Tag Archive | vilification tennis

Friend a Day – Lauren Brabec

10010462_10152151281443087_20079799456135677_oI don’t know how old Lauren was when she started coming to Dregs shows.  I know she’s turning eighteen today and that freaks me out a little bit.

For along time, Lauren was just a kid who liked our music.  Then she decided to try out for Vilification Tennis and I got to know her much better.

Think about this: she did an onstage tryout for an insult comedy show at the age of fourteen.  And she won.  That takes a tremendous amount of guts and no small amount of talent.  She didn’t win because she was fourteen.  She won because she did the best job on the stage that night.

Since then, she has continued to be a contributor to our cast.  She doesn’t just contribute on stage.  She helps come up with show ideas as well.  I think it’s important that she’s become a part of our cast in every possible way.

She’s played the Chad/Lauren rocks more game with Chad for several years now and as an impartial observer, I have to say she has Chad beat.  She regularly comes up with really original and clever ways to tell Chad he rocks more and all Chad can do is shake his head in defeat.

When someone is in a cast with a whole bunch of strong personalities who constantly give her crap for being the kid, it can be a challenge.  That’s a tough position for anyone and weaker personalities would have given up.  She doesn’t strike me as a quitter and that is a quality that will benefit her a great deal as she moves to the next part of her life.

Lauren is only eighteen.  She has a lot more growing up to do but I’m impressed at how much growing up she has already done.

I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to watch Lauren grow into the young woman she is now.  Lauren really does rock more.

Friend a Day – Molly Glover


Photo by Peter Verrant

I’ve known Molly for just a few years and she’s already become one of my better friends.  Sure, it helps we record a podcast together, perform together, and hang out with the same people.

Molly is one of the most open people I know.  She doesn’t edit anything out of a conversation because it might make someone uncomfortable.  I tend to be something of the opposite so I can’t help but appreciate the way she keeps everything on the surface.

She’s one of those people who is just naturally good at whatever she does.  She’s a good performer, she’s a good writer, she’s a good improviser, she’s a good thinker.  When I need to go to someone who I know can make something good happen, Molly is easily at the top of the list.

There is a meticulous nature to Molly that I wish I could copy.  She keeps track of her life in a way that is amazing, especially given the packed calendar she has to manage.  She always seems to know when there is a conflict.

That meticulous nature also explains her passion for proofreading.  She gives me grief for typos, misspellings, and bad grammar because it is important to her.  I accept it because I know she is giving me grief so I can do a better job.

When Molly tried out for Vilification Tennis, I was her coach.  I already knew she was going to be a strong candidate but as I worked as her coach, I was impressed with how focused she was on doing well.  Thing is, she could have done exceptionally well without the tremendous effort.

She doesn’t want to do “good enough,” though.  She wants to do as well as she possibly can.  She will always put in the greatest amount of effort possible to make sure a thing is done right.

I think Molly is naturally funny.  She doesn’t have to try to be funny, she simply succeeds at being funny.  If she actually tries to be funny, she is even better.

Molly is a great person who brings a lot of laughter to my life.  I’m fortunate that she has become such a good friend.

Molly is involved in a lot of things.  She is one of my co-hosts on Geeks Without God.

Friend a Day – Emily Cook


Photo by Manna Jaeger

Sometimes you take a chance on someone and it pays off in a big way.

Emily tried out for Vilification tennis a few years ago and she got eliminated rather early.  There was something about her, though, that made me decide to bring her into the cast anyway.  She was a little raw but I saw a lot of potential.

Over the last few years, it has been good to say that my instinct was, in that situation, spot on.  Emily has grown as a performer and it is good to see her moving in the direction of writing more both with Fearless and with some other projects.

Emily recently decided she was an atheist after a long time struggling with questions about her faith.  I’m proud of her primarily because she chose to come out and talk about it publicly.  Being an atheist wasn’t half so important as being willing to stand up and admit something that could have been painful.

In working with her on Vermin, I think her writing style is really starting to develop and she is very good at taking advice from the other writers on the team.  That ability to swallow her ego to work as part of a group is essential to crafting the kind of show we are all working on together.

Socially, Emily is sassy and confident.  She really manages to capture and hold your attention, which may have been one of the reasons I was willing to take that chance on her.

It is a treat to watch her grow into a better performer as she takes each step.  She grows more confident in her abilities but she has never lost that desire to get good feedback on how to improve.  She has just the right mix of cockiness and humility.

I’m glad I decided to give Emily a shot because the results have been great.  She’s a terrific addition to our cast and to my life.

Friend a Day – Bob Alberti

297657_10150840972680545_1247294558_nPeople surprise me all the time.  Bob surprised me more than most.

When people try out for Vilification Tennis, they fall into three categories.  The first category is people I know will be good.  They may not be a good vilifier but they are good performers.  The second category is people about whom I have no innate feel.  They could be great, they could be lousy.  I just don’t know.  The third category is people who I know won’t do well.  I’m almost always right about the third category.

At least I was until Bob came along.

Bob is so laid back, I just didn’t think he’d have what it took to succeed as a vilifier.  I was wrong in all the best ways.

He’s a good writer, a good performer and he constantly surprises with his willingness to try new things.

I like Bob because he’s an idea guy.  He doesn’t sit around and wait for the next show.  He thinks about it and offers ideas.  And he doesn’t just suggest things other people should do.  He’s always willing to do those things himself.

He’s passionate about his politics and more than willing to argue with anyone about his opinions.  That inner passion, though, is what I missed in some of those early encounters with Bob.  It isn’t hidden but it is subtle.

When Bob says he’s going to do something, he will make it happen even if he doesn’t know how to do it.  When he said he’d get streaming to work for Die Laughing, he made it happen.

He takes pictures, runs an art gallery and still has time to be a big participant in Fearless Comedy.  Whenever a call goes out for performers, he’s one of the first to answer.  Whenever a call goes out for some help, he’ll be one of the first people there.

I was wrong about Bob as a performer and I’m so glad that I was.

Bob has a lot of creative stuff going on.  You can read about all of it on his website.

Friend a Day – Kelvin Hatle


Photo by Bob Alberti

I met Kelvin during the early years of CONvergence when he was performing as a member of Soylent Theater.

Kelvin is a very quiet person when he is hanging out in a group of people.  He’s a lot more likely to listen to a conversation at a party than to join in with one.  You really need to spend some one on one time with him to have any real chance to know him.

He is a gifted improviser, which comes as a surprise if you know him only as the guy who is quiet at parties.  When he gets on stage for an improv, he becomes a different person.  Which is sort of the point, I guess.

Over the last few years, he has taken to producing one man shows at the Minnesota Fringe.  So far, each one has been a little bit better than the last.  He’s really grown as a writer and a performer through those solo shows.

I’d put him in everything I wrote if I could.  He always finds a way to make what I do funnier than it was on the page.

He’s also very good at trivia.  He worked with us on the GPS team trivia contest and he had the ability to write questions that were both challenging and interesting.  When he moved on from the contest, we lost one of our best writers.

When he joined the cast of Vilification Tennis, he brought an entirely different personality to the stage.  His dry delivery and his clever writing take a little while to catch on with the audience at times but with a little time to warm up, he gets them on his side.

There are several performers in the Twin Cities of whom I never tire.  Kelvin is one of them.  I will cheerfully go to anything in which he takes part because I know he will always be a lot of fun to watch.

I look forward to many more opportunities to work with Kelvin because he makes everyone around him look better.

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!

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?