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4B - Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michiganclaily.com 6

4B - Thursday, October16, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom *

ARTIST AVANT GARDE

I

Megan Ganz, a University alum, is a writer for 'Modern Family'
Megan Ganz fds
comedic ccess

COURTESYOF NIKKI HORoWITZ

Cave regularly vacillates from genre to genre in its composition.

'U' alum talks
experience writing
for TV, The Onion
By ERIKA HARWOOD
Senior Arts Editor
Despite the University's
best efforts, life for students
post-graduation doesn't always
mean immediate job offers and
stable careers. This is espe-
cially true for those who dream
of pursuing a life in the enter-
tainment industry. For aspir-
ing writers and comedians, the
years after college are usually
a healthy combination of strug-
gling to break into the business
and working the oddest of odd
jobs. It's become part of the pil-
grimage; you study, you work,
you create and maybe you break
through. It's an uncertain life-
style that can drive away even
the most dedicated - but there
are always exceptions.
University alum Megan Ganz
knew she wanted to go into
comedy since she was a teen-
ager flipping through copies of
Mad Magazine and The Onion.
Once in Ann Arbor, Ganz wast-
ed little time pursuing that
goal. She earned the position
of editor-in-chief at The Every
Three Weekly and scored an
internship at Mad Magazine in
New York.
"My mom bought me my
first Onion book, and I started
by wanting to write for The
Onion. Once I got to U of M,
I started taking English Lit-
erature classes - I was con-
sidering maybe being a teacher
- but I decided I wanted to do
comedy full time," Ganz said.
Her internship at Mad pro-
vided first-hand experience
with professional comedy writ-
ing, and gave her one of her
first big breaks in the industry.
"(The) first thing I ever
sold was a fold-in idea at Mad
I just pitched something
in a meeting and they liked
it and they went with it," she
explained. "That was the first
real money I ever made writ-
ing comedy, and that was a big
moment."
But it wasn't the last. After
Ganz graduated in 2006, she
began working at her other
dream job, The Onion. Despite
EF
For its first three episodes,
"Gotham" was unsuccessfully
walking the line between gritty
and campy.
In its fourth
episode, Gotham
"Arkham,"theT
series aimed Tuesdays
foramore at8 p.m.
grounded FOX
approach,
resulting in its strongest episode
so far.
Centering on the title district,
"Arkham"delves into the rising
conflict between the city's two
crime bosses, Carmine Falcone
(John Doman,"The Wire") and
Sal Maroni(David Zayas, "Dex-

ter"), as they fight for control of
the district's future. The duel
manifests itself in the character
Richard Gladwell (HakeemKae-
Kazim, "Black Sails"), a hitman
working for bothsides.Gladwell

her age and limited level of
experience, she felt prepared
to start her comedy career at a
publication most writers would
consider the summit of the
comedy climb.
"I loved The Onion, so when
I went to school I started writ-
ing for something that was
like The Onion and that made
me learn that form," Ganz
explained. "Then when I went
and worked at that job, I knew
that form really well."
Ganz pitched and wrote
satirical pieces on a variety of
topics - similar to the work she
had been doing at The Every
Three Weekly. Riffing off of
real news headlines, Ganz
proved her talent for joke writ-
ing and storytelling, eventually
becoming an editor at the pub-
lication.
"There's not any formal
training that you really need
in order to do (comedy) ... I
had to start writing all the
time. And I had done a couple
of those internships, so yeah,
I felt prepared to start," Ganz
said. "I kept getting offered
jobs though. So that was a good
sign."
After a few years with The
Onion, Ganz made the leap to
television writing - first with
a brief stint at Comedy Cen-
tral's "Important Things with
Demetri Martin" then moving
on to NBC's "Community" and
to her current job at "Modern
Family" on ABC. This breadth
of experiences has allowed
Ganz to flex different comedic
muscles, and have helped her
to develop a range of skills to
apply to her writing - both in
her current work and in future
projects.
"'Community' exercised a
little bit more of my experi-
;mental side, but 'Modern Fam-
ily' is great because you have
to have humans talk they way
they really talk and people
engage with each other like
they really do," she said. "Not
because the story dictates that
they do it that way, but because
that's how actual people would
talk to each other. If I ever go
forward and write something
of my own I'll definitely bring
what I've learned from both
shows to the table."
As for what she plans to do
after "Modern Family," it's still
PISODE REVIEV

up in the air. Ganz has been
working on a movie script with
a writing partner who also
works in television, and then
there's talk of her potentially
writing an animated show for
FX, but nothing is set in stone.
There is one thing Ganz is sure
of though.
"I like TV. I think I'd want to
stick with TV. The thing about
movies is you're putting in a lot
of time for a long time before
you kind of know where any-
thing is going. You can work on
something for a few years and
then it can just go away," she
said. "Whereas television, the
nice thing about it is you write
something and the network
decides to make it or not - like,
pretty quickly. I like that it just
feels like a regular job."
That is, a regular job where
you work alongside veteran
television writers who have
been in the business for decades
and worked on shows like
"Cheers," "Frasier" and "Sex
and the City." With a writing
room full of resumes boasting
awards and years of experi-
ence, a day at work seems like
a daunting task, but Ganz says
she's constantly learning.
"When you're doing com-
edy, it's an interesting business
because obviously some days
you just wake up not feeling
funny," she said. "And so I'm
learning how to be professional
and be able to work consistent-
ly every day."
With a job that demands
writers to be on their A-game
every day, the ability to deliver
material with consistency is a
necessity, and a skill Ganz has
gained through experience.
"You just push through it."
she said. "I think your ego takes
over at some point and you feel
like, 'Oh, I don't just want to sit
in a room and be quiet all day.'
So you pitch stuff even if you
don't feel like it."
Sometimes the off days result
in the best work - as Ganz has
experienced firsthand - and
offer one of the best lessons for
aspiring writers and comedi-
ans.
"Honestly, some of the jokes
I've gotten into shows have
been during days when I really
didn't want to be there or do
this," she added. "But that's
why you keep pitching."

The
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Caves

ByAMELIAZAK something that sounds like
DailyArts Writer somethingelse."
And at times, they don't
Blind Pig was crowded even sound like themselves.
a swarm of head-bobbing To replicate themselves on
ekids this past Saturday. A any given night would be an
ean-looking San Cristobal incredible difficulty for this
d the college band band. Each performance is
ase with their smooth and treated as an empty canvas
chords, followed bythebig for them to expand upon their
s of the big-haired Detroit multi-dimensional and visceral
roup George Morris &The talents with the added value of
Chorus. But at around audiovisual aspects.
ght, the headliner, Caves, The reason as to why the
the stage. Five college band cannot pin down a
nts humbly gathered up specific influence was distinct
seasoned platform of The in Saturday's performance.
Pig and flipped open their Summer's jazzy piano and Koi's
computers to begin the sexy scatting interlude that
p. 3-D visual projections lead into a steamy, hard rock
napped up onto square- guitar and drum crescendo had
d screens on both sides a vehement effect on an already
& stage, later matching thoroughly enthusiastic crowd.
audio with its respective Sonically, the band vacillated
. A couple of quick sound from genre to genre throughout
s and the excitement of the the hour-long set. The only
nt fans that have circled constant to be found, perhaps, is
'ont is jumpstarted. And the change.
he music began. Koi said the band's goal is
ividually, each member to create "boundary-pushing
ves has incredible talents. music where people are taking
Naples, an Elk Ridge, things that have already existed
native and Performing and looking to the future to
major in the School of Art create somethingthat is exciting
ign, shreds into his guitar or powerful."
the beginning to the end Caves is a band made out
set. Peter Leonard keeps of convenient talent; they are
ss very relevant, and Alex friends brought together by
ansforms her vocal cords their similar skills, interests and
n instrument of her own, home - most of the band shares
an explicit melodic tone an address. They are a group
rould have otherwise been of random, extraordinary kids
g. The classically trained brought together when pianist
ck 'n' roll pianist Summer Summer Krinsky and lead
ky acts as the glue that guitarist Sam Naples decided
lly synthesizes the many that their independent study
s incorporated into each venture had a performative and
e band's songs. And so musical future. Sam and his
enveloped The Blind guitar can, undeniably, capture

the audience's attention for
parts of each song, but Alex's
voice, Peter's bass and Summer's
piano equalize the talent every
song.
The band members
themselves warn that the
upcoming Caves album, which
is bassist Peter Leonard's senior
thesis, may be a little difficult to
create. With each performance
more effusive and beautifully
uncontrolled as the next, Caves
is a band best digested live.
Therefore, the worry remains
that with a studio album the
band could lose some of the
random sonic artistry and
specificity that makes their
sound so special. Nevertheless,
they are more than anything
a band of individuals so jam-
packed with talent, variety and
black lipstick that their groeth
is surely movingupward.
As a 21st century band
emerging from the breeding
ground of talent that quietly
exists on the University of
Michigan's North Campus,
Caves couldn't be described as a
quintessential college indie rock
band.
Guitarist Naples and the rest
of Caves gushed about their
intentions to expand their
audience to include young
people in Detroit.
"(Detroit is) right in our
backyard and with so much
potential," Naples said.
The city's warehouse
music scene will perfectly
accommodate a band as
interesting, experimental,
viscerally and musically aware
as Caves - a band working with
no desire other than to sound
like themselves.

,I
4,

Pig, filling the establishment to
the brim with a unique sound
and Technicolor visuals that
mesmerized the audience.
Have Caves list off its
influences and you will watch
an incredible conglomeration
of sounds form in front of you.
Ranging from Bjfrk to tUnE-
yArDs to Baths and a touch of
Phish, this college band is unlike
most; their iTunes libraries
do not define them or provide
them with cheap steals. Rather,
their musical interests inspire
and motivate their preexisting
talents and creativity.
Guitarist Sam Naples defined
their inspiration, saying, "We're
not really interested in creating

Caves is composed of friends who regularly perform in Detroit.

TRAILER REVIEW

is a far subtler figure than pre-
vious villains-of-the-week,
increasinghis menace. Along
with Falcone and Maroni, the
stories centered on the other
criminals of"Gotham" prove to
be the episode's strength. Oswald
Cobblepot's (Robin Lord Taylor,
"The Walking Dead") plans to
rise among the ranks of Gotham's
underground are multilayered,
manipulating Maroni while feed-
ing Gordon information, and will
hopefully lead to bigger payoffs
as the future Penguin balances

his deceptions. The criminals'
plots are miles more engrossing
than Gordon's clunky relationship
issues that hold back "Arkham."
The hollow victory for Gor-
don at the end ofthe episode
reveals that the uphill battle to
save Gotham is beyond solving a
single case. The compromise on
Arkham's future, to appease both
Falcone and Maroni, reinforces
the fact that the two criminals
control Gotham,not the scared-
for-his-life mayor.
-MATTHEWBARNAUSKAS

"The Book of Life" opens
on the Mexican holiday, El
Dia de los Muertos, or the Day
of the Dead,
with two
best friends The Book
competing
for the love of Life
of one beauti- 20th Century Fox
ful woman.
The computer
animation recalls the famous
prints of Mexican artist Jose
Guadalupe Posada, whose
satirical depictions of Mexican
bourgeoisie as decadent skel-
etons have been associated with
the aforementioned Mexican
holiday.
Two spirits (one good and
the other evil) strike a bet con-
cerning the outcome of the two
best friends' competition, and
the one evil spirit proceeds to
cheat - as evil spirits are prone

to. What might be problematic
for the film is how it appro-
priates Mexican and Latin@
culture for the purposes of the
American cultural-consumerist
event of Halloween.
In the trailer, at the first
mention of "Day of the Dead,"
the words "This Halloween"
appear on screen. This begs
the question: Does the film cel-
ebrate the Day of the Dead as a
legitimate cultural event in its

own right, or does the film dis-
respect this Mexican holiday by
subordinating it to the celebra-
tion of American Halloween? (I
suspect the latter.) To answer
these questions more definitive-
ly, one would of course, have to
see the film, which, just based
on the trailer, I wouldn't recom-
mend unless these questions of
possible cultural misappropria-
tions compel you otherwise.
-ZAK WITUS

I

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