Top Ten Categories from the Adult Video Awards

Every year AVN (Adult Video News) holds a giant ceremony in Las Vegas and hands out over 50 awards to their community and business. In the world of pornography these awards are highly prized. Here are some the most, uh, unique categories from the awards (held two weeks ago.)

BestAnal Release: Anal Boot Camp

BestArt Direction: Star Wars XXX: A Porn Parody (good work, JJ!)

BestBig Butt Release: Big Wet Asses 21

posterBest Director (there are five categories; Best Director- Feature, Best Director- Foreign Feature, Best Director- Non-Feature, Best Director- Foreign Non-Feature, Best Director- Parody)

Reuben Sturman Award: Lasse Braun (from Wikipedia: To his defenders in the sex industry, Sturman was a marketing genius and a champion of free speech, an entrepreneur whose toughness, intelligence, and boundless self-confidence were responsible for his successes. But to anti-porn activists and Justice Department officials, Sturman was the head of a vast criminal organization whose companies enjoyed an unfair competitive advantage: protection and support from the highest levels of the Cosa Nostra.)

BestFem-Dom Strap-On Release: His Booty Is My Duty 2

BestFoot/Leg Fetish Release: Asphyxia Heels the World

Best Ethnic Release (there are three categories; Best Ethnic- Asian, Best Ethnic- Latin, Best Ethnic- Black)

BestMale Newcomer: Logan Pierce (tellingly, there is no Best Female Newcomer)

Clever Title of the Year: Does This Dick Make My Ass Look Big?









3033 note

It has been established that the passengers on a plane are rowdy jerks. Rush, as the put-upon flight attendant is attempting to conduct the in-flight safety demonstration, but the passengers would much rather continue their raucous game of “Truth or Dare.” Standard improv procedure would be for the two separate “wants” to conflict and cause friction/hilarity.

Instead, Bill begins to pepper Rush with “Truth” questions about airplane safety (“Should I remain seated and with my seatbelt on during the ENTIRE flight?” “Yes, True.”). In this way, both needs are satisfied in a humorous way. Now, this was not the funniest part of the show, but to me it was the most satisfying. The instant agreeing and resolution of two distinct “wants” without conflict was a delight to witness on an artistic and intellectual level. It brings to mind Del’s saying: “Every interpersonal situation has a solution in which everyone wins.”

Thanks for the free lesson and demonstration, 3033!

Four Sided!

Foursided is a new show I’m working on with Marla Caceres, Julia Weiss, Ross Kimball and Joey Romaine. I’ve enjoyed all their improv for different reasons over the past few years. I remember (many years ago) when Charna and I would put together Harold teams, we would try to balance players- like, an energetic, physical player with a verbose, analytical player. I think with the cast of Foursided, there’s a real frisson of personality and it’s exciting to watch.

Slide1The real reason I asked them to do this show is to highlight a form that has been ping-ponging about my head since I was performing “Close Quarters.” The difference however is that this form focuses on creating new characters, rather than an unique place or time. Let’s take a look at it:

Character A does two person scenes with B, C, and D. We explore A’s world and personality through his/her interactions with B, C, and D.

After A&D, we return to the last minute of A&B (the last few lines of the scene) and now we follow B and the rest of the cast becomes new characters. So it’ll be B&E, B&F, B&G. Then…

We return to the end of A&C and repeat.

The cast eventually will play sixteen characters. Some scenes will be longer and more thoughtful and others might be even blackout length.

We have a run at iO Chicago on Tuesdays at 10:30pm. We start next week and run all through February. Please come!










I love improv.



About a week ago, Chicago Tribune columnist Nina Metz wrote (with Chris Borrelli) an article that is basically a defense of heckling. (It’s titled “A Field Guide to Hecklers”, but it’s really a defense, or even an homage to hecklers.) Check out the original article here.

louishecklerSince then there have been some magnificent rebuttals. In particular, Steve Heisler and (iO veteran and friend) Nick Vatterott have written devastating critiques of the original piece. And deservedly so, the idea that people (even tangentially) involved in live public entertainment would encourage and even praise heckling is insane and destructive.

In the unique and strange world of improvising we have a peculiar relationship with hecklers; on the one hand we specifically ask the audience to participate vocally and on the other hand we want them to shut up and watch the show. Performing improv so close to the drunken confines of Wrigley Field is an added danger as well for most of the improv community here in Chicago. Who hasn’t had a strange night with hecklers or even people joining the performers on stage after the Gay Pride Parade/Market Days/Every Cubs Game?

For improvisers, Hell, for IMPROV in general it’s been a struggle to get people to understand how and what we do on stage. To say that hecklers are the “ultimate test” and that being shouted at by random strangers is basically a call of “Improv skill, reveal thyself!” is an insult. The show we’re presenting is our improv skill, thank you. Believe it or not, for most improv shows, there’s a lot of work going on. Before the show there are years of classes and rehearsals. Maybe it’s that group’s first show, maybe it’s their only show that month– but if they’re showing me (as an audience member) respect by performing a show, then I will give them that increasingly rare American commodity, my attention.

statler_waldorf_02_01The two authors of the Tribune article heap praise on those famous hecklers, Statler and Waldorf. Two of my favorite Muppet characters, but that’s the real point of those characters- the Muppet Show is a scripted entity and Statler and Waldorf are part of the script. It’s not as if some random guys with puppets actually burst into the Muppet Show and started heckling things like, “I can see that guy below you!” or “Why does Kermit’s voice sound so different?” I really found that comparison disconcerting, to say the least.

I think that perhaps Nina Metz and Chris Borelli are bored and jaded by the shows they are seeing and the only entertainment they get is when the standard is upset by heckling. I can understand that. I’ve yet to read Roger Ebert, however, who’s been reviewing since 1967, wish that more people shouted interesting things at the movies.

For improvisers, shutting down a heckler is a duty. How an improviser deals with a heckler creates either a fun, creative atmosphere or shuts down the show by giving them free rein. Ultimately, the “House” support staff if the arbiter of whether or not a heckler stays or goes.

The bottom line is this: a Heckler is an asshole who has decided they are more important/funny than the person onstage. They are wrong. And people, who should really know better, who support and encourage the practice of heckling, are wrong.


**disclaimer: I have had many shows reviewed by Nina Metz (some good some bad) and have been interviewed by her several times. I have always found her to be engaging, fun and supportive in those conversations.**