Ellis & Barnes: Serious Mothers!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Can We Just Admit Something Together?

That this dress always was (and will always be) hideous?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My sister, MEAT, and a bloody boot

Hello PPPAers, tis I, Biz, slowly recovering from an exhausting and well worth the pain weekend of SketchFest NYC. As a producer I am happy and proud that our wonderful performers who came from around the country had a great time and great shows. It just isn't a festival with out them. As a performer in MEAT, I am happy our show went well, but we were totally the assholes of the fest in the sense that we had the show this year that was the biggest pain from a producer stand point.

It was an all horror sketch show....with a lot of blood and a GIANT boot that had to reside in a van the whole week till our show becuase there was no room for it in the ENTIRE THEATRE.

Did I mention we had over 56 cues for a 36 minute show. (jerks).

So we decided we were going to make this a super bloody show despite the giant clean up that would have to take place right after our show and right before the 3rd Floor who were starting 10 minutes later. Sorry 3rd Floor!

It was all fine, but what I would like to focus on is...The boot.

Livia wrote this brilliant sketch about a giant Paul Bunyon statue out know one of those side of the road attractions. In the sketch, there is a guy hiding in one of the boots who keeps trying to get people to "sit on my boot". If he succeeds, a giant knife shoots out of the boot and kills that person. Of course most people avoid a talking boot. There is a bit more to the sketch than this, but the bottom line is, we wanted to do the sketch and we needed a giant boot.

So I call my sisiter who lives in NYC as well and has often offered to help with MEAT props. I have never taken her up on it, but last month we are out for our Sunday brunch and I say, "are you still interested in making props for MEAT?"
Helen: "Yes."

Me: "What about a giant boot that Livia could sit inside without being seen and from which a knife shoots out and squirts blood?"

Helen: "Sure? Chicken wire and paper mache?"

God, i love a woman who can craft!
So Helen built us a boot. I don't think I was prepared for how BIG it was until we had to get it into the back of the U-Haul van. When we got it into the theatre we realized there was no place to put it except back in the van, but would HAVE to bring it out on Friday afternoon and it would have to sit on stage for all the shows that went on before us. So all day Friday I am going up to groups saying, "Hello, MEAT has a giant boot in our show and the only place we can store it is on the side of the stage with a black tarp over it. It won't be in your playing space, but it might be seen."

Groups: "A giant what?"

Me: A giant boot.
Groups: "Whatever." (I love sketch comedy and sketch comedians.)
When we finally got to our show, there had been so much talk about the boot that when the boot sketch took place and we unvieled it, the boot gots its own round of applause and people started yelling "BOOT, BOOT, BOOT!"
It was magical.
And here is my sister...making the boot.
Helen has bought the boot making materials!

Stage 1: Chicken Wire boot

Stage 2: Paper Mache boot

Stage 3: half painted black boot Stage 4: BOOT (she later added laces as a finishing touch)
The back side of the boot for Livia to sit inside
Just to show you that Helen was especially qualified for this project and that chicken wire and paper mache are no strangers to is a hilairous picture of her and her friend back in high school working on the homecoming float. (notice my sister has not changed hair styles...)

Now, Helen will say this is embarrassing, but come on, she was totally hot in high school. Let us not forget me...on my best dressed day in high school:

2 pounds of Annie Potts

Thank you Helen Michelle for all you help on our show (she made all sorts of other great props, but the boot really deserved a special mention.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007


That's it.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sketchfest NYC and Coney Island: Labyrinth of Terror

Hi PPPA fans, pals and gals!

If you've been missing us, we've been busy....busy making comedy! The 3rd Floor just got back from NYC (Biz country) who hosted and ran a Swiss watch-like Sketchfest. There were three nights of amazing groups, ending in the Saturday night Craptacular (about an hour of sketches by anyone who wanted to showcase something too groan-inducing or offensive to run in a real show) followed by a dazzling after party at a glamorous New York watering hole. Our set felt solid, we had a great house and it was a blast and truly exhausting experience - probably not as exhausting as Biz' experience of performing AND producing the whole thing. Clap right now for her please! Thank you.

I love New York. I love everything about it and every time I'm lucky enough to go - I take a little gem of a memory away with me; Year One it was racing across the Brooklyn Bridge in a yellow cab as the sun came up over the city. Year Two it was riding the subway while listening to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". This year it was having a panic attack on the Cyclone at Coney Island.

Rumor has it that Coney Island is going to be torn down after this summer. Maybe it's just a portion of it, but still...Coney Island is legendary. When the gang suggested going there on Saturday, I immediately thought of strolling down a boardwalk where to my right the bald Strongman in his leopard-print toga lifts a barbell with two spheres on each end, his moustache waxed into a perfect handlebar. I pictured everything made of wood as a kalaiope plays "Bicycle Built for Two". I pictured skee ball played by gentlemen in top hats and gibson girls gaily waving their parasols from the ferris wheel. This is the only impression I've ever gotten from Coney Island; pictures from the 1920's. I dig carnivals, but I'm not Ride Girl. I get woozy from looking at people on rides and admire their bravery. I try to get past everything and say: "Fuck it. It's two minutes" but fear takes over and doesn't let go. This time I said "Fuck it. It's two minutes and it doesn't look that bad". I'm proud of myself for going on the Cyclone, but not very proud of the fact that it turned me into a kicking and screaming mess.

The Cyclone occupies the space where the world's first roller coaster once stood, was dreamed up by brothers Jack and Irving Rosenthal and designed by Vernan Keenan. It opened in 1927 with a first drop (out of 11) of 85 feet, six 180 degree turns, 16 changes of direction, 18 track crossovers and 27 elevation changes. All of this at sixty miles per hour and just under two minutes. The coaster was said to make Emilio Franco (a mute since birth) utter his first words: "I feel sick" and Time magazine quoted Charles Lindbergh as saying that a ride on the Cyclone was more thrilling than his solo flight across the Atlantic. What wouldn't there be to love about this? Also, I had the feeling that the thrills of 1927 and the thrills of now might be a little different from each other. Boy was I wrong.

I can see how people love it. Even thinking back to the terror of the ride, I can appreciate the beauty of the Cyclone; it's candy apple red seats, the simplicity of the wooden track and the sound of gears and screaming, but I was thrown. Younger Me loved wooden coasters, but Older Me still wasn't prepared. As the bar came down over Ted and me, we shoved off and started to climb, the chain pulling us 85 feet into the Brooklyn sky. "I've made a mistake!" I said to Ted through tears. "I've made a mistake, I've made a mistake, I've made a mistake..." quickly turning into: "Oh NO!" Then: "I HATE YOU." Then sobbing. The eleven drops looked like two from the outside and to tell you the truth - it didn't look that tall. It looked like any coaster I'd be excited to go on when I was ten (and didn't have problems with moving fast in a deceivingly violent & rattley car.) When we pulled into the station, I was shaking, angry and embarrassed. I really thought that I could handle it and was sad when I didn't want to turn around and go on it again with the others (like I do immediately after Space Mountain.) The Cyclone had beat me, but that's alright. She's a tougher broad than I, a West Coast gal on her turf. It's only fair that she kicks my ass.

About 20 minutes later, all was well and we were on our way to enjoying the rest of the day. After our friend Baz bought a truly treasured treasure for me and Ted (and ten people who read this: you're all getting a scan of it) we went to conquer the other goal of the day: enjoying the Atlantic with a few Coney Island hot dogs.

The dogs were magnificent and we still had a few hours to wander and wonder and then suddenly Ted got up and asked me to grab my backpack and come with him, very softly. Kind of like a guidence councellor. "What did I do? Aw, man...if this is about the Cyclone I'm fine!" Ted looked into my eyes: "There's a man with a gigantic snake around his neck who was walking toward us and we have to keep moving because he's coming this way too". He was right. From a distance, the man looked like he was trying to keep a dolphin around his neck. The snake was indeed gigantic and falling off of his shoulders as it shimmered in the sun. It fell right on the spot where I had my last two bites of Nathan's chili dog. Fuck! Was Coney Island a Labyrinth of Terror? What next?

Despite all of this and nearly being beaned directly in the face by a football on the beach - Coney Island was a great time and I wouldn't change a thing about the whole day. I got to ride on a comet of a legend and see my number one fear (snakes) from a great distance and I didn't freak out as badly as I thought. I had the best day of people watching I will probably ever have. I was with friends whom I love.

Coney Island was just trying to be the kind of hostess who knows that her time is unfortunately limited and she was just trying to make an impression.

I can see that now.