The last time I posted I wrote about our upcoming first crack at a Stand Up Comedy Night (see Stand Up for Stand Up) here at Mancala Monk Board Game Café. That took place a couple of nights ago and MAN was it a BLAST. Our Comics for the night, Jason Allen, Megan Pettit and Brian Millward, plus our venerable host mr. Clifford Myers, had everybody in stitches from beginning to end.
Recipe for success: Have a great idea. Have some great people around you who share your enthusiasm. Have no idea what you are doing. Have a great time.
Roughly 48 hours before “Stage Time” I realize … we don’t have a … Stage.
How to make a stage (also known as how not to make a stage): Take some old beat up wooden skids. Go buy some plywood. Screw the plywood to the – you guessed it – skids. Throw an area rug on top? Or, if you really want to show off, like we did, by some of those puzzle-piece foam-squares and use spray-adhesive to attach them to the plywood. Now you’re cooking with gas!
Roughly 24 hours before the show, I realize … this could go horribly wrong. A comedy show in a Board Game Café? Really? Did we promote this well enough? What am I going to do with seating? With lighting? Did I just hire 4 Stand Up performers whom I have never actually heard perform in my life? Is there any way to not lose money tonight after the talent has been paid?
How to screen Stand Up Comedians: Get your college buddy who you haven’t seen in years, who says he knows what he is doing, to select the talent and host the show. Pray. TRUST.
Roughly 1 hour before the show I realize … you shouldn’t bother pursuing your weird stupid ideas, you’re only going to fail miserably and embarrass yourself in front of an audience. (I wonder how many Stand Up Comedians and performers feel that way.)
Roughly 1 hour after the show I realize … that was AMAZING. I am a genius. The stage turned out. The people turned up. Things turned around. The Comics were A+++ All-Stars. Everyone had a tremendously fun time. The world is a good and wonderful place. God loves me.
How to host a successful Comedy Night in Hamilton, Ontario: Hire Clifford Myers, Jason Allen, Megan Pettit and Brian Millward. Thanks guys for everything, can’t wait for October 25th when we “go for it” one more time.
STOP, read THIS. Mancala Monk proudly presents it’s first ever Comedy Night on September 27th!
Yeaaahhhhhh we are.
Now read on as I tenuously attempt to tie Board Games and Stand Up Comedy together, like passing clouds. Beautiful, beautiful clouds.
But first the pertinent info, the need-to-knows, the deetz for the streetz. The show will start out monthly and will run on the last Wednesday of each month. It will start shortly after 10pm. No reservations, just show up. The cost is a $5 Cover, per person, or $2.50 if you have come earlier in the night to play Board Games and you have already paid a $5 Game Cover to the Café. The Comedy Cover, rather than the Game Cover, is going to the comedians.
I love Stand Up. More and more, over the years, I am drawn to it.
It’s entertainment, right? Totally. And that’s good. But like Board Games, I think there is more going on here than entertainment.
It’s entertainment plus; Entertainment plus experience plus cultural engagement plus art plus changing and learning – learning about ourselves, about others and what it means to be human. Stand up artists, good ones, are secular preachers, cultural commentators, guerrilla-gospel-slingers spreading the good news that life can be laughter and that we are in it together. They remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. They teach us to laugh, which is an important skill, and perhaps more importantly, to laugh at ourselves, to not cling to the need to appear flawless, to put to death our incessant need to pose and posture for the public. The comic adopts the stage and the mic, these tools we ascribe to the polished performer, the celebrity, the demigods of our culture - but then they subvert those expectations with self-examination and confession, and humor, and in so many ways it is the opposite of what we expect from the stage and the mic. Their honesty inspires our own honesty and their stories gives us a wall, off of which we are free to bounce our own thoughts about the human condition.
There doesn’t need to be a connection between Stand Up and Board Games for us to run a Comedy Night, but the connection seems clear enough to me. What I love about Stand Up is that you get all of this, while having fun.
What I love about board games is that you get all of this while having fun.
Learning, change, growth, connection, self-examination and improvement, all while having fun.
I have enough experience with and the study of pedagogy to know that there is a strong correlation between learning and enjoyment and that the best learning, change or transformation happens within the context of enjoyment. Not exclusively, but if you are trying to shape children, or teach lessons or communicate pretty much anything, the most effective way you can do that is to make that process engaging, stimulating and enjoyable. People learn and retain the most when they are enjoying the process, and the least when they are not.
It is sad to me that there aren’t more fantastic Stand Up artists, that there aren’t more fantastic Stand Up venues. It is sad to me that Stand Up artists often don’t get paid at all or they are terribly underpaid. So, Mancala Monk presents a humble offering, fairly compensated Comedians, a high quality show, a great venue, but we need your support and involvement to bring it to life and make it happen. Come on out and support this once-a-month Comedy Event and, most importantly, enjoy!
“Welcome to the most well-known geisha street in the old capital, Hanamikoji. Geisha, the graceful women elegantly mastering in art, music, dance, and a variety of artistic performances after years of training, are greatly respected and adored.”
In Hanamikoji, two players compete to earn the favors of the seven geisha masters by collecting the performance items with which they excel. With careful speculation and sometimes a few bold moves, you may earn the essential items by giving away the less critical ones. Can you outsmart your opponent and win the most favors of the Geisha?
Today I thought I would take a new game that I have really been enjoying, a game that there is a very good chance you haven’t played yet, and review it. Hanamikoji is an excellent two-player game, on par with games like Patchwork, Jaipur and Hive. It is small, easy to travel with, sets up in 30 seconds and plays in 10-15 minutes. On the other hand, players generally play several games in a row and I it is not uncommon to see couples in the Café play this game for hours straight; Gene and I have been one of those couples. We picked it up at GenCon and played it more than any other game we brought back, mostly because of how easy it is to jump in and jump out of. You always have time for a quick game of Hanamikoji, and if you are like me, you will always want to. Carry this game around in your backpack, handbag or purse, and you will be glad you did.
I looked it up, and Hanamikoji is a well-known Geisha district in Kyoto; many people visit Hanamikoji to see Geisha in the streets or perhaps interact with them at an event or in a tea house. Geisha are well respected women of the arts, often hired entertainers – but not ladies of the night, as some may think. I lived in Japan for half-a-year and I have a great fondness for how odd and interesting Japanese culture is to me. The first thing you will notice about Hanamikoji is that it has a beautiful theme, art-style and presentation. The box, the cards and the tokens are all beautiful and enhance the game experience greatly.
Open the box and place the seven oversized Geisha cards on the table between the two players in ascending or descending order according to the single large number in the corner of each Geisha card. There are seven Geishas (see pics) three “2”s, two “3”s, one “4” and one “5”. Those numbers represent both how many points that Geisha is worth and how many of that Geisha’s item cards appear in the main deck of cards, the items deck.
Each player receives a single set of four unique square tokens with numbers 1-4 respectively, and places them face up in front of themselves. These are the four actions you can and must take during our four turns. You must take each action and therefore may only take each individual action once, so that you will end up taking each action before the round ends.
Take the items deck, the only other thing in the box at this point, and shuffle the whole thing. Then, without looking at it, “burn” or remove one card from the game face-down. Deal six cards to each player.
Determine who plays first. That player draws a card and takes their first action. Draw one card at the beginning of each turn and take only one action during each turn.
The four actions involve you playing cards, often offering combinations of cards to your opponent, they choose to take a certain number of those cards and leave you with the rest. In this way you will fight over, give away, win and lose cards. When you win cards you put them on one side of the appropriate Geisha and if you have a majority at the end of the round you win that Geisha. This is a trick-taking game, if you can win four Geishas or eleven points you win the game. If, at the end of the round, no one has four Geishas or eleven points, the game continues, a new round begins, however, players retain the Geishas they have already won, and a token in the middle of the Geishas cards slides toward the player who won that Geisha as a visual reminder of who has earned which Geisha card. Generally, if the game does not end in the first round, one player heads into round two with a small advantage, as defending a Geisha is easier than acquiring one.
For anyone interested, the four actions are as follows: (1) Place one card face down, it now belongs to you but won’t be revealed until the end of the round. (2) Place two cards face down, they are removed from the game and no one may win them. (3) Place three cards face up, your opponent takes one and you take the other two. (4) Place four cards face up, separate them into two piles, your opponent takes one pile and you take the remainder.
That is all. Win, not just the most cards, but the RIGHT cards. Give away cards that you don’t necessarily need to get the ones that you absolutely do – but which ones are those? Bluff about which cards are face-down, calculate which cards still remain in the deck to be drawn, determine the correct path to victory and out-negotiate your opponent. Four quick simple actions but this game will bend your brain and force you to think in new ways.
If I had to point out any thing wrong with Hanamikoji it would be difficult to do so. Perhaps that it is only two players, or that despite it’s gorgeous theme, the game is a little too quick and simple to really impress it’s theme upon the player’s experience. It feels like an excellent, tight, elegant card game with a great theme slapped on it rather than a game where theme comes first and you feel immersed in its theme. But that is the limitation of a tight, 15 minute two player game and not a design flaw. I believe this game is truly elegant and belongs on the top of the list of great two player table-top games. I think we will see this game talked about among the all-time great two player games, unless of course it is sadly missed somehow, which would be a small tragedy indeed.
I am sitting here beside my blogging buddy Alexandra Katherine Zavarise M.A. B.A. (Alex for short). We are bloggers blogging on blogs apparently, at least today we are, but also not getting very much done because we keep chatting. Me and Alex are friends because of Mancala Monk and that’s what we are talking about right now, the connections that we both have made because of things like university, work, and board games. How different our lives would be if it weren’t for this or for that.
An hour ago I sat down with my new friend Philip and we discussed life, religion, and board games. Philip and I met at Mancala Monk, that’s how we know each other, but he asked me if I wanted to sit down, have a coffee and chat. So we did and we learned all kinds of things about each other and learned from each other and had a great time.
I keep thinking, if I chat the day away I won’t be able to blog or get my blog done. God forbid! Then Alex says, why don’t you blog about this, what we are talking about. Cool beans, I say, I’ll blog about connections.
One of the reasons my wife and I opened Mancala Monk and one of the things that I love very much about it is that this place makes connections. We connect players to DMs and DMs to players, newbie Magic Gatherers learn while playing beside veteran Magic Gatherers, random gamer rubs shoulders with random gamer and becomes friend gamer. We are a growing community. What a fantastic place to meet new people and make new friends. This is a safe and welcoming place, Board Games are a safe and welcoming place, and we are happy to meet you and share a passion for gaming and life together.
I have made a ton of friends since we opened less than two years ago. I know so many more people in my city now and I feel much more connected to it. Steven and William, who you probably know, both work at the Monk and both moved to Hamilton from different cities before they started work here. Now they know too many people. It’s awesome. They both DM weekly games here and have met a ton of friends through D&D but also just through a million small interactions at the Monk.
Alex is friends with Miranda. Miranda works with Allan. We love Allan and Miranda and Alex and they have become fast friends with Steven. Steven lives with Megan and Megan is pursuing a Ph.D. at McMaster. Alex just finished her M.A. at McMaster. Alex and Megan had offices at Mac on the same floor, four doors down from each other for over a year but didn’t meet and become friends until they met at Mancala Monk.
Connections are the stuff of life. Our connections are our lives, good or bad. We hope we can help you make and maintain good connections, the ones that enrich and encourage you. We are strong believers that a warm space, a warm latte, a warm brownie and a warm Board Game are a great way to create warm connections – okay, that was me being weird because it’s fun, but that’s what I do and I hope it makes you smile. Hope to see you around.