Saturday, August 27, 2011

A quick update

Not much to tell, but it's somewhat significant.

I haven't heard from Rick yet, and I was getting a little worried that the whole thing might fizzle out. Even with everything that's happened, nothing has really happened. I haven't performed, money hasn't been discussed, and no one is telling me to run out and get an agent. This is all still in the "wildest dream" category.

Friday night, Tracey and I went to Flappers for the latest installment of Donita's Comedy Education. A couple of the comics were good, the others so-so. Any time I see any comic, good or bad, I learn something.

Throughout the show, Rick popped in and out to serve the customers, or just to watch. He gave me a nice hello as he breezed by. So, ok, he hasn't forgotten who I am. After the show, on the way out, he shook my hand and said, "Nice to see you here. It'll be better to see you up there." I smiled and said, "Well, I'm just waiting to hear from you." He said, "You'll be getting an email from me very soon." I thanked him and left. What a relief! The dream is still on track.

And I practice, practice, practice...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Deven and Joel

We saw their show on Friday night. What great fun! Everyone should see Deven and Joel.

Deven Green and Joel Bryant are a married couple and comedy duo. She's tall, lanky and gorgeous, he's compact and rather hunky. On stage their physical contrast is striking, and it works really well in their act. Deven uses her body in a way that seems to extend the height of the stage to the ceiling. She's like a beautiful spider monkey.

Once they hit the stage their energy is nonstop. They toss the focus back and forth like comedy ping-pong. Everything they do is tight and purposeful, and they have total command of the room. The way they relate to each other is charming, and you really feel that you're watching two people who are in love and who love performing together.

For one bit they invite a couple from the audience to come up on stage. One night Lindsay and Kyle were that couple. The couple stands next to a table that has a hotel desk bell (for correct answers) and an electric buzzer (for wrong answers). Deven and Joel go into a little scenario and make statements about the couple, and they will hit either the bell or the buzzer to move the story forward. It's pretty funny. At one point the husband and wife were whacking that bell almost constantly in response to the silliest statements. The room roared.

They did this thing I've seen on Who's Line is it Anyway, where they'll hand microphones to a couple of audience members and have them provide the sound effects for the story. That's always a risky thing to do, because you never know if those people will understand what they're supposed to do. It took some prompting, but eventually they got it rolling. The woman who had a mike never did get it, but Deven and Joel used that and made it funny anyway.

The whole show was really fun. Deven sang a couple of her mash-ups and played her uke. Later in the show they did a funny and rather touching pantomime about the evolution of their relationship. I'd like to see them as often as I can.

They're coming to Claremont next month.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm in!

Holy moley!

Tracey and I went to Claremont this evening for my audition. It wasn't really an audition, because I already auditioned, but I didn't know that that's what I was doing. This was just so the manager of the Claremont Flappers could hear what I do so he could figure out how or where to place me. Still, that didn't keep me from being nervous and jumpy. So, I guess it's kinda good that things worked out the way they did.

Rick, the manager, wasn't there this evening, so I ended up performing for Onely (pronounced Oh-nellie), who is kind of like the assistant manager. I'm not sure what Onely's title is. Anyway, she's a sweet little gal and she does a lot to help run the place. There was only one other comic there to audition, so I performed for three people- Tracey, Onely and young dude. The performance was video taped. I sang Phone Sex. I felt pretty good about how I did.

When I was finished, Onely was very enthusiastic. She said she'd pass her recommendation along to Rick. She said she was sure they'd want me to perform there. Tracey and I left and went to dinner. Later we went back to see tonight's show. While we were waiting to go in, Rick came out and talked to me a little. He said he was disappointed that he missed my audition. I told him I'm available any time if he wants to see me. He said he was trying to massage the show a little so he could give me seven minutes to perform (what, like, tonight??? YES!).

The headliner tonight was Willie Barcena. Good lord, he KILLED. Johnny Rogue was the emcee, and Omar Covarrubias was the featured performer. He's a magician, and he was very good. Willie Barcena was supposed to do 45 minutes, but he went for well over an hour. Ohmygod, we were laughing so hard. My face hurt!

Afterward, Rick said he was sorry he couldn't get me on. Jeez, I didn't care! We'd had such a good time. He said that for sure I'll be performing, he's just not sure right now just when. It'll probably be this Friday or next. He'll let me know.

And when he does, I'll let all of you know.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Studying comedy

Ok, if I'm going to do this thing (Whatever it is. I still don't know) I'm going to have to incorporate some stand-up into it. I do need to have an act. I can't just get up there and sing songs. As a performer, one thing I NEVER had a desire to do is stand-up. I'm waaay too fragile. And chicken.

So, I'm now studying how to be a comedian. Flappers offers classes in improv and stand-up, and I would love to take them once I find out where this is going, but these classes are $300 a pop. I do think it would be helpful to take a class. I can be funny and I have written some funny songs, but how does one write jokes? I've been a smart-ass all my life, but I can tell you from personal experience that people don't always appreciate my sense of humor.

So, I'm going to immerse myself in the comedy world, at least as much as I can afford. Last night I went to Flappers Claremont for a Habitat for Humanity benefit show. There were four comics with Michael Rayner as the headliner. I guess I should be writing down the names of all these comics so I can remember them. I'm glad I went because the whole evening was very instructive.

The first three comics (two women and a guy) were uneven and only mildly funny. One woman joked about being red-headed and very white. You can only take that so far. The other woman, who was also the emcee, joked about dating and how creepy she is. Hmmm. Her jokes felt like she wrote them after goofing around with her friends and then writing down what they laughed at. They fell pretty flat. The third comic was a Middle Eastern guy who was a bit funnier. Still, he danced around the race thing, which seemed to make people uncomfortable (mostly older people in the audience). The race thing is tricky. The race thing is advanced.

The fourth opening comic was Jason Dudey, gay guy who really was quite funny. He talked about several subjects, and his point of view was skewed a bit sideways. His jokes were funnier.

I had seen Michael Rayner before, but I can't remember where. Anyway, look him up on Youtube. I'm having trouble posting a link here. He's a nerdy-looking juggler, and he's freaking hilarious. He opened by making a chicken out of a towel. Pretty silly trick. Then he got out an old-fashioned tennis racket and a couple of sticks. He got the racket up in the air and kept it there by knocking it between the sticks. It really looked like it was going to slip, but it never did. He balanced a wheelbarrow on his chin, and he spun a cheeseburger on a parasol. Everything he did had a loose and uncontrolled look to it, which made you think he wasn't going to be able to pull it off. I enjoyed that. He disguised his skill. The jokes were good and his delivery was loud and silly.

So, what can I do with this info? I don't need a lot of jokes, and they don't even need to be all that funny. They just can't fall flat. The jokes will serve as a transition between the songs. I've messed around with banter, but it was always just me goofing around with the audience. That's ok, and it works, but I think I need to step it up a little. I just need to figure out what will work for me.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy going to comedy shows. A lot of them.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

This is getting good.

Tonight Tracey and I went to the Claremont Flappers to check out how they do their auditions. I had read on their website that they take the first 25 comics that sign up on the audition list. I've been thinking about what song to do for my first audition. Do I hit 'em with my big guns (Phone Sex), or save that for the second round, if I make it? Are my other songs funny enough to compete with 24 other comics? Should I attempt to tell a couple jokes before I start singing? How the hell do I do that? Yes, I've been doing a lot of thinking about this whole process.

When Tracey and I got there we were the only ones in the lobby. Then, two young guys came in and signed the sign up sheet on the counter. Just before we went in another young man showed up. So that was it. Three guys auditioning and Tracey and me just there to watch. I didn't bring my uke. I wanted more time to practice. I planned to audition next Saturday.

The manager (name's Rick) came in and explained how things are done. He's a friendly guy with a very positive vibe. Each of the young guys got up and did their three minutes. One was certainly a beginner, but the other two were more polished. After each one performed, Rick would give them a critique. He was kind and encouraging. Afterward he asked if anyone had any questions. I spoke up and said, "Hi, Rick. I sent you an email. My name is Donita Smith.." He cut me off and said, "Oh yeah. You're in." He said he'd been to the Burbank club and Deven had "hunted him down" just so she could tell him about me. I couldn't keep a lid on my emotions this time. I welled up and had to brush away a few tears. We talked a bit more after that and I gave him my contact info. He said to come next week with my uke and be prepared to do more than one song.

He explained how the process works. After the auditions he meets with the other managers and the owners and gives them his notes. Then they all decide how each comic will proceed. They might have them enter a contest, or if they're good enough, stick them into a show. The way he talked it sounded like I might be considered for something a bit more fast tracked, based on what Deven had told him about me. I'll know more next week.

After we left Flappers, Tracey and I had dinner at Walter's in the village. She and I are both marveling at how this whole thing has unfolded. We walk into a bar, I spot a ukulele on a chair, and POW! I've been set on a path! Deven is my angel.

I am SO looking forward to this! The atmosphere there was so relaxed and friendly. All that pressure I had put on myself has disappeared. This is going to be just plain fun. I'm very excited and VERY HAPPY. Something good is happening to me.

Monday, August 08, 2011


Wow. You just never know.

Ok. I've been writing these comedic songs for the last four years. I'm not at all prolific. I've written four good songs in four years. Lately I've been trying to come up with a way to get them out faster so I can actually put a show together for myself. I have ten songs that are in different stages of completion. They're all good ideas that will make killer songs if I can ever whip them into shape. But for now they sit in a file.

I've been doing my four complete songs at the local open mike and they've been very well received. People laugh, a lot, so I know they're good. I've been thinking I might even be able to put a little bit together and be an opening act for a comic show. Hey, I can dream.

Last night Tracey and I went to see Bobcat Goldthwaite at Flappers in L.A. Kyle worked as an extra in Bobcat's newest movie. He and Lindsay also had a meeting with him several months ago to discuss doing some storyboarding work for him. Kyle's family is visiting from New York, so this was going to be a fun evening hanging out with all the Carrozzas, seeing and possibly meeting Bobcat, and having an all around good time together.

Tracey and I arrived at Flappers a little early. I needed to pee, so we went directly into the bar. As I passed the stage on the way to the bathroom, I noticed a ukulele sitting on a chair. I thought, hmm, ukulele, cool. When I came out there was a young woman on stage getting ready to start her act. She and I started chatting (She's very friendly. Name's Deven) and I mentioned that I play uke and sing. She asked what I do and I told her mostly covers and I have a few of my own comedic songs. She started her act which consisted mostly of some very funny song mash-ups with some jokes thrown in here and there. We kept chatting during her performance, which was very casual and laid back. Then she asked me to come up and do a song. Wow! On stage at Flappers! Tracey and I couldn't believe what was happening.

I sat down and got through just a couple lines of my newest song, Phone Sex, when Lindsay and all the Carrozzas came in. Lindsay later told me they had been waiting outside the bar for us and then decided to go in. They were very surprised to see me on stage with a ukulele and a spotlight shining down on me! I wish I had a photo of all their faces when they saw me up there. Man, it was funny. They were kind of stunned. We hugged hello and I got back into my song.

I ended up doing all four of my songs. People laughed and it was all good and fun. Afterward, Deven told me I should audition for the club. I told her that Kyle also writes and performs comedy songs and she encouraged both of us to audition. She felt certain that the both of us could easily win. Top prize is $500 and three minutes on the main stage. Pretty cool.

Then (!) I was approached by the bar manager. He introduced himself and said. "I heard you say you're from Riverside. Flappers has a club in Claremont. Would you like to perform there? Give me your contact information and I'll give it to the guy who books the acts there. You have a good voice and you're very funny."


It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. Holy shit. This is exactly what I've been wanting to do! And even if nothing comes of it, I will always remember the surreal awesomeness of that moment.

So, we'll see. Kyle and I will audition for sure. Deven is now a Facebook friend. She sent me some more info about auditioning and getting in touch with the Claremont people.

Oh yeah. Bobcat was great. Didn't get to meet him, but we laughed our asses off. There was a really good comedian just before Bobcat. Young guy with Tourette's. He was really good. Good show, yadda, yadda, yadda...

I am basking in a glow.