Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spy Skills for Humorists


I love to people watch. I always have. I enjoy observing the world around me and have become quite astute at noticing nuances and details in my surroundings. The way people move throughout their day, intertwine, and separate again is an absolute pleasure to behold. 

Observation is a beneficial skill for a humor writer or comedian. To write well, to entertain well, you have to know how people talk and act - in public and in private. If you want your characters and skits to be real, then you have to be able to precisely and humorously describe or imitate what you see. 

OBSERVATION

The next time you find yourself alone in a coffee shop or at the store, sit back and simply watch what people around you are doing. Simple observation makes you privy to funny, poignant, interesting and memorable moments. Today at Whole Foods, I watched a bread guy with OCD reorganize the entire bread department, two kids taste and subsequently spit right back out cold pasta into the salad bar, and a seemingly depressed housewife stare at the pastry counter for ten minutes before flipping her hair back, turning around abruptly, and bee-lining it back across the isle to pick up a container of hummus instead.  

 
LISTENING 

Eavesdropping is easier than one might think. 

I'm not suggesting to sidle up next to someone having a whispered conversation with your ear cocked in their direction and your notebook in hand. It's way easier than that. People actually talk unnecessarily loud, which means you overhear things without even trying. 

Hearing one end of the conversation is a skit many have successfully performed because hearing words out of context is funny. The healthier your imagination, the funnier that conversation becomes. 

Using these conversations as springboards for writing material gets you out of your comfort zone and into someone else's head. 

TAKE NOTES

Write down anything that seems interesting, strange, or out of the ordinary. It's all fuel for a funny story. Sometimes a stranger might end up being the entire basis for a character or a skit. Think of Seinfeld's "The Finale" episode where Jerry, Goerge, Kramer, and Elaine witness an overweight man get carjacked at gunpoint. Instead of helping him, they crack jokes about him while Kramer films the whole thing on his camcorder. 

I'm not suggesting to do the same, but as long as there's no crime being committed, write down what people do and return back to it with a fresh set of eyes.   



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Comedienne Frannie Sheridan

 Frannie Sheridan
Frannie Sheridan defines herself as a Femedienne: 
☮ˆ◡ˆ ღ ☼ ☮ˆ◡ˆ ღ ☼ 


A Feminine comedienne who appeals to both men and women.

A Café Comic. 

Entertaining audiences with an uproarious compendium 
of relevant topics associated with the art of stand-up comedy.

Frannie keeps crowds laughing and coming back for more 
without having to resort to cursing or attack humor. 

While stand-up comedy has historically been 
a masculine-dominated craft, 
Frannie's interwoven a gentler touch that 
delights audiences everywhere she performs. 
 (◠ ◡ ◠)

MY INTERVIEW WITH FRANNIE: 


STARTING OUT:

Q1.  How did you get into comedy? 


Frannie:  I had a voice in my head that said, "Be Yourself. Tell your own stories."  Also, I entered university ahead of my peers at the age of 15, majoring in theater. I auditioned for and completed various additional training activities in theater and film, but always returned to that inner "comedic" voice. 

Q2.  What was your first experience as a comedienne? 

Frannie:  I didn't really know what stand-up technique was all about, so I performed characters onstage. I was a French opera singer addicted to whipped cream, which I hid in my purse, periodically spraying it into my mouth "taking a hit", only to turn around and immediately deny having done so. Another character I enjoyed was a bag lady who instead of hiding whipped cream, hid raw chicken, which admittedly, I ate (fortunately, I never contracted a case of salmonella doing so). Club managers and coaches applauded my originality and helped me work toward stardom. 


Q3.  When did you first start getting paid? 


Frannie:  Within 8 months of starting my career, I was offered $500 to perform a 3-minute routine before a crowd of 1000 people at a corporate gig. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite ready for the size of the audience. 


Q4: Tell us about your first big break? 


Frannie: After touring as an opening act in '96, I was approached by a theater producer to perform a dramatic solo show in a festival he was producing. I wrote and performed a show about my family, which immediately won me international exposure and attracted a legendary Hollywood director to read a screenplay I wrote about my life, which he was interested in directing. 


THE ART OF BEING A COMEDIENNE

Q5. Is there a central theme inherent in your humor? 


Frannie:  Surviving negativity. 


Q6. Who are your favorite comedians/comediennes? 


Frannie:  Richard Lewis and Rita Rudner.  I see myself as a cross between the two. I LOVE Richard's tortured struggle and his neurotic funny way of dealing with it, but I'm not as tortured as him.  I LOVE Rita's clever writing and femininity. I am not a big fan of the majority of club and television comedians who resort to cursing and aggressive put-downs (I prefer clever sarcasm). I enjoy comedians who make me laugh and simultaneously lift my spirits, as opposed to leaving me feeling like I just need a shower! 


Q7.  What do you aspire to achieve as a comedienne? 


Frannie:  I want to help pave the way for female comediennes over the age of 30 who want to create a more feminine, yet just as funny, comedy routine. Bill Cosbyetta as opposed to Howard Sternetta.  Tina Fey writes in her book, "Bossypants," about how the majority of comedy writers on Television are men - Jon Stewart doesn't have one female writer, etc. The majority of women are over 50 years old and I believe hungry for female comedy that doesn't yet exist on television! 


TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ACT

Q8.  Do you read books on humor? 


Frannie:  Yes! I read humor books, joke books, and books on humor (in general). 


Q9.  Do you keep joke records? 


Frannie:  Yes! I've got zillions of jokes, so many that I quit counting! 


Q10.  How did you come up with material for your act? 


Frannie:  I'm writing and thinking non-stop. Everything inspires me. 


Q11.  How often to you revise your act? 


Frannie: It's a never-ending process. 


YOUR UNIQUE SENSE OF HUMOR

Q12. Name a few of your favorite movies? 


Frannie:  Many of my favorites are dramas. Stories that are well-written appeal to my appreciation of the craft. Something that offers excellent acting and direction is always a treat. Double-Jeopardy, for example, offers many of these outstanding qualities...but I always loved Chaplin films (which I grew-up watching). 


Q13.  Are you active on Facebook and other social networking sites? 


Frannie:  Yes, I tweet here and there but more twat ;)


Q14.  Do you teach humor or related comedy classes? 


Frannie:  Yes. I teach now primarily by example. 

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FIELD OF HUMOR


Q15.  How has humor changed since you first started your career? 


Frannie:  I am sad to say that the club scene has gotten pretty "grotty"! It was always an attack venue, but nowadays, I see comedians and audience members literally beat each other up!  It's that attack humor that seems more prevalent. While I enjoyed Richard Lewis at a club last year, I only went because it was he who was headlining. His brilliance and professionalism set a higher standard and a different tone for the audience. 


I also LOVE that more women are involved in comedy, but we're still a HUGE minority. I believe this can and will change once we create different parameters for comedy that includes women artists. Historically, I've been one of the few hetrosexual comediennes. While that's changing, as well as political humor, there's still a long road ahead of women in comedy. 


Q16.  Have you noticed any trends in comedy? 


Frannie:  Many more political humorists have come on the scene. 


Q17.  What do you think about humor therapy and laughing yoga, or other forms of comedy for mind/body-healing purposes? 


Frannie:  I think humor therapy is brilliant!  I've considered becoming a humor therapist and employing it in my practice, but it would take me off my present career track. While I've never personally participated in laughing yoga, I think the idea is equally brilliant. 


CERTIFICATIONS, AWARDS, HONORS


Q18.  Tell us more about your related humor studies? 


Frannie:  SUNY @ Oswego.  I majored in Theater. George Brown College in Toronto, continuing theater courses. I auditioned for and was accepted into the professional training programs in Second City, Toronto and The Groundlings, Los Angeles. I also took Judy Carter's comedy Workshops in Vancouver, L.A. and Big Bear. 


I have also received numerous mayoral awards for my dramatic show, which had dark humor interwoven into it. 

My continuing education includes film studies, comedy clubs, joke books, humor studies, play therapy, humor therapy, etc. It's just who I am and what I do, 24/7. 


Q19.  What concept has influenced your act the most? 


Frannie:  Personally, tackling terror and fear, which I have done for 12 years in my solo dramatic shows. The Waltonsteins, Confessions of a Jewish Shiksa, Dancing on Hitler's Grave, are just a few. 

THE POWER OF HUMOR AND POSITIVITY

Q20.  Do you believe comedy can change the world? 


Frannie:  Yes! Comedy and positivity both. 

Q21.  Do you believe humor can heal? 

Frannie:  Without a doubt! 


Q22.  Do you believe in talking unicorns? 


Frannie:  If I didn't, I'd need to be medicated! 


Q23.  Did you have an imaginary friend as a child? 


Frannie:  Yes. And I still do! ;) 


Q24.  Do you believe there's a higher power involved in our recognition of humor? (Be that spiritual, biological, or physical). 


Frannie:  Yes. I believe it's the level of humor - the intention behind humor where the power lies - bringing about laughter, not defensiveness from being under attack. 


Q25.  Should the U.S. Government have an official Secretary of Humor post? Whom would you vote for? 


Frannie:  Undoubtedly!  As well as a Department of Menstruation... Of course, I'd vote for ME! 


WHERE CAN PEOPLE SEE YOUR ACT 


Q26.  Tell us more about your act. 


Frannie:  I've appeared in a smattering of Indies, a plethora of commercials, and quite a few television episodes.  I have written for TV and film both, and of course, there's always my live shows. I also have some journalistic credits to my name. The audio documentary, The Waltonsteins, first aired nationally in CBC, then twice on NPR, and received The Gabriel Award. 

I have collaborated with other comedians and enjoy running jokes by each other. 

For more information on my ongoing bookings, please visit my website at: 

http://franniesheridan.com/


FINAL QUESTIONS  



1. As a professional in the field of comedy, how did it feel the first time you made someone laugh? 



Frannie:  Like I'd won the war. 


2. What advice would you give someone entering the field of comedy today? 


Frannie:  Hang on, it's gonna be a bumpy ride, but it's well worth it.  Surround yourself with people who want to build you up, rather than tear you apart. Make sure to be supportive of those around you as opposed to jealous and fearful.  


All attitudes take the same amount of energy to feel and deliver, but the world really needs us to realize that there's enough positivity to go around for all of us, plus, in my opinion, you look so much more attractive when you're happy. 


Share the limelight - everyone looks better in a positive shade than drowned in a shade of jealous green envy.




Thank you, Frannie, for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your unique perspectives on humor! 



Friday, August 26, 2011

Why I Forward Emails: Chain Letter

This explains why I forward emails...

A man and his dog were walking along a road.  The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him
 had been dead for years.  He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high,
 white stone wall along one side of the road.

It looked like fine marble...

At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that
 glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent
 gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.

He and the dog walked toward the gate,
 and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.


When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered...

'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.

'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice
 water brought right up.'

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.
 'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveller asked.

'I'm sorry; sir, but we don't accept pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill,
 he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.

There was no fence.




As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside,
 leaning against a tree and reading a book.... 

'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'

'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'

'How about my friend here?' the traveller gestured to the dog.

'There should be a bowl by the pump,' said the man.

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself,
 then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back
 toward the man who was standing by the tree..

'What do you call this place?' the traveller asked.

'This is Heaven,' he answered.

'Well, that's confusing,' the traveller said.

'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'

'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates?
 Nope.. That's hell.'

'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'

'No, we're just happy that they screen out
 the folks who would leave their best friends behind.' 

Soooo. Now you see, sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding stuff to us without writing a word. Maybe this will explain it.

When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch,
 guess what you do? You forward emails.

When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact,
 you forward jokes.

When you have something to say, but don't know what,
 and don't know how.... you forward stuff.

 
You are welcome at my water bowl anytime !!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dog Physics - Steal PB&J Sandwich From Little Human

Welcome to another installment of 
DOG PHYSICS
I'm your host
REX

We've reviewed the unique opportunities to relieve your humans of tasty treats, which present themselves at family gatherings, informal parties, and the morning rush to work and school.

Today, we're continuing with our series on food stealing. You may recall that stealing food is in itself an art form that requires a basic understanding of physics. Small humans are especially attractive subjects to study. They put up the least resistance and are covered in a cornucopia of sweets (check pockets) at any given moment. 

In order to steal a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, the treat that keeps on delighting for hours after that first bite, you must ensure the target is on the ground. This minimizes resistance. 

Once the small human is seated, focus your attention on the larger humans who constantly monitor the small human and its surroundings. To determine which target to pursue calculate the vulnerability (V) of each, pursue the target with the highest Vulnerability. 

Fig. 1. Identify target for grab-and-dash plot

Three potential targets are in the backyard. Compare the Vulnerability of each then determine the necessary speed to acquire the PB&J sandwich. 



Target 2 has the highest Vulnerability. Calculate the time it takes the human to reach the target, assume a 1s delay in reaction time for human and a speed of 0.9 m/s. Then calculate the speed required to get the PB&J sandwich before the human reaches the target. 


Assuming you were successful following these simple instructions, you should look like this: 

 

Consistency and Targeted Material

My exploration of humor and laughter is targeted, but my approach isn't a straight line from A to Z. On any given day, I may find myself posting on the health benefits of humor, the benefits in improved communication humor offers, or politicians who seek out humorists for their speech-writing teams - or an entire post dedicated to the understanding of physics your dog must intuit in order to steal the peanut butter and jelly sandwich from your 4-year old.
If a humorist or comedian has made someone laugh, and if they are consistent in delivering material, then people know where to go when they're looking for a specific brand of humor. You don't want to waste people's time by writing all over the place. If I were to share a recipe for duck in my blog, it better be delivered in the context of a funny story or my readers are going to think I'm smoking something funny rather than writing about something funny. 

No matter how funny something is, it isn't funny for everyone. Targeting your material to a specific audience saves precious time delivering the wrong material to the wrong audience. 

Posting a blog often feels like blind science, especially if the comments are disabled. For the most part, the audience remains "unseen". Irrespective of whether or not you can see your audience, a blogger should follow the same rules of stand-up comedy (consistency and targeted material). Just because you can't see your audience, doesn't mean you can broadcast incoherently and expect success - Unless, of course, incoherence is part of your "act". 


In summation your honor, I believe there is coherency in my posts. Even though it feels like I'm telling a joke in the forest. 

If you tell a joke in the forest, and nobody laughs, was it a joke?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Imagination is Intelligence Having Fun


Writing funny is like climbing an intellectual Mount Everest with someone threatening to throw banana peels and tomatoes at the back of your head if your joke "stinks". 


If you can't think of a joke, consider a repertoire of "funny sounding" facts which you can stream together in Tweet fashion:
  • The man who created the Thighmaster was a Buddhist monk. 
  • Fastest-growing religion in Ireland: Buddhism.  
  • Buddhist monks at Japan's Yakushido Temple perform a purification ritual by "setting fire to their own pants."
  • It is estimated that 75% of all U.S. dollars contain traces of cocaine. 
  • There are more churces per capita in Las Vegas than in any other U.S. city. 
  • By the year 3000 B.C., there were at least six different types of beer in Egypt. 
  • The ancient Sumerians had a goddess of beer.  
  • A "beer can fancier" is called a canologist.
  • When asked to name the odor that best defines America, 39% of Americans said "barbecue." 
  • It takes approximately 92-hours to read both the Old and the New Testaments aloud. 
  • You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV. 

True, on their own, these "factoids" are not entirely interesting, nor are they entirely funny, but it's this type of exercise that can get your imagination working. To write funny, you have to think funny. 



One of the goals of humor writing is to minimize inhibition. Write freely, edit last. Jerry Seinfeld said that "the whole object of comedy is to be yourself, and the closer you get to that, the funnier you will be." 

Writing freely about what you know, adding in factoids, and looking at the world with unbridled imagination can help you train your mind to climb the intellectual hurdles we commonly place ahead of us. 


As with any career, the road to success is always under construction.





Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rodin Part 1

The Flux Thuster Atom Pulser



...time divide plus minus in one logo


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Critics claim...

"It's not a jello" 

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LOVE POTION Number 9




This energie is the only thing that comes from NOTHING

It goes out in all directions

It's irresistible

It leaves its reticulation pattern everywhere

it animates everything

without it

the Universe becomes VOID

...it's your Z-axis, okay? 

which is distinct from the surface topology of the logarithmic spiral
Okay? 
This topic will never be finished

It's like a lion, and we're gonna grab it by the tail...



The numbers are not false



...this is the Rodin coil without the parasitics...

(Parasitic: (organism) living as a parasite; 
habitually relying on or exploitingothers; 
without etymological justification)


RESISTANCE IS FUTILE...




...and what does Roger Rabbit say...



I have discovered the primary particle of the universe,
they are called moleeds

smaller than Cadbury Cream Eggs...

The number 37 is the key that unlocks the secret of the Moleeds...


This is the Master Moleed Chart. Such beautiful symmetry. 
There are 36 Moleeds. 
They are divided into 6 groups of 6 each. 
Notice how the first red Moleed "1" and the last red Moleed "36" add to equal "37". 
All 36 Moleeds demonstrate the same property. 

...and I tell you, Rodin's discovered the same rubbish...
even Shakespeare, who wrote 37 plays, knew...
Engelbert Humperdinck works 37 weeks of the year...

Mr. Humperdinct, when interviewed said, 
"Rodin's Coil: There goes my everything...there goes my reason for living." 




Numbers are the key to the universe

1 is the loneliest number in the universe






...not to be confused with 8675309






What are our customers saying? 


"Rodin's coil is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Moly of Physics" 






"Wise guys, eeh?


 ...and now a word from our SPONSOR...


GOD


Who rested on the 7th day...






which accounts for the abnormalities in our DNA




COINCIDENCE...YOU DECIDE

As for me...



...I'll be posting on this subject when I'm 64


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Small Minds of Tomorrow Presents...

The easier way to save...

. . .
 Your little ankle-biters will enjoy esoteric lessons
with their all-time favorite philosopher
PLAY-DOH



SMALL MINDS OF TOMORROW 

attracts small talent
Even Kate Gosslin's kids are attending!



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and be our 9th customer! 

Batman Retired



I love the spelling in this clip... 

My kids asked me, while watching Teen Titans, whatever happened to Batman... 

I told them he retired and went into Batmobile mechanics. 

He wrote the definitive guide on Batmobile Mechanics for Dummies. 

His wife is an interior designer, she handles all the upgrades. 

His kids didn't go into the business. 

One's an accountant, the other, a lawyer. 

The accountant is only interested in how many miles to the gallon the Batmobile gets. 

The other, whether or not someone has infringed upon the Batmobile trademark.

Incipient Humor On The Rise

Humor has conferred a sense of freedom within me, a kind of intellectual exuberance that evokes unhindered emotional responses. Composing a daily dithyramb allows me to recite, among other things, the pleasures found in lightening up. 

As I've recently discovered, the distinction between humor and comedy is as such: "Humor is considered the broader term that encompasses all types of humor material, such as satire, sarcasm, irony, and parody. Comedy is the performance of humor." 


This blog, as such, is a comedic presentation of humor studies. The preconceived notions I carry into this exploration into humor consist of personal preferences for things I consider funny, which can range from the black and white slapstick comedy of yesteryears to Conan O'Brien's late night talk show. 

Conan earns $12 million bucks a year for his efforts. Unfortunately, his viewership dropped from 2.4 million viewers during the show's first month on the air to 958,000 viewers this last July. Hence forth, NBC's recent actions.

Looks like Conan might need to contact Tiger Woods 
for some much-needed PR advice...

 . . .

A consensus in the field of comedy is that you can't teach anyone to be funny, and from Conan's drop in ratings, it appears that you can't make people enjoy it either. Perhaps it's not that people "can't be funny" or don't enjoy comedy, but rather just don't want to... 

Right now, given the economic disasters for millions of people around the world, comedy isn't top priority. It IS when you need to blow off steam, supporting Freud's "relief" theory that humor is a way "to release energy generated by repression."

However we define humor, whatever comedic packaging appeals to the masses, I'm committed to expanding my own humor-writing skills by Tweeting quotes, some of which are even humorous, posting cartoons and witticisms on my Facebook page, reading and digesting an abundance of writing on the subject, sharing what I learn in my blog, and as always, watching funny TV shows. 

Conversely, if I can't master the art of writing humor, if I can't get myself on and then kicked off of a late-night talk show, I can at least blog about my failed efforts here and then go out and buy some software to fake my way through the insurmountable task of understanding and then delivering humor to a much deserving audience who will eventually pay me to do so.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Join The Dark Side...and Get a Free Cookie!

A long time ago 
in a galaxy
far, far away...



A Rabbi, a Priest, and a Stormtrooper walked into a bar.
The Stormtrooper ducked! 


 
"Hey, point that thing someplace else" 




 "Get in (the game) you big furry oaf!" 





"I never knew I had it in me"





"Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. 
I've seen a lot of strange stuff, 
but I've never seen anything to make me believe 
there's any other beer better than this one!"  





 "Put that thing away before you get us all killed."




 "I assure you, Lord Vader, my men are working as fast as they can"



 
 "Luke, I am your father..."




Luke, I told you I'd be back...





That's the Terminator, you idiot...