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Sketchfest with The Midnight Show

(posted by t.j. peters)

“Hey, whaddya know, it’s The Ten-Thirty Shoooow!!!”  So that’s not normally how Eric Moneypenny’s calling card introduction begins, but for the trip to Sketchfest it would have been more accurate.  The Midnight Show had hour-and-a-half early performances on Friday and Saturday night during last weekend’s edition of the San Francisco Sketchfest, both of which I was fortunate enough to attend.  Unfortunately, since the shows ended at approximately 11:30 PM as opposed to their usual 1:00 AM, I had additional time to do more and remember less in the hours leading up to the next morning.  However, I did manage to come away with a few select memories, which I’ll share with you now in this extended, two-night coverage blog entry.

Friday Night

Part One – Tomotel!!!

Think about the Tomo Hotel like this:  You know your favorite anime?  Well you hate it now.  Don’t like anime?  Well then you just killed yourself.  From the hardwood print carpet to the five foot clearance hanging lamps, every room in this Japantown paradise is like a living version of Katamari Damacy.  To help put this in perspective, please take a moment to review the following mural, which was adjacent to my bed.

Why do those police officers have dogs printed on them?  Are the dogs also police officers?  Wait, are those even police officers?  Could they be train conductors?  Are the dogs also train conductors?  Eh, doesn’t really matter.  They live in a city of façade building fronts and are about to be destroyed by a giant robot, anyway.

Even if I didn’t stay up until 5 a.m. or later every night of the trip, I still wouldn’t have gotten any sleep because of that thing.

Part Two – Rubix Club

I will never solve a Rubix Cube and it upsets me.  I will never solve a Rubix Cube blindfolded and it’s less upsetting to me.  I will never solve a Rubix Cube blindfolded in a crowded, noisy bar and it definitely does not upset me.  I will never solve a Rubix Cube blindfolded in a crowded, noisy bar while drinking beer and I wouldn’t expect that Jesus Christ himself could accomplish such a feat.

Notice the inverse relationship between the difficulty of the Rubix Cube scenario and my feelings towards not being able to accomplish it.  Now take the inverse of that and look what you get – the two fucking guys I saw who were solving Rubix Cubes blindfolded in the crowded, noisy bar while drinking beer!  What?!

I have to hand it to them, though.  As far as “showing your true colors” goes, these guys absolutely pave the way (and then twist it on a pivot mechanism until each side is a solid color).  I think it might serve people well if we all brought our obscure personal interests to the bar.  The knitting needles, ping-pong paddles, and ball gags would help us figure out at a glance who we’re interested in.  Personally, I would avoid the Rubix Cube guys, though.  Despite the fact that there were two completed Cubes on their table, I never saw either of them complete one.  Just like the guy who wears a fake Rolex or a shirt that’s too small to make his muscles look bigger, these two fools only brought the Cubes to scam on some bitches.

Part Three – Honestly, This is Not Funny

In a sketch titled “Philip Seymour Hoffman Calls in Sick for Work”, James Adomian plays the Oscar-winning actor as a pretentious, froggy-throated prima donna, hollering on the phone to his boss (or agent), Gary.  At the height of his brilliantly over-acted excuse- which we find out by the end is all a lie- Hoffman screams, “I’m a truth teller, Gary!” in reference to his craft.  The irony is perfect and it always gets a laugh out of me, as it did to Friday night’s crowd.

I point out this sketch to use as sort of a scientific control.  The subject of the experiment, then, occurred thirty minutes earlier in John Ennis’s monologue.  In what I consider to be one of the most earnest moments I’ve ever witnessed, Ennis delivered a seven minute speech about The Midnight Show that was, in a word, truthful.  I don’t mean truthful in the sense that I believe his words were factual (though I do), but rather that he meant every word he said.  In an annotated version, I’ll paraphrase:

It’s so exciting to work with these guys.  I’ve been really lucky to host their show more than once.  It’s like getting to play tuba with The Beatles. . . I’m fucking serious!  These guys work so hard!  They moved into a house together, so when they wake up in the morning they’re surrounded by each other!  Isn’t that fucking amazing? . . .   And thank you [to the audience] for doing yourself a favor and coming out to see this show because pretty soon, when they’re in the TV shows and movies you love, you’re going to look back and remember coming to The Purple Onion tonight.

Result:  Some awkward laughter and lackluster applause as Ennis jubilantly leapt off stage.

Now I understand that the purpose of a monologue is to warm-up the audience and set the tone for the show, but in this instance I could have really cared less.  Frankly, it pissed me off that the rest of the crowd couldn’t embrace what they were being given.  Ennis riffed honestly.  He was an actor shedding away the character and speaking the truth.  And so, looking back to the control, here’s the question I’ve been asking myself since Friday night.  Why is it funny to watch a character who’s full of shit call himself a truth-teller, but off-putting to a watch someone genuine actually tell the truth?   Honestly, I have no idea.

Saturday Night

Part Four – Straight Line to Union Square

The plan sounded simple enough.  We’d grab a bite to eat, and then meet up with a couple people at Union Square.  We’d heard it’s pretty cool there.  Little did we know, all the 3G coverage in the world couldn’t save us.

Before I take you along on a recreation of our travels, take a moment to study the map below, tracing our route from “A” to “B” and so on.

The journey began with what I now consider to be a warm up, though at the time it felt like a cross-country trek.  We walked seven blocks (which does, in fact, suck when you’re hungover and without your sunglasses) from the Tomo Hotel (“A”) to point “B”.  I should have known that things weren’t going to go well when my buddy Hark translated the directions he received as, “the Doughboy on Quay,” when we were headed to The Crepevine, just past Clay Street.  Somehow we made it there.

After breakfast, we officially started “moving toward” Union Square.  You’ll notice that Union Square can be reached on a straight line from Sutter – the street out hotel was on – and that we blew past it and continued another six blocks to “C”.  It was at this point that we actually decided to consult a map.  Unfortunately, the one we looked at was not topographical.  Had it been, we would have noticed that after continuing to “D” and making a left, the next twelve blocks would be an eighty degree uphill climb.

It didn’t take long for morale to get low.  We started shedding travelers at the same rate as our sweaty clothes.  (If it makes it sexier for you, please feel free to picture any or all of us completely naked.)  The excuses for abandonment started off strong with reasoning such as “I’ve got to fix the DVD before the show,” but eventually devolved to departing statements like, “I’m gonna go pee over here.”  I wish I would have been as smart.  (Note:  Once again, notice that after walking the first six blocks from “D” to “E” we had traveled an approximate total of twenty-seven blocks, yet were only one block away from our hotel.)

This trend continued.  The next five blocks from “E” to “F” were at least downhill, so we all had the pleasure of working out a new set of muscles, especially if you (me) were wearing heels.  Once at “F”, a brief period of dawdling and toying around with the idea of walking the wrong direction passed before we moved south, taking us another six blocks to “G”.

“G” brought us once again to Sutter Street, six blocks from the Tomo Hotel and eight more yet to Union Square.  We had officially traveled about forty-four blocks, roughly three and a half miles, and at no point reached even the halfway point between our hotel and Union Square.  So what was the next step?

“Fuck it, let’s go somewhere else.”  Which we did. . . in a cab.

Part Five – A Picture is Worth About 2,000 Words

The above photo was taken outside The Purple Onion on the night of the Friday show.  If you’re interested in taking a little glimpse at the rest of weekend, check out this photo gallery I put up on Flickr.

Part Six – What’s Behind the Curtain?

I watched The Midnight Show perform on two consecutive nights with different hosts and altered set lists on a small, unfamiliar stage.  On night one a large contingent of the crowd was old enough to remember the first time they saw Woody Allen at The Purple Onion.  Night two came with a heckler and a pony-tailed douchebag (not me) who thought his off-the-cuff zingers deserved to be part of the show.  Regardless of these obstacles, The Midnight Show fucking brought it both nights.  Their energy from beginning to end was relentless and it translated not only to the laughs from the audience, but to the ones coming from “backstage.”

I refer to the backstage in quotes because, really, there wasn’t one.  Seeing as The Purple Onion is a room built for stand-up, the only place the dozen-or-so member cast could gather was a little alcove that led to the bathrooms.  At best, four or five of them could fit back there (six or seven if anyone was on the can), so most of time the cast was spilling out into the back of the main room.

Now I’ve seen TMS plenty of times at this point and I’ve always been able to feel their energy, but this time was different.  When the lights went down and the opening began with the blaring punk rock of The Bronx, the audience would have been better served turning their seats around.  Like a college football team getting ready to charge out of the tunnel, The Midnight Show jumped, thrashed, and stared each other in the eyes with a confidence that only comes from being truly talented.  The only thing missing was a sign for them to tap that read “Perform Like a Champion Today.”  And the beauty of it was, the energy didn’t die after the introduction.  As members went to and from the stage, it was as if they were passing a torch that carried that energy, and this went on throughout the entirety of their show.  By the end, the audience was holding the torch.

The Midnight Show comes ready to work, but they also understand that it takes more than simply showing up to make some noise; they bring heart.  It’s this dynamic that sets them apart from other comedy groups.  What they’ve created is both professional and sacred.  They do it for themselves, they do it for each other, and they do it with a purpose.  Because of this, as they grow in strength and popularity, it will only be a matter of time before they are widely known, and people will say about their talent in a plain, almost obvious tone, “Hey, whaddya know, it’s The Midnight Show.”

My name is t.j and I road blogged this.

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Book your tickets for The Midnight Show’s monthly performances at UCB-LA by clicking here.

And check out the rest of San Francisco Sketchfest’s schedule by clicking here.

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Blogs by T.J. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Choose Your Own Adventure: An Interview with DC Pierson of DERRICK

DC Pierson

If you fancy yourself a storyteller, chances are you specialize in a certain type of storytelling, for this is the Age of Specialization and storytelling has not been spared from its wrath. You could be any number of different types of specialist: A novelist, a poet, a blogger; an actor, a screenwriter, a director;  a sketch comedian, a stand-up comic, an improviser. Or you could be DC Pierson and specialize in all of them. Because why not, right?

If you already know DC you were probably introduced through YouTube, where he and his cohorts from DERRICK Comedy – DC, Donald Glover, Dominic Dierkes, Dan Eckman, and Meggie McFadden – have struck gold to the tune of more than 50 million viewings of their online videos. In the next year the rest of the world will become aware of him as well, thanks to the upcoming release of DERRICK’S self-produced first feature film, Mystery Team, which DC co-wrote, co-produced, and co-starred in, and the publication of his first novel, The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep And Never Had To, early in 2010.

Sketch comedian, filmmaker, and novelist would make for a pretty full plate if that was all he loaded it with, but DC selects from the entire buffet. That claim from the first paragraph was not hyperbolic: He actually does all those things. And more. Hell, he even raps a little!

At his website, Ham Fisted Theatrics, DC showcases much of his work in short stories, poetry, and music and currently is in the middle of a highly-praised daily series chronicling his first 100 days in LA, having recently moved there with the rest of DERRICK. The series showcases his knack for finding the hidden wisdom and subdermally-located nuances and peculiarities in simple daily activities. Anyone can tell the story of what happened. It takes a masterful storyteller to convey what was happening while it happened. DC has an ability to vividly, genuinely, and comically relate that neutral stimuli.

In many ways DC Pierson has become the consummate storyteller, but no way more than in his ability to let the story choose its own medium of telling. I asked him about this and his answer will serve as the theme of the piece:

I don’t think your creation is meant to be a conglomeration of everything that interests you shoved into the first place they’ll fit. You might have an idea and think there’s a poem there. Or maybe there’s a little bit more to it and you can imagine a short story. Maybe a whole world is revealed and you write a novel. Or it feels visual and should be represented as a movie. Maybe it’s a rap lyric or a sketch idea or stand-up joke. Having the willingness to work in different media means nothing gets lost, nor do you ever have to shoe-horn anything into the wrong situation. A good idea doesn’t work if you have to force it.

Without further ado, let’s swap stories with DC Pierson!

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GROWING UP DC: THE FORMATIVE YEARS

I was that quintessential indoor kid. I really, really was. I got a bike when I was whatever age you get a bike, and my dad taught me how to ride it. I had the training wheels and everything, and that was fine. I stuck with it. Then he took the training wheels off and I rode it down the block and back around. No problems. Then I put the thing in the garage, closed the door, and never rode my bike again. And, summarily, I forgot how to ride a bike, which you’re not supposed to be able to do.

Your block and the world of the kids on your block are supposed to be this microcosm that you grow up in. You don’t get to select those friends; you just play with the kids on your block. That seemed like such an unknown quantity to me. Staying inside was so much more controllable. It’s not that I didn’t like playing with other kids, because I did, when I would find other freakazoids at school that I got along with. Like my childhood best friend, Trevor. He was into the same nerdy stuff I was and we would spend most of our time being weird together. But as far as my block went, I don’t know, I was just sort of terrified of it. So when kids would come to the door asking if I wanted to come out and play I would tell them that my mom said I had to stay inside, even though that was not the case. And then they would go away and my mom would ask who was at the door and I’d be like, “Don’t worry about it.” Of course she would’ve wanted me to go outside and play, but I was so much more comfortable reading my books and drawing my pictures, in my own world having a blast.

EXCERPT FROM THE BLOG: LEAVING NEW YORK

A lot of friends, when tolerating a fast, discursive, hugely whiny thought of mine about leaving New York recently, have responded “You can always come back.” Which is totally true. And I honestly can’t wait to come back. I know people who are just moving here now, in the summer, and I am so jealous that they get to move a mattress up eight flights of stairs in Bushwick and then go downstairs that night, covered in dried sweat and buzzed from exhaustion and post-moving beers and think, “Well, I’m here now.” You can move to New York any number of times but you can only move there for the first time once, and if you are just having that experience now, or you are planning to soon, or considering it as a vague-someday-thing, I’m jealous. And if you’re thinking about it, do it. I don’t worry about that being bad advice because the people who move here are going to move here and the people that aren’t, aren’t. (More snobbish predestination talk from somebody who’s only lived here five and a half years and is awfully fucking anxious about whether or not he can be said to be a “New Yorker” and is very worried that the most that can be said about him is that for a time he “lived in New York.”)

THOUGHTS ON TIMELESSNESS, TIMELINESS, & TECHNOLOGY

We have no way of knowing what’s going to be canonized or selected as “the thing” until way down the road, so we shouldn’t shoot for that. You shouldn’t try to last forever. But by the same token, I don’t think you should bat for being timely, either. The reason DERRICK never did a Bush/Cheney sketch is because while it might’ve been funny a year ago, now it just seems like old hat. Anything that seems cool and of-the-moment is only a moment from seeming uncool. There’s nothing lamer than the thing that seemed really current a week ago.

When I was in college I got very into mp3 blogs, because they were constantly putting out new songs that these up-and-coming bands had just cut in their garage, and it was really cool being on the ground floor of the “next big thing.” But I exhausted of it very quickly, as did a lot of people, because these bands that were so pure and untouched and amazing based on their four songs couldn’t stand up to that hype, nor should they ever be expected to. They weren’t ready for primetime, they only had four songs! So then, two weeks later, we would reject them just as passionately as we had believed in them two weeks before. There’s something really sucky about that unforgiving accelerated hype cycle, whereas had this band been given three years to write songs and learn to play live they might’ve been able to create something more rich and potentially timeless. But on the other hand, that same technology that forced us to consume them too quickly is what allowed us to consume them at all. This is the technology of the times, even if it does seem really paper-thin right now. Eventually this will all seem nostalgic.

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THE MOVIE: MYSTERY TEAM

Was it always the plan to make the movie independently?

DC: Mystery Team, yes. We brought a different script out to LA that we were sort of excited about, but not that excited about and pitched it around a bit while developing the idea. Nobody wanted to make it, so we were like, “Oh, that’s a bummer.” But we weren’t too bummed out that no one wanted to make it, and that probably should’ve told us something. I guess it did, because we didn’t end up making that movie. But what the experience of pitching told us most was that no one was going to let us make a “DERRICK movie”, whatever that might be, so if we wanted to do that we would have to make it ourselves.

What were the benefits to making it yourselves?

DC: It meant there could be no one with a controlling interest breathing down our necks saying so-and-so needs to be played by Zac Efron and these bad songs need to be in there. And no one could make us cut it down and sell it to TNT. It’s great that someone wanted to distribute the movie theatrically, but it was also great that if we didn’t get the right deal, we could always throw the movie in the back of our car and take it from town to town if we wanted. Or we could sell the DVD on our website. Or run it on Video OnDemand. Getting a theatrical deal that you’re really happy with is NOT a likely thing. It did end up working out and we’re in a situation that we’re really happy with, but that’s because we only had to obey the dictates of our own tastes and conscience.

Was there fear that in this global economy it was the wrong time to take on such an epic pursuit?

DC: Far from it. It’s a great time to take risks. I was reading this interview with Steven Soderbergh about making the film Che and then doing a road show for it. It’s this incredibly non-commercial four and a half hour movie and he was talking about how during times like this the practical thing is to be a little crazy. People are looking at the recession like it only makes sense to tighten your belt and play it safe right now, where as the lesson to be learned is that playing it safe doesn’t work. Because everyone was playing it safe. This is only the end result of people’s best thinking and safest choices in the past. I couldn’t agree more. The conventional thing presently is to be unconventional.

What was the writing process like knowing that you would then have to produce the film yourselves?

DC: From the start we wrote around things we knew we could accomplish. You don’t want to write this pie in the sky script and then have to tamp it down. It was important to write it as manageable as possible, because even that’s going to end up being unmanageable when you’re filming. And we needed the script really tight because there wasn’t going to be much room for error or playing around on set. The first few drafts were largely about making sure the mystery tracked. No one is going to watch this movie and think it’s the greatest mystery of all time, but hopefully when held up to the harsh light of day it will come across as a really funny movie with a mystery that basically holds up. Once it felt like that was working and the beats of the story were in order, we went back and did joke polishing. We did maybe 13 or 14 joke polishes of the whole movie, always trying to beat those last jokes. We would literally sit there for two to three hours sometimes on one joke, and kind of pitch off of each other. You’d just be sitting there in a prone position talking to yourself, trying to work out a joke. It’s a lot of work, but it doesn’t look like any work.

So how were you able to manage on set?

DC: It’s largely a credit to Dan and Meggie that we pulled it off. Dan, because a director’s job is to mediate between the vision in his head, the execution of the script, and then what you actually have to work with on the day of, which is not always everything you need. It’s a behemoth even when you have a big budget, let alone when everything has to be cheap, if not free. And it’s a credit to Meggie, as the producer, because the sheer number of different things she had to handle was baffling. A lot of people wonder what a producer does on a movie? The answer is a producer does FUCKING EVERYTHING. The producer has to worry about all the legal shit, making sure people are where they need to be when they need to be there, that they’re getting paid, that all these union contracts are being followed. The list is infinite. And Meggie executed it flawlessly.

Did your internet video background prepare you for the endeavor or was it a whole different ballgame?

DC: There’s some natural progression. We always tried really hard to make the videos look like short movies as opposed to internet videos. Dan took the time to plan out the shots and execute them to best serve the ideas and jokes we were trying to get across. As a result we would get these comments like, “This looks really great. What camera did you use?” What they were really asking is how we made something look that good or be directed that well. Dan did have a pretty nice camera, but it’s not about that, it’s about how you use it.

Did you encounter a lot of naysayers throughout the process?

DC: Not naysayers necessarily. There was a general feeling amongst the people we told that it was really cool we were making a movie, but they’d believe it when they saw it. And then once we completed the movie, it was really cool that we’d made it, but they’d believe it when they saw it in theaters. And even now that it’s coming out in theaters, they’ll believe it when it’s a success.

So people don’t believe you can make a movie until you make it, and then they believe that everyone can do it, right?

DC: The truth is, anybody can make a movie. You just have to be willing to work really hard on more levels and in more facets than you could ever imagine. It’s about getting up early and working really hard, which people don’t want to think about, because getting up early and working really hard sucks. That’s the thing: People want to think somebody hands you the opportunity to make a movie. They don’t want to think about all the effort put into the various processes that go into making a movie before you ever start making it. People don’t want to think about those parts.

Hard work is clearly necessary, but talent has to be a pretty big factor, no?

DC: I don’t think it’s about your talent. Or at least I wouldn’t want to. David Mamet has this thing about, would you like to think that you are just preternaturally gifted and all these things that you have just came to you? Or would you like to think that it’s about working really hard? I choose hard work, because that can be controlled. Talent, not so much.

It seems to be a common conception that, for all a person’s talents or hard work, you need connections in order to make it in “the business.” Has that been your experience?

DC: There are different ways to look at that. Having connections isn’t just about having a family member in the industry. It can also mean that if you keep doing the things that you love to do as best and as constantly as you can, along the way you’re going to meet people. Maybe they can’t do anything for you now because they’re just coming up alongside you, but eventually you both might be in positions, thanks to your hard work, where you can help each other out. And not as a form of nepotism, but because it’s easier to work with people you like and trust.

What has stood out to you about the response at screenings?

DC: The thing we’ve really enjoyed is that people seem refreshed by being asked to give a little bit of a shit. Mystery Team is a comedy first, but we also wanted to invest the story and characters with heart; not heart in the sense of emotional manipulation or forced feeling; just people laying their messy emotions on the table and expecting you to respond to them. That’s what is really cool about the reaction to the Apatow comedies the past few years. Knocked Up is my step-mom’s favorite movie. It’s also one of my favorite movies, and a lot of my generation really responded it. But my step-mom would never in a million years like what she considered to be a dick and fart comedy for people in college. If you look at a lot of film and TV comedy, there’s so much ironic detachment to it. Like, here’s an 80′s dance sequence and a wink and a smile. There seems to be this notion that to make a funny movie you can never ask the audience to care on any level. We think our movie is funnier because you invest in it.

This seems to be a common theme in a lot of your endeavors. What is it exactly about ironic detachment that rubs you the wrong way?

DC: Irony is such a dangerous k-hole and smarter people than me have written about how it can’t be criticized because it’s already set itself up in opposition to itself before you can criticize it. There are David Foster Wallace essays that put it better than I ever could. It just seems you never get to enjoy anything if you’re constantly analyzing how much and in what way you’re enjoying it. The people and the artists I’ve really responded to are the ones who aren’t saying, “Isn’t it funny that this is me and my thing?” They’re saying, “This is me and my thing.” I just think doing what you do and liking what you like, without apologizing for it, is pretty damn cool.

So what’s next for the pretty damn cool Mystery Team?

DC: We just made this short film that premiered at Comic-Con and is now on the internet and we would love to make like ten thousand more of those because we’re still excited about the idea and love the characters so much. But we don’t know if the movie is going to be a success or not. It opens in select cities starting this month and then nationwide in October. We hope the theatrical release goes about the same as every other stage, which is very serendipitously, in the sense that things haven’t turned out exactly the way we expected, but at the end of the day things have really worked out for this movie.

And how about you? What’s next for DC Pierson in “the biz?”

DC: I went to school for dramatic writing and I would still love to write for television or work on independent screenwriting. I’ve had the opportunity to act some small parts in a couple movies recently and it’s been a blast. I would gladly do more of that.

Acting on other movies must be like a vacation now, huh?

DC: Total vacation. I love being “talent” on other sets. You get to be a hero for VERY little reason, because all you’re doing is goofing around on camera for a few minutes. Not to minimize it, but at the end of the day that’s kind of what it is. You’re just expected to come in and do your little thing, maybe you’re improvising and you try to crack the crew up, then you go home. And you get paid for it, which is NUTS.

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LOVE OF MUSIC: RAP

mc DJ – Steampunk (DC Pierson Freestyle)


I started listening to rap music in a very dilettantish way: I think The Roots was the first group I liked, because there was this apologist thing, like “They play real instruments so it’s more music than other rap.” And I listened to stuff like Nelly, because it’s what was on the radio. But then I heard Notorious B.I.G and that was it, I was hooked. Biggie was a virtuoso in terms of lyricism and I dug the way his songs were really hard and dark and fucked up, but the thing that appealed to me most was the whole mythology he created for himself. He was like, “I’m a fat black guy with a cockeye and I’m going to be a sex symbol to you. You’re going to love me.” And it became true! That was so unbelievably cool to me. And NO ONE in rock n’ roll was like that at the time. At one point they were: Led Zeppelin was on-stage announcing that they were Gods. But all of that was gone from contemporary rock music. Especially in the current indie rock, where it was like, “I’m a skinny white guy with glasses. Sorry I’m up here.” Hip hop wasn’t like that. Rappers took that rocker ideal and made it their own. Which is why it should come as no shock that hip hop has gone through this love affair with rock star imagery the past few years, the result of which is a lot of shitty fashion in rap music, but that’s another thing altogether.

LOVE OF MUSIC: JASON ANDERSON

One of my favorite musicians of the past couple years is this guy named Jason Anderson who writes a lot of songs about being in cars with girls. Many of his songs are very clearly ripped directly from his own life, but the way he puts it makes you go back and look at moments from your own life and say, “I’ve experienced stuff like that.”  There’s one particular song where he’s talking about being in a car with a girl driving to the beach “and the radio played Usher.” And he isn’t saying that the radio was playing Usher and isn’t that ironic and hilarious. He’s just saying that the radio played Usher. And it was probably a pretty good song, just not the perfect one. And I really like that, because I’ve very rarely been in a car with a girl where the radio played the perfect song, but I’ve definitely been in a car with a girl when the radio played Usher. It wasn’t the perfect song for that moment, but it’s still the song that was playing IN that moment.

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THE NOVEL: THE BOY WHO COULDN’T SLEEP AND NEVER HAD TO

The novel is being described as ET meets Superbad, which I find funny because neither is a novel. How would you describe it?

DC: ET meets Superbad sounds cool because Superbad is really good and I fucking love ET more than anything in the world. I’m not sure that’s what I wrote, but I’ll take it. I’ve had the idea in some version since high school. It’s a coming of age story that turns into a sci-fi adventure about a weird, nerdy high school kid that forms a bond with an even weirder kid who it turns out has no biological need for sleep. There’s a whole lot more to this boy who doesn’t sleep and the story is about these two kids and that development. It starts in a mundane high school setting and then I layered science fiction on top of it, which is hopefully where the cool contrast comes from.

Did you sell it and then write it or vice versa?

DC: It was done and in good shape before I ever even thought about showing it to anyone. I wrote it to write it, with the idea of getting it published, but I was never angling for that by any stretch of the imagination. I only told three or four people that I was even working on it. It was nice that no one had to know except me and my laptop. And showing the finished book is a lot more satisfying than pitching the idea or showing a summary or work-in-progress.

You are very protective of your creations, holding onto them until they are totally ready for public consumption. Why is that important to you?

DC: You can get into this place, especially with social networking, where you’re talking about what you’re doing a lot. I’m always worried that getting too much feedback as you’re doing it can dissuade you from going crazy in your own little world. If I’ve learned anything from doing the book and movie it’s that this is not the way it’s typically done. A lot of the process seems built around this notion that you’re almost wasting your time if you don’t just have an idea and then sell it around. Be it in publishing with a book proposal or in movies with a pitch you then get paid to develop. There seems to be an institutional prejudice against the idea of completing something and then showing it. DERRICK, as a group, doesn’t subscribe to that idea. We’re not into letting people in on the process. We are very much about finishing it and then showing it to you.

What sort of books do you enjoy?

DC: The things I respond to the most are kind of genre-colliding rather than in their own column. My favorite sci-fi author is this guy Neal Stephenson who wrote Snow Crash and this three book series The Baroque Cycle, which is this huge, six or seven thousand page cycle about pirates and the creation of modern economics. He sort of effortlessly synthesizes a lot of time periods and styles and isn’t afraid to try on a bunch of different hats; isn’t afraid to cram a bunch of different stuff together and never lets himself get pigeon-holed by any one genre. And then I also like musician biographies a lot. I have to stop myself from reading too many music-related books, because it’s all I’ll read if I let myself. Since I want to be a novelist I know I should be consuming novels all the time, but when it comes down to reading some other guy’s first novel or a biography of Joe Strummer, I’m probably going to choose Joe Strummer.

What’s the plan for the book’s release?

DC: It’s coming out in 2010 through Vintage/Anchor. I haven’t thought too much about publicizing it yet, just because we’ve been so in the trenches on Mystery Team. I would like to do something that resembles a book tour, but it probably won’t be paid for by my publisher, God love ‘em. I ran it by them and they were like, “Yeah, that doesn’t work anymore.” Which was sort of a bummer. The publishing industry, like most industries right now, is trying to figure out how to use technology instead of letting it use them; trying to find ways to reach young people. But I’d really like to do something where I get to actually go and meet the people who are interested in the book. Things like web marketing and internet word-of-mouth and low-cost advertising are nice, but I think there is something so irreplaceable about being there in the flesh, present in people’s lives. It’s really un-fuck-with-able.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

GROWING UP DC: THE TEENAGE YEARS

The big dilemma for me growing up was that I thought I was hilarious and the other kids didn’t. I was into what I thought was smart, funny stuff like Monty Python and other kids thought I was weird and kind of creepy. They weren’t that into me. But I kept going with it and being that way and eventually there was a conversion. Eventually they came around to thinking I was funny. Or maybe I just started expressing myself in a way that was not entirely creepy to other people. Probably some combination thereof.

Middle school was kind of miserable, just because middle school is miserable for anybody. A friend of mine was saying that if you were happy in middle school, you’re damaged. There’s something wrong with you and you’re not equipped for adult life. So I hated middle school because you’re supposed to or you’re messed up.

High school was much better. I was in this program called Theatre Company and was really happy within that context. It was essentially public school Drama Club, but an extremely unique version. We performed six mainstage shows a year and tons of student-directed one act plays. And it wasn’t a situation where theatre kids were only liked in theatre and outcasts to the rest of the school. My friends and I weren’t cool, we were just accepted for what we were: Those funny kids who make all those plays. The other kids wouldn’t come see our plays, but they thought it was hilarious in English class when we made fun of the teacher.

EXCERPT FROM THE BLOG: 100 DAYS IN LA

Lying in bed on Tuesday night I for some reason think of a phase I went through in high school where I had a thing against “nice people.” I was fond of saying that I would rather someone be interesting than “nice.” What a douchebag! What a position of privilege! Kindness has a hard enough time in this world without people attacking it for being unsexy. Man it was great to have so little of substance going on that you had time for cool-sounding but essentially retarded opinions on human relations like that. If you are an adult and you still have time for half-baked reality-show-sound-byte “I’m the type of person where…” proclamations to make you sound callous and cool and unique, if you have time to subscribe to them in any way or form or fashion, I think you are not done yet and somebody should put you back in the Oven Of Personality. If your central tenet is not some variation on Let’s Try To Make Life Sane And Safe For Love And Fun And Not Be Jerks To Each Other, then I don’t know what you’re after and I don’t really want to.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Since I’ve been writing the first 100 Days in LA the thing that keeps coming up when I get positive feedback is something to the effect of, “You take this little experience that I’ve had before and you look at it in this different way,” and I really appreciate that, because if I had to sit down and choose one central theme to try and get across it’s that I really believe we need to start expecting more out of our lives, and that begins by looking at these things we do on a daily basis with a sense of adventure and dignity.

So much of our lives are these standardized, controlled experiences that are planned out and imbued with technology, and there’s this great feeling amongst people that they lack control and never get to do anything interesting. And I don’t think that’s okay. But I don’t think we should all go live in the woods or come up with a different way to wear shoes, either. It’s really just about coming up with a different way to look at things. We have lives that are so rich with opportunities and materials and choices, we don’t have to feel a lack of control; our lives deserve to be treated with a sense of dignity. And the fact that every one of us isn’t doing something completely, utterly original is a real tragedy.

Too many people have this attitude that they aren’t smart enough, or talented enough, or they don’t know what they want out of life. “I’m not one of those people.” You are one of those people. Choose to be one of those people. If we start to view our mundane everyday lives as adventures, then we start to think we might actually deserve real adventures.  We can look at life like something we have to get through that’s depressing for how unlike the movies it is, or we can view it as adventure practice.

Thanks, DC, you tell one hell of a story.

My name is Ben and I interviewed him.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

This has been the third in my series of interviews featuring comedians with unique styles. My goal is to find the soul of what an artist or group does best, then mold the interview to best reflect that. In doing so, hopefully, I can offer a glimpse of the creative process. You can read the previous two interviews here.

August 18, 2009 Posted by | Interviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

KEEP ON TRUCKIN’: AN INTERVIEW WITH IMPROV GREATS CONVOY

Convoy (From L-R): Todd Fasen, Alex Fernie, and Alex Berg

Convoy (From L-R): Todd Fasen, Alex Fernie, and Alex Berg

Have you ever played that game where a group of people all sit in a circle and take turns, collectively, building a story? Imagine the best players in the world, times that by 50, stick them on-stage in front of a packed house, and that is LA-based improvisational comedy team Convoy.

Alex Berg, Todd Fasen, and Alex Fernie started performing shortform improv together in 2001 at New York’s Vassar College, as members of the literally-named Vassar Improv. By 2004 all three had re-located to Los Angeles and, shortly thereafter, began studying longform improvisation at Improv Olympic in Hollywood. Convoy formed from their friendship, shared comedic sensibility, and mutual frustration over the structures and limits of conventional longform improv.

The trio found their following at Cagematch, the weekly head-to-head improv competition at Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre, also in Hollywood. After winning a record 44 consecutive weeks, they were defeated shortly after accepting a weekly slot at the theatre. For a measly $5 you can see Convoy perform at the UCB every Thursday at 11 alongside another great troupe, The Last Day of School. They also perform at UCB many Mondays for Harold Night (the popular longform improv style created by Del Close), as part of UCBLA’s oldest active Harold team, Sentimental Lady. Make reservations for all their shows in advance as they ALWAYS sell out. To see the video of a full Convoy set, posted yesterday, click here.

This is the first of what I hope to be a long and awesome interview series featuring comedians with unique styles. My goal is to find the soul of what an artist or group does best, then mold the interview to best reflect that. In doing so, hopefully, I can offer a glimpse of the creative process. And also make you laugh. For Convoy, this quote acts as my template:

“What we try to do when we improvise is find worlds we can explore. We stumble upon a premise: This is what this world is. Then we explore that until it triggers another premise in our minds, and then we follow that. The whole point is, if we get the suggestion of strawberries, to never have a strawberry in the whole show, except maybe the first scene. And then just see how far we can get in twenty minutes; where can we be that is so far away from strawberries.”Alex Fernie of Convoy

I have divided this interview into Longform (the scenes connect and move forward) and Shortform (scenes end abruptly and action starts anew), to reflect the two main styles of contemporary improv. I will throw out a suggestion and let these guys do the rest. This isn’t going to be an ordinary interview. This is ImproView. Or Convoysation. I can’t decide between the two. Without further ado, let’s all join the CONVOY!

LONGFORM
SUGGESTION: IMPROV STYLE
ALEX FERNIE
We came up with the name Convoy randomly, because we were listening to the song ‘Convoy’, but then retroactively decided that it describes our form. We get our suggestion and then explicitly try to keep moving forward.
TODD FASEN
We start in a more grounded, real place and trust that an unusual thing is going to happen, and when it does, that it will be picked up on. If you are in a world where trees can talk, then what else is true about that world? Let’s see this tree going to work and having a very mundane day or something.
ALEX BERG
We have always liked the juxtaposition between the mundane and the ridiculous. For us, the more ridiculous something is the more funny it is to examine what is mundane about it. Obviously we know trees talking is ridiculous, but what are the mundane things that trees talk about? There’s a commercial on TV with a jackalope and a Minotaur getting coffee, and I love that commercial because they just talk about day-to-day bullshit. I don’t want to hear a jackalope and a minotaur talk about being a jackalope and a minotaur.
FERNIE
Because they wouldn’t. I don’t talk about being a skinny white guy with glasses.
BERG
I talk about being a skinny white guy with glasses all the time.
FERNIE
Yeah, but it’s funny for you to talk about…
BERG
…Because I don’t wear glasses…
FERNIE
…And you’re so fat.
FASEN
You’re both what Rivers Cuomo writes songs about.
BERG
Likewise, if you have a scene between two office workers, it’s more fun if they are trying to take over the world using their staplers or something.
FERNIE
A lot of times, and this can be a good thing, but it can also be our failing: We’d rather have interesting than funny. So we will just go down a road because we, as improvisers, are legitimately interested in this conversation. One of the things all three of us try not to do is just go for a joke. That kills more scenes than anything.
BERG
Going for a quick laugh is almost like not trusting the audience to be patient with you.
FERNIE
I really believe there is a big difference between doing a good show and a funny show. Ideally you want them to be the same show, but I think anyone can walk on stage and get laughs. That’s not a problem. If you trust that the laughs will come, they usually will. So we focus on some of the other stuff and let the laughs happen. When people are trying too hard, that’s when you see them not really connect. It’s like when you have a dog that you want to pet, and the dog’s like “Nope.” But the second you stop wanting to pet it, it’s going to come over.
FASEN
At the end of the day, your show needs to be funny or people aren’t going to want to see it. But if you’re just making jokes in your scenes then the show isn’t going to be funny. It just sort of comes to a halt. And for us, we don’t get a reset button after each scene, so we need to be able to move forward logically and adopt the attitude, “If this then what.”
FERNIE
We’ll nod to stuff that we’ve done and we’ll do callbacks, but I think we are greedy in terms of wanting to discover as much stuff as possible. We’re constantly trying to find out new things about these three characters. It’s not just, this guy loves hamburgers so he’s going to be spending twenty minutes talking about how much he loves hamburgers.
BERG
It worked for Wimpy from Popeye.
FASEN
And the Hamburgler.
FERNIE
That’s true. And we’re still laughing. When you go see a show, you want to see depth. If it’s only got one good idea…
BERG
…Especially if that idea happens to be a dick joke…
FERNIE
…I might laugh. I probably will laugh. But I’m not going to remember it next Tuesday.
BERG
Every time we have watched through the tape of a show that went less than good, it’s always been because one or all of us is playing with an agenda. And the shows that we all like the most are when the set is just a series of very honest reactions and responses to this first thing. I think that’s part of how you build the audience’s trust: By saying, we’re not just going to come in and invent some joke if it’s not appropriate to the scene.
FASEN
You don’t want to force a weird thing.
BERG
You don’t want to force anything, be it unusual or not.
FERNIE
No matter how many scenes with Optimus Prime talking to Goliath from Davey and Goliath we do, we always make sure there’s something there we can hang our hat on.
BERG
Sometimes you get these really rich suggestions and you don’t just want to go to the knee-jerk, obvious jokes. Like, what’s an example? Uhhh…
FERNIE
You’re really struggling.
BERG
I really am.
FASEN
One time we got Thermidor.
FERNIE
No, they suggested Jacobian.
BERG
Right, and then Thermidor was the only month I could remember off the French Revolutionary Calendar. So sometimes you get these rich suggestions and, in this case, there are so many different aspects of the French Revolution that are really interesting to explore, so…
FERNIE
…There are so many aspects of the French Revolution that are interesting to explore? Anyone who hasn’t seen us before, you just ensured they will NEVER come to a show.
FASEN
We’re LA’s #1 historical improv troupe. If you didn’t get a 4 on your AP European History test, don’t bother showing up.
BERG
Funny thing is, I got a 1. Didn’t study at all for that test. I went in going, “I either know this or I don’t,” and stayed out until 2am the night before.
FERNIE
Well, I guess that question was answered.
BERG
Yeah, I guess so.

SUGGESTION: CHARACTERS
FERNIE
People is people, and no matter what you’re doing, you still want there to be the core of a person there. We all have more things in common with, say, John Wayne Gacy, than we don’t. The big differences stand out, but he probably loved hamburgers and Sportscenter and all the things most people love.
BERG
I love clowns. Bibles. Murder.
FASEN
But not killing.
BERG
No, not killing. I like murder, I don’t like murdering.
FERNIE
No matter how crazy the scene, you still want there to be something recognizable and human there.
BERG
Sometimes you want great distance between yourself and this oaf you are creating on-stage, but a lot of times I have very sincerely brought up things that have been floating in my head. I was talking as the character, but it was this honest, idiotic, neurotic sort of thing in my own mind. Neurotic? Is neurotic a word?
FERNIE
Did you just ask if neurotic is a word?
BERG
It is, right?
FASEN
It’s a pretty well known word.
FERNIE
Very famous word.
BERG
I’m neurotic about whether neurotic is a word. Neuroticism, that’s the word I always think is real that isn’t.
FERNIE
Neuroticism sounds like worries that you’re turned on by.
FASEN
I’m okay with neuroticism becoming a word.
BERG
This is how neologisms happen. I think about philosophy of language a lot doing improv.
FERNIE
When we were in school we took a philosophy of language course with this Norwegian professor named Herman Cappelen. Exactly what you might expect a Norwegian philosophy professor to look like – that was Herman Cappelen.
BERG
And he talked like Kermit the Frog. Cappelen went through this whole thing about Paul Grice’s Four Conversational Maxims, these tacit rules that everyone who participates in a conversation agrees to. Since moving out here I have gone back and read the article and thought about it in terms of improv and it really applies. Language is a social agreement; words don’t have meaning until we agree they do. In order to create anything on stage you have to have that same level of social agreement, because nothing exists in a scene until you say it does. And then it’s ironclad.
FERNIE
There’s no “real world” connection. We are naming these things that aren’t really there, but 100 people in the room will decide that this world is real, and then…BOOM! It is real. And what makes everyone agree to it is pattern. Language and humor both work that way, and they are so inextricably linked; in terms of expectation: Expecting you to conjugate this way or hit the punchline here. Then, either by fulfilling or withholding that fulfillment, we get the response that we want.
BERG
There is something that is very satisfying about fulfilled pattern. All brains do is look for patterns everywhere. That’s why humans are good at finding metaphors and analogies.
FASEN
When this interview hits you are going to send Paul Grice book sales through the roof.
FERNIE
He’s going to skyrocket up Amazon.

SHORTFORM
SUGGESTION: DIFFERENT STAGES
BERG
It definitely affects it. I feel very at home at UCB now, but I don’t think that was always the case. I remember when we first started performing there being really thrown off by the lack of wings.
FASEN
We always play at UCB, so we’re just used to that stage. But even at UCB there can be concerns. Like, if it’s a smaller crowd so there aren’t people on the wings, you now have the whole stage to play with, so that’s going to bring its own change.
BERG
It comes down to responding to the performance space and trying to play organically to what that space needs.
FERNIE
We just went back and did a show at Vassar a couple weeks ago. It was in a huge, two-story room and there were no lights, besides ambient lights. There was a stage, but it’s a WEIRD space. You just get gobbled up and the sound gets gobbled up. You have to adjust the show.
FASEN
When we would do shows there in college we performed in these small classrooms, to the point where people were literally right in front of us. In some weird way it feels like we’ve come full-circle and now we have this crowd that knows us, that sees us kind of regularly, that’s packing in a stage. We were part of that in college and now we’ve managed to build a similar thing here.
FERNIE
There’s a bad side, too. We did a show recently that was ended by an audience member walking across the stage.
BERG
Yeah, we got edited by an audience member. Because of where they were sitting, Fernie and I saw movement out of the corner of our eyes and instinctively thought it was Todd. So we both did the improviser “freeze” to see who he was tagging out, but it was just somebody going to the bathroom.
FERNIE
I just kind of shrugged. “Engage? I don’t think I want to.” It was just ten seconds of us watching this person walk across the stage and then Todd ending the show.
FASEN
You guys were like deer in headlights.

SUGGESTION: INTERNAL CLOCKS
BERG
Mine is awful.
FERNIE
Berg’s is pretty bad.
FASEN
Mine has been much better since UCB started putting a clock up in the booth.
BERG
I would argue, by definition, that’s an external clock.
FASEN
Yes, but it helps my internal clock.

SUGGESTION: GAINING AN AUDIENCE
FERNIE
For the first year of our existence, more, it was just our friends coming.
BERG
We just liked to see who we could guilt into coming to see us.
FASEN
By the time we started performing at UCB our friends were all tired of us.
FERNIE
We’ve done shows for two people. NOT fun.
FASEN
But we did it. I remember one of our first shows, a Cagematch, there were three people in attendance. We won by one vote, two to one.
FERNIE
I still look out the curtain every week to make sure there’s a crowd.
BERG
Fifteen or sixteen weeks into the Cagematch, we started getting a following. Those first couple of weeks with really big crowds were so awesome. And then when it became where those big crowds were not such an aberrant thing, that was just as awesome.
FASEN
And now we have this sold-out show at such an amazing theatre as the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. It’s just such an honor that the theatre wants us performing on that stage, but the step above that is, people also want to see us performing on that stage.
FERNIE
It’s such a wonderful and crazy thing. In the end, you don’t do improv to get famous, and you don’t do improv to make money. We do it because we love it and we’d be doing it if no one was showing up. We we can say that because we have done it when no one has shown up.

SUGGESTION: THE END OF CAGEMATCH
BERG
We went first that night and knew as soon as we walked off the stage that we hadn’t done as strong a show as we could have, and I think within five minutes of their show it was obvious they had won. It was Kapeesh – Eric Appel and Ben Schwartz. Ben was only in from New York for one night and flew home the next day. Those dudes are so funny and they brought an unique brand of improv that a lot of people hadn’t seen before. I honestly think they deserved to win.
FERNIE
We knew we were going to start doing Thursdays the next month, so even if we had kept winning we were going to quit in two weeks. But it was sort of like getting shot the night before your retirement as a cop.
FASEN
I think had we not known we were going to get a regular slot maybe we would’ve been a little bit more disappointed. We had a shit show, they had a great show and the audience did what they were supposed to do. They voted for who had a better show that night. That’s how I want to go out.
BERG
It made all those victories take on that much more importance. We did a shit show and got voted off. All those other 44 weeks when we got voted through, that means people really liked us.
FERNIE
The only bummer was, for our “retirement” show, we were planning to promote it as Convoy against some Make-A-Wish kids whose only wish was to do an improv show. And then it was going to be Tom Lennon, Ben Garant, Kerry Kinney, and a bunch of other ‘The State’ people.
BERG
And they would all come out as these terribly-debilitated Make-A-Wish Foundation kids.
FASEN
With IV’s and stuff.
FERNIE
I think that would’ve been a blast.

SUGGESTION: PET-PEEVES
FERNIE
I will never hold it against someone when they say they don’t like improv. I’ve seen enough bad improv to understand. But what drives me nuts is improvisers that make people not like improv. They do these shows where it’s like, “Oh, it’s just improv, let’s have a few beers and get up there.” What’s the point? You should be making something worthwhile.
FASEN
You need to respect the stage. Respect the fact that you’ve been given this opportunity to perform. Whether it’s performing at the UCB or the Chuckle Hut in Duluth or your friend’s garage. Do the best you possibly can. If you want to dick around, go dick around in your living room. If you’re going to put it on a stage, make something that you’re proud of.
FERNIE
I don’t like improv that seems like people playing dress-up in the basement.
BERG
Or improv that seems like a bunch of friends going up to do inside jokes. I don’t think it’s fun to watch a couple of dude-friends get up on-stage and shit around like they would in their…
FASEN
“Shit around” is NOT a term.
FERNIE
Neither is “dude-friends.” You had two things in that sentence that weren’t terms. “Where’s Berg? Oh, he’s just shitting around with his best dude-friends.”
BERG
I’ve invented several terms in this interview.
FASEN
No one wants to see a shitty show, so don’t do a shitty show. Of course, everyone is going to have bad nights doing improv, but don’t give up before you even get on the stage.
BERG
And you’re never going to reach the point where you are the best improviser you could possibly be, so, at the very least, every time you go out there is another opportunity to sharpen the knife, so to speak.
FASEN
I’d rather go see a show where, maybe it’s not that funny or great, but it’s people on-stage trying and committing versus watching people who are maybe funnier, but you know can do better, and are instead just…”shitting around” the stage.

SUGGESTION: ANYTHING AT ALL
FERNIE
I think you should tell the readers about how much Berg is sweating right now. That’s a big stain, Berg.
BERG
Describe it as larger than a man’s hand, so the readers know.
FASEN
As a guy who sweats a lot, why did you go with the long-sleeve shirt today?
FERNIE
It seems like a faulty decision.
BERG
I don’t understand why you can’t just listen to what’s coming out of my mouth.
FERNIE
Because there are too many other things coming out of you.
BERG
There’s more than enough to go around. Who wants some?
FASEN
Get those sweat-bags away from me. It’s like a shower is pouring out of your armpits.

SUGGESTION: SOMETHING NEW
FERNIE
We’ve started doing “retractions” at the beginning of our set. Because we get specific about stuff like, say, the French Revolution, we consistently make errors during our shows.
BERG
It started about a month ago. We had this bit in a show where I went on a really long, super nerdy rant about Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing origin story…
FERNIE
…A rant so boring I walked out of the scene.
BERG
That’s right. A rant so boring it stopped the scene. A true-blue comic book nerd like Fernie said, “Nope,” and walked off. I can only imagine how the crowd felt. But I got a detail wrong, so the next week, sort of as a joke, we did a retraction at the top of the show. It’s become a fun thing to go back and find the stuff we missed.
FERNIE
Because they know. I say this all of the time: The audience will always be smarter than you. There are more of them than there are of you, so, collectively they are smarter. When you mess up, someone in the audience knows.
BERG
And part of why it’s fun is that we can say, “Whoever was here last week, it was planarian worms instead of nematodes.” Even if there’s only five or six people there who laugh at that retraction, it’s nice to feel like this isn’t just a room full of strangers, it’s a community of friends.
FASEN
We don’t just go straight into “Hey, we’re here! Let’s do stuff!” It’s a fun thing to do at the top of the show.
BERG
Or maybe it’s one of our group neuroticisms.
FERNIE
Stop it. Just stop it.

Thanks, dude-friends. You’ve been great.

My name is Ben and I interviewed them.

***RETRACTION*** – Neuroticism is a word.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Interviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

   

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