One Month At A Time

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I’m working on some meaningful things to write about yoga. The trick with this is that there are few pictures. I keep bringing a camera, but it’s hard to take photos when you’re doing downward facing dog. Basically, you’re not shooting anything anyone wants to see in a family friendly newspaper. I could let the instructor shoot photos, but imagine that might interfere with teaching the class.

Also, I’m pretty sure the paper wouldn’t pay them for the pictures.

In any case, what I can talk about is where we are with classes. At this point, at The Folded Leaf, I’ve taken Basic Hatha, Yin, Gentle Yoga, Basic Vinyasa, Saturday Early Bird and the potluck community yoga class, which varies according to the instructor I think, but is probably generally sort of gentle.

The goal is by the end of this month to give hot Vinyasa and Hot yoga a shot, but I’ve also got to fit in some classes at the YMCA and at the Elkview Community Center –that’s my neighborhood yoga.

I actually meant to go to Elkview Community Center last week, which, according to the web, is about six minutes from my house.

It’s also conveniently located near a Dairy Queen, which would have mattered a lot more a few months ago, but I didn’t know this when I went out looking for the community center last Tuesday. Nope, I just glanced at the screen on my laptop, grabbed my purple mat, and dragged my 10 year-old to try some local yoga.

If things went well, we could stop and get the boy a cone. I might try one of the Orange Julius things. I’ve read some of them are vegan, which is probably mostly wishful thinking. The only place less vegan sounding than a Dairy Queen is a Lonestar Steakhouse.

Luckily, things went very badly.

Ten minutes into the drive, I started swearing and openly wondering where I’d missed my turn.

The kid, meanwhile, stared out the window at the passing landscape wistfully while I ranted about the $#@%* internet and then Elkview.

This is not the first time I’ve gotten turned around while looking for something in the vicinity of Elkview. For me, the place is like the Bermuda Triangle. I’ve lived near Elkview for years, but have no idea where anything is. At Christmas, we missed making cards with the Cub Scouts because I drove us around for half an hour before finally giving up and going home. Holiday team and craft building exercises would be damned, I said.

Afterwards, there was quite a bit of grumbling then, along with eventual apologies for once again screwing up Scout night.

The kid just sighed and said, “It’s OK.”

So, we drove around until, fed up, I plugged in the GPS and the preceded to guesstimate the address.

That went not-so-well, too, and took me halfway to Clendenin until I drove back toward Elkview and looked the address up on my phone. From there, it only took a minute to find the place, but we were half an hour late.

So, no local yoga. We went home, where I sulked while he watched cartoons.

But tonight, I’m going. I got my directions. I know how to get there. I’m bringing the kid. There may be a frozen treat afterwards, if not for me, then for him.

I can do this.

Let There Be Yoga! A little late…

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It’s taken a little while to get started with blogging about yoga month –actually, about as long as it took me to find my yoga mat, which was dumped in the back of a closet and needed to washed a bit.

It may be that my cat took offense with it at some point.

Also, it’s taken me some time to find a thread worth blogging about.

Things I’ve learned, so far, about going to yoga class.

1-If you have to change clothes between yoga and work, it’s better to do it at the studio. The choice is to stand in your sock feet in a little room that mostly sees nicely dressed yoga practitioners, but also happens to have a toilet, or stand in your sock feet inside a men’s room stall used by dozens of workers, some of whom aren’t all that concerned about aim.

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Choose the yoga studio bathroom. It’s nicer and doesn’t smell like old sardines.

2- Show up early, not because class will start early, but because the older ladies like to talk and pretty much all of them remind you of your Aunt Joyce. Also, some of them are following my progress, and it’s cool to get a high five from a 74-year-old lady who is more flexible than you.

3-Do not try to compete with Chelsea. Just don’t. You’ll break your spine. And try not to stare. Chelsea could probably kill you. You be you. Let Chelsea be the yoga queen.

4-The music inside the yoga studio is one part Indian Ashram, one part New Age mood music, and two parts stuff leftover stuff from some unnamed Pink Floyd album.

floyd

Namaste, you crazy diamond. Namaste.

5-Sarah at Sarah’s Bakery will always encourage you with your yoga practice. Nothing in her store is vegan, except maybe the bottled water. The baked goods, however, are really pretty and smell amazing.

You should buy something anyway. I’m a vegan, and I buy stuff every week from Sarah, usually on Wednesdays. Whatever I buy, I give to my coworkers, who are happy to have the sweets, which I can really do nothing with.

6-Don’t eat before yoga class. Sure, you’re stomach will grumble, but it’s better than spending 45 minutes fighting the urge to throw up. Downward dog will make you want to throw up. Have a little juice before, if you want, but save the sandwich for after.

7-Yoga pants come in a wide variety of colors, hues, and designs. I will not be buying any. Sweat pants are fine with me, but it’s important not to wear a shirt that fits and isn’t too loose, because that sucker will slide right up to your neck when you’re doing downward facing dog (a troublesome position, truly).

Apologies for the show, folks –and no, that isn’t a scar, it’s a birthmark.

Going Vegan: Another Vegan Potluck

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So, we have another vegan potluck at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation (520 Kanawha Blvd. W.) today (March 6). The eating gets started around 6:30 p.m. You don’t have to be a vegan to come eat. You don’t even have to be a Unitarian. They’re OK with just about anybody.

Probably, you shouldn’t bring your leftovers from a recent Critter Dinner or your Mom’s meatloaf. Save that for lunch tomorrow with your co-workers. They’ll love you for it.

Anyway, something to do. No pressure.

Improv: Getting to Know You -Craig Snider

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This is another of The Fearless Fools. There are still a couple left in the box. We’ll finish these off before we stretch into the new month of stuff.

 

Name: Craig Snider

Age: 36

Hometown: Volga, WV

Occupation: Receptionist/writer/editor/TBD

craig
Craig is to the left of the creature in red that will haunt your dreams.

 

What’s your life like outside of comedy?

I spend most of my time either reading, writing, watching television, or quietly ruminating on life’s mysteries, or as a friend of mine calls his process, “have a Big Think.”

 

How did you get started in Improv/Comedy?

My friend and mentor, Steve Goff told me he was going to start doing improv workshops, and asked if I’d help. I had always loved Whose Line, so I was eager to assist. After several of his workshops were a success, he said he had been approached to put together a team, and asked if I’d help with auditions. I later learned I had made the team.

 

What was your first workshop or show like?

Our first Fools show left a huge impression on me. I have never been a performer, unless you count class clown, but being on stage, essentially playing make-believe was like nothing I had ever done before. I get nervous if I’m doing a play, or if I have to speak in front of people, but not when I’m doing improv. I have never had any problem making a fool of myself. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and probably many others won’t either, for good or bad.

 

In comedy or the improv comedy world, who do you look up to?

As Steve Goff helped us learn the art of improv, he brought us a DVD called, “Trust us…,” which was a documentary about TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi, two improvisers who have a two-man, 60 minute improv show. They create an entire comedic drama, complete with characters they each take turns playing, and by the end, you never second-guess the reality they’ve created. It is a brilliant combination of acting and improv that had our whole team captivated. We still refer to that video often, and have even created improv warm-ups we call a “TJ and Dave.”

 

What’s the best part about what you do?

I get to be a kid again. I always played make-believe, and there were always strange characters and voices in my head when I was young. Possible psychosis, or future skill? Either way, all through my life, I spent most of my time trying to entertain myself or others by being silly. As we grow up, it becomes harder and harder to find venues for that type of outlet without being shut up in a rubber room. With improv, I get to do that again. It is a liberating and cathartic experience.

 

What’s the hardest part?

For me personally, it has being trying to deconstruct improv from an artistic standpoint, how to improve and make my game better. I can’t afford to go to Second-City, or have one of the fantastic teachers from Unplanned Comedy or Steel-City Improv come down. At least not until my one man show about the bubonic plague takes off. So, in the meantime, I find myself just trying to be a cosmic improv sponge, and I hope the universe will send me the knowledge I need.

 

What’s (almost) always funny?

As far as improv is concerned, it is when the performers are completely invested in the reality they’ve created, and they aren’t TRYING to be funny. That is the surest way to kill an improv scene. It is hard to just let go of the comedic instincts that tell you to go for the punchline. It is a very zen experience to just trust in your scene partner and see where you end up.

 

Advice for someone who might want to do Improv?

It is absolutely vital to get some kind of guidance. Go see other teams perform and talk to them afterward about their process. Take a class, and join a group. Just jump in and say, yes.

 

Are two drink minimums necessary or are they just a rip off?

Depends on the context. Hanging out at the bar? Rip off. House party? Rip off. Seeing a comedy show? Recommended. Monday morning staff meeting? Absolutely essential.

 

Do you believe in Santa Claus, unicorns or global warming (choose one)?

Personally, I think if Santa Claus would stop feeding his unicorns high octane fiber, we would have less methane, and global warming wouldn’t be an issue.

 

If you could ask Drew Carey one question, what would it be?

Why do you always look like you are staring into the sun?

 

Is prison really as bad at they say or is that just the media?

I think prisoners are just misunderstood, and need a big hug. And an improv show.

 

How good is your spelling?

Perfekt.

 

Do you have any time/money saving tips for our readers?

If you want to save money, don’t spend any. If you want to save time, stop doing other stuff.

 

Have you ever been to Ohio?

Cleveland rocks.

Here’s another one of The Fearless Fools.
I kind of regret that I didn’t get a chance to talk with them during my month of Improv –that just means I need to do a different story about the group when the opportunity comes a-knockin’ again. From their Facebook page, it looks like they kill.
Name: Matt Tolliver
Age: 32
Hometown:French Creek, WV
Occupation: School Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor
matt tolliver
What’s your life like outside of comedy?
Most of my time consists of working as a school counselor at Skyview Elementary School in Morgantown. I meet with kids for individual and group counseling as well as teaching classroom guidance lessons to whole classes. My main focus is on conflict resolution and teaching kids appropriate social skills.
How did you get started in Improv/Comedy? As a child at 4-H camp, we would have to come up with skits during the nightly council circles. Though there was no “formal” training, that was when I first experienced entertaining others without a script and having to use my imagination to create characters for short sketches.
What was your first workshop or show like?
Stressful, but a type of stress or pressure that challenged me with the reward of laughter and applause from the audience.
In comedy or the improv comedy world, who do you look up to?
Robin Williams was the master of improv comedy. His ability to instantaneously create characters and jokes was awe-inspiring.
What’s the best part about what you do?
With a day job dealing with people’s social and emotional problems, it can be very overwhelming to take that on. Improv allows me to explore my creative side and let my mind be free.
What’s the hardest part?
Trying to stay in character when my fellow players or myself say or do something that completely catches you off guard.
What’s (almost) always funny?
Typically anything that my Kindergarten students tell me
Advice for someone who might want to do Improv? I feel like everyone has to improvise many times every day when it comes to making decisions. Some times we have to conventrate hard on those decisions, and some times it’s so fast that we don’t even realize it. Improv comedy is in that space of opening your mind and not overly concentrating.
Are two drink minimums necessary or are they just a rip off?
Rip off
Do you believe in Santa Claus, unicorns or global warming (choose one)?
I want to believe in unicorns…it’s a thin, blurry line of believing and wanting to
If you could ask Drew Carey one question, what would it be?
Do you ever get to drive the cars on The Price is Right?
Is prison really as bad at they say or is that just the media?
Depending on the prison and crime. Are we talking federal penitentiary or a low security prison? If I could get my doctorate for free…sign me up!
How good is your spelling? How did I do on this questionnaire?
Do you have any time/money saving tips for our readers? Don’t take our private student loans, unless absolutely necessary!
Have you ever been to Ohio?
Yes…it was flat and underwhelming

Going Vegan: Dining out

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So far, the vegan thing is working out just fine. I’m still dropping weight at a modest pace –a pound or two every week. I’d like for the weight to fly off, but I also like to have a beer once in a while, and eat cookies.

Weight loss, while encouraged by my doctor, is a secondary effect of this whole project.

So far, the hardest thing has been dining out. Meals out are somewhat limited. When my father was in town last weekend, we didn’t do our annual pilgrimage to the local Chinese buffet. About the only thing I could safely have would be the iceberg lettuce on the salad bar, which almost nobody actually touches in the first place. Chinese restaurants use fish sauce, oyster sauce, chicken stock, pork and eggs in all kinds of things.

So, Chinese food is kind of on the no-fly list until I find a way around it.

We actually ended up eating at a Ryan’s, which wasn’t terrible. I constructed a really decent salad, had a baked potato drowned in salsa, bread, and fruit. I went ahead and ate the breaded okra, though who knows if it was cooked in the same oil as the chicken nuggets, the fish sticks, the cheese sticks, and God knows what else. You have to be a little bit realistic, I think.

Probably the Ryan’s in Los Angeles has an organic, fair-trade vegan island with a harvest-your-own mushroom bar.

Anyway, I checked in with several websites about vegan-friendly places (they barely exist in West Virginia) and even chain restaurants which have vegan options. At most of them you can find a salad, some kind of potato (served dry), and maybe bread (if you ask them not slather it with butter), but I reached out to a few to ask –“Hey, have you got anything that a vegan would like to eat that isn’t a salad? Maybe a nice veggie burger?”

Some places ignored me –like TGI Fridays, Lonestar Steakhouse and Dunkin Donuts, but I did hear back from a few people.

From Applebees.

Dear Bill,

Thank you for your e-mail. We’re always looking for new ways to provide great guest service, and comments like yours help us to do that. We appreciate your concern about the availability of vegan-friendly dishes at Applebee’s. Our Menu Development team regularly reviews our menu and creates new items throughout the year. Guest feedback is an important part of that process. Thanks again.

If you have any other questions or comments, please give us a call at 888-592-7753.


Sincerely,

Matt
Sr. Guest Relations Specialist

Case # 1905883

Notice how they didn’t just say, “Uh, no. Go graze in the parking lot, lawnmower man.” Instead, they answered my question by not actually answering my question, which sort of feels worse.

Outback Steakhouse referred me back to the menu.

Hi Bill,

Thanks for contacting us. Attached is a PDF that can help you with the ordering process. We would also advise speaking with a manager to see what other dishes the restaurant can prepare for you.

Sincerely,

Andrew

The PDF basically lists salad, bread, potato and the grilled asparagus, but I should probably ask the cook about whether they can cook that in something besides animal fat. You can also get steamed broccoli, which is typically limp, tasteless, and the most pointless thing to order when you go out to dinner.

But Outback is steakhouse. What could I expect? They serve steak!

I told them I’d stick with the beer.

Locally, I had better luck.

Rocco at Muriale’s said he could work something he thought I’d enjoy. Bricks and Barrels pointed out that they have vegan options on their menu, and Paterno’s said they’d catered to vegans before. I should maybe speak to the chef, they said, but really, who does that? Not me. If I’m talking to the cook, usually, I’m complaining. That’s just my history.

When I go out, I’m not looking to do a full-on interview or be someone’s lab rat. I just want a couple of easy choices. If I want to get all tricksy with my meal, I’ll stay at home and cook it myself. That way, if I hate it, I can toss it in the trash, make a peanut butter sandwich, and not feel like I’ve betrayed someone who was trying to help me out.

 

I checked in with pizza places, which vary considerably.

You can eat vegan at the chains, if you know which crust and which sauce to order. It’s assumed you specify “no cheese,” and choose veggie toppings, but I wanted to know if my neighborhood pizza joint could accommodate. So, I wrote an email to Husson’s Pizza and asked about their crust and sauce.

Greetings!
There is nothing in our sauce or dough from an animal.
So enjoy!
Thanks for the inquiry,
Nick Husson

I ordered pizza that very night and it was glorious.

Eventually, I’ll check in with Lola’s and Pies and Pints.

 

However, Sarah’s Bakery was a no go. She uses butter in her pie crusts.

I’d make you a pie crust with crisco, but it goes against everything I believe in

That’s OK, I said. Some sacrifices have to be made.

I think it’s awesome she does what she does.

 

The absolute winning find was Bluegrass Kitchen.

Pathetically, I wrote Keeley Steele and asked her what kind of vegan things they had.

Bluegrass Kitchen

We have a lot actually. If you 86 dairy & chicken you can have the tostada or chimi (you can add tofu too)
Our new mock “chicken & dumplings” are vegan
Our housemade veggie burger is vegan…just get it with no cheese and not on brioche
Tofu wings
Fried Pickles
And Monday is meatless monday…we have a few vegan regulars so we try to make sure we have something vegan running on that evening. 
Tricky Fish:
Tofu tacos with no dairy
veggie dog
Starlings:
We have vegan cheese, bacon & sausage for our breakfast sandwiches.
Let me know if you have any other questions
ks
I ended up going out to the Civic Center last night where they were having the Small Farm Conference and a winter farmer’s market. Keeley and company had set up a stall and were selling Tofu Buffalo wings and they were wonderful –if you like tofu.
Not every vegan does, but it’s OK by me.
At long last, we’ve started getting The Fearless Fools comedy troupe some improv blog love. The group is part of the Vintage Theatre Company (why does everyone reverse the er/re in theater?) in Clarksburg. VTC were the folks responsible for bringing some Shakespeare down Charleston way, back when we were having a shortage (So, I love them, even if they do that reverse er/re thing in theater, which makes me affect a snooty British accent).
Meanwhile, The Fearless Fools are doing some regularly scheduled improv comedy at Mainstreet Cafe in Clarksburg.
Become their Facebook friends. It’s not creepy at all.
Name: Lauren Swann
Age: 28
Hometown: Clarksburg
Occupation: Mental Health Therapist
lauren
She has the Sarah Palin stare down cold.
What’s your life like outside of comedy?
Still pretty hilarious…Busy with work, family, friends. Also playing with cats. Lots of cat play.
How did you get started in Improv/Comedy?
I had been acting for several years when a friend of mine invited me to an improv show he was in. I went to the show and I laughed so much my face hurt. I was scared of the idea of doing improv, but I went for it anyway. I auditioned for the troupe a few months later.
What was your first workshop or show like?
Terrifying, exhilarating. I didn’t know I would be in the show that first night, but I ended up having to fill in for another member who couldn’t make it. Perfect for improv, always a surprise.
In comedy or the improv comedy world, who do you look up to?
Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris
What’s the best part about what you do?
Feeling completely free, like a kid again. And playing games with a group of grown ups.
What’s the hardest part?
Getting in the zone when the energy is down or we’re in kind of a comedy funk. Sometimes we have to freshen up with different games or exercises to spice it up.

What’s (almost) always funny?
I don’t know that anything is always funny…fart jokes?
Advice for someone who might want to do Improv?
Go for it. Let go, don’t censor yourself. Pay attention to your partners.
Are two drink minimums necessary or are they just a rip off?
Is that a thing? I’ve never had less than two drinks…
Do you believe in Santa Claus, unicorns or global warming (choose one)?
Global unicorns. One day everyone we’ll see the havoc they’re wreaking on the ozone layer!
If you could ask Drew Carey one question, what would it be?
Whatcha got in that desk?
Is prison really as bad at they say or is that just the media?
The media is definitely as bad as they say it is.
How good is your spelling?
Excellint.
Do you have any time/money saving tips for our readers?
Wear your shoes to bed.
Have you ever been to Ohio?
Sigh…yes.

Improv Comedy: Getting to Know You -Dave Lomely

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After a short break from doing these profiles (I had company at the house. We went to Ryan’s and ate the fried okra), we’re back. This is Dave Lomely from Improv 304.

Name: Dave Lomely

Age: 43

Hometown: Logan, WV

Occupation: Founder of Sushi Fun Run. Also, I do healthcare analytics

david

What’s your life like outside of comedy?

Growing odder by the day. I just got back from Los Angeles where I spent most of my time discussing races that involve sushi.

How did you get started in Improv/Comedy?

I knew the people that started the improv group and they asked me to attend. I did and enjoyed it.

What was your first workshop or show like?

It was a fun, low pressure opportunity to let loose. I enjoyed it and kept returning.

In comedy or the improv comedy world, who do you look up to?

I don’t consider myself an improv/comedy person. This is just something that I enjoy doing because it’s so far removed from my everyday life so I’ve never really thought about who I look up to. Maybe Drew Carey.

What’s the best part about what you do?

Just being myself and not worrying about what that means.

What’s the hardest part?

Letting go of yourself and not worrying about looking foolish

What’s (almost) always funny?

Kittens and puppies

Advice for someone who might want to do Improv?

Come join us at Taylor’s. It’s a fun, low pressure way to wet your feet in improv. We don’t judge; we just play.

Are two drink minimums necessary or are they just a rip off?

They are necessary. The more drinks you have the better the show. Two drinks might not be enough in some circumstances.

Do you believe in Santa Claus, unicorns or global warming (choose one)?

Global warming is the only one I don’t want to believe in but it’s all too real.

If you could ask Drew Carey one question, what would it be?

Was it really you I saw in a van in a Dayton, OH parking lot shouting at everyone to watch the Drew Carey show?

Is prison really as bad at they say or is that just the media?

I’d rather not find out.

How good is your spelling?

My spelling is meadiocher. Hahaha, see what I did there.

Do you have any time/money saving tips for our readers?

Yes, but they are not free.

Have you ever been to Ohio?

Yes, I have family in Ohio and may have seen Drew Carey in a parking lot while there.

Improv Comedy: Getting to Know You: Nick Griffith

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Here’s another profile from one of the Improv 304 people: Nick Griffith.

 

Name:Nick Griffith

Age: 33

Hometown: Charleston

Occupation: It’s complicated.

nick

What’s your life like outside of comedy?

I write, hustle and I work at Kroger.

How did you get started in Improv/Comedy?

I worked at the Dayton Funnybone for a year before I moved to LA to be a film-maker. I bought decent pro-sumer video gear and that led to shooting comedy videos.

Shortly after I moved to LA I went to see a few short form improv shows at places like groundlings and brushed off improv until I saw a long form class show at UCB in LA. After seeing what improv could be I started going to more shows to watch Harold and long form teams.

When I took a Second City sketch class they kept pushing improv. I wanted to take classes through UCB or Miles Stroth but they all cost about $500 and have attendance policies. When you freelance in TV and Film you can’t turn down work because you have improv class and you can’t leave early. Sometimes there’s travel involved.  I found free weekly improv classes through yelp that generally followed UCB principles. It was a now defunct school / group called Monkey Butler.

What was your first workshop or show like?

I was incredibly nervous because I’m a behind the scenes guy. I get super nervous performing and even just meeting large groups of strangers so it was limit testing.  In my first “serious” improv class there were people who had been funny on TV and regulars who could just destroy in every scene and then a couple as first timers like me. I jumped in because I realized that if I’m going to buy the ticket I might as well take the ride. Everyone starts somewhere. Eventually I got good enough to get moved up a level or maybe they just took pity on me.

In comedy or the improv comedy world, who do you look up to?

My comedy heroes are a lot of Largo, Mr. Show and “The State” alums with Bob Odenkirk probably being the at the top of those. Larry Gelbart, Phil Hartman, Conan / Jeff Ross. Kids in the Hall. Steve Martin, Mitch Hedberg. KITH.

I’m also into weirder stuff like Kristen Schaal, Scott Aukerman (Comedy Bang Bang) and Tim And Eric

What’s the best part about what you do?

It’s challenging and almost impossible to perfect and when you do get something exactly right it seems so remarkably easy people think you could learn to do it in a day.

What’s the hardest part?

Killing the voice in your head that tells you what you’re currently working on sucks and sticking with it until it’s good.

What’s (almost) always funny?

Water skiing squirrel.

Advice for someone who might want to do Improv?

Don’t worry about making people laugh or messing up. You’ll do both and sometimes the audience won’t know the difference.

Don’t get discouraged when you watch “whose line”. It is improvised on the spot but there’s a little Hollywood magic behind it as well.

Short form is for quick laughs but if you learn long form you can play with anyone who also knows.

Are two drink minimums necessary or are they just a rip off?

Just tip your wait staff.

Do you believe in Santa Claus, unicorns or global warming (choose one)?

Our politicians keep on asking Santa to bring big coal back to save WV but we’re about as likely to get a unicorn under the tree. I think this is pretty much the only region in the world that considers global warming anything but a fact and for a group of people who’s so concerned about looking ignorant to outsiders we sure look stupid for that.

If you could ask Drew Carey one question, what would it be?

Are you mad Aisha Tyler stole your gig?

Is prison really as bad at they say or is that just the media?

It depends on what media you’re watching. Also what you consider a prison.  Also yes. I’ve been to prison. Not like sent there, it was for a shoot. You’re not allowed to spit. Also legalize it. Not spiting. You know what.

How good is your spelling?

My blog is Totalyrealnews.com so if you couldn’t tell it’s beyond impressive.

Do you have any time/money saving tips for our readers?

The best things in life are free and it just so happens most local comedy shows are also free. Quit putting it off and go see live comedy.

Have you ever been to Ohio?

What’s an Ohio?

Improv Comedy: Getting to Know You -Jim-Bob Williams

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For this edition of Profiles in Comedy, we move on to the Improv 304 group (these are the people who are letting me hang out with them in the basement of Taylor Books. It’s just like high school. We even have beer!)

This is Jim-Bob, probably one of the nicest guys I’ve met through this project, and really encouraging, which is important. I need encouragement, and also to know whether Pina Coladas are vegan (one thing at a time, one thing at a time)

Unrelated, it’s his birthday today. So, happy birthday, Jim-Bob.

 

Name: James B. (Jim-Bob) Williams

Age: 59

Hometown: St. Albans, WV by way of Brooklyn, NY

Occupation: Disabled Environmental Engineer Reinventing Himself

jim-bob
Jim-Bob as the Ghost of the Maytag repair man. Is Maytag still a thing?

What’s your life like outside of comedy?

Presbyterian Elder. Tai Chi novice. Acting or trying to act. Working out at Anytime Fitness. Going to doctor’s offices.

How did you get started in Improv/Comedy?

After being bitten by the acting bug by hamming it up as Marley’s Ghost for the Alban Theater’s “A Christmas Carol” , wanted to do something to improve acting skills. Found the Charleston Improv Practice Group (aka Improv 304).

What was your first workshop or show like?

Open mic night at Kanawha Valley Unity. They gave us 10 minutes and didn’t throw us off after 20. Major adrenaline surge – better than a performance appraisal.

In comedy or the improv comedy world, who do you look up to?

Locally, the No Pants Players. I love them all – special mentions to Joe Wallace, Jeff Bukovinsky, and Tony Slack. May they forgive me for suggesting “Bird Flu” as a topic – and also remember I also offered “It’s a Wonderful Rash”. Outside of NPP, the Fearless Fools. Tijah Bumgarner was our first coach. Bill Goff gave us a boot camp that was amazing.

In the professional world, Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams, and Second City. T.J. and Dave (the guys from the Sonic commercial) do magnificent long-form.

What’s the best part about what you do?

Meeting interesting people and making magic. Not that engineers and Presbyterians aren’t interesting and/or magical. Doing an intro class for kids and watching them play.

What’s the hardest part?

Taking my time. I love a good punchline, but if it’s not relevant to the scene I struggle to remind myself to take it out of the RAM and save it to the hard drive for later retrieval. Also, realizing I should have started doing improv in 1973.

What’s (almost) always funny?

Fifty Shades of Greyhound.

Advice for someone who might want to do Improv?

Tuesday nights, 6 PM, basement of Taylor Books.

Are two drink minimums necessary or are they just a rip off?

If you have to force someone to drink, you’re either a bad entertainer or a waterboarder.

Do you believe in Santa Claus, unicorns or global warming (choose one)?

Santa Claus is a friend of mine. I trust him unquestioningly. I am also in a play he wrote called “Sherlock Holmes and the Beast of Whitechapel” [ Yes, that was a shameless plug ]

If you could ask Drew Carey one question, what would it be?

Which door should I pick?

Is prison really as bad as they say or is that just the media?

Let’s put more of the media in prison and find out.

How good is your spelling?

My spelling are greats but me grammar not so much.

Do you have any time/money saving tips for our readers?

You know those signs the janitors put in the hallway saying “Wet Floor” ? They really don’t want you to.

Have you ever been to Ohio? I have seen sewage treatment plants and dioxin-contaminated landfills there. Ohio is New Jersey without the glitter.