A comedy radio piece I wrote & co-produced for the Stanford Storytelling Project. A story about pain, healing, wild dogs, and margaritas.Read More
May 10th, 1863
To My Beloved Nathaniel,
I yearn for the day we win this damned war against the Union and you are returned home to me. Each day I miss you more than I thought possible. I fear that my poor heart will fairly explode from the longing I feel.
I realize you are quite busy protecting the Confederacy, but I received your most recent letter and was surprised by its brevity. It read simply, “Yo. You up?”
I asked daddy if it might be some sort of secret code, in case the Union intercepts the mail. He just said, “Oh, it’s code, all right” and took to cleaning his gun.
I for one am pleased to tell you that yes, I am “up,” though we often turn in early as we are conserving lamp oil for the war. I wait eagerly for your next letter.
All my love,
September 22nd, 1863:
My Desperately Adored Nathaniel,
The days we remain apart drag ever on, and the nights even more so. I did receive your last, extremely terse communique, in which you wrote, “Send a pic.”
I apologize for my tardiness in complying, but the only portrait artist daddy could find was wounded in Antietam and had to re-learn painting with his remaining hand. I hope the cherrywood frame is sturdy enough to bear the travel by horse.
I mentioned to daddy that I might just ask you to send me a “pic” in return, and he immediately took to target practice on our back forty.
All my affection,
January 12th, 1864
My Dearest Nathaniel,
When your delivery came, I nearly fainted: A photograph! An actual battlefield daguerreotype from the man I love!
At least, that’s what daddy says it was. He insisted on looking at it first, whereupon his face turned white and he refused to show it to me. He assured me that such a scientifically accurate rendition of you might be too much for my young heart.
Daddy even offered to return the photo to you himself. Please don’t worry for his safety, darling, for he took both hunting rifles, and that large knife he uses to castrate the mules.
I do hope I’ll see a photograph one day. Isn’t modern technology exciting?
My deepest love, your soon-bride-to-be,
The Legend of Saint Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl
By Kaitlyn Tiffany Weston
As told to Ken Grobe
Time: 5:23 PM
Bar: Chachlagen O’Lichniches
Everyone knows the value of a holiday is measured by its bar crawl. Halloween is way too cold to go from bar to bar when you’re dressed as sexy Incredible Hulk. Which means the best holiday is St. Patrick’s Day. That’s why every March 17, I take my two best bitches, plus Jared, who’s bi so he’s like half bitch, and we have to hit EVERY. SINGLE. IRISH. BAR on Horton Street between 21st and 23rd. Everyone gets completely schnackered and guys hit on us and fights break out and police horses get stabbed and it’s super fun.
This year we’re starting at Chachlagen O’Lichliches, which might actually be a Jewish deli but they serve green beer so whatever.
Time: 7:04 PM
Bar: The Hog and Goiter
So we’re barely six drinks in at the Goiter and Summer is like, “Kaitlyn” and I’m like “What?” and Summer’s like “SHE’s here” And then I’m like “Who’s here?” and then I hear the wailing. You know how you have that friend you see just once a year because that’s all you can stand them? For us, that’s the Banshee.
The Banshee is a total hoverer who stands near a bunch of people she doesn’t really know and waits for a break in the conversation so she can start moaning about how she drowned in a moor 600 years ago. We’re always like “Bitch, shut up and drink!” But she just drones on and on about the moss in her lungs and blah blah SUCH a drama queen. It just gets so boring that we take her to karaoke and ditch her as soon as she starts singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Also, why is she always damp? It’s called a hair dryer, Banshee. Google it.
Time: 9:47 PM
Bar: The Pregnant Rose
I’m not gonna lie; I’m super into short guys. So when I came out of my blackout to find myself making out with one, I was NOT surprised. First of all, FYI, derby hats are the new fedoras. Second, he had one of those U-shaped beards with no mustache, which–newsflash–is the new sideburns. And then? When he jumped off his stool to fix my shoe? I wanted to bang the green off his bow tie. So I said “Let’s go back to your place” and suddenly he goes super aggro. He calls me names and he’s all, “Me gold! You’re after me gold!” and I’m like “I don’t need your stupid gold. Do you know who my dad is?” Then he tries to bite me, so Lachlan the bouncer hauls him outside.
Later that night we spotted Lachlan but he had donkey ears and we were like, “It’s not Halloween, Lachlan.” Some people live for attention.
Time: 12:02 AM
Bar: Declan McTesticoc’s
I am generally a 100% chill person, even when I’m completely slizzrd, but it was really not cool when the snakes showed up. I mean, we’re leaving the Pregnant Rose, trying to hide the bottles of Grey Goose we stole from the back, when Ashley’s all like “Ow” and I’m like “What” and she’s like “I think a snake bit me” and I’m like “You’re such a liar, Ashley” and then she dies in the street.
That’s when I notice like thousands of actual snakes slithering down Horton Street and I scream SUPER loud. I grab Summer and Jared and pull them into McTesticoc’s and lock the door and we jump on the bar and yell “THERE ARE SNAKES OUTSIDE!” But no one could hear us over the Mumford and Sons.
Then Jared pokes my boob and says, “There’s a guy out there.” and I’m like “So what?” and he’s like “LOOK” and I look and holy shit: There’s an old man with a long beard in the middle of Horton street, just like wading into the snakes.
And Jared’s like, “isn’t that the guy who hit on you at O’Hurliflynn’s?”
And I’m like, “Oh my god.” He still had the green stain on his robe from where I threw my beer at him. Now he’s like knee-deep in snakes and he holds up this stick with a cross on top.
The guy Summer is making out with looks up and points at the window and shouts, “Hey! That dude is glowing!”
And he totally was! And his glow makes the snakes all hiss really loud and retreat. He was like some sort of snake herder or something, which I’ll bet pays TONS if you’ve got the right client. He forces all of them down the sewer, where I’m sure they will never bother us again. Everyone in the bar cheers. I was so relieved I forced Jared to make out with me. I have serious upper body strength.
Three drinks or five minutes later I say to Summer, “THAT. WAS. INSANE. Have you EVER heard of someone driving snakes away like that?” And she says, “well isn’t that what St. Patrick did?” And I’m like “Who?” And she pushes me off the bar.
And that’s when it hit me: Next year for St. Pat’s I’m wearing my sexy Incredible Hulk costume! Now THAT will be epic.
Ken Grobe doesn’t have a serious bone in his body, an unnerving result of surgery after a tragic banana-peel accident. He’s penned short stories for Penguin books, sketches and short films for San Francisco’s Killing My Lobster, and an obscene amount of ad copy for rent. He’s performed at CBGB, Joe’s Pub, and on THE NEW GONG SHOW. Don’t ask.
This never ceases to amaze me. Several years ago, I wrote and directed this Planet of the Apes parody for SF sketch comedy stalwarts Killing My Lobster, for a Sci-Fi themed show. Is it my edgiest work? Nope. My best? I can't say. But it has gotten more YouTube views than anything else I've ever made--nearly 350,000 as of this writing.
It also disrupts typical YouTube viewing patterns because views seem to spike every few years. Why? Because every time a new APES movie comes out, it sparks interest in the original one. And in the interest of tight satire, I had named the video "PLANET OF THE APES (1968) ORIGINAL ENDING." Comedy, meet SEO.
The craziest part: Even when viewers feel like they've been tricked by the title, they still like the video.
Even with the accessibility of digital video tools these days, It's rare that video projects--good ones--get made on a whim. This is one of those rarities.
A favorite comedic actress, Allison "Ally" Johnson, recently moved from the Bay Area down to LA, to pursue her fortune as an actor. Believe me when I tell you that she's a true talent: wonderful actor, great comedienne, flexible voice chops, a great collaborator, attractive--she's even got clown skills! Ally is the real deal. Casting agents take note!
She, like any actor these days, pays attention to where she shows up in search results-especially YouTube, where she has a number of videos showcasing her considerable performance chops.
You know, "Ally Johnson" writhing on a bed, "Ally Johnson" taking her top off in a shower, and "Ally Johnson" cooing in that sexy-baby voice that is annoyingly de rigueur among the wanna-be-famous crowd.
Ally pointed this out on Facebook, and I responded by suggesting this should not stand.
I reached out to one of our favorite KML videographers (and recent LA transplant himself) Rand Courtney, who agreed to shoot it. I wrote up a script that parodied "Ally The Slut" (as our Ally called her) for the shallow, oblivious character that her Playboy videos make her out to be. Our Ally threw her heart into it, as she does with all her roles. Rand made it look great, as he always does. All this, from a few Facebook comments.
So if you enjoy the video we ended up making, please share it. Let's get (our) Ally's view counts up to send a message that bed football and consensual exposure are not actual talents.
Look what I found while helping my mom clean out her garage: a yellowing front-page Wall Street Journal article from January 16, 1967, which I photographed, cleaned up a little, and posted below. It predicts all sorts of globe-spanning electronic communications: Picture phones, fax machines, and devices that allow you to communicate via "sending text, or speaking or seeing, or perhaps communicating all three ways at once."
Sadly, I only found the first page of the article. Lord knows what reporter Jerry Bishop predicted in the subsequent pages. Social media? Stuffed-crust pizza? Hologram Tupac?
My favorite part is Mr. Bishop's caveat that these predictions are "premised on the assumption that the earth will not be incinerated in a nuclear holocaust."
I have a theory that creativity, at its core--stay with me, Internet, almost done--is just putting two things together that you feel like you haven't seen together before. Picasso's cubist portraits. Dickens' epic tale of a lowly orphan. And now, my mix of NBC's "The More You Know" PSAs with WW2 Nazi propaganda. You're welcome, Culture.
We released one of these in the spring as a show teaser, and saved the rest for a fallow period in the KML video production schedule. In a break from our usual release process, we released them first on Funny or Die, one-a-day for a week, to establish more of a presence there. Let's say it worked.
I got to work with many of my favorite KML members on these, including DP Jon Burton, VFX guru Ty Bardi, and of course gifted, funny actors Millie DeBenedet, Calum Grant, and Jon Wolanske, the latter of who stepped in to bail us out of a last-minute casting crisis, killed his role, and then went back to his day job a block away. Like a boss.
I costumed this shoot myself, by the way, driving all over the Bay Area asking wardrobe departments if they had any Nazi uniforms. That's a story in and of itself.
Bless Killing My Lobster for giving me giving me the opportunity to dig my own holes. My latest comedy short was featured in KML's Spring 2013 mainstage show, Killing My Lobster Learns a Lesson. The vid's a parody of college and technical school ads that makes fun of art school as a career choice.This vid could not have been made without the contributions of Francine Torres, a hilarious actress and fantastic theater instructor who actually plays a theater instructor in this vid. She saw the opportunity to give her students some real-world experience, helped us to shoot at her workplace and offered her students as PAs and background players. Two of her students are actually leads in this piece--I'll let you figure out which two. Oh, and I'm in this one, briefly. I forgot to cast the Advertising instructor, and when we got to that scene, I strapped on a froofy scarf and took one for the team. At least I got the hairline right.On a sadder note, this may well be the last project I get to work on with my regular KML production partner, Jonathan Burton, as he's since moved to NYC. Hopefully not!
PS a disclaimer: I have a lot of talented, successful friends who studied art, and there are several good art schools here in San Francisco. But there are one or two that are kind of questionable, and one for-profit university that (and I could be wrong about this) doesn't make its money from tuition so much as from being the #1 real-estate holder in the city. Just saying.
You can hear the call all over non-union SF castings: We need a stiff-looking scientist-type with no lines. Get me Grobe! Here I am in Atlassian's latest promo video for the new Jira 6.0 update. Video by the able and very funny hands at Paper Dog.
And here I am in "The Phone," playing the exact same role. Seriously. Stiff scientist has serious legs. I smell series.
This one is straight-up comedy, folks. Write Club is a monthly reading series held in various cities across the US, my home of San Francisco being one. Here, it's run by Casey Childers and Steven Westdahl, two excellent writers who curate the series.
Each event consists of three matches of two writers apiece. Each writer reads an original seven-minute piece, and the audience judges as to which piece is the "Winner."
Me being me, my pieces tend towards the humorous, none more so than my recent channeling of the legendary Tennessee Williams. If he wrote a 1970s XXX screenplay. No actual swear words but definitely not for young ears.
The clip of the reading is almost worth watching just for Steven Westdahl's announcing of my name.
Thanks to Evan Karp for shooting the video.
And the videos keep on coming! I wrote this one for Killing My Lobster Learns a Lesson, KML's latest sketch comedy show. This is the first of a series of videos that accompanied the show's sold-out run here in San Francisco.
It's not every day that "What if the Nazis made 'The More You Know' PSAs?" crosses my mind (I swear!), but once it did, show director Jon Barcellos and head writers The Bardi Twins trusted me to go for it. Further props go to to my DP and production partner Jon Burton, VFX maven Ty Bardi (who gave us the amazing visual punchline at the end) and actor Jon Wolanske, who stepped in at the last minute to just kill it.
Having trouble reading at this size? Clicking on any image will take you to a larger version.
The End! For pretty much forever. Sigh. I'll miss Garrett.
Hope you liked it!
WHAT?!?! A Double-page spread? Click the image to read it at full-size. Then hit your "back" button for the thrilling conclusion!
Next week: a solo strip featuring our geekiest cast member...then we start an all-new (to most of you, anyway) storyline! Whee!
Yep, just a two-page chapter this week. Got to go where the story beats are, after all. And c'mon, isn't a Folsom Street Fair reference enough to hold you til next week?
Don't answer that. But come back next Tues!
Like my CA Technologies video, NationalField had contracted me for a standard writing job--in this case, overhauling their site copy--but noticed my comedy videos and saw an opportunity.
NationalField is a private social network for businesses, like, say, Yammer...but under its Facebook-esque interface, it's more than another communications hub. It builds in business intelligence that makes it easy to encourage & track productivity among employees. It's a great fit for sales teams, or political campaigning, which is how the service was born.
Co-Founder Edward Saatchi (yes, the son of *that* Saatchi), had a fairly solid idea of what he wanted or their first salvo of ads: animated spots that high-lit NF's key differentiators while good-naturedly dissing their competition. That said, he trusted me to write the ads, storyboard them, and hire and direct the voice talent--most of whom I was able to pull from my crack team of Killing My Lobster actors.
More details about the spots here. Ads below!
[vimeo 52190422 w=500 h=281]
[vimeo 52192039 w=500 h=281]
[vimeo 52189026 w=500 h=281]
[vimeo 51191536 w=500 h=281]