Monday, December 19, 2005
Cold weather getting you down? Sick and tired of all the crowds and shopping? Laid off from your job as a mall Santa and forced to choose between buying food and prescription medication? Us too. Well, there's only one cure for those holiday blues: Church Basement's Final Show of 2005/Holiday Extravaganza!! That's right, this Monday at Church Basement we'll be freaking bursting with cheer. We'll also be giving away cookies and candy canes. And the bar will be serving HOME MADE EGG NOG with.....FRESH NUTMEG! Plus, we'll have our usual lineup of stellar guests. This week we welcome:
Kurt Braunohler- Co-host of the wildly popular and critically acclaimed variety show Hot Tub, as well as the co-creator of the amazing guerrilla street theatre that is Chengwin.
We've also got Seth Herzog, downtown favorite and host of Sweet. You've also seen him on VH1, the TV show Stella, and the movies Prime and The Baxter. He'll rock you good.
And we're welcoming back Basement favorite Dan McCoy. A writer for Jest and NPR, Dan has been with us almost from the start and is actually more popular than the hosts.
And last only alphabetically, we're bringing you John Phillips, founding member of the Hi-larious sketch comedy group Trophy Dad and all around super guy.
All I can say is, "Wow." In fact, I can't say it. Much like Orthodox Jews who dare not utter the name of G_D, I fear that if I speak of this Basement out loud, its unimaginable power may very well strike me down.
But that's not all. As a special treat, Monday night's show will feature the return of everybody's favorite Robot Cater Waiter, Zeep Zorp singing a special holiday song with Matt Yeager on the guitar. And stick around after the show for more egg nog and all-around holiday carousing. It's gonna be a party. We'll see you Monday night at 8pm sharp.
Nick Higgins, Jack Kukoda, and Matt Yeager
Church Basement Reading Series
@ Micky's Blue Room
Ave. C btw. 10th & 11th
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
"But Dan! I had work Tuesday morn..."
A-bup-bup-bup! You're dead to me.
The details are hazy (it was held in a bar), but I seem to remember doing a long interpretive dance, with intermittant short beverage breaks, with Autumn Clark, and having a lengthy argument with Eric Zuckerman, in which he took the role of Bob Hoskins and I essayed the role of Michael Caine.
You know, the usual annoying performer jackass stuff. But fun.
As for Juvie Hall, it will be sorely missed. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, etc. etc. But before it's gone forever, check out my last few posts, and come see me perform there this weekend.
And thank you Erik Marcisak for driving me home, so I need not brave the subways while cold, tired, and tipsy. Has the E train made its last exit to Brooklyn?
Saturday, December 10, 2005
I have just been tapped to contribute a bit to famed Daily Show production assistant Elliott Kalan's excellent unscripted late-night talk show The Midnight Kalan!
This will be the LAST Midnight Kalan at Juvie Hall before the theater shuts down for good.
What lies ahead for Elliott in the New Year? God only knows. Well, we do have some clues-- according to his website, there will be "coming in 2006: Elliott Kalan's Untitled Comedy Event Talk Show." Intriguing.
But that's in THE FUTURE. What does Elliott have on tap for the final show? Again, we consult the official word from his website:
Also, if you poke around the rest of the 'zine, you can see illustrations by yours truly, that run the gamut from competent to passable. Yay!
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Edited 12/ 10 to reflect Laura's helpful update.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
It's been a while since I've posted anything on here. I apologize. Although I don't know why I'm apologizing to you, my few readers. I have no obligation to post on my blog. I should be apologizing to me. I'm only hurting myself, since I started this blog to let people know when and where I'd be performing, or if there was a bit of my writing that I wanted to draw your attention to, or whatever. So I've failed myself. Sorry Dan.
But now I'm back. And ready to write a long blog entry with lots and lots of parentheses.
Anyway, the reason why I haven't written anything in a while, is that I'm in a period of transition. As you probably know, Sara Schaefer is Obsessed With You ended on November 11 (you can read what Sara has to say about it here). It was an awesome last show, and it was an awesome show in general. Thanks to Sara, who is one of the sweetest, funniest, all-around-best people I know, for getting me involved with it. Still, having it end has been sad, and it's sort of made me wonder what I should do next. I'm at a crossroads, if you will (if you will allow me to be pretentious, that is).
What's next for me? That's what I'm trying to decide. Recently I contributed (for the first time) a bit to Andres Du Bouchet's excellent show Giant Tuesday Night of Amazing Inventions and Also There is a Game. It went over okay, I think (at least, it didn't stick out like a sore thumb), and I hope to contribute more material to that show, whenever they'll have me (although I won't have the sort of "official" involvement that I had with SSIOWY). Jest.com doesn't appear to be updating anymore, but I hope to be involved in an all-new comedy website soon-- although I can't yet give any details. My friend Fed is planning a series of comedy podcasts, a TV series in online form, and I'm going to be one of the writers for that (and I may show up in a guest spot or two). More news on that as it develops. I'm also planning to write a screenplay, just as soon as I can figure out what I want to write about. If anyone pitches an idea to me that I decide to use, I promise to give them 1% of any money I make from the sale of said theoretical script. 1% of a likely $0.00! You can't beat that, so send those ideas in! Maybe I'll do some more stand-up. There's been some vague discussion of a sketch group with some friends of mine. And I've been taking the "Writing for The Daily Show" class over at The P.I.T. So feel free to hire me, Daily Show. But as for a solid new direction, who knows?
Anyway, in the meantime, if you're jonesing for your Dan fix, you can see me at Church Basement on December the 19th at 8 PM. I'll be delivering a couple of my high-larious essays at this bi-monthly reading series, at Mickey's Blue Room on Avenue C between 10th and 1th Streets. Also, if you want to see me at a more social, but still comedy-related, function, you can come to the party to celebrate/ mourn the sad end of Juvie Hall. It's at Slainte (directions behind the link) starting at 7 PM on December 19. You'll recognize me. I'll be the one crying into my beer.
And now, to reward you for slogging through all of that text, here are some photographs of the final Sara Schaefer is Obsessed With You, courtesy of one of my SSIOWY co-writers, the inimitable Kara Lee Burk:
Oh, the misty watercolored memories...
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Why? Because all good things must eventually die, little cricket. But that doesn't make them any less sweet. Ah sweet comedy show, we hardly knew ye. Perhaps your death will fertilize the ground for many comedy shows to come.
Plus, now that Sara's married, she just can't be as obsessed with you anymore. Sorry, that's just the way things go. She's so over you. Why can't you move on?
Still, that doesn't mean that you and she can't have one last fling, for old times' sake. Snag a ticket if you can. And if they're sold out, fear not. The waiting list for SSIOWY usually gets a few extra people in the door, so if you're interested, show up at eight and slap your name on that puppy.
Juvie Hall Sketch Comedy Theatre
24 Bond Street, btw Bowery & Lafayette
Tickets $8, through Smarttix 212-868-4444, www.smarttix.com, or at the door
Meanwhile, does anyone want to give me a job? Comedy or otherwise?
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
This is the hit sketch team Frowned Upon, otherwise known as D'Arce and Dev of The Cocktail Hour fame. Devon is the one in the cart, and D'Arcy is the one denying him the bag of dehydrated lentils he so desperately wants.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
I didn't want to mention it here before it was time, but our esteemed editor Frank Santopadre just removed our gag order. So here it is! Now those pining for the late, lamented Jest Magazine can get much the same thing in a much less respected format. (Suggested slogan: "It's On the Internet. You Know, Where Anyone Can Get Published!") On the other hand, now you can finally read it at work, without having to hide it inside a bulky three-ring binder, plus my friends from all across the country can see it for the first time.
I have a few pieces up there already. Check out my "Highlights From the 1st Annual Soft-Core Porn Awards." Or look at the first installment of what will theoretically be a weekly column, "Can't Miss Movie Pitches." ('Theoretically' in the sense that it will likely continue until I, or you, get tired of it.)
Plus my status has been bumped up from "regular contributor" to the much more exciting "regular contributor with a silly picture on the website." I still get paid the same per-piece rate, though. So start buying Jest merchandise, so we can shamelessly dilute the integrity of the product and begin getting rich off this thing.
In conclusion, Jest.com is one of the few places that pays me to write. Granted, they don't pay much, but their intentions are good. Please: support me by supporting them. If you continue to support such endeavors, then perhaps together we can eventually create a better world, where I don't have a shitty day job.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Huge congratulations are in order for Amanda Melson, my friend and fellow Sara Schaefer is Obsessed With You writer, who recently landed an honest-to-goodness job writing comedy for television. She's working on Greg Giraldo's Friday night evening of stand-up, on Comedy Central, which you can see starting this Friday at 8:30 PM. Just last week she got to live out the comedian's dream of dropping her day job for a dream job, and they've already put her to work spinning comedy gold.
Instead of the bitter gnashing of teeth that traditionally comes with a peer's success, I feel only great joy regarding Amanda's new position. Why? (You may well ask.) Because Amanda's the bees knees, foolish blog-reader! She's funny and quick with a brilliant comedic suggestion, but never precious about her own stuff, and she's one of the kindest people I know. She's paid her dues, people! She deserves every success. I simply cannot say enough good things.
So congratulations, Amanda. We're proud of you.
(And everyone who's not Amanda-- come on down to SSIOWY this Saturday at 8 to see Amanda in action, before she becomes too big to ever talk to us again.)
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
This coming Saturday, October 1, we've got a HUGE SSIOWY planned!
We've got cooking, great music, my bachelorette party, Law & Order - what more can you want? Come celebrate afterwards at Slainte, both to celebrate almost 2 years of doing SSIOWY, and to send Chris and I off as we are leaving to get married on Oct 6! If all that wasn't enough, some important people are coming, so if you've been meaning to come check it out, Oct 1 is the one!
Here are the details:
SARA SCHAEFER IS OBSESSED WITH YOU
Saturday, October 1, 8 p.m.
CELEBRITY GUEST: Laurie Woolever, Cook / Food Writer - Laurie will be doing a live cooking segment on the show! (Laurie was also the assistant to Mario Batali and also a cook for many famous types, so she will have many juicy stories to tell!)
MUSICAL GUEST: Valley Lodge - do NOT miss this band, they are fantastic and did I mention adorable?
AND AS ALWAYS...SOMEONE FROM LAW & ORDER!
WHERE: Juvie Hall Sketch Comedy Theatre, At The Gene Frankel Theater, 24 Bond St., btw Bowery & Lafayette
TICKETS: Tickets $8, available through Smarttix: 212-868-4444, http://www.blogger.com/, or at door.
Also, I will be getting interviewed at a live talk show this week. Why am I important enough to be interviewed? God only knows. Yet again, I'll let the show's titular hosts tell you about it in their own words:
Do you like everything? Then you'll love anything! And since The Cocktail Hour is something, you should be there!
Guests? Don't mind if I do.
Writer/Artist Benjamin Birdie
Dan McCoy (Sara Schaefer is Obsessed With You, Jest Magazine, Saturday Night Rewritten)
Did you know Devon might be a covert government agent? D'Arcy seems to think so. Find out the truth this Friday, Sept. 30th @ midnight. $5. Free soda and a slice of pizza.
24 Bond St.
Monday, September 26, 2005
'SCOPE MOUTHWASH TRIAL" by devon, brock, & dan
Hello. I'm a Historian. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Scopes Monkey Trial-- but very little attention is paid to the trial that happened immediately after: The Scope Mouthwash Trial. Let's go there now. You know. Not really. Through the magic of reenactment. Which is also not actual magic.
PROSECUTOR enters. SCOPE sits on the stand.
Scope Mouthwash, is it true that you are intelligently designed to reduce plaque and leave people's mouths feeling fresh?
Yes, yes I was.
I rest my case.
JUDGE bangs his gavel.
Scope Mouthwash, I hereby find you guilty of promoting good dental hygiene. And sentence you to be used after every meal. Case dismissed!
This was the most significant mouthwash trial since the Listerine Baby Kidnapping. For me, I'm a historian.
Poor Historian. He used to be not crazy.
There's a history of mental illness in my family.
SFX: MUTED TRUMPET (Wah wah wah waaaaaaaah)
Doctor takes out his cell phone.
Sorry, I gotta take this.
Historian, it's the governor! Good news, you're not crazy anymore!
Doctor and The Historian high five.
END OF SKETCH.
Yes, my friends, you have now read the greatest sketch in the history of time. Try to keep living, knowing that your joy will never be topped.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
And now, because I am lazy, I will post, nearly verbatim, the promotional email that the C.B. guys sent to remind me...
The Church Basement returns this Monday Sept. 19th at 8pm with a fantastic lineup. Our guests will be:
Roger Hailes - Comedian and Franz Ferdinand backup singer
James Stahl - Silky Smooth Poet and Quite a Lover
Dan McCoy - Writer for Saturday Night Rewritten and Sara Schaefer Is Obsessed With You
Mike Dunn - Blogger Extraordinaire and Budding Attorney
Plus other guests and your always fantastic hosts. 8pm start time, Beers are only 3 bucks! See you there. -Your Hosts: Nick Higgins, Jack Kukoda, & Matt Yeager
Church Basement Reading Series
@ Micky's Blue Room
Ave. C, btw. 10th & 11th
SARA SCHAEFER IS OBSESSED WITH YOU
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 8 p.m.
Celebrity Guest: BRYAN TUCKER (writer for Chris Rock, Chapelle Show, and now Saturday Night Live!)
Musical guest: VALLEY LODGE
And as always...someone who's been on Law & Order!
Juvie Hall Sketch Comedy Theatre
(beneath the Gene Frankel Theater)
24 Bond Street,
btw Bowery & Lafayette
In lovely Noho, Manhattan
Very near the Broadway/Lafayette and Bleeker Street subway stations.
Tickets $8, through Smarttix 212-868-4444, http://www.smarttix.com/, or at the door
Last time Sara got shot by a mustachioed man, and I wore a sombrero and a white jump suit. What madness lies in store this time?
And, because I jus' loves recycling old material, here are a few unused monologue jokes.
FEMA chief Michael Brown, cited prior emergency-management experience in an official biography but his duties were "more like an intern," according to a Time magazine report. Perhaps that explains why, while many refugees have not been given food, they have been fetched plenty of coffee.
This Thursday, while touring the destruction resulting from Hurricane Katrina, Vice President Cheney stopped to take some questions from reporters. During the live, televised interview a passer-by shouted out, "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney." I think the suggestion was only fair, as the Vice President is one of the few people who hasn't already been fucked by Dick Cheney.
The Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crowe, and Paul Simon were just a few of the music stars who performed in this Friday's televised Hurricane Katrina benefit, titled Shelter From The Storm: A Concert For The Gulf Coast. It was an inspiring event, despite the questionable inclusion of The Scorpions, playing Rock You Like A Hurricane.
According to a study, children who were asked to shop for a Barbie doll's big night out were more likely to choose cigarettes if their parents smoked, and beer if their parents drank. Children who were more likely to undress the Barbie doll were named Dan.
This year's Emmys will feature an "American Idol"-style competition, wherein singers and television stars perform TV theme songs, with viewers voting for their favorites. Some of the planned performances include William Shatner and Frederica von Stade teaming up to sing the theme from "Star Trek," Megan Mullaly and and Donald Trump singing the "Green Acres" tune, and Dick Clark performing Diff'rent Strokes.
Elijah Wood, best known for his starring role as Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has landed the role of a young Iggy Pop in a new movie. The name of the movie? Lust for Miscasting.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Anyway, if I can't say anything about Jest, then why am I posting now? Well, the meeting was at the New York Friars Club, and getting to be a guest there was a neat experience. You walk in to the club, and the first thing you see are paintings of Henny Youngman and George Burns, and that kind of says it all. We had a few drinks in the Celebrity Bar (and I saved my Friars Club swizzle sticks as a souvenir). Frank knew all the folks that worked there, and I definitely understood the appeal of belonging to a private club-- it's like stepping into a P.G. Woodehouse story (well, less British, and more showbiz-y, but you know what I mean). After the meeting we had a brief chance to see a little bit of the rest of the club (Frank: Do you want to see the Milton Berle room? Me: Is it as big as I hear?) and it was y'know... cool. Have I made it clear that it was cool? Oh, and we passed Dennis Farina going in, which was a kick. I always enjoy him.
In other news, I have discovered how to access the statistics that track visitors to my site, and have learned some disturbing things:
81.1% of visitors stay for less than 5 seconds.
The second-largest percentage, 8.1%, stay for an hour or more.
I don't know what's more distressing-- that the overwhelming majority can't be bothered to read the site for more than 1/12 of a minute, or that some people are reading what is essentially a collection of self-plugs and calendar dates for hours on end.
Also: many people come to the site because there's a guy at Pixar named Dan McCoy. I've caught his name in Pixar credits before, but didn't guess that he'd accidentally draw people (part of that 81.1-less-than-five-second-percentage, no doubt) to my site. And I guess he'll be drawing more, now that I've used the word Pixar three times. Pixar.
Anyway, if he ever self-googles and reads this site, let it be known that I think you do good work, Pixar-Dan-McCoy. Top notch stuff, really. Fuck Dreamworks.
The most unusual visit came as a result of a search for "nude Kim Cattrall." I can only assume that this is because I made an offhand reference making fun of Mannequin in my TV listings reviewer humor piece. What I find odd, though, is that someone would get here because of that one reference, considering how often Kim Cattrall has taken off her clothes. I mean, starting way back in Porky's, that's pretty much been her M.O., hasn't it? And I don't mean to slam Kim Cattrall. I loathe Sex in the City, but I do think it shows that she's a pretty talented light comic actress. Plus, I'm certainly not against women doing nude scenes. Basically, what I'm saying is that if you're looking for a naked Kim Cattrall through my blog, you're doing things the hard way.
God... again, now I'm going to have more people looking for naked pictures, through my blog. Stupid keywords. Not that I mind the traffic, I just can't bear the thought of disappointing all those poor misguided porn hounds.
Oh well. Keep looking, guys! I'm sure you'll eventually find something to get off to. I have faith in you!
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
A three-year study of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania, found that the vast majority of chimps are left-handed. So if you're ever up against a baseball-playing chimp, look alive in right field!
Rap mogul Sean P. Diddy Combs announced last week that, rather than P. Diddy, he wants to be called just Diddy. This last week I also revealed my new name, which is: "Dan 'Doesn't-Give-a-Fuck-What-Sean-Combs-Calls-Himself.'"
Former President Lyndon B. Johnson's white Lincoln Continental convertible was put up for auction last week. The car in question is a little bit of history, but it is also one of the many chilling LBJ-Abraham Lincoln coincidences. For instance Lyndon Johnson drove a white Lincoln Continental, while Lincoln angered whites in the southern part of the continent by freeing the slaves. Oh, and also Lincon screwed a woman called Ladybird. Little-known fact.
Marilyn Monroe's last surviving husband, James Dougherty, died in California this Monday at the age of 84. Dougherty, a retired Los Angeles detective and former local politician in Maine married the then 16-year-old Monroe in 1942 and their union lasted four years. His tombstone will read, "I may be dead, but I had sex with Marilyn Monroe when she was sixteen. Eat it, non-corpses!"
After several competitive rounds of shrieking and oinking, the father-son team of Yohann and Olivier Roussel were crowned France's official Pig-Squealing Champions for 2005, this last Sunday. The American Pig-Squealing Champion is, of course, Ned Beatty.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Amidst Peals of Delight from Bloodthirsty Audience, Sara Schaefer Totally Fucks Up Copy Machine; Related: Sara Schaefer Presumed Dead
Monday, August 22, 2005
Perhaps Sara got some pictures of the big event, and will post them. If not, you're out of luck. That'll teach you for not coming to the show.
In other news, The Onion has started a blog, which is good news for a guy like me whose work day consists of 10% work and 90% Internet time. I mention it here, because this post contains some apropos-of-nothing love for Brian Stack, which I heartily second. When we had him on Sara Schaefer is Obsessed With You he couldn't have been nicer or more interested in chatting with all of us before the show, and his interview segment was tops. All hail Stack!
Friday, August 19, 2005
As far as I can tell, I don't win anything (well, maybe some books on screenwriting-- it's hard to tell. They list a prize for "2nd place" and as far as I can see there is no second place, just 1st place and finalists. If I'd won I would've gotten $500. So close!). But I'm still excited. After all, it's something I can mention in my agent query letters, to slow down my inevitable relegation to the slush pile. Plus, it was the first such script I ever wrote. So I assume I'll only get better. I certainly hope so, since the alternative would be pretty depressing.
Anyway, I can finally hold my head high and say I really came very close to winning a TV writing competition. Yeah!
The other reason is: I rarely make it out to comedy shows. Consider this a blanket non-apology for all my friends' things I've missed, but there are two reasons for my low attendance:
- I'm lazy.
- I'm married.
Thus, after you factor in my day jobbiness and the shows I do and things I write for, I just want to hang out on the couch with my wife and my cat and watch full seasons of 24 on DVD. Which will probably be my downfall, someday, since I should be out "networking," but damn that Jack Bauer is a tough bastard.
Still, sometimes I get off my ass and go see someone else's show. One such occasion was this past Tuesday, when I finally, finally, saw Andres Du Bouchet's show, Gigantic Tuesday Night of Amazing Inventions and Also There is a Game. I realize I'm way behind the curve on this one. Sure it won the 2004 ECNY for Best Variety Show. Sure, Time Out NY consistantly reccommends it. Sure, Andres was one of Back Stage's comedy Best Bets for 2004-- an honor bestowed in 2005 upon a couple of other people I know. Also, yes fine, I met Andres over a year ago, when Ritch Duncan and I took part in a reading of humor pieces, and the three of us went out afterwards to drink and make fun of one of the other readers.
On the other hand:
The point is, I know Andres doesn't need my help (when I went, the place was packed), and even if he did, my endorsement might be worth one extra audience member at most. Still, I was impressed enough by the show that I had to post something about it. If you're like me, and you never see shows, this is the one that should make you break that lazy streak. The committment that the performer exhibited-- the real comic acting (remember that? acting?) that supported the cleverly written bits was a real inspiration. Andres almost made me believe that he was Francisco Guglioni, native of Boliviguay, the tiny Latin-American Extravaganzocracy, where virtually every citizen hosts their own show. And the ensemble brought the same level of committment to every sketch.
Plus it's free (although The Apiary claims that Rififfi might stick in a one-drink minimum someday).
Best of all, I was one of the winners of the "and Also There is a Game" part of Gigantic Tuesday Night of Amazing Inventions and Also There is a Game. I correctly identified "Monkey" as the word most often used in NYC improv-team-names. The prizes that were distributed to winning audience members were old pornographic videotapes that writer Michael Reisman was getting rid of to "...make room for the baby's crib." I was the proud recipient of "Deep Inside Sindee Coxx" a compilation tape padded with interview segments that take the time to help us really get to know what Sindee Coxx feels about things.
I'd like to close this inordinately long post by noting the special brilliance of the porn name Sindee Coxx. To wit:
- Eschewing the normal spelling of Cindy, in favor of "Sindee," allows "Sin" to be part of her name.
- "Coxx" = Cocks. Get it?
- The double X at the end of Coxx refers to the pornographic nature of her films, and provides an eloquent echo of the double E in her first name.
See what I mean? It works on so many levels.
All right, enough of this. Go see Andres in GTN. And see me in Sara Schaefer is Obsessed With You, tonight.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
For the official contest description, etc., visit Sara's website.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Liz is one of my oldest and best college friends, and one of the sweetest, most fun, awesome-tastic-est (shut up) people you're liable to meet, and she's just one more reason to come and see this great show.
Though nearly forgotten today, Todd Greenblatt was, for years, one of America’s most influential film critics. He labored not in the high-glamour, fast-paced world of the Arts and Entertainment section—no, his contributions were to be found in the TV listings, the newspaper’s bastard child, which appears every weekend to be promptly stuffed in a basket near the television and glanced at when needed. Yet, Greenblatt’s trenchant insight and unfailing good taste were rewarded in 1981 when he became the first television listings critic to be awarded a Pulitzer prize, an honor he received yet again just before his death in 2001. Here is a typical example of his art, from the New York Times, week of October 10-17, 1993:
4 [NBC] 12:00 – 2:00 (Movie) Drop Dead Fred: 1991. Color, 103 min. Phoebe Cates deals with imaginary friend (Rik Mayall). Insipid.
Greenblatt began as an old-fashioned newspaper man, covering city council meetings for the “Notes” column. His minutes from this period reflect some of the terse wisdom he later brought to bear on his film reviews.
“Councilman Ryan raised concerns regarding non-functioning stoplight at 23rd. Called for vote on new light. Passed by a margin of 8-0. Light sure to be appreciated by all.”
It was this extra attention to the needs of the community that caught the eye of his editor, the beloved Henry McManus. McManus had long sought for someone to take over the demanding Movies on Television beat (the previous reviewer, Scott “Old Scotty” Tolan, had collapsed from exhaustion, undone by the crushing schedule required to watch and review every film to appear on televison in a given week).
McManus knew of Greenblatt’s reputation as a film buff, having been subjected to opinions on the oeuvres of various directors while working the newsroom. (Greenblatt on Hitchcock: “Riveting.” Greenblatt on Renoir: “Enchanting.” Greenblatt on Goddard: “Confusing.”) So he tossed the cub reporter a bone—the coveted listings position. Greenblatt was only 23, the youngest reporter ever awarded the job.
While many were convinced young Greenblatt would fail, (Federico Ozols, editor of the Latin Tempo section is famously quoted as saying “I’ll bet Todd just calls every movie ‘diverting’”) he quieted his critics with his very first review:
2 [CBS] 2:00 – 4:00 (Movie) Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: 1978. Color, 113 min. Bee Gees in Beatles musical. Worthless.
Everyone agreed that the Bee Gees’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was indeed worthless. And thus Greenblatt’s reputation was made.
From the beginning, Greenblatt caught the eye of a number of other influential critics, including Andrew Sarris, Francois Truffaut, and most significantly Pauline Kael with whom he had a brief romantic dalliance. (Years later, when asked how Greenblatt was as a lover, the notoriously spiky Kael snorted, “Short. Like his reviews.”) Kael and Greenblatt enjoyed a friendly rivalry, and in 1981, on the 10th anniversary of the publication of Kael’s famous essay “Raising Kane,” this listing appeared in The Times:
4 [NBC] 8:00 – 10:30 (Movie) Citizen Kane: 1941. B&W, 119 min. Orson Welles’ masterpiece. Greatest movie of all time?
The review elegantly sums up the prevailing thought on Kane, acknowledging its stature, while the question mark gently allows for the possibility that it may not be the absolute highest in film art. Years later, in one of her final interviews, Kael acknowledged that, “When all is said and done… [Greenblatt] had the last word on [Citizen] Kane.” The Pulitzer committee agreed.
7 [ABC] 8:00 – 10:00 (Movie) Frogs: 1972. Color, 91 min. Big frogs terrorize Ray Milland. Don’t bother.
As the years passed, Greenblatt had to contend with a number of annoyances. One of the most insulting was the brief adoption of a star-based rating system. Grenblatt’s respected editor of many years had passed away, and the new editor, Tina O’Brian, decided that the listings lacked “visual flair” and “instant readability.” Thus, in 1992, the following review appeared:
While everyone agreed that Arachnophobia was the very epitome of a two and a half star film, Greenblatt was furious. According to legend, he stormed into O’Brian’s office, screaming, “What does two and a half stars tell people that the word ‘Watchable’ does not?! Fuck your G—damned stars! I’m a writer, not an astronaut!” O’Brian held firm, until Greenblatt threatened to accept a job with Le Monde (his review of Goddard’s work—“Le Oeuvre de Goddard est Confondre”—had caused a splash in France, resulting in lucrative offers). Fearing readers would cancel their subscriptions if he left, O’Brian caved. The star system was quietly phased out within the week.
40 [USA] 11:00 – 1:00 (Movie) Arachnophobia: 1990. Color, 103 min. Poison spiders terrorize Jeff Daniels. **1/2
More frustration came from imitators. In the 90’s, several critics attempted to mimic Greenblatt’s style, including Jonathan Duvoisin of the Boston Globe:
35 [TNN] 2:00 – 4:00 (Film) Every Which Way But Loose: 1978. Color, 110 min. Clint and a chimp. Monkey-tastic.
Failed attempt at humor aside, one wonders what sort of review “monkey-tastic” is supposed to be. Is it positive? Negative? The reader is left unsure whether he or she should watch this monkey-tastic film. Another imitator was Francis Galloway of the Dayton Daily News:
300 [HBO] 10:00 – 12:15 (Movie) Good Will Hunting: 1997. Color, 126 minutes. Matt Damon is a brilliant but troubled guy from Boston, whose therapist is Robin Williams. Basically a good movie. A little predictable, especially coming from Gus Van Sant who did all those art films, plus, who buys Matt Damon as a genius, and did Robin Williams really deserve the Oscar for best supporting actor? I was rooting for Burt Reynolds for Boogie Nights, and Matt and Ben Affleck winning the best original screenplay Oscar? That’s lame even if they actually wrote it (my cousin said it was William Goldman). Could be shorter too.
Physician heal thyself. Galloway’s overlong reviews soon cost the Daily News untold thousands in extra paper. Both he and Duvoisin were quickly fired from their respective posts, and Greenblatt was again the undisputed king of his field.
In his later years, he made the jump to television, contributing to the TV Guide channel’s daily listings, a move that cost him several highbrow critic friends who worried that abandoning print journalism would mean pandering soundbites. He also continued to review for the newspaper, though some feel that he was overextended. They point to his controversial review of June 19, 2000:
5 [Fox] 9:00 – 11:00 (Movie) Mannequin: 1987. Color, 90 min. Andrew McCarthy falls for a mannequin (Kim Catrall). Fun.
Fun? Was it really? Many say no.
However, like the great Orson Welles, whose Citizen Kane made his reputation, Greenblatt’s downfall came when he aroused the ire of a media giant. Instead of Welles’ William Randolph Hearst, the man Greenblatt angered was Ted Turner, of the Turner networks. In one evening, Greenblat’s TBS Superstation listings read as follows:
8 [TBS] 6:05 – 8:05 (Movie) For Your Eyes Only: 1981. Color, 127 min. A James Bond movie on TBS. What a surprise!
8 [TBS] 8:05 – 10:35 (Movie) The Blues Brothers: 1980. Color, 133 min. This may be your last chance to watch The Blues Brothers this week.
8 [TBS] 10:35 – 12:35 (Movie) Brewster’s Millions: 1985. Color, 97 min. Oh great. This is never on TV.
And those reviews are just a sample (his listings during TBS’s “13 days of Bond” are too obscene to be reprinted here). Exhausted from Turner’s programming schedule, Greenblatt attacked his stations week after week, until Turner grew tired of the editorializing. A fed up Ted Turner phoned a few key media friends, and at the age of 50, Todd Greenblatt was out of a job.
He died soon thereafter. His reason for living had always been to help the television viewers of this country use their time wisely. When he was no longer allowed to fulfill his purpose, he found that his own time was up. His death went unnoticed by all but the most devoted film lovers, but a careful examination of The New York Times obituary section for July 10, 2001 reveals this notice:
51 [Dead at] 1950 – 2001 (Person) Todd Greenblatt: Reviewer. Caucasian, approx. 26,805,600 min. TV listings critic of note. Delightful.
 History has borne him out, as Arachnophobia is the film most often awarded the two and a half star rating in a survey of over 1,000 top movie guides.
Friday, August 12, 2005
“Damn.” I muttered, as I examined the contents of mailbox 3G, St. Marks Place, number 18. “Wrong again.”
Aside from various bills, I held a New Yorker, addressed to me, Adam Shaw. That’s normal. I’ve been a subscriber since my birthday, eight months ago. My girlfriend signed me up to counter the embarrassment she feels when I skim Us Weekly. What was unusual was the date. The cover read October 20, 2003; and today was decidedly the 13th.
You see, since the start, I’d been receiving next week’s New Yorker. Not some early printing delivered by mistake, but an actual copy of New York’s foremost cultural and literary magazine—from the future.
The first hint of something strange came months ago, when I happened to remark upon a cartoon that tickled me. When speaking with friends at a bar, I said, “Hey, anyone see that Koren comic with the bumpy, furry guy, and he says something like ‘I had hoped you’d love me in spite of my flaws’? Cracked my shit up.” There was a deafening silence. I attempted to recover. “No? Well then you simply must have seen Roz Chast’s page on the 11 kinds of mother worry.” I could tell by their faces that they had not. I was about to forge ahead, when I felt my girlfriend’s hand, gently, on my shoulder. I shut up, and my friend Phil changed the subject to the Yankees’ recent loss.
Still, it stuck with me, the sense that something was amiss. The next evening I was walking home from work, when I passed a newsstand. The New Yorker was front and center, but instead of Art Speigelman’s whimsical pastel portrait of orthodox rabbis and Muslim taxi drivers waltzing together (which graced my copy) there was an issue I’d never seen before, sporting a watercolor of George W. Bush at a dog run, the dogs caricatures of the Democratic presidential candidate.
“Good God, what’s happening?” My head awhirl, I ran home, snatched the New Yorker from its place on my mantle, and sped back to the mysterious newsstand.
“What’s the meaning of this?” I demanded, shaking my 101 pages of essays, arts, and in-depth reportage.
The vendor narrowed his eyes. “I ask you same thing.”
“Is this, or is this not the New Yorker I have in my hand?”
“Maybe is, maybe isn’t. Give to me to see.” I handed him the offending magazine. He glanced at it, then knit his brows and fixed me with a furious stare. “Get away my stand.” he growled.
“But, sir…” I said.
“We deal in honest New Yorker here.” He struck the stack of magazines, sending one skidding into the gutter. “Honest. No phony!”
I struggled to regain my conversational footing. “Sir, I don’t know what you mean…”
“Get away! This is law abiding stand. Take counterfeit and go! Go before I call Richard Avadon, and have you arrested.”
Faced by this threatening prospect, I ran.
Over time, the truth became clear, A whole month of showing up to Whitney exhibits one week early, convinced me that I had been selected for a special destiny. I had been granted a window into the future, and this was both my blessing and my curse.
Dropping my keys on the end table as I entered the apartment, I swept aside old pizza boxes, napkins, photos of myself in the nude, the accumulated detritus of my counter to make room for the latest issue. I opened it, flipping past the performance notes until I found what I was looking for—The Talk of the Town. I skimmed the columns. A whimsical black and white line drawing portrayed an owl in a concierge’s uniform holding a pair of binoculars. The looked down at some men in suits, who pointed up, agog. Above this, a red headline reading, “Department of Wildlife” followed by “Checking Owt” in black. I read:
Visitors to our city have always been dismayed
by its lack of aviaries, particularly in
metropolitan areas. Earlier this month a group
of philanthropic owls took it upon themselves to
correct this oversight by moving into the
condemned New York Grand Hotel on the
corner of 14th and Broadway.
The owls in question, beyond their impeccable
taste in luxury accommodation, are distinguished by
their rarity. These are spotted owls, a breed
traditionally confined to the Northwest, preferring,
as they do, old-growth forests (old-growth deco
interiors do not count). Their miraculous appearance
has created a new Mecca for conservationists on 14th
street, and has stayed, for the moment, the Grand’s
planned demolition.In fact, the hotel has become
a moneymaker for the first time in years, offering
expensive birding tours. Reports suggest that room
service is also doing a brisk business in mice.
"Not on my watch.” I muttered, as I grabbed my keys and strode, with a new sense of purpose, toward the door.
* * * *On the way to 14th and Broadway I checked my cell phone, discovering (with no surprise whatsoever) that Fisher had left another pleading message.
Fisher’s been a buddy since college, when he convinced me not to major in business management, so in a way, he saved my life. I’ll always be beholden to him, but lately he’s become difficult to bear. In school, his first words to me were, “I’ll bet you I can drink this bottle of Schnapps,” and gambling and booze have been his twin obsessions ever since. Ever since I’d begun receiving magazine-shaped missives from the future, he’d been working every angle. I didn’t even know he’d ever seen a New Yorker until I heard he’d made a mint in Vegas, from betting the rag would pan Alice Sebold’s latest novel. I thought he’d worked it out of his system until I heard he got in trouble with some mobsters for choosing to bet against Michael Chabon. Since then he’s been on the lookout for the next literary long-shot, but I’ve kept an eye on him—for his own good. The ‘Yorker is not to be used for personal gain.
“Adam…” He sounded nervous. “Adam, you gotta let me see the new issue, you just gotta. Listen.” A pause. “I’m in a bit of a jam here. I got so used to having the inside information, I got greedy. I had to bet on something, even if I couldn’t be sure. So I put a little money—just a little, y’know?— on George Plimpton contributing in September. Turns out Plimpton writes for the Paris Review. Plus he died. So now I gotta try and make the cash up. I put some dough on ‘Shouts and Murmurs’ being more clever than funny, but it turns out the Nevada odds on that are 1-1. Time’s running out… I gotta get something Adam, that’s all. A scrap. They’re gonna break my toe!” The message cut off.
So he was in trouble again. Well, he was just going to have to deal with it. A month with a cane might do him some good. I had owls to visit.
Getting into the old hotel was easy. After all, no-one knew about the owls yet, so there weren’t that many people around—just a security guard, and no guard gets paid well enough to worry about a condemned building. I snuck right in. The birds took a little while to find, but I wasn’t in any hurry. Floor by floor I made my rounds, until I heard a suspicious scuffling in the dumbwaiter. Owls aren’t too hard to scare off, especially when they’re out of their element. I opened every window and door, and one by one, I lit the firecrackers I’d brought with me, tossing each one strategically for the maximum scare. There was a great flapping of wings, and for a moment it seemed as if I was surrounded. Then, like the last kernels of popping corn, the noise slowly died out. Owls, about twenty of them, could be seen out the window, flying into the distance. “That’s one more thing the town won’t be talking about.” I said to myself.
“What are you doing?” said the confused old security guard, standing at the top of the stairs.
“Only my duty, old man. Only my duty.” I said.
The October 20th newsstand copy of the New Yorker made no reference to any bird hotel. In fact, the only mention of the hotel on 14th street was a brief blurb in the back of that Sunday’s Times, noting that the old hotel had been demolished, as planned. I didn’t care. I’d already received the October 27 New Yorker. It told of a reunion, 50 odd years later, of three jazz musicians who had happened to serve in the same company during WWII. By sheer coincidence, the old comrades-in-arms had run into one another on the A train, and were planning a special concert at the Vanguard the following week. The theme would be wartime standards. “Not on my watch.” I muttered.
Sometimes my girlfriend asks me why I do it. “Why,” she says, “do you care if these things happen or not? They’re fun stories—neat examples of all the little anecdotal things that happen in this great city every week. I’m sure they enrich the lives of all the people involved, and people certainly enjoy reading about them. Jesus. I just don’t get why you have to run around the city stopping them. Why, Adam? Why?”
I never answer; I just shrug. Then she shrugs, and makes a face, and leaves.
If she has to ask, she’ll never understand.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
...As does The Apiary (they even dug up a rare picture of Sara in her Gallagher phase).
The DEATH of the Copier -- coming soon.
Throughout the Democratic primary season, one concern remained constant—nominating a candidate that could potentially beat Bush. In fact, the question of who might successfully take on the president was brought up so frequently that one might begin to imagine that Bush-beatability was the only factor that mattered (worse yet, one might begin to imagine that “Bush-beatability” is a grammatically correct phrase). In that spirit, we suggest several theoretical Democratic candidates, judged solely by their likelihood of winning an Election Day match-up with George W. Bush.
Vital Statistics: Septuagenarian flagship character for the Walt Disney company. Developed through pioneering animated shorts by Ub Iwerks, including Steamboat Willie, the first sound cartoon. Suddenly developed pupils circa 1940; later years have been spent primarily in Orlando.
Pros: Beloved icon, recognized worldwide.
Cons: Is cartoon mouse.
Likelihood of beating Bush: Popular write-in choice (though many would prefer a Pixar candidacy).
Vital Statistics: Famed Bethlehem carpenter/ religious leader.
Pros: Son of God.
Cons: Liable to alienate corporate Republican base with his, “It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" stump speech.
Likelihood of beating Bush: America not ready to elect Jewish president.
Vital Statistics: One of America’s most popular movie stars, a two-time Oscar winner, considered by many to be the next Jimmy Stewart.
Pros: Experience with The Money Pit taught him fiscal responsibility.
Cons: Gay marriage opponents likely to be distressed by his cross-dressing relationship with Peter Scolari.
Likelihood of beating Bush: Good, but CAA is asking 20 million per term, plus a cut of the back end.
Vital Statistics: When Jack Warner heard about Reagan’s presidential candidacy, he said, "No. That can't be right. Ronald Reagan for best friend. Jimmy Stewart for president." The day Jack Warner’s endorsement carries no weight is the day America loses its very soul. As for Sam Warner, fuck that jerk.
Pros: “Mr. Stewart Goes to Washington” campaign could be a barn-burner.
Cons: Rotting in the ground.
Likelihood of beating Bush: Stewart is the zombie to beat, as long as he can contain his hunger for human brains.
Vital Statistics: Employed for hundreds of years by British Royals to walk through woodland areas, beating undergrowth and brush in order to scare pheasants, quail, and other game into the open so that hunters can shoot them. Typically young outdoorsmen, with a good understanding of local wildlife and topography.
Pros: Years of experience beating bushes.
Cons: Unlikely to attract key ASPCA endorsement.
Likelihood of beating Bush: High—but aforementioned bush-beating experience is unlikely to translate effectively to political arena.
Vital Statistics: Inventor of the punch-card ballot machine.
Pros: If anyone can hack the system, it’s him.
Cons: Voting fraud in a national election is a federal offense tantamount to treason. Plus, have you heard Rouverol’s economic policies? Talk about pie-in-the-sky!
Likelihood of beating Bush: Don’t tempt us.
Variegated Weigela Bush (Weigela florida Variegata)
Vital Statistics: A deciduous flowering shrub with pink blossoms that bloom in Spring and again throughout the summer. Usually grows from four to six feet high, with gray leaves sporting a gold edge and a shiny green center.
Pros: A real hummingbird magnet!
Cons: Native to Florida. Probably won’t flourish in the colder Washington D.C. climate.
Likelihood of beating Bush: The presence of a V. W. Bush next to G. W. Bush on the ballot may confuse some, leading to accidental republican defections. However, the Variegated Weigela is unlikely to lure independent voters.
Vital Statistics: 80’s wrestling icon and the star of “Mr. Nanny.”
Pros: Of all the potential candidates, most likely to utilize the piledriver, clothesline, or half-nelson. Most importantly, our sources tell us that Bush is particularly vulnerable to the Sleeper Cross-Face Half-Nelson with Russian Leg Sweep, especially when followed by the deadly Gutwrench Suplex.
Cons: Bush is surrounded by secret service agents. With guns.
Likelihood of beating Bush: In Rocky III, Hogan played a character named “Thunderlips.” Interpret that as you will.
The American Bald Eagle
Vital Statistics: Haliaeetus leucocephalus. The symbol of America—majestic, imposing, and grand. An emblem of freedom across the land.
Pros: Impressive gravitas.
Cons: Baldness a liability in the television age.
Likelihood of beating Bush: Poor. Most eagles don’t live beyond the age of 30, and the constitution clearly states that the president must be older than 35.
Osama Bin Laden
Vital Statistics: Presumed mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Pros: Has element of surprise. Candidacy completely unexpected.
Cons: Hated by all.
Likelihood of beating Bush: It depends on the economy.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Why? Because it's huge and doesn't work. Plus, it feels good to destroy something in front of a live audience.
Here's how you enter:Show us why you deserve to destroy the copy machine! Submit your funniest, most outrageous true office story, e-mail, voicemail, powerpoint, fax, object, picture, etc. by Wednesday August 17 at 5 p.m. We will choose finalists who will present their entry on stage!
Our celebrity judge, BRIAN HUSKEY (UCB, Best Week Ever, etc.), will join Sara, the S.S.I.O.W.Y. writers, and the audience in picking the winner.
The winner will not only aid in obliterating the copy machine, but he or she will also choose the background music to which said copier will be annihilated. No doubt, an opportunity of a lifetime.
Submit entries to firstname.lastname@example.org -- and even if you don't enter the contest, come to the show hungry for toner!
Ye mighty, gaze upon the...
B A C K I S S U E O R D E R F O R M .
To purchase, please go to a McSweeney’s 100 bookstore near you (a list of participating independent retailers may be found online at Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency). Conversely, you may order a copy online at the aforementioned web site, or send $21.95 to the address listed in the endnotes.
Issue two has been engraved on card stock, and can be assembled to create scale models, which depict the houses of the authors whose stories may be found within. As the construction of these models is fairly complex, Dave Eggers requests that those wishing to buy issue two write him a personal note, and he will mail them a copy, complete with detailed instructions.
The third issue was printed entirely on strips of hickory bark, and published in limited numbers. Act soon. Supplies are limited, owing to a particularly cold winter.
The stories included in issue four are meant to be read while listening to a specially commissioned composition for piano, by Philip Glass, the sheet music for which can be found printed on the inner binding. As the piece demands several difficult fingerings, Mr. Glass insists that he perform it himself. Co-ordinating your schedule with that of Mr. Glass is solely your concern, as is any remuneration he may require.
The only existing copy of issue five has been mailed to J.D. Salinger. We encourage those of you who enjoy a challenge to obtain it from him.
On the coldest night of the year, stand at a crossroads. When the moon just hits the crest of the horizon, put shovel to dirt. At a depth of six spans, less one ell, find an earthen vessel. Smash it quick, and from the shards draw seven splinters, bearing four consonants and three vowels. These letters are a surname, to be confirmed by careful study of the county’s records of birth. If you have followed these directions true, the name shall be revealed to you. The disclosed man is a dwarf. Issue six has been tattooed on his torso. Should you wish to revisit the stories from issue six at a later date, the aforementioned gentleman allows readers to take Polaroids, but color copies are expressly forbidden.
Go to the lake isle of Innisfree. Sit on its shores. As the season turns, the wind will whisper issue seven into your ears.
Sit on the fire escape directly across from the McSweeney’s offices on August the 12th, at precisely 8:47 PM. Employing a Nikon camera, equipped with a telephoto lens and high-speed film, take pictures of Rick Moody, Nick Hornby, and Sarah Vowell engaged in an amorous clinch. Blow up the incriminating snaps on 8 1/2 by 11 photo paper, and enclose them in a manila envelope. Compose a threatening epistle, by cutting brightly colored individual letters from popular magazines and assembling them as appropriate. Send the photographs and the letter to us via personal messenger. In return, we will send you issue eight, in a series of plain brown wrappers, bearing non-consecutive serial numbers.
There is no issue Q.*
Lead a blameless life. When you die, ascend to heaven, where all the wondrous majesty of issue nine will be made known to you. (Special bonus: Issue nine includes an essay by David Foster Wallace, about ice cream.)
*At least, in this dimension.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
As far as I've been able to ascertain, I retain the rights to do this (at least with stuff that was published more than six months ago) as long as I make it clear that this material was originally published in Jest. Which it was. Jest, Jest, Jest! Contractual obligation filled! Plus, when the new Jest website is up, I'll let you guys know, and you can see all-new material from yours truly.
But for now, let's start off by revisiting my very first work for that publication, the piece that first brought me to the attention of then-editor Ritch Duncan:
Variations on Four Themes by Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
You lack the pungent aroma of barbecue
but are much less likely to cause skin cancer
Shall I compare thee to a blood-fattened tick?
Thou art less likely to give me lyme disease,
but I think your deodorant is giving me a rash
Shall I compère for thee at the open mic night?
Write me some salty dialogue and perhaps I shall.
Shall I compare thee to the most beautiful woman in the world?
Are you sure? Don’t say I didn’t warn thee.
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
nor like the moon, neither;
nor like coffee-grounds in their discarded filter.
Also, they do not resemble limpid pools of half-melted butter,
and they are nothing like those of Don Knotts
My mistress’ breasts are not unlike two huge balloons, or perchance two smaller offshoots of a much larger balloon, such as one might find on balloons depicting Mickey Mouse
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.
They are not a swirling mass of hydrogen and helium;
nor are they 93 million miles away, preferring, as they do, to rest in her eye sockets;
nor by any stretch of the imagination would one call them life-giving,
although they are a nice shade of greeny-gray.
No longer mourn for me when I am dead.
Instead, agonize about how you should have been nicer to me when I was alive.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
and I think once more,
I should have made a pass at Sally Ann Chambers that one time in middle school
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past.
Picking up Swann’s Way
I reflect: Seven volumes is too much.
And I wait, in vain,
for the movie
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The sketches involved our efforts to start an office newsletter; our break into factions, and the newsletter wars that resulted (with many of us talking in old-timey newspaper voices for no good reason); and the ever-more-absurd competing publications that resulted. We also did mock-ups of the newsletters' covers to project on the back screen during the scenes, and I thought you might enjoy seeing some of those visuals. Here are the two that I put together (the others were done by Sara).
Ah, the hilarity of me in boxers.
Also: Neal Pollack was a great sport, especially when it came to poking fun at himself. He even appeared in the final beat of our office sketches. He was such a good sport that it's worth recapping in full:
After his interview he went backstage with Sara, and an announcer (me) explained that "...they came upon a horrific scene. The office newsletter conflict that had begun 2 sketches ago had erupted into a full-blown war." Through a series of events that would take too long to explain, Sara managed to bring the office back together by singing "Diff'rent Strokes." However, just at the end of the bridge, Neal Pollack came out to release a dove into the air, in a gesture of peace. Unfortunately, the dove is dead and simply falls to the floor. At this point, it's best to just let the script tell the story...
Oh great, Neal Pollack, way to go. I suppose you'regoing to blame that one on your persona?
Yeah, good one Neal Pollack! You’re horrible! Neal Pollack is a jerk! Your uin everything! Never mind the Pollacks indeed, sir!
[Just then a voice comes over the PA]
VOICE OF DAVE EGGERS
Hey! Everybody! Calm down.
Who are you?
I’m Dave Eggers.
I just bought this theater to add to my finely honed empire of whimsy. Anyway, you guys, look at yourselves. We need to stop tearing each other down – and come together! Sure, sometimes we get into media wars with people we love and respect, people we owe most of our success to, and sometimes we get into fights with Neal Pollack.
Thanks a lot Eggers!
That was more whimsy, Neal! Do I need to remind you that I teach children to read?
No, no. (sigh)
Listen kids, don't let an office newsletter divide you, certainly not when it's printed on such poor quality paper!
He's right, you know.
Thanks Neal, you're not so bad yourself...
Because it takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world. Yes it does. It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
Dave Eggers is the best!
[as they exit]
Yay! Eggers rules! I loved “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”! I'm going to go buy that book of his that you can't buy in stores!
[Neal Pollack is left alone on stage, with a spotlight on him. The sad music from the end of the Incredible Hulk comes on. He turns, picks up a knapsack, and walks off slowly, pretends to hitchhike. The lights slowly fade to black.]
Ah, poignant and hilarious-- great stuff from Sara and Amanda, who had the biggest hand in writing the final beat (I worked most on the second part... which also went off really well, but I'm not posting the whole show for you suckers. Come to the theater and pay for a ticket).
Friday, July 29, 2005
Thanks, The Onion! The last remaining tickets are sure to go fast, after this extra press, so be sure to snag one now if you want to go. And if you want to read more SSIOWY praise, from The Onion and elsewhere, go here.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The musical guest will be The Last Town Chorus, a lap steel and acoustic guitar duo, with a singer who's been favorably compared to Gillian Welch and Rickie Lee Jones. You can sample their music here. And, as always, you can expect a special Law and Order guest, plus our usual office shenanigans. Last week we broke into an unexpected, highly choreographed, Bollywood dance number. Who knows what might happen this week?
The show is this Friday the 29th at 8 PM, at Juvie Hall . Tickets are $8., and they can be purchased here, via Juvie Hall, or at the door-- but be aware, we do sell out.
You want critical acclaim? Check it:
"A compelling, funny take on the boxed-in conventions of both television and office work."
- The Onion "
Much more fun than anything you'd catch on basic cable."
- Amelia David, Backstage
A TimeOut New York Critic's Pick; Emerging Comics of New York Award Winner; Featured on the New York Post Hot List; more praise here.
Monday, July 25, 2005
The inimatable Lusty Lady tells of her excursion to July 15th's Sara Schaefer is Obsessed With You.
Neal Pollack, SSIOWY's guest for the upcoming July 29 show, announces his appearance on our show over at his blog.
Lastly, Amanda Melson, lovely and talented stand-up/ Sara Schaefer writer recently had a birthday (Happy Birthday!) and restarted her blog. It's a little sparse right now, but it'll grow.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
However, like a phoenix rising from the etc., Jest will live on. I don't want to spill the details yet, but we're talking all-new daily content, and probably a weekly column from yours truly. Watch this spot for more.
In the meantime, you can still find the last print issue of Jest out there. I've got less material in it than usual, but I'm still in there. On page 19 you can see another in my oh-so-popular (with me) feature "Ways to Make TV More Entertaining." Also, on page 26, you can see my contributions to the "Jest Writers' Summer Reading List."
And, in some sort of bitter symmetry, the last issue is also the first featuring a fan letter for me. I quote the letter, and our editor's response:
I loved Dan McCoy's "Softcore Porn Awards"
in the May/June issue of Jest (I happen to be
a big fan of Misty Mundae). Will he be doing
more pieces for you guys in future issues?
Lucas A. Matt
Fort Wayne, IN
Hmmn. Hard to say, Luke. Writer/actor/
comedian/sketch player Dan McCoy is a
busy man and a much sought-after talent,
but he did want me to pass along the news
that he'll be appearing in a new Off-
Broadway musical with Mia Farro, Tia
Carrere, Rhea Pearlman, and Pia Zadora,
titled Mia, Tia, Rhea, Pia, and Dan.
Break a leg, D!
As I have a good friend who hails from Fort Wayne, and a low sense of self-worth, my immediate thought was that this "fan letter" was my friend screwing with me. However, despite having two first names, Lucas A. Matt appears to be genuine. And if he's anything like me, he spends endless hours on the Internet at work, googling himself. So perhaps someday he'll stumble across this entry and confirm his existence. In the meanwhile, Lucas and others, with any luck my contributions to Jest won't die along with the ink-and-paper magazine. Stay tuned.
Monday, July 18, 2005
I contributed the closer for the evening, "Weekend at Rehnquist's" wherein Minority Leader Harry Reid and late-80's actor Andrew McCarthy find the chief justice passed away, and (fearing two Bush appointees) they rig up a pulley system so he can give a straight vote by show of hands on the issues of "abortion, stem cell research, and affirmative action, in an unprecedented three-for-one decision." It ended with the voodoo-cursed, Hawaiian shirt-wearing corpse of Rehnquist leading the full cast in a conga line around the stage. People seemed to like it-- some stuff got a huge response.
As is my (new) wont, here are a couple of my jokes from the newsdesk:
According to a poll, the Disney character consumers relate to the most is Goofy, winning out over Mickey, Donald, and others. You know, when asked what makes America so great, I can’t help but think of that majority, who willfully identified themselves as being most similar to a retarded dog-man.
Willie Nelson released a reggae album called "Countryman," on Tuesday. Willie Nelson AND reggae? I think High Times just found its Album of the Year.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Hey, did you see Brian Stack kill as the Travelling Salesman on Conan O'Brian last night? If you did, come by Sara Schaefer is Obsessed With You tonight, and see him be funny in a whole different context. If not, come by to see what the hell I'm talking about.
The lovely and talented Christina Casa has added a link to this site to her own Internet home.I quote:
"He's smart, he's cute, he's funny- he's married!* - http://danmccoy.blogspot.com - Dan's the man. The funny man.
*murphy's law "
Aw. I am indeed quite married, happily so. Yet I'm a big enough sucker for complements that flattery will always earn you a reciprocal link on my page.
Here's a tip: listening to Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine" on headphones while walking past Grand Central Station during rush hour will make you feel like you're in a montage from a 1980's "making it in the big city" movie (i.e. The Secret of My Success, etc.).
So if that's a feeling you ever want to have... y'know. You know what to do.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
No? Well, even so, it was nice to see that two of my jokes made it in this week.
In other news, I have discovered that "Semi-Charmed Life," by Third Eye Blind is, in fact, the very same song as "Two Princes," by The Spin Doctors. I expect to be awarded the Nobel Prize for this startling research in a matter of days.
Monday, July 11, 2005
A Pentagon investigation into complaints that evangelical Christians at the Air Force Academy have bullied Jews found no overt discrimination, but "certainly insensitivity," military officials said Wednesday. Some of the worst examples of this insensitivity included shotgunning the glass of wine left for Elijah; and, of course, the "Spring Swastacular."
Some schools are now offering cash and prizes, including pizza and parking spots, to students who report classmates who carry guns, alcohol, or drugs. Unsurprisingly, several potheads have turned themselves in for pizza.
The American Film Institute released its list of the top-100 movie quotes recently. Taking top honors was the famous line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," from Gone With the Wind. Good dialogue-- but I, for one, am shocked that they neglected Showgirls' immortal line, "It must be weird, not having anyone cum on you."
Neil Pollack (literary star, McSweeney's contributor, and author of such books as The Neil Pollack Anthology of American Literature, and Never Mind the Pollacks) will be joining us on Friday the 29th at 8 PM, at Juvie Hall theater, for assorted varieties of fun and general hilarity.
And as long as we're on the subject of McSweeney's, you might enjoy this old humor piece from Jest Magazine, in which I poke gentle fun at that publication. Back when it came out, it got me blogged in New Yorkish.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Brian's one of Late Night With Conan O'Brian's top writers, but viewers will be most familiar with him from the several characters he plays on the show. His most well-known is probably Frankenstein, of "Frankenstein Wastes a Minute of Our Time," but my favorite character of his-- and one of my favorite reoccuring bits on the show-- is Hannigan the Travelling Salesman.
"So it's jokes you want, eh? Well how about this little number, from Gagco..."