23 December 2011

Vancouver Theatresports: Guestspot

In the true spirit of Christmas, Fun Police friend and Vancouver improv stalwart Allen Morrison has arranged for me to do an improv show in Vancouver on one of my three nights in town. I'll be on stage with some old friends and colleagues at Vancouver Theatresports 'Year in Review'.

It's been a long time (many years) since I've done a show in Vancouver, and I've never been on stage at VTSL, nor seen their new Improv Centre, so this is all kinds of exciting for me.

And the timing is ideal, really. A little post-Christmas, pre-New Year's comedic palate cleanser; the best way possible for me to celebrate this heavily-belated Vancouver visit. And maybe there will be a few familiar faces in the crowd as well.


22 December 2011

Home for the holidays

After an epic journey through California (of which more later), we've made it to Vancouver Island. We're doing lots of Christmas visiting with family. So far it's involved hockey, spinach dip, card games, and some overdue admin - which was remarkably painless.

So yeah, things are good.

In celebration of this time, we'll be spending the time celebrating (as in the picture above). I hope you're having a worthwhile holiday full of joy and nog as well.


13 December 2011

Bookish & pantless in the Guardian

It's nice to be recognized, publicly, as a public reader. That's what happened Monday, December 12 2011 in this Guardian article on why "Book swaps at London tube and train stations are 'a good idea'".

I wouldn't even have noticed the article if Nicola of Nicola's Book Club hadn't pointed it out to me. Thank goodness she did, because otherwise not only would I have missed this picture of me in the Guardian - I would've missed the most incredible thing about it.

I'm not wearing any pants.

Yup. I'm totally trouserless and completely sans pants. A fact that's not touched upon in the article, and barely noticeable in the photo.

So, while trying to figure out why I'd had my photo taken on the tube - and why I hadn't noticed - I noticed that there was a glimmer of thigh in the photo. Then it all made sense.

The photo was from The London No Pants Subway Ride 2010. A yearly event organised by Improv Everywhere. And someone at the Guardian Books page was looking through an image bank trying to find a suitable photo to accompany the piece. And they did.

I only wish they'd also encouraged people to enjoy the gloriously silly and fulfilling feeling of riding the rails in their underpants. And reading.

This year's No Pants ride will be the 11th annual. If you're keen to get involved go the FB event page.


08 December 2011

Wild Bomarr Vol. 6

If you're tired of the same old Christmas carol tripe that gets trotted out every year, well then you should get Bomarr's brand-new Wild Xmas Vol. 6.

He always brings the most under-appreciated, melodic (and frequently weird) Christmas jams to pump up your family's holiday playlist. Don't forget to donate while you're there.

And it's already early December, so turn that playlist on, plug in those lights and start necking down the eggnog. Also, you don't have to buy tonnes of presents this year, so enjoy these holidays!


Coastal desert Christmas


Christmas holidays need snow, a long journey, egg nog, and family time to really feel like a holiday. I think. Although it also works if you opt for sunshine and adventure.

Fortunately, like an elf specializing in toys for boys and girls, we've come through with a little something special that works for everybody.

From a touchdown in the tinsel-encrusted Hollywood Hills to re-encounter friends old and new, and an extra day to see Conan celebrates the Yule season (HINT: Straight Up), through to a trip into the shimmering expanse of desert that rests outside the big-city sprawl of LA, we've got SoCal sunshine covered.

Weather permitting.

And coast too. A pleasantly restrained and free-spirited up the coastal ribbon of road is also a chapter.

And this is only part one. We're going to write the rest as we go, but all the elements of true holiday classic: drama, comedy, characters, adventure, family foibles, joyful reunions - they should be covered.

At least that variety is what we're packing for.


06 December 2011

Life expectancy and phantom ailments: UK vs. Italy


A recent piece on BBC Radio 4 and BBC website discussed the idea of Italians being susceptible to all kinds of illnesses. The 'colpo d'aria' (hit of air) that can happen if a chill wind picks up and you're scarfless was one example cited. Having extremely specific internal pains and a dead certainty as to their cause is another.

As a westerner married to an Italian, I appreciate Mitzman's piece. When I lived in Italy I had more than one conversation on the phantom ailments phenomenon with other westerners. My wife has an infuriating knowledge of human anatomy, and a health regime that sometimes dips into the inscrutable.

But, in claiming that "being Italian is bad for your health" Dany Mitzman misses a very important point. She personally may be 'superhuman' when measured against the sometimes bizarre health-related peccadilloes of the Italians around her, but how does that measure up in the bigger picture? Not as well as she might hope.

I'm not going to get into a 'who's healthier, the Brits or the Italians?' argument.

Ok, that was a lie. I am. And it's not the fat, alcoholic, hyper-promiscuous Brits.

Now I like junk food, booze and sex as much as the next guy (unless I'm standing next to an Englishman) but there needs to be a little perspective on what constitutes 'healthy'.

Britain's culinary culture is... well it's actually okay. That old trope about the food being all terrible for you is not really true anymore. But still, there's a whole lot of pork sausages, battered cod and fried chicken on the menus around here. Italy, on the other hand has recently had its Mediterannean diet inscribed onto the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. As they say, it "encompasses more than just food. The system is rooted in respect for the territory and biodiversity, and ensures the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts." In other words it nourishes your body and soul. In short: it's healthy.

And though Italians only live about a year longer than the Brits, that's still a whole year. Think of how nice of a boat you could build in a year. Or how much television you could watch - it's a lot of time.

And of course, that nourished and long-lasting spirit is present in their public life. Not that I think Silvio Berlusconi is any paragon of anything to aspire to, but that cretinous slimeball was throwing sexual callisthenics parties at 75 years of age. Bunga bunga! That's a sign of rude health.

And even their politicians who aren't sleazy are sprightly. Georgio Napolitano, the President of the Republic, is 86. And not a scummy creeper. Way to go Georgio!

In England they need to get younger people to run their country - PM David Cameron is just 45. But even that age assessment is in doubt because it's also been determined that he's a 'pitiless blank-eyed hell-wraith'-cum-lizard creature. A speculation that was subsequently corroborated by numerous independent sources.

I guess the lesson here is that, while Italians have some quirks that can be frustrating, they are also endearing. And as a people they eat better, fuck longer, and are just undeniably more healthful than the rest of us. And though their last PM was an incompetent sexpest, at least he looked like he was having fun - better that than a "malevolent paranormal entity continually shifting between dimensions," I say.

But rather than refute Mitzman's assertion that being Italian is bad for your health, I would say that she is in an extremely privileged position - that of not having to suffer the thousand natural shocks that Italian flesh is heir to, yet also being able to live in Italy and enjoy the salubrious nature of their cuisine and culture, away from hideous lizards and binge drinking lager louts.

Perhaps she's onto something after all.


02 December 2011

December's a Happy Place

Next week I'll be extending my streak of Wednesdays at London Improv to 'two'.

This time though, there will be no competition. The Miller will become your Happy Place - a night of comedy that may just solve many of your deep-rooted psychological issues. And we've specially crafted this, our second special event, to be as special as we could make it. We have succeeded. Click through to see the lineup.

First the hurricane of comedic bottled lightning the 'Hugely enjoyable' (Timeout) Horse & Louis do some major dicking about, and also welcome a host of top-notch comedy acts:
  • Loaded Laftas Finalist 2011 Tom Toal, who Stephen K Amos describes as ‘F**king Hilarious’ 
  • London's finest pizza-based sketch comedy Quattro Formaggio and their ‘Life affirming and buoyant’ (Three Weeks) examination of life in the suburbs 
  • The ‘sheer comic gold’ (Metro) of character comedian Dave McNeill who will romp some ‘mesmerising’ (Time Out) personae-driven hilarity all over the stage

And then, to administer a dose of improvised comedy love, your favourite Cornish-Canadian improvised comedy duo Marbles has been broken down into its constituent parts and then reassembled with the Haroldic stylings of 8Bit and Katy Schutte (The Maydays, Silly String Theory) to create an unbeatable delta force of long-form improvisation.

Using nothing but mere ideas they will create a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience. Like a roundhouse of poetry right in your pleasure centre.

If that sounds like something you would enjoy than you should definitely come. If it doesn't I don't know how to help you.


01 December 2011

The Fun Police Serve and Protect

I had the pleasure last night of playing Catch 23 (UK) with old friends Stephen Sim and Allen Morrison, two excellent humans and fantastic Canadian improvisers who were in London at the same time for different reasons, and unbeknownst to one another.

Allen was my first friend when I started at UBC in Vancouver from Summerland BC many years ago. Some years later, after he had become a classically trained actor, (and I a university dropout) Brad MacNeil and I bullied him back into doing improv. He is now a regular at VTSL. And still an awesome guy.

Steve Sim is also an awesome guy, and one half of legendary improv duo CRUMBS, and spends the better part of his year touring continental Europe, sharing prairie improv magic.

they both got in touch with me individually to let me know they were coming to town. As it happens, I managed to get in touch with the elusive Professor Stevphen Doctors and request some slots for us fellow Canadians in the November 30th show. He saw to it.

So last night the three of us shared the same stage for the first time as the Catch 23 team Fun Police. But instead of clamping down on fun, we enforced it.

It was great to see them both and to rock out an interconnected series of hospital scenes involving a sleepy lobotomy, a roboticized father, a daffodil-blossoming romance, and the world's plushest carpet.

I think they both promised to come back next month so we can defend our title, but I may have imagined that.