Monday, March 28, 2011

Dates with Ever 1.5

Where I offend the state of Michigan.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Believe...

...that, for a news junkie, I'm exhausted! Most draining is seeing how much pain and suffering is caused for the sake of increasing a profit margin - shoddy nuclear reactors, oil spills, etc. I may have to take a news break and just watch Comedy Central Celebrity Roasts all day.

...that, the Bible is an interesting work of literature wide open to interpretation possibly as an exercise in exploring faith. I'm cool with Jesus, but, dude, can you pull some of your peeps aside and tell them not to use the Bible to bolster their arguments against the things they are prejudiced against? Or, you know, just send a bolt of lightning Victoria Jackson's direction? We'll look the other way.

...that governments need to learn and grow as much as people need to learn and grow and cutting funds to education, arts and information is a great way to keep the light off.

...that your comedy sketch does not have to end on a laugh. I'd rather it ended in a way that makes sense than a joke that thwarts or has nothing to do with everything else leading up to it.

...that if you're going to do a podcast, do it the way Wood Sugars does. They care about quality and put a lot of time and energy into making sure their product is listenable, watchable and entertaining. Check out the interview/variety show they did with Ted Tremper and check out their first guest on the all-video Dates with Ever. He showed up thinking it was going to be all audio, thus the ball cap, 10 o'clock shadow, and funky body odor smell coming from your computer monitor.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pork - The Other Ad Slogan

The camera fades in on an empty, yet elegant dinner plate. Several medallions of succulent white meat slide off a silver serving fork and onto the bottom edge of the dish. The rest of the plate is filled clockwise with asparagus covered in a dollop of hollandaise, stuffing, and mashed sweet potatoes with a dash of pepper. A white upper-middle-aged announcer assures us that out of all the items on this plate, “the pork has the fewest calories.” He is implying here that pork has been given a bad rap as being fatty and that chicken is for losers. “Pork,” he intones, is “the other white meat.” The one you should be eating. Now.

That commercial debuted in 1987 and very effectively changed the minds of millions of “healthy” eaters to give this pork thing a go. Twenty-four years later, The National Pork Board has replaced the decades-old ad campaign with a new message: "Pork: Be Inspired."

The “other white meat” campaign was successful and stemmed a decline in pork consumption. But times have changed. The NPB feels it's time to take pork in a new direction.

Board officials said the new effort is the result of over a year’s worth of research. It’s time to move on from the old message and instead try to increase sales by focusing on the estimated 82 million Americans who already eat pork.

Apparently, eating pork makes you smarter, because this is a brilliant strategy. Sell it to the people who are already buying it. They are no longer trying to bring people over to The Pork Side. Their new campaign is aimed towards people who already eat the product, particularly medium-to-heavy consumers, which may-or-may-not refer to their heft and girth. The new direction is the direction it was going in anyway – insert GOP economic recovery plan reference here. I’ve always had a problem with advertising for food. Food food. Agriculture. Do we really need to be convinced about corn or milk or beef? You either eat it or you don’t. It’s not like they are reinventing pork. They’re not dipping pigs in chocolate or putting them on sticks. They just want you, you who already eat pork, to continue eating pork and, if possible, eat more pork.

"We want to move that needle, go after that core group of consumers," says Ceci Snyder, the Des Moines, Iowa-based board's vice-president of marketing. "These people love pork, know how to prepare it and are eager to share recipes."

Their market research determined that their core is regular folk who are adamantly not foodies. They are the tea party of the kitchen as long as it’s Lipton tea. Almost all their recipes involve the directions, stab meat, hold against fire. And the slogan the board came up with is “Be inspired.”

Here are a few of the slogans they rejected…

“Pork. Eat more of it.”

“Pork. It’s not just a verb.”

“Pork. It makes your left arm feel all tingly.”

“Pork. Swallow.”

“Pork. We really don’t care what you do with it. Make a sailor hat out of luncheon meat. We don’t care. As long as you buy it and you’re happy inside.”

Ceci also says "We want to increase pork sales by 10 percent by 2014. To do that, we need buyers to make a stronger connection, a more emotional connection to our product."

“Pork. It makes you feel special and a little weepy.”

What kind of emotional connection can someone generate for pork? “I love you, Bratwurst. I love you so much that I must have you inside me. And, by that, I mean eat you. And then pooping you out, later.”

People are already co-dependently freaky about bacon. If they want to sell more pork, just make the whole pig bacon. Bacon you can hug. Bacon you can carry on your back.

Pork sales totaled about $117 per person in 2010. Pork consumption averages about 50 pounds per person per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And the National Pork Board doesn’t think that’s enough. 50 pounds is only about one-fourth of the meat yielded from a slaughtered adult pig. The NPB won’t be happy until we all eat an entire pig each, per year. Me, personally, I like to get it out of the way. I eat my pig in January and then spend the rest of the year digesting.

Pork remains behind beef and chicken in consumption, according to the USDA. It is the bronze winner of the eating animals Olympics.

Still, more than 31 billion pounds of pork was produced in the U.S. in 2010, according to the Pork Board. 31 billion pounds of pork and they want to sell you more. Just to give you an idea of how much pork that is, an Olympic-sized swimming pool holds 5.5 million pounds of water. Now, imagine 5,636 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with pigs feet and hog jowls.

The old slogan will remain on the Pork Board's website and on apparel sold by the board, for you nostalgia buffs. Internet searches for "Pork: The Other White Meat" will direct people to the new campaign, as well as a few porn sites.

The board will spend more than $11 million to roll out the ads this month. It will include national print and broadcast advertising, public relations, foodservice marketing and social media. You will now be able to “like,” “friend” or “poke” pork. Online advertising has already begun, and national television ads begin in April. Print ads will also begin running in food and lifestyle publications. Lifestyle publications? You know, for those busy black, gay executive cat owners who want their pork on the go.

At the website, there’s a section labeled “I Heart Pork” – oh, the irony. At “I Heart Pork” fans can post pork-related stories – brushes with porkness – and swap recipes. But if you are encouraging people to “be inspired” then I think it needs to go beyond recipes and move in to arts and crafts. A meat collage, perhaps. Or get some suckling pigs and hollow them out into mittens. Bedazzled sow ears. A piñata made of chorizo.

I think pork inspiration should also include poetry. Or Porkhus.

Piggy sleeps in mud

Dreaming of feathers for flight

Wakes up a hot dog

Pork is a show off

Spiral-cut and honey-glazed

Pork is a big ham

How about a limerick? Or, what I like to call, a SlimJimmerick.

There once was a pig from New York

Who feared being turned into pork

He danced the can-can

Too close to a fan

Now he can be eaten with a fork

Monday, March 14, 2011

Roasting Don Hall's Chestnuts

The above picture isn't Don Hall. Well, it is. It's a Don Hall that makes and takes pictures of tea pots. I hope he doesn't mind me using his picture. I couldn't find one of The Angry White Guy that I wanted to use nor could I find any pictures from the event.

Last Saturday night, under the leadership of Anderson Lawfer, a group of Chicago artists gathered to roast the other white Don Hall. Sharing the dais with Andy and me were Dave Goss, Patrick Brennan, Rebecca Langguth, Ryan Palmer, Ele Matelan, Ryan Bolletino, Dada Xeningren(Noah Ginex) and Noah Simon as "the Jew."

It was a blast. In proper roast form, everyone takes a shot at everyone else before zeroing in on the guest of "honor." There should have been a swear job on stage. It was a wonderful blend of blue and intellect. Zings-a-plenty. My favorite one aimed at me was from Dave Goss, I believe... "Joe Janes does not let success go to his head. In fact, he doesn't let it come anywhere near him."

Kim Boler, from Bruised Orange Theater Company and an RvD acting alum, was in the audience and she mentioned how great the roast was. She was surprised by the level of creativity and just plain quality of the writing. More then what one would expect for a latenight roast at a fringe theater. She was right. Andy did a great job assembling this crew.

I got to go first which was cherry. None of my jokes had been used by anyone else and no one was tired of hearing about Don's testicles.

(WARNING: It is blue and very non-PC.)

Here's my roast...

Thank you, Anderson Lawfer, the Kato Kaelin of the Strawdog Theater ensemble.

It is a pleasure and an honor to be sharing the stage with my esteemed colleagues. Especially after such awful things happened in the world yesterday. I woke up Friday morning to see images of horrifying devastation. People running and screaming. Buildings shaking. Noah Simon was power walking by my apartment wearing bike shorts, clearly displaying his jewishness.

Patrick Brennan, whose life’s thesis is to prove being drunk can still be considered charming. Anderson Lawfer, who is the absolute counterpoint to that statement.

Dave Goss - should be operating the Tilt-A-Whirl at a county fair Dave has many tattoos. Made up of wolves and eagles. The kind of images usually reserved for fleece blankets sold at truck stops.

Elle. I love Elle. But she has told me outright that she won’t find me attractive until I’m married with children and have a pet rabbit suitable for boiling.

Rebecca Langguth – graces this stage possessing the largest set of balls of anyone here tonight. I’m not talking courage. I mean, 20-30 pound testicles. Bigger than Don’s. So large, she has to pull them up and strap them to her flat chest.

Ryan Palmer – something, something, something, faggot... I probably could have fleshed that joke out more.

Ryan Bolletino – received a bachelor of arts in theater from the University of Iowa in 1998 and he makes his living as a math teacher because if there were anything lower than waiter or temp on the rung of jobs for actors, it would be teaching in a Chicago high school. Right, Don? Don used to teach in Chicago public schools. He was let go when he was subbing a math class and tried to teach the students to count to two by showing them his balls. He lost count.

Dada Xenigren – Proving there’s a fine line between art and just acting like a tard.

I first met Don almost 20 years ago at my audition for The Second City’s Conservatory program. In an improv audition, you typically go in with a group and perform for one another and the adjudicators. I recall watching Don in a three-person scene. He was absolutely terrible. I couldn’t tell you who else was in that scene, because they barely had the chance to speak. Don steamrolled, had a default “comic” bit of being super nervous and speaking a mile-a-minute. And I thought to myself, “Well, this guy’s making the training center’s job easy. He’s clearly a “no.”” Imagine my surprise to see him at my first class. Guess Second City needed a fat guy.

If you haven’t noticed, Don talks a lot. Having a conversation with Don Hall is like talking to a radio. AM radio. He drones on with occasional bursts of Mexican music. He’s Rush Limbaugh, but he’s on our side. He’s also smarter and not as humble.

Every year, Don gets a tattoo to commemorate his birthday. He has been doing this for the past four years. (Have Don show them – FYI, Don gets simple black print tattoos, mainly of quotes he finds inspiring. For example, his last one is “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”) At this rate, he will look like the guy from Memento by the time he is 55.

I have glimpsed into the future. These are the tattoos he’ll be getting over the years to come…

Age 46 – “Still Winning”

Age 50 – “Maybe This Isn’t Such A Good Idea”

Age 60 – “Fuck This Shit”

Age 70 – “I Forget”

Age 80 – “Stroke Victim”

Age 85 – He’ll have his address tattooed to his forehead in case he wanders off

When he turns 90, the only space left for a tattoo will be his taint. His tattoo that year will be the last gasp of Angry White Guy mode and just say “Fuck Capitalism.” Unfortunately, his taint will be so shriveled up, it will look like a Nike swoosh.

I have done several shows with Don Hall. There’s that old theatrical adage that one should never perform with animals or children because they’re too adorable and pull focus. I would add Don Hall to that list. Not because he’s adorable, but because like animals and children, he won’t know his lines or blocking and will eventually poop himself.

Don Hall should never perform with animals or children because he will eventually try to fuck them. Fuck them and call it “dating.”

Everyone here has seen Don’s big balls. If you haven’t, the night is young. Here’s the thing, it’s an optical illusion. Anyone’s balls would look really big if they have an elfin-sized penis. When he tea bags a person, it’s more like dropping two Mentos into a five-gallon drum.

What I admire about Don is his ability to take an idea, embrace it and run with it full steam and with wild abandon, regardless of how horrible that idea is. Ideas such as nearly everything he’s ever directed and marriage.

Don Hall would give you the shirt off his back, regardless of the fact it’s not your size, you would never wear something like that, it smells like cigarettes and you don’t need a shirt.

Don, you are the Kirk to my Spock, the Captain to my Tennille, and the Teddy Roosevelt to my big stick.

You are my best human friend and you are the wind beneath my wings and, by that, I mean you fart a lot. A lot.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Joe Recommended

"The Dream Journal of Doctor Jekyll"
Written by Jason Adams, Scott Barsotti, Randall Colburn, Bob Fisher, Reina Hardy, Warwick Johnson, Jeremy Menekseoglu
Directed by Bob Fisher
Presented by The Mammals
Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm
Zoo Studio
4001 N. Ravenswood Ave Ste B-1
Chicago, IL 60613

Reservations can be made by calling 866-593-4614

Shows by The Mammals tend to be very atmospheric, often taking a backseat to storytelling. They are in a unique style and you either dig it or you don't. If you are in that second camp and haven't seen a Mammals show in awhile, this is the one to come back and see. Bob Fisher, often a lone auteur, has challenged himself to collaborate with some of Chicago's finest writers. It really pays off. Most surprising to me is how funny and charming the play is. The tale is told to the audience via a museum curated by Professor Oliver Mastadon Peale (Jason Adams) and his assistant, Hunchfront (Vinnie Lacey) both delightfully evoking SCTV's Dr. Tongue and Bruno (John Candy and Eugene Levy). The acting is topnotch led by the triumvirate of Scott Barsotti, Gabe Garza and Skyler Schrempp as Jekyll, Hyde and Jekyll's mother, respectively. The production is a little steampunk, a little sideshow, a little horror. There's also more women in this Mammals show than any other I have seen and they are strong, memorable characters, especially Jekyll's mother, Alice and Jekyll's love interest, Eve (Sarah Scanlon). There is also music performed live by the actors and it is both beautiful and haunting. My sole complaint is that the show goes on about ten-fifteen minutes too long. The Professor has a lovely, riveting monologue near the end of the show. So good, in fact, the play could have ended there. Almost everything after seemed anticlimactic. But this is a minor complaint. It is still worth seeing. This is Chicago fringe theater at its best.

(Not Vinnie Lacey and Jason Adams)