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Monday
May162011

Mr. Belding Tours America as an Ironic Prom Emcee

When I read that lamestreamers will pay big bucks in Middle America for prom simulations with strangers, the idea of marketing a theme party that would've normally taken place in 2003 at some hipster's apartment initially seemed kind of gross to me. But then I saw this ad in a Cleveland alt-weekly. And I thought, if Mr. Belding is in on it, maybe this isn't lame at all. And maybe we live in a world rife with profitable early-aughts ironic theme party possibilities and the time is NOW to produce them. The future is clear and it's a future of ugly sweater parties hosted by Theo Huxtable, 90's parties presented by the surviving members of Goo Goo Dolls, and wine-in-a-box parties hosted by wandering hobos. I've got a box of Franzia ready to go.
Friday
May132011

Dirty South Comedy Theater Founder Zach Ward: "Next stop, Boston!"

It was announced today that Dirty South Improv and North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival founder, Zach Ward, is moving to Boston. And I assume he's chartering a Fung Wah bus in order to get there. He writes:

"On May 5th I accepted my new job as Managing Director of ImprovBoston. The week since has been a whirlwind of packing and planning for myself and Jessica, considering options for DSI Comedy Theater, and OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS! Wait, before I continue, you should read THE ANNOUNCEMENT!

DSI Comedy Fans can rest assured, North Carolina will enjoy the same quality comedy classes and weekly performances that they have come to expect from DSI. My #Hustle and our local company wouldn’t have it any other way. I will stay Executive Producer, but the theater will be under new management starting this Summer. And Lord knows NCCAF (@nccomedyarts) can’t stop and won’t stop, So get ready for 2012!."

PREVIOUSLY

Friday
May132011

The Honey Shot - Don't Touch Me There: The Series Finale

Blaine Perry & Pat Stango of DTMT

  • THE PLUG: After 5 years of being caressed against their will, the boys behind Don't Touch Me There  are hangin' it up with a final blowout TONIGHT @ 7:30PM at Karma.  Pat Stango tells us, "We're mainly ending DTMT as a monthly live show because we want to focus on bigger, long-form video projects. Like our Gentlemen's Club webseries, but higher production values. And I like the idea of doing a big ridiculous "last show" for a free comedy show in the basement of a hookah bar." | Info

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.

Monday
May092011

2011 Summer Intensive Improv Classes Across the Country

An image I found when Googling "improv summer camp"I recently wrote about what appeared to be some kind of twisted endurance test for improv newbies, but it turned out I stumbled upon the wonderful world of improv summer camp. And it's kind of exciting! Several theaters around the country now offer seasonal intensive classes that range from one week to over a month--all at doorbuster pricing too. It's perfect for college students, performers eyeing a relocation, jobless ex-cons, angsty teens who just got in an argument with their parents and are running away, drifters without families, and people with so many vacation days you want to throw up on them--basically everyone! How nice would it be to spend a few weeks in a different city, make some new buds, and get the lay of the land?

2011 Summer Improv Intensives

New York

Magnet Theater

5/16 - 6/3 - Improv Levels 1-3 - This program concludes with a student graduation show, directed by Magnet founder Armando Diaz. - $599

6/9 - 6/12 - Camp Magnet - Their annual summer retreat is back for its 4th year. Go camping in the Catskill Mountains and enjoy 4 days and 3 nights of improv, writing workshops, and adventure. - $549

The Peoples Improv Theater

7/11 - 8/5 - Summer Improv Intensive - Complete an entire improv program, Levels 1-4, in just one month. Classes are held M-F from 2-5pm. The intensive will follow with a graduation performance. - $1,000

The UCBT NY

7/18 - 7/31 - Improv 201 - Open for students who've completed 101 some time in the past 2 years. Two or more instructors teach the class jointly. - $425

Looking for an intensive 101 here? The UCBT's class coordinator tells us:

We posted all of our summer intensives in March to give students enough time to plan travel around class dates. We listed a few sections per month, but at this point, most of them are sold out. If someone drops out of a class, their spot is opened up online and registers on a first come first served basis. You can subscribe to our RSS feed in order to be alerted when new spots are available or new classes are listed. feed://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/classes/rss. We offer intensives year round as well.

Chicago

iO Theater

7/11 - 8/11 - Improv Levels 1 - 4B - The Summer Intensive condenses the entire iO Theater school of thought into five incredible weeks.  Each week, a different iO teacher instructs the class in a particular level of curriculum. - $1100

Second City

Weekly sessions running 6/13 - 8/19 - Levels 1 - 2 of Improv & Comedy Writing -  Learn improv and sketch writing, meet new friends, and take advantage of Chicago's rich comedy scene. 2 weeks - $1000

Los Angeles

iO West Theater

7/25 - 8/26 - Improv Levels 1 - 5 - Condensing the first 5 levels of their 7 level curriculum into one month, you will master the Harold and have a nice tan when all is said and done. - $1400

Groundlings

Various dates 6/20 - 8/12 - Teen Summer Workshops - Get the jump on an illustrious comedy career early with weekly performance classes designed just for teens. - $350

Friday
May062011

Inside With: J.D. Durkin of 'Stephen Colbert: Hire Me'

Photo: Eric Michael PearsonBy Meghan O’Keefe

Everyone in comedy has their dream job: a producer they want to work with, a venue they want to sell out or a late night show they want to write for, etc.  J.D. Durkin wants to write for The Colbert Report so badly that he’s created Stephen Colbert: Hire Me, a live comedy show to act as his resume.

How did you get into comedy in the first place?

I knew I wanted to write for television and Googled all of my favorite writers/producers/correspondents and found out they had been improvisers as well.  I took the 101 class at UCB when I was 19 and actually had a Colbert Report writer in my class named Eric Drysdale. I remember asking Eric about the best path to follow, and he basically said, "Just keep doing this stuff." And I’ve stuck with improv since then.
 
You first developed the show at iO West. Can you describe how it came about and what eventually brought the show to The PIT.?

In Los Angeles, I worked with a super brilliant former SNL-writer named Michael McCarthy in this weekly show he created called Comedy Lab Live. I started writing sample Colbert Report segments because I realized I wanted to be a writer for that show, and McCarthy let me perform them on stage during Comedy Lab Live on Sunday nights in the grungy Andy Dick Theater in Spring 2010. It was a very crude setup, me in a mismatched suit on stage reading off of printed scripts on the little round table in front of me. No projector, no slides, no experience.

After I moved back to NYC and hosted SketchProv at the PIT last year, the Artistic Director Jeff Lepine and I were trying to think of some kind of show I could do, so I enhanced what I did in L.A. to a full-fledged giant.
 
What is it specifically about Stephen Colbert and his show that inspires you?

I feel like The Colbert Report is a commentary on something bigger in the world. While tackling politics and foreign affairs isn't easy, it lends itself to the realm of education or almost social justice. I think my favorite moments in The Colbert Report or The Daily Show, aren’t the big laughs or applauses, but those eyebrow-raising moments of revelation. "Truth bombs" as Tracy Jordan would say. Jon Stewart said his show "highlights absurdity in a comical way that is a catharsis and not a sadness," so I’ve always liked that.

As for Colbert himself, I think his upbringing, which is laced with tragedy, is very admirable. I can see how his mother's insistence of having a positive attitude has served him in a very "yes, and" kind of way. Then again I’ve never met him. He could be a prick, but I doubt that.
 
What’s the process behind writing the show? Do you work with any other writers? How close to the performance time are you still writing and re-writing?

For good or for bad, I’ve never consulted with any other writers. Even my tech director doesn’t see the script sometimes until the afternoon of a performance. The point of the show is to demonstrate my writing and market myself as a potential job candidate. I even write guest correspondent bits verbatim. Because I want the show to be current, I usually end up doing 90% of the writing the week of the show and a good chunk that day. Even while I’m on stage during the show I make changes, but this is what real television writers and producers do every episode.
 
J.D. and that guy from the Rent is Too Damn High Party | Photo: Eric Michael PearsonThe show uses guest correspondents to highlight topics such as sports, international affairs and domestic politics. Since The Colbert Report doesn’t feature any correspondents, why did you decide to incorporate them into your show?

The guest pieces do a few things. Firstly, they get some more people involved and let me have fun interacting with someone else directly. Most importantly, they’re a subliminal break for the audience. I know it would be boring staring at one kid behind a desk on stage reading scripts off of a music stand, so getting people involved is always good.
 
If Stephen doesn’t decide to hire you, would you take a job from another topical news comedy show (The Daily Show, Onion News Net, etc.)? Or is it Colbert or bust?

It’s actually either Colbert or the as-of-yet-not-announced late night show on TruTV starring Carrot Top. I’ve got a huge arsenal of firecrotch jokes I’ve been writing for years, and I hope he gets his own show so I can finally put them to good use. Either him or Julianne Moore.

Stephen Colbert: Hire Me runs the first Friday of every month at the People’s Improv Theater. The next show is Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8. For more information visit www.stephencolberthireme.com.

Friday
May062011

THE HONEY SHOT - NICK TURNER

Nick Turner | Photo: Anya Garrett

  • THE PLUG: Don't miss "Too Cool For School: Nicky T's Birthday Edition," happening TONIGHT @ 8:30PM at Red Star Bar (37 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn) | Free

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.

Thursday
May052011

INSIDE WITH: BLAINE SWEN OF IMPROVISED SHAKESPEARE

Blaine Swen | Photo: Ari Scott

By: Keith Huang

Improvised Shakespeare is in town this weekend and Blaine Swen, one of the Bard of Avon's Make-Em-Up Boys, answered a few burning questions.

For anyone who has recently signed up for a Level Whatever improv class from Whichever Improv School, watching Improvised Shakespeare is like eating one of those fancy-ass meals on Top Chef -- it's just delicious beyond words. Furthermore, it's chock-full of improv nutrients like Hardcore Listening, Honest Emotional Reaction and the largely unteachable Speaking in Iambic Pentameter and Saying Words Like 'Forsooth.' And maybe one of the best indications that this show is truly great is that the sell-out audiences usually comprise non-improv, private citizens.

Here's what Blaine had to say:

Where does one acquire breeches and a tunic ... poet's shirt ... peasant's shirt? What do you call it?
We don't have names for them. We love them beyond labels. You can't find them anywhere. We bought all of them.

Do you have any preshow superstitions? Like not saying the name "Macbeth"?
We don't have any superstitions, but we do have several pre-show rituals. Those are sacred and I've said too much about them already.

What did you think of Shakespeare when you were in high school and college?
In high school I hated Shakespeare. I publicly burned his works. Truthfully, I think we all really enjoyed reading and performing Shakespeare in high school and college.

Do you have any teachers who might be surprised that you pay tribute to the Bard in such a creative way?
My teachers would be shocked to know that I read. I don't think that I, or any of the other guys, had any teachers who would be shocked to know that we do this; though I think we have plenty of teachers that would be really intrigued by the concept.

How often do you perform non-Shakespearean improv?
Most of us perform in several groups outside of The Improvised Shakespeare Company. A lot of us work for the iO Theatre and The Second City in different capacities, so we get a chance to do non-Shakespearean improv fairly regularly.

Does using Elizabethan language and performing Shakespeare on such a regular basis affect your regular improv?
One of the great things about improvising Shakespeare is that the form not only encourages, but demands heightened emotional reaction.  I've found that after performing improvised Shakespeare I'll tend to find it easier to emotionally react no matter what form we're doing.

Have you seen any other improvised Shakespeare companies?
I was part of one many years ago in Los Angeles called The Backstreet Bards. I thought we were great.

You guys are the darlings of the Del Close Marathon, which is saying a lot. Do you get nervous before that show?
We were definitely nervous before our first shows at DCM in 2008, but the audiences are so receptive and exciting that now our nervousness is channeled more into an excited anticipation. That's not to say that we don't have a few butterflies in our stomachs. I think it's always good to have a couple. It keeps you on your toes.

Thursday
May052011

THE HONEY SHOT - FAILING OUR TWENTIES

Michelle Markowitz & Bryan Rucker

  • THE PLUG: Don't miss hosts Michelle Markowitz and Bryan Rucker in "Failing our Twenties" (feat. storytellers Andrea Rosen and Adam Wade), happening TONIGHT @ 8PM at The PIT Underground | Tickets

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.