Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Random Notes, November 2010

+ Any time I don't discuss my improv misadventures is too long. Right now I'm in level 4 at IO, which means I'm about three months away from my next class performance. My teacher is Lyndsey Hailey, one of the most highly sought-after actresses on the Chicago improv scene and a really awesome chick. You've probably never heard her name before, but may you have seen the back of her head on occasion. She was Sophie Bush's stand-in on the second and third seasons of "One Tree Hill." In class, we've been working on Del Close's famed Harold technique --a long-form improv style that is too complicated to explain here-- with a focus on scene openings and montages. Would it be redundant to say I'm having a lot of fun?

But that's not all, folks. On Sunday afternoons I have improv with Lynz, but Monday nights are for writing. As I've mentioned before, my teacher is Nate Herman, a writer for SNL during the Eddie Murphy/Joe Piscopo years and the guy playing the wine steward in this 1982 sketch. The majority of my classmates knew beforehand about Nate's credentials, and as such most of us were too nervous to make small talk until our second or third week. Being an SNL expert of sorts, I've been especially sheepish about asking questions, but he's shared a few stories from time to time. In Writing 1, we mostly covered the art of the late night monologue joke and everything that entails (desk pieces, Jon Stewart-style rants, etc.), and in Writing 2 we've working on penning SNL-type sketches. Last week's homework was a commercial parody, and now we've moved on to movie and TV show spoofs. Nate is a very grounded, jovial guy, and he's been a pleasure to have as a teacher.

+ Early last week, Broadway Video confirmed what most SNL die-hards had been expecting to hear but didn't want to: there will be no further complete season DVD sets. In their press release, Lorne Michaels' underlings admitted that licensing for the musical guests' performances had become too expensive and unwieldy. Season 5 (the last with the original cast) arrived in stores almost a year ago, which meant the dreaded Season 6 would've been next in line. The licensing excuse is not a complete lie, though it feels like an exaggeration; Aretha Franklin and James Brown's estate might've drawn a line, but I can't imagine the likes of Kid Creole and Ellen Shipley playing hardball. (Who are they? Exactly.)

First of all, how do you market the worst 13-episode schneid in the history of the most beloved late night variety series of all time? Secondly, Lorne has all but disowned the five-year period (1980-85) in which he wasn't associated with the show, and repeats from that era rarely air anywhere, except maybe on Canadian television. Thirdly, had this set made its way to Best Buy, bootleg tape-makers would lose their only means of income, and that guy who posts Year 6 clips on YouTube would be forced to interact with the rest of society. (Addendum: when I told Nate the news, he quipped "Oh shoot. I was really hoping to get some seven-cent royalty checks.")

+ How's fantasy football going? I'm glad you're not asking. Both teams are 3-7 after Week 10, and any prospect of a turnaround is slim to nil. I've never had any roto teams in any sport struggle like this before, though sometimes I wonder if I was overdue for a comeuppance. This week, however was a unique abnormality; both of my opponents had three Eagles starters, one guy owned Michael Vick, and in spite of his career-defining performance I beat both teams. As some of you know, I'm doing okay for myself in the TV.com picks contest --I've been hovering in the top five since Week 2, and now I have a tenuous share of first place-- but I'm ready to chalk up the 2010 fantasy season as a wash.

Next Week: my sixth annual "thanks/no thanks" list.


  1. Can't say I'm surprised that Season 6 & post-etc won't be on DVD. That is a LOT of archived footage even without the musical performances & DVD format won't exist later in our lifetimes. I guess reruns will suffice from here on out. Tho if it were up to me, I'd package Season 6 & 7 together.

    Totally loving the Conan on TBS & full eps being online. Suddenly my life has meaning again!

    On an unrelated note, have you ever noticed in syndication - specifically WGN - that Family Guy reruns seem to be running at a faster pace in addition to that minute+ they cut out to fit in more advertisements? Even speeding it up a little bit could mean a few more :15 commercials. It seems it actually helps move along the pace & the Fox version seems kinda slow and drawn out.

    On another unrelated note, did you see Ken Burns' "Tenth Inning" ?

  2. A season 6 & 7 set would've been a monstrosity. 33 episodes on 11 discs-- who'd buy it?

    Speaking of SNL, I've noticed that 60-minute edits of the show have also been sped up. It gives the sketches a weird breathless feel.

    I was just about to ask you about "The Tenth Inning." It was an interesting watch, though it's funny that the Giants announcer's jinx comment is already outdated. Burns' recap of the 2004 ALCS was the big highlight for me.

  3. I was thinking Season 6 would a *very big* bonus to Season 7 :P Honestly, would any of us watch Season 6 more than twice & then dump it on Amazon? And there's only a few of us who actually want to see it.

    "Tenth Inning" was basically a recap for me having lived through all that. A bunch of memories I had forgotten & didn't really learn anything new. I remember in 1994 there were at least 4 teams that were World Series favorites, and even those probably wouldn't have won it. I'd say the Strike basically sped up the inevitable in Montreal, and there was no way in hell their Gov't was going to build a new stadium; especially the massive amounts spent & huge debt that was still on Olympic Stadium. I remember how scandalous it was seeing color top alternate jerseys in the '95 playoffs; it was just so radical you just didn't DO that in the playoffs. That 1998 Home Run Chase brought back some bitter resentment. I knew it was a fraud back then, but I still rooted for McGwire solely so Sosuck wouldn't win it. And of course, that race ended effecting the most sacred & cherished sports record all time 9 year later. If '98 never happened, Bonds probably wouldn't have 'roided up to the Nth degree & with such a vengeance.

    Cripes, 4 expansion teams in 5 years created the perfect storm in '98. That's 50+ everyday pitchers that otherwise would been in the minors now playing. And of course, every single change to the game favored the hitters & when New Comiskey was a pitcher's park.

    '04 Playoffs were fun (and I have a Red Sox W.S. shirt), but in retrospect, those Red Sox teams were tainted, and the Yankees / Red Sox overindulgence of the film is part of what's wrong with baseball now. And I don't care what Don Fehr said, the players did NOT need to strike. It's going to be very interesting what happens when the collective bargaining agreement expires next December.