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Funny Film: Clean Break


rom the Buried Alive Film Festival to the Thriller!Chiller! Film Festival, Collective Studios’ Clean Break is a laugh-tastic short snatching serious attention world-

wide. Following the “if it makes me laugh, it must be OK” sensibilities of writers Jacob de la Rosa and Ryan Lieske, the film is chock-full of one-liners and follows poet Dylan Thomas’ theory on water-tight compression for optimal im- pact. Protagonist J. D. Strickland — a skeleton — is adorned

with fish line and manipulated and voiced by puppeteer Stephen Grey. Besieged by fans and the publishing world, Strickland seeks to write for himself as opposed to the sellout bestselling list of flat skeleton novels (Dial S for Skeleton!) his publisher demands. Another problem: he may be replaced by a ghostwriter. The inception of Clean Break came from an Our Gang/Little Rascals short featuring Buckwheat and an anatomy skeleton. Add the off-the-cuff comedic comments of the Collective Studio bunch, and it’s easy to see how this was green-lit. As for the possibility of Clean Break becoming a feature-length? We’ll just have to wait and see. By Matt Simpson Siegel

Funny Band: Alexis

your laughs from. Now West Michigan has a funny band of its own in Alexis. Alexis consists of Matthew Forbush and Dan Hurst.


While the two started playing together in 2009, it was on a mid-morning performance on Wood TV’s eightWEST this January that they made their mark. The band’s electro-pop

rom Spinal Tap’s spoof of metal bands to Adam Sandler’s childish, filthy acoustic songs to Insane Clown Posse, there is no shortage of bands to get

performance quickly evolved into something otherworldly, with Forbush lying on his back and pretending to pedal a bi- cycle. The performance was so funny that meteorologist Matt Kirkwood was unable to stop laughing during his forecast. The eightWest performance was a microcosm for exactly

what the duo aims to do. “[We] fully give ourselves to our performance. I take

my character very seriously. I want people to have a good time,” Forbush said. Forbush is quick to draw the line between being a

“funny” band and being a “joke” band. “We take song writing, recording, production and

musicianship very seriously … that fun part comes with the party vibe of the live show.” By Nick Manes

Still Funny: River City Improv


t’s a scientific fact that you could burn up to 320 calories during a River City Improv show. Still uproariously funny after 15 years, River City Improv has been inducing good,

clean fun on national audiences with its unique short-form style causing each show to be genuinely different. Using

the audience both literally and figuratively for two hours, this Calvin College-supported troupe is far superior to both the British and American versions of television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” A typical show is, um, atypical. Available for any event requiring a sense of humor, you can catch the troupe and sample its capabilities bimonthly at The Ladies Literary Club for $9 (excluding the $10 March 18 Laughfest show) and monthly at the Gezon Auditorium (also for $9). Be sure to check out for the latest news and events. By Matt Simpson Siegel

Funny Barista: The Bitter End’s Chester Lowe


f at hearing the name Chester Lowe, your freely as- sociating reaction is to envision the disembodied grin of the Ches hire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, that

mental picture wouldn’t be far off; Chester Lowe has the same marvelously wide smile and off-kilter wit of Lewis Carroll’s famous floating feline. “Chester’s trademark is to sort of introduce himself through some psychological brain teaser or mindgame,

like the toothpick challenge,” says Heather Manning, fellow barista at The Bitter End. “He’s got to be the most gregarious person I’ve ever met.” At least part of Chester’s gregariousness comes from his

background. Schooled as a sociologist and social worker at the University of Pittsburgh, where he began serving coffee years earlier, Chester relates to every individual uniquely. “I observe everyone with caution, then I try to mirror that

personality,” he says, smirking. “I learned that stratagem from Dr. Cass. I think you know him? First name Jack.” By Mitchell Terpstra




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