So I’ve started to realize that while I’ve talked about Comedy a lot in my blog posts and made it evident that Comedy is very very close to my heart, I have never really gone fully in depth about my own performances or material. This is partially because I (still) hold a firm belief that a joke shouldn’t really need to be explained, due to it sounding pretty douche-y in doing so, as well as the belief that such a discussion will kill the joke.
That being said, it can’t hurt to go back through my previously recorded sets and show you guys the evolution of a starting and “struggling” comedian (I really only tack on the struggling label because chicks dig it honestly.) So we’re going to go from my first set recorded EVER all the way to a set from this past summer, and take a look at them.
This is the first recorded video of me doing stand up ever. I was asked to participate in my church’s talent show/ variety dinner and tell some jokes. It was also the first time that anyone had ever actually wanted to HEAR my stand up which was a huge thing for me. I had been “performing” for a couple months before that, albeit to incredibly patient friends and family members. Because of this active desire people had for my stand up ( at least that’s what I liked to tell myself anyway) I became incredibly nervous. That shows in the video as well, as I frequently trip over my words and phrase things weirdly, along with the incredibly hokey opener and closer I used, something not even a Jeff Dunham wannabe would touch. This video obviously shows its age through the Swine Flu too, but you go with what you know. This video is incredibly uncomfortable to watch but I often find myself watching it anyway, to remind myself how long its been since I started. and to console myself after a bad set.
This video was taken at my High School’s Benefit Concert my junior year. It was the first time I actually performed in front of all of my peers. As you would imagine, I was absolutely terrified. You can see it in my posture, and the numerous times that I asked people to lower their expectations. From here you can see this whole comedy thing was still an experiment. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be right before I got on that stage, and that is why I had literally no confidence in the material at all. But this video also showcases a very important moment in my stand up “career” and in my life too. It shows the first real big laugh I ever got. While it was a room that was full of my peers, it was still a big room, and it was full too. That feeling I got from that laugh from the Clown College bit was a feeling I had never had before, and was definitely the moment I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, paid or not. It also led to me using the Clown College joke as a crutch for the next several months which stunted my growth a little bit. But either way, I was growing. I was heading in a completely different direction than from what I had been doing all my life, and had no idea what adventures laid ahead of me.
This next video is the culmination of the all the passion and dedication I put into the art form in High School. I spent a lot of my time in high school sitting in my house writing jokes, refining my routine. It was something I genuinely loved and wanted to do. I might have missed out on some things in school, but I thought it was well worth it. And eventually that dedication started to pay off. I was asked by my former English Teacher to be a part of a TEDx conference he was putting on at the school. As a huge fan of TED talks and works, I jumped at the chance to be involved in anything TED related. The experience ultimately ended up being one of the most fulfilling ones I’ve ever had, not just in my speech but sharing the stage with so many different individuals and creatives. While it was pretty awkward to follow such brilliant minds by going onstage and telling a joke about Vomit, I felt a further sense of validation doing this event. I didn’t just feel comfortable out there: I felt like I owned it. I didn’t inherit the stage or the audience, I took it. I had never been able to really do that before. But I had finally got what I had been looking for this whole time: respect. I got a small peek into what my future could be. And whenever I start to get complacent or anything like that I look back on TEDxOverlake, and remind myself I did not get there by sitting on my ass playing Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic all day. Although that is a fun detour every so often.
And we finally end with one of my more recent sets, taken in Seattle this past summer. This past summer I finally had the opportunity to make Stand Up my primary focus: school had always gotten in my way before that, and I had never really had the neccessary drive or determination to make that actually happen. But this past summer I did. Above everything else that happened during my week, I knew that I was getting up somewhere. Didn’t worry about crowds, or anything else. If it was Underage friendly, I was there. Jerry Seinfeld once said that Comedy is like Surgery. You need to keep your skills sharp if you want to stay in the game, or else its just going to get bloody. This past summer I was determined to keep my comedy muscle moving, and saw even more results. While not my most perfect joke/set ever, the above video shows a great deal of improvement, especially when you look at that first video. There isn’t a lot of fear (outside of the good kind), more just fun. Stand Up isn’t as nerve wracking anymore, its just fun. Which is what it should be anyway.
I started this journey 5 years ago, with no idea what was going to happen, or what I was even doing. I still don’t really know. But what I do know is that thats what I want to do know. and I suppose that’s all that really matters.
As some of you may or may not already know, I would like to consider myself a conisseur of laughter. It is truly one of my biggest passions in life, and something I take very seriously (or as seriously as one possibly can). Much like a well versed Napa Valley resident with wine, I viewed Laughter through a pretensious understanding. I also had an innate desire for perfection: not necessarily an active quest to find the perfect laugh, but just an open desire to be part of a truly joyous environment or moment. Where the laughter came from pure unadulterated joy, and nothing more. Where laughter is not only a way of expressing joy, but a way of freeing yourself. While I can’t necessarily say I actively searched for a place or moment like what I just described, it was something I still longed for.
Little did I know that I would find exactly what I was hoping for in the town of Songea, located in southern Tanzania.
I went into my journey to Africa with the understanding that it would probably change me. I had a feeling it would affect my entire worldview. I had a feeling my perceptions of poverty, spirituality, and American Life would completely change. And those predictions definitely rang true. What I did not expect was how it would change my perception of Comedy, Humor, and Laughter itself.
All of these changing perceptions can be attributed to cultural differences. And there are many. In America, emotion is often conserved. Its certainly shown and displayed, but not without abandon. People often think before they feel. The laughter expressed is certainly loud and expressive, but it may not always be in full force. Not all of it may be fully realeased. This comes from a sense of fear of embarassment. Particularly with American Males, there is a great deal of fear in being emotional. These attributes aren’t bad neccessarily. Rather, they were a telling contrast from what I was about to experience.
Tanzania on the other hand was a completely different revelation, both culturally and emotionally. Their world is louder than ours (or at least, suburban Washington State’s). Every person I met that had a cell phone had their ring tone on at all times. The sound of various Bossa Novas and Elevator Muzak would emanate throughout the public places and markets. I feel like this in particular represents a prime analogy between Tanzanian and American culture: While they are a Ringtone Culture, we are most often a Vibrate one. While we still definitely carry phones and use them, it is a much quieter affair. We might step outside, or even just turn it off for awhile. Tanzania, it is a much more grandiose gesture to answer a phone, almost a dance. They are not afraid to express themselves there, and anyone that has driven on Tanzanian roads for any amount of time will attest to this also. Tanzanian people are fluent in two languages: Swahili, and Car Horn. The 16 hour bus ride from Dar Es Salaam to Songea was an orchestral piece of ringing horns and a looping Music CD highlighted by Enrique Iglesias irreplaceable power ballad “Hero”. This was a culture that was not afraid to express itself (and was also apparently a pretty big fan of Enrique Iglesias.)
What was just as astounding as the dearth of emotion I and our team of 17 Americans saw while on the trip was its purity as well. The laughter that we all shared is a memory I will forever hold dear. It wasn’t just loud, it was powerful. You could feel every emotion in that laughter. There were no reservations in it. Every ounce of your body was dedicated to laughing; there was no other thought.
I often thought about why that could be. Why the laughter and emotion there was so pure and joyful. I initially thought it could be attributed to the lack of quality to Tanzanian Media. We were fortunate on our bus ride home (and I mean fortunate in that Masochistic kind of way) to watch four original Tanzinian films. Without going into too much detail, I will say they made Tommy Wiseau look like Woody Allen. I thought maybe because of this quality, they had to go inward to find their laughter, their humor, and just emotion in general.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how completely pointless and stupid it was to think about where it came from at all. As I said earlier, thats not what you did in Tanzania. You didn’t think you just felt. And as the trip went on, our group of 17 took on this sort of understanding as well. Our joy and our laughter as a group just grew. From exuberantly singing the intro to Hero as it continued to permeate our bus ride (The rough average for hearing “Hero” to drive time was about 1.5 “Hero”‘s per hour. Without stops or breaks, a drive from Dar Es Salaam to Songea would take about 18 or 19 “Hero”‘s), to screaming Swahili greetings (MAMBO!) at people on the street as we drove and walked by, desperately hoping for a response (POA!). It was about 60-40 on getting a vocal response, or just getting stared at weirdly. Those times were some of the most joyful I’ve ever had, asnd they further accentuated the cultural differences: I can’t imagine a bunch of foriegn people coming to America and screaming “HELLO” at people in english would go over particularly well, if at all. It was a nirvana of joy and fun, something I’ll never forget.
But what made all of this even more astounding was the condition that most of the people we encountered lived in. Hearing the stories of the kids at the Songea Womens and Childrens Care Organization was were all gut wrenching. An encounter with a woman afflicted with Rhumatoid Arthritis who upon our initial meeting longed for AIDS so “someone would care”. Through the grace of God and our hard work, we were able to change that outlook over our 10 days in Songea, but it was still a very powerful experience. And through all of that, the humor and the joy endured. I had to take a second and marvel at the joy that these kids and people were having regardless of their situation, while I oftentimes would (and regretably still do) express indignation at such trivial things like losing a Twitter follower. To say they wear their hearts on their sleeves would be an understatement. The people of Tanzania and Songea’s Spirit is out in full force, all the time.
As I come back to America now and prepare for my Sophomore year of College, I know that I will forever be impacted by this trip in so many different ways. It changed me in more ways than I will probably ever be able to quantify. And while I will always be proud (and grateful) I am an American, I will always try to laugh and emote much like the people of Songea did: without chains.
I love you Songea, and I will be back to see you soon.
I’m not even going to lie to you on this one. I am HEAVILY biased when it comes to any sort of Spider Man content. It is one of many things that I will eat up, no matter what other people might think of it (except Spider Man 3, that stank), I know I will enjoy pretty much anything Spider Man related (other things/people on this list for me: Martin Scorsese, Kanye West, Louis CK, Batman, and The Avengers). During my extended “girls are gross” phase, I spent a prodigious amount of time reading, investing, buying, and creating spiderman related content. Whenever I was assigned a creative writing assignment in Elementary School, I wrote a Spider Man fan fiction. I own a very large cache of the comic books which I still read, which I hoard at my house like a dragon. I was all about Spider Man everything, all the time, 24/7. And while that enthusiasm has lightly faded with age, I can’t lie to you saying that little 9 year old nerd doesn’t come out to play sometimes.
So no, I can’t tell you I saw this movie without any shred of bias. I knew going into it, I was going to find it awesome either way. That being said, there are still things that Director Marc Webb and others still need to work on, and some Comic Book Continuity issues that almost made me scream bloody murder in the theater. So while my bias certainly might cloud my rationale a little, it does not do so to the point of ignorance.
With this movie coming out just 5 years after the last Sam Raimi film (the first two of which I absolutely love, and still do. Spider Man 2 is one of my favorite movies ever), The Amazing Spiderman definitely needed to distant itself from its first gen counterpart. And to this extent, Marc Webb and his cast do this extremely well. While the Sam Raimi films will always have a special place in my heart, my one complaint with them is that their pacing I always felt was too fast: they rushed through the high school years (the key set up to Peter Parker becoming not just the superhero, but the persona of Spider Man as well.) and moved into his more formative years. While those years are certainly where the bulk of the Spider Man Storylines come from, to gloss over such an integral step in his origin was tough. This was further exemplified in the third film, where there were 3 villains all mashed together, leading to the coolest of them all to only get 15 minutes of screen time. Lame. Marc Webb rather, focuses exclusively on the high school/origin years, and this decision works out perfectly. Through setting this movie entirely during Peter’s senior year, the audience is able to get further invested in the emotions and characters in the story, and really feel and understand the growth that Peter as a character goes through, both as a person and as Spider Man.You could also see the differences visually: the camera work and CG were both greatly different, and I enjoyed the darker pallete that was associated with the lighting and cinematography of all the film. Obviously the Raimi films didn’t have the technology we have now, I still preferred this perspective.
The casting further amplifies this decision, most of which turned in strong if not fantastic performances. While I thought Tobey Maguire was a fantastic Peter Parker, he never really seemed to fit into the Spider Man role as well as I wished he had. While that partially could be attributed to the screenwriting not really embodying how Spider Man talked in the comics, it just also didn’t seem fully believable. Andrew Garfield on the other hand, owned the role of Peter/Spider Man. The witty and wisecracking nature of Spider Man was in full effect here, as well as the awkward relatability aspect of the Peter Parker character. Garfield tight walked that line very well. I was initially skeptical of Emma Stone being Gwen Stacy, mostly because of her Deschanel-itis (LOOK AT HOW ADORABLE I AM), but she also turned in a strong performance, playing off Garfield very well, and establishing a strong rapport that will be integral to the next series of movies (others that have read the comics will understand what I mean here). This could also be attributed to the fact that Stone and Garfield are dating in real life, as my mom profusely whispered to me whenever they were onscreen (love you, mom!), but it also came from a much more natural and believable writing style. The romance here while still cheesy, felt much more natural in terms of the give and-take. My only real issue with the casting was of Aunt May and Uncle Ben. I personally felt Rosemary Harris embodied Aunt May much more so than Sally Field did, although she also really wasn’t given that much screen time. Martin Sheen definitely did well in the role, his renown made it harder for me to actually believe that Uncle Ben was an actual person. I couldn’t shake Jeb Bartlett and the Illusive Man.
The film took its share of liberties in terms of how things occurred in the comics and everything else, but I for the most part did not mind those decisions (a few of my gripes can be seen in the next paragraph). I liked how they did not immediately go into the Green Goblin storyline, leaving that open ended, along with the after credits scene, and went for the more comic book conventional route of the Lizard. This followed much closer to the original comic series in terms of villain timelines, and brought up a great deal of interesting conflicts into the story and the action as well. Another issue with the Raimi movies is that they confined themselves to one specific space, one line of the comic books. While it introduced some interesting character dynamics and ideas, it never felt open ended. You could kind of see where the movies were going to end up going. Through focusing on the emotion and character development of Peter Parker over the action, along with including key plot elements (Peter’s Parents, Norman Osborn) The Amazing Spider Man as a franchise has set itself up to go a myriad of different directions, into different plots and arcs of the Spider Man timeline. As long as they keep that direction central to their film making process, I will be thrilled to see what part of the universe they end up going to next.
And now, my biggest nerd gripes of the movie: (MINOR SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH). Throughout the entire movie, the famous line “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility.” is NEVER EVER SAID BY ANYONE. I assume this was because Webb/the writers wanted to possibly distance themselves from the Raimi films and such, but the omission of this line to me greatly crippled the origin story, and Peter’s revelation that he needs to fight crime. While avenging Uncle Ben’s death is a very logical launch part for that line of thinking, that line is THE BACKBONE of Spider Man’s philosophy, and pysche. That is the line that keeps him pursuing criminals everyday. This omission leaves Peter seeming like a much more emotionally driven character rather than a dutiful one. While this might just be a new take on the origin story, it still bothered me greatly that such an iconic line that has been associated the franchise for so many years would be omitted. While I did enjoy the idea of The Lizard being the premier villain of this first movie, I thought his interpretation/character could have been done better. I did not like the way he looked throughout the film, I personally thought he looked like Boswer from the Live Action Super Mario Bros movie. He looked more ridiculous than frightening, and that made it harder to stick with the conflict of the Connors vs Lizard Persona throughout. I also thought the subliminal Lizard voice they used was absolutely stupid. For one thing, it is never really part of the comics or the universe (which eliminates credibility) and for another it is blatantly used as plot device rather than an actual plot element. Its clear that they were trying to humanize The Lizard character, but that is the issue: The Lizard is a character that ISN’T human. He doesn’t approach things with that sort of convention, and that’s what makes him such an interesting combination paired with the Connors persona. I stated before I liked the focus of the film being on the start of the Spider Man character, I was sad to see that J Jonah Jameson was not featured in the movie at all. The Daily Bugle is never even mentioned. I hope that this just means it will be a part of the sequel however.
As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It really personified everything I wanted out of a Spider Man film, and definitely brought back all those feelings of childish wonder that came from my obsessive years. Though I didn’t enjoy some of the inconsistencies that could be found in the film, that was more of Marc Webbs vision rather than a blatant plot hole, and I was willing to reign in my fanboy rage to really buy into it. I would also say I liked it more than the Raimi films, but that they are also very difficult to compare, because they both came from such different angles and eras. Sam Raimi (along with most film culture at that point) focused on the action and the superhero qualities of Spider Man in his films, which led to a very enjoyable two films (seriously, Spider Man 3 was the worst). Webb on the other hand, focuses much more on the drama and emotion that comes with Spider Man, the burdens and the conflicts. I would recommend both series of films to Spider Man fans, but I myself enjoyed the Webb interpretation much more, as it embodied more of what I wanted to see in a Spider Man film. I highly recommend the film, Spider Man fan or not, and am definitely looking forward to what they have in store for the sequel.
First a couple of apologies: I couldn’t resist aping J.R.R. Tolkien for this posts title. I’ve always been a big fan of Lord of The Rings, and NOT just because I looked like a Hobbit when I was a child (it really was uncanny: if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought I had spent my elementary school years partying in Hobbiton and single handedly ruining the Fellowships journey.) And the second apology is for the lack of posts on this blog, which will be explained further in this post:
One year ago from this time period, I had the opportunity to pursue something that I had never been able to really committ too: writing a television screenplay. Its a thought that has always been prevalent in my mind, ever since I thought about pursuing humor for a living. But between pursuing my athletic “potential” (which was about the equivalent to Paris Hilton’s potential as a successful musician, but…I needed to at least make sure.) and other things, I never really had the time to outright committ to the project. Writing a sitcom is a lot more than just writing episodes: You need character and story arcs, season synopsies, an overall direction of how long you want the show to potentially go and the direction it should go in as well. It takes time, which as an ADD rattled high school student, I did not have much of.
But towards the end of my Senior Year, we were given the opportunity to puruse a project for a couple of weeks, whatever we wanted. Finally, I had the opportunity to write what I had always wanted too, and with some help from the Seattle Film Institute, I finished the first episode and synopsis of a series, titled “Senioritis”. It had its moments, but it by no means was exceptionally funny. and I was fortunate enough to get some polite rejections from some people in the industry. Enough so not to give up entirely on the dream of running my own television show at some point in my life.
A year later, I once again found myself with all the time in the world: stuck in summer job employment purgatory, I found myself with literally nothing to do. When people asked what was up, I would say “Not Much” and that would be an actual reflection of what was going on in my life, not just an awkward deflection from having an extended conversation. Not a lot was going on. And while getting through the first two seasons of The Sopranos in two weeks was a pretty impressive accomplishment, it was not exactly productive. I knew at some point I had to get up off my ass and write something. And from that feeling, I revisted that first draft, and completely gutted the thing. I rewrote virtually every part of it, beyond the core concept and understanding. From the ashes of “Senioritis” has come the Phoenix of “Freedom Hall”, which currently consists of a Pilot Episode and a series treament, with Episode 2 on the way. From there, I’ll decide what to do with it.
But the ultimate fate of “Freedom Hall” isn’t all that important to me, at least at this point in time. I’m not certain exactly what will happen to it. But the process of coming back to a project after year, with a new perspective and understanding was encouraging. I felt a sense of progress, sharper, and it just felt so much more fulfilling to write. Seeing it be produced on a big screen would be a beauitful thing, a dream come true. But its also good to just see how far a year can really take you. I’ve come a long way from “Senioritis” and I feel like I know a lot more about not just my craft, but myself. And while it might take another whole year after this summer before I can approach it again, its truly been a pleasure to see where I’ve been before, and get a further glimpse into hopefully where the future will take me.
Plus I’m sure my parents are pretty happy I’ve decided to get off my ass and do something. That and our house’s collection of Cheez its, which can now stop shaking in their proverbial boots whenever I enter the kitchen.
As I was perusing my timeline this morning (yes, I am that twitter starved that checking my timeline is one of the first things I do in the day. It is a sad truth in my life that now the rest of the internet knows. I have no shame.) I’ve noticed that common theme that most of the twitterverse comments on these days is the tendency for mainstream pop artists to write and profit off of songs based off of break ups. This isn’t necessarily a new venture in regards to music (a lot of blues artists will further attest to this) but the prodigious amount of material produced by the same artists in the similar vein makes it prevalent in our society. The common question that further comes from this observation is to imagine what would happen if any of these artists dated each other, and then eventually break up, and how fantastic that song would be. Its true: judging from their respective songs release dates, these pop stars relationships last about as long as your average Game of Thrones episode. And indeed, the break up songs coming from a relationship of break up savants would be glorious, akin to the basketball played by the 1992 Dream Team. And its a shame that those songs presumably won’t see the light of day, unless Goyte somehow becomes involved with Taylor Swift. However, I have a solution that I believe would alleviate this problem.
Along with this revelation in terms of musicians and their tendency to write break up songs in this day and age, comes the advent of music television shows. So, I decided to combine these two things (that are currently popular in our culture right now) with something that will always remain cool no matter how often our culture might change: March Madness. Combining all three of these facets, we are faced with the greatest reality show/pop culture tournament the earth has ever seen (not to toot my own horn too much), and one that settles once and for all the age old question of who would truly write the better break up song if they were given the opportunity.
The format would go as follows: There would be a bracket of 32 artists (at minimum, it could eventually be upped to more, much like how the NCAA tournament went) These 32 artists would be seeded by overall “success” (determined through variables such as net worth, grammys, etc.) From these seedings, they would be paired off into individual match ups. During these individual match ups, the artists would go on 3-4 dates. From these dates, an issue arises that forces that relationship to end abruptly, potentially placing blame on the other artist. After this issue arises, the artists are both given 3 days to write a break up song, which is then performed in front of a live/televised audience, who then votes who moves on in the tournament, until only one artist remains. That Artist then receives a championship belt embroidered with the wall painting thing from the “Somebody that I used to Know” video.
Now this is a very rudimentary foundation of what the show could end up being, but it definitely has some potential. It combines hit factors from reality shows like The Voice with the hyper competitiveness of March Madness (and yes, there would be brackets), and would include the creation of at least 2 new break up songs every week, which men and women of all ages can all post as their facebook status when they are spurned by an interested party.
Much like the songs that are so heavily talked about, some people may scoff at this idea. but they’d have a hard time to admit they wouldn’t at least tune in. I know I certainly would.
So I’ve been going on and on in some of these posts about how bad I wanted to be a movie reviewer when I grew up. I had the fortunate opportunity this past week to do a review for my College’s newspaper for The Avengers. It was a great experience, and I’m hoping to do it more often for them (plus the free movie ticket was a plus too). So I suppose I’ll post more of those reviews up here too. The Avengers itself has a particular significance to me, as someone that has been something of a comic book enthusiast, as a child at least. One of my fondest memories of my childhood was going to see the first Spider Man movie when I was 9. I thought it was the greatest movie I’d ever seen (Its still one of my all time favorites, but more out of nostalgia then cinematic quality). On the car ride home, I remember telling my friend “They should make an Avengers movie! That’d be so sick!” Or something to that effect. Not 100% sure on the what the cool kids were saying back then. But that was a dream to me. Having just seen my favorite all time superhero on the big screen, I was thinking big with who I wanted to see next: my favorite superhero team together on the same screen. 10 years later, I walked into the theater to see that. The movie had already been built off a ridiculous train of hype but with my 9 year old wish in mind, the expectations were astronomical. Did it live up to it? We’ll see:
Making every comic book enthusiasts dreams come true, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers brings several marquee heroes from the Marvel Universe together for an epic summer popcorn film, and great movie going experience. Having anticipated this money since I started to avidly read comic books around the age of 9, I had very high expectations for this film, tacked onto the hype that had been building over the preceding movies from each individual character. One of the many challenges the film had to face is also one of the primary conflicts that is featured throughout the film: Juggling the various powers, personalities, and origins of each super hero involved. It certainly is a daunting challenge without the inclusion of other various characters like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders aka Robin Scherbatsky). Director Joss Whedon is able to accomplish this balancing act by making the relationships and conflicts that each hero face both internally and amongst themselves the epicenter of the film. Whedon is able to capture the essence of each of the superheroes throughout different times in the film, the key attributes that allowed them to carry their own individual films, while not oversaturating any specific hero in particular. It seems like every character has about the same amount of screen time, with no personality particularly dominating the premise of the film. Each of the reprised heroes are able to flow seamlessly together with each other, as their characters have already been established. The addition of newcomers Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and a particularly strong performance from Mark Ruffalo does not offset the rhythm at all. Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury brings back shades of the badass Sam Jackson of old as well. The relationships that these characters have cultivated is the key to the success of the film, and makes the witty rapport between all the characters hit that comedic note much harder. However, the dialogue and relationships between each character is only one dimension of the movie: fitting all those unique superheroes onto one action sequence is a daunting challenge at well. Beyond the occasional continuity hiccup in the fight choreography, the action sequences were all shot very effectively, and seeing all of the heroes fighting together on the same screen is breathtaking (at least for a comic book enthusiast as myself). The film is very well paced, making for a very smooth two hours and twenty two minutes. Definitely stay for the entirety of the credits as well, for a teaser for the sequel. Overall, I view this film as the quintessential popcorn movie: it is well balanced between dialogue and action, fantastic CGI work, and a well-paced script full of snappy dialogue. My only real issue I had is that the aforementioned script has some very small inconsistencies in regards to the plot that go unexplained, but these do not affect the overall flow and story arc that the film has. The Avengers faced a great deal of hype from both the media, and fans of all the superheroes and the comic books. I can honestly say that the film matched or exceeded every expectation I had for it: I left with the adrenaline of seeing a fantastic summer action movie, and my inner nine year old greatly enjoyed the ride as well. No matter how invested you have been in the previous movies and the characters, I highly recommend seeing it.
Sometimes, life surprises you. Scratch that, life pretty much always surprises you. That first sentence sounds like the opening to the new Ford Commercial, that somehow convinces you that life and cars relate. But anyway, things rarely go as you plan. You can sit back before you fall asleep and imagine it all working out the way you want it to, but to assume thats how life works would be silly. If that is indeed how life had worked I would have both turned into a Transformer when I was 10,and would have had 200 girlfriends when I was 13 (one of those isn’t true: I’ll leave it to you to decide.)
But anyway, now that we’ve established that life doesn’t go the way you always plan, we need to realize that goes the same way with opportunity. Opportunity is a fickle thing. It doesn’t always show itself, and it doesn’t always come from what you originally thought it would come from. It strikes in the most random of places, usually where you least expect. You can be working towards achieving a goal, and that opportunity might appear from something totally out of left field. I’ll give you an example.
This year during my freshman year of college, I’ve been trying to further develop my comedic exploits, along with my academics. Its something I had on my to-do list when I got to school: to further establish myself as something more than just a “struggling” Comedian (despite the urban legend that chicks dig struggling artists, which I believe I have disproved) and become a much more grounded, stable comedian. I’ve been performing at Open Mics for years now, but it was time to really jump to the next level: I had gotten a little complacent in the past few months and needed to rectify that. Unfortunately, this didn’t come without its challenges,like all good things worth accomplishing or doing. Between not being able to perform at some 21+ venues and getting a bumped a few times, it has been a tough road. I was at an impass comedically. I wasn’t sure what to do to really kick start my attempts at advancing further in the comedy ladder.
At this same point in time I was looking for a job. Upon coming to the realization that I had eaten Taco Bell four times in 3 days, I realized it would probably be a good idea for both my survival and my taste buds to start bringing in more income in an effort to upgrade to a much more consistent, better tasting Fast Food option. Taco Bell is to food as Carly Rae Jepsen is to music: You may initially think listening to “Call Me Maybe” is a good idea, but about halfway through the song you begin to regret it. The same goes for Taco Bell, which is one of few Fast Food chains that has implemented the ultimate secret ingredient: tremendous regret with a pinch of self hatred.
So through this job search I was alerted to a job opportunity on campus, to become a Student Ambassador. Basically the main part of the job is to lead prospective families on tours, as well as work in the Admissions Office. It seemed like the perfect fit for me: I’ve loved talking to strangers since I was a little kid (I was the bane of all those child safety videos) so leading a tour of a school I absolutely love didn’t seem that hard. I was fortunate enough to then get hired, and I was tremendously thankful for both the opportunity to be a representative of such a fine College, and also that I will never have to look at a Doritos Locos Taco Box with trepidation. But it got even sweeter from there.
A short while after I got hired, I got an email from my boss: it turned out that they were bringing in a couple of professional comedians for a prospective student event, and he asked if I wanted to do a 6 minute set before they went on. Now that might not seem like much: You could watch one part of a bootlegged movie on Youtube in that time frame, amongst other things. 6 minutes is a very miniscule period of time, until you put it on any sort of stage. 6 minutes is an eternity. Its enough time to really tell a story, to show people your voice and your skills. When watching any of the bigger comedians perform half hour specials on TV and such, always pay particular attention to the first 6 minutes: thats when the audience really gets going, and thats when the theme and overall arc of the comedian’s set will fully come to life usually. To be given the opportunity to do 6 in front of Edwin Li and headliner Joey Guila, two professionals in my passion was a tremendous honor to me: I was given the opportunity to showcase my skills, my voice, and my story in front of two people that were living my dream. Its not everyday that one gets an opportunity like that, and I did not expect to have that appear from this new job I had acquired. After the show, I was able to pick their brains about Comedy in general, and life as a professional comedian. I finally had my foot in the door: I’ve committed myself to this craft for several years now, but sometimes I felt like I wasn’t moving in any direction, stuck in neutral. With this opportunity, I was able to make a noticeable leap forward, and able to truly measure myself to people I looked up to.
My point is in life, you won’t always be moving forward the way you thought you would. Life will definitely throw you some curveballs, and the work you put into something may not immediately produce an outcome or opportunity to achieve a goal. Sometimes you have to get a little lucky, or look in a different place to find that. So be ready, work hard everyday no matter how hopeless it might seem: you never know when an opportunity will present itself.
For this past week I’ve been back home. Between seeing all of my family again, to having the ability to raid a fridge always stocked with food at any time of day, its really been a great week of rest and relaxation. I think that’s the one thing I really didn’t realize moving away to a college dorm: sure I might own a fridge, but that fridge will never always be filled. In that sense, the fridge in my dorm is like the Star Wars prequels: It has all the potential in the world to be fantastic, and yet ultimately completely lets me down. Much like when I watched those movies, I open my fridge and scream at its gaping emptiness, in same vain attempt at having food magically appear there. It hasn’t worked for either aspects of this analogy, unfortunately. So anyway, I am definitely taking advantage of my time at home, and all the amenities and luxuries that it has over my dorm.
And with all this down time, there has definitely been some time thats needed to kill: There is only so much Mass Effect 3 and Golf a man can watch before it gets boring. During these times of extreme boredom, I came across something that has and always will be very important to me: My old Joke Books.
This picture does not completely encapsulate the collection: Several are back at my school, ande one of my beloved Moleskines from my junior year of high school while watching a soccer game in middle-of-nowhere Washington. To whoever stole it: I hope you like jokes about high school girls and the SAT’s because thats all thats in there/what I cared about at that point in my life (Junior year is definitely not a year I look back on in my life very wistfully). But its still a propfound experience to look at even a few of these books together. Years of work, pencil lead, thoughts, people, and procrastination in my life can all be traced back into 6-8 notebooks, most of which you can find at my house. Not all of these are complete of course: most of them are 75% full of jokes, 40% of which might actually be funny putting it generously. If you were to show me one of these notebooks I’d be able to tell you what year of high school it came from, where the majority of the jokes were written, and its content. The only one of these that isn’t really salvagable is the black one pictured, which I took with me on my trip to Japan in my Sophomore year. This is mostly because being immersed in the countries language I attempted to write all my jokes in Japanese, and then forgot to translate them. Judging from my knowledge of the Japanese language anyway, its probably good they weren’t ever translated because they definitely wouldn’t have made any sense anyway.
Last year, I hit a slump in my writing habits and generating material. For some reason, the spark had faded a little. I personally blame Senioritis taking away all of my time (both the attitude, and the pilot script I was writing at the time). From this intense bout of writers block I made a crazy decision: to talk out loud every single joke I had ever written. And yes to answer your question, it is very similar to Lil Wayne’s “25,000 Bars” mixtape. Its probably the most striking similarity you can find between me and Weezy, beyond that both of us can do a killer rendition of A Milli on the spot. But around 5 hours later, I was done. 4 years of working towards a dream was condensed into 5 hours, 3 of which were just terrible (most notably a joke I wrote about toliet paper that had no structure, rhyme or reason. I think someone stole my notebook at some point.) My point is, it was a really humbling experience. To really see the body of work, towards everything you strived for, lying on a table. And while its a nice trip down memory lane, it doesn’t really do one a whole lot of good. Most of these jokes aren’t relatable to me anymore, if ever. I wouldn’t be able to really ressurect these in my current act, which has found a new voice.
No matter what you’re working towards, whats important is that you move forward. Thats the only hope you have in terms of getting somewhere you’ve never been. Relying on previous work will just leave you in purgatory, no matter what it is. While its fun to look back on what you’ve done, its important to realize that is just the start. All these notebooks got me to where I am now, and I know there are a dozen more new ones in my future before I’m even remotely done on this journey.