Interview with Flip Schultz

Editors Note: This interview began in a normal font and grew into ALL CAPS.
Evolution at work.

Flip Schultz

Where did you grow up and when did you first get the comedy bug?

I GREW UP IN SOUTH FLORIDA; SPECIFICALLY A TOWN CALLED PLANTATION.  I FIRST GOT THE BUG AT A REALLY YOUNG AGE, ACTUALLY I WAS 8 YEARS OLD WHEN I DID MY FIRST STAND UP SHOW.  IT WAS A SUMMER CAMP TALENT SHOW AND I WON FIRST PLACE.  I STILL HAVE THE TROPHY. 

You did your first open mic at age 18. Many comics are either hooked immediately or need
some time to rethink their strategy. What was your first reaction?

LOVED IT!  FROM THE FIRST MOMENT I KNEW IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE REST OF MY LIFE.  I STILL FINISHED COLLEGE WHILE DOING LOCAL OPEN MIKES & SHOWS, BUT RIGHT AFTER GRADUATION, I WENT FULL TIME AND HAVEN’T STOPPED.

As a comic who has been practicing his craft in the age of the Internet, do you feel that web content has helped or hurt the industry? This is to say, the web gives more people the opportunity to showcase their ‘talents’ but at the same time may lead to overcrowding in the comedy world. I.e., it’s easier to sit down and post a video online than it is to get onstage at an open mic and face that challenge.

WELL THE INTERNET IS JUST A NEW WAY OF MARKETING.  I’M SURE RADIO ACTORS BACK IN THE 30’S THOUGHT TELEVISION WAS JUST A FAD BUT EVENTUALLY HAD TO LEARN TO USE IT FOR THEIR OWN ADVANTAGES.  THE INTERNET IS THE SAME THING FOR MY GENERATION.  IT’S SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO EMBRACE OR YOU’RE GOING TO BE LEFT BEHIND.  AND THERE IS A HUGE OVERCROWDING ON THE NET, SO YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO FIND SOMETHING THAT HELPS YOU STAND OUT. 
AS FAR AS WHAT’S EASIER, OF COURSE POSTING SOMETHING ONLINE IS EASIER THAN FACING A CROWD.  HELL, YOU CAN TAPE YOURSELF HAVING AN “OK” SET, BUT THEN ADD SOME LAUGHTER IN LATER AND YOU LOOK LIKE YOU’RE KILLING.  BUT THE PROOF IS IN THE LIVE PERFORMANCE.  YOU MIGHT GET PEOPLE IN THE SEATS WITH A GREAT ONLINE VIDEO, BUT YOU BETTER HAVE MORE THAN 5-10 MINUTES OF GREAT MATERIAL.  I KNOW SO MANY COMICS WHO’VE HAD THAT ISSUE.  THEY SHOWCASE WITH A KILLER (SHORT) SET AND THEN CAN’T BACK IT UP FOR AN HOUR.  THAT’S WHY I’M GLAD I DEVELOPED A DECENT 45 MINUTE ACT BEFORE I MOVED TO LA.  I FEEL BAD FOR THE COMICS WHO START IN LA OR NY, AND THEN WHEN THEY START TOURING THEY WONDER WHY THEIR MATERIAL ISN’T WORKING OR THEY’RE SCARED BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO DO MORE THAN JUST 12 MINUTES.
   
Who are your comedy heroes?

ROBIN WILLIAMS, STEVE MARTIN, “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC, ANDY KAUFMAN, MILTON BERLE, WOODY ALLEN & DOUG STANHOPE.

Is there anything you would change about the industry in it’s current stage?

I WOULD TELL “THE INDUSTRY” THAT BEING YOUNG AND/OR ‘HOT’ SHOULD NOT BE THE ONLY CRITERIA FOR LOOKING AT SOMEONE.  THERE ARE A LOT MORE COMICS OUT THERE WHO HAVE SPENT THE BETTER PART OF THEIR OWN LIFE HONING AND PERFECTING AN ACT.  THEY CAN WORK ANY ROOM AND KILL IT, THEY CAN’T BE THROWN IN THE MOMENT; THEY ARE PROFESSIONALS.  THEIR ONLY PROBLEM (ACCORDING TO THIS BUSINESS) IS THAT THEY’RE OVER 30, OR PAST THEIR PRIME.  THAT’S BULLSHIT.  IF A DOCTOR IS WORKING FOR 20 YEARS VERSUS A DOCTOR WHO’S ONLY BE AT IT FOR 3…WHO ARE YOU GOING TO GO TO?  IT SHOULDN’T BE ANY DIFFERENT IN THIS BUSINESS.

Do you have a daily routine that helps you prep for each show?

NOT REALLY.  IF I KNOW I HAVE A SHOW, I’LL USUALLY NOT THINK TOO MUCH ABOUT THE SHOW UNTIL I GET TO THE CLUB AND CAN ASSESS THE SITUATION, IE: IS IT A BIG CROWD OR A SMALL ONE, IS IT ETHNIC OR ANGLO, ARE THEY YOUNGER OR OLDER, ETC.  AFTER I FIGURE THAT OUT, I DECIDE WHAT I’M GOING TO SAY.

Are there tricks to disarming hecklers or is it more of a case by case basis?

I HAVE A FEW STANDARD RESPONSES THAT I’VE DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS.  BUT THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THINGS HAPPEN THAT COMPLETELY CATCH ME OFF GUARD…I LOVE THOSE MOMENTS.  BECAUSE NOT ONLY DOES THE AUDIENCE NOT KNOW WHAT I’M GOING TO SAY, BUT NEITHER DO I.  I LOVE WHEN IT’S TRULY IN THE MOMENT.  AND IF MY REACTION WORKS, IT FEELS AMAZING.  BUT I HAVE HAD THOSE TIMES WHERE I AM JUST SO THROWN THAT THEY EITHER GET THE BETTER OR ME OR MY RESPONSE JUST FLOPS.  IN THOSE CASES, I JUST FIND MY WAY BACK TO THE ACT AND TRY AS HARD AS POSSIBLE TO WIN THE CROWD BACK.
    
Do you have any upcoming tours/projects you’d like to promote?

IN 2 MONTHS I’M GOING TO BE OPENING FOR KISS (YES, THE REAL BAND) ON A FAN CRUISE TO THE BAHAMAS.  I GOT THE GIG THROUGH MY FRIEND (AND COMIC) CRAIG GASS.  WHAT’S REALLY AMAZING IS THAT I’M DOING THE SHOW AS MY MY ALTER-EGO, SKIPPY GREENE (WWW.SKIPPYGREENE.COM), WHICH IS BEYOND AMAZING.  I ALSO SHOT AN EPISODE OF THE SHOW ‘COMEDY.TV’ WHICH SHOULD AIR EITHER LATER THIS YEAR OR EARLY 2012.  YOU CAN SEE ALL OF MY TOUR DATES & INFO AT MY OWN WEBSITE:  WWW.FLIPSCHULTZ.COM

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Interview with Frank Liotti

Frank Liotti

TE: How long have you been doing comedy?

FV: I started it in 2005, and then stopped. My Dad died, and then three months later my Mom died. A year later, my best friend of 30 years committed suicide. So I stopped until the very end of 2007 and I started writing. Then I got on stage in 2008. I think I came back different. I feel like I really started in 2008.

TE: Who are some of your favorite comics?

FV: Mike DiStefano, Richard Pryor, Greg Giraldo, Louis CK.
When I saw him, Mike DiStefano, in the last year or so, I was blown away…by how he was able to take stuff so dark and make it funny. ..The really good left hook punchlines in cancer and stroke and suicide and schizophrenia…some of my favorite material is that. I don’t know if people really want to hear it. Comics want to hear it, comics respond to it and like it…If I have all this stuff going on, I need a place to let this out. I can’t not be an artist. It’s the only art form…platform…for rage, compassion and joy. It saved my ass…I don’t know if it ever comes from a place of being funny. I think it comes from something shaping you as a human being and your take on it just is funny because of who you are… Life does what it does to you, and then you look at a situation and you interpret it and it’s funny because of your thinking. It doesn’t feel good.

TE: What’s your favorite thing and what’s your least favorite thing about doing Comedy? 

FV: Connecting with a room and making them laugh.  Also, it’s my own.  After a lifetime of being gangster number 3 [as an actor on various TV shows], even after Yale, I realized that there was no perfect role out there.  The only possible form for what I wanted to do was Stand Up.  My stand up is what I want it to be, without having to fit into anyone else’s idea of what “type” I am. There is nothing like giving yourself to an audience, in your own words.  My least favorite thing is the salary. That and the gloominess of some of the rooms, the missing letters on the walls and sharing the stage with the occasional mouse.

 

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An Interview with John Garrett

John Garrett

TE: How long have you been doing comedy?

JG: Full time, 5 ½ years, but ten years in total [4 ½ years were spent performing part
time].

TE: Who are some of your favorite comics?

JG: Brian Regan, Steve Martin, Bob Newhart, Ray Romano, Jay Leno, Wayne Cotter, Jimmy Brogan. Guys who are clean, observational humor, Jerry Seinfeld, obviously.

TE: Do you work clean consciously, or does it come naturally for you?

JG: I do laugh at all sorts of comedy, but I found through trial and error that I can’t be the dirty angry guy. It’s like a 5 year old with the “F” word, instead of having a punch, everyone is like, ‘say it again, that was adorable’”. It also opens more doors to corporate events. I can perform almost everywhere, which is nice. It’s harder to be funny and clean and it takes longer to get there, but once you’re there, you really do well. It’s just a lot of hard work. It’s hard to do though, because it’s not always positively reinforced. When you’re at an open mike or you’re at a late show, no one wants to hear about a cheese knife [this is mentioned in Garrett’s act].

TE: What’s your favorite thing and what’s your least favorite thing about doing Comedy?

JG: This is really corny, but making people laugh. Ya know like, for that time that they’re in here, they forget about being broke or whatever problems they have. They’re laughing and having a good time. It’s fun. There’s other parts too, like the brotherhood and hanging out with everybody. That’s really cool too, the comradery. And it’s also not being an accountant [his previous job], and that’s pretty awesome. The thing that I don’t like about doing comedy is…I don’t know, that’s hard. I guess, maybe just, sometimes you don’t get straight answers from people. Like if you go to a booker or an audition, and they say, “That was great! Send us your…whatever”, and you do and you never hear back. Like, why didn’t you just tell me that you’re not going to book me? Like I’m not going to go kill myself. There’s plenty of other places…just, be honest.

TE: What does it mean to you to win tonight’s Boston Comedy ?

JG: I get to be interviewed by YuletideSnapper.com

TE: Absolutely.

JG: I can check that right off my bucket list. No, it means a lot because you’re working a different muscle group, a different skill set getting a 5 min. act that’s punchy and short and good. It’s a lot of hard work, so it’s nice to be validated and justified. That it wasn’t all in vain.

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2011 Boston Comedy Festival’s New York Showcase (Monday Night, 8/1/11)

By Will Garre

Monday night marked the commencement of the Boston Comedy Festival’s New York Showcase. At 6:30 p.m., the comics formed a wriggly queue alongside the bar at Stand-up New York, and YuletideSnapper.com was able to squeeze in a couple of pre-show interviews and learn more about the competitors.

Jarret Berenstein is originally from L.A. As a kid, Jarret enjoyed listening to Bill Cosby stand-up LPs that he got from the library, and today he mentions Eugene Mirman as one of his favorite comedians. Jarret moved to New York in 2001, and he performs both stand-up and improv. Because of his improv experience, he is not one to have his feathers ruffled by crowd interaction; in fact, he tends to thrive in crowd-work. Jarret has a great deal of composure on stage. During his performances, the mic rarely leaves the stand, except he doesn’t need to do flamboyant mic stand tricks, like Steven Tyler. Instead, poised and straight-faced, with one foot on the base of the mic stand, he delivers smart, short-form jokes that build anticipation and end way better than an Aerosmith concert.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Chris Distefano is one of New York’s most promising young comedians. He lists Sam Kinison and Jim Carrey as two of his biggest influences and draws inspiration from Kinison’s edgy material and powerful stage presence. Like Kinison, Chris is very big on stage and comes at the crowd with relentless energy, but he does it with likability and charm. Chris has a day job as a physical therapist. He’s a healer. And when he gets on stage he has that same effect on people. By sharing his unique, insider perspective on Italian-American stereotypes, supported by priceless family anecdotes, Chris is able to make any audience member feel better after he has worked his magic, and he can take a dead crowd and bring it back to life.

The 7:00 p.m. show began and each comedian got five minutes to prove himself/herself in front of the judges. With so many great performances, it must have been a tough call, but, in the end, Aaron Ward and Joe Machi shared the win.

YuletideSnapper caught up with Joe Machi at the bar and got to know him. Joe is from State College, PA, where his comedic growth was infused with his father’s appreciation for Bob Newhart. He and his father watched a lot of Newhart’s stand-up and sketch comedy, and Joe says that he always liked Newhart’s on-stage awkwardness. When Joe gets on the podium, the audience is immediately transported to his planet, which is not your average place. Joe says that he developed his odd stage presence simply by being himself: “unconfident, nervous, and with a weird voice.” Even though the Newhart influence is palpable, Joe Machi is like no one you’ve seen before, and his unique persona and trenchant wit make him a comedy force to be reckoned with.

Before the 9:00 p.m. show, YuletideSnapper spoke with comedian Marc Maietta. Marc is from Vegas, but he has been in New York for ten years. His comedy career began when, upon turning 30 years old, he was dared to perform at an open mic. He took the dare, completely bombed, and fell in love with stand-up. It looks like a seed was planted, early in his life, when his grandfather took him to see Rodney Dangerfield, now one of Marc’s biggest influences. Marc appreciates Dangerfield’s classic style and delivers his own jokes with a similar cleverness and sharp brevity. Marc also has a successful career in finance, so he is good at two things, like Bo Jackson, minus the debilitating hip injury.

The 9:00 p.m. show had a nice full crowd, and the comedians thrived and performed some solid sets. The winners of this, the second round, were Adam Sokol and Dave Williamson.

Adam Sokol was available after the show, and we found out that he is a Detroit native who moved to New York one year ago to continue his stand-up career. He has performed all over Detroit and first got into comedy because, while watching stand-up on television one night, he thought to himself, I can beat that guy. His influences are Doug Stanhope, Mitch Hedberg, Louis C.K., and Bill Burr. Adam’s wife is very supportive of his comedy career (Adam referred to her as “a keeper”), and we asked him if she ever comes to see him practice at open mics, which can be tough rooms filled mostly with other comedians. He explained that he doesn’t invite her to open mics, because it would be like “inviting her to watch him stand in front of a crowd and not get an erection for five minutes.” Good comparison. Clearly, Adam had no trouble performing at Monday night’s New York Showcase.

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2011 Boston Comedy Festival (Tuesday Night)

Tuesday Night August 2, 2011 Recap
By Erika Delfini

With all of the creativity and cleverness a five-minute act could possibly allow for, the stand-up comedians on Tuesday night at the Boston Comedy Festival’s New York Showcase provided all one could possibly ask for. I was lucky enough to sit down with a few comedians and talk a little bit about life, about comedy, about the Boston Comedy Festival, and most importantly what it is that makes them, them. Now having said all of that, I regret to inform readers that upon arriving home and beginning the process of transcribing I realized that my handy little iphone voice recorder was no longer working, needless to say, I am without interviews 🙁

So in a rather vague, but hopefully mood-capturing recap of the nights events, and in no particular order (for the 7pm showcase) Sagar Bhatt, Chris Distefano, Justly Dodge, David Foster, Josh Homer, Tracy Marshal, Mark Normand, Ryan Reiss, Deavan Richardson, Chelsea White,

(and for the 9pm showcase) Dana Cairns Alicia Cooper, Max Fox, Adam Grabowski, Meghan Hanley, Paul Kelleher, Dave Merete, Eric Silver, Mary Tischbein, and Morgan Venticinque.

These comics hail from all over the world, all sharing their own personal thoughts, anecdotes, recollections of the days to come, the days that have past and the day this is upon us. They had effortlessly captured in five minutes what might take the average non-comedian 15 minutes to describe, i.e. human suffering, indignation, and general bafflement with regards to everything around them. Hosted by Keith Alberstadt, as he so graciously drew inspiration from the audience (there was a young man turning 21 that evening who was front row…. imagine the possibilities). There was an air of camaraderie and true showmanship that filled the room and the bar area as well; as these 20 comedians waited patiently for their time to shine. It was an interesting evening when talking to the comedians, a lot of them seemed to be straight out of New York City, having been in the business for 10 plus years, having performed all over the country, all over the world, most everyone seemed to appreciate what the Boston Comedy Festival was doing: giving people a chance to do what they love, and with little to no aggravation. It was nothing over the top, no glamorous photo-ops with anyone at all, and certainly no strange vernacular being spoken with the intentions of not offending anyone – there was no one to offend, everyone seemed to be on the same page. It was to the point, but in a good way. Having judges from all over the entertainment industry there to support as well as critique, it was a tough choice in my opinion, but the two best acts of each showcase did advance to maybe greatness (that is the final showcase Thursday, August 4,2011), and having said all of that, we shall see who is the next best thing to come out of the Boston Comedy Festival. Until then, next time – there will be direct quotes, for now check out BostonComedyFestival.com and check out all the comedians associated.

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In The Name Of Comedy: A Conversation With Mark Duplass

By Erika Delfini

Mark Duplass is a writer, producer, director, actor, etc. He is best known for his work on The Puffy Chair, Baghead, and Cyrus, all of which he and his brother Jay Duplass wrote, produced, and directed. He also stars in the FX fantasy football series ‘The League,’ which returns this fall. Mark is currently starring in the film True Adolescents, written and directed by Craig Johnston. The film follows the lives of two adolescents and one somewhat immature grown-up (Duplass) that are changed forever on a camping trip. This is a conversation with Mark Duplass about some of those very same themes:

YS:I think what you and your brother do is great, make movies that you want to make. Today in the film market do you think that is difficult? Necessary?

MD: I think it is very difficult based on my community of friends, based on what we all talk about, to get the films made that you want to get made. If someone else is paying for them, in general, whenever you are outside the DIY micro-budget self funded atmosphere it is usually difficult, which is why we all started that way. It’s like, fuck let’s not wait let’s just make something.

YS: As for other comedic directors like Judd Apatow – are you trying to separate yourself from him? (he in my opinion is “comedy guy” of new millennium).

MD: Well, it’s interesting, we are super friendly with Judd, and we kept each others movies on each other. It’s very obvious to both of us, the difference between us and Judd. Judd makes two-hour movies and we make 80-minute movies. Judd is so great at bringing out naturalistic comedy, where in a lot of ways he paved the way for us, in that people are ready to see a schlubby protagonist be natural, find the slow jokes, as opposed to the poppy fast jokes, and that is something we’ll be forever indebted to him for. Where we differ from Judd is that Jay and I are much more narrative and plot oriented, where Judd will let a scene run for ten minutes to get the comedy out of it, we shut that shit down in three. I really want to propel my stuff forward as much as I can; for lack of a better word I think Jay and I occupy the dramedy world a little bit more.

YS:What’s your favorite comedy film?

MD:Yeah let me come back to that.

YS:About True Adolescents, is this a different project for you completely?

MD: No. We shot this movie a few years ago, and it was really cool because Craig deliberately wanted to make a bigger budget movie than what Jay and I were making. He’s like, “I don’t want to make a mumblecore movie”. Craig is a writer first and foremost, so it was like the ultimate improvising actor and the writer director who loves his script, so we were like ok let’s see how we can make this thing work. He wants his words, I historically, have only been able to be good as an actor by trashing the script and improvising, so we found this sort of hybrid model, and in the end, I think the film, for lack of a better word is more of a true dramedy in terms of where the characters go and where the characters turn.

YS:You acted in True Adolescents, you normally write, produce….

MD:I didn’t write or produce at all in True Adolescents. I was just an actor and it was one of my first leading roles. I shot True Adolescents then I got out of that and went right into Humpday, so those were my first two leading roles that weren’t my movies.

YS:Do you have a preference?

MD: For me I must have both. The creative fulfillment out of making a movie, there is nothing more rewarding, but there is nothing more stressful. It’s like stress is at 100, creative fulfillment is at 100, when I go act in a movie, stress is at zero, and then while the creative fulfillment might only be 80, it’s a great antidote, it’s a great one two punch as a film maker.

YS:Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

MD:No, I was a musician for a lot of years. I did that forever, but I went to film school and I became an editor to make money.

YS:Where did you go to film school?

MD:UT in Austin. I think I was 25 or 26 and I was out on tour and realizing ‘holy shit I may have out aged my self in this game already.’ Everyone was twenty, you go to sleep at four in the morning you wake up at 8 in the morning, you go to the next city, at that point Katie and I had been dating for three years. I was about to get married, you know? I’m like a family dude, I’m a homebody, and the life style of watching somebody I admire like Britt Daniel, the lead singer of Spoon, that’s what I aspire to, but that dude’s out on the road like non stop, and I was like I kind of want to make babies and get in my jammies and watch movies and shit, you know? The lifestyle of filmmaking afforded me the opportunity to do what I wanted to do more.

YS:Some say you can’t really have the family thing if you want to be…

MD:Fuck em all.

YS:It’s hard to find your way these day (America, economy, art in general). Do you and Jay have more things coming up?

MD:Yeah we do, we made a movie, ‘Jeff Who Lives At Home’ with Jason Siegel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer and Susan Sarandon and we made that for Paramount. It premieres in Toronto in the Spring. That was a little bit of a step up from Cyrus, but again that model, a modestly priced comedy, that in many ways we can’t fail, that movie will make its money back on DVD in a week, the theory of under forecasting and over performing. It’s like I did not go out and make an 80 million dollar movie my first time, I made a little movie according to Hollywood standards and even if they do ok, that’s what Cyrus did, it made its money back, posted a small profit for Searchlight so they will come back to us, and I think that that is important for young filmmakers to remember. It’s very very important that what you are doing in your early years isn’t set out to be a big failure. I just kind of believe in that.

YS:You guys still have faith in things?

MD:Absolutely, but our career has given us the confidence that we can have faith. I’ve been able to take movies out and get them made, but I also know that worse case scenario, Hollywood dumps us, they fuckin’ hate us, Jay and I could always write a script and go edit for The Bachelor for a season, make 100,000 dollars, and make a movie. And I believe in myself that I can make a movie that is interesting.

Any advice?

Our experience was that trial and error were key. We were not able to come out of the box and make a movie, my friend Joe Weinberg at 22 could make a movie, it took me till I was like 27 28 to get good at it. So our thing is, make a lot of stuff, high volume, make it really fast, and make it as cheaply as you can so it doesn’t hurt when it sucks. You know, weekends, short films, and more importantly try to allow yourself to be self indulgent, people are very afraid but you’re 22, your film making skills are probably limited to your experience at this point, so its not a terrible thing if you just say, well I had this amazing interaction on the subway, it was super interesting, super funny, try to tell that story a little bit because it takes a lot of time for people to find your voice and for me that was tapping into the private conversations I would have with Jay and my friends. I found that, I’m really funny in a room and my movies are not funny, why is that? Maybe I should make movies about the particular sense of humor I have, which I very much find funny and I know about. This theory that no one makes a good move under the age of thirty unless it is semi autobiographical, I don’t believe that but I think there is something to it. That’s more writer director advice, even for just writers, you gotta hell of a hard time getting someone to read something, but you can always get someone to watch your 3-4 minute short so always make tons and tons and tons of shorts till you get one that’s good, then when you get that one short that works try to expand it to a feature. There’s no excuse for not making a movie on the weekends, there is no excuse, cameras are cheap, you can do it at your own home, with not software, no excuse, learn your shit, go out and do it. And go see Flirting with Disaster, that’s probably on the of the better comedies in twenty years – it will teach you a lot, it’s a good structural comedy – it gives people what they need to market it.

Inspirational quote?

No, send me one.

*** New Video’s Flatiron Film Company presents the Theatrical Release at New York’s rerun Theater, beginning July 29th. True Adolescents will be released on VOD and digital platforms August 30, 2011.

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