VOTE! Help Me Pick My Pitch for NBC's Comedy Playground

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You guys, I just have so many ideas for comedy TV shows I don’t know which one to pick for my submission to NBC’s Comedy Playground. Vote for your favorite and help me out!

BARistas!
Coffee shop by day, Bar by night. Follow the crazy antics of a bunch of super-hip barista/bartenders in an ultra-trendy Brooklyn neighborhood hangout. They’re pretty much all artists in their mid to late to late-late (30′s alert!) twenties who are too smart and cool and hip to get a job in an office or some shit that cramps their style.

Second Chances
Back in the 90′s R&B pop-duo Slyder (I’m not married to this name) was on top of the world, until it was uncovered they were liars who were lip-synching fakers. Their lives fell apart because they sucked at singing, and the real singers couldn’t “make it in the biz” cause they were dick ugly. Now it’s the two thousands and nobody gives a fuck about all that mess, so they’re back on the scene for a second chance. Chance and Chance are back as the lip-synching pretty faces of the group while Chance and Chance are the ugly hidden trolls with golden voices. Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain — or do! Everybody deserves a second Chance.

Bro-Home
A buncha bros livin’ together under one roof. They’re not really ones for “cleaning” if ya’ know what I mean. One time, they were having a party and didn’t have a couch, so they made one out of old pizza boxes. The Bro-Home is definitely a nice place to party, but you wouldn’t want to live there (unless you love the smell of farts — which, personally, I do!)

Tood Fruck
Pretty much the exact same thing as BARistas! but this one’s in a food truck.

The Hou$e Alway$ Win$
A rag-tag group of small-time, bumbling crooks get jobs at a casino as a way to stake out the joint for a big heist. The thing is, they aren’t very good at being crooks and they keep flubbing things up and have to keep their day jobs at the casino.

Separation Anxiety
Marty Jenkins is a 25-year-old wunderkind lawyer on the fast track for success when he finds out his parents have been keeping something from him for his entire life. Marty was separated at birth from his twin brother! His conjoined-twin brother! Also, his conjoined twin brother died in the separation operation so Marty’s still pretty much the same guy except sometimes he wonders what it would have been like if he didn’t hog all the working parts of their liver for himself and enter the world as a brother murderer.

Goofus and Gallant – The TV Show
A live-action adaptation of the Highlights Magazine characters.

Because I’m Your Father and I Say So
Traditional three-camera family sitcom about an average dad with a job as a salesman, his too-pretty-and-smart-for-him wife, and three children (the smart one, the smart-ass, and the weird one.) Except in the series finale it’s revealed that the father was a serial killer the entire time, and now the viewing audience has to re-watch the entire series looking for clues that we expertly placed along the way. Also “Because I’m your father, and I say so!” can be the main character’s catchphrase.

Everybody Hates Dick
It’s like that show Everybody Hates Chris, but instead of a fictionalized version of the young life of comedian Chris Rock it’s a fictionalized version of the young life of the 37th President of the United States of America, Richard Milhous Nixon.

The Freaks Come in at Night
This is the story of a suburban 24-hour diner and their overnight staff, and the weirdo nightshift workers who congregate there in the middle of every night on their  “lunch” break. We’ve got the spooky funeral home director, the wacked-out Taxi driver, the aging-jock-who-never-made-it-and-is-now-bitter-and-sad-factory-worker, the aging-jock-who-never-made-it-and-is-now-bitter-and-sad-cop, the waitress from a different suburban 24-hour diner. They may have their differences, but they all hate the gang of drunk douchebags who come in after the bars close. Hey, hey the gang’s all here!

This is Beat
Chad Daniels is a beat reporter with the beatest beat at his city’s paper. His life is mundane and boring…until he decides to start fabricating stories! Chad’s stories creep from the back page to the front, and his weekly feature pieces garner lots of attention. But lies beget more lies so Chad needs to ramp up the action just to feel alive. Pretty soon he resorts to pulling full-on elaborate stunts to bring realism to his stories. Watch as Chad falls further down the rabbit hole to stay off the radar of his pesky editor.

Get Out of My House
The Johnson family lives in a haunted house, which is a real problem for them. The thing is, the Johnson family ARE the ghosts, and the story is told from their perspective! You see, what I’m trying to say is that to ghosts, the humans are the ghosts. Does that make sense? Like, we hate it when ghosts are in our house, but really, aren’t we really the ones in their house. Think about it. Also, they’re ghosts because Mrs. Johnson killed her family in a big murder/suicide so that’s a joke we can keep calling back.

Now that you’ve heard my ideas you can vote! I’ll pitch whichever one wins to NBC!

online poll by Opinion Stage

 

A Quote on Storytelling, and then Some Thoughts I Had About that Quote

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“Well, the show is plainly showing a vein of misogyny running through not just these men but their culture. To the idea that this is not on purpose, or that the females are one-dimensional, I’d say we’ll agree to disagree. If someone sees Maggie as merely some kind of fuming shrew, then that viewer is revealing their own prejudices, not the show’s. Given that neither of our leads has a healthy relationship with a woman, and given that we only see things in their POVs, that women are not given a full representation is correct for the story being told here.

This is a close, two-person point-of-view show, and the story is bound to those perspectives, with a few loose variations. In the structure of this telling, the other characters exist in relation to Cohle and Hart. However, if someone comes on screen for one exchange in the entire show, I believe they have dimensionality — the fact that their presence in the show exists only in relation to Cohle and Hart does not diminish their spark. Of the women Hart has affairs with, I wouldn’t expect them to be the most mature and stable of people, given his character and the difference in their ages. The gender criticism was expected, but it seems very knee-jerk in the total context of what we did here and what the show is supposed to be. It’s easy to use such a political concern as a blunt, reductive instrument to rob the material and performances of their nuances. But there was no way to tell this story, in this structure, without that being an easy mark for someone looking for something to criticize.”

- Nic Pizzolatto, on True Detective

I love this quote. I love that it defends the fact that a story can show things that are wrong without the story itself being in the wrong. I love that it uses common sense that if a story is told from the perspective of a character, then the world you see is going to be affected by that character’s actual perspective. The world is an imperfect place with imperfect people, and exploring them as characters doesn’t glorify their faults. It doesn’t let them off the hook or say that it’s ok. The discussion and criticism should come of the real-world, and the systems and lines of thought that lead to people who think and act in the flawed ways. Too often the criticism or backlash is misplaced, and comes of the art, or the story itself instead of what the story should really make you think about. Maybe the writer actually…thought out what they were trying to say while they were writing their story.

Just use your brains a little, you idiots.

Free For All Comedy presents: The Magnificent Seven Part II

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FREE FOR ALL Comedy presents: The Magnificent Seven Part II is a stand-up comedy showcase at Boot & Saddle (1131 South Broad St.) featuring some of Philly’s top comedians including hosts Aaron Hertzog and Alison Zeidman along with:

Tommy Pope (Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, 2011 Philly’s Phunniest Winner)
James Hesky (2012 Philly’s Phunniest Winner)
Alex Grubard (Helium Comedy Club)
Ryan Shaner (Center City Comedy)
John Nunn (an idiot who currently resides in New York City)

Get your tickets online here.

Monday, March 31. $7. Doors open at 8pm, Show starts at 9.

Free For All Comedy presents: The Magnificent Seven

1511817_574769965949505_624893894_oTickets available online here

 

At First, This Ain't Gonna Make No God Damn Lick a Sense...But Then, By the End, You'll Totally Get What's Up

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I’m an insane person.

Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Comedian and How We Wish We Could Respond When You DO!

1) “Fuck you.”

“That hurt my feelings.”

2) “I hate you.”

“Hate is a strong word. Are you sure you just don’t dislike something about my thoughts?”

3) “You suck.”

“That’s your own opinion. You know, comedy is very subjective and even though I know that to be true it still makes me feel bad that you don’t think I’m very good.”

4) “I don’t like you very much.”

“I’m sorry.”

5) “I not only think your opinions are wrong, but I also don’t respect you or your rights as a person and I’m going to do all that I can to keep you from succeeding.”

“Please don’t.”

6) “Your mother sucks cocks in hell. And that’s a bad thing because that sexual act was never one of her favorites while alive even, and now it’s being used as her punishment by the devil during her eternal damnation.”

“Wow. How do you even know that?”

7) “I know that because I’m a demon sent from hell to further your mother’s torture by making her son aware of her eternal hell-punishment.”

“That’s really terrible.”

8) “And you know what else is terrible? When you die, your punishment will be going to hell and having your cock sucked by your very own mother. How do you like that?”

“I don’t like it at all. I guess since I now know there’s a hell I’ll do what I can to not go there when I die.”

9) “No use. God doesn’t exist. Only hell. Everyone gets tortured forever after they die.”

“Bummer.”

10) “Wanna do this bringer show.”

“No, thank you.

Dance Like No One is Watching…

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Ads for Jeans are Getting Weird

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I Can’t Wait for This Week’s Android Animal Bowl

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A Few Words on the WitOut Awards from the Guy Who Started the WitOut Awards

Last night at World Cafe Live the Philadelphia comedy community gathered for the 2014 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy. It’s the third straight year the awards have been given out (and the first that I’ve had nothing to do with the planning, production, and writing of the show, theoretically giving me a lot of extra free time to work on my own jokes–time which I have squandered by instead re-watching episodes of The Shield). It’s also the third straight year Philly comics (and their social media accounts) seem to be divided as to whether the awards are a good thing, or complete bullshit and the worst thing to ever happen in the history of the world.

I’m not sure exactly why – but I feel an overwhelming need to write this to try to clear some things up. So, here’s some history on the WitOut awards to let you in on their motives, reasons behind them, and why can live in that area where they are both “important” and “bullshit”.

The idea for the WitOut awards came to me in a bolt of inspiration as a Facebook message from Rob Baniewicz. It was as simple as this: Philly comedy award nominations (and, yes, wins) would be something a local act can pad their resume with when applying to out-of-town festivals.  That’s it. No other reasons behind it than that. So, basically the whole motive of the award show was as a way to help Philly comics branch out to other cities and perform and work in more places, not even as a way to self-congratulate and pat ourselves on the back.

We weren’t even going to have a show. We were just going to vote and announce the winners online. The first year had a “For Us, By Us” feel. The nominations and voting would come completely by votes from “members of the comedy community.” Then we figured, why not have a party?

Philly Improv Theater Executive Director Greg Maughan floated the idea that if we were going to give out awards, we should do it for real (PHIT owns the WitOut.net domain with the idea that when one editor gets sick and tired of volunteering their time to run the website for free they can find another that can keep it going as a web presence for Philly comedy news.) I didn’t have a job at the time and had plenty of time to volunteer to help plan the show, so I figured it could be fun. We could have a big party for Philly comedy, get people who usually don’t hang out with each other (improvisers and stand-ups) in the same room, and have a fun #friendship fest. I plan stupid get-togethers and picnics in the summer, and this was a chance to do that when it’s cold outside. The award show itself would be used as a way to make fun of awards shows. Yes, all awards shows are big jerk-off fests, and a local comedy award show would be a self-aware, make-fun-of-jerk-off-fests jerk-off fest.

Then, we secured World Cafe Live as a venue to have the event. It’s a pretty legit room, so another reason started creeping in for our Friendship-Fest-Jerk-off-Party: promotion. Comedians have long been proud of our local scene. There are fantastic regularly produced shows, open mics that out-of-town comedians rave about when they visit, and it’s all driven by gobs of talent. One thing we’ve always struggled with is getting non-comedians in the seats. Creating an audience that comes back and checks out all the great shows and talent. The idea that the Philly comedy scene is actually big enough to have an awards show is intriguing. We figured it would be an attention-worthy event from the perspective of someone outside the comedy community. (Since we also figured there’s no way comedians could possibly take awards seriously, right?)  And if people could find out about the WitOut Awards, they could find out about WitOut.net, and by finding WitOut they could see a calendar of all the great shows, watch videos made by Philly comics, and read about everything happening here in their back yard.

The first WitOut Awards got covered in Philly Weekly. The second WitOut Awards got write-ups in Philly Weekly (twice), The Daily News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Stage Time Magazine (twice). I’d like to take this time to give credit to Alison Zeidman, who came on as new editor-in-chief of the website and worked super hard to promote the hell out of the show.

So, if you ask me,  that’s how the WitOut Awards are important. Their significance does not come in “winning” an award, the significance comes when the show can bring attention to our comedy scene. When people can read an article in the mainstream media covering comedy – and those people decide to come and check out a locally produced show. After that, it’s up to us as performers to make sure they see a good show so that they want to come back for more.

The actual “winning” of the award means nothing (trust me, I’ve won four). That part is all just a jerk-off fest. And jerking-off isn’t all bad. It can be fun..it can relieve tension…it feels pretty good. But don’t forget to remember that you’re not actually fuckin’.

I really, truly feel it is a problem when people take the actual awards and nominations super seriously. Yes, it’s nice to be nominated by your peers and be recognized for your work as a comedian – but for all the work put in by the editors of the site (Luke Giordano, Alison Zeidman, myself, and now Ryan Carey) the site is still growing. It doesn’t have a universal audience even among Philly comedians. Even with that said, if every person in the world was able to nominate and vote the fact remains that comedy is subjective! Some people are going to like what you do, some are not – the key is to work as hard as you can, be as good as you can, and find the people that appreciate what you do.

In summary: 1) the awards were originally created as a way for Philly Comedians to branch out, both among each other and to other cities, not get more insular 2) the show itself is a party and a jerk-off fest, and also originally meant to be a self-aware parody of the fact that it is a jerk-off fest  3) stop taking things so seriously, you’re supposed to be comedians for christ’s sake.