Ever since I was a little kid, about around ohhh, four years or so, I have loved storytelling. I can pretty much trace it back to growing up with a vibrant and charismatic uncle who seemingly never ran out of stories to tell me and my brother. Many nights back in the glorious late '80s and early '90s were spent either curled up on the couch listening to Uncle Jimmy's tales of wonder, or camping out in the backyard under the stars on a hot summer night
As I grew older, I would come to appreciate the ART of storytelling. In college I took one of the best classes ever: Storytelling. I still remember the course objective to this day: To "get real good at storytelling." Straightforward as can be, and what a marvelous time I had in that class. Tonight, I'll share some stories I told as well as some great ones that I heard from that class. So kick back, grab a cold one, and enjoy
Storytelling is one of the oldest "purest" forms of entertainment. It goes back to ancient times with drawings being scratched onto the walls of caves. I feel it's kind of a lost art in this day and age. In an era dominated by technology such as people busy texting, twittering, facespacing, mybooking and so on, who ever really sits down anymore to tell or listen to a story? It's too bad, because when done right, it's perhaps the purest and greatest form of entertainment at its basic core. All you need: a speaker with a vision and a message, and an audience listening with their ears and hearts. I've heard some great stories in my time, in that college course specifically, and I will also share my own memorable tales. Tonight, we'll delve into the very best... MUAHAHAHA! 'Scuse me, bad habit
STORYTELLING CLASS: FALL 2003
My junior year at University, I was 20 and signed up for Storytelling as it fell under my Minor of Theatre Arts. The room itself was like none other. There were no desks. Just one big ass rectangular table we sat at, facing each other. On the sides were chairs for the 'peanut gallery' folks. You told your story standing right there, with Professor sitting at the back table jotting down notes of your performance. Each class began with a 15 minute vocalization and body warmup. We had a new leader each day. The leader would drape the thick green curtain (long replaced in this photo) covering the windows, and light a match. To this day I don't know why we did our exercises in the dark, but it sure made things interesting (not to mention ever so slightly creepy in a cult sort of way). We met Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 1:15. Our Professor was an eccentric woman in her 60's. Her taste for fashion was rather remarkable. She never wore the same outfit twice that semester, and always had matching shoes to go with whatever handbag or purse she decided to bring with her that day. Outside of class you can see her randomly about campus smoking. She was certainly one of a kind
If you came into class late, you snuck into 1 of these side chairs. This was actually where you wanted to be, as two of the class' hottest girls always sat here. For some odd reason, I often found myself a part of the 'peanut gallery'... hmm
This class was filled with classic characters. We had everyone from every walk of life imaginable. From ripe 18 year old freshmen to 45 year old mothers. Bloody hell, we even had an ex-NBA player! I shall never forget Sean though, a 25 year old Caucasian who was married and had the driest, darkest sense of humor. He was also quite an artist, and the big guy took a liking to me. He and I often chatted before class began. He was a hell of a character, and his speeches always cracked everyone up. If you can, try to imagine Bill Murray's sense of humor crossing Seth Rogen's physical features, and you pretty much have Sean. His speeches always contained the most awkward of awkward pauses, but we never could figure out if he did that on purpose or what. Whatever the reason behind the madness, I'll never forget Sean or his crazy stories. I still remember his "icebreaker" (everyone had to do an icebreaker the first couple weeks of class, basically a quick story to share who we are). Now you listen to this and you tell me if it ain't fucked up or what: "When I was five years old, I saw the Devil. I was at the local playground.... sitting in the sandbox. The Devil... looked at me... and he said... 'Son, you more messed up than me.' I said... COOOL." That was Sean for ya. AKA "SUPER DEAD PAN MAN"*chuckles*
I loved the class' format. We told four stories each that semester (a quick icebreaker and three full stories). Each day we had from three to five storytellers. If it wasn't your day, you just sat back and chilled. First come first serve on your day of reckoning. Write the title of your story on the board. Do warmups. Then story time. What could beat that? Lemme quickly share with you Sean's 1st official story, or a part of it. I remember for Sean's first story... he was doing his spiel and suddenly... WITHOUT warning, he collapsed to the floor! Did I mention by the way that he was about 6'1" and 230 pounds? SPLAT! And I remember most of us like "WHAT THE HELL..." And most of us kinda got up, you know, in that HALF position between sitting down and standing up... just so we could see him on the ground, make sure he was OK...
WITHOUT WARNING HE POPS UP LIKE A SPRING and yells "AND THEEEEEN!!!!!!!!"
I remember some folks flinching like hell. Like "DAMN DUDE DON'T DO THAT YA FREAK!!!!" *chuckles* good times... hey, it's little things like such that can really add to your presentation. I tend to add little crazy moments like that myself as well..... whatever it takes to make it more enjoyable and memorable you know (and to ensure a better grade for creative marks)...
I'm getting ahead of myself though. Let's go back quickly to DAY ONE...
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Today we got in groups of four and had five minutes to come up with a fairy tale to re-enact in front of the class. The catch? It had to be a silent presentation... so we were forced to rely on everything except our voices. The key was exaggerated facial expressions and body language
My group had a guy my age, a middle-aged father of two and a middle-aged mother of four (Marlene I recall, she was one of my favorite storytellers... an absolute natural that Marlene). We decided on The 3 Little Pigs. The three guys would play the pigs and Marlene the wolf. I played the first pig, and had an idea on how to make the scene "work"
I started out by building my lovely straw house. Marlene the wolf came. Blew down my poor house. I panicked and frantically pointed behind her. She looked back and as soon as she did, I made my get-away. I pretended to run smack dab into an imaginary door and flew back, holding my nose and acting it all out in a very slapstick fashion. Lots of laughter came from the audience. It felt good to be the first ones up and making people laugh
After the wolf blew down the 2nd house we ran off to the brick house. Once in, we were taunting the wolf. She tried to blow us (as in the brick house!) down but she couldn't. I flexed my muscles, every now and then showing my tentativeness by hiding behind my brothers while continually taunting. The class absolutely ate it up
The best part of all this perhaps came at the end of class. I was walking out and one of the many hot girls from the class looked back at me in the hallway and gave me a sly smile. I still remember to this day thinking to myself at that precise moment: "God I love Storytelling..."
Prior to that performance it had been a while since I been up in front of an audience where I felt REALLY child-like; like I could do anything and everyone would laugh. It was a great feeling. You feel like you're in the zone, sometimes, when you're up there center stage. We forget about the mask that we wear, and for a minute everything is so pretend that it suddenly becomes...
Real. One of those things that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense but hey, sometimes, the best things in life don't make a whole lotta sense do they. And we know... cuz we lived it
Thursday, September 11, 2003
My "icebreaker" was today and I decided to share a story about believing in yourself, even against all critics and odds
Hi. My name's Steven. I'm a junior, like some of you are. Summer of 2002 I did a really dumb thing. I parked in a parking lot without a valid parking permit. I just had to drop off my registration bill and thought I could sneak in, sneak out. I have no idea why I didn't park elsewhere, or in one of the 20 minute zones. I guess I was drinking that morning
Anyway, I came back to my car and surprise surprise, I found a fine slapped to my windshield. $31 dollars. I went to get a petition form. When my brother found out, he snapped at me. Then he saw the petition form I was holding and told me not to even bother. Said he tried it before and got rejected. And that all his friends suffered the same fate in years past as well. So I would be no different, according to him
ACCORDING TO HIM.Me on the other hand... I knew I could buck the system... if I *could just* come up with something creative, memorable and never-before-seen...
One night I was channel surfing and came upon Nick-at-Nite. And there I found my inspiration...
"Come on and knock on our doooor We've been waiting for .... yoooou ... there's a thing and a thing and the guy falls off his bike...
Three's Company too!"
The wheels in my mind began rolling. Hmmm. "Come on and knock on my door. I've been waiting for you... to lift the fee." No that doesn't sound right. I need to express my STORY somehow... my STORY... hey! That's it! My story...
"Here's a story..."
Of course -- The Brady Bunch! I went to work and the words flowed outta my pen like it was meant to be. And this is how it went:
Here's a story... about a man named Steven... that's me (I added, causing the audience to chuckle)
Who was caught in the parking lot without a permit
Now he's pleading for some justice
He was only there to pay his registration bill
It cost him nine hundred and fifty-seven dollars, plus the line was long
The line was long, the line was long
And when he came back, he found out he was five minutes too late... well actually 12 but five sounded a whole lot better (I added quickly, much to the laughter of my peers)
He said to himself, "If there's any good left in this world, they'll lift the fee"
And that's how it came to be
10 days passed. Finally it was mailed back home with a verdict. It would either be stamped REJECTED or FILE AS A WARNING
*I flipped the petition form over for my classmates to see*
It was stamped "FILE AS A WARNING"
*They cheered and applauded while I stood there humbly motioning with my hands ALRIGHT ALRIGHT CALM DOWN... I ain't quite done yet!*
This here, in my hands, is proof positive that sometimes, if you go with your gut feeling, really put in the work and believe with conviction, it may just pay off. More specifically, it may just pay off... $31 dollars
And so, my icebreaker was complete and I received a 2nd ovation 15 seconds after the 1st. Now it was time to move onto the first official story of the semester... no more cheapie two minute icebreakers... no siree... time to get to the MEAT of the matter..
Before I share the three main stories I told that semester, I gotta share this one from my classmate. It was probably the best story I heard that entire semester, and I heard plenty of good ones. Only Marlene's brilliant adaptation of THE POLAR EXPRESS comes close, with her wonderful usage of a bell as a prop to end her story... I can still hear its ring to this day
But this one... it's a story I remember still nearly six years later. This one comes from the guy who once played for the Toronto Raptors...
I'm walking to class one day, looking for a girl I can get with... NO, not use as a play thing but a REAL relationship. Come on now
So I'm walking, and I spot this hot chick. She had sunglasses on, a mini-skirt, and a bomb pink-top. She was the stuff guys dream about. So I'm like, I gotta get with her, right, but what do I see? A guy holding her hand. Damn! So I walked to class, but all I could think about was her
Next thing I knew, she walked through the door! I was like "HELL YEAH! This was my calling to hook up with her." But once again, that guy was holding her hand. I scanned him and I was like, "What?! This hot girl is with some average Joe shmoe like him?" She sat down with her boyfriend. Screw it, I still went up to her. I asked for her name and how's she doing and all that stuff. Her boyfriend asked me rudely what I wanted
"Nothing, except to talk with her, is that illegal?"
Then he got up and hugged her right in my face. I'm feeling bad at this point, but then he said, "See you later, sis"
And inside I'm going "OHHHHH YEEEEEAHHHH"
Later that day, I was at the cafeteria area when I saw her sitting by herself. Yes, this was my perfect chance to talk to her. So I came over and we talked. I definitely could see me and her hooking up. I was telling her jokes and she was laughing a lot. But soon I had to get to class
All day I was thinking about her. I mean, I think about girls a LOT, but this girl was driving me nuts!
Once I finished classes I was walking to my car when I saw her standing around, and she was crying. I rushed over and asked her what's going on. She told me her brother got in a nasty fight with her, and left her back, so she had no ride home
"What?! Your bro's a real asshole. You don't know how to use public transportation or something? Hey, don't worry. I can give you a ride home"
She didn't really hesitate at all, and gave me a nod. Wow, I couldn't believe how this situation was unfolding. She gave me her address and luckily I was familiar with the area. As we began walking, suddenly she grabbed my hand. I was like HELL YEAH! So we were walking down the street and I was nodding my head "Yeah, this is my girl" to everyone walking by who was checking her out
We got to my car, and I remembered to open the door for her. Then as I walked around the car I was waiting to see if I would, ahem, pass "THE TEST." And what the test is is if she approves of me she'll open my door for me
She didn't open it. Damn. Oh well
So I drove her home. I asked her if she'd like for me to walk her to her door. She said yes. I opened the passenger door for her and again she held my hand in hers. We walked over to her front door and I could see she was still distraught over the fight with her brother. She was very shaky with the keys as she opened the front door. She got in, said bye quickly and closed the door in my face without giving me a chance to say anything
I was like... WHAAA?!? So I knocked on the door
"Who is it?"
Who is it? What kind of messed up mind games is this chick playing???
"It's me. Who else?"
She opened the door. "What do you want?"
"You're welcome. Hey listen, if you want I can straighten out your brother for you. I'll see you Thursday"
"... I need to see you Thursday too," she said quietly
Then she closed the door and I stood there thinking, DAMN!Girls. Can't live with 'em... sure as hell can't live without 'em
So Thursday came and after class we walked to the cafeteria. She asked me if she could hold my hand. At this point I was just so confused by her split personality, so I decided to let her know what was on my mind
"What are we gonna do? Play patty cake? Why you acting all weird on me huh? I need to know right now. Why all the games? One minute you're holding my hand, the next minute you're slamming doors in my face! What is it, huh??! Is it because I'm black?"
"Is it because I'm big? You don't like tall guys?"
"No, it's not that"
"I can't get with you"
"I only see your personality"
"My personality? You mean, you think I'm all jokes? You wanna see the deeper me or something? Wassup?"
"I don't see you as a tall black guy. I only see your personality"
At this point I was thinking this chick has me all mixed up! Then she held my hand, took off her sunglasses, and told me...
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
"I can't see. I'm blind"
What a great story. He told it in late September 2003. The whole class was like WOW after he finished. The way he presented it was simply amazing. It was like he had been doing this his whole life. My first story was scheduled for October 2, 2003. You may actually have already read it... as it was one of the stories presented in Memories of Halloween
And so, it was on October 2, 2003, that I performed my first actual story for the class. I remember standing right there, glancing at my twenty+ classmates for a second before I began. I was a bit nervous, but once I got going I channeled that nervous energy into positive energy... and it turned out to be TRULY one of my greatest college memories... sharing with a bunch of strangers and friends one of the greatest nights of my life. Suddenly I hit my stride, and any feelings of angst or nervousness went completely out the window. Despite being about 30 days away from Halloween, as my story progressed, it felt like the calendar days were zipping on by until it read OCTOBER 31st. I had an absolute blast reliving that night and painting pictures for my classmates with statements such as "Green and red lights flashing wildly into the night" and "The staredown lasted only 20 seconds, but felt more like 20 nights..." Here is but an excerpt...
In my twenty years of existence, never once have I ever met a kid who did not look forward to this particular night. It's the time of the year where the days grow short -- and the nights grow LONG. A night where goblins roam the streets, where the moon reigns supreme, and where the clamor of sneakers crunching the gravel can be heard in the passing of the howling wind
To be 11 years old again for one day...
At the very end of the court stood a towering 2-story house that looked like it jumped out of a horror movie. John and I looked at each other in bewilderment as we made our way to the ghostly abode. Upon reaching the driveway, I heard something I'd never forget...
The blood curling shriek sent a chill up and down my spine. Next to me stood a monstrous executioner. "What is this?" We pointed to the line of kids just ahead of us on the driveway
"Welcome to the Johnsons' Haunted House!"he bellowed, his shiny axe gleaming on his broad shoulder in the faint glow of the street lamp. "Free of charge but beware... once you go in... there's NO GOING OUT! MAHAHAHA!" Halloween 1994 was a night full of magic and mayhem...
8 minutes later John and I found ourselves at the gate. The night was so pitch-black I couldn't even make out my own hand in front of my face. The gate door creaked open with a loud sound effect. *squeak* A light mist splashed its way into my eyes. In the near distance a loud chainsaw was buzzing. I wondered, "If I take four steps forward, would my head get chopped off?"
Whenever you finished your story, you took a seat right there and the Professor as well as your classmates would give you feedback. They gave me a nice ovation and one girl said she loved how I made sound effects and how I painted the pictures for her. Another said I had great projection and energy. Professor said I possessed "great stage presence, am a natural storyteller with an irresistable style." Wow. Below is how she graded me on my very 1st story:
My 2nd story was scheduled for November 6, 2003. I wanted to top my first story. In the weeks leading up to my 2nd story, I was watching Saved By The Bell episodes on the season one DVD set my brother bought when it first came out in early September 2003. We both loved the show to death when we were kids in the late '80s to early-mid '90s. It's kinda sad but growing up I looked up to the TV character Zack Morris. He was so cool and he had it all. A hot girlfriend in Kelly Kapowski, great friends and he was the toast of Bayside High. I always wanted to grow up to be just like Zack Morris. Well, I was watching "Zack's War" on Disc #4 one day in late October 2003, and I absolutely loved the episode. It hit me then I wanted to adapt Zack's War for my 2nd story on November 6, 2003. While high school in real life never quite turned out to be like you saw with Bayside High, for one day at least, I did get a chance to be Zack Morris...
I proudly present... ZACK'S WAR
Before I officially start my story, I'd like you all to know in advance that you may be familiar with the characters to come. Also, I will be switching voices on the fly. Having said that, let us begin...
The year was 1990. I remember that year fondly. It was my senior year in high school. It was the golden year. A lot of things happened in 1990 that I'll never forget. I got in trouble a lot, but I was usually able to charm my way out of it. Many called me a slacker as well as a class clown
Now truth be told, there's a reason I received those labels. However, one day... that all changed...
"Alright everyone, listen up, because I have GREAT news"
"Madonna's the new school nurse?"
"No. Bayside has been chosen to host the pilot program for the California Cadet Core. Now I'd like to introduce you... Lieutenant Chet Adams"
"In the Cadet Core we initiate students into the army way of life. Naturally, there's discipline and hard work involved"
"NOOO THANK YOU"
"Every school has one, he's ours"
"As I was saying... there's also career training and a chance for college scholarships. I hope you sign up and see what you can be in today's army. Hope I'll be seeing some of you soon"
"Thank you Lieutenant. Have a good day. So, any volunteers?"
"Count me in, Mr. Belding"
"Count me... OUT, Mr. Belding"
"Oh you're out all right. MY OFFICE, FIVE MINUTES"
"This is it, Morris. The end. EL FINITO. I am fed up with your wisecracks
I'm giving you a month's worth of Saturday detention"
"Nuh uh, THIRTY Saturdays"
"Thirty Saturdays?! Sir, can we negotiate? Hey I'll wash your car"
"The last time you washed my car you flooded the inside"
"... hold on.."
"Hmmm, maybe there IS something you can do... I wanna see this Cadet Core succeed here SO, you sign up, no detention"
"You mean all I hafta do is join that Mickey Mouse army?"
"That's right, oh, that and one other little request: we need a full class for the program so it's your job to get 'em"
"Alright, you got a deal Mr. Belding"
"Either he's getting REAL old, or I'm getting really good"
The next day Zack went to the Max, the local hangout, to recruit and assemble a full class. Employing his used car salesman tactics, Zack recruited enough students save for one. He needed one more sucker... and that's when his best friend entered the Max
"Hey Screech! You wanna know how to get Molly? By being a REAL MAN"
"That's right. Wait til Molly sees you... in a uniform"
"Count me in, Zack! I'll be ALL that I can be!"
The next week Zack and his friends wait for the first official Cadet Core class to begin. As they wait for Lieutenant Chet Adams, they begin discussing among themselves what the experience might be like
"I hope I can handle this and have a chance at that college scholarship"
"Ah stop worrying, Kelly. Would I be in this class if it weren't a snap?" And that's when the Lieutenant walked in....
"Weeeell, it's nice to see such a good turn out. Now I want you guys to relax, enjoy yourselves, and I'm sure we're going to have a good time"
"See, what did I tell you? Piece of cake"
*Turns around, back facing audience*
*Turns to face audience*
"TEN-HUT! Maybe I wasn't clear... ON YOUR FEET!!"
"The Cadet Core is now in session. There will BE!
No talking. No SMILING. AND NO BLINKING!!"
"Hey lighten up Lieutenant. There's no war. Haven't you heard, peace broke out all over the world"
"Ohhhh, I remember you. Big mouth. DOWN AND GIMME 20"
"How 'bout two fives and a ten?"
"How about FIFTY?"
"C'mon Lieutenant, where's the fun and games?"
"Oh it's gonna be plenty of fun... FOR ME. MAKE THAT 100"
"But sir, I can't do that many pushups"
"Oh that's OK. I have all day to watch you try"
The next day... Zack showed up to Cadet Core class, but something was missing...
"Why aren't you in uniform, Cadet Morris?"
"Well let's face it sir, I'm just not Core material. I think it's best for both of us if I resign"
"Oh that's too bad, because I had big plans for you"
"Well, I'm afraid my ARMS can't take any more of your BIG plans, sir"
"You're a born leader, I hate to lose you. How 'bout I make you a deal?"
"Oh yeah? What kind of deal?"
"We're gonna have an athletic competition soon"
"Well that's great sir, but where's the deal?"
"If your team wins, I'll let you out of the Core. And even better, you can pick the teams. Do we have a deal?"
"Ha... pick the teams? YES SIR"
"Who does this guy think he's dealing with?"
That day in class, the Lieutenant made the big announcement
"The highlight of every Cadet Core program is an athletic competition. It helps develop physical skills, teamwork, and it's the Army's way of separating the men from the boys"
"I mean, the persons from the persons. Better now, Ms. Spano?"
"Now, there will be a red team and a blue team. I've already picked the leaders for the two teams: AC Slater and Zack Morris. I've given Cadet Morris the responsibility of choosing the teams"
"Alright, we'll start first with the red team. When I call your name, step forward. Alan, Screech, hmmm, Lisa, Louise. OK, you guys are with Slater"
"Jessie, Kelly, Butch and Rocco, you guys are with me on the blue team... LET THE GAMES BEGIN"
"Wait a second, that's not fair. He's got all the jocks, Lieutenant"
"Are these teams evenly matched, Cadet Morris?"
"They certainly are, sir. If anything, Slater has the advantage"
"Yeah for WHAT -- THE NERD BOWL?!"
"Are you sure this is fair?"
"Sir, you have my word"
"Well good. Zack, you'll lead the red team. Slater, the blue team"
"But sir! You said I could pick the teams"
"I know. And you did a fine job. But I pick the leaders. That's MY job"
"Pretty good at this job huh, Zack?"
"Shut up Screech"
Later that day, Zack and Slater began fielding their own teams. Zack the red team. Slater the blue team. The blue team was a well-oiled machine. The red team on the other hand....
"Left... left, left, right, left... company HALT. Alan, I said halt"
"I thought you said MALT! And I'm thirsty from all this moving about"
"Alright team, get it together c'mon. About, face! Alan, I'm not a cake so PLEASE get out of my face! Man you guys are hopeless. Turn around!"
Maybe Zack's red team could salvage the obstacle course. Then again...
"OK guys, let's do something right this time alright. Let's go guys!"
"Red team ready, GO"
Zack flew through the tires. His teammates however fell flat on their faces
"Great, JUST great. I am NEVER gonna win with a bunch of losers like you. You guys are the worst clumsiest bunch of goofs I have ever seen! I QUIT"
Zack tore off his red armband and stormed off. After school that day his best friend Screech dropped by
"Zack you gotta come back. We don't stand a chance without you"
"Forget it Screech. I don't wanna waste my time"
"Oh but we're getting better. Alan even got his uniform off without ripping it"
"I don't get it Zack. You're the one who talked us into joining the Core. And now you're quitting it all just because you're not on the best team?"
"Yeah that's about it. Because the Core is stupid"
"But you said the Core would make me the kind of man Molly would want"
"SO I LIED. Sue me"
"You know Zack... ever since we were little... I looked up to you. You had everything. And I always wanted to be like you. Now I'm glad I'm not"
Screech left the room. Not only that, he left Zack with a gutcheck. The next day...
"What are you doing here, Morris?"
"Rejoining my team with your permission, sir"
"That's impossible, Morris. You're a quitter. The Core doesn't want quitters"
"I want another chance. Please let me back in, sir"
"That's not for me to decide. ... Maybe they don't want you back"
"Alright, I let all you guys down and I called you losers. You know what, I was wrong. The only real loser on this team... was me"
"Screech, I'm sorry. Guys, please take me back"
"We'll have to talk this over..."
"Look guys, I think we need him DESPERATELY"
"Welcome back, buddy"
Now that Zack was back, the games were on. Tied two wins a piece, the tug-o-war finale would determine the winner. Alas....
"Since the rope broke, this is the tie-breaking event, the super obstacle course. Each team will choose one man... I mean, one person... to compete"
"Very good, Lieutenant"
"I'm trying, Ms. Spano"
"Now Butch, this is YOUR event"
"Bring it home baby!"
"Well Morris here's your chance. Your team wins and you're out of the Core. A free man"
"Zack, Butch is running again. You're the only one who can beat him!"
"NOPE, there's someone else here who can beat him..."
"ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!? You saw what happened last time!"
"Yeah, I can't beat Butch. We'll lose!"
"NOT IF YOU WIN. Come on Screech, it's time you started believing in yourself"
"Runners take your position"
"Alright Screech you can do it!"
Butch and Screech shot off like two cannons being fired into the dark, cold night. In the end, it was Screech who crossed the finish line first. No one could believe it. No one that is... except Zack Morris. Molly came over to greet Screech with a kiss in the winner's circle, and everyone left the hallway except for Zack and the Lieutenant
"Nice work Morris. Personally, I didn't think you stood a chance"
"Well thank you sir. You didn't give me much of a choice"
"Ahhh you got what you wanted Morris. I guess this is good-bye"
"Why sir? Are you quitting?"
"Well not me either... someone told me... the Core doesn't like a quitter"
As I stood there saluting the class as though I was looking into the eyes of the Lieutenant himself, the class gave me a roaring ovation that sent chilling goosebumps up and down my spine. I sat down and right away one girl said, "That was so unexpected and amazing. I totally loved that show back in the day and I felt like those wacky characters were really right there in front of me!" I saw many of my classmates nodding and smiling in agreement, and I just can't tell you how high I was feeling at that precise moment in time. I was on Cloud 9 and had successfully adapted one of my favorite sitcom shows into a one man act. In fact, Professor commented, "Steven, I have never been bothered to watch, uh I guess it was a sitcom you pulled this from? But that was an INCREDIBLE one man show you just put on for us. Thank you, I enjoyed it very much so." As great as my 1st story was, I think I topped it with this one. Remember Sean? Bill Murray meets Seth Rogen? Well, the week after Zack's War, he told me, "You know Steve, I have never cared to watch that show Saved By The Bell ever in all my years. And everyone was talking about it growing up. I just didn't give a damn about it. But the other day it came on TBS and I just had to watch it because of your story. And you know what.... I couldn't believe how CLOSE you came to replicating the characters, especially Zack. It was your voice, your facial expressions and your mannerisms... I thought I was watching you on the show..."
I'll never forget all their compliments. What a high
No rest for the wicked though. Right after Zack's War I started to think about my 3rd and final story. It had to be better and bigger than both the Halloween one as well as Zack's War. One day I was perusing the Children section of my University's library, looking for some type of inspiration. It hit me when I read a book called... BASEBALL SAVED US. It's a great story about one young spirited Japanese boy's experience in camp in 1942 -- the time when all people of Japanese descent living in the US were put into camps because the government didn't know who was loyal and who wasn't. Many moons later, in 1988, the US government admitted what they did was wrong. I loved baseball and I found much richness in this tale of hope and survival. I decided to adapt BASEBALL SAVED US for my 3rd and final story, but then fate stepped in when one day on a message board that I frequent, someone wrote a funny story. I loved it so much I knew it had to be my 3rd and final piece. It was a little short though, so I actually took this story, put it in the 2nd half, and made a 1st half for it, just to flesh out the characters a little bit more. And the title of the story was one I created myself. It was so long that it stretched all the way across the white board. I remember my classmates clamoring about it as soon as they walked in and saw the title of my 3rd story. They knew they were in for quite a treat
Without further ado, I proudly present...
BETWEEN FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH AND AMERICAN PIE, THERE WAS A GUY NAMED ALAN Y. (whew!)
Do you guys believe in true love? Do you believe that there's someone out there for everyone? Well, this is a story about me and my dear sweetheart, Katy. As you can probably infer from the title, this isn't some sappy love story. First, let me tell you how I met Katy
It was my 1st day of my senior year in high school... but for the school it was the 5th week in session. Yeah, I changed schools. Not because I moved, but cuz I got expelled. Did I mention I was 19? So I flunked a grade. Big deal. So I'm in the parking lot looking for a spot. There was only one remaining. This old man across from me, clearly a teacher, was heading for it too, but he was going two miles per hour. Hey, all's fair in love and war -- and parking spots I say. I sped up and claimed it. Guitar in hand, comb in the other, I got outta my Porsche 928 and waved to the honeys who were watching. The old timer growled to himself, "Damn if he's my student!"
Eh, whatever. The chances I'll get him are like one in 80 million
My 1st class was music. It was 8:10 and as usual, I made a dramatic and fashionably late entrance. Sliding into the room on my knees, I cranked up my guitar and sang
Still like that old time rock 'n roll That kind of music just soothes the soul I reminisce about the DAYS OF OLD With that old time ROCK 'N ROLL!
"Hey hey hey! You?!?"
I'll be damn! It was the old geezer in the parking lot
"What are you doing here?" he bellowed
"Here? Education of course"
"What is your name?"
I turned to face my classmates and saw a handful of beautiful lasses. I remembered why I never dropped out. "My name is Alan... Alan Y. I'm a good guy. I only drink and smoke occasionally. I make lots of money betting on horse racing and I love taking cute young girls out to dinner, such as you, you AND YOU -- free on the house!"
"Stop right there! Sit down"
I took the empty seat next to a precious little thing. Katy, as I'd come to know
"Hey good looking. I'm here now, so what are your two other wishes?"
"Not there! Sit in the corner!"
"Sir, where's my dignity?"
"Sit in the corner... or GET THE HELL OUT!"
I quickly told Katy, "Better do as he says, or the poor sonuvabitch will have a heart attack"
I went over to the corner but the old man kept coming at me
"How old are you?"
"A year older than last year"
"How old is that?"
"Makes me 19"
"19?! And still in high school -- what a shame! Why changed schools? Must have been expelled! Why expelled? Must have been bad behaviors! Why behaved badly? Must have been terrible conduct!"
*claps* "Sir, you obviously studied logic in college"
"Tell me Alan, what do you have planned for your future?"
"Why don't YOU tell me, sir. After all you seem to know it all"
"Looking for someone to DO IT FOR YA -- you're TOO DUMB to do anything for yourself, I can see! You really have no ambition, no qualifications and a ROCK BOTTOM IQ! .... LISTEN TO ME! Class, he's a prime example of HOW YOU DON'T want to be in life, so take a good close look at him and consider yourselves WARNED!"
"Sir! You said my IQ is low, well then, can you spend the shortest time to answer me three questions?"
"Of course. Go on"
"One, which month has got 28 days?"
"Wrong! They've all got 28 days. Two, a bicycle is heading east, the wind coming from the northeast, which direction will the smoke blow?"
".... The southwest!"
"Wrong again! Bicycles don't emit smoke. You see, these two questions, any idiot can answer. Now I ask you again, your IQ -- high or low?"
"Are you finished?"
"No. Last question. Which human organ when stimulated, will increase in size?"
"Uhhh....... I refuse to answer that question!"
"The answer is..... the pupil. When the pupil is stimulated it will dilate 7 times. Now sir, you refused to answer me... what was on your mind?" (Note: shoulda seen the look on the girls' faces...)
The old bastard got all red in the face as the entire class erupted in laughter. After class Katy came up to me
"That was awesome!"
"Just another day at the office, y'know. Hey, wanna grab a bite to eat?"
Katy and I hit it off. Later that week, we became a couple. We were madly in love and I was never so happy. Katy and I had been dating for over a year. We decided the time was right to get married. My parents helped us in every way and my friends encouraged me. And Katy? She was a dream come true
There was only one thing bothering me, very much indeed. That one thing was her younger sister, Tammy. My prospective sister-in-law was twenty years old, wore tight mini skirts and low cut blouses. She would regularly bend down whenever I was around and I got many a pleasant view of her breasts. It had to be deliberate. There are worse things in the world that could happen to a guy, of course, but I was never good at fighting temptation and I didn't want to do Katy like that. Simply put, Tammy was like a box jellyfish. Absolutely mesmerizing, but equally and potentially fatal
One day Tammy called and asked me to come over to check the wedding invitations. I thought nothing of it and drove over immediately. When I arrived, she was alone...
"Uh, where's Katy?"
"Of course... when will she uh, um, when will you know when when will she be back?"
"What about oh uh, your um... where are your folks?"
"They won't be back til dinner"
I cracked a nervous smile. Tammy's tone was too suggestive, too seductive. The next thing I knew, she walked over to me and whispered in my ear that soon I was to be married, and she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn't overcome. Didn'twant to overcome. She told me she wanted to make love to me just once before I got married and committed the rest of my life to her sister
I was absolutely stunned and at a loss for words. She continued lustfully, "I'm going upstairs to my bedroom now, and if you wanna do the monkey dance..."
Frozen like a statue, I watched her go up the stairs. When she reached the top she pulled down her pink panties and threw them down at me
"TAKE ME, TARZAN!"
I watched as Tammy disappeared into her room. I stood there for a moment unable to move, imagining what she looked like. I knew EXACTLY what I had to do. Without wasting another second, I turned around and headed straight for the front door. I made a beeline for my car, but I didn't make it very far
My future father-in-law was standing outside. With tears in his eyes he hugged me and said, "We are very happy that you have passed our little test. We couldn't have asked for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family"
The moral of this story is:
. . . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
Always keep your condoms in the car
Complete silence for two seconds. Then you heard the "ohhhh's" and riotous laughter soon thereafter. I'll never forget the looks on their faces; it was priceless. During the human organ growth part, the hot girls in the class had huge grins on their faces, while others were smiling slyly. That's what you call a true "crowd pleaser"... works every single time. I sat down and they went on with their feedback. They loved the humor in the story, the rapid fire Alan-teacher exchange, and the "moral" of the story. I finished with an 18/20 for the story and an A overall for the class. Such fond memories of that class. Without question, I went out with a bang. Alan Y. was probably my strongest story of the three I told. The last day of class Professor rewarded those of us who showed up every day to class. She announced my name first, and brought me this basket of lollipops. Everyone cheered me on when my name was announced. For just ONE SECOND I felt like a rock star. So ole Professor came by with the basket of lollipops. Congrats, she told me. I reached out to take the WHOLE basket. She pulled back. "JUST ONE, STEVEN"
Everyone cracked up. With a goofy smile, I told her "MY BAD." Classic stuff...
At the end she looked at us and said, "You all have successfully graduated from Storytelling. Give yourself and your fellow storytellers a big round of applause. You all earned it"
Looking back on my college years, I had my fair share of fond memories. Inevitably, I always think back to the friends and plays I made (see any of the Playback articles), the day of 9/11 and after with Coach Butler (Coach Butler and 9/11) and among others, that great Storytelling class I took during the Fall 2003 semester. From the camaraderie and stories my classmates and I shared to the crazy Professor we had, it was not only one of the best classes I have ever taken in my life, but it was also one of the few classes I can look back on and say it was more than just about getting an A... it was about a makeshift campfire every Tuesday and Thursday, where we celebrated the human spirit and that time-old tradition of bonding as well as growing through the stories we weaved... varied stories that are woven into the human fabric we call life
We all have interesting stories waiting to be told. Next time you're with some friends, turn off the TV or computer. Share a story and some drinks instead. Reconnect, truly. But I'm rambling now and not surprisingly so, either. Bottom line: storytelling when done right is an amazing form of art. A good story lives on and is passed on from generation to generation. It stands the test of time. Maybe the next great story the world will hear... will be your very own
HOLD THE PRESS! EXCLUSIVE CYLK COZART INTERVIEW
I emailed Mr. Cozart this past June with hopes to ask him 10 questions. A month or so later he was gracious enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to do just that. Enjoy
We salute you, Mr. Cozart!
Friday, July 3, 2009 1:43 PM
Hello Steven, Thank you for your interest in my career and this interview. I'll try to answer your questions as full as possible.
1). Any stories or memories you can share about working on the episode "Zack's War"? What was it like working with the cast and crew, specifically Mark Paul Gosselaar (whom you shared the majority of your on-screen time with)?
Mark was one of the most gracious actors that I have worked with. Very kind and funny. Great guy. Everyone loved him.
2). How aware of the show "Saved By the Bell" were you prior to signing on for this one episode?
I had never seen the show until I got the offer. A lot of my friends had seen it and told me about every one of the characters. I knew all of them when I walked on the stage for the first time.
Any time that I have ran into any of the cast, we always hug and talk about that episode. And laugh for about 10 minutes. LOL!!!
3). When was the last time you viewed "Zack's War" and what are your impressions of the episode? (that particular episode is one of my all-time favorites among ANY sitcom show)
I see that show all the time. So many people of all ages see that particular episode and I have gotten as much attention from SBTB as a lot of movies that I have made. I have several friends and family members who will never let me forget it. I loved every minute of it!
4). You have been in over 30 movies and 20 television shows, what is your proudest moment as an actor? (i.e. was there a specific film you are most proud of?)
That would have to be "WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP." Ron Shelton, (Writer/Director) is and always be in my life. Wesley Snipes and me keep in touch on a regular basis. But one of my best friends in LIFE, is Woody Harrelson. We have become very close friends since we met on the first day he came in to audition. I was set to play Sidney Dean. Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves both came in to audition while I sat and read with them. At the end of all the auditions, Ron asked me who I felt the most comfortable with and I said hands down, Woody.
The next thing I know, 20th Century Fox called Ron and said to put Wesley in the lead because "New Jack City", Wesley's film that just came out at the time, was a hit movie and Wesley was hot! They loved me but gave me a co-starring role.
That was the "worst" day of my acting life... I thought. But once Ron took me to dinner and explained how the studio system worked, I felt a little better. Still it hurt so bad.
Ron told me that he and I would make many many more films together. We have already made three: "White Men Can't Jump", "Play it to the Bone" & "Blue Chips"
5). How old were you when you first got into acting and what originally intrigued you about acting?
I used to watch Andy of Mayberry and The Beverly Hillbillies everyday. That made me aware of HOLLYWOOD. But growing up in Tennessee, there was no way to even know how to get there. But I figured it out. ;-)
6). Which do you prefer: acting in films or acting in plays? (I have done both and I myself much prefer theatre; nothing beats that raw LIVE "one take, no net" element)
There is nothing like that direct response from a live audience. Like live theater. Playing basketball in front of thousands of people while in college, was just like doing a play to me... in a way. So I loved the stage from the start.
Film is the most rewarding as far as exposure to so many people is concerned.
7). You were about six years old when Martin Luther King Jr. made his infamous "I Have A Dream" speech. Where were you that day and what were your memories of that time frame in the '60s when racial tension was running incredibly high?
I'm a product of the 'Baby Boomers.' I was right in the middle of the SOUTH, Tennessee. Where the KKK "originated". It was Hell for my family and friends. I remember most of that time at that young age.
Check this out, within a 6-month time frame, King was killed. 2 months later, Kennedy. After that, students from Kent State had their heads bashed in race riots. Charles Manson Sharron Tate Murders, Vietnam. Most of our parents were either pot smoking hippies or trying to join the Black Panther party. Those were the times that we lived in.
8). Ever look back and wonder what would have happened if you never suffered that foot injury in that one NBA Summer League game? Was that your greatest regret in life? Or do you believe everything happens for a reason?
Every day, I think about "What If"???? Then right after that thought leaves... I think that nothing ever stays the same in life. It can't and expect to survive. So I don't hold on or regret anything. I am living my dream. I played pro basketball AND I am working with the most wonderful people in the entertainment world!!!! I have so much to be thankful for when you break it down.
9). As someone who has seen and done a whole lot, what advice in general would you give young people as they march through (the trials and tribulations of) life?
I would say to them first... "How well do you take the word "NO"? I would tell them, not to worry about what other people think of their work or preformance. But work on your craft so you can always be your best critic.
This is an ART. You have natural ability but you must train as a pro athlete trains before the game season. They work out so hard before the games, that the actual game is FUN. Same as an actor. Train your mind, body and soul for whatever you want to make a living.
10). Are there any projects you would like to plug?
I'm directing my first movie called "The Sandy Creek Girls"