Tag Archive | comedy

The CreativeLife Podcast Ep.7: Quan Phung, Television’s “Cultural Translator” [Download] [Stream]

Episode 7 – Quan Phung

Whitney Live Taping at NBC Universal Studios - Jenny Yang with Quan Phung at Production Offices, August 30, 2011

Quan Phung, an Executive Producer of the NBC comedy "Whitney," handles the business to showcase the art. Pictured standing in front of Whitney actors' photos. Stuber Production Offices, August 30, 2011.

Former Fox Broadcasting Executive, television producer and Asian American arts community leader Quan Phung grew up translating between his Vietnamese heritage and American culture…

Download Episode 7 mp3 (right click on the link and click “Save As”): Quan Phung
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Subscribe to The CreativeLife on iTunes: Quan Phung

…and is now bridging creative and business cultures in network television.

Jenny and Quan had a lot to discuss. They were both Coro Fellows in Public Affairs in Los Angeles.  Then Quan decided that producing was his passion rather than the business of politics and policy.  He is now Head of Television for Stuber productions and Executive Producer of a hot new NBC prime-time comedy, “Whitney.” (“Whitney” Thursdays, 9:30PM PST on NBC)

How does one journey from working in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice to developing Emmy-award winning series like “How I Met Your Mother” and “My Name Is Earl for Twentieth Century Fox Television”?

We also sourced questions from Quan’s friends at youoffendmeyouoffendmyfamily.com, fellow Visual Communications Board member Phil Yu of angryasianman.com, and Jenny’s colleagues – actors Daegan Palermo and Ben Whitehair, writer Brian Kane, screenwriter Jonathan Peters and television writer Josh Kamensky (Well, look at that! A veritable hit parade of Asian American blogging superstars and white guys with thoughtful questions).

Find out what a producer actually does for a show, how you get a job as a writer, the virtues of a multi-camera show, when executives decide to work with a comedic talent to develop a show, and whether Quan wears boxers or briefs (Just for the record, that last question? Not mine).

I don’t think that I put out that that I’m the Asian American male voice.  No. I’m also the immigrant voice.  I’m also the oldest son’s voice.  I’m also the San Diego-raised voice.  So there’s a lot of different things that I hopefully bring to the table besides just being an Asian American man.  Because I think that’s not acknowledging the diversity of what people are.

- Quan Phung, The CreativeLife podcast with Jenny Yang, Episode 7

Whitney on NBC - Thursdays 9:30PM PST

Whitney on NBC - Thursdays 9:30PM PST (SOURCE: NBC)

The short pilot episode audio clip of NBC’s “Whitney” featured in this podcast was used courtesy of NBC.

"Whitney" TV Show Live Taping at NBC Universal Studios, August 30, 2011 (Source: NBC Whitney)

"Whitney" TV Show Live Taping at NBC Universal Studios, August 30, 2011. I'm in the front to the left! (Source: NBC Whitney)

If you liked what you heard, please comment in iTunes AND donate by simply clicking the Paypal button at top right hand corner at http://www.creativelifepod.com.

MUSIC:

Episode 7 of The CreativeLife podcast features the powerhouse voices and beautiful music of independent artists Alice Tong (“Sayin’ Hi” and “Capitalist Junkie” from “please be brave before the lions they come”) and Sue Jin (“Cant’ Help Falling In Love” cover).

Alice Tong Music

Alice Tong Music

FROM ALICE TONG’S WEBSITE:

Alice Tong is singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist living in Oakland, CA. Her piano, guitar, ukelele, and harmonica playing are influenced by indie folk rock, jazz, and alt country, while her rich vocals are inspired by jazz, soul, and blues.

Her album of all-original songs entitled, “please be brave before the lions they come” was recorded in Los Angeles with a host of extremely talented musicians and producer/engineer Glenn Suravech (worked with Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Brett Dennen, Wallflowers, etc.).

Sue Jin Music

Sue Jin's soulful sounds featured in Episode 7 of The CreativeLife podcast with Jenny Yang

FROM SUE JIN’S WEBSITE:

Sue Jin is a soulful singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, an Associate Artist for Tuesday Night Cafe, and K-12 educator, who has performed on both television and radio.

Her album, “Worth the Tears” (2008) is available for review/purchase on iTunes.Her sophomore album, “Worthy” is scheduled to be released November, 2011.

LINKS:

And when you’re done listening to it…leave a comment at the end of this post, or on iTunes.  Send me your feedback and comments!  What did you like about the interview? What did you learn that you hadn’t thought about before?  What was something that you wanted to learn more about the creative process?  What question were you DYING for me to ask but I never did!?

WP Greet Box icon Thanks for visiting The CreativeLife podcast with Jenny Yang, a podcast & blog about the art, business, & soul of living the Creative Life. If you find this interesting, subscribe to the RSS feedvisit our Facebook Page or add us on Twitter!

My 5 Moments of Clarity at Live Studio Taping of NBC’s “Whitney”! [Podcast Relaunch Preview]

UPDATE 11/20/2011

So many folks have found my blog by searching for live Whitney taping tickets!  Well.  If you’re here because of that…here it is: http://on-camera-audiences.com/shows/Whitney  That’s the link to get yourself some live show tickets to watch the taping.  The Whitney show in NBC DID get picked-up for the full season so there will be plenty more shows to put on!

And if you’ve attended the live studio taping, be sure to come back and drop me a comment to let me know what YOUR experience was like!  Let’s compare notes.

Cheers!
Jenny Yang

The chances for success of a new TV show are probably as low as the success rates of opening a new restaurant.  So I was curious to get my first-hand sneak peek of NBC’s new fall comedy, “Whitney.”

Thanks to upcoming podcast relaunch guest, Quan Phung, I had a chance to attend a live-taping of the fifth episode of this much-ballyhooed female-driven comedy (The eponymous star is both show creator, writer, and Executive Producer).  (And, yes. I did just put side-by-side parenthetical statements. And I just used the word “ballyhooed.” Deal with it.)

Will “Whitney” be more “I Love Lucy” or more “The Paul Reiser Show“? The show premieres this fall on September 22nd and my relaunch podcast episode with Quan Phung will drop that same week.  You can decide for yourself!

My verdict on this fifth episode?: FUNNY!

Front Row Seats at NBC's Whitney Sitcom Taping

The audience warm-up comic gave me an autographed copy of the Whitney show program. Hm. What should I do with it? (Photo Credit: Michelle Ko)

Unfortunately, I cannot share photos of me lounging on the set (boo), stealing a pint of tasty seasoned shrimp from craft services (yum) or details of the plotline (funny!).

I CAN share 5 tangentially-related moments of clarity I experienced while sitting front row on hard seats for four and a half hours of Hollywood magic.

  1. Krumping has officially jumped the shark when a skinny white girl from the audience wearing a tight white mini-dress can win a $50 gift card by krumpin’ like she’s tryin’ to snap some vertabrae.
  2. Writing clever jokes that move a story forward and reflect interesting characters all within a handful of short scenes takes some SERIOUS skill.
  3. Multi-camera comedies shot in front of a live studio audience with stories built around stand-up comedy talent can work. All hail “Seinfeld,” “Roseanne,” and “Cheers.” ‘Nuff said.
  4. Punch lines are funnier when they are more specific.  Harry Potter > Warlock.
  5. Home-viewing experiences of sitcoms could be MUCH funnier if we can recreate the audience warm-up comic and booming party jams during commercial breaks.  “RAISE YOUR GLASS!”  “TO THE WINDOW! TO THE WAAALL!!!”

Other fun tidbits: met head writer and show runner Betsy Thomas (fierce funny lady coolness), saw brooding comedy manager legend and Executive Producer Barry Katz stand a foot in front of me, and saw how multiple takes with tweaked punchlines and writing make for better laughs.

Have you experienced live studio tapings of shows before? What was that like for you? Did you learn anything about the creative process? Did it inspire you? Please share a comment with me!

The CreativeLife Podcast Ep.3: Jennifer Jajeh’s Got Your Brown, Smart and Sassy Right Here [Episode 3] [Download] [Stream]

Jennifer Jajeh. Look. It's my acting headshot.

Jennifer Jajeh: So fresh from the Bay you can still hella smell the contact patchouli.

Episode 3-Jennifer Jajeh

What’s brown, smart and has sassy written all over it?  After three years of nationally touring her critically-acclaimed solo “tragicomedy” show I Heart Hamas, Jennifer Jajeh is ready to put that confidence right in your face, Los Angeles…

Download Episode 3 mp3: Jennifer Jajeh
Listen to Episode 3 with Wizzard Player: Jennifer Jajeh
Subscribe to The CreativeLife on iTunes: Jennifer Jajeh

…Palestinian-American Jennifer Jajeh has just moved to to Tinseltown and is cooking up her creative plans. A little bit of commercial acting?  A dash of writing?  Maybe a sprig of producing.  No matter the results, this UCLA alum is committed to finding a path that will honor her unique perspective and pay the bills.  We talk about how success might draw the occasional death threat, how there’s really “no logic” in a career in the arts, and why she’s ready to be the next smart-ass, politically incorrect, browner-than-Oprah Oprah.

If I, a living witness, one who experienced those times, don’t speak about them, then others who did not experience or witness those times will invent their own version of them. - Anatoly Rybakov

Recorded in Jennifer’s living room, May 17, 2011.

Episode 3 Community SponsorSay Something Funny, B*tch! founded by Alisha Gaddis.  Be sure to check out the SSFB comedy show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival Friday, June 10th, 2011 at 10:30PM (Theatre Asylum 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, LA, CA)

If you liked what you heard, please comment in iTunes AND donate by simply clicking the Paypal button at http://www.creativelifepod.com.

LINKS:
* The Creativity Book: a year’s worth of inspiration and guidance by Eric Maisel
* W. Kamau Bell: comic, solo performer, and director of I Heart Hamas
* Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed and SepiaMutiny blog
*  IndieGoGo: independent fundraising tool
* In Bed with Jen Jajeh
* I Heart Hamas at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

MUSIC: This episode also features the lovely sounds of Sarah Negahdari (The CreativeLife podcast episode 1) and her band, The Happy Hollows“High Wire”, “Tambourine”, and “Turtle and Hare” from Spells, released 2010 from Autumn Tone Records.

And when you’re done listening to it…leave a comment at the end of this post, or on iTunes.  Send me your feedback and comments!  What did you like about the interview? What did you learn that you hadn’t thought about before?  What was something that you wanted to learn more about the creative process?  What question were you DYING for me to ask but I never did!?

WP Greet Box icon Thanks for visiting The CreativeLife podcast with Jenny Yang, a podcast & blog about the art, business, & soul of living the Creative Life. If you find this interesting, subscribe to the RSS feedvisit our Facebook Page or add us on Twitter!

VIDEO: The Humberville Poetry Slam short mockumentary by Emily C. Chang! (I’m editing her interview as we speak!)

While you await Episode 2 of our premier five-pack…chew on THIS: The Humberville Poetry Slam-Trailer.  This is the genius work of Emily C. Chang, my 2nd guest of The CreativeLife podcast.  And as a poet and spoken word artist…this warms my cockles in so many ways.

WP Greet Box icon Thanks for visiting The CreativeLife podcast with Jenny Yang, a podcast & blog about the art, business, & soul of living the Creative Life. If you find this interesting, subscribe to the RSS feedvisit our Facebook Page or add us on Twitter!

“Coming Out” to My Parents About Doing Standup Comedy

Jenny Yang Jokes a Tuesday Night Project, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

I work snark for the money.

Yeah. I said it. I “came out” to my parents that I’m serious about comedy. Let’s be real here: I have no real comparison to what it might feel like to have to “Come Out” to my parents in the traditional, sexuality sense. But I’d like to think that telling my parents that I’m taking “joking” rather seriously was like a close friend of a distant cousin to the real “Coming Out” experience. I started doing comedy a couple years ago. After a few months I realized I liked it and will pursue it while I kept my day job. So I figure, I should probably tell my parents, cuz that’s what a normal adult child would want to share with their parents when they make a large time commitment to a new hobby that brings them joy.

We were at our regular local hotspot, the Souplantation. That’s an all-you-can-eat salad, soup and baked goods bar where Torrance families like to go to have their unsupervised children smear their nose-picking fingers in the rainbow sprinkles bowl by the frozen yogurt machine. That place is so crowded and old I can’t imagine how they could have kept that place clean since I started going there twenty years ago.  I’d wonder why I haven’t gotten sick from that place but I figure I’ve gone there so many times my bowels have developed a strong immunity to Souplantation’s microbes.  They say they have specific hours but it feels like they are never closed. They have this never-ending buffet line of people who like to eat food from their trays with bare hands while they wait for my older Chinese parents to balance the sunflower seed spoon over to their own plate.

During the prolonged silence and everyday drivel that is usually the extent of my conversation with my parents over meals, I decided to tell them that I was starting to do comedy. This is exactly how it went, translated from Chinese.

Me: Mom, Dad. Did you know I took a class on how to tell jokes?” (I don’t know how to translate the term “standup comedy”) You know. Where you tell jokes in front of a group of people to entertain them.
Dad: Oh yeah?
Mom: (Silence – continued sipping of her chicken noodle soup)
Me: Yeah. It’s fun. I’ve been having a good time with it.
Dad: That’s nice. Performing sounds exciting.
(Silence)
Dad: (To my mom) Did you want some of my pizza? It’s good.
Me: What do you think? It’s kinda cool right?
Mom: Well I don’t know. How much did the class cost?
Me: Oh. Well it was 8 weeks and we met each week for a few hours. I donno. over $200?
Mom: (Does mental calculations and writes them with her fingers on her palm) Oh well that’s not bad.
Mom: (To my dad) Here. Take this. I can’t finish any more.
Dad: Well if it’s interesting to you that’s good.
Mom: (Silence)
Me: What do you think about that Mom? (I just couldn’t let it go)
Mom: I don’t know if I like it. Because telling jokes is always those dirty jokes.  They always say bad things about their family members, too.  And people tell them at night in those dirty bars. They’re dangerous. Is that where you’re going? You have to be careful in those places.
Me: (But mom you have never gone outside of the house. How would you know?) It’s not like that mom. It’s fine. Not dangerous at all. People are nice.
Mom: Yeah well you’re only doing it for fun, right?
Me: Yeah.
Dad: You have to try this brocolli. It’s sweet.

Before we proceed, NOTE that my mom’s FIRST reaction was to ask how much the class cost and proceed to do precise calculations to see if I overpaid. Kudos to mom for staying in-character! I would expect nothing less.

Something that is typically considered frivolous like comedy and joke-telling was probably not what my parents had in mind for me we moved from Taiwan when I was five-years old. I probably built up the moment of telling them about doing stand-up a little bit in my mind because I didn’t know how negative their reaction would be. It wasn’t like I was announcing to them a whole new lifestyle – I was still keeping my day job (for the time being). What I did realize was that I could still feel like I was engaging with them and honoring my relationship with them by letting them know about this change in my life. I didn’t have to feel like my self-worth was pinned onto their support of my decision. It wasn’t like I said “Mom, Dad. I decided to become a private escort, turning tricks for money.” That, I’d imagine, may elicit more of an intervention. “Informing” them becomes more of a “courtesy” rather than a “request for approval.” Well, that’s kinda nice.

How about you? Did you ever have to have a “Coming Out” conversation about your creative pursuits with your family or loved ones? What was that like for you? What was their reaction? Or was it not a big deal at all? Holler.

WP Greet Box icon Thanks for visiting The CreativeLife podcast with Jenny Yang, a podcast & blog about the art, business, & soul of living the Creative Life. If you find this interesting, subscribe to the RSS feedvisit our Facebook Page or add us on Twitter!

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