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Art Weingartner Lives On Forever: Rick Ducommun Dead at 62

20 Jun

Perhaps best known for playing nosy neighbor Art Wiengartner in the cult classic film The ‘Burbs, Rick Ducommun’s career started in stand up and lead to a string of supporting comedic roles in the 1980s and 1990s.  Rick Ducommun died on June 12, 2015 at the age of 62, due to complications from diabetes.  Ducommun’s performance as Art was a comedic triumph and a delight for anyone who saw The ‘Burbs.  Art Wiengartner was the perfect overzealous neighbor, inviting himself to eat at Ray Peterson’s house and sharing his theories on the new neighbors who move into the Klopeck house down the street.  Ducommun’s comedic timing was on point, especially with the delivery of his most quoted line: “Satan is good, Satan is our pal…”.

The Burbs - Art

Here is a best of compilation showing some of Art’s classic moments:

The ‘Burbs was a film favorite for me in my childhood, but Ducommun also appeared in movies like Little Monsters as the villain Snik, and as Gus, one of the bar patrons who spends his night with Phil Connors over and over again.  He also appeared as the limo driver in Blank Check.  Ducommun was also an accomplished stand up comedian, with an HBO special airing on HBO called “Rick Ducommun: Piece of Mind”.

Groundhog Day - Rick Ducommun

LITTLE MONSTERS, Rick Ducommun, Howie Mandel, 1989.

LITTLE MONSTERS, Rick Ducommun, Howie Mandel, 1989.

Rick Ducommun certainly had a huge stage presence, and he was a scene stealer in many of his roles.  His career never blew up like many of the stand-up comedians who went on to have their own sitcoms or starring film roles, but Ducommun is memorable, and I certainly count him among my comedic influences.

Pour one out for Rick Ducommun.

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Question: Is Overboard the Greatest Movie of All Time?

24 Apr

Overboard

Answer: it is quite possible that Overboard is the greatest movie of all time.  There are several reasons for this, which will be outlined below in a convenient listicle.  For those readers who may be unfamiliar with the 1987 Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn comedy, I feel nothing but sorrow for you.  This is a film filled with hilarity, life lessons, and a great 1980s-style switcheroo plot. HBO Go was recently streaming Overboard, which means you have no excuse to not watch it immediately on some type of streaming platform. DO IT NOW.

For those of you who have not seen Overboard, the film tells the story of Dean Proffitt, a widower father of four crazed boys who works as a carpenter by day and in various odd jobs at night in order to support his family.

On a fateful day, Dean is called out for a job to build a closet on the yacht of a very wealthy couple, Joanna Stayton (Goldie Hawn, in her comedic and physical prime), and Dean Stayton (Edward Hermann).  Joanna, wearing some of the most ridiculous 1980’s fashions and constantly berating Dean, is a classic rich bitch.

After she refuses to pay Dean for not building her closet to her standards, Joanna falls OVERBOARD her yacht when she drops her wedding ring and attempts to retrieve it. Joanna is then found the next day, but she is suffering from amnesia and has no idea who she is.  Dean, seeing the news report on Joanna, goes to the hospital claiming that the woman is his wife, using knowledge of a birth mark he saw on Joanna’s bottom as proof that he knows her in the biblical sense.

Joanna, renamed Annie Proffitt, then learns the real hard knocks of life, including raising Dean’s kids, cooking, cleaning, and more.

Here are solid evidentiary reasons why Overboard just might be the greatest movie of all time:

1.  The reasoning behind the use of cedar closets, as told by Goldie Hawn’s character, Joanna Stayton, pre-amnesia:  “Because one would think that you would know that closets are made of cedar…the entire civilized world knows that ALL closets are made of cedar.”

2. “I’m a short, fat, slut”. – Goldie Hawn realizing her new reality as Annie Proffitt while wearing one of Annie’s oversized dresses.

3. Goldie Hawn’s outfits before she falls “overboard” her yacht.

Goldie Hawn as Joanna Stayton

4. Kurt Russell’s bulging muscles.

Kurt Russell

5. Amnesia – what was more funny in the 80’s than a good old-fashioned case of amnesia and the comedic effects of a switcheroo?  This is second only to body-swapping films of the 1980’s.  (Does anyone remember Kirk Cameron and Dudley Moore in Like Father Like Son?)

When you really think about it, the plot of Overboard would really never happen, because what Dean did is kind of creepy…but he gets away with it because he’s hot.  Ah, the 80’s – a time I barely remember because I was an infant.  Please watch Overboard for a dose of nostalgia!

Watch Me Perform Stand Up at the Westside Comedy Theater

28 Feb

Listen to My Interview on Nick Has A Poolhouse

21 Sep

Hello Fixed Air readers!!

Recently, my good friend and fellow stand up comedian Nick Kaufman had me as a guest on his podcast, Nick Has A Poolhouse.

Nick asks me about how having a bad set can affect my mood, how my parents’ marriage influences my the state of my current romantic relationship, why I get sad sometimes, and one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

Please take a listen through any of the links below:

http://goo.gl/NtPRT0

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nick-has-a-poolhouse-a-podcast/id641881902

http://westcastnetwork.com/nick-has-a-poolhouse-2/

Please like Nick Has A Poolhouse on Facebook and subscribe on iTunes!!

Nick Has A Poolhouse Photo

Robin Williams: the Pain of Laughter

22 Aug

I was lucky enough to see Robin Williams live in person on two occasions. The first was sometime in 2009 when I attended a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 30 Rock, and the second was early last year at the Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado at Boulder, for An Evening of Sit-Down with Robin Williams.  Both of these occasions were amazing, and the audiences were treated to the genius mind of Williams, which was frantic, manic, and tinged with a unique ability to move in and out of endless characters and voices.  He was an utter genius, and anyone who was a fan of his comedy and films was well aware of this.  He surely will be missed by millions of people around the world.

When the news that Williams had committed suicide spread, some of the first reactions were of complete disbelief.  Not very many people could believe that a man who brought so much laughter and joy to others could possibly have wanted to take his own life.  However, there have been many well-documented studies that link the personalities of comedians and performers to psychotic personality traits.  Earlier this year, a study performed at Oxford University concluded that “stand-ups of a modern era are likely to have greater levels of extraversion – a form of impulsiveness – yet be more depressive and unsociable at the same time”.   Making people laugh is viewed by many comedians as a form of self-medication.  One thing was clear about Robin – he loved to laugh and to make others laugh.  However, there is often hidden pain within many people, and Robin’s battle with depression is one shared silently by many others, including myself.

The odd thing about depression is how it comes and goes, and the dark surprise by which it takes you when it returns.  When I attempt to discuss my depression with people close to me, I am more than often met with disbelief.  People refuse to believe that “someone like you” has any right to be depressed.  Depression is not a right, nor is it a conscious choice.  Depression is a disease that encompasses not only mental effects, but physical effects as well.  My struggle with depression began early in life, perhaps around the age of thirteen, when years of bullying caught up to me.  For years, I was tormented regularly by children in elementary and junior high school, for a multitude of reasons.  I was the favorite target, most likely because my tormentors knew how easy it was to make me cry.  Years later, second and third waves of depression hit me following a difficult breakup and the death of  my best friend.  I am currently in the process of recovering from the third major depressive episode of my life.  This most recent depressive episode coincided with my starting stand up comedy.

A sensitive heart and soul is often a feature of an artist, and comedians in particular tend to have addictive personalities and tendencies toward mental illness.  As someone pursuing a career in comedy, I can easily say that a depressive personality is common among comedians.  Many fellow comics struggle with anxiety and depression, among other mental afflictions.  This does not mean that comedians are completely dysfunctional, but there is a quality that attracts people to quality that directly corresponds with some sort of need for validation.  I know that for me personally, my experiences with being teased for many years in school is a contributing factor toward my desiring a career in the creative arts.  It is part of a drive to leave a legacy and somehow show those who put me down that I am indeed valuable in some way.

Although none of us will ever know the exact factors that drove Mr. Williams to take his own life, it is important for an conversation regarding mental illness and depression to commence in this country.  Far too many people suffer in silence, unable to discuss their feelings with their own family members.  The stigma of depression is what leads to acts of suicide shocking so many people.  However, to acknowledge the pain and struggle of depression is to become more self-aware as humans and as friends to one another.

You will be missed, Robin Williams.

I Am Doing Stand Up Comedy and All of a Sudden Shit Makes Sense

9 Aug

This blog has become less of a priority for me as I have begun my stand up career.  Now that I am performing stand up and putting myself out there with the possibility of being seen by someone who matters, everything makes a lot of sense to me.  I was always a fan of stand up but I never quite thought I had it in me to actually try it until recently.  I started in January, and I try to go onstage at least seven or eight times a week.  I’ve been performing regularly at open mics and some booked shows around Los Angeles, and I now feel as though I have some purpose in life and a way to showcase my thoughts and writing to complete strangers.

What I am hoping is that over time, this blog will become a website to showcase upcoming shows and my other comedy-related activities.

Here’s a clip of me performing in the Ed Galvez Punkhouse on July 2nd (the embed code does not work on WordPress for some reason, so if anyone has a tip for this, please let me know):

http://rooftopcomedy.com/watch/DatingInLA1