Playful Humans - People Who Play for a Living

True Crime, Toys, and Stand-up: A Chat with Marlene Sharp

October 03, 2023 Mike Montague Season 3 Episode 163
Playful Humans - People Who Play for a Living
True Crime, Toys, and Stand-up: A Chat with Marlene Sharp
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Don't you just love when play and work meld seamlessly? That's exactly what Marlene Sharp, our vivacious guest and the dynamo behind Pink Poodle Productions, gets to do every day! Join us as we venture into the fascinating world of stand-up comedy and merchandise-driven entertainment in LA, illuminating the highs, lows, and a few hilarious anecdotes along the way.

Ever pondered how toys, movies, and life in Hollywood blend? Well, it's not all glitz and glamour, as Marlene candidly shares. She spills the beans on her experience with a toy consultancy, revealing the stark reality compared to the childlike wonder we often associate with toys. From her exciting trip to the UK for Postman Pat the movie to the challenge of finding that perfect toy and toy movie, Marlene gives us an insider's tour of the toy industry. 

What does the power of play look like for adults, and how vital is humor in our lives? Marlene, a true crime podcast enthusiast, explores these questions and shares her dreams of producing her own podcast. She also salutes the courage of investigative journalists, whose relentless pursuit of truth often leads them into perilous paths. As we wrap up, we touch upon the importance of self-care for entrepreneurs and the magic of a well-earned five-star review. Be ready for an episode packed with laughter, lessons, and a few surprises!

(0:00:17) - Playful Humans Podcast With Marlene Sharp
Marlene Sharp shares her experience of standup comedy and merchandise-driven entertainment and the importance of finding the right audience for humor.

(0:12:39) - Imagination, Toys, and True Crime Podcasts
Marlene Sharp discusses the importance of play for adults, the qualities of a good toy movie, and the power of true crime podcasts.

(0:19:32) - Humor and Playfulness in Adulthood
Marlene and I discuss humor, risk, toxic positivity, and play as an adult.

(0:28:10) -  Pink Poodle Productions
We discussed the play's importance, creating a true crime podcast, and encouraged listeners to take our quiz and leave a review.

Support the show

Support the Playful Humans mission to help adults rediscover the power of play:

Speaker 1:

It is the playful humans podcast. We're back with another episode with Marlene Sharp from pink poodle productions and we're going to be talking about how she plays for a living. She's worked on some cool projects like Sonic the Hedgehog, the pink panther, postman Pat and Power Rangers A lot of things in the P their genre for the pink poodle productions but we're also going to help adults rediscover the power of play. Marlene's been a standard comedian and had all kinds of cool things in her career. So if you want to have more fun, flow and fulfillment in your life, go to playfulhumanscom. Maybe click on the quiz, maybe check out some episodes and have some fun. Here we go. One more. All right, marlene, good grooves, I like that. We like to start with the joke of the week here on the playful humans podcast. The joke of the week this week is brought to you by fire safety. Based on the number of times we practice stop, drop and roll, I would have expected to be on fire way more in my life, but apparently fire safety is working.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely Now the official joke of the week is did you hear about the award given to the guy who invented the knock knock joke?

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 1:

He won the no bell prize.

Speaker 2:

Oh.

Speaker 1:

There you go. Can you beat it? What do you think?

Speaker 2:

I love it. I love a good knock knock joke, and that one's new to me. So thank you, thank you.

Speaker 1:

I love that. It's a knock knock joke without saying the knock knock, who's there? Part. That makes me happy.

Speaker 2:

Right, right. It's just implied, but it really did it yeah.

Speaker 1:

I want to talk about your standup comedy experience first, since we started with the joke. How long did you do that? Did you do it for fun? Did you ever get paid to do it? Tell me about it.

Speaker 2:

Let's see, I did it for about two years, off and on, and I wasn't on tour or anything. I did it in LA, which is the hardest place on the planet to do standup. It's a very tough audience here and that's where I discovered that. I discovered my people. My people are the geriatric set. So my best show ever was a coffee shop in San Dimas that was populated with elderly people from a nearby nursing home. I killed, but whenever I had to perform, Don't do that with the old body.

Speaker 2:

I killed and whenever I had to perform in places that served alcohol. That's where the challenge lies.

Speaker 1:

Really.

Speaker 2:

So everybody's a critic in LA because everybody's in show business, whether they admit to it or not. Everyone's here for one reason even if they were born here, it's in their DNA. So it's almost like people are daring you. You know, just try to make me laugh and even if they feel a laugh coming on, it's quickly stifling it. But yeah, I don't know that I ever got paid, but I did pay. I paid to do stand up, because there's a whole procedure out here where you've got to guarantee a certain number of people in the audience. This is when you're a young up and coming stand up.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

You have to guarantee a certain number of people in the audience, and if you don't, then either you don't get to perform or you get to pay the price of what those people would cause. Those are called bringer shows. It's not a technical term, I don't think, but you've got to bring people. So, yes, I shelled out a lot of money and gosh parking is crazy expensive, especially in West Hollywood where most of the clubs are. So, yeah, it was very tough. What else?

Speaker 1:

There were a lot of I mean I feel like it's a good lesson already, especially with the geriatric audiences, that I found the same thing in my career. Like I think I was a radio DJ and I performed in bars and clubs and there the alcohol definitely helps. Doing like sober birthday parties or company parties at 11 am is not as easy for karaoke or dancing as 11 pm at drunk audience. But I also found that when I got out of that and I started doing sales training, I'm a really funny sales trainer compared to everybody else. I'm an okay average sense of humor on the radio but in a different market I'm really funny. My brother did the same thing. He did stand-up comedy and he moved to LA but then he became a college professor and a middle-ing comedian is a really funny college professor.

Speaker 1:

So you just got to change your audience. That's a great lesson for everybody right off the bat. Now tell me about where you did have a lot more fun and success with Pink Poodle Productions. What do you do now and what's going on there?

Speaker 2:

Well, every day is an adventure with my business partner here, blanche Dubois Sharp. She is the poodle in Pink Poodle Productions. She's actually a poodle Bichon mix, but she identifies as a poodle when it suits us, and then when it suits us for her to identify as a Bichon, she will do that too. She's very flexible that way. But we've collaborated on stuff in front of the camera, but mostly behind the scenes.

Speaker 2:

So I have a long background in merchandise driven entertainment, which is screen content and audio sometimes too, but mostly screen content that supports selling stuff, mostly toys to kids, and so just video games. I would lump that in with toys too. But so I've worked on behalf of the actual companies that make the things to be sold. So I've worked at Sega, I worked at Disney, I worked at level five, another Japanese video game company that is like Sega, but except it's level five. And but at those places. Oh, I also work for Bandai, which is another another place, another Japanese company that makes toys and then contributes to the shows and movies that promote them. But yeah, in doing that it's kind of a sales job, is kind of advertising, but it's a little bit less of a hard sell and more of a soft sell so I worked on a lot of video games, but from the perspective of the TV series or the movie or the social media that goes along with it, yeah, I think that's really interesting.

Speaker 1:

Now here's my favorite question for people and toys and gaming Is it fun to be in a playful industry like that? Or I've heard the opposite sort of like you mentioned with the entertainment industry. Is it's not usually very entertaining behind the scenes? Do you feel like you saw how the sausage is made and it's a really hard corporate gig to be in that industry? Or is it more fun, like, if you're going to be in a corporate job, you might as well be working on cartoons and video games. Then you know, whatever the latest widget out of the factory is?

Speaker 2:

That's a good question and I'm sure other people have different experiences, but I feel that I am a very playful human. I've always loved toys. I've never stopped collecting dolls and all kinds of toys, especially like vintage stuff. I still have all my Barbies from childhood and have greatly augmented that collection and, quite frankly, I was shocked when I it was one of my first jobs in Hollywood, working for a consultancy that supported a toy company, and I thought it would be just a collection of whimsical, childlike adults who wanted nothing more than to do good things for children and make the world a better place.

Speaker 2:

That is not the case, like 99% of the people who I met in that experience and mostly throughout the industry. There are some exceptions, but most of them could be working in any field, promoting any other kind of widget, cars or apparel or any other kind of consumer products or anything really. Now, if they're based in LA, chances are good that they had some interest in the entertainment industry. They wanted to be actors and that didn't quite work out, myself included. So you know I'm not not disparaging anybody. We all need to go somewhere when our acting careers don't work out. So, um, yeah, but it's not a bunch of childlike, not like the movie Big, where you're playing with toys and dancing on pianos and selling a bunch of toys.

Speaker 2:

There are a lot of people who collect toys a lot of adults, especially when I worked at Disney, people's cubicles and offices were filled with collectibles and such. But it's not necessarily the people who are in charge. It's not like management. It's usually the underlings who have the sense of humor and who actually need the toys to make their lives more bearable. They need to, yeah, pick me up or some kind of reminder of fun stuff. But usually the upper management that's making all the decisions, like I bet you, bob Iger, the head of Disney, is the most unfun person on the planet. I would just guess that by his business decisions and Fortune 500 CEO.

Speaker 1:

he's probably like all the other Fortune 500 CEOs, yeah exactly, exactly.

Speaker 2:

I'm sure his time at Disneyland is very limited as a participant in the goings on there. Actually, he was part of Disney when I was at Disney too, and I saw him speak in person and he wasn't a jokester or prankster or anything like that, he was very business minded. So, and I've found people at toy companies by and large to be the same, but the people who have the childlike sense of humor and the whimsy, those are the artists at animation studios or like designers, like the people who are in the trenches making this stuff, yes, but not the decision makers.

Speaker 1:

So, so tell me then the flip side. I don't wanna go too far down the rabbit hole, I just find that interesting, and sometimes people can be very serious in playful companies and they can be very playful and serious companies. So I think that's interesting. Now, what was your favorite project that you've ever done and when did you have the most fun in your career?

Speaker 2:

I'm still waiting for that. I'm still waiting for my favorite. My favorite project will be the project that I create and that I can be in, and or my dog I do live vicariously through her opportunities as well. We have created a premise for a podcast, a true crime podcast that is very close to our hearts, and I would really like someone else to fund it and facilitate it so that I can just step in and I can be the Tina Fey of my own, tina Fey Dumb. That's what I would like to do. So I'm waiting. So that's coming, I'm sure of it, that's a good answer.

Speaker 2:

But let's see as far as what comes in second and third and fourth place, I really enjoyed the tail end of my time on Postman Pat the movie. One of the key decision makers was unceremoniously dismissed and I stepped into his position so I had to take a couple of last minute trips to the UK. It's a beloved kids property and I had to make everyone get along after. There was a lot of fighting and threatening to not release the movie and such, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable experience at the end and we had this big premiere in Lester Square and it was really nice and I love the UK, I love London, and it was very exciting. So that turned out to be a real career highlight.

Speaker 1:

That is fun. I'm glad you got that opportunity. And my next question you could take it one of two ways. I like asking people that have worked in toys because I think there's something to be said about frameworks and things that work for games. I like to host game shows and I do all kinds of things and it's like, well, there's a reason why family feud and Wheel of Fortune have been on for like 50 years. It's because it's a repeatable framework that's fun for all ages. You don't have to have super brains like Ungeppardy and other things like there's some stuff there. So I'm wondering what your thoughts are and you can pick either toys or movies. But what makes a good toy and what makes a good, maybe toy movie?

Speaker 2:

you can pick. Oh wow, let's see. Well, in my opinion I would say a good toy encourages imagination. So I always like the toys where it encourages the player, the participant to do. Let's pretend that was one thing that I loved as a kid and still as an adult and never gets old. So let's pretend I mean, and actually my therapists through the years have told me that that's why I love dolls, because I can create this perfect little world and I can be the God of that world and arrange it just the way I like it, and that's the way of my having perfection when everything else is falling apart around me.

Speaker 2:

And so action figures and dolls and the play sets, those types of things I love, and then also costumes too. So make up costumes, role play, that type of thing, love that. So those are my favorite toys. A toy movie, a good toy movie, would be something that well, it depends on who you ask, I suppose. If you ask the manufacturer of the toy, a good toy movie is one that moves the toys off the shelves and into people's homes and then for audiences is just something that's a pleasant distraction for the amount of time you sign up for, whether it's a 90 minute movie or a half hour TV show or what have you, if it makes you forget your troubles and buy into this. Pretend world mission accomplished.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I love that and I love that. You said you like imaginative play, so I found there's a whole bunch of different types of play. I even have a quiz on the website. If you wanna go to playfulhumanscom slash quiz, you can find out what your playful personality is. But, marlene, imagination is a fun one. Right, that's creation and, like you said, world building, which is really fun. Other people like solving puzzles or going on adventure or sports and different things, so there's no right or wrong answer. But imagination, storytelling and world building is definitely a cool one, and I can see where you get that and you get to do that with your dog and stuff too.

Speaker 1:

Oh, yeah, yes so, outside of work, what's the most fun for you?

Speaker 2:

There's not much more outside of work. It all blends together. It's a. There's a lot of work, a lot of work to be done, but I do. I guess it's Work. It's work adjacent, but somewhat enjoyable. I mean it is enjoyable. I love true crime.

Speaker 1:

I love true crime Especially and have you watched only murders in the building?

Speaker 2:

I have. I have, yeah, yeah I. I really got into true crime podcast a lot during the pandemic. I think a lot of people did for a variety of reasons, but actually right before the pandemic started there was this College admissions scandal that happened, and I was very interested in that, but I felt like the traditional news was not serving up the amount of information that I needed. So I went in search of alternatives and I found this excellent podcast called gangster capitalism, and that's what got me started. I listened to it. It was so compelling and it really it. It not only satisfied my Urge for more news about the college admissions scandal, but then it was so well done. I wanted to listen to everything by this podcaster, this podcasting company, and and I didn't even really Up until that point, I thought podcasts were like Talk shows, but only without looking at the people who are being interviewed.

Speaker 2:

I didn't really even fathom that there was anything else Besides that, that there was like narrative nonfiction. This was all a revelation to me, and when I discovered it I was so hooked, and so then I've had a chance to develop a lot of true crime podcasts, but Unfortunately none of them have been produced, and so so that's another dream of mine, but until until then, I will continue to be an avid listener and supporter, because I I think that work is so fascinating, especially for podcasters who insert themselves, the who, the, the real investigative Journalists who put themselves in harm's way and they're solving crimes in real time, mostly for no money. It's, it's really, it's quite extraordinary. So, yeah, that's, that's my favorite.

Speaker 1:

It's kind of a crazy world that I haven't gotten into. I love podcasting, but I've always kind of been stuck in this like self-help world, which is kind of how I get to playful humans, because I feel like there's also a Toxic positivity kind of thing that if you do too much of it and you dive deep on that You're like, well, I can't optimize every second of my life or have this positive mental attitude all the time, like some days Just stink and I just need to be sad and lay in bed and, you know, enjoy a rainy day or something, and it can get really weird and then and so I don't I have trouble sometimes just going off and listening. I do like some audiobooks and some nonfiction and Science fiction stuff, but I didn't get into that. I admire people that can do that too. It's not a skill set that I have. I've always been working with other people. I find it a lot easier, especially in an ongoing podcast.

Speaker 1:

Yeah have a guest, or even when I play with people for a living in game shows, I have contestants that I can play off of, and it's not all on me, but somebody that can sit there and write a whole story and then perform it or Produce it and stuff. Man, that's a an amazing storytelling talent.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, and when it involves a real-time investigation.

Speaker 1:

That's even crazy. That's putting yourself like at risk and in danger.

Speaker 2:

It is it? Is it there people who are Risking their lives? I'm sure there are some who've been killed doing podcasts. I just haven't heard, I can't think of any I but. But yes, I mean people are Pursuing serial killers and exposing corruption and so forth, and that is eventually Something will go awry. But boy, is it fun to listen to all of that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it can be really compelling, for sure. I guess you see it like extreme sports. You're like I'm somebody else is doing it. But that one's not for me either. That's just not my personality.

Speaker 2:

It's like extreme audio or extreme. Yeah, it is extreme in a lot of cases.

Speaker 1:

Yes, so last question for you here about this is playful humans is all about play. As an adult, what do you feel like is the power of Creativity, play in any way that you define it or, or more importantly, not taking yourself so seriously as an adult?

Speaker 2:

Well, I try to Pursue just about everything with a sense of humor, because it's more than a coping mechanism for me. It's a crutch, it's and that's, that's how my, my family, but I'm I come from a long line of crutch wielding folks, especially women, and, yeah, I don't know any other way to be. Otherwise, the alternative is crying. So I would much rather be laughing and and and so I. I try to use that as a management style in, in business or even in. I do a lot of writing for work, whether it's articles or just emails or Reports, anything it's. It's almost like I think of it as taking your medicine with sugar. I feel like things go down better and are accepted better with humor, although I have heard Contrary opinions where people sometimes people will say oh you, if you use too much humor, people will think you're dumb or they won't take you seriously. But I would rather roll the dice in that way.

Speaker 2:

I feel the payoff is better. The payoff for me. I feel better being being nice and Good. It like good spirit. I'm positive spirited. Humor like not insult humor, the yeah, whatever the opposite of in. Yeah and not toxic positivity either. I don't know, just like, just I don't know just being.

Speaker 1:

Well, you can do it to build people up and to make people feel better than to make people feel worse.

Speaker 1:

For sure, and I'm with you, I think that Research has proven that people with a good sense of humor are more intelligent than people that are not most of the time, and it takes Intelligence to make random connections and and things that make people laugh and and are witty.

Speaker 1:

And I also think that People that think you need to be serious in certain situations don't they overestimate productivity and they underestimate Relationships and connection and creativity, and that when you really zoom back yeah, okay, so you're gonna be a jerk all the time. Well, there's a reason why the good guys always win in movie is it's because they have friends and people want to bail them out and People are forgiving of their mistakes, where if you run around like a jerk all the time, people will knock you down a peg when you mess up, like they're not gonna be as as forgiving and so sure. If you can win and you can be right and perfect all the time, you know, maybe good luck to you, but If you're not, I'd rather have fun and have people around me that want to be around me and want to help me out.

Speaker 2:

Yes, exactly, I agree, I agree with that.

Speaker 1:

Alright, are you ready to play a game?

Speaker 2:

I think so. We'll see, we'll find out.

Speaker 1:

We're gonna try awkward questions. I feel like you're somebody that could handle a good awkward question, so I have a few for you here. Your church pastor tells you that there is going to be a great flood. It's coming soon and we need ten dollars to reserve your space on the arc. Do you go, yes or no?

Speaker 2:

No, no, I don't, I don't go Because. I'm pretty sure I've heard about this pastor on a true crime podcast.

Speaker 1:

There you go, the skeptical one. I like it, I should have known. Alright. Now here's one the other way. If you find a wallet, it's containing five hundred dollars and a driver's license. Do you attempt to return the money?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I do. That's good. I don't want to get thrown in jail. I mean like now.

Speaker 1:

It's not stealing if they lost it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but it feels like stealing. I don't know. It's got a person's face attached to it. It's not like finding Just dollars on the street.

Speaker 1:

You know that's Money in your own winter jacket from last year is the best money, oh yeah, yeah. I Agree, I return the money as well. It just makes somebody else feel good. You know, I get so many chances to really make somebody else's day. Oh, yeah, okay. Which animal would you rather have as an indoor pet Instead of your pink poodle, a pig or a rooster?

Speaker 2:

Oh Wow, maybe a pig, one of those cute little pot belly pigs that are accustomed to living indoors? Yeah, I like that.

Speaker 1:

One too. Two more would you rather have diarrhea or a broken bone, broken toe?

Speaker 2:

Oh, maybe no. Well, I've never had a broken toe before, so I'm gonna go with a broken toe, just to for some variety.

Speaker 1:

I Think the length of time matters here, but I feel like diarrhea is shorter than a toe.

Speaker 2:

That's true, Okay you're switching.

Speaker 1:

Did I talk you into it?

Speaker 2:

No, no, I'll go with the toe, I'll go.

Speaker 1:

Which would you rather appear on a popular sitcom or a popular music video?

Speaker 2:

Oh, sitcom, a thousand percent, yeah, in fact, slap my name on that sitcom and I'll. I'll produce it, I'll write it, I'll act in it, I'll. You know, it'll be this, the start of an empire, and there will be a spin-off and A comeback and all that stuff.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you nailed it. There's our sitcom laugh okay, that means you win. You get a free 30 second commercial here for pink poodle productions. Anything we can do to help you or you can do to help us well, thank you.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for spending your time today listening to bits and pieces about pink poodle productions and Keep an eye out for us in the future. We're, we're, we're lurking in a good way, and we might find a Path into your home or your device by way of some kind of interesting entertainment in the future. So, beyond, high alert for pink poodle productions.

Speaker 1:

And if you want to make a true crime podcast, go to pink poodle productions Dot com. Marlene Sharp has been our guest. Thank you so much, marlene, for being on the show again. Thank you for listening. Like share this one comment it always helps if you leave us a five star review on iTunes or Wherever you are listening or watching to this and send it to somebody that you think needs to hear it. I think a lot of times people need a little pick me up or they need to know some behind-the-scenes action on what it's like actually be in playful positions and playful careers. And don't forget that quiz at the website playfulhumanscom Slash quiz until next time. If you can't be good, be good at it. That's what I always say.

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