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Friend a Day – Laurie Richardson


Photo by John Solberg

Laurie is one of those people who comes up with exciting crazy ideas and then actually makes those crazy ideas happen.  Several years ago, she decided that we should have trading cards for Vilification Tennis.  I said that was a great idea and if she could make it happen, I was completely behind it.

Well, she made it happen and it has been a crazy popular idea ever since.

She has a great impish smile that betrays a new idea.  She can’t wait to tell you about it and I can’t wait to hear it. I’ve learned to never say anything so foolish as “you’ll never figure out a way to do that” because the fact is she already has.

She’s been a performer with Vilification Tennis for several years and is always writing new material that is clever and unique.  I can hear a joke and know it is a Laurie joke.

One of the things Laurie is really passionate about is animals.  She’s worked for veterinary clinics and the Humane Society most of the time I’ve known her.  When someone lost a pet, she cried with them.  When someone abandoned some kittens behind a gas station on a cold winter night, she took the survivor into her home, nursed it until it was healthy enough to find a home, and then found it a good home (ours).

That’s just one animal she rescued.  There have been many others.

She understands the bond people form with their pets and shows amazing compassion for pet owners and their animals.

She’s also spent many hours renovating her home.  Her house has been transformed by hours of hard work.  It takes a lot of drive and determination to buy a house knowing that it will take years to turn it into the house you really want and to continually work towards that goal.

I like Laurie because she does things.  She is an idea person who makes the ideas happen.  It makes her a really fun person to be around.

Laurie doesn’t have a web site but right now, she is raising money for the annual Humane Society Walk for Animals.  It’s something she’s very passionate about.  So if you think she’s as cool as I do, you should go to her page and donate a few bucks.

Friend a Day – Eric Knight

Photo by Ryan Haro

Photo by Ryan Haro

Eric and I started at the Renaissance Festival in 1985 and we have been friends ever since.  This year both of us will celebrate our 30th season.  The years of service awards at the Festival are that much better because I get to share the walk with a good friend.

Eric is well known for being pedantic but that somewhat derogatory term points to how good he is at the little details of so many things.  He doesn’t miss much.

He’s been my assistant director for Vilification Tennis for the last several years and the reason is because he will tell me when he thinks I’m doing something wrong.  I don’t tend to take such conversations well but I usually come around to his way of thinking because he is usually right.

When I’m working on a new project or a new idea, Eric is one of the best resources for me because I understand the language he speaks.  His criticisms and comments are clear and honest and they help me become a better writer.

At the festival, he is a gifted up close performer.  His Concierge character is not a boisterous character that draws a crowd but instead, he is a character built around the idea of improving the festival day for everyone who walks through the gate. Every interaction he has with a patron is a positive interaction.

Conversations with Eric typically aren’t short.  We used to hold monthly Festival get together parties and Eric was frequently the last person to leave.  Often it would be as the sun was rising and he hadn’t yet overstayed his welcome.

Eric is also a gifted costumer, a movie fan, and one of the founders of the CONvergence movie room, Cinema Rex.

I’m lucky to have known Eric for almost thirty years.  I’m hoping we’ll be friends for at least thirty more!

Eric doesn’t have a web site but he sometimes tweets as @PedanticEric.

I Don’t Know If I Can Make Anyone Die Laughing But I May Just Die Trying!

This weekend, Fearless Comedy will be putting on Die Laughing, a fifty hour comedy marathon.  Right now, it looks like we might get hammered with a massive snow storm as the event starts but that doesn’t matter.  We’re going to make this show happen.

The good news is that the entire event will be streaming so you can watch it even if you decide to cower in your home.  And I’ll be doing a lot of performing that weekend.  Here’s a schedule if you are just going nuts wondering when I’ll be on stage again.

Friday, April 4th, 7:00 PM – Big Fun Radio Funtime

We’ll be doing encore presentations of two of our favorite scripts and then Geoffrey Brown and I will perform 30 minutes of original Citizens’ Band tunes!  We’ll also introduce our weekend long songwriting challenge.

Friday, April 4th – 10:00 PM – Vilification Tennis

There will be insults a-plenty and Duck Washington will debut as our newest cast member!  Also, Kelvin Hatle will present his brilliant “News from Lake Vilbegone.”

Friday, April 4th – 11:00 PM – Geeks Without God

We’ll be recording a live podcast featuring comedian Patrick Bauer.  The topic will be Tarantino movies.  Pop culture reference!

Saturday, April 5th – 4:00 PM – PowerPoint Karaoke

I’ll be sitting in judgement on comedians who are making up a presentation from scratch!  Is it far that I judge them?  Yes it is fair!  For I am ME and I SHALL wield petty power!

Saturday, April 5th – 8:00 PM – 12:00 AM – Hosting

I won’t be the star of the show but I’ll be introducing them!

Sunday, April 6th – 1:00 AM - Geeks Without God

Our second live podcast will feature Elizabeth Ess!  We are going to talk about Hobby Lobby and birth control.  Should be totally filled with comedy about knitting.  There is also a decent chance I’ll be bald at this point.

Sunday, April 6th – 2:00 PM – Judging a Book By It’s Cover

I’ll be hosting this silly game in which contestants must describe the plot of a book based only on the cover illustration.

Sunday, April 6th – 6:00 PM – The Dregs

The Dregs will be doing our music and comedy thing with a special challenge to help raise money.  Song choices go to the highest bidder!

Sunday, April 6th – 8:00 PM – Fearless Lab

A completely random hour of Fearless Comedy!  And I’m the host!  If Geoffrey and I get paid to write any songs, we’ll be performing them during this final hour of the marathon!  It’ll be awesome!  I’m using all exclamation points because I’ll probably be hopped up on Five Hour Energy Drink at this point in the weekend!

My CONvergence Schedule

Boy do I have a lot going on at the convention this weekend.  While I have no idea why anyone would be interested in tracking me around the con, just in case you have an interest in stalking (or avoiding) me, here’s what I’ll be up to at the convention.

Thursday, July 4th

6:00 PM – The Mark Time Radio Show.  I’ve been a voice actor on this show for um…about ten years?  This year’s show is an expanded version of “The Sword in the Couch,” which was featured at the first Big Fun Radio Funtime show.

7:00 PM – Opening Ceremonies.  I wrote and directed the Opening sketch and I’m pretty happy with it.  All I can say about the sketch is that it is going to be awesome. It s also filled to overflowing with amazing talent.  I also contributed a little bit of writing to the rest of Opening Ceremonies and rumor has it I might be helping out with at least one bit.

9:00 PM – Super Spy Smackdown.  I will be the Master of Ceremonies for an epic battle between the greatest super spies ever assembled.  Comedy commentary will be provided by a team of experts including Tim Uren, Joseph Scrimshaw, Dawn Krosnowski, Kelvin Hatle, Caroline Symcox and Christopher Jones.  As always, Melissa Kaercher will be running the tech.

11:00 PM – Vilification Tennis takes over the Fearless Comedy Room Party in room 224!

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Alphabetical Movie – Look Who’s Talking

I think I set a record with the Look Who’s Talking trilogy.

As has happened a few times before, I was gifted this trilogy of films by a friend who enjoys the fact that I’m a stickler for the rules of the Alphabetical movie project.  If I own the movie, I will watch it.

Even if I hate it.

So what better way to screw me over than to give me a trilogy of films that get progressively worse until you reach one that is inexplicably awful.  How it failed to kill John Travolta’s career (again) is beyond me.  Kirstie Alley’s career has always been beyond me.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Alphabetical Movie – Lolita

Since Lolita is a story about pedophilia, I’m going to tell a story about pedophilia.

Doing Vilification Tennis at the Renaissance Festival is a dicey proposition.  We are doing a show that is pretty vile and vulgar and the audience likes it that way.  However, we are doing it at a venue that is advertised as appropriate for all ages.  That means you have to walk a pretty mean balancing act between offensive humor and trying to ensure parents who are walking by don’t have to explain too much to their kids later.  Because parents hate that.  More on that later.

Most days I think we do an admirable job of walking that tighrope.  Every now and again, though, there is a complaint.  I take the complaints seriously and I do my best to keep the performers from getting out of hand.  Our show is best if we flirt with the line without merrily skipping across it.

On occasion, we get an instruction from the festival management about the kind of material they would like us to avoid.  Most of the time, the request is a little odd and when I ask for clarification, I find it was one joke that caused the problem.

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Thoughts about a Successful Failure

Sometimes you come up with an idea for a show and it seems to fit perfectly with your vision as a company.  You think you have a great idea how to approach it.  The audience laughs and you feel you had a success.

And in one way, you did.  Most of the audience left the theatre thinking your show was hilarious.  You can’t please everyone so it is foolish to try.  However, it is the way in which you displease those audience members that says a lot about the success or failure of your show.

Friday’s Vilification Tennis show was, by most measures, a success.  We only had one structure that didn’t work and we got a lot of laughs.  Most of the people who left the theatre thought it was a very funny show and they told us so.

Not so the people who left the theatre early.  Clearly we crossed a line that made them uncomfortable.  Too uncomfortable to stay in the theatre.

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New Vilification Tennis Silliness

We’ve been having a few problems with the Vilification Tennis website as of late so updates have been slow to come.  This week, though, we have managed to get things a little bit sorted out and there is some new stuff to read and listen to.

Specifically, I wrote a new Movie Dick article about the Oscars.  I think it captures the averager person’s opinion of the Oscars pretty well.

There’s also a new Vilification Tennis podcast that involves a whole lot of misogyny in preparation for our February show, the White Male Priviledge show.  Don’t worry.  It’s ironic misogyny.  That makes it better, right?

New Show art!

I’ve not been showing off art for shows the last couple of months because the last two Vilification show posters are good but got thrown together at the last minute.  For the March shows, we got a little ahead of the game for the first time in a while.

The March Vilification Tennis show is one of my favorites – the Game Show.  I love putting this show together and I love performing it.  We all do. It’s one of the reasons we have it on our schedule every year.

My biggest problem is balancing the number of performers who want to appear in the show with the number of performers I can reasonably cast.

Well, it’s coming up and again and to celebrate, here’s the art by John Newstrom!  Also, here is a link to show information!

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It is Monday Morning – Must be Time to Gloat

It’s been over a month since we recorded a Vilification Tennis podcast and even though we were tired as hell, we decided we should record it after the Fearless launch party on Saturday.  This could have been a horrible decision had the event been a disastrous failure.

The event was instead a huge success.  Thanks to a great many people, we raised better than half of our operating budget for the year and it is rumored that the wacky comedy to which we subjected our audience was both wacky and comedic.

All things considered, we were blown away by the success of the event.  That meant we were pretty euphoric when we recorded the podcast.  Which beats the alternative.  Eric had also prepared humus and salsa.  That goes a long way to creating a positive podcasting environment.

So if you are a fan of the podcast, you should listen to this week’s episode.  I think we were somewhat amusing.


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