Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dear Funny Guy

Dear Funniest Guy Amongst His Group of Friends at the Random Bachelor Party that was across the room at the restaurant Chelsea and I ate at last Friday night,

Hey, Brohammer. What's up? I couldn't help but notice you at the table across the way in the little Argentinian steakhouse that my wife (the lovely Mrs. Chelsea Kelley) and I were enjoying dinner at last Friday night. I mean, that group of dudes you were with (clearly a bachelor party based on all of the jokes about balls and chains and what not) was HUGE! You took up like half of the restaurant! And even though your group of friends was large, and lively, I couldn't help but notice you in particular.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Broseph, but every group of dudes has a funny friend, right? That was clearly you. I could tell you were the funny friend right away when you made a big show of unbuttoning a few extra buttons on your pink dress shirt when you showed up at the restaurant. I mean, you didn't just unbutton your shirt, you danced around, made huge facial gestures, and then pointed to your pecs. Everyone laughed. A good time was had by all.

So, Bro-time, I wanted to talk to you a little bit. You don't know me, and I don't know you, but I think I can help you out a little.

You see, I'm kind of funny too! You were in Wrigleyville, so maybe you've heard of iO Chicago? It's that comedy club on Clark and Addison where they do improv. No, that isn't like stand-up, but I can see how you would make that mistake. Anyway, I perform there! That's right, people pay to see me do comedy! I'm also part of a comedy podcast (the Improvised Star Trek which you can download from iTunes!). We crossed the 50,000 download mark last month!

So, now you know a little bit about my humble comedy background. I'm no comedy celebrity by any stretch, but I've been around the funny block a few times.

Like I said, I wanted to be helpful to you. As a fellow funny person, I have some notes for you so that the next time you are part of a bachelor party, or other large group of people, you can elicit even MORE laughs from your friends, loved ones, and even enemies. Ready? Here we go:

1. Pop culture references- I know bro-J Simpson, Family Guy is the funniest. And Old School? I mean "You're my boy, Blue!" Right? Hilarious. The funniest. It makes sense that you would make reference to works of comedic pop culture amongst your friends. It's easy to pull out references to popular culture and get laughs because- A) most people who have seen those TV shows/movies will get the joke, and B) it's pretty easy to just mention something funny that someone else did. But you know what's even better? Doing your own bits. Like, making up your own jokes and bits based on your own life that have nothing to do with a funny TV Show. I know it isn't as easy as talking about something funny Quagmire did on "Family Guy" last week. But it isn't THAT hard. Use the shared experiences that you and your friends have, your jobs, road trips, sports teams you all like, the situation you find yourself in now, and build dialogue and characters around those. I promise you will get more laughs, and your friends will think way more of you. And you can still sprinkle SOME pop culture references in there. But only as an accent, a spice if you will, to the larger comedic world that you create.

2. Steamrolling- This is a big one, Bro'nuff. You were kind of steamrolling all of your friends. I get it. YOU'RE the funny one. YOU have a joke that YOU'RE dying to get out, but you know as well as I do that there is no I in team (Yes, there is an I in win. I've heard that one). You were just trampling everyone. Whenever one of your friends would try to make a joke of their own, you would interrupt them. It was kind of rude, and deep down, I'm sure those friends probably resent you a little for stepping on their comedic toes. Here's the thing, Brocala, you will have more success being funny if you work WITH your friends, and not against, or on top of them. Through dialogue based on your relationships, you and your friends can build scenes over the long-term that end up in huge laughs at the end. Here's an example- have you ever seen Ghostbusters? That movie is full of great comedians. Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Rick Moranis...the list goes on. But in the movie, none of their characters exists in a vacuum. They're funniest when they interact with each other. By interacting with your friends, by accepting the gifts of their jokes, you will find that your own jokes will actually get funnier.

3. Make fun of the right people- Last tip, broletariat- make fun of the right people for the right reasons. When you make fun of minorities, or the poor, or any other group of people who isn't really in power, and is possibly persecuted, it's really not that funny. Comedy works best when it's used to make intelligent comments about society and human nature. Comedy is at it's worst when people make jokes about the mentally handicapped. Making fun of people in power, like politicians, millionaires, or actors is totally fair game because comedy is a great tool to make comments on injustices committed by those people against their fellow humans. But making fun of someone who doesn't have power doesn't really work. Plus, it just isn't very nice to use comedy as a tool of oppression.

That's it bro, that's what I've got. I hope it's useful to you. As an improv coach/teacher, I will say that I do ascribe to the "spoonful of sugar" to make the medicine go down approach. So here's the sugar for the medicine- you have an infectious personality, and natural stage presence. You sell everything you do all the way, and honestly that's about 75 percent of being successful in comedy. You're almost on your way to being a truly great funny friend. I know it will probably take awhile to really get these things down. If you find you are having trouble, I can recommend some improv theaters with great classes to help you along.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Million Little Things

Yeesh. We're bad bloggers. It's been more than a month since Chelsea or I posted anything. So, I figured I should put something on here. This will be kind of a small collection of somethings. Here goes:

-We went to Winnemac Park last night to celebrate the Fourth of July (that's Independence Day in the USofA to all of you out-of-countriers). It was- without a doubt- the best Fourth of July celebration I've ever been to. Basically, a few dozen people bring illegal fireworks to the park, and light them off in the baseball diamonds whilst a few hundred folks watch. You are right next to fireworks being lit off by total amateurs. You can feel the boom when a firework goes off, and there are so many people lighting off fireworks, that there is literally something cool to see wherever you turn.

-I am completely obsessed with Neil DeGrasse Tyson right now. There are a ton of cool videos of him speaking on youtube. This one is my favorite. "The Most Astounding Fact"

-Crossfit is going well. I really can't emphasize enough how much I love it. I remember when I started doing theater, I really liked it, but I always felt like something was missing. Then I found improv, and a light went off in my head. It was...more cerebral. Geekier. More challenging than regular theater. And the people I met in improv were...more like me than the people I did theater with. I felt at home.

Crossfit is a little like that. I'd been working out for a long time before we started in the Fall, but just lifting weights and using the elliptical machine...it always felt like something was lacking. Starting to do Crossfit was another light going off in my head moment. I love Crossfit. I love how challenging it is. I love how it's changed me physically and mentally.

And you know who is awesome at Crossfit? My lovely wife Chelsea. Watching her plow through workouts is breathtaking. Chelsea NEVER liked to workout. Chelsea loves Crossfit.

-We're in the middle of a heat wave in Chicago and I hate it. The temperature is supposed to hit 100 degrees today. I hate, hate, hate how hot it is. I'm sure this is how most people feel when it's 0 degrees outside in January and the wind is howling. I can deal with that. I can put another coat on. I only have so many clothes I can take off.  Supposedly, the heat is supposed to break on Saturday. Thank Zod.

-I bought tickets to a music festival! Specifically, I bought tickets to RiotFest. Normally, I hate music festivals. Why? The crowds! There is something about large, unruly crowds that makes me incredibly irritable. So, in order for me to want to go to a music festival, there has to be a really compelling reason. Riotfest actually features several bands/musicians I love. Elvis Costello, the Dropkick Murphys, Iggy and the Stooges...that's just the tip of the iceberg. Honestly, they're a Bruce Springsteen and a Johnny Cash from being my dream concert line up.

-I still wish that Firefly hadn't been cancelled after one season.

-We're moving! In like two weeks! Chelsea and I got a new apartment. It's right around the corner from our current place, but it's much nicer. It's also farther away from Wrigley Field so the rate of drunk guys throwing up on my front steps should drop dramatically.

-I'm reading "Reamde" by Neal Stephenson. Actually, I'm almost done reading it. "Reamde" is basically an action thriller that happens to involve a massively multiplaying role playing game as a central plot point. It's funny because Stephenson is generally known for writing sci-fi, so even though the book isn't sci-fi at all, that's where bookstores are putting it. Contrast this with when a non-genre writer like Cormac McCarthy dabbles in genre ("the Road" for instance) and the book gets placed in Fiction. It's just...it's funny to me. The idea that sci-fi and fantasy and horror somehow belong outside of regular fiction, that they aren't on the same level somehow as "real" fiction, unless an established writer with a ton of awards writes a sci-fi book, seems silly to me.


Anyway. There's some stuff. Save travels, everyone.