Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
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Category — Oral Performance

Hitchcock and Stand-up

I had a blast at BAM. Hitchcock was great but the stand-up left me a little disappointed.

Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren did a great job portraying Hitchcock and Alma. Hopkins walks and talks in the same style that Hitchcock is famous for. I think the film’s strength lies in the fact that it focuses on the complex relationship between the two. I liked the fact that the film chose to highlight Alma’s importance rather than just focus on Hitchcock. I’m glad that I read up about Hitchcock before seeing the film because I was able to catch a lot of the details that the filmakers included both about the way he worked and the way he acted.


The  second floor of BAM was gorgeous. The lights and holiday decorations made it even better. It even had a map of the US made out of different pieces of cloth.


Photo Dec 06, 8 59 31 PM

Not sure why the host’s eyes are glowing


The stand-up performances left a a lot to be desired. The host was alright. He did a pretty good job warming up the audience. The guy after him wasn’t so great. The second guy made me laugh a little but that was mostly due to the way he said Frank Langella.  The woman after them was pretty funny. I heard that the last performer was amazing. I wish I could have stayed to see him but my lab Professor decided right then and there to demand that everyone in the class upload their presentations by 11:00 that night :/.

December 21, 2012   1 Comment

Hitchcock and BAM performance

Hey guys, so my experiences at the Hitchcock film and the stand-up comedy were pretty different. Going in, I expected the film to be uninteresting and the comedy to be really entertaining – but it ended up being just the opposite.


I found the Hitchcock film surprisingly good. I didn’t know too much about Hitchcock and I expected the film to be very documentary-like. Instead, it turned out to be a very interesting movie with well-developed characters and a very good plot. It was both informative and entertaining. Even though I didn’t understand some of the parts that related to Hitchcock’s actual life, I learned a lot about him and enjoyed the show.


The stand-up comedy, however, wasn’t as strong as the Hitchcock film. I didn’t stay for the end of the show, but the beginning of the comedy show wasn’t too entertaining. I didn’t find the jokes as creative as I thought they would be. A lot of their jokes were vulgar, which I’ve heard are easy to make and not as creative as non-vulgar ones. Instead, I enjoyed the Hanukah vs Christmas debate much more. Even though the BAM performance was the standard format (with comedians coming up and performing one by one), I enjoyed the format of the comedic debate far more, where both of the two groups tried to argue their points and make jokes along the way. I found this performance less creative and not too enjoyable.

December 21, 2012   No Comments



Hitchcock was a great movie. The movie focused more on Alfred Hitchock’s personal issues during the making of the movie, Psycho, rather than Psycho itself. However, it did had the screening of the famous shower scene. The actress that was being attacked originally acted poorly with fake screams until Hitchcock decided to wield the knife instead of the trained stuntman. This was one of the most dramatic scenes of the movie that revealed Hitchcock’s nervous breakdown.

The actors in Hitchcock were very good. Hitchcock’s wife was an immense role and was executed well. Also, the “Hitchcock Blonde”

The movie had a references to other Alfred Hitchcock movies as well, for example the crow landing on his should at the end of the movie when he wonders what movie he would come up with next.

The comedy performance at BAM, on the other hand, I did not enjoy. However, the place was very nice.

The performers I listened to either made sexual jokes, or made fun of the themselves being fat.

The room had interesting lights everywhere and hanging by the entrance, a handmade map of the US.


December 20, 2012   No Comments

BAM: Get it Out There

The atmosphere at BAM was perfect for a comedy club. The ceiling arched over your head, the music put you in a confident mood perfect for a lounge, the place was very decorated with lights, and I was able to see my high school, Brooklyn Tech, out the window.

It was strange to me how most the people sitting at the tables were young hipsters, all having excited conversations over beer. They were all dressed in expensive and stylish clothing. They reminded me of how you’d imagine a rich-white-Harvard-fraternity/sorority student. I wondered if they knew how much they fit the stereotype.

The comedians weren’t very funny. No amount of atmosphere or music on the side could make up for bad content. The host was funnier than the actual comedians. He made jokes about how fat he is, and made me chuckle a few times. The first two comedians hardly made me laugh at all. The first one focused too much on Netflix, and what surfing its videos is like. I could relate to that, since I use Netflix, but I was never very engrossed to what he was saying, or enticed with his character. In addition, this topic wouldn’t appeal to many people because Netflix isn’t used by everybody. The second comedian was even worse, playing a song about how he met a celebrity because of a lemon. The idea seemed funny at first, but he ruined it with the monologue which he read off of a paper.

The third comedian was a level above the first two. She was a black woman talking about what her life is like, being single and in the city. She chose a typical topic, but delivered her jokes well, making me chuckle several times as well.

I noticed much laughter coming from the front few rows of the audience (probably the comedians’ friends), which is interesting because I realized that laughter can be seeded. This is done similarly by street performers, or stores with tip jars, who fill their jar with money beforehand in order to make it look like people are actually eager to tip. The seeded laughter can spread, making us think that there is something worth laughing at. This results in our listening to the comedy act more intently.

I was  really hoping to hear somebody very funny, since stand-up comedy is something I love to listen to. It’s a shame I had to miss the last two comedians, since I hear that the last one was very funny and blew the audience away. I watch a lot of George Carlin, Louis C.K., and Kevin Hart. Those comedians would make me laugh hysterically, unable to stop for a minute. I’d laugh again when I remember the joke they made. Whereas the best comedians craft jokes using clever irony, and unexpected twists in their story lines, the first few comedians at BAM simply gave scenarios which some of us could relate to. That is what the difference is between comedians delivering kitsch and comedians delivering art. Professional famous comedians find a way to tickle the core of our sense of humor, making us really want to laugh hard at society. It’s a craft.

December 20, 2012   No Comments


The setup of this play was interesting. The background had stacks of boxes and a mess of papers. When asked why it was made this way, the playwright answered that it’s to symbolize the nasty actions made by people and the polluted environment we’re creating. On the left side were an assortment of file boxes. This setup took place for the whole play.

Even though the scenery never changed much, that never got into the way of my imagining what the environment of the play would look and sound like. Part of this is because of the skilled lighting. The file boxes were lit up during the formal meetings with the lawyer, Alexandra, and during the court case. In scenes taking place on the streets, the mess of papers in the background was lit up. the rest was left to my imagination, which compensated pretty well.

Going into the play, I was apprehensive that I wouldn’t understand the plot. Plays are usually not my preferred style of art to enjoy, and in the past I haven’t been able to follow them (The Tempest Opera proved me wrong, however). I was able to follow the first few scenes, where Oliver and a fellow businessman argue over the environmental harm caused by the firms Oliver represents. These early scenes also had my favorite actors of the play. Their argument was funny, and realistic. I could see one of the actors, Steven Rishard, being in a sitcom like Seinfeld or Friends. He fits the role perfectly. The other actors and actresses, with the exception of Julissa Roman, who played Luz, sometimes exaggerated their speech, and the emotion on their face and in their tone didn’t sound real.

The play is filled with symoblism, especially in puppet scenes. A vulture is often used to give Luz premonitions and guidance. A puppet haunts Oliver, perhaps as punishment for harming the environment and indirectly hurting the lives of Luz, Helene, and Zia. The voices of the characters echo during these scenes, and I wondered how this effect was made without microphones.

It was difficult for me to understand what was happening in the following scenes, although I understood the general theme of the play. It was meant to show an example of the hardship involving citizenship and violence faced by women. Acquiring citizenship is hard nowadays in America, especially when coupled with finding a job, supporting oneself, and handling emotional stress. The file boxes and papers in the set function to illustrate how everything is formalized with courts and legal papers nowadays. They almost look like litter, which functions well to show the slums of Guatemala City, tent cities in Haiti, and toxic, polluted neighborhoods. People aren’t given the chance to freely be heard, and receive fairness. This seen in court, when Luz snaps, and yells at the lawyer, “Look at me!” The play juxtaposes the easy life of businessmen, and how their actions affect the lives of other people without their knowing.

December 20, 2012   No Comments

Hitchcock and Standup

The film was amazing! There were many conflicts in the film that kept the audience attention. In the beginning when the guy hit his brother with the shovel made me jump from my seat. I thought the acting was great, especially Scarlet Johansson. I did not realize Hitchcock past away before I saw this film so I thought the actor playing Hitchcock was really Hitchcock. I think in a way that made the film more entertaining because I believe the actor was Hitchcock 100% so he acted perfectly. I noticed a lot of Hitchcock type scenes. One was when the camera pointed to Mrs. Hitchcock’s neck for a brief moment when she was bringing meat to her husband. It was like the episode we saw in class. Also, the scene where Hitchcock repeatedly stabbed Scarlet Johansson, that was similar to the scene of The Psycho. When Scarlet gave Hitchcock the candy corn, I thought of the scene of the husband carrying glowing milk to his wife. It was great learning about Hitchcock’s works before watching this film. There was the bird movie reference, North by Northwest reference, and many more.

I did not like the first two standup comedians. They were not funny and relied on sexual remarks for a quick laugh. The second comedian I hated the most. He talked fifteen minutes about a lemon. Who cares!! The host was okay. He was enthusiastic at least. Muhammad and I even had a simple conversation with him before the show. Unfortunately, I did not stay for the rest of the comedians. But the first two were not funny. The only reason why I laugh was because I was standing in front of a big metal garagelike door and everyone who stood in front of me was asked to move. But since there were no signs, the workers had to come every 5 minutes. Also, there was this lady who keep taking pictures with flash, when were we explicitly asked not to. It was funny watching people glare at her when she took pictures.

December 20, 2012   No Comments

Hitchcock/standup performance


I LOVED this film! I was actually unfamiliar with Hitchcock and his works, so I felt that seeing clips in class of some of his movies/series was extremely helpful to provide as background information. I feel like some aspects of the movie can only be appreciated if you know certain things about Hitchcock. For instance, when we were watching the episode of his show during class, at one point, I remember as the wife was walking towards the husband with the meat in her hand, the camera was getting creepily closer to his back. This theme was revisited in the movie at one point when Hitchcock was approaching his wife and the camera focuses in on the back of her neck. Additionally, one trend in general about the clips we watched was a sense of violence and gore, or at least violence to be expected based on suspicious behaviors of the characters, such as when the man in one clip is bringing a glass of milk to his wife. The way he walks and the way the milk seems to glow seem to foreshadow sinister happenings. This gives us an insight into Hitchcock’s mind about how he enjoys examining violent acts. This is revisited in the movie several times. One time is when he gets frustrated during a shot of the shower scene in Psycho, so he goes ahead himself with the fake knife and pretends to hack away at the girl in the shower. Another time is near the end of the movie, during the first premiere of his film. Hitchcock stands outside the theatre, and when the shower scene comes on, he seems to be sort of “conducting” the screams of the audience.

Another thing I found to be really fascinating about the movie was the way in which Hitchcock seems to be a dynamic and static character at the same time. His facial expression never changes, whether he is angry, sad, happy, etc. He has one resting expression which follows him wherever he goes and whatever he does, yet he does seem to be emotional at the same time, which makes him dynamic! You can easily tell, because many times, either his voice would change or his actions indicate his emotions. One example is when he collects sand he finds in his bathroom and replaces his wife’s pills with it. His actions show that he is mad and that he wants her to realize how angry he is by showing her the sand in her pill bottle.

I was really impressed by the casting as well. I didn’t know that the real Hitchcock is no longer alive, and the resemblance between the actor who portrays him and Hitchcock himself is uncanny! I actually googled him on my phone during the movie, to figure out if Hitchcock himself was in the film. That was when I discovered that Hitchcock had passed away.

Standup comedy:

I thought the standup acts were atrocious. First of all, I was disappointed by the cramped space. There was not a single seat to be found. Secondly, there was a really long delay before the show started. My main objection was that the comics were not funny at all, in my opinion. They delivered very crude and cliche jokes that were not articulated well and not organized. Honestly, I thought the humor was too simple in some cases, or lacking completely with other jokes. I did not stay for the whole show, so I cannot speak for every performer. However, the first three performers, whom I did watch, seemed to have a very limited scope in terms of the jokes they told. They all had some sort of sexual reference, which can be very funny when articulated and presented well. I was discussing the comedy acts with Steve after we left and we began to discuss the influence of alcohol on the performers and on the audience. The lounge had a bar that was giving away free beers. This would explain the massive crowd. Additionally, because of all of the alcohol, we inferred that the comics would feel a lot less pressure to entertain the audience, most of which was throwing back beers every few minutes. The audience, which was clearly under the influence, would thus be very easily impressed.

December 20, 2012   1 Comment

Uptown Showdown

I was honestly a bit nervous before going to the Christmas vs. Hanukkah debate. What I had pictured was two tables on a stage, with representatives on each side, presenting very formal arguments. I was wondering how this was going to be considered a comedy. However, I was quite pleasantly surprised after seeing what the event actually was. I was drawn in at first by the host who seemed very cheerful. I was also amused by the little musical medley the Christmas team sang as they were coming onstage. I found the “smell machine” to be quite amusing as well. I’ll now examine the positives and negatives of each side.

For the Hanukkah side:
I really enjoyed the first presenter’s t-shirt which said “JEWCY” in large colorful letters. Little elements like that make the delivery more amusing. The t-shirt shows that he’s not trying, but the play on words gave me a good chuckle. Although he had a lot of historical information which maybe became belaboring at some point, I did like the way he threw in jokes here and there casually, such as when he said that the Hanukkah side pretty much had the debate wrapped up, because the debate was taking place on the Upper West Side. The woman for the Hanukkah side seemed pretty passionate about the subject and I liked the way she got really into it. I thought her voice was maybe a bit too powerful for the occasion, however. She seemed extraordinarily loud, which maybe added to her appeal. I also enjoyed her parodies of different Christmas songs she chose to consider. The last man I found to be a tad awkward in some ways. I feel like his delivery was a bit forced at certain times. I also thought his little presentation was irrelevant in certain places. I felt the presentation was too long as well.

For the Christmas side:

I thought the man with the smell machine was very good at improving. He had very funny interjections while the other side was speaking. He also had very lively facial expressions and voice inflections, which for me was the majority of his appeal. The woman on the Christmas side I thought was the most boring of all of the performers. She seemed to show almost total disinterest, and her voice was very dull throughout. Her presentation was average, I think. I thought it was better than the one given by the Hanukkah side. However, I thought a lot of it was very trite and not thought-provoking at all. The last man on the Christmas side was quite funny. I really liked his presentation and it made sense. Even though it may have been very simple and possibly a bit corny, such as the different slides with denim shirts, his delivery impressed me to compensate.

In the end, I ended up choosing the Hanukkah side because I thought their jokes were more clever and in general, they had better delivery. I also thought that though they did have a lot of historical information, it was enough to warrant their arguments, which was partly the purpose of the debate, besides making the audience laugh.

I thought that the way to choose a winner, however, was maybe a bit ineffective, though it was clever and fun. I feel like there were probably many people who clapped for both. Additionally, I’m sure there are some acoustic issues in the room, which could have led to inaccurate readings of sound produced by the audience. However, it was a nice way to engage the audience, I think, especially since the debate itself did not do that too much. In certain places, certain comics did point out audience members, such as when the man with the “smell machine” made a crack about Ronny. The interview too was meant to engage the audience, though I felt that became counterproductive because of the two inconsiderate jerks in the audience who only made snide comments.

All in all, I was very thrilled with the event and thought it was very funny. This was actually the first time I saw a comedy act live, and I found the debate aspect of it to be very unique and thrilling. I will definitely try to attend the Showdown next year!

December 20, 2012   No Comments

BAM and Uptown Showdown

So, I’ve decided to put these two posts together because in both events we went to go see comedy performances. At Uptown Showdown, it was an interesting new experience because I have never seen comedians do a debate while still trying to be funny. I felt like it was comedy improv in a sense where they’re given a topic to talk about, and even though that topic may not be funny , they are kind of forced to make it funny anyway. For example, that first guy who presented his argument for Hanukkah, even though he was pretty much just telling us the story of Hanukkah and how it came about, i thought he was one of the funniest comedians of the show. I think it is because of the way that he performed the story, adding in little jokes that would otherwise be offensive but because of the setting were not. I found myself laughing at things I should find offensive. They kept making fun of the miracle of christmas and the story behind christmas, and being a religious person I was kind of confused when i didn’t find myself getting angry. I think it’s because it was a comedy and sometimes the only way to laugh at something is to be offensive about it. I can accept that. Overall it was a great night and i still think Christmas should have one, no bias at all. That Hanukkah team was slacking. I really liked the question and answer portion of the night as well, especially when the comedians attacked that guy who asked a really stupid question to Michael. It kind of reminded me of the Louie clip that we watched in class. *NOTE TO SELF* never ask a comedian a question

At the BAM, The night started out great. I’m not really and Alfred Hitchcock fan so i thought i wasn’t going to enjoy the movie but I loved it. Hitchcock was such an great movie and I really like the way it was done. It felt kind of like an inception….a movie with a movie if you get what i mean.

The Second Half of the night…That Comedy was Horrific. I thought it was gonna be better than the Uptown Showdown because it was going to be comedians doing whatever they want, but it was horrific. The host was alright and i found myself laughing, but then the first two comics were just awful, so awful that i just walked out the show. It’s unfortunate because other people were laughing so I felt like I didn’t understand the jokes. Then I realized that everyone was probably just drunk off the Free Beer. Clever Move BAM, clever move.

December 20, 2012   No Comments

Oral Performance/Hitchcock

On November 19th, we went to see a debate of Christmas vs. Hanukah. Coming into the debate, I thought that it wouldn’t really be that entertaining. I expected a group of amateur comedians saying corny punchlines in addition to jokes that no one really understood. However, it showed me that oral performance really takes a lot of work and truly is a form of art. The comedians had to appeal to us so we would like their performance and vote for their side. It’s almost identical to how pitchmen sell their products at fairs. In my personal opinion, the comedians weren’t really that funny other than the first male from the Hanukah team. Overall, the debate was entertaining but didn’t reach my expectation of “comedy.”

On December 6th, we watched a movie about Alfred Hitchcock and the making of his movie, “Psycho.” I expected to see a boring documentary about a old director who had a lucky movie. But what I got instead was an entertaining story about a man trying not only to direct a hit movie, but also manage other aspects of his life as well. The movie gave me insight as to how much work and effort directors/producers have to put into their productions. It showed me that it took a combination of perspiration and inspiration to make a movie, a true definition of art.

After the movie we went upstairs to see a stand-up comedy show. I noticed that stand-up comedians often use jokes that make fun of themselves to get laughs from the audience. I believe this is because usually people laugh at other people’s minor sufferings. The technique usually worked because throughout that night, whenever a comedian would make fun of themselves the audience would be in an uproar. Maybe it was also because half of them were drinking, but I’m fairly certain it was because of the technique.

Overall these two visits showed me that oral performance takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It requires a combination of inspiration and perspiration. Due to this, I believe oral performance is the best definition of art.


December 19, 2012   No Comments