Look at These Damn Shorts !

Every now and then I like to sweep out the attic and cough up old dust bunnies of shorts from over ten years ago. Some people are wise enough to bury their old work. I have to remind myself to get back onto the horse and make more fresh content. Also, to overcome a sense of demoralization. Sometimes you need a kick in the back of the pants.
The original short from 2007 generated for Daryl Gold’s Hard Liquor and Porn Comedy Festival was originally uploaded on my personal youtube account which has mostly home movies. It has over sixty thousand views. It would be great to import those views into this upload, were it possible. But frankly I look at many of these hastily made shorts and see only the flaws. Even though I have observed the laughs coming across.
In 2008 we cobbled together a simple false documentary in the style of Zeitgeist, called Shitegeist, using simple narration and slightly doctored stock images to create the mythology of Porno the Clown. Much of it was too lo-res. It was taken down at one point because it must have ruffled someone’s feathers. In hindsight, more shorts should have been made right away. Most of the videos were done in 2009. The stile of this 2008 experiment might have led to regular update videos using audio and a simple file graphic of Porno the Clown as if he is a foreign corespondant so that timely videos could easily be done. But this was resisted by Jay Ould who played Porno the Clown. It would have kept the charactrer active. Also, initially Jay had mentioned a potential investor in a series of shorts so I had generated a number of outlines. About half of those actually got shot. The investor did not pan out, but I still wrote out full scripts for most of them and we shot what we could for fun. But Shitegeist was an interesting minimalist experiment.
My intention had been to do a seasonal short for each holiday. We did get one done for Father’s Day, in which Jay’s own son Cai plays someone claiming to be the offspring of Porno the Clown. It ends with a kind of PSA that Jay was skeptical about but he had to admit once it was executed it worked out. Unfortunately a number of other holiday videos did not come to fruition.
This is an example of one of the monologues I wrote for Porno the Clown. Production wise, very simple. It may not be satisfying for Jay. But for the writer it is fun. I had pitched a one man show for Jay to do at the Fringe Festival but he was not interested. I think the idea of memorizing a high volume of my writing is a pain in the butt. There may yet be a Porno the Clown play, or more likely the play and eventual feature (already written and refined) may become a varient that salvages much of what I wrote and keeps PTC off screen. That is a back up plan if Jay doesn’t want to do something as written. A 2017 tentative approach to a feature was cancelled by me after it turned out that much of the support was for an improvisation cluster f**k version that I had no interest in. I’d want to shoot only my script with every problematic joke intact.
There were a few segments generated for an interview skit I wrote which might be the best attempt at a Porno the Clown short, in terms of getting through jokes. I recall having cue cards. When the exterior sidewalk shots were being done, an allusion to the strut of Saturday Night Fever, a little girl approached Jay who was in full PTC costume and she asked his name. He came up with, “Uh, Joe-Joe the Clown.”
This video is kind of a curiousity. I wrote a short called Orgy Etiquette as part of the collection for PTC based on a couple of other stabs I had taken at the concept, a monologue and some other iteration. I remmeber being at a party and mentioning it to the late Tony Rosato of SCTV who said it was a great premise. Eventually the written versions had quite a few guidelines listed for getting through an orgy, pulled out of thin air because I would never have the slightest idea of that world. Like any Porno the Clown thing I had written it was the abomination of speculation coming from a repressed Catholic. Then I believe Jay had a meeting with Dave McKay and they adapted those writings into a two-hander live audience participation skit that I recorded with a camcorder at the Comedy Bar. This might be the one grey area or room for confusion about my feature where someone might get the idea that I was open to that being improvised. Nope. But this short piece is fun and most likely the other full versions of the premise might not have been done.
There is a short that might be buried somewhere in the hard-to-access Facebook videos of my private account, Porno the Clown meets Bad Babysitter. That one was based on an idea from Jay. It somewhat follows the format of other scenes and has an okay structure but was thrown together under time pressure. It is not on this channel because months after shooting it the actress stated she wanted to go out for modeling or other parts and was concerned that her name turned up in searche engines for this short and she needed to shake it. Unfortunately she was not straight with us and initially claimed her release form was not valid because she was under age. I initially was filled with dread, until I fact checked it and discovered she had lied and was actually not under age at all. Still, I deleted whatever I could and removed tags with her name and so on. The short played at a Salon Du Refuses off shoot of Daryl Gold’s Hard Liquor and Porn Comedy Festival. I recall the actress was an outstanding illustrator. I wish her well. This link likely won’t work unless you are logged into Facebook.
Those are just a few of the Porno the Clown videos that had been generated, basically highlights. I’d like to see them get a new life and some attention. The feature that is built around him will in one form or another be brought to life, even if I have to resort to substituting a new character so the name Porno the Clown doesn’t spook too many people. It is an uphill battle for an idea that I had thought was just crass enough to be commercial. Also, much depends on whether I can cast people who get on with learning dialogue or whether there is push back from people who insist on improvisation. I have no love of Theater Sports as they call it and keeping myself off balance with an influx of chaos. I mean, I’d rather not even call it a comedy if it comes to that. Too many experts on comedy. I wouldn’t want performances that seem like they are aware it is comedy. I guess we’ll see.

Community Standards

I got a message from an actor who had featured in a number of my shorts and videos asking what happened to the youtube channel associated with it.  Almost all of the shorts and monologues were on it.  I checked and it was gone.  The channel itself had been up since 2009.  A couple of the shorts were older, the original from 2007 and a simpler one from 2008.  I hadn’t logged in to it for a long time, and had only used it to get the links for sharing the shorts wherever appropriate.  I checked the associated e-mail account and sure enough that same day I had received a notice that the account had been suspended for reports of “violating community standards.”  I followed the link to their form to post an appeal, and apparently got an automated acknowledgement of the appeal’s receipt with an “as soon as possible” reassurance of processing it.

No doubt that having more people sit at home during the Covid-19 lockdown has attracted more busybodies false flagging anything that doesn’t suit their own tastes ostensibly as volunteers helping youtube improve the site.  It gives the lie to the concept of community standards.  Is youtube a resource of a community?  Like Twitter, the comment sections can be a cesspool.  But ideally if it were a community that might mean that your neighbor two doors down could be watching content that is not to your taste and that should be okay.  The one gray area in this is that having not logged in to the account for a few years I did not get the alert and link to click “not intended for children” which has been a recent addition to youtube because they got fined for hosting a video that drew complaints from the usual busybodies.  If the channel is restored I will see to clicking that, although the problem would not exist if the DEFAULT were “not intended for children” so that in the rare case that something is meant to be kid-friendly the content creator posting it can designate it as such.

I’m still crossing my fingers at the time of this blog entry.  We will see.  Maybe faith will be restored in reason and comprehension.  Content creators should be protected from busybodies and also perhaps from our personal enemies and rivals.  We sometimes hear about self-styled pundits on youtube getting false flagged by each other.    When a channel is “reviewed” we, the users, content creators, or community, don’t know by whom and what that review entailed.  Was an individual or team playing back each of the sorts and monologues on my channel?  Because if they did, and they were all adults, they would have recognized that even though the channel centers around Porno the Clown (played by Jay Ould) and is called pornotheclownDOTcom it does not contain porn. They would see that it is all satirical and motivated by a sense of whimsical mischief that is becoming more and more rare in hyper-sensitive times.  The channel has been up for 11 years, even beyond 2013 when colleges began to takes seriously the quirks and the demands of the lunatic fringe and pander to them and when that began to seep into pop culture in general.  Dexter and Breaking Bad ended in 2013.  Robin Williams and Harold Ramis died in 2014, as did Bill Cosby’s public persona. So it becomes a different world every few years.

One person’s food is another person’s poison.  As I have said before, since we are likely not sharing the same screen or monitor I can enjoy Dave Chappelle’s latest video and you can enjoy RuPaul’s Drag Race and neither of us has to interfere with the other.  There is so much content out there it is almost impossible to catch up.  We all usually want to reinforce or validate our own views, even if we pay lip service to the importance of exposure to conflicting opinions to “sharpen the blade.”  You can agree with someone on most every issue and get unfriended (as recently happened to me) by someone you have been supportive to and stood up for….. and the transgression in my case was telling someone there is no reason to blame Bernie Sanders if the DNC chooses a mediocre nominee to support and Agent Orange gets a second term.  People have to vote FOR something more than AGAINST something to be engaged and committed.

My initial plan was that the shorts and monologues would continue and the channel would have been used to help increase awareness of the character Porno the Clown in anticipation of the feature length movie I had written and story boarded.  My impulse is to double down and still do it.  That may still happen.  But something has to be adjusted on the “community standards” end of things.  A cycle of content being created and unceremoniously deleted is unworkable.  It was bad enough during the Stephen Harper years of Canada that Canadian production companies got spooked by a pending bill that could see TV shows or movies denied a tax credit if the resulting project was deemed to not fit the community standards of the time.  Content can not be one size fits all.  Too many cooks do spoil the soup.     There is something to offend everybody.  Unless the reactionary trend snaps under its own weight even the most low budget and independent content will be suffocated.