Tag Archives: comedy

Perfectionism vs Progress

I have a tendency to guard myself against failure by taking protective measures.  I over-prepare for new tasks.  When my son asked me to paint his bike, I spent two days googling “how to paint a bike,” pored over every article, developed opinions on competing methods, and read reviews of different brands of spray paint before I had even picked up a piece of sandpaper.  And in the end, the bike looked about as good as every other dad-who-doesn’t-know-what-he’s-doing paint job.  This self-protective tendency stems from perfectionism.  My desire to know all the variables, plan every detail, and avoid bumps in the road often keeps me from making any progress.

So, recently, I’ve been taking small steps toward my goals, even though I can’t see the complete path.  Last weekend I took my very first improv comedy class at the St. Louis Comedy Connection.  It’s one piece of the puzzle in my goal to create Brian 2.0.  There was nothing particularly revolutionary or life changing in the content of the class, but it was ACTION.  I wasn’t just watching youtube clips, listening to podcasts, reading comedy books, or researching improv – I was actually doing it.  We learned about the about the concept of “Yes.  And . . . ” where we force ourselves to agree with our scene partners and build on each other’s choices, rather than forcing our pre-conceived notions of where the scene should go.  I need more improvisation in more aspects of my life:  Taking more risks, learning from mistakes, facing my fears, acting before the plan is complete, and pushing through the terrifying moments.

I’ve also begun working on a sitcom pilot idea with my writing partner.  It’s something neither of us have done before, but we’re sticking our necks out there and learning as we go.  We don’t have hours and hours each day to dedicate to it, so our brainstorming and writing times are done in really short bursts.  Again, though, it’s action, and it feels great.  Our current goal is to have a script done in time for a sitcom pilot script contest, which is helping us stay focused and pace ourselves accordingly.  We’re probably making a lot of mistakes, and our writing times aren’t very efficient, but we are making progress and learning.

What are you putting off for fear of failure?  Is the desire for perfection keeping you from progress?

Distractions

One of my favorite author-bloggers, Kelly Barnhill recently wrote a great post about the antics of her son and his friends entitled If those boys would stand still for five minutes, they’d write a damn good novel.  Based on their conversations, I think I’d get along handsomely with these young men:  “Okay, fine. We all speak fluent Wolf.”  “Toe jam is just the nice way of saying toe poop. No one likes to believe that their toes can poop, but they do all the time.“  “We have to stop Dr. Nimblenuts and his atomic EXPLODING ANTS!”  If I could only capture that kind of wild creativity in my own writing!

But it wasn’t so much the boys’ dialogue that struck me as much as Kelly’s summary question, “What’s distracting you from your writing today?”  My answer came quickly, as I’ve been in a distractible state lately.  Like Kelly, I have been enjoying the distractions, so I’m reluctant to move on and do the work that I know I need to do.  I have the goal of writing a sample sitcom script, and I’ve been “researching.”  I’ve read how-to books and articles, watched (too?) many sitcom episodes for inspiration, listened to several hours of Ben Blacker’s Nerdist Writers Panel podcast, downloaded script writing software, read scripts from Community, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation – everything but write my own sitcom script.  All of these activities are important and justifiable, but they’re all ancillary, and it’s time for me to buck up, face my fears, and start writing that script!

I’ll close with the same question Kelly asked, but slightly broader.  What’s distracting you from your goals today?  What excuses are you making to yourself?  Are you stuck in preparation mode, afraid to take the next steps?

Funny Friday: Top 10 Funny Things – Feb 1 2013

Ten things that I found funny this week.

1.  It’s a trap!

It's a Trap!

2.  From a friend, context irrelevant

If I hadn’t been stuffing my face with nachos, I would have been more emotional.

3.  From my uncle on Facebook

Quote of the day- “Ask a college student what they’ll be doing after graduating and they’ll tell you they don’t know. Ask them what they’ll do at the zombie apocalypse and they’ll tell you immediately and in great detail.” – a Montana Tech student.

4.  Sunbathing robots

Sunbathing Robots

5.  A four year old dance student to her teacher

Student:  “Why’d you bring beer in here?”
Teacher:  “What?  It’s not beer.  It’s Diet Mountain Dew.”
Student:  “I know what beer looks like, and that’s BEER!”

6.  I’m a sucker for Key and Peel skits lately.

7.  Baby + treadmill

Baby and treadmill

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.  I very much want to test this theory

glock-minnows

9.  I’ve been working my way through Community, and found the physical comedy of this hilarious.

10.  Not necessarily funny, but a fantastic article by Tom Ceraulo, writer for the very funny “30 Rock” about the final days of the show.

Behind The Scenes At The Final Days Of “30 Rock”

 

Brian and Stormtrooper

Funny Friday: Top 10 Funny Things of the Week

Here are the top 10 things that struck me as funny this week, in no particular order

1.  Yep.  They’re exactly the same

Amsterdam is like the Tour de France. Just a lot of people on drugs riding bikes.

2.  The mental picture this creates is beautiful

Will you hold my hair while I eat this KFC Bowl

Will you hold my hair while I eat this KFC Bowl

 

 

 

 

3. Trust Fall Fail, wrong of passage

4.  Mitch Hedberg with a great visual

A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer

5.  Key And Peele on dubstep

6.  Community La Biblioteca Spanish Rap

7.  Anonymous friend

I have to work really hard at not being smart.

8.  Patron at local coffee shop

Patron: Give me your most unhealthy, most powerful drink!  
Barista: How about an espresso or a latte?
Patron: Oh, no.  I can’t handle that kind of stuff.  Just give me a regular coffee.

9.   Love the comparison here

Ray Nagin's 21 corruption charges aren't that bad.  Like most things that are 21 in New Orleans, it's probably only 18.

10.  The “Sparks Nevada, Marshall On Mars” segment on the Thrilling Adventure Hour Podcast

The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast is my favorite comedy podcast recently.  I especially like the “Sparks Nevada” segment.  It’s got that old-timey radio feel with a touch of modern smarminess.  Warning:  You may swerve from laughter if listening while driving.

Sparks Nevada, Marshall On Mars

There you go.  I plan on making this a weekly feature on this blog, so stay tuned for more.  What did you find funny this week?  Please share!

 

Brian and Stormtrooper

Sitcom writing – What I’m up to

I started roughing out some ideas for sitcoms yesterday.  That felt really good.  I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately for inspiration, and have especially enjoyed the Nerdist Writer’s Panel with Ben Blacker where writers of popular TV Shows (and sometimes websites, magazines, etc.) sit down and talk about the writing and production process.  It’s been very fascinating and inspirational to me.  It takes some of the mystery out of entertainment writing, and reinforces for me that successful writers are real people with the same kinds of fears and frustrations that I have.

Sitcom writing really appeals to me.  It incorporates most of the elements of what I am looking for in a new career, and would be a constant challenge that would keep me fresh.  I’d love to hear from readers who’ve had any experience with broadcast television writing.  Even if you weren’t the writer, have you met or known any?  Maybe worked on a set?  Have you done a pitch or written a spec script?  Maybe you submitted something and got rejected?  I’d love to hear any of those stories.

Oh, and other podcasts that I’ve enjoyed recently, for your listening pleasure:  The Pod F TompkastThe Dead Authors Podcast, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, The Truth, and Comedy Bang Bang.  Enjoy!

Brian and Stormtrooper

Do something you love

I’m working on a new post about some possible careers I’d like to pursue, but this tweet really captured me this morning.  It’s exactly what I’m trying to do: step out of my comfort zone, take it to the next level, take a risk – whatever you want to call it.  Thanks to @ActorsComedy for the bold suggestion to do something you love or you’re terrified of.do something you love