Monday, December 17, 2007

Day 70: Mo' impressions 12/10/07

Tonight is was time for Hip-hop Poetry Revue revamp. I brought it down to Patrick Stewart, George Gaynes and Toby Macguire reciting "Big Pimin'", "Mama Said Knock You Out" and "Me So Horny" respectively. It went better, but I have to work on Patrick Stewart more and streamline his piece. I also have to include a lot more references to the shows that those actors are in. Over all I'm not sure if this bit works as well as the impressions I already do of them, but I gotta test it a few more times to be sure. Refining's a bitch.

Lesson: Condensing is never bad.

Back-up lesson: Best not to stay married to a bit. Just because you love her, doesn't mean it was meant to be.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Day 69: Racism, still funny 12/9/07

Did some new stuff at open mic. I was planning on revamping the Hip-Hop poetry review but I left the lyrics of "Me So Horny" at home (how many times in your life do you get to utter that sentence). I brought out some one liners and metal voice again and tried some racy stuff.

There was a menorah with Christmas lights on the wall so a lot of people were making Jewish jokes so I tried this one I thought of, but never pitched, about an online Jewish dating service. It was a cheap laugh. Then I had this gay pride tag to the Christian Comix bit that a buddy helped me flush out. It had a racist tag at the end that was really funny. I did it and got some groans at the end. Then semi-off the cuff I mentioned, "it's all right, I can do that joke because the person that helped me write it is also white," which got a big laugh.

I've been flirting with this type of material for awhile. I love jokes like that with out them being gratuitous and being a straight white male, that's a thin line I walk. Somehow coming out of that joke with a joke about being white made it OK. Which seems backwards but if you think about it, if you apologize for something like that then it becomes something wrong as you knowingly said it with a guilty conscience. If you believe jokes are jokes (as I do) and stick to your guns, people (for the most part) will stand by you.

Lesson: Racism is funny.

Back-up lesson: Commitment to any material (the material, not the ideas behind them) that might be offensive will take away the offence.

Day 68: Night of the living Hecklers 12/8/07

Well, in terms of my performance, tonight is really a repeat of last night. I did the 2nd show, did the same set, got a good reaction out of a small crowd, yadda yadda yadda.

But that's not what was interesting.

The first show Kevin Hyder (one of the Peoples Republik of Komedy founders and kind enough to be my ride this particular night) did a guest set and he was doing a bit about GM donating letters to troops when this guy starts yelling "Say something funny, we're here for comedy." My take is that he wasn't into the subject matter. Kevin dealt with it in stride and went into his next bit, which is about how he has a hard time with intolerance. The crowd went wild and got on his page really quick. He gave the dude a few slights (referring at one point to "comedophobia") and left with dignity. When Auggie Smith went up to do his set he started with a disclaimer that he'll be telling jokes and if the audience can remain patient he would get to the punchline.

It didn't stop there for Auggie. All during his set there was a random douchebag talking to his girlfriend throughout the set. Auggie at one point walked out into the audience mid bit and stopped to tell the guy to be quiet. Later in the set he stopped and yelled at him until he left. Apparently there was a fight with said guy and another comedian in the parking lot after that. I'm sorry I missed it.

2nd show showdown. The night started with some drunk lady yelling stupid shit out during each set. I'll cut to the chase. Auggie started, she blurted something out and he yelled "Goddammit, two shows in a row" and went off on her until her and her boyfriend left. Apparently there was almost a fight with the boyfriend and one of the comedians. I'm sorry I missed it.

Now I've been lucky that I really haven't had to deal with a heckler yet. This seems like an inevitable reality. I liked Kevin's calm response of going into his next bid and throwing slights at the dude, but I think I might end up more like Auggie and getting very aggressive and yelling at the person. I really don't think there's a right answer for it as long as alcohol is permitted by the United States Government. I guess tonight reminded me it could happen at any time.

Lesson: Be ready for hecklers.

Back-up lesson: Go outside after a heckler leaves and you might get to see a fight.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Day 67: Auggie Smith 12/8/07

Tonight I did a guest set at the Mainstage for a comedian named Auggie Smith. I'll get to him. He did two shows tonight and I wanted to do a guest set for both shows. There ended up being too many comedians and not enough time so I volunteered to sit out of the first show. When I watched the show I was so bummed that I sat out because the audience was hot. They laughed at everything thrown at them. I could've destroyed that room so I was kicking myself.

Then Auggie Smith went up... I'll get to him.

I did a set in the second show and there was 10-15 people there. Fuck. Then it occurred to me: Doing the last show would've been easy and fun, but this room is the challenge. Yeah I could've done a lot of damage to that first crowd but the IF is more intriguing with this crowd. I pull out my "hits" set (bumbershoot, Nicole, Toby, Cheesecake Factory) turned it up to 11 and killed 'em. Even though they were a small crowd they were a great crowd and I can tell they liked me. While it would have been great to do both sets, the choice between and easy win and a challenge should always be for the challenge.

Now Auggie Smith.

I went to see this guy because a couple of people said my style reminded me of him and that he was very, very good. Having seen him he's definitely the comedian that I want to be. He had a clear message with his set, but it never stood in the way of being incredibly funny. He had a relaxed demeanor while at the same time having a lot of presence and energy on stage. He was a clear pro that was in control the whole time. He was amazing and seeing him lit a huge fire under my ass as to what I want to be as a comic. (Danielle shot called that by the way). Look him up, buy his stuff, love him.

Lesson: The high road will lead you to greener pasture.

Back-up lesson: You'll hear your voice as much in professionals as you will in yourself.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Day 66: Impressions 12/5/07

Comedy Jam at Comedy Underground. There was a small quiet audience tonight and I wanted to try new material. Do I do my Political stuff again, or do I try this impression set I've put together but not tested. Luckily for me, Travis Simmons went up before me and did political jokes AND impressions. The impressions took. I knew my course.

A few years ago I decided my audition for Saturday Night Live would be a sketch called "The Christopher Lee Hip-Hop Poetry Revue", where I do impressions of actors reading rap lyrics as poetry. I put it up tonight. It features Christopher Lee reading "Southern Hospitality" by Ludacris, Patrick Stewart reading "Big Pimpin'" by Jay-Z, Toby MacGuire reading "Me So Horny" by 2 Live Crew, George Gaynes reading "Mama Said Knock You Out" by LL Cool J, and John Giulgud reading "Bitches Ain't Shit" by Snoop Doggy Dog.

It got a decent reaction in parts so I think I know where I need to streamline it though. The horrific tragedy is that I don't think too many people know who Christopher Lee is and I may need to change it to "The Patrick Stewart Hip-Hop Poetry Review". In my heart I know Christopher Lee is more funny, but what's more important, being right or making audiences laugh? Being right clearly, it's a good thing I'm a sell-out though.

Lesson: Take the plunge and test new things on a cold audience, you can learn a lot about them.

Back-up lesson: All right, all right, it actually IS more important to make audiences laugh than to be right.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Day 65: Walk-Through 12/3/07

Tonight there were only two audience members at the Underground, so instead of doing a full open mic they did what is called a Walk-Through, which I’ve never heard of before. Everybody just walks up at random for about a minute and does the dirtiest shit they can think of. That’s most of the material that I have so let the games begin.

It was a lot of fun not having any pressure and just being able to goof off. I screamed everyone’s name when they went up to the stage. I think I irritated some people. Don’t care, it was fun. Some people did their normal material. Some people made their normal material darker. Some people made up really dark shit. Most of the time everyone was laughing.

I went up close to the last. I made a joke about child molesting, extended my miscarriage bit, talked about my friends dead in utero baby, then left with racism and sexism. People laughed I was happy. I did pull one punch in not dropping the N-bomb. I feel like a pussy now. Solomon got mad at me, “Look, I said Honky three times, next time say ‘nigger’.” I’m sorry Solomon. I’m sorry black people.

I had some new shit that I’m really proud of that I wanted to put up tonight. That’s the nice thing about having a next time. We can fuck-off and have a night of it.

Lesson: No reason not to take full advantage of no pressure.

Back-up lesson: Solomon says it’s OK to drop the n-bomb.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Day 64: Politix 12/02/07

So I've been trying to work on political stuff for awhile. It's hard because a) not a lot of people give a shit about politics and b) it's very trod upon territory. So why do I want to go there? I don't know. I'm very into politics and I like the challenge of bringing it out in a way that's original, poignent and funny. No easy feat.

Most of my set tonight I've put up before, in bits and pieces. Some of it has worked and some of it hasn't. Tonight I attempted to streamline it all together with some new stuff I've prepped. My set was B. Clinton(newish), Mit Romney(newish), Giuliani (brand new), Republican debates(older) and Democrat Debates (older). I pitched it at writing circle tonight and it didn't work that well, but enough of it did that I decided to put it up anyway, not expecting magic, but to see what (if anything) I could keep.

The weird part is that it went very well. I did not expect that, especially after writing circle. B. Clinton is a cheap laugh, but a goodie. Mit Romney gets its oohs and aaahs. Giuliani didn't work as well (it relies on me doing a good impression of him... which I can't do yet), but I pulled out of that bit at the end. Debates did well even though they tanked before. I think having the context helped.

It just felt good to have a good set. It's been awhile. I slept ('til 3:30 in the afternoon) which helped. I also went up without a lot of expectation, which I think relaxed me and didn't put too much pressure on the set. Fun night. Writing circle was back in effect and the whole gang was there doing well. It's good to be a comedian again.

Lesson: Do material you like, you can get it to where it's good.

Back-up lesson: The less pressure you put on yourself, the easier the set.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day 63: Entertainment Show 11/26/07

"Entertainment Show" is a show put on by two fine gentlemen named Kevin and Travis, which has comedy, music, film and sketches and is a very good time. They were kind enough to invite me to perform 10 minutes for them. I was unkind enough to reward them with mediocrity.

I didn't get much sleep the night before, which has been an ongoing thing. I was the first comic up and had no energy. I didn't hook the audience and it was an uphill battle to get them on my page by the end of the set. I did, but once again I performed at a C and not an A, AND that happened on my 2nd big show in a row. Not coincidentally a lack of sleep has been a common factor in both sets. Fuck.

The rest of the show was great, I just wish I could've been a participant in the greatness. I have to get my shit together for these shows and be pumped and ready for them.

You know what, it's actually bigger than that. I've hit a comedy wall. I'm performing at substandard levels constantly, my jokes aren't landing as much, I'm having a hard time feeling it. Maybe it's because of the distance or I don't know what, but it's frustrating and making me question the whole thing again. I feel like I'm on the precipice again which could mean that I'm set up for another evolution, or it means that this is as good as I'm going to get, I hit the ceiling and I should cut out while the goings good.

I'm not going to cut out yet, but any "evolution" is going to have to come from me kicking my own ass. I can't rely on some divine intervention to get back into the swing of shit, and yet I have to get back into the swing of shit or fall back into comedy obscurity. Really the only thing keeping me afloat right now is being tied to Danielle and Solomon, who are universally loved. Plus they're black so I get street cred.

Goddammit I hope to give you another "Oh my God I fucking killed" post soon, for the both of us.

No, fuck that, I WILL give you another "Oh My God I Fucking Killed" post soon. Hope is for pussies!

Lesson: Sleep.

Back-up lesson: Kick my own ass.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 62: METAL!!!! 11/18/07

Short set at the underground. The only thing to bring up is that I tried a new bit. I was excited about it. It’s a cheesy bit that involves saying cheap pick-up lines in a death metal singing voice. The fun part is that I’ve practiced death metal singing since high school and I sing (read: scream) in a improv-noise-death-metal group so I’m pretty good at it. Well it worked. It didn’t kill but it worked and I like the bit a lot so yay me. I put some other relatively new stuff up that worked OK (Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson) and closed it out with “Bidet Impressions.” Mission accomplished. Good times.

Lesson: If you love it, even if it’s out there, do it. The work is in the reward.

Back-up lesson: Take advantage of your skill sets, no matter how ridiculous they are.

Day 61: Best Death Ever 11/15/07

Tonight’s performance takes place at the Green Tortoise Youth Hostel. That should be fun. I wasn’t slated to perform, but Seth, who runs the show, put me up, which was nice of him, and unfortunate.

It was the cafeteria area for the hostel… now put yourself in their shoes; you’ve been traveling in a stinky bus or hitchhiking to get to Seattle, when you get there you have to walk around in the pouring rain to find this place and you’re starving. Finally you sit down to enjoy your make-shift tacos and then… COMEDY!

What I’m saying is that it was a tough crowd.

I did something for the hell of it which was to not prep a set and see how I could float on my own. The first two comics had a hard time with the crowd getting light giggles at best here and there. I fared no better. I attempted thing that they could not possibly get the reference for (Bumbershoot, Nicole Ritchie). I attempted drinking/drugs to which they laughed at the dirty part. OK so I gave them Neuva ring which SANK. I pulled it out a bit with Cheesecake Factory and got some response at the end. Over all I did not do well.

Here’s the weird part… I had a great time. I realized early on that I was out of my element in terms of having ANY idea on how to get this crowd on my side. So I didn’t worry about it and then it was like playing solitaire: if I won, great, if not, myeh. In a way I got to watch this set outside of myself and enjoy it from that perspective.

Inner monologue: “Wow Jake, you are not doing well with them.”

Other inner monologue: “You are right about that Jake. I am not.”

There is a freedom in acknowledging the reality of your situation. It allows you to let go of expectation.

Harlem Blue (of Faire Gallery fame) saved the day with an amazing high energy set. He demanded their attention and then worked at level 10 the whole time and kept their focus until toward the end. It was great, and since I wasn’t beating myself up about my set I could watch what he did with his and take it with me. Next time I don’t know what to do, go high and far. It’s worth the conversation any way.

Inner monologue: “Well Jake, that didn’t work either.”

Other inner monologue: “No Jake, back to the drawing board.”

Lesson: Let go of the sinking ship. Enjoy the view.

Back-up lesson: Pay attention to the successful people then steal their tricks.

Day 60: Choke Hole 11/14/07

Tonight was rough for me.

It’s my 2nd Laff Hole appearance and I’m stoked to get to do it again. The problems are that I haven’t been out much lately and that I’m fucking TIRED. That’s all right, I can rise above. I took a nap, got some food, I’m going to be great.

This time I have 7 minutes and I try to pull out some classic stuff. I want to do my classic fashion/cocaine/80s banger and finish off with drinking/drugs. There are several places I go horribly wrong. For one I don’t time my set. Awesome. For another 80s had no place being there as it had not been worked on or whittled down since I wrote it and it has been hit or miss. Brilliant. Did I mention that I was tired and out of practice. I get through half the set I wanted to do before I got the light and fumbled my way out of there.

Now, I didn’t die and it wasn’t bad. It was awkward and I flubbed some lines and jokes. Parts of 80s did all right and cocaine did pretty good. The problem was it was a C set when I really wanted an A set for that show. In frustration I stormed off after the show and went home with a pathetic excuse that I had to take my bag home.

Danielle calls wondering where I am. I tell her I’ll head back. This awesome comic named Xung Lam was going up and I genuinely didn’t want to miss him. On the walk back I realized what a baby I was being. I just did Laff Hole for the 2nd time and a lot of comics in the scene are clawing their eyes out to do that show. Not only that, but I’ve seen people absolutely bomb there and I was a far cry from that. It’s my fault I didn’t time my set and it’s my fault I didn’t stream line it but I can do that next time and there will be a next time. This happens to everybody and I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’m actually sitting pretty and it’s a slap in the face to people who haven’t gotten to do the show yet to cry about it. Hell, I got $10 bringing my total earnings in comedy to $142.50. Can’t complain.

Lesson: Prep harder for big shows, make sure your ready…

Back-up lesson: …but don’t take it so seriously. It’s only one night. Enjoy the valleys as well as the peaks.

Day 59: Redemption (sorta) 11/12/07

So clearly it’s been awhile since I’ve done comedy. Tonight was a simple goal: tighten up porno and Christian comics. The good news is that I got them under 3 minutes and felt good about that. The bad news is they didn’t get as much of a response. I think with porno I need to give it just a little more (not much though) set up because this time I blazed right through it. The pay off still worked (most important part). Christian comics works a little better but it needs to be stream lined.

It’s weird to approach an open mic with this much detailing. It used to be: Go up, talk, get through it, hope they laugh. Now I’m trying to accomplish surgery. I don’t know if this will work more for me or against me. I feel like this treatment can get all of my material to a really good place (or at the very least, whittle it down to a one liner). Also the more I do this, the more instinctual it becomes and I can hit these details more naturally. Well see. I made progress tonight, which is more than I can say for a lot of nights I go up.

Lesson: It’s all in the details.

Back-up lesson: You can boil it down too much.

Day 58: Teen Wolf Mutha’ Fucka’ 10/27/07

I don’t know if I can properly count this as a set, but what the hell.

Andrew Ioncio (sp?) had a comedy party. I discussed one he did a month or so ago and it was a good time. This was a Halloween party so the high jinx were in full effect.

For the past two years for Halloween I went as Teen Wolf 2005. Teen Wolf 2005 is the best last minute value village Halloween costume I ever came up with. It’s a basket ball jersey for the team “Hoop Dogs”, a Paws dog food bandanna, gym shorts and a wolf mask. The idea is this is the new incarnation of Teen Wolf, and if he did come back in 2005, times being what they are, he would be a total wigger (you know, half wolf, half wigger… what were you thinking racist?). So yeah, it’s a cheap costume and I jump around like an asshole and yell stupid shit.

SooooOOOOoooo… I get to the party late and Andy asks if I want to go up. All right… It’s Teen Wolf 2005 time. I worked out some shit in my head that I wanted to play with and play I did. It was a lot of fun and dare I say it might have legs for future appearances. I got enough material for 5 minutes. People laughed, then it was awkward, and then they laughed. It was fun and a good excuse to do some cheesy shit.

Lesson: Ummm… silly ideas can work too.

Back-up lesson: YOU CAN NOT FUCK WITH TEEN WOLF BITCHES!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Day 57: Faire Gallery 10/26/07

This was truly one of the most fun nights of comedy that I've had.

The Faire Gallery is a lovely little cafe' on Capitol Hill. The show is a similar vibe to Lo-Ball which I've described before. It was a weird night to have a show because it was the weekend before Halloween and everyone was out partying. Not very many customers were there, but there were a lot of comedians. This did not stop Blue.

Harlan Blue is a comedian that I've seen around since I've started. I only recently met him, but you never forget him on stage, whether he's had a good or a bad set. I had this big-deep-n-heavy about comedy the week before and he asked me to do this show with him. No prob. Now he's out on the street in an amazing dark suit with a pumpkin Orange tie hustling everyone that walks by to come it. It ends up working pretty well.

Notable among the audience is a couple from San Antonio TX who won a trip to Seattle through a sweepstakes, and used this particular night to just walk around and see what happened. Well they ended up here. Lucky them. Also there was a woman with insane cleavage. Luckily (well, unluckily as it turned out) I was working on a cleavage bit.

The show goes on. The vibe is great. Most of the comics are really funny. I go on a little early. I riff on the crowd. Attempt my cleavage bit. It didn't die but it didn't land. Ended up kinda awkward. Went into Christian comix, Toby, then imitations of the comics at the show. I learned a valuable lesson. Don't do imitations comics who have not gone up yet. Duh. Sometimes I have to learn the obvious the hard way.

Lots of comedians went up: Danielle Radford, Emmett Montgomery, Roger Lazola, Tony Daniels, all who did amazing sets. Lots of joy. Then the headliner was Andy Peters. I've mentioned him a few times here as he is probably my favorite local. He's amazing to watch, but this is the first time I've seen him headline. Hole. E. Shit. He was amazing. Riffed off of the crowd and the comedians the whole time, mixed in his jokes about 50/50 and the whole thing was gold.

It's the same as seeing an amazing rock show by a band that will be famous in a year, but tonight only 20 people are in the club. I felt like I was apart of this secret club that everyone will want to be apart of as soon as they hear about it. The people I do comedy with are Gods. I'm not their level yet, but for some reason they accept me and I can participate in some serious magic. I realized tonight that I'm in the Golden Age where everything is ideal and I'm apart of something pure and good. It wont always feel like this, and I don't know if I can take this with me, but tonight I was blessed for being in the right place at the right time with the right people to share it with.

Lesson: Relish the moment, that's why you do this.

Back-up lesson: Oh yeah and don't imitate comedians before they go on.

Day 56: Bring 'em up! 10/25/07

Tonight was Danielle's first shot at hosting for the Mainstage and I went to support. When I got there they were short on comedians so I ended up doing some guesting. The crazy thing was the headliner was a guy I remember from MTV's Half-hour Comedy Hour circa early 90's. That show was a big part of me wanting to become a comedian, and here was a guy that I have recorded on a video tape in a chest in my mom's garage. Weird. He was super nice and we talked about that set and some of his physical work (he trained to be a clown). Unfortunately I had rehearsal so I could not stay for his set.

Hosting and comedy are slightly different beasts. With comedy you can be yourself and hope people laugh. With hosting the job is more specific and deals more with energy and crowd control. It's something that comes easy for me because of my announcer/emcee background. Danielle had to learn that lesson cold tonight. Her set itself was great, but I think she felt like a fish out of water with the hosting thing and the audience was still a little quiet. Never fear, Jakee's here.

I started by pumping 'em up, albeit in a cheesy fashion. Then I went into my goods (Bumberbout, Nicole, Toby, Drinking then Cheesecake). They were loud and raucous (more or less) by the time I was done with them. Julie and the headliner said very nice things when I was heading out.

Hosting is a hard and thankless job (unless you get paid). It requires you to be more than just a comedian and it's often taken for granted. It's also poo-pood by most other comedians (again, unless you get paid). However, if you can get it down, it will help you out as a comedian because it gives you the power of crowd control and respect from the comedians you're hosting for.

Lesson: Hosting's hard, but worth it.

Back-up lesson: Talk to vets, even if their comedy is not your thing. You can always learn something from someone who stays in the game for 15 years.

Day 55: Frustration 10/22/07

All right, tonight's task was easy enough. I was going to trim down and edit "porno" and "Christian comics". Seemed simple, I hadn't put 'em up in awhile so I wanted to focus them a bit more. An easy three minutes.

Well, I got the light halfway through Christian comics so I couldn't finish it (i.e. give it the best part).

I was so pissed off. Mostly at myself for having them go so long as they did. I don't know why I was so frustrated but I ended up leaving early and annoyed. On the bus, after I simmered a bit, I thought of a couple of places to cut and condense even more than they already were. In all my bitterness (about something I really didn't need to be bitter about, this is what open mics are for), I figured out what I was trying to solve in the first place.

Lesson: Time your material before you go up

Back-up lesson: It's not the end of the world if you run out of time, or your set didn't go exactly as planned (especially at an open mic). There's another set around the corner.

(personal bonus, this is the first blog that I've completely spelled correctly the first time... I'm learning people!)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Addendum: Falling... falling

So it's been awhile since I've posted anything. I'm about 6 sets behind right now. I've been busy to be sure (moving for one, acting in a play for another), but that's just an excuse, and a cheap one at that. This whole blog thing is part of a bigger mechanism to keep me on track and to make me a better comedian. Not only is about you good readers (that I can count on one hand) holding me accountable for my work, but it also forces me to reflect on my set, learn from it, and use it towards the next one and so on and etc. If/when I don't use this, in a way, I might as well have not done a set, because I'm far less likely to take anything from it.

So it follows: Judging by actions, if I use this blog because I want to become a better comedian then when I don't use this blog it's because I DON'T want to become a better comedian. I clarified "judging by actions" because intentions are just excuses to justify shitty behavior. We can only go on actions to maintain any sense of accuracy. Digression. I don't want to become a better comedian. The evidence is that I'm not acting in accordance with becoming one (the blog for one, but there's other evidence, I haven't been prepping as hard for sets, not going out as much, not working new material, etc.). Well that's stupid and a waste of fucking time. Let's nip that in the bud now shall we? OK. The first question is why don't I want to become a better comedian?

Well, that answer can tie into why I waited until I was 31 to even try to be a comedian. Fear of success, fear of failure, etc. But I think it ties into something that all of us slip into and that's the path of least resistance. It's simply easier to not put in the work, the writing, the blogging, the recording, the listening, the hitting of mics etc... and to show up once in awhile, tell some jokes and rest on my laurels. It's also easy to JUSTIFY that mindset when you are on the path of least resistance. Here's the thing, you get nowhere slowly.

This is supposed to be hard. You're supposed to work for it. You're supposed to earn it. It's not supposed to be easy. Nothing you want is. If it were easy, I'd already have it.

OK so, knowing that, why have I slacked off? Why am I not pursuing comedy the way I should be?

The path of least resistance is conditioned into us from a very early age. We're trained to desire convenience. You have to stay focused when you stray from the path. There will be a lot of distractions, but you have to remain vigilant. If you lose that focus, if life throws a lot of distractions at once, you will habitually pull back onto the P.O.L.R. and stay on it as long as you let yourself get away with it.

The key is not to blame the distractions (like moving or being in a play or both at the same time, shit like that). It is, at the end of the day, you who made the choice to let the distractions win. When you do that you (meaning me of course) choose not to (well I choose not to) live your dream (be a better comedian).

In summery, I used distractions as an excuse to choose a life of convenience over becoming a better comedian. My comfort is more important than my dream.

Here's the thing: It's only more important AT THAT TIME! It's doesn't have to continue to be. I just have to pick up my commitment to my dream where I left off. I can always come back to it. Is this going to be the last time I fuck off and cruise easy street. No, I will have a breakdown and flake on everything I care about. That's all right so long as I remind myself what's important and come back to the path I want.

Well, here I am blogging again, so here I am training to be a better comedian. Here I am becoming a better comedian. I have some catching up to do. I'm about 5 or 6 shows behind. I have a lot of recordings to go through. And what's the next thing? There are other things I haven't even begun to do to live the dream. The important thing is that I'm here, now, writing this. Thank you for your help in keeping me here. You know who you are. Unless you don't. Then I'll tell you later.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Day 54: Headlining 10/20/07

The skinny: Danielle and I live in a warehouse (for the next 11 days anyway). James wants to have a birthday party for himself and his friend Jeff (previously mentioned) and have it be a comedy show. We agree it should be the writing circle performing it. To sum up: Birthday Party/Moving Out Party/Writing Circle Showcase/Comedy Show.

Line up: James hosts. Jeff and Paul do 5 minute guest spots. Danielle and Solomon do 15 minute features. I headline for 30.

Shit.

This is my biggest set yet. Plus it's for friends and friends of friends so the pressure is higher than the shows I've done before. Plus there's a lot of set-up, I have rehearsal that day, no time to prep, tired as fuck... here we go.

James is a great host. He has a lot of presence and charisma on stage, perfect for hosting. His bits land awesome. He has the honor and privilege of being the birthday boy too. He does great.

Jeff does his set. This is his 3rd time performing and he does incredible. I would define his jokes as mainstream, which is not to say they're not good because he has great angles and a terrific delivery. He's someone you could easily see on Comedy Central or Leno (I will probably never be on Leno). He worked his material with us earlier, took some advice, then trumped it with his performance. It was great.

Paul. Fucking. Destroyed. As solid a 5 minutes as I've ever seen. I hate him. He could write his ticket right now if he wanted, he just doesn't go out that much. I'll put him out there if I have to break his arm doing it. Amazing.

Guess what? Solomon killed. You're shocked, I know, so am I. He opened up with the Nword Krunk song. Don't ask, just know that I sing back up. He's got a really powerful 15 minute set. I hate him because he has one of the best call-back line ups I've seen (since Bill Hicks). I'm worried because our space isn't insured.

Danielle did awesome as usual. Everyone loves her and everyone always will. She did awesome crowd work and busted out the "candy" bit which will go down in history. She also had our friend Jody she got to fuck with. She was loved hard... HARD.

Then me.

It felt really good. For being my longest set I feel like I had everyone most of the way through. I started and ended with my strongest material. I experimented with something new in the middle that lost people for a bit, but I brought 'em back. The set is as follows

[Uh-oh, the setlist and my memory of it are gone. There is videotape somewhere and when I see it I will put it up]

The only time I lost 'em is when I tried a brand new piece I thought of that day. How weird that it didn't work. It was a "found item" piece, where you share something ridiculous you find with the crowd. In my case is was Christian propaganda that fronted as a informational postcard on the Space Needle. The mind boggles. I'm sure there's legs to it but maybe I shouldn't have presented it this night. I accidentally dropped 80's (on accident) and Porno (on purpose). No big deal.

I got a lot of positive feedback after the set. Some of the local comics showed up and said very nice things. A lot of the people I didn't know who were there really liked it. It's to big and weird to calibrate. We had our own show. This is some kind of benchmark we had been working towards and it happened. Jesus where do we go from here? Where's the next benchmark?

Lesson: Whatever we're doing, it's working.

Back-up lesson: If you want to do a show, just do it.

Additive to back-up lesson: Don't put more effort into doing your own shows than being funny. That way madness lies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Day 53: JAM! 10/17/07

Wednesdays at Comedy Underground mean "Comedy Jam". Comedy Jam is basically an open mic that's not advertised as an open mic. Less comics show up, but the ones that do are really good. This is probably my favorite night to perform at CU. I shot the shit (well, listened is more like it) with Andy Peters, Andy Sleighter, and Roger Lazola (three faves), while getting ready to rock. Just hanging out and listening to the comedians banter is a lesson in itself.

There's two people that run CU: Ron (who likes me) and Carl (who can't remember me). Ron's running the show tonight and lo and behold I go up first. I put up the new drinking/drugs and it went as good as it's gone yet! It was a great crowd, intimate yet fun. The nice thing about "drinking/drugs" is it's close to being A (it's cruising B+ now). I hope I can get the rest of my material there so that I have an A feature set soon. The nice thing about Comedy Jam is that it's a weird mid-point between open mic and show where you can see stuff land with a real audience. This is where the work is done.

Lesson: Jokes are never done, they only get better. You gotta get them good first though.

Back-up lesson: Listen to your peers, you can pick up something you would have missed otherwise.

Day 52: Gass II: The Quickening 10/15/07

Gass comes back. I decide to bust out some of my A-material (Bumbershoot, Nicole Ritchie, Toby, Neuva Ring). He was talking to Danielle on the stairs when I went up. Not only that but I was trying a bit too hard and it didn't land was well as usual. That's what I get. At least I brought my recorder this time.

After the open mic was over we got to shoot the shit with Craig and some other comics that were with him that were in the scene back in the day (the day being the mid 90s). It was amazing hearing the stories of comics that were doing the same shit we were and knowing that there is a continuum with this scene. The stories were really funny and fascinating at the same time. It's a weird thought that someday we're going to be telling these same stories to other wide eyed young comedians some day. There is something really comforting in that. I really like what I do.

Lesson: Open mics are for training... use them to train.

Backup lesson: You can learn a lot about your future by listening to your history.

Day 51: Return of Gass (it's not how it sounds) 10/14/07

First: Writing circle and we have great new bits. Danielle has one that takes her shit to the next level. I have one that's out there, but something I've had in my head for awhile. James and Paul have some really funny shit. We are joined by Jeff, James's friend, who is going to do a birthday/showcase with us in a week (more on that later... specifically Oct. 20th). His stuff is generic in theme, but he has some good twists to it.

Then: Open mic. I'm trying to get into character for my bit tonight, which is where I fake a nervous breakdown and turn it around into a very cliche' joke. It killed at the circle and I was excited but I also knew it was going to be hard. So I try to set up with everyone that I'm having a really bad night.

Then: I hear from John Sanders that Craig Gass is here. Craig is responsible for a huge wake-up call I had when I was really doubting myself with comedy (see "Day 18: Wake-Up Call"). I emailed him later and told him how much his set effected me and we had a brief and nice exchange. Well lo and behold he's here. I introduced myself to him and he was really cool. He took off where our email left off and gave me some humbling advice on not getting down on other "hack" comedians that I'm not into. If they're making people laugh, then they're doing something right and you can't dismiss that (I totally agree and am slightly embarrassed).

Then: I'm about to go up. Shit, why does he have to be here when I'm doing new stuff. Fuck. I do it. I was way over the top when I performed it and it didn't land that hard. Shit. Forgot my fucking recorder too. Shit. Oh well. I end with the new improved drinking... which did pretty good. Craig liked that part. He's a nice guy.

Then: Danielle did her new candy bit. Applause.

Then: He does his set, which is a shortened version of the one I saw before. Minds are blown. I'm right.

Finally: We say our good byes. He really liked Solomon. He's here all week. Good.

Lesson: I should really nail down the complicated stuff before I put it up. The more I like a bit the harder it will be to put up. The harder it is to perform the better a joke it will be when it's ready.

Backup lesson: If someone I want to impress is there... go with the good material, drop the new stuff...

Edit on Backup lesson: Actually the best way to impress someone you want to impress is to try not to impress them.

Day 50: Holy Shit 50 Sets!!! 10/12/07

Jesus. 50 sets. I didn't think it would get to this. It seems like a lot but I guess it's not if you think about it. Bill Hicks would perform 250 nights out of the year. I still feel like I just started, and in comic terms I have. I'm still a rookie after all. The thing with 50 is that I have always had this habit of starting something and flaking out a little bit into it. I was afraid of starting comedy for that very reason. Now I'm at 50, which means I can do 100, then 200, then die.

As far as the set goes... It was at Lo-Ball, which is my favorite room right now. Tonight was a showcase for new stuff. After my last Lo-Ball set I reconfigured Drinking/Drugs bit with the writing circle. I debuted it tonight and am a lot happier with it. I still think it needs a little more work but it's getting there. I put up Ben Stiller and Bill Clinton to little fanfare... just enough to think they don't need to be trashed yet... they just need work. When I got the light I went into impressions of other comedians doing "Bidet". Tonight it was Solomon, John Sanders and Emmet Montgomery. This is getting to be quite a popular bit, which makes sense because it's a tribute to other comics and tends to come off flattering. I like it. When I came up with it, it was just a fun idea, but now I'm thinking it's something I can take with me and use at other sets with comics I know.

Fun night all around. All the comics are great in this room (Derek Sheen, one of my top 5 in the scene, DESTROYED). It's free and relaxing and is what comedy is supposed to be. Afterward a bunch of us hung out at a bar and it's a weird thing to hang with other comedians (type-a personalities who like attention), but a good time anyway. It's a good life.

Lesson: I did 50... I could do 50 more.

Back-up lesson: A bit you might toss off might actually be gold (and vice versa).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Day 49: Kona 10/11/07

First time at the Kona Kitchen tonight. The rumor was that it was a really tough room. The reality is that it is a really empty room. Well at least tonight it was. Two audience, the other 13 people were comics. Since Kona is a new room for me (as far as comedy goes, I've spent many many karaoke hours there), I decided to go with my solid stuff (Bumbershoot, Toby, Nicole, Cheesecake). It went all right, but the problem was the majority of the people there were people who had seen that set ad nauseum. The other thing is that I didn't prep my set. I've gotten so comfortable with it that I just walked up and did it. Bad idea, no matter how many times I do something I need to take the time to run through it, other wise I end up floundering through it. Which I did. I could've just treated it like what it was, an open mic, and tested newer shit instead of trying to impress the choir. Next time I'm at Kona, maybe there will actually be people there.

Lesson: Prep, every time.

Back-up lesson: Comics have already seen my shit, if it's just us, bust the new stuff.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Day 48: Newbs 10/7/07

Ahhh... a good night.

Started off with writing circle. In attend are: Danielle, James, Paul, me, Josh Anderson in his comedy debut (who's probably going to end up putting the rest of us to shame) and special guest Richard Jensen. Richard is a good friend from Ashland OR that visits on his birthday. He's vloging his trip to Seattle which includes taping our writing and our sets. (Check his blog at blog.myspace.com/richardjensen for soon there will be intimate coverage of us... +it's one of my faves for political writing and all around Richard goodness). The circle was great. A lot of new stuff being thrown out there. I tried out a bunch of new bits that have been coming to me plus tried to restructure "non-drinker" which I think will be a lot more funny.

Then to Comedy Underground. Richard was goodly enough to video all of our sets. The fun part about tonight is that there are insanely drunk hecklers in the front. They really didn't mean any harm but they were intoxicated and thought it was audience participation. It's fascinating to see how other comics reacted to them. Some better than others. Danielle and James had great stuff. Josh was really good with them too (his first time up no less!). I did all right but jumbled what I said and got sidetracked. Andy Peters (probably my favorite local comic at this point) delivered genius with them. Look for him, watch him, he is the best.

A lot of people were (understandably) really upset with the hecklers. One comic went way to far. I liked the energy they brought to the crowd and what it did to/for the comics. This is an important hurdle to jump and open mic's as good a time as any to jump it.

So I tried out my new material: Wet-dream (did well), Owen Wilson (needs condensing, but all right), Bill Clinton (short but sweet), Bush (another short but sweet), Mit Romney (fucked up the premise so I abandoned it). I ended with Toby and exit.

Over all I think that my writing has improved a lot. The circle helps immeasurably. We get used to just knowing what works and doesn't and so every time we write something new we take care of most of the editing ourselves. That's why my old stuff is so clunky.

So we're gearing up for a showcase for our group on October 20th... if any of you read this lemme know and I'll give you the details.

Lesson: Heckling's a fact of comedy life. Learn how to get your licks in.

Back-up lesson: Writing circle is invaluable. Have it always.

Day 47: Blowing the dust off 10/5/07

Another fantastic night at Lo-Ball, many good comedians, many laughs... but enough about them, on to me.

I tried an old bit ("old" is probably not very appropriate as I've been doing this for eight months... with three months off in the middle) that I haven't put up in awhile and I was curious how it would do. This was "Non-drinker": as it turns out, not that well.

There are two kinds of learning experiences you can have at an open mic: Hot rooms and Cold rooms. In a cold room (where no one's really laughing at anything), if you get a laugh, you know a bit is good, because you had to earn the laugh. The rest of the stuff, may have potential and needs work, or should be canned, but it's hard to tell. Lo-Ball is a Hot room usually, so if a bit DOESN'T work there, it should be let go of, while if you get a laugh it's either good or needs work. Going back and forth between hot and cold rooms is a great way to test exactly what material lands, falls, and needs work.

Point being: "Non-drinker" needs work. Some of it went OK and some parts landed, but over all it was not the laugh hilarity that I usually like to inspire in a crowd. This is good for two reasons. One is that I'd like to get as much of my old material up to my strong list and I need to know what needs help, clearly this does. The other reason this is good is that I felt myself starting to get arrogant. I'm in NO place to afford arrogance now, so I need to be reminded that a lot of my shit is still far from gold.

Lesson: Not all of the stuff I thought work does... polish it off and make it shiny

Back-up Lesson: Alternate Hot and Cold rooms to know where your stuff really is.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Day 46: Wasted Time 10/2/07

So I just got back from Austin and I'm fucking tired but what the hell, I'll brave Mainstage's music/comedy open mic. When I get there, surprise, things are in disarray. Cutting to the chase the comics take the first half-hour and the most notable set is Lydia who is like a tornado destroying (the good destroying) every room she passes through. After that there's about 45 minutes of music, then James and I go.

I'm not really feeling it so I beta test the "Newgarden" bit. It got chuckles but in my heart I knew it wasn't ready for another run, I just wanted to put it on its feet. It does need a rewrite and memorization, but I thought fuck it why not? What did I learn? Nothing I already didn't know. There were many other bits I could've worked or at least take another opportunity at riffing, but honestly my heart wasn't in it tonight.

What happened here is that I wasted my time and my audience's time. Yeah it's an open mic, but what's the point if I'm not going to try to get anything out of it. Even if I'm not feeling it, there's no excuse not to train. That's how people become bad comics. That's what I don't want to be. If I'm gonna go up I have to go all out or else there's really no point. Stupid me.

Lesson: I'm not going to get where I want fucking around.

Backup lesson: If you're not feeling it, MAKE yourself feel it.

Day 45: Cathy and Me part 2 9/27/07

Cathy Sorbo at the Underground... Jakee doing a guest set. It's kinda weird that I'm at this point because this was something I was trying to work myself up to. Now I'm performing with Cathy. Granted they're only guest sets and I'm not quite featuring yet, but still. Mr. Mookie's hosting, Blain Reader's (a comic that I have a lot of respect for) guesting and Key Lewis (I'm sure I spelled that wrong) is featuring.

I do my safe set (Bumbershoot, Bidet, Nicole, Toby, Owen and Cheesecake) to a hot, hot audience. Not a huge crowd, but a great one. The nice part is that I kill. Not only do I kill but make an impression on some people that I have not made yet, including Carl who was running the door and didn't remember who I was. Key Lewis was asking if I was coming back. That's a good sign.

I feel like I'm in this place where I can control the audience. It might just be a lucky streak, but lately I've felt like I can exert my will over the crowd and bring them too me. The trick is if I can do this with ALL of my material and not just the stuff I've been hitting lately. There's a lot of trusted material I haven't touched in a while and I wonder if it holds the same water. At the same time I've been getting a lot of new ideas for material. I believe I'm in a honeymoon period of comedy... I just need to take as much as I can from this time.

ps: Cathy was amazing as ever. I got to hear some material I haven't heard yet. Guess what, it was funny. Go see her.

Lesson: Open mics aren't the only place to get yourself known... do guest spots more.

Back-up lesson: It's good to keep strong material polished as long as you don't neglect other material to dust.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day 44: Accidental Funny 9/26/07

I didn't intend to do time tonight, but it's funny how things work out. I went to Mainstage because Travis Simmons was having a send-off to L.A. and Danielle and I wanted to say goodbye to him. We weren't going to stay long because Solomon was doing a set at Laff Hole and we wanted to catch it. The first thing Travis says to us as we arrive is "Wanna go up?" "We gotta leave soon." "All right, you two go up first." Well there you have it.

I spent some time talking to Julie Mains before I went up. We got reconnected as it's been awhile. She's still got my back and I got hers... good to be reminded of. I got to introduce her to Danielle which I think will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. We'll see what happens.

I go up. The crowd is intimate, but close to the stage and really connected. I had a blast with them. I did the set I've been doing all week (Bumbershoot, Nicole, Toby, Bidet, Neuva Ring, Cheesecake Factory) and they were into it. The great thing about a crowd like that is it sets you free to play, and the more you play the more fun they have. A comedy perpetual motion if you will. I was flailing around more, pushing the material, at one point laying on the tables as I invited one of the audience to The Cheesecake Factory for Valentine's Day.

That freedom was an important feeling. It occurs to me that I should be attacking all of my sets like that, not just ones I'm given silent permission to. There's a comic in the scene I really enjoy named Andy Peters. Every time I see him he attacks with such fearlessness you can help but enjoy him and think he's funny. Even on the rare occasion that a bit by him doesn't land, his candor will always rescue it. It turns out there is no reason any comedian can't attack like that, in fact it's those comedians that succeed.

ps: Solomon DESTROYED Laff Hole. Danielle is next. She will kill.

Lesson: Be free on stage, the audience will WANT to come with you.

Backup lesson: You never know when you're going to go up. Be ready.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day 43: Laughs at Laughs 9/25/07

Tried an open mic in a new club tonight. "Laughs" in Kirkland (on the East Side... where the white people are). I've heard this is a tough room and I heard right. The space itself is nice but in typical open mic fashion there were a lot more comics than audience... and the audience weren't ready to laugh. I was #7 on the list.

A handful of the people that went before me did not get one laugh. Ouch. I realized the audience would be a tough nut to crack so I decided to use my same set from Laff Hole. Open with Bumbershoot, then Nicole Ritchie, Toby, a new one I call Owen Wilson (this was the only switch, I traded it for Bidet, it went all right), and Cheesecake Factory. My set actually did well. I find it's good to start with strong material the first time you go into a room. Get the bookers on your side.

The rest of the night was hit and miss with some good comedians and some dead sets. I actually like these dead rooms because I feel like they're an endurance test for comedians. Doing a set to an appreciative audience feels really good, but it's hard to learn from it. When you can get laughs from a tough crowd you KNOW you've earned it. If you don't get a peep, it's time to go back to the drawing board and rework it. I love Laff Hole and Lo-Ball, but I gotta keep hitting Laughs, Mainstage, and Kona Kitchen (haven't been there yet but I hear it's the toughest room in Seattle) if I'm going to become a better comedian.

Lesson: Do tough rooms, the measure of a good comedian.

Backup lesson: Hit 'em first with your best shot. Get 'em on your side. THEN test the new stuff.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day 42: That's Riffn' 9/23/07

Jesus Christ. 5 sets in 5 days... I don't think I've done that yet. It's been a fun run though.

Tonight was open mic at the Underground. I was going to try this gag set tonight, but not enough of the people I wanted to gag showed up, so I was just going to try to clean up some stuff. As the night went on I sensed a low energy in the crowd and the only thing that was landing was dick jokes. I scrapped the material I was going to use and put together a list of my dick jokes and decided to take advantage of this opportunity.

I have been wanting to practice my riffing. There are some people here that are amazing at it, and in SF I saw one guy who probably doesn't ever have to tell a joke, he can just work off of a crowd. So tonight was as good a night as any.

I started by thanking the crowd for coming and supporting local comedy, then I started riffing on a table that had a couple of new comedians. One guy had Sideshow Bob hair so I thanked him for not coming up and making the rest of us look bad. I said his buddy looked like the professor from Gilligan's Island and his other friend could do a Jack Nicholson impression with out any talking which I segued into Toby. I asked another table if they were here for comedy or friends, they said comedy and I replied "Not quite what you were expecting was it?" Segued into inappropriate humor with which I brought out bidet... then I did my impression of Solomon (who went up right before me) doing bidet, then my impression of Emmet (the host) doing bidet. I feel like mission accomplished. My goal was to resurrect the crowd and they were pretty hype by the time I was done. I can't wait to practice some more.

Lesson: When the crowd is quiet, acknowledge them.

Backup lesson: Riffing, like any other skill, takes practice, so use your opportunities.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Day 41: Basement Joxe 9/22/07

Really cool night tonight. It wasn't a show or a club but a party of all things. There was a showing for an entry into Seattle's Adult Film Festival, and a bunch of us comix opened it up. It was in a basement where two relatively new open micers, Andy and Misty, live and Danielle, Solomon and I were asked to do some time at it. I wasn't expecting much, but it was time and practice so what the fuck? Turns out it was awesome.

There were a bunch of couches and chairs and everyone was lounging around looking forward to having a good time. The crowd was ready to laugh. We were half worried that they would laugh at their friends who were throwing the party and not us, who they didn't know, but they were INTO it. Danielle and Solomon killed, again, which is pretty status quo anymore. Both tried new shit that was incredible. They're hard to keep up with for reals. My set was a lot of fun. I opened with Bumbershoot, then Nicole, Toby, Bidet, Style, Cocaine, 80s, and Neuva Ring, then I took requests and Andy shouted George Gaynes, which I had shelved, but I did it and it ended up killing. Finally I closed with Cheesecake Factory. It was great and then we watched porn.

I don't know how to describe it other than it felt like a speakeasy. Actually, there was a book I read several years ago that really influenced how I think creatively called Immediatism by Hakim Bey. It's a manifesto on how the closer the artists work is to the intended audience, the more genuine it is. For instance, writing a song for someone and playing it for them on the guitar is a very IMmediated artistic experience as opposed to an actor on a television show who is very mediated (distanced) from someone watching it. This was probably the most immediated set I've done (the first Centrailia show is a close 2nd), where it's not a show, but something you're doing for friends who appreciate it. God willing I never lose this if I make it. Yeah I want to make a living at this, but I never want to sacrifice the love of doing it for people that enjoy it. Let me never say no to basement party shows.

Lesson: Even if a set doesn't sound ideal, take it, you never know.

Back-up lesson: Don't forget why you're here, to make people laugh. Business is secondary.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Day 40: Chai Time 9/21/07

Another Lo-Ball open mic at Mr. Spot's Chai House in Ballard. Lo-ball is like an idyllic comedy paradise; intimate crowd, everyone's nice, funny people come out, good energy, lots of support and enough caffeine to give an elephant a heart attack. I signed up last so I'm the inadvertent headliner.

There were lots of great sets by lots of great people. Danielle and Solomon both did new shit I haven't seen before; guess what? They killed. For my set I blew the dust off of some old material. I started with a riff regarding a band poster on the bathroom wall (which worked surprisingly) then busted out Style, Cocaine and 80s and it had been WAY too long since I've done those so it was a little sketchy. The iced-apple-chai I downed right before my set sure as fuck didn't help. I thought I learned this lesson before. Nope, my mind couldn't slow down enough to remember my transitions. Things got thrown around. Oh well, it didn't go bad, but not NEARLY as good as it could've. I closed out with Neuva Ring to save face. I didn't destroy but I had a lot of fun.

I shot the shit with some of the comics afterward. All really good people. I got to talk to one of my favorites, a woman named Carla who's part of a group called "Stand Up and Deliver" (she's my favorite of the group). She's a sharp woman with subtly edgy shit who's on the verge of breaking out of her cocoon and destroying motherfuckers. In my head I built up this Sally Field in Punchline thing where she tried it out and found that she was heads and tails above the rest. Who can tell? We just went back and forth saying nice things about each other. It felt good.

I really want to headline that room soon, 'cept next time I'll stick with water.

Lesson: No stimulants before performance.

Backup lesson: Keep working new stuff, but don't let your old stuff go cold. Blow the dust off them once in a while.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Day 39: Centrailia 2: Electric Boogaloo 9/20/07

Back to Centrailia at the Hub City Club. Same M.O. as before: Comics come down to Centrailia to make lonely people laugh.

The road trip began as kind of a clusterfudge as we were trying to figure out how we were getting down there. Short story: assurances were made that were not followed through with. We finally got together and hit the road thanx to Erik who was one of the comics this time around. Nick, Solomon, Danielle, Erik, Me in a car down talking intimately about sexuality. We arrive 15 minutes late.

Bigger crowd than before. Nick hosted. There was a kid from Centrailia who did his first stand-up. His name was Action Rick and he had a great first set. We loved him. Later Nick brought Danielle up as a "black woman" (if you're reading this Nick; bad form bud). Danielle had lost her voice and her whole set sounded like Jessica Rabbit, which was hot. She worked it well. Solomon was awesome and put up new stuff which was really funny. My set was mostly new stuff with a few goodies and a little riffing. I opened with a riff on Centrailia and small towns, then did Bumbershoot, Solicitor, Christian Comix, Tab, Nicole, Toby and closed with Fanta. I wouldn't say I killed but I didn't die either. I went up on my Christian Comix bit, which blew because I lost the funniest part of it. Oh well. Centrailia still loves us. They gave us pizza. We love Centrailia. After the show we drove home and talked about God.

Centrailia is a great place to go and I love Hub City Club and the people that go, but there are some seriously organizational issues with the production that are almost as infuriating as performing there is rewarding. I want to keep going and supporting them, but I don't know where my threshold with dealing with flaky shit is. I got at least one more in me for next month, but we'll see after that.

What the fuck? A room is a room and right now I'm a comedy whore so I'll probably keep saying yes.

Lesson: Don't just go through your set list before the show, go through your set.

Backup lesson: Flaky shit needs to be addressed and dealt with. There are no reasons or excuses for putting up with them.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day 38: Fuk Ing Laff Hole 9/19/07

Laff Hole.

Laff Hole is the independent comedy show put together by a group of comics calling themselves the People's Republic of Komedy. Laff Hole is the main indie comic show in Seattle that has created a huge scene for itself since 2005. These guys have gained so much clout that they were able to set up some of the shows for Bumbershoot. Laff Hole is the room everyone wants to play.

Last Friday they asked me to play it.

I said yes.

I set myself the goal of doing it before the end of the year, but it's one of those things where they ask you, you don't sign up. I didn't expect to get asked so soon, but I mo' fucking jumped at the chance.

I got there early to check in and find out when my set was going up. They told me over the phone I'd do 7-10 min but when I got there, there was a booking snafu and told me to do 5 min instead. Sheeeeit, I would've done 1 min. I'm up 3rd.

I plugged this show with my friends because it was such a good opportunity so I knew the deck was stacked in my favor. Nonetheless a lot was riding on this, plus some of my friends haven't seen me before so I wanted them to like it. I put together a solid set (Bumbershoot, Nicole, Toby, Bidet, Cheesecake Factory) and the only thing left to do was have fun and enjoy myself.

It. Was. AWESOME. I killed from front to back. I had that room in the palm of my hand and there was nothing they could do about it. I was in complete control. It felt amazing. I had to walk it off as soon as I was done.

The P.R.O.K guys had really nice things to say about my set. Some of them saw me early on when I was rough and appreciated how far I'd come. Others who didn't know my shit as well were impressed. I got a lot of good feedback and it seems I'm in a good place to do the room again. My friends really enjoyed the set. Life is good. I even made $20 bringing my total comedy earnings to $132.50. I feel like I made a jump in the circles here. Gotta keep working, gotta get better. Long way to the top.

Lesson: People respond to your product, not how nice you are or how long they've known you. Do the work.

Backup lesson: When a set is at stake, own it. Use your good shit and take it seriously.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 37: Holy Fucking Shit I Performed in San Francisco 9/16/07

Many of you may be wondering (as I currently am)... how did this happen?

Two people are to be hailed for this event. The first is a friend from college who has been dominating the San Fran comedy scene for the last three years, Nico Santos. Nico contacted me to let me know about a show going on down there with David Cross headlining, Cathy Sorbo doing one of the featured sets and Nico hosting (with an out-out-outside shot of me getting a guest set... I'll spare you the suspense, I didn't get it). He suggested I come down for it. The out-out-outside shot was enough to bring me down... now how the fuck do I get down there? That question segues us into the second person that deserves vast amounts of praise, my roommate, yes the asshole, Joe. I'll spare you the gruesome details (as he probably wouldn't want them spilled all over the ether... I will volunteer that it involved killing a chicken and using its blood to draw a circle on the ground... but I've already said too much), suffice it to say that he got me there. No bullshit here, he deserves credit for every good thing that happens to me in comedy. He's not alone, I get support from a lot of people, and I love and appreciate them very much for it, but Joe is the first on the list and no one will take that from him or me ever. He knew (better than me to be honest with you) how important it was for me to get down there and made it happen. I didn't want the chicken anyway, they make shitty pets.

They say in entertainment it's not what you know, it's who you know. In comedy I think it's who you know and oh-by-the-way-it's-incredibly-convenient-if-you're-funny-too. Well luckily for me, I know Nico Santos. Nico and I were in the Theatre Dept. of Southern Oregon University together where we studied becoming incredibly jaded about acting (he went on to Costume Design, I went on to Directing, we both went on to comedy). He was a fucking funny guy then so it came as no surprise when I found out he was kicking ass in the San Francisco comedy scene. What I didn't realize was exactly how much ass he was kicking.

He set me up with 7 minutes at the Punch Line SF's "Comedy Showcase". Cool, should be fun. What I didn't realize until I got there is that most comedians break their heads over that scene for as much as a year before they get a spot at the Showcase. Nico had enough pull to set me up with it and that was that. Oh, did I mention Nico had never actually seen my stand-up before? Ballsy mother fucker if you ask me. The other thing with The Punch Line is that you show up, and if they put you up you go and if not you don't. Nonetheless you have to wait to find out. Here, they put up a list and if you're not on it you go home. Not in SF... ouch. What I'm saying to you in so many words is Nico stuck his neck out for me having no idea how good I actually am and I jumped over a handful of comedians who probably want to stab my eyes, that is to say... no pressure.

Before the show starts Nico introduces me to a bunch of comics who are all incredibly nice. That put me at ease actually, you could tell that they all really support each other down there. It's like that for the most part in Seattle, but you never know if that will be the case elsewhere. Big ups to SF comics. People find out they go up right before they actually go up, I get slated for 3rd. Fucking great. The crowd was kinda cold and the first couple of comics didn't have a lot of luck with them so I knew I had to turn up the juice. I had to remind myself that this is fun and I'm just going to have a good time if they like me or not. OK then here I go...

...it went
AWESOME!

Which is not to say it was a perfect set, but I grabbed them right away, and they left with me as well. I did Bumbershoot, Nicole Ritchie, Toby, George Gaynes (which I might shelve or rework a bit), Bidet, Neuva Ring, and closed with Cheesecake. I had to drop a chunk of Cheesecake (I kill me) because of time, (which is a lesson I'm glad I learned 3 entries ago and not tonight), but they loved it. They loved Bumbershoot, Nicole, and Toby. George got silence and Neuva Ring got groans and one guy fucking dying. Overall they loved me. What was better was seeing that the host really dug me as I left. What was the best was the look of "wow" on Nico's face when I got off the stage. I was accepted. I was in. Oh yeah, and I have it on DVD too.

I got a lot of compliments from the other comedians as well. They all were really cool and supportive. I was on Cloud 9, from where I watched the rest of the show. SF has some amazing comics and I'd go into some of them if I wasn't getting tired (I'd go into some of them period, OH SNAP!), however I will talk about Nico because this was actually my first time seeing him as well and HOLY SHIT IS HE FUNNY! He had my favorite bit of the night as well as one of my favorite sets. I don't want to give anything away so I'll just say that I was in the bathroom when he went up so I listened to his opener in there and lost it mid-pee. On top of that he has an amazing Iron Chef judge impression as well as a dead on Aaron Neville, but his closer, oh Dear Holy Lord, his closer reduced me to tears.

The rest of the weekend was San Frantastic. I hung out with a variety of our friends that ended up down there. Saw the David Cross show. Got to talk shop with Nico and a lot of the other comics down there. Learned a lot about where I'm going and how I get there and how I WANT to get there. Perfect fucking vacation.

Lesson: When life hands you an opportunity, take it no matter what. (Even if it involves sacrificing a chicken oh wait I've said to much never mind).

Back-up lesson: Keep good people in your life, they will pave the way to your success. It wont happen alone.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Day 36: La Muerto Quiete 9/09/07

Open mic at Underground tonight. Quiet audience tonight... very quiet.

Been a long time since Underground has been this quiet. I'm sure several factors are involved. Among them a host that doesn't have the most stage presence in the world, along with 4 of the first 5 comics being very new and not super skilled. The stage was set... (so to speak), the audience was bored and non-responsive. Most of them trickled out by the time any of our crew went up. The only one to get anything out of the crowd tonight was Danielle, who woke everybody up for the 3 minutes she was up there... then back to sleep.

Which is not to say we had bad sets, it's to say we had our work cut out as far as getting any response. I don't consider this a shitty night, I consider this trial by fire. Danielle proved you can get a response, you just have to turn it up to level 1000 to get it.

I was testing new stuff and decided to go with it. I put up one called "Fanta" which went well, "Gay Conspiracy" which will go on the back burner for a bit, and closed with "Neuva ring" which got more "Oooohs" than laughs (honestly fine with me). So I didn't turn 'em out, but that wasn't the goal tonight. James had a bold new set. Solomon was awesome. Paul came back (finally) with some great shit. And the Russian came back!!! (see "Day 2: Theatre of Awkward") Most meta-funny guy ever.

A bunch of us comics went to Denny's afterward. Hanging out with comedians is great... it's all the great parts of hanging out with actors, without the bad shit. I like this life.

Lesson: Test new shit in a safe environment first, practice resurrection on a dead crowd.

Back-up lesson: Never throw a cookie at a woman's face... especially from the stage.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Day 35: Lo Ballin' 9/7/07

Open mic in a new venue.

"Lo-Ball" is the title of the "People's Republic of Komedy" show in Ballard at Mr. Spot's Chai House. Lo-Ball was a monthly show but this month it is a weekly show and two of these weeks are open mics. Lo-Ball is kind of a stepping stone to get a spot at the "Laff Hole" which is P.R.O.K.s main show. Danielle and I opened our mics to Lo-Ball.

Fun venue. Basically an open mic at a coffee house (except chai house). The neat thing is that the lighting is such that you see everyone (like at the Capitol Club) so you have a direct relationship with everyone you're talking too. Derek Sheen (who is a funny mo-fo AND comic geek) is running the show. Danielle set me up with the show but through some unforeseen reason I'm not on the list. Turns out to be an oversight and Derek hooks me up. I go 2nd.

I tried to do the clean hits because it's a new house so I want to impress, but it's an all ages show so I don't want to make things too uncomfortable. Turned out there was really dirty stuff so it was a moot point. Nonetheless I did: Bumbershoot, Toby, Nicole Ritchie, Cheesecake Factory. Went well, people laughed. Danielle killed. Fucking Lydia was incredible. The nice thing about it is that it was simply a great open mic where almost everyone killed. Even a few that struggle had some of their best sets.

I don't know that Seattle needs another indie comedy show, but I'll hit the open mic there any time I can.

Lesson: Keep up with what's going on in the scene so that you can become apart of said scene.

Backup lesson: With so many amazing comics out there, there's always room for improvement. Don't get comfortable.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Day 34: No mo' drama 9/2/07

Fucking Hell man.

Solomon's show (now titled "Draft Dodgers of the 21st Century"), Capitol Club. Danielle, Solomon and I are gonna perform, Danielle hosts, Corbet goes up, David Cope closes. Easy right? Until David doesn't show up and seems confused that we're calling him. Danielle finally gets through to him and he remembers he has a show. To his credit he jumps into a cab and gets there in time. But he was bringing the microphones and couldn't now. Luckily I had one, but no chord. Luckily the sound guy had one, but no connector to the mixer. Luckily my friend Dean had one, but he lived on 12th, which was six blocks away, uphill. I ran.

I need more exercise.

If David didn't show up I'd have to do a half-hour set and had no idea what to do. So I put together a set of new shit that I didn't do last time. Danielle, Solomon and I were all flustered about the pre-show drama and oh yeah, everyone's at Bumbershoot so the audience was light. We held for a bit and people showed up. We got started.

The audience was quiet and Danielle had a rough time with them as she was distracted by production shit. Solomon went up and had a rough time as he was distracted by production shit. I probably would've had a rough time too, but since they went up first I had just enough time to clear my head so I could rock the crowd. I'm glad for that time because my set ended up going very well. Intermission. Corbet went up and had a good set. David closed and fucking killed like we knew he would.

In the midst of all of this EVEN MORE dramatic shit went down in the form of a horrible miscommunication between Solomon and another party. So AFTER the show Danielle and I have to do what we can to diffuse and clear up the situation. It took some work but I think everything is cool.

This is why I don't want to work in production right now. To much stress that stands in the way of comedy. I had a show opportunity thrown at me and it occurs I don't want it because a)too many fucking show already and b) I don't want to be a producer, I want to be a comic. Not only do I want to be a comic but I want to be a great comic. Dealing with fucking drama stands in the way of being that and it simply isn't worth it. I want to tell jokes, and then I want to tell jokes, and then I want to tell jokes. End. Of. Fucking. Story.

There was a very selfish part of me that was upset that I couldn't just celebrate that I had a really good set that night. That way danger leads. If I start trying to get caught up in how good I'm doing, I lose sight of way more important shit that deserves and requires much more of my attention. I found this out the hard way. It's so not worth it. A good set is in the past. The next set is in the future. Don't ever close your eyes to what's happening right now.

Lesson: Drama is never worth the effort.

Backup lesson: Keep your eyes off of yourself and keep 'em on your loved ones. If you don't have loved ones, it's because you lost sight of this lesson.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day 33: Don't be a dick 8/29/07

So I've been really self-righteous about a couple of things in comedy. One is being pissed off at comedians who go too long, another is comedians who jet from an open mic right after their set.

Tonight I was both of these people.

"Comedy Slam" at the Underground, which is essentially an open mic with less comics and more performance time. Cathy Sorbo is playing at the Laff Hole show tonight so I'm just seeing if I can get a set in early then go to Laff Hole later. As luck would have it Ron puts me up first. There's a small but nice crowd. I try some safe stuff and some new stuff. I open with Bumbershoot and Toby which did well, then went into Christian comics. That was all I put on my outline and should've been about 5 minutes, but when I got done I saw that the warning light had not gone on so, fuck it... close with Cheesecake Factory. My first mistake here was not saying to myself, "Well I got done early, that's good, I can quit while I'm ahead." Nope. So the light goes on (which means a minute left by the way) right after I start the bit. Now hindsight being 20/20 I could've cut to the last part of the bit and I would've been fine. Nope. I do the whole thing and by the time I'm done the light is flashing and I flew over time by 3 minutes. Fuck. I apologized to the host, the next comic, and then Ron who said, "Well, tonight of all nights you can get away with it." Still, fuck, I really don't want to be that guy. The set went pretty good, yeah, but I don't ever want to be that guy.

By the time I get done the Laff Hole show is an hour away. I went up first, but we started late so it's already time for me to go. Shit. I was going to record Lydia but scram instead. I'm not beating myself up as bad for this, but still, I shouldn't do an open mic if I can't hang out for a bit at least.

As soon as Cathy went up I forgot all about my self-flagellation and enjoyed a master at her craft. I strong armed a bunch of derby girls to go and they all enjoyed her. Still the night would've been better had I not felt like an asshole for a portion of it.

Lesson: Do your time, and not a second more.

Back-up lesson: Hang out with the open micers... they deserve it as much as you do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 32: Never Again 8/28/07

Rough night.

Went to Mainstage (disclaimer: I love them and all they've done for me so this is not meant as a poo-poo on their establishment [for the four of you reading this], but an honest reaction to the evening, which is what this blog is all about). There was going to be a comedy show at 7 and open music night at 9. Get there quarter to 7, ghost town, 7:30, some comics but that's it. We wait in case people come. Don't start the show until 8. That's not too bad, and the hour from 7 to 8 was actually really fun. It was a bunch of us comics shootin' the shit on the patio and running our material for each other. Then a bunch of friends of mine from work came. I didn't expect a bunch (only 2)... oh well. The vibe is good the comedy begins.

Travis opens the show and is very funny and cordial as usual. Then the second comic goes up and goes FLYING over his time (like, 15 minutes) and not one. joke. landed. It was fucking rough but this person lacked the objectivity to notice a) that he went flying over time and was therefore incredibly rude to the other comics performing and b) that he was dying and should have gotten off stage long ago. The next comic up went way over time again, but this was more forgivable as she was funny and from out of town so why the fuck not. Then Solomon went up and did a good set that would've been on time had a drunken Nick not been screaming through the set and distracting him.

This is where it gets bad. With Travis's set (which was long too, but that's understandable as it's his show) and the comics going over, we're four down and it's 9 o'clock and the musicians come in and take over the show. Now being an open mic I figured, musician does a song then comic does a short set. It was lame that everyone going over cut into our comedy time, but fuck it, we'll all get to go up soon right? WRONG! First music set goes A FUCKING HALF HOUR then they decided that since we had comedy before, they could let another musician go on for ANOTHER TWENTY MINUTES. Remember how I said I had friends there? Did I mention they were the ONLY audience. I talked to them so I could go up after the first musician set and got blocked by those cocksuckers.

It's not that the musicians were bad (well...) but no one I was with came to see music. So two hours of long (including a particularly bad set) comedy and not very good music took the wind out of everybody's sails. Then I go on. I had a decent set and people responded as well as they could, but is wasn't a massacre. People liked it, but it was late and they were tired. And there was still hours to go. Danielle and I ended up leaving. She didn't get to go up, James, whose girlfriend came for the first time, didn't get to go up, my friends were tired. Fuck it. Never again. Either tighter organization or something else, but that's the second time my friends got blocked on a Tuesday and we suffered through long bad sets.

Now I'm a little self-conscious bitching about other people's bad sets. It's not like I haven't bombed. Who am I to judge? The thing is, I was still attached to some objectivity. I didn't go over time and when it wasn't going well, I moved to something I figured would work and at least I HAD material that worked. It's the utter lack of objectivity that kills me. If you have a joke that no one laughs at it (by the 3rd time you tried it), let it go. Try new material until something lands. Ask your friends how your jokes are. Make sure they're honest. Just don't fucking lie to yourself and think you're funny when you're not. Do the work. That's what the rest of us our busting our ass to do. I'm climbing this ladder right now and the reason I am is because people tell me when something works or doesn't and I LISTEN. That's what open mic is for. It shouldn't be abused. Etc. etc. Rant rant rant. I'm not saying people should give up, I'm saying people should work hard so that they don't subject people to bad comedy.

But who the fuck am I.

Lesson: Stay objective and respectful of the audience and other comics.

Back-up lesson: No more Tuesdays at Mainstage (until the format changes).