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CHARACTER-A-DAY: Aug 1, 2014  
Unimpressed Damien
Damien has seen it all.  He is the first character in Season 2 of my Character-a-Day Project.  In an attempt to get stronger at character work, I will spend every day of August making faces in a mirror and then filming and posting a new character bit.  A new video every day at noon (central time).  Some of these will be awful.  Some of these will be not awful.  I hope you enjoy them all. 

Character-a-Day Season 2: I am not ready

Last year I did this Character a Day Project, where I filmed one new solo character video every day through the month of February.  I shot it with my iPhone in my closet.  The videos were low quality and janky, and a good portion of them were pretty bad.  But there was something about the process that the audience enjoyed, and that made me feel more creatively alive than ever. Each video felt like a stumble closer toward finding my comedic voice.  There was something freeing about saying “hey world, I’m going to make a bunch of stuff and some of it is going to be not great.”

As comedy writers, I think we all too often end up sitting around waiting for great ideas rather than getting our hands dirty actually working through the shitty ones. This year, I promised myself I would start the project again on Aug 1.  By this time, I wanted a pro lighting setup and an animated bumper on the front and back of each video.  I wanted so many things to make them look more professional.  To make me stand out.  Now that Aug 1 is here, I just don’t feel ready.  Then I remember; that’s the point! Push yourself through the experiences for which you don’t feel ready.  Screw the polish and get to work on the only thing that really moves people: great writing.  Make something every day.  

I love this video from Dyson on failure.  It’s inspiring to think about Dyson failing 5,000 times in order perfect one of his inventions.  Since hearing Gladwell talk about the 10,000 Hour Rule, I’ve been thinking about racking up hours working at comedy.  I am now wondering what would happen if I forgot about hours, and instead attempted to rack up failures.  After all, in order to fail, you must first make something.  

Here we go. Character a Day Season 2.  I hope you enjoy the ride. 

 

Awful Sitcoms 32-34: DYING MEDIA WORKPLACE

Yesterday, NBC launched #ComedyPlayground, a contest that asks users to pitch the network their next hit sitcom idea. I shutter to think how many terrible ideas NBC will receive in this contest.  And I grow hungry at the challenge of pitching them an idea worse than anything they will get all spring. Enjoy.   
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Dearest NBC, 

Please consider the following surefire pitches for new programming on your network.  The selector of today’s theme, Ally Hord, has asked for more DYING MEDIA WORKPLACE SITCOMS.  

32.) TheBomb.com   
Rejected by every agency in town, an ambitious young advertising graduate goes to work overseas as the media director for Al-Qaeda.  There, he must wrangle a group of lovably out-of-touch old men desperate to make suicide bombing “cool” again, and hungry to see just one of their many Death-to-the-Great-Satan-of-the-West videos go viral. 
 
Characters
  • Mike Davis: Young American. Hungry to prove himself, Mike is full of ideas, but lacks a spine. 
  • Farouk: The group’s over-confident meddling leader. Always micromanaging, he gets the team in trouble by promising impossible things to the council of elders. 
  • Omar: Crotchety old copywriter and retired bomb expert.  He’s got as few original ideas as he has fingers left.
  • Abdul: A young wise-cracking graphic designer whose work is as abhorrent as the American Hip-Hop CDs and Pepsi Cola he hides in his desk. 
  • Nadia: Web designer. She is a woman. So she works outside in a hole. 
 
 
33.) What’s Wrong with this Picture? 
Maggie, a talented young writer, struggles to fulfill a promise to save her dying father’s media legacy: the once-grand Highlights For Children Magazine. With a long-shot crew of burnouts and misfits, Maggie must find a way to lure a generation of iPAD-addicted kids back to the simple joy of newsprint mazes, hidden pictures, and connect the dot starfish. Together, the team tackles the greatest puzzle of all: change. 

Characters
  • Maggie: Editor-in-Chief.  Loyal to a fault, she turned down NYT to help save Highlights.
  • Ramon: Cuban expatriate and master crossword puzzler. Meticulous in his work, Ramon is also a bitchy chain-smoking diva.  
  • Dawn: An old forgetful drunk who hasn’t designed a working maze since 1997.
  • Dickens: Married man and pervert. When he’s not hitting on Maggie, Dickens is hiding suggestive images in the picture scavenger hunts. 
  • Toby: Marketing intern and Dawn’s son, Toby is an actual 5 year old boy. 
 
34.) What’s New with the Danielsons? 
A haggard mother frets over the declining readership of The Danielson Times, an annual holiday newsletter devoted to news, reviews, and fun facts about the Danielson Family of Oak Park, Illinois.  

Characters 
  • Lilly: Daughter. Education Reporter/ Former Copy Editor. Far from the little angel who used to be so thrilled to help her mother, Lilly just sits quietly staring daggers at her mother.  For hours, it seems. 
  • Jack: Son. Sports and Music Correspondent.  Where is Jack? Probably in some parking lot with those friends of his. Smoking weed, I’ll bet. 
  • Charles Barkly: Family Dog. Humor Columnist. This year’s newsletter will be dedicated to Charles who was taken from us all too soon when he got into some dish detergent this November. Why does everything good get taken from me? 
  • Todd Danielson: Husband/Father. Business Correspondant. Todd normally writes those funny updates from his work at a local software firm.  But he’s been spending most of his days in the garage doing who knows what. His eyes are empty. Not the man I married.  
  • Rita Danielson: Mother. Editor in Chief. Bringer of Cheer. Spends most of her time at the family room computer screaming to no one in particular: “am I the only one who still gives a fuck?”

Do you love these?  Yes, you love these.  Let’s talk.  cj@cookiepig.com

Awful Sitcoms 29-31: BELLE OF THE BALL

On May 1, NBC launches #ComedyPlayground, a contest that asks users to pitch the network their next hit sitcom idea. I shutter to think how many terrible ideas NBC will receive in this contest.  And I grow hungry at the challenge of pitching them an idea worse than anything they will get all spring. Three new #shitcoms every day.  Enjoy.   
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Dear Mr. and Mrs. NBC, 

Below are three new pitches on the theme: BELLE OF THE BALL. Thanks to the unstoppable Vanessa Gonzalez for providing today’s theme.  Thank you NBC for all the money.

29.) My Kinda People
Embroiled in scandal, Donald, a racist basketball team owner is fired from the NBA, fined $2.5 million, and banished to another time period.  Lucky for him, he wakes up in the 1863 Confederate South. In this simpler more beautiful world, Donald’s opinions are applauded by a community of like-minded white fellas who just so happen to be looking for a new way to make money off of strong black men. 

30.) Bernice n’ The Boys  
Bernice is a mop. A mop loved by two men. Every sunrise, Gary the day janitor visits her closet and whispers into her mop head for hours about the life he imagines for them. Every sunset, Paulo the night Janitor dresses Bernice up in a fancy little gown he made, and slow dances with her in the school’s empty shiny hallways. Torn between two mentally ill suitors, Bernice must learn that nothing is messier than true love.     

31.) Hungry for Love 
Delores was undateable and practically invisible to men. Until one day, when a plane crash stranded her on an island with five hunky bachelors who also managed to survive and swim to shore. Romance is in the air as the men scramble and fight to be near Delores. Because word is: Delores has a half-eaten candy bar hidden in one of her tattered pockets. Dear god, I hope that candy bar rumor is true. I refuse to die on this island. Not here. Not like this. 

You like? Let’s make a gillion dollars.  cj@cookiepig.com

Awful Sitcoms 26-28: “NOT ANIMALS”

After a brief hiatus performing at the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival, I’m back with three new #Shitcoms.  For our new readers, NBC is launching #ComedyPlayground, a contest that asks users to pitch the network their next hit sitcom idea.  As a warm-up for the contest, I’ve been pitching NBC three new ideas every day for shows that should never ever be made.  

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Dear Gods of Men at NBC,

Please delight yourselves in the following three winning sitcom pitches. The selector of today’s theme, the sage J.R. Havlan, has chosen a wonderfully challenging theme: "NOT ANIMALS." Enjoy. 


26.) Claudine and Co. 
A heartfelt comedy that follows Claudine, a quirky 45 year old woman searching for her own prince charming.  Lucky for her, Claudine gets a little help from her roommates: the 500 mint condition beanie babies she keeps in a display case above the twin bed in the tiny room she still rents in her aging mother’s home. Will she find true love with the guy who once made eye contact with her at Walgreens? Only if her wacky roomies approve! 

27.) Of Course this is a Zoo; Why Would You Say That?   
To keep his bankrupt zoo in business, a crafty old man must fool his patrons with a few Zoobooks Posters and a complex arrangement of mirrors.  With the help of two homeless men, some hastily-constructed Papier Mâché, and a series of “techniques” gleaned from the film Home Alone, the Wiley old Mr. Brisbo just might have a shot at saving Cincinnati’s fourth largest zoo and botanical garden.    

28.) Free to Dream 
Silas Lawton III wants to be a dancer - the big city kind with a sparkly costume and his name in lights. The only problem: Silas is stuck in a boring dead-end job as a brutal South Carolina slave owner.  This zany antebellum comedy follows Silas into his dreams each night, where he tap dances for the President, turns heads in a gorgeous mink coat, and is sweetly caressed by endless male suiters flocking to his ballet debut in Paris, France.  With an unstoppable imagination, and the sage advice of wise old Ben, this young dream dancer will learn that maybe he was meant for something more that just owning and trading human beings for profit.  


Do you love these ideas NBC? Of course you do.  Let’s make a gillion dolloars.  cj@cookiepig.com

Awful Sitcoms 23-25: SPORTS

On May 1, NBC launches #ComedyPlayground, a contest that asks users to pitch the network their next hit sitcom idea.  But what if, in this digital age, the thing that motivates television viewers most is shitty TV shows? In that case, you are welcome NBC. 
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Dear 7 Gods of Television, 

Below are three sitcom pitches on a theme that everybody loves: SPORTS. Thanks to the discerning Eric Moneypenny for selecting today’s theme.  Thank you NBC for believing in me. 

23.) Nitro’s World
Dan, the former star of an athletic game show attempts to make it through the greatest obstacle yet: his tattered and joyless life.  Each week, Dan eats a silent dinner with his wife and three spiteful teenage daughters.  When his wife nervously asks “Dan, are you going to have anything besides beer for dinner?”, Dan flies into a rage, knocks everyone’s dinner off the table, and screams “I was Nitro, goddamn it! The most feared American Gladiator! Ruler of Gauntlet! Everyone shut up, eat your meal, and remember I was once a man of power and glory.” Each episode ends with Dan quietly apologizing after driving around the block for like two hours.
Possible Episodes
  • Nitro is denied a bank loan.
  • The clerk at FedEx Office thinks he recognizes Nitro from that 90’s athletic competition show: Guts. 
  • Debbie and the girls worry about Nitro because it’s 11pm and he’s just been sitting in a parked car in the driveway for hours. 

24.) Poser Patrol 
A coming of age comedy about a group of insecure middle school boys who meet up everyday at lunch to talk about staking - all the while nervously wondering who among them doesn’t even skate probably.   
Possible Episodes
  • Dylan comes to school wearing a sick new pair of Etnies, only to find that a day later Mike, Sam, and Shorty also come in with the same Etnies. Whats up with that? 
  • On his way to the teachers parking lot, Mr. Kev asks the boys if they know how to do a Kickflip.  The boys laugh at Mr. Kev because of course they know how to Kickflip.  Everybody knows that.  
  • The gang learns that fingerboards are gay


25.) Mr. Karate
Ken Karate is a loud over-confident physics teacher who lives in a dojo, wears a karate gi to school, breaks boards in front of his class, but actually knows nothing about martial arts.  As a result of this constant misunderstanding, Ken is besieged each day by violent attackers determined to best a man who - by the look of things - so clearly knows Karate.  
Possible Episodes
  • Mr Karate gets jumped by a group of children
  • Mr. Karate hides under a table while ninjas hold up a bank using only their fists   
  • Mr. Karate stands in his front yard burning his karate gi in a trashcan and yelling into the night “Leave me be.  I’m just a man. Not a KARATE man!” 

You like these ideas?  I’ll give them to you for money.  cj@cookiepig.com

Awful Sitcoms 20 - 22: DUMB JOBS

On May 1, NBC launches #ComedyPlayground, a contest that asks users to pitch the Network their next hit sitcom idea.  I hereby promise that of thousands of terrible ideas they receive, mine will be the worst.     


Dear Mr. and Mrs. NBC,

Below are three new pitches for shows on the theme of: DUMB JOBS. Thanks to Reagan Ward for choosing today’s theme.  I’m believe these ideas will make all of us one gillion dollars.    

20.) All For the Nookie   
A comedy about Ronaldo, the ambitious new investments manager at a powerful hedge fund. Ronaldo wants nothing more than to please investors, and shake off his old life as a weathered I’ll-do-anything street prostitute.  Whether it’s dealing with market volatility, avoiding an unexpected workplace visit from his abusive old pimp Daewoo, or making it through one board meeting without another PTSD flashback, Ronaldo must learn that making the big bucks always costs a piece of yourself. 

21.) Phoning It In 
A comedy about four slacker friends who will do anything to avoid their boring office job operating armed drones for the United States Military.  Confined to a discreet office building somewhere in downtown Nevada, the crew serves up the hijinks spying on their crushes, pranking Randall and the other IT nerds, and - when their boss gets on their case - pressing the button that remotely executes a handful of suspected insurgents and thousands of women and children in the name of American democracy. 

22.) Yes, And I’m Hard  
After a scandal costs him his job at Second City, improv teacher Brian Marshall gets a second chance as the resident acting coach for a failing porn studio.  Dedicated to finding the “truth in every scene,” Brian meets resistance from a rotating cast of slimy producers, slow witted actors, and an entire industry that only cares about butts, penises, and vaginas.  Armed with nothing but two empty folding chairs and the life-changing principles of improv comedy, Brian will teach these washed-up smut merchants that anything can make a viewer climax, but only art can make them care.

Want to begin development right now?  I knew it.  cj@cookiepig.com

Awful Sitcoms 16-19: OUR ODDBALL FAMILY

On May 1, NBC launches #ComedyPlayground, a contest that asks users to pitch the Network their next hit sitcom idea.  But what if what NBC needs is not hits, but many more misses?  Well then, I got that covered. Three new #shitcoms every day until May 1. 
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Dear Lords and Ladies of NBC, 
I bring you three new pitches about a theme never seen before on network television: ODDBALL FAMILIES.    

16.) Everything’s Fine 
Todd Fine is just an ordinary football-watching Sunday paper kind of guy. His family, on the other hand, is a whole nother story. They are scarecrows he has dressed in human clothes.  If only Todd could get a little peace and quiet to watch the big game without his teenage straw daughter slutting it up for her boyfriend (the lamp), or his high-maintenance straw wife telling him the town is whispering about him again, or his lovable rascal straw son reminding Todd of the real son he once had. Before the fire. 

17.) Evolving with the Franklins    
The Franklins are your typical family of single-celled amebae. Stubborn, self-centered, and always scheming, this unlikely bunch of protozoan parasites are forced to spend billions of years together laying motionless on the same volcanic rock. Whether it’s learning how to ingest food into their shapeless bodies, getting their mitosis on, or discovering how to move by ejecting microscopic amounts of cytoplasm, this original american family reminds us all that changing our ways sometimes takes forever. 

18.) Because You’re A Lannister!!! 
A family comedy about a powerful status-obsessed father who never changes his clothes.  Each week, he calls his three children before him, gazes out a window, slams his fist on the table, and reminds them what their last name is.  

You like? Let’s talk. cj@cookiepig.com

Awful Sitcoms 13 - 15: BABIES TEETHING

As part of their #ComedyPlayground contest, NBC will begin accepting sitcom pitches from their viewers beginning May 1. Each day until then, I will pitch the network three new ideas that I believe just might be the worst thing they read this summer.  


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Dear lords of NBC and protectors of the realm, 

Please give some serious thought to the following three ideas.  The selector of today’s theme, Victor Quinaz, believes that NBC audiences are waiting for one thing: shows about BABIES TEETHING. I couldn’t agree more. 

13.) Dear God, Someone Help Us 
Meet the Levensons: a family of babies. They are your typical American household, except for one thing: Mr. and Mrs. Levenson are both newborns who somehow gave birth to and are inexplicably tasked with raising three children who are ALSO newborns! Watch as this oddball family helplessly lays about the house screaming and just feeling awful.  Each week, the gang must face a new question like “what is happening to my body?” and “who is that and does she have food in her breasts?” 

14.) GUMS
Four women living in Brooklyn attempt to navigate the tough lessons of starting a career, finding love, and living without teeth. After her umbilical chord is cut, Holly a self-centered infant and wannabe writer moves in with her best friend Marie, a beautiful but frighteningly frail 90-year-old waitress. These toothless-somethings are joined by Jemma, a well-traveled meth addict who crashes with her younger cousin Sherona, a gratingly naive felt puppet. Together they learn that growing up is tough.  And popcorn is pretty much impossible.

15.) Big Time Small Talk
Alex Parker is a high-powered ad exec with a mouth the size of a penny.  In his world, image is everything and fortunes are won and lost on the strength and beauty of words.   Too bad for Alex, he can only fit a few words at a time through his fragile rice teeth and horrid microscopic lips. But with the help of a take-no-bull secretary, a snarky overweight best bud, and his own (over)active imagination, Alex is able to leave even the toughest clients asking “How is he so good? And how the hell does he even eat with that thing?”     

Awful Sitcoms 10-12: SPACE EDITION

As part of their #ComedyPlayground contest, NBC will begin accepting sitcom pitches from their viewers beginning May 1.  Many of these pitches will be very bad.  Mine will be the worst.  I promise.   
image Dear gods of men at NBC,

Please accept the following star-making pitches on theme of life’s greatest mystery: THE COSMOS.  Thanks to Andy Cobb for choosing today’s provocative theme.     


10.) Captain Crybaby 
A crew of space explorers struggles to navigate the galaxy in a ship captained by a cranky, woefully inexperienced human infant.  Each week, the team attempts to survive a new threat - asteroids, black holes, Kuglari space pirates - all while wondering: where is the captain? Has he gotten into a cupboard somewhere?  What does he have in his mouth?  What the hell does he have IN HIS MOUTH!??   
   
11.) Our Son, Zarclar  
When a tiny comet crashes into their home, The Johnson Family discovers Zarclar, a little alien dude with a cool attitude. Charmed by Zarclar’s sense of humor and sound life advice, they disguise him with backpack and pair of shades, and enroll Zarclar at the local elementary school. There he is immediately discovered, captured, and damned to a life of painful experiments in a military lab. Each week, the Johnsons take on a new challenge  - winning little Becky’s science fair, having Mrs. Johnson’s pompous boss over for dinner, and facing the quiet haunting question “what have we done?” 

12.) Planet Jeff
One day, Jeff, a pizza delivery guy who just can’t do anything right, falls off his delivery bike and lands in a portal to another planet. This planet is just like ours, except here Jeff is The Man!  Each week, Jeff is inundated with invitations to sweet parities, beautiful women who totally want to hook up with him, and a crew of cool guy friends who just can’t get over how buff Jeff is. “Buff Jeff,” they call him.  But little does Jeff know: he hasn’t gone anywhere. Jeff is in a coma.   

Do you love these? Yes you do.  cj@cookiepig.com