Jul 242014
 

Announcing your innermost insecurities and self-aggrandizing fantasies in public would generally be considered a strong indicator of mental illness — but when you add a mic and a drink minimum, we call it comedy. 

Conventional wisdom (admittedly the least cool kind of wisdom) holds that many comedians exhibit a similar and curious mix of maladjusted personality traits: the narcissism and egocentrism that allow a person to stand in front of an audience and share their thoughts, coupled with the seemingly-opposed neuroses and self-loathing that makes those thoughts hilarious. Google “(Your Favorite Comedian’s Name)” + “narcissist” or “(Your Favorite Comedian’s Name)” + “self-loathing” and you will most likely see these accusations in action. If nothing else, this armchair diagnosis has been lobbed at enough standups (by critics, by hecklers, by door-slamming exes, and often by the comedians themselves) to warrant further investigation. Without this stereotype of emotionally troubled comics, would we have the WTF with Marc Maron, or Louie, or any of Maria Bamford’s amazing work? If comics don’t have a special streak of crazy, then what was Dr. Katz about? It seems that this strange combination of self-obsession and self-hatred has launched thousands of hilarious people off of their therapists’ couches and up on stage. But is it pathological? Are comedians their very own sickness?

Gaby Dunn, a comedian based in Los Angeles, notes that she finds herself experiencing these seemingly opposed highs and lows in her own life. She admits that her self-esteem is “Sometimes way too high. Sometimes super low.” Dunn says, “I can somehow be both super vain and super self-hating. I tend to think comedians have one or the other and that extremes in each case help comedians succeed. I might be more successful if I had a bit more of one or the other.”

Is this comedian’s sickness something a person is born with or something learned after years of open mics? According to Dr. Gil Greengross, a professor at the University of New Mexico who has reported extensively on the inner workings of comics on his Psychology Today blog Humor Sapiens, it is impossible to say for certain if this tendency is in-born. However, he notes that while comedians do not report unusual parental treatment compared to other people, many report using humor in adolescence in a way that is significant — they’re more likely to make jokes as a defense mechanism. Dr. Greengross posits that this could be a result of childhood teasing or an inherent quality. But of course, not all kids who are bullied rely on self-deprecation to get through it. 

Dr. Greengross says that when it comes to neuroticism — seemingly a hallmark of the scene and the work of luminaries like Woody Allen, Larry David and Richard Lewis — comedians he studied actually scored relatively normally compared other performers. Because comics perform their own work and rarely the work of others, he argues that they need to have relatively high emotional stability. This emotional stability is also necessary for the day-to-day work of booking your own shows and getting from gig to gig. 

I asked Dr. Greengross if he thought that the relatively low neuroticism score for comedians could be attributed to another personality trait — perhaps one that mirrors neuroses without its crippling effects — and he offered perfectionism as an alternative. Dr. Greengross pointed out that a truly hilarious joke might require incredible fine-tuning and reworking. While this might seem like a fixation, it can also be the totally unscientific science of comedy. While a neurotic would never stop messing with their words, a comedian knows when he or she has found that perfect rhythm. The comedians I spoke to confirmed this constant tweaking. But a perfectionist, or a comedian, is something like a neurotic who knows when to stop. Dr. Greengross says, “We think of these people as neurotic — Seinfeld, Woody Allen — but it’s hard to make jump from [what they do on] stage to their real life.”

Ari Shaffir, a New York comic and host of the podcast Skeptic Tank, corroborates that you can’t always assume things about a comedian’s personal life from their set. When he was first starting out, his comedy had little to do with his real life. “I wasn’t that honest for a while, I just said what I thought was supposed to be the case. Most new comics are doing impressions of comedians, but it felt like that’s what you’re supposed to do. You always want to say you’re broke, you can’t get laid — you’re embarrassed to say the whole truth.” So while a comedian might actually have a lucrative day job and a sexually adventurous partner, you’re unlikely to hear about it at The Comedy Store.

Shaffir rightfully blanches at the idea that all comedians could all fit into one diagnosis. “All the same?” he asks, “What are you talking about?” He attributes some of the stereotypes about self-loathing comics to insecure newcomers. “A lot of new comics do jokes about not being able to get laid, or how the only people who can get laid are jerks, so I should be a jerk, and it’s really because everyone who starts is 24 and not confident. So it’s not that comics aren’t confident, it’s that those people aren’t confident.” 

Indeed, according to Dr. Greengross, the average comic is quite confident. Dr. Greengross did not study this narcissism. He concedes that comics “might well be more narcissistic,” but he shies away from the clinical term, saying that in his studies, the trait that set comedians apart from the funniest guy in your office is self-assurance. He notes that while comedians are often introverted and self-effacing, they have to have a certain level of self-esteem. According to Dr. Greengross, successful and amateur comics are extremely similar psychologically. Confidence doesn’t come from having a good set, or a thousand good sets, or, a successful franchise of movies where you dress up as various members of your own family. It’s there when you climb the first step to that first stage.

Alex Grubard, a Philly based comic who has been doing standup for nine years, admits that there is a cultural conception that comics are in some way unwell. “When somebody says, ‘I just started doing standup,’ I’ll just be like, ‘What happened?’” he jokes. Grubard agrees that, “there’s certainly a perception of comedians having low self-esteem,” but echoes Dr. Greengross that this is not the reality. When asked about his own self-esteem and the self-esteem of his peers, he reports that overall, its “pretty normal, with a few exceptions like you would in any kind of crowd.” However, he says, “Comedians are very self-aware.  So when they’re depressed or have high self-esteem, they’re way more aware of it. And they broadcast it.”

It seems that the broadcasting could be where this reputation for being self-loathing comes from. Comedians might feel the same feelings of defeat or insecurity that other people feel sometimes, but they say it – loudly and memorably and to strangers. But then the question remains: why tell everyone?

To this point, Grubard paraphrases Steve Martin, saying, “Stand up comedy is the ego’s last stand.” He elaborates, “you’re not painting, you’re not an athlete, you’re not building anything, you’re talking. You’re taking an idea in your head and you’re making everyone agree with it, because they laugh. Even if they don’t actually agree with it, they understand the premise and the perspective that you have on this subject.”

So during a successful set, a comedian is receiving recognition. Not necessarily fame or fortune, but simple human recognition; that moment when everyone’s laughter says, “Yes, you’re right, I get you.” The egos making that stand are angling for that moment, and neither getting it nor being rejected will affect the desire to recreate that moment again and again.

But what about when it doesn’t go well? Why keep going up? Grubard tells me, “You don’t become a different person [after a bad set], you don’t become a person that doesn’t want to get on stage more. I’ve seen comics that I almost feel like have never done well – I haven’t seen every one of their sets, but they bomb a lot – and they still go at it.” Dunn agrees, saying that the thing that keeps her going up after a bad set is “the insane hope that the jokes will work in another location, or with another crowd.” This persistence may well be the most pathological – and necessary – trait that comics share. 

It seems in the end that these traits that can be so hindering in everyday, can provide the drive for a regular old funny person to crack up a crowd of admirers. Can a person make himself or herself get up, as it were, without being narcissistic? Can they want to talk about themselves without being egocentric? Sure. But it may be harder to keep going up without the self-assurance that your perspective is necessary, or to turn constantly inward without a little extra self-obsession. Can a person be funny without being self-loathing, or write the perfect joke without being a touch neurotic (or a perfectionist)? It’s certainly possible, but those slightly skewed views are often more compelling and those finely tuned punch lines funnier. In the end, it’s confidence, the healthy middle ground between narcissism and self-loathing, and persistence, a trait that defies both neurosis and the long held perception of comics as slackers, which seem to unite comedians. How unexpected, how surprising, how funny. 

Meredith Haggerty is a writer and editor in Brooklyn.

Article source: http://splitsider.com/2014/07/what-makes-comedians-tick/

Jul 242014
 

Announcing your innermost insecurities and self-aggrandizing fantasies in public would generally be considered a strong indicator of mental illness — but when you add a mic and a drink minimum, we call it comedy. 

Conventional wisdom (admittedly the least cool kind of wisdom) holds that many comedians exhibit a similar and curious mix of maladjusted personality traits: the narcissism and egocentrism that allow a person to stand in front of an audience and share their thoughts, coupled with the seemingly-opposed neuroses and self-loathing that makes those thoughts hilarious. Google “(Your Favorite Comedian’s Name)” + “narcissist” or “(Your Favorite Comedian’s Name)” + “self-loathing” and you will most likely see these accusations in action. If nothing else, this armchair diagnosis has been lobbed at enough standups (by critics, by hecklers, by door-slamming exes, and often by the comedians themselves) to warrant further investigation. Without this stereotype of emotionally troubled comics, would we have the WTF with Marc Maron, or Louie, or any of Maria Bamford’s amazing work? If comics don’t have a special streak of crazy, then what was Dr. Katz about? It seems that this strange combination of self-obsession and self-hatred has launched thousands of hilarious people off of their therapists’ couches and up on stage. But is it pathological? Are comedians their very own sickness?

Gaby Dunn, a comedian based in Los Angeles, notes that she finds herself experiencing these seemingly opposed highs and lows in her own life. She admits that her self-esteem is “Sometimes way too high. Sometimes super low.” Dunn says, “I can somehow be both super vain and super self-hating. I tend to think comedians have one or the other and that extremes in each case help comedians succeed. I might be more successful if I had a bit more of one or the other.”

Is this comedian’s sickness something a person is born with or something learned after years of open mics? According to Dr. Gil Greengross, a professor at the University of New Mexico who has reported extensively on the inner workings of comics on his Psychology Today blog Humor Sapiens, it is impossible to say for certain if this tendency is in-born. However, he notes that while comedians do not report unusual parental treatment compared to other people, many report using humor in adolescence in a way that is significant — they’re more likely to make jokes as a defense mechanism. Dr. Greengross posits that this could be a result of childhood teasing or an inherent quality. But of course, not all kids who are bullied rely on self-deprecation to get through it. 

Dr. Greengross says that when it comes to neuroticism — seemingly a hallmark of the scene and the work of luminaries like Woody Allen, Larry David and Richard Lewis — comedians he studied actually scored relatively normally compared other performers. Because comics perform their own work and rarely the work of others, he argues that they need to have relatively high emotional stability. This emotional stability is also necessary for the day-to-day work of booking your own shows and getting from gig to gig. 

I asked Dr. Greengross if he thought that the relatively low neuroticism score for comedians could be attributed to another personality trait — perhaps one that mirrors neuroses without its crippling effects — and he offered perfectionism as an alternative. Dr. Greengross pointed out that a truly hilarious joke might require incredible fine-tuning and reworking. While this might seem like a fixation, it can also be the totally unscientific science of comedy. While a neurotic would never stop messing with their words, a comedian knows when he or she has found that perfect rhythm. The comedians I spoke to confirmed this constant tweaking. But a perfectionist, or a comedian, is something like a neurotic who knows when to stop. Dr. Greengross says, “We think of these people as neurotic — Seinfeld, Woody Allen — but it’s hard to make jump from [what they do on] stage to their real life.”

Ari Shaffir, a New York comic and host of the podcast Skeptic Tank, corroborates that you can’t always assume things about a comedian’s personal life from their set. When he was first starting out, his comedy had little to do with his real life. “I wasn’t that honest for a while, I just said what I thought was supposed to be the case. Most new comics are doing impressions of comedians, but it felt like that’s what you’re supposed to do. You always want to say you’re broke, you can’t get laid — you’re embarrassed to say the whole truth.” So while a comedian might actually have a lucrative day job and a sexually adventurous partner, you’re unlikely to hear about it at The Comedy Store.

Shaffir rightfully blanches at the idea that all comedians could all fit into one diagnosis. “All the same?” he asks, “What are you talking about?” He attributes some of the stereotypes about self-loathing comics to insecure newcomers. “A lot of new comics do jokes about not being able to get laid, or how the only people who can get laid are jerks, so I should be a jerk, and it’s really because everyone who starts is 24 and not confident. So it’s not that comics aren’t confident, it’s that those people aren’t confident.” 

Indeed, according to Dr. Greengross, the average comic is quite confident. Dr. Greengross did not study this narcissism. He concedes that comics “might well be more narcissistic,” but he shies away from the clinical term, saying that in his studies, the trait that set comedians apart from the funniest guy in your office is self-assurance. He notes that while comedians are often introverted and self-effacing, they have to have a certain level of self-esteem. According to Dr. Greengross, successful and amateur comics are extremely similar psychologically. Confidence doesn’t come from having a good set, or a thousand good sets, or, a successful franchise of movies where you dress up as various members of your own family. It’s there when you climb the first step to that first stage.

Alex Grubard, a Philly based comic who has been doing standup for nine years, admits that there is a cultural conception that comics are in some way unwell. “When somebody says, ‘I just started doing standup,’ I’ll just be like, ‘What happened?’” he jokes. Grubard agrees that, “there’s certainly a perception of comedians having low self-esteem,” but echoes Dr. Greengross that this is not the reality. When asked about his own self-esteem and the self-esteem of his peers, he reports that overall, its “pretty normal, with a few exceptions like you would in any kind of crowd.” However, he says, “Comedians are very self-aware.  So when they’re depressed or have high self-esteem, they’re way more aware of it. And they broadcast it.”

It seems that the broadcasting could be where this reputation for being self-loathing comes from. Comedians might feel the same feelings of defeat or insecurity that other people feel sometimes, but they say it – loudly and memorably and to strangers. But then the question remains: why tell everyone?

To this point, Grubard paraphrases Steve Martin, saying, “Stand up comedy is the ego’s last stand.” He elaborates, “you’re not painting, you’re not an athlete, you’re not building anything, you’re talking. You’re taking an idea in your head and you’re making everyone agree with it, because they laugh. Even if they don’t actually agree with it, they understand the premise and the perspective that you have on this subject.”

So during a successful set, a comedian is receiving recognition. Not necessarily fame or fortune, but simple human recognition; that moment when everyone’s laughter says, “Yes, you’re right, I get you.” The egos making that stand are angling for that moment, and neither getting it nor being rejected will affect the desire to recreate that moment again and again.

But what about when it doesn’t go well? Why keep going up? Grubard tells me, “You don’t become a different person [after a bad set], you don’t become a person that doesn’t want to get on stage more. I’ve seen comics that I almost feel like have never done well – I haven’t seen every one of their sets, but they bomb a lot – and they still go at it.” Dunn agrees, saying that the thing that keeps her going up after a bad set is “the insane hope that the jokes will work in another location, or with another crowd.” This persistence may well be the most pathological – and necessary – trait that comics share. 

It seems in the end that these traits that can be so hindering in everyday, can provide the drive for a regular old funny person to crack up a crowd of admirers. Can a person make himself or herself get up, as it were, without being narcissistic? Can they want to talk about themselves without being egocentric? Sure. But it may be harder to keep going up without the self-assurance that your perspective is necessary, or to turn constantly inward without a little extra self-obsession. Can a person be funny without being self-loathing, or write the perfect joke without being a touch neurotic (or a perfectionist)? It’s certainly possible, but those slightly skewed views are often more compelling and those finely tuned punch lines funnier. In the end, it’s confidence, the healthy middle ground between narcissism and self-loathing, and persistence, a trait that defies both neurosis and the long held perception of comics as slackers, which seem to unite comedians. How unexpected, how surprising, how funny. 

Meredith Haggerty is a writer and editor in Brooklyn.

Article source: http://splitsider.com/2014/07/what-makes-comedians-tick/

Jul 232014
 

Just call him a brofficiant.

When Adam Levine and model Behati Prinsloo tied the knot on July 19 in San José del Cabo, Mexico, he called upon one of his closest pals to officiate: 22 Jump Street star Jonah Hill.

The actor, 30, did not disappoint.

Hill was “funny, charming and very sentimental,” a guest tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

Levine and Hill share a longtime friendship: They have been friends since childhood – along with fellow pal and groomsman Jason Segel – and Hill’s older brother, Jordan Feldstein, manages the Maroon 5 frontman.

“Jonah is my little bro,” the Grammy winner, 35, recently told PEOPLE. “That’s my boy.”

For much more on Levine and Prinsloo’s big day, including details on the music-fueled reception and the newlyweds’ honeymoon plans, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE magazine

Keira Knightley Praises Adam Levine’s Acting Debut

Article source: http://www.people.com/article/adam-levine-behati-prinsloo-wedding-ceremony

Jul 232014
 

Just call him a brofficiant.

When Adam Levine and model Behati Prinsloo tied the knot on July 19 in San José del Cabo, Mexico, he called upon one of his closest pals to officiate: 22 Jump Street star Jonah Hill.

The actor, 30, did not disappoint.

Hill was “funny, charming and very sentimental,” a guest tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

Levine and Hill share a longtime friendship: They have been friends since childhood – along with fellow pal and groomsman Jason Segel – and Hill’s older brother, Jordan Feldstein, manages the Maroon 5 frontman.

“Jonah is my little bro,” the Grammy winner, 35, recently told PEOPLE. “That’s my boy.”

For much more on Levine and Prinsloo’s big day, including details on the music-fueled reception and the newlyweds’ honeymoon plans, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE magazine

Keira Knightley Praises Adam Levine’s Acting Debut

Article source: http://www.people.com/article/adam-levine-behati-prinsloo-wedding-ceremony

Jul 232014
 

Very rarely, reality has the knack of upstaging art with a spectacularly unforeseen twist. Tom Basden’s play Holes is set on a desert island in the aftermath of a plane crash. Three of the four survivors are colleagues on their way to a conference – much of the comedy arises from watching these people attempt to face their new situation with the same strategies they employed in their office relationships. It’s sharply observed and painfully funny in a very English way: this is the comedy of awkwardness, self-importance and passive-aggression, with occasional poignant flashes of courage or sympathy. But it’s also shot through with gallows humour; there are jokes about the pilot’s corpse, and looting through dead passengers’ luggage.

Basden wrote the first draft in 2010, reworked it for the Edinburgh fringe last year and tweaked it again for the current London transfer to the Arcola. No one could have imagined that, on the day of its first preview, nightmarish images of charred plane wreckage and looted suitcases would be all over the evening news.

I meet him to talk about the play before the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine. He later tells me, by email, that he has not attempted to change the script to reflect the tragedy. Asked if audiences now seem uneasy laughing at this material, he says: “Because the plane crash is only the very first part of the story, audiences have realised pretty quickly that the play is about the way people respond to disaster rather than disaster itself, and have accepted it on its own terms as a piece of theatre … I guess the play is in some way about people living in dark days, and was therefore meant to resemble things that are happening now, albeit in spirit rather than in detail.”



Dark days on the desert island … Daniel Rigby (left) and Mathew Baynton in Tom Basden’s Holes. Photograph: Idil Sukan/Draw HG

Holes shares a number of themes with Party, Basden’s 2010 Edinburgh hit that later became a Radio 4 series and was made into a television pilot earlier this year. “Party was about a small group of people who want to reimagine politics or rebuild the nation,” he says, “and this is in some way a development of that idea – it’s people who want to rebuild mankind.”

But he’s quick to rebut the suggestion that the comedy derives from the narrow outlook and petty concerns of his characters. “I hope it’s affectionate rather than poking fun. I don’t think there’s anything inherently funny about people being pathetic or boring. What’s funny is people who are so trapped by their own personality that they can’t help but be themselves no matter what situation they’re put in, and that’s something – that prison of your own personality – that runs through a lot of the narrative comedy I like.”

Those early comedy influences – The Office, Alan Partridge, Chris Morris – resonate through his plays, but his work also shares a tone and sensibility with the contemporaries with whom he regularly collaborates – comedians and writers such as his former Footlights colleagues Tim Key, Mark Watson and Stefan Golaszewski. In 2007, Basden won the Edinburgh comedy award for best newcomer with his solo show, but he’s perhaps best known for his collaborative work, including his co-writing on successful television comedies Fresh Meat, Plebs and The Wrong Mans (whose star, Matthew Baynton, plays the put-upon Gus in Holes). Does he feel more at home writing with other people?

“When it’s going well it’s definitely more fun,” he says, without hesitation. “You laugh more, but it can be frustrating because most writers are control freaks and most people who have a genuine voice know what they want it to sound like. So when two people like that come up against one another, it can be difficult to find a compromise. But if we weren’t passionate about it I don’t think we’d be as happy with the result.”



Basden on Holes, with Mathew Bayton (pictured): ‘I don’t think there’s anything inherently funny about people being pathetic or boring.’ Photograph: Idil Sukan/Draw HQ

I ask him if writing for theatre is appealing because it offers greater independence, compared with the constraints of a TV show? “Theatre is much more exposing,” he says. “Particularly with comedy. In straight plays, the difference between an audience who are bored and an audience who are captivated is quite hard to work out, but if you’ve failed with a comedy you know straight away. So that side of it is more stressful, but if you’ve got a roomful of people who are really enjoying it, there’s nothing better. It’s the same with standup.”

Still, Basden says he never loved doing standup on his own. “I found it quite lonely and it made me very tense,” he says. “Though I would potentially like to do another one at some point because it is very freeing.” He and his wife are living in China for the summer and hope to spend more time there in future, which might limit the standup opportunities – at least until his Mandarin improves – but you’re unlikely to see this multi-talented comedian narrowing his focus any time soon.

• Holes runs until 9 August. Box office: 020-7503 1646. Venue: Arcola, London.

Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/jul/22/tom-basden-holes-play-mh-17-crash

Jul 232014
 

Very rarely, reality has the knack of upstaging art with a spectacularly unforeseen twist. Tom Basden’s play Holes is set on a desert island in the aftermath of a plane crash. Three of the four survivors are colleagues on their way to a conference – much of the comedy arises from watching these people attempt to face their new situation with the same strategies they employed in their office relationships. It’s sharply observed and painfully funny in a very English way: this is the comedy of awkwardness, self-importance and passive-aggression, with occasional poignant flashes of courage or sympathy. But it’s also shot through with gallows humour; there are jokes about the pilot’s corpse, and looting through dead passengers’ luggage.

Basden wrote the first draft in 2010, reworked it for the Edinburgh fringe last year and tweaked it again for the current London transfer to the Arcola. No one could have imagined that, on the day of its first preview, nightmarish images of charred plane wreckage and looted suitcases would be all over the evening news.

I meet him to talk about the play before the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine. He later tells me, by email, that he has not attempted to change the script to reflect the tragedy. Asked if audiences now seem uneasy laughing at this material, he says: “Because the plane crash is only the very first part of the story, audiences have realised pretty quickly that the play is about the way people respond to disaster rather than disaster itself, and have accepted it on its own terms as a piece of theatre … I guess the play is in some way about people living in dark days, and was therefore meant to resemble things that are happening now, albeit in spirit rather than in detail.”



Dark days on the desert island … Daniel Rigby (left) and Mathew Baynton in Tom Basden’s Holes. Photograph: Idil Sukan/Draw HG

Holes shares a number of themes with Party, Basden’s 2010 Edinburgh hit that later became a Radio 4 series and was made into a television pilot earlier this year. “Party was about a small group of people who want to reimagine politics or rebuild the nation,” he says, “and this is in some way a development of that idea – it’s people who want to rebuild mankind.”

But he’s quick to rebut the suggestion that the comedy derives from the narrow outlook and petty concerns of his characters. “I hope it’s affectionate rather than poking fun. I don’t think there’s anything inherently funny about people being pathetic or boring. What’s funny is people who are so trapped by their own personality that they can’t help but be themselves no matter what situation they’re put in, and that’s something – that prison of your own personality – that runs through a lot of the narrative comedy I like.”

Those early comedy influences – The Office, Alan Partridge, Chris Morris – resonate through his plays, but his work also shares a tone and sensibility with the contemporaries with whom he regularly collaborates – comedians and writers such as his former Footlights colleagues Tim Key, Mark Watson and Stefan Golaszewski. In 2007, Basden won the Edinburgh comedy award for best newcomer with his solo show, but he’s perhaps best known for his collaborative work, including his co-writing on successful television comedies Fresh Meat, Plebs and The Wrong Mans (whose star, Matthew Baynton, plays the put-upon Gus in Holes). Does he feel more at home writing with other people?

“When it’s going well it’s definitely more fun,” he says, without hesitation. “You laugh more, but it can be frustrating because most writers are control freaks and most people who have a genuine voice know what they want it to sound like. So when two people like that come up against one another, it can be difficult to find a compromise. But if we weren’t passionate about it I don’t think we’d be as happy with the result.”



Basden on Holes, with Mathew Bayton (pictured): ‘I don’t think there’s anything inherently funny about people being pathetic or boring.’ Photograph: Idil Sukan/Draw HQ

I ask him if writing for theatre is appealing because it offers greater independence, compared with the constraints of a TV show? “Theatre is much more exposing,” he says. “Particularly with comedy. In straight plays, the difference between an audience who are bored and an audience who are captivated is quite hard to work out, but if you’ve failed with a comedy you know straight away. So that side of it is more stressful, but if you’ve got a roomful of people who are really enjoying it, there’s nothing better. It’s the same with standup.”

Still, Basden says he never loved doing standup on his own. “I found it quite lonely and it made me very tense,” he says. “Though I would potentially like to do another one at some point because it is very freeing.” He and his wife are living in China for the summer and hope to spend more time there in future, which might limit the standup opportunities – at least until his Mandarin improves – but you’re unlikely to see this multi-talented comedian narrowing his focus any time soon.

• Holes runs until 9 August. Box office: 020-7503 1646. Venue: Arcola, London.

Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/jul/22/tom-basden-holes-play-mh-17-crash

Jul 232014
 

It’s hard to believe that six letters can have such a powerful impact on one’s life. And for St. Joseph artist Mary Bruno, they aren’t the letters she etches at her company, Bruno Press.

Cancer.

Bruno was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in March and had a tumor removed. But after additional genetic testing, it was discovered that she was carrying the BCRA1 cancer gene mutation.

According to the American Cancer Society, individuals with the inherited mutation of BCRA1 gene can have up to an 80 percent risk of cancer.

Bruno, known locally for humorous greeting cards created on an early-1900s press, now faces two major surgeries. The first one is on Thursday. Doctors have recommended that Bruno take time off work to heal, which left her wondering what she’d do to cover costs such as deductibles and travel expenses.

“It’s just hard for me not to work at all. I had a couple of people suggest doing a fundraiser. That’s really not my style. I didn’t want to tell people. But the more people I tell, the better I feel,” Bruno said.

“The more people explained it to me, people would want to know and people would want to help.”

It took a great deal of convincing, but in late June Bruno ripped the bandage off and posted a status regarding her health and needs to Facebook.

She included a link to www.gofundme.com/brunohooters where family, friends and other supporters could donate to her $8,000 goal. Bruno met that goal in 24 hours and has raised $15,810 from 215 people as of late Sunday afternoon.

“I had no idea that it would blow up like that. It’s been super humbling, and overwhelming and it’s amazing all the people that I know, all the people that I don’t know, it’s completely out of hand and it’s interesting. I think for the first time in my life money is not going to be an issue,” she said. “It’s amazing because I will literally be able to concentrate on healing and I won’t have to worry about anything else.”

People can also help with the cause during Bruno’s Hooters benefit (aka Flippin’ Cancer the Bird Party) from 3-10 p.m. Aug. 16 at The Middy bar in St. Joseph, where Bruno also bartends part time. Live music, beverages, food, a silent auction and good times are expected.

“I just really like approaching it like, ‘(expletive) cancer, let’s party.’ I’m not letting this break me down into a pile of tears,” Bruno said. “When it comes to bumps in the road like this, I’m not that worried about it. I think it’s going to be over before I know it.”

Bruno thought her initial $8,000 request was too high and that people would think she was selfish for asking. It held her back. She was more worried about announcing her condition and that she needed help financially than she is about her upcoming surgeries.

St. Cloud Hospital CentraCare Health licensed clinical psychologist Ryan Engdahl said the support of loved ones after an individual has been diagnosed is key to the healthy processing of difficult situations. But that’s only if the person is willing, otherwise it can create stress.

“I think what we know for sure, what the research shows us, is that there is a correlation between social support and a positive treatment outcomes,” he said. “From an emotional standpoint, we know that with the opportunity to sort of open up to people, talk to people about the struggle and have the struggle validated by those close to us, we can continue to get the treatment knowing that there’s support.”

As a single woman and business owner, someone who is used to taking care of herself, asking for help isn’t Bruno’s strong suit. But it’s been worth the experience.

“This is partly for my mom, my brother, my nieces, to be able to be a part of something, too. I don’t like getting all choked up about stuff, but I figured this would be a little bit of therapy for everybody, too,” Bruno said. “I think it’s going to be fun. I think it’s going to be a big deal.”

Follow Channler K. Hill on Twitter @ChannlerKHill.

Article source: http://www.sctimes.com/story/life/2014/07/20/artist-bruno-uses-humor-friends-fight-cancer/12928225/

Jul 232014
 

It’s hard to believe that six letters can have such a powerful impact on one’s life. And for St. Joseph artist Mary Bruno, they aren’t the letters she etches at her company, Bruno Press.

Cancer.

Bruno was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in March and had a tumor removed. But after additional genetic testing, it was discovered that she was carrying the BCRA1 cancer gene mutation.

According to the American Cancer Society, individuals with the inherited mutation of BCRA1 gene can have up to an 80 percent risk of cancer.

Bruno, known locally for humorous greeting cards created on an early-1900s press, now faces two major surgeries. The first one is on Thursday. Doctors have recommended that Bruno take time off work to heal, which left her wondering what she’d do to cover costs such as deductibles and travel expenses.

“It’s just hard for me not to work at all. I had a couple of people suggest doing a fundraiser. That’s really not my style. I didn’t want to tell people. But the more people I tell, the better I feel,” Bruno said.

“The more people explained it to me, people would want to know and people would want to help.”

It took a great deal of convincing, but in late June Bruno ripped the bandage off and posted a status regarding her health and needs to Facebook.

She included a link to www.gofundme.com/brunohooters where family, friends and other supporters could donate to her $8,000 goal. Bruno met that goal in 24 hours and has raised $15,810 from 215 people as of late Sunday afternoon.

“I had no idea that it would blow up like that. It’s been super humbling, and overwhelming and it’s amazing all the people that I know, all the people that I don’t know, it’s completely out of hand and it’s interesting. I think for the first time in my life money is not going to be an issue,” she said. “It’s amazing because I will literally be able to concentrate on healing and I won’t have to worry about anything else.”

People can also help with the cause during Bruno’s Hooters benefit (aka Flippin’ Cancer the Bird Party) from 3-10 p.m. Aug. 16 at The Middy bar in St. Joseph, where Bruno also bartends part time. Live music, beverages, food, a silent auction and good times are expected.

“I just really like approaching it like, ‘(expletive) cancer, let’s party.’ I’m not letting this break me down into a pile of tears,” Bruno said. “When it comes to bumps in the road like this, I’m not that worried about it. I think it’s going to be over before I know it.”

Bruno thought her initial $8,000 request was too high and that people would think she was selfish for asking. It held her back. She was more worried about announcing her condition and that she needed help financially than she is about her upcoming surgeries.

St. Cloud Hospital CentraCare Health licensed clinical psychologist Ryan Engdahl said the support of loved ones after an individual has been diagnosed is key to the healthy processing of difficult situations. But that’s only if the person is willing, otherwise it can create stress.

“I think what we know for sure, what the research shows us, is that there is a correlation between social support and a positive treatment outcomes,” he said. “From an emotional standpoint, we know that with the opportunity to sort of open up to people, talk to people about the struggle and have the struggle validated by those close to us, we can continue to get the treatment knowing that there’s support.”

As a single woman and business owner, someone who is used to taking care of herself, asking for help isn’t Bruno’s strong suit. But it’s been worth the experience.

“This is partly for my mom, my brother, my nieces, to be able to be a part of something, too. I don’t like getting all choked up about stuff, but I figured this would be a little bit of therapy for everybody, too,” Bruno said. “I think it’s going to be fun. I think it’s going to be a big deal.”

Follow Channler K. Hill on Twitter @ChannlerKHill.

Article source: http://www.sctimes.com/story/life/2014/07/20/artist-bruno-uses-humor-friends-fight-cancer/12928225/

Jul 222014
 

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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/sports/at-the-commonwealth-games-new-zealand-reigns-in-sevens-rugby.html

Jul 222014
 

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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/sports/at-the-commonwealth-games-new-zealand-reigns-in-sevens-rugby.html

Jul 222014
 

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Jul 222014
 

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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/sports/commonwealth-games-more-than-a-colonial-vestige.html

Jul 222014
 
Ethan Miller/Getty Images Lionel Richie and daughter Nicole

Who knew Lionel Richie was such a comedian?

His wickedly funny daughter, Nicole Richie, says she gets her comic talents from her famous daddy.

“He and I have very similar senses of humor,” Nicole told Confidenti@l while promoting her new VH1 show, “Candidly Nicole.” “He’s one of my favorite people to have on the show. Like me, he is down to be the butt of any joke as long as it’s making people smile and laugh.”

Good thing, because a clip from an upcoming episode shows her quizzing the “Dancing On the Ceiling” singer about whether he uses Viagra. In the first episode, which aired Sunday night, Richie père got roped into teaching his daughter to parallel park.

“I’m so comfortable with him,” says Nicole. “We have that very comfortable banter. He’s always down to have fun.”

The gift from her father has come in handy for the reality star, who got her break as the comic foil to Paris Hilton ’s jaded brat in “The Simple Life.”

JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images Look who’s walking: Britain’s Prince George

GEORGE TODDLES ALONG

To mark his first birthday on Tuesday, Prince William and Kate Middleton have released the first picture of their son, George, walking. The shot, dated July 2, was taken at the Sensational Butterflies exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London.

JOAQUIN SEEMS KEEN ON KEENER

Joaquin Phoenix and one-time co-star Catherine Keener were getting their groove on Saturday night.

The pair, who appeared together in the 1999 movie “8MM,” arrived together for a party at Melet Mercantile, a store and gallery in Montauk, and quickly hit the dance floor.

A spy tells Confidenti@l that Phoenix and the “40 Year Old Virgin” actress were dancing together for around half an hour while a DJ played. “They were trying to be incognito,” said the onlooker. “But it looked like they were having a good time.”


LEA MICHELE, ONE YEAR LATER

The July 13 anniversary of Cory Monteith’s death is bringing back the pain for his former lover Lea Michele, so perhaps it’s for the best that she’s taking a break in Italy with new man, Matthew Paetz. Monteith’s mother, Ann McGregor, had no hard feelings about the “Glee” star’s vacation. “I mean, you see the sadness. I know her pain,” McGregor said, one day before Michele and Paetz were snapped aboard a boat off Positano, Italy.

Kim Kardashian in Mexico

KEEPING UP WITH KIM’S SNAPSHOTS

Is it called an hourglass figure because you could stare at it for 60 minutes at a time? Kim Kardashian gave us yet another look at her perpetually fascinating and always baffling bod when she posted a shot of herself on Instagram relaxing at “Girls Gone Wild” impresario Joe Francis’ home in Mexico.

A SATURDAY KIND OF LOVE

Katie Couric dished to us recently on the best part about being a newlywed. The Yahoo host, who married John Molner in June at her Hamptons estate, said she loves no longer having “to worry about what you’re doing on Saturday night.”

“I’m not a homebody necessarily, but it’s just nice to know, whatever you’re doing, whether you’re eating pizza and watching a movie on HBO or DirecTV or cable, that you have someone to share it with,” she added.

MEXICAN DINNER SERVED COLE

Jay Z protégé J. Cole was spotted grabbing Mexican to go. The “Born Sinner” rapper dropped by Dos Caminos in Midtown with his bodyguard and some pals in tow. They were in no hurry: “The group sat at the bar and had a round of drinks and chips and gauc while they waited for the order,” said a spy. We’re told they were in the mood for shrimp quesadillas.

NAMING NAMES ON ‘THE VIEW’

Conservative columnist and talk-radio host Debbie Schlussel says she’s in the running to join Whoopi Goldberg on “The View.” “I would challenge a lot of the people on the show,” she tells The News’ Reuven Blau. “Whoopi always tells people that the Redskins name offends a lot of people. I would tell her that as a Jewish-American, (her) using the last name ‘Goldberg’ mocks Jews. I would ask her if she’s going to change her stage name.” Schlussel says a producer contacted her about the job on July 2. “It was really out of the blue,” she adds.

Evan Agostini/ASSOCIATED PRESS Model Karlie Kloss offers a deep-cleaning tip.

RICH WOMAN, PORE WOMAN

Supermodel beauty, super-affordable price tag. Karlie Kloss revealed to Elle magazine that her secret beauty weapon costs $9. “I get breakouts when I wear makeup to exercise, so I clean my face before and after I work out,” Kloss told the mag. “I also use Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Strips. I’m always shocked and horrified at all the junk in my pores.” Wonder if she shared her budget-friendly beauty tip with BFF and workout buddy Taylor Swift.

A COLORFUL GIFT

Controversial cab mogul Gene Friedman was given an expensive Tesla electric car painted in New York City taxi yellow as an anniversary present from his wife, Sandra Friedman’srep told Confidenti@l: “It fits for the man who owns the largest taxi fleet operation in the city — and is the revolutionary pioneer who introduced hybrid taxis to NYC.”

Related Stories Another beauty on Matt Harvey’s arm: model Shannon Rusbuldt Swift look tailored for paparazzi Shia’s having La-rough time Meanwhile, back on the raunch … it’s Jenny McCarthy! Levine and Prinsloo are on their marry way

Article source: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/confidential/nicole-richie-credits-father-lionel-sense-humor-article-1.1874186

Jul 222014
 

Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Berra, DiMaggio, Ford, Hunter, Jackson, Mattingly, Winfield, Rivera, Jeter…the Daily News has legendary photos of the legendary Yankees. Own yours today.

Article source: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/alex-rodriguez-parody-re2spect-commercial-article-1.1875199