Unless, of course, you were referring to how to come up with jokes in the first place - in which case, I'm not sure if we can help you there. ;D Everyone's got their own twisted method of comedic commentary, it seems.
This post will self-destruct in......eventually.
Last Edit: Aug 29, 2009 17:17:53 GMT -5 by Blue Raja
In the late summer of 2009, the U.S. Government recruited Mr. Raja, Miss Hellcat, and Mr. Skyroniter to work together on a "riff" of a 1950 short entitled Ways To Settle Disputes. While the reasons for this are classified for now, their efforts are currently being archived for the public's inevitable enjoyment.
That is all we're allowed to say at this time - in fact, we've probably already said too much. Stay tuned.
Post by Blue Raja on Sept 14, 2009 11:43:48 GMT -5
Miss Hellcat is indeed correct - bigger plans, about which I am already talking too much, are in store. This is, after all, a TRAINING short.
Agent Skyroniter and myself went through the recording phase this past weekend, and it is only a matter of time and budget-spending till this one sees the light. Indeed, never has government work been so fun.
Last Edit: Sept 14, 2009 17:50:19 GMT -5 by Blue Raja
Post by Blue Raja on Sept 15, 2009 10:08:50 GMT -5
Well, for me, I have two possibilities:
1) Windows Movie Maker - good news, it easily lets you drag and drop your riffing to the movie, wherever you want it. The movie being right there makes it simple to sync for us. Bad news is, it doesn't really duck the short's volume when YOU'RE talking, so you have to hope that you can hear yourself over the short well enough. Kinda depends on the short's talkiness as well as how clear the riffers' voices are.
2) Audacity - also a free program, but one of the greats. You can adjust volume, speed, length, whatever, so it let's you do whatever you want. The tricky part, though, is syncing your riffs to the short, since there's no accompanying video - it's all sound that you have to reference. So you have to be sure that your timing records are as precise as possible.
I'm trying out both methods for now - the Windows Movie Maker first, to see if I can get the volume differential to be solid enough, since the rest is a snap. If not, at least I know Audacity will definitely do the job, just takes more work. So far, though, WMM is going a lot better than I anticipated - very clear so far. I will even go so far as to say....PROFESSIONAL-sounding at times.
I know there are better programs out there, but you know how cheap the Government can be sometimes.
It's been a little while since our first ever riff was released, and due to its unique and MST3K-centric nature I'd like to take a moment to go back and muse over the various lessons learned and experiences experienced.
- First of all, after going through all this work (yes, that little 11-minute thing was a TON of work) of picking a short, writing jokes, re-writing jokes, corresponding with the other writer, timing it right, getting imagery done, recording, re-recording, finding the right software, working with said software, figuring out how to convert to DVD and video files....
....MAN I have a ton of newfound respect for those original riffing boys and girls we admire so much. Of course, it was their full-time job unlike our case, and no they didn't have to worry about internet stuff at the time, but boy have I ever found a new level of appreciation for their work. Both in the writing department, where they can pull the most brilliant humor out of thin air and STILL make it apply to the movie's scene before them; and in the vocal department, where just about every joke is delivered pitch perfect and natural.
It may be because I'm A) not a professional comedian, and B) a notorious second-guessing self-perfectionist, but it felt like the greatest struggle at times to write a joke's phrasing just right, or to get that obscure reference and make it fit the scene, or to word the joke just so. It may also be because we had far fewer writers than the MST3K peeps ever had, and we weren't ever in the same room to help each other out (thank goodness for email) with stuff like that.
But all the same, yes, riffing is indeed a sweet science. So many planets have to align to make a great riff - good writing, good performers with good performances, a movie that helps you out, and that "special vibe" that a truly solid riff gives you. Those guys do it way too often for it to be mere coincidence that it's funny - there's a special set of talents there, no question in my mind.
- Delivery. If there is one talent I've overlooked of the MST3K alumni in the past, it's their JOKE DELIVERY skills. They make it sound so easy to say "I wonder if there's beer on the sun" or "Hey boss, do you think Mitchell likes me?" and it be funny. Sure the joke was written well, sure it applied perfectly to a funny character in a not-so-funny scene. But at the end of the day, there's so many inadequate ways to deliver a line, as I found out the hard way with my attempts at riffing. I can't tell you how many times I had to re-rehearse and re-state our jokes (Sky would back me up on this one if he was inclined - just ask him how many times we went through him shouting "WEDGIE!"). Thankfully some of the lines worked anyway, even if they were mishandled, but so many more required a solid delivery. Of course, solid delivery to one person is a missed opportunity to another. And that makes it an even more demanding process, attempting to please the majority of your listeners' ears.
- Coming up with jokes. Hooo boy, this one is a strange process. You can watch the same scene in a movie over and over and over and not come up with a thing. Suddenly one night, right before your mind switches off and you're about to go to sleep - IT HITS YOU.
THAT'S IT. THAT'S THE JOKE.
Sometimes it'll hit you even when you're not even thinking about the riff. All it takes is seeing an object or TV show or hear a statement or whatever that reminds you of something in the movie you're riffing, and WHAM, it hits you.
Obviously this isn't the best way to go about writing - if you relied solely on these epiphanies, you'd never get done, as they usually bear 2 or 3 jokes at a time, tops. But for those Writer's Block moments, sometimes you just need to do the most un-riffing thing possible.
I could go on more and more about this stuff, and I may in good time, but I get the feeling I'm rambling here (though, to be fair, my blog title warns you about such).
I'll just leave it here for now - in spite of all the time and work that went into all of 11 minutes of video, it was all worth it in the end. To hear/read both the glowing reviews and the constructive criticisms were really special joys. Moreso the former, obviously, but the latter is just as important. Just knowing that some Joe in Lesotho found your recorded statements over a 1950's PSA full of laugh-out-loud moments made it all worthwhile.
We hope all who saw this short enjoyed it, and felt it was worth their time - we know we have stuff to work on, no delusions among us here. ;D Hopefully we can learn from whatever mistakes we made and make a riff we're even MORE proud of, this time diving* into the world of feature-length films.
By the way - you probably didn't need me to tell you this, since you've probably already figured it out yourselves - but Sky and Hellcat are quite the awesome people. Their willingness to put up with my hyperactive amateur self all this time still astounds me to this day. ;D I tip my hat to you!
*No pun intended, since the film planned is "Jaws: The Revenge."
Last Edit: Nov 4, 2009 16:16:01 GMT -5 by Blue Raja
I want to second your points, Raja. I had a lot of fun writing for this, and I'm glad that this iRiff has received such positive attention. Riffing has become a wonderful new hobby for me, and I'm thrilled to have found some outlets for it.
I also have a new level of appreciation for the Brains. I think most of us have watched an MST3K episode and said to ourselves, "I think I could do that, I'm a witty person." But actually sitting down and trying to write jokes is hard work. I've had the epiphanies that Raja mentioned (usually just as I'm dropping off to sleep -- as a result I now keep a pen and pad on my night table). It's a great feeling, like finally remembering a name that's been on the tip of your tongue. But he's right: you can't build a whole riff on that process. You have to sit there and try to develop something. There are times when the movie will hand you a setup that is so perfect the joke springs to mind immediately. At those times I feel like a hitter who just got a perfect pitch to smack into the stands.
But other times a line of dialogue or a scene will cry out to be riffed and nothing comes to mind. It's a delicate operation: if you try too hard for the joke, it can come out leaden or forced. It's supposed to look effortless, even though it isn't. That's another thing I love about MST3K: you know it's scripted, but it feels improvised. That also speaks to their skills at delivering lines.
I also have a lot of new respect for the Brains for one other reason: their ability to sit through these turkeys more than once. I've watched Jaws: The Revenge at least eight or nine times (probably more) since I started working on my script for Raja. After repeated viewings you can get a little burned out. How on earth did the Brains get through Manos?
By the way - you probably didn't need me to tell you this, since you've probably already figured it out yourselves - but Sky and Hellcat are quite the awesome people. Their willingness to put up with my hyperactive amateur self all this time still astounds me to this day. I tip my hat to you!
Well, I tip mine right back to you, Raja. You had the vision to set this thing in motion (something I never could have done) and the means to record it, which I could have never figured out. So from my point of view, "putting up" with you has been a lot of fun. (Of course, I didn't have to yell "WEDGIE!!!" multiple times. )
MSN' AROUND - The Catfights, Bed Intruders, and Tiger Woods Edition
Yeah, it's been quite a while since the last edition of "MSN' Around," so much so that I have no clue how many (or few) I've done. So instead of numbering it like before, I just described what's in store in the "edition" title.
For those of you (which is all of you) that have no clue what "MSN' Around" even is, it's a thing I do where I take the MSN.com homepage on a given date and time and make fun of the headlines and pictures. 'Cuz let's face it, MSN.com just begs for it WAY too often for it not to happen eventually.
I've previously just made these for friends with email, but now I'm venturing out into the Wonderful World Wide Wonka Web with this entry!
Anyway, I saw one today that caught my eye, and hopefully it'll provide you with loads of laughter that you'll be telling your great-grandchildren about decades from now.
I like to set realistic goals for myself, you know?
Let's get started! First, the target: dated Thursday, August 26 2010, taken at approximately 2:45 pm Eastern.
Right off the bat we notice that MSN.com's snazzy new layout seems, at first glance, to be vaguely Raja-retardant. There is admittedly a molecule more dignity to the titles of the headlines then in the good old days. But any page that features as a headline "2-year-old cat becomes fashion icon" can't be too razz-proof, now can it?
Let's begin with the "Main Box" up top, for lack of a better term:
Let's see here...
"Dueling Divas: 11 Musical Catfights"
- Why 11 and not 10, like most normal lists? Because MSN.com loves you. Yes, you get to read about a free BONUS Musical Catfight, which is more Musical Catfights than what those OTHER Musical-Catfight-describing sites would typically afford you. It's like getting 11 Musical Catfights for the price of 10 Musical Catfights!
Actually, it's the same price as 10 Musical Catfights, 'cuz it's free to click either way, but the principle still applies.
- Speaking of "Musical Catfights"....the main rules are as follows: you can't Catfight until the music STOPS. Then, everyone Catfights as quickly as possible. The one person left NOT Catfighting is then kicked out of the game, and the music resumes. Repeat until 2 divas are left standing.
- "Things can get ugly"....looks like they already did, particularly in the picture on the left. I'm not sure who the hair stylists/makeup artists/photographers are for these people, but BOY are they brave to go out in public like that. While this IS one of Gaga's more restrained looks, that doesn't mean it suits a still photo all that well. And stop looking at me that way! Yikes. The nightmares.
- "..when two stars vie for the same share of the musical spotlight." Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't Perry and Gaga (Tuesdays this Fall on NBC!) kinda in separate genres of music? I mean, you don't see Snoop Dogg and Yanni arguing over the same fans/stage/award just because they both happen to attend the same red carpet event, do you? DO YOU?
Then again, they aren't exactly divas either. Well, not Snoop, at least.
Moving right along!
"Beware Smart Phone Data Plan Cons"
- If you're like me at all, you had to read that headline a couple of times. Is it the PHONE that's smart, or the PHONE DATA PLAN that's smart, or the CON?
- "So what do you do for a living?" "I'm a con-artist." "I see..." "A smart phone DATA PLAN con artist." "OH! That's a relief." "Or, if you prefer, I'm a SMART phone data plan con artist. I don't do dumb stuff with my phone data plan cons." "Wait, huh?"
- "When it comes to buying smart phones, the true cost can be a mystery." I guess sometimes the store's pricetag label-maker runs out of ink. Hey, it happens!
- "So we did the math for you." And by "we," they mean "our smart phone". Which we should "beware" of. Oh wait, that's the data plan con that we should "beware" of.
I'm so confused.
Video: 'Bed Intruder' Guy Speaks Out
- So they put 'Bed Intruder' in quotations, but not "guy"? For that matter, why did they even put the word "guy" in there? Surely most readers would get the point by just reading: "Bed Intruder" Speaks Out.
I guess there was some question as to the 'guy's' gender, I don't know.
- Speaks out against what? You intruded on a bed, man! Unless you were in your own house, or thought you were in a mattress store at the time, there is no room for you to defend yourself, mister!
(It is a 'mister,' right? The headline needs to specify that better for me.)
- Right now, the 'Toilet Intruder' guy is so jealous this hack got top billing over him.
Your Home's Hidden Energy Horrors
- I saw Hidden Energy Horror last night at Rockfest, man. They rule. You and I should go check them out sometime, man. They don't have Musical Catfights like those other divas, you know?
- But seriously though (ha!)....how do they know what's in MY home anyway? Unless they're assuming that EVERY SINGLE HOME has the SAME EXACT hidden energy horrors. Which I HIGHLY doubt.
- Little known fact! The film "Little Shop of Horrors" was originally going to be titled "Little Home of Hidden Energy Horrors," but they figured a giant talking plant was more visually interesting than an outdated washer/dryer combo.
2-year-old Cat Becomes a Fashion Icon
- Against its will, I assure you.
- So if the cat is 1 year old or 3 years old, it doesn't matter if it's a fashion icon or not? WHY DOES THE AGE MATTER!?
- Sooo...speaking of cats....do cats have Humanfights, then? MUSICAL ones?
And if so, can we rank the top 11 of them?
Wendy's Sells Natural, Skin-on Fries
- Wait, you mean that black, burnt scabby thing at the end of half the fries they give me ISN'T skin?.................Excuse me a moment........
- Well, I guess that's an improvement over the fingers they put in the chili, AMIRIGHT!?
Why yes, I WILL be here all week, thank you very much.
Snake Causes NY Hospital Outage
- Can Mr. Snake help it if the hospital cafeteria has the cheapest dead rats in town? CAN HE?
- If one single snake can cause either a power outage OR a network systems crash in a building as large and complex as a hospital, where multiple redundancies and backups is the norm for other facilities of its kind nationwide, then SOMEBODY seriously needs to fire their building/network engineer.
- I must say, I think I have a pretty good idea of what Samuel L. Jackson would have to say about all this.
- The Kansas City Police Department, upon further investigation, begrudgingly conclude that they should have realized this at an earlier juncture.
- Police: Sides Still Sore From Laughing About Shark Sighting Gag
- Police: Can't Wait To Tell The Guys Back At The Precinct About That One
- Police: Can't Believe Johnson Fell For It
- Police: You Can Pull Fake Fin Out Of Water Now, Steve
- Police: Steve? We Thought You Were In Water
- Police: Then Whose Fin Is That
- Police: Uh-Oh
Video: Sportscaster Hit By Soccer Ball
- Video: Sportscaster Furious They Kept That Take And Put A Link To It On MSN.com
- Unless he's hit in the crotch by the soccer ball "Daddy Day Camp"-style, color me uninterested.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST - the "Popular Searches" list! Remember - people allegedly SEARCH for these exact terms.
I cry for us.
- Otherwise known as: "Celebrity Marriages".
- "Elin was rumored to get $100 million from Tiger"..... "Was" rumored? As in, past tense? Why didn't you tell us what the CURRENT rumor is? And what do I need to do to get divorced from Tiger too!? Too many questions unanswered here.
Crow & Breast Cancer Center
- Don't make me make another Samuel L. Jackson reference, 'cuz I WILL do it.
Mariah Carey Pregnant?
- Just as long as she doesn't name the baby "Dice," I can live with this.
Wesley Snipes Avoids Prison
- "U.S. Marshals" in a nutshell, ladies and gentlemen.
Weird Al & Lady Gaga
- Can a single internet search actually CONTAIN that much weirdness?
- The baby will be.....interesting.
72 Bodies Found At Ranch
- Got some sick people out there actively SEARCHING for this, apparently. Surely they can just click the 50 billion links available on any given news site!
Family Photo Captures Thief
- The Thief's ultimate downfall: his irresistible urge to make "rabbit ears" at EVERY nearby photo op.
"The View" For Men?
- Brought to you by the makers of Suave For Men and Tampax For Men.
- I can see the panel now.....Jason Statham, Hugh Jackman, Terry Crews, basically the entire cast of "The Expendables" (give or take a Jet Li) sitting around a tastefully decorated coffee table on a posh Burbank studio, chattering away the hours on such hot topics as Josh Groban's new album and Bette Midler's famous cranberry muffin recipe.
But it'll be with MEN, you see.
Jolie To Write, Direct War Film
- "Mommy, can you feed me?" "No sweetums, Mommy's writing and directing her war film right now..." "But I'm hungry!" "I just gave you dinner an hour ago! Remember the veal tartare with caviar sauce?" "Yeah, but I wasn't HUNGRY then!" "Just go play with your solid gold Playstation 4, okay?" "But they haven't MADE Playstation 4 yet!" "Not for poor and MIDDLE-class children they haven't, sweetie."
Royal Greek Wedding
- The blandly-titled but somewhat-anticipated sequel to "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"!
Software Predicts Bad Behavior
- "What are you doing, Dave?"
Travolta, Preston To Have A Boy
- Why would anyone search such a specific statement that already tells you what you want to know?
"Hmm, I wonder if Travolta and Preston are having a boy. Let me type 'Travolta, Preston To Have A Boy' and hope I got it exactly right. *waits* Oops, that search didn't work, let me try: 'Travolta, Preston To Have A Girl,' maybe that'll work."
- Not only that, but they failed to specify the proper Travolta and Preston in their search! They might end up learning about the joyous news of Sioux Falls' Jerry Travolta and Gertrude Preston's recently bringing baby Steve into his South Dakota world.
And THEN where does that leave you, huh? That's right, WITHOUT the proper knowledge of whether the RIGHT Travolta and Preston had a boy or not. A situation I'm sure NONE of us ever want to find ourselves in.
This has been Thinking Way Too Much About It Theatre. Thank you.
Miley Cyrus & Breakup
- Miley's just practicing for when she catches Tiger's eye. She knows the game.
And that's quite enough for today. Thank you, thank you! You're too kind. No, I don't really intend to make fun of the Instaflex Joint Relief ad in the screenshot above - joint pain is no laughing matter, particularly when dealing with shocking discoveries made by Cambridge researchers.
Cambridge research also discovered that I'm tired, and will leave you be now. Just remember the lessons learned today, and we'll call it even:
1. Whenever you decide to make your own list of Musical Catfights, be sure to list a top 12 - because otherwise, MSN.com will just have you beat.
2. Never let your snake loose in a NY hospital, or your crow loose in a Breast Cancer Center - their hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on backups and redundancy goes down the toilet the second that happens.
3. Whenever near a soccer ball, place yourself in its path and make sure someone's filming - it WILL make it on MSN.com, mark my words.
4. Play it safe. Whether it's a smart phone, a data plan, a con, or all of the above, please beware of it.
5. If your cat is a fashion icon, whoop-de-do. If it's 2 YEARS OLD, however, then we're talkin'.
6. Under no circumstances should you turn down a marriage proposal from Tiger Woods. Your wallet will thank you later.
Last Edit: Aug 26, 2010 20:45:14 GMT -5 by Blue Raja