Category Archives: Humor

Brutally Honest Stories About Being Human

There are those times when you feel alone. Even if you’re surrounded by people, you are alone. And you alone love the people around you so much that you fear losing them. I will not lose my life and I don’t want you to lose yours either. We are humans. We breathe & fart. We have air coming out through all sorts of holes. We thrive on routine and live for play. We are nice to each other, or we should be.

Life is too complicated. We are too driven by our brains. And fear.

I fear death as much as I fear being humiliated in front of tons of people. And yet I humiliate myself and call it art. For some reason that’s okay. I allow my creative juices to interpret and embellish on my everyday experiences.

robert-leighton-i-ve-never-been-so-humiliated-in-my-entire-week-new-yorker-cartoon

I’m reading a book, What’s Not to Love by Jonathan Ames. It is the most honestly grotesque book about male puberty and bodily dysfunction. The chapters have titles such as “An Erection is a Felony”, and “I Shit My Pants in the South of France”, and “Insomni-Whack”. The titles say it all. I am in love. With honesty that exposes the inherent imperfections of human nature, Ames has a witty sense of humor and wonderful knack for autobiographical storytelling.

ames_manson_061507

One summer during my teenage years, when I was waiting for my Godotish puberty, I went away to a Jewish Camp in Upstate New York. I was in the Levi division (Levi was the name of one of the original Hebrew tribes before it became a pair of jeans) of newly christened teenagers, and to my horror I discovered that I was the only boy who still had a small, undeveloped penis and no pubic hair! So I had to hide myself the whole summer. I would quickly change my clothes with my back to my tentmates, and only showered early in the morning when no one else was around. It was nerve-racking. (Ames, pg. 8)

Several weeks went by and I didn’t hear from them and I forgot about the whole thing. In the meantime, I was busy regrowing my hair. I had done some research on the subject and I was taking certain actions. I was trying to quit coffee since it robbed my body of hair-related vitamins, and I was avoiding masturbation because I read a book on Eastern practices of semen-retention, which told me that masturbation dried up my spinal fluid and made my hair fall out. I’ve now come to see my bald spot and the bald spots of other men as the mark of Cain for excessive self-abuse.
I also purchased rosemary oil, which is very good for the health, and a rubber scalp invigorator. And I started eating lots of sea vegetables because I read that people in Asian cultures had very good hair and that their diet was rich in seaweed. (Ames, pg. 20)

These are the stories I want to hear, and want to tell. Stories that capture universal human experiences and humorously assure the reader that he or she is, indeed, not alone.

Image Sources:
http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlny/tag/jonathan-ames
http://www.condenaststore.com/-sp/I-ve-never-been-so-humiliated-in-my-entire-week-New-Yorker-Cartoon-Prints_i8472479_.htm

References:
Ames, Jonathan. What’s Not to Love? New York: Crown Publishers, 2000.

Advertisements

The Art of Office Humor

Now that I have a day job (and less time to update this wonderful blog), I thought I’d devote a blog post specifically to the art of good office humor.

Office Linebacker:

You and Office Safety:

That’s all for now. Time for bed!! Gotta work tomorrow morning.

Image Links:

One Day at a Time

Good Jokes

Beautiful, happy, rainbow-filled art (and why it’s so hard to make it!)

I finally admitted in my second year at graduate school that pretty much all of my creative projects ended in death. Death, in a lot of ways, is an easy way out. It’s like saying “Shit happens.” over and over again. In most ways, I’m in full agreement with that statement. Shit does happen. Just as death does happen. Why deny it? A big part of my art has always been about reflecting my own fears, and acknowledging that there is, indeed, a lot of shit that sucks.

When admitting that all of my stories ended in death, I got this romantic vision that from then on my art could reflect only the beautiful things in life. It could be a meditation on the simplicity of enjoyment in the moment; wind whistling through the trees, birds singing beautiful songs, close friendships that sprouted into love, a gurgling brook in the woods full of colorful fish, a utopia where every tree was filled with ripe mangoes. Oh yes, I dreamed about how beautiful, light and inspiring my work could be. No more death. Only beauty…

It turns out, it’s a lot harder to make beautiful art than it is to make dark art. Beautiful art has to be positive all the time. Even though sometimes the reality is that when making it you stay up until 3am in the morning and then have to wake up at 6:30am to work that eight-hour shift. Even though the fucking car broke down again or my only bike got a flat tire and so I had to push it home after a long day and three hours of sleep. But it should be that instead of dwelling in the misery of everyday life, in the spirit of creative making, the mind should break the shackles of negativity and blossom up toward the light of inspiration. The light where everything is beautiful. Where life couldn’t be better…

In seeking inspiration for my new romantically creative ways, I looked to the Inspiring Vessel of the Internet to see what other happy and enlightening art was out there. These are some of the gems that I found:

1) Experience Freedom:

2) Optimist:

3) Yayoi Kusama’s Art Installations:


4) Manuel D. Baldemor’s Art:


5) Dogs in Cars

6) Babies Underwater (Art)



Okay. I should probably stop now, because I have the feeling that this is just going to get more and more weird. Through creating this blog post, I’ve realized that there really are a lot of things that could be artistically created that inspire a sense of happiness in oneself. But there is a difference between beauty, happiness and humor. And ultimately even something considered ‘dark’, such as death, can also be beautiful.

For me, it always comes back to humor. I decided that I couldn’t necessarily limit myself to only making things that are uplifting and beautiful. I’m not saying that I won’t try, I’m just saying that something that is dark, or depressing, or reflects all the “shit” in life, can still become something enjoyable and lighthearted when combined with a twist of humor. The same thing could go for beauty. Without something dark to compare it to, perhaps beauty would not be so impressive.

Image Sources:
Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton
roslyn oxley9 gallery
More Dots! From Yayoi Kusama
Living and Loving Art
Lucban May Festival by Manuel Baldemor
Adorable Photos of Babies Underwater
Underwater Babies and Kids
Thomas Kuhn Photography
Underwater Baby Portraits

Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, 2012

Love women? Love comedy? Then what better place to see both than at the first annual Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, which took place from June 6-10, 2012 at Stage 773 in Chicago, IL.

The female version of the long-running Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, CWFF was started by Jill Valentine, Stacey Smith and an awesome crew of mostly other females. Broadened to encompass a wide range of comedy styles, including sketch comedy, stand-up, musicals, one-woman shows and improv, the festival packed in 400 female performers from all over the U.S. for days of solid, bitch-talking, knee slapping, crazy female hilarity at its best.

The following account is my own experience as an out-of-town solo female performer, for which I performed as my alter-ego old man character Buoj iz Jeb, who has a knack for taking his clothes off in: Buoj iz Jeb Summer Swimsuit Edition 2012. Ahem, more about that in a bit.

Tech:

I arrive at the theater after a walk from the red line Belmont stop on a sizzling hot Chicago Saturday morning with a suitcase full of bathing suit props and a homemade man-suit.

Stage 773 is an impressive local theater joint, just down the street from the center of Belmont with its hip vintage clothing stores, funky bagel shops and fancy supplement joints.

Stage 773 breathes the sketch comedy scene that Chicago is famous for. Upon entering the theater, the first thing you come upon is a bar: something that all theaters should strive for if they haven’t already.

Audience + Alcohol = good, fun theater.

Brimming with three unique performance spaces, Stage 773 seems to have it all.

I leave my suitcase and man-suit in the green room of the Cabaret space, an intimate, small-stage performance space with glossy red theater couches and chairs at mini-tables. I am in love. What better place to peel off one swimsuit after another than for a beer-and-cocktail toting audience, to the beat of woozy Hawaiian music and sexy techno? Chicago, I have arrived. Or, better yet, Buoj iz Jeb has arrived.

Pre-audience. The place was packed later in the day!!

Panel: “Being Funny is Serious Business: A 360* Perspective of Women Doing It”

Sitting out in the lobby waiting for the Saturday, 2pm panel to start, I observe the crowd. A small group of mostly beautiful women, I’m impressed by the laid-back, friendly vibe. Jill Valentine greets me like an old friend: I admire her adorable bleach-blonde hair and pink-and-black striped tights. The ladies filter in wearing summer dresses and their free performer passes, along with a few men in jeans and t-shirts. The theater is a cool, welcoming environment off the sweltering Chicago concrete street.

The general style/air of most of the women present is creative, expressive and confident. One group of four practices a cheesy Chicago song while taking candid shots of themselves, while others participate in animated conversations. This much is clear: To be a funny woman requires confidence. And the willingness to fail.

In the Cabaret space the panel discussion begins. A group of successful and inspiring women sit at a table on the stage. They include (from left to right): Panel host Brian Posen (Executive Producer – The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival), Susan Messing (co-founder of Annoyance Theater and Improv Master), Ana Belaval (WGN News), Beth Kligerman (Director of Talent – The Second City), Marisa Paonessa (President/Agent), and Charna Halpern (co-founder of iO) . The panel discussion put the entire CWFF into context, and offered a unique perspective Chicago comedy scene.

 Here are some of my favorite quotes from the panel:

Question: What is comedy?
Answers: “Everything you relate to that makes you laugh.”
“You know it when you see it.
“It doesn’t have to be cruel, but risk-taking.”
“Throw it in the middle of a room and paint it red. If you fail, you fail.”
“Dealing with pain: humor & sarcasm (i.e., it’s personal).”

Question: Why now an emphasis on whether or not women are funny?
Answers: “It fluctuates.”
“We here in Chicago don’t talk about it that much.”
People are funny.”
“People just need something to fucking focus on again.”
“There are women in comedy, stop saying there aren’t.”
“They want funny women, Chicago’s where it’s at.”
“Women are dominating now (i.e. women are smarter).”
“In general, there is a bigger variety of people/colors onstage. Which is good.”
“We can play just as dirty as they can.”

Question: Is there a different between women & men funny?
Answers: “No.”
“Men laugh at men things (i.e. peeing in the bathroom). 

Question: How do you judge funny?
Answers: “It’s instinct, taking risks. You just know. Some are just natural.”
“A good team player, a wild one.
“Is it good writing, is it timely..”
“There’s so much talent.”
“How are they improvising, writing, acting, are you funny? (i.e. was there laughter in the room?)”

Question: How do you stay successful?
Answers: “What is success?”
“Go with the flow. Embrace different opportunities and enjoy it.”
“We get to make up shit. That’s successful.”
“There’s never a 3-year plan, just keep loving what you’re doing.”
“It keeps feeding itself.”
“In Chicago, it’s one big community.”

Question: Words of the wise?
Answers: “It’s Chicago, they don’t come here for stick-figure models.”
“They want you to succeed (i.e. are desperate for someone to go onstage and have a good time).”
“Try it all, go with your gut.”
“Put it out there in any shape or form (youtube, etc.- not tv or stage only).
“The more you relax yourself in the moment (as opposed to tensed up and ‘ready’), the better.”
“Failure: something better could happen (one door closes, something else opens).”
“Be nice!”
“Don’t look to your right or left (i.e. put your blinders on); don’t compare yourself to others.”

Performance:

I got so wrapped up in my own performance after that, that I didn’t write anything about it, and in fact would prefer instead just to show you the pictures and video clip below and let you judge for yourselves. The performance took place at 6pm in the Cabaret Space on Sunday, June 10. There was an audience of approximately 20 people, and the bill was shared with Chicago performance artist, Becky Poole. My performance lasted approximately 28 minutes. I will say that it was a LOT of fun:

Buoj iz Jeb Summer Swimsuit Edition 2012:

Video Excerpt (5 minutes of a 28-minute performance):

Images:


A Few Final Thoughts:

I’m so glad I participated in this event. It was fun, laid-back, and full of great women and amazing performers. Furthermore, in addition to performing and watching other performances, I also had a great time people-watching at the Chicago beach 🙂

WOMEN ARE FUNNY!!!!

Hey all,

This is a shorter post prelude to a longer post. I’m in Chicago now, preparing to perform at the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival (CWFF): http://www.chicagowomensfunnyfestival.com/. All I can say right now is that it’s a fabulous event, and WOMEN ARE FUNNY!!! Not that you didn’t know that already, but just a gentle reminder that, indeed, WOMEN ARE FUNNY! Did I already say that? Well I mean it!

As a pre-ode to my next posting, which will be a review of CWFF and personal account of performing at it, I’m going to dedicate this post to a few of my favorite female comedians. Here you go:

Lucille Ball:

SO FUNNY!!!!

.

Carol Burnett:

Great physical comedy!

.

Gilda Radner:

Ha!

.

That’s all for now. I will post more soon. Time to get ready for the show!!!

Red Blob Massacre: a silent horror film and live performance

Dear Readers,

Hi. How are you? I’m fine, thanks. Well actually, no I’m in freak-out mode. I’m in total spasm art mode. I’m in the wind-up mode until my graduate thesis project finally explodes in the eyes of the public next Thursday & Friday night, April 5 & 6. And then it will all be over. Well, almost anyways.

It’s interesting to track a project from its beginning all the way through to its current fruition. I say current fruition because even though next week this project will extend its long limbs out into the public sphere, it most certainly will continue to grow and develop into the future- be that at the international film festivals I intend to submit it to, as well as the art shows and live performance events I hope to present it at. In many ways, what’s special about this project is that it can fit into various modes of transmission. That, I hope, will transform the many, many hours that I and many others have put into this project into something greater than itself.

The project is a silent horror film and live performance titled Red Blob Massacre. 

Honestly, I wish I had the time and energy to explain all about the concept and research and inspiration and so on, but even just starting this blog post in the midst of it all makes me feel stressed out about all the things I should be doing to actually MAKE THIS EVENT HAPPEN.

So, for the time being, I’m going to include some screen shots below, and direct you to a few links which will at least introduce you more to the project until I come back in two weeks or so to tell you how it went. I’ve put a LOT into this project. And I’m more excited about it than anything I’ve worked on for a while. And as I mentioned before, so many great people have been involved with it. I hope, if you have the time, that you’ll visit the links I’ve included and tell your friends all about it. Thanks so much for your support.

Synopsis: A silent horror film and live performance. Maddy Blitz is a young woman with horrendous-looking teeth. Maddy’s nightmares of not fitting in clump together to form a giant RED BLOB that confronts her tormenters, eventually growing so big that it……..

Collaborators:

Written & Directed by: Emilia Javanica (me!)
Assistant Directors: Ian MacInnes & Jan Trumbauer
Director of Photography: Jessica Renée Lee
Assistant Director of Photography: Alan Torres
Lighting Design: Matt Infante
Puppet Design & Art Direction: Emilia Javanica
First Assistant Camera: Walter Lin
Grips:Joe Reed & Brett Firlik
Sound Design: Simon Alexander-Adams
Location Sound: Mike Chen, Rolando Palacio, Živan Rosić, Wes Swartz & Eric Lundgard
Green Screen Videographer: Jacques Mersereau
Green Screen Lighting Design: Jeff Alder
Editing & Stop Motion Animation: Emilia Javanica

Cast:

Emilia Javanica, Jan Trumbauer, Skyler Kragt, Taylor Henkin, John Kannenberg, Jeffrey Kaplan, Jeannine Thompson, Ali Amine and the RED BLOB

Red Blob Massacre blog site: http://redblobmassacre.wordpress.com/

Interview about process with Mark Maynard: http://markmaynard.com/2012/03/emilia-javanica-on-the-red-blob-massacre-and-what-its-like-to-shoot-ones-first-independent-film/

Red Blob Massacre on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RED-BLOB-MASSACRE/360836520597395

Red Blob Massacre on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/RedBlobMassacre

And last but not least, the poster for the premiere, which as I mentioned above, is happening NEXT WEEK!!!:

The art of singing cheesy holiday songs badly at the top of your lungs

Dear readers,

Hello! Forgive me for lagging on new post updates. As I’m sure you all know, this time of year is a busy one.

Christmas songs are now being played everywhere for the holidays. I’ll say it straight up that I am NOT a big fan of being subjected to constant holiday cheer, and even furthermore being forced to get cheesy Christmas songs literally stuck in my head for days on end. Just like it drove me crazy when my Grandma used to sing “It’s a Small World After All” as a joke to get it stuck in our heads (she lived around the corner from Disneyland), it drives me crazy just as much to be forced to have “Frosty the Snowman” stuck in my head because the coffee shop thought it would be dandy to get their customers into the holiday spirit for the ENTIRE MONTH OF DECEMBER.

On one particular evening recently in the grocery store, however, as I was scooping lettuce and tomatoes into my shopping cart, I caught myself singing along to “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer” as it blasted over the store speakers, as if I was *gasp* enjoying it! Of course I immediately stopped, embarrassed, and looked around to make sure that nobody was watching me. It’s one thing to be forced to listen to the constant holiday cheese, but it’s another thing to be caught in the act of unconsciously enjoying it! I clammed up quickly, and avoided eye contact at all costs.

But once I had purchased my bags of groceries and headed out to the car, as if in an act of derangement, I let loose and sang cheesy Christmas songs as loud as I could for the entire drive home. And it was AMAZING. Really, it felt so good. And I sang them badly, and I changed the words, and I made them dirty and rude at times. It was great. Because sometimes, instead of always rejecting the cheese, you have to just give up and embrace it. Not to say that you have to run out and join the community choir today, unless that’s your inclination. But to say that anywhere, at any moment, you too could take all those songs you’re desperate to avoid and instead sing them like they’re the best dang songs that you could ever be singing in December for the holidays. Sing them over and over again, and if you wish, sing them badly. Change the words to fit your own holiday experience. Use your facial expressions. Sing them to someone you love or hate. Just sing them!!! At least once. Even if it hurts. Because sometimes embracing the pain is the best thing you can do to let go of it. And for me, on that one particular night, it felt great to let my frustration about the whole holiday mayhem out by singing “Little Drummer Boy” at the top of my lungs as badly as I could in the privacy of my very own car.

In celebration of rebelling against the cheesiness by embracing it full-force just a little, just for a moment, I’ve collected a few of my favorite cheesy Christmas song videos to share with you. Feel free to pick one of your choice and sing it in a moment of holiday frustration.

Del Rubio Triplets: “Winter Wonderland”:

.

Bing Crosby: “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”:

.

Alvin & the Chipmunks: “Christmas Don’t be Late”:

.

John Denver: “Little Drummer Boy”:


Image Links:

http://billmadison.blogspot.com/2007_12_01_archive.html (‘Tis the Season)

http://cooklikeyourgrandmother.com/2009/02/i-remember-this-feeling/ (I Remember This Feeling)

http://stuffthatsbugginme.blogspot.com/2011/02/sreaming-kids.html (Screaming Kids!!)