I STARTED A TWITTER ACCOUNT this past Monday with the opening tweet: “Finally caved.” I’m not on Facebook, Google+, or any other social networking site, so this was a big step. Follow me at @CritelliComedy for absurd one-liners in 140 characters or less.
But this post isn’t for regular readers of this site — Who would those be, anyway? I haven’t updated in months… — it’s for people who found this site through the link on my Twitter page and wonder what it’s about. If I hadn’t written this post, the first thing people would see is a deeply earnest discussion of my favorite books. And that’s not okay.
THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF gift-givers: those who try to give you something they know you’d like, and those who try to give you something they’d like you to like. I tend to fall into the latter camp, and often find myself apologizing when the recipient opens the gift and stares at its contents, bewildered, and then have to explain that I discovered this great thing I knew they hadn’t heard about but hoped they’d love as much as I did.
Usually it relates to books.
I try to do it sparingly, because I feel like the literary equivalent of an indie rock snob (“Who’s your favorite band?” “Oh, you wouldn’t have heard of them…”), but one of my hobbies is hunting down unknown books that are somehow unknown despite their world-changing brilliance. Even before I read Stephen Sample’s advice in The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership (only read books that have stood the test of time; those that are still in print 50 or more years past publication), I would spend hours going through Amazon.com user reviews to find casual mentions of people’s favorite books. If I’d never heard of them, I’d find them. If the reviews for the books in question all said, “I don’t know why nobody’s heard of this book; it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read,” I’d buy them on the spot.
IN “BASEBALL SUCKS…,” I MENTIONED how I pissed off a pair of baseball-loving friends with an over-the-top rant titled “Why Football?” What I didn’t mention was the fact that both of these essays pissed off all the rest of my readers, most of whom are not sports fans whatsoever.
At one time, neither was I. I remember coming back from college after my first semester and having my girlfriend accuse me of being a phony because I was really excited about watching USC in the National Championship. “Shut up, you don’t like sports,” she told me. But I did. And I still haven’t shut up.
Today marks a milestone: the release of Episode 20 of Mike and Matt on the Internet, a podcast I’ve been doing since last March with my former college roommate, the person who bears full responsibility for my transformation into a total stranger to my ex-girlfriend and many others, Matt Plocky. The show is most relevant the day it comes out, but it comes out erratically, so I have to find a way to let people know about it. This is that. Check it out on my “Podcast” page, or at its homepage, and enjoy.
Also worth noting, though it may seem like the activity on this site has been close to zero for some time, I spent several days prior to launching the new site doing edits on my old stories and essays. I definitely recommend taking a look if you haven’t yet, or taking another if you have. It might be better than you remembered. In fact, I guarantee it. You’re gonna like the way it looks.
FOLKS, I DON’T HAVE MUCH time to write right now, but if you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve noticed the website has gone through a massive overhaul in the last week. While it’s mostly finished, I need you to tell me what you think before I know I’m done.
While you take care of that, I’m off to improv practice and an Electric Six concert at the Key Club, along with my graduation show performance tomorrow afternoon at 5:30 at the UCB Theatre in Hollywood as well as a separate show with my team, Princess Cake, tomorrow night at 11:00PM at the loft at IOWest.
I’m sure you’re pissed off at the lack of updates to the site recently. I am too. But look at all this stuff!
BECAUSE I’M NOT SOME DAMN computer whiz, the redesign of the website is going to take place over several days. Depending on when you drop by, you may notice that things don’t look good or don’t work.
As we speak, I have a stock photo for a banner, pages are missing, the background is completely white, and the text is scaled to the size of Duplo blocks. This is all going to change. I’ll let you know when it does.
BEFORE I GET TO THE big news, I made a video with my friend Nick from improv, the Nick I met in my intro-level class and mentioned at the start of this story. If you get to the end, you’ll note that I finished by emailing my class about starting a practice group. Since publishing that post, I’ve been meeting weekly at Nick’s with him and four other people as part of a full-fledged team. A lot can happen in a few months.
Recently, Nick wrote a script for a short and asked me to star in it. I did. Another teammate, Alex, helped with the camera and direction. Here’s the finished product:
The big news — as teased above — is that I’ll be making some pretty substantial changes to the site. Aside from being somewhat professional-looking, the new site will be easier to navigate and feature easy access to all kinds of things: my podcast, Mike and Matt on the Internet, for example; the one-act plays I wrote in high school and college; more videos like the one above, or old stand up comedy clips; original songs; live dates for shows, because I’m in an improv group now, with Nick. See how I took that full circle?
Check back a week from Friday, when everything will have changed…
TUESDAY AFTERNOON, WHILE LOOKING FOR ways to waste time before getting actual work done, I stopped by Clikit or Tikit, the podcast of longtime friends Pete, Nick, and (returning soon) Glenn. I clicked on Episode 112, the newest for me at the time, and 26 minutes in I got quite a surprise.
I’ll explain what that was shortly. First, a story.
Last September, I was down in New Orleans for pre-production on a movie. I didn’t know the city yet or anyone in it, with two exceptions: the first, a gelato place that also served amazing paninis; second, the girl who worked there. Our film’s location manager took us there on a lunch break during a scout, I went back on my own that Friday, and that’s when we met.
Because it was the South, she struck up a conversation while she made my panini. “What brought you down to New Orleans?” she asked. I told her I’d written a movie. Then she said, “Really? I’m training to be an actress!”
Now, the correct thing to do in that situation is offer her a bit part in exchange for dirty sex. I didn’t do that. I’m not that quick on my feet. But we talked for over an hour, a conversation interrupted constantly by other customers, yet one which she kept starting back up every chance she got, laughing and smiling the whole time. She seemed genuinely sweet and I left that night kicking myself for not asking her out. Next time, I decided.
AT THE REHEARSAL DINNER THE night before my friend Mike got married, the Pastor — who also happened to be the father of one of the groomsmen — told Mike he should be well-rested and clearheaded on the day of his wedding, and that he should go back to his hotel room early to prepare for the biggest day of his life.
Five hours later, we were at a club downtown watching a girl in fishnet stockings do acrobatics on silk scarves hanging from the ceiling when Mike decided it would be a good time to run outside and play hide-and-seek.
“Did I do a good job hiding from you guys?” he asked me and my friend Luke — another groomsman.
Luke, to Mike: “Yes, Mike, you did,” even though Mike “hiding” was just him standing in front of a wall.
Luke, to Me: “I think we need to take Mike home now.”
We walked to a long flight of stone steps that led to the ground level and asked Mike “how [he] felt about stairs” in his current state. He responded by sitting on the hand rail to try and slide down. He fell but caught himself, somehow wrapping his arms and legs around the railing like a koala (less gracefully than a koala, maybe, but it’s hard to compare, as I’ve never seen a koala quite that drunk).