Monday, April 23, 2007

Day 14: Imagine a Clever Title 4/22/07

Honestly... nothing much to report.

Showed up to Mainstage... 4 people there. Supposedly 10 min showcases so I went. Rumors of filming so I was going to do my more tested material. No film, no idea with the 10 min but by the time we got started there was no one there so, fuck it 10 minutes. I did my newer "Don't drink" into "Don't do drugs" instead. They're getting there, but they need to be tidied up. Honestly I could've done a lot more of that before I even put them up. No rewards for the lazy, clearly. For what it's worth I timed the set perfectly, but I could really cut down up to 3 minutes to compact the funny. Anyhoo, Joehole and I hung for a bit but we had to cut out early to hit up a birthday party. We both felt guilty leaving the open mic early, but a lot of people started showing up (probably from the Underground) so it probably didn't matter. Still.

Need more discipline.

It's occurring to me how fucked for comedy I'm going to be in the coming months with directing "As You Like It". I'll try to get one night a week in, but that's going to be about it. Fuck. After the show I'm going to need to get out there A LOT more, and I feel like I need more material. There's a lot of shit I haven't tested yet. I could conceivably dedicate this time to that. Hitting the open mics with new stuff and trying to give it a little polish for operation "club saturation".

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Lesson: Get your shit in order before you put it up.

Backup lesson: A.B.C.= Always Be Comedying

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 13: Bombs Awaaaaaayyyyy 4/17/07

(in a sing-songy tune)
I bombed, I bombed, I totally fucking bombed, I bombed, I bombed, nobody thought I was funny, 'cause I wasn't, 'cause I bombed, 'cause I sucked, so I should quit comedy forever, crawl into a hole and fucking bomb by myself forever until I die...

(back to normal)
Hmm... yeah I bombed. OH MY GOD it was so stupid. See here's the thing, it was "Fight for Feature" tonight, an opportunity to get a feature set, a guest set, or host for Emo Phillips when he plays here this weekend. Gee, you think I'd use material that I've worked and know well. NO! Genius McSmartsalot here decided to surprise everyone with brand new untested material.

No body laughed.

I felt like I was in the vacuum of space for 5 solid minutes.

OK it wasn't that bad, but lord it wasn't good. Some things landed slightly, but it was not in the majority. The thing that kills me is what a bad idea it was to do that. I should've known better, but I got cocky and I paid the price. Of course I didn't get one of the slots and it would've been fucked up if I did. John Sanders did great and landed the feature which is awesome. David Cope who always cracks my shit up landed host. A guy who is really funny who's name I'm spacing got the guest spot. Losing doesn't get me because if I won then something would've been fucked up, but me not allowing my self to even be a contender makes me slap myself on the forehead with a Jensenian "Stupid, stupid, stupid!"

Oh, and what a great night to fucking record myself. Brilliant, I finally do it, and this is the night. How smart am I.

So I get home and put it on in front of my roommates because I like to compound pain in order that I might learn a lesson somewhere. Here's the thing... it wasn't that bad. Mind you it wasn't great but there was a lot to work with, as opposed to me trashing the whole set. The roommates and friends had good feedback and they laughed, so I think it was a combo of the untestedness (my fault) plus the room (part chaos, part my fault for choosing safer material to work with).

For the record the set tonight was another part of "Don't Drink" bit which will be known as "Don't Do Drugs" bit. I think the two belong together which would help the build up.

So no Emo Phillips set for me. Fine. I deserve it. Sunday Mainstage is having 10 minute promotional sets which will be my longest time yet (on purpose that is). Fuck it, pulling out my big guns. Next weekend Dwight Slade. What do I have to complain about?

Lesson: Do not compete with untested material, no matter HOW good you think it is.

Backup lesson: Record each and every set.

ps now that I'm recording I'm going to look into getting mp3s onto this blog... we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Day 12: Who's Set is it Anyway? 4/14/07

I have had yet to do a guest set and Julie said I could show up at the Mainstage anytime they have a headliner, so why not give it a shot? I texted Julie to see if there were any spots available to which she replied "yup". There were two sets tonight and I was going to see if I could hit up both, but then a buddy asked if I wanted to see a movie so I skipped the first show. I texted Julie to let her know I'd come in for the second show. After the movie I got a text message from her "we're taping the 8 o'clock show".


I forgot that she mentioned she was taping it for records and a show. I got there around 9 which was an hour into that show, the headliner however was going to do some improv with the other comics so I jumped in. There was a bunch of us up there and Ron Osborne (the headliner) asked the audience to name a product and we were to come up with the worst slogan for it. I did one or two that were OK but not amazing. Fun times though.

The 2nd show started and I was going to be the first guest set. I was going to bring out my 80s bit because I haven't worked it in awhile. I watched Justin (the host) do his opening and the crowd was tough. I was pumped up because I had an energy drink right before I went up... bad idea. When I got onto stage I was trying to rev up the crowd and they were barely having it. I went into an abbreviated cocaine bit which they were into (shocker), and then the 80s bit. My brain was buzzing from the caffeine so I ended up dropping one bit all together and fucking up the punch line of another. My closer for 80s bit went well though... not a bad set, but it was rough going.

When Ron Osborne went up again he was having a hard time with the audience. You could tell he had a lot of good tricks up his sleeve for such occasions (I'm realizing how much you need them as a comedian) but they were hit and miss. He was really funny from where I was standing though. He brought us up again for some improv. This time he asked the audience to name a profession and we had to act out the worst employer for it. Someone called out hooker and I went up to the microphone and pretended to cry while I pulled my zipper down. My other glory moment was when someone said "sewer worker" and I walked up to the mic and did a sassy gay voice and said "This place is a fucking MESS!" The crowning moment came from Travis Simmons when we did the product slogans again and some one yelled "Tampon" and he said "Now with real lemon juice".

I hung out afterwards with the people working in the VIP room and shot the shit with them. Susan who books a couple of clubs offered for me and Justin to split a feature set (Remember: Headliner=45 min, Feature=30 min, Guest=5 min, and Host=7min+bringing up the comics) giving us 15 minutes apiece. Nice, but I'm going to be busy directing a show for awhile so I don't know when I'll be able to do it. Later I mentioned to Susan that I grew up in Medford,OR and she mentioned that she books for Ground Zero, a club in Medford.


Me performing in Medford. Hell yeah. I'm going to see if I can make that happen by the end of Summer. That would be fucking fantastic. Oh God, so many conspiracies running around in my brain. Holy Shit I love it.

Lesson: Improv is a great tool for comedy. It keeps you thinking on your feet. Do it more often.

Back up lesson: Maybe energy drinks before your set is not such a good idea.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day 11: The Host with a Pretty Good Amount 4/10/07

Three open mics in a row, three hosting gigs in a row. I'm the Mainstage standby open mic host. I don't mind a bit actually, it gets me a lot of stage time and gets me an opportunity to meet a lot of comics in the Seattle scene. It also capitalizes on my skill sets, that is getting/keeping a crowd pumped up. The comedians, the audience and the club all appear to appreciate it so I'll keep doing it as long as asked.

Tonight was (in theory) an opportunity to gain a host, guest, and/or feature set for Emo Phillips. I'll only be available for one of his nights and it's not the featured night so I'm gunning for host/guest set. I think I have a good shot at a host night seeing as I'm hosting at Mainstage a lot and they seem to like me. The other bonus is that night Cathy Sorbo's Acapella duo "The Sympathy Cards" is the featured set. My lasers, my tasers, and my ICBMs are all gunning for that show.

It was chaos as there were 30 some-odd comedians who showed up. The list became long, complicated and arduous. Much respect to the open-mic list makers... that ain't easy. Comics were being moved around and bumped and some were frustrated because it was going to be a long night. A lot of them were cool, only one unmentionable was not (words of wisdom, best not to shit where you sleep). So it was a room full of frustrated fragile egos. Good times!

At first it was all comics, then a group came in, a few stragglers and then Autumn (the waitress/brand new comic) brought 15 of her friends so it was a packed house (by the way, her 2nd set ever, again she killed, I'm jealous of her skillz and focus... must steal both of those). Now there were a lot of green comedians there so it wasn't exactly a laugh riot from start to finish, some people were drunk, a lot were talking shit, and there was an awkward vibe to the place. Now it's on me to keep the energy going. Riiiiight. All told I think I did OK. Thanks to the power of Red Bull I had enough energy to scream and jump and holler all night. People seemed cool with that and even though the energy was weird it was never dead. I got a lot of good feedback from the other comedians (including Harold Gomez! who pulled me aside to compliment me... cool) which was good because some of them had clout. Some gave me shit but I wrote them off as bitter and drunk. Who am I though. A lot of people went over time so I had to get there attention in silly ways. One person I had to cut off because he started doing material about another comic. Weird. That call came from above but I was waiting to see if it was negative or not, I don't think it was meant to be but I gots to do my duty.

I did my set in the middle because a friend that was coming was late. Probably not going to do that again because it really slows down the energy. People just want the next person up so they can get closer to being done. Don't blame 'em. Lesson learned. I did the "not drinking" set again with minor adjustments. It went OK, but there's some serious tightening that needs to be done. That + doing the set an hour in = not everything landing. But it didn't die either. More work to be done.

After the show I helped close down and I talked to Karen bartender/sound/my guide who helped me with the list and John Sanders (guitarist comedian/cool guy) about the scene and I'm learning so much stuff about key people and different points of view on them. My goal is to make sure everyone's cool with me. Not by kissing anyone's ass, but just by trying to be a stand-up guy. There's weird territorial drama with a handful of comedians and that just seems like high school bullshit that people haven't gotten over. Mainstage is definitely my home base, but I want to be able to hit up any of the clubs and have a chill relationship with them as well. Time will tell.

Lesson: Don't shit where you sleep (I know... cheap)

Back-up lesson: Red-Bull is the ultimate fall back plan.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Day 10: Julie has my Soul 4/8/07

It's true. I give it to her.

Showed up at Mainstage for Open Mic tonight. Easter. Dead. Couple comedians. No audience otherwise. Oh well, make lemonade. I end up hosting again. Can't complain. Tried new bit. "Don't drink bit". Went well, need to tweek a few things though. Etc.

The night had a good vibe at first. Everybody was sitting up front and being very supportive of one another. It was chill, laid back and supportive. Then people who were at the Comedy Underground's open mic came out to do another set and just changed the whole mood. Everybody was sitting in the back and not responding to the comics, until of course it was their turn to go. So I'm new at this whole thing right, but I feel like a certain etiquette should be required. Especially from other comics. Who am I though, only judge is God. Or Allah (Peace be upon His Name). Or Vishnu. Anyhoo, the mood crashed and I was fighting like crazy to bring it back up, and some people were with me, but other didn't want to be entertained or support the group. It begs the question, "Why are we here?"

Ranting aside it was a good night. Joeasshole came with me and gave me good feedback before and after my set. He's becoming my own personal Burgess Meredith (apologies to the late/great actor/Penguin if I fucked up his name). And Julie. Well Julie (owner of Mainstage) and I talked on the phone before I came in and I mentioned that I would be gunning for a guest position at that show. She told me I was batting 1000 in their book and could grab a short set anytime I needed provided I got there early enough. She is great. Then when I got to Mainstage she asked me to host for Dwight Slade.

Context (short version): The late Bill Hicks is my all-time favorite comedian/person in this (and now the next) world.. Dwight Slade is his high-school friend who started doing comedy with him when they were 16.

I don't know his work specifically, but he tours constantly and has won the Seattle Comedy Competition so he's gotta be good. It'll just be insane for me to be at such a close context to the person who has had a great deal of a positive influence on how I live. I'll get to work with him and watch him perform and have a chance to study him the way I have Bill. This opportunity is an amazing honor for me.

So yeah, I hereby give Julie my soul. She can have it to do with what she pleases. I'll be her pet project as long as she needs. My endorsement for the Mainstage is all encompassing. Go there and give them lots of money (the blackened white fish tacos are amazing too).

In all honesty I am worried that I might get a little to comfortable at Mainstage. It's home base for sure, but I have to leave the nest for time to time and hit the other clubs. I haven't been back to Underground in way too long and I left before I've had a chance to establish myself there more. And then there's Giggles which I haven't done at all. There's plenty of Jakee to go around and I have to spread the love. The support I'm getting from Julie/Mainstage feels great, but I need to be at a point where I can go to any of those places and grab a set when I need to.

Only trouble in Paradise right now is that I agreed to direct a play (As You Like It FYI)so my free time just went flying away. I'm still gonna hit Mainstage on Sundays but I wont be able to give the kind of comedy love I need to right now. Gotta remember I'm still young in this.

Lesson: Do whatever Julie says...

Backup lesson: ...whenever she says it.

No, but seriously, the lesson for real: Put yourself out there, good things happen.

And the seriously for real backup lesson: Show support for your fellow comics. It'll comeback to you in the end.

But actually, the first two lessons count also.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Day 9: April Fool 4/1/07

So I went two weeks with out doing comedy and I really started to feel it. No real reason I didn't go, I was just distracting myself by doing stupid shit or making excuses. I was tired but that only goes so long until it becomes lazy or unfocused or some other reality. It was bad because it's the longest I went without doing comedy and I need to keep this momentum going. I think it was the confrontation with the reality that maybe I'm not the greatest comedian of all time and that I have a lot of work ahead of me. That fact either intimidated me or bruised my vanity. Whatever it was, ego and fear are two things I can do without so... moving on.

Needing to do SOMETHING, I checked out Mainstage. It was empty when I got there (about and hour early) and Julie was there. Love her. She wondered what I've been doing and talked to me about road work etc. then she asked if I could MC that night. I was really in the mood to work a piece then chill, but I think it'll be awhile before I can bring myself to deny Julie anything so I agree. It'll just give me more time to work stuff.

For those of you that don't know Mainstage Comedy is across the street from Key Arena, home (for now) of the Seattle Supersonics. When a game gets out, a lot of drunk fans show up, usually to drown their sorrows. This night is no exception and we get a pretty good sized crowd. By the time we're supposed to start, we have three comedians signed up. Hmmm...

I go a little long in my opening. I debut a brand new bit I came up with that day now dubbed "comicon bit" which went alright for scratching it out seconds before going onstage. Then I blew the dust off of Bumbershoot bit and brought it out. There's a very dangerous 9/11 portion of the joke that has yet to land, but I think there's an audience for it somewhere... clearly not the Mainstage. Overall the opening went well and up come the comedians.

By the time I got done with my intro we had more names on the list. The first comedian was having a hard time with the crowd. They were drunk and yelling stupid shit almost all night. Whaddaryagonnado? Despite that this was one of the best open mics I've experienced yet. A lot of Seattle comic vets with good material started showing up and everyone was killing. I had a chance to use some bits off of other peoples material which was dandy. One of the biggest highlights was Autumn, the server who works there, went up and did a set for her first time and KILLED. It was great, she was totally in control and her bits were well works. Theater background. There you go. Everyone was talking about how that was the best first set they've seen. Beat the hell out of mine and I was damn proud of it. The crowd loved her and you could tell she was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the night.

Coming toward the end of the list I hear that Ty Barnett might be coming in. He's the guy from Last Comic Standing that was at my first open mic. I'm stoked because that would be a perfect cap to the night. Voila here he comes. I bring him up and don't even bother watching the time. He was awesome and dealt great with the crowd. Awesome night all around.

So for the two weeks I didn't do comedy I was constantly denying myself this joy. Stupid. I'm pissed because I kinda have a lot going on right now, but all I want to do is comedy. I've been offered a directing gig that should be great but I don't know if I want to take that time away from doing this. I have to get something in AT LEAST once a week. I'd rather go every night. Shit.

Lesson: No excuse not to do comedy.

Backup lesson: Do what Julie says.