Lucé Tomlin-Brenner

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Posts tagged Heroes

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2012: Year of the girl hero. Too bad Kill Bill Vol 3 won’t be released this summer. I have been getting awfully choked up at the theater lately thanks to all these mainstream blockbusters about girls kicking ass. The success of these films (Brave just made 66 million this weekend) makes me hopeful that we will see better representation of girls and women in film sooner rather than later…or never.
"We don’t all need to be stuntwomen or Samurai—but we do need to have the option of feeling powerful, skilled, and able to protect one’s self. And we deserve to see images of us doing just that."- Jennifer K. Stuller 
Summer archery classes never looked so fun. 

2012: Year of the girl hero. Too bad Kill Bill Vol 3 won’t be released this summer. I have been getting awfully choked up at the theater lately thanks to all these mainstream blockbusters about girls kicking ass. The success of these films (Brave just made 66 million this weekend) makes me hopeful that we will see better representation of girls and women in film sooner rather than later…or never.

"We don’t all need to be stuntwomen or Samurai—but we do need to have the option of feeling powerful, skilled, and able to protect one’s self. And we deserve to see images of us doing just that."
- Jennifer K. Stuller

Summer archery classes never looked so fun. 

Filed under girls Heroes kicking ass brave hunger games snow white movies summer blockbusters theater archery inspiration

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BooHoo CoCo

Last month I moved from Washington DC to Los Angeles. Now instead of politicians, I live amongst the fairytale creatures of both my youth and my proto adulthood. The handful of seasoned Angelenos I am friends with tell me I’ll get used to seeing them in their natural habitat, which now much to my delight, overlaps with my own habitat. My new favorite mantra is “Play It Cool.” Whether I’m targeting a funny girl I just met for best friendship, or talking to Matt Walsh and Matt Besser at an ASSSSCAT show, I keep reminding myself to play it cool. These are but mere sounds, however, empty words rendered meaningless when faced with a living idol. That’s why when Conan O’Brien stood 4 feet in front of me on Monday night, I forgot about being cool and just burst into tears. 

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing famous people in real life. I’ve met and interacted with plenty from Hillary Clinton, to John Waters, to Al Frankin, to David and Amy Sedaris. Every time I’ve either out right cried in their faces or right after we parted. It’s the closest one can get to meeting a fictional character, and that truly overwhelms my senses. Who hasn’t wanted to crawl into their favorite book, movie, or TV show and hideout for a little while? I don’t think I can name one girlfriend of mine who doesn’t want to befriend Leslie Knope, Annie Walker, or Lorelai Gilmore.

When I was a kid, I used to daydream about going on adventures with the Rescue Rangers and Penny, Inspector Gadget’s niece. Cartoon characters are especially difficult to meet in real life, unless a child can suspend their disbelief long enough to hug a person in a convincing mascot-like suit at an amusement park. Luckily, the possibility of meeting the people who bring our favorite adult characters to life is greater. Because of their contributions to character AND storytelling, we love not just Leslie and Annie, but Amy and Kristen, the real voices that created this entertainment. They make us laugh, but even better, they give us the opportunity to see ourselves on screen in a way we never have before. This is especially meaningful to me as a comedian who delights in film, tv, and feminism.

A combination of Amy Poehler saturation and some Buddhist philosophy books convinced me to leave my non profit job two years ago and pursue comedy full time. But it was Conan O’Brien who taught me what was funny. Like most in my generation, I cannot remember life BS - Before the Simpsons. I was only alive 5 years when the Simpson Family moved their couch from Tracy Ullman’s show to their own set on FOX, and it would be another 2-3 years until I was actually allowed to watch them myself. The poster hanging on my cousin Tim’s door, “I’m Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?” didn’t help speed this process along. 

The year I fully tuned into the Simpsons was the year Conan O’Brien started writing and producing the show. Though only there for two years, his influence brought about the absurdity and layered visual gags that are hallmarks of the show today. If you’ve ever called the big one “Bitey” you have Conan to thank. 

In my life, the turning point from friendly acquaintances to BFF (or from flirting to fucking) is usually that of a Simpsons quote. I can trace 95% of all my relationships back to this, my all time favorite show, because everyone in my peer group refined their humor from watching it regularly - I have fond childhood memories of its blissful syndication, especially the year that repeats could be seen 4 times in an evening from 6-8pm on channel 43 (Cleveland UPN, holla!).

When Conan left The Simpsons in 1993, I was at the perfect age to occasionally coerce my parents into letting me stay up so I could watch him take over for David Letterman on Late Night. This is where he brought his signature facial expressions, old timey voices, and absurd characters to life. I was hooked. Conan was soon joined in my head by other comedy heroes: Jim Carrey, various cast members of Saturday Night Live, and all women who told jokes ever. But Conan is one of the very few who hasn’t faded over the last 20 years or teamed up with Jenny McCarthy to destroy the world. This love story isn’t singular to me, however, on Monday night when I finally got to attend a taping of his show, it felt like a personal apex in my life. 

Just being on the Warner Bros lot felt like a TV dream come true, “Is that the Gilmore Girls Gazebo just sitting there?!” “The studio where they filmed ‘Friends!’” “This is just like Animaniacs!” “Oh look, there’s Chuck Lorre’s parking space.” That last one wasn’t really dream like, more like a general observation.

Then walking into Conan’s studio was nothing short of joyous insanity so much so that I was a slack-jawed moon-eyed weirdo the entire time, and a lot of the experience was a blur. So here are some stray observations:

  • When you walk in, you’re greeted with a life sized Lego figurine of Conan’s superhero alter-ego The Flaming C, constructed by a more dedicated fan.
  • The studio is small. Super small. Like if I fell down the steps, I’d be okay because they’re carpeted and also because there’s not that many of them.
  • My buddy Alex and I got there when the parking garage opened. A full 6 hours before the recommended check-in time. So as 5th in line, we got 1st class 1st row seating. Andy Richter was so close to me, I could have reached over and mussed his hair. 
  • I could have also touched the camera men, but we got a lecture beforehand about not doing that. Which means it has probably happened. 
  • Everything was beautiful. The set was meticulous, the chairs were comfortable, it looks even more sparkly and bright than on the glorious television. 
  • Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band is excellent, like really crazy toe-tapping good. They do a warm up song and sing and dance in the audience before the taping starts and they were able to make me even more of an excited basket case. Every time you think I hit a ceiling, I bust through and get more fanatical. 
  • Things start quick and on time. Everything about the show, from obtaining the tickets, to waiting, to getting through security, to more waiting, to being seated, to actually watching it happen was incredibly smooth. It was a well oiled machine, with lots of nice people along the way and made me want to work in television even more. Kudos to the Conan and Warner Bros staff.
  • Conan and Andy look the same in person as on TV, I found this both comforting and a disappointment. What was I expecting? I guess maybe that they would be wearing “I Love You Lucé” tee-shirts.

When he walked in I had rockets on my feet. Leaping in the air I didn’t have time to think, the tears just shot from my eyes. Luckily, and sadly, he doesn’t spend much time looking at the audience so it escaped just about everyone (maybe not Alex since I was sitting next to him doing a fair amount of sniffing) that I was moved to tears by Conan’s near presence. Everything he said and did was funny and perfect. The whole time all I could think was, “I can’t believe this is happening” and then that was mixed with a montage of every episode of Conan I’ve ever watched along with daydreams of Conan interviewing me. 

The guests, Chris Hemsworth, Malin Akerman, and Jonah Ray were all delightful. My expectations and then subsequent judgement of a Conan guest are based on the following criteria:

  • Don’t try to be too cool for school. No one on Conan has contributed in a more entertaining way to our society than Conan, so don’t act like you’re too good for him.
  • Check shyness at the door. You’re an actor. Pretend you’re not having an anxiety attack in this studio of 100 people who already like you.
  • Anecdotes should be funny, original, and engaging but don’t be a showoff. Show the audience you have an interesting life outside of how they know you, but make it relatable. We know you’re rich, but do you have a heart? I’ve never thought too much about Chris Hemsworth, but his adorable and rambunctious stories about parenting his new baby girl made me like him a lot, and I don’t care much for children or Thor. 
  • Interact with Andy. He’s always sitting to the right of the guest leaning in, trying to be a part of the conversation, but sometimes gets ignored by idiots. Don’t ignore Andy, he’s half the show.
  • Joke and banter with Conan. If you can hold your own, and hold his interest, you’ve got me, too. I was happy to see Malin Akerman was as funny in real life as she was in Wanderlust.
A guest who can follow these tenants is a contributing factor to the show being a success. Intellectuals, authors, scientists, and other smarty pants are usually exempt from these rules because they are often on to teach, not to entertain. But all guests are expected to be polite, gracious, and should attempt to be fascinating. 
All in all, Monday was definitely one of the best days of my life. It helped that I got to experience it with a good friend and fellow Conan lover, who was very generous in allowing my spazitude to shoot all over. 

There’s a popular excitement squelching phrase that cynics love to tell starry-eyed me, something that you might be tempted to utter now, if you haven’t already: “Celebrities are just people.” Yeah, they are, and people are amazing. Since when did we stop being impressed with other people and their accomplishments? 

Watch the episode in which I was an audience member, tonight on TBS at 11pm! Maybe you’ll see me in a camera pan, or hear me cackle over a joke!

Filed under comedian comedy conan conan o'brien dreams do come true funnyladies los angeles new girl team coco television tv heroes tears