This review is brought to you by the talented Tim Franklin!
The Ship of Fools certainly knows its audience, and caters to them. It was standing-room-only on April
8th, as the performing arm of the Purdue Improv Club (known as the Ship of Fools) took the stage at
Greyhouse Coffee & Supply Co. (yes we can have crepe sundaes!) to perform in front of a packed house.
Amid the shouts of “Huzzah!” and slow-clapping that are the trademarks of the SoF – and it’s audience
– they performed an hour and a half long set of short-form improv games, led by their moderator and
host, “Lucky” Luke Poole.
For those who may not know, a short-form improv show consists of games that have some sort of rule
or gimmick the players have to follow. (Think Who’s Line Is It Anyway?) One of the more successful
games SoF performed is called “Eliminator”, where a scene is acted out with four people. They then
eliminate one person, and redo the scene with only 3, and then so on until it’s just 1 person left
performing all four parts. It is a very effective game, though a lot of work for whoever is left standing at
the end. Eric “Beard” Talbert was quite entertaining in this final role.
A few other memorable games were “The Clap”, in which several scenes are carried out, each using
the last line of the one before it to carry on chronologically with a different timeline, “Chain Murder
Mystery”, an improv regular in which three or four participants play a mime and gibberish game of
telephone with a murder twist, and “Three Things”, a favorite of the Ship of Fools in which an action is
carried out with mundane objects replaced with fantastical ones supplied by the audience(for example,
Brant “Rubble” Bell was parachuting, but instead of a parachute, he was saved by Jesus popping out of
his backpack). Three Things in particular is a strong game for SoF.
Their show is marked by a certain type of humor though, which is great for some, but may be off-putting
for others. It did seem that much of their audience came from their weekly open forums (as part of the
Purdue Improv Club, they hold open improv forums in which anyone can come play improv. This is also
where they find new members), and as a result some of the jokes seemed a bit internal. At times, much
of the audience would laugh at a reference to something that seemed to have happened at some other
time. This left others confused, and wanting to know just what was so funny. Also, many of the audience
suggestions come from a particular thread of pop culture that includes things like Star Wars, Star Trek,
Harry Potter, and iconic old-school “retro” cartoons and movies. Cult classics, things like that. This is
fine, as long as you don’t mind at times alienating a bit of your audience. (Just to be clear, I was not
alienated at all. I love Star Wars and The Magic Schoolbus.) At one point, host Luke Poole was heard to
comment “Man, we’re such a bunch of nerds”.
This is, of course, as I said, completely fine. To each his own style of comedy. And I am not saying I did
not enjoy myself. If I were to nitpick, I would say that yes, the jokes were a bit nerdy, and maybe it did
run a bit on the long side (an hour and a half, remember?), but for a group that performs a weekly 2-
hour forum for a regular audience, this does not seem too far out of their normal realm. The important
things to remember are that yes, we did laugh (a lot), and yes, there was a lack of available seats due
to so many people cramming into this coffee shop to see the Ship of Fools perform. You can’t get much
more successful than that.
More information on the Ship of Fools and their weekly forums (7pm on Fridays in Beering Hall) can be found on their website, http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~improv/.
Please welcome Tim Franklin, new writer and official comedy connoisseur, to the blog!
It was Friday, and people were laughing. The Crazy Monkeys, Purdue’s longest-running improvisational comedy group, took the stage in Matthews Hall (room 210) on Feb. 11 and performed an hour-long set comprised of quick, short-form high-energy show games. Ever seen Whose Line Is It Anyway? It’s like that. But without Drew Carey (who was a Marine, believe it or not).
The Monkeys started out big, in a game called interpretive dance. In this game, participating members dance out a historical event, each of them having been given a specific role to play (in this case, they acted out the death of Cleopatra). An audience member who was previously removed from the auditorium then has to guess the event and each player’s role. Joe Flores, a senior member of the group, played the particularly convincing part of a poisonous snake, hampered in his deadly goal only by Cleopatra (played by Dennis Corcoran) herself as (s)he pranced around the stage, just out of reach. The Monkeys had planned on having music, but technical difficulties led to member Kelsey VanVoorst providing music of her own for them to dance to.
The night was a celebration of short form, as they followed up this first act with games like Countdown (players repeat a scene 5 times, each twice as fast as the previous edition, until they end with 15 seconds backwards), Slo-Mo Sports (contestants battle out mundane tasks in slow motion – underwater ironing in this case), and Deaf Interp (two people talk while a third acts out their conversation through miming actions).
The game Sex is Like was, as usual, a crowd-pleaser as they took everyday objects and related them (in most cases, uncomfortably so) to sex. For example, as member Tom Zaglaras told us, “Sex is like a grapefruit because sometimes it squirts right in your eyes.”
Tom had another memorable line in the game Oscar-Winning Moment, where players act out a regular scene, but throughout that scene they may have to be overly dramatic. Tom’s Oscar-winning moment happened to come as he was explaining a drug addiction, which spawned the line “I tried to snort a policeman! Right is left, up is down, ALL IS COCAINE!” Tears to my eyes, heart all a-flutter, Oscar in the bag.
They ended up their show with Last Line Freezes, a fast-paced scenic game where two people act out a scene, off-stage members call out “freeze”, the on-stage players stop in place, and the freezer tags one out. The cuts are fast, so the jokes have to come to fruition quickly, and it usually is a great game for keeping energy high at the end of a show. This particular show was a great example of this – the energy in the room continually built, and held up at a high level for the entire duration – always a good thing to have for comedy.
Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re not currently one half of a lovey-dovey couple, you might be feeling a little left out. So this edition of video round-up is just for you! I’ve put together some of the
worst best most awesomely bad emo break up songs from my iTunes library. Consider this fuel for your next cryptic Facebook status or Livejournal entry. You’re welcome.
5. If you were on Myspace 6 years ago, you may have noticed teenybopper girls (ahem, not me) posting the line, “Your Love is My Heart Disease” to their profiles. Meet the source of that quote:
4. Mayday Parade shows us that boys cry too. Even over women of questionable repute.
3. This list wouldn’t be complete without some “WHOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAA”
2. Motion City Soundtrack gives a great suggestion for the broken hearted:
1. Of course, My Chemical Romance tops the list. A tip of the hat for the attempt at symbolism.
—THURSDAY FEBRUARY 10
THE FRIENDS OF BOB PRESENT:
CEDRIC WATSON & BIJOU CREOLE
8:00 pm| Lafayette Brewing Co. | Lafayette, IN | $13
—FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11
All Ages | 6:00 pm | Jurassic Park | West Lafayette, IN | $5 Donation
21+| 10:00 pm | Black Sparrow | Lafayette, IN | $4
—SATURDAY FEBRUARY 12
I love writing this blog, but I don’t want it to be “my blog” anymore. Our music scene is far too awesome for one person to cover it part-time. We gotta take it to the next level.
So, I need your help.
I’m looking for a team of folks who can create interesting content for a DIY blog about our local (ish) music scene (think: Girl at the Show 2.0). This content includes (but is not limited to) reports on live shows, photographs, music reviews, short articles, cultural essays, sassy rants, and random thoughts.
I’m open to anyone who possesses the following:
1) love of music
2) strong writing skills
3) ability to laugh at one’s self
Ideal candidates include:
Aspiring journalists, writers & cultural critics, aspiring music industry moguls, music snobs, vinyl fanatics, hipsters, hipster haters, coffee shop junkies, fanboys, fangirls, undergrads, grad students, liberal arts kids, wannabe liberal arts kids, social media nerds, post-modernists, bloggers, people who read SPIN, people who hate SPIN, etc.
If I just described you, I want to hear from you! Send an email of introduction to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please RT and re-post!
(The original Girl at the Show)
Remember Oh My God? Their guitarist, Zachariah, also does bass and vocals for The Kickback. And they’re playing the Black Sparrow on Friday (1/28) at 10 pm! This intriguing quintet is from South Dakota, by way of Chicago. I’m pretty sure the Sparrow regulars will love them, as their Facebook interests include “English majors” and “post-postmodernism.”
Their Great Self Love EP delivers melodic yet trotting indie rock. Billy Yost’s (lead vox) voice reminds so much of someone else, but I can’t quite put my finger on who it is. Like a grungier Adam Levine? (Maybe?) Great tone nonetheless.
You can preview Friday’s show by visiting their Myspace or Facebook page. “Like” them on Facebook and you can listen to most tracks off the Great Self Love EP for free!
Over the last few days I’ve been listening to The Volcano Diary, an indie electroacoustic trio from Seattle. If you’re a super hipster snob (and I say that lovingly), you’ll likely hear a familiar voice on their self-titled debut. Alicia Dara (vox) has a formidable solo career behind her, including the acclaimed The Secret Dream of Tigers. For this latest project, Dara brought together the talents of Gus Palaskas (guitar) and Dave Bush (drums).
The Volcano Diary performs skillfully executed indie pop with alt-country undertones. Their quietly intriguing sound is characterized by soft, introspective vocals over soothing electroacoustic background. Dara’s voice is definitely a strong point. It has the distinct ability to slide from airy to solid in the course of one measure. While the album is mostly guitar-driven, it features welcome guest appearances by organ, strings, and lapsteel.
The first track, “Revival,” begins with a simple repetitive acoustic riff, followed by Dara’s ethereal voice. There’s a nice layering of guitar on this track–a hint at what’s to come. “Volcano” is more ambient, led by a chimey acoustic guitar melody. “Error Message” delivers one of the best lines on the album, in a kick-to-the-stomach sort of way: “If you feel you reached this message in error, then I guess that I was wrong.”
Most of the songs advance at a deliberate, sauntering pace. The energy picks up toward the end, with the rhythmically-driven “Pacifica” and “Lightning Seed.” “Freezerburn” is a particular departure from earlier songs on the album, passing the baton to bass and drum.
Performing “Lightning Seed” in Seattle on December 16, 2010
The Volcano Diary is a strong acoustic indie album, and that’s also my greatest complaint. They demonstrate fabulous parsimony in their songwriting. (And I’m using parsimony in the way you’d describe a quick, but hard-hitting line of poetry.) Yet in spite (or because of) the thoughtfulness in their songs, they seem to play it a little too safe. I’ll be interested to see how their sound unleashes in the next few years.
I know I have some acoustic fanatics lurking around here, so weigh in. Give The Volcano Diary a listen and let me know what you think.
On a final note, The Volcano Diary should definitely stop by local acoustic mecca, Greyhouse, if they ever venture out to Indiana.
Facebook [FREE DOWNLOAD of “Revival”]