"Among the patron gods of men who would be free, the God of Laughter has no peer." -- Horace Kallen
ALL HAIL KIM, THE GODDESS OF THE CUBEFARM WORKERS EVERYWHERE !!
Today humor is more widespread in pictures than in words. We are now full circle with the Ancient Chinese and the legend appropriated in the journals of William Randolph Hearst forty years ago -- "One picture is worth a thousand words." Writers may contest this and readers may too.
But ... humor comes in both dimensions, in words and art."
-- from the Introduction to This Is My Best Humor, edited and compiled by Whit Burnett, published in 1955 by Dial Press, New York. The following is an interview with Kim of cubefarm, who posts her satirical and comical video clips on You Tube:
Patriotlad: Our readers want to know something about you, as a person, if you don't mind discussing that. Since you've mentioned a husband, I am assuming that you are a married gal.
Kim: I am married. My husband ( Robert ) is also my producing partner on Cube News 1.
We’ve worked together a lot. A couple of years ago we made a feature movie, called "The Bedstand." It’s a comedy about a couple who accidentally wreck a family heirloom ( the aforementioned bedstand ) with a condom, and now I am writing a book about this independent movie making experience we had, called “We Went With the $200 Dog”.
Patriotlad: Did you go to college, and if so, where ? and are you are gardener, a surfer, a mall stroller, a vegetarian or a Super Size Me Gal, et cetera ...?
Kim: ... on a private level, I'm still not sure how much of that I want out on the Internet.
Patriotlad: Technically speaking, we would enjoy knowing a bit about how you make your video clips, and if you use an iMac to edit, as they seem to be the "boss hog" in video editing, these days. The camera you use, and any other technical tips would also be of interest ( lighting, etc. ).
No trade secrets need be divulged, for sure, but hey ... it's You Tube.
Kim: We shoot on a Canon XL1 ( old work horse by now but it’s still a great camera, and especially when shooting for the Internet ), editing on a Mac with Final Cut Pro. We’re in a tiny area to shoot, so lights are the overhead light and two standard clip lights with diffusion sheets on them; sometimes we toss a reflector at my feet, and that’s about it. Sound-wise, we’ve gone through an evolution.
At first the computers ran, the microphone was plugged into the camera, and we wound up with a ton of noise [that] we didn’t want. Now we jerry-rig the mic on top of a shelf, and in lieu of sandbags we use dictionaries to keep it in place. The computers are shut off as well, and the sound is much clearer.
What’s so great about Internet shows, and about the nature of Cube News 1, is that they don’t require a high end production value. Which is not to say I wouldn’t jump on the chance to have a production budget!
The day that microphone falls off the shelf is going to be a bad day !!
Patriotlad: There's another point that our readers would enjoy learning about. Do you just get a flash of an idea, or do you gather notes and then work out a little plan, to do the video clip on your chosen theme ??
Kim: Here's a little Cube News 1 background:
I was nearing my five-year anniversary of working in a cubicle at a Large Corporation, and it was sucking the soul out of me.
I think my moment of clarity was when I went to post a sheet of paper to my drab cubicle wall with a thumb tack, [only] to realize that behind the wall’s fabric was a sheet of metal, thus rendering the thumb tack useless. The absurdity of it just encapsulated the whole cubicle dweller experience.
I needed a way to cope, so I looked for a creative outlet. Initially I wanted to write a script for a TV show, but had no budget to shoot it ( I wrote it anyway ). Robert suggested a newscast, and suddenly we had “Cube News 1”.
The first bunch of episodes were shot in one day and came from my own complaints. Then co-workers chimed in. Now I get so many e-mails from people all over the world that I address their questions as well. If you hear me refer to an e-mail, it’s a real person. I always sketch out the episode, but still 80% of it is improvised.
Where we are now –- at 27 episodes –- we think more about trying new things to keep some variety and to branch out. For instance, recently we had a friend make a cameo appearance as my ‘boss’ in “2 Weeks Notice”; we’ve brought in a superhero alter ego “Cube Girl” twice -- and from the feedback we’re thinking about her having an entire episode.
The feedback from viewers has been huge, and influential beyond content ideas. I’ve had people help me build my website, make logos and animations. It’s been a really great experience the whole way.
Patriotlad: I find that the natural way you present yourself is most intriguing. In my experience, this is either naturally inspired or you rehearse what you have to say until you get it totally set in your mind. If you'd like to comment on how you "get set" for the video production, that would be most helpful, too.
Kim: I try and try and try to stick to what I planned, but when the camera goes on, I just get a different burst of energy and stuff flies out of my mouth that is sometimes much more fun that what I planned on!!
Like in the newest episode “Office Politics” –- in our original outline, the superhero Cube Girl didn’t have much to say, but I was goofing around, and liked what we got, even though it was a bit random. We figured out a way to make some of it fit into the episode, and then put a lot of it at the end as ‘post roll’ kind of clips. What is written is a jumping off point.
So ... yeah, I would say most of it is ‘naturally inspired’ as you put it !!
Patriotad: Frankly, a lotta lotta folks work in the office cube environment, and many seem to find it very dehumanizing. This is, of course, very odd, because as I recall the whole cube style set-up for offices was designed to eliminate the large room setting with 'floating desks' ... and almost no privacy.
Kim: I have read that the guy who is credited with inventing the cubicle was always disappointed in how things turned out. I agree, it can be dehumanizing.
It makes you feel like a child in Second grade camp, bunking with a bunch of strangers. But then, if you just give in and treat it like Second grade camp, it’s a little more livable ....
Who am I kidding, I never liked camp.
Patriotlad: Another subject I find fascinating and funny is how many cube workers spend some of their time going online for shopping. Oy. How do they get it by their bosses ?
Kim: Bless whatever programmer invented the shortcut to hide windows.
He must have been on amazon.com a lot.
I think we cube dwellers develop levels of importance, in terms of privacy. Which is to say, we tend to give up trying to hide personal matters ( whispering on the phone with the credit card company or the doctor’s office doesn’t really do anything ).
And on the flip side, we also give up trying to GIVE privacy to our cubemates. We did an episode called “Invisi-Wall” that actually addresses this topic.
"HUMOR HAS ITS HIDDEN MEANINGS TOO"
-- Whit Burnett --
"Humor is where you find it", wrote Whit Burnett back in the mid 1950s, when all television programming was controlled ( and strictly so ), by the three major television networks and their senior cadre of executive vice-presidents, advertising sales executives, and tightly-knit boards of directors. Although the medium of television had been pioneered in 1926, it required another ten years before broadcasting of television images could be fully realized, and a total of twenty-one years before the consumer-end technologies could be made affordable enough for there to be any such thing as a broadcasting network.
One of the problems with broadcasting television was "bad reception," or blurred signals, and over time this was solved by the creation of CATV or Community Antenna Television reception. That is how the so-called cable TV industry began. And yet it was a very long time before the strangulation grip of the big broadcasting networks was forcibly eased, or avoided, as there were large issues with the financing and public control of cable television systems. And even in the jumping-off phases of large scale cable systems, there was not a glimmer of a clue that one day there would be satellite feeds and easy international linkages, nor that cable channels would proliferate.
And there were only one or two genius-level thinkers outside of DARPA -- Defense Advanced Research Project Administration -- who could even envision something as fluid and dynamic as the Internet. Certainly as late as the late '70s, there was no concept at all of portable video cameras with high quality lenses being affordable. All of that has changed, now, because of the digital information revolution and the leap-frogging effects of new generations of computer chips and digital storage.
What has not really changed at all is the hunger in our western culture, our modern society, for "a good laugh." But the truth is that the amazing growth of the new medium called the Internet, interacting with the digital revolution in audio and video, has altered forever the way humor goes out to the people. In a time long past, Samuel Clemens -- as Mark Twain -- traded well on some seriously funny stories about the California Gold Rush and other adventures. In doing so, he had to speak in lamp-lit halls to audiences of a few hundred or a thousand. His books and articles, of course, made this story-telling career in humor possible. And his engaging personal style acted to make his books ever more popular, as they still are today.
What is most essential about the excellent comedy touches, and satirical wit of a gal like Kim from the cubefarm, is that she has somehow hot-wired into this cultural trunk-line of "good laugh" delivery. Mark Twain was not the first real humorist but he was the first to combine a droll phrase with a sharp and satirical wit. In his pioneering way, he made it possible for there to be such later successes as Will Rogers, Charlie Chase, the four Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball and so on. With television being tightly controlled in its early years of broadcasting networks, both the more vulgar comedians like Redd Fox and political humorists found themselves reaching their audiences through recordings, albums, and public performances in various nightclubs. The three networks kept things very safe, with sanitized humor from the likes of Don Knotts, and "I Love Lucy," and the fabulous Carole Burnett. AND YET -- even these plain Vanilla versions of our very ribald modern humor, had their satirical moments and social witticisms.
And then there was "Laugh-In". And the '60s needed laughter.
The advent of cable television and video cassettes made it entirely possible -- although not so desirable -- for the vulgar to dominate the popular, and thus there was the crossover genius of Richard Pryor, and then Robin Williams and Howie Mandell, and so on. Now the comedy marketplace became hideously and monstrously vulgar. And yet, as Whit Burnett observed so long ago, things have come full circle, in many ways, when he wrote --
"What kills us is what we can't laugh off. Where men can't laugh, tyranny prevails."
This is why the thoughtful reader and the casual fan of You Tube needs to be aware of the budding genius of Kim from the cubefarm. Perhaps her satirical wit will prove to be a shooting star, making a bright light for a little while, but I think not. In fact, having some little grasp of the history of our culture in these States united, I think "that the girl got game."
Sam Clemens needed years of hard-knocks and curious adventures to bring out his wit and to hone his comedic talents, and so he arrived at a later age in life, in that distant land of All Things Humorous. The speed of modern life and the peculiar nature of interactivity in the Internet era has changed many things, including the amount of time it takes to bring out the laughter inside. That's part of what a deft comedic touch does.
Richard Pryor did not need years of hard-knocks to find his inner laughter, and he won some success very early: tragically, his hard-knocks came after he was already both popular and controversial. With Kim from the cubefarm, all of the elements of comic success are right there, mixing, fermenting almost visibly in her short and humorous video clips.
Without a network like You Tube, her funny stuff might have languished forever as home movie out-takes or discarded entries to "America's Funniest ... et cetera". But this is the age of the Internet and there is a You Tube and her talents have arrived at precisely the right time for the new medium.
A sharp wit with a funny streak and the ability to turn a phrase without dropping an "F*** Bomb", is what is needed right now in these States united. We've had enough vulgarity masquerading as comedy, more than enough. Check out Kim from cubefarm at your leisure -- that's what You Tube is there for, right ? -- and then tell me that 866,744 viewers ( for "I've been banned" ), are all wet or all wrong.
She has arrived on the narrow path pioneered by Mark Twain and marked well by Will Rogers, and just maybe she'll be more of a dancer on that path, than another trail blazer. Nevertheless, it is with the highest praise that Kim and her Cube News are recommended, and no sane person would invoke the memory of Will Rogers for such a comparison if the person in question did not seem to be deserving.
Here is the link to the episode entitled "Invisi-wall"