Tag Archives: comedy

Stand-Up

onStandUpi just wrote and posted some of my recent thoughts On Stand-Up Comedy and UX up on LinkedIn — go gander a bit and read if you’ve got some minutes to spare, i think i’ve bumped across a lot of interesting similarities between the 2 fields by taking Amy Tee’s Stand-Up Comedy course out at North Shore Community College this Summer and some of the work i’ve done by learning about stand-up — through the process of writing and refining a set of stand-up comedy — enlightened me about various aspects of my life ( both personal and professional ) on SO many levels

its been a fascinating journey

that said — in less than a week i will perform my very first serious set of stand-up comedy out at Timothy’s in Danvers — here’s a link to the Facebook Even Page in case you’re interested in seeing more about the event or maybe even purchasing tickets for dinner and the show — its gonna be a lot of fun with over 10 comedians breaking out their material to friends, families strangers and frenemies, i really can’t wait

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after this week’s debut stand-up performance i will most likely head back to Laughter at the End of the World, Outloud Open Mike and other similar, wonderful events to perform and test my material and hopefully augment this initial 6 minute set into a fuller body of work to keep pushing my comedy

after that, i gotta get back to focusing on building out and working with the team of Comedy Catalysts i’ve rounded up for TEDxBeaconStreet this November — SO many amazing TED Talks goin’ down for a big weekend in midNovember, and SO many talented comedic professionals expressing interest and comin’ on board — ‘sGonna be SO much fun!

 

 

on the next …

lou suSi, stand-up comedian and comedic performer

so, here i am

much of my life remains the same in so many ways — and yet recently i feel like i’ve made fantastic strides in life that open up new areas for discovery, new opportunities to grow and contribute in an entirely refreshing way

i’m starting up a new chapter in life

this is a chapter that i’ve actually been working on for most of my life

i’m such a fucking late bloomer, though

a complete clod

always fumbling for the pull chain to click-click the closet light on and finally shed some light into the darkened room

i say this not to beat myself up here on my very own blog or anything, but i guess in retrospect its all so refreshing obvious to me now

my new direction feels so incredible simple, too — almost too entirely natural for me to feel like i just suddenly discovered it over the course of the last few months

i’ve finally decided to start taking humor and comedy seriously

it sounds so hilariously strange to me when i write it out like that, too, but its one of the few times in my lifetime that just make sense and feel right { other similar times from my life include: coming back into Art and Creativity as my core career focus; falling in love and marrying the woman of my dreams and making a family and life together; digging deeper into my creative energies and talents to focus on experience design and research-driven, user-centered processes as my lifelong avocation }

i’ve done a lot of self-reflecting,
soul searching and analysis
these last few years

and its been wonderful looking back at my life to see the long list of crazy, humor-based projects, performances and installations i’ve either curated or directly created — running through my CV, i get this sense now that i’ve been tap-dancing like a madman in a field of pollock paint splotches, perhaps so busy making — happily making — to even see from a higher perspective if there might be any patterns lurking in the mix

part of me doesn’t want any of it to make sense at all

as an artist, that’s not my job at the end of the day anyways, right?

but another part of me knows that you can create from a far stronger place with a deeper sense of self-awareness around what you do { or even around what you did } and i think that’s what i’ve been finally looking into as a way to build a new place from which to make my work

you would think that all of this self-reflection, too, would lead me to a far mature foundation from which to make and curate and perform

but it looks like i still needs to be silly

perhaps even sillier than i’ve ever been before,
at least within the context of my past work

i recently took on the amazing role of the official Comedy Catalyst for this year’s TEDxBeaconStreet in the Fall and i am committed to making the comic relief i bring to the weekend and all of its surrounding events so completely knee-slapping nuttyFun hilarious that i’m almost skipping rope with glee like a naughty child from right my office desk at the moment

i am committed to bringin’ the funny in such a big, big way

just remember — i couldn’t possibly make fun of TEDxBeaconStreet by my lonesome — its only via my carefully hand-selected Comedy Catalyst Team that the right kind of laughter can flow between the cracks of over-glorified bleeding-edge ideas from the most upper ups of our oh so humble Boston-Area intelligensia

let me know if you’re interested in joining our wisecrack ninja team of humorists, stand-ups and other olympic comedic adventurers out at TEDxBeaconStreet — ‘sGonna be too much fun { TMF that is }

 

 

on Turing

 

turing

and now … getting back to The Turing Test

lately my thoughts return, once again, to Alan Turing and the infamous Turing Test he conducted pertaining to machine intelligence, or better stated, pertaining to our human perceptions, beliefs and gullibility surrounding the technologies we create

the original goal of The Turing Test was to test ‘a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human’

however, based on this goal in relation to the actual methodologies and approach used by Turing, we can see a certain strange perversion didn’t necessarily shed any direct light on or prove anything at all remotely about a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior but instead used a trick in the form of a hidden human agent cleverly disguised as the computing machine to simulate varying degrees of intelligence along the machine to human intelligence spectrum 

at this time in history we may want to re-examine how we measure for intelligence — both machine and human intelligence

our standards of human language — especially machine-mediated, near-human language of social communication through the screen — have sufficiently changed over the course of several decades

and we need to keep in mind that the standards of human language vary significantly as we examine our communications as delivered through different mediums — for instance, human language in classic literature varies tremendously from the way we text each other via SMS; email communications — in regards to content, purpose and language structure — differ from the way we converse through social media as well as the way we communicate face-to-face IRL { the TLA for ‘In Real Life’ }; and so on

what if we considered testing ‘a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human’ by utilizing different forms of human communication exchange?

for instance, what if we looked at machine intelligence through the lens of humor and laughter?

Funny-robot

could a computing machine perform a successful set of stand up comedy in front of a live, human audience? can a computing robotic device actually make us laugh through comedy? not just by delivering jokes and schtick as written and honed through a human comedy author, mind you, but by cleverly crafting its own comedic material through whatever embedded intelligence-derived writing algorithms its programmed with, and then by delivering that material live, onstage?

and — from the other perspective — can our computing technologies in 2014 detect and respond to a human-delivered set of stand-up comedy through genuine laughter?

my questions here — just to clarify — challenge our current notions of machine intelligence by proposing we conduct the testing using actual machines, not just simulations of machine intelligence

let’s not fake it to make it here when it comes to our measure of intelligence — let’s avoid any sense of a mere simulation of intelligence by leveraging the state of our technologies as they exist today, ‘as is’

unfortunately i’m not the person to actually design, develop and build the actual technological objects needed to conduct these experiments — i’m just not technically proficient enough to produce an intelligent-enough robotic stand-up / humor / laughing machine to properly conduct the testing as i imagine it would need to be

but my hypothesis goes something like this:

the technologies we create will never be smart enough to deliver a successful set of stand-up comedy to a live, human audience — the content of the material would miss the mark and the delivery would be too awkward and off to get people to feel any amount of the sense of mirth needed to provoke genuine, human laughter

not only would a robotic stand-up act not produce laughter — in an even worse way such an act would most likely, instead, create an atmosphere of strangeness, this uncanny valley effect as defined and described by Masahiro Mori — the performance would feel downright creepy to people and would actually start to effect our human perceptions and our overall experience of the space and place of The Comedy Club as a familiar and funny scenario

i also do not believe our current technologies could be successfully programmed to behave in a smart enough manner onstage to improvise in the way a stand-up does on a nightly, performance-by-performance basis — a robot, for instance, might not be able to read the audience to gauge how they’re receiving the material, to see if they’re being funny enough to proceed with further material ‘as previously planned’ or to, perhaps, switch up to a different branch of jokes and storytelling based upon both an audience’s laughter and the general human feel of the room 

and then — when going in the other direction — when asking whether or not a robot or other computing machine could identify something as funny and then laugh in a natural, human way at the comedy or humor that typical inspires our human laughter — this, to me, is a no brainer

there’s just no way

in fact, we would be tripping into the same uncanny valley every step of the way — it might, perhaps, even be a far deeper fall into an unfathomable abyss of uncanniness

we can look to the dinner scene from Kubrick and Spielberg’s film A.I. Artificial Intelligence as the speculative example of what might actually happen when a robotic being encounters a humorous situation

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as a robotic boy, David sits at the dinner table with his new adoptive parents — as his parents Monica and Henry Swinton eat and drink their meal, David imitates the act of eating and drinking since he himself does not actually need food-based sustenance to live — after some silent tension at the dinner table, David breaks out into a crazy fit of laughter that quite literally scares the shit out of the Swintons — and then, following the initial scary outburst of laughter, the entire family exchanges more laughter around the dinner table

the entire scene makes no sense at all from a purely human perspective, but we see how a robot might misinterpret the tension in the room as potential humor to laugh about — here, for some strange reason, the laughter of the robotic boy, succeeds in making his human parents laugh — his laughter somehow becomes contagious for them, infectious, and they join in — but even then, the shared social sense of human laughter still contains a sour uncanniness, there is still some tense pressure residing in the room

 

so, on that note:

is there anyone that might be up to the challenge? who here on the interwebz can build a robot or other technology that could potentially make a human audience genuinely laugh?

and, could you also build out its amazing technologically-based counterpart as well? a robot that can detect and actually laugh in a human, natural way to human-delivered stand-up comedy?

do you submit to my challenge?

do you even dare?

does your dog bite?

peterSellers

sometimes i feel a lot like a human, wetware mash-up between Larry David and Peter Seller’s version of Inspector Clouseau from Blake Edward’s Pink Panther films of the 1970s and beyond

i always feel like that dream we all have where we’re walking around in a very familiar place but you know that you need to hide away for some reason — maybe you’re at school or at work or at a club or restaurant or something, but you’re overwhelmed with embarrassment and the need to hide yourself away — its only at about three quarters of the way through the dream that you realize that you’re ashamed and hiding all because you don’t have any pants on — hell, you don’t even have under garments on for that matter, and even though nobody seems to even notice you just know that you need to keep a low profile and sneak around until you can find something to cover your naked genitals and ass with

bumbling — i’m constantly bumbling

i mean — let’s say i get up and i’m in a hurry and i slide my jacket on, put my laptop bag over my shoulders, grab my coffee and water bottle and start to head out the door and then fwoOoOOop! — somehow the strap on my bag or a pocket on my jacket loops around the door handle and i’m yanked back into my ungraceful, clumsy reality again

i seem to have a bad relationship with inanimate objects

and i seem to get myself into probably just as many awkward and painful social scenarios as Larry David gets himself into on the show Curb Your Enthusiasm

its just not usually that funny to me in the moment — it only seems to grow into something of a funny story as my temporal distance from the immediate fumbling moments recede into the nebulous past

what’s kind of interesting and funny to me in thinking back to Seller’s Clouseau right now is a certain para-cosmological and symbolic connection i might have subconsciously made to a similarly hilarious character that can be watched on an almost nightly basis in our current television mass media substreaming archetype generation machine

and i think you know exactly who i’m talkin’ ’bout here Willis

that’s right — its none other than … dun dun duhhhhh!

Horatio P Caine

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when you watch an episode of CSI Miami, you know you’re supposed to take Horatio Caine dead serious — there’s this almost over-the-top ridiculousness to David Caruso’s delivery as Caine — its bad acting at its best

Caruso’s over-tense, tough as nails style of hard-guy cliché muttering at the scene of the crime actually becomes the perfect comedic counterpoint to the world of drug dealing and wheeling, murder and dark crime sizzling up from the heat of downtrodden, criminal Miami — and as unintentional as the humor may be, its a rather brilliantly clumsy-confident portrayal that truly brightens my nights when and if i get myself into a CSI jag to piss my time away

Horatio Caine almost comes across as the Anti-Clouseau in many respects, or at least that’s what i gather as the intention behind the writing and direction for CSI Miami — investigation mistakes for Caine have a far less light-hearted set of consequences than those made by Clouseau in a movie like A Shot in the Dark — you can feel that the character of Horatio Caine is supposed to come across as dark, troubled and mysterious as Tim Burton’s Bruce Wayne in 1989 Batman, but the delivery goes way too far and the result then turns into far more of a farce than anything — and for this reason, as much as Caine and Clouseau are bi-polar opposites on the spectrum of hard-assed smoothness and emotionality, i feel their intrinsically connected on a pseudo-psychic level of the collective subconscious

the dog that Horatio Caine might pet in Miami would surely bite,
but it would most likely actually be Caine’s dog

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the laughterLife

little child baby

i so wanted to already unrealistically be done with my re-written thesis by now, which i realize is simply ridiculous

one of my main issues — both my biggest challenge and my greatest attitudinal asset as an artist and designer, actually — is my utter lack of any sense of realism

i am Surrealistic through and through

and with my previous thesis work, too, i’ve contextualized my work and personality as that of a cyberSurrealist

but this was the distracting pull that veered me away from what i now feel should have been my main thesis focus — laughter

confounded — as nicely expressed by my überStrong and somewhat out of control subconscious interior — was just that on SO many levels

confounded

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i love the work i did out at DMI to death — really i do — but i completely understand some problematic issues of my own struggle between focus and blur — i even had very specific slides in my performative review presentations that visually depicted my tendencies to ebb and flow from one mode into the other

of course, there’s nothing wrong with pushing and pulling between more focused work and blurry brainstormy fun — but then, when trying to research, design, test, reflect and articulate on a meaningful topic, that’s when its important, of course, to try and pull something reasonably understandable together as a final product with important conclusions for an audience’s considerations

i got excited about founding a movement of one { which i now find hilarious } — this soft revolution of sorts that gave me the good excuse to ‘act out’ a little bit and experiment with psychoSocial boundaries that are now beyond blurred due to an increasingly fleeting technohumanic evolutionary ecosystem — there’s no guardrail to this shit at all — and the lack of rules or standards opens up plenty of opportunities for us all to exploit as cartoonish iCapitalists set loose on the world

wdwwwtd

 

there are little to no consequences for acting more and more emotionless and robotic — for approaching the previous dotted-line boundaries that were once oh so clear to us all but that are now very easy to step across in the most silly, passive-aggressive ways imaginable

and, of course, we’re all well aware that these things happen every day — corporations seem to lead the way by transgressing what we all know is the territory of wrong and then either asking forgiveness later or somehow making the bent or broken rules officially and permanently forever bent in the way of corporate favor

but now, back to laughter

The-Power-of-Laughter

i’ve got to get back to laughter

both as a topic to finish my research, prototyping, reflection and reporting on and as a lighter way to live my life over these last 30 to 50 years or so

i’ve been feeling heavy lately

i’m physically heavy — or as they say, obese

i’ve always gone up and down in weight, its been an ongoing life challenge for me — and every once in a while i put my best effort into getting healthy by starting up jogging, watching what i eat, going to the gym, staying away from sweets, all that, ya know? 

but that kind of life is just SO boring — the vigor and fun gets just sucked right out of every minute when you’re watching every little morsel you eat — and SO many options at restaurants and even at the supermarket are simply off the table — life becomes a little less flavorful

and, on top of all that drop in the joy of eating, exercise is just dead boring to me — hamsterwheel cardio in front of a row of vapid television programming while listening to the current piped in muzak poppedness feels like such a waste of fucking time — i mean, i know it isn’t — its a little road to recovery and all, but jeez, wtf? ya know?

so, besides being physically heavy, i’ve also been extremely spiritually heavy as of late

i feel that at the tender age of 44 i’ve accomplished enough in life, but i don’t feel like i’ve done anything all that ‘great,’ if you know what i mean — and now that times a tickin’

i mean, besides being a relatively decent dad at times and a semi-decent person { mostly by comparison, which i guess isn’t saying all that much at the end of the day … hmmMMmmm } i’m not feeling like i’ve made a dent in some of the big challenges we face in the world

but then again, who am i? right?

what can one person possibly do to make at least a minor portion of some of this shit we deal with ‘right’ for our future generations?

 

at times i’ve described my thesis — my previous thesis, confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy — as being about ‘laughter, humor and the area inbetween’

my contextual history from confoundedsomewhere between humor and laughter — at least captures different definitions for the word ‘funny’ as a way to establish the uncanny valley of humor i typically situate myself within — as a sometimes amateur comedian, i am actually quite bored with comedy and often plant myself as a performer, or even as a member of the audience, as a bit of a virus — at this point, comedy is a commodity and so much of it just isn’t funny at all in the ‘ha ha’ sense of being genuinely funny — humor is now vastly flattened, predictable and unsurprising and much of the time a stand-up comedian or even the actors in a situation comedy vastly depend upon the magic of the setup of a comedy club or televised comedic show to land the laughs

i get the sense that we’re practicing the ghost-rhythm of the previously established comedic delivery and ultimately leveraging the tickle-theory basis of something like Peter McGraw’s Benign Violation as a delivery strategy to make people laugh — but i’m still not convinced any of it is truly ‘funny’ per se

what i’m finding lacking in the research right now is a lack of openness to many perspectives

in order to understand laughter as a human phenomena i think we also need to study and research laughter, humor, comedy, funniness and the lack of funniness to better analyze the entire milieu of these built-in forces within us all

what makes something funny? what makes something unfunny? why do we laugh? what’s laughter all about? why do we need a joking comment or a television canned laugh track or the wonderful trappings of a stand-up comedy club as the contextual ‘space’ that gives us permission to laugh?

these were areas i lightly focused on in my 4th stream in confounded — the last stream, too — but one that still feels somewhat incomplete, hurried and waiting for continued work and revelation

i touched upon a lot of important thought and research around laughter but didn’t give myself the space and time to properly focus this vastly important area of my research

this is the page i’ll now turn to — i want to re-open this stream of research, work, prototyping and reflection to finish the work that i started and finish it up in a far more rewarding manner

i don’t know if this will end up feeling like something ‘great’ to offer up to the world, or at least not ‘great’ enough, but i think this work deserves to be finished in a decent manner

i will treat the topics of laughter, humor, comedy and funniness { and even lack of funniness } with dignity and respect

and then i will eat them

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get the Sleep App, its not just for breakfast anymore

cute-cats-sleeping8

get the Sleep App

it really works

seriously — cats, dogs, men, women and children all love the Sleep App — its the perfect gift this holiday season, so download the gift of sleep today!

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the Sleep App

are you still having trouble with terrible bouts of insomnia?

its totally exhausting, right? and it can totally make life difficult — slowing your ability to be happy and productive at the office — without adequate sleep, its just difficult to be your best and just get through your typical, super-important workday

boy oh boy, you sleepless fiends of The Information Age, we have just the cure specially designed and developed just in time to meet your nighttime resting needs

now, thanks to the miracles of modern technology

there’s an app for that

introducing the Sleep App

sheep_jump

that’s right — there’s no need to waste your time at the end of a long, long day manually counting sheep in your head — there’s no need to even bother with biopharmaceutically-proven but pesky and potentially addictive medications to getchya sleep on any longer

the Sleep App does all of the painful,
human-numeric brainGame counting and calculations for you

leveraging advanced neuroscience brainwave stimulation and modern differential equation 4D projections of sheep — little baby sheep jumping over a little hill in the natural, grassy knolls of your mind — you and your brain almost immediately lose consciousness and delve deeply into luxurious REM-state, restful, dreamy sleep

available for native app downloads for iOS and Android smartphone and tablet devices, the Sleep App is the gift that keeps on giving you just what you’ve needed for the last 2 decades — that’s right, the gift of fucking sleep

download the Sleep App today from The App Store or GooglePlay — its supposedly free, but its really a freemium product with extra premium features you’ll need to pay to upgrade to for features like: advanced sleep analytics; special wet dream simulator add-ons, complete with unconscious happy endings without the real mess of just spankin’ it; and brand new, bleeding-edge, dream-data and sleep virus protection, just in case you still believe in any sense of privacy

the Sleep App

we’ll put you to sleep and make your dreams come true

sleepApp_small

the secret comedy society

Young's The Hatter, 45 Wall St....

i took a trip out to New York City this past weekend to attend 2 seminars offered through Steve Hoftstetter’s Comedy Soapbox … both courses focused on helping comedians get serious about their work from both the business and web aspects of the industry …

a lot of fantastic advice about brand and behavior … good professional advice that anyone ‘out there’ could use for any profession … i don’t want to reveal too much here or get down into the dirt of what us comedians need to go through to make an honest living and get ahead ( laugh ), but i do need to describe an amazing event that i got to witness immediately following the 4 hours of expert insight and suggestions coming from the comedic and business mind of Hoftstetter

after we all learned the deep dark secrets Steve had to share with us … we exchanged kind salutations, business cards and shared an elevator ride descent of 16 flights back down to the New York City streets … some banter and goodbyes and then, standing still and looking up and down the sidewalk i watched the comedians, large and small, men and women each with their own demographically diverse backgrounds, heritage, life experiences and sense of funny fashion … i got to see the comedians walk off into the afternoon armed with this newfound knowledge to help better their careers and help bring joy and laughter to people all around the world ( but mostly in the United States )

it was an inspiring vision … an incredible feeling to think of our afternoon union in the sky … to get the lowdown from a selfless professional in the industry … we drank in his knowledge and advice and now we all bring this insight out into the world as we aim to kill audiences far and wide … i felt a joy, a certain powerful sense of a dispersed community, a pride and happiness … and i laughed a little to myself as i headed off into the slight drizzle and crisp air

related links
http://comedysoapbox.com/

http://stevehofstetter.com/