“In 1908, Kafka landed a position at the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute in Prague, where he was fortunate to be on the coveted “single shift” system, which meant office hours from 8 or 9 in the morning until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. This was a distinct improvement over his previous job, which required long hours and frequent overtime. So how did Kafka use these newfound hours of freedom? First, lunch; then a four-hour-long nap; then 10 minutes of exercise; then a walk; then dinner with his family; and then, finally, at 10:30 or 11:30 at night, a few hours of writing—although much of this time was spent writing letters or diary entries.”
I’m a huge fan of the song that starts at the 3:00 minute mark.
Reggie Watts’s performances tickle all the right parts of my brain. He’s a lot like Andy Kaufman, who has a similar effect on me.
Part of the charm of watching Reggie Watts perform to a large audience is seeing and hearing their reactions throughout. It gives additional insight into how his act works.
Typically, like Kaufman, he starts by inducing some nervous laughter through an awkward physical bit or a goofy voice. He rides this simple-seeming gag for as long as he can. When the audience starts to lose interest, he explodes into some brilliant, improvised, ear-worm song. That sudden incongruity in the audience’s mental model of the performer becomes a source of humor in itself.
Then, he starts oozing shamanic musical and comedic talent, winning over the audience regardless of whether his music and style of comedy appeal to them. He elevates the performance beyond just the music and the gags.
At the end, the audience can’t help but cheer. It could be an approval of Reggie, his natural comedic timing, and his well-honed musical skills. But I like to think it’s an appreciation of the concept of being really damn good at your craft.
Here is a little design choice that appears to be increasingly common. Facebook does it, Reddit does it, and Tumblr very recently added it. If it’s not obvious from the pictures, I’m talking about this way of formatting links to add the domain name, or even a screenshot of the site alongside the normal hyperlink text. This choice, I believe, adds needless clutter while also removing an opportunity to exercise some creativity. I’m reminded of this article about suck.com, one of the first great websites. I’ve linked to this article several times over the years because it’s so damn good. Here is the relevant bit:
In the absence of HotWired strictures, they turned “tertiary links” into signature stylistic components. “It’s important to understand that up until then, to the best of my knowledge, people had just used hyperlinks in a strictly informational sense, simply as online footnotes,” says Mark Dery, author of Escape Velocity. “With Suck, you wouldn’t get the joke until you punched through on the link. Then you found out that it set the keyword to which this new source was linked in an ironic light.” Writing for Suck, Steadman and Anuff were free to link “suffocating infants” to Dave Winer’s column, or “wet dream” or “negative energy”. “Whereas every other Web site conceived hypertext as a way of augmenting the reading experience,” wrote Steven Johnson in Interface Culture, “Suck saw it as an opportunity to withhold information, to keep the reader at bay.”
This technique is effectively denied by the above formatting choice, forced on us by social networks. If you really want to make sure you’re not getting misled into a goatse link, you can always hover over the link, which in any reasonable browser will reveal the href domain. Really devious people can use url shorteners to keep the real destination of a link secret, in which case it’s probably a good idea to unsubscribe from them anyway. But it bothers me that this little “design trick” solves a problem that didn’t really exist while simultaneously limiting a niche, but very useful opportunity to have some fun with hyperlinks, to do with them things that could not be done before the internet came along. (This can still be done with inline links, but the shock and awe factor is far greater in a headline.)
Comedy website Splitsider just launched a new digital distribution label ‘Splitsider Presents’ and their first release is the hilarious feature film ‘The Exquisite Corpse Project.’ Available for $5 over at their website.
Director Ben Popik gathered together his former comrades from the legendary sketch group Olde English and tasked them with writing a movie. The catch: each of the five writers wrote 15 pages and only saw the previous five pages of the script. He then shot the movie they wrote, as well as documentary footage of the writing process and all the drama that it entailed, and put them all together into a unique comedy.
I had an opportunity to see the move last night and it is really something special. Besides being extremely funny and charming, it speaks volumes about the creative process, collaboration and friendship. The way the documentary aspect mirrors the narrative they wrote is fascinating. The film becomes much more than a silly project, but rather evolves into a statement about human nature and relationships. You definitely haven’t seen anything like it.
Anyone who has ever been in a comedy group, or wants to know what it means to be in a comedy group, should watch this movie. It’s the single most moving and accurate depiction of the joy and horror of creative compromise that has ever been made. It’s also a rare dose of sincerity in an oftentimes too snarky comedy world.
Congratulations to comedy brand Splitsider on the cool business move.
I was a big fan of Olde English in high school (and still am, eight years later). They’re what got me into films and TV. At the very least, they inspired a summer of walking around the neighborhood with a camcorder and some friends, recording improvised sketches.
It was almost cathartic to see the members of OE back together again, working on one more project. I loved getting to see some behind-the-scenes dynamics of these guys putting together a complicated script. It was also interesting to see how much they’ve diverged in their interests, leading their own, unique lives.
As an unexpected treat, this documentary approached some questions I’ve been marinading in for the past couple of years:
What does it mean to be close to someone?
How can one person stay close to another when the two personalities start to evolve into incompatible patterns, to the point of eventually canceling each other out?
If you view friendship as an emergent property of the sum of all interactions between two or more people who are constantly changing, how could you hope to control the trajectory of that phenomenon? In other words, how do you sustain a relationship when its fundamental properties dictate that it cannot stay the same?
I was pleasantly surprised to see the plot of the narrative, in its own peculiar ways, try to answer these questions over and over again.
Also the movie’s funny. And I guess Splitsider is producing feature films now, which is great.
Members of the Tylenol groups reported feeling less upset following conversations about death and other existential topics.
“Nobody has shown this before, and we are surprised that the effect emerged so robustly,” said lead researcher Daniel Randles, “that a drug meant primarily to alleviate headaches also prevents people from being bothered all that much by thinking about death. It was certainly surprising.”
The researchers found that those who had taken the Tylenol did not experience feelings of existential dread and “looked just like the control group that hadn’t talked about their death or watched the unpleasant [film] clip.”