Archive for November, 2010

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:
  • 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!