Tag Archive: show

  1. The good show is a good show

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    It was a dark and stormy night mid-November of last year when Elias Bartholomew ’17, Nate File ’17 and Angelo Pis-Dudot ’17 had a big laugh together. They were giggling for hours, like they normally do, but for some reason that night was different. There was something magical happening. Suddenly, without anyone counting off or anything, all three men exclaimed, “Let’s create Yale’s first and only late-night style comedy show!” They all covered their mouths with their hands, shocked and amazed at what had happened, and slowly backed out of the room.

    From that point forward none of the three could deny what had happened that night. They immediately set to work recruiting the best and the brightest: big names like Charlie Bardey ’17, Mikayla Harris ’17 and Jordan Coley ’17. It was a ragtag group of writers, actors and funny people, and yet from it blossomed something truly wonderful.

    The Good Show is a late-night style talk show that includes sketches, hilarious invented guest stars, real guest stars and musical guest stars. The show isn’t even one year old, but the cast has already performed six times in locations all around this campus, and I was one of the lucky few to get a seat at last Friday’s edition in JE: The demand was so high they had to turn people away at the door.

    Despite an apparently traditional set-up featuring two hosts who joke about current events, the show constantly surprised the audience by bending or even abandoning those established guidelines. Since this show, being the year’s first, was intended to recruit new members, the theme was auditions. Mid-show, two cast members took the stage and pretended to audition the hosts, prodding them to repeat their lines in different personas — including that of a pig farmer.

    Part of the Good Show’s magic comes from its newness. Unlike other groups on campus, it has no precedent and therefore a lot of flexibility. This promises a strong future for the show, which I predict will grow and change in ways no one imagined — perhaps even the cast-members themselves. The show’s collaborative nature also contributes to its ever-changing tone: instead of having a director, the show’s production team makes all decisions together, meaning there is no one vision for how a show will turn out. In one particularly zany bit from Friday, Coley emerged onstage dressed as a Jamaican chef who had forgotten to bring any of her food with her. In doing so, Coley mocked the traditional role of the talk show guest as someone witty, prepared and put together.

    This lack of a unified vision also makes producing the show something of a roller coaster: Even now, with all their success, those who help produce the show still feel amazed that they are pulling it off. Most went into the Good Show without experience in comedy writing or acting, and are learning on the fly. This sort of environment lends itself to exploration and boundary-breaking comedy. It’s how real innovation happens.

    And the collaborative spirit behind the Good Show doesn’t stop with the production team. In the past, the hosts have sat down with guests such as Yale College Council President Michael Herbert ’16 and Dean Jonathan Holloway. Their discussions range from hilarious to hard-hitting. In addition, they invite musical guests to perform at the show’s end: On Friday, Seungju Hwang ’17 and the Squadettes performed their own version of Uptown Funk, adding yet another artistic dimension to the show.

    The next Good Show will be on October 16th in the JE theater at 8pm. I’m looking forward to what the cast has in store for us and what absurd and hilarious ideas they come up with over the next couple of dark and stormy nights.

  2. Katz out of the bag

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    If art museums are the 180-minute foreign films that few watch, then exhibitions are the awards ceremonies for those unpopular films — the closest a misunderstood artist can get to the glamour of Hollywood awards season, replacing some kitschy red carpet with the edgy, artistic industrialism of concrete. Here, the Oscar went to Alex Katz, who celebrated the opening of his exhibit, “Katz x Katz” at Yale School of Art’s 32 Edgewood Ave. Gallery. In brief Wikipedia terms, Katz has been a prolific artist since the 1950s, with his style sometimes dubbed the precursor to pop art.

    Passing the paparazzi (several chilly New Haven police officers), I entered the gallery. Given the abundance of combat boots and studded leather jackets worn by visitors, what seemed like a faint smell of Zara lingered in the air, echoing the conscious branding present in Katz’s work.

    Despite the intimidating sartorial edginess, most people gush to each other. A reclusive minority (myself included) slinked around the walls, assumed “Le Penseur” pose and absorbed Katz’s work.

    Spatially, the exhibit rejects the familiar linearity of a museum experience. The largest wall displays Katz’s paintings in a kaleidoscopic array. I craned my head to find a large mural of two men about to kiss, one in Sleeping Beauty serenity. Somehow the arrangement avoids chaos, intensifying the experience of Katz’s work as more billboard than Botticelli.

    Even in his flashiest murals, however, Katz clings to a shred of realism. He avoids the glitz of Lichtenstein and Warhol, never fully embracing the brightness and boldness of pop art. Still, Katz favors a detached two-dimensionality in portraying the human form — stylistically, but also emotionally. Haunting sideward glances and empty gazes stare at viewers. This indifference seems the most dated and disappointing aspect of Katz’s works. Katz nearly always sets his human forms against abstract or domestic backgrounds. In one piece — a personal favorite of mine — he depicts an idyllic lake with a human head emerging from the water, smiling despite nearly drowning. In another, a couple’s heads are surrounded by a sea of blue, seemingly drowning in bright turquoise hues. His large murals typify, in textbook simplicity, pop art’s stylistic aversion to emotional engagement.

    For pithy gems of cultural observations, I often look no further than Lena Dunham’s “Girls.” In one episode, the main character Hannah calms her first-date nerves with the following adage: “You are from New York, therefore you are just naturally interesting.” Part of the artistic fascination with Katz, in that same vein, is rooted in his obvious urbanity. With subjects like Allen Ginsburg and other easily recognizable figures (including Yale School of Art Dean Robert Storr), Katz woos viewers with big-name subjects.

    Bowing my head back down to eye level, I discovered the artist’s less flashy works. Alive with broad brushstrokes and more nuanced features, these pieces betray a sensitivity absent in Katz’s more popular works, such as the four-canvas “Twelve Hours” mural. The breadth of these paintings and drawings saves Katz from any characterization as one-dimensional. One cluster of three pieces depicts the same woman, eyes closed and nearly drowning. Stylistically simple, colored with muted browns in one and gray scale in another, the pieces strike a depth despite their cartoonish framework, daring to depict darkness (figuratively and literally) more directly.

    Even more revealing are his landscapes, abstract scenes of bright flowers and lush greenery. For these smaller pieces, Katz visibly loosens his style, crafting less polished and less contrived portrayals of nature that feel more authentic, not in their strict realism, but in their conveyance of Katz’s true artistic identity. Unpredictable in their style, these pieces depart from his more well-known, conventional work.

    Just before leaving, I walked down a narrow ramp and glanced at the large, polished silver lettering: “Katz x Katz.” I read it as “Katz by Katz.” Entirely the artist’s own.