Tag Archives: comedy

The Year in Review – Another Year Older

Well, today marks the day that I am… um, quick math here… 45 years old, apparently.  Of all the years in recent history I think this one marks the greatest personal transition.  I changed jobs under force because the company I worked for went bankrupt (again, sigh).  I’m now officially out of living parents.  Other things that I am forgetting that will make someone out there look at the screen and say, “Really?  Gawd!!”  But, despite that distinct possibility, I soldier on because this has been the year of taking chances and having good things occur as a result.  However, since this is primarily a photography blog I will constrain myself to the track of photographic arts.  Because really, anything worth remembering has a picture attached, especially in this day and age.

One thing that stands out in my recollection is that a year ago I repeated a lot of little phrases in my head over and over and most of those were of the form, “Oh yeah, if only I could shoot ‘X’ I would really feel like I was accomplishing something.”  At the time I was doing most of my shoots at local open mics and at Morty’s Comedy Joint (I still don’t know why Morty’s chose to let me in the door when Crackers has been such a tough nut to ‘crack’) but those venues were really a great opportunity to figure out the whole live entertainment process.  It bears striking resemblance to shooting outside in the wild but the lighting is much more dodgy.  Despite the photon deficiency, I met a lot of amazing people and saw some delightful things.

The comedy aspect was important because it gave a dude who lacked confidence (and among all dudes, I am the most profoundly self-doubting and lacking in confidence of them all) an “in” to feel that I not only had something to offer the world but also that the world recognized and wanted it.  So the past year has been the year of Heywood and Chick McGee (and what guy growing up in Indy doesn’t have a secret man-crush on Chick) and Costaki.  That night last December when Chick made fun of me to my face still rings in my memory.

The music side of tings has blossomed amazingly as well.  A year ago I dreamed of getting into the Murat for a show and wondered how I could possibly talk my way in.  Now it’s a thing that has happened and that I can work my way into on a fairly regular basis.  I haven’t quite managed to get to the point where I don’t have to beg to get in but I’m hopeful that there’s some way to worm my way in as a regular.

Earlham college has been an amazing place to visit as well.  We’ve seen two amazing shows and I’ve managed to shoot there both times.  I look forward to many a happy return.

Penultimately, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Indy Magic scene.  And really, when I say Indy Magic Scene it all boils down to the efforts of one man, Taylor Martin.  Taylor is to magic in Indy as I’d like to be to entertainment photography in Indy.  He is “the man” when it comes to illusion and magic around here.

So harkening back to this time last year and all the repeated “if only…” phrases… they’ve kinda come to pass.  If my life happened to be an 80s made-for-TV movie then this would be the part where the music takes a downturn and I find out I’ve got some horrible disease.  So far, however, no horrible diseases.  *knock*

I do wonder what comes next though.  I feel connected; I feel  I can contribute more (though it takes work to worm my way into shows still) and I’m happy to do so and expand my reach but I wonder to myself what’s the “next level.”  What do I do next to take this somewhere so that next year I look back and feel like I’ve made progress (whatever progress really means when you don’t have any real goal.)

Ultimately, it would be nice to be able to somehow make a living from scampering around the city and taking pictures but so far I’m just collecting images and trying to make it clear just how awesome Indy is.  And, frankly, just how awesome the world and the people in it are.  Do I press forward in the entertainment realm?  Do I retract and take the skills acquired in the past 12 months and move back to my old haunts of the forest?  Do I figure out some entirely new realm of photography to explore?  I just don’t know.  And really… that’s half the fun.

I thank you world for an amazing 12 months.  I look forward to documenting you again in all your glory, your joy, your everything for another year.  What will that year bring?  I’ve not a clue.  But that, my wonderful human race, is all the fun.

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Morty’s Comedy Joint Open Mic Quarterfinals – 7/5/2017

Last night I headed back to Morty’s Comedy Joint after a fairly long hiatus.  There were lots of new faces but the basic crux of the place hadn’t changed a bit.

First up, as is typical, you have your regulars, your “house comics.” You can tell these guys are polished, smooth and in their element. Their expressions reveal confidence and their sets are well rehearsed.  They are your comics of tomorrow and a very amusing tomorrow it will be.  Facial reactions range from “happy welcome” to “I just swallowed a bug” to “God, it’s me, Luke.  Please help me, I’ve just swallowed a bug.”

Next you have your up and coming comics.  They’re here for the sheer thrill of competition as they duke it out in a winner-take-all fight for comedy supremacy.  Of course there is the fact that the winner is determined by vote of the audience and the comics bring all their friends to pack the house but that’s neither here nor there. Never once has that mechanic of the competition swayed the outcome of one of these immortal battles of fisticuffs!

Here the expressions rage hard from “I don’t think that’s a schmedium, honey” to “yeah, I’m 19 and I’m already cooler than all y’all” to “who?  me?”  The bottom row I leave as an exercise to the reader.

The closers are your old pros.  One thing I love about the comedy scene is the equality of it all.  Too fat for other jobs?  Don’t play nice with others?  Too ugly for contact with the general public?  Fuck it, come on down!  Comedy folks love everybody.

Ryan Niemiller is hilarious and I can’t stop thinking about him trying to unbutton his shirt…  I feel bad for thinking about it… but I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Last but not least we’ve got the legendary Chris Bowers.  As rumor would have it he’s one of the absolute nicest guys around but he seems so put together and with-it that he’s too intimidating to talk to.  I’ve exchanged a few words with him and I felt like I was going to shake myself apart like a rusted out 72 Pinto running down the interstate on four bad tires.  I’m 6’4 and 250 pounds and the dude makes me feel like a little kid.

And there you have it, one night of great comedy at the city’s best venue for comedy. Your comedians for the night were:


  • Ryan McMannis (host)
  • Ray Hensley
  • Luke Basile
  • Logan Baert
  • Deon Curry


  • Lissa Sears
  • Riley Dismore
  • Cale Forbes
  • George White
  • Mike Williams
  • Grant Weber


  • Ryan Niemiller
  • Chris Bowers

You can find full-size originals on our IndyLivePhotography website for this show and dozens of others.

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Photography Philosophy

It’s been my observation that photographers are an extremely varied bunch and that it’s difficult for any potential customer to know exactly what they’re getting when they look at partnering up with an artist.  Most people who go in search of photography services seem to think of the standard school pictures photographer who tells you to tilt your head in such and such a way and smile just -so- and only takes a picture once you’re positioned just how they want you.  I am not that sort of photographer.  In fact I might be more properly called a hunter than a photographer if that’s your standard of service.

Stoop Kids at Square Cat Records

As example I give you the shot to the right.  This photo of Stoop Kids in their Square Cat Vinyl show last November represents my hunter philosophy when it comes to shooting.  The entire show and their interaction with each other is summed up very neatly in this one photograph.  They are one of the most dynamic bands I’ve seen on stage and I was giddy to capture their souls.  Lead singer and bass player practically nose to nose while the saxophonist peaks out under the mic stand.

Philosophically, I truly believe that posed photography represents more of the photographer than of the subject.  When I shoot I want to capture the reality of what’s going on in a spontaneous and creative way.  Not cast my own thoughts and opinions on what should be onto the situation.  Your photos should be about you and who you are, not some aesthetic that some photographer prearranges for you.

Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band-Album Release Show at the HiFi 3-17-2Next we have Breezy Peyton of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band from the HiFi in March of this year.  For this show we were packed in like sardines and couldn’t move without getting in the way of a lot of other people so we dutifully stood our ground just to the left of center stage for the whole show.  When I’m shooting, my absolute #1 priority is to make sure I’m not disturbing anyone else at the show or distracting from the entertainment.  If you’re lucky enough to get into a show then you’re a guest and you should act like one.  I refuse to use flash or supplemental lighting of any kind because frankly, flashes are annoying as hell.  If I can’t get a shot without getting in someone’s way then I don’t get the shot.  Simple as that.

I’m also not a fan of fancy post-processing.  There are some amazing tools out there that will let you make your photos look like just about anything.  But that is, frankly, a fraud.  The world is more than nice enough just as it is without a lot of augmentation.  Get the shot that’s there and if the light’s blue then bloody well make the picture blue.  It’s the photographer’s job to capture the moment, not create it out of whole cloth.

2016 Indiana State Fair Parkour DemoThe last point I’ll make is about capturing pivotal moments.  As example I give you this shot from last year’s Parkour demonstrations at the State Fair.  I love the expression of the guy who’s not literally walking up a wall.  This whole show was filled with amazing moments and you almost couldn’t click your shutter fast enough.  For me, this is the essence of “hunter photography”. Grabbing that perfect moment out of the air at exactly the right time and bottling it up for all to see is, in my mind, the whole point.

So that hopefully gives you a bit of a sense of my own personal philosophy on photography.  If you’d like to see more of my work please visit my site at RobSlaven.com or on Facebook (IndyLivePhotography | Rob Slaven Photography).

Contact me for photo ops in the Indianapolis and surrounding areas at IndyLivePhoto@gmail.com or in the comments section.

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Tap the Mic at Towyard Brewing

The Tow Yard represents to me the point at which… well, the cascade of knowing people began.  I was introduced to this event because of a connection that I will refer to as “Jon”.  I know Jon because I met him on my very first foray into the Indianapolis music scene.  He and his fiancee Hollie were at the first open mic that I went to in Irvington and, because Jon is one of those people who just automatically endears himself to people, connected with me.  He is, as I’ve said, the nexus of Indianapolis music.  At any rate, to summarize, Jon introduced me to Steve…

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-4

Steve does a very impassioned open mic at Tow Yard brewing each Thursday. He inherited it from someone else and frankly… well, frankly I’m disappointed in the city at how poorly it is supported. Why in the heck aren’t we supporting local artists just getting out and doing their thing? It’s an abomination. There’s so much of it on Thursday alone that I can’t possibly cover it all and yet we’re all sitting at home watching TV. Grrrr. I mean come ON! How much more sincerity do you want?

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He’s laughing outside… but inside… he’s crying because you don’t support the local arts. Just saying.

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So believe it or not, it’s not just a bunch of white dudes. We have some level of diversity. This particular not-white-dude was hilarious. Why didn’t you come out to see him?

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As a photographer, I … well, honestly… I don’t hear much. You could be screeching at the top of your lungs about … well, anything, and I would’t give two shits. But visually…. well, this duo rocked it.

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2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-125

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OK, so moving on from that particular amazingness… there is more amazingness.

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Remind me again why you aren’t going out and hitting the Indy scene and supporting all the awesome this that’s going on….?

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So seriously…. why are you sitting at home watching NetFlix? I’ll admit that I spent a LOT of time not understanding what Indy has to offer but now… now you can’t possibly be in any doubt about what an amazingly rich and diverse universe awaits you. I expect to see YOU out and about the next time I hit the streets. And just to be clear, the next time I hit the streets will be tomorrow. So get out there or be forever branded lame and unhip. Indy is where it’s at… but where are you?

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