Why It’s Funny When Comedy Fails

Lots of comics enjoy watching comics bomb. The funniest part of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the audience’s response to the awful play performed at the duke’s wedding. This scene is funny because of the irony. We have watched these passionate but unexperienced actors preparing for this night throughout the play and it is exactly how wrong they were that makes it so funny. 

When we first meet these aspiring thespians, they are gathered in the woods to rehearse and from the very first moment they get it wrong. It is a failure of leadership, due to a lack of experience that summons the fearful critic among them to point the ship in the opposite direction. They start out concerned that the subject matter is too disturbing for the women in the audience, showing a double misunderstanding: they don’t get theater and they have a false idea of women.

This concern over the violence leads them to horrible stylistic decisions that then shape the rest of the play. To avoid offending the ladies, they invent a prologue to explain that the violence is only symbolic and that nobody is going to be hurt during the play and that the lion is not a lion, etc. To work, a play must create the tension needed to get people’s full attention so that it can then reverse their expectations and surprise, delight, or otherwise entertain. Afraid that the ladies in the audience would not understand how to suspend their disbelief, these actors choose to violate the 4th wall and bring the audience into the show.

This device makes it impossible for the audience to take it seriously, though, and so they are left to critique the choices and to laugh at their unintended buffoonery. The players lack of understanding how they are perceived causes them to botch their shot, and this flat-footed clumsiness makes it even funnier when Bottom is turned into an ass by Puck at the service of Oberon to trick Titania, queen of the fairies. They turn bottom into an ass and give Titania a potion so that she falls in love with him.

To take the stage, in order to win the affection of a fairy goddess you have to have some belief in self, and it is Bottom wrestling with his insecurities and his delusions of grandeur that is so similar to what the path of an aspiring comic likely entails. Bottom is a phase, a stage that must be overcome grown through.

The process of finding out just how funny you are, of seeing an audience respond to you in real time makes for some vicious therapy and it is no wonder that actors and comics have a hard time sometimes making sense of where their act begins and ends. You must love anyone who attempts the feat and give thanks to those who succeed, because it makes our world a much more pleasant place to live. Long live the failure of comedy.

Mooniversal: Our Time Together

As soon as the world closed down I knew that I wanted to photograph the moon. Anything to speak a common language in a time of global discord.

This was the last moon of California’s shutdown. With the next full moon, things are supposed to be fully back open.

I for one am happy that things are opening back up and I look forward to exploring our new future together.

In the Fun Zone with Gillian Young Barkalow

I met up with the great Gillian Young Barkalow and we shot some looks for Xandra Swimwear in the Capitola Village

Summer is here, Capitola is alive with tourism and the fun energy of people on vacation. This dress really expresses that fun vibrant feeling you get when you go on vacation.

Work is fine, work is good, but you should never underestimate the power of the Fun Zone.

Always fun to work with Gillian. Stay tuned for more looks!

Such Stuff As Dreams is Cap

The greatest lines in Shakespeare’s The Tempest happen after the worst part of the play. You have to understand the context to get why this is a funny line to quote. Prospero has just entertained his daughter’s future husband with a supernatural show. It’s the play’s Fantasia moment. Prospero has been orchestrating this whole scam perfectly up until this moment when he remembers that Caliban has bribed the sailors to try and kill him and he stops the show suddenly.

I had forgot that foul conspiracy of the beast Caliban and his confederates against my life.

This is strange. Your Father’s in some passion that works him strongly.

Never till this day saw I him touched with anger, so distempered.

You do look, my son, in a moved sort, as if you were dismayed. Be cheerful, sir.

This is the exchange that happens before the strange rant Prospero deliver about the temporary nature of things. He is trying to distract Ferdinand from the red flag of his weird mood change. It is within this context that he says the famous quote.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

Prospero’s anger leads to a dramatic speech he used to try and hide his rage. It isn’t a philosophical reflection delivered in a soliloquy. It is a performative speech designed to hide his true intention. Such stuff as dreams is cap.

Strain Review: PyramidZ by FLORACAL FARMS powered by Seed Junky Genetics

Summer is here and the strawberries are making life juicy. Want to try something great? Eat a big bite of strawberry in between tokes of cannabis. The tartness of the fruit gets your salivary glands going and helps to keep you from getting cottonmouth.

These FloraCal Farms flowers are delicious, dark beautiful buds full of trichomes and THC. The bud structure is springy, the buds don’t crumble. This is a quality phenotype grown expertly by a premium farm.

The strawberries are from Amor Organics, and are huge juicy chunks of Watsonville sunlight turned into fruit.

The PyramidZ smoke is wet and fruity itself. You don’t need to eat strawberries in between tokes of this bud. The sour grape fruit punch flavor is smooth and juicy.

Making Play: Shakespeare and Eternal Amor

The reason we get so much from studying Shakespeare is because he put so much of his world into his plays in a loving way. Shakespeare’s body of work is one of the most complete and well-rounded in all literary history. He wrote Tragedy, Comedy, History and whatever you want to call the plays that don’t fit into these generic categories. Shakespeare created works of art with joyful and powerful language that open wildly entertaining dialogues about life, love, and art. 

You can read Shakespeare in so many ways because there is so much in them and to them. The plays are so compelling because of the subject matter but also the style and especially the language. Shakespeare’s dialogue powerfully transforms even the darkest human tendencies into a performance worthy of witnessing. He makes art out of commonplace everyday events and shows the same care when writing sublime or terrifying moments when powerful people do horrible things. The attention to language renders each moment in the plays equally interesting.

Like great painting or photography, the subject matter is less important than the handling of the form. Edward Weston could photograph a bell pepper or his muse with equal intimacy and sensuality. This quality of affirmation, of loving the process of creation, is a kind of creative play that sometimes translates into work that is forever interesting. Shakespeare’s plays are great because of how much he includes with equal amor.

Shakespeare’s plays are stories rendered with a painter’s care for detail, tone and style about the human condition. Using language like some multidimensional paint, he creates a world that reflects a passion for the art form of theater. The love of language and of making plays elevates the subject matter and renders it all equally interesting. The tragic and comic outcomes, the virtuous and villainous characters, the countryside and the courtly settings: these dualities become unified through the force field of loving attention.  

Cannabis, Comedy and Caliban: The Tempest and Magical Racism

The Tempest is a very strange play. It’s best to consume some quality cannabis when you set about solving the puzzle of its meaning. You must have the right mindset to understand what is going on in this play and the psychoactive effects of a fire sativa will get you on the level where you can begin to try to understand the character Caliban. The son of a witch, slave to a wizard, attempted and unrepentant rapist: he’s the Luis J. Gomez of Shakespearean characters.

If Luis J. Gomez were to play Caliban, it would only make sense for Big Jay Oakerson to be Prospero and Dave Smith would be Ferdinand. Nobody does moral ambivalence better in comedy right now than the Legion of Skanks and this play is very evenly fucked up. There is nothing about it that is unequivocally good.

Cannabis can help us to suspend our disbelief. In fact, it’s so effective at allowing us to believe in metaphysical things that the stoner has a bad reputation for being gullible. The stereotype of the stoner is that they are dumb to the world and therefore able to be duped. Find us in the woods looking for Bigfoot or watching the stars hunting for UFOs. It’s the goofier side of cannabis, but it’s good innocent fun. 

Why does food taste better, why are jokes funnier, why do you get in the zone easier when you are stoned? I don’t know, but I practice what works and for me being stoned enhances my experiences across the board. There’s almost nothing that I don’t enjoy more doing stoned. 

Cannabis is the comedy of drugs. It is the drug with the most positive benefits. It alters your mind in pleasurable ways and the side effects are minimal. Of all the drugs, it is the only one I want to do because it is overall uplifting and beneficial to the things I love to do. The fact that it does alter your mind, change your mood, enhance your performance, etc. makes it easy to see it as a kind of magical thing.

The Tempest is full of literal magic. Prospero creates a windstorm with his powers and uses it to cause a fleet of ships to wreck on his island. He controls the spirit Ariel and his slave Caliban with spells. He threatens Ariel to keep them confined to an oak tree and he constantly hounds Caliban with physical ailments and pains. Prospero is a jerk, but he is powerful at manipulating people with his magic that he derives from his studies, from his books.

Prospero is part nerd, part wizard, part victim, and part weirdo. If this is a self-portrait of Shakespeare as many people think, then it is a brilliantly self-deprecating one. Because Prospero is a racist, a manipulator, a power tripping bully. He’s an outcast, an outlaw but the little bit of power he acquires he uses to control everyone around him. Let’s face it: Prospero is a DICK!

He calls his daughter a wench, does some bizarre shit to set her up to fall in love with an heir to the throne of Milan. He’s a manipulative bastard. He’s a victim of his brother’s ambition but he leaves a lot of bodies in his wake. Even though he was betrayed by his family, sent to his death only to escape with his daughter by the kindness of strangers, he has no gratitude for life, only disdain for the people he interacts with. Prospero is fucked up.

It’s easier to empathize with Caliban. He was born on the island. His mother was exiled there, and she was a witch. Sycorax had enslaved the spirit Ariel prior to Prospero. She had set a precedent on the island for being banished and then taking it out on the innocent. Still, she was his mother. Caliban is the most clearly victimized by others in the play and his response to his abuse is malevolent hatred. He tries to rape Miranda, Prospero’s daughter and declares that he wishes he had succeeded. 

You kind of get Prospero’s anger towards Caliban once you understand that Caliban tried to rape his daughter. It’s not clear if that is a result of rebelling against Prospero’s rule, or if that is just Caliban’s way. How is this a comedy?

Of all the plays categorized as comedies, this one lacks a strong female character. Miranda is the ultimate fantasy of the virgin. She has been raised on an island with no other people besides her father and their slave Caliban. Until she meets Ferdinand, she has only ever seen two men. Ferdinand immediately sees the freakish value of this uber virgin and is ready to marry her from the first moment.

The Tempest is a thought experiment dramatized. Even though there are weirdos power tripping everything works out in the end because the magic is overall good. Comedy is like cannabis because even though it is not going to solve the problems of a world set in motion by betrayal and narcissistic violence, it’s at least going to give us some respite.

Totally Tepeque: Molé Enchiladas and Pozole

Molé Enchiladas

California is my home. I am a native Californian. I choose to live in California because I love it and one of my favorite things about this huge, wild and beautiful state is its cultural diversity. Food is one of the pillars that makes a culture rich and Mexican food is one of the world’s great cuisines. Families develop recipes over time and we are lucky enough to experience some of this passion for flavor in Mexican Restaurants. Recently, I had some delicious food at at Taqueria Tepeque.

Not on the menu item alert!

Tepeque is a small city in Michoacan near the border of Jalisco, directly west of Mexico City. Inside Taqueria Tepeque the design lends a strong feel of authenticity. If you are looking for a cultural experience in Capitola, these Molé Enchiladas are it! The chocolate in the sauce gives it a sweet rich flavor and feel that is not to be missed. You won’t find these on the menu, though, so you have to ask for them, but they’re happy to make them.

Insanely delicious Pozole

Finding a place with good Mexican soup immediately improves your quality of life. I love cooking at home, but there are certain dishes that you just have to experience in the setting of a restaurant. This bowl of Pozole is one of those. Saturday morning’s are perfect for Pozole, but anytime will work for me.

Now I’m hungry again

Pozole is a stew made with hominy and pork. It’s more than that, though. It’s a connection to the ancient past, to pre-Columbian Mexico. It is a magical bowl of meaning made by humans out of simple ingredients bound together with passionate love of family, flavor and food. You can find the menu for Taqueria Tepeque, HERE: MENU