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Biannual and Semi-pro!

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Okay, so clearly I’m not a blogger.  It seems I don’t find my life particularly interesting on a daily or even weekly basis, or at least not so much I don’t think I should be doing other writing.  But since I’m planning to use this site as a placeholder while I throw together danhershfield.com (coming soon!), I thought I’d bring things reasonably up to date in that classic bullet-point style you’ve come to love.  Enjoy!

October 2010:

-Looking back, I don’t know if I ever mentioned I was doing The Bench.  Well, I did.  It’s a Second City development show and sometime in this month, my first season ended.  Tah dah!

-Matt McCready and I are hired as improvisers to test scenarios for a game show where people have to run around in public debasing themselves.  So we were debasing ourselves except instead of doing it in the hopes of making big money, we were doing it for the certainty of being paid small money.  My contempt for that genre grows.

-Yet another production of Courting happens!

-Rob Ford is elected.  I spend days wandering around aimlessly, looking angry and confused.

-In an attempt to restore my faith in humanity, I get on a bus and head down to Washington for Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  It was pretty whirlwind, with a long bus ride, a day in Washington, and a long bus ride back, but it was quite fun.  Also, independently, Ian MacIntyre booked a seat on the same charter bus as me, and our friendship further blossomed.  (Okay, that sounds girly, but whatever, it was fun.)

November 2010:

-I come back for a second round of The Bench with a whole new cast.  Several members go on to further success with Second City.  I am not one of them.

-Sketchfest happened.   I don’t remember much of it (nearly two years ago!), but it’s always fun.

-For the first time ever, I shelve a video I wrote.  It’s called Go Fish, and if I ever learn editing, I might try playing with it some and seeing if something can be salvaged, because the people were great and it looks beautiful.  I choose to take it as a positive for my development that I’m willing to shelve something.

December 2010:

-I was supposed to go to this event where I was going to meet Bobby Orr, but I was too sick.  Something to talk about when we do meet, I suppose…

-I do a bunch of the Bad Dog’s Christmas shows (It’s a Wonderful Improvised Life, Frosty the Show…man…) in what is to be their last Christmas at that theatre.  And my friend Dave from high school visits from New York and sees me perform for what I think was the first time, so that’s kind of neat.

-I see Die Hard on the big screen.  God bless us, everyone.

-We find out that the Shanghai restaurant in Winnipeg is closing.  Probably good for our family’s collective health and taste buds, but still, the end of an era.

-The Chief comes to town and a bunch of us go for drinks at the James Joyce.  Noteworthy not just because a visit from the Chief is always noteworthy, but also because the James Joyce has since shut down, and that night, fistfights were breaking out all over the place.  It was very classy and amusing.

-New Years at Tom and Lindsay’s.  Good times were had.

January 2011:

-Globehead!  Once again, Dave Pearce and I teamed up, this time as “Full of Beans Anne Rice”, the vampire improvisers.  Topical!  We splurged on capes and teeth, and to further justify the expense, here’s a picture:

We ended up getting bumped by eventual champs and all-around super team Falcon Powder, and we were honored to do so.   (I also had a very fun time watching them in a later round as guest judge Vampire Dan Hershfield.)

February 2011:

-The end of the Bad Dog.  It was great while it lasted.  I am in something like three of the last six shows, and one of them goes really well.   It was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde premise by Ely Henry, and also had myself, Sean Tabares, Kayla Lorette, Matt Folliott, and Paloma Nunez in it.  Very fun.  In my mind, I am trying to remember that as my last show there, even though I know it was not.

March 2011:

-Something interesting probably happened in March.  Well, there was my birthday, let’s go with that.

-Oh, and I won my March Madness pool.  Booyakasha!

-And I made this gem with Matt McCready for Naked Fridays.  The suggestion was “Party”, and once I noticed that the word ‘party’ breaks down to two golf terms, well, it practically wrote itself.  But it didn’t.  I wrote it.  As is pretty obvious.  (For the record, I think it’s funny.)

April 2011:

-And for April, let’s say…Passover?

-And “British Humour”!  A web short I wrote that I love for several reasons.  Jim Annan was in it WILLINGLY!  Which was awesome and gave me the warm fuzzies.  Also, I got two incredibly funny standups/actresses, Amber Harper-Young and Georgea Brooks Hancock (one of whom was my brother’s ex) to play DEAD PROSTITUTES!  I still don’t know quite how I pulled that off, but I remain very grateful.  (As I am to Brian Chambers and Brad Sayeau, but I’m often indebted to them.)  And it ended up winning at My Tapes, which was pretty cool too.  Enjoy!

British Humour – watch more funny videos

-Oh, and this defining life moment happened (if you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand):

May 2011:

-The federal election happens.  I am acting as a Deputy Returning Officer, and so am spared the agony of watching the results come in.  Mind you, being a Deputy Returning Officer is its own form of agony, but at least that was new.

-I’m in a show called Aesop’s Improvised Fables.  You can probably figure it out from the title.  Fun times, fun cast, etc.

-Larry has surgery.  He calls it a “procedure”, but it’s a surgery.

-I’m a juror for the Canadian Comedy Awards in the TV Writing category.  I get a lot out of diligently watching all the submitted videos both in terms of pleasure and study.  That said, when I see the nominees, I’m pretty surprised, which is probably odd for a juror.

June 2011:

-William Shakespeare’s Beauty and the Beast rehearsals dominated this month.  I was directing, and it was great to put that particular hat back on after a fairly lengthy absence, especially with a fun cast and absolutely life-saving stage management.  I’d write their names and other relevant details, but that’s what the poster is for!

-Also, Robin Archer and I get together to brainstorm ideas for a project, and end up settling on “Dan and Robin Survive the Apocalypse.”  Nothing has really happened with it so far, and Robin just had a kid (huzzah!), so it’ll probably be awhile, but I love it so much, I mention it here so that when it does happen, it will be clear that I never lost faith.

-The last Comedy on the Danforth show of my first season happens.  I made it!

July 2011:

-William Shakespeare’s Beauty and the Beast plays at the Toronto Fringe, and due to Ken and Devon both booking paid work, I end up subbing in to most of the shows.   Viva la Fringe!

-I work on the census.  It’s kind of like Fight Club, in that the first rule of the census is that I’m not supposed to talk about the census, so I won’t, beyond saying that I worked on it.

-Tory comes to town.  We hang out.  It’s awesome, though sweltering.

-I hang out with Mark McGuckin at Comedy Bar, and then we go see Two Kids, One Hall (that’s Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson) with my brother.  So much was right about that night, I hardly know where to begin.

August 2011:

-I work as basically a stage manager on Watertight, Mike Fly’s Pilot Week submission.  Worth mentioning because I’m sure someone who worked on that will some day be the King or Queen of All Canadian Media.

-Camp Hershfield again, but a very special Camp Hershfield where health problems I’d been having but ignored or dismissed as aging come to a head.  To the point where I have to go to the hospital with what feels like severe heartburn.  We find out further down the road that I had a hiatal hernia.  What we find out immediately is that my iron levels are shockingly low, to the point where I need to be transfused and where the only possible reason would be internal bleeding.  In retrospect, I’m an idiot for thinking my fitness level had deteriorated that quickly (I was getting out of breath on staircases!)  But other than that, a lovely time.  And they get me on iron, which turns things around pretty immediately.

September 2011:

-I make this Working Families video with old Vancouver amigo and all-around awesome activist Sean Devlin.  I’m not saying it made the difference, but it’s the only election that year that even remotely went my way, so I’m taking credit!  Also, those glasses were actually taken off the head of one of the crew, so though they do look cartoonish, it’s only because of disparity in head size!

-Peter Molnar, of high school friendship, gets married. I am that much more the last man standing.

-TIFF happens. I have fond memories that I can’t remember. They’re written down somewhere, just not here.

October 2011:

-The Comedy Awards happen.  I have nothing to do with the Comedy Awards, but I do get to hang out with Kaitlin Fontana (over a lovely if eventually rushed Indian dinner) and then Morgan Brayton and Michele for drinks.  Trip to Vancouver yet again made less necessary!

-I get a scan on Halloween related to my health problems.  It does not give me special powers or turn me psychotic.  As far as I know.

November 2011:

-I do a corporate gig with Lauren Ash and my brother out in the boonies, and then drop in on Rob Hawke’s book launch party.  I include it here because it was one of those bizarre nights that I’m sure will inspire me asking “When was that?” at some point in the near future.

-I start a writing group with Brian Crosby and Ian MacIntyre.  Easily the best thing I’ve done in years.

December 2011:

-I am asked to be in a scene for Other People’s Stuff by Tom and Lindsay, along with Erin Rodgers.  It was a pretty faithful take on this That Mitchell and Webb Look scene, with me as Lestrade.  Gets me every time (both ways):

-I go to the Sing-along Sound of Music with Ashley Botting.  I don’t have to explain myself to you people!

-Tom and Lindsay’s again for New Year’s.  A tradition!  (I certainly hope so, at any rate.)

January 2012:

-I have a submission rejected by the New Yorker.  Sure, it would be a better story if it had been accepted, but still!

February 2012:

-I have my surgery.  It literally dominates February, but it’s been smooth sailing ever since, knock wood, kenahora, etc.

March 2012:

-Darcy visits.  I meet his daughter.  I’m old.

-Then my birthday.  This one freaks me out a little.

April 2012:

-I finished second in my March Madness pool, thanks to the choking of Ohio State, though I did have the most correct brackets.  I still consider myself The Man.

-Claire gives us a health scare, with much head-tilting and falling.  But she bounced back.

-Rehearsals start for a kid’s show version of Pinocchio, where I’m playing Geppetto and Stromboli’s sidekick, Sidecheechio (yes, I think I came up with that one.)  Here’s the cast, in one of our many spontaneous tableaus:

-Also, this Maisonneuve article comes out (as forwarded to us by the Chief.)  My connection to this little piece of music history is that I wrote lyrics (and am credited) in the Ma Beans and Her Dirty Funk EP that this victory paid for.  And frankly, anyone who’s heard “Milking the Funk Cow” would agree that the right choice was made!

Ma Beans and Her Dirty Funk, The Article!

-I attend the “From the Story Room to the Page” at the CFC.  If I get into that program, knock on wood, kenahora, etc., this will retroactively become a big moment.

May 2012:

-There is a group trip to see The Avengers.  NERDS!!

-Pinocchio is actually performed.  Kids are cute.

-I put in my CFC application.  This is actually a big deal, and feels like an accomplishment in its own right.  And of course, I’ve been kicking myself ever since for all the things I would have liked to have changed, even though most of them are single words and in some cases single letters.  (“Oh god!”  or “Oh God!”?  Discuss.)

-There is a corporate training gig for Bad Dog that is awesome.  I meet some new folks, who are absolutely delightful, and hang out with some old friends, which is great.  And we find time to lounge by the pool!  And Ken Hall gets an awesome new nickname, which I’m keeping to myself, because I feel if you weren’t there, you shouldn’t get to call him by it.  But trust me, it’s awesome!

So that’s what happened.  More or less.  So…what’s doing with you?

Post of the Year!

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Wow.  This is how bad I’ve become.  I’m actually a year behind on this blog.  UNACCEPTABLE!

So, in the spirit of catching up, here’s October 2009 through September 2010.  Details have been forgotten (I’ve pieced this together through emails and appointment books), names have been changed to protect the innocent, and let’s face it, even my most devoted readers will be hard-pressed to make it through an entire year’s worth of my life.  (Albeit a reasonably quiet year.)  Plus, as the Simpsons’ parody of Reader’s Digest once pointed out, “Brevity is…wit.”  So here it is.

October 2009:

  • Billy Stutter went up as part of the Bad Dog Short Play Festival.  We had great turnout (in no small part due to my stage father), great buzz, and, in my humble opinion, a great production.  So enthused were we that we started making plans to take this sucker on a Fringe tour, knowing full well that we would make absolutely no money.  It was really a lot of fun, and it had been ages since I’d put up a play in Toronto, so it was very gratifying as well.
  • I did my first Comics for Kids.  (Pretty sure it was my first.  Give me a break, it was a year ago!)  It’s a monthly program where a bunch of improvisers go down to the Hospital for Sick Children and put on a show.  We had a similar program in Vancouver, there called Laughter is the Best Medicine.  It’s a great program, and of course, it’s nice to be reminded that comedy can be important.  Particularly driven home in Toronto, because sometimes after the show in the theatre, you do a quick tour of the bed-bound kids and give them their own private shows.  If that don’t melt your heart but also make you feel you’re doing something worthwhile, nothing will.  (This picture is from a subsequent show, but it captures it pretty well)

  • I shot a few scenes for The Palace, a web series written by Connor Thompson and Ashley Comeau and directed by Lucas Gindin.  My part is small, but the project looks pretty awesome.  The whole stinking thing is green-screened!  Here’s the trailer, which I’m not in, but it gives you an idea of what it will be.  I know I’m looking forward to it!:

  • For his birthday, I took Evan to see Paul F. Tompkins.  The first time for him, and if you’ve never had the privilege, see Paul F. Tompkins live.  If there’s a better standup comedian in the world, I’ve yet to see him.  (And I’ve seen some pretty big names in my day.)  We bought a CD and had him sign it.  This is what he had to say:

So far, so good!

  • I did a scene from Hurlyburly by David Rabe at Power Play Theatre, with the lovely, talented and tennis-attending Marsha Mason.  (Given the frequency with which I update this blog, I thought it was worth distinguishing from the OTHER Marsha Mason.)  Though I may never get to live one of my dreams and play Eddie in a full production (if I could even learn the part…it’s a LOT of play!), I’ve done a scene in front of an audience, damnit, and it went just fine!

November 2009:

  • I was in the Don’t You Forget About Patrick Swayze marathon, the Dirty Dancing part.  Good times were had, I was Neil, the neurotic nephew (typecast much?), and my audience suggestion for historical figure I was modeling myself after was FDR.  That’s why the following picture isn’t offensive:

  • Frankenmatt came to town!  That’s Frank Caeti and Matt Craig!  Yep, Matt Craig, my director for the ship and the inventor of Toast Your Vacation!  I saw their show and then hung around with them for the rest of the evening into the fairly wee hours.  Suffice it to say, my impression of Matt as best person on the planet remains intact.  Frank was also very awesome.  And their stage show was awesome, but of course.
  • Another trip to Montreal, another hockey game played at the…umm, what is it now…the Bell Centre?  You know, where the Habs play!  So that was pretty cool, though the coolest part was the Rez Dogs reunion, of course.  Here’s a good pic to prove it.  (And, for whatever reason, my on-ice pics aren’t cooperating.  But I should also note that Jon Dewolfe was also there for the weekend, a bonus not only for me because he’s so awesome, but also for the world, because it allowed us a full Original Rez Dog Five!)

  • When I returned from Montreal, Uncle Bobo was in town, so the family picked me up at the bus station and we went directly for pho.  It’s what our family does.  Oh, what a month of reunions!  And it wasn’t over yet!
  • Okay, so the Bad Dog Holiday Party can only be called a reunion in the sense that you can go awhile without seeing people, even when you live in the same city.  But always nice to party with your peers (especially when they’re such swinging folks), and it yielded this, an awesome picture of the Hershfield brothers if ever I saw one.  (Turns out all we needed to be photogenic was a pretty girl!  Good rule of thumb, folks!)

  • And towards the end of the month, Darcy and Courtney came to town! Semi-re-reunion!  We just had a breakfast but still, good times.  Which is good, because…

December 2009:

  • Seems to have been fairly uneventful.  I did do a part in a webseries by Lindsay Grant and Erin Rodgers, which, as far as I know, hasn’t yet materialized.  Suffice it to say, I play a regrettable one-night stand, complete with sparkly underwear, so if it gets lost to the ravages of filmdom, we’ll call my feelings “mixed.”  Could be pretty funny, though…such is the burden of the human sight gag…
  • Without checking my calendar, pretty sure Hanukkah and Christmas fall in December.  I’m sure there was much revelry and even more food, but the details escape me.  I also can’t really remember New Years’, but I think it was spent at Rob and Fiona’s; I vaguely recall taking public transit home later at night then public transit would normally allow.

January 2010:

  • I went to the public screening of Death Comes to Town at the CBC Building.  The Kids in the Hall were all on stage, just being funny.  I opted not to take pictures, but they were all there, and so was I.  Fun.
  • Globehead happened.  I posted a little something about it at the time, because there was an article.  Suffice it to say, it was a very fun night of improv, as it tends to be when Dave Pearce and I take the stage together.  In the spirit of bringing some continuity back (Justin Timberlake can have “sexy”, I’ve got my own priorities!), here’s the link to the article again: http://www.eyeweekly.com/comedy/article/81489
  • I was in a benefit show for Haiti called Seriously Funny.  Far be it from me to pass up a chance to mention something positive I’ve done!

February 2010:

  • I become a head-writer/director for Vanguard Theatre’s new sketch division team, Emergency Bingo.  It was a pretty good experience, all things told.  I struggled a little with the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantedness of a nascent company (I found it hard to keep people motivated to produce as the show date was pushed back, and then, I personally like to know my performance dates at least a week in advance), and I gave it up when I had to bear down for the Fringe (and, in all honesty, it ended up feeling like a big time commitment to other people’s writing when I should have been working more on my own), but it was a fun group, I feel we did some good work, and there’s a few of them I definitely expect to see more of around the city in years to come.  I hope I was useful to them.
  • The Basketballers of Basketball kicks off.  It’s a basketball game I organize, we play at Central Tech, and we lack in skill and the gym lacks in polish, we make up for in moxie.  I don’t know if it will pay dividends in the future, but it’s been interesting seeing my worlds collide on the court.  And, just so you know, Vancouver (if you’re listening), I have mad skills now.  And some day, I shall return.  (Mind you, those little high-school shits I beat in my greatest sporting triumph are probably my size now, so maybe I shouldn’t…)
  • I perform at Dual Duel with Ted Hallett under the name Mongo.  Twenty-five minutes, one scene, one location, no rehearsal, several compliments.  We’ve still got the magic, we do!  (Reminder to self: improvise more with Ted.)
  • Another Drinks for No Reason, another picture people like.  Ta da!

  • I do my first show at Timothy’s with the great Gord Oxley!  (Also the great Rob Hawke and the great Sam Agro.)  This will become relevant later in the post.
  • Through Vanguard, I meet Christine Nangle.  She does a Q & A, and I chat her for a few minutes after.  Her name is in the closing credits of Saturday Night Live as a writer.  I think that’s nifty.

March 2010:

  • I go to the Toronto Sketchfest’s Best of the Fest show, featuring Haircut, Accidental Company, and Last Call Cleveland.  Funny.
  • I go (with Brad) to My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.  Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant.
  • I go (with Jenny) to my first Toronto Rock lacrosse game.  Poignant.
  • My birthday.  I don’t remember the details, really.  I mostly remember my mother giving away my cake.  Not that I’m bitter.  Or, you know, five…

April 2010:

  • I played in the Pylon Cup, a hockey game for Peter Moscone’s birthday.  I mention it because I scored my prettiest goal ever.  Well, sort of.  Normally, my goals are scored as one-timers, either from being parked in front of the net or skating to the net, but it’s very rare for me to carry the puck in.  This is the only goal I can remember where I skated the puck in from outside the blue line.  Not only that, but rather than going straight to the net, I went hard down the boards, circled out of the corner wide of the defenceman (who was, in fairness, far and away the best player on the ice, and consequently taking it REALLY easy on us), and tucked it in on the short side.  It also gave Evan and I a chance to do our obnoxious “Hershfields!  Hershfields!” chant (a la “Mandelbaum!” from Seinfeld), much practiced at volleyball games but rarely seen in hockey.
  • We shoot Femme Fetal.  Those of you who read this blog have already seen it (I couldn’t wait!), but there’s more news on this front.  As you may recall, we made it for 7 Day Shorts.  Well, someone must have liked it (or, just as likely, they were looking for more Toronto content, but still…) because it got “called up” to the main Second City Network page.  As far as I’ve seen, it was the second to come out of Canada (and only one more since), and it’s the only one (again, as far as I know) that was written originally for the web.  And while it apparently needed to be more sassy, more gay and more friendly, 30,000+ hits (and climbing, I believe) ain’t too bad for a first-timer, I say!  Here’s the shortened version they used:

  • The family and I see the Raptors play the Celtics (my birthday present).  The Celtics go through the motions, knowing that victory is practically guaranteed.  Still pretty entertaining, and Rondo made one play that actually made everyone there gasp.
  • Morgan and Michele visit.  We have a lovely breakfast together, and then a fairly lovely walk along the waterfront that would have been lovelier had breakfast not ended up violently disagreeing with me.  (Think Tony Soprano and Ralphie, after Ralphie killed that horse.)  Still, lovely all the same.  I like visitors.
  • Second City Generals again.  As per my usual, good first round, not so good callback.  But no one really rocked it, at least not in the improv.  Some very good sketch performances, including Ashley Comeau’s.  Not only was it impressive at the time, I know it was good because…
  • Ashley drops out of our Fringe tour to do a cruise ship.  Why, oh why, did I make it sound so appealing?!?  Curse this infernal blog!!!  After a brief interlude of self-pity and panic, I move into crisis-mode and start thinking of people I know who might do it and that I would be happy with.  I come up with a list of about four, and one of them says “Yes”: the lovely and talented Dana Fradkin.  This makes me very happy, because not only do I know she’ll be great, it’s good Fringe and theatre karma for me, because Dana was in my very first Fringe play, and while I look back on it with fondness and acceptance that every playwright has to have a first play, I also somewhat cringe knowing what I’ve learned over the years.  So the chance to put her in a better play of mine (I think) is lovely.  Mind you, the task of mounting the show becomes a lot more time-consuming (as it’s no longer so much  a remount), but all things considered, if we had to go it without Ashley, it really couldn’t have worked out any better.

May 2010:

  • I act in a video for Pat Smith.  Blink and you’ll miss me, but I’m in it.  Well, not so much blink…you’d probably have to rub your eyes to miss me.  Oh, see for yourself!:

  • May 12th, I have one of those crazy days people in demand probably have all the time.  I have a Billy Stutter rehearsal in the afternoon, a Mr. Clean (my Harold team) rehearsal in the late afternoon/early evening, the first (and for me, only) Emergency Bingo show at night, and then shot Friendly Friday at 10 p.m.  (We were rained out the day before.)  Friendly Friday was the second collaboration for Brad and I on a 7 Day Short, and I was very grateful that the talented Alice Moran was able to join us (and carry me, acting-wise.)  Personally still figuring out the whole acting-for-camera thing, and, as mentioned, end of a long day, and I know Brad was a little disappointed with the look (an experiment to see in how low light this camera could shoot, the answer to which was not quite this low) but I’m generally  happy with it, I think my writing’s okay and the editing was good, Alice is great, and besides, I heard Jim Annan thought it was funny, so what else do I need?  Though it probably deserves its own post, for now…

  • Billy Stutter has a benefit.  Fairly sparsely attended, but those who showed up got an awesome show.  See Spot Run rock, Chris Gibbs is awesome, and people got very good returns on their lottery ticket purchases!
  • I do CageMatch with Marcel St. Pierre and Kerry Griffin.  A very fun if wanky night.  Most importantly, we can now lay claim to the name Male Pattern Boldness!  Too good to only use once, I say…
  • Chris Dingwall comes to town.  It’s awesome.  As per usual.  Next year in Chicago!
  • The Combustion Festival returns to town, and though I don’t see much, I do see the Sunday Service guys.  Have a nice chit-chat with my “boychik” Ryan Beil.  Now if I could only get him to return an email…

June 2010:

  • I am in Alley of the Dolls, an improvised homage to “Valley of the Dolls.”  McClendon, if you’re reading this, I improvised in a vest.
  • This is when Femme Fetal actually got the bump to the Second City Network.  I feel pride.  (Though I did experience that classic Hollywood treatment of writers, where they only got in touch with Brad and initially prepared all the contracts with his name only.  So we’ll call it pride with just a sprig of bitterness.)
  • Alright, this is where keeping a daily blog would have been useful.  The Ottawa Fringe was much fun.  I can’t remember all of what happened or the order it happened in, but some fun things I do remember include dancing like idiots at Chats with Cat and partaking in witty banter with Brad MacNeil (time warp!), eating a gourmet meal by Chef Blackie (which I couldn’t afford, but I’m glad I had), meeting various parents (Brad’s dad, Dana’s mom), a virtual Rez Dogs’ reunion (Darcy, Jon, and Ian), much hanging out with Darcy (I stayed with him), slightly crashing a wedding, a trip to a cottage…oh, yes, and the play!  Much fun!  Many pictures can be seen here.  And this is us crashing a wedding, and rocking out at the cottage:

July 2010:

  • I don’t know what the rule is about women’s birthdays.  I know you’re not supposed to discuss their ages, but does that mean you’re not supposed to draw attention to their birthdays?  At any rate, my mother has a birthday.  It’s a big one.
  • Ottawa Fringe is over, Toronto Fringe begins.  I saw a lot (though I left a lot of shows for Winnipeg).  I think my personal fave was probably “Public Speaking” by Chris Craddock, who tends to blow my mind.  Equally mindblowing, though technically not part of the Fringe, Uncalled For presented their show “Hypnagogic Logic”, which was incredible.  There was a lot of other good stuff, too much to revisit here (I’ve been writing this post for hours!), but I will mention, since this baby did start out as a boat blog, that Ashley’s troupe Punch in the Box had a smash hit on their hands with their appropriately named “Pick of the Fringe”, and they’ve pretty much been dominating the local scene ever since.  Also of boatnewsworthiness, Megan came up for a visit, and we all had a lovely evening at the Fringe tent.  (Which, moved to Honest Ed’s Alley this year, was awesome, and a great hub for the performing community, and I hope it stays that awesome.)  And lastly, on a personal note, thank you, Dan Jeannotte, for remembering who I was.
  • I have a nice little coffee-meeting with Julianne, then (sniff) of Second City.  In addition to some catching up, I’m offered a spot on The Bench.  This will be of more significance later.
  • The Winnipeg Fringe.  An all-around crazy time.  So much family (including the Toronto and Vancouver family that made the trip), so many friends, old and new.  Our venue was great (the MTC Mainstage), as were the techs who came with it.  Our schedule was literally the shittiest I’ve ever seen.  (I was in such disbelief about how bad it was, I actually scanned every company’s schedule when they were emailed to us, and there was only one other that even came close to being as bad as ours.)  Maybe it was the tradeoff for putting a company they hadn’t heard of in such a primo venue, but wow!  As for how it was received, the feedback was all very positive (and not just from family and friends), while the reviews were mixed (curiously, perhaps, mostly pans or raves, very little mediocre).  The box office, not bad.  The big selling point for me was definitely the community of performers; it’s definitely a magical thing how quickly that sense of kinship can spread.  And to be able to put a play up for all the family and family friends who’ve never seen anything I’ve done before, pretty special too.  (We also did an improv set while we were there, so bonus points on that front.)  And lest this seem too saccharine, we close with a picture of Brad and I shotgunning beers at Winnipeg Beach.

  • Oh, and since I did it for Toronto Fringe, I should probably mention here that while I saw a lot of great stuff (here, A TON of great stuff), my favoritest of all was “Countries Shaped Like Stars.”  If you get the chance…  I should also mention that I took advantage of being in Winnipeg to see Morro and Jasp, who always sell out their shows in Toronto, and now I know why.  Lovely people, super-talented.  And I shouldn’t even bother, because it’s not like it’s any secret, but, as always, Chris Gibbs, wow.

August 2010:

  • Alice Moran’s birthday.  I go to see her and Ian perform standup; by the time the night’s over, I have the world’s greatest nickname.
  • What’s that, Lassie?  Trouble at the old Bad Dog?  (Alright, so these bullet points are ceasing to be useful for anyone but me…but this post is getting ridiculous…if you want more details, just ask…)
  • I do six shows and a workshop in a weekend.  Of note, two of them are for Taste of the Danforth for Second City, thus technically keeping me on the Second City payroll for a third straight year.  Also of note, the Late Late Horror Show got reviewed.  A bit of an odd review, and it seems to give away one of my good bits to someone else (not that I mind, of course), and most strangely, it doesn’t use any of our names, but anyway, here it is.
  • I meet with Gord Oxley, and it’s decided that I will take over Comedy on the Danforth.  It’s an improv show of family-friendly games, performed at a Timothy’s on the Danforth.  I hate producing, but I really like doing the show (I head one of three teams), and it’s a great opportunity to keep up my game-playing skills and to play with people I like in a casual, fun environment.  Solid.
  • I send some sketches I wrote to Sarah Silverman.  As of yet, haven’t heard anything, and am also presuming she never actually saw them.  Nevertheless, points for proactiveness and unusual optimism!
  • Another year of Camp Hershfield.  Claire is crazier than she’s ever been before, and deprives me of several nights of good sleep.  Nice to spend some time in the water, nice to see Arnold and Paula, but overall, not our best time out there.
  • I am part of the Flashlight Project at the Summit.  An awesome event, a very fun project, and a good chance to work with (and in front of) some people for the first time, so good times all around.  And photogenic!

September 2010:

  • Dave and Andrea visit from New York.  It is a brief reunion, but it allows me the opportunity to get into an argument about the quote-unquote Ground Zero quote-unquote Mosque.  (That’s personally the part that gets me.  I’ve been in the JCC many times; it’s never occurred to me to refer to it as a synagogue.  Too much ball hockey.)  It worked out well, with one Torontonian and one New Yorker on both sides.   Kind of Real Time with Bill Maher.  At any rate, a nice if brief visit.  And it inspires me to finally read the book I borrowed from Dave monthes ago (more about that in my upcoming book review post.)
  • Brad and I make another 7 Day Short, this one called “The Squid and the Florist.”  Can you guess what the two suggestion words were?  That’s right.  Definitely the easiest of the videos we’ve made, but it still makes me giggle.  (And only partially because I know that in order to keep the squid from flying apart into several pieces as we dropped it, it was stuffed into a condom.)  Enjoy!

  • Rosh Hashanah happened.  Nothing in particular to report, it just seems like something that should be mentioned.
  • Another year, another TIFF.  No pictures of famous people this time around (barely saw any, as it turns out).  And while I didn’t see anything that blew my mind, it was a dud-free year, which is pretty nice.  I saw the following: Beginners, Of Gods and Men, Miral, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, The Poll Diaries, Beautiful Boy, Mother of Rock, and Tabloid.  For me, I think The Poll Diaries was my favorite, so if you get the chance, check it out.  Tabloid was also pretty fascinating; Errol Morris is still a god.
  • I go and check out the latest Second City revue.  It’s pretty awesome.  Hype deserved!  Actually, the biggest compliment I can give is that at both the intermission and at the end of the show, I thought they must have been really short halves but I looked at my watch, and nope, time had just gone fast.  Kudos!  And, in what was very touching, the stage manager came out and invited me to join them for the post-show jam.  Truth be told, I had a fairly mediocre set, but it was still very nice to get asked, and damnit, I’ll be back!
  • CBC Culture Days!  Okay, maybe that exclamation point seems excessive for CBC celebs, but one of those celebs is my old roommate Tory, starring in the last season of The Tudors.   I had emailed with him a little, and his schedule was so full, it looked like I was going to have to stand in the autograph line with the schnooks to even see him, but when I got there, he’d in fact slipped off to a bar with his co-star Tamzin, and I met up with them for drinks.  Successful reunion!  They then snuck me into their industry party, where all the CBC stars were enjoying their appetizers (I said something witty while standing next to Erin Karpluk of Being Erica that she convincingly acted like she didn’t hear, but she is a very good actress, so I’m pretty sure she heard it and was just being coy about how charming she found me.)  Then down to Dundas Square to listen to the Canadian bands (more Sloan!), then Tory had to take off.  Dan (who’d joined us) and I joined Tamzin and her mother back at the industry party for a little more, but when it appeared that our presence was interfering with Jian Ghomeshi’s, shall we say, lascivious intentions (towards Tamzin, not her mother…or Dan, for that matter…), we made ourselves scarce.  I continued on to yet another Drinks for No Reason, making it one of my most show-bizzy nights of the year.  Attached is a picture of Tory, Tamzin and myself; see if just by looking at it, you can figure out which of us has never been given money to “get busy” on TV!

  • The Basketballers of Basketball starts a new season!  The game has gotten much more intense, and with many more improvisers.  (Didn’t think those two things would correlate, but somehow…)  It’s been awesome!

And there it is!  My year in a post!  To paraphrase the great George Costanza, “You take everything I’ve done in my life and squeeze it into a few days, it looks alright!”

This monster post is dedicated to my Uncle Bobo, because if he’s not the only one who made it to this point, I’m confident he’s the only one who’s still interested.  Be well!

Screw continuity, it’s Femme Fetal!

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Again, not in sequence, and at this point, anyone who reads this blog has probably seen this video.  But it’s been online for a few weeks and no religious nutjobs have shown up on my doorstep, so I think it’s safe to put this up.  It belongs to the ages now!

I wrote it, Brad Sayeau shot it, he and Brian Chambers edited it, and it stars Aurora Browne, Kris Siddiqi and myself, with Kevin Matviw and Brian as the uniform cops. I will spare you boring stories about my “process”, but something that made me go “Awww!” was the first time I yelled at Aurora’s belly, the baby kicked. I hope this video will one day be shown on Inside the Actor’s Studio, with James Lipton making some unctuous introduction like “We’ve had many former child stars on the show, but never before have we had anyone who was a star in utero.” Because until that happens, I will be feeling guilty.

Then came September…

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

And what would a Torontonian’s blog on September be without a lot of Film Festival talk?  Particularly if that Torontonian has generous parents who are Film Festival donors and buy whacks of tickets!

Anyway, these are the movies I saw:

  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
  • Colony
  • Good Hair
  • Capitalism: A Love Story
  • An Afternoon with Chris Rock (not a movie, an actual talk)
  • Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
  • Samson & Delilah
  • Cracks
  • Leaves of Grass
  • Mr. Nobody

All good flicks, though I thought Capitalism wasn’t Michael Moore’s best, and Samson & Delilah was too bleak for my tastes.  (Both these movies I ended up seeing because friends of my parents canceled, though, so they were even more free!)  I really hope Cracks makes it to theatres; I quite enjoyed it but have not heard a word about it since.  Keep your eyes and ears open, folks!  Oh, and I feel I should issue this warning about Good Hair: it will make you stare at black women’s hair.  I haven’t gotten in trouble yet, and it’s more or less worn off, but for awhile, I was risking some serious tongue-lashing.

September also saw the beginning of rehearsals of Billy Stutter for its Bad Dog Short Play Festival run.  I’ll get more into the play later, but just know that it’s the one I wrote on the boat and the one that will be touring a few Fringes this summer.  The director: Bruce Hunter.  The cast: Logan Brown, Ashley Comeau, Dave Pearce, and Brad Sayeau. The stage manager for the Bad Dog run: Kara Evelyn.  The stage manager for our Fringes: Jennine Profeta.  Learn those names, there will be a test later.  (Well, not really, but they’ll be good to know.)  People who know this group will vouch for the fact that it’s an impressive group, and also an eclectic one.  We make it work.

Oh, and I performed in something called The Hell Show.  Any hopes I had for a life in politics are pretty well dashed.  Or the electorate will grow smart enough to understand satire.  At any rate, I mention it here so I can’t wuss out and deny it later.

And now, pictures of famous people (I tried not to be obnoxious about it, but sometimes, when you’re standing five feet from famous people, the camera just can’t help itself):

And the rest of August…

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Well, with the weather so nice, I should probably polish off the months of August and September, lest I manage to fall another season behind!  (As it is, I’ll still be a fall and winter behind, and I want to be caught up by the time of the Fringe tour!  Luckily, preparations for the tour will probably deprive me of an interesting life between now and then, so that at least bodes well…)

So in addition to New York, August saw a return to the cottage for the Hershfield family.  Mostly good loafing, though I did rediscover tennis and somehow got better at it in my years of not playing it (though perhaps I’m just in better shape?)  And it got us the most adorable picture of Claire ever, and I swear it wasn’t staged:

I have always been a fan of that bottle toy, and now I know why!

And the other fun event of August was the Rogers Cup, which the lovely Marsha Mason was nice enough to take me to.  Marsha watching tennis looks like this:

And tennis watching Marsha looks like this:

Highlights beyond Marsha time include Maria Sharapova in 3-D (by which I mean “there and playing”), an older man in the stands wearing a fisherman’s hat and bicycle gloves casually clipping his nails (I’ll have to review my notes, but the important thing is I actually made a point of taking out a piece of paper and describing this man), and a couple of Grade A douches picking a fight with the entire section.  As I remember it, they were talking during play about ‘some bitch’ who confiscated the beers they were trying to sneak in, some elderly lady in a sunhat shushed them, and the one guy snapped, called her an ‘old bitch’ and made an argument along the lines of “Don’t shush me!  I play tennis, I know the etiquette!”  And then, as people stepped in to defend the old lady, they started lashing out at everyone.  Quite the spectacle.  I don’t remember it verbatim, but I do remember Marsha being quite certain of and amazed by his use of the word ‘etiquette.’  Perhaps more interesting to live through than read about (especially since these guys seemed to take us for allies, what with our comedians’ inclination to register horror and disgust as amusement and all), but let’s not lose track of what’s important: there are Canadian tennis hooligans.

Wow.

And that, as memory serves, was August.

August: New York County

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

C’mon, Hershfield, you can do this.  It’s like riding a bike…in the sense that you haven’t done that in forever either.  Alright, here goes.

Hey, remember August?  I vaguely do!  Mine started with a trip to New York with my father…and I think it might have gone…a little something…like this:

August 2nd:

We take the bus.  It is not a short bus ride, but the time passes fairly pleasantly.  We arrive at the Port Authority, and as we get into view of the line of cabs, one of the drivers comes up and helps us with our bags.  Which would be all well and good, except in doing so, he’s jumping the line.  And now, a bunch of cabbies are threatening to kill each other in the international language of rage.  We have arrived in New York.

We check in at our hotel (the Beacon Hotel) on the Upper West Side, and grab a late dinner at the Viand Café next door.  Nothing else too interesting happens this night, except that as we wander around the neighborhood, we happen to cross an island in the middle of the street, and as we do so, about a hundred rats come flying out of everywhere in a rat stampede.  It is the closest I’ve been in my life to tucking my pants into my socks.  Oh, New York!

August3rd:

Where do we go for breakfast?  That’s right, the Viand Café.  Two meals in, and we’re in a rut.  But it’s oh-so-next-door!

Our tour of New York begins with the American Museum of Natural History.  In truth, just the lobby, but it’s a very impressive lobby.  Teddy Roosevelt + dinosaurs = impressive.  As we made our way downtown, I stopped into the YMCA to go to the bathroom, which I mention only because I also stuck my head into the little theatre they have there, and it was adorable, and I want to do a play there someday.  This is my note to self.

Next landmark: the Ed Sullivan Theatre.  Sadly, Dave was on hiatus.  But around the corner, the Hello Deli was open, and Larry and I stared through the window at Rupert G, until we remembered that he was a real person, felt Canadian and moved on.

Then, Times Square, in all its spec-tacky-lar glory.  Right off the square was the theatre where West Side Story was playing, featuring Cody Green as Riff.  This is of significance because my father and his father are old friends, thus making a show-and-post-show-chat an intriguing possibility to Larry, and thus far, we’d been unable to get in touch.    So Larry wrote Cody a note and we got buzzed in and went backstage to leave it for him.  And that’s how I got to be backstage at a Broadway theatre.  Ta da!

I was not so nerdy as to take pictures backstage (as I didn’t want the very friendly and accomodating stagehands to shake their heads with disgust), but I did take these on the way in:

That excitement behind us, we continued our walk, passing the flatiron building  (so flat!  so iron!), Union Square, and then made our way west on 12th through Greenwich Village.  We walked around Washington Square Park (where there was a possible Mark Metcalf sighting that went unconfirmed) and spent a little time watching the chess players.  We then put in a little time at Bleecker Bob’s.  Yep, we did that.

And eventually, and quite unintentionally, we found ourselves at 4th and 6th: The Cage!  It was the Kenny Graham tournament, featuring two top-notch high school basketball teams.  Subsequent research has informed me that NBAers of note who toiled there back in the day include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Stephan Marbury, Rod Strickland, and Rafer Alston.  It was a pretty incredible thing to stumble upon, and we watched their whole game from start to finish.  High schoolers should not be able to play like that.  Also adding to the experience were the crusty old experts on the sidelines (apparently, colleges like to recruit guards from New York and forwards from Chicago), the vial I found under my feet (thank you, The Wire!), and one of the coaches flipping out.  Oh, and the guy calling the game on the megaphone.  Pretty great.

After that, we walked down MacDougall to Prince, through Soho, and then the northern part of Little Italy, to the Bowery, down Delancey (ye olde Lower East Side), up Ludlow (where there was a guitar store and a restaurant called Poutine side-by-side, which would have bore further investigation were time not a factor), and then to Katz’s Deli.  Where Larry insisted upon this picture.

I’ll have what he’s having.

Then we were off to meet high school buddy Dave at UCB, Upright Citizens’ Brigade for the uninitiated, New York’s improv/comedy mecca.  We bought our tickets and went around the corner for some Chinese food.  I quickly realized how empty my life had been up to that point by eating soup dumplings for the first time, and we had for our entree one of Mao’s favorite dishes, a pork with chestnut concoction.  I took a picture of the menu to capture the most incredible names of dishes I’ve ever seen:

And here’s one of Dave (no relation, but we get that constantly):

The show was at UCB, but it was in fact Chicago folks (who tend to be my favorite folks): 2-Square, with Peter Grosz (The Colbert Report) and John Lutz (30 Rock) representing half of their normal four-person show.  Pretty damn awesome.  (And a fairly good preview of Larry’s senility, with several interjections of “What’d he say?” and “Why was that funny?”  Though, to be fair, I was feeling pretty old for that crowd, so I can only imagine how he was taking it in.)

So we got back to the hotel, where a couple of messages were waiting for us.  We found out, sadly, that Cody was injured, and thus wouldn’t be performing while we were there.  Bummer.  And I got in touch with Yael, from McGill days of yore, regaling occurred and some hasty plans were made.  (I, idiot that I am, only got in touch with people upon arriving.  Part of that was waiting to figure out when I would free of the pater, but still, probably should have given people more notice.)

August 4th:

Larry had an afternoon meeting, so we tried to cram some sightseeing into the morning.  We walked by the Dakota again without recognizing it (never assume the plaque!), and took the scenic jaunt through Central Park, then by Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Deli, Radio City Music Hall, and Rockefeller Center.  We tried to go to the Paley Center (which was irritatingly closed) and ended up putting in a little time at St. Patrick’s Cathedral instead (and I’m not sure, but it may have been the first time I’ve actually seen people dealing with holy water?  Which of course got the Jewish nerd in me thinking about vampires.  If there’s ever an outbreak of vampires in New York, you could be in a lot worse places than St. Patrick’s.  Pretty stained glass too.  Hey, “stained” is an anagram of “sainted.”  Live and learn!)

Finding ourselves with more time than we’d expected (ironic “thank you”, Paley!), we went down to Grand Central Station and checked out the transit museum, and we also picked up a “J line” T-shirt for Mother.  (Yes, I refer to my father as Larry and my mother as Mother…what of it?)  And our last stop of the afternoon was the New York Public Library, where I nerdishly showed off that Brave New Play Rites (and thus my play) was available in the theatre capital of the world, and my father nerdishly trumped me by insisting we take pictures.

You can’t really make it out, but there’s a Gutenberg bible in the background.  Nothing wrong with our priorities!  And while I’m sharing stupid things I took a picture of out of some misguided sense of delusional pride:

Then we went back to the hotel, Larry took off for his meeting, and I took a mini-nap with Joe Dirt playing in the background.  That was a low point.

When I got up, I had a small window of time before I was supposed to meet up with Dave again, so I stayed fairly local.  I wandered around Juilliard (and its bookstore), went to the Library for the Performing Arts (yes, they actually have such a thing) and poked around the exhibits, made a quick stop at Barnes and Noble for a cookie lunch, then returned to the hotel to make some phone calls (mostly trying to figure things out with Yael, and Becky (of UBC fame)).  These plans never came to fruition (we’ll get to it), but it was nice just to have a reason to talk with these fine ladies once more.  Next time, next time…

At any rate, I met Dave at a bar, where he was in post-game revelry with his ball hockey team.  I talked a lot of hockey with his American friends (I think Canadians are assumed to be fellow travelers) and then we made our way to Brooklyn to meet up with his special lady friend Andrea at their favorite local Thai restaurant.  Very tasty!  Then some tearful goodbyes and I made my way back to the hotel.  One full day left!

August 5th:

I returned to the Paley Center for Media, and while an argument could definitely be made that going to a museum to watch TV while in the most famed city in North America is not the best use of one’s time, it’s also the capital of television, and I like TV.  The good stuff, at any rate.  So I went.  I caught a little of America’s Teenagers: Growing Up On Television: A Museum of Television & Radio Special while waiting to watch a little of the actual Frost/Nixon interviews.  Which I saw, and much like the movie portrays, yowza!

Then to the private viewing rooms, where I wavered on ordering the Lily Tomlin special with Richard Pryor or an episode of the Smothers Brothers, before finally settling on Your Show of Shows (host: Jayne Meadows), NBC, 1954/01/02, 9 p.m. EST.  I mean, if you’re going to draw from a treasure trove of archived TV, you’ve got to go classic, right?

It was pretty incredible to behold how much things have changed.  I mean, we all know about the old-timey ads that actually talk about the products.  But it was amazing to see what the host’s job was.  I thought it would be equivalent to an SNL host, but not at all.  The host would literally introduce every sketch and tell you what it was you were about to see, and in this case, she did it in a gown and pearls.  And of course, the show itself.  By our standards, unsophisticated humor, but it actually held up quite well, and it’s crazy to think that back in the day, sketch performers were expected to know things like pantomime and dance.  It almost looked like a skilled profession!  And of course, some things don’t change: Carl Reiner, Imogene Coca, and Sid Caesar would all be stars today.  Plus the show ended with “There’s Nothing Like A Dame”, which, let’s face it, every show should end with.

So, while I’m watching this, I get a text message from Yael, who has to cancel.  Drag.  However, already having slotted our plans into my schedule, and not having anything I particularly want to do more, I carry through with them on my own and make my way to the High Line.  The High Line is a fairly new destination in the New York firmament, a stretch of elevated train tracks abandoned and turned into a public park and garden. (http://www.thehighline.org/)  It’s probably what Toronto should do with the Gardiner, though we’d no doubt manage to screw it up.

So on the way down, I pass Madison Square Garden, but more importantly, the Postal Museum.  Larry, who loves a good postal museum, is of course working, so I decide (whether as a good son or a son who enjoys doling out a good ribbing) to pop in and take some pictures, share with the old man what he missed.  Here’s a few of them:

Alas, they had no t-shirts with the slogan “I Went Postal!”  Nor do they, to the best of my knowledge, exist.  Another note to self.

And here are some of my pictures from the High Line:

And it was while sitting here that my plans with Becky fell through.  She invited me to a Simon Rich reading (who I hadn’t read at the time, but as avid readers of this blog would know, I subsequently did and quite enjoyed), but I figured I owed the old man my presence, since he’d paid my freight and all, so I regretfully declined.  But we had a nice chat, and here’s hoping she makes her way here at some point soon.

Having been charged with the task of picking an activity for the evening, I opted to be a wonderful son and indulge my father by getting us tickets to see the Fabulous Thunderbirds at B.B. King’s.   I was a little bummed out not to see a show on Broadway (I mean, I have before, but not this trip), but August: Osage County was on tour, God of Carnage was on hiatus, and Cody’s injury had taken some of the shine off West Side Story.  So I did the right thing, and while I’m not nearly as into the blues as the old man, I must admit they put on a hell of a show.  It looked like this.

And Larry getting his CD autographed looked like this:

And that’s how we spent our last night in New York.

August 6th:

Having only a few morning hours before our return flight, we decided to go to the fairly close Jewish Museum.  (Apparently, there are Jewish museums and not-Jewish museums…)  Of course, it was on the other side of Central Park, and cutting across proved slightly trickier to navigate than I thought it would be, so we lost some ground and some time.  But we got there, enjoyed some Jewish time in the Jewish Museum, and then made our Jew way back to the hotel.  The ride to the airport was fairly uneventful, except for the fact that the town car turned out to be a stretch limo, which felt kind of ridiculous, but I guess they don’t get much use during the day, so why not?

And that was New York.

Wow, writing that post was as exhausting as riding a bike.  I’ve got to learn some brevity.  Rumor has it it’s the soul of…oh, crap, what’s that stuff called…it was a play about cancer…umm…oh yeah, wit!

The first rule about Book Club…

Friday, January 29th, 2010

I never really decided to stop writing this blog.  It just sort of happened.  But I’m back!  The plan is to have it up and running for when the fringe tour starts this summer (!), so my continuing travel adventures can be documented.  But before I actually start to piece together life events of the last half-year from pictures and agenda entries, I thought I would get things started again by listing all the books I’ve read since last I posted.  It’s kind of like Oprah’s Book Club if she only had a show every six months or so…and I think we can all agree that would be a far better world.  In order of reading:

Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissinger

Alright, so I’m a broken record.  But I finished this book, and it was great.  Probably mandatory reading for humanity.

How to Rig an Election, by Allen Raymond

I quite enjoyed this, but I live for this crap.  It’s an autobiographical retelling of a Republican operative’s rise through the party machine and all the dirty tricks he committed along the way, until he finally ends up being scapegoated and thrown under the bus by even more vicious tricksters.  (Spoiler alert:  He does time.)  Dirty politics and gamesmanship fascinate me, so if you’re like me and actually prefer when political operatives are upfront about and aware of their amoral (at best) behavior, then well worth the read.

Now I Can Die in Peace, by Bill Simmons

A series of articles by Bill Simmons put into book form, it’s about Bill Simmons’ experience as a Red Sox fan in the run-up to them finally throwing off the so-called Curse of the Bambino and winning the World Series.  I don’t particularly care about the sport, and as is often the case with books culled from articles, you definitely get more repetition of ideas than you would otherwise, but still a good read and definitely a good writer.  (He’s got a new basketball book which I’m eagerly waiting for the library to get a hold of.)

The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho

A little inspirational for my tastes.  But hey, millions of people can’t be wrong, can they?

The Corner, David Simon

More required reading for humanity.  Definitely for politicians.  It follows the life of a Baltimore street corner and its inhabitants over the course of a year, interspersed with essays on the realities of life in the American inner cities.  And yes, the David Simon of The Wire and Homicide.  I love that guy.

America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, by the Daily Show staff

So brilliant.  It makes me sad that there can be a group of satirists so consistently brilliant and yet the fair and balanced forces of ignorance manage to be completely unaffected.  But at least it allows you to laugh about it and reminds you that you’re not alone. Medicine for my Parkinsonesque fist-shaking.

I’d Rather We Got Casinos and other black thoughts, by Larry Wilmore

Some very clever and funny stuff, but the individual pieces probably weren’t variegated enough for my tastes.  Or maybe I just shouldn’t have read it as fast as I did.  Definitely some gems though.

The Tenacity of the Cockroach: Conversations with Entertainment’s Most Enduring Outsiders, by Onion A.V. Club

Strangely, I felt the same way about this one.  At some point, the interviews seemed to bleed into each other.  After all, there are only so many ways for people to talk about their art.  But I enjoyed it, and it was fun just to see who they chose to interview.

Free-Range Chickens, by Simon Rich

Ant Farm: and Other Desperate Situations, by Simon Rich

This is why there are libraries.  Both these books were very funny, but so short I would never have allowed myself to justify buying them.  He’s definitely one to watch!  (See my upcoming post on my visit to New York for some Simon-Rich-and-me trivia.)

Make Your Own Damn Movie, by Lloyd Kaufman

The head of Troma sounds off on how to make the indie movie.  I’ve forgotten most of the actual advice (though I did make a point of jotting down how to make and spray fake blood), but I tried to draw inspiration from the DIYness of their approach.  And it was funny, though I wonder if I was to meet the cast of characters if I’d be too scared to be amused.

Bunny Bunny, by Alan Zweibel

Alan Zweibel’s tale of his friendship-plus with Gilda Radner.  Probably as close as I’ve been to crying from a book in a long time.  (Quite possibly I cried.  I can’t remember.  But you probably will, whoever you are.)

The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell

I fall in love.  Well, deeper, at any rate.  Mental note: Must think of a pickup line smoother than “Can I buy a Vowell?”

Shake ‘n’ Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret, by Michael Kupperman

So weird.  So very, very weird.  As I discovered with the second book of his, it’s clearly meant to be read in the bathroom.  There, it’s gold.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich

More required reading for humanity, definitely for politicians.  This is my latest thing, ‘required reading.’  It occurs to me there should be a minimum threshold of knowledge to hold certain opinions and be taken seriously.  For instance, if you support “The War on Drugs,” you should at least have to read The Corner.  There are just so many things that have been disproved by study after study, like the efficacy of abstinence-only sex education and the deterrence effect of capital punishment, that continue to be used as justification.  So if people aren’t willing to take the time to read (or believe) actual studies or even do their own homework, they should at the least have to read some non-fiction prose on the subject.  I mention all this because I think someone should make that reading list, and I may just have to be the one.  And this book, with Barbara Ehrenreich taking on and describing the experience of working a series of low-wage jobs (waitress, housecleaner, Walmart, etc.) and living on those salaries, should be on it.  Which is my ranty way of saying I liked it.

Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls, by Matt Ruff

My least favorite Matt Ruff to date, though I do like my Matt Ruff.  I enjoyed the drawing of the world, but at the end of the day, I didn’t care that much what happened in it.  If you’re inclined to give him a try, I wouldn’t start with this one.

The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell

Don’t get me wrong, my love for Sarah Vowell remains strong.  But I will take some time here to state a problem I have with the library system.  Well, it’s actually my problem.  I’ll get enthusiastic about an author and put everything they’ve written on hold all in one sitting.  So I end up reading a ton of the same author’s work in a short period of time, which of course kind of ruins it.  So I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the previous one, but it did have the following passage, which I love wholeheartedly and expresses brilliantly something I’ve been trying to say forever but could never get into words:

“Protestantism’s evolution away from hierarchy and authority has enormous consequences for America and the world.  On the one hand, the democratization of religion runs parallel to political democratization.  The king of England, questioning the pope, inspires English subjects to question the king and his Anglican bishops.  Such dissent is backed up by a Bible full of handy Scripture arguing for arguing with one’s king.  This is the root of self-government in the English-speaking world.

On the other hand, Protestantism’s shedding away of authority, as evidenced by my mother’s proclamation that I needn’t go to church or listen to a preacher to achieve salvation, inspires self-reliance—along with a dangerous disregard for expertise.  So the impulse that leads to democracy can also be the downside of democracy—namely, a suspicion of people who know what they are talking about.  It’s why in U.S. presidential elections the American people will elect a wisecracking good ol’ boy who’s fun in a malt shop instead of a serious thinker who actually knows some of the pompous, brainy stuff that might actually get fewer people laid off or killed.”  (214-215)

Pretty please, can I buy a Vowell?!? (Oh, and for those of you who would counter that Obama’s election was some kind of “game changer,” it’s a pretty easy argument to make that America (and admittedly, this time, the world) once again went for the sexier of two evils.)

Tales Designed to Thrizzle, Volume One, by Michael Kupperman

As mentioned above, once I figured out that these off-the-wall comics were perfect bathroom reading, oh, the times I had!

Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell

The “too much of a good thing” observation still applies, but for whatever reason, I liked this one better than the last one.  Probably the greater personal narrative, plus there’s something about assassination that is just so quintessentially American, how could I not be captivated?

Clothing Optional and Other Ways to Read These Stories, by Alan Zweibel

Funny.  He’s a funny guy.

More Information than You Require, by John Hodgman

Also funny.  Also a funny guy.

Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliot Trudeau (Volume One: 1919-1968), by John English

Still reading this one, but I’m enjoying.  And I keep thinking to myself “Wow, would this guy not get elected today!”  But we’ll see.

And that’s what I’ve read.  I’m tempted to put all the TV I’ve watched, but that would just be embarrassing, so instead, I’m just going to list a few shows I’ve seen in that time that people should be watching:

Friday Night Lights: Still going, and I will never leave it.

Party Down:  Comedy gold.  Makes me and doesn’t make me want to move to L.A.

Sons of Anarchy:  The closest I’ll ever be to being a biker is watching this show.  But I’m going to keep doing it.

Metalocalypse:  I’ve been chastised for liking this one.  Probably rightly.  I don’t know why it gets to me, but it cracks me up.

Frisky Dingo:  Just funny.  And I think I know one of the voices.

Dollhouse:  I want to write “Joss Whedon is my crack.”  But it doesn’t sound right.  Sadly, the only writer I would trust to fix it is Joss Whedon, and that would just be awkward.

Coming up soon:  Details of my life outside the mind!

Continuity be damned!

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Alright, so I genuinely intend to start this blog up again in earnest, and fill in a healthy amount of what’s happened in the interim, but since this is topical now and the link may go away, here’s an article with a healthy amount of me-content.  Enjoy!

http://www.eyeweekly.com/comedy/article/81489

Good head

Perfect couples and prorogued MPs clash at Bad Dog’s dead-of-winter improv contest, Globehead 2010

BY Sean Davidson   January 20, 2010 10:01

Whether by accident or design, Globehead shows often seem to start out slow before building, after the intermission, to the madness one expects from the month-long improv contest at Bad Dog.

Take last Friday, for instance, when the duo Dylan Goes Electric (Paloma Nunez and Kevin Whalen) faced off against the Robot Hard-Ons, also known as Kevin Matviw and Lindsay Grant. More of an overture than an opening act, really. Enjoyable to a point — but Matviw and Grant were clearly having a hard time with their scenes and seemed to keep getting stuck in the same characters (gruff, guttural and oddly stunned), leaving the Dylans to breeze through bits about foosball and Mexican weddings.

“I’m a big proponent of mild racism in humor,” said Sean Tabares, in character as recurring “celebrity judge” Evil Johnny Carson, upon handing the win to Nunez and Whalen.

Things picked up after the halftime when teams with a bit more personality took the stage. Beaming and giddy, and dressed identically, Dave Pearce and Dan Hershfield were fun to watch as a perfectly e-matched gay couple, while Ashley Comeau, Devon Hyland and Connor Thompson went with the always reliable tactic of ridiculing politicians — playing three MPs (from the Tories, the Greens and the Bloc Quebecois — the three parties with the most inherent comic potential) with time on their hands thanks to the proroguing.

It ended up going to the MPs, due largely to their sudden wrestling bout and a rousing musical number that saw Thompson give voice to a singing chainsaw, though Pearce and Hershfield kicked down the fourth wall when they did an entire scene perched on the lap of a young woman in the audience.

In a more just world a stunt like that would score points. But the tallies aren’t taken at all seriously at Globehead, and Evil Johnny Carson gave Pearce and Hershfield a goose egg for their bone-bending efforts.

Guess they shouldn’t have mouthed off like that about what’s going on with The Tonight Show.

Next week, watch for performers including Ken Hall, Trevor Martin and “Nug” Nahrgang.

***

What I do, when I do it…

Monday, June 29th, 2009

The Workshop – June 20th, 2009 – 1 of 7

The Workshop – June 20th, 2009 – 2 of 7

The Workshop – June 20th, 2009 – 3 of 7

The Workshop – June 20th, 2009 – 4 of 7

The Workshop – June 20th, 2009 – 5 of 7

The Workshop – June 20th, 2009 – 6 of 7

The Workshop – June 20th, 2009 – 7 of 7

Hey, so this is footage of a show I did called (duh) The Workshop on (double duh) June 20th.  I taped a bunch of my recent shows to post as part of a festival application (hello, boys!), and figured as long as I was putting one on the internet anyway, I might as well draw your collective attention to it.  I ended up picking this show for three reasons: it got written up in Eye Magazine (see below), it was good times, and everyone else in the cast has (I believe) received a Canadian Comedy Award nomination as Best Improviser (big time!)  Not the same as being there, I know, but for those of you who’ve been curious, this is me in action.  Bon appetit.

(SPOILER ALERT: My camera ran out of memory with literally a minute to go in the show.  So if you make it that far, and want to know what happens, they make out.  Improv!)

And, as mentioned, here’s the article in Eye.  Not so much a review, but fun nonetheless, and I’m very tempted to make business cards for myself with the slogan “sweetly pathetic and entirely misguided.”

Here’s the link:

Work, in progress

And here’s the article In case the link goes away (and, because I can’t help myself, with my name spelled correctly.  Grrr!!!):

Work, in progress

BY Sean Davidson June 24, 2009 12:06

The Workshop
Directed by Bruce Hunter. Saturdays, 10pm.  $10 ($8 for students). Bad Dog Theatre, 138 Danforth. 416-491-3115. www.baddogtheatre.com.

Though it previously made its home at the Tim Sims and at Second City proper, Bruce Hunter’s The Workshop has settled, for now at least, at Bad Dog Theatre. His well-regarded weekly experiment in long-form, sort of a skunkworks on stage, sprung from the classes Hunter used to teach while at Second City and is now part of the Saturday lineup at the improv house, running indefinitely into the summer.

“When I was teaching I always found the classes, the material, was way more interesting as soon as you put people up in front of an audience,” says Hunter, over drinks at one of the nearby bars. “They’re either influenced by the audience or the laughter and they go off in different directions.”

“So idea was to take that idea and run it like a workshop — in the sense that I can say ‘Do this’ and ‘Do that,'” borrowing a method from Theatresports founder Keith Johnstone.

“It’s a very basic way of getting people to discover things.”

The show is an exercise in directed improv, with Hunter perched in the front row, pulling the strings of roughly a half dozen performers on the stage — some veterans, some newbs, always different. It’s his job to connect the dots of the story as it unfolds, and to mess with the heads of his cast.

“Oh, it’s mostly messing with them,” he says, smiling. “It’s about a 60/40 split but then of course I try to tell a story.”

“What’s interesting about it is it allow the improvisers to not worry about being funny, or where the show is going to go. They get to play the characters — to be in the moment. The characters become alive and they become a lot more complex.”

Case in point: Dan Hershfield was centre stage for much of the hour-long show last Saturday, playing a sweetly pathetic and entirely misguided documentarian who re-casts his absent wife (Jennifer Goodhue) with a hard-bitten hooker (Workshop regular Aurora Browne). Drew McCreadie and Adam Cawley also popped up as two heavily accented producers. (Ah, Chinese and German. The world of funny voices would be a poorer place without them.)

The filmmaker theme was set by a shout-out from some audience member who’d presumably been to the Worldwide Short Film Festival.

Another presented an unwelcome comedic challenge when, asked what he’d done that day, answered, “I buried my grandfather.” Youch. And yet, Hunter rolled with it, and seemed to work the somber note into the story, which ended very badly for Hershfield’s filmmaker.

“Sometimes you don’t have to do much,” says Hunter. “The ones I like the best are where everything is flowing and I’m just sort of throwing more coal on the fire, watching it slowly burn up the forest.”

END TRANSMISSION

What a month! No. Wait. I meant “What?!? A month?!?”

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Yeah, so that’s a title I wrote when I realized I’d gone a month without making a blog entry.  Since then, another month and more (nearly two, for a total of three!) has passed.  Admittedly, some of the thrill has gone out of this, since in theory, anyone who wants an update on my life can just pick up a phone.  And, of course, though still unique as a snowflake, my life has lost some of that exotic flavor it had when I began this blog o’ mine.  But a writer writes, and hey, I still find my life interesting, so here’s a condensed (hopefully!) version of what’s happened since last I posted.

Passover!  I may have missed latkes, but home just in time for sweet potato kugel!  For those of you not familiar with Jewish holidays, Passover (or Pesach, if you will) is the holiday where the Jewish respect for tradition is pitted against the Jewish love of eating.  The game is played like this: You have to make it through a certain amount of ceremony before you can start eating.  All through the ceremony (or seder, if you will), you are teased with small amounts of what is technically food but in no means satisfies hunger, e.g. salty parsley, horseradish, matzoh.  As the seder continues, those who just want to eat already start testing the resolve of those who want to pray and discuss with a combination of sarcasm and complaining; this process is encouraged through the ritual drinking of wine.  It ends when the person leading the seder gives up and says “Yeeshlehu”, which I believe is Hebrew for “Uncle!”

Actually, it wasn’t as bad as all that.  I just feel bad seeing my father play Don Quixote year after year, trying to engage the windmills in a discussion of the nature of slavery.  But the crowd this year was actually on the respectful side of our spectrum, and the food was delicious (if unleavened.)  Plus the parable of the Four Sons makes me think this particular issue isn’t specific to us, so there’s some miserable company out there to be sure.

Shortly after that, I began my reintegration into Toronto improv society.  As it turned out, Tom MacKay was having a birthday party, so I managed to see most of everyone all at once (Bad Dog folks, at least).  It was nice, and Ashley was there as well, so there was some good transitional reminiscing thrown in for good measure.  And though it took me a little bit after that to start doing shows again, I was well on the way to being back.

Around this time, I also decided to audition for Second City again.  I thought it was just something that people did, and the only real conversation I’d had about it was with Ian and Alice in Miami, and it was mostly them regretting that they weren’t going to be back in time to do them.  So I signed up for them, and then everyone I mentioned it to looked at me like I was crazy and wondering why I was bothering since they already knew me.  So I somewhat went into the auditions wondering if I’d done the right thing, but my logic (or at least the thing I kept repeating to myself so I wouldn’t feel like an idiot) is that if you want to work for someone, and they’re having auditions, you do the auditions.  And that if you’ve got what they’re looking for, the more they see it, the better.  So that was what I was repeating to myself going in.

The first round went pretty well.  Good laughs, good playing the game, good times.  Sadly, the line I most wanted to deliver came during a two-person scene that I wasn’t in, and it took everything I had to hold it inside.  It took place at a police lineup and the cop character said “I play basketball with the force,” and my mind screamed “Like a Jedi?!?”  I include it here because dammit, someone has to laugh at that line or an angel loses its wings.

Brad, Evan’s roommate, was in the audition with me, and knowing that I’d be all distracted until I’d received the callback call (or enough time had passed to know it wasn’t coming), I tagged along with him while he did some errands, and then we went and drank beers on a patio.  Fun times were had, and it was nice to get to know him a little without Evan.  (Not that they aren’t very funny together, because they are.)  And I was nicely juiced when I got the call, which was a load-off.

As for the callback, I don’t know quite how to feel about it.  It was probably my worst audition ever for Second City, but it seemed to be getting a pretty good response, and everyone seemed to be kind of off, so it’s hard to tell.  For the sketch, I was paired with Kevin Matviw, and I had to play his distant, cold, disapproving father (they’re at a ballgame together, the son’s a big nerd.)  Sandy was our director, and he basically told me that the scene was given to me specifically as a challenge; I was really positive in my improv and tend to have that nervous-cheerful thing going on, so the idea was to see if I could play a scene without a smile.  I don’t know how much I pulled it off (against type is against type), but it seemed to go over well.  The improv sets were pretty off, with a few scenes wiped just as they were starting to get interesting, but again, they seemed off for everybody, and again, though I wasn’t necessarily happy with the scenes as scenes or my character work, they were getting laughs, which I guess counts for something.  Hopefully.

A fun thing at the auditions: I saw old friend Ken Lawson, in from Vancouver, for the callback session after mine.  A not-so-fun thing: that was the only time I saw him.  Phone number exchange snafu.  Stupid technology.  Oh well, I got my hug.

Later that weekend, I got a pretty nice boost when I bumped into Doug Morency before a show and he told me he’d thought I was really funny at the audition.  In secular Toronto comedy terms, this is kind of the equivalent of the clouds parting and a hand reaching down from the heavens and patting you on the back.  So whatever else comes of it, I have that.  The show I saw him before was part of the Bad Dog’s anniversary celebrations, The Super Troupes of Comedy.  In one night, I saw Fast and Dirty, the Alumni Cafe, Falcon Powder, and the Williamson Playboys.  It was mind-blowing.  MIND-BLOWING!  And then the anniversary party, which is always a trip down memory lane.

After this, the world became a blur (a slow blur, but still a blur) of hanging out, watching TV (oh, how I made up for lost time!) and reading books, playing a little basketball (Ballers of Comedy, East!), and shows here and there.  Oh, and a smidge of work.  I will do a separate post talking about books and TV, my little bit of public service.  As for improv, the highlights of May (i.e. the shows I remember) include the A Night at the Improv where we made a Tennessee Williams play and I played Handsome Hal, the diamond mine field hand with the catchphrase “I will not be seduced,”  and a Macro Neato which was a lot of fun and will be remembered by me for doing a scene with the great Lisa Merchant that was largely about masturbation.  You can’t buy memories like that.

Towards the end of the month, the family Hershfield celebrated a milestone as father Larry turned 60.  This was celebrated with a big old barbecue, complete with Kelekis hot dogs shipped in from Winnipeg.  And of course, one of Mother’s giant cakes.  It looked like this:

Lots of guests in attendance, a testament to my father’s, well, je-ne-sais-quoi.  And towards the end, there was a sing-along, with his friend Braz on guitar and cousin Shelly on piano, which made him giddy as a schoolgirl.

Then with the guests gone and the house significantly cleaned, Evan and I presented our gift.  It was a presentation that lasted about three hours.  For our gift, we made a compilation video entitled “Larry Hershfield’s Pantheon of Shitheads: 60 Shithead Scenes for 60 Shithead Years.”  For most of our lives (well, pretty much all), we have been schooled in comedy by movie and television “shitheads” shared with us by our father, and so it made sense to us to collect the greatest and throw them all together.  For the record, he loved it, and I’m quite proud of it.  It’s amazing watching it how much of a tutorial in funny it is and how incredible talent is (Jackie Gleason, Dom Deluise…you can’t NOT laugh!).  And, as Larry pointed out, if he ever goes senile on us, we can just put it on replay and he’ll be happy forever.

And so we enter June.  And with it, a new apartment.  It’s a bachelor, it’s in Forest Hill Village (Spadina, north of St. Clair), and it’ll do.  Nice neighborhood, walking distance to a subway station, and certainly nice to get natural light!  Come up and see me some time.

In terms of improv, there was some excitement with my Harold team, Tonight at Noon, which ended with the team being dissolved.  I’m not entirely privy to all the details, but it seems I returned to a team that was somewhat in disarray, and things didn’t really improve.  And they were shaking things up with the night, so it really did make sense.  Ah well, ’twas fun while it lasted, and while the group will be missed, I must confess to being pretty excited about my new team, Mr. Clean.  Of course, June was Hat Harold month, with most teams being picked out of a hat, so we haven’t performed together as a group yet, but on paper, a very fun and exciting team.  And Jerry Schaefer is coaching, so that’s more goodness as well.

Other improv activities of note include attending the Combustion Festival, which was a veritable Vancouver reunion (always nice) and a chance to see those PROJECTproject folks in action, which I always enjoy but rarely get to do, as their regular night conflicts with my regular night (though I hear they’re moving, so hopefully…), being the special guest “star” in a show with teens being taught by Mr. Ted Hallett (they apparently felt “privileged” to play with me, which, let’s face it, is both sweet and funny), and shows a-plenty.  I also taped quite a few of my shows this month (as I have to put together a bit of a reel for a festival I’m applying to), so expect to see one up shortly.  For those of you who might be interested in that kind of thing.

Going back in time now (whoa!), there was an event I took part in that I thought would make a good closing to a long overdue post: The World’s Biggest Guitar Jam.  Alas, it turned into (at best) The World’s Second-Biggest Guitar Jam.  But hey, it was a good time, I got out a good crowd (Dan, Mark, Kirk, Joanna…and indirectly, Brian Chambers), it taught me Neil Young’s “Helpless” (the version we played, at any rate, which sounds right, and is the easiest song I’ve ever learned), and it felt like a happening.  Alas, one thing that kind of sucked (besides missing the record, of course) was that the band that was playing overpowered all the acoustic guitars, which to me, totally defeated the purpose of the exercise.  Even if it had all been white noise, it would have been fun to hear everyone playing at once.  For that song, they really should have just had drums and a singer, just to keep everyone in time.  But what the hell, guitar playing outside, just like a dirty, dirty hippie!

Here’s a link, complete with some pictures of the event:

http://www.luminato.com/2009/events/44

And here are some pictures of my own:

Can you tell which guy doesn’t play guitar?  I can.

All right, so that didn’t work as the big exciting capper I was hoping for, so I decided to wait until the Chief’s wedding.  Alas, I took no pictures, relying on other people to have done that.  Time will tell if I was right.  But here’s a recap:

Friday:

  • Arrive at the bus station.  Walk to Molson Residence, where I am staying (“Where nostalgia meets poverty!”)  The walk takes me along St. Denis, up to Prince Arthur, where I cut over to Coloniale, up Coloniale to Pins, down Pins to University, up to BMH.  In so doing, I walk past both my Montreal apartments, and several old haunts.
  • After settling in, a quick trip to Mama’s.  Chicken poutine, baby!
  • Go to McConnell, watch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup with some fellow lodgers.  Kind of wanted both teams to lose, but it was pretty exciting nonetheless.
  • Head over to Thompson House for the party.  Lots of seeing people who haven’t been seen in years.  Mute Apricot rocks out.
  • The party over, everyone heads over to BDP (known to those of my vintage as “The Brass.”  We drink until they kick us out.

Saturday:

  • Meet up with Rob and Fiona for lunch.  Schwartz’s, but of course.  Health considerations are decidedly on hold for the weekend, though I do order the medium-cut smoked meat sandwich, which is of course less fat than the fat-cut, and if you order the lean, they slap you in the face.
  • Walk with them for awhile, then cut back, walking around through campus.  Nostalgia good, aging bad.
  • Make myself pretty.
  • The wedding proper.  A lovely affair.  Interesting social dilemma: when people perform music as part of a wedding (not a wedding band, but friends and family) and in a church, do you applaud?  No one did, but I know I wanted to, and I suspect I wasn’t alone.
  • The reception: good eats, crazy dancing.   “Tubthumping” proves a test of endurance, which I pass but just barely.  These people know how to party.
  • Reception is over.  We grab case after case of beer, and head over to Coach’s for an after-party.  We all do fine, but Sam’s Maine and grad-school friends be crazy.  Somehow, when we leave, with the party still going, it’s 4:30 a.m. and the sun is shining bright.

Sunday:

  • Wedding brunch.  I get there a little late, but no one’s left yet.  The hard-core partiers show up with five minutes to spare.  More bonding, some goodbyes, quite a few see-ya-laters.  Hugs with the Chief, Wendy, and the whole Sewall clan.  Must make a point to see more of those people.  Must, must, must.
  • Go see the Uncalled For show at the Fringe.  Hard venue for comedy (at least on a Sunday afternoon), odd because it’s at the Just for Laughs Theatre (their cabaret space), but I enjoyed, imagine when they play to packed houses in Toronto that it’ll be crazy raucous.
  • Wandered around, eventually had a LaFleur’s poutine.  Mmm mmm good.
  • Go to buy tickets for Kelly Zemnickis’ play How Does a Drug Deal Become a Decent Third Date?  Bump into her at the Fringe tent area, somewhat ruining the surprise, but actually just having it earlier, I suppose.  Meet her friend Bryce, then the three of us watch the show.  Gold, Jerry, gold.  Drinks with the cast afterwards, am flattered to be vaguely remembered by Paul Constable, a nice end to my last night in Montreal.

Monday:

  • Decide to go up the mountain, since I’m so close to it and have the morning to kill.  Forget where the short paths are and end up taking a long time to get there.  Arrive at the cross and no sooner have I reached this summit than it starts to rain.  Am I being punished for this most un-Jewish of pilgrimmages?  Perhaps.  Though I manage to make my way down easier than I made my way up.
  • Drag my bags to the bus station, stopping for a bite to eat at Le Commensal (the one on St. Denis.)  Then to the bus station.

I don’t know when I’ll be back in Montreal.  I don’t know when I’ll see some of those people again.   Hopefully soon for both.

And the rest will wait for another post.  Like I said, I intend to write mini-reviews for all the TV I’ve watched and books I’ve read, and I should be posting a show I did recently (complete with magazine article describing it), so for those of you who’ve never seen me perform or never seen me do long-form (or just haven’t lately), it’ll be the next best thing to being there.  Be well.

Oh, and since I like to end with a laugh, and I don’t know what else I’m ever going to do with this, here’s a picture I took of chicken bones in a subway station: