Letters

Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

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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.”

COFFEE BEAN SKETCH

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.

HANG OUT WHERE THEY WORK

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.

‘REALLY FUNNY’

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.

‘SUPPOSED TO BE HORROR’

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.”

FELL DOWN THE STAIRS

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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