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Broccoli's Blog

This is one of those trending news topics that seems to have ten conflicting accounts, so bear with me for a paragraph. Daniel Tosh, comedian and host of Comedy Central's "Tosh.0" (a show where Internet videos are played and mocked by Tosh) is taking a lot of heat because, allegedly, he made a rape joke at a comedy club, a woman got offended and as she was leaving, Tosh asked the crowd if it would be funny for everyone to rape her.

Or something like that. I couldn't be bothered to look up all the different articles to achieve some sort of "accuracy." I'm a blogger, not a journalist. Regardless of what Tosh said, I still think he should lose his job, and it hasn't nothing to do with the fact that he may or may not have told a rape joke.

I think he should lose his job because he's just not funny.

First off, let's address the elephant. You can't say anything is never funny in any context in any way. That's ridiculous. I've heard funny Titanic jokes, funny Helen Keller jokes, and yes, funny 9/11 jokes. Would I tell them? Probably not. But I found them funny. That makes them funny. Not because I'm the determiner (determiner--is that a word?) of what is and isn't funny, but because there isn't a determiner (I think it's a word) which means if someone find what you said funny, then congratulations, it's a funny joke.

Now, I have no doubt in my mind that if Daniel Tosh told a rape joke, it probably wasn't funny at all and the only people who would have laughed would be misogynistic stoned frat boys who probably would roofie some poor high school senior at one of their keg parties. I also know, however, that a smarter comedian could probably come up with a joke about rape that would be funny and maybe even unoffensive.

Ultimately, if I argue for anything, it's for free speech and that you can't put limitations on what's funny.

I would also argue, however, that Daniel Tosh should lose his job because his job is to be funny and he's not.

Not at all.

He …   More

What’s been in negotiations since last summer is finally settled – Ocean State Theatre Company will no longer be the producing entity at Theatre by the Sea.

“We found out very recently, about a week ago,” said Amiee Turner, the producing artistic director and president of Ocean State Theatre Company in an interview Friday.

Now, Bill Hanney, the owner of Theatre by the Sea, will step into the role of producer at the venue.

Turner said she could not speak on why Hanney made the decision; she said what she knew was outlined in a press release sent by Ocean State Theatre Company late Friday morning.

“Based on my recent experience as owner and producer at North Shore Music Theatre and my desire to share productions between the two venues, I have decided to take on the responsibility for productions at Theatre By The Sea,” said Hanney, who also operates North Shore Music Theatre in Massachusetts, in a press release. “I want to thank Ocean State Theatre Company for their commitment over the past five years in bringing live theatre back to the Theatre By The Sea stage and wish them great success with their new venture in Warwick.”

Hanney was not immediately available for comment.

Ocean State Theatre Company (OSTC) has been the producing entity at the historic Matunuck barn playhouse since its re-opening in 2007. Since then, the company has been on a year-to-year contract, with the exception of a two-year contract from 2010 to 2012.

Turner said she is “personally disappointed” with Hanney’s decision. Still, she’s trying to look on the bright side, and said the goal of OSTC was to ensure that Theatre by the Sea re-opened and stayed open.

“Ocean State Theatre Company was formed to re-open Theatre by the Sea,” she said. “The important thing for people that love Theatre by the Sea is that it will be open next year. In that regard, we’re very …   More

Follow my lede

If the age-old adage about cats having nine lives is true, then 19-year-old Sydney is only on number two.

It was 11 days ago that Maddie Eustis, a 16-year-old East Greenwich high school student noticed that she hadn’t seen her cat, Sydney, all day. She asked her mother, Maureen, if she had seen the domestic short-hair Maddie’s parents had adopted close to the time they got married. Maureen hadn’t seen the cat either.

The pair scoured the house: Sydney wasn’t in her favorite spot in the basement; she wasn’t hiding under the couch; she wasn’t anywhere inside.

Although Sydney wasn’t typically an outdoor cat, she did sometimes venture into the back yard. Maddie confessed they hadn’t been keeping a close eye on Sydney that day since her grandparents were over.

“She must have slipped the fence,” thought Maddie.

Maddie, a volunteer at the East Greenwich Animal Protection League (EGAPL), texted her friend Nancy Dyer, who also serves as the head of cat adoption at the League. Maddie told her how sad she and her family were about their missing cat. Dyer offered her sympathies; she understood.

Still, there was no sign of Sydney. Hours passed. Night fell. They Eustis family began to lose hope.

After eleven days passed, Maddie and her mom decided that Sydney, as some animals have been known to do, went somewhere to die. Being a small, 5-pound cat with old age and hearing problems working against her, the Eustis family was certain they would never see Sydney again. Life went on, Maddie went off to field hockey camp, and the Eustis family tried to cope with the loss of their companion of nearly 20 years.

It was July 27 when the East Greenwich Animal Control picked up a stray cat wandering around a residential area. She was an older cat that didn’t like to be held but was otherwise friendly. They kept the cat at the North Kingston Animal Hospital for three days, and once they determined she …   More

Broccoli's Blog

In most places, summer isn't usually the time of year when interesting and provocative contemporary theater gets produced.

Even in that great Mecca of New York City, only one or two shows ever open between the Tony Awards and September.

It just seems like the combination of heat and the temptation of hanging out at the beach for a few more hours makes it difficult to put on anything other than summer stock musicals and outdoor Shakespeare.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that. Put out your torches, Shakespeare lovers--but seriously, how many more productions of The Tempest am I going to have to sit through before I die? Hundreds? Probably hundreds.)

Lucky for Rhode Islanders, summer isn't what it used to be. Oh sure, if you're up for a fun night of musical theater you can check out Theatre by the Sea and if you want Shakespeare done by a master, go see TRIST's As You Like It directed by Bob Colonna right in downtown Providence.

If you're looking for something a little more intense, however, don't assume you'll have to wait until Fall rolls around.

Independent theaters in Rhode Island have started taking advantage of the fact that most of the theaters in the state go dark when the warmer months appear. This means local companies whose productions might tend to get lost when competing with bigger theaters can get more attention for their work.

The Contemporary Theater Company in South County has always put out terrific work in the summer, and now that they have their own space, you can bet they're summer offerings are only going to get better.

Providence's Wilbury Group is offering the Rhode Island premiere of the musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. For those of you who loved Perishable's Hedwig and the Angry Inch (and I'm not sure there was anybody who didn't), you're not going to want to miss one of the boldest musicals to appear on Broadway in the past few years.

Trinity Rep may be on break over the summer, but their downstairs …   More

Broccoli's Blog

Yesterday I read an article on Ocean State Theatre Company's new space in Warwick.

Obviously, there's a lot of excitement at the prospect of a new 425-seat space opening that promises to add more opportunities for people to see professional theater.

Then I got to this section of the article:

"Because the theater will be an Actor’s Equity, or union theater, Turner"--Artistic Director Aimee Turner--"expects to hire out-of-state actors. Housing them will be an issue she’ll tackle in the future, though she said she hopes to bring permanent residents to the state."

Admittedly, I was a little taken aback.

Now, before I go any further I should say the following things:

First, I'm not ignorant to how Equity houses work. I realize that Equity houses have to use Equity actors, but I'm sure there are some Equity actors living in the state who might not be working at the moment because of the obvious lack of Equity jobs in the area.

Secondly, depending on what type of Equity the new theater ends up being, it is possible that they would be able to hire non-Equity actors, in which case, one would hope they'd prefer hiring local people--not just to be nice, but also because ultimately I'd imagine it would have to make more fiscal sense.

OSTC's current home is Theatre by the Sea, where local actors do, occasionally, get used. From what I can tell, however, most get pulled from out of state.

More than a few of my friends called or e-mailed me after seeing the article to express their disappointment over what they read. Some pointed out that it seems wrong for a theater to get grants meant to support local theaters if they're not planning to use local talent.

I try not to feed into lynch mob mentality, nor do I have any interest in raking a theater over the coals that hasn't even opened yet, but I do think the frustration people feel comes from a bigger problem that needs addressing.

The opportunities for local talent to perform on a …   More

Broccoli's Blog

This week it was announced that Al Pacino would be returning to Broadway in a new revival of Glengarry Glen Ross. Pacino played the role of Roma in the movie, and this time around he'll be playing Levene, the older salesman. A few people pointed out that the show was just revived in 2005, and not only revived, but revived well--that production winning the Tony for Best Revival of a Play. What nobody pointed out was that we don't need another production of Glengarry Glen Ross less than ten years after the last one--even if the Pacino casting is interesting.

Lately, when it comes to seeing theater, I keep asking myself the same question--Haven't I seen this before?

I'm about a month shy of turning twenty-eight, and there are certain plays and musicals I've already seen far too many times for someone who hasn't been on the planet for three full decades.

Most of the time it's not even shows I dislike, but shows that I like and have just seen far too many times so that now I'm starting to dislike them, which is ultimately much sadder.

I remember the first time I saw The Crucible. I remember thinking it was the greatest thing I've ever seen. Now when I hear a college or theater is doing it I groan because I've now seen six separate productions of it over the years. My love for the play has now worn considerably thin.

It's not the fault of the play, but the frustration I feel seeing theaters trot out the same plays over and over again, year after year. (Does anybody want to see Twelfth Night again? Anybody? Can we just agree to put a moratorium on that for at least five years? Please? I'm begging.)

With so many new works out there, why is everybody scrambling to remount Hedda Gabler or Three Sisters one more time?

And don't give me that old excuse that audiences like familiar titles. What would be more appropriate to say is that theaters feel more comfortable working on a show they can present rather than produce because they know the source material …   More

Broccoli's Blog

Dear Taylor Swift,

I didn't think it was possible, but you've done it. You've really done it.

The "Milking a Break-Up for All It's Worth" Award always seemed like it would be held by Alanis Morissette, but after listening to your latest single "We Are Never Getting Back Together" I think we finally have to hand that title over to you.

Bravo.

Now, if you would, I'd like to suggest that you find something else to write about.

I know what you're thinking--what else IS there to write about?

Tay Tay, I have you covered.

I'm sending you this list--it's a variety of things I'm sure you've experienced that I think you should consider exploring musically. Surely it'll expand your range as a songwriter, but more importantly, it'll stop me from cringing whenever I turn on the radio, worrying that I'll be assaulted with "You Left Me" or "You Left My Heart" or "My Heart, Your Hurt" or whatever other melodic assault you plan on unleashing.

So here are some topics:

1) Your pick-up truck breaking down on the way to the prom.

2) Losing your student council seat to a girl with an overbite.

3) Not getting nominated for an Emmy for your riveting performance on "CSI."

4) Dating someone with the same first name as you. Title it "I Called Your Name (And We Both Came)."

5) Entering a pie eating contest.

6) Bacon. Just bacon.

7) A song where you compare yourself to Nelson Mandela.

8) The five minutes where people felt bad for you after the whole Kanye thing and then started hating you again.

9) All the boys you told People magazine you were dating when you really weren't dating any of them.

10) Having to sell your New Kids on the Block dolls at a yard sale so you can go to space camp. (Trust me, it's painful.)

If you use any of these, please don't feel the need to give me credit.

Just send the money.

Your most indifferent listener,

Kevin Broccoli

Kevin Broccoli is a local writer, actor, and director living and working in …   More

Broccoli's Blog

For a year, a friend of mine worked at a theater that I often frequented. Throughout the course of the season, there were shows that I loved and also shows I found lacking. When I liked a show, my friend and I would talk about it with excitement and joy and relish a friendship where theater is one of the things we have in common.

When I didn't like it, however, I would get something like this as a response:

"Well, I think it's important to be supportive of theater."

Unfortunately, after one season working at a theater, my friend had turned into one of those lovely people who believe that all theater--good, bad, or awful--should be unconditionally praised and encouraged, even if it devalues the meaning of "good theater."

I wasn't all that surprised.

It seems that lately a qualification for working at a theater is to act as you would working at a public relations firm. In other words, no matter what sort of product you put out, you're supposed to stand by it to the end even when it's clear you misfired.

I find this whole "drinking the Kool-aid" trend really disturbing.

A crucial part of art is criticism and feedback. If we remove those from the process, we're liable to wind up with a noticeable lack of artistic progress.

That may seem like common sense, but I don't know many people who wouldn't get fired from their jobs if they said they didn't like the product the company was putting out. That's understandable, but the problem is that it's a business-oriented way of thinking, and artistic business have to think differently than that. We're in the business for the art, not the art for the business.

There's a great book called "Imagine" by Jonah Lehrer about how creativity works. In the book, he profiles Pixar, and how a huge part of the company's success comes from it's willingness to be critical of itself and the work it does. If someone feels that the substance or quality is dropping, they say something.

(And yet they produced Cars …   More

Broccoli's Blog

I think I've discovered the secret to working with the general public in Rhode Island.

Be rude.

Sound crazy?

Trust me, it might not be.

When you do theater (and work a day job in addition to that), you end up interacting with a diverse group of strangers on a regular basis.

You start to develop theories--some crazy (Why does everybody in the market decide to check out at the same time? It's a conspiracy!)--and some not so crazy.

Here's my this-might-not-be-so-crazy theory:

I think people respect you a little bit more when you're rude to them.

Or at least, rude people seem to respect you more when you're rude to them. Maybe it's like anything else--maybe they just like having someone speak their language to them.

It seems a little absurd, but I've seen too many examples to make me think it's a fluke, and I'm starting to wonder if it's a Rhode Island thing.

When I was a teenager, I worked a few retail jobs, and I always saw the same situation play out time and again. Some irate customer would be giving some corporate drone a hard time, and the drone would have to stay calm and polite, which only seemed to exacerbate the jerk that was yelling at them. One time, a fellow co-worker of mine, not being able to help herself, blurted out--

"Sir, you're being a jerk."

This seemed to have some magical effect on the guy. He immediately stopped yelling at our supervisor, and got much quieter. It was almost like having someone be polite to him was the equivalent of throwing gasoline on his fire. Rudeness was the water we needed.

I guess it might be a little like the jungle: You have to stare down the lion or it eats you. (I've seen a few restaurant customers who actually seemed capable of this.)

Years later, I still run into situations like that time and again.

Now, I'm not advocating rudeness if someone's not being rude to you. And I guess rudeness even when someone's being rude to you might cost you your job in a lot of scenarios, …   More

Broccoli's Blog

So far, in my entire life, I've never experienced a more surreal moment than hearing my mother talk about how successful Pauly D from "Jersey Shore" is.

"He's got a good gig going."

Gig? Did my mother just use the word gig? Had she somehow turned into a 1930's Hollywood agent without me noticing? And was she really gush about "Jersey Shore?" What many would consider to be the televised downfall of culture and civilization as we know it?

When I asked her about it, she said--

"Well, he's getting paid, isn't he?"

My mother comes from a time when success was all about money. It wasn't just the time, but the circumstances. Most of my family grew up poor, so if somehow you managed to become a millionaire, nobody cared how you did it.

You were a success.

When I was growing up, I remember thinking that success was attention. Fame. Usually, if you were famous, it also meant you were rich, so I could have my mother's version of success and my own, provided I could figure out a way to score my own Nickelodeon sitcom.

(Kevin's Wacky Life? Broccoli and the Bobcat? KBroc Explains It All?)

Now, it seems like the definition of success has once again shifted.

It's now possible to have lots of attention for a very short amount of time and benefit from it and no way whatsoever.

I'm thinking of viral videos and the people who star in them. One-off reality tv stars, like the second girl kicked off The Bachelor on any given season. There's also my least favorite phrase in the history of the Universe: "Local celebrity." Because, let's face it, in a state as small as Rhode Island, is being a "local celebrity" really all that difficult?

Nowadays, people have also figured out that a good chunk of success is perception. In other words, fake it and you'll make it, or look like you've made it, which is essentially the same thing. Crown yourself a star, and believe it or not, a decent amount of people will believe you.

And so what does it mean to be a …   More

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