August 26, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XLIV



Ew. Alison, I'm beginning to understand why you don't want your father to read my blog.

August 23, 2005

I Forgot To Write A Title For This One...

Here's a bizarre scene, taken out of context:

Man on stage: I hate black people!
Audience: [Enthusiastic cheers and applause]

Klan rally? Republican National Convention? No, this was the punchline of a sketch at a comedy show. And yes, I've taken it out of context, and yes, as a punchline in context it was sort of funny. But I ask you, what does it tell you about the state of our culture that a joke like that not only flew by without a single shocked gasp, but was actually unabashedly applauded? I mean, do these people not realise what they were clapping and cheering at?

Apologies for paucity of blog material lately. There just aren't enough hours in the day, especially now that I'm having to start my departure checklist. Back in Montreal in a week!

August 18, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XLIII

...But I Wouldn't Want to Have to Paint It

Noteworthy box office customers from the last two weeks:

•A group of students from the Etobicoke School of the Arts, a very serious high school in Toronto's favourite suburb, which Alison and her sister both attended. What's more, it turns out that these students actually knew Alison's sister; quoth the girls, "Oh, yeah! Julia! With the mole! She's so cute!"

•A trio of drunken thirty-something women on a themed hen night (this is an assumption, as they were all shit-faced and carrying stethoscopes— so either they were on a themed hen night, or the NHS has really improved their hiring practices). They charmed me in a way that only really drunk, imminently married thirty-something women can, by repeatedly calling my name in an attempt at a seductive voice, and swooping in for a kiss as I handed them their tickets. Since I obviously would never want to kiss a woman fifteen years my senior (ahem), I thankfully managed to duck to the side and get away with only an awkward hug.

•A trio of drunken thirty-something men who heckled loudly at a show, were thrown out of said show, and came down to the box office to try for a refund. Argued for twenty minutes with an increasingly large number of staff (me, assistant box office manager, front-of-house manager, our two enormous bouncers), before one of them was actually picked up by the shoulder by one of the bouncers and carried into the street.

•A pair of proud parents with a child at Emerson College (Emerson College being the reason this blog is called exBostonian, for those of you who weren't paying attention). Which I guess isn't all that noteworthy, I just thought it was effing weird.

•The biggest jerk in the world, who has tried four different times to buy a student ticket from me, each time using the same excuse: "I've lost my wallet with my student card in it." Now, this may well be the case, but the fact of the matter is that people try and scam student tickets at the box office all the time, so we really have to have proof of student status, and "I lost my wallet" just doesn't cut it. And while a reasonable person might accept that we need to maintain some kind of standard of evidence, Jerky McPooface just can't let it go. He's tried several tacks so far, including the retarded "Look, I can tell you which university I go to" (as if ability to name a university proves you go there); the surreal "Jesus, what's your problem, do you want everybody walking around with a chip in their heads telling you every detail of their lives?"; the faux-offended "What, you think I look too old to be a student?"; and, most often, the plain old irritating "I am a student. I AM. I AM!." And the thing is, if he had just been nice about it to begin with, I would have done it for him. Dickhead.

•A woman with pierced cleavage. Just think about how conceptually bizarre that is.

I'll leave you with that.

August 17, 2005

Big Sister is Watching

From BBC NEWS | Entertainment: Buerk attacks women broadcasters

Being from Canada, many of readers will probably be unaware....

No, wait, I can't start like that.

If you are about my age and grew up in Britain, you'll remember the gentle old man who used to present the Nine o' Clock News on BBC One. Well, as it turns out, that gentle old man is actually a frothy-mouthed coot.

Michael Buerk this week started raving like a drunken vagrant about how the "shift in the balance of power between the sexes" has gone too far in the direction of women. Men, claims Buerk, are nothing more than "sperm donors" these days, in a world where women "decide what we see and hear" in the media.

Other appalling social trends, selon Buerk:

•Good ol' fashioned, penis-lengthening jobs like mining and manufacturing are no longer the backbone of British industry that they once were.

•Many jobs these days involve skills like multi-tasking that women are "a lot better at".

•Products are actually made and marketed specifically for women. Imagine!

"Some people," said Buerk, probably referring to puerile simpletons and deluded chauvinists, "might argue that this is a case of the pendulum swinging over the woman's side for a change."

Yes, Michael, that's right: now that women have their own market niche, they wield a vast and oppressive power over the cowering sperm machines of the evil oestrogenical conspiracy. It doesn't even matter that, say, women get paid less money than men to actually buy the products that are so aggressively marketed to them. Nope.

And, yes, women clearly control the media. That's why they're spending thousands of pounds getting their vaginas surgically altered to look 'better'. Obviously any media imagery that makes women feel like they need to mutilate their genitals must come from other women! See, girls are just dumb like that.

Jesus. I would love to rant about this more, but I'm late for work.

August 14, 2005

Department of Terrible Segues

Overheard on a radio documentary:

"Being Canadian, Oscar [Peterson] probably had no idea that, at the time of his American debut, there was a full-blown communist hunt going on in the USA.... [explanation of McCarthyism that seemed disturbingly dumbed down for Radio 4 on a Sunday evening]".

Right, because Canada is so well-insulated from US culture that news of goings-on south of the border rarely make it to mainstream Canadian consciousness.

I mean, what the hell kind of segue is that, anyway? Granted, coherently linking Oscar Peterson to McCarthyism is probably not the easiest thing in the world, but why would you write a documentary about Oscar Peterson and McCarthyism in the first place?

--

Producer: I want to do a documentary series about the great jazz musicians of yore.

[pause]

BBC executive: The great jazz musicians of my what?
Producer: No, you know... The great jazz musicians of... yesteryear.
BBC executive: I see.
Producer: Also, I think that would be a good forum in which to discuss notable moments in American public hysteria.
BBC executive: Hold on, let me just take a sip of my brain-damaging juice, here...

--

Man, somebody really needs to stop giving brain-damaging juice to those high-ranking media executives! (PS. How was that for a callback? Am I learning stuff from hanging around comedians all day, or what?)

--

A particularly scatological show on at the Underbelly has decided that, to promote themselves, it would be a good idea to fashion a giant pile of fake poop out of papier mâché, place a speaker inside that giant pile of fake poop so that every ten or so seconds, it says "Hello, is there anybody out there?", and then leave the talking fake poop in the box office. Needless to say, this is hilarious for about ten or so seconds, so we took its batteries out. Besides, if any of the other performers had seen it, they would have complained that the talking poop was an unfair advantage to that show, and then we would have had a whole room full of talking poops (I'm not kidding— the performers actually walk around the venue counting posters to make sure they don't have less than anybody else. It's sophomoric. Much like talking poop).

--

How hypocritical is it that I called this post 'Department of Terrible Segues' and then moved from topic to topic using nothing more than two dashes?

--

The end.

August 12, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XLII



It's funny, because he's a sociologist.

August 11, 2005

You Know Where It's From...



...Being straddled by women in their underwear, apparently.

Actually, the photo is misleading— that's his mother.

Zing!

August 08, 2005

Hanky Spanky

Saturday was my day off so I had a big Fringe day; comedy in the afternoon, theatre in the evening, and more comedy at night. The first comedy (Howard Read: The Little Howard Appeal) was a very inspired stand-up/animation show, in which the stand-up interacted with a pre-animated and recorded cartoon character projected onto a screen behind him. It was very creative and very, very funny, marred only by the enormous technical difficulties he had (both his computers crashed twice during the show).

The theatre (The Lad Lit Project) had been one I was really looking forward to— a collection of stories told by men about how they see and experience the world around them. Unfortunately, it was irritatingly over-theatrical, which really ruined the whole thing for me. See, there was really no need for it to be so theatrical, which made me feel like they were purposefully trying to make it harder to enjoy for people who don't know a lot about theatre. Which is pretty fucking stupid considering their self-professed aim in producing the show was to celebrate the common experiences of everyday men.

And finally, late-night comedy at Spank!, the Underbelly's nightly comedy/music cabaret. Well, I say cabaret, but that probably makes it sound classier than it really is, considering:

1. I witnessed three couples attempting to beat the Guinness world record for 'Biggest fraction of somebody else's face fit into your mouth at one time'.

2. One of the acts invited a particularly vocal heckler on-stage for a fight… And the heckler obliged.

3. Three different acts did yeast infection bits.

4. A performer trying to promote his show stripped naked on stage and proceeded to dip his penis into a pint of beer.

That said, the appeal of Spank! lies in the awesome headliners they always manage to book, and despite the copious amounts of sleaze, I did enjoy seeing four or five acts that I otherwise wouldn't have made it to. And really, having to watch a grown man douse his genitals in beer seems like a small price to pay for that.

--

Adrienne, you're in the blogroll now. Sorry for the delay, but after spending all that time rejigging my template last month it makes me cry to even think about looking at CSS— so I had to wait until I had an particularly large amount of mental fortitude.

August 06, 2005

Hedonistic Calculus

Fringe days elapsed: 3
Shows seen: 4
Ticket costs: £0
Weekly wages: £200
Net gain: Freakin' awesome

Since that first awful, awful show I saw on Wednesday, every successive show has been better and better. I'm optimistic that at this rate, by the end of the Fringe I will simply walk into a venue and instantaneously explode with joy.

First up on Thursday night was 'An Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman— Exposed!'. The whole (one-man) show was just one big meta-joke, a sort of 'Behind the Music' documentary about those classic joke characters and how they came to be so famous. It was a neat idea, and cleverly done, though there were few really great gags and I thought the performer should have worked more on his accents considering they were pretty much the basis of the entire show. That said, his closing gag was pure genius (but it wouldn't work for me to explain it here, and besides, I wouldn't want to give away his best joke).

After a quick trip home for dinner and a change of clothes, I headed back to catch 'Janey Godley is Innocent'. I can't say anything bad about this show, mainly because Janey Godley is an immensely likeable and endearingly foul-mouthed Glaswegian woman— but partly because she's also served jail time for involvement in a murder and is married to a real-life gangster, and I wouldn't want her to send someone after me. My favourite line: "What's up with women who bake? Fuck that! Just buy a cake and spend that time touching yourself and eating chocolate."

Then, tonight, I caught the first performance of Guy Pratt's 'My Bass And Other Animals'. Pratt is a professional electric bass player, who's backed up the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson, and David Bowie, and his show was basically an hour of him telling stories about being a bass player and, occasionally, playing some bass. Which may not sound that entertaining, but his delivery was perfect and his stories were surprisingly sharp— not the usual sort of name-dropping rubbish that the description might suggest. Easily my favourite show so far.

And, in the meantime, I've just been tapping away in the box office, occasionally taking time out from behind the desk to:

• Grip with terror to worryingly wobbly ladders
• Act as hired muscle while my boss took money to the bank
• Be generally bemused at the slapdash way in which the venue is run (eg. the directors deciding they didn't like the sign they'd ordered after all, having a new one rushed in; eg. the bar manager complaining because somebody had, unbeknownst to him, ordered 1,500 beers that were surplus to requirement; eg. performers patiently listening to the box office staff explain procedures in great detail, then flagrantly disregarding those procedures at their earliest convenience; etc., etc.)

Fun.

August 05, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XLI



You may think it's the easy way out, but it's actually quite a challenge coming up with ways for great 18th and 19th century thinkers to make 'your mom' jokes.

August 04, 2005

Oh, Alright...

I walked into the bathroom at work yesterday, and there was a clown just calmly standing at the urinal. And then, last night, while I was at another venue taking advantage of my staff show pass, I went to the bathroom and saw Elvis just calmly standing at the urinal.

Combined, those two sightings were at least five times as funny as the stand-ups I saw last night, who spent most of the show pacing the stage and saying "Shit, I'm not very funny", or "Shit, this isn't going very well", or "Fuck, there are only, like, three people laughing." These were not nervous mutterings to themselves— this was part of their 'act', such as it was. Additionally, one of them was stumbling and umming and ahhing over his delivery so much, the audience actually yelled out his punchlines (sometimes even their own punchlines that were better than his) regularly for the entire time he was on stage. The other was getting so flustered that he got the techhie to turn all the lights off, which I think was meant to be a planned 'bit', only he then left them off for the rest of the show, which wasn't very funny at all. But I think the high point of the evening was when the second guy told a joke that completely flopped— like, not even a chuckle— and he responded by saying "Shit, I was banking on that one to close."

Ah, the Fringe.

August 03, 2005

Worrying Search Referrals, No. 9,883

This page is ranked number forty-four in a Yahoo! search for "bulging Speedos".

Does anybody except me actually care about this stuff?

--

The extremely astute among you will have realised that I have, by now, started my job at The Underbelly— and you may well be wondering why I've remained quiet on the topic, given the doubtless hilarious things that must happen when a major Fringe venue is built in four days. The answer is, I would really hate for one of the 200,000 tourists in town to Google 'Underbelly' and find me on this site writing unofficial things about it. This may seem overly cautious, but given:

a) multiple precedents involving blogging employees being reprimanded by their employers, and
b) the fact that 'bulging Speedos' made it on to a search engine in a matter of days

I'd rather stay mum for now. Consider this incentive for you to actually talk to me and hear my hilarious anecdotes first-hand.

August 02, 2005

Spoem

A valiant piece of spam made it through my multiple filters the other day, advertising a service to meet amorous ladies in my vicinity. The main body of the message was a charming animated GIF ("You're here, She's there... Adult ActionCam lets you bang her"), but this was followed by a startlingly poetic block of text:

"conducive is chimique niobium but barrier not papyrus jugate.
Here contravene sexual may blutwurst and acanthus clothier, save not quantile."


Gertrude Stein, eat your heart out!

August 01, 2005

He Should Have Pretended It Was A Pizza

In the years that they've been going to Sardinia, my parents have befriended an Italian family with kids of a similar age to my two little brothers. The father is a hulking brick shithouse of a man, an ex-pro athlete who now teaches high school gym (and believe me, you wouldn't want to see him in your gym class any more than you'd want to see him down a dark alley). Even his voice booms in a way that makes it more or less impossible not to do whatever it is he's suggesting.

I don't mean to suggest that he's not a lovely person, just that he's a huge and intimidating-looking one.

My experiences with him:

1. He came over and helped my dad make fire for our barbecue.

2. He wrenched a water-heater from the wall with his bare hands. (Well, okay, I don't know for a fact that he only used his bare hands or that he did it by himself— all I know is that one minute it was attached to the bathroom and the next minute it was lying in our front yard.)

3. He discussed with my dad the relative merits of different ways to build a mosquito screen.

In short, he was stereotypically masculine in pretty much every way imaginable. So imagine the cuteness involved in him prancing around on the beach in a tiny Speedo fumbling helplessly with a Frisbee (I know the Speedo thing doesn't sound 'cute', but it was, in the way that ridiculously small versions of everyday objects usually are— especially with 200 pounds of shoulders sprouting out of it). It was just so funny to see this huge, authoritative guy using all his carefully-honed skills to launch a frisbee, and have it wobble and flop pathetically to the ground about twenty feet from where it had been aimed. He'd never played frisbee before and clearly was having trouble working out the mechanics of how to make it do what he wanted to— and every time he'd throw it, he'd do it with this hopeful look on his face because he thought he had finally figured it out, and then it would just fizzle and die.

And then the sun set: