One of the things that keeps things fresh for yourself is doing projects that probably no one will care about but you. DOOMED endeavors. It’s important to tickle your own funny bone without worrying if the Funny Bone is marketable (I almost tricked myself into thinking that the title “Funny Bones” had never been used for a doctor comedy, but I’m not even gonna take the time to look that up).
Anyway, this is a side project that is DOOMED. It’s self-referential, pretentious and maybe boring. I have no place for it, I’m likely to change the title of it and make it a new Tumblr or a Facebook Group or make into a flip book, then a paper airplane. It’s got no use.
I teach improv classes. I don’t think that I’m some kind of pop-culture maven, nor do I endeavor to weave references from the outside world into my teaching just to seem smart. But I guess I just am smart. AND HANDSOME.
So: here are some of the things that came up in my classes yesterday that I thought would be fun to write about, explain and research.
I’m relieved that I had this one very nearly right. I don’t remember why it came up, but a Potemkin Village is just a facade. It’s a fake village put up to impress, but it’s just a facade. It’s like the Western movie sets, where you just have the facades and nothing else.
Logan’s Run came up. Logan’s Run is a particularly cheesy sci-fi movie from 1976. It’s special effects look ridiculous, especially when you consider that Star Wars came out in 1977. Here’s a favorite part that I remembered:
A robot in an ice cave. There’s something nice about that.
I couldn’t remember in class whether Logan’s Run dealt with killing people off at a certain age (it does). I was thinking that Soylent Green was an example of this but now I remember that people choose to go in the suicide booths in Soylent Green.
It’s a shame that neither of these are on Netflix streaming. These and other 70’s sci-fi movies are perfect Netflix fodder but who’s going to pay to see them? I don’t have cable now, but it used to be that you could catch weird Sci-Fi blocks on TCM. And A MILLION YEARS AGO when I was in college I had an excellent video store. This place had a membership that gave you one free movie in a specified genre every time you rented. So one month might be Westerns, another sci-fi, etc. So while you were out getting your copy of Sleepless in Seattle (A MILLION YEARS AGO), you were incentivized to pick up Soylent Green as well.
Someone really sounded way smarter than me by also mentioning The Ballad of Narayama, which I knew nothing about. Save it for your own class!
RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE
Rube Goldberg Machines are amazing. My brother in law told me that in Oakland, CA they created a life sized Mousetrap Game. And of course, there is video here: Life Sized Mousetrap
A favorite of mine. I love that Urban Dictionary has an entry on “Gilding the Lily” because it seems the antithesis of “urban.” Gilding the Lily is a common improv scene problem; support from the back line that isn’t necessary, making characters who are about to be victimized exceedingly victimize-able, etc. So if someone’s about to steal someone else’s wallet, the crook’s mark doesn’t need to be stage-whispering about how “clumsy they are with their wallet.” Any honorable thief would pass by such a target! Where’s the fun in that? To steal that wallet would be like taking candy from a baby. Why are you giving babies candy, anyway?! And never ask a baby to hold your wallet. Stealing a wallet from a baby is just like stealing candy from a baby!
Mister Mxyzptlk came up for some reason. I equated him, erroneously, to Rumpelstiltskin
Both have tricky name problems. For Rumpelstiltskin, you just have to figure out his name. For Mister Mxyzptlk, you have to trick him into saying his name backwards. There is no reason that should ever happen. If that’s your weakness, you should be really careful. I know Mister Mxyzptlk mainly from the Superfriends cartoon of my youth. But it reminds me of the weakness of Young Miracleman from the Miracleman/Marvelman series. Wow was that a good comic book. I should get into comics again. Right everyone? That’s what I should probably do. Right?