Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Funny Business

NMC alumni reunite to form comedy troupe

Patrick Sullivan - September 17th, 2012  

How many groups of friends get together, tell jokes, laugh really hard, and think, “Our lives should be a sitcom?” One bunch of friends who met years ago at Northwestern Michigan College decided to do something about it.

They’ve formed a sketch comedy troupe called Falling Down Stairs Productions and they produce short, funny videos that can be found on YouTube and Funny Or Die.

“One of the things that we’re really good at is making each other laugh at the drop of a hat,” said group member David Graves. “Whether we’re any good at making other people laugh, we’re not sure yet.”


The troupe’s nine members take turns writing scenes, and when a script is chosen to be filmed, the writer of the sketch serves as director.

On a recent evening at the Coffee Bean Café on Silver Lake Road, where the owners allowed the group to use the café after-hours for a shoot, that meant Elizabeth Klueck was directing one of her scenes.

Her sketch that evening pivoted around a poor young man trying to impress his date, who it turns out is not impressed with him because she doesn’t like the font he selected for a flyer for a friend’s band.

It was the first scene to be shot on a night when they plan to shoot six or seven.

That meant hours of work for the group that evening, and hours more later on.

Elizabeth’s husband, Jamie Klueck, is the owner of the camera used by the group, an impressive looking Canon XL1s. Jamie also edits the videos using Final Cut Pro.


The café was a typical location for the group. They select places where they hang out in real life.

“We like to try to write scenes that are easy for us to relate to,” Graves said.

That makes it easy for them to inhabit the spaces as actors. Most of their sketches take place in an apartment, on the street, at a coffee shop, or, in an innovation developed by Jamie, on a split-screen webcam, a device he came up with to overcome the fact that he lives in Frankfort and doesn’t get to Traverse City that often. It enables him and Graves to get together, if only online, and create more content.

Members of the comedy troupe are:

Graves, 28, Jamie Klueck, 30, Elizabeth Klueck, 30, Jody Kluck, 30, Craig Golden, 29, Jack Clemente, 30, Zach Kenny, 29, Ashleigh Hanchett, 28 and Esther Kluck, 26.


Josh Riddle, owner of the Coffee Bean, said he’s glad to have the group use his shop as a scene location and as a hang-out.

“They are some of our nicest customers,” Riddle said. “As for their shooting, we just get out of the way and let them do their thing.”

Riddle said he’s only watched a few of their videos because, as a new business owner, he doesn’t have a lot of free time, but he said he’s liked what he’s seen.

“I looked at a couple of them and some of them were really funny,” he said.

The group met, more or less, around 10 years ago when several of them enrolled in a play production class at NMC.

“We did a terrible rendition of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’” Graves said.

They bonded and formed friendships and would stay in touch, but it would be years before they’d decide to get together to form a sketch comedy troupe.

That happened when Graves got together with some of his old friends in June, 2011 after he moved back to Northern Michigan from Texas.

It didn’t take long before Graves remembered why he liked his old friends so much, and how much they made him laugh.

“It was one of the only times in my life when I literally rolled around on the floor laughing,” Graves said.


No one in the group has formal comedy or improv experience, but they all have theater backgrounds.

And they are all passionate about comedy. Some of them came to comedy on an indirect route.

Jamie Klueck made a movie around 10 years ago, which, although he did not set out to be funny, may have unintentionally taught him a thing or two about comedy.

“It was supposed to be a horror, but, you know, when you’re 17 and you write a horror movie around a stuffed teddy bear...” he paused, unable or unwilling to finish that sentence. “It was a really good experience, let’s leave it at that.”


The name, Falling Down Stairs Productions, also comes from NMC from an incident that happened a few years ago in the administration building on campus, when several members of the group got together. One of them, Jody, fell down a short flight of stairs.

He was not injured, but he made his friends laugh.

That was funny enough, Graves said, but Jodi started to joke about it almost before he had landed on the ground.

It made a very funny impression, and when plans arose last November or December to form the troupe, the unplanned slapstick proved to be the perfect name.

The group has modest goals, for now. Graves said he hopes they can start to make a little bit of money with their videos so they can sustain what they are doing and perhaps expand their scope. It’s possible to make some money on YouYube if you get enough hits.

They also talk about filming a sitcom pilot. But this is niche comedy, after all, and they hope to draw an audience wider than just Northern Michigan. Their videos so far have been watched in many countries, according to YouTube stats, including Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

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