Tag Archives: comedy

Film Review: ‘BRAND: A Second Coming’

BRAND: A Second Coming chronicles actor / comedian / activist Russell Brand on his journey from addict, self-proclaimed narcissist and Hollywood star living in the fast-lane to his current, and unexpected, role as political disruptor & newfound hero to the underserved. Criticized for egomaniacal self-interest, Brand injects his madness in to the world and calls for revolution.  He stays the course with an irreverent courage that inspires a new generation of activists to rise up against the ever-increasing world engorged in Consumerism.

Can Brand rise against the roar of criticism from the very system that built him? Does he have the fortitude, resilience and commitment to keep up the fight?  Will he find true happiness which has eluded him since childhood?  BRAND: A Second Coming takes audiences behind the scenes of this wildly complex man for an intimate look at what drives Russell Brand as he continues to be the consummate disruptor.

BRAND: A Second Coming is a feature documentary produced, written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Ondo Timoner (Dig!, We Live in Public).

Review:

Watching a documentary that spills on the psyche of a man with a clear Jesus Complex proved to be fascinating. ‘BRAND: A Second Coming’ takes the audience into an intimate room with Brand while whispering to us behind the scenes secrets on how fame can be used as a platform in driving Brand’s brand of change.

I’m always been weary of politicians or celebrities who shout their messages a little too loudly and stage manipulative media events to further their perpetual parade. Is this Brand’s shtick or is there something else airy?

‘I’m living this life that I detest. Vapid, vacuous celebrity’.  But does he really detest it as he practices yoga and rubs elbows with the most enlightened?  Will hanging out with these few only help his platform of a spiritual revolution and a global change?  Is this an act of narcissism or an earnest individual looking to make a difference in a crumbling economic world?

Katy Perry is also seen in a different light from her 2012 docu-film ‘Part Of Me’ where Brand also appears and chronicles their break up. Observing two celebrities one on the rise with bubble gum and unicorn shades versus the other with a clear sense of struggle and ongoing darkness was a neat glimpse into their back story.

Stubbornness, loud mouthness and cheekiness aside, Brand has the hootspa to follow through on an epic docu about himself while also creating haphazard messaging that comes from an earnest place. Bless.

http://www.brandthefilm.com/

Book Report: ‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari

A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation’s most popular and sharpest comedic voices

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

Review:

If you’re looking for a check list book on the dos and don’ts’s of dating, ‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari is not for you. This book goes a deeper than the conventional dating handbook you may find at the self-help section of your local bookstore. Don’t plan on standing at your book store ramming into your brain as many anecdotes as you can while sipping your café mocha. You need to make an investment into your dating life and buy this book.

‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari explores our deepest fears, why we choose to make the choices we do in the early stages of dating, how we interact with potential partners and the emotional turmoil that unfolds in the early days of getting to know someone. Think school science project experiment gone awry.

‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari threw me after my first few chapters when I was met with more than gags but the substance to back those gags up. I truly enjoyed reading about guys and girls psyche through the new lens of revolving digital technology.

As an adult who is pretty tech savvy, I sometimes wonder if going old school and talking on the phone is the best way in getting to know someone. Those were the good old days when you could reveal to your potential new mate, your wants, dreams and desires. It took time and it felt great similar to getting a handwritten letter in the post. These days with text messages, Facebook adds Twitter follows and Instagram stalking – I have come to realize that dating is becoming crowded with superfluous judgy data when you are just trying to get to know someone. Enough so, that you can cut them off without really giving them a try. Do I really want to know all of your business after one date?

‘Are we ‘hanging out’ or going out on a date?’

Another thing that really pisses women off is when dudes ask them to ‘hang out’. The lack of clarity over whether the meet-up is even an actual date frustrates both sexes to no end, but once it’s usually the guys insisting, this is a clear area where men can step it up.

‘It’s becoming too common for guys to ask girls to ‘hang out’ rather than directly asking them on a date,’ said one woman. ‘I’m not sure if it’s because guys are afraid of rejection or because they want to seem casual about it, but it can leave one (or both) people unsure about whether or not they’re even on a date.’

When you are forward in this regard, it can really help you stand out from the crowd. A girl from our subreddit recalled meeting a guy at a loud party: ‘After I left he texted me, ‘Hi [name re-dacted], this is [first name, last name], we’re going on a date.’ His confidence, straightforwardness, and refreshingly gentlemanly approach (vs. skirting around ‘let’s hang out some time’) made for an incredible first impression and had a lasting effect.’

You maybe scouring Amazon on a Friday night wondering why he hasn’t texted back after you know he read your text or why she blocked you on Twitter. ‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari will numb the constant running dialogue that can take you out and provide you with not only permission to try something different but to have a laugh at the comedy of what is ensuing. Think of it this way, in only a matter of time you will be relaying these scenarios to friends in a pub.

‘After the Ask…’

So you’ve fired off a successful text, or maybe you’ve just received one. If you are one of the growing number of people evaluating and making plans with potential romantic partners via text messages, the games are just beginning. Unlike phone calls, which bind two people in real-time conversations that require at least some shared interpretation of the situation, communication by text has no predetermined temporal sequencing and lots of room for ambiguity. Did I just use the phrase ‘predetermined temporal sequencing’? Fuck yeah, I did.

In one of four first focus groups, a young woman, Margaret, told us about a gentleman she’s met at work. He sounded charming and she was definitely interested in him. I asked to see her text exchanges and immediately noticed that his name according to her iPhone, was ‘Greg DON’T TXT TIL THURSDAY.’

So it was clear why these texts were important. These early communications could be the determining factor in whether she would one day become Margaret DON’T TXT TIL THURSDAY and make a family of little DON’T TXT TIL THURSDAYs of their own.

Margaret later explained that the last name she gave this guy was not his name but, in fact an extreme step she was taking to avoid sending this dude a message for a few days, so as not to seem too eager and to ultimately make herself more desirable. The fear of coming off as desperate through texting was a common concern in our focus groups, and almost everyone seemed to have some strategy to avoid this deadly pitfall. There is no official guidebook anywhere on texting yet, but a cultural conscious has slowly formed in regard to texts. Some basic rules:

  • Doesn’t text back right away. You come off like a loser who has nothing going on.
  • If you write to someone, don’t text him again until you hear from them.
  • The amount of text you write should be of a similar length to what the other person has written to you.
  • Carrying this through, if your messages are in blue and the other person’s messages are green, if there is a shit ton more blue than green in your conversation, this person does not give as shit about you.
  • The person who receives the last message in a convo WINS.

‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari is a perfect summer essential read. Read it before summer’s end!

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/317123/modern-romance-by-aziz-ansari-with-eric-klinenberg/

Book Report: ‘Sick In The Head’ by Judd Apatow

From the writer and director of Knocked Up and the producer of Freaks and Geeks comes a collection of intimate, hilarious conversations with the biggest names in comedy from the past thirty years—including Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Roseanne Barr, Harold Ramis, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Lena Dunham.

Before becoming one of the most successful filmmakers in Hollywood, Judd Apatow was the original comedy nerd. At fifteen, he took a job washing dishes in a local comedy club—just so he could watch endless stand-up for free. At sixteen, he was hosting a show for his local high school radio station in Syosset, Long Island—a show that consisted of Q&As with his comedy heroes, from Garry Shandling to Jerry Seinfeld. They talked about their careers, the science of a good joke, and their dreams of future glory (turns out, Shandling was interested in having his own TV show one day and Steve Allen had already invented everything).

Thirty years later, Apatow is still that same comedy nerd—and he’s still interviewing funny people about why they do what they do.

Sick in the Head gathers Apatow’s most memorable and revealing conversations into one hilarious, wide-ranging, and incredibly candid collection that spans not only his career but his entire adult life. Here are the comedy legends that inspired and shaped him, from Mel Brooks to Steve Martin. Here are the contemporaries he grew up with in Hollywood, from Spike Jonze to Sarah Silverman. And here, finally, are the brightest stars in comedy today, many of whom Apatow has been fortunate to work with, from Seth Rogen to Amy Schumer. And along the way, something kind of magical happens: What started as a lifetime’s worth of conversations about comedy becomes something else entirely. It becomes an exploration of creativity, ambition, neediness, generosity, spirituality, and the joy that comes from making people laugh.

Loaded with the kind of back-of-the-club stories that comics tell one another when no one else is watching, this fascinating, personal (and borderline-obsessive) book is Judd Apatow’s gift to comedy nerds everywhere.

Review:

Eddie Vedder:

A crazy thing happened the other night. My daughter likes to listen to this ukele record that I did – she goes to bed to it, and especially if I’m not around, at least I’m there playing her to sleep. There’s a sad song about sleeping by myself or something and it was pretty intense. She started by asking me, you know, “What’s that song about? Why are you singing that?” And I said, “Oh that was before I met Mom,” and the whole thing. And then she started bawling. She said, “It’s so sad, it’s so sad.” I had to comfort her, but she really kind of lost it, it was pretty intense, so we skip that song now. It was interesting to see the empathy that she had for her dad. I don’t know if I ever had that, or an opening to have that. I was raised differently.

Learning about someone’s creative and personal process from their earliest days always intrigues me. Blending it into the learning of co-workers and fellow comedians in crime makes an even more joyful experience.   ‘Sick in the Head’ by Judd Apatow is not all about comedic guff faw’s but more the introspection of worthy life lessons that is deeply relatable within comedy.

Apatow explores work ethic boning, mishaps full of terror, road life shenanigans and inspiration with the likes of Amy Schumer, Spike Jonze and Seth Rogen. ‘Sick In The Head’ paints intimate portraits written in a biographic style within chapter bite size pieces.

Jimmy Fallon:

Well, I think you have to keep trying and keep swinging and get up to bat and try a different type of joke, because you don’t know which one is going to connect. We try a lot of stuff that doesn’t work, and you go, like, “Wow, that one did not work,” but we tried it. And that’s what you have to do. I remember – it was the first season of Late Night, and you were nice enough to come on the show and you go, “This is great, this is fun, but honestly, remember these years because you will not be doing this much pre-tapes and stuff down the road because you guys will burn out. There’s no way.” And I really took that to heart. Every time I’m like, “We don’t have time to do that,” I think, No, you know what, I’m going to make Judd Apatow proud and I’m going to stay late, I’m going to stay till two in the morning. I swear to God, I think about it all the time.

‘Sick In The Head’ is a perfect summer essential read. Read it before summer’s end!

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/247242/sick-in-the-head-by-judd-apatow/

Review: Field Trip Music & Arts Festival (June 6th and 7th 2015) at Fort York & Garrison Common

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For the past 2 years Arts & Crafts ‘Field Trip’ has being giving us warmed sonic vibes to launch us into the summer.  If you live in Toronto, you know the winter was extra-long for us this year and there has been an ache to have ‘Field Trip’ 2015 to come to Fort York already!

We love Fort York.  It’s a perfectly accessible Toronto location for a festival; it’s on the TTC line and has enough room to watch bands at each stage.  Now come 5 p.m., its gets a tad congested.  The throngs of people navigating between the Garrison Stage (the larger one) to the TD Fort York Stage (the smaller one) always ends in a bottle neck on the path connecting both stages.  That said this year; the Fort York Stage was built a little further along to allow for a VIP drinking lounge area and a massive food, shopping and activities area.  Even though there were line ups for food, washrooms and drink – everything ran smoothly as the rain steadily fell on the Sunday afternoon crowd.

There were a number of upgrades from last year’s ‘Field Trip’.  The family friendly ‘Day Camp’ area for kids and their peeps was immense.  Sharon & Bram, Girls Rock Camp, Toronto Music Camp and children’s sets from other Field Trip performers all showed up for the party, and were within ear shot of the popular bouncy castle, hula hoops, temporary tattoo stations, kids haircuts, ping pong tables and more.

One of many things ‘Field Trip’ does well is their nod to local cuisine vs. food trucks.  Tucking into the likes of FOOD DUDES: Captain Crunch Fish tacos, Smoky Rueben Sandwich, Dirty Chili Hash, Nutella balls*, Mac & Cheese Balls* and DEAVA’S FEED YOUR SOUL: BBQ Korean Short Ribs, Pork Belly Sandwich, Lemongrass Chicken Salad, Thai Chicken Sandwich (all farm to table) were things of beauty after long days in the sun.

The Mess Hall was brought back with Ivy Knight.  On June 6th we witnessed a Cake Decorating Contest where participants played cake boss with plain cakes and buffet of colourful candies and sweet goodness.   On June 7th, Ivy and her team of brave Field Trippers came together to build the biggest hoagie – relay style!

The roster of bands that were on ‘Field Trip’s’ schedule this year was sure to excite.  With diversity in musicians reflecting the diversity of Toronto included of ‘From Jamaica to Toronto’, ‘De La Soul’, ‘The War on Drugs’ and ‘Purity Ring’ on Day 1.  We felt the afterglow well into ‘Alabama Shakes’ set.  Day 2 was even more of a love in with ‘Father John Misty’, ‘Temples’ and ‘Marina & The Diamonds’.  If your body wasn’t aching after all of this you weren’t partying hard enough.  Then again for some of us, it doesn’t take much.

We had a great chuckle at the Laugh Barracks which was presented by Mail Chimp as the day wound down. It is a hilarious new addition to Field Trip, with performances from two of Comedy Bar’s most popular shows, Laugh Sabbath and Chuckle Co.  Sometimes you need to take a break away from the music.

Fort York is a wonderful home for ‘Field Trip’ and we hope it continues to be.  The rustic Canadiana vibe, locals meeting out of towers and familiar soothing tunes as it christens us into the summer’s arms is a big hit!  The detail, love and camaraderie that go into putting on ‘Field Trip’ from the Arts & Crafts crew makes us look forward to 2016.

http://www.fieldtriplife.com/