My Comedy Goals for the next 12 Months

Minnesota Comedy & Etc.           Project Dates October, 2012 – November 1, 2013

My comedy goals for the next twelve months are to create, shoot and edit 10 short comedy videos shot on location throughout Minnesota. I want to do sort of a Hal Roach style of “studio” where I can tap on the shoulders of the many creative and funny performers I know in Minnesota. Them place them into comedy short films that will be of the quality of Saturday Night Live or Second City.

The outcome is to complete one comedy “short” every 2 weeks.  Each “short” will run 3-7 minutes. At the end there will be a 45-60 minute program that can be shown on Public TV or Cable.  Copies of the program will be put into professional graphic designed DVD Boxes and distributed to 100 public libraries.

Artist Background – I have been driven to create comedy my whole life.  As a kid I would wake up in the middle of the on Friday nights to watch Marx Brothers films (no VHS  or DVD back then). Sunday mornings, after 2 hours of delivering the Tribune, I spent devouring the John Gallos presentation of Laurel and Hardy movies. I stayed home until the last possible minute to see the outcome of the movie and then race on my bike the 6 blocks to church. If I was there on time, mom would allow me to do this so I could see the end of the film.

I have made a few comedy shorts over the past few years, but find it difficult to do this in my spare time. With funding I could take the time and devote 10-20 hours every 2 weeks to get each video shot and edited. This would be a huge creative outlet and a dream come true.  I have tried to make goals to do more short comedies in the past but had to take the work instead of do the art.  I have appeared and was a gag writer in a short comedy produced by Eddy Nelson of E-3 Group (he has had another short comedy appear at Sundance Film Festival.) Submitted are a couple of my short films (shot of Video).

My comedy style is a bit like the sketch comedy of comic greats such as Carol Burnett, Monte Python, Mr. Bean, with influences of Keaton, Lloyd, Red Skelton, Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. Film/video is a magical art, you can take people to places they have never gone and show them situations that are believable yet somehow unusual. It is also a magical medium that allows for special effects that are not noticeable to the naked eye – for example Keaton is seen left standing as the wall of a house falls down around him. Or Monte Python went on locations such as city streets to shoot hilarious comedy on a  low budget. Chaplin had only one camera and produced brilliant work – the key is the characters and the content of the script. Some of my items will be silent, some narrated and some with actors talking. The variety of comic styles and situations will make the overall project be a funny and watchable program. (hopefully) I say hopefully as comedy is an art – some people like some things that others cannot stand. My goal is to be true to the comic vision in my head and as best as possible get that onto the screen. As the classic book states, “I think I can!”

My major goal is to get everyone laughing, and I like to keep it clean so teens, kids, grandpa and mom will enjoy some time together.  Laughter brings people together and can heal hurts. Laughter is therapeutic and can help relationships bond and help us to look at the bright side of life while enjoying the foibles of the characters on screen.

Barriers: I have made people laugh for many years as a live stage act, and I want to transfer that to video comedy. Being able to punch the clock at the comedy factory will allow me to turn off the phone for half a day at a time and go and shoot at various locations the things that are in my mind but a cannot translate to stage.  Stage comedy involves sets and lugging props and rehearsals with many actors and that is very difficult… whereas video comedy allows it all to come together. We can have fascinating locations and the ability to edit is the magic that can produce a project faster. Editing allows the timing to be precise and a script does not have to be memorized like on stage but can be improvised around or shot in several takes allowing for a complete comedy without the weeks of rehearsal a stage production involves.

This creative atmosphere allows a vast landscape of many exotic ideas for situation comedy to come to light. I have many friends who are entertainers and who have appeared in my short video about the Channel 10 News about the game that men are addicted to – and this fun cast of characters would be my ensemble team that I could draw from for the various comedies. The luxury of film (video) is that we can go on location and put these people in odd and comical situations that would be impossible for me to produce on stage. I also know gifted comics who look like regular people but who could to the comic faces and madcap comedy as their scripts call for.  This would be very fun to produce – and I believe very funny to watch for the viewers.

Steps to growth in this project: My comedy could grow because I would have the luxury to showing each film to a select group and observing their reaction and then I could edit and improve the comedy short. I also desire to get the feedback on each one from a few trusted comedy friends from the twin cities area and then adding the suggestions that they offer and I see fit.

Actions: The actions I will take to make the comedy sharper involve showing it to small groups before it is completed and seeing the reaction and then tightening the editing to get bigger laughs.

Impact on Minnesota: I’d like to see a public exhibition of the finished project at a theater such as Suburban World. After this “gala” premier I would hope that Public TV would pick up on it.  I also have budgeted $200 for the duplication of 100 DVDs (I have a source that charges $2.00 each with a nice, full color DVD box). These DVDs of the finished project would be given to the Metro libraries throughout Minnesota.  A short story I wrote years ago about a rabbit at the library was the most checked out VHS tape in Hennepin County Library system for a couple years.  That is from the statistics the librarians told me about. I suppose that is because many people buy tapes and already owned “Superman” etc. at home and they were looking for, “something completely different.”  But the librarian also told me that many families checked it out again and again so that may have been the reason for the skewed stats.

Resume:  Norm B. –

Studied TV Production at Winona State University in late 1980’s. During that time worked part time one year as video/photographer for news/sports at KTTC Channel 10 in Rochester, MN

Wrote and appeared in, “A Magical Day at the Library” with Hennepin Co. Library System 1991

Wrote and appeared in, “Fun with Balloons” a comedy instructional video with Hennepin Co. Library System 1992.

Late 1990’s produced 2 instructional VHS tapes with original material for other performers.

2006 produced the short comedy “Channel Ten News – Games Men Play

2007 Won first place in America’s Funniest Magician contest in Las Vegas with one of my characters – “The Amazing Normondo the Great” at a convention for entertainers.

2008 produced third DVD of original comedy and magic skits for other performers.

2009 produced fourth DVD of original magic routines for other performers.

2009 produced “The Amazing Normondo the Great” spoof comedy titled: “Secrets of Magic Exposed”

2010 produced 2 short DVD presentations that teach an original comedy routine for other performers.

2011 Wrote four children’s Magic books for Capstone press. and they have sold over 100,000 copies making me a best selling children’s book author. Amazon.com

2011-12 Produced 4 more video projects. It’s Comedy – Interviews on comedy with Jim Howle and Leon McBryde. 29 Comedy Bits and Gags. Cool Comedy Magic for Kids

2011-2012 wrote Cook Kid Show Magic book. 88 original routines and tricks. Amazon.com NormBarnhart.com

1980- Present – toured with original stand-up comedy & magic entertainment program for over 28 years with appearances at MN State Fair, Knott’s Camp Snoopy, Paul Bunyan Amusement Park, numerous fairs and festivals.

Appeared in 200-350 schools a year for 13 years in all 50 states with original motivational presentation that got kids in K-12 excited about reading.  This is why when I write comedy I can hear the audience reaction happening. Present stand up shows for High School audiences of 100-600 students to very good reviews.

Studied Improvisational comedy with Stevie Ray’s in Minneapolis, on and off, for 9 years.

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