This weekend was the fuckin' truth. As previously mentioned, Derrick played Skidmore College's National College Comedy Festival. When I e-mailed the festival organizer Cara back in like October to make awful damn sure she remembered us when it came to booking time, I told her it was always our favorite weekend of the year, and it was no exaggeration. And this past weekend will be tough for 2008 to beat.
We got in super-late on Friday and crashed at our hotel. (The best part of being a "professional group" at the fest is rather than putting you up in some poor kid's campus-housing living room, which may very well be the living room of the house where the after-show party is being held meaning you have to wait for everybody to quit hitting on each other and leave before you can grab whatever drunk sleep there is to be had, and when they leave they'll leave the door open so it will get immensely drafty and your coat will prove an insufficient blanket, they put you up in a hotel! A NICE hotel, at that!)
Saturday we had to wake up early and teach improv workshops. I have to admit I was dreading this, but it was actually really fun. When Hammerkatz first went to the festival in 2004, almost all the improv groups were short-form. Often, they would perform in matching bowling shirts. Now short-form seems to have died off almost completely, replaced by long-form. Yay, long-form! Yay, improvisers in the same ensemble wearing different clothes from one another and not breaking their shows into four-minute chunks punctuated by schtick-y two-minute game explanations!
(Short-form is kinda like REALLY old-school hip hop. Corny as fuck but we have to give it credit, because almost all of it came from there. Long-form is like modern hip-hop: more mature, terrible a lot of the time just like anything but often transcendent. And just like a lot of the world still thinks of hip hop in terms of dudes wearing enormous clocks, a lot of the world still thinks of improv as Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie overdubbing movie dialogue in silly voices while Drew Carey looks on.)
Anyway, the workshops breezed on by, an hour seeming like barely enough with each group. Then we went to Friendly's, the greatest restaurant and probably man's greatest achievement, period, where we go every year and then have to remind ourselves not to swear so loudly because it is full of easily scandalized old people and families. We had eaten salads for lunch, like adults. Friendly's was our chance to undo all the good we had done. I got something that was like chicken wings on a sandwich with melted cheese and barbeque sauce all over it, followed by some ice cream that promised peanut butter and fudge and delivered. Big time.
Hearts zinging with fat, we went back to the venue and watched the second night of college shows. We were super-duper impressed by GWU's Recess, a bunch of great writers and nice guys. NYU's Dangerbox, of which Dom, Donald, and myself are alums, fucking brought the house down. They got a standing ovation! You try getting a standing ovation with fifteen minutes of long-form. And it started with the paying audience, not the other performers! Damn. They blew peoples' balls off. All three of us have at one time or another coached this group of kids and we knew how killer they are and they showed everyone in the Northeast what's up and we were glowing with pride.
Then it was time for us to do our show. The space is so fucking killer: you could really not ask for a cooler venue or a more receptive audience. About a third of the crowd is comedy kids from all over the Northeast, and the rest is Skidmore students and a smattering of older people. Drunken smart kids love improv, and improv loves them! It was a really fun show. Came off-stage feeling ten thousand varieties of awesome, and immediately started drinking thanks to whiskey bottles secreted away in paper bags and jacket pockets.
Party! A lot of the official after-parties at Skidmore are house parties which are always packed to the gills and fun as fuck until they are inevitably broken up by campus (or real no-foolin') police after twenty minutes to an hour. But wisely, the Saturday night party was held in big ol' on-campus building, which seemed like by day it might be a student lounge or cafeteria, but everything had been pushed to the side, leaving only some big fuck-off speakers, a DJ set-up, and lots of room for dancing. Despite the no-drinking policy and the presence of school security, everyone was adequately pre-gamed an hour and a half after the show had let out and all the grown-and-sexy comedy kids and drunk smart Skidmore students were dancing their fucking asses off.
Donald commandeered the DJ booth for a while with my iPod. Then I commandeered the DJ booth for a while with my iPod. Loud rap songs about ass were played, indie music being for your bedroom, not for the packed dancehall. I drunkenly obnoxiously pontificated about comedy to some kids, like I will do if you let me. We met Will, a kid who runs his own clothing label and gave us bandanas. (Good stuff! Thanks Will!) It was so much fun! I left the booth for a while then came back, and was ten seconds into a song when a campus security guard got right in my face and screamed "SHUT IT DOWN! NOW!" So I did. But the whole room kept dancing and singing the song that wasn't playing anymore. The song was "Take On Me" by A-Ha, because it was getting to be about that time. We left. I lost a hat and a hoodie.
We went to a smaller party. It turned out to be at the house where Dangerbox was staying, so we got to jaw with them for a while, and commiserated about being the unfortunate group to be sleeping right where the party is.
Then we went back to the hotel and slept for two hours and woke up early as balls and drove home because people had noon commitments.
Dudes, it was a blast. Thanks to Cara the head organizing producing person and Allie (sp?) the stage manager and all the groups and everyone who came to the show.
(Photo credit to Jane, who is organizing the festival next year. Don't forget about us, Jane!)
Shows this week:
Harold @ Harold Night @ UCBT tonight with DeCoster
Cagematch w/ Derrick on Thursday vs. Broad Shoulders, UCBT
Derrick at Johns Hopkins University this Saturday night (more details TK)
Derrick at Rutgers University this Sunday night (more details TK)
Shows! This weekend Derrick is headlining Skidmore College's National College Comedy Festival. It is always a time. This will be my fifth year: went three years with Hammerkatz and last year with Derrick. It is fun because comedy is fun and drinking in basements is fun.
Waking up all crusty and hungover to teach improv workshops to kids who are equally crusty and hung-over will be less fun, but that's the cost of doing business, and we will all pull through together.
For Valentine's Day here's what I'm pretty sure is a love song. It gets sappy out there, y'all.
My colleague and one of the funniest improvisers known to humankind, Chris Gethard, has a blog, and this year on said blog he's doing a thing where he posts a story from his life once a week on Wednesdays. I know it doesn't sound like much: a lot of people post a lot of stories from their lives on a lot of blogs. But Gethard has the advantage of being both a killer storyteller and having lived a life characterized by this near-insane need to get into situations with fucked-up characters who instantly hate him for no reason and to do crazy things in the name of foolish pride and stubbornness. Quite simply, the dude is a pleasure to listen to and read, so if you like hearing about secret societies, machetes, and a funny manic-depressed kid shaking his head at how fucking strange New Jersey is, go here now and read upwards:
Kanye made me cry.
I did not cry at the Daft Punk robot part. That made me go, "Nice! Robots!" Which I do more often than I cry by like a power of ten.
I have a hobby! It is rapping.
"Throw Some Green On That Bitch" - MCDJ feat. MC Nick Packard, DC, and Childish Gambino (right click/save as)
I voted! I had never voted before today. I didn't vote the last time around, because I would've had to vote absentee in Arizona and there kept being all kinds of deadlines I was supposed to meet that I kept blowing and I found it hard to get motivated to buy stamps, and I was probably busy with comedy stuff. And Arizona was going to go red anyway, I think I remember telling myself to justify my laziness.
But I'm an actual honest-to-God New York state resident this time, and part owner of a small business, and a broke-as-fuck ponce with no health care, so I had all kinds of good reasons to vote this time. In the primary, even! I mailed shit in on time! I went to Kinko's to print forms out! I found my polling place and left the house and went there! I am as proud if not more proud of my having-it-togetherness as regards voting in the primary as Obama probably is of his amazing victories so far.
I knew academically that the American democratic process was a ramshackle operation but it took actually going and voting for me to really get it. We got a real slapdash way of electing dudes to the highest office in the land. It's kind of like somebody went "Oh, right, we're supposed to have a presidential election tomorrow," drank a bunch of coffee, pulled an all-nighter coming up with how it's supposed to go, it went okay enough that there wasn't a bloody coup, and we all said "good enough" and we've kept doing it this way for two hundred and some years, without revising the jittery midnight compromises of that first brainstorming session that a decent second draft would've ironed out.
I like how old and cavernous New York public schools are. The school that was my polling place was echo-y and smelled like galoshes. My name was on the list, and I patted myself on the back for all my hard printing-stuff-out-and-mailing-things-in-on-time work. A West Indian-accented lady found my information and directed me to a Russian-accented guy who told me how to work the voting machine.
And here's the slapdash ramshackle thing: the jukebox at the bar I go to all the time is infinitely more technically complex than the machine which records my presidential primary vote. Fuck, a jukebox from the time this voting machine was invented was probably more complex. There was a ponderous clanging railroad lever and little twirly things and the printed instructions were poor and I am pretty sure I unintentionally pledged most of my delegates to Adlai Stevenson.
(Side note: in the above picture, the signs second from right and second from left ought to read "We need Adlai Bad-lai!" He wouldn't have lost if I had been alive and the campaign would've hired me to dispense Adlai puns.)
I don't want to sound naive or lazy or, like, young, but: could voting be on the Internet? If you put some Google dudes on this, surely the resulting system would be less vulnerable to fraud and human error than the steam-powered behemoth I operated (poorly) this afternoon? I feel like voting for President should be at least as easy and secure as buying tickets to "First Sunday" or entering your credit card info so you can drunk-download the Mickey Mouse Club theme off of iTunes.
Speaking of which: "First Sunday" does not deliver very well on its premise, does not let Tracy Morgan be nearly insane enough, and does not feature half as much Katt Williams as the poster would lead you to believe it does.
The Mickey Mouse Club theme holds up.