Saturday, September 29, 2007

Observation of the Day

How do people in China spell their names when they're on the phone to telemarketers? I know it's already hard for me to do it, when a C can sound like a G or T or a V. Do Chinese people just yell into the phone "My name is Chan with a tree symbol. A tree symbol! That's tree with four slashes. FOUR SLASHES! Ugh, damn outsourcing!"

Friday, September 28, 2007

"I Am Not A Crook!"

Today was a really weird day. I got a semi-late start and because of a confluence of influences, I ended up going to see a free comedy show in lower Manhattan. And every time I go to a show I've never heard of before, I always write down the name of the show, the name of the producer, and the names of the people on the show. I do this for a couple of reasons.

(1) Because I have a really shitty memory. If I don't write something down, I will instantly forget it. And I write down everything. Seriously if you were to go through my notebook, you'd see addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, lists of e-mails I have to send out and things I need to buy. You'd probably even see a "Remember to breathe" every couple of pages.

(2) Because I like to google comics and see other things they've done. Yes, it's sad to spend an afternoon e-stalking comedians but if I find a comic I like, I always want to find out other shows they've done or check out clips.

(3) And this is the saddest fact: So I can assess the feasibility of asking to be on the show in the future. This may be a shocker to you fans (well, fan) but I'm not "passed" at many (any?) major shows. And the odds of getting a spot on any comedy show is directly proportional to the number of television and radio credits you have. So if I see a show comprised of comics who've got hour long specials on HBO and a Sirius radio credit, I can say "Fuck it!" and not ask and look like a fool if I'm rejected.

The show itself was really good. The comics were funny and there was some nice observational humor. With the exception of the gaggle of drunk-tards I had to sit next to, I had a really good time. Towards the end of the show, I realize I have a better chance getting my face on a billboard in Times Square than being on the show, so I slip out when the headliner gets on and prepare to go home, e-stalk, and remind myself of why I chose to not be doctor to pursue comedy.

And on my way out I run into the producer and host who ask for my name and then tell me that's notetaking is not allowed. I didn't even know I did anything wrong so I say I'm sorry, I just wrote down some info about the show, but I didn't write anything incriminating. And they ask to see my notebook. I readily hand it over and I'm freaked out and apologizing heavily, because I don't want them to think I stole their jokes. And it's completely embarrassing because they see that I wrote down their names and the words "No TV credits = I'm fucked." Plus, I kind of zoned out partway through the show and wrote down a laundry list of things I need to do (as I said, I forget things I don't write down).

I'm not offended at all; in fact, it's a really good policy to have. But I feel so mortified. I mean, it would never occur to me to steal someone else's joke. Who does that?--okay bad question. But who would blatantly take out a notebook and write down jokes? How does that even translate? All my jokes consist of personal stories; it would be impossible (and ruin my integrity) to do someone else's material. Plus, it's New York City. I mean if I were doing someone else's jokes I'd be caught really quickly.

Now I feel like a dumbass because I never even thought there was something sketchy about a guy taking notes at a comedy club. I just assumed that's what people do. I remember a friend suggesting to me that I should try to seek out comics I like and get the names of the people who run shows you'd like to be on. I go to comedy clubs like they're seminars; I always try to get the names of the people I enjoy and filter out the rest. Which is a newbie-ish thing to do, but hell I've only been in the NYC comedy scene for a year and there's still a lot for me to learn.

I've already pissed people because I have no idea who they are, and now I'm in trouble for trying to learn more about comedians?! Sigh, I just don't even know what to do anymore. I feel like I shot myself in the foot with this show because these producers either think I'm a weirdo loner or a joke thief. And I don't want either of these labels.

So to the guys who run the show, I really didn't know I couldn't write things down and I'm sorry. I would never ever steal jokes. And if you ever see me do one of your jokes, you have full permission to beat me up and take my lunch money. Also for good measure, I ripped up the pages I wrote down. Which means I can't directly address this to you since I forgot your names...and I also may forget to breathe.

Seriously, my bad. I'll invest in gingko biloba and leave the pens at home. And if I ever get a TV credit that's not a game show, I hope you guys would be kind enough to consider me and put that embarrassing scene behind us. Also, wonderful show!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Old Article: Worst Week Ever - Fanboy's Complaint

Here's an old article I wrote in response to the release of X-Men 3:

We’ve recently cleared the halfway mark of the double zeroes and it been a good decade for comic book companies. In the 1990s superheroes were so played out, and anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the Justice League was relegated to the loser table at the cafeteria. But now, in the time it would take for you to say “Let’s go, bub,” a comic-adapted movie will be coming to theatres near you. Fantastic Four, Sin City, X-Men, Batman, Punisher—hell even the Man-Thing got a made-for-TV movie. I wouldn’t have a problem with the revival of comic book movies except for one minor hitch—they all suck!

This issue really started nagging me when I heard about X-Men 3 coming out in theatres over the summer. Considering I had seen the first two X-Men, I was less than thrilled. See, I have to admit something—I am a big X-Men fan. I keep tabs on these characters as if they were my children. I could tell you every sex partner Cyclops has ever had, I could list every non-mutant member of the team. As a hardcore fan, I get offended by the horrid bastardizations portrayed on the screen. Any characterization done is painfully one-dimensional and the plotlines are so bad even a five-year-old can see its flaws. The major franchises suck any interest and depth out of a character in order to condense him or her down to a tight leather suit and a catchphrase.

Normally I’d worry about other things (like finding a job or graduating) but one of my favorite X-characters is going to appear on the big screen: Psylocke. To the average layman, she’s best described as “that Japanese chick with the purple hair, psychic knives, and a British accent” but to a fan she is so much more.
Understandably, the plotters can’t get into her history, which is at best convoluted and at worst incomprehensible. While her body is Japanese, she began her life as a British Caucasian telepath and sister to famed superhero Captain Britain. Later on, she has her eyes ripped out in her brief stint as a solo superhero, was kidnapped by a fat television-crazed mogul and given bionic eyes, joined the X-Men, died saving the world from an interdimensional demon, resurfaced in Australia, picked up some nifty armor, died again escaping cyborgs, was reborn and taken into custody by a Hong Kong kingpin allied with a mystical cult leader, forcibly switched bodies with a Japanese assassin, died again saving the X-Men from a feral psychopath, was reborn via mystical means, lost her psychic powers, gained telekinesis, died again to a Spanish nutcase, and was reborn (in her Japanese body) by her mad reality-warping brother. And that’s just the abridged version. (And for you curious folks out there, yes I will devote massive amounts of brain space to remembering this but will still forget to call my parents on their birthdays.)

I fear that when she makes it to the cutting room floor, she’ll become “sexy no-personality villainess for Wolverine to stab.” It has precedent, check out Lady Deathstrike in X2. Did she have lines?—No. Did she have a history?—No. Come to think of it, she was also Japanese. And we had a Caucasian (or blue) counterpart in the first X-Movie—Mystique. Arguably, she was better developed, but not by much.
I can’t even get into the liberal misinterpretations in other Marvel movies (Typhoid Mary is a member of the Hand? Spider-Man can hold up the side of a building?? The Kingpin is black???). I try not to be vocal about it because the laymen will complain: “God, you’re being so anal. Can’t people have their own opinions about a character?” Of course they can—if the characterization at least remotely resembles the premise. What makes Spider-Man so loveable has nothing to do with raw strength (which he doesn’t have—he’s a scrawny lightweight in the superhero muscle department), but his ingenuity and agility (traits he rarely exhibits in any of the movies). The concept of Rogue isn’t that she’s some shy teenager with space issues; it’s that she put her first boyfriend and a superhero into a coma and any sort of contact can kill. Wolverine, though—he’s pretty much spot on as a hairy berserker.

So yeah, comic book nerds are having the worst week ever. But the people who really deserve a foot in the ass are the faux-fans who clamor for more of this bastardized garbage. All you wannabe geeks and hipsters want to prance around in your Ziploc tight pants and black-rimmed glasses pontificating about how cool you are because you like “alternative stuff” that would get kids beaten up in junior high. Stop appropriating and learn the franchise! Don’t act like you are a know-it-all on comics because you can pronounce “telekinesis” correctly. Stop pretending your Urban Outfitters graphic tee is from the Salvation Army (I know that had nothing to do with my point, but it needed to be noted).

And hey, Marvel and DC, do your share for the die-hard fans. Quit with the antiquated morals. Please stop with the soliloquies on how great power and great responsibility go hand in hand. If I wanted an after-school special, I’d buy a School House Rock DVD. All that “Love and Piece” crap is real cute, but I want to see some hardcore kick-ass fighting, combined with a decent storyline that doesn’t have plot holes you could drive a tank through. Also, hook Halle Berry up with some decent lines. If I hear “What happens to a magnet when it gets struck by lightning?” I will fly to Hollywood, slap every screenwriter, director and producer and demand my money back.

In the words of the ineffable Stan Lee: ’Nuff said.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pretty White Kids

So the CW has a new show called "Gossip Girl," which is a ground-breaking high concept show about rich white socialites with drug problems. Which is...amazing because I don't think we have enough of those shows on the air *cough*Sweet 16, Newport Beach, The Hillz, Real Housewives, everything on Bravo*cough*.

Honestly, can there be just one full-hour show that deals with relevant issues...or showcase (gasp!) a minority?!! Why do people keep repackaging the same bullshit drama? Between this show, Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, and One Tree Hill, I just want to rename every show on the CW "Caucasians are Crazy." I feel like nothing would be lost in translation.

This is just plain disappointing. I seriously suspect that the CW just stands for Cool to be White. I feel like now the network that represents me is The Weather Channel. At least, they make passing references to Jamaica, even if the reference usually is "A hurricane has recently blown through Jamaica."