Category Archives: Comedy

Five Stars! And a suggestion…

5-Gold-Stars1.jpgIf a bad review says something you disagree with or you just know the reviewer voted for Trump (usually it starts with something like “these outspoken, liberal ladies…”) then you just push it aside and don’t care. When my mother wrote about reproductive rights in her column in national newspapers in the 70’s and she got letters that started with “Ms. Goodman you will burn in Hell” she laughed that they actually used “Ms.” appropriately rather than Mrs. and she tossed the letter in the trash.

But several times in our theatrical career we’ve received reviews that were smart, well written and took issue with something in our work. In Vancouver about 10 years ago I remember we got a comment that one sketch was totally anti-male and therefore we must be. I was startled. I had always worked hard not to promote any anti-male material. Other performers at the festival said “Oh just ignore it.” But it stayed with me. Soren watched the next night and noticed one scene that was about men in therapy had started to slide into characterizations rather than a more real take and he thought, Ah ha. That’s the one. It was a subtle shift that had happened while we weren’t watching. So we pulled the actors back into a more real depiction of these male characters et voila. No more male bashing.

I was so appreciative that this had happened because of our genuine desire and mission to make feminism inclusive. So I wrote the reviewer a thank you email. He apparently was totally shocked.

“No one in the history of my reviewing has ever written thanking me for a bad comment.”

We had a lovely exchange. I’ve thought about it many times. There’s of course a love-hate with reviewers and artists. (Tim Minchin: “The Song For Phil Doust”) Mostly hate probably! But it’s funny because we are in a way on the same side: Better art.

So this week we got what was actually a lovely review but with one line in it about a piece of ours that “fell flat.” It was a sketch about two birds who’s baby bird is leaving the nest (for college) and in the middle they are heart broken and decide to do drugs because they don’t need to be a responsible parents any more and they need “just a little something to take the edge off THIS FUCKING EMPTY HOLE IN MY LIFE!!!”

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Picture two giant yellow bird suits with stripped socks and floppy feet. It’s real and it’s funny and the sketch is relatable. But over the past year the opioid epidemic has become too real. And not funny. But we had been doing this piece for 3 years and after a while you don’t even hear your own material clearly. So this comment in the review was incredibly helpful to us. We changed the lines to something more palatable about pot and the sketch still works.

Reviewers, smart ones, keep art alive. Now some smart ones just don’t like your stuff and they can piss off, but sometimes they do something that makes them a part of the beauty of the artistic process. And props to them for that.

But let’s not include YouTube comments in this. The dude who wrote “Jesus would never fuck you sluts” was not exactly helping the artisitc process. Although he did add to our marketing success because we put that quote immediately up on our website. Thanks buddy.


No News is Good News

Screen Shot 2017-10-28 at 11.40.03 AMSo, you wake up every morning with a sort of looming dread. It’s been a year or more of this. The newspaper is sitting by the front door or you grab your phone to read it online. You go from a state of relatively refreshed well-being (because unconscious), and then you basically screw yourself. Bam. The reality of what’s happening in our country and our planet comes crashing back down. Great way to start your day. You’re a genius. Fun times.

So how do we protect ourselves and still remain decent citizens who give a crap about making the world a better place? If we don’t pay attention, we feel guilty or we feel out of it. And then guilty. I have met several people who say they are empaths and this time is just too difficult for them. Dude. You don’t have to be an empath. It sucks for everyone. So what to do?

Here are some strategies both emotional and practical that I have been working with this year that can maybe help.

1. Drink heavily.

2. Okay kidding. Let’s start over.

1. This one is stupidly obvious: don’t start your day with the news. Seriously though, give yourself at least one hour of carefree ignorant bliss. Make pancakes for your family. Brush your teeth. I mean how do you expect to save us all from North Korea when you haven’t brushed your teeth. First things first. And then experiment with that. Can you possibly go until lunchtime? Unless you work in news or education or perhaps political satire (gaaahhhh, I know, I screwed the pooch), the only real repercussion that will probably happen is that you’ll not know what people are talking about and have to hear about the news at the water cooler. I’m going to shock you: I’ve decided not to read the news until lunchtime. Your coworkers will look at you, horrified, but give it one month. You’ll be changed. And they will either sneer at you with jealousy, or follow your lead. Either way you win.

2. Change the way you read your news. One thing I did for a little while was save to it up. Read the papers all at once but only every 3 or 4 days. My husband was concerned that I was becoming a hoarder, because of my stack of 4 newspapers, which were eventually relegated to the closet until I was ready to read them so friends didn’t do a hoarder intervention… Cuz, I’ve already been on one reality TV show… It was a great way to skim what I needed to know without having to do it every day. And in fact – – bonus! – – by the time you get to it, three out of four stories are moot anyway! Or at least all you really need to know is what’s in that fourth installment of that news item and you didn’t need to know all the steps along the way. Start on the 4th paper and work your way backward in time.

3. Weekly magazines or weekly online wrap-ups! I love the week in reviews. I also like weekly magazines because you get more in-depth conversation and complexity rather than just up-to-the-minute hyperbole and clickbait.

4. Talk to humans. This one feels important. But it’s certainly more interesting than reading headlines or catching CNN’s Breaking news. This probably doesn’t hold for you if you’re doing weekly visits to your Breitbart-obsessed uncle. In that case try a quick conversation changing distractor like: “Hey! Did you know The Jews invented football?” Then watch him try to work out what to do about that.

5. The history channel: when all else fails, watch something about The American Revolution, The Civil War, The Holocaust. And while you might think this is a horrible idea, because your brain starts making connections to the dystopian future that seems to be looming, it does help to remember that everything is cyclical. Most of all, politics. There will be a moment again in our future where we can look forward to more of that hopey-changey stuff. I promise.

6. Watch the show “Bob’s Burgers.” I don’t know. It might help.

That’s all I got.

Whatchew got? Tell us here:

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