Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Believe...

...that people just want to belong. We want to feel like we belong to our family, our work, our groups or clubs. We all want to be affirmed and validated. If we don't find it one place, we look for it somewhere else. I think that's why improv is so popular. Of course, you belong. Everyone belongs. Except for that one douchebag who tries too hard to be funny and keeps walking through my object work.

...that being pissed off and not saying anything only means you're going to say it later - to that person or to an innocent by-stander - and you will probably sound like a crazy person.

...that things don't always go the way you want them to, but they usually go the way you think they will.

...that all there is, really, is the here and now. The future doesn't exist and the past has expired. It's only in this present moment that you really have any power to affect anything.

...that I'm not really sure why we do anything ever at any time. What difference does it make? We're all going to die. Things are getting worse. People are greedy and stupid and ruin things for everyone else. People are dying every second from starvation, exposure, lack of healthcare, violence... Piranha 3D looks really cool, though!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why Do It?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Believe...

(By Jimmy Margulies, New Jersey Record, Cagle Cartoons)

... that 1) It's not a mosque. 2) It's not at Ground Zero or can be seen from there. 3) Islam is a religion, not a terrorist organization. Seriously, there's more evidence for Catholics or Scientologists being terrorists than there is Islamics.

... that the issue of building a "mosque" at Ground Zero has nothing to do with principles or even appropriateness. It's a dog and pony show the GOP wants to parade about so people don't focus on the serious issues of jobs and economy and realize that the elephant crowd are the ones who screwed up in the first place. It's this decade's version of flag burning. In the 90s, around the mid-election of Clinton's first term, flag burning was ballooned into a non-issue by the GOP. They let you know they were adamantly opposed to it and even wanted to add a constitutional amendment banning it. They made you think people were out there building Old Glory bonfires when there was no issue at all. No one (in America) was burning the flag. This forced democrats into the position of defending free speech, ergo, defending flag burning. The GOP wants democrats out there defending building mosques in your neighborhood because it really, really scares the white people into voting republican. (Oh, and don't burn the stars and stripes. Unless its made in China. Which is almost all of them.)

... even though Rod Blagovahoghichch was found guilty on only one count out of 24, it's still a good thing he was knocked out of office. It prevented him from selling the bleepin' golden senate seat, screwing over a children's hospital and, hopefully, making more appearances on The View.

... that summer refuses to go out with a whimper. There's another 365 event this Saturday at 7pm at Quimby's bookstore in Wicker Park. It's free. Join me and some great Chicago comedy actors: Kevin Gladish, ChloƩ Ditzel, Bernie Balbot and Heath Cordts. They'll be performing monologues from 365 and I'll be reading one or two. Out loud.

... that Chicago theater gives artists the opportunity to try whatever the hell they want. This weekend features probably the most concentrated fringe festival in the world. 72 straight hours of off-the-wall theater at Mary-Arrchie's Abbiefest in Lakeview. And it's cheap. Day passes are $10, full weekend passes are $25. Swing by after Quimby's and stay as long as you can. My new gory comic one-act Creepy That Way will premiere after midnight.

... that I love teaching summer workshops at Second City. People come from all over the world to take these classes. This week, I have three students from Ireland and another student from Norway who I want to marry so I can move to Norway and take advantage of their excellent healthcare.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Taste of 365 - Friday Night!

“365 Sketches” Book Release Celebration

Hosted by Michael Gellman
Interview and Q&A with Joe Janes
Featuring 10 scenes from “365 Sketches” performed by original cast members from the June Strawdog shows.
Friday, August 13 Tickets are $5, $3 for students de MAAT Studio, 3rd floor of Piper’s Alley, North and Wells, 312-337-3992

I am very excited about this event. It's going to be a great time and you really can't beat it for five bucks! There's so much entertainment value packed into this, you might actually make money from your investment. First off, I get to share the stage with Michael Gellman, a mentor and constant source of inspiration for me. You get to see us talk about sketch comedy, unrehearsed. You also get to ask us any questions you have. That alone is worth the cost of a ticket. In fact, you're probably up ten bucks at this point.

What really makes this event worth your while is this line-up of scenes and talent. These are ten scenes I picked, which, out of 365 scenes, was very difficult. Michael and I will also do some DVD-style commentary after every scene.

"A Gospel Song for Atheists" – directed by Chris Othic, featuring Geoff Crump, Becca Levine, Chris Othic, Nat Topping and Susie Gutowski

I picked this one because it is one of the songs I wrote for 365. And when I say "wrote a song" I just mean the lyrics. Groups were on their own to set them to music. All the groups did a fantastic job at this. They all exceeded my expectations (except for that one where the group set it to a Barry Manilow song. Oh, my.) This was a difficult song and these guys nailed it. Here's a stripped down rehearsal of the song.

"Pawn Broken" – directed by Scott Olson, featuring Dylan Hackwoth and Jack Bourgeois

I wanted a two-person scene that utilized biographical elements. "Pawn Broken" deals with a man selling an engagement ring. Good times.

"KAT-JITSU" – directed by Jason Fleece, featuring Jill Olson, Chris Brown and Andy Cameron

This was an important scene for me during 365. It's one of the few where I can tell you when I wrote it. It's scene 15. After two weeks of writing scenes, I realized I could be silly. Kat-Jitsu is silly.

"Bullet Flu" – performed and directed by Neil Arsenty, Tim Huerlin, Heather Muth

It was difficult to be topical during 365 because I wanted scenes to be able to hold up after the project was over. This is my satirical take on media hype over flu "epidemics."

"French Is Easy" – directed by David Rocco Facchini, featuring Matt Noonan, Heather Muth, Becca Levine, Lisa Burton

This scene makes no sense at all, which is why I included it. I believe there's room for the odd in a sketch revue. This group also just did a wonderful job with it and made it very entertaining.

"Your Improv Coach" – directed by Jen Ellison, featuring Mary Jo Bolduc

This isn't exactly a comic monologue even though it is a one-person scene. If you have ever been in an improv workshop or on an improv team, this might make you very uncomfortable. In a good way.

"Waiter Scene No. 6, Op. 68, F Major, Pastoral” also known as "Recollections of a Country Life" Written By Joe Janes and Sir Jasper Turlington III – directed by Rinska Prestinary, featuring Pat Whalen, Chris Petlak and Matt Steffen

I love this scene because it's like Masterpiece Theater for blackouts.

"Anna.2" - directed by Jen Ellison, featuring Dave Stinton, Mary Jo Bolduc and Merrie Greenfield

There's no way I could get through 365 scenes without a robot or two. Here's the best robot scene, in my opinion.

"Everybody Poops, Even Neil" – directed by Wendi Weber, featuring Jackie Durruthy, Rammel Chan, Govind Kumar

My students will be happy to know I don't have a problem with poop jokes, as long as they are smart poop jokes and forward the story.

"Ain’t That Love" – directed by Rose Kruger, featuring Joel Reitsma

This is a scene that when I wrote it, I liked it, but didn't think much about it, except that I knew it could be deadly if the actor played it for laughs. Rose and Joel did such a magnificent job with this that it became one of the highlights of the Strawdog shows that folks talked about it for weeks.

So, come on out. Have a good time. Meet Michael, the actors, the directors and me. We'll have t-shirts on sale. You can also buy the book at a 15% discount.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Put My Face On Your Chest!

The t-shirts from "365 Sketches" are now being unleashed upon the world. They are $20. If you are going to be at the 365 Book Release Event this Friday at Second City, designer and one of the 365 directors, Jen Ellison, will hand yours to you in person and you'll save on shipping and handling. You can order your t-shirt by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Believe...

...that if you don't work out, your body breaks down. If you don't watch what you eat, your body breaks down. If you don't work out your brain and feed it good stuff, it also breaks down and you're more likely to believe anything your TV or computer says.

...that I love working with people who are in their 20s. They are full of enthusiasm, creativity and vision and hungry to work and play. They remind me that that doesn't have to change as you get older.

...that "pride in America is like loving that kid of yours who is morbidly obese, huffs paint fumes out of a paper bag, steals Doritos from the 7-11 and beats up on the black and Mexican kids in the neighborhood for no actual reason. You have to find some sort of love for that kid because he's your kid and you made him." (This is verbatim what Don Hall wrote on his blog and I couldn't have said it better.)

...that dating at my age is sometimes fun and mostly frustrating. Part of it is that I don't look my age and women my age do. (I know, I'm going to hell). I'm also dragging around a few past relationships where I invested a lot of time, energy, emotion and commitment only to get screwed over. Relationships are hard. They have their moments of being a blast and their moments of being rough. If I get into another relationship - and I'm totally cool if I don't - it's going to be with someone who's not going to jump off the roller coaster when they discover it goes down as well as up.

...that we have way too many sources for just about everything, particularly when it comes to news and entertainment. Which is why it's hard to distinguish between the two. They're both screaming for attention. Also why most people know more about Lindsay Lohan than they do Afghanistan or the party of "No!" Clearly, every legitimate news article needs to feature an attractive woman in her underwear.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August: Joe County

August is a very busy month. It's like I have a job or something.


Two "365 Sketches" book events are brewing. Next Friday, the 13th (whee!) I'm doing a book release celebration at the de MAAT studio at Second City. Hosted by Michael Gellman, the event will feature ten scenes from the Strawdog series with the original casts. The scenes were chosen to highlight the variety of the scenes in 365 and to feature some of our favorite performances. If you missed Merrie Greenfield as a robot, this is your chance to make your life complete. Tickets are five dollars, three for students. Probably a good idea to get your tickets in advance. The number for the box office is 312-337-3992.

Another book event will be at one of my favoritest book stores of all time, Quimby's in Wicker Park. Quimby's is an independent bookstore that features independent and obscure books and magazines. Great place to go when you have no idea what to get for someone, or yourself. The staff is super friendly, too. This will be Saturday, August 21st at 7pm. This will feature four very fine Chicago actors and me performing some of the monologues from 365. This event is FREE.

A new piece I wrote called "Creepy That Way" will be performed at Mary-Archie's infamous AbbieFest. AbbieFest is a non-stop 3 day theater event. Dozens of theater companies descend upon the Mary-Archie theater and perform some of the best, most creative, most shocking, most crazy, and sometimes most horrible things you have ever seen on stage. It runs August 20, 21 and 22. Not sure yet where my piece falls into the mix or if it will even be performed more than once. You can buy one-day passes for $10 and weekend passes for $25. It's a great deal. You can buy weekend passes HERE.

August wraps up with two directing projects. I'll be working with about 20-30 incoming freshman to create a performance peice to do out in the world ala Improv Everywhere. We'll meet on the last Monday of the month and perform our piece by or on that Thursday. There will also be a piece we do with all 200 incoming freshman. Not to give anything away, but word is it may involve 200 hoppity-hops.

The other directing project, also insane, is a 24-hour sketch revue. I'll be meeting with eight actors and ten writers on Friday, August 27th at 10:30pm. 24 hours later, we'll be performing a 45-minute sketch revue in the de MAAT studio. I've assembled a top notch group of actors and writers and anticipate this just being a buttload of fun.

And I have writing projects. I'm working with RvD to rewrite "The Saga of the Viking Women" for a fall remount. The show went so well last week at the Neo-Futurists that everyone in the show is chomping at the bit to do it, again. We're working on securing a venue. I'm also writing an original piece for Wildclaw Theater's Deathscribe. This is something I've wanted to do since its inception. The goal is to write a ten-minute horror piece for radio. A tough task that I look forward to wrangling with. I think comedy and horror have a lot in common. It's about building and releasing tension. But to strip away being able to rely on visuals... I can have a boogie man jump out on stage from behind something. Doing it on radio just sounds like someone tripped.

Speaking of radio, I submitted a writing sample and resume to one of the greatest radio shows of all time. Keep your fingers crossed. As mine are now as I tyopbd .

And all this is one top of my regular Second City teaching schedule and summer workshops.

In other words, I'm having a blast.