It has been a busy Fall so far. Although I’m currently “between paying gigs,” which can cause no small amount of anxiety and force some existential questions if one isn’t careful, I’ve also learned that the best use for these “down” periods is to re-double all creative efforts. Doing this helps remind me what really is (or at least should be) important to my mental health and feelings of well-being. Instead of wallowing in a place of fear, we have to see these times as a chance to remember why we’re here. Why we’re really here.
So, I’ve been writing. A lot. I don’t really measure my self-worth and feelings of well-being by my daily word count… but in some ways I do. Another draft of another screenplay. An outline of a new screenplay. Another pass at re-working all of my stories of Punk Rock misadventure into a new one-man show. Writing new stories too, and trying them out at some of my favorite essay and ‘spoken word’ shows around town – which also helps me re-connect with the many kind and talented writers and storytellers I know, but rarely get to see around town.
I’ve also been teaching some Improv and, I’ve been taking some improv classes. Even though I’ve been doing improv for, eeks, 20 years (!!), I eagerly signed up for a level 1 beginner class at the Upright Citizens Brigade training center here in Los Angeles while, at the same time, teaching/coaching some advanced Improv technique to alumni from UCB, iO and elsewhere. That isn’t as strange as it sounds. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing Improv, you can always learn (or re-learn) something in any improv class. I know I can, and did. It also helped re-excite my imagination, and helped me remember why learning, and doing improv has been such an important part of my life. It isn’t just about climbing on stage and getting some laughs from strangers. It is a way to approach life, people and the world with an open mind and a hopeful heart. If that sounds hokey to you, I’m OK with that. I had a good time in my level 1 class and I’m certain I will take some more UCB classes when my budget again allows. The UCB teaches a very efficient form of improv, a straight-forward “comedy delivery system” that, now that I’ve witnessed it firsthand, explains their current domination of the LA (and possibly the entire US) Improv landscape. Is it the only way to do improv? Of course not, but it is a great approach. No doubt about it.
And so we plow on. Getting the words out. Getting the thoughts down on paper. Climbing on stage. Doing the work – more importantly, enjoying the work. Trying to spread the joy.
Had an enjoyable weekend at the LA Indie Film Festival screenings, where I took a rare on-camera role in one of the shorts in competition. “Come and Knock on my Door” takes a bizarro behind-the-scenes look at the recording of the theme song for the 70’s TV show “Three’s Company” by the legendary Ray Charles (no, not that ‘Ray Charles‘ …the other guy. Seriously, look it up.) It was a great project and an awful lot of fun. Many thanks to writer/director David Schrader and Hybrau Productions. Here it is:
After the last posting, a friend emailed and reminded me that I had also promised to post a clip to another recent short film that I was in. “Absconded” is a comedy short that was a Finalist in improv Olympic West’s comedy video competition a few months ago. Here it is:
I recently finished a first draft on yet another comedy feature… it is a ‘spec’ of course – relax everybody. So now, while that 1st draft is cooling off and resting, there always has to be a “next thing” to start working on immediately… to preserve the momentum, the habit, the ritual of work (sorry, went a little bit Thomas Wolfe there for a second, an instant, a brief packet of time.) So, I am finally starting to work on the new version of my Punk Rock stories show. The last time I did the full, 50ish minute, show, I only had that much material – a lot less than an hour that I then stretched mercilessly. Now, as I revisit that older stuff, I’ve also got an additional hour (at least) of more punk rock stories. So now the challenge will be re-writing and cutting, cutting, cutting, to turn 2+ hours of material into a 48 minute show that is still funny, makes sense and that, hopefully, has some kind of point to it. So here is a “live” clip of one of my stories – told at the Comedy Central stage. You can find more on my funnyordie page too.
…as I mentioned recently. I have been doing some (very rare for me) on-camera stuff for/with friends. Here is the latest short film: A look “behind the scenes” at the creation of the title song for one of the 70’s most memorable sitcoms – in the form of a fever dream.
Interesting timing because “the Other Ray Charles” passed away just a few weeks ago after a long & successful career. RIP Ray! Much respect!
So here is the film “Come & Knock – the Other Ray Charles“
Enjoy. Comment. Share. etc.:
In a rare treat for this writer and generally behind-the-scenes and/or behind-the-camera guy, a short comedy I did a cameo in made it through to the finals in this year’s “Scripted Comedy Festival” at Hollywood’s own iO West (that stands for “Improv Olympic” for you non-comedy-nerds.) We’ll see how it does in the final showdown this Saturday night, but it is always fun to work with friends, see the results on screen and hear strangers laugh. It is pretty much what we live for. I’ll post the link as soon as the competition is over.
In other news, things over at Blunt Farce are heating up – in spite of the lack of new posts. The animated cartoons are getting some renewed interest and we’re working on aligning the stars for the new podcasting venture – which is way trickier than you might expect. …and NO, that is not me in the picture, wise ass.
Just a quick note to let friends & subscribers know that I am finally bringing Another LA Cartoon back from hiatus. Finally figured out a way to make & manipulate the images without the help of PhotoShop. So, with any luck, ALAC will be posting a new cartoon every Thursday morning for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your interest, and your patience. Click the link above or the cartoon in the sidebar –>