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March 19, 1997 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-03-19

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 19, 1996 - 11

.Behind the scenes
in the world of
Mad TV

Handsome's not just
a leftover metal band

By Julia Shih
Daily Arts Writer
* LOS ANGELES - "Mad TV" is one
of the funniest, wackiest, craziest shows
currently on television. But what goes on
behind the obvious madness of this well-
oiled comedy machine? The cast and
crew of "Mad TV" allowed The
Michigan Daily to take a peek behind the
scenes of their Los Angeles set to see
what goes into creating such an excep-
tionally hilarious show.
Each week the cast is hard at work,
ether rehearsing the stage portion of the
show, taped in front of a live audience, or
filming video sketches at a variety of
According to
cast member Our st
Phil LaMarr,
"You rehearse sick or tM
for four days,
shoot on the theme"
fifth day ... for
ree to four
weeks, then you "Mad TV
shoot film paro-
dies for two
weeks. Then you come back and start
rehearsing for stage. So there are no
This schedule soon becomes quite
grueling over a period of time, as cast
member and Michigan State alum Mary
Scheer said, "We have two weeks off in
Aecember, but some days you're work-
g 14 hours a day."
On this particular day, the cast was
rehearsing for the night's live taping,
where Thomas Calabro of "Melrose
Place" and the legendary comedian
Bobcat Goldthwait would be guest-star-
ring. Some original skits that would be


performed include one about a fast food
fight to the death and a square dance
calling couple that get in a fight while
calling the dance.
As Scheer sat patiently while having
hideous purple eyeshadow applied to
her for the square dancing sketch, she
discussed what she likes about working
on "Mad TV" "Playing different char-
acters is really fun. They're really 'Mad
Magazine.' If I were doing regular
straight acting, I would be playing
someone my age. In this show, I play a
lot of old ladies."
Yet when asked what her least favorite
character on the show to portray is,
Scheer said with a
playful smile, "I
uaget tired of doing
old ladies."
ViSted Meanwhile,
cast member Phil
LaMarr lounged
in a chair memo-
- Phil LaMarr rizing a script
cast member between scenes.
Though he is also
a writer, he
revealed that he definitely prefers act-
ing over writing. "I'm a very poor col-
laborator," LaMarr said. "I don't play
well with the other kids."
But LaMarr did reveal a little secret
to the formula of "Mad TV" "(The cast)
comes up with ideas, but we don't offi-
cially write anything, because then
they'd have to pay us as writers. And
writers get paid pretty well."
Before he could continue, he was
interrupted by cast member Bryan
Callen, who was taking a break from
rehearsing. He breezed in like a tornado
- incoherently ranting something


about his life since the age of 4, his
father's prison time and things his old
girlfriend used to say, before leaving in
the same disorienting fashion which he
came - with a wake of breathless and
laughing bystanders.
This kind of energy and lighthearted
joking was apparent throughout the
whole rehearsal, as the cast and crew
seemed to forget that what they were
doing is their job. At one point in a sui-
cide note sketch, the scene calls for
Callen and Scheer to react in surprise to
a gunshot. But Callen's delayed reaction
causes good-natured director John
Blanchard (who previously worked
with "Kids in the Hall") to quip that
maybe they should insert a "One Hour
Later" caption into the scene. Even
technical mishaps are taken in stride
(such as a prop wall falling down),
showing that the set of "Mad TV" is not
a place where tension runs amuck.
Cast member Debra Wilson describes
the set of "Mad TV" as a friendly envi-
ronment. "The best part of the job is not
just the work. It's about creating a fami-
ly background with people, so that you
trust each other's opinions. And when
you create that family, you have a per-
sonal stake in the show. It's a gig that you
enjoy because you've created a personal
relationship with what you do:'

This is the cast of "Mad TV," which competes with "Saturday Night live."

By nighttime, the live audience
arrived and the team was ready to tape.
The taping took more than three hours,
but the audience clearly enjoyed itself, as
"Mad TV" offers them plenty to laugh
about. After only a few retakes of sketch-
es, a hilarious monologue by Calabro and
an alleged live piercing of Goldthwait's
genitals during his monologue, the satis-
fied audience leaves and the exhausted
cast and crew wrap up.
"Mad TV" is aired at the same time
as NBC's "Saturday Night Live."
"They've been comparing us to
('Saturday Night Live') for a long time,
and it doesn't seem to make a differ-
ence," Scheer said. "There are still peo-
ple who like 'Saturday Night Live,' and
they're mostly over 30, and they watch
it out of bad habit. We have a younger
audience. When I run into people from
different comedy groups, they like our
show better - they say that it's funnier.
So I'm happy to be on the better show."
LaMarr offered, "A lot of our stuff
has a decidedly sick or twisted theme."
Even if you're not impressed by the
cast of talented performers, the slew of
hilarious and original sketches, the
amusing animated characters and the
nostalgia, then at least LaMarr's com-
ment should be enough reason to watch
"Mad TV."

By Colin Bartos
Daily Arts Writer
How does a band carve out a niche
for itself when its members have
already been a part of some of the most
influential groups of the hardcore
movement in the past 20 years?
Obviously, it doesn't seem that hard,
considering New York's Handsome is
doing a fine, steady job of making a
name for themselves.
Featuring ex-Iceburn vocalist Jeremy
Chatelain, ex-Quicksand guitarist Tom
Capone, ex-Cromags drummer Pete
Hines, ex-Helmet guitarist Peter
Mengede and newcomer Eddie Nappi
on bass, Handsome reads like some
kind of "Monsters of Hardcore" bill, a
label the band said they were not all that
comfortable with. "We're 'Hardcore
Superheroes.' I
don't really like PR
that sort of thing
because you look
in the paper,"
Mengede said in a
phone interview
with The
Michigan Daily. "Tonight at blah blah
blah: featuring ex-members of Trixter,
Warrant. I don't want to be like the '90s
version of that." Needless to say,
Handsome is not living in the past.
Mengede talked about how the band
got together through networking and
recommendations, and also how they
chose Chatelain as the vocalist because
"he's got a pretty unique voice."
Mengede also mentioned the story
behind the name Handsome, which is
not your typical sort of hardcore name.
"It was my fault; Mengede said. "I
wanted to torture the singer --you
know, no one's gonna get a big head if
they have to get up on stage and say,
'Hi. We're Handsome.' Also, everyone
in the band was really opposed to it, but
no one came up with anything better ...
. That's another thing; we didn't want to
fit in with a lot of the tough-guy hard-
core bands and maybe it was some sort
of futile attempt to get some girls to
come to the shows."
Handsome's self-titled debut, on


Epic Records, was released last month,
produced by Terry Date, known for his
work with Soundgarden and Screaming
Trees, among others. Handsome spans
a lot of different styles, ranging from
very deep, textured guitar arrangements
to uptempo, punk-influenced jaunts to
straight-ahead rockers and melodic
"We wanted something that was
heavy without it being metal. We want-
ed a little diversity" Mengede said. "We
have a few different tunings, tempos,
moods ... and we intentionally left
some of the poppier things we have off
The album is very strong, and while
tracks like "Thrown Away" and "Ride
Down" are very reminiscent of
Quicksand, there is something that still
sounds original
E V i E W about the iusic,
which Mengede
Handsome said was a con-
Tonight at 6 scious decision.
The Shelter Handsome did not
Call TicketMaster want to make a
Helmet or
Quicksand record "because we'd been
in bands like that before, and we didn't
want to do it again," Mengede said.
"You get to the point where you're like
'Hey! I've had enough.' Why do more
of the same?"
The current tour with hardcore
heavyweights Orange 9mm and Unsane
is going great according to Mengede,
and the show is extremely energetic. It
is just a tad .different than Handsome's
last tour, though. "The last tour we did
with Silverchair and the kids were
great" Mengede said. "The girls were
screaming like ABBA and this time the
audiences are definitely a little older."
Any fan of Helmet or Quicksand will
really enjoy the show.
Don't worry about the whole lead
ers-stand-behind stigma to hit
Handsome, either. This is a band, first
and foremost, which lends to the reason
why they are so solid and should begin
to be noticed. "It's an absolute democ-
racy;' Mengede said. "It has to be ...:'

'Mad' picks up where 'SNL' left off long ago

By Julia Shih
Daily Arts Writer
It's been so long since we've seen
good sketch comedy that has the power
to nake us laugh. But as "Saturday
Night Live" contin- _
uesto decay, "Mad
TW has emerged R
as the provider of
, mch-needed hilar-
Saturday night
once again a night
fired with fun.
Continuing the irreverent and outra-
geous tradition started by Mad
Magazine, "Mad TV" is an hourlong
shp filled with original sketches,
movie spoofs, commercial parodies and
crazy, animated characters. Often their
W tics are so offensive that it is amazing
altthey are allowed to do them on tele-
Some memorable and entertaining


sketches include "Gump Fiction," a
movie parody which pokes fun at both
"Forrest Gump" and "Pulp Fiction,"
and "XXX Files," a spoof about porn
stars being abducted by aliens. Another
amusing one is a
V Esketch about a
EW Vpoetry teacher
Mad TV whom the students
lust after, as illus-
Fox trated when they
Saturdays at 11 p.m. read their passion-
filled poems.
Other hilarious recurring segments
include "Lowered Expectations," a dat-
ing service for socially-defunct people
who can't find anyone else, "UBS Guy"
the deliveryman (Orlando Jones) who
can't stop talking and "Mrs. Vigor" the
sick old lady (Mary Scheer) who mur-
ders anyone who enters her apartment.
At times, some of the sketches aren't
really that funny. But there are enough
well-written and well-performed

sketches to make up for the'bad ones.
"Mad TV" breathes life into an art
which has been tortured to death by its
competitor, "SNL".
"Mad"'s no-holds-barred attitude is
apparent in its willing-
ness to parody anyone t
and everyone -
including George
Clooney, Bill Cosby
and Janet Reno. In fact,
with its fairly diversi-
fied and talented cast,
no one is safe from
being parodied by
these comic geniuses.
But sketches aren't
the only highlights of "Mad" gives rea
"Mad TV." Amazing
animation technology brings the classic
"MAD" characters of Don Martin to
life. The animated characters, especial-
ly "Spy vs. Spy," are still equally as vio-
lent and disrespectful for the lives of

others as they are on paper. They're yet
another reason children shouldn't be
tuning in to this show.
The success of "Mad TV" should
make comic icon Alfred E. Neuman
proud. Then again, he
must be, as each
episode contains
numerous shots of him
smiling. With such a
talented and funny
cast, fresh and innovat-
ing writing and a repu-
tation built on comic
excellence, "Mad TV"
lives up to high expec-
tations and beyond.
on to smile. So to "SNL," I'd
like to say that it was
good while it lasted, but it's time to give
up the crown of "Best Sketch Comedy
Show in Town" to "Mad TV" Because
nobody does comedy like good ol'
Alfred and company.

Your source
for campus
news -

Thne Psychology Peer Advisors Present.
on Wed., March 19, 1997 from 7-9 p.m.
"Summer Research and Volunteer Opportunities Related to Psych."
"What To Do When Taking A Year Off"

Karen Cambell
Washtenaw County United Way
Patricia Shannon
Clinical Psych. Graduate Student

Debbie Taylor
Career Planning & Placement
Mary Clark
Summer Research Opportunity Program



f 9

All Focus Groups will be held on the 4th Floor Terrace in E.H. Enter f
through the Church St. Entrance. The elevator is on the left. Go to the 4th -. -f~ a, ti4
floor and follow the signs to the Terrace. ~
http: //www /personal .umich.edu / -hsy /PeerAdvising.html



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