Friday, September 19

Cameron's Annekenstein Sketch

Cameron, dressed as Annekenstein for Halloween

I used to be in a sketch comedy theatre show called Annekenstein.  It ran for 7 summers, from 1991-1997 in Charlottetown.  Each summer’s production would have a fair amount of brand new material, so every spring we’d rack our brains, trying to come up with new sketches, and new ways to lampoon the omnipresent Anne of Green Gables propaganda.

In 1995, when Cameron was 3, I came up with an idea to see how a child of his age might create a sketch based on AoGG.  The premise being the question: Is AoGG part of our Island’s subconscious - that is, are we born with an innate awareness of it - or is it something that is learned and then forever etched into our brains.

So I asked Cameron, who at 3 would have had minimal insight into the AoGG phenomenon, to pretend to be Anne of Green Gables, and I would help out in any way I could.

The following is a transcript of what took place (and is, for all intents and purposes, Cameron’s very first improvised sketch comedy attempt).

This never made it to the stage.

Cameron’s Annekenstein Sketch

Cameron, as Anne, is running around the living room. Frantic.

Cameron: Grrrrr, I’m being chased by a monster! A monster’s after me. Help!

Rob: What kind of monster is it? Is it Anne of Green Gables?

Cameron stops running.  Looks at Rob, with serious intent.

Cameron (as Anne): No, I’m Anne of Green Gables. (He resumes running)  Help, a monster!

Rob: What monster is chasing you, Anne?

Cameron stops running.

Cameron (as himself): No, Daddy, you’re the monster. You’re chasing me.

Cameron resumes running around.

Cameron (as Anne): Help, the Daddy monster’s after me.

Rob: (starts to chase, as a monster) Arrrgghh, I’m going to get you, Anne!

Cameron screeches and runs harder, then stops abruptly.

Cameron (as himself): Sonny and Joe are here now, you know.

(Sonny and Joe were Cameron’s imaginary friends.  They were a husband and wife lumberjack team who worked in northern New Brunswick)

Rob: They are? Where are they?

Cameron (as himself): Right here. (points to an empty space, beside him)

Rob: Oh, right. (looks to where Cameron pointed) Hey, Sonny!

Cameron (as himself):  That’s Joe.

Rob: Oh. Hi, Joe!

Cameron (as Joe): Hello.

Rob: Hey, Sonny, I didn’t know you knew Anne of Green Gables.

Cameron (as Sonny): Yeah, I’ve known her for about seventy-sixty months.

Rob: Oh, that’s a long time. Do you like Anne of Green Gables, Sonny?

Cameron (as Sonny): Yeah, I guess so.

Rob: Do you like her, Joe?

Cameron (as Joe, or as himself?): What?

Rob: Joe, do you like Anne of Green Gables?

Cameron (as Joe): I think she’s a poopy-head goopy goop fra la linko head!

Rob: Is that good or bad, Joe?

Cameron (as himself): I want to go outside and play on my bicycle.

Rob: You want to go outside and play on your bicycle, Anne?

Cameron (as himself): No, I’m not Anne, now, I’m me. Can I go out and play?

Rob: Do you know who Anne of Green Gables is?

Cameron (as himself): I want to ride my bicycle.

Rob: Just tell me who Anne of Green Gables is.

Cameron: I don’t know.

Rob: Have you ever seen her picture anywhere?

Cameron: Yeah.

Rob: Where?

Cameron: License plates.

Rob: Anywhere else?

Cameron: The Wendy’s sign. Can I go outside now?

Rob: Okay. Go put your sneakers on.

Friday, July 4

Out Of Guilt, I Suppose

On Facebook today, Kelly Caseley posted some pictures from a couple of Sketch22 video shoots from years ago. That action led me to go casually digging around in the bowels of my Sketch22 scripts folder and came across this abandoned script.

It was written for our Season Six season. The one at The Mack.

For probably obvious reasons, it never got shot. Maybe I was thinking it would be an animated thing?

Anyone want to animate this?

Close-up on a bowl of rice.  Dirty rice, and not much in the bowl.
Impossibly long, frail, skinny fingers dig in and scoop up a small ball of rice.  We follow the fingers and rice up, past a distended belly, flies casually landing and leaving; past a set of ribs that are practically bursting out of the skin; up to the oh-so-thin face.  Fingers and rice disappear into the mouth, only fingers leave.  Mouth chews. 
When he speaks, it's very casual and relaxed.  Comfortable.  As is all the conversation.

As he speaks we pull out to reveal the scene:  Five starving African men sitting on the dirt around a cold fire.  One or two maybe are missing an arm or a leg.  Another looks blind.  The background is a poor-as-possible village.
They are all casually eating their bowls of rice, using their fingers, if they have fingers.

1: But you know who I really feel sorry for in this American bailout?  Those poor auto workers who had to settle for only making thirty dollars an hour.  Thirty dollars an hour!

2: Oh, I know!  I mean, they signed contracts, didn't they, for much more?  What good is a union contract if this is the result it gets you?

3: That'll mean a few less union dues, I'd say!


4: Well, did you hear that some of the big Hollywood celebs, when they go shopping at the ritzy stores, are putting their purchases in bags from less-expensive stores. 

1: Out of guilt, I suppose.

2: I would too, if I was there.

5: This is not a time to be flaunting wealth.


3: Poor Mrs. Obama!

4:  What?

3: She's in a bit of hot water.  When she and the US President were visiting the British Queen, Mrs. Obama put her arm around the Queen.

1:  Like as a hug?

2: That's a breach of protocol!

4:  I'd say.

3: The Queen didn't seem to mind, though.

2:  She seems like such a nice lady.


4: Which one seems like a nice lady?


2:  Both of them, really.

(long pause as they all contemplate.  5 looks at 1’s bowl)

5:  You gonna finish that rice there?

1: Yes. (pause)  Otherwise I might die.


Friday, February 7

Nun's Leggings, Cowboy Chaps, Donkey Cock, and Sperm

One of the challenging, and exciting, aspects of putting on a live sketch comedy show is managing your quick-changes.  Sometimes you have scant little time to change from, say, a punk-cowboy into, say, an old nun.  Often, you barely make it, and are literally are running from the dressing room to get on stage, pulling up pants and adjusting a wig and grabbing the necessary hand-prop even as your cue-line to enter onto the stage is being said.

At the beginning of a run, especially during dress rehearsal, you are positive that at least one of your quick-changes cannot possibly be done - there simply isn't enough time to make that change.  Rather than alter the running order or rewrite something to give you the necessary time, you simply have to find a way to make it work.  You figure it out.  "If I already wear my nun's leggings underneath my cowboy denims and chaps, then that'll save a few seconds" - that sort of thing.  And by the end of the run of shows, usually, you are so adept at making those seemingly-impossible changes that you probably fit a pee break in there too.

After performing 7 years in Annekenstein sketch shows and 7 years in Sketch-22 sketch shows, I have a pretty good grasp of what is possible and not possible when it comes to quick-changes.  In the last few years, I've taken to writing up a list - explaining out exactly how my costume changes need to happen, and where my various costume pieces and my props are supposed to be back stage.

I just found the list I used for the latest sketch show I was involved in, A Very Sketch Christmas. There were a few very quick changes for me (for all of us), but all were manageable.  In the second act, in order to make it work, I had to wear pajama pants under a heavy pair of donkey leggings underneath a shepherd's robe. It got pretty warm up in there.

Anyway, I get a kick out of a couple of items on this list and so that's the main reason for this post.

Thursday, January 30

WhateverMan and Wilson

I am a man who does not know a lot about a lot of things.
One of those things I do not know a lot about is Comics.
When I was young, I read the Archie comics, some war comics (Sgt. Somethingorother?), and the odd Weird Tales comic here and there.  I never had a collection, nor wanted one, and I was never one to wait eagerly, impatiently, excitedly, for the next issue of WhateverMan to come out.  Comics were a casual part of my childhood, and when my childhood ran its course, so too, did my desire to read them.

I think I am a month too old (really, though: years too old) to have been part of the PEI resurgence of the Comic Book as art form or literature (or was it simply a surgence?) in, I'm guessing, the late-'80s, early-'90s.  Could have been earlier, could have been later, I'm not good with dates.
So, when friends who were younger than me, or contemporary-aged friends who were hipper than me, began to read comics and graphic novels, I was aware but not interested.  As the popularity, and culture-significance of this Comic Book World grew, I remained ignorant.  And, at times, as it is with my personality, willfully-ignorant.
I read The Watchmen series sometime around 1990, probably. I enjoyed it.  I am, and have been, aware of, and have read, a scant few other series and publications since then, but am woefully ignorant.  When I am in the proximity of conversations about comic books, I generally zone out, due to my immense lack of knowledge of the topic(s) at hand.

All that to say: I am not in my comfort zone when I walk into a comic book shop.

I have a friend, Dylan Miller, who owns a comic book shop: Lightning Bolt Comics  I've always felt the desire to support him and his small-business enterprise (and feel guilty for not doing so), but a couple of things have kept me from doing so.

The first is (was) the fact that for so long, I was consumed by credit card debt.  The first 20 years of my adult life, credit card debt owned me.  A number of years ago, my wife and I decided to eradicate that debt from our lives, and so we went on a serious spending freeze.  Not that we were spending much on what I'll call frivolous things, but we put a halt on practically all non-essential purchasing, and put all our money towards paying off the debt.  And finally, a year or two ago, we succeeded.  We are debt-free.
However, one of the side-effects of such a purchase-purge, is that now I am very much the type of person who hardly spends any money.  Like, I spend practically nothing.  I find it difficult to justify spending money on new underwear, that type of level of miserliness.  I have become a living example of the Scottish SkinFlint cliche.

The second thing is, when I go into Dylan's store, I feel a bit (a lot) like an illiterate in a library. Imposter!! Looking at the items offered is a bit like looking at things that don't make sense in my world.  It's all a jumble of "I have no idea what I'm looking at, or for", and it's a bit overwhelming and uncomforting.  This, I realize and admit, is a problem of mine.  I should be "who fucking cares", but I'm not.

So, for a long time, I wasn't purchasing anything, and Dylan's store was one of the many that didn't see support from me. Yet, now I am beginning to see a light, and, with a bit of a pleasant balance showing in our bank accounts, I am tentatively putting my toe in the Superfluous Purchase Waters.

I made the decision to buy something!  This may seem like a minor thing to you and your lifestyle, but to me it was a bit more epic.  Furthermore, I decided that the first place I'd go is to Lightning Bolt and support my fellow Popalopalot.  Trouble is, I didn't know what I wanted, didn't know how to go about finding out what I might want.
Then I hit upon an idea:  why not ask an expert what I might enjoy.  Dylan knows me a little (I'm a hard fellow for anyone to know, I know), definitely knows his stuff, and it might be a fun little adventure.  So I asked Dylan to pick out something from his store, around $30 (I know, big spender right!), that he thinks I might like, and I'd buy it, no questions asked.  Dabbling my toe in the water, you know.
Dylan agreed.

And this is what Dylan picked out for me.  This is what I bought.

I had seen the movie Ghost World, based on Daniel Clowes comic, but had to be reminded of the connection.
So, I read it and really liked it.

Yeah, that's a long way to go just to say "I bought a book".

Friday, January 10

The Cat, The Bird, and The Owl (Who Thought She Was A Bear)

Once there was a cat - a lady cat - who would spend her nights wandering the back alleys of her little town. She had a home to go back to - a loving home with plenty of food and a place to do her private business.  It was an okay life, but she was getting bored of it all - the same alleys, the same characters, the same everything night after night.  And so, on this particular night, she made the sudden and rash decision to leave it all behind.
"It totally goes against what I expect from myself, but what the hey!" she said, and started on her way.
By the time she made her way to the outskirts of town, it was almost dawn.
At the town limits sign, the lady cat was observed by a bird who was sitting on a telephone pole.
"Now this," said the bird, "goes totally against what is ingrained in my psyche, but I think I'm gonna go talk to that cat."  The bird flew down and landed in front of the cat, who was momentarily stopped to clean her face.
"Do I need to be afraid of you?" asked the bird.
"Not unless you plan on doing me harm," replied the cat.
Mutually deciding all was good, the two took the rest of the day getting to know each other, as they wandered beyond the town and into the woods.  After hearing about the cat's previous cozy living arrangements, the bird stated he couldn't understand why she would ever give up such comforts.
"Comfort doesn't equate to interesting," she answered.

The two spent the next few days exploring the world together.  They came upon a beautiful lake, and decided to rest there for a while.
"I'd flown over this lake a couple of times," said the bird, "on my down down south or back from down south, but I never thought to stop here.  It's really quite lovely!"
The cat didn't understand the concept of "down south" but didn't let on, and just nodded in agreement about the loveliness of the lake.
The bird decided a fun thing to do would be to pick up stones in his beak - as big as he could carry - and then fly over the lake and drop them.  He loved to watch the stones splash and break the calmness of the lake water.  While he was doing this, the cat was attempting to catch fish by the lakeside, but just wasn't fast enough.
"It's your middle-class upbringing," said the bird, landing beside the cat. "You can't catch a fish because you never needed to catch a fish."

"Maybe we could catch a fish together," suggested the cat.  "You pick up the biggest stone you can, hover over the side of the lake, here where it's shallow, and when you see a fish drop the stone on the deeper side of the lake. The surprise will force the fish to swim closer to the shore, and I'll be there waiting to pounce."
"Sounds like a plan!"

It took them several attempts, and even more hours, to accomplish their task, but finally, the plan worked perfectly.  They caught a fish and sat themselves down to enjoy the spoils of their efforts.
"This is the best meal I ever had", said the cat.
"Because you caught it yourself. That's why.  Maybe, for the first time ever in your life, you earned it. That's why it tastes so good."
"Well, I did have help!"
"We do make a pretty good team!  Who'd have thunk a bird and a cat could work together to achieve such greatness!"

As they continued to feast on the fresh fish - the fish they caught together - they began to make plans on other ways they could work together to make their lives infinitely better and full of purpose.  They got very excited about the prospect of finding a barn somewhere, because such a barn would no doubt be filled with mice and rats, for the cat, and also grains and bugs, which better suited the bird.
So engrossed were they in their discussion that they had let their guards down to the environment around them.

Suddenly, an owl who thought she was a bear, swooped down on the pair and with the expertise and speed and conviction of the wild animal she was, killed the bird and the cat, even before they knew what was happening.
"Because that's what bears do," said the owl.

Thursday, January 9

Further To My Corpsing Post

I've been wondering why the phrase "Akki Akki" might've been in my head, causing me to blurt it out in the middle of a sketch (see previous post), and maybe this provides an answer.
This must've been rattling around up there, even though I'd not heard it for probably years and years.  Great song, awesome band.

Wednesday, January 8

Anatomy of a Corpse on Stage

A Very Sketchy Christmas - December 2013 at The Guild
So, the line was supposed to be:
(to Brodie) ‘Sides, serves you right for breaking up with Destiny anyways. (to Dougie) Every year he breaks up with Destiny right before Chritsmas so he don’t have to get her a gift. Then, coincidence of coincidunces, he hops back on her, right after Balemtimes Day. Smart thinkin', that one!

Trina, Tami & Brodie on the couch

I'd said it, more or less like that, every performance thus far, in the run.  This particular night was our last show, and maybe I was feeling a bit more loosey-goosey than normal. Maybe I wasn't concentrating enough.  Or was concentrating too hard.  I don't know. But I do know that it ended up being one of the bigger instances of on stage corpsing that I fell victim to.

"Corpsing", for those who may not know, is a theater term for laughing on stage when one is not supposed to be laughing.  It comes from the notion that a person who is playing dead, a corpse, should not be laughing, and, thus, when does laugh, is corpsing.

I'll attempt to take us through this particular event, as it happened, kind of as a play-by-play recap.  The words in bold are words I spoke out loud; the words in italics are thoughts I remember thinking as it was happening - my interior dialogue; and (parenthetical words) are my thoughts now, as I write this.

So, everything was going along quite well.  Nice big crowd, everyone enjoying the show so far.  This particular scene happens fairly early in the show, so everyone's energy is pretty high.  I come to my line, totally not expecting what was to come:

'Sides, serves you right for breaking up with Destiny anyway.
(there is a small pause here - a blip - where normally there is not. I assume it is imperceptible to perhaps everyone but me - the pause would be timed in nano-seconds, so small was it, then it hits me:)
Huh, it seems I've forgotten what I am supposed to say next.  That hasn't happened to me in forever.  When was the last time that happened - never mind, that, let's get back to the matter at hand.  ...breaking up with Destiny... hmmm?  What's next? Nope, nothing's coming to me. I've truly and totally forgotten everything about these lines.  Well, this won't do, it's still my turn to speak.  I need to say something.
(this initial pool of thoughts probably lasted no more than one second, so everyone probably still assumed everything was as it should be)
Can't believe I forgot my lines!  When does that happen?  More importantly, what do I say now? Destiny. Funny name, that. What do I say? Okay, breathe.  Think. You are totally in control right now. No, those lines are not going to come back to me, so I have to take other steps. I need to say something. Come on, improv training, kick in and get us back on track.  What shall I say?  Just start speaking, Rob, it'll be great. That's when you're at your best.  At least it'll be something. Just start a sound and see what follows it. Okay, I don't know what this will be, coming out my mouth right now, but I need to speak right now, so here goes, let's see what I'm coming up with.
...Aaaakki akki akki...
(I am experiencing the classic "time slows down" feeling at this point - everything seems to be moving in slow motion, except my thoughts, which are racing)
Akki akki akki? What the hell is that?  Akki akki akki.  Fuck, seriously!  Ha ha, that's awesome!  Nobody could have predicted that!!  Akki akki akki!!!  I just said "Akki akki akki"!  People probably think I just lost my mind.  That's really funny.  That makes NO sense. That makes me want to laugh.  Uh oh, I think I'm going to laugh.  When was the last time you laughed on stage like you're about to, Rob?  Ed Rashed, goatee, third year of Annekenstein?  Yep, I'm definitely going to laugh.  And why not?  Akki akki akki is a totally ridiculous thing to have said.  If ever such nonsense deserved laughter, that is it.
(at this point I start to laugh, and it is probably only now that anyone else recognizes something unusual is happening - the following thoughts come to me through my laughter)
They all see me laughing.  Do they even know? Do people think "Akki akki akki" is part of the script?  I bet some do. That would be a crazy script, if it was. Who would ever write that into that script at that point in the dialogue?  Wow, I'm laughing pretty hard. It's really horrible, and yet really fun.  Laughing is fun. May be, but don't indulge yourself.  Gotta stop.  Did I just really say "Akki akki akki"?  Was it "Akki akki akki"? Look at Lennie.  He's really close to me, leaning forward, waiting for me to finish my line.  He's doing really well, not laughing.  Look at him, not laughing, while you are laughing uncontrollably.  I love how much I'm laughing.  I love even more, maybe, how much Lennie is not laughing.  How can he not laugh.  Good for him. Good for Lennie.  Can't see Josh.  Wonder if he's laughing.  Is Kelly laughing.  I'm letting Kelly down.  Okay, let's get back to business here.  Stop laughing.  This scene won't continue until you finish your lines.  Holy shit, this scene won't continue until I finish my lines!  Balemtimes!!  Balemtimes is the last word I need to say.  Once I get to Balemtimes this wonderful nightmare will be over.  Do I want it to be over?  I'm really enjoying this moment. Alright, enough is enough.  Oh, I remember my lines!  Alright, let's get them out.
...Every year he breaks...
Nope, can't do it. Just noise through laughter.  Just gonna have to ride this out.  Just sit back and let it run its course, Rob. No, just plow through the fucking lines and get through it.
I am fucking gone! Helpless!!  Awesome!!  Bet Cameron is laughing.  This is a memorable moment I am having right now.  One to remember, for sure.  But, seriously, get through it.
... Coincidence...
I'm just blurting out words now.  It makes no sense.  Is this close to what insanity would feel like? Total lack of control.  I'm laughing really hard. Hard laughing is wonderful.  But stop it.
... hops on her...
I can picture it, him actually hopping on her... I'm pretty comfortable on this couch.  Leaning back so comfortable. I bet people are confused right now. Laughing.  Come on, stop it.
... hops on her...
Just say Balemtimes.  Just the one word and then it'll be over.  Just say Balemtimes.
... Balemtimes Day...
Phew!  Made it. Still laughing.  What will happen now?  Is this over?  I think it's over.

Anyway, that's a little glimpse into my thought process as I remember it.  Yes, the corpsing subsided soon after that, and the scene carried on, more or less as normal.

Monday, January 6

These Are The Movies I Saw 2013, The Year Of Their Release

These are movies I liked and would recommend to others:

This is The End

John Dies At The End

Place Beyond the Pines

Machete Kills

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Kon Tiki

The Iceman

A Hijacking

The Heat





These are movies that I liked but wouldn't necessarily recommend to others:


Identity Thief

The Call

Burt Wonderstone

Olympus Has Fallen


Man of Steel

World War Z

White House Down

The Lone Ranger

Pacific Rim

The Wolverine

American Hustle

The World’s End


Captain Phillips




These are movies that I watched but didn't impact me very much:

I’m So Excited

Saving Mr. Banks


This is a movie I hated, so much:

Iron Man 3


These are movies I started to watch, but because they were so awful and/or boring, I stopped watching them:

The Purge

Movie 43