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Yuk Yuk's

Yuk Yuk's

Hailing from Sackville Estates trailer park in Nova Scotia (but half Newfoundlander – her father’s from Rocky Harbour), Nikki Payne has come a long way and has had one hell of a ride, or at least one hell of a time riding it! That can almost be taken literally as it relates to this interview even. Payne was delayed as a result of a fender bender the day of, but still she pulled through! She accredits the unforeseen as being what ultimately got her into her line of work and says herself that she’s “still not sure if it is a career,” as she laughs. “[It was] a total fluke! My whole career. I was a mascot for my college athletic teams; that led to all this.”

From mascot to Mercer, Payne got her big break on Rick Mercer’s Made in Canada. “He’s given me a lot of breaks,” Nikki admits. Just as recently as March 2009, Payne was back on the CBC show circuit as a guest of George Stroumboulopoulos on his show, The Hour. When she was asked about what she thought about The Hour experience, her only comment was, “George is HOT!!!! Such a big crush.”

Nikki Payne

Nikki Payne

Of course, Nikki and George share similar roots. Many are familiar with her signature delivery of humour on Much Music’s Video on Trial, but she’s enjoyed plenty of other network television success not to mention a few awards, nominations, and national comedy tours! With so much going on, there was just too much excitement to choose from, “they’ve all been highlights because I’m just so happy to be doing this. But, Just For Laughs was a big dream come true; Last Comic Standing on NBC was this out of the blue thing that was great and Comedy Inc. was like summer camp!! It was me just getting to hang out with people who I really I like and get paid for it!”

Every comic has their own approach. Their own style. With Nikki, her style cannot be missed. Unsure of how to really define her own style, Payne offers, “I hump things. There is Ethnic comedy, female comedy and alternative comedy. I think I’m observational, I observe an object; and then I hump it.”

Surprisingly, everyone is not a fan. Ever curious as to whether any spitfires created from Video on Trial commentaries? Nikki didn’t offer any examples but did reveal, “there is the “I Hate Nikki Payne” Facebook group. Maybe you could ask them…wait don’t!!”

But still, she keeps at it and the reason being is simply put. “Honestly, I have no skills. I know that’s a hack line but really, no skills.” But when asked for advice for emerging performers, the sensible and smart Nikki comes out, “do it because you love to make people laugh. Don’t let your ego ruin it.”

Nikki Payne at Yuk Yuk's

Nikki Payne at Yuk Yuk's

There is a serious side to her as well, like anyone. When world issues were brought up, she exclaimed, “Issues??? Like global warming??” and also shared that a real defining moment which only took place recently when she gave her father a kidney in 2008 elaborating, “that changed everything.”

She is currently at work on a one person show; in fact it is being called My Big Fat Donated Kidney; so from life experience comes inspiration, perhaps. Payne is an observer after all! Up next in Nikki Payne’s immediate future though, are two held over appearances at the St. John’s Yuk Yuk’s (April 23 – 25 / April 30 – May 2) which are not to be missed. In her words, up next for Nikki is “world domination… and a trip to Signal Hill!

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A debate sparked amongst friends recently on the topic of Facebook versus Twitter. Conveniently, social marketing happens to be a big part of what my ‘day’ job covers in a day, not to mention that just a few days earlier I’d read an interest blog post by a fellow WordPress blogger named Robert Scoble. The title of his piece was something along the lines of why Facebook has never listened and isn’t about to start now.  It made me think, triggering interest in reading the entry mainly because it was only a few days prior that the whole graphical user interface (GUI) for Facebook users had changed for the third time.

I remember when it happened the first time and how outraged and frustrated I was.  Emails off to Facebook admins, posts about it in my status and MSN name.  Rebel, rebel, rebel.  The second time I kind of just ‘delt with it’ and sucked it up, tried to learn it and just get a handle on where everything had moved to.  By the time this third revision hit, I just accepted it and went about my business.  But – it wasn’t until I read the above mentioned blog entry that what Facebook was actually doing made sense.  I’m somewhat surprised and let down by myself at the same time for not really working it out sooner but not necessarily to the level of detail that Scoble did with the seven phases of development for Facebook (they’re currently attempting to get from phase four to five).

Mark Zukerberg

Mark Zukerberg

Scoble makes some very interesting points in his entry; makes some moderately daring prophetic casts and reveals a few basic numbers that just completely make sense.  He asserts that Mark Zuckerberg is right and smart to not listen to the (literally) millions trying to tell him how to run his business.  Scoble makes a strong case for the fact that it cannot be forgotten that Facebook is a business and goes so far as to suggest that the moves Zuckerberg has made over the last few weeks with this “phase shift” so soon after the previous one “will be remembered for decades.”

I’m not so sure about “decades” but it’s clear that Zuckerberg is serious and means business.  We’re talking about a 24 year old who a year and a half ago managed to put a $240 million price tag on only 1.6% of Facebook shares.  Who had the money and keen interest to shell out that much for such a small share?  Who other then Microsoft, which of course propelled Google to make an offer.  But, this old news aside, what should be noticed here is the valuation.  Based on that transaction, it would put Facebook’s worth – back then – at $15 billion!  And, that’s before it really truly invests itself into welcoming a proficient blending of business with people as Scoble suggests in phase five.  Scoble’s point that Zukerberg’s sitting on a goldmine couldn’t be truer.

MySpace

MySpace

Then you come to the Facebook / Twitter crossroads and you can kind of toss MySpace into that intersection as well, but less so then ever before.  It’s surprising actually that the clunky and difficult GUI for MySpace has remained pretty much the same.  In my migration to Facebook from MySpace years ago, that was one of the things I was truly appreciative of once I’d gotten it all done.  Things are easier to do and deal with in the lighter and cleaner Facebook aesthetic. Also interesting is that a 2007 article in Time magazine called MySpace vs. Facebook: Competing Addictions, indicated that Facebook and MySpace actually attract compleatly different socio-economic audiences.  It noted that Facebook users had an average annual income that hovered around $60,000.00 US, compared to MySpace which had 12% more users then Facebook who earned less annually.

But back to Twitter, which seems to be the more ‘active’ competition for Facebook now a days.  Even looking at these two, Twitter doesn’t really have a hope of eclipsing Facebook anytime soon.  It does however have the faster rate of growth between the two , but it cannot match the fact that Facebook collects between 200,000 and 700,000 new users a day.  And, it’s highly unlikely that Twitter will manage to boost its 10 million users to the 180 million user threshold that Facebook’s achieved.  The logical thing to do, one would think, would be to just consume the ‘competition’ which is exactaly what Zukerberg tried to do as I learned through Scoble’s follow up blog entry that did a good job of proving why Facebook was lucky as hell it missed out on buying Twitter.

Furthering the fact that Facebook is blending people and business for phase five of its developmental stages, Scoble makes a comparison that Facebook will become like the Yellow Pages for people and Twitter is the white pages.  It makes sense, Twitter’s no where near having Facebook’s ability to not only directly market to people – but to market what they specifically want to them based on their likes and dislikes.  In the future, instead of making consumer choices based on Joe Blow’s ‘professional’ opinion, Facebook will potentially revolutionize business because the immediate search results on everyone’s mobile device will include multiple reviews of trusted Facebook friends.  It’s like the promise land of interactivity for the Yellow Pages.

Twitter

Twitter

Compared to Facebook, Twitter seems mono-chromatic, in terms of its abilities and its usefulness.  Many have already previously pointed out that Twitter is essentially a stream of status updates.  But, it’s amazing how so many people use it differently then how they use the same tool on Facebook.  For some reason, when people “tweet” they’re all the more active about it and that, for the most part, is really the only difference.  The mental correlation when you hear “Facebook” is networking, rediscovering old contacts, interaction – between everything and everyone.  But, the mental correlation when you hear “Twitter” is almost like a free thought association writing exercise where you end up with a list of the most random, unassociated thoughts or comments.

It certainly seems making Twitter profitable in the long term is less clear.  Twitter has its uses and you can even update your Facebook status via Twitter, so there’s some interactivity going on.  But, the ultimate ‘purpose’ of Twitter and determining how the information it provides is useful as a product is yet to really be seen.  For now, Facebook and this blog are more then satisfying my social media and marketing needs and Twitter won’t be something to really consider for a while – if ever.  Though, I confess that I’ve recently added LinkedIn to my collection of online social marketing tools, but that’s another entry!

Current 10 Year Cover

Current 10 Year Cover

My involvement with Current began over a sandwich and a chocolate dipped doughnut at the Tim’s that used to be attached to the Ultramar on Elizabeth Avenue (in all fairness, the new one just up the road on Torbay is much nicer).  I had been asked to meet Karla Hayward, a contact from my past who’d reconnected with me on Facebook.   She had seen a note I’d posted (not one of the questionnaires, an actual note) which compared America’s Next Top Model to Larry King Live. Admittedly, it was more about admiration for Larry King then anything else but nonetheless it had caught Karla’s attention. I’m not sure if it was the journalistic admiration or the writing in the piece that led her to invite me on board, perhaps a bit of both, but there hasn’t been a single day since that I haven’t felt in love with what I get to do with Current.

As Roger so aptly put it, this paper is a labour of love. Everyone that has been involved with it over the last decade has more then likely had another ‘main’ job, or at least something else to supplement. From my experience most everything in the arts scene is of that nature, unless of course one is extremely fortunate. But it’s not just about the money. I recently learned about a 20-something named Tony Hsieh, he’s a young guy who happened to be one of the co-founders of LinkExchange which he got $265 million for when Microsoft came sniffing around. Not to shabby. He’s a shoe salesman now. Why you ask? He’s in it for the love; because he didn’t want to stop programming and he founded Zappos.com which went from a speck on the net in 1998 to being worth over $1 billion 10 years later. In a recent interview I’d watched with him where I learned of this, he was asked what his best advice was and he said all you can do is work at what you love and if it’s genuine and where you really want to be, the money will come.

Current is about the experience, for the writers, editors, designers, photographers and most importantly the readers.The writers get to bring an experience or share a story with the people who grab an issue with their coffee. Or, perhaps an article will get that reader involved somehow or help plan a great weekend. It’s about the community, what’s going on in it and the paper evolves, to that effect. Current is nice slice of St. John’s life that tracks our culture and trends; everything from our music scene to books, theatre, wine, sex and community issues. “If you’ve got something to say Current wants to hear about it,” is a slogan Ally Baird, the present editor, applied when she established the paper’s Facebook group and that’s been true since the first issue. In her time as editor along with Jim Baird as publisher, Current has already surmounted what many thought would be a challenge, going weekly. Since the fall of 2008 we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to offer up the Current slice of life every Friday. So, while 10 years later we’re all not exactly a billion bucks richer, we have our weekly achievement.

My journey has led me to cover a lot since that chocolate dipped doughnut, going from an occasional column to one or two a week, co-editing a few issues here and there. Sure it’s more work but it’s also done with a great sense of pride and privilege. I have gotten the sense that this is a widely shared sentiment amongst all those that have contributed to Current over the last 10 years. Our commemorative cover represents the faces of some past and present contributors, those that work in the front lines and behind the scenes to put each issue in your hands, every week. We’re all only to happy to do it and look forward to another great 10 years. Aw, make that 20!

follow me @jjmoxy

makin’ sense of it all

keepin’ track of it all

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