Saturday, January 30, 2016

Comedy Lessons Part 2

Here we are at week 2 of my comedy lessons.

If you're just joining us, just go back and look at last week's description.  Jeez, I have to explain what's going on?  Again?!  This is like the first chapter of every Harry Potter book:
Harry stopped in front of a mirror. He immediately noticed his green eyes, lightning-shaped scar, and crazy hair he got from his parents who were supposed to be killed in a car accident but were actually wizards (or a witch and wizard, as some liked to say at Hogwarts, the magic school - cf. Durmstrang and Beauxbatons) who were killed by Voldemort -- a terrifying dark wizard who wanted to rule the world for no well-explained reason.
"Harry, why are you staring at the mirror?" Hermione said.  Hermione was an unusually bright girl who is described as unattractive, but really was.  Harry felt no romantic feelings for her at all in spite of the fact that he was a teenage boy and had "romantic feelings" about everyone around him, including several of the house elves (for more on house elves, see paragraphs 10, 18, and 35 below).
He thought about how awful it was they called her a "mudblood." A mudblood was a witch born of non-magical parents and the Death Eaters -- wizards who ate at McDonald's -- wanted to kill them all because...
Well, you get the point.

Okay, so that's not the point.  The point is I'm trying to be funnier, so I'm taking lessons from a book.  Specifically, Teach Yourself Comedy Writing by Jenny Roche.

Today's lesson:

Exercise 1
Okay, 20 is a bit too long for a blog post, so I'll stick to 10.  Also, the only written sketches I've seen are... Well, they're not funny.  So, I'm going to post sketches I do like (and link clips so you can share in my incredibly good taste).

Monty Python
Cheese Shop Sketch  There's no cheese, but he'll try to guess what they have for hours.
Fish Slapping Dance  Grown men whacking each other with halibut.
Four Yorkshiremen  "Kids have it good these days" with one-upmanship ad absurdum.
Undertaker  Slowly moving from a somber moment to an absurd proposition.
Eulogy for Graham Chapman (not a sketch, but perfect)  Humorously roasting the dead (see sketch above).

Steve Martin
The Love God  Giving dating advice when you know nothing about it.
Holiday Wish  A man making a smarmy holiday bit admits what he really wants out of life.

Irish Language Lab  Two jokes: (a) Irish is basically English and (b) the teacher loses his mind.
Boot to the Head  A martial arts expert slowly loses his patience with an annoying student.
Welcome to Hell  The Devil greets new damned souls to Hell, and divides them into groups.
Michaelangelo's Last Supper  Michaelangelo has absurd ideas of what makes a good religious painting.

Exercise 2
You know what?  I'll save this for next week.  I'm all tuckered out from linking sketches.

Hm.  Odd phrase, "tuckered out."  Can you be tuckered in?  Tuckered over?  Just tuckered with no preposition?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Comedy Lessons Part 1

I've been working on this blog for eight years (at least, that's what it says on the title graphic).  After all that time, I've come to one, stark realization:

I'm not funny.

My most popular blog posts are either about serious issues (marginalization of women, gun control, Candy Crush) or had sexy pictures in them (mostly me in Speedos).  The point of this blog was to help me improve my humor writing, but after eight years of trying I have to accept I need help.

Enter Teach Yourself Comedy Writing.  It's a book that's been sitting on my shelf for years.  Like Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and How to Create a New Identity, looking at it made me feel like I'd learned something without actually reading it.

I've decided to stop procrastinating and do the comedy lessons.  I'll share them with you here because you will find them humorous and illuminating.  Also because I can't think of anything else to post.

Here goes.

Lesson 1

Exercise 1:
I'm going to talk about things I own only.  I could make fun of a Salad Shooter, for example, but I don't have any experience with them.  Yeah, they sound silly, but how and in what way?
  1. Toilet AugerA long pole with a tube inside it you use to push clogs through your toilet. Essential when you have large children and small toilets.
  2. Range Hood
    Related to kitchen fires from poor chefs.
  3. Toolbox
    Mine is filled with more things than it can hold, most of which I've never used.  Anyone need a Torx screwdriver?
  4. Display Cabinet
    If you have kids, they're full of art supplies instead of... Well, what would you display, anyway?  Fine china? Crystal figurines?  Yeah, if you have kids those mysteriously disappear to be replaced with fragments of fine china and crystal figurines.
  5. Electric fake fireplace logs
    'Nuff said.
  6. George Foreman Grill
    They still sell those.  People still buy them.  Nobody uses them.
  7. Fitness equipment
    Adjustable dumbbells, stretchy bands, foam rollers, PVC tubes, boxing gloves and handwraps, Costco-sized boxes of Gatorade.  All covered by insurance.  All gathering dust.
  8. Flowers?
    There are funny flowers?  I heard of one called Phalaenopsis.  It looked like a penis.
  9. Foods?
    Hm.  We have almond and coconut flour.  They're masochistic replacements for normal flour.  Imagine eating chewy sand.
  10. Halloween candy
    You have to find a place to hide it from the kids so they don't eat it all at once.  You have to find a place to hide it from yourself, because eating your kids' candy is the definition of a bad parent.  Since nobody knows where the candy is, it gets lost for three years.  When you find it, it's hard as a rock and covered in green fuzz.  The kids won't eat it.  It's yours.
Exercise 2:  Famous people
I have two problems with making fun of public figures:  
  • don't keep up with popular culture.  Few things depress me more than People Magazine.  Who cares about the lives of actors or reality show participants?  More importantly, who cares so much they want candid shots of stars walking down the street in sweatpants and sunglasses?  I can understand looking at People at a doctor's office, but if you have a subscription, seek therapy.
  • I watched this impressive interview with John Cleese.  In it he was asked about the enduring popularity of Monty Python.  He pointed out Python didn't poke fun at contemporary figures, so it was still funny after decades.  He has a point; I'm sure jokes about Lilian Gish or President Taft were hysterical at the time, but who would get them now?
So, I'm going to skip Exercise 2.  I don't know enough about Kanye West or...  


Vincent D'Onofrio?  Is he famous?  

See?  Not my thing.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Meme Career 3

Her: Hi, Matthew.
Me: Hi.
Her: How's the blog going?
Me: Not so good.  I can never find time to work on it.
Her: It's another meme week, isn't it?
Me: Sigh.

Friday, January 8, 2016

New Year's Jelly Bean Jar

Every year I post silly New Year's Resolutions.  I have real resolutions as well, but fake ones are more fun.  Nobody expects you to travel around the world in a hot air balloon or get elected president.
Seriously, don't keep that resolution.
I've decided to do resolutions differently this year.  I've decided to write them all down.
Write down my New Year's Resolutions!
Yay!  I'm done.

Okay, fine, I'm not done.  Here's my real list:
Finish things
  • Novel
  • Audiobook
  • Games
Stop arguing with idiots online
Yay!  I'm done.

Of course, I'm going to fail at them all because they're too vague.  Let's try that again:
Work out three times a week 
Work on the new novel every day until it's uploaded. 
Finish the audiobook for the old novel 
Finish games  
Finish Kingdom of Adventure 
Convert Flash games to HTML 5  
Learn Clickteam Fusion 
Create Bubbleoids 
Instead of arguing online, think of all the time you could spend being outside, spending time with your kids, cleaning the toilet, cutting off your ears with a dull knife or any of the more enjoyable activities there are in the world
It's better, but it's more likely that, come December, I'll shrug my shoulders, and give up.

I need accountability.  I need a penalty.  I need something like the Marital Jelly Bean Jar
The Marital Jelly Bean Jar is a way of ruining marriages fun game you play with your spouse.  When you're married, get an empty jar.  Put a jelly bean in the jar every time you have sex.  On your first anniversary, start taking a jelly bean out every time you have sex.  On your second anniversary you get a divorce you find out how much your sex life has diminished and can plot how long it will be until you get a divorce how your relationship matures from passion to sad regret companionship.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Resolutions Jelly Bean Jar.

Every time I fail to do a regular resolution, I write a minimum of two sentences about why I failed. 

Two complete sentences.  It's like High School for willpower.

Anyone else want to try this?  Anyone want to go back to High School?  Come on, High School was fun, right?  No?

What if I threw in cheerleaders?
"N-E-W-Y-E-A-R speeeells resolutions you're probably going to break!"
Good.  See you all in 2017.