Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Check out my Stand-Up Comedy Commercial

Here is my commercial for the Artie Fletcher Comedy Class Crack-Ups showcase show.

Six Degrees of Separation with a New Hall of Famer

When word spread that Bert Blyleven was finally voted to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, there was much celebration in the baseball blogosphere. The hard work of a small group of online writers had successfully shined light on one of the most underrated careers in baseball history. They proved Blyleven's career was much more than his win-loss record or the reputation of the teams he played for, it was a collection of the effects he could control, such as strikeouts, innings, and runs allowed.

Leading the charge in the pro-Blyleven camp was baseball writer Rich Lederer, one of the main voices for The Baseball Analysts. Starting way back in the pre-historic blog days of 2003, Lederer campaigned for Blyleven, seemingly winning over supporters one at a time. Of course, the effort worked, as votes for Blyleven increased every year to the point where he finally made it over the necessary threshold for induction.

For his tireless efforts, Lederer was finally able to meet Blyleven and play catch with his new Hall of Fame hero.

On a much smaller note, in honor of the pitching great's eventual induction, I have my own Blyleven story I would like to share. It's not really directly about Blyleven, but more about the effects of his teachings and the only bus leagues player I faced in the Eau Gallie Little League system.

From the late 1970s to the 1990s, the Minnesota Twins had a trainer by the name of Dick Martin. Martin was one of the best in his field - so much so that Baseball Prospectus named their Training Staff of the Year Award after him. A little known fact however, was that Dick Martin lived in Melbourne, Florida, home of the Twins' minor league training facility from 1964 to 1989 and coincidentally, the same town I grew up in.

Although I couldn't tell you anything about Dick Martin, I had a few encounters with his son, Tyler. During my heyday as a soft-tossing left-handed control specialist, my little league was dominated by the younger Martin. He was a flashy shortstop/pitcher with a golden arm and the most natural swing in the county. He was one of the few switch-hitters in the league and the only kid who could regularly hit the ball to the fence, if not over. But the most impressive thing about Martin was that he knew how to throw a curveball. While the rest of the league's moundsmen, myself included, learned the basic concepts of a changeup and struggled to control our erratic fastballs, Martin was breaking off 12-6 curves and forcing opposing coaches to teach their kids how to hit a pitch they themselves couldn't even hit, no less throw.

And who taught Tyler Martin this great equalizer? Rumor has it, it was Bert Blyleven. During the summer months, while young Tyler Martin filled in as a batboy for the Twins, he supposedly learned numerous tips and tricks from the ballplayers, tips that helped him destroy the confidence and smash the big league dreams of dozens, if not hundreds, of Melbourne-area little leaguers.

After wrecking havoc on our league, Tyler Martin played baseball at Mississippi State University, where he was part of teams that made the College World Series in 1997 and 1998. He would eventually also be drafted and toil for four seasons in the Rangers' minor league system before calling it a career in 2003.

Although nowhere near as cool as Lederer's story, playing in a league with Tyler Martin is my connection to Burt Blyleven.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Learning Comedy Part 8 - Dissecting Family Circus

Continuing my analysis of the usual residents of the funny pages, today I'm looking through the archives of Bill Keane and his "Family Circus".

1) Billy's view on Breakfast

Subject/ Target: Kids and their point of view

Why it's funny: Keane has effectively captured a kid's point of view in this comic. Adults or readers familiar with Oliver Twist know gruel to be disgusting or poor in flavor, but because Billy read that Oliver Twist wanted a second serving, and Billy himself only wants seconds when something is good, Billy assumes then that gruel must be good. An adult understands the context of Oliver Twist in a way a child wouldn't and also understands how a child could make that incorrect leap. So Keane shows humor in the knowledge and comprehension gap.

2) Telemarketer Trouble

Subject/ Target: Modern communication

Why it's funny: This comic pokes fun at the need to get to the phone, especially in the days before answering machines, voice mail, caller ID, and cell phones. Back then, every call may have been important. So the mother hustles into the house, just to answer a sales call. Many readers have been in similar situations, and although they might not have found it funny when it was happening to them, they can relate. It is another example of the audience laughing at the misfortune of the character because either they have been there, or the character's situation is much worse than their own.

Bonus Discovery: Jersey Circus - a mashup of Family Circus and quotes from Jersey Shore. Absolutely hilarious.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My first commercial for

Check out my first ever commercial, an ad for an upcoming disco show at Gasoline Alley in Largo, Florida.

I've seen Disco Inferno a few times and they are good. Good music to get your boogie on.

The commercial was done by - an entertainment company out of Clearwater, Florida.

Not bad, huh?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An Interview with Cally Anne Stanphill

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Cally Anne Stanphill is quickly making a name for herself in the highly competitive modeling world. Even though she has only been in the business since July, the brunette beauty has already made a splash by winning the 2010 Playboy Hottest College Girl Contest.

The Serious Tip: What five words best describe Cally Anne Stanphill?

Cally: Outgoing, bubbly, intelligent, caring, adventurous.

The Serious Tip: Adventurous? What is the most exciting adventure you have ever been on? Anything you can tell us?

Cally: Hmm.. I have so many. Most exciting adventure would have to be a trip to Panama I took last summer. I wasn’t too sure if I was going to make it out alive with that one.

The Serious Tip: Sounds very Indiana Jones-like.

Cally: LOL… you have no idea!

TST: I can picture you running through the streets of Panama ducking hit men and trying to save some children. Am I close?

Cally: LOL… more like hiding in the taxi.

TST: Why would you hide in a taxi?

Cally: It is a scary place.

TST: Speaking of a scary place, you go to school in Boca, right? (Check out that transition.)

Cally: LOL… yes.

TST: What are you studying? Is school secondary to modeling?

Cally: School comes first to modeling–ALWAYS! I am currently majoring in nursing. It is very important. I like to be respected. But I have to admit, I do have my blonde moments. I think we all do. :)

TST: Speaking of school, I read your sorority wasn’t too pleased with your contest, did that get resolved in a good way?

Cally: Umm, I'm not too sure! Ask them, it's a group of girls. Not everyone will like you. Some are happy that you’re accomplishing your goals, some are just jelly bellys. The door swings both ways, I don't care how they felt about the contest!

TST: How did you get the idea to do the contest in the first place? And did you have to reassure everyone that there would be no questionable pictures?

Cally: Of course I had to tell people the pictures didn't include any nudity! When you hear the name Playboy, you assume nude! As for entering the contest, I have no idea where or how I found out about it. I don’t remember applying, one day I received an email saying I made it to the top 25.

TST: How did you find out you won? What was your reaction?

Cally: There was an online voting for a couple weeks, ecstatic!

TST: Did they email you? Call you? Who was the first person you told? Did you run the halls at school yelling “I won!”?

Cally: LOL.. no you could view the polls on the site — so I knew I would win. I forget what I did when I won!

TST: So when is the party? Have you figured that part out yet?

Cally: January 17th at the Blue Martini in Boca.

TST: Is everyone invited?

Cally: Yeah, why not!

TST: Are you single?

Cally: Nope, I have a boyfriend.

TST: What does he think of your modeling career?

Cally: He supports it. He thinks it's pretty cool how far I have already gotten.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Learning Comedy Part 7 - Dissecting Ziggy

Next on my list of favorite comic characters is Ziggy. Did you know Ziggy has been around since 1969? I'm surprised, but at the same time Ziggy is such an institution in the funny pages, I wouldn't have been shocked if Wikipedia said 1929. Although many Ziggy comics are topical, he is a timeless character. Although he doesn't have huge effect on people's lives, I'm sure if Ziggy ever stopped running, there will be a lot of sad people. He is an institution. A quiet, lovable institution.

Anyway, I picked out two comics that show the humor in Ziggy. This was actually tougher than I thought, as I never realized there were that many inspirational Ziggy comics.

1) Ziggy at the bank:

Subject/ Target: Modern life, customer service, banks.

Why it's funny: This comic shows a depiction of what people could face in a worst case scenario at a bank. Although it is not normally this bad, there are certainly people who could relate to poor Ziggy. For people who have not been in this situation, they look at Ziggy and are glad there life is better than his. Ziggy is an empathetic character because people have had a touch of his misfortune, but writer/illustrator Tom Wilson takes Ziggy's situation to the extreme and makes Ziggy's dilemma unwinable, which makes people laugh.

2) Ziggy at the Doctor

Subject/Target: Medical treatment

Why it's funny: Here Ziggy is the victim of the health care industry. The reader identifies again with Ziggy, as many of them have also been faced with costly medical procedures. If they have not been in that situation, the reader feels fortunate they are not Ziggy, as Ziggy's life is far worse than their own. This comic is both an "us versus them" and a "tragedy" comic.

"Ah, Ziggy, will you ever win?" - Montgomery Burns, "The Simpsons"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Learning Comedy Part 6 - The Far Side

The next part of the first lesson in the first chapter of the 2nd edition of "Comedy Writing Secrets" says to find 10 to 15 comics or comic strips that I find funny and analyze them as I did for the comedians. Easy enough.

One of my favorite comic strips of all-time is The Far Side, written and drawn by Gary Larson. Here is an old classic from the Larson vault:

Subject/ Target: Traveling

Why it's funny: Larson uses aliens from another planet and puts them in a very human situation. The couple has veered way off course and has to ask for directions on their way. Because the alien on the right is staring down the alien on the left, the reader is made to assume the alien on the left is the driver and the one of the right is the passenger, who probably warned the driver that they were lost.

Here is another Larson classic:

Subject/Target: Common excuses

Why it's funny: Larson again puts non-humans in a human scenario, but this time he plays off the common "dog ate my homework" excuse. Larson takes the excuse and stretches it into his own world where dogs are like humans. In Larson's world, dogs still retain their habit of eating their homework, so of course, none ever get their homework done. This comic is funny because it plays off the fantasy of the dog universe and realities therein.