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Rating Improv-A-Ganza games; the ratings May 25, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Commentary, Game Shows, Media, Personal, Radio, Theatre, TV.
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I have been a fan of improv comedy since I discovered reruns of the British version of Whose Line is it Anyway? on Comedy Central 14 years ago.  The American version with Drew Carey and much of the American performers from the British version brought the Whose Line franchise and improv to the stratosphere.  My love for Whose Line carried over to Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show, which unfortunately didn’t last long.  But I had the good fortune to conduct phone interviews with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood while I was at WCWP.  Here’s how those interviews went:

Brad Sherwood Interview (May 25, 2005)
Colin Mochrie Interview (September 14, 2005)
Brad Sherwood Interview II (November 10, 2006)

(More interviews can be heard here and here.)

Four years into Drew Carey’s run as host of The Price is Right, along came Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza on GSN.  With a month and a half of the show under viewers’ belts, I’ve decided to choose my favorite, least favorite, and so-so games from the show:
(NOTE: Ratings are subject to change and vary by the episode in which the games are performed.)

FAVORITE

  • Fairy Tale
  • First Date
  • Forward/Reverse
  • Freeze Tag
  • Kick It!
  • Options
  • Playbook
  • Question This!
  • Sentences
  • Two-Headed [Expert]

LEAST FAVORITE

  • Sound Effects – I’m a perfectionist.  With the exception of Rich Fields and Steve Kamer, audiences members’ attempts at sound effects are tough to watch.
  • Moving People/Bodies – This is also tough to watch.
  • Mousetraps – All I can say is ouch!  I feel for whatever two performers have to participate.

SO-SO

  • Bob’s Call – When Bob Derkach hears a line that songs like a song, he’ll improvise a song and the two performers in the scene have to do the same.
  • Compilation Album
  • New Choice
  • Song for a Lady

I’m hoping there will be more Improv-A-Ganza in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead.  But unfortunately, it may not be around much longer, either, as it is suffering from low ratings.  I got so caught up in watching each episode and savoring every moment, I didn’t consider looking up the ratings.  Since the show’s competition includes cable news opinion shows, I’m not surprised.  The ratings would probably be higher if DVRs were factored in.  I’m one of those DVRers, if that is a word.  I watch my Improv-A-Ganza recording later while watching Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor as it airs.

I convert each episode to my MiniDV camcorder then capture those episodes to my computer as AVI video files.  The final step is normalizing audio and inserting fades or crossfades then rendering as MPG files and deleting the AVIs to save hard drive space.  Unfortunately, the recordings are in SD (standard definition) because Cablevision hasn’t added GSN’s HD feed.  Improv-A-Ganza airs in HD.

If Improv-A-Ganza is in its last days, then there is an upside: there will be more episodes of this show than the Green Screen Show.

5/25 UPDATE: Last night’s episode featured those so-so rated games Bob’s Call and Compilation Album.  I liked them both.  Moving Bodies was all right.

5/26 UPDATE: I have a theory about some of the Improv-A-Ganza ratings analysis.  The show is not a traditional game show, yet it’s on GSN.  Therefore, if its ratings can be negatively spun, perhaps that will hasten its cancellation.  It’s similar to the Fox Business Network (FBN): highlight the channel’s low ratings and root for its demise.

I’m probably wrong.  It is, after all, just a theory from a fan of Drew Carey’s improv franchise, from the American Whose Line to Improv-A-Ganza.

5/27 UPDATE: Look at this post on the MGM Grand Las Vegas Facebook page (h/t Improv-A-Ganza Facebook fan page):

Stand-up comic, producer, writer and host of “The Price is Right,” Drew Carey, will return to the Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand with his Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza. Audience members may appear in an original, primetime GSN (Game Show Network) television series being shot during these special live performances!

Improv-A-Ganza is alive!

6/3 UPDATE: Or is it?  Tonight’s show was the season finale.  Let’s hope it wasn’t the series finale.

Not watching The Price is Right; but instead… May 19, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Game Shows, Media, Personal, Theatre, TV.
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This season, The Price is Right went in a direction that I did not like: they decided to go with guest announcers that had little or no announcing experience.  The guest announcer they felt was best was made permanent.  The result is a stilted delivery with caricatured announcer emphasis.  I don’t want to name the announcer because if I decide to watch regularly again, he may grow on me.  In that case, I will update this post with the good news.  Until then, I watch three shows with professional announcers:

  • Jeopardy! with Johnny Gilbert
  • Wheel of Fortune with a series of guest announcers trying to fill the late Charlie O’Donnell’s shoes; as I type, Jim Thornton is guest announcing for the third week in a row
  • Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza with former TPiR announcer, the last pro, Rich Fields

In the case of Improv-A-Ganza, it appears Drew has finally found a successful successor to Whose Line is it Anyway?  I love nearly every second of the show.  The best game so far was Forward/Reverse on last Monday’s episode.  Jonathan Mangum, part of the Improv-A-Ganza performer rotation, is a good announcer/sidekick to Wayne Brady on Let’s Make a Deal, a show I watched (despite not airing in HD) until I could no longer take poor decisions by contestants.  Wayne has appeared as a special guest in select Improv-A-Ganza episodes.

With Wheel, it helps if there are as little dud letters called and as little Bankrupts and Lose-A-Turns spun as possible.  A successful bonus round solve doesn’t hurt either.

Jeopardy! is at its best when the two rounds are completed without the annoying bip-bip-bip-bip indicating time has run out and clues will remain hidden.

SJFS 2011 recap May 4, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography.
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Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 1, 2014 Night 2, 2015 Night 1, 2016 Night 1, 2016 Night 2, 2017 Night 1, 2017 Night 22018 Night 1, 2018 Night 22019 Night 1, 2019 Night 2

Jay Rowe‘s ninth annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars concert was spread out over two nights. Last Friday, there was the jam session at Daniel Street in Milford featuring Steve Cole and Jeff Kashiwa(6/22/12 UPDATE: Daniel Street closed in January.)

Saturday had the main concert at the Parsons Complex Auditorium.  It was my fifth SJFS and the second where I didn’t stay the night.

Kevin McCabe of Jumpstart Jazz Productions was the first to greet the audience:

Then, Jay Rowe, the man behind the concert, following Kevin’s introduction:

Jay was backed up by Best Kept Secret, made up of Steve Scales on percussion:

Trever Somerville on drums:

And Dave Anderson on bass:

Of course, Jay was on the keyboards:

Without further ado, the photo recap is underway.

SONG #1: Martinis and Bikinis (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on:
“Live at Daniel Street,” 2011
Featured musician:
Ken Navarro

After a few minutes, Jay welcomed Ken Navarro to the stage for the rest of the song:

SONG #2: Eric’s Dream (Ken Navarro)
Originally heard on: “Brighter Days,” 1995; “Ablaze in Orlando,” 1998
Featured musician:
Ken Navarro

Ken wrote this song for his son Eric, who was nine years old at the time.  He’s now 25.

SONG #3: Lakes (Ken Navarro; Pat Metheny cover)
Originally heard on: “The Meeting Place,” 2007
Featured musicians:
Ken Navarro, Jeff Kashiwa

Jeff was on the tenor saxophone:

The next four pictures are of Dancing Eric Triffin:

SONG #4: The Lucky One (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: “Play,” 2007
Featured musicians:
Jeff Kashiwa, Ken Navarro

Jeff wrote “The Lucky One” for his wife and child.  He truly is the lucky one.  It was the first time he’d ever played the song live.

SONG #5: You Make Me Blue (Chieli Minucci & Special EFX)
Originally heard on: “Without You,” 2010
Featured musicians:
Chieli Minucci, Jeff Kashiwa, Marion Meadows

Time to introduce Marion Meadows!:

Marion was on the soprano sax:

SONG #6: Treasures (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: “In Deep,” 2002
Featured musicians:
Marion Meadows, Chieli Minucci

Marion and Dancing Eric juxtaposed:

Wild applause:

SONG #7: Thursday (Steve Cole)
Originally heard on: “Spin,” 2005
Featured musicians:
Steve Cole, Chieli Minucci, Ken Navarro

Steve played tenor sax:

SONG #8: Angel (Steve Cole; Sarah McLachlan cover)
Originally heard on: “Moonlight,” 2011
Featured musician:
Steve Cole

Dave Anderson played acoustic bass on “Angel”:

SONG #9: Movin’ Up (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: “Play,” 2007
Featured musicians:
Jeff Kashiwa, Ken Navarro

It was that time in the show to introduce the feature teacher himself, Bob Nunno!

SONG #10: Donna (Bob Nunno)
Originally heard on: Yet to be released
Featured musicians:
Bob Nunno, Chieli Minucci

Rounding out the lead saxes for the night, Bob played tenor:

“Donna” is Bob’s tribute to his wife.

After “Donna,” Jay shared the story of how he met Ms. Theresa Voss, the Foran High School choral director:

I was playing piano for the [Milford] tree lighting ceremony and I was told that I would be accompanied by the Lauralton Hall Chorus.  And it was great.  They were such a great chorus.  …  It was a pleasure musically to play with them.  And I admire Theresa, how great she was as the choral director.  So, when I heard she got the job at Foran High, I thought, oh my God, this is going to be great.  They’re gonna have a great chorus.  Sure enough, she built up the choral program and made it what it is now.

After recounting the Select Ensemble Chorus’ first four appearances at SJFS, he welcomed Ms. Voss to the stage:

The chorus soon followed:

Then, Jay told the audience that it was Ms. Voss’s birthday and invited her back to the stage from the orchestra pit…

…where the chorus and audience sang “Happy Birthday” to Jay’s keyboard accompaniment:

After Steve Scales noted it was his birthday, too, and Ms. Voss returned to the pit to direct the chorus, it was time for:
SONG #11:
Katy’s Groove (Jay Rowe)
Featured musicians:
Foran High School Select Ensemble Chorus

“Katy’s Groove” was dedicated to pop singer Katy Perry.

A round of applause:

The performance went so well, Jay wanted a way to officially record it.

He then dismissed the chorus until later:

SONG #12: Suede (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: “Player’s Club,” 2004
Featured musician:
Marion Meadows

Surprise!  Marion began in the audience:

We jumped right from “Suede” to:
SONG #13:
South Beach (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: “Body Rhythm,” 1995
Featured musician:
Marion Meadows

Jay’s solo:

A sample of “Mas Que Nada” found its way in the solo:

Steve Scales, Trever Somerville, and Dave Anderson were next on the solo train:

Dave took the solo lead:

A standing ovation!:

Marion: “It’s an absolute honor and a pleasure to have known Jay Rowe for so many years.  I’m proud to say that Jay Rowe has been a member of my touring band for 19 years.  So, that says a lot about friendship and the love I have for this gentleman.  A round of applause for Jay Rowe.”

He also thanked Dave, Steve, and Trever.

SONGS #14/15: Ken Navarro solo feature: Letter From Home (Pat Metheny Group cover)/Europa (Santana cover)
Musician:
Ken Navarro only

“Letter From Home” was dedicated to Tom and Melissa who are serving our military in Iraq.  Tom is the son, and Melissa the daughter-in-law, of Libby and Lauren, a couple from Atlanta in the audience.  (1/6/12 UPDATE: You can hear these songs and more on Ken’s new album, “The Test of Time.”)

SONG #16: Festival (Special EFX)
Originally heard on: “Peace of the World,” 1991
Featured musicians:
Chieli Minucci, the ladies of the Foran High School Select Ensemble Chorus

There was one song left.  All the musicians returned to the stage.
SONG #17 (Finale):
Hyde Park (The “Ah, Oooh” Song) (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: “Another Door Opens,” 2000
Featured musicians:
Everyone, Foran High School Horns

The audience played a role, too, as Jeff informed them.  You’ll see what role below.

“Ahhhhh, oooooh”:

The final note of the night:

Afterward came the meet and greet with pictures.

First, Marion Meadows:

Ken Navarro:

Jeff Kashiwa:

Steve Cole:

Chieli Minucci:

And Jay Rowe:

This year’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars was another success from start to finish.  Next year is #10!  See you then.

SJFS 2011 recap still to come May 1, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography.
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As I type, I’m early in the process of editing pictures from last night’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars concert.  Once I finish, the next step will be to select the best ones and upload them to the blog.  Then, the writing part.  The recap should be up by next weekend; hopefully sooner.

Thanks for your patience.

5/4 UPDATE: The recap is up.