Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day 23: Laying Down (literally) 7/29/07

Open Mic. Comedy Underground. Danielle and I.

Danielle went first with the set she used last night at Mainstage. It didn’t go as well as last night and yet she still killed. She could read a dictionary onstage and the crowd would love her. She was hopped up on Red Bull and there was a mic malfunction that threw her off, but fuck, she is loved. She (who is of African American descent) came after two other black people and the first thing she announced was “I’ll be rounding out the black-bloc here.” It was brilliant, the crowd instantly loved her.

Having had a kick-ass set last night and having reworked most of the stuff I’m going to use on Sunday, I decided to dive off the deep end and use a very experimental bit I’ve been working on inspired by the work of Mark Newgarden (look him up… better yet, just go buy “We All Die Alone” which is an anthology of his work, did I mention that he invented the “Garbage Pail Kids”?) affectionately called the “Mark Newgarden” bit. It involves an incredibly poetic response to a mundane observation with crass insertions to break it up. To present it I laid on the floor facing the back wall and didn’t move as I spoke the entire bit into the microphone. I knew it needed at least one more rewrite, but I’ve been sitting on it for awhile and decided to pull it out and see what happened. It actually went over fairly well. All of the crass insertions got laughs (or as M.N. would say “laffs”), but what I didn’t expect was that the poetic stuff got a response too. That was good, but the punch-line hit the hardest. It was great, a WAY better response than I expected.

In writing it I knew I wanted to lay on the ground and do it, but now that I did I want to play around with it a little. I think next time (after a re-write) I’ll do some slow movement piece with it while having my back to the audience.

Danielle and I had a big deep and heavy (talk that is… pervs) about comedy and what we want and what we can do. The sky’s the limit with her and that’s obvious with just a week of open mics. I feel like the road will be harder for me because at this point I have no idea who I am. When she’s onstage she’s Danielle and there’s no mistaking it and you love her for it. The thing is that my day to day persona is such a mask that if I brought that up there I’d be lying to everyone. The irony being that I’m so associated with that persona (who has a lot more to do with Randy Pan than with me) that no one who knows me in life would recognize the real me on stage.

I was at a Bar-B-Que yesterday with some friends from the play, and I could watch myself playing a character for everyone. On the outside I was having a goofy old time, but on the inside I was depressed that my automatic reaction was to perform for everyone. The only time I could get real with anyone is when someone started to talk to me about theater. When it comes to art I can drop the fa├žade and actually be real with people. There’s a lesson there, somewhere, if not about comedy then about being a fucking human being. We’ll see if I learn it, but until then, as Mr. Rogers sang “A clown, a clown, I think I’ll be a clown.

Lesson: The deep end is scary, but the jump is worth it.

Back-up lesson: “I wonder if I could put down for a moment my burden of lies, of lying- just put it right down on the floor beside me. I wonder what that would be like. Just for a single moment, while the breeze blows in, just to put it down, because I feel so joyful, crazy, naked, free, I want no restrictions on me at all.

Dear God, every muscle of my body aches with the effort of constant lying. I’m twisted, contorted- lying from the minute I get up each day till the minute I go to bed, and even when I’m asleep I think I’m lying. I can’t stop, because the truth is everywhere, it’s in plain sight-

Listen to me, my darling. Just let it happen, just let it happen just for this moment, just for tonight, and then tomorrow we’ll go back to lying again, as if it never happened We’ll pretend it never happened. We’ll forget that it happened.” From "The Fever" by Wallace Shawn

Day 22: Paid 2: Electric Boogaloo (or “Best Night Ever”) 7/29/07

Tonight was Mainstage’s “Funniest Server in Seattle” competition for $75 dollars and bragging rights. I’m a server, I’m funny (maybe), I could use $75. The experience was made slightly underwhelming by the fact that only 2 of us competed for it. The always lovely and talented Justin Grapple (not that you’re reading this Justin, but I’m really sorry if I fucked up your name) was hosting and myself and Simon Kaufman went to bat for it. His set was good but he didn’t have any material about serving. I did. So I won and got $75 which is cool, but here’s the thing, that set went really fucking well for me. I opened with “Toby McGuire” (not that your reading this Toby, but I could give a shit if I fucked up your name), went into “Cheesecake Factory” bit (which thanks to Joe, Danielle, and Paul for their help, has never been better) then closed with “Neuva Ring”. It was water fucking tight and I had the audience the whole time.

After the competition an open mic happened and I was second on this list for that. I wasn’t expecting to do more time so I didn’t prepare anything. A handful of friends came out, some of whom have never seen me, AND this was a great opportunity to practice for Sunday’s big show so I pulled some A stuff out of my ass and through together a set. The emcee, who was having an awkward night, at one point mentioning “So I hate fat chicks…” which gave me an opportunity, so when I went to the mic I just said “More fat chicks for me.” I was applauded. Opened with “Bumbershoot”, went into “Fashion” and finished it off with “Cocaine”. Ba-ZING! Everything fucking landed. It felt so good, I was in control the whole time and I was able to bring the audience with me wherever I went. It was the best night of comedy that I’ve had yet.

It was a great night over all. This woman named Nicole went up for the first time and kicked ass. Danielle put some new shit out and KILLED. She rode off of Nicole and made some references to her set then went into her own stuff. It’s so good I’m so proud/envious of how much but she’s kicking in such a short amount of time. Sunday’s going to rock. David Cope closed up the night and since a lot of my friends were there I requested his “Round-house kick” bit which everyone loved. Great fucking night. I got a plaque.

The absolute and total tragedy of the night is that I LEFT MY FUCKING RECORDER AT HOME!!!! HOLY MOTHER OF FUCK!!! I would’ve finally had good material to post for you here but NOOOooooOOOooo, Douchee McKnutsack here forgot to bring an integral part of the comedy process to his comedy competition. I suck. A rotten capper to an otherwise amazing night.

Lesson: I can do this. I can actually do this.

Back-up Lesson: Bring. The goddamn. Recorder.

Day 21: Bombin’ In the Name Of… 7/24/07

Danielle, Joe and I go to the Mainstage for open mic. More training, new stuff. I dust off “Don’t Drink bit” barely and try it out. There were over a hundred people in the club for a previous show but they all skidadled by the time we started. Also Travis was hosting, which, God bless him, meant long sets with longer introductions. Oh well, I went up relatively quick. Not much of my stuff dropped because a) there was barely anyone to drop it on and b) I hadn’t worked it too much. There was one guy who was digging how offensive it was.

Danielle tried a new bit, so she was nervous and went fast. Some of it landed but over all it needed a restructuring. Again, quiet crowd.

This is good though, to alternate a hit and a miss night. That’s a great way to keep inspired enough that it’s worth your time but humble enough to keep working. In 10 days we have to put up 15 minutes each so we have a lot to accomplish by that time. The great thing is that we’re both motivated and with living together we can pump each other up for it. All will be good. Stay tuned.

Lesson: Humility is a blessing.

Back-up lesson: Blow the dust off of old bits at home… not the club

Day 20: Killin’ In the Name Of… 7/23/07

Danielle and I go to the Comedy Underground for more training for the big show. Our friend Solomon, who’s show we are doing, is there and a bunch of other people we know. I saw a lot people from the scene that I haven’t seen in awhile, like John Sanders and David Cope, which is cool, and introduce them to Danielle, which is also cool. Solomon had a great set, which was good for us because this was our first time seeing the guy that is headlining. Now we can advertise.

Danielle went up before me and used the same set and IT WAS AWESOME! She killed, everybody loved her, all our mutual friends were into it, all my comic friends loved her. It was awesome and I was very proud. I used the same set of shorter jokes and one liners and they all went over really well (save the “Tab bit”, I don’t know if that will ever go over, but I’ll never let it die). It was edgy shit (you know, birth control, bidet and genocide) and they responded exactly how I wanted them too. Two of the laugh-hole guys, who I swear could not remember me to save their life (understandable, they meet a lot of comics who want in their pants, I mean show), acknowledged me by name and complimented my set. Nice.

There were too many awesome things to say about the night. Suffice to say that Danielle and I were on cloud nine and felt really good about our upcoming show.

Lesson: The rewards of good comedy are vast. I should never stop.

Backup lesson: People know you when you are good.

Day 19: Back in the saddle 7/22/07

Sbeen awhile… again. I don’t have much of an excuse for my absence this time. The play was up and running and I wasn’t doing anything else really. I think it was a combination of being really worn out from working on the play and intimidated by what is to be the next mountain I have to climb with comedy… finding my voice.

I’d love to say that’s what had me performing tonight but it’s rather a trick of fate. In two weeks my roommate Danielle (not to be confused with my other roommate Joe [asshole], not to mention [which I almost didn’t] a fourth roommate Lacie, who took the picture to your right [unless I changed it], [Can anyone else tell I’ve been watching a lot of Monty Python’s Flying Circus lately?].) and I each have 15 minute sets at the Capitol Club for our friend Solomon who has started up a monthly comedy show there. So we have 14 days, 8 (now 7) open mics, and 20 collective minutes in those open mics to be ready. I’ve got enough to fake it… but Danielle hasn’t done an open mic yet.

Between you and me I’m not worried. She’s a comedy nerd, inherently funny, a great writer and carries a lot of presence. She just needs the experience of being on a mic and telling jokes… oh and she needs jokes too. She’s been busting her but to put together material and tonight was her first night up.

We were supposed to have a writing circle but I kinda-sorta woke up at 5 pm. (It was the first weekend I got to sleep-in in months.) So in the precious little time we had she showed we what she wrote, which was quite a lot, and I gave her my input. It was funny but padded so I advised her to cut a lot and gave her options. I was her Joe (asshole). She put together an outline of stuff and we headed to the Mainstage… problem was I didn’t figure out what I was going to do.

Seconds before I went up I outlined a few things I had in my head. In attempting to find my voice I tried not to pander or rile up the crowd but just talk and lay down my bits. I started with the “Neuva Ring bit” which I’m actually very proud of and it went well. I followed that with what will be my guilty pleasure which-I’m-sure-will-never-work-but-it-cracks-me-up-and-it’s-so-short-I’ll-hold-onto-it-for-that-one-moment-someone-else-love’s-it “Tab bit”, and finally “Mid-life crisis step-dad bit”. I really didn’t prepare any of it before I went up so that I got any response at all was a good sign. Not surprisingly the “Tab bit” didn’t register, I’ll keep working on it until I die though. Almost forgot I did the “Downtown solicitor bit”, which got some “oohs” (it’s pretty wrong). The step-dad bit has legs I feel, but needs lots of work.

Danielle kicked some ass. She started off really fast and had to check her notes a bunch, but that’s just nerves. A lot of her lines landed and everyone really liked her. Once she works this shit and grounds it she’s going to be really funny. Susan was managing that night and she really liked her and was very surprised it was her first time up. Good sign. I told her one of her biggest asset’s is that she’s very likeable onstage, she lost a bit at one point but it was so adorable you didn’t care. We’re going to be awesome in two weeks… check it out.

Lesson: Practice what you coach. In fact practice at all.

Back-up lesson: Time management skills are your friend.