What Lorne Michaels Can Teach You About Compassion

PC: Joe Pugliese

This week’s Hollywood Reporter cover story is about the remarkable year SNL has had making fun of Donald Trump and our current political swamp. When you step back to look at how they’ve successfully navigated a particularly divisive cultural moment and walked away with a ratings bump of 11 million viewers, it’s truly amazing.

It’s particularly impressive given that so much of what’s happened in the news is either really serious and scary to many people, or is so absurd that it in-and-of-itself goes beyond parody. What I appreciate about their approach in these instances is that they often simply repeat what actually happened, giving us all a second to laugh out loud at it. It turns pain into catharsis, and makes SNL a type of antidote that people have to tune in to get.

In the interview, Leslie Jones quotes Lorne Michaels commenting on the numerous celebrity self-pitches to play other administration officials – most notably Rosie O’Donnell as Steve Bannon. What he says, I think, is actually incredible advice for how artists must approach despicable characters who do unsavory things, whether real or invented. Continue reading What Lorne Michaels Can Teach You About Compassion

Ryback scored short film “30 Nights” an Official Selection Broad Humor Film Fest, 2015

This Saturday, September 26th @ 5pm, come to Venice, CA to see this hilarious short film I scored. It’s an official selection of the Broad Humor Film Festival – celebrating funny films by funny women.

The festival is held at the Electric Lodge Performing Arts Center at 1416 Electric Ave, Venice CA, 90291.

Get ticket and schedule information here.

The Drugstoppers – a new DARE-ody

DAREleadRemember the DARE program from the 90’s? Remember how it stopped y’all from drinking and smoking pot?

Probably not.

The DARE program was part of a wildly ineffective craze in the 80’s and 90’s to get kids to “just say no” to drugs, which included over-the-top PSA’s including this turkey from 1993:

Well, now there is a brand new stage parody celebrating the nostalgic anti-drug hysteria of our childhood, and you can help us produce it in New York City!

Introducing The Drugstoppers – a new DARE-ody.

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The Drugstoppers is a new comedy, written by Gili Malinsky, wherein the audience plays the role of classroom, and the play itself is an over-the-top anti-drug program (complete with our own hilarious PSA’s.) Continue reading The Drugstoppers – a new DARE-ody

Gentrification Madlibs

Willmington

This Handy Guide to Gentrification written by Buzzfeed contributors Michael Albo and Amanda Duarte is, frankly, too good not to share.

Written in the form of a multiple-choice Madlibs, it tells the story of Wilmington (read: Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Venice, California), which goes from a dangerous den of “spongecake” addicts with cheap housing, to a community of genderqueer youths and pour-over coffee colonic spas, to a neighborhood packed with Wholefoods full of babies where no one can afford their own artisanal hand-milled toilet paper anymore.

Read, enjoy, laugh – but always remember the days when the Cinnamon Toast Festival was just about the cinnamon and the toast, and wasn’t the corporate sellout monstrosity it is now!!

The “Jane Austen Writers Group” Buzzfeed Parody

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This wonderful buzzfeed “What If” created by contributor Shannon Reed is a hilarious read and hits a lot of great points.

The first, and most obvious, is the frequently useless critiques that writer’s groups provide. Between batches of patting one another on the back, there’s a tacet “I’m smarter than you” subtext that pervades their friendly notes.

And then there’s the endless harping on “Why.” Yes – we must understand the motivations of a character. But sometimes the motivations of a character are implicit in the actions themselves. We relate to their actions and thus we understand “why.” We do not need to be told, and not everything needs to be explained away.

But I think I’m most fascinated, on my subsequent reads of this article, at the (perhaps-not-so) subtle sexism. The labeling of “chick lit;” the constant comparisons to “superior” works by men (Chaucer, Shakespeare); the sexualization of Kitty; the criticizing of having too many women in the piece; and the suggestion that the active protagonists should be three men who discuss war, while Mrs. Bennet “lies unconscious in the background, holding a ribbon.”

Well parodied, Ms. Reed.

In more re-affirming news: Check out this article on new plays empowering young, Latina women!

Modern Family

Catch me this Wednesday, December 10th, at 9/8c on ABC for an appearance on Modern Family.

It’s Haley’s 21st birthday, and the family takes her out to a bar to celebrate. While there, Mitch and Cam encounter a younger gay couple – me and my friend Sterling Sulieman – who make them feel a lot less cool. (Mostly it’s Sterling who makes them feel less cool. If it was just me, they’d definitely feel more cool.)

Here’s Sterling and I making faces on set:

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The Best 3-for-1 Deal in NYC

2F6B1BB02-A0BC-EA96-0BF8CE001A137B36.jpg.pagespeed.ce.GtMymtHlpJ If you’re looking for an excuse to see MURDER FOR TWO – there ain’t a better one than this.

Next Monday, April 7th, following our performance you’ll get to see work from 2 emerging musical theatre composers.  Alexander Sage Oyen and ME!  I will be presenting a condensed concert of my musical comedy THE TAVERN KEEPER’S DAUGHTER.

For the price of one ticket – you get 3 shows.  Frankly, it’s criminal.

And a portion of all ticket sales goes to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Use code MRMUSMON20 to get $37 tickets (normally $87) and join  Alexander and myself and a cast of massive Broadway talent (i.e. Lesli Margherita, Taylor Trensch, Todd Buonopane, Julia Mattison, Preston Sadleir, Leo Ash Evans, and so on) for a GREAT Monday night out.

The Host With the Most

“It’s a wonderful night for Oscar (Oscar, Oscar!) who will win?”

Thus began every Oscar monologue given by the master Billy Crystal.  The first time I ever seriously watched the Oscars (I was super invested in “Good Will Hunting” winning) it was hosted by Billy.  He worked his ass off to entertain – a true performer and just plain silly.  He came out 3/4 of the way through the show at crouched behind the glass podium exclaiming: “Look!  I’m a present!”  7998822

His songs during the opening monologues, pointing out the (at the time) 5 Best Picture nominees were the precursor in many ways to what Neil Patrick Harris has accomplished many times at the Emmy’s and Tony’s.  To Matt Damon and Ben Affleck he crooned to the tune of “Night and Day”: “Matt and Ben – you are the ones.  Your script was tight and, damnit – so are your buns.”

images-1This Sunday, however, will be hosted once again by Ellen Degeneres.  Ellen did a great job the last time she hosted with her signature folks-y, meandering comic style with surprise zingers.  She last hosted when Helen Mirren would win for “The Queen.”  Ellen quipped: “Lots of British nominees.  Would I say ‘too many’?  Not here.  Alone at home in my pajamas with a box of chardonnay in me? who knows what I’d say!”

The good thing about Ellen is that she never gets too overtly political, which is bad for the air on Oscar night.  Chris Rock went very far in that direction, holding his mic like a true stand-up, with this joke that didn’t even have anything to do with the Oscars: “Bush did some stuff you could neeeever get away with at your job, man.  You know when Bush got into office they had a surplus of money.  Now there’s like a 70 trillion dollar deficit.  Now just imagine you worked at the GAP…”

Whoopi got political the first time she hosted (the first time ANY woman hosted), but she condensed it to one “political soapbox rant” that ended with: “Let Frank Sinatra finish!”

Jon Stewart, who I love on Daily Show, was also a bit political, but less so.  He just seemed ill-at-ease while not behind his desk.  He didn’t know what to do with his hands.  But he did have some great lines such as: “Diablo Coldy used to be an exotic dancer and now she’s an Oscar-nominated screenwriter…I hope you’re enjoying the paycut.” And my favorite of his:  “This year’s theme is “Bringing Back the Glamor” and let me just say — thank god.  Because for too long Hollywood has been without.”

Second to Billy as my favorite host is definitely Steve Martin:  “When they asked me back in January if I wanted to host the Oscars my first thought was: “Would there be enough time for my facelift to heal.”

What they both do so well is poke fun at Hollywood, which I think is so necessary on a night where super rich celebrities give each other statues made of gold.  And when he joined forces with Alec Baldwin (the first DUO to host the Oscars) it was pure magic.

Unfortunately it lead the way to one of the WORST Oscar duos – James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

So here’s to Ellen and a great night at the Oscars!