DADAkitten: If David Lynch Did Comedy Sketches

Merry birthday to me! I hope all my little bits of confetti littering the streets are OK?

I’ve been trying to settle on a creative project which is purely for fun for a while now, and finally my friend Steve and I have settled on DADAkitten. I can only explain it as ‘imagine if David Lynch did comedy sketches. Sort of. Not quite, but a bit. Also Welcome To Night Vale.’ Follow our channel for more delights and daftness.

Anyway here are a couple of mine, from a series called The Drama Farmer which relates YouTube drama on people who don’t exist:

And here’s my favourite one of Steve’s:

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Art: The Creepy Grin Of Yue Minjun

The other day I went to use the computer only to be shocked by a terrifying, eternal grin repeated many times over. Bill had discovered Yue Minjun and saved his picture to the desktop. I thought immediately of Aphex Twin or Being John Malkovich.

Minjun is an artist from Beijing who uses his own face, frozen in a grin, in all his paintings and sculptures, which often replicate iconic imagery such as the Terracotta Army. There’s a kind of mischief and joy to his work, which has been shown in China, London, France, and Switzerland among others.

Ghost Cars, Paedophiles And Hitler: The Weirdest American Sitcoms

Sitcoms can be quite odd. Often a vacuum of humour, they’re mostly born of a Network’s desire to keep things inoffensive and entertain the whole family, dulling any creativity on the way (Big Bang Theory and Citizen Kahn, I’m looking at you). Sometimes they break free and become something great, for example Nathan Barley, Silicon Valley, Spaced, The League of Gentlemen, Fleabag, The Mighty Boosh and Atlanta (technically a comedy drama but I highly recommend it, particularly the BET episode. My stomach hurt during that).

Most of the time, though, sitcoms are just the same old thing in different settings, cobbling ideas together from already successful shows during a very desperate board meeting. Sometimes they have an original idea, but it’s so outlandish that you can’t quite believe was pitched let alone accepted.

Bosom Buddies

Tom Hanks’ first screen appearance seems to be inspired by Some Like It Hot only more stupid and less funny. Some Like It Hot had to be in black and white for audiences to accept Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon as women, but the Bosom Buddies creators thought nah, it’ll be fine.

Tom and his chum find a cheap apartment to rent but oh, curses, it’s a hotel for women. Did…did those exist in the 1980s?

My Mother, The Car

Wanting to capitalise on the success of fantasy sitcoms like Mr Ed and Bewitched, with a little oedipal complex thrown in, the reviews for the sitcom in which a man’s dead mother is reincarnated as a 1928 Porter were so bad that it wasn’t picked up for a second series. I suggest you watch The Simpsons parody Lovematic Grandpa instead.

Diff’rent Strokes – The Paedophile Episode

I had to include this. Generally a regular, unfunny situational comedy, it took a dark turn when the writers decided to highlight the dangers of paedophiles.

While I think it was well meaning and may have done some real good, the story slips down a rabbit hole of inappropriate laugh tracks and wise cracks while the action onscreen grows ever more disturbing. If you’ve ever watched the Butter’s Very Own Episode of South Park you’ll know what I mean, only this was unintentional.

The Flying Nun

“There’s this nun, see.”

“OK?”

“And she can fly.”

“What? Why?”

“She weighs just 90 pounds and…and…when the wind is strong it catches that funny hat they wear, and off she goes!”

“Tere, your mother and I are very worried about you.”

Mr Smith

The orangutan from Any Which Way But Loose landed a speaking role in this short-running sitcom. Apparently transformed into a genius after drinking an “experimental mixture” (pesky stuff) he becomes a political adviser (?) while his assistant and secretary try to keep his ape identity a secret. Yes, I’m sure it was hilarious.

Bonus! full episode of Heil Honey, I’m Home

Hitler and Eva Braun live in an apartment next to a Jewish couple in this British parody of American 50s sitcoms which aired for a single episode. I suggest you read this review of the shockingly unfunny programme here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

P.S. The writing at the start is fiction.

Disturbing And Creepy Early Cinema Vintage Clips

Quick announcement: Bill and I are having a holiday at home, so after this post I shall see you in two weeks’ time.

Before the motion picture industry solidified in the 20s, The tens and 1890s were a period of gleeful experimentation, much like the advancement of YouTube from dramatic gophers to defined communities and vloggers.

From the cinéma vérité of the Lumière Brothers, the fantastical whimsy of Georges Méliès, the glamour and fun of Alice Guy-Blaché  and the innovation of the world’s first animators, everyone had something they wanted to test. Vaudeville stars of the Belle Epoque and big events were a natural draw, but sometimes events don’t go according to plan, vaudeville acts seem alien to modern eyes and other things… are just odd.

The Balancing Bluebottle/The Acrobatic Fly (F. Percy Smith, 1910)

I honestly felt sick after watching this. It’s fascinating though and I couldn’t look away. But…yeah I still felt sick.

A fly is glued to a matchstick by the wings, it’s strength tested by placing objects onto it’s flailing legs, one of the objects being a dead fly. Yep, it spins around the corpse of it’s brethren on frantic arthropodic feet. You know that shudder Bart does in the Simpsons…

Fish (Bert Williams, 1916)

This next one isn’t creepy so much as sad. Bert Williams wrote and directed two films, unheard of for a person of colour back then. However this two reeler is very light on humour and audiences had a hard time accepting him, as a 42 year old man, playing a boy. Added to the mix are parents played by white people in black face with incredibly poor comic timing and pathos that leaves the viewer depressed.

Bert was never able to reach his full ambition, stuck as he was in ‘black’ roles often in blackface. Friend and fellow vaudevillian WC Fields said “Bert Williams was the funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew.”

On stage and in his other short he was a more subtle comedian. After the disappointment of Fish he returned to live performances.

Death jump from the Eiffel Tower, 1912

On the 4th February, 1912, Franz Reichelt was scheduled to test his homemade parachute by jumping from a great height. Nobody in the watching crowd or French and British media thought to tell him it was a bad idea and off he went, falling from the tower to his unfortunate death.

The Dancing Pig (1907)

The internet is quite familiar with a small section of this vaudeville performance, namely the titular pig gurning grotesquely at the end. The rest is pretty darn odd too, involving public humiliation and torment. All in good fun though.

The Cameraman’s Revenge (Wladislaw Starewicz, 1912)

Perhaps it’s my phobia of dead bugs (live ones I’m fine with though, no idea why) that leads me to find this film so shudder inducing. It’s a shame because this satire by the Polish, Russian and French stop motion animator is really incredible.

The cast of deceased insects perform an operatic melodrama of betrayed love and revenge in a mischievous swipe at popular theatre.

Monkeyshines 1, 2 and 3 (Thomas Edison, 1889 – 1890)

These ghosts from the past were captured during Edison’s first attempts to record image on film.

The Consequences of Feminism (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1906)

Either this film is meant to show the absurdity of men who protested against the suffragette movement or it’s an indictment of what could happen if allowed to continue. Seeing as Alice was a filmmaker herself I’d prefer to believe the former, but we just don’t know.

The Inferno ( Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan and Giuseppe de Liguoro, 1911)

This ambitious project was one of the first feature length films ever made (the first being The Kelly Gang, 1906). It’s packed with disturbing imagery from cannibalism to tortured souls and remains hauntingly fascinating to this day.

Witch Trials, Hysterical Nuns And Not Haunted Houses: Horror Nonfiction Bizarre Book Club

Good morning my little cups of fiery chai, I’ve been reading some very interesting books lately.

I’m drawn to the myths of ghosts, black magic, the Devil and other spooky things, but what I really love is clearing the fog of legend and finding what’s really underneath. To me the truth behind a haunting is infinitely more interesting than the initial stories, though I respect believers of the paranormal and would never make fun of them. Each to their own.

All three of these books take incidents or places that have been imbued with supernatural meaning and show us the ‘truth.’

1. Witchfinders by Malcolm Gaskill

The story of Matthew Hopkins, the self-titled ‘Witchfinder General,’ is quite close to my heart as I live in Essex and his numerous victims were held in a castle not far from me. Witchfinders painstakingly recounts the journey he took through Essex and Suffolk, whipping the people into a frenzy of blame and fear, and on through the trials and executions themselves.

The concept of witch-hunting in the magical sense seems alien to us now but Malcolm Gaskill does a great job of explaining the world of magic people lived in and how the uncertainty of the Civil War affected them. The thorough research helped me to better understand what might have been going through the minds of each player, even Matthew Hopkins himself.

2. Ghostland by Colin Dickey

This is a fascinating tour through the most mythologised houses, hotels, hospitals and even cities of America. Drawn to the ghosts, he strips back the stories and locates the factual accounts. If it sounds like he’s made them boring, trust me, he hasn’t.

One example is the famous Winchester Mystery House, long believed to have been created by a widow half mad with loss and guilt over the deaths of her husband and the victims of the gun he created, building endlessly to confuse any spirits seeking revenge. But, fantastically, the tale everyone including myself assumed to be fact isn’t, and this is only one of the little surprises in its pages.

This quote sums it up very well: “More than just simple urban legends and campfire tales, ghost stories reveal the contours of our anxieties, the nature of our collective fears and desires, the things we can’t talk about in any other way. The past we’re most afraid to speak aloud of in the bright light of day is the same past that tends to linger in the ghost stories we whisper in the dark.”

3. The Devils Of Loudun by Aldous Huxley

You might recognise the story of Grandier, the French priest whom women loved, men hated and burned as a witch after nuns became hysterical, from the Ken Russell film The Devils (1971). You may also recognise it’s author as the infamous psychonaut and writer of The Doors of Perception.

Where the two previous books are distantly fascinated and relatively dispassionate, Aldous Huxley’s philosophy and personality runs strongly throughout. Normally I wouldn’t like this, but he’s so well read and intelligent that it doesn’t matter.

It gives the story an air of being told by someone who knew the people personally, who smelled the horrible smells of seventeenth century France and had befriended Grandier, in spite and because of his complexities and contradictions.
Mass hysteria is a fascination of mine and anything that can go some way towards explaining it or recreating it in my mind is a definite winner.

5 Bizarre, Freakish And Surreal Animation YouTube Channels (And One Trailer)

It’s probably no secret by now that I love YouTube, I watch it more than TV. So many artistic and weird things can be found that would never previously have seen the light of day outside of a few old tapes passed from hand to hand.

So I thought I’d share with you some channels entirely devoted to bizarre, freakish or otherwise surreal animations, the kind that shows you the real odd side of YouTube. I’m guessing most people know of Cyriak, David Firth and Rachel Maclean so I picked the smaller ones lurking below the surface.

Also, last night, my boyfriend Bill uploaded the trailer to an upcoming animation of his. It’s brilliantly absurdist and dark, I’m very proud of him, and I can’t wait for you to see the whole thing.

Door – Trailer by Bill Purnell.

OK, first up is Colin Raff. All his animations are roughly a minute long and they’re a little Max Ernst, a little Monty Python, and very peculiar.

Supercriminal Pregnant Pink Surprise Eggs Fun in Real Life by Colin Raff

Next up is someone whose blog I’ve been visiting on and off for a few months, and recently discovered their YouTube channel. They’re videos are mainly surreal landscapes with jolly music, or a clip of a road or beach with some kind of animated layer on the top.

Pestle Ham by Megaeggz

Gmcfosho hasn’t uploaded anything for a few years but his parody rap videos make me chuckle. With lyrics like “Fresh up out the water like a amphibian, I’m so fresh that I got a Aunt Vivian,” and rudimentary animations he’s entertainingly daft.

COMEUPOUTDAWAHTA by gmcfosho

ProudNothing sometimes likes to throw a bit of humour and social commentary into his mind melting weirdness.

Snapchat Simulator by ProudNothing

Wendy Vainity, or madcatlady, says “I am just a hobby animation software user using ready made content, just having fun on my computer and sharing.” Thanks, Wendy!

Viral Vacuum by madcatlady

Guest Post: Tommy Wiseau, Goat Simulator and Rewinding Time: Weirdest Indie Games Pt. 2

Welcome back to the second and final part of our weird game experience, here’s Part 1. Today’s words are brought to you by the talented Angie Hewitt. Follow her on Twitter and watch her on Twitch. Enjoy!

roomgamehed

Last time, I wrote about some of the weirder or less mainstream gaming experiences out there. My hope is to broaden people’s definition of what computer games are and can be. We are entering the brave new world of Virtual Reality (a post for another time), but it’s still worth noting that there are plenty of games already available which can offer players something different.

Life is Strange

LiS is another narrative-driven game, but this one is episodic. Episodic means releasing games in short segments, putting out “chapters” periodically. It’s a format that’s been used before by studios such as Telltale Games (with beloved older titles like Sam & Max), and increasingly popular in games such as Hitman, Tales of the Borderlands, The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones, Minecraft Storymode and The Walking Dead.

Back to LiS: you play Maxine, an awkward girl who’s studying photography and trying to fit in at a new school. Whilst witnessing a violent crime, Maxine discovers she is able to rewind time to a certain point, to remake decisions and to change the future. As with most episodic games, the decisions you make mean something and will lead to different slightly outcomes, so be careful which path you choose. Whilst one course of action may seem like the right one, it can have unintended and tragic consequences, especially when you can only rewind time so far.

It’s an interactive drama which had been lauded for its emotional impact. It’s also been mocked, too, with some critics labeling it “Tumblr: the game.” This is because the game deals with some complex themes, including identity and depression. Oh, and the two main characters are female, so of course it’s been dismissed as a SJW (social justice warrior) game.

I haven’t played through the whole thing myself yet, but I plan to, and I already know a few spoilers. I’ve read reviews where critics have been bereft by a choice you must make in the game, so be prepared.

Also, one of the characters says “hella” an ungodly amount of times in the first episode, so consider yourself warned.

The Room (the game)

No, not one of the many mobile games where you must try to escape a puzzle-locked room. This The Room is an unofficial tribute to the movie of the same name.

The Room is a playable version of the cult film The Room. Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed and starred (as Johnny) in one of the most unintentionally funny films ever made. It gained notoriety for its terrible acting and odd story choices. Characters appear and disappear at random (often because actors were walking off the set in despair), the dialogue was horrific (anyone for a scene where a character tells a story about domestic violence, which is then dismissed as an amusing anecdote?!), and the plot made no fucking sense. What little plot there is depicts Johnny as a victim, loved by everyone except his manipulative fiancee, Lisa, who makes his life hell. It very much seems like Tommy was dumped in real life and decided to make a movie out of spite. They’re actually creating a film about the surreal and terrible making of The Room, which I am absolutely watching.

In the game, you play Johnny, reenacting the scenes from the film. However, there is original material as well which gives the story an actual, coherent plot, something the film failed to achieve. There are secrets to be discovered (such as what the hell creepy Denny actually keeps in his room), which make this fresh and interesting, despite how many times you’ve endured the movie.

It’s a charming and amusing game experience which will probably be a lot funnier if you’ve actually watched The Room. If nothing else, the sight of a naked 8-bit Tommy Wiseau should be enough to tempt/horrify you. The game is free to play online.

The Stanley Parable

This is one game I haven’t played, but mostly because I’m terrified to do so. It’s another interactive fiction, exploration game (are you sensing that I have a preference here?), but it’s much more open than most. You play Stanley, an office worker, whose computer suddenly goes blank. You get up to find help, but there is no one around. A narrator explains parts of your situation, but the story is decided by you. Or not. It’s complicated.

There are six different endings in total and which one you end up with is determined by the choices you make. Where a choice is possible (e.g. go through the left door, or the right one), the narrator will tell you which one you should pick. However, it’s up to you to decide whether you follow his advice or go against him. Or you may not make a choice at all.

From the gameplay I’ve seen, The Stanley Parable is a surreal and inventive take on interactive fiction; one critic likened it to Being John Malkovic. Davey Wresden, one of these game’s designers and writers, wanted to create a game where the player had the ability to choose, unlike other games which had a set of rules about your destination and how you should get there. The reason the game terrifies me is that a) I’m a wuss (ask Madeleine – she will testify that I spend most horror films hiding behind a cushion) (EDIT: This is true, and yes we torment her – Madeleine) and b) the surreal landscape of the gameplay that I have seen has been somewhat unnerving.

If you want something more than “press X not to die” in your interactive fiction, this is an interesting start.

Reigns

This is the only mobile game on the list, but it’s so very different from your everyday Candy Crush imitators and Farmville clones.

Reigns employs a mechanic more typically seen in Tinder: swiping left or right. You play a king, and the aim of the game is to achieve a longer and longer reign through various incarnations. To do this, you are offered choices to determine the fate of your kingdom and, eventually, you. You must maintain and balance four elements: the Army, the Church, the People and the Treasury. Nearly every choice you make has some impact, but you can only choose Yes or No by swiping left or right. Do you want to heal the people? Great! The People will be very happy, but, ah, the Treasury is going into the red because you’ve had to spend money to build hospitals. Keep one element happy and you’ll do well, adding years onto your reign, but what benefits one can weaken the others.

Trying to ensure no element is too weak (the Treasury is bankrupt! The kingdom revolts and you die in a ditch!) or, conversely, too strong and well-off (the Treasury is full! You eat a sumptuous feast to celebrate and die from choking on a fishbone!) is a difficult task to manage.

However, you will die; that’s inevitable. Once you do, you start again, sometimes with different goals to achieve and choices to make: you can meet the Devil, follow the dog, uncover the conspiracy, find a lover, employ a witch, and so on. After multiple playthroughs you will notice some repetition, but this is part of the game: it’s all about learning from past mistakes and trying to be a better king, all whilst trying to unlock different endings. It costs a couple of quid, but well worth it for the amount of time sunk into it.

Farming Simulator and Goat Simulator

Oh god, these games. OK, so I’ve talked about dating sim games (Hatoful Boyfriend: forever in my heart), but a new genre of simulators had been gaining popularity in recent years.

The strangely successful Farming Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2 (where you are literally carrying out realistic farming and driving jobs in a computer game) may seem an odd way to spend your evenings, but there’s an audience for it. Just go on Steam right now and you’ll see cooking simulation, train simulation and plane simulation games aplenty. This popularity is either because the games are often meant to mimic real-life tasks closely (and thus almost act like training), or because some people just really, really like relaxing by taking a tractor around a computer-generated field.

Farming Simulator had sold over four million copies so far, and counting. Bear in mind that Destiny, a game with a massive launch and studio behind it, has 25 million users worldwide: in context, this weirdly specific Farming Simulator game has achieved nearly a fifth of the same amount of users. And their game is literally about carrying out farming chores.

Goat Simulator is a different take on the simulator experience. You play a goat. Your aim is to create mayhem. Using your oddly elastic tongue, you have challenges to compete, and damage to wreak. In one playthrough I found, the YouTuber had managed to get the goat to chill out on the top of a hang-glider, whilst another persisted in just throwing people around the map.

It’s very, very stupid and is intended as a humorous diversion. Goat Simulator is fun to play for a while, but it’s not exactly got a compelling plot to hook you. Be warned: this game is reputedly buggy as hell, which is conversely one of the reasons people love it; more often than not, they’re trying to break the game and glitch the goat character in the silliest way possible.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and some of the games have been out for a while. If you really want to explore insure gaming further, itch.io is a site focused on sharing indie games, games which can be very experimental (the previously featured Succulent being one of them). Some of these games are free or pay what you want, but if you’re unsure whether they’re worth it, check out YouTube to see if anyone has done a Let’s Play, just so you can see whether it’s to your taste or not.

Happy gaming!