SNL Layers

I just finished watching this week’s 2014 Christmas edition of Saturday Night Live. It’s odd to feel cheated that hardly any celebrities showed up this year. The only cameos were three former SNL Characters – so far anyway.

The demographically perfect boy band One Direction is actually growing on me. They were not bad, as I expected, given that I’m over 40. It’s supposed to annoy me. I’m nearly grandpa age.

The sketch that made me stop the playback and blog, as the one set in the past, with three “dames” in a bar who seem quite bat-shit crazy. The conclusion actually had a way to explain it for a quality ending, at least to me. It made me smile. I won’t are it’s rare that I enjoy an SNL sketch through to the end, but it’s not unheard of. 

However, the part that most impressed me, was how hard the sketch must have been. This entire show has really had a lot of hard song and dance numbers. It always amazes me how well these talented people are able to pull a song and dance routine in 4 days, and still pull it off with precision.  In my head, from my history with community theatre, the first few weeks are still horrible… but I suppose 3 days is easier than 1 day every week for three weeks – in some ways.

 

The part that impressed me, was a swinging song sung by two of the women, and Ammie Adams. Although not dancing, the lyrics were jibber jabber read from cue cards and yet they sang all three together without error.  I want to believe it was a live take, because it’s Saturday Night Live, but back stage shows have implied some times they play the dress rehearsal versions.

In any case – they did it – twice. Well. It made me smile on two levels. Giving respect to the dedication and practice, or the amazing talent of people doing things I tell myself I could never do.

That kind of live comedy show with minimal rehearsal is an amazing skill. Saturday Night Live is a success because it’s done live. I hope that never changes.  All other sketch shows are comedy. Saturday Night Live is theatre.

It was always my dream. I never wanted Second City. I wanted to be on, or write for Saturday Night Live.

Since I can remember, I’ve liked scripts. I think it stemmed from my two first editions of the Holy Grail first draft and movie script, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I first read as the original radio show scripts.

With undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, I grew a fondness to sketch comedy rather than long form scripts. I wrote sketches. As a kid, I watched every single sketch comedy and variety shows on TV, and in the 70s, there were a lot.  Everyone had a variety show, and I watched them all, from Any Wiliams to Jim Stafford to Shields and Yarnell to Avery and Shriver and even the singers and Bobby Vinton too…

Saturday Night Live wasn’t just sketch comedy. It was theatre like my Mom did, up on a stage with fake sets and an audience. Plus, it was restricted to late night, so you had to be older that me to stay up late and see it.  I missed season 1 live, but starting with season 2, I don’t know that I ever missed an episode. Our early VCR was Beta, so I sometimes missed the the last 30 minutes, because they only recorded one our.  I fast forwarded past 70% of the musical acts I think. I love music, but live music on TV doesn’t’t hold my A.D.D interest past the first few bars when I see the set furnishing.

Number one on my buckers list has been Saturday Night Live for 30 years. I literally have dreams of being there, and have every year since I was 15. Usually something horrible happens… I had nightmares about giant lobsters that night.

I may have given up more than half the things I used to watch on TV. I’m watching less, and my PVR was filling, but I always like to watch Saturday Night Live each week I can, usually on Sunday.  Live-ish. I have never given up on them, and their Doctor Who-like cast changes. I’ve never complained about one cast over another.  I love the concept.

It’s similar to South Park, in turnaround. Each is about this week’s funny… and yet, they stand up in time.. at least a few a season make the highlight DVD for future generations.

Thank you Saturday Night Live,m for being a part of my life story, and tonight’s Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bully Movie gets bullied – and we act shocked.

News story: SONY pulls THE INTERVIEW from it’s schedule. It will not release it on Christmas day because there is fear that North Korea may retaliate. The film is a comedy mocking their leader, and describing a plot to kill him. A plot not to unrealistic, and probably not far from the truth. The spy world has been known to use celebrities in the past.

MV5BMTQzMTcwMzgyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzAyMzQ2MzE@__V1_SX214_AL_I have written about our BULLY society in other blogs. This is an excellent example of a bully film, and the way one person (or a country) reacted. Not everyone accepts being bullied, or mocked in public with a chuckle. This news just broke, and the social media is starting to complain about how awful it is that a movie may be censored and we may not even get to see it because we’re afraid of how the North Korean leader may react. People are scared. Sony is scared.

There are always many ways to look at any situation. I may or may not believe the following rant fully, but there certainly is another viewpoint to be heard, and my brain always likes to think up both sides of any scenario. It does not surprise me that this film may not see release. When I first saw the ads for it months ago, I actually thought it was a parody, and not a real film. I couldn’t believe people would make such a mean cruel film.

Sadly, we live in a bully society where comedy often makes fun of people. Late night talk shows open with a constant flow of jokes attacking both famous people and innocents. YouTube sores to 6 million views when somebody falls down in the street in an embarrassing way. We laugh at them all. Slipping on a banana peel can make you world famous today.

A big publicity script that sends celebrity American spys to kill a foreign leader is a bully film when they use real names. I don’t understand how the concept was green lit to begin with. It’s a real man. If we made a film about how to kill Barack Obama, we might be thrown in jail, even if performed as a comedy.

This movie may have been equally funny had they made it a fictional country and a comical funny leader but they chose to actually make a film about trying to kill an existing sitting leader of an actual country, and mock him and make 90 minutes of jokes at his expence.

Then, everyone acts shocked when this upsets him. It is not totally surprising that a world leader, especially one known to be egotistical to the extreme, and one who values his image of power above all, would object and take action to stop it. This movie was a slap in the face bully move. Mean.

I’m not saying I agree with the terrorist-style atacks on Sony. I think the media treated them poorly too, and I agree with those who say it should not have been reported the way it was… but to say we are not even partually to blame is wrong. If you poke the bear, you can’t complain when the bear tries to eat you.

The Artist Thirds

I go to a lot of places where artists show their work. Not so much official art galleries, but smaller marketplaces and shows. Festivals and public displays where artists rent small booths and try to sell their paintings or jewelry or other hand made work. I enjoy these events and like the idea that I often get to talk directly to the artist creators in person. I almost never have the money to spare to buy this kind of artwork, and in many cases, even if I did, I probably would not. I don’t wear jewelry, and I don’t use pottery or trinkets much, but I still enjoy the conversation, and respect the artist skills.

One of the things I like to say to an artists, is that I believe they have 50% talent and 50% patience, and I don’t have enough of either to be like them. I offer respect to not only their skill, but the incredible time and dedication it takes to do what they do. I like to let them know I understand the time they put into their art is appreciated. I tell them when their work made me smile, and I understand it’s not all about the cash. I can’t give them money for whatever reason, but I can give them the gift of knowing their work made someone happy, and they are appreciated for the effort spent.

2014-12-14 14.12.01This past weekend, I was at event called; “The bizarre of the bizarre” and it showcased a more unusual or odd side of art. Lots of skulls, and twisted designs with weird styles. Stuffed plush Zombies and other sculptures and paintings that fit the description bizarre. Even if I didn’t like the content, I still wanted the artists to know I respected the work. I tried to compliment everyone on their skill, even if I didn’t especially like the blood and gore of the piece.  For the works that had obvious time consuming obsession, I used my line; “I always say an artist has 50% patience and 50% skill”. I certainly couldn’t sit still long enough to do this sort of thing.”  It often opens them up to talk a bit about how long it did take them.  More often than not, the effort is shocking, and you begin to realize artists need to do it. It is their expression and their passion and their release.  60 hours of work may only sell for $30.

I try to respect the craft, even when a small part of me sees artwork I consider easier. Things the back of my mind says; “I could do that” or even has the nerve to think; “I could do that better”. I know myself well enough to know the truth. Even if I could do the skill, I couldn’t do the patience. I’m, not great at discipline, and although I may be able to start such a project, my attention would wander and it would lay unfinished.

Sometimes art makes me sad in this way. Since I was a child playing mind games, I would often ask myself; if I could have one talent I don’t have, would it be to play music, or to be able to draw. I usually choose drawing. My life would be so different if I could draw. In truth of course, my life would be different either way. The life – and brain of an artist is different than mine. I should not be sad that isn’t me. An artist is a different kind of person, and al to often in the past, I have criticized or belittle it.

Today, this blog was inspired because I clicked a link, and was watching another one of those time lapse – or perhaps they call them hyper-lapse movies about the city I live in. A video set to music that showcases Toronto. There are a lot of them out there, and the first one you see is amazing. You watch it all. After the 5th one, they seem similar, but no less special. Just less watchable for me. I not only lack the patience to be such an artist., I sometimes lack the patience to be a spectator too.

In any case, this time I watched the video with a sadness. In my head, I was thinking that photography is one of the easier art forms. A specialty of seeing, and using technology to capture a mood. I was a photographer. I had training, and an excellent eye. I had equipment. I was good – years ago. As I watched this video, I didn’t see anything spectacular. I just say photos, and video clips set to music. The package was pleasing but (in my head) nothing I could not do. It made me sad I could not be an artist, even when I had the pure skills.  I was missing something.  Not just patience, but the ego. The confidence.

I herby amend my standard artiest breakdown statement.  An artist is more than 50% patience and 50% skill.  I will now split them into thirds, and add the third that is perhaps most key;  1/3 confidence.  A true artist not only has the skill and the ability, but the ego to say their finished product is art. Many people can play the guitar, but only some have the inner confidence to call it art.  Many people can build a sand castle, or turn a pottery wheel, or take a photograph, but some of us – rare special people, call it art – and stick a price tag on it. In some cases, the ego is so powerful, it borders on arrogance, but even bad artists have fans. If you tell me your drawing of a dog is art, I believe you.

No matter how bizarre it may be.

Art is patience, talent and an attitude.  Artists have a mindset.

So now there are three reasons I don’t think of myself as an artist, and that’s ok. I know I’m good at things they may not be. Maybe they can’t remove a virus off their artist computer, or design their own web site. Maybe they even think to themselves late at night; “Gee… I wish I understood Windows 8 like that guy does.” In their eyes, they may even think I have such patience, talent and confidence when they watch me zip my mouse around the screen.

Everyone is different, even when we’re the same.