various other comics’ material, we had basically proclaimed ourselves connoisseurs of stand-up comedy; knowing what’s good, and what’s worth changing the channel in hopes of better entertainment.    

It’s always been so hit and miss; between the opening act and the “headliner” (in a few instances, the opener should have been the headliner), you never really know what you’ll get Forrest Gump’ed at you.  One night, both acts could be comedic gold, the next night one might leave the unnecessary sexual material in overdrive (male and female performers alike), and the next would have to clean up the mess, and some nights, both just stink.  It’s incredible how often a comedian will sense that his clean material isn’t working, and will auto-pilot into his dirty stuff as a failsafe, because it’s the lowest common denominator will get some sort of reaction.    

Despite all the variables however, there is always one constant that can always be counted on.  Every single time you show up at a stand-up comedy act, there will always, without fail, be that guy…that one guy—drunk enough that he’s been cut-off by the wait-staff–that insists on heckling, shouting incoherent and irreverent comments that inspire a chorus of “SHUT UP!!” ‘s from everyone trying to enjoy the show.  It’s incredible to try and understand what’s going through the mind of a person whose brain is telling them the smartest and funniest thing they could do at that moment is to shout the name of the comedian loudly, or offer a few inappropriate and off-topic words (not full sentences or coherent thoughts, just a few assorted words) at that moment in time.  Sometimes you’ll even hear an attempt at a joke similar to one that the comedian has already told that night; only this version does not get over in the least, and the amateur funny-man gets lit up like a Christmas tree by the one that’s actually being paid to tell jokes. 

The comedian’s ability to deal with the hecklers is nothing short of amazing.  I can’t recall seeing a comedian crumble under the onslaught of idiotics.  It’s always deflected rather impressively; and the heckler quickly becomes the heckled (only this time, the comedian has the whole audience on his or her side).  Think you could do this at your job, when a customer complains about your service?

There also always ends up being one audience member that ends up as indirect target of offence.  To avoid this, never, EVER, under any circumstances, should you ever put up your hand or offer a response to a question that a comedian is looking for one person to answer.  Trust me on this one, it is only a gateway to your own embarrassment.  As tempting as it might be to inform the talent about anything regarding yourself, keep in mind, it’s all being stored as ammunition against you.  You’ve been warned.  Further, never sit in the front row either; keep a comfortable viewing distance.  It’s for your own good. 

I’ve come to respect the comedian greatly.  If you haven’t, consider some of the factors with me.  According to

my friend, Jeff Dye, doin' it big.

my friend, Jeff Dye, doin' it big.

 Seinfeld (I’m sure there’s some actual research for this), most people are more afraid of speaking in public than of death; meaning they’d rather be dead in a casket than giving a eulogy at a funeral.  I know everyone thinks they can tell a few good jokes here and there, but to lace together a solid set of material that any generic audience will respond to positively, and have it last around an hour is pretty daunting when you think about it.  I’m sure most comedians could tell you more than one story of nights they thought that they had been booked at a cricket convention.  The time, effort, successes and failures accumulated and required over the years would likely break most people. 

You’ll never hear an up-and-coming comedian brag about how much money they’re making either.  They’re out there, night after night, small-town after small-town, telling their jokes about the last city they were in that the current city hates, peddling their merchandise… I respect the hustle.  They’re (usually) doing it because they love to perform.  Getting the kind of passion in a performance that is driven from “love of the game” is worth the $10 cover and my applause any night.

Jon’s Right, TLC Needs to Subtract “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”

October 3, 2009 10 comments

I can’t believe I wrote a blog about Jon & Kate Plus 8.

Since the introduction of “Reality Shows (circa 1992, with the first instalment of ‘Survivor’),” the definition of “Reality” has nearly been re-written.  At some point, the worldwide viewing audience bought into this new theory that reality no longer meant “things that actually happen”; but instead that it meant shows replacing professional actors with amateurs, dropping them in a forest, house, or some form of abnormal living quarters, making them play stupid games with each other, vote each other out of that place, and networks hoping their cast created enough drama within themselves to captivate an audience for an entire season.  A few good video editors make a difference too.

Eventually, reality shows began to surface that were about real people andGosselin family their real life situations.  Obviously it did help that some of these situations were unique (see: “The Man Whose Arms Exploded”, “World’s Strongest Boy”, etc).  One show that most of us are familiar with now is “Jon & Kate Plus 8.” 

You don’t even have to have watched the show at this point; if you have a TV, the internet (you’re reading this, you have it), eyes and a brain that are capable of interpreting words and images on a magazine cover, or even just functional ears, you’ve caught wind of this show somewhere along the line.  Personally, I blame my wife for my introduction. 

mad kateBesides the fact that the couple bore 8 children, it’s just a show of them getting through their day.  Unfortunately, that’s not why you’ve heard of it.  “Jon & Kate Plus 8” became TLC’s highest rated show upon infidelity allegations, and the aftermath that has entailed.  For whatever reason, people have dug their claws into who cheated on who, who’s right and wrong, who the victim is, who the worse parent is, and generally every available factoid of a 10 year marriage that was dissolved in 4 seasons (despite a vow renewal episode).

From a business standpoint, I’m sure TLC couldn’t be happier.  Ratings = Advertisers = Merchandising = S’s with vertical lines through them.  The Gosselin’s got an outlandishly big home and property, and a probably a life’s financial setup to match.  But isn’t there some clause or fine print in that production contract that is concerned with the PLUS 8 faction of the equation?  Wouldn’t most people normally be put in jail for photographing and videotaping children the way and amount the Gosselin kids are? While these kids didn’t need to see their parents’ marriage collapse in the first place, can someone from that network not make the decision that those kids don’t need the whole world knowing about it, and asking them about it for the rest of their (already young) lives?  Divorce is hard enough on all members of a family without a televised audience.  Should morality not win out over ratings and dollars at some point?

Whether you like him or you hate him, Jon Gosselin said the most intelligentjon_gosselin thing anyone in that camp has said throughout the whole controversy.  The show needs to stop.  Whether you think it was because he was being cut from the title of the show, because of his diminished role in the filming, he wasn’t happy with compensation, or whatever you feel his motivation was; finally someone said what needed to be said.  This show is no longer beneficial or healthy for that family, and it needs to be removed from the air, at least for the good of the kids that both parents claim to be wholly devoted to.  This family’s issues need to be dealt with outside of the limelight, and behind closed doors; and with any luck they won’t turn out as the next Maculay Culkin’s or Dustin Diamond’s of the world. 

The problem with real life reality shows is that the people being filmed have to continue on with their lives after the camera stops rolling.  There’s no characters, scripts, re-shoots, or escape of any kind.  If two adults have chosen to subject their existences to this level of scrutiny, then so be it; but something is wrong when a child still gaining his or her own autonomy, let alone 8 of them, has to participate just because he was born into a family that just so happens to be newsworthy.  A court of law rarely will take a child’s testimony because they can be so easily influenced by others; I am sceptical of the claims by both the network and parents that the kids want the show to go on, or even if they know that they have a choice in the matter.

We are not without guilt either; I mean, someone is buying those tabloids, spiking those ratings, and fuelling a need for more.  There’s about 5 other shows on TV I know I’d rather watch; good, old-fashioned fictional situational comedies with paid professional actors and well written scripts.  Something tells me that if the Gosselin’s had the chance to shut the world out for one night, sit down as a family and watch an episode of “The Office” together instead of themselves, things might be a little different.  Okay, the kids wouldn’t get the humor, but you get the picture.  Bring back fake TV, these reality shows have run their course!

Inflation of Panhandler Rates, Onion Sombreros, and The Lululemon Deception.

August 27, 2009 21 comments

I was walking down the street earlier this summer when I was approaching a panhandler.  As I drew nearer, I reached into my pockets in anticipation of the spare change request.  Around the same time my hand was revealing itself from my pocket with a few nickels and/or dimes, the panhandler said, “Excuse me sir, could you spare $5000?”

Taken a back, and a little amused, my hand returned to my pocket with the change, and I replied laughingly with something to the tune of, “dude, if you get someone to give you that, I’ll be asking you for money.” I needed that change for the parking meter anyways.

True story.

                           *****

There seems to be an influx of male humans carrying on with their lives, under the impression that it, for some reason, became “ok” to wear Lululemon clothing.  Alright, alright, yoga is becoming a bit of a trend, and people like to do it, it decreases the chance of you dying in the near future, so I guess these yoga people  need very specific stuff for it.  That’s fine, stretch all the spandex on yourself you need to… IF YOU’RE A GIRL. All I’m saying is that there’s plently of manly workout gear out there, and this stuff ain’t it.  Please refer to Figure A below for further clarification:

Figure A

Figure A

The symbol is a woman’s haircut, a “bob” if you will.  It’s clear Fubu theory (For Us By Us, brand speculatively supposed to be only for black people), and all who oppose it are clear posers.  This stuff’s for girls fellas, get over it. 

                          *****

The funniest commerical bit on TV right now, is the following threat by the brain to the eyeball that he will have to wear “The Onion Sombrero” all day if he can’t get along with the tongue.

The sheer visual imagery of an eyeball, sitting on its own, in the corner wearing an onion sombrero is comical/torture genius.  I mean, who’s manufacturing onion sombreros?  What’s the demographic there?  It just can’t be a thriving business.  It must just be like a gimmick product that a regular sombrero shop makes from time to time, to garner interest in the store.  Luckily for the brain, he happened to be guiding his human, via the eyeball mind you, past the sombrero store during that time.  Obviously they went into the store and purchased one, or else the threat would be useless.  The beauty of it is that the eye would’ve seen it first, and then was forced to send the visual reception signal and information to the brain, whom then would, in turn, eventually use it as a threat of consequence for unruly behavior.  The brain probably forced the eyelids open as he sensed them trying to close the eyes.  That brain is a wily one, methinks.

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