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Improv Everywhere: Frozen Grand Central

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Not only is this a wonderful Improv Everywhere mission, it's also their best video yet. Kudos to the gang.

Office Hours are CLOSED

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Call me and talk to me about anything. We'll try to keep it pithy, so other folks can get on the line. It's about 11 AM right now, and I'm finishing up JJGo, then I'll eat lunch, during which time it's possible I'll have food in my mouth and not answer the phone, then eventually I'll take it down.

All you have to do to call me (free) is put your number in the box above. Your phone will ring, and once you answer it, my phone will ring.

Go!

OFFICE HOURS ARE NOW CLOSED, THANKS TO THOSE WHO CALLED

Podcast: Jordan, Jesse GO! Ep 50: Making Friends with Nick Adams

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This week on the show Jesse and Jordan are joined by comedian and author Nick Adams. They discuss The Wire, Mad Men and a real live Secret Sex Party.


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Interview: Comedian Chelsea Peretti, by Aaron Matthews

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Photo by Zach Klein

Chelsea Peretti is a NY-based comedian, writer, and member of the 4-woman sketch group, the Variety Shac. She is the co-creator of the New York City Rejection Line at (212) 479-7990 and of the web satire blackpeopleloveus.com. She is also the creator of two original series for online humour site SuperDeluxe: "All My Exes" & "Making Friends with Chelsea Peretti". Variety Shac recently released their first DVD collecting their short videos and sketches and they are currently working on a pilot for Adult Swim. I spoke to Chelsea over IM about her influences, her writing career and her inspiration for her internet series, "All My Exes."

AM: Who were your favourite comedians growing up?

CP: I liked all kinds of stuff. My dad loved Jonathan Winters so he introduced me to him.

I saw Martin Lawrence perform when I was in Jr. High. I loved Gilda Radner, I Love Lucy, The Wonder Years, Cosby Show, Monty Python, and Steve Martin movies like The Jerk and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. I had a birthday party where we watched Top Secret. I liked Married with Children lots and Roseanne. I can't really remember as much with standup. I know I watched [Eddie Murphy’s] Raw with my grandmother. That was lame watching it with her. And Def Comedy Jam when I was in Jr. High was big, and In Living Color.

AM: How did Variety Shac end up coming together?

CP: Well, Andrea [Rosen] and Heather [Lawless] and I did standup and knew each other from that.

AM: Had you, Heather, and Andrea collaborated at all at this point, beyond performing at the same shows?

CP: No, just all guesting on other peoples shows. We all wanted to make short films and decided we would premiere a new short at every show (our show is monthly.) It was a really fun homey feeling and a great place to try new bits. It was my first experience with shooting and editing and basically telling a story or making jokes on film. I learned so much.

AM: What is your writing process like for the media you mostly work with?

CP: For standup, the best jokes seem like they come up in conversation or in the shower or travelling. But also lately finding more stuff onstage. Sketch I don't do much anymore. But Bobby [Tisdale] and I used to sort of talk through ideas and improvise them, then get onstage and do them.
The Shac shorts are largely improvised but we try to discuss the overall concept and shape. And each of us will usually bring something a line or a bit or a character we want to involve.

All My Exes I scripted. I have a flow outlined and some good lines ready - but then had the exes improvise responses to my questions.

AM: Where did the idea for All My Exes come from?

CP: I can't remember. I went in to talk to Mark and Daniel Weidenfeld [of Super Deluxe] about it. There were various ideas and that one we all got into and tossed around ideas. It just was the one that got us all excited. One thing I've always thought would be if you could put all the people you've dated into a room or photo. Just how funny the photo would be, just lots of different types of people, like a circus.

And I've also always thought the idea of journalists being objective was funny. So the idea of putting something so subjective (matters of the heart) and so clearly personal into this journalistic interview format was funny to me.

AM: You have a lot of online projects, including your blog, the Super Deluxe series and your web projects with "The New York City Rejection Line" & "Black People Love Us". Do you think the internet has opened a new venue for comedians who might not otherwise get much exposure outside of their local scenes?

CP: I think the internet is so saturated now that you're not really guaranteed "exposure" just because you upload a clip. Maybe your friends will see it but I still think you need to be talented and/or aggressive/strategic to have any kind of high impact project online. Or be a freak show that people will laugh at or have a heckler attack you during your set, etc. The kind of things internet people will flock to.

AM: What else are you working on?

CP: I am going to LA at the end of the month to do some shows with Fred Armisen. I just opened for him in Tallahassee at FSU. Doing lots of standup. Oh, and Shac - we are working on our pilot for Adult Swim.

AM: Are the four of you still in the process of writing it?

CP: Yeah, getting closer. It's really cool so far.

AM: Is it all new material or is it like the Human Giant MTV series where some of the older stuff is revamped with newer stuff?

CP: Well, there's a very new feel to it in lots of secret ways!


To read a longer version of this interview, visit Aaron’s blog here.

Gang Members

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Live From Congress: Representative Wants To Rid Congress Of Gang Members

Finally, someone is standing up to these gang members. I've heard a lot about them from the newsmedia here in Los Angeles, and frankly, I'm terrified. Especially at night, when they're particularly difficult to spot. Kudos to our nation's leaders for addressing this pressing problem.

Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "1up.com - Retronauts"

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Photobucket

There was a time when just the idea of video games seemed to represent “the cutting edge” (think Tron). Even select Baby Boomers who like to imagine themselves with-it were alienated by the button mashing and hand-eye coordination that their kids had no trouble with. But now video games have been around long enough that nostalgia has risen for the games and hardware that the march of technology have left behind. People may line up around the block for a Play Station 3 but some of us are happy with a few rounds of Street Fighter II on SNES. For us we have 1up.com’s Retronauts (iTunes link).

The podcast has no set schedule or hosts, although all are drawn from 1up.com’s writing staff. Usually four or five video game aficionados take on a different subject, Street Fighter, the Mario franchise and Chrono Trigger were spotlighted on recent shows, and come at it with different points of view. A bit of history is usually given. Most of us experienced these games as kids and had no idea of what the game developers put in to their accomplishments. We just enjoyed the final product. You can really get the “Wow! I had no idea!” feeling listening to Retronauts. But the show is not a history lesson. It is primarily a place where friends tell stories of the years where all that mattered were how many quarters you could pump into a cabinet twice the size of you. I had a lot of fun listening to the Mario episode where the hosts talked about their excitement of learning about the release Super Mario Bros. 3 (I was glad to see the Fred Savage/Christian Slater film The Wizard get a mention). At some points the podcast stops being about video games and is more about childhood experiences an entire generation can relate to.

When discussing nostalgia it’s hard to know when to stop. That’s the biggest flaw with Retronauts. The shows clock in at around hour and twenty minutes. Something I’ve learned from reviewing podcasts is that brevity is not just the soul of wit. It is also the soul of listenability. Shows start with a news segment that offers many chances for the hosts to go off on tangents. It’s interesting to learn about Nintendo’s The Virtual Console, it’s the only aspect of the Wii that interests me, but I felt a lot of that could be covered in a much more succinct fashion (or better yet, saved for the website). The listener sees the description of an episode and has to wait a good half-hour before the show gets around to Mega Man.

For anyone like me who was once a subscriber to Nintendo Power magazine Retronauts has some transcendent moments. If they keep pack those moments within an hour long format it would be a perfect little podcast.

Podcast: Director Jeffrey Blitz

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Show: 
Bullseye

Jeffrey Blitz is the director of the film “Rocket Science,” which follows the story of a New Jersey teenager with a stuttering problem who joins his high school's debate team. His last film, 2002’s “Spellbound,” was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary. He has also directed several episodes of NBC’s “The Office.”

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Steve Martin on Charlie Rose

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MaxFun Group on Goodreads

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The latest lively discussion on our LIVELY DISCUSSION FORUMS concerns books, which are a bunch of pieces of paper that contain knowledge.

MaxFunster jbissel has put together a MaxFun group on Goodreads, a site that logs what books you've read and helps you find new books to read through the amazing power of social networks. If you're an MFer who wants to share your taste in words with other MFers, the group's a great place to start.

(pictured above: 19th century internets)

Sound (courtesy of Radiolab)

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