Saturday, 27 December 2008

The Most Exciting Woman In The World

For people who only know Eartha as Catwoman, watch these videos of her performing in Europe in 1962. Her phrasing and body language are incredible. I love the editing and framing for these performances; each one is beautifully shot and choreographed.

"I Want To Be Evil":

"Do It Again":

The New York Times obit is essential reading.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The 25 Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2008 at Passion of the Weiss: Bishop Lamont - "Grow Up"

I got a chance to write about the 20th best hip-hop song of the year at Passion of the Weiss. Click my writeup below to read the whole list!

Few rappers come more honest than Bishop Lamont. We learn this immediately, with “Grow Up’s” naked confession that “[Bishop]] used to think fucking up was cool until [he] didn’t pass high school.” Later, he calls out a grown-ass man with “a wife at home…wasting gas tryin’ to bust a bitch.” Sure, the entirety of his second verse kicks a typical rap-sucks-nowadays homily. But what isn’t run of the mill is how cleverly Bishop ties this to emotional immaturity. The shit talk entertains, but the way he articulates the genre’s callowness makes it stick.
Behind the boards, Dre displays what a weird head space he’s in right now, pairing a gentle guitar arpeggio to thumping claps, spacey, humming synths, and strings and harps. The result is a delicate balance between the underground and the mainstream that suits the self-proclaimed backpacker signed to Aftermath, an oxymoron if there ever was. But the real hero is Bishop, who writes his own “2nd Childhood”, a vivid portrait of how hip hop’s immaturity leads to poor lifestyle choices.. The candor is refreshing, especially in a genre where a rapper can make headlines by persistently denying his past

Shouts to Jeff for making it happen. Watch a nice live performance of "Grow Up" below:

Thursday, 4 December 2008

RIP Pimp C

It's been one year since Pimp C passed. Over at Metal Lungies, we've put together an overview of Chad's production work to commemorate the man's life. Bun B joined us to contribute some incredible UGK history. Check it out here.

Here's my take on Big Mike's "Havin' Thangs":

At this point it’s cliche, but it’s still worth mentioning — “One Day” feels eerily prescient with Pimp C’s passing. His passing really made me appreciate what he did behind the boards. His instrumental sets the song’s tone, constructed around mournful wah-wah guitar riffs and a thick bassline. Pimp adds programmed shakers, tambourines and 808s for that Southern feel. Singer Ronnie Spencer sounds eerily like Ron Isley, and his cooing chorus and occasional interjections complement the song perfectly.

Here's Bun B reminiscing on a remix of "Front Back And Side To Side":

Bun B: We had two remixes to “Front Back And Side To Side”. One of ‘em was more like a dancey, clubby remix and the other one was a bass remix. What happened was, if we wanted to turn in remixes for the single, we had to do it a weekend that we were in Dallas, Texas at Dallas Sound Lab studio. The only room that was available, it didn’t really have a lot of major equipment. It really only had like a Dr. Rhythm drum machine and like just a regular keyboard and I watched this dude max that keyboard and max that fuckin’ Dr. Rhythm out to the point where it’s still one of a lot of people’s favorite remixes from UGK. He took a song that was originally produced in a full service studio with whatever equipment they had available and also with the ability to rent equipment if needed, and took that fully produced song and remixed it with, like I said, just a Dr. Rhythm and a just a regular little Casio keyboard and made a remix even more stronger and more popular in certain circles as the original record. It really opened my eyes up to the fact that my brother wasn’t just a cat that could make beats, he was a real producer, meaning that whatever he was in the room with, he was capable of making a hit record with it and that’s the real meaning of a producer.

Oh, and I strongly urge you to click the picture at the top of the post to view it in full size.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Black Milk Interview At Metal Lungies

 

This is a few days old, but I'm still really happy with the way it came out.

ML: Caltroit is just one of the collaborative albums you’ve done this year. You did The Set Up with Fat Ray and almost all of Elzhi’s album The Preface. How do you approach doing an album with one emcee with you producing it, as opposed to placing one or two tracks on someone’s album? What’s the collaborative process like for you?

BM: When I’m doing beat CDs, there’s really no set sound or certain direction I’m going for when I’m creating music. It’s really the first thing I hear off a record that I like, that I’ll chop up. Whatever the genre of music I’m sampling from. When I’m working with an artist, like the Fat Ray project or working with Elzhi, when I can actually get in the studio with these dudes and you know, get ideas from them, give them ideas from what I’m hearing about what the project should sound like, that’s different. That’s what I prefer anyway. I’d rather sit in a studio with an artist and do my job as a producer, and produce the track than just email in 10, 15 beats off to somebody. They might [laughs] do something you really want with the track, every now and again it might happen with a track. But I’d rather be in a studio with an artist.

Read the whole interview here.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Holy Shit

Mother 3 is actually going to be playable in English.

Wonderful.

Earthbound, this game's prequel (depicted above), is probably one of my favourite games ever, and the only entry in the series to come out in the U.S. It's wonderfully unique and goofy, and I urge you to seek it out.

Oh, and thanks to these guys, you'll be able to play it in English too very soon. Kudos all around.

Friday, 26 September 2008

The RZA Beat Drop

(photo by Beth Fladung)

The RZA Beat Drop went up yesterday at my main writing spot, Metal Lungies., Special guest this time around: DJ Eclipse, Statik Selektah, Aeon and 88-Keys.

My picks were "Bring The Pain" (Method Man), "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nothin' To Fuck Wit", "Gold" (GZA), "Guillotine (Swords)" (Raekwon), "Run" (Ghostface) and "Rock Steady" (Tony Touch ft.Method Man, Raekwon & U-God).

Here's an excerpt from my writeup for Raekwon's "Guillotine (Swords)". Click it to read the whole thing:

“Poisonous… poisonous…” From the moment you hear the kung-fu sound effects, the beat grabs you and shakes you. Pounding, repetitive drums are accompanied by ominous, minor key strings. No hook, no bullshit, and it sounds like the soundtrack to filmed assassination. I love the way the looped strings vibrate and hang on the last note for a few extra seconds. Also, how could I not pick a song where Ghost says, “My career is based on guns, throwin’ cats in wheelchairs”?

Thursday, 31 July 2008

10 Questions For Big Poppa


Did you know that the Notorious B.I.G. has a Twitter account?
I interviewed "NotoriousBIG" for >bounce/oz through email and it was everything I could have hoped for. Normally I'd excerpt part of it but I don't want to spoil anything.
Just read it.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Neptunes Beat Drop at Metal Lungies

Over at Metal Lungies, I contributed to our latest instalment of the Beat Drop feature, this time focusing on the production talents of the Neptunes. For those unfamiliar with the concept, let me explain. Each instalment of the feature has the whole ML blogging team plus guests (often other bloggers and occasionally actual rappers and producers) choosing about 5 beats from a chosen producer and writing about them. My picks this go-round were Snoop Dogg's "Beautiful", Jay-Z's "Excuse Me Miss Again (La La La)", ODB's "Got Your Money", Slim Thug's "I Ain't Heard Of That" and Kenna's "Say Goodbye To Love." Click my write-up of "Beautiful" to read the whole piece.

"A bouncy, summery rhythm that stutters in all the right places. A snaky guitar loop accompanies a fantastic mix of bongos, snares, and hi-hats tightly clustered together. Pharrell and Wilson’s falsetto backing vocals fit the beat like a glove. I love the outro where the beat drops entirely and Pharrell is singing over handclaps. Then the drums kick back in and the beat slowly fades out, yet the beat stays in your head for days. The song is the perfect summer jam; it’s only right that the video is set in Rio."

The Saga Of Latarian "Real Talk" Milton

I want to adopt this kid.

Let me take you through this 7 year old's crimes so far:

First: steals his grandma's SUV. Wanted to do hood-rat things with his friends.

Next: beats up his grandma for not buying him chicken wings.

And then, further explanation of his actions.

I love how it's the same reporter each time. Ted White must be living large off reporting on Latarian.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

My Reviews At Nodfactor

I was recruited by Jerry at Nodfactor to review new hip-hop albums a while ago, but forgot to link them. These are all the albums I've reviewed so far. I plan on linking to more of my content elsewhere from now on while I figure out what to do with the site.

Tanya Morgan - The Bridge EP

 

88-Keys - Adam's Case Files

Skillz - Design of A Decade

Buckshot & 9th Wonder - The Formula

Monday, 14 July 2008

An Interview With Wes Jackson, founder of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

(Artwork by the insanely talented James Blagden)

Not very timely, as the festival is over now, but I published this at TSOYA the other day and I like to put up all my interviews on this site.

Wes Jackson is the founder of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, co-founder of Seven Heads Entertainment, and president of marketing firm The Room Service Group. He answered my questions via email about his motivation for creating the Festival and what he looks for in a performer, among other things.

Why did you start the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival?

WJ: I started the Festival for several reasons. One, I thought hip-hop should have a world class festival on par with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  An all day, outdoor representation of the city’s music, cuisine, culture and energy. 

Secondly, I wanted to create an event that would help reclaim the hip-hop brand from years of bad press, vultures and interlopers.  Hip-Hop needs to grow up and take itself seriously.  There teenage fans of hip-hop as well as 30, 40, and 50 year-old fans. Hip-Hop fans of all ages need quality music and events that appeal to where they are in life.

The Summer Jams take care of the teenagers. There is Rock The Bells who attacks this issue with a sledgehammer and a slightly alternative spin.  I wanted to create one for our demographic as well. Metropolitan, educated, slightly older, female, and racially/ethnically diverse.

What do you look for in a performer when you are assembling the lineup for the festival?

WJ: Someone with fundamental skills. More than this elusive ‘swagger’ that is so prevalent these days.  I am looking for someone who is pushing the art forward. I look for real content. Stage presence. When putting together the line-up, I look for a balance of old school and new school. Local acts and acts that rarely make it to Brooklyn. 

How do you balance the different tastes of long time Brooklynites and more recent arrivals?

WJ: It’s not that tough. I get Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One for the old heads. Lupe [Fiasco] and Mickey Factz for the gentrifiers. Is that a word?  At the end, both old and new Brooklynites appreciate quality and history.  We also price the event so that as many socio and economic groups can participate.  This brings the old and new communities together.

Have there ever been issues over which acts have been chosen?

WJ: Sure. Everyone has their favourites and I have the final say. Feathers get ruffled sometimes but we are all pros and sort it out.  The one who gets pissed is me when I let people talk me into acts I know don’t fit the brand.  I have learned to use my experience and lead without being despotic. My gut instincts on this are usually right. For the most part we all come to a consensus.

What was your initial goal in starting Seven Heads Entertainment?

WJ: My goal was to work with my friends and changed the world. Still is. [Laughs]

Back then I was enamoured with the idea of running a record label. I wanted to be Russell Simmons. After the returns started to mount, that dream ended. Fundamentally I just wanted to get my vision of hip-hop out there. I wanted to start my own business and realize my dreams.  We did some great things. Released some fantastic records. Saw the world. I hope to bring the brand back soon as a digital entity.

You can find out more about the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival at brooklynbodega.com.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Rest In Peace, George

Without a question, my favourite comedian of all time. The comedian who got me into comedy. The first standup CD I ever owned was a burned copy of Carlin's HBO special, You Are All Deceased.

My discovery of George Carlin came by accident. My cousin gave my dad a copy of Carlin's first book, Brain Droppings, which he never read, and the aforementioned copy of You Are All Diseased, which he never played. The book and CD stayed by the father's bedside for a while, until one day, on a whim, I flipped through Brain Droppings, a book collecting his standup routines and assorted musings. I was instantly hooked. I read it for hours, totally amazed by the truth and humour with which this man wrote. I've read Brain Droppings 7 times.

I became obsessed with his material, reciting it endlessly to friends and family, and touting them as truisms. George lit a spark in me, made me really think about the world around me, about words and the meanings attached to them. As hateful as he sounded in later years, as much as he could descend into lecturing the audience, he stayed funny and he stayed relevant. Beyond his greatest success in the 70s, he continued to comment on the world around him into the 2000s. In the 90s, he attacked the incessant self-obsession and self-satisfaction embodied in yuppies, critiquing how soft society had become. In the 2000s, George became obsessed with death, and this obsession came through most clearly in Life Is Worth Losing, his 2nd last comedy special.

I owe Carlin too much to ever recount it all, but he made me think while still being funny.

You should read this appreciation of George by comedian Louis CK, it's touching and wonderful.

From right to left: George Carlin with his comedy partner Jack Burns

I want to leave you with one of my favourite Carlin bits. It's not devastating social satire, it's just a riff on the word "shit." It's one of the earliest routines that finds George breaking down the meaning and significance of a word that most of us don't think of as important. And it's the first track of my favourite Carlin album, FM & AM.

"Shoot" - George Carlin (FM & AM, 1972)

And for the hell of it:

Goodbye George, we'll miss you.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Asian Tears

George Clooney's secret. Starring the very funny Hal Rudnick.

UCB Comedy has some real gems.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Google Sharing Becomes A Bookmarklet





A highly requested feature for Google Reader has finally been added: the ability to share items from any RSS feed through Google Reader Shared Items. Before you had to be subscribed to a feed in order to share items from that feed. This takes out a step.
Check my shared items in the column on the right of this post. When I'm not feeling inspired to post, I'll try instead to read what others are blogging about and let that inspire me. And I want to share the articles or blog posts with others, because everything in there is something that inspires me to step my writing game up or fascinates me in some capacity. I see it as being having a virtual collection of interesting coffee table books; you've probably read them before, but you can leave them out there for anyone to flip through, knowing that you endorse them by seeing them on the table,
So now I can share articles online with others more easily, and that's definitely something to celebrate.

Here's how you do it:
Click this link and drag this link to your browser's toolbar and then use it to add any item from around the web to Google Reader.

I think sharing what you like is important to blogging, whether through Last.fm, del.icio.us, posting to Facebook, etc.

And some great Google Shared Items feeds have kept me up on what the authors of blogs I read are checking for. G from GRANDGOOD, Rafi at Oh Word and Jeff at Passion of the Weiss.
Readburner is also an interesting way to track memes and popular memes as they move through the intanets.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

An Interview with Emily Horne & Joey Comeau of “A Softer World”

I wrote this interview for Maximum Fun, but here is a slightly longer, more in depth version.

Emily Horne is a Victoria, B.C. based photographer and Joey Comeau is a Toronto, ON based writer. Together they create the critically acclaimed webcomic “A Softer World”. In 2007, the comic won the first Web Cartoonist's Choice Award for photographic webcomic and Loose Teeth Press published “It's Too Late to Say I'm Sorry”, a collection of Comeau’s short stories. “A Softer World” celebrated its 5th anniversary earlier this year. I talked to Emily and Joey via email about the process of creating a strip and the strange power of cover letters, among other things.

AM: Where did the idea for "A Softer World" come from?

Emily: Joey started making photocopied comics in 2001 using his own captions and
photos cut out from magazines about the British royalty. When the possibilities of that had run out, he decided photos might work, and I, being inclined to photography, had a good stash of them ready to go.  We would take an old manual Smith-Corona typewriter and a stack of photos to the all-night Kinkos in Halifax and make comics for the local 'zine fairs. We made two print editions and then decided in 2003 to put them online so more of our friends could see them. These comics make up the first couple of dozen that are currently on the website.

AM: What's the process for creating a comic? How do you and Joey work on the
comic together?

EH: The process for creating the comic now is very different than it used to be.  I live in BC and Joey lives in Toronto, so the process isn't as immediately collaborative as it used to be.  Usually, I will put together the visual elements of several comics, cut and paste as necessary and send them to Joey every few weeks.  That way he has a backlog of comics to caption.  Usually he runs the text by me before they go up, either by email or if we're both online at the time, via MSN.

AM: Emily, what are your influences as a photographer?

EH: My mother taught me to use an SLR [single-lens reflex] on her old Pentax, so she's the reason I started taking photos in any serious way.  For my Softer World photos, I'm particularly inspired by the implied drama or conflict in a situation.  I have to find some kind of subject, although that doesn't necessarily have to be a human being.  Stories can be created quite easily from evocative inanimate objects.
However, because Joey comes up with the text on his own, what he finds in what I've constructed is often quite different than what I would have come up with.  That is, I feel, one of the great joys of creating collaborative art.

AM: Why do you think ASW's format is effective?

Joey: The format's good on a few practical levels. I think having the photos illustrate the text directly would have been a nightmare for us. We could have people acting out the scenes, but we'd be limited in the kinds of stories we could tell. Zombies? Exploding stars? All impossible.

So we chose a format where Emily and I try and find the same tone for the words and images, or different tones that work well and compliment one another.
For the text, having it be so short means that I have to work to fit everything into that one sentence or two. It makes the impact stronger. It's a lot of information at once sometimes, and that's great. I like writing for constrained space. I have to work harder to make everything work, but I think it comes off with more of a punch.

AM: Joey, explain the concept of Overqualified for the uninitiated. Why is the cover letter the perfect medium for this strange combination of despair and hope?

JC: I've written so many regular cover letters while applying for jobs.
They're frustrating and useless, and they are just lies, beginning to end. You are saying what they want to hear. These letters don't have anything to do with you as a person, or with your hopes for the future, your dreams. Nobody reads these anyway. You could write the craziest things and nobody would ever read them.

So I did. I started writing batshit crazy cover letters and sending them out. At first they were just jokes and frustrations, but hopes and dreams started sneaking into them.
In December I signed a book deal with a publisher here in Toronto to release a novel based on Overqualified. It's going to come out in 2009, and it is told entirely through the cover letters. It's probably the craziest thing I've written, and I am super excited about it.
Spring 2009! It's so far away.

AM: Are there any common thematic threads joining your writing, between "A Softer World", "Overqualified", and your fiction?

JC: I got an email a little while ago from someone who attended a book club
where they were reading my short story book. He said they liked it, but they were all pretty sure that I was a paranoid weirdo. A lot of the stories are about obsessions, and people who do things without really knowing why, just knowing that they have to do them. But I think that most of my writing is optimistic in a weird way, too. Anyway, I feel optimistic about it. There's a lot of sex in my writing, too. I don't know about themes. There are a lot of zombies and dead moms and lesbians. That's sort of a running joke between Emily and I, but it never stops being true.
There are a lot of zombies and lesbians and dead moms. One day I'll write a story about a zombie lesbian mom.

AM: Both of you are very open with your fans, maintaining public LiveJournals and encouraging fans to contact you. I recall reading that you took reader suggestions for Truth & Beauty Bombs. What is the significance of fan response and interaction to "A Softer World"?

EH: While we both started our LiveJournals at around the same time as we put the comic online, neither of them were originally intended for fan response, as we didn't really expect to get fans outside of people who were already our friends!  But as the comic grew our LJs started to take
on another more public life.  I usually don't even talk about the comic that much in the journal, I just post about things I find interesting.
It's great and kind of strange at the same time to see how many people appreciate the comic enough that they will read and respond to whatever ramblings I post! 

It also allows us to find out a bit more about the people who read the comic, because otherwise they'd just be anonymous hits on the site.
We don't take public submissions for the comic, but before our site redesign of a few months back we did have a fan art section.  That still needs to be incorporated into the new site. There are people all over the place who have taken our format as inspiration and done their own thing with it, and that's always really gratifying to see.

What is the usual reaction to the strips? Sometimes when I read ASW, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

EH: Sometimes I feel like it's unfortunate that ASW is called a comic, because it means people go into the experience of reading it with the notion that it’s always going to be funny, and end up disappointed.  Even those that are overtly hilarious usually manage to make you feel a bit guilty about your laughter. 

It's a complicated world out there, few things are black-and-white, funny-or-not-funny, and ASW reflects that. Reactions to the comic run the gamut from delight and recognition to (occasionally) vehement hatred, and while the angry reactions are hard to take, we do stand by what we've created.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Go buy the Octopus Pie book!

Seriously, right now. Do it. Buy this book.

Octopus Pie is my favourite webcomic right now and I read a lot of webcomics.

It's about $14 U.S., including shipping. You can get it signed too!

My interview with Meredith remains the most popular interview on this site for good reason. Mer is super nice and super talented. Go support her stuff so she can keep doing the comic.

And if you're not familiar, get familiar! Start with the first strip and work from there.

For the next 2 weeks or so, I'm going to be going into hiding to do school work and not writing at all. You can keep with me on Twitter in the meantime. Stay posted, I have a couple big things under wraps.

Oh, you can read this too: my review of Stop Smiling Magazine's 2nd annual interview issue for The Magazineer. Go drop a comment if you feel so inclined.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Nestography-A Videogame Based Version of "A Softer World"

This is absolutely brilliant. This fellow writes this little captions under screenshots of NES games. Very reminiscent of "A Softer World". Sometimes funny, sometimes sad.

Unfortunately Blogger won't let me embed .png images but here's a link to my favourite one.

Here's the author's explanation:

It's hard to tell whether you play video games because you have no friends, can't get the opposite sex to notice you, have trouble sustaining a relationship, don't want to keep a steady job or whether, in fact, maybe those things are a result of said addiction.

The problem with video games is that most of them are trying very hard to engage you without making you feel anything, like a one-night-stand with someone that sort of likes you but not quite enough, or a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. The problem with me and video games is that I want them to love me as much as I love them and they can't, so I have to fill in the blanks myself.

Look at the whole gallery here.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Chelsea Peretti Interview

Photo by Gaelen Hadlett

I interviewed the awesome & funny comedian Chelsea Peretti for The Sound of Young America's blog, Maximum Fun. This is the longer version, exclusive to my site.

Chelsea Peretti is a NY-based comedian, writer, and member of the 4-woman sketch group, the Variety Shac. She is the co-creator of the New York City Rejection Line at (212) 479-7990 and of the web satire blackpeopleloveus.com. She is also the creator of two original series for online humour site SuperDeluxe. Variety Shac recently released their first DVD collecting their short videos and sketches and they are currently working on a pilot for Adult Swim. I spoke to Chelsea over IM about her influences, her writing career and her inspiration for her internet series, “All My Exes.

AM: How are you today, Chelsea?

Chelsea: Pretty good. Hiding out from rain.

AM: Yikes, I can relate. It's something like minus 25 up in Ottawa

CP: Did you have to look that up in your notes? What's Ottawa like?

AM: Something something igloo northern stereotypes.

CP: Got any links so I can imagine the landscape?

AM: http://www.galenfrysinger.com/americas/ottawa01.jpg

CP: Ohhh!!

AM: Here's Parliament. It's like a more boring version of the American one. But I still like it.

CP: Are you one of those people on the lawn or the guy to the right by the van?

Is it cold? Wait!

You already told me it is.

AM: I like to think of myself as the van guy.

CP: Yeah, he has a purposeful stride.

AM: Oh, wait! I have questions!

CP: Oooooh!!! Perfect!

AM: Awesome. What inspired you to get into comedy in the first place.

CP: Hmm. Well, I always liked it. And generally dealt with problems through humor, growing up. But I was into theatre from a young age, and then in college did improv because I hated the theatre department. Then after college temping (and thinking I would be an actor) I met a standup comic who took me to my first open mic. So I guess she was my initial inspiration.

AM: Who were your favourite comedians growing up?

CP: I liked all kinds of stuff, my dad loved Jonathan Winters so he introduced me to him.

I went and saw Martin Lawrence perform when I was in Jr. High. I loved Gilda Radner, I Love Lucy, Wonder Years, Cosby Show, Monty Python, and Steve Martin movies like The Jerk and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. I had a birthday party where we watched Top Secret.

AM: Oh, I love Top Secret.

C: Yeah. I liked Married with Children lots and Roseanne. I can't really remember as much with standup. I know I watched [Eddie Murphy’s] Raw with my grandmother. That was lame (watching it with her). And Def Comedy Jam when I was in Jr. High was big, and In Living Color.

AM: Haha, that's nice you could share that with her. With all these disparate influences, had you considered doing standup or any other comedic medium before the open mic?

CP: I don't think so in terms of standup.

AM: You did do improv in college as you mentioned

CP: I thought I would be an actor. I don't think I was exposed to standup much so it didn't occur to me. I identify much more with comedians than actors as personality types

I liked heavy theatre like Endgame and absurdist stuff like [Eugene] Ionesco or Tennessee Williams or Angels in America. I like dark comedy too, like House of Yes or Welcome to the Dollhouse, so it’s probably not that different in a way.

AM: So when you wanted to be an actor, did you want to be primarily a comedic actor? Drawing from the shows and movies you mentioned, say, more of a Steve Martin than a Val Kilmer?

CP: I don't remember. I mean like I said, I was drawn to dark stuff but also comedy - but really I was thinking I would be a theatre actor.

But pretty much as soon as I found the NY comedy scene I knew it I wanted to do that, I think. I mean I had nothing going on as an actor. I had graduated from school and started temping.

I don't remember being torn about giving up theatre in exchange for comedy largely because I there was nothing to give up...but also because the comedy scene here just sort of naturally sucked me in.

AM: After the open mic experience, what were you doing comedy wise? Were you going to open mics and standup nights while you were temping on a regular basis?

CP: Probably not. I used to go dancing a lot. Writing is also a big part of what I did so I was going to clubs and dancing a lot. And there used to be this nightlife mag called Flyer. It was small and the size of a little club flyer and they had tiny editorials.

So I walked in their office and asked if I could write for them. They gave me some freelance work and that led to a contact at the Voice [New York based magazine The Village Voice.] I applied for an internship and got one with [Voice music editor] Chuck Eddy, so I started interning and then would pitch little nightlife listings. They paid and a couple little articles were open for pitches so I did that. I also interned at SNL in college so comedy was there, definitely, prior to the first open mic.

AM: These nightlife blurbs, were they kind of like the Night Life section in the New Yorker? Little show blurbs?

CP: Yes. I was writing up theatre and music listings. Being a critic is not for me but it taught me a lot about how things work. Seeing the press releases come in for different shows and it acquainted me with what was going on.

AM: In terms of writing, were you writing anything outside of these listings for the Voice and Flyer?

C: I did some random stuff: a little thing for Details, 24-7, Jest, the comedy magazine, girlcomic.net and some other random stuff.

AM: Did you write anything not on assignment? Short comedic articles like Woody Allen or Steve Martin do for the New Yorker, for example? I guess I'm just trying to trace your writing process back to that period.

CP: I was writing jokes for my "act". At the time, just trying to figure out what to say on stage. I don't like humor writing that much

AM: At this point, you were going to open mics, right?

CP: Yes, I did do some skits in the beginning. One with my college friend and later with [NY comedian] Bobby Tisdale. We did a bunch for a while.

AM: So were you now doing standup/skits on a fairly regular basis?

C: Yeah. I was basically having extremely low rent and breaking even off of my writing jobs, then I wrote for a videogame.

The other thing that was consuming lots of time in the first years out of college was the [NY] rejection line and blackpeopleloveus.com. Two projects I did with my brother that were internet based, when I was still very new to standup.

AM: How did Variety Shac end up coming together, on a related topic?

CP: Well, Andrea [Rosen] and Heather [Lawless] and I did standup and knew each other from that.

AM: Were they also doing the same open mic nights at clubs?

C: At that point, I wasn't really doing open mic nights. Also, even in the first few years I wasn't primarily at clubs. It was more random venues like Rififi, Parkside Lounge, Gershwin Hotel, Nightengales and B3.

AM: Were these paid gigs?

CP: No! Often you had to pay at the place itself! Like pay $5 to do a 5 minute set. It sucked.

AM: Really?

CP: Yeah. And it would be all aspiring comedians to make the "audience"

AM: That's awfully depressing, actually

CP :Yes. And lots of the aspiring comedians were just crazy people. Could be very depressing slash hilarious.

AM: Did you meet Heather and Andrea at these pay-to-perform shows?

CP: That was for a few years I think, then once I got a little bit better, there were rooms to do that were harder to get spots on and had consistently good lineups. And I started to do them. And that's when I met Andrea and Heather. Shonali [Bhowmik] had recently moved from ATL and her band [Tigers & Monkeys] had opened for David Cross on some tour. So when she moved here she hung out at comedy places and I met her that way. She came up and talked to me about blackpeopleloveus at Rififi.

AM: Had you, Heather, and Andrea collaborated at all at this point, beyond performing at the same shows?

CP: No, just all guesting on other peoples shows. We all wanted to make short films and decided we would premiere a new short at every show (our show is monthly.) It was a really fun homey feeling and a great place to try new bits.

AM: Were each of you all directing and starring in your own shorts, or did you work together on the shorts?

CP: Together. It was my first experience with shooting and editing and basically telling a story or making jokes on film. I learned so much.

AM: So you were writing together, acting together? Did the other girls have some film making experience?

CP: I don't think much, no. And we mostly improvised.

AM: What is your writing process like for the mediums you mostly work with? Namely standup, skits, and prepared film shorts.

CP: For standup, the best jokes seem like they come up in conversation or in the shower or traveling. But also lately finding more stuff onstage. Sketch I don't do much anymore. But Bobby [Tisdale] and I used to sort of talk through ideas and improvise them, then get onstage and do them.

The Shac shorts are largely improvised but we try to discuss the overall concept and shape. And each of us will usually bring something a line or a bit or a character we want to involve.

All My Exes I scripted. I have a flow outlined and some good lines ready - but then had the exes improvise responses to my questions

AM: Is there a lot of editing after the fact for the Shac shorts and All My Exes? I would imagine more so for the latter.

CP: AME is more scripted by far and that generally made editing easier.

Shac editing has been very involved for the most part. Due to the improv nature of it, the story has often been edited together.

AM: How did you end up working with the guests in the VS shorts and All My Exes? I know some, like Fred Armisen, are involved in the NY comedy scene.

CP: Fred wanted to do it, I think. I think we all knew him, can't remember totally.

Andy [Milonakis] had been hanging out in NY a bunch and we'd been hanging and having lots of fun. I mean all the Shac guests are people we knew and one or all of us were friends with or social with. For All My Exes, Dan Pasternak [head of development for Super Deluxe] hooked me up with Jonathan Winters and Pras. I asked Fred, Amy [Poehler] and Ze [Frank].

AM: How did you get involved with the site? I know anyone can make and upload their own work but you were known on the comedy scene, like a lot of the talent recruited by SD initially.

CP: I had met Mark Krantz [Super Deluxe] in Aspen and he contacted me about it later.

AM: Did he ask you to make an original series from the start?

CP: He wanted me to get involved. I pitched some ideas, and then did Making Friends, a man on the street show, where I tried to see if I was compatible for friendship with a bunch of pedestrians.

AM: Are you still planning to do more installments of Making Friends or are you doing All My Exes full time?

CP: Both are done shooting. 3 episodes of MF and 6 of AME.

AM: Where did the idea for All My Exes come from?

CP: I can't remember, went in to talk to Mark and Daniel Weidenfeld [of Super Deluxe] about it. Various ideas and that one we all got into and tossed around ideas. It just was the one that got us all excited.

One thing I've always thought would be if you could put all the people you've dated into a room or photo. Just how funny the photo would be, just lots of different types of people, like a circus.

And I've also always thought the idea of journalists being objective was funny

so the idea of putting something so subjective (matters of the heart) and so clearly personal into this journalistic interview format was funny to me

AM: You have a lot of online projects, including your blog, the Super Deluxe series and your web projects with "The Rejection Line" & "Black People Love Us". Do you think the internet has opened a new venue for comedians who might not otherwise get much exposure outside of their local scenes?

CP: I think the internet is so saturated now that you're not really guaranteed "exposure" just because you upload a clip.

AM: Absolutely.

CP: Maybe your friends will see it but I still think you need to be talented and/or aggressive/strategic to have any kind of high impact project online. Or be a freakshow that people will laugh at or have a heckler attack you during your set, etc. The kind of things internet people will flock to.

AM: I think Super Deluxe does grants a level of "prestige" to some extent as well. If you look at the lineup of featured shows and contributing comedians compared to you know, a bunch of high schoolers spamming people's pages trying to get them to subscribe on Youtube, for example.

CP: Yeah, I think that was the idea - high quality and curated.

AM: It's interesting to see older comedians like Richard Belzer & Dave Foley who are from a generation that didn't experience the internet until much later in their lives, making videos as well.

CP: Yeah. Well, also seeing people who have exposure and have money and success. Sometimes it's almost like celebrities are trying to emulate the energy of these more DIY vid, from kids who want to be an internet hit for the exposure, for a shot at fame. But I think they are drawn to the immediacy and creative freedom

AM: Right. I think that's the biggest difference from pre-internet days-you can build up an audience without touring outside your immediate area.

I just wanted to get your thoughts on that, since you have so much stuff out there on the web right now.

CP: I have a love hate relationship with the internet but then I have a love hate relationship with pretty much everything.

AM: What else are you working on? "What's next for comedian Chelsea Peretti"?

CP: I am going to LA at the end of the month to do some shows with Fred Armisen (just opened for him in Tallahassee at FSU) and do some other stuff.

Doing lots of standup. Oh and Shac- we are working on our pilot for Adult Swim

AM: I heard about that! I was pretty excited about it. Are the four of you still in the process of writing it?

CP: Yeah, getting closer. It's really cool so far

AM: Is it all new material or is it like the Human Giant MTV series where some of the older stuff is revamped with newer stuff?

CP: Well, there's a very new feel to it in lots of secret ways!

AM: Do you want to keep it under wraps for now?

CP: Yeah!

AM: OK, that's cool. That was the fanboy in me getting all jittery. I'll try to keep him under control.

CP: Haha. Soon enough we'll see what happens.

AM: Are you doing anything more for Super Deluxe after Making Friends & All My Exes are done?

CP: I’m not sure. Possible! I have been super into standup lately but starting to mull over a few ideas for other projects.

AM: Have you ever thought about an album or DVD?

CP: I haven't thought yet about a standup DVD but someday would love to.

AM: Well, Chelsea, that's all I got. Thanks so much. I really enjoyed talking to ya.

C: Standard!

Sorry I Never Write


Man, I never write here any more. But I have a new interview coming up that I'm pretty excited about, no spoilers.
I'm going to try to write here more often, whenever I can.
In the meantime, go read Hip Hop Is Read & Metal Lungies if you want to read my spiel on a regular basis.
Stay tuned, folks.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Benshi - Wikipedia

A fascinating aspect of Japanese culture I never knew about until I read the Wiki entry for Akira Kurosawa and found out that he worked as one. Basically Benshi were people who would narrate silent films and voice dialogue depicted onscreen for the deaf.
This book on the subject looks interesting too.
Just a little random neatness for a Tuesday.

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