Jason Specland: An Occasionally Funny Software Guy

Making it up as I go along. Always.

Tag: performance (page 1 of 2)

Upcoming Shows

If you like to see me make stuff up on stage, then you will have a lot of opportunities to see me do so this week.

“True to Form”
Friday, February 3, 2012 (TODAY!)
8:00 PM, The PIT Underground, $5

A monthly show in which we explore the structure of improv by performing unique forms provided by the community and abroad. This month we’re doing “The Ghost,” “Memento,” and “The Master.”

“1800’s London” (with “I’m Into Lemurs”)
Monday, February 6, 2012
9:00 PM, The PIT Underground, SUPER FREE!

My newly-created PIT house team teams up with another newly-created PIT house team and we do longform every week.

“PUPPET FACE” (with “The Internet”)
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
7:00 PM, UNDER St. Marks, $(I don’t know, but it can’t be that expensive…)

Improv, with puppets! If you like seeing me do improv while holding a cloth doll over my head, then you will love this show!

Why I Dress

On two separate occasions recently, people have asked me why I dress the way I do. On both occasions, I was onstage or about to go onstage, so I answered, “The answer is complicated, and I can’t talk about it right this very moment. If you really want to know, ask me later.” Unsurprisingly, neither followed up. So, in the tradition of answering questions for which nobody really cares about the answers and serve only to stroke the ego, I present the answer.

Those of you who know me but haven’t seen me in a while may be wondering what the hell I’m talking about. While I haven’t been a tee-shirts-and-jeans guy since I stopped working for dot-coms, until recently I generally wore what I affectionately called “the Khackiverse.” Perfectly normal and acceptable for a not-formal-but-not-a-startup computer-guy job. Lately though, I’ve been “upping my game” as they say, by generally wearing at least a sportcoat and often a tie all the time. In fact, right now I’m wearing a suit and I’m not even going out for an interview.

Why? Several reasons.

First, it just looks nice. Every girl’s crazy for a sharp-dressed man. (Especially my wife.) And if there’s anyone I trust for guidance with style, it’s ZZ Top. Okay, so I don’t actually trust them about style, but I do trust them to write quotable lyrics about style.

Second, for the same reason I generally don’t wear tee-shirts with logos and funny sayings on them anymore. I’m a man with a job and a family, not a boy. Several years ago I did a massive tee-shirt purge and felt better for it. This is just a natural continuation.

Third, because I appreciate the theatricality of dress. So much so, that I’ve been trying to dress as nicely as possible when performing. Improv naturally has no costumes, and people perform in whatever they wear on the street. Which considering society at large, is tee-shirts and jeans. But I’ve always appreciated people who recognize that performing is presentational. I’ve always loved bands who wear suits, for example. It says, “I’m doing a show. It is an occasion.” I felt this way even before I took Ali Farahnakian’s Level 5 class at the PIT, but Ali kind of cemented for me. He advised always to dress one step nicer than your audience. “If they’re wearing tee-shirts and jeans, you wear a jacket and tie. If they’re wearing jackets and ties, you wear a tuxedo. If they’re wearing tuxedos, you wear a white tuxedo,” he said, my paraphrasing memory not withstanding.

And so, when I perform at the PIT this evening, I’ll be wearing a beige suit with faint pink and black checks, a light blue shirt with thin olive stripe, a blue wool tie with a black and white plaid pattern, and a pair of buckle loafers that I got cheap on eBay. And also, a bright-red PIT bar napkin that I’ll use as a pocket square. Just ’cause.

You Never Forget Your First

On Wednesday, the team that will shortly be renamed but is currently known as Team Green performed their first show at The PIT. I alluded to how it felt in a brief Facebook status update*, but the feeling was so intense that I needed to record it here.

It. Was. Amazing.

Even though the theater is brand new, between open jams and auditions I’d been on the stage plenty of times by now. But when the house is full, as it was Wednesday, the energy is just entirely different. The stage was electric. The laughter fell over us like an intoxicating tidal wave. It was a feeling I haven’t felt since… well… the last time I had a major role in a show before a huge, full house. (Rocky Horror? We didn’t quite sell that out. Ragtime? My part was comparatively minor.)

There were certainly some rough patches. We’re still kind of feeling each other out, finding our group mind. We’d never even rehearsed before, for goodness sake! But based on the positive response we got on our first time out, I’ve got a feeling we’ve got a lot of amazing performances ahead of us.

* I find myself experiencing a strange hierarchy of “publishing thoughts on the Internet.” I’ll start on Twitter, where I will try and lovingly trim my thoughts down to 140 characters. If I absolutely can’t trim it that far, it goes to Facebook. Then, when I finally feel the need for paragraphs and permanence, it ends up here.

Icky House Club: TONIGHT at Don’t Tell Mama

Hey, folks! It occurred to me that some of you might not be aware of how lovely and talented my wife is. Your honor, I’d like to submit People’s Exhibit A, the following You Tube video. The quality’s not great, they’re short on microphones, and they’ve since acquired a bass player. But the awesomeness still shines through like the too-bright morning sun through sheer curtains the morning after too much alcohol.

Remember that mason jar I asked you to fill with $20? Well, bust it open now. Hey, look! Found money! Might as well use it to go see the Icky House Club…

Awesome Things My Friends (and Spouse) Are Doing: The Icky House Club’s Next Ridiculous Thing

I am very fortunate to have married an extremely talented and beautiful woman. You, too, can have a tiny fraction of that fortunateness rub off on you.

“How can I get even the tiniest bit of that supernova of awesomeness to rub off upon me?” I hear you ask.

I will tell you: Her band, The Icky House Club, is performing this Friday at Don’t Tell Mama.

You… don’t believe me? You will, Doctor Jones. Or, to reference another 80’s movie entirely: You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well listen to this!

The Icky House Club on Myspace. (Please note that I’m posting a link to a musician, the only valid use of Myspace in the year 2010.)

Now that you’ve been infected by their infectious infectiousness, here are the relevant concert details from Don’t Tell Mama.

I’d tell you to buy your tickets now, but according to the link they’re only accepting cash at the door. So what you should do is this: Get a Ball mason jar, put an Avery or Brother P-Touch label upon it that reads, “Icky House Club, Friday November 12, 9:15 PM,” and put $20 in the jar to cover admission and the two drink minimum. By the time Friday rolls around, it’ll be like found money! Woo hoo!

More Shameful Self-Promotion: Class Show

Can’t make it to Astoria for Vorpal’s Halloween show? Think $10 is too much to pay? Worried that seeing Vorpal on the stage without other non-Vorpalians to dilute their awesome improv powers will cause your face to melt like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Well then, have I got a show for you. In fact, I have two shows for you!

Our Level 5 improv class will be performing two class shows. These shows contain four out of five members of Vorpal, so it’s almost like going to a Vorpal show, only with other people who just happened to also pay for this particular class.

But this particular class is no ordinary class. It is taught by PIT Master Ali Farahnakian. Or as I like to call him when I’m writing about him online, Ali Cut-and-Pastian. Will the students come full circle and defeat their master? Almost certainly not, but gee, if that happened, wouldn’t it be great to be there to see it?

Show the First: Sunday, October 24th, 7 P.M.
Show the Second: Monday, November 8th, 8 P.M.

As always, the shows will be at:
The People’s Improv Theater
154 W. 29th St., between 6th and 7th Ave.

And, as always, the shows will set you back:

The Party’s at Wonderland

Did you miss the Vorpal show last Monday at the PIT? Well, if you did here’s your opportunity to make up for it! We’re performing at Wonderland, the huge, gorgeous artist collective in Astoria. Hey, why don’t I just cut and paste the press release? Control-V to the rescue!

Imagine, if you will, live improv, sketch comedy, and stand up comedians jammin’ and rappin’ in a 2000 sq. ft. converted factory/warehouse performance space in the Astorian countryside.

No need to imagine, because it’s happening!

On September 25th, join Vorpal as they host a night of performances at Wonderland

Wonderland Collective is a creative community of resident artists who are dedicated to achievement and excellence in the arts.

The truly epic line up is:

Joe Pera
Ellen Degenerate
Martin Sheen Shower Hour

Surf N Turf

Ninja Sex Party

$10 admission. Performances will begin at 7PM and run until 10PM, with breaks in between. Doors open at 6:30PM

Beer, wine, other booze, and snacks will be available at the bar. Cash only.

Stick around afterwards for socializing and drinks.

Seriously, guys, it’s going to be totally amazing. The Wonderland space is one of the seven wonders of the Astorian world, and all the groups are really damn funny. The party afterwards is going to be half the fun.

Wonderland is at 38-01 23rd Ave. in Astoria.

Vorpal Show Tonight!

Our show is tonight! We’re performing as part of the BFF Improv Comedy show. The admission is $6, and the show starts at 10:30. (I’d previously said $5 and 10:00. But hey, it’s just an extra dollar, and if you get there early, I understand there’s a cool cafe you can hang out in. And who doesn’t like hanging out in cool cafes?)

See you tonight!

The Ghosts of Spaces Past

I just edited my previous post about our upcoming Vorpal shows to indicate the location of our next show. It’s at Sparks Cafe and Arts Center, at 161 W 22nd St. Very astute readers may notice that this is the location of the former Upright Citizens Brigade theater. It’s a place I haven’t been back to in a long time… a long time…

It is the place where I learned long form improv in the first place. I remember being in that theater for an all-hands meeting when they first got the place. I thought, “This is going to be something big.” I was right. It is the place where I had my greatest improv triumph when I was cast on a house team. It is the place where I had my greatest improv failure when I was cast off of a house team. In a cloud of my own depression, I bailed on the wave just as it began to crest and it took me about eight years to recover…

In about a week, I’ll be performing in the very place where my improv career took off and, like Icarus, flew to close to the sun and came crashing to the ground. Except I didn’t die. And there were no wings involved. Except for the wings of the stage. And the UCB stage didn’t have wings. And the entire interior is probably gutted so even if there were wings they’d have been long gone. And the actual UCB has long since moved. Twice.

So, come see me perform at the place of my long form improv birth. Perhaps I can put some of those performance ghosts to rest once and for all…

Friday, August 20, 2010
10:00 PM
Sparks Cafe and Arts Center
161 W 22nd St.

See Our Vorpal Blade Go Snicker-Snack!

So, my fledgling improv team, “Jabberwocky” has changed its name to the similarly sourced “Vorpal.” “Vorpal” sounds faster, and everyone knows that the most important property of an improv team name is how fast it sounds.

In addition to a fast-sounding name, you need promotional photos with actors in silly poses. Fortunately, I’ve got the camera equipment, and fellow troupe member Colin lives in a magical Wonderland with a huge white cyc wall. Silly poses, ahoy!

Vorpal 12

We’ve been booking shows at a very scary pace for a brand new troupe. We’ve hit the ground running! Our upcoming shows are:

Monday, August 9, 2010, 8:00 PM
Wonderland Collective
38-01 23rd Ave., Astoria (Between 38th St. and Steinway, above Astoria Sound Works)
FREE! (This show is just kind of a warm-up in front of a friendly audience, and get a clean promotional video. If you’re poor and live in Astoria, this is the show for you!)

Friday, August 20, 2010, 10:00 PM 10:30 PM
Hm, it just occurred to me that I have no idea where this one actually is. I guess I’ll need to find out before I promote it. Watch this space! 🙂
Sparks Cafe and Arts Center
161 W 22 St.
$5 Edit again: $6

Monday, September 13, 2010, 7:00 PM
The PIT Theater
154 W. 29th St.

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