Saturday, January 21, 2012

Life Imitating Life

A while back I wrote about the frequent but implausible way things happen in twos. I coined the occurrence a God Wink. Say the word ramp then you hear someone on TV say the word ramp a beat after you. That's a God Wink. Just a little nudge that suggests the randomness may not be that random after all. Though clearly beyond our scope of current understanding.

I recently listened to a set I did in Sacramento. Watching yourself is tough but if you don't know your past... I was doing my new favorite joke. In the joke a disgruntled person at a hospital asks to speak to a manager. Don't worry I haven't given away the meat and potatoes of the joke. While my made up character was complaining to a made up worker some guy in the audience near my camera was complaining to a real waitress and demanding to speak to a real manager. Apparently his beef was over the two drink minimum. Seemed he thought getting a hot tea and then having it refilled should count as two drinks. I didn't notice while I was on stage. A sign of the professionalism of the Punchline staff. Also, a sign that I was doing well and the laughter of the less miserly patrons drowned out Old One Tea Willie.

The man actually said the word manager a beat after my character did. I could tell at that point he was no longer listening to me so we independently asked to speak to a manager at the same time. Neither my character or One Tea Willie got what they wanted but I got a God Wink and another reason to suck it up and watch one of my sets every now and then.

Quick Side Note:

I once experienced a God Wink on my way to get pho (Vietnamese noodle soup)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Speak Of The Devil...

I wrote a blog just 12 hours ago about seeing Charlie Murphy do stand-up. Two thumbs up for darkness. In that blog I mention some of the other actors turned comics who didn’t fare as well as C. Murphy. Most notable are Charlie Sheen and everyone’s favorite house guest Kato Kaelin.

I wasn’t prepared to see Kato Kaelin in person just 4 hours after I posted the blog. The world is a small place when you’re putting people on blast. I felt bad because I could see Kato in the audience enjoying my stand-up. The harder he laughed the worse I felt. What if he really dug my stuff and decides to look me up. Maybe read my blog and the 1st thing he reads is me tearing him a new one.

I don’t take back what I said. I think Kato would agree that Stand-up wasn’t his bag. His audience skills are impeccable though. Seriously, if I had an extra house, I’d let him stay in it.

Maybe my next blog will be about Gabrielle Union.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Follow The Darkness

Most comics don’t take kindly to famous non-comics jumping into comedy to cash in on their fame. Sure, they can fill a room with people but they usually proceed to disappoint those people. Any bad show, especially one that cost top dollar, is a black eye on comedy. I don’t put people on blast as we do live in a free country and audiences exercise free will when they buy tickets to see someone do something they have never done. What people don’t realize is learning to do something after you’re famous is extremely difficult. I wouldn’t charge people to watch me learn how to play piano.

I feel like an example is in order. Again, this isn’t putting someone on blast as much as it is making a case in point. Charlie Sheen, hilarious actor, but he owes 4700 people in Detroit their money back. Kato Kaelin tried his hand at comedy and so did John Bobbit. One is famous for living in a guest house and the other is famous for being the 1st member of the lost member club. They had as much business doing comedy as I have getting a job rolling sushi.

So it was with some trepidation that I went to see Charlie Murphy do comedy. Sure he was hilarious on Chappelle but stand-up is a different animal. My stomach couldn’t bear seeing someone with Murphy as a last name not be good but I told my man Kwame Siegel, who opened for Charile, that I’d come thru.

Charlie hit the stage and I immediately let out a big “Whew!” He was good. In fact he was very good and his acting chops actually made for a great show. It was like watching a stand-up who wasn’t needy at all and really focused on connecting with his audience 1st and making them laugh a close 2nd. I was with Charlie Murphy every step of the way. He was at all times honest and funny. Some good stand-ups might get more laughs but few comics would have a show that was as enjoyable as Charlie’s. I actually learned from watching him. Lessons can come from the most unexpected places.

My prognosis for Charlie Murphy is that he will only continue to grow and get better. Hat’s off to Darkness. You did your thing family. Brooklyn we go hard!

You’re a Real Hot Mess...Won’t You Back That Thing Up

Most Bally’s shower stalls don’t have curtains. It makes for looking straight ahead showering. Some smaller Bally’s don’t even have shower stalls, just a big room with several shower heads. That makes for heading straight home without showering.

In the Glendale, CA Bally’s the big shower room is adjacent to the toilet stall and sink. It’s usually empty or there’s a guy showering super fast, as if he’s getting charged by the second. A communal shower room is not the place to get clean. It’s more of a place to quickly rinse off the stink. So imagine my surprise and horror when I looked up from the urinal and saw a guy in the shower room sitting down on the floor, pensively with his head in his hands, as water fell on him. No shower shoes on, sitting down on the floor. I wouldn’t do that in my own shower.

Apparently, the man and his antics are a staple in the gym. Good to know a membership to the Glendale Bally’s comes with a resident crazy guy.

How does someone get to the point where they’re sitting on a public shower floor nude for 30 minutes a pop? That’s a story I think any mildly curious person would want to know. Was the man always a little touched? Did he drop some diabolical acid? Was he left at the alter and vowed to spend the rest of his days making people in various gyms uncomfortable? Perhaps his runaway bride was a personal trainer?

See, the possibilities are endless. Crazy is never the story. How the crazy was born is a tale for the ages. I want to see this guy’s prequel. What’s his Episode 1 that turned him into the Bally menace?

With networks and websites always pining for more content, I have an idea that will revolutionize programming. I say we extract the highlights from touched people and make them downloadable either into your computer or phone, for now and later on directly into your head. What could more entertaining than seeing how a Phi Betta Kappa become a person who collects plastic bags on Sunset Blvd. in preparation for the return of his mother ship? Even if the person was always a bit off, had a normal life and there was no inciting incident the story will still be a page turner when you add in the director’s commentary. That’s the wayward person explaining their own story...

CRAZY COMMENTARY: See how that table is mocking me? That’s why I hit it with my head.

The good thing is the “Behind The Crazy” series will never run out of subjects to showcase. I see the series eventually expanding to include “Behind The A-hole” and “Behind The Magician” What drives someone to pull quarters out of people’s ears? Until we figure out how to extract people’s memories, I’ll just have to fill in the back stories.

Never fall for a personal trainer unless you’re sure they feel the same lest you find yourself sitting on a cold floor all wet.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Irregular Regular

I walked into Starbucks near Queensway Rd. in the Bayswater section of London. 6 months ago I was in there almost daily for a span of 3 weeks. 6 months before that I was in there daily for a different 3 week span. It felt like I had just been there the day before as opposed to 6 months ago.

The same two baristas anchored the coffee bar. Did they recognize me? Did they wonder why I'm a fixture for 3 weeks at a pop then disappear for 6 months? If I was friendly enough or odd enough during my 3 week spans, could I lead them to believe that I live in London?

Then I wondered about their lives. What had transpired since our last tea/money exchange. Had they found love, lost love. Maybe this guy/girl barista duo dated but thought it wiser to remain friends. Maybe they're magical in the Starbucks galley but clash in real life and had to learn the hard way that foam and love don't mix. Or maybe they had been too busy with life's day in and day out drudgery to reach any milestones. Maybe nothing significant has happened in that time frame. Or, maybe no outward change took place but revelations had. Maybe epiphanies not visible to the naked eye had transformed them into new beings.

Then back to me. Was I a better person an improved comic? Maybe my goals should be synced with these UK trips. Maybe I'll comprise a list of things to do before I see the dynamic duo again. Or maybe they'll have moved on when I come back.

I remember being 5 years out of college, living in Boston and people in front of my mother's New York building me asking me how school was going. Did they think I was pursuing a triple doctorate or had they let time pass them by? Next time I'm in Bayswater, I must tell the friendly baristas of all my travels and biddings. That is if the line behind me isn't too long.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Being on TV Never gets Old

It really never does. Even though I frequently see friends pop up on shows and in commercials. At times, for me, watching TV feels like sifting through a yearbook.

Still, knowing that I'll be broadcasted to millions (alright, maybe hundreds of thousands in our 300 channels era) provides me with a charge of pride and slight nerves every time. TV is the culmination of work. Even if it's just doing 5 minutes on a late night talk show. That five minutes was painstakingly forged in nightclubs and bars, build up and then chiseled down to it's most potent most TV acceptable essence. Getting on TV is my reward for powering through all the nights doing comedy. The work parties, the loud bars, the drunk crowds, the tired crowds, the people paying their bill or ordering while you're performing. Powering through with material and not only snaps. Making people feel your point whether they're primed to or not.

Don't get me wrong, I love it. I'm not complaining just sharing the other side. Even NBA players begrudgingly practice but they do it to enhance what they do love doing, playing ball.

For a comic, the ultimate "playing ball" is performing on TV. It's like having a nationally televised game against your main rival. It's Monday night football. It's the playoffs.

I had a playoff game last night. And it felt good to leave it all out on the floor.

Thanks to Conan and TBS for having me. And thanks every audience member in every club for helping me work on my cross over.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

I Never Get Turned Down

When I think of things that are useless, hotel turn down service is near the top of the list. So someone comes to your room and basically starts the comforter move for you but only slightly in one corner. Does anyone have this service at home? Is anyone so rich or so pampered that they need someone to put a crease in their comforter at night?

Maybe these same people pay someone to open potato chip bags for them or rub their eyes in the morning.

Hey fancy hotel: If you want to check my mini bar, just ask. Don’t enter my room under the guise of performing the most meaningless and borderline insulting task you can think of. If you must come in, how about you loosen the nazi comforter tuck at the bottom of the bed. Muay Thai champion kick boxers can’t kick those comforters loose.

Just give me free wifi and plenty of tea and I’ll put the do not disturb sign out. So the bed never gets made. Can’t turn down a mess. Are we still talking about beds or my dating life? :-)

Monday, January 02, 2012

An Inside Job

An extra big shout out and thank you to all the kind people of Belfast, Ireland. Especially all the fine folks at the comedy show at the Empire Hall last Tuesday. My comedy goes over extremely well in Ireland.

I almost didn't make it to the gig though. After spending an extra 15 minutes in screening at the Statsted Airport in London because of a large can of deodarant spray I forgot I had, I then hoped on the wrong train. Once on the train, I looked up and realized it wasn't in fact going to my gate. Okay, I still had 20 minutes before boarding. I'll just get off the train and take the next train back to the main area and get back on track, right? Right?

As it turns out there was no way back to the other gates. What?! As embarrassing as it is for a frequent traveler like myself to get on the wrong tram, it's equally unacceptable for an airport to have no provisions for a person to correct a mistake. It's not like I went to the other side of security.

I had to call the airport hotline and wait for someone to get me. I was at gate 6 and needed to get to gate 86. I thought about my deodorant debacle and now stranded at gate 6. Maybe I wasn't meant to be on the flight. Was fate pimp slapping me? After waiting another 10 minutes for my escort my flight was boarding and I had gone from having plenty of time to "we gotta haul ass...mate!"

My escort adeptly swept me thru the airport labryinth. We went thru secret passageways and locked doors. At each turn a swipe of his security card gave us entry thru another portal. Then we hoped in a small van he had waiting outside gate 20. We whizzed around the airport terminal and stopped 30 yards away from my plane. We ran into a staff elevator and came out a few feet from the boarding door. We had gone from gate 6 to 86 in 5 minutes . I felt like I had just watched a magician from behind and saw how the tricks were really done. I've seen parts of Statsted airport no other civilian has seen. Well, no one except the other people who hop on the wrong tram.

They don't put as much money into the interior design of the non-public parts of the airport btw. Although I think Stansted airport should rethink that whole having to escort people who take the wrong train thing, I still thank them for a fun little field trip and seeing to it that I made it to Belfast.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Theme

Happy Year of Our Lord two thousand and twelve. I’m never really pressed to do my resolutions on Jan 1st as my birthday and hence my new year is on March 21st. I dream of a world where people born on the same day gather throughout the year to countdown their new year, lower a dodge ball in town squares throughout the world and scream “Happy Our New Year!”

Of course it would only be a matter of time before someone pointed out that they were each born at a different time of the day. And then people born on April 3rd at 4:38am, EST would have to gather every year around 2am to party hard (probably via skype.)

So, logistics dictate that I be okay with bringing in the new year with the rest of the world, China notwithstanding. It’s not actually resolutions that I seek to have in place by my birthday but more my yearly theme. Past personal themes have included:

  • Year of the Stir Fry (I stir fried once all year)
  • Year of the Alliance (same year as the stir fry. I faired better on this working with 3 writing partners and shoot several shorts)
  • Year of the Early Bird (so-so results but immediately followed by the....)
  • Year of the Curfew
  • Year of Aint No Half Steppin’ (the 1st year I started all this theme business and stand-up comedy not so coincidentally)

The themes are a neat way to keep me on message and connect my specific goals by way of a shared focus.

I was at a lost of what this year’s theme should be and then it hit me like a sack leaves (It wasn’t the most epic of revelations.) I’m happy with my overall objectives and work ethic. I just need to do the little things a bit better. So my preliminary choice was “The Year of Crossing T’s and Dotting I’s.”

Ultimately, I hope to do everything right as a matter of fact. But a key component of this is to see things through to the very end. It’s when you’re think you’re done that you need to do just a bit more. Basically in Basketball that would be the extra pass. The little effort after what seems like the logical conclusion that makes finishing so much easier. That’s what I wish to consistently do, make the proverbial extra pass. It requires a bit more mental energy but actually makes overall execution easier while also making the payoff greater. So after some consideration this year will be...

The Year Of The Extra Pass

It’s about winning while making it easier on yourself. It’s staying in the moment in all things. To see the opportunity that’s there but would be over looked if lack of focus or anxiousness got the best the of you. 2012, get ready for a lot of extra passes and plenty of slam dunks. Hello.