Pure Flix Comedy All-Stars

December 6, 2016


Taylor Mason with SinbadI just played a small part in a new online/streaming video series.

The “Pure Flix Comedy All-Stars” will be available sometime in mid-February, and it was a blast to be part of such a cool event.

Show business is as much about the “business” part as the “show” part, and the sooner people in the creative arts figure that out, the sooner they seem to become successful.

Comedian Tommy Blaze is a good example. He’s defined “successful stand-up comic” for some 25 years, delivering heat-seeking punchlines across the USA and appearing on a myriad of television programs and in major motion pix. He’s moved from comedy to acting and now into production, as the “Comedy All-Stars” video is a vision he shares with Chris DiPetta (longtime comedy producer and booker) and the folks at Pure Flix.

Pure Flix is most well-known for its hit movie “God’s Not Dead,” (and the inevitable “GND2″) and is part of the “Christian” entertainment mix that has become very popular, even among the players in Hollywood.

Note: the “Comedy All-Stars” are not all so much Christian as they are “clean,” because we all know that Christians would NEVER use profanity, even for “artistic expression.”

With this comedy video, Pure Flix focuses on the family market, and they may have their finger on the pulse of an untapped audience.

Enter Mr. Blaze with a thorough working knowledge of his craft and the technical aspects that go into comedy, plus a lifetime of experience and all the contacts to boot. Which includes an endless number of friends/acquaintances and fellow performers. He writes, he executes, he performs and still, after all these years, makes things happen.

I got to be a part of this brainchild. It was a throwback – while also a look into the future – and it really worked.

There were some 14 comedy acts on the first evening of video which took place at the gorgeous Clayton Center in Clayton, North Carolina. Hosting these first four segments was Sinbad, a singular icon in entertainment and, like Blaze, a successful/killer live performer. He drew an amazingly diverse audience, matched only by the multi-racial, multi-generational comics who performed on stage.

That bucket list of talent includes Mary Ellen Hooper, Dwight Slade and Dale Jones, some of the funniest and most-seasoned people in comedy – all of whom deserve their own sitcoms or movies or platforms because they are brilliant. Some of the younger performers, Mia Jackson, Terri Moore and Chase Anthony, looked like they’d been born on stage and each brought down the house, making me think, “I’m sure glad I don’t have to follow them.”

Karen Rontowski, Jamie Bendall and Jamar Haynes Lee were not known to me when we met, but I definitely won’t forget them after this. Each had exemplary sets. Kevin Downey, Jr, fresh from an appearance on “Red-Eye” (one of my favorite TV shows), closed the evening with his off-the-grid, insanity-meets-reality stylem which was a perfect way to end a long evening (our audience stayed attentive and responsive and strong for the entire night! A tribute to Sinbad’s style and the quality of the above-named comedy all-stars).

My particular episode included two pals from the business:

  • Horace HB Sanders and I have done some TV/video work together, and he is always definitive and hilarious. Great to work with his energetic flow and his dynamic persona.
  • Patty Vasquez, who hosts a radio show of her own on WGN in Chicago (yeah! My dad’s old employer!) has shared the stage with me for a few gigs as well. Her takes on marriage and motherhood are timeless.

There were two more tapings over the weekend, hosted by Mr. Jeff Allen, who is a comedy lifer with the kind of resume most of us would die for. His career has taken an upward trajectory over the past 10-15 years, due in large part to his work ethic and attention to detail. He is a mesmerizing live act, whose humor has all sorts of edges to it, and to see his success is inspirational and admirable.

The last evening featured one of the funniest and most endearing people in all entertainment: Louie Anderson hosted the final 4 tapings. It absolutely does not get better than that. I’m looking forward to the finished product!

I will give you more details about “PureFlix Comedy All-Stars” when I get information, and it should be available online sometime in February.

Taylor

Taylor’s November Newsletter Is Chock Full of Thanks

November 23, 2016


Taylor’s November newsletter is chock full of thanks. CLICK HERE TO READ IT!

Struggling for air laughing

November 15, 2016


We first saw you on the Disney Fantasy last year. And we just caught all three of your appearances on the Fantasy his week. Just a note from fellow New Jerseyans to say we loved the shows and think you’re great. Watching my kids AND my wife struggle for air laughing at your shows was a true delight.

Thanks and all best!

Lex Friedman
New Jersey

We had a sell-out and donations exceeded our goal!

November 8, 2016


From start to finish, working with The Grable Group and Taylor Mason was a smooth, professional experience. Tim provided timely information, a professional contract and handled all the details of travel, hotel, etc. Taylor arrived on-time, read the house well and utilized what he learned to provide a very “local”, extremely funny experience for our guests.  I was impressed with how much he packed into the show and the great variety (music, humor, ventriloquism, stand-up) Taylor packed into his act. This year, we had a sell-out and donations exceeded our goal!

Shelly Radic
Project 127

Cubs Win!


Cubs Win

So the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. Some thoughts from a lifelong fan who enjoyed the 2016 season more than most.

Everyone except some diehard fans in Cleveland are Cubs fans in November, 2016. I have no problem with that. The Cubs were fun, exciting, dramatic and… oh, what the heck, I’m just gonna say it. During a pathetically sophomoric and un-American presidential campaign, the Cubs represent what is good about our nation. A dream. Teamwork. Dedication. Perseverance. A mix of races, ages, skill levels and backgrounds, they did something I thought would never happen. (I’m including the players, the coaches, the administrations and the millions of devoted followers dating back however-many years)

I have great admiration for the 2016 Cleveland Indians. Game 7 was an ugly game in baseball terms, but beautiful in terms of history. Cub lead-off hitter Dexter Fowler starts the game with a home run. I was driving home from the airport, and the thunderous ovation that came over the airwaves and through my car speakers shocked me. When I got home in front of the television, the reason for the cheers and applause became apparent – there were more Cubs fans in Progressive Field, the Indians home park, than Cleveland fans. I know that feeling, having played football at the U of IL when teams from Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin would have as many fans in our stadium as we did. It’s disheartening.

To their credit, the Tribe not only fought hard in the game, but the 9th inning 2-run home run by Rajai Davis (another name that I, as a Cub fan, will never forget) lent the 2016 World Series a certain fairytale cache and nailed it down as “classic.” It was unreal. Respect to you, Mr. Davis and the Indians.

I’ve heard lots of reasons and excuses for Indians fans not showing up for the finale (and Game 6), and that’s fine. But here’s the difference: there is no way on earth that Wrigley Field in 2016 would have more anything but a handful of opposing fans in their ballpark.

The Indians fans were happy to have a team in the World Series. Cub fans were deliriously fanatical and living something historic and time-altering.

The future might change, of course. Maybe Cub nation gets bored with winning and the tables turn, so the “lovable losers” become the “hated winners” over the next couple of seasons. Fine. I’m reveling now, so who cares?

For those of us who paid for tickets and spent much of our young lives at Wrigley Field watching the George Mitterwalds and the Ivan DeJesus’s and Steve Trachsels, this summer and fall made it all worthwhile. So I thank all those Cubs names from my beat-up old scorecards that I kept for all those years with the little pencil and funny numbers (6-4-3 for a double play grounder to short stop) in the boxes (hence: “box score”).

Here’s another thing I liked about the Cleveland Indians team. The Indians have not yet given into political correctness, keeping the name “Indians” and their logo: Chief Wahoo. I don’t know what it’s like to be a Native American, so I don’t begrudge sports teams changing their names and mascots so as not to hurt feelings and insult peoples. Baseball is a game of tradition, and the Indians have been part of that for a millennia.

I wore my Cub “Starter” jacket, circa 1998, for my flight to and from Denver over the weekend. It was fun getting all the “way to go!” comments and the shouts of “Cubbies!” The World Series has lost much of its panache with the passage of time (ex., The Chicago White Sox won the 2005 World Series, an effortless 4-game sweep over The Houston Astros, which nobody ever talks about and is barely a cursory note in baseball lore), but this World Series captured the imagination of a country starved for something positive.

Now comes the election.

Spring training can’t come fast enough.

Cub fans swarm the field

Fantastic

November 2, 2016


Taylor was fantastic. He was very flexible with our schedule and couldn’t be more understanding on our schedule changes. This is the 2nd time we’ve had him and we have not been disappointed..

Jimmy Smuda
Trinity AG
West Chester, PA

 

Cubs!

October 26, 2016


Cubs!Yes, I’m one of the gazillion Cubs fans reveling in the team’s first World Series since 1945. Yes, there are endless stories online and in the media about the team and its fans and the phenomenon that has been The Chicago Cubs Baseball Club for all these decades.

Yes, this is my Cubs story.

First, the basics.

My father worked at WGN, the radio and television behemoth that covered the Midwest before cable and the Internet made it a quaint reminder of “old media.” The call letters actually stood for “World’s Greatest Newspaper,” because the Chicago Tribune had part-ownership of the station.

WGN broadcast Cubs (and some years the White Sox) games, and since my pops worked for the station, he got tickets. As a result my two brothers and I spent an inordinate amount of time at Wrigley Field during our childhoods. We would collect empty beer cups and use them to spell out “GO CUBS” or “CUBS #1″ in the chain link fence overlooking Waverly Avenue out by the left field bleachers. We would wait until the 8th inning of long-lost ball games and the ushers (Andy Frains – Google it) would let us sneak into the box seats and watch the last inning or two of pro baseball. Sometimes my father would get us up into the radio/TV broadcast booth, under the grandstand behind home plate, and there were Lloyd Petit and Lou Boudreau, doing the play-by-play and welcoming my old man.

“Hey! Look who’s here! It’s Bill Mason and his children! How’re you doing, good kid?” they’d ask, right on the air.

Oh yeah, there were heroes everywhere you looked – in the dugouts of both teams, or right there behind the microphones in the booth, but none bigger than the guy who would put his arm around me and say, “This is my son, Taylor.”

I cried a lot as a child, because I felt like I was part of the team and we lost so much. It has always come down to the same thing – the basics. Catch the ball, throw the ball, hit the ball. For whatever reason, my team had trouble executing that decade-after-decade, season-after-season, game after game.

Example: I remember one of my first of many Cubs vs. (arch rival) St. Louis Cardinals games, and I’m sitting with my father in the lower deck behind the Visitor’s dugout. Two young men are next to us enjoying a couple of beers and hot dogs. They’re Cardinals fans. They’re gently ribbing me about how bad the Cubs are. I am not to be deterred: “We’re gonna come back and win this game,” I spout. Sure enough, the Cubs come back from a 6-1 deficit and close to within 6-5 in the ninth inning before losing. I sobbed uncontrollably. I cried after a lot of losses, and the only way my parents could make me stop wallowing in pity was to threaten never to take me to a game again. Which worked.

It would be years before I’d understand that sports are not about scores. But I digress…

I saw Hank Aaron hit two “ground-rule” doubles in one game (and Mr. Aaron became another one of my favorite players – he always seemed to hit the ball hard). I saw Pete Rose and Tom Seaver and Lou Brock and Mike Schmidt and so many more it’s impossible to list them. My #1 fave of all time, in any sport, is “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks, the always-positive and inspiring first baseman with the signature grip (he wiggled his fingers on the bat as the pitcher went into his wind-up!) and the number 14. I was heart-broken for him because he played so hard and always got clutch hits. But more than the names of great Cubs from years gone by who never made it to The World Series (Durham and Buckner and Alou and Sandberg and on and on), most die-hard Cub fans recall names NOBODY recognizes: John Boccabella, Manny Trillo, Chuckie Hartenstein, Benito Santiago, and thousands more.

Fast forward some 20 years or so. The first date with my wife was a Cubs game (vs. The Cincinnati Reds – someone named Diaz hit the fastest home run I’ve ever seen down the left field line… and this is a Cub fan peccadillo: we can remember specific moments and events from meaningless games, most of them losses) and we lost, 3-1. Who cares? The future sat next to me in the right field bleachers and I rubbed suntan lotion on her back. A local legendary fan named Ronnie Wickers had his fright wig on and paraded around from right field to left shouting his signature, “Cubs – WOO! Cubs – WOO!” refrain and everyone laughed and clapped and downed another beverage.

Yeah, this was the same place you’ve been going since childhood but these days you didn’t go to Cub games to see the team win. No, you got on the train or took the bus and you bought a really cheap seat in the bleachers on a Thursday afternoon because it’s a stone summer Thursday and because you’ve got the time and, sure, you’re HOPING the team wins, but this is Wrigley! Because you just want to sit in the sun and you look out at the high rises on Lake Shore Drive, facing Lake Michigan, hanging out with friends or a date and you talking with people around you and just taking in the vibe. If someone from the other team hits a home run that lands near us down the right field line, we throw it back. (Yeah – Cub fans invented that – deal with it!)

They only played day games then, and it was special and dramatic and once-in-a-lifetime and those memories are made all the more prescient by this 2016 team going to The World Series.

The Cubs, like life, have evolved and morphed into something different. The fans, the players, the ballpark and the vibe is nothing like what it’s been for my lifetime. This is new and exciting. For one thing these players throw the ball, catch the ball and hit the ball. The basics.

I’m thrilled. Go Cubs!

 

Trumped! – Taylor’s latest newsletter

October 12, 2016


Read: Trumped! – Taylor’s latest newsletter HERE!

Taylor’s Latest Newsletter: Futurosity

September 27, 2016


Hey there! View Taylor’s latest newsletter, Futurosity!

Taylor was stellar!


I just wanted to let you know that Taylor was stellar! I am so thankful for such heartfelt, sweet people that are so dang funny! He was a blessing to all and I just wanted to say thank you! I’m sure we will work together in the future!

Blessings,
Denise Weaver
Jonah’s Joy: Home for Children