Friday, December 24, 2010

Wet Bandits Apprehended! by JEFF KONKLE

Chicago, IL –  The serial burglars known as the Wet Bandits were arrested last night thanks to a vigilant and vindictive neighborhood boy.

10 year-old Kevin McCallister of Winnetka Village, about 20 miles north of Chicago, single-handedly foiled the Wet Bandits planned robbery of his parents’ house.  Through a series of inventive and dangerous booby-traps, McCallister was able to nearly cripple the burglars.

The Wet Bandits, also known as Harry Lyme and Marv Merchants, spent the night in the Schaumburg Hospital after sustaining severe trauma upon trying to unlawfully enter the McCallister residence.  They had terrorized up to 15 locations in the surrounding area, clearing the house out first then flooding it to destroy the evidence.

“I’ve seen some home-owners take revenge on robbers before, but this was too much,” commented detective Mike O’Rourke.  “These guys were scum bags no doubt, but I don’t think they deserved to be paralyzed.”  

“All I wanted was some cheese pizza,” said McCallister as he was taken away by Child Youth Services.  Most likely the ten year old will spend some time at Chicago’s Children’s Hospital undergoing extensive psychological testing.  McCallister was accidentally left home alone by his parents, who flew to Paris for a Christmas vacation.

“Abandonment issues can often manifest themselves in detached or sadistic behavior,” said Dr. Karen Paulsen, Director of Child Wellness at the hospital.  “After the neglectful actions of his parents, Kevin systematically tortured and mutilated Lyme and Merchant.  This is a red flag to child psychologists.  This behavior may continue.”

Lyme is being treated for several third degree burns, the worst of which came after a rigged blowtorch ignited as he opened the kitchen door, searing off part of his scalp.  Lyme also has a cracked sternum and a bulging disk in his back after tripping on some Micro-Machines.

Doctor’s are saying that Merchant will most likely need to have his left foot amputated after he punctured it on a ten-penny nail that was tarred to the steps of the basement.  He sustained further injuries as well, including 4 severed tendons in his right foot from stepping on glass ornaments and a fractured orbital bone from being struck with a free-falling iron.   

Both sustained brutal concussions when they were hit with full paint cans as they tried to chase McCallister up the stairs of his house.  They were later bludgeoned with a shovel by neighborhood resident “Old Man” Marley.

“Back-to-back concussions are very dangerous,” commented Dr. Vidal Kwali, resident at Schaumburg Hospital.  “Both patients are having trouble with their fine motor skills and language comprehension.  They’ll probably never be the same.”

McCallister shouted to the Wet Bandits as they carted them into the ambulance, “Keep the change you filthy animals.”  Many Chicago homeowners will echo that sentiment.

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Check out JEFF KONKLE'S WEBSITE!

Jeff Konkle is a stand-up comedian who can currently be seen featuring at the Improv Waterfront, he has opened for national headliners like - Aries Spears (Mad TV), Bill Burr (HBO, Comedy Central Presents), Josh Blue, Kevin Brennan, Juston McKinney and Pauley Shore.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday COMEDY in Pitttsburgh!


HI friends of Pittsburgh Comedy!
We're gonna be taking off until the new year but we wanted to give you some comedy over the holidays!



 DECMEBER 22nd, HARD ROCK CAFE, 8PM
WDVE's MIKE WYSOCKI
National Touring Comedian & Pgh's Own, BILL CRAWFORD
with James FROG Kennedy & Mike Travers!

DECEMBER 22nd, Improv Waterfront, 8PM
"Comics Need to Buy Xmas Gifts Too!" The SHOW!

December 30th - January 2nd, Improv Waterfront
Celebrate the NEW YEAR with HARLAND WILLIAMS from Half-Baked, There's Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber and featuring Pittsburgh's own, Aaron Kleiber! Shows all weekend - including a dinner countdown show for New Years Eve! 

Improv Ticket info:
166 East Bridge Street The Stacks at the Waterfront Homestead, PA 15120 USA
Box Office Phone: (412) 462-5233
Website: Improv.com


DECEMBER 29th, CLUB CAFE, SOUTH SIDE, 7PM
4th Annual Holiday Ha-Ha Comedy Show
Featuring sketch comedy, stand-up comedy and more! Featuring Ron Placone, Billy Lyday, and sketch comedy from some of Pittsburgh's finest - like Second City Drop-Outs, Aaron Kleiber & TJ Amick! Hosted by Mark McCall - call Club Cafe for Tickets: (412) 431-4950

OPEN MIC COMEDY!
Check our calendar for some local fun times!

**If anyone has shows to add to the list, please email: pittsburghcomedy@gmail.com**

MERRY CHRISTMAS PITTSBURGH!
PghComedy.com

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Toiletries for the Needy at the TSA by MIKE BUZZELLI

From the Observer-Reporter.org


Mention "the airlines" in a comedy club, and there is a collective groan from the back row.
Ever since the '60s, it's hackneyed for a comedian to talk about the airlines. Usually, they make fun of the airplane food. As a matter of fact, if any comedian tells a stale joke, you're likely to hear, "That's so hack, next thing you know he's going to do 10 minutes on airline food."
It is with some trepidation that I bring up the subject of the airlines.
We are never going back to the days before 9/11. It's been nearly 10 years, and it is still sinking in.







I now know I'll never be able to take food from home on an airplane. I can't bring a bottle of water from home, but I can buy one at the Au Bon Pain in the airport for about as much as I paid for the whole case at Costco or Target.
If I want to go somewhere overnight, I have to buy disposable razor blades when I land, unless I want to check my carry-on.
They are minor inconveniences of the new world order. I just keep forgetting. I'm curious about the amount of shaving cream, disposable razor blades and fingernail clippers the Transportation Security Administration agents have collected. Is it going to a giant landfill? Are the sales for fingernail clippers and Swiss Army knives on the rise?
I hope no one is using recycled fingernail clippers. That's just gross.
My neighbor was telling me he buys a new pocketknife every time he comes back from vacation, because he keeps forgetting to take it off his key ring. To the TSA, a bottle opener is a weapon.
It's a sorry terrorist who will have to say, "I'm going to shake this beer bottle vigorously and then you're going to get it. Oh, wait. It's not a twist-off."
I kind of resent having to take off my shoes. I never remember to wear something that slips on and off easily. I'm thinking bunny slippers for my next flight.
I understand that, with my swarthy Mediterranean looks, I'm always going to be profiled. I try not to giggle every time they rub that metal detecting wand over my body, but I'm severely ticklish.
I was strip-searched in Greece because I hadn't shaved. I guess they thought I was a native trying to flee to America. To be fair, it was the night after a bombing at an American hotel there. I had to stand in my underwear in a room while security guards went through my stuff. I could see them judging my souvenirs. It was the kind of situation you see only in porn movies, except it never got naughty, just humiliating.
Here's the thing: Not long ago, I watched an 80-year-old woman get the terrorist treatment near the United gate. The only bomb she is going to drop is going to be in her Depends.
I guess they can't discriminate. Instead, they treat everyone like terrorists.
We're in an "assumed guilty until proven innocent" world now, instead of the other way around.
I just wish I could remember that before I go to the airport.

Read more by Mike Buzzelli at Observer-Reporter.org

Mike Buzzelli has performed his standup routine at places on the Left Coast like The Comedy Store and The Ice House, before relocating to Western Pennsylvania. And he has plenty of writing experience, to boot.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SEND Pittsburgh Comic, Aaron Kleiber, to BOSTON for Magner's COMEDY Festival!

Pittsburgh Comic, Aaron Kleiber, has made the cut of Top 50 comics, out of thousands of submissions, chosen to perform at the Magner's Boston Comedy Festival in January 2011 - the winner of the festival gets to perform at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival - there's one catch - NOW, they want folks to vote the TOP 20 to get into the festival thru Facebook.

Voting ends this Friday, December 17th! We need to send him there to REPRESENT the 'Burgh!

VOTE for AARON KLEIBER on Facebook!
Here's how:
2) Click "VOTE HERE"
3) Click the "Aaron K." Picture - TWO ACROSS, FOUR DOWN from LEFT
4) VOTE by clicking 3 pints!
5) Enjoy Aaron's Submission video on the site (filmed at Corner Cafe when opening for Jim Krenn & Billy Gardell).

A little more about Aaron - 
Aaron just placed 3rd to send him to the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival in April 2011, in Atlanta. He can be seen doing stand-up comedy at  Pittsburgh Improv & all around the city - he has performed with headliners like, Bobcat Goldtwait, Greg Warren, Lavell Crawford, Jim Krenn, Billy Gardell & John Witherspoon.

Check out more about Aaron Kleiber at his website: AaronKleiber.com

The Second City comes to PIttsburgh!

THE SECOND CITY 
turns up the heat with their hilarious NEW SHOW
"Fair & Unbalanced,"
 
THIS WEEK ONLY at The Public!

Thurs, Dec 16 at 8:00pm
Fri, Dec 17 at 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 18 at 5:30pm
Sat, Dec 18 at 9:00pm

4 SHOWS ONLY
THIS THURSDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY At the O'Reilly Theater

Tickets start at just $30!
From politicians and pundits to entertainers and sports stars, no one is safe from The Second City's quick-witted and brilliant improvisations and sketches. Their sure-fire ability to mine comedic gold from current events has made them favorites with audiences all over the world. They have performed to packed houses each holiday at The Public, so get your tickets today before they're gone!
Media Sponsor: WDVE
Call 412.316.1600 or BUY ONLINE

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Start Winning or We'll Drop You' EA Tells a Laughing Tiger Woods by TRAVIS WALLING

Fake News: Sports

A meeting was held at Electronic Arts headquarters on Monday, and an ultimatum was laid down to golfer Tiger Woods by EA CEO John Riccitiello. “We have a business relationship with you, it's based on you being the best golfer in the world. So we’ve come to the decision that if you don’t start winning again we’ll drop you as the poster-boy for our golfing video games”.

Mr. Woods was able to stifle his laughter for a good 5 seconds before bursting out in a guffaw heard down the spacious hallway leading to the CEO’s office.

“No, we’re serious” continued Mr. Riccitiello, “there are plenty of options for us if we don’t have you. We already have the posters made up for Lee Westwood 2012, he’s huge over in Belgium. Or wherever the hell he’s from.”

At this point Mr. Woods was out of his chair convulsing on the floor. “Stop it!” an increasingly annoyed CEO exclaimed “We have other options too; Phil Mickelson is just as good a choice. Of course, we’d have to borrow the breast templates from the DOA Volleyball girls to get his avatar right, but it’s doable. And let’s not forget, um.... Arnold Palmer? He’s still alive right?”

By this time Mr. Woods was practically begging for him to stop so he could breathe again. “Oh man,” Tiger said while trying to regain his composure, “this is funnier than the time Jordan bet me $100,000 I couldn’t beat up a homeless guy with my putter and get away with it”.

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TRAVIS WALLING is a comedian from Pittsburgh; check out more of his writings at his website

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ultimate Hell Gig by RON PLACONE

It was an all-day festival, middle of summer in Pennsylvania about 20 minutes outside of Pittsburgh at a large fair ground.  They never tried anything like this before, the entertainment was to be all comedy, beginning at 10:30am and ending at 6:00pm.  The booker called all of us participating into a meeting the night before and she gave us our slots.  I was given the 4:00 slot and was to do 30 minutes.  There were two people after me.  All of the comics on the show, including myself, were pretty much at the same level in terms of work we were getting and how far along we were on the ladder.  To put it more bluntly and in comedian terms, no headliner/TV credits on this show.  I usually don't let this kind of stuff get to me but one of the people after me happened to be a comic I didn't care for very much.  Not only his act but as a human being I thought he needed kicked in the throat a couple of times.  I was pissed he was after me as the boooker seemed to have given us our slots based on her perception of our skill.
The next day, I showed up at 10:00am as that was check-in time.  The booker approached me, "Ron, I was kind of hoping you'd do the warm-up in addition to your slot, you need to be on at 10:30am, that cool?"  I said sure.  I figured I just had to introduce the event, thank people for coming, ummm, in a situation like this should one tell people to silence their cell phones?  I figured I had a few minutes to decide.  As I was about to go on stage the booker approached me again.  "Ok, so go until about noon."  "What?"  "Go until about noon."  "That's an hour-and-a-half, that's an awfully long time for a stand-up, it takes years and years for people to develop a full hour-and-a-half they can do all at once."  "Well, you're not allowed to do any of your material, so that's fine."  "What?"  "Your 4:00pm slot is for your material, this 10:30am-noon slot is for crowd work only.  You said you would do it, if you back out that's fine but I wouldn't bother contacting me for dates in 2011."  I didn't want to lose a year's worth of dates from a booker I worked for regularly, so I sucked it up and went on stage.  The stage was about 10 feet from the ground.  The closest audience member was a solid 20 yards at least away from me.  An hour-and-a-half of crowd work.  I greeted the crowd, backs were turned, reverb from the microphone, somebody coughed.  A couple children were playing in the fields a ways off.  I was mostly ignored.  I turned to the sound guy and asked if the booker was still around.  "Nope, she left."  I bailed.  I didn't know what time it was, but I bailed.  I told the people the comedy would start back up at noon and I'd be on at 4 and to stick around.  A couple people clapped.  I took the subway back into the city and went to my apartment.  My girlfriend was just waking up and asked me why I was home. "It's going to be a long day, are you coming to the show?"  "I wasn't planning on it."  "Well, you won't be missing much, when it's over, I'm going to need a drink."  "What's your slot?"  "4."  "I'm surprised you're not closing out of that bunch."  "Whatever, we all get paid the same I think." 
I returned to the grounds and nobody seemed to have cared that I bailed on my hour-and-a-half of crowd work.  I saw the comic I didn't care for that was going on after me.  "I'm pumped I'm closing this, it pays twice of what the rest of you guys are making, isn't that weird?  I mean, I do the same amount of time, but I get paid twice as much, dude, maybe she'll let you close next year."  What a dick.  I try not to be petty when it comes to stuff like that and of course jealously gets one nowhere, but this guy's just a flat out chode.  I agreed with him that it was odd and walked away.  It wasn't worth it to retaliate, why stoop to his level?  I waited around for a few hours, bought some candy, the crowd seldom paid attention to any of the comics.  At one point a water-gun fight broke out.  Later, a couple started making out near the stage and the dude went right up the girl's shirt in front of everybody.  At about 3:45 I started to get closer to the stage.  Just then I noticed my parents had arrived.  "We saw this in the paper, saw you were on it, thought we'd get out of town for an afternoon, how's it going?"  "Eh, to be honest, I'm not looking forward to this, sometimes it really feels like a job, this is one of those times."  "When are you going on?"  "4."  Brief moment of silence.
Then my dad piped up, "wow, it's pathetic you're not closing this shit."  "What?"  "Seriously, that guy (comic I don't like) is a total hack, I'm pretty sure he stole his closer from CK, he sucks."  "I agree."  "Yet he's closing the show and you're not.  Seriously, it's pathetic."  "It's one booker's opinion."  "It's pretty sad Ron, we need to get going actually, we're going to miss your set."  "You just got here."  "Yeah, I forgot we have stuff to do."  Unbelievable.  So what if one booker thinks I shouldn't be closing the show?  I can't let this crap get to me, especially not now.  As I'm trapped in thought I get a tap on the shoulder, it's the MC, "hey man, I need your intro."  I looked towards the stage and the comedian on stage was humping the stole with three people watching and laughing and applauding and the rest of the audience still had their backs turned.
I woke up.  I was thirsty.  Yup, friends, it was a dream.  There is no subway in or around Pittsburgh, that's the kicker.  Not to mention I don't think either of my parents are familiar with the term "closing" in terms of it being used as comedy-lingo near synonymous but not quite with "headlining."  Although, to all my comedy friends out there, I'm a bit disturbed at how possible that dream could actually be.  Oh, and neither the comic I didn't like nor the booker were actual people, all sole residents of my subconscious, though I guess if they were people I probably wouldn't divulge their identity anyway.  If you need me I'll be at the park doing 90 minutes of crowd work.

Ron is a comedian and writer that has returned to Pittsburgh after blowing-up comedy in Seattle, WA.


Friday, December 10, 2010

City Paper's 'BEST OF' Issue Forgets Comedy

© Copyright 2010, Pittsburgh City Paper
Every year the Pittsburgh City Paper compiles a cavalcade of categories to make up the "Best of Pittsburgh" Issue.

In 2010, the City Paper forgot about comedy.

I'm not sure if it was our fault - haven't we been doing enough shows? Is our calendar not full enough? I mean, you have a COMEDY event listing in your paper and online! Are Pittsburgh comedians not talented enough?

They haven't done much, except:
-  In the last year opened for headliners like; Charlie Murphy, Greg Warren, Billy Gardell, D.L. Hughley and Tracey Morgan - just to name a few.
- WON 1st & 3rd in a National Comedy Festival where only 20 cities had auditions, one being Pittsburgh.
- WON $25,000 in the Steeltown Entertainment Screenplay Contest,  filmed it & screened the film at the opening night of the Three Rivers Film Fest (who also just won $1000 by placing 3rd in a AT&T Commercial Contest).
- Been featured in national commercials and studio films - when was the last time one of those 'clothing designers" were on National TV?
- Multiple comedians have studied at the legendary Second City in Chicago.
- Featured on WDVE weekly (with over a quarter-million listeners).
- Been featured on NBC's Last Comic Standing.
   
They're doin okay.

While we're talking about the 'BEST OF' Issue:

Best LGBT-Friendly Bar? Really? I thought Pittsburgh was progressive enough where 'Best Bar' would suffice. Where's the "Best Colored People Water Fountains" or "Best LGBT Friendly Place for DIY'ers"?
'No, we meant that it's friendly in a way.....'...shutup.

'Best Pop/Rock Band that isn't the Clarks' - The fact you have to say that tells me there hasn't been a decent one since 1996.

'Best Place to Buy Smokes' - GET-GO ALMOST WON! 'Nuff said.

'Best Bartender'? Where's the best barista or best janitor? Shutup.

'Best Make-Your-Own Craft Shop'...... SHUT YOUR MOUTH. Shutup. Now.

Six winners of the nine People & Places category involved sports or Big Ben's weiner. Sigh.

Direct quote on page 39: "Best Way to Learn Pittsburgh Actually has Non-White Residents' - RIDE THE T. Did you know that we weren't just a city of whites & blacks? We actually have Hispanic and Asian residents? No? Ride the T."
ROTFLMAO. I would get booed off stage if I said this.
(Mind you, this was a voter write-in..but was the editor taking a dump on this one...).
Next year - 'Best Racial Slur Heard in Senior Citizen Access Vans'

Does Wiz Khalifa even live in Pittsburgh? A better category for him would be "Best Entertainment Career of the Year for a Pittsburgh NATIVE." Ehhh...I don't know, he might be neck-n-neck with Billy Gardell....wait - you wouldn't know him - he's a comedian.

'Best Bus Route' - Your ass. (You set that one up nice CP).

And 'Best Blog' was a write-in category? Sheesh. Don't get me wrong, we're probly ranked somewhere between 12 - 17; but have you ever seen The Pens Blog?

In next year's issue, just put "Best Comedian: Dennis Miller." Idiots.

Complete List at City Paper's Website

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Written by Aaron Kleiber
Aaron hasn't done anything notable but make people laugh on occasion.

Pittsburgher MATT MOLCHEN, headlines the Improv TONIGHT!

 MATT MOLECHIN & FRIENDS
Friday, December 10th @ 8PM
Tiicktes only $5!

Matt’s comedy is much like hanging out with your favorite college drinking buddy; righteously fun and sometimes in your face. Matt is Second City-trained and has featured for such recognizable acts as Jeff Dunham, Jeremy Hotz, and John Pinette. He is a regular opener for Billy Elmer as well as opened for Robert Schimmel, Louis Anderson, Rich Vos and the list goes on... He has done several comedy club and college appearances throughout the country, and has been a finalist in several competitions including the Fall Down Laughing Comedy Contest at the esteemed Pittsburgh Improv.

See more at Matt's WEBSITE!

How To Save Money This Christmas by ERIC S. DONALDSON

Here are some great tips for you to save your well-earned pennies this Yuletide season!

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great poet and neuroscientist, was once heard to say that the holidays feed our souls and nourish our heartstrings forever. But with the current jobless rate at 78%, most families are having to tighten up their wallets more than ever this year. You may have found yourself exclaiming, “It’s Christmas again, and I don’t have any money!” Following are some tips for you to save some of those crucial Yuletide pennies.

Recycle. Be creative. Before you throw an item away, ask yourself, “Could this item be helpful for the gift-giving season?” An empty tissue box could very easily be mashed down to pulp for use in new homemade Christmas cards. Old light bulbs with the cap removed make great on-the-go bowls for Cheerios. That old beach ball could be lanced and drained and used to build a rototiller-cozy. The possibilities are endless, while the impossibilities are finite!
Gas Crafts. Fuel prices have started creeping up again this winter, with no apparent end in sight. A thoughtful idea for the holidays is to use gas as a gift in itself. An ice sculpture made of frozen gasoline is not only beautiful, but extremely useful for making vehicles go around. Just place the petroleum-based hood ornament on your car with a funnel leading to your fuel tank. Not only will it brighten up your street, but it will get you to work the next day!
Take A Cue From The Animals. Has your puppy or kitty ever presented with you a gift? Animals show us that it’s the simplest pleasures that mean the most. Sometimes a piece of a dirty milk carton or a dead chipmunk can mean so much more than expensive jewelry or discount power tools. Just licking someone can be its own gift! Why present your son with an expensive remote controlled car when rubbing some dog shit on his leg can achieve the same effect?
Keep a Dream Journal! The most frugal of ideas can come to us in dreams. It is only when we dream that we make observations like, “I could buy this amusement park with a bag of candy,” or “My cousin, Don Johnson, will give me millions of dollars for my Denny’s receipt!” Keep a watchful eye open and you will be full of money-saving tips in the morning. Just steer clear of Cheech.
Skip a Meal. If there’s one thing everybody knows about Christmas, it’s that everybody eats too much. What better way to combat the extra pounds of holiday weight than by skipping meals? If your normal grocery budget is $200, try cutting it down to $75. Sure, you might be hungry, but that will make you want Christmas even more. You can also cut down on unnecessary prescription drugs that are cluttering up your medicine chest. Which would you rather see on Christmas morning? The smiling face of a child, or legs without tremors? Super easy question.
The Art of the Dodge. Children and the elderly (and sometimes the childerly) can be very easily persuaded. Simply tell them that “Our family celebrates Christmas at a different time than other families.” If they ask why, just explain that this is a surprise. After that, you can wait until you get a tax refund and do a big Christmas then. Or even save it for next year! Lots of families celebrate Christmas bi-annually, like the Pilgrims did.
Simple Money-Saving Methods! Some of the simplest ways to save money this holiday season are the most obvious; so obvious that we overlook them! For example, instead of throwing away your gift bag from last year’s Oscar ceremony, just give away the iPads and Viagra to your relatives as gifts! Put your endorsement deal money into a separate account throughout the year, and don’t touch it until after Thanksgiving. Just the interest alone will have generated millions of saved income!
Stealing: Your Last Resort. Sometimes, when times are tight, it might be a little tempting to do a little petty burglary to make ends meet. Remember where stealing a little loaf of bread got poor Jean Valjean? Nineteen years in prison, just to try to feed his family. What’s more, we never find out what became of his family. You can’t look it up because it’s FICTION. It’s like Victor Hugo wanted us to wonder aimlessly forever about the poor Valjean household. If we ever pioneer reanimation technology, I vote we resurrect Victor Hugo’s brain and find out whatever happened to this family, because while he didn’t want to write it, I’m sure he knows. He just held it back to be a prick. Stick to white collar crime if anything, that’s my point. Much bigger payoff, much shorter jail times.
Using these amazing and innovative holiday tips, you will be feeling better and scoring big points with your loved ones! Just don’t forget: Steer clear of Cheech.

Vintage Toy Catalog by CHRIS PREKSTA

Recently discovered on the internets - pages upon pages of the cheesy toys and technology we grew up with (Gen X'ers), along with the hilarious ways department stores presented them.  We've collected a few pages here for enjoyment

Let's start with the cover.  I mean that's one heck of a snow day, when you get to go sled riding with Mr. T, Starscream, the Gremlins, and My Little Pony.  (I thought Gremlins couldn't get wet?)  And I'm pretty sure Mr. T is punching snowflakes.
Speaking of Mr. T, how would you like YOUR ENTIRE BEDROOM to be themed after the famous actor, including an oversized wristwatch?
And were any of you aware that the A-Team had a playhouse?  The caption says they're "soldiers of fortune, living on the edge..."  Since when is "the edge" a two story loft?
I love how old catalogs would create little scenes with action figures.  Like this Star Wars display for example, which captures that famous scene in Return of the Jedi where Jabba the Hutt transported the Ewok Village to Tatooine for a cook-out with the Emperor, Han Solo (in Hoth gear), and a ressurected Ben Kenobi.
And with all those crazy gadgets, who knew that R2-D2 was filled with dead Ewok carcasses?
The Super Friends put together a nice little scene outside of the Hall of Justice where Superman, Lex Luthor, Joker, Penguin, and Batman & Robin wave goodbye to...Batman & Robin?  That's a rookie catalog mistake Montgomery Wards.
But the winning entry has to go to GI Joe for it's multiple climate displays and it's aircraft carrier that's taller than me!  7 1/2 feet?!?  Will that even fit in your dad's station wagon?
Maybe you're thinking of picking up a brand new wood paneled television, complete with a remote control bigger than my laptop.
Or perhaps you really wanna splurge and go for one of those new fangled VCR's for the reasonable price of...FOURTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS?!?
I was actually a bit shocked how little video game prices have risen over the years.  Consider how much more you get from your $50 Xbox game than a $25 Atari game.
Here's an ad for my very first camcorder, the PXL 2000 by Fisher Price.  It recorded 10 minutes of pixelated black and white video on audio cassettes.  I used to film videos of myself as Nintendo characters.  (20 years later not much has changed.)  Also, someone might wanna give that kid a rabies shot after he's done singing with all those mangey alley cats.
How about some "make believe"?  This ad promises you could dress up as The Warriors, an ivory poacher, or a dinosaur that doesn't know it's about to be assassinated by a ninja.
And what's with the ad title?  "Imagination...let it go, let it go, LET IT GO!"  Are they telling kids it's time to give this stuff up and get a job?
Forget that fantasy stuff, why not reenact a forbidden cross-cultural romance during one of our wars in the Pacific?  Like the ad cryptically says, "Make believe made real...almost."
While pajama's were always a big deal, why do these kids look like they're going to sip a little brandy, enjoy a Cuban cigar, and discuss Reaganomics?
And lastly, before you go to bed, make sure to pick out your favorite sleeping bag.  Who knows, maybe your parents will let you stay up late to watch Johnny Carson.

Merry Christmas!

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CHRIS PREKSTA is a director/writer from Pittsburgh, check out some of his projects - CaptainBlasto.com or MercurySeries.com

Thursday, December 9, 2010

BUy the DVD? "Survival of the Dead" Review by MIKE RUBINO

George Romero, the father of the entire Zed-word sub-genre, presents the latest installation in his unofficial undead franchise, Survival of the Dead, zombies on an island with a Western motif populated by Irishmen. That's pretty original, right?

Somewhere off the coast of Delaware resides an island split in twain by two clans of warring Irishman, The Flynns and The Muldoons. The hatred between Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh, The Aviator) and Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick, The Boondock Saints) runs so deep that not even the zombie apocalypse can stunt the growth of an old fashioned Irish disagreement. In this case, it's what to do with the undead: kill 'em or cure 'em?


Enter Sarge (Alan Van Sprang, Diary of the Dead) and his rag-tag gang of soldiers. After seeing O'Flynn's YouTube tourist video advertising their Celtic-zombie getaway, Crocket and Co. take refuge on the island. They quickly find out that the residents there have bigger problems than a couple of lousy brain-eaters.


George Romero's latest revivalist entry in his undead series had the dubious duty of making up for Diary of the Dead. That jargon-filled Cloverfield rip off was like 90 minutes of listening to someone's grandfather explain how the Internet works. Survival of the Dead, a more traditionally filmed horror movie, at least spares us the techno-babble. It instead just feels like 90 minutes of someone's grandfather arguing with his stubborn friend at the VFW.


The problems with Survival almost outnumber the amount of undead in the film...


Read the full review at DVD Verdict:
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/survivalofthedead.php

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Mike Rubino is a Pittsburgh-area writer, improviser, and actor who performs with the Cellar Dwellers comedy troupe.


Upcoming Show:

"Dodge Intrepid and the Pages of Time Christmas Special"
An original, old fashioned radio show with plenty of wit and pulp
Friday, Dec 10 at Beaver Falls Coffee & Tea, Beaver Falls PA
7:30pm. Free, all ages.
www.dodgeintrepidradio.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fake News: Pittsburgh Man Aware That Film Was Shot in Pittsburgh by TRAVIS WALLING


Trevor Ryan of Tarentum had a surprise for many of his customers during his shift at the local Sunoco station. He revealed to all who would listen, and some who wouldn’t, that the latest Russell Crowe movie “The Next Three Days” was filmed in Pittsburgh.

“Yeah, I like to let people know what films were made around here.” explained Mr. Ryan, “I also like to tell them which famous people are from around here, and which of our landmarks can be seen from space. It turns out none of them can be seen from there, but speaking of space did you know the guy who played Alan Shepard in ‘The Right Stuff’ was from Pittsburgh? By the way, do you want a receipt for that power-bar?”

Mr. Ryan’s comments did not go unnoticed by his grateful customers. “I had just come in for some bread and a Bingo lottery scratch-off ticket.” Said Jim Locke of New Kensington, “But the cashier, after explaining that the game of bingo originated in Pittsburgh, brought up the fact that ‘The Next Three Days’ was filmed not 10 miles or so from here. Apparently one day a grip came in on the way to the set to pick up a Coke. The cashier showed me the autographed photo he took with him; he’s smiling a huge smile while the grip just kind of looks confused.”

When asked if it meant anything that he now knew about the movie being filmed in Pittsburgh Mr. Locke replied, “I’m truly a better person today for knowing all of that information about that movie being made in my fair city. Hopefully it’ll become a long remembered classic like other movies filmed here. Like ‘Sudden Death’, ‘She’s Out of My League’ and ‘Roommates’.” 


-- TRAVIS WALLING is a comedian from Pittsburgh; check out more of his writings at his website.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I’m Just Happy to Be Here by DANNY PALUMBO

I like a good train wreck. Watching some poor sap’s first time on stage, visibly nervous. Seeing a really good comic in front of a tough crowd, working hard for faint laughs. I like watching my friends get heckled, too. I will gladly be in the attendance of failure, but I’m also a bit of a masochist. I enjoy being involved in the ensuing disaster. Something about it builds character…sort of a “taking your lumps” situation. A lot of times I approach a crappy show with a child-like attitude and a proverbial propeller hat attached to my head, saying to myself, “Gee, I’m just happy to be here. What can I learn tonight?” I’ve lost that attitude. It’s been replaced with menthol cigarettes and hard liquor. Stand-up comedy is a sadistic life choice, especially in Pittsburgh. I realized this on October 16th, at a small bar in the North Side, a place called Zangaro’s.
Having your name on a sign does not guarantee people will like you.

There’s a lot of competing factors at bar shows. Hockey, football, heated games of pool, a loud conversation between an intoxicated, mustachioed individual and his ex-wife; these are things that deter people from listening to comedy. On this particular evening, as I observed my surroundings, I knew this was going to be a car wreck of a bar show.

No microphone stand. Televisions all set to the Penguins game. A Build-Your-Own-Sausage Sandwich table complete with packaged hot dog buns and crock pot. Wreckless drink specials. Strategically placed security cameras. Everything looked flammable…

Older crowd, too. There were some younger dudes there, but not my type of people. Bros. They all look like they care about the character arc in Entourage, or at the very least DVR How I Met Your Mother. Upon arrival, an older drunk man engaged me in a ten minute conversation about his issues regarding the front door. Yes, the front door.

“See, most people pull on the door, instead of pushing it.”

“Right.”

“Then they just walk away because they think the bar is closed.”

“Because they can’t open the door?”

“Yeah.”

“Well…God damn that door, man.”

Then I noticed the live feeds from the security cameras.
“What’s with the cameras here?”

“Did you meet Tammi? She owns the place.”

“Oh, yeah, Tammi.”

“She got beat up outside one night. Two guys jumped her.”

“Good Lord. Like they stole money from her?”

(thinking) “No. I think they just beat her up.”

My mind’s hung up on that last statement, although the older gentleman glosses over the context of the beating entirely and continues…
“If things get rough you can always leave out that door. Just make sure you pull it on the way out. Door’s tricky, you know.”

I made note that the door was a hard right past the sausage sandwich table.

Starting in twenty minutes. I need several drinks. Also glad I bought cigarettes. I’ve now started smoking and drinking excessively four nights a week. I really don’t know how anyone can do this completely sober. Another drunk fella, this one smoking a cigar, walks up to me and will not stop impersonating Rodney Dangerfield. This conversation picks up about ten minutes in, when I’m clearly over the spot on Rodney Dangerfield impression.

“My wife tells me, ‘Take me someplace I never been.’ I said, ‘OK, how about the kitchen?’”

“Haha. Yeah, I heard that one.”

“I once bought a used car and found my wife’s dress in the back seat. Life is tough, I tell ya.”

“Haha.”

This exchange proceeded for another five minutes: Him imitating Rodney Dangerfield, me pretending to enjoy it because I’m too much of a pussy to walk away rudely. Finally, I finished my third drink. I wasn’t drunk. But I needed to be.

Then he breaks character.  “See, you should do stuff like that. You need quick shots. Bam, boom!”

Flash-forward a half hour later. I’m on stage asking someone in the crowd to buy me a shot. Tammi, the kind woman who was wrongfully punched in the mouth, bought me a double Jim Beam.
I’m asking for a shot because a man pushing 300 lbs. asked me for a pillow. I wanted to say, “Somebody get this fat bastard a pillow and a teddy bear.” I didn’t because I knew someone out there was begging for an excuse to beat the hell out of me.

I’m asking for a shot because twenty people at the bar have their backs turned to me watching a hockey game. I wanted to throw my drink into the crowd, and tell them all that there’s more important things in life than hockey….like what I’m doing. Then I realized not only how overly pretentious that thought was, but also that maybe the hockey game was more important than what I was doing. So I pandered to all of them, “So the Pens are winning? Alright. Hey, the Steelers are going to whip the Browns on Sunday.” Then I proceeded to do two minutes of impromptu Cleveland jokes. I was pandering. I became Colonel Panders.

I’m asking for a shot because five minutes ago, somebody asked me if it was OK to interrupt my joke. It was a middle-aged woman trying to talk to her friend who was leaving the bar. Apparently, my set is distracting. She stopped me midsentence,  “Excuse me, honey. This will only take a second.”

“No. Go right ahead.”

“It’s Frank’s curfew. I’m sorry. Frank, have a goodnight. Be safe!”

“Curfew?”

Frank approaches me. He’s just close enough so that I can smell whiskey on his breath. I took one look at Frank and I knew that at some point in his life….Frank had done something very, very wrong.

“Yeah, curfew, kid.”

“Alright…”

“You want some jewelry?

“Jewlery?”

“Yeah, ankle jewelry.”

Frank lifts up his pant leg and reveals a probation-sized ankle bracelet.  The entire crowd loses it. Applause breaks all around. Biggest laugh of my entire set. And it had nothing to do with what I said. The crowd settles down.

“Oh, thanks for clearing that up. I thought you had a beeper strapped to your leg.”  Minimal laughs.  “What the hell did that guy do, anyway?”

Frank starts going ballistic by the front door.  “What do you mean what the hell did I do?!”

I inadvertently gave someone that elusive excuse to hurt me, but Frank’s being held up at the front door by a group of friends. He leaves. Thank you, state issued curfew. I’m starting to wonder if there’s a back entrance.

And I almost said, “Curfew? What are you sixteen? Life is tough, I tell ya.”

Nothing productive came out of this show. I traveled further along what seems to be a self-destructive path of alcohol and nicotine. I did gain some money for groceries and gas, though that seems to be directly funding my aforementioned habits. I’m pretty sure 90% of the people there thought I was gay because I wore a medium-sized shirt. The bar was far too rowdy for me to gain any real insight on any of my jokes, and I came away unsure if any part of my set was funny anymore.  But I enjoyed myself.

Be friends with Danny on facebook page:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Encroachment by the TSA by JEFF KONKLE

"We prefer to do things comfortably," said the Controller.

"But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."

"In fact," said Mustapha Mond, "you're claiming the right to be unhappy."

"All right then," said the Savage defiantly, "I'm claiming the right to be unhappy."

- A Brave New World

On the political spectrum, I suppose I would fall under the mantle of Libertarian-Lite. All of the distrust of the government, only half the crazy. Therefore when the TSA announced that they’d be utilizing Scanning Machines and invasive pat downs to beef up airport security, I was mildly outraged.

As I saw it, the mere notion of these searches was a breech of our constitutional right protecting us from illegal search and seizure. I’m just trying to fly to Texas and I have to stand with my hands on the wall, feet spread apart so you can dose me with just enough radiation to get a peek at my privates? No way. I’d love to boycott the entire thing, but it just isn’t practical to drive my Mazda to San Antonio for a 3 hour meeting.

Someone said to me, “Well what’s the difference? I’m all for anything that makes me safer. They have to do those searches at airports. Remember the underpants bomber?” This argument just doesn’t hold up for me. He had a bomb in his underpants so now they need to check our underpants? You are always going to have psychopaths slip through the cracks no matter what. Eventually, there will be some terrorist lunatic who figures out how to put explosives in his blood stream. If that happens, what will security in the airport look like in the future? “Ma’am if you could just step to the side and empty all of your blood into that container, we can process it and move along.”

All of normal human functioning depends on the assumption that your fellow man is not a psychopath. When you order a pizza, you have to trust that the cook didn’t sneeze on the pepperoni. If you are driving on a highway, you have to trust that all of the other drivers aren’t going to drift into oncoming traffic while taking their eye off the road to update their Twitter feed. When you hire a babysitter, you have to make the assumption that he/she is not a closet sado-masochist making $5 an hour. And when you make those assumptions, 99.999% of the time, you are correct. That’s why society works. An assumption of trust in your fellow man. If we become afraid of one another then we will be paralyzed. Fear is the mind killer.

So as I sat in line at the Pittsburgh airport this past Monday, I realized the hypocrisy. My irritation at the long security line turned into philosophical rage. This was an encroachment on all mankind! An indictment that some unnamed entity stamped on our brains. “You can’t trust each other. You are all potential criminals.” The ominous scanning machine was just in front of me. The TSA agents with their blue dishwashing gloves looked out over the crowd, ready to scrub our privacy away. This was tyranny.

As the line moved up, I was ready to take a stand. Ready to make a scene and produce an eloquent monologue that would galvanize the crowd into revolt. They say the French Revolution started the same way.

Then I saw a guy in line that had really shifty eyes. He looked like he was up to something. Something sinister.

OK. They should probably scan him. But just him.

Then there was this kid in front of me with a weird-shaped backpack.

They should scan him too.

An old woman in a wheel chair.

Yep. Scan her. Scan her wheel chair while you’re at it. That’s just where we’d least suspect it.

You know what? Forget my rights. Just scan everyone and get it over with. Make me comfortable TSA. Make me happy.

Check out JEFF KONKLE"S WEBSITE!

Jeff Konkle is a stand-up comedian who can currently be seen featuring at the Improv Waterfront, he has opened for national headliners like - Aries Spears (Mad TV), Bill Burr (HBO, Comedy Central Presents), Josh Blue, Kevin Brennan, Juston McKinney and Pauley Shore.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Holiday Billboards by RON PLACONE

In New Jersey the American Atheists posted a billboard in regards to the holidays that had the words "You KNOW it's a myth" with a nativity scene underneath. David Silverman, president of the group has received some coverage on the issue and I wanted to find the most entertaining interview of them all so I looked no further than Faux News.  See said interview here:


Puppet-talker Megyn Kelly wanted to know why the billboard had to be so confrontational, which she exemplified by beginning her interview with, "way to ruin Christmas, Dave."  Passive.
Honestly, I think the billboard is a bit on the obnoxious side, you know what else I found obnoxious?  The hotel desk clerk in West Virginia last year that when I wished her Happy Holidays glared back at me and threateningly wished me a "MERRY CHRISTMAS!"  Same with the Catholic League that put up an opposing billboard and then insisted on wishing David Silverman a Merry Christmas. 
Now, I find myself in a nice position here as I have friends and family that range from Priests to devout Atheists and everything in between.  I don't think any more or less of any of them because of their beliefs one way or another because I know their character and that's what matters to me.  That being said I get to play spectator and enjoy Church-members getting upset about something they shouldn't give a shit about, and an Atheist organization that should probably find a better way to spend their budget.  Although, I guess they can't take the money with 'em.  And I really enjoy some of the Christians that refer to evolution as a "fairy tale."  I want something credible, give me a talking snake damn it!
Lastly, let's not make this about the children, shall we?  "I don't want my children seeing this sign calling it a myth, blah, blah, blah," kids see billboards for booze and strip-clubs and casinos all the time, it's life.  Seeing a billboard from someone with an opposing view-point shouldn't be feared, hell, it should be embraced.  Learning that not everybody is like you is a valuable lesson to learn, or parents, spin it to your advantage.  David Silverman is really Santa's elf and he's testing all the boys and girls who don't believe in Jesus.  If you close your eyes and say "I do believe" every time you pass that billboard you're going to get that over-priced crappy toy you won't give two shits about next year.  You're welcome Christian parents. 
Morons have all kinds of different religious beliefs, even non-existent ones.  There's morons on the left, morons on the right, and plenty o' morons in the center.  This moron would like to wish all of you a Happy Holiday Season.

Ron is a comedian and writer that has returned to Pittsburgh after blowing-up comedy in Seattle, WA.