Historectomy – Brexit edition

Those who do not learn from history represent 100% of the human population.

We have plenty of examples where ignoring history has preceded disaster, and in some cases, preceded a very similar event or process. But correlation does not indicate causation. For one thing, I cannot think of a single example where someone stood up and cited something from history, thereby averting a disaster.

That said, I adore the study of history and so playfully offer the following commentaries on recent efforts to “make Britain great again.”

GreatImmigrationLordy

 

 

Writing for puppets

Monty meets Muppets!

Monty meets Muppets!

As some of you may know, I am one of the comedy writers for a sketch show called SomeTV!, which is currently in production in Toronto. As our godhead Nic likes to describe it, the show takes the no-sacred-cows approach of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and combines it with the playful anarchy of The Muppet Show (no hubris here, eh?).

Now, for some, that may sound like the greatest writing gig ever. Those some have clearly never written for puppets.

Human actors—or as we call them, Fleshies—can be tricky enough to deal with. Prone to completely misunderstanding the point of a scene or sketch, they tend to have difficulty learning lines that make no sense to them.

Luckily, their natural insecurity, despite the outward facing ego, means that they can be molded into subservience, if only in two- to five-minute chunks, the longest most are willing to go without checking their make-up or cell phones for calls from their managers.

At their core, Fleshies are the rhesus monkeys of the performance world, clinging to each other for some semblance of affection but ultimately willing to give that up for warmth and sustenance.

Not so puppet actors, aka the Felts or Felties.

Flesh v Felt

These are the apex predators of the performance world and should always be treated as such. Sure, they look cute and cuddly, with their giant heads, bulging eyes and disarming colours, but that’s exactly what they want you to think.

You don’t write for Felties so much as start a sentence that is perpetually interrupted with ideas or lines the bastards think are smarter, funnier, crazier.

Fleshies forget their lines because they’re not too bright…Felties “forget” because they are malicious egotists.

Adding to the challenge is the near-impossibility of figuring out a Feltie. He, she or it is the poster-child for multiple personality disorder.

You think you’re writing a scene for a young Spanish girl, when out of nowhere a tall Jovian Codswadder shows up to take the scene in an entirely new direction. (To this day, the only thing I know about Codswadders is they come from Jupiter, where given the crushing gravity, their height makes no sense.)

Not the home of young Spanish girls

NOT the home of young Spanish girls

It’s like dealing with someone with hyperactive comedic Tourettes, and trust me, I’ve taken enough improv classes in Toronto to know what that looks like.

Felties are also astoundingly lazy creatures. Sure, they look frenetic on the television screens, but in reality, these buggers will literally not lift a finger without someone doing it for them. Our show has an entire team of Feltie fluffers whose entire job is to see to the every-last needs of these freaks. We’re talking major OCD: obsessive-compulsive demands.

Trust me, the dictionary writers of the world have the concept of “puppet master” completely backwards.

Masterclass

To be fair, the Felties do sometimes come up with lines that are funnier than the stuff I wrote. But on the flip side, they get away with lines that no intelligent Fleshie could ever hope to pull off.

This has two impacts: 1) the Feltie doesn’t have to try very hard to get a laugh, and 2) they can be as crude, rude and insulting as they want, knowing everyone just thinks “awwww, how cute”.

There’s a reason you don’t hear a lot of puppet radio programs…the shit they come up with is repugnant.

NPR = Nasty Puppet Radio

NPR = Nasty Puppet Radio

So, why do I stay? Why do I continue to write for these self-glorified hand-warmers?

Most days, I don’t know.

But then the rent comes due and I realize that my best chances at succeeding as a “comedy writer” is to have my words (or some semblance thereof) come out of a Feltie’s mouth…and those lint-sucking leeches know it, too.

 

SomeTV! is being produced by Lemon Productions Inc.

Like us on Facebook: SomeTV!Lemon Productions Inc.

Follow us on Twitter: @SomeTVNews

I can do better than that

Almost a year ago, I had the opportunity to substitute teach a class of would-be advertising copywriters at a local community college. I was quite excited because it would give me the chance to talk to people at the beginning of their careers, while they were still fresh with anticipation and ready to take on the world.

Out of the gate, I let them know a little about myself and background, and then went straight for the “So, what made you decide to become a copywriter?”

To a person, the response was largely the same: “Well, I saw so many terrible advertisements and knew I could do better than that.” I am extremely happy to report that this was not all that they had going for them. Each was amazingly talented in his or her own way and it was a great couple of weeks.

But their original motivation hangs in the air, like a persistent echo that refuses to die.

No matter what our art, I would not be surprised to find that out that we have all said at some point in our lives “I can do better than that”. It’s only natural. It is how society has raised us.

I would like us to stop, however, because I fear it is killing our spirit and therefore threatens our art.

First, it’s just negative thinking on a topic for which we do not have a full understanding.

Having worked in advertising for a few years, I have a much better understanding of the great divide between what we came up with creatively and what finally made it to the magazine page or television screen. Trust me, the average ad you watch bears almost no resemblance to the original concept.

And even if my head exploded a little at the thought of the movie Piranha 3DD, I have to give the writers and producers some credit for getting it made and into theatres. They’re well ahead of where I am with my screenplays, which currently sit on my laptop computer and in a few competitions.

But more important than simply being the “why can’t we all just get along” guy, I think we denigrate our own efforts by focusing our attention downward.

Art should inspire and the artist should aspire. We shouldn’t look down and sneer. We should look up in awe at works that truly stir our hearts; that shake us to our artist core and make us strive to be better.

If all we do is attempt to be slightly above the dirt, then we merely set ourselves up to be the target of the next person in line.

If, however, we push ourselves to reach further, attempt more, climb higher, then there is every reason to believe that we will be the one who inspires the next person to stretch beyond our grasp.

I don’t want to write a screenplay that’s slightly better than Walk Like A Man. I want to write one that surpasses The Usual Suspects.

I want to write sketches funnier and more pointed than Sid Caesar and Monty Python.

I want to take the most beautiful photos that tell the most intricate stories, using every other photo as my muse.

By looking up, we become a lightning rod for our art, attracting the energy and inspiration that drives our passion. Looking down, we shut ourselves off from those same spirits, blocking out the positive input that surrounds us.

Simply in aspiring to something greater, we raise our art and therefore ourselves to new levels. And as difficult as each incremental step may be, the rewards are exponentially greater.

When we look up, we are bathed in the light of our truth. Looking down, we see only the threatening abyss of failure.

Aspire or expire, the choice is yours.

The sheer scale of these falls was only overtaken by the thought that they followed a geologic fault separating Europe from Greenland.

The sheer scale of these falls was only overtaken by the thought that they followed a geologic fault separating Europe from Greenland.