Comedy is big. This isn’t a new thing. It always has been, hasn’t it? We have a long history of wanting to laugh, apparently. There are many options open to you as a comedy-seeker when you live in LA. Pretty much any day of the week, you can catch an 8 or 10PM (even on a school night) stand-up show in multiple locations in the city. You have improv shows in abundance, again, every night of the week. And now storytelling shows like The Moth or Mortified have gained in popularity in the City of Angels as well, which more often than not at least lean comedic. How do you weed through them all? You got me. I say hop around town and enjoy yourself while supporting live performance. But if you need a nudge in a certain direction, I’ve got a recommendation for you.
The UnCabaret just happens to be celebrating their 25th (!) anniversary here in Los Angeles. Self described as an alternative comedy night, it’s a mix of big names and relative newcomers that engage in personal storytelling, standup, and music. Beth Lapides is the show’s founder and, as far as I know, opens the show every single Sunday evening. Mitch Kaplan is the musical director and constant partner in crime.
So I decided I’d stop by for a try one Sunday night. It wasn’t a seamless experience, and that may have been part of its charm. I’d never been to the show or Au Lac, the vegan restaurant that hosts the show, before. I walked in and told the host that I was there for the show. She looked at me, might have murmured, “Cool,” and didn’t move a muscle. I asked her if she could point me in the right direction and she gave me the biggest eye-roll I’ve seen in years, before walking me to where I needed to be. Epic eye-roll. So I’ll just tell you, walk in the door and head left and to the back of the restaurant. You’ll see a new set of glass doors that lead you to the UnCabaret stage. Whew! I just spared you the whole put-out hostess situation. You are welcome.
I was seated without being asked for my ticket. That was weird. The attempt was to place me in the front row, which for me could be categorized as torture. So I asked to be moved back a row with no incident. If you are a front row person, get there early-ish (maybe 7:40) to make sure you grab a prime spot. If, like me, that causes a panic attack, get there at 7:55. You might be able to score a back corner spot at that time. I’ll try that next time. There’s a two item minimum; I recommend ordering something before the show begins. The gentleman sitting next to me (a long time regular attendee) had 2 smoothies, 3 glasses of wine, 4 entrees, and a dessert. If you are concerned about the two item minimum, I’d suggest cozying up to him. He might volunteer to cover one of yours.
Beth opened the show with introductions (there’s a house band! how cool!), some laughs, and a song. I’m sure it goes this way every single show. All the guest performers were asked to tell a story (vs. the standard standup routine) and I’d say it was a stumbling block. They were all obviously talented. I believe on my particular evening, standup was their particular area of expertise, and perhaps they should have been allowed to do what they do best. The performers seemed a bit uncomfortable with the given circumstances, but were all entertaining and endearing on various levels. The absolute highlight of the show on my particular night of attendance was Justin Sayre. He shared some sweet and hilarious things, and sang a song. I need more of him in my life. Seriously magical, and he’s there on a semi regular basis. The evening ended with a small handful of young dudes rockin’ out. It was a bit puzzling, hilarious, and perfect.
I wouldn’t call it a polished evening of comedy. I wouldn’t call it alternative comedy nor more than comedy, really. It was just a nice evening with warm and funny people. Some of whom seemed to be regular performers, regular audience members, and some not. It wasn’t a club where you needed to be in the know to have a good time (except, maybe where to go—ahem, unhelpful hostess). Strangers are welcome. It was the first time in a long time I didn’t feel like I was in LA. If you are from a town that leans towards live performance, this may feel like home to you. Pretty unpretentious, light, fun night. Oh, but after the cost of admission AND the two item minimum, when getting your check . . . you’ll be reminded that you are, indeed, in LA. Just keep it in mind.
Au Lac Vegan Restaurant
710 W 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
When: Sunday’s 8PM
Price: $10-$30 + 2 item minimum
Everything you could want to know: http://uncabaret.com
This month Casting Networks interviewed Jaine Green, the Head of Festival and Chair of Judges at the discover.film awards, about how the indie film platform is changing how audiences can access short films for the better, and what she looks for in a great short film.
Casting Networks: Where did the idea for discover.film come from?
Jaine Green: Looking back, I can see discover.film was born out of a happy accident and necessity. Several years ago we made a short film called Cherry Cake, which did very well on the festival circuit, so we had fun travelling the world attending many of the major festivals. We were blown away by the quality of the other films and enthusiasm of the many filmmakers we met. However, the more we talked to producers, it became all too clear there was zero distribution opportunity for short films, which meant all this passion and talent was being thrown away. Few of us make a short film to become rich, but it’s ludicrous that there wasn’t even a platform for filmmakers to screen their work. We felt we needed to address this.
Sharon Sorrentino is a casting director unlike any other. Not only has she worked in marketing, been an assistant, an associate, and now a casting director, but she also wrote a book for actors on . . . well, acting and auditions! And the next edition of her book is due out soon via Troubadour Publishing. We got up close and personal with Sharon to find out all about the best ways for actors to approach auditions, and how to get seen in today’s tough environment.
Casting Networks: Sharon, you’re a casting director, you have been a casting assistant, and an associate, and you’re also a published author. How do you fit it all in?
Sharon Sorrentino: I don’t sleep. Honestly, I think we all make the time to do what we love. The working hours of someone working in casting, at whatever level, are extremely long—longer than actors or non-industry folk realise. If we’re not reading scripts and working on ideas for a particular project, then we’re at the theatre, or a screening, or watching telly to continually broaden our knowledge of actors.
Scene from new play, Blue Is For Boys, written by Melanie Hunter. Photo by Kaz Bielecki
This month Casting Networks sat down with Lennie and Louise, who run SundaySurgery, an in-depth, hands-on script development workshop for writers, actors, and directors. Participants are encouraged to be bold during this intensive process, where they say everyone should challenged. Let’s find out exactly what’s involved!
Casting Networks: Can you tell our readers exactly what SundaySurgery is?
Louise: SundaySurgery has been running since 2010 and is a development workshop for new scripts, held on the last Sunday of each month. Although we deal primarily with early career writers, we do have more established writers coming in to the workshop as well. The workshops are very collaborative; we get professional actors and directors to work on the script with the writers in a very intensive rehearsal improvisation process. During the workshop, we look at a scene or script excerpt (normally 10-15 minutes of script), and we encourage the actors and directors to be very bold. After two hours, the actors perform all the scenes to the rest of the group. Everyone who attends, whether they’re a writer, director, or actor, is able to use these performances as an informal showcase. We invite the industry professionals who attend our producer/director meet up, which is something Lennie set up, and participants can also invite their own guests. The number of people who attend the performances has really grown over the last couple of years, and we’ve now got a huge pool of 100+ writers, 100+ directors, and nearly 500 people we would count in our regular network.
On the first Wednesday of each month in Manchester, Liverpool, and now Sheffield, 80-odd film-lovers, makers, and socialites gather together to appreciate each others’ work. What started as a small social gathering has grown in to a multi-city, monthly, international film festival, and doesn’t look like it’s stopping there.
Split into two parts, the evening begins with a selection of ‘Short Shorts’—films 15-minutes-and-under are watched, and then voted for by the audience to win the People’s Choice Award. The ‘Feature Short,’ 15-45 minutes, is then shown before the night culminates in a Q&A with the filmmakers present on the night.read more
This year the CDA held their first ever award ceremony in the UK, and we were there to help celebrate and honour the work of casting directors. Over one hundred key professionals working in the industry attended the ceremony at the Crypt of St Etheldreda’s for a fun, packed night, which was judged by an independent panel of experts. On this year’s panel were Gabe Blair (United Agents Commercials Department), Matt Buels (Managing Partner, Hungryman), Steve Davies (Chief Executive, APA), Paul Gay (TV, Film, and Commercials Director), Ella Sanderson (Senior Producer, Partizan), Jason Solomons (Film Critic), Charley Stadler (Commercials Director), and Mark Waites (Founder & Creative Director, Mother).
The event was hosted by the incredibly talented and funny Sally Phillips (Smack the Pony, Bridget Jones’ Diary), who presented each award to the winners on the night (see list below).
Ah, Mr. Eugene O’Neill. How is it even possible that you, Mr. Doom & Gloom, wrote Ah, Wilderness!? I’d love the opportunity to sit down and have a drink with Eugene O’Neill and discuss that, amongst many, many other things. If you follow these reviews monthly, you know both my admiration for EO, one of the “best” American playwrights, and that I sat fairly enthusiastically through 3+ hours of Long Day’s Journey Into Night last month at the Geffen. I couldn’t resist the thought of seeing another O’Neill piece the following month at A Noise Within. A completely different kind of piece, which most call a straight-up comedy (though more in the warm/feel good realm vs. the laugh out loud type), in which the main character gets his happy ending. It’s presumed to take place in the same small town as in LDJIN on July 4, 1906. And . . . that’s where most of the similarities end.
Ah, Wilderness! centers around the delightful middle-class Miller family. Nat Miller (Nicholas Hormann) is a newspaper publisher who, along with his doting wife, Essie (Deborah Strang), has been raising their four fine children, as well as providing a home for Essie’s never-been-married sister, Lily (Kitty Swink), and jovial/alcoholic uncle, Sid (Alan Blumenfeld). Wait, alcoholic Uncle Sid? Mr. O’Neill, maybe you DID write this play. Seventeen-year-old Richard (Matt Gall) is the second child and the central character who, gently mind you, rebels and pushes the boundaries by reading “daring” books, spouting socialist ideas, and quoting risque-ish poetry. As you might have guessed, he’s endearingly naive and harmless. It’s also not a stretch to predict that he happens to have fallen in love with Muriel (Emily Goss), but her grumpy and disapproving father has gotten squarely in the way by restricting his daughter to the house, and forcing her to write a letter to end their relationship. Heartbroken, Richard becomes a little unhinged, getting tangled up one crazy night with booze and fast women, before finding his way again, and returning back to her.
Casting Networks is heading to the 4th annual Actors Pro Expo event in NYC! A day for professional actors to come along and network with the industry. There will be Seminars, Workshops, 1-on-1 careers advice consultations, an open casting call for feature film ‘Fiver’ and generals with casting director Michael Cassara.
General admission, Seminars and 1-on-1 advice is all FREE! Industry-led workshops will cost $30 each and are available for advance booking online.
- When creating a Share Selects link, Casting Directors can now choose whether the link will be Live or a Snapshot. A Live link will be updated as changes to selects are made. Whereas a Snapshot link will remain unchanged once sent. Casting Directors can also now choose which Priority Numbers to include when Sharing Selects.
- Once a Share Selects link has been sent out, the history of these emails is now housed in the Email History section of the project. This is accessed from the Overview page of the project and follows the Project and Audition sections of the modal.
- The Share Selects presentation has also been updated to include the Casting Director’s company logo as well as made the role name more prominent in the top right hand corner of the page.
‘Alpha Female’ is the brand new video from UK band Wild Beasts, produced by APA member Rumble and directed by Sasha Rainbow. We chatted with Sasha to find out where the concept came from and what inspired her to shine a light on the skater girls of Bangalore.
Casting Networks: Where did the inspiration come from for the music video concept?
Sasha Rainbow: For the Wild Beasts music video, I directed I tried to pull apart the song title Alpha Female and think about what it really meant. I wanted to use the video as a platform to celebrate women boldly going against the grain through affirmative, inspiring action, by following their passions; in this case, through skateboarding. The core message for me is ‘big change can start with just one person.’ The Holystoked Skate Crew and the girls that I worked with are an inspiration that cuts through age, gender, and class barriers. I wanted to commemorate this incredible moment in India.