Baselines" basically means "lowered standards."
From the beginning of our project, those of us behind this
campaign have talked about how "lowered standards"
is such a common theme among stand-up comics. So, in the interest
of reaching a broader audience, we decided to test the comic
waters of Hollywood and see if we were right, by conducting
a little experiment.
On March 31, 2003 we held
a contest in which 42 up-and-coming comic performers brought
in their best material on the subject of lowered standards/shifting
baselines. Some made films, some sang songs, some read poems,
and some chickened out....
The event was organized
by Randy Olson and Jeremy Rowley of the L.A. comedy group
It was hard to pick
the best, so we didn't. We handed that job over to our celebrity
(Click photo to view bio)
|They did a great job, and here's who they chose.
You can see a sample of each performer on the WINNERS REEL,
or watch their entire performances below by clicking the links.
Two more performances were
so good we had to include them as Runners Up.
We don’t want to get
too analytical, but there are two winning performances that
provide material deserving further thought in relation to
our themes of "shifting baselines" and ocean conservation.
Aron Kader's now-flaccid
joke book from his grandfather illustrates something, though
it's not entirely clear what -- maybe shifting baselines,
maybe reverse-shifting baselines, maybe shifting thresholds
for making people laugh -- who knows, but it's clear that
mustard isn't as funny as it used to be.
Ifeanyi Njoku's short film
illustrating a lack of awareness about ocean conservation
in South Central Los Angeles is an important piece of commentary
for environmentalists who dream of having a more unified constituency.
When we held our Roundtable Discussion in January one participant
said, "I stand here tonight in a very white room …"
There exists a seldom-mentioned fact about environmentalism
in the U.S. -- it is mostly peopled by middle-aged white folks.
And at the same time, it's not as if the lack of awareness
of ocean conservation is specific to the people in this film.
As one of our judges, Tom Arnold, said, "I think you
could go to Iowa and find the same sort of comments."
Arnold is a writer, producer, and actor who has appeared
in such movies as "True Lies," "McHale's Navy,"
"Cradle 2 the Grave," and is currently co-host of,
"The Best Damn Sports Show Period," on Fox Sports
Louis-Dreyfus is best known for her Emmy and Golden
Globe winning performance as "Elaine," on the legendary
sitcom, "Seinfeld." She was also a cast member of
"Saturday Night Live," and is currently the star
of the NBC sitcom, "Watching Ellie." Julia is an
active environmentalist on the Executive Committee of NRDC,
helping out Heal the Ocean, and a member of the Board of Directors
of both Heal the Bay and the Environmental Media Association.
Maher was the creator of the 90's cultural landmark
show "Politically Incorrect," which aired for nine
years on Comedy Central and ABC, and was nominated for an
Emmy. He is now the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher,"
Mehlman was a co-creator of and writer for a little
TV show called, "Seinfeld." He is perhaps most famous
for writing the "Yada Yada" episode, and is also
the author of such classic Seinfeldisms as "spongeworthy"
Rowley performs regularly as a member of the GROUNDLINGS
and has appeared on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, CHARMED, ACCORDING
TO JIM, STRIPMALL on Comedy Central, and RUNNING WITH SCISSORS
on Oxygen. Film credits include Jerry Bruckheimer’s
COYOTE UGLY and the soon to be released SELF MEDICATED.
Sterling appeared in the Austin Powers trilogy as
"Frau Farbissina". Her improv experience with The
Groundlings has led her to star in the new WB show, "On
The Spot". Her film credits include "The Grinch
Who Stole Christmas" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous".
Benson has guest starred on many TV series and films,
appeared in over 100 commercials, and created his own sketch
comedy TV series "Skip TV." He currently writes
and performs live every Sunday at 8 PM at the ACME Comedy
Theatre in Hollywood.
Courtney is an LA actor, stand up comic, and member
of the Groundlings Sunday Company. She starred in, "Melvin
Goes to Dinner", directed by Bob Odenkirk / written by
Mike Blieden, which premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival
Kader has appeared on "The Shield" and
as a stand-up comic on "Comedy Central's Premium Blend."
He can currently be seen at "The Comedy Store" on
the weekends, and "The Groundlings" on Sunday nights
doing sketch comedy.
Miller performs all over L.A., from the LA Improv
to youth hostiles and AA meetings. Her dream is to have her
own HBO special.
Njoku is a director and producer for MTV, as well
as music videos for such artists as Nelly, Eve, and Snoop.
He directed the recent Showtime comedy special, "Straight
Clownin'" featuring Will Smith, Tyra Banks, Jamie Foxx,
Shaq, and Dr. Dre, and starring the host of this film, Alex
, before trying his hand at comedy,
was a U.S. Marine, a bouncer at a strip club, banned
from the Philippines, and his application was rejected
by the most corrupt police force in the country, the
L.A.P.D. He is currently with the Groundlings Sunday
Company and recent television appearances have included,
'The In-Laws', 'Grounded for Life', and 'The Parkers'.
Storrs is currently performing with the Groundlings
Sunday Company and has just completed Co-star work on NBC's
pilot "Come to Papa".
For questions or comments contact: firstname.lastname@example.org