I perform at Upright Citizens Brigade. I have written and/or directed for Hotwives of Orlando, Childrens Hospital, NTSF:SD:SUV::, & Funny or Die. And I like to drink milkshakes. Now you know me. Find me on Twitter, Funny or Die, or at UCB.

 

This is one of my favorite episodes of Hotwives of Orlando! And not just because Jessica Chaffin, Deborah Tarica, Jeff Hiller, Frank Caeti and myself show up in it… but because anything with Kristen Schaal picking a fight with a little girl and Stephen Tobolowski yelling “Earthworm Jim!” is probably going to be high on my list.

Anonymous asked
I've always felt bullied by certain UCB instructors/coaches. I have a sense of humor about myself and I'm an acceptable target, but this isn't jokes or constructive criticism. It's cheap shots and jabs. If it's repeated unwanted verbal attacks, that's harassment (albeit a LOW level form but still). I know if I reply that I don't say hurtful things to THEM, it'd be funny. I'll look pathetic. I (sometimes) have a thick skin, but this sucks! I realize I ask for it and could quit, but I like improv.

I assume you’re asking advice on this? Either that, or you’re referring to me as one of those instructors and don’t feel comfortable actually talking to me about it. I could believe that, I love a good aggressively negative bit (just ask various members of Winslow.) I would have preferred to answer this directly to you as well, but Tumblr wont let me since it’s anonymous.

But, if you’re asking advice… I sincerely am sorry you feel this way! My advice would be to talk to the person or persons that you feel are being unfair/unnecessarily shitting on you. Really… just talk to them. I can almost guarantee that whoever it is is not trying to make you feel crappy, or trying to ruin improv for you. I would bet good money that they have no idea they’re having this effect on you. I can’t think of a single UCB teacher that wouldn’t want you to just pull them aside and go “Hey, this makes me feel shitty. It’s not cool. Lay off.” It might be intimidating, but I would be shocked if it didn’t affect the behavior.

I’m not entirely sure from your message, though, what form this is taking. You say cheap shots and jabs and verbal attacks… in notes on scenes? Outside of the context of a class? In general conversation? Is it someone doing an aggressive and unwelcome bit, or is it someone actively seemingly trying to insult you? Also you say you’ve always felt that way… does that mean you feel it in every class? Or just with some people? All of those things might have a different reaction. If it’s a class problem, you can talk to Johnny Meeks, the head of the training center. If it’s outside of that, then yeah, I think talk to the person. You won’t look pathetic. The WORST case scenario is that you learn for a fact that this person is a true blue asshole. And then you can write them off. But, realistically, I think it will help you be more comfortable in the long run.

Anonymous asked
Is it possible/wrong to discuss/judge "Boyhood" without consideration of the production?

I think it’s very possible, if you’re discussing specific elements of the movie. The 12 year production of it doesn’t need to impact the discussion of the acting or the cinematography etc, etc.

But, if you’re discussing the film as a whole, I think the context in which the film was made is crucial. The unique way it was created is as much a part of the movie as are the performances or the soundtrack, and to ignore it would be to purposefully ignore a major element of what makes the film special. It’d be like reviewing My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts without considering the way Byrne and Eno recorded it. Or talking about Spiral Jetty without considering how Smithson created it. Yes, you can purely discuss the finished product, but you’re missing something that is specific to that piece of art, that is also necessary to understand it. The way in which the work was made is part of the whole, so if you’re going to judge/discuss the whole, you have to consider that part.

Also, I have no idea why someone asked me this. But I’m MORE than happy to talk about it! Cuz I loved the hell out of Boyhood.

Did you watch the first two episodes of Hotwives of Orlando and think “Hey, I enjoyed that! I’d like to watch more! But goshdarnit, I’m not a Hulu Plus member!”

Well, good news! New episodes will go up every week for free, and episode 3 is already available to us non-Hulu-Plus-having plebes. This episode features guest appearances from Melissa Rauch, Morgan Walsh and Mike Phirman, who has one of my favorite bits in the whole series!

You can watch it on Hulu, or go back and start from episode 1 by clicking here!

24 hour movie marathon. Currently 8.5 hours in, right in the middle of Caged Heat.

24 hour movie marathon. Currently 8.5 hours in, right in the middle of Caged Heat.

I’m sincerely in love with this song. I was completely unaware of Life Without Buildings until this album got re-released this year, and thank goodness it did, because it is spectacular.

You guys.
Tomorrow is July 15th. That means that it is the release date for Weird Al’s new album, the 35th anniversary of Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech AND… the premiere of Hotwives of Orlando on your TVs/internet boxes.
What is Hotwives of Orlando? Well, I’m surprised you asked, since I have not been shy in promoting it. It’s a new series created by Danielle Schneider and Dannah Phirman that I got to direct! It’s weird and funny and in one episode (spoiler alert) they get attacked by Aaron Spelling’s ghost. So, come on.
Not enough to convince you? Ok, well, in addition to Danielle and Dannah, it stars Casey Wilson, Kristen Schaal, Angela Kinsey, Tymberlee Hill, and Andrea Savage, who are some of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with. And it’s got a ton of other great people in it, like Stephen Tobolowsky, Joey McIntyre, Matt Besser, Jerry Minor, Rich Fulcher, Paul Scheer, Seth Morris, Jeff Hiller, Melissa Rauch, Kate Walsh, Sterling Knight, Jamie Denbo, Jessica Chafin, Deborah Tarica, Horatio Sanz, Kulap Vilaysack, Mike Phirman, Lauren Lapkus, Pam Murphy and Weird Al himself! (See? I brought it all the way back around to that first paragraph. Although the show has absolutely nothing to do with the malaise speech. That’s just one of my favorite weird moments in late-20th century history.)
Starting tomorrow, you can watch the first episode of the series here! And if you have Hulu Plus, you can watch all 7 episodes, right there on the first day! I’m really excited for people to get to see it, so check it out! Here’s the trailer!

You guys.

Tomorrow is July 15th. That means that it is the release date for Weird Al’s new album, the 35th anniversary of Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech AND… the premiere of Hotwives of Orlando on your TVs/internet boxes.

What is Hotwives of Orlando? Well, I’m surprised you asked, since I have not been shy in promoting it. It’s a new series created by Danielle Schneider and Dannah Phirman that I got to direct! It’s weird and funny and in one episode (spoiler alert) they get attacked by Aaron Spelling’s ghost. So, come on.

Not enough to convince you? Ok, well, in addition to Danielle and Dannah, it stars Casey Wilson, Kristen Schaal, Angela Kinsey, Tymberlee Hill, and Andrea Savage, who are some of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with. And it’s got a ton of other great people in it, like Stephen Tobolowsky, Joey McIntyre, Matt Besser, Jerry Minor, Rich Fulcher, Paul Scheer, Seth Morris, Jeff Hiller, Melissa Rauch, Kate Walsh, Sterling Knight, Jamie Denbo, Jessica Chafin, Deborah Tarica, Horatio Sanz, Kulap Vilaysack, Mike Phirman, Lauren Lapkus, Pam Murphy and Weird Al himself! (See? I brought it all the way back around to that first paragraph. Although the show has absolutely nothing to do with the malaise speech. That’s just one of my favorite weird moments in late-20th century history.)

Starting tomorrow, you can watch the first episode of the series here! And if you have Hulu Plus, you can watch all 7 episodes, right there on the first day! I’m really excited for people to get to see it, so check it out! Here’s the trailer!

khealywu:

connorratliff:

I have spent most of my 4th Of July weekend re-watching Susan Harris’ late 70s/early 80s masterpiece, SOAP.

I first watched SOAP in syndication, in the late 1980s, but I’m pretty sure that I may have missed some episodes, so this is my first deliberate start-to-finish viewing. I bought the complete series on DVD a few years back, but binge-watching four seasons of a network TV series is a daunting proposition. There are 93 in total and I just finished Season One (25 episodes).

I wish SOAP was available to stream— it seems that being available to stream is the determining factor these days as to whether older shows are re-discovered or consigned to cultural oblivion. Certainly, shows like Cheers have benefited from being on Netflix, and HBOGO has allowed people to keep The Sopranos and Deadwood in the conversation long after they’ve finished. (I’m not sure what contractual hiccup has kept HBO’s two most important comedies, Larry Sanders and Mr. Show, from being on HBO GO but someone needs to fix that ASAP.)

I wish that Mitch Hurwitz would put in a good word to Netflix about re-acquiring streaming rights to SOAP, since it is the clear precursor to Arrested Development. I’m hardly the first person to point this out, but it bears repeating: fearless taboo-busting, serialized storytelling, a cheerful narrator recapping the plot over jaunty theme music, a corrupt adulterous patriarch being investigated by the SEC, a black ventriloquist’s puppet that people can’t stop trying to strangle, incest that isn’t-quite-incest… Did I mention that Hurwitz cut his teeth as a writer on Golden Girls, the hit show also created by Susan Harris? 

The biggest similarity is that both shows are brilliant and both of them broke new ground in Comedy.

SOAP still feels genuinely dangerous. There are missteps, for instance, in the handling of Billy Crystal’s character, Jodie— the first openly gay character on television to be portrayed as a fully-realized human being instead of a punchline— but I’d argue that these are the result of the show’s courageousness in dealing with subject matter that hadn’t really been handled like this before. The show’s core humanity, and its commitment to taking its ridiculous characters seriously, allows it a lot of leeway to take risks with making jokes about controversial things. The fact that this show isn’t a nightmare of offensiveness 40 years later is a tribute to what a smart writer Susan Harris is.

(One of the best improv classes I ever took at UCB was when my 401 teacher Curtis Gwinn reacted to an especially offensive improv set by delivering a 45-minute lecture on how you can do ANYTHING in Comedy “but it can’t just be nihilism… it has to have a REASON.” SOAP is a great example of that in practice. There are jokes that are dated, and attitudes that have not aged well, but the show treats its characters with such respect underneath all the outrageousness that it can afford to make the occasional mistake and all is forgiven, instantly. At least that’s how I see it.)

And the cast: Katherine Helmond, Robert Guillaume and Richard Mulligan are three stand-outs, giving career-best performances in a generally strong ensemble, with a guest roles played by some of the funniest character actors of the late 1970s, many of whom would end up with their own shows just a few years later.

I am going to finish watching these DVDs and then start loaning them around to people. I wish that people were posting GIFs from SOAP and talking about how great it is. And I wish that some streaming service would pick up all 4 seasons so that everybody would start watching this great, great show.

[RELATED: I just ordered a bootleg dvd set of the entire series run of the Martin Mull/Fred Willard fake talk show Fernwood 2 Nite (and its 2nd season as America 2-Nite), which isn’t available in any legit form. As far as I can tell, it has a similar role to the SOAP/AD lineage, only with shows like Larry Sanders and Alan Partridge. So there goes all my free time, forever. I am also working on stuff of my own, but if none of that amounts to anything, at least I will have enjoyed these programs.]

I found some weird site streaming episodes of Soap a few years ago, but I sort of jumped in willy nilly and didn’t commit, which was too bad because I looooved Soap when it was on Comedy Central in the afternoon in the late 90s. It took over for Kids in the Hall, at some point, so it must have been really good for me not to loathe it resentfully.

This show is the best and anyone who hasn’t watched it is missing a huge piece of kickass tv comedy history and needs to get learnin’. There would definitely be no Arrested Development without Soap.

10 Years of Stupidity

This weekend, as I was finishing up a show at 5:00 am in what is my tenth Del Close Marathon, I started trying to remember every show I’ve ever done at this insane event. This is the list of everything I can remember doing (including a couple I’ve still got to do today), and it’s a who’s who of ridiculous things for a grown man to spend time doing. Some of these only loosely fall under the definition of “show.”

  • Alex Fernie’s Champagne Room
  • All LaRonde The Watchtower
  • Batmanprov (Probably the best show I’ve ever been a part of at DCM. Joe Wengert as a Batman in every scene.)
  • Bayou Porch Prov
  • The Chain Gang
  • Commercial Audition Live!
  • Convoy
  • The Dlorah
  • Drunken Sonic Assault
  • Everybody Get In Here
  • The Greater Tuscon Area Real Estate Conference Improv Players
  • Jackson 5 (Probably the worst show I’ve ever been a part of at DCM)
  • The Koch Brothers Anti-Obamacare Improvtacular
  • Mary. Todd. Lincoln!
  • NY Mets Monoscene
  • Pentagrampa
  • The Premise Keepers
  • Professor Cockenstein & DJ Offensive Reference’s Super Aggressive Late Night Bit Show
  • Play By Play
  • Puzzles
  • Sentimental Lady
  • So I’ve Taken A Look At Your Resume
  • Super Cagematch
  • UCB Singles’ Mixer

I regret nothing.

Possibly the only photographic evidence of the groundbreaking Professor Cockenstein & DJ Offensive Reference’s Super Aggressive Late Night Bit Show from #dcm16. That’s a chest harness dildo I’m wearing. Regram from @samanthapitchel

Possibly the only photographic evidence of the groundbreaking Professor Cockenstein & DJ Offensive Reference’s Super Aggressive Late Night Bit Show from #dcm16. That’s a chest harness dildo I’m wearing. Regram from @samanthapitchel