Sunday, February 27, 2011

Are you a "comedy nerd?"

Much like Music Snobs there are a flock of people called Comedy Nerds.  While some people (like me) don't necessarily like being called Music Snobs, most Comedy Nerds are proud of the label.  Here are a few traits:
  • They know not only who tell the jokes, but also who writes them
  • They are interested in influences of comics
  • They are interested in "comic trees" (i.e. Writers of 1 specific show that have branched out)
  • They consume hour long comedy podcasts in massive quantities
There are more traits.  I can't exactly list them because I think I'm a Comedy Nerd in training.  It's become a new passion of mine.  How did this all get started?  For me at least?
I got into Kevin Pollak's Chat Show.  My obsession with KPCS has been documented.  That podcast (that flirted with a pay option, but is free again) really got me interested in the process of comedy.  I found the specific paths of comics extremely interesting whether it be from training at Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade or from hitting the road as a Stand Up.  Or, and this is a very legitimate theory, I just enjoy conversations that involve funny people.
Regardless, here are the comedy podcasts I listen to every week. (Note that every one, as of February 2011, is free to download from the iTunes Music Store):
  • Kevin Pollak's Chat Show: It's video.  It's also the most well produced and "professional looking" of all the podcasts I subscribe to.  It's Charlie Rose with humor and profanity.  Episodes usually run close to two hours each - posted weekly.
  • The Nerdist: The more established comic of the three is Chris Hardwick (the other two hosts are Jonah Ray & Matt Mira).  The show is much less interview-y and more conversational.  The easiest way to describe it would be to call it, "A conversation you wish would also involve you."  They are posting two episodes a week (one featuring a guest).
  • Comedy Death-Ray Radio: This is Scott Aukerman's podcast.  Knowing that name is a good litmus test of whether or not you are a comedy nerd.  The man was a writer on The Larry Sanders Show and Mr. Show.  I didn't know this, and it kept me from listening to this podcast for the longest time.  Mr. Aukerman has since formed Ear Wolf studios, which records many podcasts and runs a very popular stand up comedy show in LA by the same name.  The show is about 90 minutes every week, and is the closest of all these listed as an original radio program with recurring games and characters.
  • WTF with Marc Maron: Could me the most famous of the genre, or most well respected.  The best blend between "interview" and "conversation" you'll find in comedy podcasts.  It's also the most raw, unfiltered, talk you'll hear.
  • Sklarbro County: If you ever liked Cheap Seats from ESPN Classic's past - you need to listen to this show.  A lot of sports story-related  comedy, but also consistently has funny guests.
  • Doug Loves Movies:I'm listing this last only because I think it's the most difficult to explain.  A bunch of stand up comics tangentially talk about movies, play something called "the Leonard Maltin Game" and rif jokes throughout.

    Not listed is Jimmy Pardo's "Never Not Funny" and "Pod F. Tomkast" by Paul F. Tompkins.  I'm not saying that those two are not funny, but I'm not listing them in the above list only because I'm not currently subscribing to them...  But I know people that listen to, and enjoy, both of them.

    Long story short: if you're looking to fill 6-9 hours of your week listening to funny people - check these out.  I recommend scanning past episodes to pick a show featuring a guest you already know to start.

    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    If an 8 year old (who doesn't know me) can, why not you?

    8 year old TQ

    (You know I'm going to Sri Lanka at the end of July, right?  If not, please click here to read the post explaining why.)

    There have been a few frequently asked questions about my Sri Lanka trip:
    When are you going? [July 29 - August 15]
    Was Sri Lanka known as something else? [Ceylon prior to 1972]
    Who should I make the check out to? ["BTCV"]
    How much should I donate? [?]

    That last question is disarming.  It makes me very nervous.  The entire process of soliciting donations is humbling and humiliating.  With most awkward moments, I usually stoop to poor comedy.  Thus, my common response to that question is: "Since I probably won't have any kids asking you to buy Girl Scout Cookies, whatever you spend on Thin Mints would be more than appreciated."

    Which brings us to Nolan. (the other kid pictured in this post, anonymity protected through inelegant clip art)

    I don't know Nolan.  Before last Wednesday, I didn't even know he existed.  He is an 8 year old grandson of a coworker who lives northeast of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

    8 year old Nolan
    He donated four dollars, cash.  Needless to say when his Grandmother (a coworker who I can't honestly describe as anything more than an acquaintance, if that) handed me an envelope with "TQ" addressed in crayon, I didn't know how to react.  After getting back to my desk and opening the envelope, to see four $1 bills inside, I e-mailed Nolan's Grandmother for an address to send a proper Thank You.

    Thankfully, she replied with the story of his donation (along with his picture):

    I gave him some money for Valentine’s Day and he gave it to charity.  He took me on a “date” on Saturday for ice cream and he gave me the money he had left.  When I wouldn’t take it, he said he would put it in my purse when I wasn’t looking.  That’s when I mentioned what you were doing and he was excited about giving it to you. 

    When I was 8 years old I was in my first year of Little League afraid to swing a bat.  I watched The Huxtables and was annoying my high school age sister.  I'm fairly positive if I had four dollars I would've bought another Micro Machine, not given it to a stranger.

    The going rate for Thin Mints is around $4.  If Nolan donated $4, could you as well?

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Can the same person enjoy Teen Dream and Teenage Dream?

    be your teenage dream tonight
    I've renamed the playlist a few times now.  It's currently listed as "Super Sweet Sixteen Dance Party Mixtape."  The latest song I added is embedded below, a version that can be downloaded if you so choose.  In the last 48 hours I've been sheepishly reaching out to people that have always been champions of bubblegum pop and the like.  In every case the people have been really happy to hear that I'm deconstructing my high horse of music tastes.  It started with a bang of dynamite, and got rolling when I got a hold of Rihanna's latest effort.

    Tonight was the real tipping point after two others loaned me Far East Movement and Katy Perry.  The Teenage Dream album was a very difficult guilty pill for me to swallow.  One of my favorite albums from 2010 was Beach House's Teen Dream, which as you can imagine spawned a litany of poorly set up jokes at Mrs. Brand's expense.  Thankfully, I've learned something very  healthy in the process: letting go of hate is a wonderful experience.  Who knows how long I can suppress my sarcastic and cynical leanings, but I'm done wasting effort explaining why I don't like the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga... (especially when I see my friends' two daughters rock out to "Boom Boom Pow" or another friend's daughter singing "Telephone").
    Infinite Dream - The White Panda by Suburban17

    On another note, I'm happy that I can show a Perry thumb nail for a post on the heels of the Bieber Plea.  Between people clicking there and here, I'm hoping I'm covering all the bases to get people to eventually read the most sincere post I've ever written.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    What would Bieber do?

    Baby, baby, baby, oh!
    (The following is fake.  After seeing another charity post a picture of the sixteen year old heartthrob hoping to piggy back on his fandom, I thought I'd try the same.  I do not know Mr. Bieber, and I mean no harm towards him or his following)

    To my crazy amazing fans,

    It's been quite a couple days for JB!  Man, I was so psyched to be sharing the Grammy Stage with my main man Usher - what a thrill!  I like exclamation points!

    But then I had to sit through Esperanza Spalding winning the Best New Artist Grammy - that sucked.  We really thought we had it, but don't worry, we'll get it next year.  At least my fellow Canadians Arcade Fires won the big prize.  I loved their performance because they had bikes on the stage with them - cool!

    There's a lot of haters out there on Esperanza and The Arcades, and that's not Bieber-cool.  In fact, we should all take our frustration and turn it into something positive... Like donating to this guy that's twice my age who's going to a place that even I haven't been to!

    I read his blog post and was inspired!  You should read it too!  You should donate!

    Calling all Beliebers - crack open your piggy banks, sneak cash out of your parents' wallets, and start donating to the cause.  Baby, baby, baby, oh it's a great cause!

    Never say never,

    [P.S. Hey TQ, I'm too young to have a checking account, so I can't write a check payable to "BTCV" and send it to you.]

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Do you throw your hands up in the air sometimes?

    This post is to make a confession.
    An omission of a guilty pleasure.
    After hearing the following song last weekend at a swanky Valentine's party and last night at a WestEnd birthday party, I feel comfortable admitting to the world that I love "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz.  If you're with your friends, and people are out there dancing, when this track starts beating you just have to surrender to it.  Yes, I prefer Radiohead.  Yes, I tend to get snobby in my musical tastes.  Yes, it's a song that MySister works out to during Roomba / Zoomba / Pillati-yogi / Whatever... Whatever.

    Also, as long as I'm on this topic, I now look to incorporate the phrase "fly like a G6" more into my vocabulary.  But when I do, it's only slightly ironic.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Why would anybody go halfway around the world?

    Donations can be made payable to: BTCV

    The flag of Sri Lanka: an island nation of the coast of India
    I am going to Sri Lanka this summer.  More descriptively, my sister and I are going to Negombo, Sri Lanka for the first two weeks of August to restore the classrooms of a school in need.  The construction will include a new roof, screens, doors and a playground.

    My parents have had an interesting time updating their friends on the lives of their children.  They have an accomplished teacher daughter who consistently volunteers her free time to help others... and a son that annually voyages to Las Vegas.  Our parents can finally be proud of us both!
    (update: my parents have let me know they have always been proud)

    I would not have acquired a passport and began planning a trip to the other side of the world if it wasn't for MySister (the preferred anonymity-abiding nomenclature).  She's the best sister one can ask for and I'm looking forward to embarrassing her on another continent - without creating any kind of international incident, for this is a humanitarian trip.
    This summer I will be going halfway around the world
    Sri Lanka is slightly larger than West Virginia
    A venture such as this is completely new territory for yours truly, but something MySister has been doing for close to a decade.  In years past she has jetted off to far away lands (i.e. Costa Rica and Mozambique to only name two for there are more) for multiple organizations (first Habitat for Humanity and now Be The Change Volunteers).  MySister met the founders of BTCV during one of her Habitat for Humanity Global Missions, it is an organization that provides volunteering opportunities benefiting foreign schools.  As a son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend of many teachers - it is why the organization appeals to me.  I have seen many teachers devote more than just a career to improving the lives of children and this summer I am going to step outside my selfish comfort zone to create something tangible for the benefit of children currently unknown to me.  My impact on their lives will hopefully lead to a better learning environment, but I have zero clue how they will affect my future.

    This is my opportunity to have an incredible lifetime experience.  This plea to you has been delayed because, although I'm quite the verbose personality, I wasn't sure how to share this with all of you.  Please contact me if you are interested in donating on my behalf.  It is my own responsibility to get there and donate my personal labor.  Knowing me,  you can be safe knowing you'll get your money's worth at the conclusion of this adventure in the form of a story.  Charitable gifts are tax deductable because BTCV is a validated 501(c)3 nonprofit organization (Tax ID# 26-2435157).  Click below where it says "Please contact me" to ask me where to send your charitable donation.

    Thank you very much for both your time in reading this message and in advance for whatever you donate... ~TQ
    Please contact me if you have any questions.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    How will my week in Vegas differ from The Bachelor's?

    Aria: one of the newest Vegas properties
    As of this Wednesday night, it will be exactly six weeks until my [triumphant?] return to my most favorite city - Las Vegas, Nevada.  Earlier tonight I watched Forrest Cowboy Bachelor Gump spend a few nights there... Our stays will be drastically different.

    There will be no shopping spree in which I'm in a montage-ready fashion show with well timed "stepping out of the changing room simultaneously" moments.  No $5,000 purses will be purchased.  And although I do intend on walking through that mall in City Center, I won't be gleefully chasing a woman who doesn't realize what aspect of Pretty Woman she is emulating up an escalator.  Fireworks will not make me happy.

    I will not be wasting time driving around in circles.  Even if there are multiple beauties dressed in similar uniforms to cheer me on as I drive around in circles.  And if I, by unseen circumstances, have a one on one talk with a sweet blonde haired mother of a child named after her dead racer fiancee I won't make her take a few laps in a race car with fresh tears not yet dried.

    Cirque du Soleil will have zero role.  More importantly, I will have no role in a Cirque du Soleil production of a jumpsuited icon.  I will not take two girls with the same name out to dinner.  If by some stroke of luck I get the opportunity, I will attempt to prevent a strange (VERY STRANGE) over side-burned roadie type mysteriously barge into their hotel room to make luggage disappear.

    My show will be set - only for brief moments - in The Palace, not the Aria.
    The only crying will be during a Marquette basketball game, by me - not any of the women I encounter.
    Any sexual pun you'll hear will refer to burgers instead of fireworks.
    A phone call will be placed to wish MySister a happy birthday, not to my life coach.
    I want a flush of hearts at the Wynn, not to flush the hearts of losers.