I Was Almost Murdered

Looking back, it's funny. On Sunday night, I thought I was going to die. It was a little traumatic. Don't worry. I lived.

I fell asleep on the couch Sunday night. The weekend was long, and I was exhausted. I had just completed an incredible sketch writing intensive with Nick Armstrong, and walking up the stairs just seemed a little too much. The couch was comfortable, and I quickly fell asleep while watching Bojack Horesman (which, side note, is an incredible show. And, when I discovered it's created by Olde Englishe sketch writer and performer Raphael Bob-Waksberg).

I can't sleep long on the couch. I frequently wake up, with either the god or cat nearby, watching, waiting for some affection. I woke up Sunday night, 2:20am. I realized I better check and make sure the garage door is down. 

I stumbled to the door, and suddenly I heard this:

Yep. All of a sudden, I hear that ominous, terrifying music. Close your eyes, and listen to the music. It's creepy, especially when it just starts playing. For once in my life I wish a commercial had played before the YouTube trailer. I didn't know where the sound was coming from. At 2:20am in the morning I'm pretty groggy, and couldn't reasonably realize what was happening. This is what I thought, a second by second account.

"I'm going to die. I'm going to die. I'm going to die. Am I about to be murdered. I'm going to die. I'm going to die. I'm going to die."

How quickly would you realize the music was a trailer mysteriously playing on your phone? It took me 24 seconds of horrifying 2001: A Space Odyssey trailer to realize it was from my phone. I thought I was literally in a soundtracked horror film. I thought some pycho, before murdering, would play music. Those were my thoughts.

I thought there was some Peter Griffin-esque murderer out there. Remember the Family Guy episode when Peter's wish was a theme song? Yep. I thought some wacko was doing that, and then offing people. 

Phew. Thankfully, I survived. What can we all take away from this event? I'm not really sure. Don't read articles on Zite while watching TV and then falling asleep on the couch. It's a real narrow lesson.

Sketch Writing Workshop and Interview with Nick Armstrong

MV5BMTczMTU5OTkxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzk1NTA4MTE@._V1_UX214_CR0,0,214,317_AL_This weekend, Nick Armstrong visits Blacktop Comedy to teach an exciting sketch comedy writing workshop! I guess it's better called a sketch writing intensive because it's 10am - 4pm Saturday and Sunday. The sketch class culminates in a live Sunday night show. The students will have an opportunity to write and produce their work in 2 days, with the help of Nick. Who is Nick? Who is this genius sketch comedy writer who comes from the South. If you would like to register for the class, there is still one spot available. You can register here.

I had a chance to interview Nick as he waited at Sacramento International Airport baggage claim. That's where people open up and get real!


What are some of your favorite sketch comedy shows?
Nick: Mr. Show with Bob and David, SNL [Saturday Night Live], Kids in the Hall and Key and Peele. I think recently Key and Peele have done such a brilliant job to taking improv and characters and taking sketch to the next level.

You're a great improviser and sketch comedian. Was there a moment you realized, you wanted to be involved in comedy? What was that moment?

I think I've always known. I used to dress up like Superman when I went to kindergarden everyday, none of the other kids were doing that so I knew I was different. :) I used to perform all the time when I was younger to anyone who would watch. I'd throw shows for my parents and when they had people over I'd ask if they'd watch a sketch or show I just wrote. I would get in trouble in school for it, but the teacher would still laugh, but they still had to bust me. I think I was born with the passion to do sketch and improv.

When did you begin sketch comedy?

Really actively pursuing it as a profession was when I joined the Groundlings in 2009. I'd done shows before that, but Groundlings really took me to the next level.

Where have you studied?

iO West, The Groundlings and Long Beach State where I studied Theater.

What do you love most about sketch comedy?

That anything is possible and it's the study of human behavior. You're basically a psychiatrist without having to go to school for it and not get paid as much. HA! I love that you can find your comedic voice in it too.

What's your favorite character you've created?

I did a character who was making a dating video. He was a lovable loser, at one moment he would be talking about what he could do with the "ladies" the next minute he was talking to you about his mothers health issues. But he was all over the place physically and was a sweat monster. :) He did not know how to be on camera I'll just say that. He could never find where to look.

What do you hope students learn in your class?

I hope I help guide them into finding their voice and being comfortable writing and know that they can do it. I also hope I give them tools on how to do it on their own and with co-writers. I want them to walk out with the confidence to say "Hey I can do this."

What's the most valuable piece of advice you received from a teacher?

It's not about the story or the premise it's about the behavior of the character. You are studying mankind and making fun of it.
You're not funny! (This was my first day in the Sunday Company at the Groundlings.) I thought to myself, "Well, I can only go up from there." ;)

Best Android and iOS Games

We love throwing around "golden age." It's the golden age of network tv, it's the golden age of podcasts, it's the golden age of piracy. What qualifies as "golden age." Just instinct? If that's the case, I'd like to add one more? It's the golden age of gaming. There are so many incredible video games out there, and many of them can be had for 99 cents. Sure, you can spend $60, and grab your Halo, Mario Bros, Mortal Kombat behemoths, but there's also minor pieces that are equally captivating. I use minor with a "small-team-small-price-tag" definition, because these games are inventive and powerful storytelling and deserve your attention. This is an improv blog about the improv comedy scene in Rocklin and Sacramento....why talk about video games? Video games, and handheld games in particular, have developed to become some of the finest storytelling mediums. Try each game and discover how the limits they put on the player create such an extraordinary experience. We're busy people, but it's nice sometimes to take a break and lose yourself in a game. These games are perfect for short gaming. It's a great way to spend a few minutes, and see the world in a different way.

1. Lifeline


Whoa. Text adventure's don't get better or more immersive. Available on Google Play, you're about to help Taylor through some very stressful days. He's crash landed on a planet, and, well, I don't want to say anything else. The writing is phenomenal, and the minimal design, frequent 'alerts' suck you in. 3 Minute Games, LLC have crafted a gem. Save Taylor!

2. Dark Echo

Another game that limits your perspective, Dark Echo utilizes sound as your only tool. Sound will also get you killed. You can "see" your soundwaves. Take a step, and the sound waves will begin bouncing off walls, and down corridors. Avoid traps, and find the exit. Your imagination runs wild when you're being chased, and death is unsettling. I recommend wearing headphones while playing.

3. Five Night's at Freddy's

Five Nights at Freddy's

The game is now a trilogy for a reason. It's terrifying. I suggest beginnning with the game that started it all. You're a security guard, but your not safe. Freddy and his animontroic buddies are out to kill you. You can only sit in your office, monitor the security cameras, and hope to make it to morning before the animals strike. It's a simple premise with a high body count. You better put your phone in a Otterbox before you play because you're likely going to spasm and drop it. I want you to have fun, but don't break your phone.

There are so many great games available, so many wonderful stories. Where do you find good games on sale? If you use an Android phone I suggest App Sales. Best Apps on Sale or AppDeals. Great Apps on Sale. If you're using an iOS device, try appshopper.com.

Improv is all about listening. "So what I'm hearing you say dishwasher is, 'you grabbed the wrong soap.' " Messaged recieved. #btc #improvcomedy #fail #waterconservation

Check out Blacktop Comedy's Instagram. Find the best photos taken in Placer and Sacramento. Comedy for you! http://ift.tt/1fmuM1O

Rocklin Theater Scene is Growing

69H_1500x1000What are your plans this weekend? You have lots of great opportunities for shows in Rocklin and Roseville. Of course, you have improv this Saturday night. We're working with Omi Mahina to bring you a blend of belly dancing and improv. We call it Belly Laughs. We know you will love the show. It's more like improv comedy 2.0. You might have seen it before, but like every show at Blacktop Comedy, Belly Laughs has undergone some changes. It's now a leaner, funnier, and a more beautiful show. If you are looking for a comedy club to bring the laughs, come to Belly Laughs. But, you know what? Rocklin and Roseville have lots of entertainment options when it comes to theater. Rocklin Community Theater, which performs at Finn Hall, is performing Nice Work...If You Can Get It! Their productions are incredible. They have a live band, and Finn Hall is a beautiful Historic Building. Betsaida and I always try and catch the shows at Rocklin Community Theater. I think we're going this Sunday. Want to join us in Rocklin for a Sunday matinee? Sidenote, Rocklin Community Theater has a really nice website. Kudos to how clean and functional it is guys! (one day we'll have a site as clean as their (it's coming soon!)).

And, don't forget Roseville. If you're thinking, "I sure could go for some Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," you're in luck! The Roseville Theatre Arts Academy is performing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through Saturday, July 25th. If you're looking for Roseville Theatre Arts Acaadmy directions, just keyword search RTAA, and it'll pop up on your Google maps.

Unfortunately, Stand Out Talent is dark this weekend. But they do incredible shows off Vernon Street too. They can be found at the Tower Theater. Stand Out Talent just finished a touching run of RENT.

I know. That's a lot of shows. How do you take it all in and not miss anything. Need a game plan? Here's my suggestion. This Friday, grab some dinner at Monks Cellar (they have some incredible beers on tap too. We love the atmosphere. It feels classy, but not in that 'you are going to wear that here?. You should be ashamed.' It's not overbearing classy.), walk across Vernon Street  to Roseville Theater and catch watch Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Saturday, come watch one of the most original works at Blacktop Comedy, Belly Laughs with special guest Nick Armstrong (more on this tomorrow!). Don't stop the awesome theater comedy train! Sunday, catch the matinee of Nice Work...If You Can Get It! with the Rocklin Community Theater.