Monday, July 21, 2008

New improv group's name says it all

Lazy Fairy may be considered the lazy man's way of pronouncing the French term laissez faire, which means let it be or leave alone. It's usually a term associated with the concept of free enterprise. But not anymore. "Lazy Fairy" is now the new face of improv in the Sarasota/Bradenton area.

The troupe took to the phrase because it describes acting in its simplest form, said Chris Friday, ring leader of the six-member group, featuring Christine Alexander, Catey Brannan, Tim Beasley, Angel M. Parker and Zan. With the worry that promoting themselves with such French flair may confuse the masses, or themselves, members decided to call the group "Lazy Fairy" since it's easier to say and not nearly so hard to spell, said Chris.

You may have seen members of this acting group around before. A few of them used to be part of a troupe that performed improv musicals three years ago. Others have been a familiar face at Florida Studio Theatre's Improv during the summer. But what makes "Lazy Fairy" different from the "Whose-Line-Is-It-Anyway" brand of improvisation is, well, the improv itself.

The troupe will employ a Chicago-style of improv, where, instead of the audience throwing out an incessant list of suggestions for skits, only one suggestion from the crowd will be used. The idea will support the theme of an entire play, Chris said.

That sounds pretty hard to pull off, I told him. But Chris said the result can be pretty entertaining - hit or miss.

"It's the element of the unknown," he said. "A train wreck could happen. People will come to see (a potential) train wreck."

The troupe also is bringing improv into the work place through a special workshop program called Corporate Detox, which breaks down the elements of improv into team-work building skills on the job.

The troupe already has had several gigs booked in Bradenton and Sarasota. Don't miss their next appearance at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (July 23). Tickets are $12. For more information, call 365-2494. — January Holmes

Monday, July 14, 2008

Miss Universe: Clapping doesn't help when regular people fall

Somewhere, a charm school teacher is cringing at the sight of Miss USA falling flat on her face at the Miss Universe Pageant Sunday.

Consequently, Miss USA — in all her beauty and um, gracefulness — didn't get to take home the intergalactic pageant crown.

Apparently this is the second time in a row that an American beauty queen has bit the dust on the Miss Universe circuit. Just another indicator that we are slipping by the wayside in world — not only as an economic power, but on the beauty pageant front, too. Depressing. But unlike last year, when Rachel Smith fell center stage and got right back up as if nothing happened, this year's Miss USA, Crystle Stewart, fell, got up and clapped.

Not sure what to make of the clapping. Maybe she clapped to show that she wouldn't let a fall get her spirits down. Of course, in the real world, clapping doesn't necessarily work well when one takes a spill. In my former accident-prone childhood, I tripped and fell on occasion — running home from school, running during P.E. classes and running in general. I would slip on bleachers — the death-trap kind you can easily fall through or at least twist your ankle on. I wasn't even safe around escalators. I can't imagine getting up and clapping afterwards. That would just draw more attention.

Of course, the times that I fell, I wasn't wearing high heels and a long evening gown — things that Miss America is suppose to specialize in. That's why she's Miss USA, right? "She's beauty and she's grace. She's Miss United States." OK, so I'm quoting from "Miss Congeniality." Yes, accidents do happen, but to normal people who are not Miss USA. To see a fall two years in a row . . . I thought they train for beauty contests like athletes do for the Olympics. If they don't, they should so they can get that walking gracefully bit down pat. — January Holmes

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Click & Clack drives onto TV screens

America's favorite car therapists, known as Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, will launch their new PBS cartoon — "Click & Clack's As the Wrench Turns" premiering at 8 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday (July 9).

I've been a fan of Click and Clack's (also known as Tom and Ray Magliozzi) call-in radio show, Car Talk, on National Public Radio for about six years. These witty gurus of car repair often keep me company with their heavy Boston accents, humor-filled car repair tips and those famous "Puzzlers" during my occasional Saturday drives home to Georgia to visit family and friends.

So I had to check out a preview clip of their new cartoon on The clip features the show's soon-to-be aired first half-hour episode with Click and Clack running for president. They campaign with the catchy slogan: "America needs repair." But they end up botching the campaign speeches, promising better car repair instead fixing the country from a political standpoint. I say running on a platform for better car repair nationwide is still a good thing, though. Some mechanics like to take advantage of us, you know. There needs to be a crackdown.

"As the Wrench Turns'" animation, of course, is kid-friendly, but adults can thoroughly enjoy the zany antics these guys get involved in, too. A look at the show's episode guide quickly reveals that. One upcoming episode features Click and Clack voluntarily outsourcing their radio show to India (airs July 9 and Aug. 6). Another has them creating the first-ever pasta-fueled vehicle in an effort to go green (airs July 16).

And before you start thinking a pasta-fueled car is the answer to our real life gas crisis, the seemingly full-proof invention backfires in the cartoon when a war is started over the high demand for generic noodles.

Be sure to tune in! — January Holmes