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You’re welcome, biographer!

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

I’d hate to think I’m the type of person who might choose to procreate just to make sure that someday, years from now, someone will look at these posts and be glad they’re here. Especially since that assumes my kids would take the time, and with their transporters and whatnot, that could be a long-shot. On the other hand, with global warming continuing unabated, they might have to live their entire lives indoors and maybe they’ll be desperate for reading material!

Therefore, proceeding with the knowledge that this half-assed recording of events might be interesting to no one but me but the hope that it might be riveting for some, here is some stuff that I did.

March 2013:

As you’ll recall, I was still in school at Humber at the time, so not too much interesting in life to report, though the finish line was coming into view and we were starting to do Portfolio Nights and the like.  There was a dinner party at Coach’s, a nice little McGill reunion where I fell into the ‘special’ brownie feedback loop, where they make you hungrier so you eat more which makes you hungrier ad nauseum.  (Literal nauseum!)  There was also Sketchfest, with a few panels I went too, including one featuring Kurt Smeaton where we acknowledged each other as beard brothers and stroked each other’s beards.  I don’t know why I remember that, but I’m not going to overanalyze it.

 

I think this actually came later, but since I don’t have a picture for this month, here’s what a Portfolio Night looks like, plus it’s a picture of me with some buddies, so why not?

May 2013 - A portfolio night

 

April 2013:

School’s out for summer!  (Well, except for the internship, more on that later.)  The program ends, tears are shed, promises to keep in touch are made and are occasionally kept.  Nuff said.  Sadly, that is not what I’ll most remember April 2013 for.

April 2013 - Beautiful ClaireWe had to put Claire to sleep.  She was a great dog and we still miss her.  I choose this picture of her because even though it’s atypical (she had those bows exactly once), it still makes me laugh every time I see it.  What a doog!

May 2013:

One big beginning, one big ending.

First, the beginning: I start working at Manifest for Mark Sarner.  It was my internship which segued into a contract that kept me there until the end of the calendar year.  It was a great experience, I learned a lot, hopefully did some good, and some projects were started that will hopefully lead to exciting developments down the road.  (Don’t want to jinx them, you’ll hear them if they come to fruition!)  And I relearn what it’s like to have a desk job, which is something I should know!

The ending: Comedy on the Danforth comes to an end.  The owner of the Timothy’s where we performed sold it off, and the new management weren’t interested in continuing it.  (Apparently, though it’s a franchise, headquarters was never too thrilled about it.)  The end of an era, but glad to have been a part of it, and very grateful to the great Gord Oxley for entrusting it to me and the wonderful Amy Zuch for carrying it on after me.  Good times were had, and I will be bitter the rest of my life whenever I have to pay for cake.

June 2013:

It seems like I must have been adjusting to a day job, because not much seems to have happened in June, other than a few shows here and there.  Oh, and a trip to Winnipeg for cousin Jonathan’s wedding…which I know there are pictures of but I don’t seem to have any.  But a good time was had, sweaty dancing was done.

July 2013:

Let’s see.  There was a surprise party for Lindsay at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and as you can see, every part of that sentence is fun.  I have an entry in my calendar that reads “Zoo 2 with Ian / Chicka Boom / Fringe tent?” and while I don’t remember what ‘Zoo 2’ is, I know that all of that happened.  Perhaps it was this night…?

July 2013

At some point, I have the very Jewish experience of running from a bris (Noah, son of Rob and Alisa) to a show I’m in (with Jordan Kennedy).  And Book Club gets its summer tryout, which produced these lovely pictures with this lovely cast:

August 2013 - Book Club at Summer Test Drive 1 August 2013 - Book Club at Summer Test Drive 2

August 2013:

We go to the cottage.  I don’t remember much about it, but without a dog, I assume it was weird.  But probably enjoyable.  Still a cottage after all.

A bunch of us go to a costume party at Casa Loma for the launch of some drink (Somersby something-or-other).  A pretty fun night, but one that would probably go unmentioned except I feel that this is the kind of picture that belongs in a blog, so…

August 2013 - Somersby Party

Speaking of photogenic evenings, I’m part of a Buffy trivia team called “The Funny Syphilis” and WE WIN!  Though, in fairness, the “we” was really Ian and Ron winning, with Jess and I providing some sporadic backup and Noreen and Jenny wondering what they’d done in life to end up with such hopeless nerds for friends.   But the important thing is good times were had, and we saved the world.  A lot.

August 2013 - The Funny SyphilisAugust 2013 - The Funny Syphilis (Buffy Trivia Night)

And yes, I’m the one who thought it would be funny to be a vampire in the big group picture.  I stand by it.

And we end August with a few pics for the obscure fetish crowd: ankle injury!  It was sustained in a basketball game and my rebound kept the play alive and we won on the ensuing basket.  That was small compensation for the weeks I spent hobbled, but better than nothing, I suppose…

August 2013 - Ankle Injury 2 August 2013 - Ankle Injury

September 2013:

Like most Septembers, this one included a Rosh Hashanah and a TIFF.  I don’t particularly remember either, but I’m sure they were both lovely.

My TIFF movies were:

  • Hateship Loveship
  • The Double
  • I Am Yours
  • The Invisible Woman
  • The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Looking at that list, it seems like a pretty good year, because I seem to recall thinking Hateship Loveship, The Invisible Woman, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby were all excellent.  (And as I write this, apparently The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby has been ruined since.  Google it if you want, it sounds like a sad Hollywood tale…)

From the ‘growing old ungracefully’ pile, I impress my high school friends by leaving their party as it wraps up at midnight to go to a party at Unit 102.  I also score a big hit on Twitter with the following: “Looking for Love in Alderaan Places, by Princess Leia #StarWarsAutobiographies”  These are apparently the things I care about at this point in my life.

 

October 2013

I have my first meeting with Julie about Book Club.  The meeting goes well.  Spoiler alert: The show goes less well.  It was and is a great idea that for whatever reason (probably me) never quite found its crowd or came together.  But this meeting is a happy memory, because Julie is a great improv mind and her enthusiasm for the project is something I hold onto, and hopefully, I’ll find a way to do something with it again.  Done.

Also in October, many of us old improv types (and some new ones) gather at Second City to watch the broadcast of the pilot of Super Fun Night, co-starring our very own Lauren Ash.  On a personal level, the experience reminds me how tribal I’ve become, all the more so as I drift away from a community I was once so immersed in.  There are a lot of these people where it would be stretch to say I’m friends with them, given how seldom we see each other or talk, but I guess I’ll always be rooting for them and reveling in their success.  And that’s a good thing.

And October wouldn’t be complete without Halloween pictures!

Well, normally, it would be.  But this year, I went for it, had a lovely time, and got a picture I absolutely adore!  Plus I answered the question “Why not Zoidberg?!?”

October 2013 - Zoidberg makes friends 1October 2013 - Zoidberg makes friends 2

CROSSOVER EPISODE!!

 

November 2013:

November seems to have been a strangely busy month, by my strange standards.

I open with what would be a non-event to many but was a big event to me: Jane Espenson retweeted me!

November 2013 - Jane Espenson retweet

I shouldn’t care, but it tickles me to know that for however many seconds, I amused one of my writing heroes.  With a terrible pun.  I will admit the screen capture might have been excessive…and I’d like to say it was the last time I used a screen capture to save a Twitter moment…

Around this time, I also organized a mini-UBC reunion around a production of A Room Of One’s Own, directed by Sarah Rodgers and starring Naomi Wright.  (As an aside, you should never miss an opportunity to see anything directed by Sarah OR starring Naomi, but if you miss a show that’s an AND, you’re an idiot!)  It was lovely to see Niki and Andrea and Anastasia and Kelly again, so it turns out, in small doses, I am a reunion guy!  And as a bonus reunion, Kayla had a small part in the play, so after some initial awkwardness in the pre-show where I was tentative about pulling her out of character, I got to catch up with her too!

Then another career milestone: I appeared on the BBC!  Kind of.  My face.  Which counts.  They were there doing a story on Rob Ford and though their camera died before I got out some perfect soundbite zingers, it was still pretty neat.  (Sidenote: I haven’t talked about all the Rob Ford ridiculousness, but when I look back on this period, if I’m being honest with myself, I was fairly obsessed with it and it took up a lot of my time.  An awful, awful man…and as I’m writing this, he’s currently undergoing treatment for cancer.)

Here’s the cast:

November 2013 - Teh Internets cast

Here’s the link to the BBC story: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-24890797

And here’s the video (which may go away, but it’s here for now!):

Then there was the Canadian International Television Festival.  Which either not many people had heard of or not many people cared about.  But it was pretty great and I hope it comes back.  I saw a Q & A with Bob Martin, Don McKellar, and Kim Catrall, talking about their new project Sensitive Skin, a retrospective panel with Rick Mercer et al, and then a sneak preview of Spun Out.  Which eventually led to me hanging out at a bar with several actors I know from the TV, including Dave Foley.  You know…like people do…

And then towards the end of the month, a trip to NYC.  I stayed with my wonderful friend Becky Ferreira (and new friend Becky’s husband Kyle), saw other old friends Kaitlin and Yael, and got to (in no particular order and leaving much out) the Guggenheim, Roosevelt Isalnd, DUMBO, the PIT, the Bell House (with Escort playing), the American Museum of Natural History (finally!), all through the Village, through much of Manhattan, a fair bit of Brooklyn, and for the first time, some Queens (including the now home to feral cats former site of the US Open!)  Oh, and I saw Sleep No More, which is the most incredible theatrical experience out there, that I don’t want to spoil for anyone by talking about it but which I have been endorsing wholeheartedly to people ever since.  Here are some pictures that tell a fraction of the tale and which will probably only have meaning to me, but still, NYC!:

IMG_0050

IMG_0052IMG_0057IMG_0087IMG_0063IMG_0065IMG_0076IMG_0079IMG_0083IMG_0089IMG_0090IMG_0097IMG_0100IMG_0102IMG_0104IMG_0105IMG_0125IMG_0127IMG_0129

And that’s just the stuff I thought to take pictures of!

And then the month ended with Pat’s 24 Hours of standup (which I helped out with a little on the fundraising side, and hope to again, since he’s a goddamn hero and I like to help heroes) and Julius Caesar at Unit 102 (which reminded me why I wanted to do something with that play, and still do, plus I saw the first scene I directed at UBC done again, which was nostalgic.)

Okay, I feel I haven’t made clear how much time I spent in these months making fun of Rob Ford, so here’s a picture I saved that made me laugh.  What a boob!

November 2013 - Cheap laugh

December 2013:

Another life goal achieved!

December 2013 - Touching Paul Bellini

And there was a Kids in the Hall show too!  This was just on the way in!  What a night!!

In other show business news, I took part in the Impulse Fest 55 Hour Improvised Soap Marathon!  (At the time, it was a record, though I believe everyone just keeps tacking on an hour, so it’s probably been bumped up several times since.)  It was pretty crazy.  Some people tried to do the whole thing, and man, were they looking crazy!  I went the slightly less crazy route, though it meant improvising from 5 to 11 a.m. on a Saturday to an audience of largely unconscious improvisers.  It was two shifts, both of which were supposed to carry on the main story, but for the second shift, which was supposed to facilitate the move from Comedy Bar to the Distillery District, the people who were supposed to take over at the Distillery District couldn’t get into the theatre!  So those of us left behind ended up telling this weird diversion story about the other group and how they were being haunted by the ghost of the world’s greatest improviser…okay, it’s all a little foggy…but it was AWESOME!

Sadly, I have no pictures of the show (though it was webcast, so in theory, someone might), but I do have this picture, which could be my best chance to someday possibly sneak into a book about improv:

December 2013 - Soapathon Workshop

And later that day, completely exhausted, I dragged my tired butt to Amy’s Christmas cookie party.  Which was lovely and cookieriffic.

Continuing the holiday theme, I was supposed to go to Sing-Along Sound of Music with Jess, but it was sold out.  But then, a (near) Christmas (near) miracle!  Sean and Steph were also there sans tickets and offered to host an impromptu home version.  Which was even better!  God bless us, everyone!

Then proper Christmas bought an ice storm.  Oh well.  But we still had Christmas dinner and I got this cool picture.

December 2013 - Ice Storm

Somehow, this branch fell off a tree, landed on a power line…and managed to stay upright!  I have no idea how this happened, but it feels like it shouldn’t.  Winter wonderland indeed!

And I guess I’ll put New Years in December, since it starts there.  Spent at Ian and Jen’s, also with Tom and Lindsay and Josh and Laura.  My mixed fate in life: to be a singleton forever in the company of wonderful couples.  Could be worse, I suppose…

 

January 2014:

Okay, well, this is the month Book Club actually launched.  Not much to say beyond what’s said before, but this is when it became real, and I’m glad it did.

I also play ball hockey on a team for the first time in about a decade, with Leigh and several of her camp friends.  It takes me awhile to figure it out again, but once I do…I’m still on the weak side.  But I have fun, damnit!

I declare war on Subway.  There is a deal on six-inch roast chicken subs.  I, not wanting to insult the sandwich artist, order a foot-long, rather than saying ‘two six-inches.’  Then he charges me the amount for a foot-long, so I am forced to point out that I want the price for two six-inches.  He says he’s been instructed not to do that.  I argue for a long time, but am tired and hungry, so I take it.  And never go back again.  (To that location, at any rate, but they’re franchises, so that’s the only one I really need to boycott.)  I still have not gone back, even though the franchise is under new ownership.  I used to go about once a week, so that $1.50 they bilked me out of ended up costing them about $400.  I’m unreasonably proud of this.

Speaking of pride, the opposite of this is what joining Tinder makes you feel.  But that happened.

Also this month, I watch my first Royal Rumble in several decades at Matt McCready’s.  This makes me feel both pride and its opposite.

And I start a TSSC basketball team made up almost entirely of comedy folks.  I still don’t entirely know what I’m doing, but I love playing anyway.  I am starting to worry a little that basketball is not a good old person sport, though.  I guess tennis is okay, though I will need to develop some fundamentals at some point…

 

February 2014:

So this is actually something that happened about four years earlier, but this was the month when Ashley stumbled upon and emailed us all the link to the trailer for The Palace, a green-screen web series I (and many other notables) had acted in.  And I made the cut.

Here’s a screen capture:

February 2014 - Screen capture

And here’s the video, which hopefully won’t go away!

The Palace – Trailer from Lucas Gindin on Vimeo.

Also in February, I become an organ donor.  And if I ever run for office, I pledge here that one of the many things I will push for is a reverse onus on organ donation, i.e. you should have to opt out rather than opt in.  This is literally costing thousands of people their lives.  Ridiculous.

And speaking of public policy and how ridiculous it can be, I start my participation in the Residents’ Reference Panel on Safe Injection Sites.  Our task was to (more or less) determine what would constitute reasonable and effective public consultation.  I tried very hard to stay open-minded and think I succeeded. but the evidence was so overwhelmingly on the harm reduction side, it was hard not to scream out at every NIMBYist there.  But overall an interesting experience, and certainly a rare opportunity to interact with Torontonians of all ages and backgrounds, in groupings that tend not to occur naturally.  It was like an episode of Lost!  (And hopefully we did some good, though I remain worried that ‘public consultation’ often creates the perception that experts need to kowtow to public ignorance.  Scarborough subway, anyone?)

 

March 2014:

I go with my mother to see a Canada Reads taping.  It makes me briefly proud to be a Canadian.

David Koechner favorites one of my tweets.  It makes me briefly proud to be me.

March 2014 - David Koechner favorite

 

I do some work for Russell Oliver, also known as The Cashman.  I am now part of Canadian history.

There’s a Slings and Arrows panel.  I miss it.  Because I’m an idiot.

There’s a LIVE READING OF ‘BRAIN CANDY’!  I go with Tory, but also unofficially with half of Toronto comedy.  The alternate ending is revealed.  Dark!

Josh and Laura have me over for a Purim potluck dinner.  I make kasha.  It’s how the Hershfields roll.

And it was my birthday.  Presumably we did something.

 

April 2014:

There’s a live taping of Antoine Feval.  Chris Gibbs is a freaking genius, and I’m frankly amazed I ever get him to do things I ask him to do.  Admiration.

I go to the Blue Jays’ home opener with Evan.  (I believe it was my birthday present.)  It begins a season of the Jays’ toying with the city’s emotions (that is ending as I write this.)

There was a trip to Winnipeg.  I don’t entirely remember why, beyond that it’s a nice thing to do.  (I’m starting to run out of steam.  This is a super-long post!)

Passover happens.  Let’s pass over that.  Ha ha.  But seriously, I don’t remember much about it, but I’m sure it was great.

Chris Wilson has a birthday party.  It makes me feel older than my own birthday party did.

 

May 2014:

I hangout with Mike Fly, which I mention because he’s one of those guys where I constantly ask myself “Wow, how long has it been since I’ve seen (name)?!?”  Now I’ll be able to look it up.

I get this article, Tories introduce ‘Three Riddles’ voting system, into The Beaverton.  People seem to like it.

I do a panel for Veronika Swartz’s podcast with Ian and Jason.  It is as much fun as you can have finding fault with a god (hubris?) with two people far better at it than you are.  If that sounds like I didn’t have fun, it’s because I’m not as good a writer as Joss Whedon.  Or, you know, Joss Whedon in a coma.

May 2014 - Whedon panel

I go to the symphony with Cam.  It is lovely and sophistimicated.

I get coffee with Diana Frances.  As it often does, it leads to me ending up on CBC radio and someone calls my parents about it.

There’s a reading for the latest Reid Along With Browning opus.  They’re great.

We go to Lou Dawgs for my father’s birthday.  He ends up staying out later than anyone, because that’s who he is.  Can’t keep an old man down.

I hurt my finger playing basketball.  Which seems frivolous to mention, but it was bad enough that it may have been broken and still looks like it was broken, so if I ever need to trace my deformity, this is where it started.

 

June 2014:

Introducing Marty!

Marty 2 - Before

Yes, my parents got another dog.  This was Mom’s pick.  The rest of us wanted another golden retriever.  She said we were free to get one.  Despite his being a shrimp, he is growing on us.  He’s a world-class player (as in he plays well, though as of now, he also still has his balls) and gives very nice kisses.  And my parents certainly haven’t tired of picking him up yet.

June also saw 100 in 1 Day Toronto, a day where people hosted interventions around the city with the aim of somehow making things better.  I had an idea that people went fairly gaga for (though not so much that many volunteered): riding the streetcars and encouraging people with music and treats to move to the back.  Though the music was really only appreciated by those at the back anyway, our system of bribing people with cookies worked well at times.  (Maybe too well: we were strangers giving out cookies!)  It was definitely an experience, mostly fun, and most fun when my buddy Faisal was with me.  Strength in numbers!

June 2014 - 100in1Day

Doesn’t he look like he’s having fun?  (Well, he was!  He told me so!!)

And now, the last (for this post) of my Twitter highlights.  @midnight retweeted me!  It’s kind of a big deal… (also, kind of not…)

June 2014 - At Midnight tumbler

June ends with me dog-sitting Marty while the rest of the family has their own New York adventure.  At this point, Marty is excruciating (he’s gotten better), but I think we bonded, which is nice.

 

July 2014:

I’m sure things happened in July, I just don’t remember them well.  I believe I saw the latest Second City revue (much obliged, Connor!) and definitely saw quite a bit of Fringe, much of it good.  (I also showed Lauren Martin around, which was a lot of fun.)  It also caps off a string of seeing Tim Walker perform again, which is certainly a treat.  I missed that guy.

I’m sure there’s more, but this post is so close to being over…!

 

August 2014:

I’m a playwright in Operation 24, a mini-festival where plays are conceived, written, rehearsed, teched, and mounted, all within a 24 hour period.  The playwrights had from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. to write…and we had to do it onsite!  It was kind of crazy, but a whole lot of fun!  My cast and director were great, and all things considered, I didn’t do too badly myself.  Quite the experience.

I am on the panel for Teh Internets again.  Mostly, it will be remembered as the show where I did THIS (see below) to Marty as part of my “homework” for the show:

Marty 3 - MakeoverMarty 4 - Looking toughMarty 7 - Marty MurderMarty 8 - Marty Takes The BusMarty 9 - Marty Tupac

We go to the cottage.  Marty is a bit of a problem, as puppies are wont to be.  Not quite housebroken, can’t sleep through the night, a crier, and not entirely willing to swim.  I list all these issues now so we’ll be amazed by how good he is next year, kenahora, knock on wood.

And lastly, on the last day of the month, I give my notice.  After years and years, I’m moving.  Into the apartment my brother’s giving up to move in with his girlfriend.  Changes!

 

September 2014 (thus far):

I guess the highlight is TIFF.  My movies include:

  • Welcome to Me
  • The Dark Horse
  • Do I Sound Gay?
  • Felix and Meira
  • Whiplash
  • The Tribe
  • Leviathan
  • Shelter

Not my best festival ever, but some good ones and no real train wrecks.  And in terms of star sightings (because why not?), I saw Joel McHale and Nick Kroll “in nature”, and up close at shows Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, and from a distance at a show, J.K. Simmons.  And then funnily enough, a couple days after the fest, I was riding with the folks and who should be crossing the street, waiting for us to pass?  Nicolas Cage!  (Crazy!)  I miss the opportunity to convince Larry that this is yet another one of his ‘thinks he recognizes a famous person’ moments.  I guess maybe I’m a good son?

Other than that, I watched Roots for the first time (I think it holds up pretty well, but what do I know?) and I have a years overdue breakfast with Ryan Beil.  He’s coming to town more often now, so hopefully there are more in the future, but my oh my, do I enjoy that lad’s company.  HE’S VERY CHARMING!

And with that, I think I’m done!  What a post!

(And I’ll leave you with a two-word teaser for the next one: DENTAL CRISIS!  Now you’ve GOT TO come back!)

 

And since you probably need more to read than this blog…

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Here is what I’ve read since last I posted my reading list.  (As far as legacies go, this one is pretty passive, so why am I proud of it?  One for the ages, I suppose…)

  1. The House of God, Samuel Shem (Steve Bergman)
  2. The Mirage, Matt Ruff
  3. Kasher in the Rye, Moshe Kasher
  4. Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Rachel Maddow
  5. Hope: A Tragedy, Shalom Auslander
  6. Quiet:  The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, Susan Cain
  7. Going Solo: the extraordinary rise and growing appeal of living alone, Eric Klinenberg
  8. Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV (oral history), Warren Littlefield
  9. Girl Walks Into a Bar…: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters and a Midlife Miracle, Rachel Dratch
  10. The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC, Richard Stursberg
  11. I Drink For A Reason, David Cross
  12. Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota, Chuck Klosterman
  13. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), Jenny Lawson
  14. A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson

Enjoy!  (And if you read any, let me know.  It’s like a scattered book club!)

How did I miss 12/12/12?!?

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

To answer the title of this post, I missed it because it was a non-event. But a few things have happened to me since last I posted.

June 2012:
Okay, not too much happened in June that I can remember. I do seem to recall playing lots of tennis. Oh, and it was the end of Humewood volleyball. Which is sad, the end of an era, and all that… Hopefully, some semblance of something will be revived at some point, but based on the vagaries of that statement, and considering that the three most likely suspects to organize have or are about to have babies (something in the gym air, I suppose), it could be awhile.

July 2012:
Evan and I (and Brad) take Father Dearest to the Ottawa Bluesfest. Good times are had, good music is heard, the War Museum is a right solid museum, and I have a nice reunion with Gentil Jon Dewolfe. July was also a big month in terms of making a push to get an agent, which alas ends with a lot of positive feedback and pretty much that. Still, positive feedback!

August 2012:
Camp Hershfield again. A lot of fun and no health problems this time! At least for me… poor little Claire is alas starting to show her age, taking some very nasty spills and scaring the hell out of us. But the fact that she refuses to let her enthusiasm diminish is very inspiring (or, you know, a sign she’s a dog, but I choose to be inspired.)

September 2012:
I officially hand off the producing duties of Comedy on the Danforth to Amy Zuch. I know I won’t have the time or energy to do the job right, and that she’ll do a fine job with it, and so far, I have to say I was right on both counts. It’s also determined sometime around now that instead of the rotating cast around me I’d been employing, I’d team up with Lindsay Grant and Tom MacKay as a regular house team. Also a fine, fine decision, though I do sometimes feel silly that we’re still called “Dan’s Mix ’95.”

September also means another TIFF. Because I was back at school, I didn’t get to see as much as I normally would, but I was generally happy with what I saw:

  • Frances Ha
  • A Liar’s Autobiography
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Fill the Void

I will mostly remember it as the TIFF where I stood a foot away from Joss Whedon, already reaching out to tap him on the shoulder and break into tears before I wussed out.  But I did talk to and shake hands with Reed Diamond, which was pretty satisfying, because he’s probably the only actor in the world who exists in the Whedonverse AND the David Simon universe, so top that!  Oh, and I also got this picture, which I felt guilty about later, because the rest of the cast was leaving and he was panicking about being left behind, but whatever, it happened, and it’s this:

 

DSC01188 (compressed)

Oh, and I also have this, and it proves I got close (Geez, starting to feel creepy!  But I’m not like this for most things… I think…) :

DSC01185 (compressed)
And of course, the other big news for September is that I’m back to school, not unlike Rodney Dangerfield.  I’m not going to say too much about it, because despite that being the usual purpose of a blog, I’m still processing the experience and don’t want to try to sum up something that’s very much in flux.  But suffice it to say, it’s an experience.

October 2012:

The biggest part of October is the 40th anniversary party Evan and I throw for our parents.  It was a surprise party, and we totally pulled it off.  (They thought they were coming to see us do an improv show, the suckers!)  As did their friends, which was something of a miracle!  (They did great!)  It was a project long in the making, not just the party itself, but wonderful sons that we are (once every forty years or so), we made them this anniversary video, with stories from their friends and every picture and video of the two of them we could lay our hands on.  And (with apologies for some copyright infringement) it turned out pretty great, if I do say so myself.  I include it here (it’s broken into two parts), as well as a video Evan made (shot by Brad) of the event itself.

Also of note in October was Thanksgiving at Tom and Lindsay’s, which was lovely.  Oh, and I start a Twitter account, @danhershfield, for those who might be interested.  (And since I’ve already admitted a creepy attachment to all things Whedon, a highlight of my tweeting is that I have reason to believe Jane Espenson read a reply of mine to a tweet of hers.  Winning!)

November 2012:
Okay, around here, life that doesn’t have to do with school sort of disappears, and I become boring.  But I do recall meeting with a KITH writer, which is always neat, going to a last Second City show for a bunch of people, also interesting, and that I didn’t get into the Toronto Fringe (but it’s lotteried, so no need to take it personally, fans of mine!)

December 2012:
Holidays and school.  (Told you.)

January 2013:
Well, I took the Jeopardy test.  I did not do well.  (Though I partially blame a large-scale blackout, which forced me to take the test late at night after a crazy long day, but still, it’s possible I just suck.)  Oh, and I didn’t get into Globehead. The end of an era, though it would have felt odd not doing it with Dave anyway (though Ian and I would have kicked some ass).

But there was also some good news.  I found out there was going to be another production of Courting, this time in Regina, which means I can add Saskatchewan to the list of provinces where I’ve been produced, which is pretty nifty.  Also, a great TV writer who has worked on some of the greatest TV comedies ever (I’m leaving him anonymous, so I feel free to gush) agreed to read my pilot and had nothing but good things to say about it.  I choose to take this feedback at face value and enjoy warm cuddlies.

February 2013:
School, school, school, and school.  Though I do get my skate on for the first time in ages, and do play a little ball, but still, I wish I had something more exciting to go out on.  Oh well, hopefully the exciting stuff is ahead!

 

 

And now we’re caught up.  Doesn’t mean you can’t call once in awhile…

A year’s worth of reading!

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Okay, it actually took me substantially longer than a year.  But it turns out I’ve read 52 books since last I posted my reading list, so this seemed like a good theme.  Read one of these books a week, and a year from now, we’ll have SO MUCH to talk about!  (If nothing else, we can talk about my eclectic tastes.)  This is my reading list, in the order I read them:

  1. Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling Collection, Edited by Shana Liebman
  2. The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy, by Bill Simmons
  3. The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater (oral history), by Mike Thomas
  4. Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Undermined America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
  5. Too Fat To Fish, by Artie Lange
  6. Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies
  7. Fraud, by David Rakoff
  8. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, by Sarah Silverman
  9. And the Dead Shall Rise, Steve Oney
  10. Bad Monkeys, by Matt Ruff
  11. The Murder of Little Mary Phagan, by Mary Phagan
  12. Flow the Tears, the Policeman Said, by Philip K. Dick
  13. A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews
  14. I Know I Am, But What Are You?, by Samantha Bee
  15. Official Book Club Selection, by Kathy Griffin
  16. The Box: An Oral History of Television 1920-1961, by Jeff Kisseloff
  17. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
  18. Elliot Allagash, by Simon Rich
  19. The Stuff of Thought, by Steven Pinker
  20. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
  21. Bossypants, by Tina Fey
  22. Your Call is Important to Us: The Truth About Bullshit, by Laura Penny
  23. Unfamiliar Fishes, by Sarah Vowell
  24. I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny At All, Edited by Judd Apatow
  25. The Power of Ignorance: 14 Steps to Using Your Ignorance, by Vaguen (with Chris Gibbs and TJ Dawe)
  26. The View from Castle Rock, by Alice Munro
  27. Superstud (Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin), by Paul Feig
  28. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  29. And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft, by Mike Sacks
  30. Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
  31. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, by Chuck Klosterman
  32. Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won, by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim
  33. After Claude, by Iris Owens
  34. Disaster Preparedness, by Heather Havrilesky
  35. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
  36. Fresh at Twenty: The Oral History of Mint Records, by Kaitlin Fontana
  37. A Clash of Kings, by George R.R. Martin
  38. Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, by Barbara Ehrenreich
  39. Disquiet, Please: More Humor Writing from the New Yorker, Edited by David Remnick and Henry Finder
  40. The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life), by Chris Hardwick
  41. Paying for It: a comic-strip memoir about being a john, by Chester Brown
  42. Picnicface’s Canada, by Picnicface
  43. A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin
  44. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt
  45. A Feast for Crows, by George R.R. Martin
  46. I Don’t Care About Your Band, by Julie Klausner
  47. A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin
  48. Moneyball, by Michael Lewis
  49. The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture, by Nathan Rabin
  50. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling
  51. We’re With Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics, by Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian
  52. Cool, Calm & Contentious, by Merrill Markoe

Thus proving that in many significant ways, I’m a better person than Oprah.  See you in a year.  Your time starts…now.

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!