From Fear Factor to UFC, Joe Rogan has made a name for himself in the entertainment industry. This Saturday, Rogan returns to his roots with the premiere of his standup special, Joe Rogan: Talking Monkeys In Space on Comedy Central. For Rogan, being a standup comedian is more than just another job. To him, comedy is life. "Even though [the UFC's] a really cool job, I mean, I'm just a fan of the mixed martial arts. I could easily just remain a fan and not do it for a living. Whereas standup comedy, I feel like if I lost that … I would lose my voice," Rogan said. In his eyes, comedy is so much more than just telling jokes. There's a deeper meaning behind the show that few people are aware of or can even grasp without experiencing it for themselves. "Part of … standup comedy is your own personal quest to figure things out – to answer your own questions and sort of present these questions and these answers to the audience," Rogan said. Though Rogan has finally found his niche within the world, it was not an easy road. Had only a few things gone differently, Rogan may have never graced the comedic scene with his presence. "When I was 21 years old, I was thinking about doing standup comedy and at the time, what I was doing was competing in martial arts tournaments," Rogan said. "I used to get headaches after a long night of training … I would be laying in my bed and my head would hurt and I was like, ‘What the f*** am I doing? I'm hurting my brain here. I'm damaging my brain for a sport that pays no money.' It was very scary." Thankfully for Rogan, he had his friends to guide him along his path. Without them, there's no telling where Rogan may have ended up. "My friend Ed and my friend Steve, who I owe a huge debt of gratitude to, to this day … They talked me into going to an open mic night … So then I sat down and I wrote some stuff out. I thought about it for about five or six months and then I finally did it," Rogan said. Despite finally taking the plunge, it was anything but smooth sailing from there on out. "In the beginning I was terrible, absolutely terrible. Everybody is … You know when you're 21 you don't have any children, you don't have any expenses other than food and rent … That's the time to take a crazy chance and that's what I did. It took a long time. It took many, many years to put together some semblance of an act … It was pretty fascinating and it's been a fascinating ride," Rogan said. Despite the large role comedy plays in Rogan's life, he can hardly consider many things a joke. One such issue is the recent occurrence of the Winter Olympics. "In order to compete at the highest level, it has to be your entire life," Rogan said. "If people are paying to see it, the athletes should be compensated. [The Olympics are] this gross scam that everybody has got set up under the guise of nationalism and pride and all this jazz and that these people get to pump their hard work out and then other people get to profit from it in the tune of billions and billions of dollars." This isn't the only thing that gets Rogan wound up, though. Issues dealing with illegal narcotics are a very big deal for him. "I'm a strong advocate for legalization of anything that doesn't hurt other people. I think we live in a really f***ed up society where people can tell you what you can and can't do to your own body," Rogan said. To Rogan, the idea of a drug such as marijuana being illegal is ridiculous. Even more so, it's a heinous crime. "It's very difficult to take our government and authorities seriously when we have such horrible injustices in place, like people being locked in cages for a giant chunk of their life because they possessed a plant that makes you silly … By locking people in jail for marijuana, you are committing a crime against nature and against humanity," Rogan said. Joe Rogan is a man who is more than just a comedian or a TV show host. He is someone who isn't afraid to speak out against injustices and think for himself. Tune into his special this Saturday on Comedy Central to see Rogan present his questions – and his own answers – to you in his unique comedic way. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When the word dancing is said, different images might come to people's minds. To some, dancing might be grinding in Pure, or poppin' and lockin'. To others who take dancing more seriously, it is an art, an expression of individuality that involves both mental and physical strength, great memory and stamina. Over the years it seems as if the former school of thought has become increasingly more popular than the latter, and it appears to be more of a generational thing than anything else. That is why Stella Pelanaro is so adamant about recruiting people to the United States of America Ballroom Dance. "We are the Western New York Chapter of the United States of America amateur ballroom dance," Pelanaro said. "We have a variety of age groups in our dance club, but we would like many more [younger people]." At one point or another, most people have happened across an episode of Dancing with the Stars. For those few who might be unfamiliar, the show pairs up celebrities with professional dancers, and pits each pairing up against one another to see who has the best moves. Most of the dances performed, like the tango and meringue, have origins in ballroom dancing. Pelanaro is hoping that shows like Dancing with the Stars and others will draw more of a crowd into learning about ballroom dance. Pelanaro says the shows help, but they are not enough. "We are planning on doing some outreach programs, going to various places and demonstrating," Pelanaro said. "We also danced at the Erie County Fair this past summer and the summer before that." USABD is a nationwide organization spanning the entire United States. Other chapters around the country dance in competitions, but the Western New York chapter has not developed their skills enough, or gotten enough members in order to compete. "We don't have anyone here who is doing any competition dancing," Pelanaro said. "Many of the places throughout America are engaged in competition dancing, because they have enough dancers with skills enough to go into competition." The group is still fairly new in Western New York, so it might take time to get a better-developed group of members. Pelanaro believes that, in time, enough people will want to join the group to be able to compete in the future. But there is more to ballroom dance, or any type of dancing for that matter, than the competitions. Intense focus and drive is required to be a good dancer. And like any physical activity, in order to excel at it, one needs to work persistently to get better. "Dancing is a wonderful exercise, and it is a wonderful way to enjoy yourself and to meet people," Pelanaro said. "It is very creative, and it exercises your mind also because you really have to think and remember the steps to become good at it." The USABD is always looking for new members to take part in their dancing fun. If interested in joining, the organization meets the first Friday of the month at the First Presbyterian Church in West Seneca. E-mail: email@example.com
The American Repertory Theater's production of Red Clay last Friday at the Cabaret Theatre on Main Street was modest yet entertaining, showing once again that there is great potential in local theater. Playwright Matthew LaChiusa knows what he's doing. His play, which could be described as a mix between Tennessee Williams and the TV show Dallas, has witty dialogue, colorful characters and a decent plot. Welcome to the world of Southern Comfort. In 1982 Georgia, Danny Gibbons (John Kaczorowski), the young, insecure owner of Red Clay Railroads, and his right-hand man, William Kincaid (Peter Jaskowiak), are planning to make the railroad public. They seek the help of a New York investment firm that sends representative – and the boss's daughter – Ruby Lucas (Tara Kaczorowski) to evaluate the railroad. Everything seems fine on the surface, but of course, nothing is. The sinister Kincaid is secretly planning a scheme that would make him rich and leave Gibbons hanging. Aided by a disgusting private eye, Joe Hamilton (Christopher Standard), Kincaid plans to take over one of the most successful railroads in Atlanta by any means necessary. So this is how corporate takeovers are done in the South: through a lot of drinking, smoking, scheming and screwing. It's not much different than in the North, except that the South certainly has a better sense of humor about it. The play is pleasurable to watch. If you're into Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neil, Tony Gilroy, alcohol, or Southern accents, then you're in for a treat. However, Red Clay brings nothing new to the table. The play isn't a soap opera, but it does venture into the melodramatic. The play's realism is sometimes compromised by its old-fashioned need for dramatic flair. The characters don't develop much, and the plot has been seen many times before. LaChiusa's portrayal of the South is considerably fair. It's easy and quite typical for Northerners to poke fun at the South, yet LaChiusa has none of that. He has a great understanding of Southern culture – its mannerisms, sense of history and pride, as well as its considerable dedication to humor. There is, of course, the tackiness, shown most clearly by Kincaid's bimbo secretary Clara Hood (Andrea Andolina) and Gibbons's friend Billy Ray Gunn (Patrick Cameron). Then there are the scenes set in a local bar, which is more of a product of the '70s and '80s than of Robert E. Lee. The play shows great attention to detail. Director Drew McCabe does what he can to establish an accurate milieu. The clothes, the ample liquor, the Confederate flags, the slicked-back hair and even the portraits of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan give the impression that we are in post-Watergate southern America. LaChiusa's dialogue is often witty and driven. It propels the action forward and gives the characters just enough room to breathe. Dialogue often defines theater and the play is good enough to make it enjoyable. What Red Clay has in style, though, is hindered somewhat in substance. The plot includes the obvious turns: Gibbons and Lucas having an affair, Kincaid fooling every businessman he sees, Hamilton and Kincaid loading their bodies with liquor, and a takeover scheme that is easily understood. Crooked corporate dealings are nothing new, especially nowadays, so it would have been nice to see the play do something more with it, considering it seems to set out for something higher. Indeed, there are other parts of the play that badly want to be noticed. There's a sing-off in Act II that's funny, but nonetheless uncomfortable to watch. Gibbons and Lucas's relationship – in fact, Lucas's character in general – is very prominent, yet is too robotic to be realistic. And Act III spirals so out of control that it's like watching someone ride an automated bull. Red Clay is still a fine work nonetheless. It's never boring and has a style of its own that engages the audience. The play is simply a dramatic shot wrapped in a vernacular blanket. The play also shows that Buffalo's theater life has a lot of energy. LaChiusa's pen and McCabe's direction worked very well together. Overall, Red Clay is an exercise in dramatic turnarounds and Southern style, and it is done well – that is to say, Buffalo style. The play can be seen in The Cabaret Theater at 672 Main Street through this Saturday. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: This contest is now over. Thank you for participating!As we get ready for Dreamworks' film How To Train Your Dragon, we ask YOU a simple question.
Mark Valley explodes into action as Christopher Chance, the unique private contractor, bodyguard and security expert hired to protect his clients in Human Target. Fox's Human Target is loosely based on the graphic novel of the same name. Becoming the latest comic hero turned live action drama, Valley was presented with a new and challenging problem. "It sort of had a comic book feel, so there was a challenge of trying to find a way to bring a real person into this. It wasn't written in any sort of hyper reality," said Valley. With this new challenge at hand, Valley has been able to draw upon his skills and utilize his former military training, especially when it comes to working in a team under strenuous circumstances. "I've become much more comfortable with some of the action and fighting scenes and the way Chance's relationship with the other characters is starting to become a little bit more clear," Valle said. "His relationship with Jackie [Earle Haley] and with Chi [McBride] is becoming a little bit more clear." Despite being the first person cast and not completely knowing what he was getting into, Valley is finding it to be a great learning experience and creating chemistry with his coworkers. "We are getting ready to set up a shot and we were sitting in the back, all sitting in our chairs, and the three of us started talking as actors do, and just realized, my God, we all come from completely different places in terms of parts of the country and experience in the industry and so forth, and the three of us just kind of clicked," Valley said. While not all TV shows are able to provide a good display of on-screen chemistry, Valley believes that the relationship between McBride, Haley and himself is visible to the viewer. Valley believes it is not just the actors, but the entire staff who work well together. "I didn't have a clear vision of how it would be … I went into it with an open mind thinking this is going to be exciting as to how it's going to come together … it is sort of a collaboration in some ways where everybody's influence is, kind of, if not heard, then it's felt and it's reacted to and the end product is something that everybody feels a part of," Valley said. For Valley, the role of Chance wasn't completely clear right from the get-go. It wasn't until he dove into it and started getting some hands-on work that his understanding of Chance came to a head. "I think when it really clicked for me was probably the episode ‘Rewind,' where we didn't have a lot of big pieces going on. It all took place in an airplane and you got an idea of, okay, very simply, this is something that has to get done in this plane," Valley said. For longstanding fans of the show, Valley promises that the final episode of the season will provide a treat to viewers. "Baptiste comes back. Amy Acker shows up and plays this one character who is very pivotal in Chance's past … She was sort of the catalyst for his ultimate change into becoming Christopher Chance. Lee Majors is in that episode. Armand Assante plays Chance's old boss. There's a couple major confrontations there. I think what's fun is [that] Jackie Haley and I have our first fight. Even though it takes place in the past, … you can see the roots of their relationship and why they have such a trusting bond as well," Valley said. Mark Valley has completed his transformation into the one and only Christopher Chance, so make sure to tune in and watch him kick some serious butt. Human Target airs Wednesdays at 8pm on FOX. E-mail: email@example.com
Wale has dedicated his albums and mixtapes to both absolutely nothing (his mixtape is aptly titled "The Mixtape About Nothing") and every topic imaginable ("Attention Deficit"). He brought it all to Alumni Arena for the benefit of a good cause. The Washington, D.C. lyricist brought his go-go elements, his catalog of mixtapes and one album to Alumni Arena on Saturday for a Haiti benefit concert. Gaining hype with his acclaimed mixtapes – resulting in numerous proclamations of the rapper's potential to be the next great artist – Wale released his first album, "Attention Deficit," in Nov. 2009, putting him on the proverbial mainstream music map. Olubowale Folarin, outfitted in Billionaire Boys Club paraphernalia, hopped onstage 30 minutes late, but stayed there for longer than an hour and brought a deep show to the audience. The 25-year-old rapper's style and infectious lyrics kept those in attendance interested in the show with his mixtape hits and radio jams. Hands were waving during "Nike Boots," and the crowd was rehearsing in unison during Wale's exiting songs, which included the singles "Pretty Girls" and "Chillin'." Those two singles left a lasting impression on the crowd: after the set, Wale surveyed the crowd and signed autographs on everything from shoes to fitted hats for his waiting fans. This wasn't his only interaction with the fans in attendance. During a section in which Wale was covering throwback '90s jams, the rapper got the urge to get hyphy with the crowd and sparked some energy. He jumped during "Jump Around," and swayed with the dancing audience during "Hip Hop Hooray." This crowd participation was impressive, considering its small size. Wale wasn't deterred by the surprisingly small showing and partied with the gracious crowd when he had the chance. Despite Wale's effort, the show wasn't without its shortcomings. The rapper was sometimes drowned out by his loud band, which added a different feel to his music but also took away from the original beats of the album and mixtapes. At one point, Wale and his hype man broke out into a baby-making session. Though the smooth rhythms got people dancing, the session took away from the atmosphere that was built up by Wale's earlier songs. During this session, the hype man serenaded three women from the crowd and did his best to let his voice melt the females' unaffected hearts. While Wale took a break, the hype man brought a limited range and had most of the crowd snoozing and dreaming of the downtown and Main St. bars. Holding the benefit at Alumni Arena also took away from the show. A crowd of about 1,100 got into Wale's performance, but the floor and seats remained relatively empty. A different location would have resulted in a more club-like, intimate atmosphere. Wale's effort did triumph the downfalls and showed that he's more interested in the fans in attendance than the people who didn't show up. In his effort to gain more radio play while maintaining his underground fan base, Wale's mindset will result in more fanfare and success in the near future. Additional reporting by Lauren Nostro, Asst. City Editor. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org