Is Stand-Up Comedy Dying?

Look, I’m not a comedy connoisseur or anything. I’m not an expert in stand-up comedy and I certainly don’t know any of the big names from 20 years ago unless they’re still somewhat popular today. But I think it’s an interesting form of entertainment that everyone is familiar with and probably has experienced to some extent.

Netflix, I think, revitalized and perhaps saved the stand-up industry in a way. It brought HD quality specials from big names right to your house. Before that, you had to watch the Comedy Network channel on TV and it was usually a grab bag of Just For Laughs segments from years ago. Unless there was some other way to consume it… But now, thanks to Netflix, John Mulaney has become a household name, and thank goodness, because he is a gift to mankind. (Yes, I know Amazon Prime also has stand-up, but its content just not as talked about or popular).

You breathed new life in me gif.
Stand-up comedians to Netflix

But I don’t know how sustainable stand-up is. A lot of the major players in the game are easily aged 30+ and soon they’ll probably not want to tour as much (perhaps because of family), want to branch out permanently to TV/film as many do, or just retire altogether. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of younger people getting any success. I can’t think of any up and comers aside from maybe some SNL people, but then again, I’m not going out of my way to learn any either. Of course, I don’t expect Netflix to hand a contract to some random 22 year-old no-name, but I do wonder if there are any efforts being made to bring in a new generation of comedians.

I also think the audience is changing and that’s dictating the content a little. Obviously, there are more females and minorities in the stand-up industry than there were years ago and they’re big names, so in turn, I’d think women and minorities are watching more. And because it’s widely available at home and you don’t need to go to some sketchy bar at night, younger people are more into it too. The other week my father watched Jerry Seinfeld’s new Netflix special and most of it was him griping about new technology in that very typical boomer kind of way. Dad was laughing, but I did not find it that great, and I think it was because of the age disconnect.

OK, Boomer.

Furthermore, because we now mostly consume stand-up comedy from our couches, I wonder if that has or will take a hit on live performances. Do comedy clubs still have large audiences? Are people less likely to pay to see a big name comedian’s show if they know it’ll be on Netflix in a few months? Are comedians going on shorter tours because they know they’ll reach more people online? Are the many stand-up specials on Netflix enough to keep people subscribed to the platform?

Lastly, and this does tie to the audience perception, online I’ve seen a criticism of male comedians that I 100% agree with and it’s to stop with the ‘I hate my wife’ schtick. It’s so annoying when some male has whole sets about how annoying it is when the wife wants to talk to him or when she “is controlling” by not wanting him to ditch her and the kids for two weeks so he can go to Vegas with his buddies. When you have nothing nice to say about your relationship and have to constantly villanize the person you chose to marry on stage, it’s not fun to watch. It’s weird. It’s a problem. And women do it too, don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of female comedians who go on and on about how lazy and clueless their husbands can be. And I get that perhaps it’s just for the joke and a good portion of it is relatable to other married people, but I think it can and should be avoided if comedians want to appeal to especially the younger generation. (It’s just another reason why John Mulaney is a standout because he regularly talks about how great his wife is and makes himself the butt of the joke more).

That's a yikes from me gif.

Anyway, I enjoy stand-up and I by no means want to see it die out. I’d love to go to a comedy club one day. And going to the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival one year is definitely a bucket list thing for me. But I do wonder if stand-up will still be as culturally relevant in 20 years. I wonder if young people dreaming of making others laugh will bother with the stand-up route. I wonder if comedians of today will stand the test of time.

Do you watch stand-up often? Do you think it’s a sustainable industry? Do you have any criticism of the stand-up content out there these days?

That’s all for now!

 

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Our Adventures In Sheltering A Mother Duck

One morning in April my father was doing some yard work and he found an egg. Something had made a little nest hole in the dirt along the side of our house and in this nest was a large egg. Google Images said it was probably a duck egg, but we weren’t sure until the next morning. My father is slightly obsessed with setting up cameras outside the house to watch animals at night (and protect the house, but so far the only thing breaking in is mice into the attic) so I told him to point one at the nest, and sure enough, we saw a Mallard duck waddle its way over to the nest the next day.

Duck.
Corina day 1

Now, what you need to know is that where I live, there aren’t really ducks in the area. Aside from a small creek in a park 10 minutes away, open water isn’t that close, so we were very surprised that a duck ended up in our area and chose our backyard to set up camp. Either way, we my dad took our new responsibility seriously. My parents named her Corona and then changed it to Corina because she’s obviously a she. My dad would check on the nest every day and also collect leaves and dryer lint and moss for her and put it nearby for easy access. On days where it got particularly cold or windy, he’d cover the nest with a recycling bin.

eggs.

See, ducks, as we learned, lay one egg a day for 10-14 days. So Corina would come every morning around 6:30am, lay an egg and chill out for a few hours, then disappear for the rest of the day. We don’t know where she’d go, but Dad did see her fly off in the general direction of the creek. With each egg laid, Corina would stay warming her eggs longer and longer to the point where she was there for 12 straight hours towards the end. Only after all the eggs are laid will the mother duck stay with the eggs all day except for about an hour a day when she’d leave for food and a break, and this would last for several weeks. It was so fascinating to see her during this time. From snapping at ballsy squirrels who dared approach, to her egg management system of rotating eggs for warmth, to her fabulous wiggles to her wing stretching, to tucking herself in with leaves, we got a front-row seat to nature! (All the links here are my videos I put on Facebook!)

Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games. At 1:30am on Mother’s Day, Corina was attacked by a raccoon. By the time we got out there, she had fled to a neighbour’s backyard, the raccoon was up a tree, and one of the eggs was sadly broken. We had to cover the remaining eggs up ourselves because it was cold out and she ended up staying away until daylight. She was gone for about four hours, so we really wondered if the eggs would survive that. After that stressful night, (the raccoon ended up coming back too and I had to yell at it through the camera mic!) we really upped the security. We moved the patio camera out to the grass for a better view of approaching animals, set up a raccoon trap, put out cups of vinegar (raccoons hate this), blocked her in as much as we could, and I started staying up until 3:30am every night just in case. Despite these efforts, we had a couple more raccoon sightings (though they didn’t really go near her), and twice a cat got into her space. Luckily there were no other huge incidents and the weather got nice and warm finally. We just had to sit and wait and hope things worked out and keep an eye on the cameras every time there was a motion notification.

Duck shelter.
The final version of the fortress. She was on a break when we took this pic, so all you can kind of see is a pile of leaves.

Assuming there were no development delays because of the cold, we estimated that eggs would be hatching around the weekend of May 22-24 based on timelines people online experienced. So imagine our surprise when on Tuesday May 19th, I was checking the camera feed and noticed movement near the ground that turned out to be a duckling! We were so pleased to see those adorable little babies early.

This footage is from when only 8 (that we knew of) were hatched and moving but the next morning I was ecstatic to count 11 in this clip.

So ducklings all hatch within 24 hours and then they leave within 24 hours too. We knew pre-hatch that Corina would often leave in the mornings for her break, so we figured it likely that the whole lot of them would leave around that time too, which is ideal anyway because we wanted to avoid heavy traffic or people walking their dogs. So that morning, as predicted, she had them out in the backyard at 6:30am, so we quickly went out to open the gate for her. Once they were out of the backyard, we expected her to head toward the creek. But no, things can never go perfect in this duck saga.

Corina instead was determined to take them simply across the street to the neighbor’s pool. This is where she went the night of the attack, and our neighbours said they had seen male ducks around. Only here were two issues her little bird brain couldn’t handle. One, the gate was locked so we couldn’t let her in even if we wanted to, and two, the neighbour’s pool wasn’t even open; she’s been swimming on the nasty water that accumulated on top of the cover. We tried to block her path and direct her towards the creek, but nothing was working. At this point we were pretty desperate for help as it had been like 20 minutes and she just kept leading the babies along the fence with no success. We tried to call a local wildlife rescue, but they were closed. So we took matters into our own hands. We got a box and Dad managed to get the ducklings in there. Without her babies following her, Corina got a little frantic and was honking and running around, but the babies were chirping from the box, so we were able to get her to follow the sound. We walked her the whole 10 minutes to the creek like this, and it worked well, though I felt bad we had to separate them like that.

Once at the creek, she jumped right into the water, and I carefully tilted the ducklings out of the box. They ran right into the water as well and swam over to her! And before we knew it, they were all swimming off, too far for us to see.

Corina and the ducklings all in the creek

We headed back home shortly after, and like in the musical Come From Away where the locals start cleaning up as soon as the visitors leave, Dad and I started taking down the fortress and emptying the nest of leaves and down. We actually found another egg that never hatched, which is sad, but considering 11/13 made it and we were worried none would, I’m satisfied.

The truth is, Corina and those eggs would have never survived without my dad and I. If we didn’t have cameras set up and built walls around her, the raccoons would have done a lot more damage. She is lucky we were so open to this experience and that it happened during a pandemic where we had nothing better to do than check cameras at 4am. Sheltering a mother duck was very stressful and I don’t think we want to do it again, but now we get this fun story to tell and I got to hold a duckling, so it all worked out. I will miss Corina, though.

A phone notification that says
I got this notification a few hours after we cleaned up and felt peace but also a little sad.

Anyway, that’s it! That’s our 38 day-long adventure in sheltering a duck. I know this post is long but it was such a huge part of our life recently and I wanted to share every detail!

That’s all for now! (Quack!)

 

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Aesthetics And My Lack Thereof

I recently developed a weird obsession with watching cottagecore Tik Toks. And of course that’s also led me into a wormhole of goblincore, dark academia, and witchy Tik Toks. Now, because I know those last two sentences have likely confused the heck out of some of you, I’ll explain.

All the things I listed are aesthetics (a certain set of ideas regarding a style or design), and there are some people who live by these aesthetics and share this with the world via Tik Toks. So cottagecore is a term for the aesthetic that’s about romanticizing the quaint cottage life of baking bread, sitting in open fields, wearing flowy dresses, admiring frogs, etc (the suffix -core is supposedly derived from the word hardcore). Dark academia is similar except instead of romanticizing cottages and plants, it’s more about gothic books, candles, statues, and rain. Goblincore focuses on bones and crystals. Honestly, they all overlap a lot and it can hard to understand really without seeing what I mean, so if you’re interested, here are some compilations: Cottagecore / Goblincore / Dark and Light Academia / Witchy

Looking at something on a phone.
Me immersing myself in another aesthetic compilation.

Anyway, I find aesthetics weird. I get having a style and some preferences in terms of clothes and stuff, but aesthetics are so specific and unusual. I can understand the draw or some of the things, like funky rocks or victorian architecture or a good cup of tea, because they can be nice things, but not enough to dedicate my whole being to.

And yet, I can’t stop watching these dumb little videos of people showing off their aesthetics. It’s escapism in a way. I by no means want to live on a farm and wear dresses every day, but I guess a small part of me does crave a simpler life. There’s no room for mortgage payments or panic attacks or murderers or incompetent politicians in cottagecore, ya know?

This Is So Pure GIF.

There are many other aesthetics than the few I’ve mentioned (like hipster, stoner, nerdy, pastel, minimalist, that Japanese schoolgirl one…), and who’s to say if the Tik Tok makers really subscribe fully to their chosen aesthetics, but even if they don’t in some areas, they clearly dedicate a lot of their life to it. I can’t really fathom that, and maybe I sound like a dick, but something about these rather over-the-top takes on it just sometimes seems so fake and silly and pretentious.

And I’m not trying to purposely rag on the interests of teenage girls because I know it can seem like everything they do/like is bad. It’s just a coincidence that it’s teenage girls who mostly are into these aesthetics and showing them on Tik Tok. I respect that they have this creative outlet and find some sense of community.

I clearly don’t have an aesthetic. I’d guess most people don’t. Which is why the ones who do seem so strange (to me, at least). But should I have one? Should we all just find the things and styles that make our souls feel complete and lean all the way into it? I mean, I love dragons. Maybe my aesthetic is some fantasy-slash-nerdy-slash-casual mix. And maybe I just don’t fully know it yet because I still live at my parents’ house, where they are, and I kid you not, currently in the midst of painting the walls from a dim yellow to a slightly less yellow shade of dim yellow.

Who am I? gif.

At the end of the day, aesthetics aren’t hurting anyone, so you do you. I find them interesting to explore even if I really don’t think they’re for me.

What’s your aesthetic? Do you also find some aesthetics a little odd and fake?

 

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Gamers, What’s The Consensus On Walkthroughs?

It’s been a while since I played video games regularly. I played Pokémon White for a week a few years ago and I also replayed some Nintendo DS games before I started my first full-time adult job in 2018, but that was also for about a week. Now with nothing better to do, I plugged in some old consoles (first the Wii, then Gamecube, then N64) and started playing some old games I never played or beat. Games that, unlike with Pokémon, you can get stuck in. 

And when I get stuck, I obviously try and figure things out on my own, but eventually I need help and I turn to the internet, something that is much more accessible now than it was in my peak gaming days a decade ago.

Help Me gif.

There are walkthroughs out there for probably every video game in existence. And as much as I find them helpful and they’re there for this reason, a part of me hates that I have to resort to them. I’m not smart or skilled enough to figure it out on my own like the creators intended.

But I don’t know if I consider it cheating. It’s just helping. I gave it an honest go, and I would not have enjoyed myself or my play time if I spent hours wandering around not knowing what to do, dying over and over as I attempt to figure it out. We play games to have fun and experience the story, and being stuck is the opposite of that. A few times, an answer I looked up was something very close to my efforts/line of thinking, so I may have figured it out with more time. But sometimes it was something I never thought of or didn’t know. I would have wasted so much time before solving it.

Sorry not sorry gif.

What’s the consensus with walkthroughs these days? Do other people, more serious gamers, use them too? Do the big streamers use them? Or are they looked down upon? Are they like theater bootlegs where we just don’t advertise that we use them? Although walkthroughs are not illegal because you can go to a book store and buy a physical copy of a walkthrough if you so desire. I’m probably not going to stop using them, but I’d like to know what people think. I know it’s just a game and not a huge deal, but I’m still curious. I think if there was a walkthrough for life, we’d all be taking advantage of that, ya know?

Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a casual one or maybe someone like me who is just passing time in quarantine with games, I’d like to know your thoughts on the matter.

Bart Simpson playing video games gif.

That’s all for now!

 

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Monthly Look Ahead: May 2020

How are we doing, folks? Still staying at home, I hope.

April flew by and now May is here. Though it’s not what we want, I think I for one am a little more used to this new normal and can go back to looking forward to things like TV shows and stuff without feeling guilty and wrong. I hope you can do the same. So without further ado, here’s what I’m excited for in May.

monthly look ahead logo.

  • My favourite TV show is finally back for its seventh and final season. Agents Of SHIELD begins on the 27th at 10pm. I’ll be sorry to see this show go, but I’m so looking forward to saying a proper goodbye to it, and I trust that this last season will be very good.
  • The show Blindspot was supposed to begin its final season at the end of April but because of the Parks And Rec special, it got pushed into May. I enjoy this show a lot and the cliffhanger last season has me very excited to get back into the action.
  • The newest CW superhero show Stargirl starts on the 19th. It looks decent, and goodness knows I can never say no to an Arrowverse show.
    Stargirl still.
  • Ben Platt’s filmed concert will be put on Netflix on the 20th, and I’m excited because he’s such a good singer!
  • Season two of Dead To Me is also out on the 8th. I didn’t love the first season, but it was entertaining enough, so I shall continue.
  • There are more proshot musicals coming this month. I thiiiink I saw a tweet about a British theater streaming Fun Home, and Andrew Loyd Webber uploads his shows to YouTube one at a time every weekend, and Playbill last month streamed Bandstand so they may have a new one soon. I’m glad such content is being released because now is the time to lose yourself in a musical for two hours.
  • A few other shows I’m considering watching but am on the fence about so far are Hollywood (out on the 1st), Space Force (out on the 29th), and Upload (out also on the 1st).
  • There’s been a duck laying eggs in our backyard, and towards the end of the month, the eggs will hopefully hatch. There’ll probably be a blog post later on going more in detail about this, but it’s been very exciting for my family.
  • I’ve gotten into decent routines for quarantine socialization. From playing games online to sitting in cars and chatting through rolled-down windows to the curling club’s virtual Bingo, I’m glad to have friends and people to interact with, and I look forward to doing more of it in May.

 

So a lot of screen time going on, but what else am I to do? I’d love to know what you’re looking forward to in May.

And, because it’s tradition now, here is my favourite May: Melinda May. I can’t wait for her to be back on my screen.

May in 6x13 of SHIELD.
She got stabbed with that very sword and lived to tell the tale. Iconic.

That’s all for now!

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