The Perfect Pre-Show Playlist?

iTunes Logo

So my Conservatory Class’s grad show was a big success on Sunday, and we owe it all to my expert selection of pre-show music!

Of course I’m kidding, but I do take my house tunes very seriously and thought it might be worthwhile to publish a list of the tracks with their reasons for being there. Each track name links directly to the iTunes Music Store, where available… So if nothing else, you can check out some artists you may not have heard of before!

  1. Sea World by The Phoenix Foundation. “Enter a magical realm where the rules of banality no longer apply…” As incredibly gay-tarded as that sounds it’s generally the idea here, to have the audience enter the theatre to the sounds of a slightly off-putting instrumental, letting them know that they’re in for something unusual. This track, by the way, is from Eagle vs. Shark, the perfect date movie which I haven’t yet found the perfect date for. I’m working on it.
  2. Vulture Kisses by So So Modern. Where the first track clears the air, the insane odd-time signature chorus in this synth-punk number sends the not so subtle message to the audience that they won’t be spoon fed easy laughs, but are going to be challenged. So So Modern, like The Phoenix Foundation, is another band from New Zealand. Their CD was playing in a Wellington music store when I was there last summer and I bought it on the spot.
  3. The Looks by MSTRKRFT. The subliminal message here would be something to the effect of: “How will you possibly be able to resist us when we are clearly so fucking bad-ass?” So now, with all our cards on the table, we set off down the road to build the energy for the Act One curtain call.
  4. Archaeologists by Wintersleep. A driving groove, sloppy drum fills and Canadian content, all present and accounted for.
  5. Bodysnatchers by Radiohead. You need at least one Radiohead track to appease all the rock snobs in the crowd, and this one got the nod.
  6. Away From Here by The Enemy. Nothing wrong with a tasty little anti-establishment anthem, is there?
  7. Lydia by Dog Day. A good track and my bad attempt at affirmative action. I realized at this point that the playlist was lacking in female vocalists, and this one seemed like the best fit to the mix, despite having only backing female vocals.
  8. Under the Underground Water by Telefauna. How this quirky band of Montrealers manages to rock out with a drum machine is beyond me, but it works!
  9. Nighthawks by Two Hours Traffic. A quick tempo and twangy guitars worked the audience into a fever pitch. Didn’t it?
  10. Julianna by Bend Sister. Some retro glam-rock bravura for the penultimate track before Act One.
  11. September / The Joker by Fatboy Slim. This was a last-minute choice — for me it was a defining moment of the movie Babel but on its own didn’t seem like enough of a remix to save me from dating myself. I hemmed and hawed but ended up keeping it as a schmaltzy pre-curtain tip of the hat to the time my class and I have spent together since last autumn. Awww…
  12. The Wishes Pile Up by Jim Bryson. Getting out of Act One into the intermission can be tricky — you don’t want to eclipse the energy of the closing scene but you don’t want some dirgy-ass ballad to bring things down either. I don’t really get what “roots” music is, but this roots track by Jim Bryson worked perfectly.
  13. My Moon My Man (Boyz Noise Remix) by Feist. Grrl power but not some recycled iPod TV ad music, oh no no no… The music snobs in the crowd will be having none of that!
  14. Starlight – Young Heart Attack. On it’s own this knock-off of The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again is pure cheese. But as a lead-in a CSI: Miami parody it is the stuff of genius.
  15. Someone Else’s Problem by JJ Appleton. A parting tongue-in-cheek jab at the cast. It played as the house lights came up at the end of the show. But as they were too busy getting accolades from friends and family, nobody seemed to be paying attention to the lyrics.

It’s specific enough that I couldn’t guarantee it to produce the same results anywhere else, but this very playlist got us a standing ovation at The Second City last Sunday afternoon — although I suppose a talented cast, solid material and a house packed in our favour also had something to do with it…


Blogging Break

Pandora's Lunchbox

Forgive me for my single post this week; I’m finding that all my free time is being directed towards the Conservatory Grad Show that’s going up on the Mainstage this Sunday. Details can be read off the poster or by clicking through to the Second City site proper.

Hope to see you there, and I’ll be back to blogging next week!

Ten Years Later (Plus One)

Speaker's Corner, 2007

(Speaker’s Corner today — closed for renovation, or possibly forever?)

Well, I’m an idiot… Last year around this time Al Howell sent me a congratulatory text on the 10-year anniversary of our first Speaker’s Corner broadcast as The Devil’s Advocates. I quickly corrected him, thinking that we started our Satanic shtick in 1997, but I was wrong. So, um… Happy 11th Anniversary, Al!

Ten years ago today the Devils had already achieved some notoriety and were busy criss-crossing Southwestern Ontario playing mostly lunchtime shows in the cafeterias of Community Colleges and Universities, then at night storming the stages of downtown comedy clubs to critique the other acts on the bill, à-la Speaker’s Corner. The club act was a stroke of genius; because we had to go on at the end to deconstruct the acts that came before us we automatically headlined every gig we played. The college show format — straight-up improv and pretty much games — was born out of necessity, because we couldn’t possibly roll into another town and be expected to know all the local goings-on. This also proved to be valuable training for the 80 episodes of Improv Heaven & Hell we would start taping the following year.

IH&H was a fantastic experience and one of those rare, proud moments where Al and I were able to work with some of our closest friends and colleagues. The Devils, however, had gone from a TV audience of some 300,000 Speaker’s Corner viewers in Southern Ontario alone to a national Comedy Network audience only 60,000 strong. And so after two seasons we were done.

In the time since Mr. Howell has parlayed his talents into a successful writing career for Comedy Inc. and This Hour Has 22 Minutes, while I’ve bounced back and forth between sporadic bursts of international touring, directing, filmmaking, even drumming?! Looks like someone has commitment issues…

Rather than a long walk down memory lane consider this a quick glance back, and before eyes once again face front I’ll leave you with a bit of Devils trivia:

  1. Best gig ever – being paid an obscene amount of money by Microsoft Canada to unveil Internet Explorer 4 (!) at a downtown nightclub.
  2. Worst gig ever – Al will probably say Sault Ste. Marie (the second time) but I’ll give the nod to Centennial College Bell Campus (now the Centre for Creative Communications), only because there was a point during the lunchtime show where someone came up to us from the audience who we thought was a volunteer for an improv game, but in fact she only wanted to microwave her soup.
  3. Last TV appearance – on U8TV’s the Lofters (ugh). I remember looking at a laptop in front of me while we were on air showing some yutz in a chatroom repeatedly typing “Say my name out loud… Say it!”

Wellington – Day 4

Technically Wellington Day 0, but New Zealand Day 4 — you know what I mean…

Today could have been the day of not one, not two, but three hot breakfasts if not for my steadfast willpower. I had the usual made-to-order omelette, fruit, yogurt and pastry in my hotel before checking out and heading to the airport. As I entered the Koru Club in the Domestic Terminal at Auckland Airport not even an hour later I was surprised to find another hot breakfast buffet tempting me. I settled for a bottomless cup of long blacks instead.

After touching down in Wellington I was greeted at the gate by local power couple Derek Flores and Fiona Jane Malthus, who immediately asked me: “Wanna to go for breakfast?”

First I had to check in at The Intercontinental Hotel, apparently where visiting rock stars stay. I wonder if they use points too?

En route to breakfast (for Derek; lunch for me) we stopped for a video opp with Wellington’s biggest scandal. Shocking!

Not a doormat!

Wellington has gone Cuba Crazy! And the best breakfast on Cuba Street is at Fidel’s. Note that even though I made poor Derek pose on the ground by the front door no skulls were smashed as a result of this photo…

Bats Entertainment (hyuk)

Another Wellington landmark is Bats Theatre, a kindred spirit to the Bad Dog back home?

Thumbs up for Wellington

After a quick walking tour covering three of the city’s four quarters my verdict was in. To quote The Fonz: Ayyy!

NeutrinoPlex Opens Tonight!

NeutrinoPlex Artwork

If you’re wondering why I haven’t written any new posts this week it’s because I’ve been desperately cobbling together the nuts and bolts for tonight’s opening of NeutrinoPlex at The Bad Dog Theatre on the Danforth.

Unlike previous incarnations of the show, our new run will nix the opening act of stand-ups and feature instead a special selection short films from around the city, across the country and from the deepest, darkest corners of the internet. It makes for a lot of extra work for yours truly but it will all pay off — in particular, patrons of tonight’s show are in for a very unique treat!

No need to squint at the text in the above graphic for details… You can download your very own full-sized souvenir flyer right here.