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What’s The Deal With Airline Food?

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And why do so many comics bring it up?  Yes, airline food sucks.  But airline food is supposed to suck.  Subtleties of flavor have no place past the boarding gate.  And this isn’t uniquely my argument.  It’s science’s.  People who care enough to study this nonsense have found that our perception of taste changes well before we reach cruising altitude.  The different air pressure and humidity levels onboard combine to stunt our taste buds’ ability to distinguish between sweet and salty.  That high in the air, even our favorite foods would disappoint us.

So really, anyone looking for a quality meal who is foolish enough to go looking for it at 30,000 feet perhaps deserves what’s coming for them.  And anyone who thinks the quality of the meal is even important deserves the gluten-free option.

Let’s not lose sight of just how complicated air travel really is.  Among the myriad of logistical concerns, keeping food fresh and safe to eat becomes a high priority.  Making it delicious does not.  On commercial flights, pilot and co-pilot are actually required to eat entirely different meals, thus reducing the possibility of both succumbing to food poisoning.  A huge majority of the time, neither meal is contaminated, though we can safely assume they’re both awful.

The lousy quality of airline food is not only to be expected, but it is also absolutely, demonstrably fine.  Of all the factors that make for a good flight, concerns such as the structural integrity of the aircraft, the expertise of the pilot, the absence of both terrorists onboard and of inclement weather in the neighboring skies take top priority.  Then come lesser questions of convenience and comfort, which of course include the food.  But even then, it pales in comparison with other factors.

Aren’t we all happier travelers when the flight crew is friendly, or at least attractive?  When our seatmates are attractive, or at least hygienic?  And when the toilet facility is hygienic, or at least in working order?  We all want no turbulence, no crying babies, no over-packers trying to stuff their oversized carry-ons into the overhead compartments above our heads.  We want ample light, ample leg room, ample entertainment options.  And we especially want the snacks we bought at the airport before boarding, anticipating the in-flight offerings to suck.

Is there anything original left to say about culinary letdowns up in the air?  Or should we lay the topic to rest?  Two Stand Up NY interns (and obvious experts on the subject) weigh in:

Creative Blocks: How to Break Through

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 Untitled

Photo by Pixabay

 

 

If creativity is your bread and butter, there’s nothing worse than a creative block. It can be all-consuming and unbearably frustrating. The worst part is that it all comes down to our brain taking itself hostage. Intellectually we know there is a way to break through, but that might appear to be easier said than done. Once you recognize that it’s all in your mind, you are on the road to busting through a creative rut.

 

Here are some excellent methods to push through and get your creativity flowing again.

 

Change Your Surroundings

Your workspace environment can be a big factor in creative blocks. Lighting, noise, interruptions, the arrangement of your desk. These are major contributors to stalled creativity, so changing your surroundings can be the perfect recipe for breaking through. Maybe you move to a different chair, go outside or to a coffee shop to work, or you change the decor and atmosphere of your workspace. You’ll be surprised at how these small tweaks can reap big results.

 

Flip the Script

Quite often we can be our own worst enemy, especially when it comes to a stalled imagination.

It’s like a dog with a bone. The more you try to force your brain to give up the goods, the further your creativity is out of grasp. Try reconsidering your approach. Does it have to be the best answer? The perfect answer? Perhaps you are trying to be too logical or practical. Another option is to try thinking from a totally different perspective. To use a cliched phrase, it’s time to think outside the box a little. Try to imagine how you would approach the situation if you were in a different profession or from a different era.

 

Make Play a Priority

Play is not just for children; it’s for everyone, and it has the power to unleash all sorts of creativity. Play has been known to inspire innovation, creativity, and productivity, and the act of play can take on a variety of forms. It can be hanging out with friends for happy hour, playing card games or video games, enjoying dress up with your kids, or even painting or drawing. Play allows you to tap into your creativity from a back door. Once that door opens, all kinds of great ideas can begin to form.

 

Movement is Essential

Acts of physical exertion, light or strenuous, can help you make inroads in unlocking your brain. Taking a walk, going for a run, or just dancing around the house for a bit will force your brain to change its focus to the mechanics of movement. Once your mind is distracted with exercise, your subconscious can take the opportunity to come out to play, pouring out a host of ideas. Alternatively, if you regularly exercise, this is the perfect opportunity to lace up and get active. The endorphin release will relax you and help increase the flow of thought.

 

Lend a Hand

Sometimes getting outside your head and helping someone else with their studies or creative struggle can help you see your problems with a new perspective. Consider offering your services as a tutor to a young person. Watching them grasp a new subject or seeing their love for their own artistic endeavor grow–be it writing, painting, or another medium–will be inspiring. And whether you’re tutoring as a volunteer or getting paid for your help, you’ll feel good about what you’re doing, and those good feelings might be just what you need to back to work on your project.

 

Rest is the Great Equalizer

We all know that sleep is an essential part of our lives. The body must have sleep to function.

The restorative properties of sleep benefit body and mind, so a tired brain is going to keep limping along until it has a chance to go on autopilot. A good night’s sleep might be the only thing standing between you and an aha moment.

 

Author:

Larry Mager

Readybrain.net

The Tragedy of Comedy

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Movies, songs, and paintings come to their audiences fully formed. They are clean moments presented from the outstretched arms of their creators. Like Christmas gifts tied up in sweet, gentle bows, these works of art are laid at our feet. They are eager to be fully explored and understood. Time passes and we grow, but the presents never change. Stanley Kubrick can disown “Spartacus” as much as he wants, but I can still watch it and feel his energy within it. Macklemore can insist that his album “The Heist” is not poetry, but when I’m listening to it on repeat sitting on the subway, it can be poetry to me. The artist is separate from the art, and any sense of authority vanishes when the work is out of their hands and into ours.

Stand-up comedy is a medium equal to these arts in merit yet opposite in form. It is a dialogue, and it won’t fit into any box you try and place before it. Trust me, I’ve tried. When looking at traditional art, the comment you hear most is: “Wow, that’s so beautiful.” With stand-up comedy, the comment you hear most is: “Wow, that’s so true.” Often, the goal is to relate to their audience members and try to resonate with the human experience. The most common jokes are often about men and women, sex, or race relations, because these are the things that people faces every day.

While the parasocial relationship and the sense of community are some of the most-loved aspects of stand-up comedy. We don’t just love Louis CK because he makes us laugh, we love him because he validates our experiences and emerged as the perfect voice for a post-9/11 America. Steve Martin did the same thing for the 60s, once remarking, “The world had been so political in very tough ways over the last ten years that I thought America was tired and it needed, wanted, to laugh at just silliness and fun again.”

These comedians still mean so much to us now, but their impact fades when their era fades. The tragedy of comedy, so to speak, is it’s unfortunate tendency to date itself. Excluding comedy giants like Pryor or Carlin, stand-up comedy is fickle and comedians who were once supremely relatable and ubiquitous are often pushed aside for a new crop who better represent the issues of the day. In an art form that is often centered around community and a shared cultural language, it can become dated quite quickly.

Kliph Nesteroff, an acclaimed comedy historian, caused a stir by posing that Lenny Bruce isn’t funny. He made this comment not without reasoning, for he had just witnessed a modern audience sit in silence during a forty-five minute showing of Bruce’s material. He almost expressed it as a question– What does it mean that Lenny Bruce isn’t funny? It is through no fault of his own, just the passage of time. There’s something poetic, actually, about Bruce’s particular breed of martyrdom. It reminds us how far we’ve come. If what was revolutionary in the 50s and 60s still vibrated in us with the same frequency, it would mean that we haven’t progressed enough. His breed of comedy is about pushing people, and a mark of its success is, in a sense, the moment it doesn’t need to push us anymore. Success comes in tandem with the end. Like training wheels, the goal is to no longer need it.

The problem is that we will always need it. Today, it comes in the voice of Bill Burr or Kyle Kinane. Forty years ago, it sounds like Pryor and Carlin, and forty years from now, it will sounds like something new. Perhaps the tragedy isn’t that it dates itself, it is that the masters of this art form won’t be able to adorn grand halls in the way that great painters or musicians do. Their work and their love is an act of sacrifice that cannot be overlooked.

Top Five Dramatic Performances from Stand-Up Comedians

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There is a long tradition of stand-up comedians kicking ass in serious Hollywood roles. Ever since Charlie Chaplin inspired with his final speech in The Great Dictator, audiences learned that even the silliest of clowns are capable of breaking our hearts with brilliant performances.

Here are our picks for FIVE of the best dramatic performances from stand-up comedians.

  1. Our number five goes to the incomparable Steve Martin, for a role in a little known film called Shopgirl. Based on his novella of the same name, Shopgirl is a spirited film that highlights Martin’s softer side. We’ve seen glimpses of his depth in films like Roxanne and It’s Complicated, but Shopgirl is an authentic and vulnerable look into its author and star, and it makes this list because it reminds us of why we fell in love with Steve Martin in the first place.
  1. Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. Known for his frenetic style and elastic features, Carrey made as easy transition from stand-up comedy to film. While we love his portrayal of Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon (Check out our blog Love and Confusion in the World of Andy Kaufman for more on him) as well as his heartfelt performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but there’s something so utterly human about Truman Burbank that we can’t help but feel a certain connection to his journey.
  1. Number Three goes to a performance that caught the whole industry off guard: Mo’nique in Precious. Warning– don’t click the link unless you’re emotionally prepared. Mo’nique, a famous talking head on daytime television churns out one of the most chilling performances in recent history, and took home both the Oscar and the Golden Globe for her work. In the same way that a sad song from a comedy band always hits harder, a terrifying performance from a daytime talk-show comedian packs all the more punch.
  1. Our man Robin Williams loved to break and re-break our hearts with stirring performances from Hook to Dead Poets’ Society, but for our money we’ve got to give our #2 slot to Sean in Good Will Hunting, who taught us how to forgive ourselves and forge on. Not only was this a break-out for America’s favorite Boston bros, Matt and Ben, but it showed us a new and much more tender side of Williams. We’d stay and talk more about our love for him, but we’ve got to go see about a girl.
  1. Our number one spot goes to Patton Oswalt and his performance in Diablo Cody’s Young Adult. Oswalt is vulnerable without being pitiable, and he’s a moral compass against a Theron’s delusional leading lady. Even though the Academy snuffed him, Patton Oswalt took home a Critics’ Choice Awards and our hearts.

There are our picks for the five best dramatic performances from stand-up comedians! Feel free to comment below if one of your favorites didn’t make the cut, and don’t forget to stop by Stand Up NY to catch some of the best comedians in New York!

What Do I Do With My Hands?

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Your name gets called. Sure they mispronounce it, but you’re like 90% sure they mean you.

 

It’s time. You’ve always wanted to do stand up, and you’re doing it! That’s amazing! This is a huge step and takes a lot of guts and- oh no. Wait. What…what do you do with your hands?

 

You never thought about this. Don’t you just kind of…hold the mic? This feels horrible. What’s this other hand even doing here?

 

Wait, are you just standing there? Start telling your jokes!

 

Oh man. You’ve watched so much stand up. How has this never crossed your mind? What did Louie CK do in his last special? Chris Rock? Schumer? Where were their hands? You never noticed their hands! You’re sure everyone is staring at yours right now.

 

Maybe put your hand in your pocket? Wait, this looks terrible. Now you can’t go anywhere. And where do your elbows go? Go back to one hand, dummy.

 

Let’s try putting the mic back on the stand. Ah, there we go. And….now you just have two hands free and no plan for either of them. You’ve literally doubled your problem. Get the mic out of the stand!

 

Wait, how long have you been on stage? Is that the light? This isn’t how you planned your first mic to go. Ok one minute left. Let’s put both hands on the mic. Yes. YES. This is great! Ol’ Lefty has got a place to rest, but also quick access to the open air for gesturing. Nice.

 

Annnnnd it’s over. You did what every great comedian has to do which is perform for the very first time. It’s scary, and awkward and statistically not terribly funny. But everyone starts out the same way: thinking about that dumb second hand.

 

At Stand Up NY, we’ve got an open mic every day of the week. Whether you’ve been doing it for years or you just want to try it out, come tell jokes with us. 

Love and Confusion in the World of Andy Kaufman

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Stand-up comedy has been far and away my favorite art form for years now. I’m always drawn to its beauty, vulnerability, and bravery, but I think what keeps me coming back is comedy’s utter lack of rules. It is so odd to think that Jerry Seinfeld is in the same profession as Bo Burnham or Tig Notaro. Their personalities are as varied as their forms, yet there are still bound by the shared goal of making the audience laugh and think. But what happens to stand-up when you have no rules for yourself and no goals for the audience?

 

Well, you have Andy Kaufman.

 

Andy Kaufman performed for himself, doing what he found amusing, for as long as he found it amusing. Whether it was submitting to the will of Tony Clifton or wrestling women on late-night TV, Kaufman marched boldly in any direction he pleased. So in honor of his beautiful lunacy, we now present you with our top three favorite Andy Kaufman moments.

 

3) Reading the Great Gatsby

Check out our boy Andy Kaufman skipping the stand-up and opting instead for a reading of the great American novel. When the audience loses interest he offers to play a record instead, a recording of him reading The Great Gatsby aloud. The magic never ends.

 

2) Begging for change on the David Letterman

Kaufman looks to the audience in a rare moment of sincerity. Sit back and turn a kind eye to this artist who has fallen on tough times– perhaps you’ll be more kind than Letterman’s showrunner.

 

1) Playing the Bongos on his HBO special

Andy Kaufman accompanies himself on the bongos while regaling the audience with the harvest song of the people of the Caspian Sea. I dare you to resist its infectious beauty.

We hope you enjoyed this look into the late great Andy Kaufman! Come by Stand Up NY soon and see if you can catch a glimpse of his influence in the minds of young comedians as they forge their our paths!

5 Things Comedy Needs

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So you want to be a comedian? Well lucky you, you’re chasing one of the most noble art forms, however fickle it may be. I wish you my very best, and if I have anything to offer you on this journey, it’s five small pieces of advice.

1. Comedy needs patience.

I’ve sure you’ve been told this one hundred times, but comedy, like all beautiful things, takes time to blossom. Each little joke deserves its best chance to become an A+ bit. Trust your instincts. You don’t have to be Carlin or CK, churning out annual specials. Build a set worth watching, and let it take the time it needs.

2. Comedy needs time.

Have you completed your Gladwellian 10,000 hours? In comedy, people generally accept that it takes about ten years to be worth listening to. Use those ten years to tell all your jokes– good and bad alike. Get them out there. Sprinkle all the adjectives and tags on them that you want, but just get them out. Take the stage and delight in a good old-fashioned bomb. Then you can spend the next ten years bombing better.

3. Comedy needs to breathe.

The most beautiful aspect of stand-up is also its most unforgiving: it’s need of an audience. The idea itself is rather flimsy — one person with a microphone in a dark, quiet (hopefully) room. Have faith in your audience and listen to what they tell you. No matter how much you love a joke, you still have to make those strangers see in it what you see.

4. Comedy needs to be interrogated.

In all of your joke mongering, try not to lose site of the fact that these are all little windows into your mind. Make sure you like the picture they’re painting. Take your premises out onto the porch and beat them with a racket. What falls off and what sticks? Holding the attention of a crowd of people is an increasingly rare opportunity, consider using it to tell your true story.

5. Comedy needs magic.

There is no comedian capable of killing in every room. Sometimes your success or failure hinges on the intangibles of the space. The lights, the sounds, the technology, the mood, the waitstaff, even your fellow performers or the mood of a few key members of the audience. Don’t be discouraged when an A bit gets treated like a B or C bit. Offer yourself up to the things beyond your control.

Best of luck, my lovelies. You’ll be great. Make sure you stay a fan along the way and come hang out with us at Stand-Up NY. Seven days a week you’ll see comedians here doing their best– learning, growing, and exploring their worlds. Come explore with us.

2016 Summer Internship

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As I look back on my summer interning for Stand Up NY, it is hard to put into words the major affect this small business has had on me. I have always dreamed of finding my perfect niche in the entertainment industry, so getting the chance to work in an office surrounded by experienced managers, owners, producers, and writers galore it is safe to say that for a girl like me, I have been happy as a bee. Most interns I know are running around for coffee with their eyes glued to a computer screen or a tainted white wall with lighting that’s almost torturous for an 8 hour work day. Fortunately for me, I can’t relate. I am proud to say that my summer at Stand Up NY has made me feel worthy of the time I spent there. Not only did I become more familiar with ways to reach an audience and represent a business on social media, I also expanded my writing abilities into blogging. My favorite part about working at Stand Up New York, is working with the people who feel most passionate about the business, which is everyone that works there now. Even when days felt long, our little Stand Up NY community would thrive on coming up with new creative ways to increase our reach and revenue. Whether it was creating an LGBT event to stand by those affected by the tragic incident in Orland, or create live videos by interviewing NYC dwellers, we were always working as a team to make Stand Up NY stand out even more as the best comedy club in New York City.

Now, that’s just me reflecting on my days at Stand Up NY. I know some may find it odd that after spending my days on W 78th St., that I’d want to come back on my time. If it weren’t for those jalapeño margaritas, I may have never known what I would be missing come around 8PM. Among the numerous occasions I’ve decided to start or end my night at Stand Up NY, I have been exposed to the widest range of hilarious comics. From Amy Schumer surprise visits to Kate Wolff’s frequent shows, Stand Up NY, open every night of the week, consistently has shows leaving your stomach aching from laughter and filled with delicious cocktails.

Upon leaving Stand Up NY, I was asked to create a promotion video. Although you won’t be able to get full experience I did at Stand Up NY, hopefully this video can give you a little inside scoop of what Stand Up NY is all about. I encourage you all to watch this video and come check them out!

Why We Need, and Want, More Women in Comedy

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Women in Comedy Blog Cover (1)

Think about the arts. Painting, acting, dancing, writing. Michele A’Court, famed comedian from New Zealand, said in her Guardian article “People don’t ask if women can act, or paint, or dance, or write, or sing, or play music. Comedy still seems to be a place where we’re regularly made to feel ‘other.’” Unfortunately, this comment, while two years old, still rings true as taking a quick look through the line ups of most of New York’s stand up clubs this weekend will point out something quite obvious: A distinct lack of women in relation to men.

What’s more, Tina Fey said in her recent interview in Town & Country Magazine that “It’s a terrible time” for women in comedy, continuing “If you were to really look at it, the boys are still getting more money for a lot of garbage, while the ladies are hustling and doing amazing work for less.”

Fey’s remarks speak towards comedy at all levels, as women continue to be a minority in comedy from standup to the screen, receiving less money than men as well. Comedy allows its performers to voice their complaints about our society, showing their audience what isn’t quite right about the status quo. Given this, if we are to nearly silence half of the population, the half that certainly has more to complain about than the male portions, we ignore a great way for women to promote social thought.

Growing up in New York, performing standup throughout high school and now in college, I’ve have not seen one female performer at any school event, which is worrisome as that translates to the number female comedians emerging in the industry. I personally was inspired to begin doing standup by the male comedians I saw performing in clubs and on television, yet the lack of female performers in this regard offers little encouragement to any would-be female comics.

The necessary change has to come from the club, and the television and larger comedy forms will follow.

First, if we are to understand the gender gap on the standup stage, we have to understand how society works to prevent women from attempting comedy. Julia Serano, transgender writer and trans-bi activists, writes “the way that we are socialized, and our cultural beliefs, influence our brain development, and therefore our behaviors.” In addition, Andrea Greenbaum, professor of Writing and English at Barry University, states: “Women, in general, are socially conditioned to avoid confrontation, but stand-up comedians, if they are to be successful, must engage themselves with the audience, and by doing so, put themselves at verbal risk.” Taking this information, we see that the socialization that women undergo factors directly into their desires to pursue comedy. While it’s true that not all women are socialized, there is a large population of women that are socialized to avoid the type of confrontation that makes for great comedians. While recent years have shown growth in parents teaching their daughters to be strong and outspoken, the fact that there aren’t as many women on the standup stage as men leads even the most outspoken young women to avoid comedy as a whole.

In addition, any comedian will tell you that the club is where future stars catch their big breaks. Agents often recruit directly from them, and from there it can be a fast track to national recognition. That recognition is just what inspires young people, such as myself, to pursue comedy, and every time a woman makes that jump from local to national, we add at least one woman who sees comedy as a viable career. The club’s ability to produce stars that can foster actual change in the composition of comedy is exactly why it’s the duty of clubs to promote as many women as possible, and our duty to support the female comedians that perform there.

Comedy, in its current state, produces an atmosphere that doesn’t let female comedians thrive. The power of the club to launch female performers into the spotlight, who can in turn encourage young women to pursue comedy, goes a long way to changing the direction of women in comedy for the better, by not only increasing the amount of women on stage or on screen, but increasing the appreciation of those performers, helping work towards ending the gender bias in pay.

The fact of the matter is that we need more women in comedy, and the clubs have the ability to make that a reality. In the end, I’m arguing for more laughs, and who doesn’t want that. Stand Up NY goes a good way towards getting women on stage and offers plenty of female-heavy shows all year round, but it’ll take more than just one club to make a lasting difference. Stand up for your local female comics and they’ll stand up for you! Let me know what you think in the comments section!

 

P.S.

Check out our all-female show “The Goddesses of Comedy” tomorrow (July 27th) at 8pm!

Link here: http://bit.ly/29L8m9o