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Airline Food; What's up with that? (Open)
Topic Started: Aug 19 2015, 08:37 PM (1,031 Views)
Laurels
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Cause what you see isn't always the truth
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Noah Whitley continued from Extraordinary Machine))

"And that's when my wife said to me: 'Dear, if I really hated you, I would have poisoned you years ago. Speaking of, how's the lasagna?"

Noah let out a small chuckle. He didn't have much faith in this comedian when he went onto the stage. The whole "beleaguered husband and father" schtick had been worn thin by years of sitcoms, but Noah actually thought this guy wasn't that bad. Granted, Noah could find room to criticize, but he knew not to be too critical. This wasn't The Laugh Factory. This was Cheryl's.

Cheryl's held an open mic night every few weeks, and Noah often tried to perform there if he was free that night and had a routine prepared. There wasn't anything wrong about someone his age performing; kids younger than him had made their best attempt at knock-knock jokes and Saturday morning Disney channel puns on the same stage. Granted, his comedy had to be a lot more family-friendly for this crowd, so he couldn't rely on the usual jokes about how much of a lying skank his friend Pina was or anything really salacious. This was where situational humor took precedence over the crude and crass.

Noah knew he'd be performing in a bit. For now, he was enjoying a plate of potato skins and a Pepsi at the bar while Comedy Cad made his next joke about how his kids don't listen to him or how they say the darnedest things. He was fine just taking it easy tonight until he went up.
Edited by Laurels, Aug 19 2015, 08:37 PM.
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Noah started to dip a potato skin in some ranch dressing and began to stir it a bit. The Dad Comedian was going on to his next bit, moving on from "wife who loves you but may want to kill you" to "kid who may accidentally kill you" as the subject for his joke. Noah started to take a bite of potato skin when someone sat next to him.

Noah held the potato skin in his mouth as he noticed Irene Djezari sit next to him. He quickly pulled the skin out and began to chew it. He wasn't quite ready to speak to her yet, so he hoped the food in his mouth would give him some time to plan what to say. Not that he disliked her, but his history with Irene told him he needed to watch what he said.

He and Irene didn't have the best history together. Irene really took offense to his drag character and confronted him multiple times on his supposed transphobia. For his part, Noah had been relatively calm in refuting these claims and had to explain where he drew the line on his comedy and why he did his craft. Not that it didn't make subsequent interactions any less awkward, but it at least cleared some confusion.

Noah swallowed the potato and spoke.

"Oh, hey!" he said. "I didn't know you were a fan of Kingman's comedy scene."
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Noah smirked when Irene told him she watched the makeup tutorial video. It wasn't often Noah was told that people watched his videos. He knew people in school knew about it, but usually they'd only mention a single joke they thought was funny or ask him a question about it. To hear someone praise the video was something he wasn't entirely used to hearing, but was still flattering. Noah did have to prevent himself from bursting out laughing when Irene said she learned a lot and wanted to try the look.

"Yeah, Asimah might have been on to something," Noah said. "You really only should try the look if you're short on cash and need a place to spend the night. I'm glad she thinks I'm cute, at least. Tell her I said thanks for that."

Noah nodded along with Irene's comments about the comedy scene and YouTube gamers before she started asking about his class schedule.

"Uh, nothing special," Noah said. "Just a lot of senior level classes. I've already sent my college apps out, so it's mostly about surviving the last part of the year."

"And yeah, comedy is strange here. If you can't get internet famous, you got to bail out. Go where there's real humor and a community to support it."
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Noah tried to cover his mouth when Irene made a comment about having a friend if you need a place to spend the night. He didn't want her to see him smirking. He figured he could do it naturally if it looked like he was quickly brushing his hand over his lip and rubbed the bottom of his nose. She didn't get the joke, and part of him thought it was cute. He could let her toil in the innocence of not knowing what he was implying.

Eh, she'd probably never try the Pina Bucket look. She looks well off. She doesn't need to turn tricks to find a place to spend the night.

Irene wanted more clarity on what classes he was taking, along with what colleges he applied to and how much the potato skins cost.

"Well, for the skins, it was an appetizer, so it was only about $4.50. They're not bad, but I've had better."

"I've been looking at a few good urban universities. UNLV is my top choice at the moment. I've also applied for UCLA, USC, and USF. Really, I'm just aiming for a business school in a large city. Something where I can get a good education but also take advantage of the city's opportunities for comedy and performing."

"Until then, it's just dawdling through classes with Mrs. Brown, Mr. Dukoff, and Mrs. Webber. In short, classes that force me to stifle any sort of fun or personality out of fear of getting reprimanded. But I'll survive. I made it through 11 and a half years of public education, so this won't be so bad."

Noah's attention was brought back to the stage. Comedy Dad was done, and it looked like some plain-looking woman was next to perform.

"Oh, I think I'm on after Janeane Garofolo here."
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"Yeah, UCLA is cool, but I personally would hope I get into Vegas. It just seems a little more eclectic and up my alley. Plus, it's near my dad and my half-sister, so it'll be good to see them more often."

"As for Webber, I dunno, I kind of like discussion circles," Noah said. "Personally, it's when I get to be a little more open and critical. Granted, I'm prone to making fun of whatever's really dumb, but I think discussions are good for pointing out what works and what doesn't. It's kind of like comedy, since we're making light of serious issues. I mean, I once argued that the moral of Hamlet was 'Stay in school' since he chose not to go back to college and eight people died as a result. Likewise, I thought 1984's world was merely how one disgruntled office worker viewed the world and wasn't actually a dystopia."

Noah chuckled. Maybe Mrs. Webber didn't like it, but he was fond of hilarious interpretations and derailing of literary subjects. He thought it added to the text and allowed for a deeper understanding of the material.

Irene asked him if he was next. Noah had barely been paying attention to the comic on stage.

"Yeah. I prepared a short routine for the crowd at Cheryl's. I can't be as crazy as my YouTube channel, but I think I have something good planned."
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"Yeah, it's not too far from the strip," Noah said. "If anything, I'll at least never get bored while I'm there."

Noah chuckled at Irene's notion of Mrs. Webber skinning people in class for poor writing. Whenever Noah's fantasies turned towards the macabre, he usually imagined it in a weird, loosely animated fashion.

"Nah, I'm usually serious about essays. Sure, I can argue a strange point, but I try to keep it grounded. After all, it's for maintaining a GPA. If I wanted to really spin off a weird-ass interpretation of classic literature, I can take it to the internet. Now, that doesn't mean I won't sneak in some humorous criticism, but I try to stay sane for most of it."

Noah took a quick sip of his drink. Irene looked to be ordering potato skins too. She also said that his stand-up at Cheryl's wouldn't be awkward or offensive for a change. Noah smirked and raised his eyebrows at that. What was that about? For someone who thought looking like a $3 whore was a cute makeup look, did Irene suddenly think he was awkward and offensive?

Nah, she's probably just being dumb and using the wrong adjectives. Still, I can work with this.

"When am I ever not awkward and offensive?" he asked, a slight sarcastic tone to his voice; the kind of tone that blended self-deprecation and slight annoyance. "I mean, if it worked for Woody Allen, why couldn't it work for me?"

God, I hope that's not too patrician a joke.
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Oh great. She's a pleb.

Noah continued to smirk as Irene stumbled over her answer. Not only did she not know who Woody Allen was, but she lost the ability to form sentences and explain her point. Noah knew he'd have to be careful around Irene. This girl had, in the past, given him lip for the characters he played and the implications that came from them. Of course, he wasn't stupid enough to intentionally offend anyone (without at least trying to be funny in the process), and even he knew to take a step back and assess whether or not the jokes he made could be taken the wrong way.

Even with that, he still didn't want a drink thrown in his face or for Irene to heckle him, so he wanted to at least slip in some shade without casting too much of a shadow.

Luckily, Irene was making it easy for him to have time to process what to say to her. The potato skin didn't seem to go down easily, and now she was calling for water. Noah stayed quiet, waiting for Irene to give him a proper response that wouldn't result in bacon bits being spat in his face.

"Oh, something a little more easily consumable than Woody Allen and those potato skins. Don't worry, I've assessed the audience, and I think I've got something they would like."

Before Noah could explain more, a roar of applause had come over the audience. The person on stage walked off and the host of the event stepped up. He called out for Noah to come onto the stage and perform. Noah let out a small cheer.

"Well, at least now I'll find out if they like it," he said to Irene. "Don't touch my skins."

Noah hopped out of his seat and made his way to the stage. He had all his jokes planned and memorized, so as long as he didn't blank, he'd be fine. But still, part of him was thinking of throwing in a bit of improv now that he had some words with Irene. He'd figure that out once he got to the stage.
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Noah placed himself in front of the mic stand on the tiny stage the Cheryl's team had erected for shows and concerts. It wasn't like the Seinfeld club, but Noah did kind of feel like a star. Everyone from the toddlers with faces covered in marinara to the old ladies eating corn soup was looking at him. His eyes briefly darted towards Irene before going back to the vague central area the stage directed him towards. He removed the microphone from the stand. He was going to move around a bit, so he wanted to be able to carry the mic with him.

"Hiiiiii!" he began, giving a large smile and waving at the audience.

"My name is Noah Whitley, I just turned 18-oh!"

A bunch of people in the audience began to cheer at that comment. Noah was surprised, but at least glad they believed his age. He didn't need his fake ID to perform here, so it was okay that he was still slightly baby-faced.

"Wow. I didn't know being 18 was so impressive to you guys," he commented.

"But yeah, it is surprising being so young and trying to perform at a restaurant for an audience of at least ten stay-at-home moms and at least three waiters who know exactly who in the crowd will under tip them tonight. You must be wondering how I'm staying so calm and collected during this. Well it's easy: comedy isn't scary, being a teenager in 2015 is."

Noah's smile disappeared and was replaced by an exaggerated face of worry. He returned it to normal to continue the bit.

"I'm not joking. Compared to traversing the asbestos-ridden halls of my high school, doing stand-up comedy is like being able to compete in the Tour de France with training wheels on. Being a high schooler these days is like doing the Tour de France in the world of Mad Max. Seriously, it's post-apocalyptic. Everyone looks at you as a threat, basic resources are scarce or unsafe for consumption, and at least half the people in your class have considered running someone over with their car. In my case, I haven't gotten on the nerves of too many people, but I've got fresh tire marks on my back telling me I should have lent my classmate a spare mechanical pencil during yesterday's math test."

Noah let out a small chuckle, using the chance to catch his breath and swallow. It also allowed for a chance to the audience to laugh if they found anything funny.

"School for my generation is much more difficult to get through than for my parents or my grandparents. I think the main reason is that, thanks to the Internet and social media, we're able to see more people going through the same issues and struggles as we are. We find more people to sympathize with, to relate to, and who can share with our cynicism in our lives. Before, you could just go to the DMV to see people who were miserable 24/7, but now you don't even have to leave your house."

Noah left a pause after that joke so the audience could laugh or react. He had a lot more jokes to tell, so he hoped he could keep the momentum going.
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"But while the Internet is good for expression and catharsis," Noah continued, "there is some danger to using it for relief. I have this friend, her name is Pina. We've known each other for about, um, two years or so. Two years sounds right. Give or take a few nights strung out on Five Hour Energy during a Golden Girls marathon, and yeah, I'd say that's how long we've known each other.

"Anywho, so my friend Pina came to me and was like, 'Heeey, Noaaaah.'"

Noah's mouth fell slackjawed as he started to draw out his voice as he gave his best Pina Bucket voice, all while putting his free hand on his hip and bending his shape to look like a crooked "S." Several days ago, when he was trying to come up with the jokes for his routine, it occurred to him to bring Pina in as a figure for whom he can tell fake anecdotes for. She could be his version of Margaret Cho's grandmother. Plus, it would allow him to disguise embarrassing stories about himself as if they happened to some crazy girl from Corncob, Tennessee.

"Yeah, that's what she sounds like," he quickly explained when the audience reacted to the PBR-induced slur that was Pina's voice. "Sorry, she's from the deep south. She grew up thinking Hee-Haw was high-brow and Colonel Sanders was a Civil War Hero.

"Anyways, so my friend Pina was like 'Heeey, Noaaaah. I want to start, um, one of those web shows. Be real famous and such.' So I asked her what kind of show she wanted to do and she wanted to do comedy. Now, I should tell you all that Pina's idea of comedy is very different from your and mine. I've heard it described as 'awkward and offensive,' but most times, it's been described in more concrete terms like 'get off the stage!' followed by a glass bottle being thrown at her head. I will say that the crowd at Cheryl's that night was much more different from this one, so thank you for not turning my face into a stained glass mural. Plastic surgery is expensive and I don't have Obamacare.

"So she comes over to my house because I have a computer, a camcorder, a tripod, costumes, lighting equipment, sound equipment, and other items for filming. Don't ask why I have any of that. Let's just say I'm exploring options in case the comedy thing doesn't work out.

"Pina tells me she wants to shoot a video of us talking, so I ask her what she wants to talk about. We're both celebrity conscious, so she wants to do a show talking about celebrities, such as their fashion and movie reviews and such. It's basically Fashion Police, but instead of having a long-faced, cantankerous, strung out she-witch as the host, Fashion Police had Joan Rivers."

Noah paused to let that joke set in. He had one last bit planned for the routine, and this was what would make or break his whole performance. The tale of The Pina Bucket Show.
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"So Pina comes to my house to film the show. We would have filmed it at her house, but we ruled it out pretty quickly. Pina's broke, so she lives in an abandoned atomic bomb testing bunker out in the desert, and she has enough trouble fighting off coyotes, mountain lions, and the mutants from The Hills Have Eyes to try and film a web show there. She also doesn't have air conditioning and when I get sweaty, I look like I dived into a pool of bacon grease, so I vetoed her home instantly.

"So we're in my room, I've got all the equipment set up, the mics work perfectly, we review the script for the show, but right before we start filming, Pina tells me she has doubts about the show. She's like 'Noaaah, I don't know if I can do this. I mean, I'm so nervous.' I was worried that Pina wasn't going to be able to perform, so I gave her some tips to perform without caring how anyone would possibly view your performance. I call it 'The Gary Busey Method.'

"Step 1: Forget people are watching you. For Pina, this is a little hard since people tend to look at her anywhere she goes. This isn't helped because she's usually lying on the ground in a puddle of some kind, but if she can learn to ignore traffic crossing signals, she could learn to ignore an audience.

"Step 2: Talk and talk, while only slightly remembering what you're doing. If you're trying to be funny, just try to leave space after every important thing you say in hopes people fill it with laughter."

Noah lowered the mic, averted his gaze to the ceiling, and began to tap his foot. After five seconds, he continued to speak.

"Step 3: Hope it all congeals into something worthwhile. If not, just pray there are no consequences to your actions. For Pina, consequences usually mean getting thrown face first in the dumpster behind Cheryl's, so she's in good hands in my room. Well, better hands at least. I don't have a dumpster, but believe me, Pina's used to leaving my house directly through the windows.

"Fortunately, Pina did all of that, and our show is a hit, averaging about 800 views per video. Yes, I have about twenty-two videos on my channel and around 17,500 views total from around 140 subscribers. At this rate, it will take me about fifteen years before I can start making money off YouTube, and only twenty-five before it means I can move out of my mom's house. It's because of that small, somewhat meaningless success that I can handle going to a public school. Because if there are 140 people who would willingly look at me in private, then I can handle the 300 or so people in my grade who only think 'God, I want to run him over with my Honda Civic. That'll teach him not to loan me a mechanical pencil in math class.'"

Noah let the audience react to that final joke, flashing a large smile at the audience.

"Thank you, Cheryl's! You've been amazing! I'll be back whether you like it or not. If you do, look me up on YouTube, subscribe to my channel. If you don't, Noah Whitley is a pseudonym and I was never here. Good night!"

Noah did a quick little bow and put the microphone back in the mic stand. He chuckled to himself as he stepped off the stage and began to walk back to his seat. His throat was a little dry, and his legs were still a little jittery from standing on stage. It would be heavenly to sit down again.
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Noah managed to get back to his seat at the bar. Irene was no longer around, something Noah found slightly disappointing. Not terribly, but slightly. Part of him hoped to get a critique following the show. There were parts he wasn't sure worked as well as others, particularly the rules part. Someone like Irene could at least let him know if the audience was laughing because it was funny or because they were trying to be polite.

On the other hand, Noah figured Irene was probably being polite by skipping out. Considering she tried throwing shade at him earlier, even before he performed, Noah was sure she had some bitter things to say, especially since he brought Pina into the routine. Such was the nature of their relationship. Still, Noah felt Irene was entitled to her opinion, and if she didn't want to share it with him, he didn't have to force it out of her.

"Ah, she left my skins alone. Score."

Noah picked up a potato skin and began to chew. Another performer was getting onto the stage. Noah decided to turn and watch. He had nothing better to do tonight, so why not watch a few more comedians? He relaxed in his seat as the next comedian began with a monologue about how getting his kids ready for school was just like being in the military. Noah knew he had to see where this one went.

((Noah Whitley continued in Prize Fighter))
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