About Me

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Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I am a Montreal-based actor, writer and comedian. When U.S. President John F. Kennedy was shot, I was three days old. I cried all day. My favourite books of all time are Moby Dick by Herman Melville, The Last Temptation by Nikos Kazantzakis and The Ewoks Fun Time Activity Book by Chirpa and Pamploo. I am a member of The Vestibules, On The Spot Improv and The Best Buy Battery Club. Except for the Battery Club, I've been at all this stuff for over 20 years. Enjoy my blog.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Evolution of Vampire Flics

I don't want to get too overly analytical or academic about this but I am fascinated by the fact that over the years, the target audience for vampire movies has shifted from 14 year-old boys:

To a target audience of 14 year-old girls:

Happy All Hallow's Eve, everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All Hallow's Eve?

Back in my Catholic elementary school, we were taught religion by nuns. By my time, the nuns were down to teaching just that one class. These nuns, I might add,  were nowhere near as viscous as the Sisters described in the works of George Carlin and John Patrick Shanley.

One class, one of the younger nuns taught us about the origins of Halloween. November 1 is All Saints Day, she told us. So, she continued, because October 31st is the night before the feast of all the saints, it was once called All Hallow's Eve. That name was later slightly shortened to Halloween. This nun (whose name is, despite my famous memory for details, now lost to the ages, ) explained that All Hallow's Eve is the night that the spirits of all the saints walk the Earth. In all the excitement over the upcoming All Hallow's Eve, she must have forgotten to mention Halloween's pagan origins, dating back to the ancient Romans. Nonetheless, she was still able to explain where the tradition of dressing up as ghosts and such comes from. Turns out, the costumes are so that we can be like the spirits of the saints.

Even at 7 years old, I was like, "Uh-huh. Right."

I can only imagine the internal Church memo on this one.

To The Guy in Charge of Adapting Pagan Holidays Into Christian Holidays,
Re: All Hallow's Eve
Thank you for your great work on Christmas and Easter. Really nice stuff. We have had a chance to review your recent work on Halloween. Frankly, it is below par. Your ideas are "interesting" but they will never stick.
We're going to have to let you go.
The Church

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Greatest Conan The Barbarian Out-Take of All Time

This is it.

Early in the career of bodybuilder/movie star/governor extraordinaire Arnold Schwarzenegger, comes what many film scholars now consider to the single greatest Conan The Barbarian out-take in the history of cinema.

Take a look. The original scene from the film is followed by the out-take.

Hey, give a wolf a job and he will do it.

This minor mishap took place on the first day of shooting. Arnold needed stitches and they had to suspend production. 


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"He had on a hat": From Whence The Title Came

As promised, I will explain why I've chosen to call this blog "He had on a hat". Might I add that this is rare glimpse behind the curtain?

Anyone who has ever visited my Facebook page regularly, knows that I revel in a good obscure, cryptic reference. My attitude is either you're in the (usually very small) group of people who might figure it out or you are not. The origin of my wonderfully deliberate obliqueness probably lies in my professional life as a writer and comedian. In that milieu, most of the time I need to do exactly the opposite of obscure. That is to say, lead the reader or the audience carefully through each step so that people understand what the hell I am going on about. In other milieus, not so much.

So listen up, this post's a rartity, gang.

In the dead of of winter some years back,  I had a gig up in Tremblant or some such place with my improv troupe, On The Spot Improv. Whoever had booked us on this gig was on the ball enough to get us put up in this wonderfully huge rustic cottage. Actually, it was more like a cottage bordering on a mansion. The fancy accommodations were no doubt to make up for the fact that we were getting paid next to nothing for the gig.

This cottage/mansion or manttage, if you will, had a huge fireplace, a sauna, pool table, big comfy couches and most coolest of all,  satellite TV. This was back in the day when satellite TV was not as common as it is now mainly because back then a satellite dish took up half your backyard and because the monthly satellite service fees cost about the the equivalent of the annual property taxes for your backyard.

After we had taken advantage of  the sauna, pool table, the huge fireplace and comfy couches, I turned to my attention to the seemingly futuristic technology of the satellite dish.

I spent about 17 hours (subjective time) fiddling with the remote dish controls. Finally, I managed to pick up some cable outlet from the US (this was also back in the day when satellite TV was extremely difficult to operate especially when there was no manual of any kind to found anywhere).

Oh, what luck! We had stumbled upon some unknown network's Charlie's Angels weekend marathon.

Yep, all these incredible surroundings and cutting edge technology amounted to basically the same thing as watching TV off the rabbit ears in my parents basement. Scratch that. I could get more channels off the rabbit ears in my parents basement. Well, at least, Charlie's Angels fit in with the parallels of watching TV in my parent's basement, anyway.

I soon discovered that without all the raging 14 year-old hormones flowing through my body, Charlie's Angels is a really bad show.

Sadly, the episode they were running at the time was not even from the show's Farrah Fawcett peak years or even from the subsequent slightly less stellar but still respectable Cherly Ladd days. No, this episode was from the show's final pitiful last breathes of the Shelley Hack/Tanya Roberts era.

I don't remember much of the plot details probably 'cause it was so long ago, that there were plenty of ironic comments flying around the room at the time and that we had earlier discovered the manttage's well stocked liquor cabinet. All I can tell you is that the angels were trapped on an island in the South Pacific that seemed to look a lot like California. Besides that, all I remember was the the very end of the episode.

For those of you who never suffered from teenage satyriasis or were never an eleven year old girl looking for questionable role models in the late 70's,  let me explain that one of the rich undercurrents of the Charlie's Angels series was the great mystery of who "Charlie" really was and what he looked like. See, Charlie was just a voice coming out of a 1975 Radio Shack speaker phone. The rich voice (provided by actor John Forsythe, later of Dynasty fame) generally spouted out plot exposition for the first three minutes following  the opening credits of each episode. The voice would often appear again at the end the episode to make some kind of clever pun or joke relating to that week's plot (a recurring denouement pattern which I always contended that the shows producers blatantly ripped off from The Flintsontes).

The end of this particular episode took a bold risk and strayed from the usual formula. The angels had stopped whatever the hell it was the villains were up to on the island and, as the episode concludes, Jacqueline Smith is watching a boat sail away. She isn't sure who is on it. The other angels join Smith after the boat has left. Then the angels somehow figure out (did I mention the well stocked liquor cabinet?) that it was actually none other than Charlie himself on the boat!

Shelly Hack and Tanya Robert then excitedly grill Jacqueline Smith (a trouper for still stickin' with the series to this point, I might add) on what Charlie looked like. Smith answers that she only saw the back of his head. So then the other two ask what colour hair he had. Then Jacquelyn Smith dejectedly says,"He had on a hat."

Yes. That is what she said. In those exact words: "He had on a hat".

"He had on a hat"? Really? Did you seriously just say that?  Granted noboby watches Charlie's Angles for the suberb sentence structure or lack of grammatical errors. Still, though, ya gotta wonder how in the name of Aaron Spelling a line like that ever made it onto the air?

I have a pretty good idea. I've been on enough over budget, behind schedule TV shoots in my time to put together a reasonable fascimile of what may have happened on set.

SMITH: He had on a hat.
DIRECTOR: And....cut! Great. Check the gate. Moving on!
SMITH: Um, but I just said "he had on a hat".
(Someone standing next to the director taking notes nods "yes")
SMITH: Can we do another take?
DIRECTOR: Nah, I'm sure I've got you saying it right in a close-up or some of the other shots.
(Person next to director taking notes nods "no" this time)
SMITH: I don't know....if I could just do one more-
DIRECTOR: Okay! Moving on! Next scene, let's go! We're losing the light people!

Those types of actor's nightmare scenarios were still mostly ahead of me at that point in time. So instead of commiserating with Ms.Smith's predicament,  I remember spouting, "What? He had on a hat?! Really? He had on a hat! Oh, man! He had on a Hat?" ad nauseam.

The next morning over breakfast, one of my improv troupe mates asked another troupe member what time he went to bed the night before.

He responded with , "I'm not sure. I feel asleep somewhere around 'He had on a hat'!"....

Monday, October 11, 2010

The End of The Beginning

As promised, my Mprov blogging will not see the end of my regular musings.

So same Bat Time*, same Bat URL.

I will be blogging on movies, TV, comics, SF, books, improv, film-making, my life, music, the craft of acting, comedy, writing, the entertainment industry, history, my career, current events, collectibles, leftist commie pinko canuck political ideology, technology and whatever the hell else I may choose to blog about cause it's my blog and I can do that.

That and I'll explain the title of my blog. See my last name is Bowman and...no, seriously, stay tuned for that one.

*Ask your grandparents, kids.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mprov: Dat's It, Dat's All!

I've got an Mprov hangover today. 

By that I don't just mean from over-indulging in booze and junk food at last night's improv fest wrap party (though there was plenty of that to be had), but from the last year of fest organizing, emailing and meeting and the last week of fest hosting, improvising and socializing. 

It's a bittersweet hangover. The work is over but so is the fun. 

I gotta admit I'm in total vege mode today. It was all I could do to drag my ass over the keyboard but I'm here now so what the hell.

The final night of Mprov was a blast all around. 

Hosting the early show was the first blast of the evening, if a little challenging. The wait staff at St.Sulpice Pub, site of our annual Mprov participants dinner, was super slow before the show last night. As a result, I ended up drinking way more beer on an empty stomach than I was expecting. Ya gotta understand that I swore off drinking even one beer before any kind of performance years ago. I found that it turned my laser sharp focus into something more akin to a lava lamp type dull focus.  I was pretty lava lamp opening that first show.

However, over the course of the Mprov All Star Mixer Jam's high energy set, Dearly Beloved from NYC's darkly hilarious improv wake and Denver's one man musical wonder, Wilder and Wilder, improvising an entire thirty minute rock opera, the laser had cut through the lava nicely.

Good thing too. 

The second show opened with me and my fellow On The Spot Improv troupe mates doing our now signature format of 15 in 30. And, yeah, we did manage to get 15 scenes done in 30 minutes. Our final challenge in the set (with a mere 11 seconds left on the clock) was to down a beer in one go. And I gotta give a big shout out to Spotter Chris Cavener for not only doing the deed in time but for being so consummate a showman so as to slow down his final gulps of brew to coincide with what was literally the last second on the clock. I can still hear the audience exploding into cheers and applause, buddy.

After us, Toronto's Sex T. Rex treated the now energized crowd a wonderfully warped improv take on the Macaulay Culkin tour-de-force, Home Alone. Though their version did contain a disturbing amount of acrobatics and shirtlessness.

Outside Joke closed the festival with their trademarked Anti-Musical format. It was a complex story about a scepter with many twists and turns. One such twist was introduced in the last two minutes of the show and was met with the insightful and brilliant line, " No. No. We can't afford any more complications as this point." And such is improv. 

I want to thank Montreal Improv, Uncalled For, The Bitter End, Sexual Tyrannosaurus, Outside Joke, Wilder and Wilder, Dearly Beloved and On The Spot Improv for coming out from near and far to deliver their talented best on the Mprov stage. 

Also, thanks to all of the incredibly supportive and giving audiences that really made Mprov 2010 fly.

My biggest thanks, though, goes to my co-organizers Marc Rowland, Francois Vincent and Anders Yates. For personal and professional reasons, I ended up having to hand a great deal of my baby over to these guys for safe keeping. They did an incredible job of picking up my slack. Mprov 2010 would never been the success it was without them. 

Thanks, again, everybody.

Now, I have a few ideas for Mprov 2011...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mprov Get Its First Standing Ovation

As last night's second Mprov show came to a close, this year's edition of The Montreal Improv Festival got its first standing ovation.

Stephen Wilder, from Denver, Colorado,  makes up both of the Wilders in the musical improv act, Wilder and Wilder. As he wrapped up the final set of Mprov's 10 PM show last night, the crowd was on its feet in seconds. And with good reason: Wilder's (and his musical accompanist's) performance was a solo improv tour-de-force not seen at Mprov since Chicagoan Andy Eninger's one man improv extravaganza at last year's fest.

And did I mention it was a musical?

With two shows and six acts on stage last night, there is plenty of amazing improv to write about today. But, seeing as most people don't have 7.2 hours to devote to reading my blog, I will try and be brief...ish.

I had a blast opening the first show with On The Spot Improv. We did our popular 15 in 30 format which Hour Magazine described as "manic". And, yes, me and the other Spotters did manage to squeeze 15 scenes into 30 minutes. Of course, I'm a little too biased to comment but people who are not me told me it was a great show.

Local improv anchors, Uncalled For, gave a us another improvised adventure of the super group, Disaster Squad. This time around, superheroes known as Tranquilizer and McClintock: The Shipbuilder battled a robot uprising while managing to keep the name of their group straight.

The Jam showcased one of the one wonderfully unique features of improv festivals that I absolutely love: incredibly talented players from different troupes, cities and backgrounds playing together in a hysterical one shot only performance that will never ever be repeated again in the annals of exaggerated improv hyperbole.

That was just the early show.

The late show opened up with the uberly energetic Outside Joke from Winnipeg performing a high powered, poignant improvised musical about sex, death and cheap hospital french fries. It was all part of a format the troupe referred to as an Anti-Musical. I'm not sure what that is exactly. All I know is that, Cap'n, you canna mix the Musical and the Anti-Musical or the whole theatre will go up in an explosion the size of a super nova.

Speaking (as I was about five lines back) of death, the next act was New York City's Dearly Beloved. These guys pushed the improv envelope to new and previously unthought of boundaries. Working from an actual name randomly chosen from yesterday's obituary page in The Gazette, DB improvised not only the wake for but the entire life story of the deceased. Definitely a lot more more risky than taking your usual "Spatula" and "proctologist" suggestions. It was a risk that paid off for the edgy New York troupe big time.

The late showed wrapped up where this blog began.

The Mprov after party followed. As did the Mprov tradition of 4 AM poutine, which I must admit, I ducked out on at the last minute. I did so in favour of an attempt to recapture my youth by riding night buses clear across the city with large groups of drunken teenagers in a desperate bid to get home before sunrise.

If you're reading this blog around the time I post it, you still have time to catch the Sex T. Rex and Outside Joke improv workshops at Mainline Theatre at 2:30 PM today. Learn from the best, I always say.

Tonight, after the annual Mprov participants dinner,  I will be hosting and performing in the penultimate and final Mprov shows respectively. Followed, of course, by the after party.

I think I'll pass on the night buses and the drunken teenagers time around.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mprov: The Unofficial Improv Movie Parody Night

The crowds continued to come out out for Mprov: The 5th Annual Montreal Improv Festival last night at Mainline Theatre.

If this attendance keeps up, the festival will reach that much coveted live theatre producer's goal of breaking even. 

Sorry, I slipped into festival organizer mode for a second there. 

In fact, last night, on account of the fact that I did not have to appear on stage in any way, I was able to take the whole show in just as an average audience member might. Well, without all the "hey, don't block that offer" muttering.

So it turns out that last night was designated Unofficial Improv Movie Parody Night.

The unintentional theme show began with Montreal faves The Bitter End presenting Totally Warped. Totally Warped can best described as an improv version of 80's Geeky Teen Time Travel Comedies. And, yes, that is a genre unto itself. Personally, though, I draw a blank after Back to the Future I and II and the Bill and Ted movies (and even then, Bogus Journey is not really about time travel and was released in the 90's, but I digress).

Last night's take on the genre involved several characters that had trouble with each other's names, a dinosaur from the future known as the Retrosaurus and the single best improvised stage representation of the process of time travel that this blogger has ever seen. 

I really enjoyed Totally Warped. That is, whenever I wasn't thinking about the fact that TBE were satirizing beloved movies from their adolescence that I was already a disdainful, jaded adult for at the time of said movies' original theatrical release.

Next up, was Toronto's Sexual Tyrannosaurus, also known by their much cooler sounding abbreviation,  Sex T. Rex. They opened their show by doing that thing that Torontonians only do when they are in Montreal: apologizing for being from Toronto. 

Sex T. Rex then sealed the Unofficial Improv Movie Parody Night deal by re-enacting a movie suggested by the audience. Proving that they were in no way afraid of taking any kind of improv risks on stage, Sex T. Rex chose the suggestion of Christopher Nolan's pre-Dark Knight masterpiece, Memento.

Now, I have seen Memento multiple times and I own the DVD but, seriously, I could not tell you exactly what happens in the film if my improvised life depended on it. So kudos to Sex T. Rex for re-creating an incredibly entertaining, reasonable facsimile of one of the classic mind-fuck films of all time.

Tonight at Mprov, there are two shows and two possibilities for spontaneous themes. And, of course, yours truly will be taking the stage with On The Spot Improv. 

And so will I.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mprov: The Fifth Annual Montreal Improv Festival Begins! (and so does my blog)

This is it, gang, the first official post on my new blog.

Now, just because I'm gonna start with day to day coverage of Mprov: The Fifth Annual Montreal Improv Festival, I will not join all of the great ghost blogs in the sky after the last suggestion is taken and the improv fest is over (not...um...of course...like that has ever happend before....honest).

We had an amazing crowd last night at Mainline Theatre, not just an amazing crowd for a crappy rainy Wednesday in Montreal, but an amazing crowd for any opening night of any of the Montreal Improv Festivals that I have been involved with. 

And, oh yeah, I have been involved with all of them. 

I had the honour of hosting the premiere evening of fest #5. The audience was a wonderfully improv-savy crowd that needed very little warming up. Yay. Less work for me.

Montreal Improv officially got things going as the first troupe to take to this year's Mprov stage. It's only fitting 'cause Marc Rowland and Francois Vincent of MI have been working their asses off to make this thing happen. Much more than me, I might add. I still have the same ass I came into this thing with.

After a killer set that almost cost MI player Bryan Walsh his life, (see what I did there? Killer? Cost him his life?) it was time for Montreal's improv legends, Uncalled For.

Playing a format that I'm told was created over dinner before the show, UF served up a very cool if somewhat offbeat improvised action adventure story about about  a super group called Disaster Squad...or maybe it was Danger Squad, nobody (including them) seemed really all that sure.

That and a nice little piece featuring an interview with some guy or other in Hour today and Mprov V is off and running.

Tonight it's Toronto's Sexual Tyranosaurus. Rouding out night #2 is Montreal's own The Bitter End improvising what I'm told is the definitive 80's Geek Buddy Sci-Fi Time Travel Adventure Movie.

How can you go wrong?