The scintillating life of Creative Director/ Variety Entertainer, Christian Fitzharris, and his never ending voyage to do everything in the world. ( at a respectful pace... of course)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Superheros and alien lifeforms galore!

Where could you get a cat eating alien, a modern wizard, a talking car with a guy in tight pants, a sideways driving car with a guy in tight pants, and a man and a boy traveling through time together and it NOT be creepy? ( The man and boy together not the wizard) All them were on my television set in the 1980's.

Such a plentiful landscape of characters and creativity! If the late sixties and seventies brought outside the box drug addled classic kids tv then the eighties gave us superheros and alien life forms galore. Some of my favorites were, "Mr. Merlin" with Barnard Hughes (whom I shared the film screen with in "Sister Act 2" a genuine man) The show follows Merlin as he trains a young man as an apprentice to take over the wizardry when he moves on. Another fav was "Voyagers" where we follow a muscular guy in a vest without a shirt through time as he tries to get a young boy back to his time period and they "give history a push" when it needs it. Visiting classic moments in history and helping out.
"ALF" was fun and still active in popular memory. Who could forget that sly cat eating alien formerly known as "Gordon Schumway" back on his home planet of "Malmack". He now lives with a small boy and his family in a house where he processes human foods with his eight stomachs.
"Knight Rider" was great, but "Automan" with Chuck Wagner and Desi Arnaz Jr. was all the computer themed rage. Automan had "Cursor" his erm....cursor that would create anything he needed in order to catch the bad guys!
"Whiz Kids" was another fantastic show for a kid growing up in the Silicon Valley in the 80's. The story of policeman who uses a teenage boy and his computer to catch bad guys by hacking into security systems and sprinklers systems to trap them at their own game.

This is just a selection of a few of my favorites which influenced my work in improvisational comedy for the rest of my life.
Why choose for a guest to arrive in a dinner scene when an alien could drop through the window? Why teach another dance class in a school improv when you could have a cursor build a man eating dinosaur in the room and you must fight for your life?!

The 80's represented some of the most interesting television plots around. Proven by the improvisational comedy I produce daily.

Type these show names into You Tube if you want to get reacquainted with these classics.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Comedian" the process of harvesting comedy.

If you're looking for a great documentary style peek into the obsessions of comedians and the "comic lifestyle".
Be sure to check out "Comedian" which follows Jerry Seinfeld after he's retired from his television show and re-entering the stand up comedy clubs to write all new material.

The normal process for developing successful stand up comedy set starts off with about 3-5 minutes of written jokes or stories with act outs. Of this amount of time only a handful of jokes will get a solid amount of laughter. These are "keepers" and the rest needs work. You slowly sharpen the good jokes and expand upon them to stretch out the amount of funny material. Each performance helps the comedian adjust the material according to the audience response. Soon the handful of material increases to an armful of material. Then from an armful to a bagful and so on until the whole 5 minute set is 90% to 100% predictably funny.
Jerry Seinfeld, over the years in comedy clubs and then on television, amassed a ton of solid funny jokes that he could then rely on again and again. This is what the nucleus of his hit sitcom was built upon. The success of his television show "made" him the comedy giant he is known to be today.
(Whether you like his comedy or his show or not is besides the point.)

After retiring his television show he decided to go one better and let his "golden" comedy material go into retirement as well. It is at this point that the film, "Comedian" picks up. What does a comedy giant do to recapture the creative hunger he once had? Start at the beginning and write entirely new material that is untried and unproven. A scary and brave thing to do once you've established yourself at the level he had achieved. The film shows his insecurities and creative struggle to NOT rely on any of his gimmicks of the past.

Definitely a must see movie if you are interested in the comedy process and the comic mind. (I should state for the record that the film also follows an up and coming stand up comedian as a subplot, but I didn't care for this guy and this is my blog so he has no part of it. He doesn't ruin the film at least, but I digress.)

Check it out.
"Comedian" Jerry Seinfeld.