Friday, October 19, 2007



This assignment is a fairly simple one, but, I find, a rare one in sketch comedy.

Take a group of animals, endow them with voices and personalities, and write a scene about it.

It helps to apply a social structure to the group, such as a corporate structure to a group of lemurs or a nuclear family structure to a small pack of cockroaches. Try to pick an animal that hasn't been done to death in films (I'm looking at you, penguins!).

An assignment like this is a fun way to highlight human behavior through a safe filter. It's also an opportunity for you to do some research and mine an animal's inherent social structure for material.

Using our lemur example, did you know...

- Females are dominant in the group, which means they have preferential access to food and choice of whom to mate with. This is unusual in the primate world. Males do have a dominance hierarchy, but this does not seem important during mating season because even low-ranking males are able to copulate.

- One of the most unusual lemur activities that ring-tailed lemurs participate in is sunbathing. The ring-tailed mob will gather in open areas of the forest and sit in what some call a yoga position facing the sun. They sit with their bellies toward the sun and their arms and legs stretched out to the sides.

- Ring-tailed lemurs communicate using facial expressions, such as The Bared-teeth Gecker Face: Similar to silent bared-teeth face only with a rapid noise attached to it. This display occurs during subordinate flee-approach conflicts and also when an infant is bothered.
All good info you and actors can use in bringing your corporate lemur characters to life.

(You can find out more about lemurs and other animals at The Smithonian's National Zoological Park website.)

The scene is a clash of context between human behavior and animal behavior. As such, you'll need a relateable human situation to put them in. Since the females are dominant, I might make a female the CEO of LemurCo and have a male worker confront her about being passed over for a promotion because she's taken a shine to one of the low-ranking males. The animal's own social structure influences the scene showing us that, ultimately, we may not be much better than the critters.


When it comes to Comcast, I have always had quick, friendly and helpful service. I have heard other people complain about them and didn't get it. I have had Comcast cable and internet service for a year now and have had no complaints about them at all, until now.

I moved on October first and had all my Comcast services transferred to my new digs. Yesterday afternoon, I wasn't able to access my e-mail. Hey, stuff happens. Comcast is working on something, I figured. They'll get it fixed by the next time I need to check e-mail. Nope. I had a phone call late last night from a friend saying my e-mails were bouncing back. I got up early this morning to check it out. It was telling me my user name and password were invalid. I got a service rep on-line and found out that they closed my old account and gave me a new one. They closed down my old e-mail addresses! Just f-ing great! Because yesterday morning I sent out an e-mail throwing my hat in the ring on a writing gig. If they responded, my e-mail bounced back, which communicates to the world that this dork probably didn't pay his bill and might be unreliable. Not a good impression when looking for work. After spending 45 minutes on-line with "Ryan," I was able to get my e-mail addresses re-established.

I was also expecting no charge in transferring my service. Turns out my current bill is twice what it usually is because of installation and new service fees. I will be calling a quick, friendly helpful Comcast service rep later to give them a piece of my mind.


Yesterday, I asked...

"According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the field with the most depressed people is what?"

66% chose "Education"
- I must have a lot of depressed teachers reading my blog.

8% thought "Arts and Entertainment"
- Oh, quit your whining and get to work on that one-person show.

No one picked "Blogging"
- Nobody understands me! Except for my cats. That's right, "cats." With an "s."

26% got the ding-ding-ding! with "Personal Care"

According to Reuters, child care workers, home health care aides and other people who provide personal services have the highest rates of depression among U.S. workers. You know, I totally understand this. These people are doing God's work and are probably very poorly paid. If my main source of income was washing old people, I'd be sleeping with my head in the gas oven. Then some other depressed, poorly paid person would have to clean up the mess.

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