Writing Funny One-liners for a Single-frame Comic Is Hard Work

“Hit or Miss?” I lost count how many times I asked my friends that question yesterday. The jury was split. Some found it hilarious and other didn’t. The latter group wanted an explanation. Once they got one, they laughed. It sucks having to explain a joke.

I started this comic, “Jus’ fa laffs” on Facebook page back in 2009 and it had a pretty decent following of 135 people (101 are friends). Somewhere along the line I lost steam and didn’t produce a single-frame/single panel comic until now (see below).

You never know if your one-liner will be a hit or a miss
You never know if your one-liner will be a hit or a miss

I wrote in a recent blog that I was testing out the Intuos pen and touch tablet and I figured what better time to get back into illustration again. So below is one of the first comics in about three years. I must’ve written at least seven possible “funny” one-liners aiming for the classic set-up and then a solid punchline. It’s always scary to put yourself and your work out their for public scrutiny, because the truth is you want to have your work liked and appreciated.

On the flip-side, if the reviews are all negative then you know maybe you need to change your tactic, work harder and try again. Either that or the viewers just don’t appreciate great comedy! I’m not serious [a little serious]. Ultimately you need to just follow your art and eventually you’ll find a following (audience).

I’d love to hear what you thought, so feel free to like and leave a comment below.

Watch Jimmy Fallon and Jack Black Have a Go at Recreating Extreme’s “More Than Words” Music Video

It’s going to take more than words to describe what I just watched. Hysterical! Comedians Jimmy Fallon and Jack Black did a shot-for-shot remake of Extreme‘s ballad More Than Words. Both do a solid job with the vocals which comes as no surprise since Jimmy’s done countless performances on Saturday Night Live (SNL) and now as host of The Tonight Show. Jack’s no amateur either having performed on many a stages solo or with his duo Tenacious D.

Jack Black in one of his live performance
Jack Black in one of his live performance

The track was originally released in 1990 and was written and originally performed by the rock band featured on their album “Pornograffitti” celebrating it’s 25th anniversary. It went on to receive nominations for Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single

Original artwork for the second album by Extreme titled 'Extreme II: Pornograffitti'
Original artwork for the second album by Extreme titled ‘Extreme II: Pornograffitti’

It’s probably one of my favourite ballads primarily because of vocals and harmonies being composed around an acoustic guitar. That’s kind of hard to dislike. Here’s a fun fact you might want to learn; the song went all the way to hit Number One on June 8th 1991 on the Billboard Hot 100. This was during a time when the airwaves was inundated with high-energy dance-pop (Janet Jackson and Madonna) and emotionally-charged ballads (Mariah Carey and Hi-Five).

Throwback photograph of Extreme circa 1991
Throwback photograph of Extreme circa 1991

Anyway, after you’re done watching Jimmy and Jack’s recreation, the original video’s below so you can make the comparison. Also, go over to Extreme’s website for tour dates if you’re a huge fan or just curious.

JoeySalads’ Child Abduction ‘Prank’ Will Remind Parents to Warn Their Kids about Strangers

He goes by the name JoeySalads on both his Vine account and YouTube channel and is a certified web video star. Described as a Video content creating phenomenon, he’s made a living from creating funny prank videos on strangers in public. With a following on YouTube of over 274,663 subscribers and a total of 14,483,089 views, he’s made videos stealing dogs to FBI Drug Deal pranks. Joey can be described as both brave and foolish for some of the pranks he’s pulled over the years.

Photo taken from Joey Salads Facebook page
Photo taken from Joey Salads Facebook page

His latest video, however, released May 2, 2015 is what I want to talk about. It’s titled the Child Abduction Prank”, but in my opinion it does more than just play a trick on strangers in public, it highlights a serious and life-threatening issue. I wouldn’t have tagged it as a “prank”, because Joey’s managed to create awareness around a global issue that a lot of us take for granted on a daily basis. The parents featured in his video are surprised at their children’s choices when Joey approaches them with his dog in an attempt to lure them away. It’s a lesson and a grim reminder for a lot of parents about the importance of talking to their children every day about avoiding conversations with strangers.

Here are some Child Abduction Facts:

  • Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child becomes missing or is abducted.

  • In 2001, 840,279 people (adults and children) were reported missing to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The FBI estimates that 85 to 90 percent of those (roughly 750,000 people or 2,000 per day) reported missing were children. The vast majority of these cases are resolved within hours.

  • In 80 percent of abductions by strangers, the first contact between the child and the abductor occurs within a quarter mile of the child’s home.

  • Most potential abductors grab their victims on the street or try to lure them into their vehicles.

An AMBER Alert or a Child Abduction Emergency is a child abduction alert system established in the USA in 1996
An AMBER Alert or a Child Abduction Emergency is a child abduction alert system established in the USA in 1996

You can never talk to your children enough about the dangers of talking to strangers and emphasise that kidnappers come in all race, gender, age, and body type. There is no one look to a wrongdoer. It is also imperative that children be properly supervised wherever they might be and that we should focus less on our smartphones and stay alert. It only takes a few minutes for a child to disappear.

JoeySalads’ social experiment makes that abundantly clear. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our nations’ children and to bear in mind that “it takes a village to raise a child”. It’s a noteworthy video to be shared with everyone you know. One share may just help to save someone’s life.

Stories by Alice Munro Brought to Life on Toronto Stage with a Fresh Interpretation

Today was the first time I had ever heard the name Alice Munro after being invited to see a theatrical performance of some of her work. In my preparation for what was the unknown, I ended up going on Google to try and learn more about her. I found out she is both a celebrated and popular Canadian author who has mastered writing short-stories. She is also the 2013 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature; pretty impressive accomplishment when you consider this award has only been given to novelists. Munro’s managed to have produced 14 short-story collections published starting from 1968 with “Dance of the Happy Shades” and as late as 2012 with “Dear Life”. Her other works include “The Moons of Jupiter” (1982), “Open Secrets” (1994) and “Runaway” (2004).

The talented short-story master, Alice Munro
The talented short-story master, Alice Munro

So how do you pay homage to the stellar work of such a prolific storyteller? You allow Word for Word (a program of Z Space) to perform some of Alice Munro’s work, well “word for word”. It’s an interesting approach to bringing a story to life as there is no involvement of an adaptation for the theatrical presentation; rather there’s a delivery that takes your mind 10 or 15 minutes to wrap itself around. It feels a lot like reading a story aloud while doing all the voices and emotions of each character on your own, only they manage to do it a hundred times better. I’ll admit that at first I just imagined some people sitting on stools reading excerpts from a book.

The experience itself really feels like actors playing narrators playing actors. In two of Alice Munro’s short-stories, “The Office” and “Dolly” directed by Joel Mullennix, the audience gets introduced to several characters all played by five very talented performers that includes:

  • Sheila Balter
  • Jeri Lynn Cohen
  • Susan Harloe
  • Paul Finnocchiaro
  • Haword Swain

There are instances when the role of ensemble is rotated and these actors take on at least two or three roles with ease. This could mean playing a mannequin in a storefront display to then transitioning into a waitress at a local restaurant.

Actors Paul Finocchiaro and Jeri Lynn Cohen in a promotional photograph for "The Office"
Actors Paul Finocchiaro and Jeri Lynn Cohen in a promotional photograph for “The Office”

There’s something indescribable when you watch both stories come alive before your very eyes, as each actor takes turn delivering word for word Alice’s writings. The precision of how each character moves through changing not only wardrobe, but also the simple props on stage is worthy of note. There’s a certain dance that seems to take place as both actors and props glide in and out of each scene. The believability is so intense that even a wooden bench is convincing as a motor vehicle. It’s a solid intimate and awe-inspiring two hours that goes by rather quickly, which means you’ll be having fun.

My best tip would definitely be to stick around for the Q&A that immediately follows the performance. It’s a fantastic opportunity to hear stories and commentary from Munro’s publisher and from the Word for Word cast members themselves. If I had to rate the overall experience on a scale of 1 to 10 (highest), I’d give it an eight (8). Kudos to the production team!

Actress Susan Harloe (in the foreground) is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Word for Word
Actress Susan Harloe (in the foreground) is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Word for Word

“Stories by Alice Munro” runs for four nights only, during April 16th to April 19th at the Isabel Bader Theatre, downtown on the campus of the University of Toronto, 93 Charles Street West (on South side). The play is an exclusive Toronto engagement brought to you by Sara Schwartz Geller Productions. There’s only two nights left April 18 SAT 8pm and April 19 SUN 2pm and 7pm. Grab your single or group rate tickets (via UofTtix) and some friends, sit back and relax and get ready to be transported on quite an interesting literary journey.

The New James Bond teaser trailer for SPECTRE is out!

New James Bond trailer is out and it’s looking good!

In this twenty-fourth installment, “a cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.” (See, IMDb)

The film stars Daniel Craig, reprising his role as James Bond, agent 007 with Christoph Waltz playing the villain.

Enjoy!

Maroon 5 Debuts Its Feel Good Wedding Crashing Video, Sugar

Maroon 5 (M5) debuts their latest video “Sugar” from their fifth studio album entitled ‘V’ (pronounced five) and it’s a hit! It’s quite possibly one of the catchiest tunes at the start of 2015. In the video, Lead Singer Adam Levine explains that the band will cruise around Los Angeles, California, in an effort to hit up as many weddings as possible as surprise guest performers.

With each wedding, the reactions of the brides and grooms are priceless. I got married last November and I know if M5 had “crashed” my wedding, I’d be speechless too. Right now though, there’s some debate about whether or not the weddings in the video were real or fake.

The only confirmed real wedding of the entire video
Updated: The only confirmed real wedding of the entire video was this lovely couple

The video was directed by David Dobkin, director of the hit movie “The Wedding Crashers” that starred Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. It’s a feel good video and great pop song with a throwback to funk and sounds of the 80s.

Official movie poster for the film featuring the slogan
Official movie poster for the film featuring the slogan “Life’s a party. Crash it.”

It’s a brilliant effort from a logistical, branding and marketing perspective and fans appreciate seeing real people participation. I mean heck, who doesn’t love weddings. I guarantee it’ll get you dancing and leave you smiling from ear to ear.

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A Quick Music Video Review: ‘The Writing’s On the Wall’ by OK Go.

OK Go, an American alternative rock band originally from Chicago, Illinois, currently residing in Los Angeles, California is set to release ‘Hungry Ghosts’, their first new OK Go studio album in four years.

Who remembers their famous video all shot with them doing choreographed moves on treadmills? By the way, that song was called ‘Here It Goes Again’. If this new video is any indication, there might be a few more creative masterpieces on their way.

In this video, OK Go uses art and design to create mind-bending optical illusions that will leave you saying “OK, no” or maybe even “OK, what?!”. The song itself is “OK”, but it’s the video that makes it all worth the 4mins and 17 seconds.

To shoot the entire video in one take, must’ve taken them tremendous preparation, but it paid off. One can only imagine how many retakes and rollbacks they probably went through.

Well worth it!!

Peanuts’ Snoopy and Charlie Brown Take to the Big Screen in 3D!

Today I found out the comic strip “Peanuts” by creator, writer and illustrator Charles Schulz will be hitting the silver screen (perfect for 3D projection) next Summer 2015. There are two things you should know about me, the first is I LOVE illustration and the second is that I LOVE animation!! I can’t get enough of both!! It fueled my imagination.

Like some of you, I grew up reading Peanuts comic strip and watching any full length cartoon they made for the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas). While I’m super-excited to see this new film, I am somewhat concerned about whether or not the integrity of character design for Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang (Lucy, Linus and Woodstock) will be preserved.

There’s nothing more upsetting than seeing characters you’ve grown up with get reintroduced to a whole new audience (mind you a younger one) and there’s all this unnecessary fluff added. Thankfully if this teaser trailer is any indication of what’s to come, I can say that the computer-generated-animators have done a fantastic job ensuring the integrity of varying ink strokes that Peanuts is known for is kept in this “modern” rendition.

I’ve always admired how Mr. Schulz signed his name at the end of each comic strip. I hope this new cartoon keeps his memory alive; he brought a lot of laughter into the world.

Watch the teaser trailer, all of 52 seconds long. I’m curious to hear what you think.