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Top 5 Classic Comedy TV Shows You Need to Pirate Right Now

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top 5 tv shows you need to pirate

Teehee. Of course you shouldn’t pirate any TV show, that’s horrible and illegal. But, as classic comedy TV shows go, these Top 5 are the best at instigating humour and laughter without feeling outdated and old. Keep Reading

Making a Comedy Shortfilm – Top 8 Tips I’ve Learnt

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myself and gang filming a shortfilm

I starting writing my own comedy shortfilm as a way to create something I thought I never could. I realised too that, in order for them to be made, I would have to make them.

So, I may have learnt a couple of things along the way that most would never know, some know only too well and others forget.

1. Write your comedy shortfilm properly…then ask a friend if it’s funny

It all starts with the story. I have no specific way of writing anything well, as I haven’t as yet. Everything I write down is an experience in line with an experiment.

The format is key too. Learn to write in a screenplay format, there’s tons of tutorials out there, like this one for my last sketch, the Driving Test. It helps because everyone knows the format.

Don’t wait. I could easily wait until a buddy of mine would show up at my pad, beers in hand and ready to dish out some cool anecdote I’ll be inspired to write down, but it’s not so easy for those that don’t come around to mine.

Don’t look to anybody else for inspiration, just write your story. You can, and should however, look to someone else for guidance after writing it. Get their take, receive their input gladly and follow along with whatever advice they give.

Most times, they’ll be right.

2. Get a better camera than what you’ve got, cos yours is crap

Comedy Shortfilm Poster for Driving Test
Our released shortfilm “Driving Test”

Filming your comedy shortfilm with an iPhone is actually ok. In our first one I used two when myself and Joe Emilio filmed our Driving Test one, and it was easy to use.

However, you can tell the quality is lacking, with depth of field and quality of view. So, get a better camera.

If you’re lucky, get a friend who knows cameras. Maybe he is a cameraman. I know one, he’s cool and wants to do more sketches. I’ll keep at it.

3. Keep it simple, don’t try to redo Police Academy

The first time was with me a Joe, the next with Nathan and a few more. The following was a huge undertaking and it didn’t pan out as well as I would’ve liked.

Focus on the simpler tasks first. Write all your stories, but then focus on the ones you can practically pull off on a shoestring budget with minimal fuss.

It takes a lot to coordinate extras, props, main leads and continuity. Keep it between friends. The bigger stories can be created later when more people follow and believe in you.

4. No beer on set, your grip will let go

I learnt that from my last big production. Don’t bring alcohol to the set as people will start fooling around and make unnecessary noise while director and cinematographer speak.

Keep to simple snacks, drinks and sandwiches. But no alcohol, trust me. It will spare you time.

Behind the Scenes of our shortfilm. We had beer. Don't.5. Learn to edit yourself, cos no one else will

That’s my biggest joy of the whole process, the editing phase. I love taking what Iv’e written down, then organising all the clips into one big mess.

And be prepared, this is the most time-consuming part. You will get frustrated with the files you have to sort, the audio you have to bring together and syncing both all at the same time.

And it’s learning the programs. Adobe Premiere is the industry standard, while Final Cut Pro is the layman’s lazy “professional” movie editor. Go for the latter, it’ll save you time.

As for the art of editing, I can’t teach you that. Watch other things and then mimic them. Reproduce the editing in some of the best films you’ve seen and avoid the worst ones. This will take some research.

6. Take care of the special effects and they’ll take care of you

I mean more about the titles and the lighting, as these affect the mood and how audiences perceive your shortfilm. I’m busy reediting my latest short because the lighting is all wrong on so many places and it bothers me.

Where you can, learn about filters and effects. In one comedy shortfilm I filmed long ago, I’m learning Adobe After Effects to turn it into an old 80’s movie complete with broken film (to hide that we never shot the connecting scenes). It’s excruciating, but in the end worth it.

And invest in taking time to make a cool introduction. There’s plenty of title templates to choose one, so use one that’s right for you.

7. Listen to your sound and make sure they can hear the punchline.

Need I say more? Don’t pass up the opportunity to better your sound. If you feel you can’t hear that one thing, fix it and fake it if you have to.

8. Release it and then don’t expect anything

Marketing your comedy shortfilm is the second hardest thing, as nobody would’ve heard nor care about its premise. And it won’t get many likes.

Mine hasn’t. I know. But I gotta keep trying, as I love the process of taking a story to film. Eventually, someone’s going to like it.

Driving Test – A Comedy Shortfilm

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Check out our latest little comedy shortfilm:

TITLE: Driving Test
TAGLINE: A Driving Instructor struggles to teach a student the basics.
CAST: Joe Emilio, Nelson de Gouveia, Cara Ruthernberg

Applying Business Practices to Stand-Up Comedy

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business of comedy

When approaching projects in my employment, I put forth a variety of business practices that ensure I manage them on time and to budget within cost agreed to with clients and get them the product they require. But when it comes to stand-up comedy, I’m as guilty as anybody of treating it like any other hobby; whenever I get to it.

As it turns out, professional stand-ups have to treat their work like any other work: just like a business.

So, without further ado, here’s the top ten practices I’ve learnt in business that I, as an aspiring stand-up comic, would apply: Keep Reading

VIDEO – #ThatsFunny at the All Star Theatre, Brackenfell, November 2014

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nelson comedy comedian
The following video is a 10 minute stand up comedy special performed live in front of an audience at the All star Theatre in Bracknefell in November 2014.
I hated that suit.

Say what I meant…and mean it.

in Comedy by
bill hick said what he meant

“You’re really brave to say the things you say.” And Bill smiled.

I read that and was amazed at that observation. Bill Hick’s autobiography, American Scream, opened my eyes up a little. Has that been my failing all along, that I’ve not been talking about what’s really inside me?

I’ve noticed the greats are doing that; Bill Hicks talked about his passion for an America he hated, “I’m gonna overthrow the government and replace it with a democracy.”. Richard Pryor was open about his failings, “Nothing like setting yourself on fire to make you realise you’re in deep shit.” Louis CK, in paying tribute to George Carlin and what he learnt about being a writer, “I have to dig deeper everytime I throw away old shit to find something new to talk about.”

I feel like I’m scared to really talk about what I’m thinking, that I hide my real comedy behind a layer of diatribe that’s been pulverised into a blender and regurgitated out for a massive few, while the greats constantly strove to work hard at being themselves.

There have been moments, however, when I’ve felt like myself. Most recently, I headlined Ellingtons in Bellville, Cape Town before one of the major soccer matches, and they had it on the big screen behind me. As I went up, I knew I had a short space of time to say before the game started, which reminded me of those many times when my dad told me to move out of the way from the television set, and the crowd bought it, it made sense. “Was your father a glass-maker?” “I don’t know, dad, I’m 4, what do you do?”

But I categorise my persona in two ways:

– When I’m surrounded by people that I think will get me, and that includes the comics and the promoter
– When I’m in an alien environment I’m unsure of, and I dish out familiar, bottled material in order to keep it safe.

How I should categorise my persona is as follows:

– Say what I like about what I’m thinking, and hopefully the crowd will get it.

I did a show last night in Melbourne, Australia, in a beautifully packed room with a good stage. No one knew me, I didn’t speak to the other comics, but I kept thinking about that line from Bill’s biography and decided to open with something familiar and proceed with something fresh:

“Hi everyone, nice to meet you. My name is Nelson Jose Goncalves Ribeiro, I’m 34 years old and I was born in Venezuela, to a Portuguese family and grew up in South Africa.

“This means, Australia, that I’m not your f***ing problem.” That got laughs.

“You don’t have to fret, I’m not endangering the social structure here, I’m purely passing through. I know it seems unfair, this f***ing foreigner coming over here stealing our spots in open mic nights away from decent hard-working local comedians who happen to also be lazy scumbags that can’t hold down a job, the b******.

“My visa ends on the 15th, my ticket is for the 14th. So no matter what happens tonight, the immigration question has been answered.”

And applause.

Saying Goodbye to Robin Williams…wish I had said hello first.

in Comedy by
robin williams
So, Robin Williams has passed away from an apparent suicide.

And we’re all sitting around on our phones, our computers and our tablets on our couches, by our desks, in the car while the mom’s driving you to school, or you’re experiencing a near-fading experience listening to your CEO droning on about the four C’s that’ll drive productivity forward, as we read the how’s and the why’s about Robin Williams.

And Robin Williams, the human being that brought us the best version of alien you could get in Mork and Mindy, an unforgettable Genie in Alladin, the uplifting voice of reason in Good Morning Vietnam, the aspiring teach in Dead Poets Society, the deadbeat in The Fisher King, or even the creepy guy in One Hour Photo, amongst all the numerous standup routines and countless other characters per minute he portrayed, is today and for all time not breathing.

I’m not here to over-analyse why Robin Williams did it, nor will I fawn over his many accomplishments; more versatile bloggers, news outlets and intellectuals will provide such wicked commentary for you.
Nor do I wish to label Robin Williams by anything other than his name; “boisterous”, “excentric” and “over-the-top” have been some of the many that everyone’s been clinging to stick to.

And I’m not going to sympathise over Robin William’s battle with alcohol and drugs; he battled depression, yes, so do many of us, including me. You don’t know my depression, I keep it quiet. Those closest to me see it and they don’t understand what I’m going through, fighting their own battles themselves. And the best excuse, I don’t think I’m important enough for anybody to worry about, so my depression I wage war on alone. And he did too or with family, it doesn’t matter.

Remember, it’s not a tragedy that Robin Williams couldn’t win against depression if you’re loaded and got time to visit a counselor 5 times a week.

I just want to say, I’m sorry Robin Williams. Like everyone else I drew inspiration from, you inspired me. I liked his portrayal in movies and his stand-up is insane (not was, we haven’t lost his art, we just lost more of what he wanted to say), and recently I listened to quite a few. How could you even follow his brain as it spewed it all out??

No, I’m sorry I didn’t pay enough attention to you, Robin Williams (and I know you’re reading this blog, Robin Williams, Steve Jobs handed out a free iPad 2000 the minute you stepped through the Pearly Gates), as I’m sure you would’ve really taken notice if people paid attention.

And you know what, Robin Williams, I’m sorry I didn’t work hard enough to finally meet you and say, “Hey Robin Williams…”

And you would’ve gone, “Hey buddy, what you doing there repeating my name Robin Williams in every paragraph on your blog, you getting ‘robinrepetitis?'”

And I would’ve replied, “You know what, Robin Williams, I guess so. How very Williamsesque. Na-nu, na-nu.”

Just then, a twinkle gets in your eye as your recognition for the prank-parlour trick comes into play. “You second guessed yourself,” you’d quip, and we’d laugh because the anti-punchline would be more inspiring that pandering to the belief of trying to make the other person love you instead of just showing people how you try to love yourself, and how difficult it is.

I’m not making sense on this blog entry today, but I’m quite sure that I’m gonna miss the chance to have said hello face to face to Robin Williams, like everyone else on earth wished they could.

Why I’m a Full Time Comedian…in my spare time.

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full time comedian

You get off stage, having pummeled the crowd with joke after joke that kills, that murders, that slays. Backstage, you wipe your brow as the other acts pat your back and praise you for that quick turn when the heckler almost threw you off-course from the journey of self-exploration you were taking the audience through.

This is your job, this is what you live for.

And that’s the vision I see most comedians that have pursued our line of work full-time experience many evenings as a full-time comedian.

Back at the farm, while the young comics emerging into the crowd open-mic circuit trying their luck to impress not just the crowd but the promoter in the hope they get a chance to return, some hardened comedians stand aside and watch as people below them begin to flower, while others above them live the life they dream, and I’m one of those.

I don’t pertain to be a veteran or a professional, but for someone that cannot go by a week without performing at least once in front of a crowd, it stopped being a hobby a long time ago. I remember the time I made the leap from hobbyist to proper comedian; I was heading back from a full night at a Laughing Horse gig in Temple, London, hosting a birthday party event where two guys brought dozens of friends and family each to watch. Not only did we perform our usual tricks, but we gave the birthday boys the credit they deserved by making their evening enjoyable. And when I got home, I received a text message from the showrunner: “Great job, mate, till next tme.” (deliberate misspelling).

And there and then, I realised, I can’t live without it.

But the reality of the situation is, I am not going to make it as a full-time stand-up comedian. Not at the moment. I’ve been diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), which to many is a made-up term for someone that is just lazy; to me, it’s a reality where I cannot, for the life of me, focus on one particular thing. Where I procrastinate so heavily it makes my teeth ache that I haven’t written a script in 6 months, or haven’t created a painting in over 3 years.

That last one, that’s a hobby.

The disorder prevents me from really pushing forward in other areas designed to add value to my stand-up career; you don’t just get famous for your act, you accentuate your comedy career with other aspects that people working in the industry for real (promoters, bookers, agents) rally around you for, as in today’s age Youtube has more viewers than television, and you gotta bring the big bucks in.

So what happens to me? I’m still at it, plowing away. I can’t stop being a full-time comedian, I have to continue being someone’s opening act (one day) or constantly work hard to be part of the family of comics that work together. One comic still told me, “You have great ideas, Nelson, but I know you, you don’t follow through.”

And that’s why I’m at the office right now, waiting for a developer to finish his work before I can do my day-job, which sucks as it’s officially sanction overtime I volunteered for. And yes, it sucks to be me right now.

Still, it’s better than being a fish and chip shop owner.

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