So I'm working out the structure of this blog as I go. So far I got "Days" which are performances I give, and then I'll have "Addendums" which relate to comedy I see or hear as it affects where I want to go. I think I might have one more category for "Theory" which will be, well, theory about comedy... we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Saw Cathy Sorbo perform last night as she was kind enough to put me+1 on her guest list for her show at Mainstage Comedy. I have the pleasure of working with her as an announcer for the Rat City Rollergirls and have gotten to know her through that. She is also a big reason for me finally getting off my ass to do this shit that I love so much. She's a comedy veteran who's been in the industry for years and has worked with all of my comedy heroes. In seeing her perform she's become one herself.
I first saw her right after she started announcing for RCRG and she blew my mind. She's uncompromising in every way. She's dirty as hell, but without being cheap about it. She talks about real things that affect her life with out sugar coating it. She has an incredibly relaxed demeanor on stage, as if she's hanging out and talking about whatever comes to the top of her head. She has an amazing physical comedy that she uses to enhance her material, but she never solely relies on it. She makes the whole thing look so doggamn easy.
Watching her last night after doing a few open mics was even more illuminating. She's a pro, and that's apparent from the first time you see her, but this time I saw what it MEANT to be a pro. The amount of discipline and imagination required to put together a solid routine that will work on almost any audience demonstrate what an ARTFORM comedy is. Most comedians go up and tell jokes or bits but with Cathy ,and a lot of the comedians I admire, they are crafting a work of art before your eyes (but what is art? that'll be a "theory" blog).
Cathy is a very smart and kind woman and she always humored me when I'd bring up my comedy ambitions. She encouraged me to do open mics and would even bring it up with other comedians "this is Jake I announce with him, he's looking to get into comedy..." which made me feel really good and like a serious pussy at the same time. I would try to talk a big game, which was immediately transparent I assume, but she let on like I knew what I was talking about. I always would end on something like... "oh yeah, I'm going to start doing open mics really soon." Saying that enabled this comedy fantasy that I hobnobbed with comedy people so of course I was in the club.
At the 2006 Season 2 RCRG Finals afterparty, Cathy (who's derby moniker is "Queen Mum" by the way), Portland OR's Rose City Rollers announcer Rocko Billy, and I were hanging out talking and Cathy chimes in, "Jake, what do you think about having Rocko set up a show for us in Portland?" My initial reaction was what a fucking honor it was to have someone I admire that much bring up the possibility (even if it was a drunken afterthought, which was very possible given the circumstances). My secondary reaction was that of Comedy Reality crashing in on my Comedy Fantasy. There's no fucking way I could do a show with her and not make an intense ass out of myself, especially with her headlining, unless I SERIOUSLY got my shit together. At best I could whip up a serviceable set, but it would not do the show the justice it would deserve not that I'd want to give to it. Having been offered this amazing possibility I really had to take the situation seriously. I HAVE to start going to open mics, I HAVE to do some serious work, I HAVE to take this opportunity seriously because it's too much of an honor to squander.
It was STILL 4 months before I actually got on stage, but I don't think I would have taken myself seriously enough to do it had Cathy not thrown out such a kind offer. Now I have to make myself worthy of it, and having that as a motivator has been far more effective than just having a life-long goal... kinda backwards huh?
Cathy's absolutely the real deal, but for some silly reason she's settled on Seattle. We much better for it and I hope this city offers her what she gives back to it for being here. God knows I'm better off for the insane circumstances that have been aligned for me to get to work with her. Dammit if any of the three of you reading this see an opportunity to watch her perform DO IT. It's not often you get to see an artist work her craft first hand.
Lesson: Listen and learn from opportunities given, especially if they're not earned.
Backup lesson: Comedy is much bigger than previously given credit for.
Postscript: Thank you Cathy