Friday, September 20, 2013

A little rant...

This might piss some people off just a bit, but it kind of drives me crazy so, whatever, get pissed if you want to.

I've been doing comedy for two years now. I've been a performer for most of my life, but only two years as a comedian. I'm not the world's expert on anything but I'm pretty sure I'm right about this. I have a complaint about some comedians.

Audiences can be iffy. We all love it when we have a big room chock full of people who came to laugh. It's a great big, ego-feeding, energizing, tit-sucking RUSH. Seriously, it's just the best, and I love it as much as anyone. But we all have also experienced that small, shy, had-a-bad-day, ho-hum collection of barely conscious strangers who, although they've paid their money to see some comedy, will still sit there like they've been beaten and dragged to traffic school. The tough crowd.

But not all of them will be like that. Most of them do laugh at least some of the time. And even if they're not in an hysterical panic, they're probably having a good time. So why is it that so many comics are completely undone by this kind of room? For some reason they don't hear the laughter that is coming their way in a wimpy but steady stream, but instead will fixate on that one stone-faced guy in the middle of the room. Last night I was at a show that had this kind of audience. It was an undersold show that, in my opinion, was way overbooked with comedians. They could have cut the line-up in half and it probably would have been a better show. And here's where I could get into some trouble. I thought most of the material kind of sucked. But I have seen audiences that just about wet themselves laughing at that stuff, so you can't really judge a show by that.

The thing that drives me nuts is, I really, really hate it when a comic gets up there, gets a few polite giggles and then blames the audience for not falling out of their chairs. Last night many people WERE laughing, but almost every one of those comics were thrown by the modest chuckle level and they commented on it. None of them overtly turned on the audience, but the comics' own discomfort was noticeable enough to dampen the room even more than it already was. You could just feel it.

Some comics will completely bail on their own act. One night at a different club, a young female comic wasn't quite feeling the love so she just walked around the stage making comments about what was up there; the floor, the back drop, the mike stand. Then she picked up a menu and started reading it and saying how stupid she thought it was. That's the worst example, but I've seen stuff that was close to being that bad.

Audiences can be squirrely. Smaller audiences can be harder to fluff up. But I've had 13 people in a room that all laughed their asses off. I've also seen 60 people just sit there. Sometimes there's nothing you can do to make them laugh but the totally fucking WRONG thing to do is blame THEM. Jeez, I've only been doing this for 2 years. Almost everyone in the comedy world has been at it waaaay longer than I have. Haven't they figured it out by now that there's a certain audience dynamic you just can't control? And so what? You still have to be professional and do your job. Being able to get up on a stage as a professional entertainer is a privilege, and there are thousands who would love to do it, who work hard at being good at it and might not ever get the opportunity. The people who paid their money are there to be entertained. They're NOT there to stroke your broken ego. And if they aren't laughing you still have to perform as if they are! The audience isn't there because they love you. You are there because you love them. At least you should.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hollywood Types

Last night I performed at a bar show in Sherman Oaks. It's called The Cork Lounge and the show they have on Wednesday nights is becoming more and more popular. Nice atmosphere in that place, and I'm glad to be a part of it.

When I got there I settled into one of the booths. A couple sat at the table next to mine. He was about my age, maybe younger, hair slicked back, glasses with darkish shades and wearing a nice suit. His girlfriend was a typical trophy girlfriend, blonde and boobylicious. When I did my set I checked out everyone in the room to see how my act was going over. Lots of people laughing, some not paying attention at all, the usual bar audience. Mr. Hollywood was sitting there with his arm around the girlfriend. She was laughing, he was just smiling an nodding. Every joke punch line, every song laugh line brought a smile and a nod, smile and nod, smile and nod. So, ok, he's enjoying it.

As I was packing up at the end of the show, he rose and shook my hand. "I really enjoyed what you did up there. Your songs are very funny." I said, "Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for coming." He said, "Have you done any movies? Has Hollywood come calling?" I said, "Oh no, not yet. I haven't been at this for very long. I would really love it, though." He said, "Well, I think a lot of people would love it. I think a lot of people would really enjoy what you do."

At this point I'm really wondering where this is leading.

I said, "Aw, thanks. I appreciate you saying that." Then he said, "Yeah, I think you could be the female Adam Sandler!"

I punched that motherfucker in the face.

And then I gave him my card.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Well that was one goofy-ass dream...

I was working in an office. I was told to fetch a file on one of our clients. His counselor was P.J. Walsh (a pretty brilliant comic everyone should see). He needed a form that was in the file. As I looked through it, it started to grow and get more complicated, which happens a lot in my dreams. A simple task becomes ridiculous and causes me to veer from the focus of the dream, which is usually way more fun than the task. This time the file became overly stuffed and included a box of old stuffed animals. I decided I could get that form online and left the file on the table. I went own the hall to find my boss's assistant. I went into my boss's (Barbra Streisand) office and found her on the phone, yelling angrily at someone. I retreated and shut the door. At the end of the hall was a storage closet. I knew the assistant was going to be in there. People were coming and going in and out of that room. They were busy setting it up so some dirty hillbillies could live there a while. I stood at the door for a second and decided I was in the way should step away and wait for the assistant to come out. A woman came out to talk to me with two of the hillbilly children. She said, "You can't disrespect these people like that. Looking at them is disrespectful." I guessed she was some kind of dirty hillbilly social worker. The two children said, "Yeah, you can't do that! You're stupid!" I knew it was useless to try to defend myself so I turned and walked away. I decided I'd go to the grocery store (also in the building) and get myself some lunch. The store was being remodeled and workers were restocking the low, open freezers. I wanted a chicken pot pie for lunch, but all they had was cartons of ice cream. I sat down at the lunch counter, which was really a row of freezers with a counter top, and waited for them to find the chicken pot pies. I felt a pair of arms encircle me from behind and a soft voice whispered in my ear. I knew that voice belonged to my dearest love, Michael Cera. We left the grocery store and went to the apartment we shared on the ground floor of that same building. I puttered around for a while. I looked up and saw that Michael Cera was driving away in a golf cart. The body of the golf cart was made of wicker (pretty cool, I thought). When he came back the cart was loaded with members of my family (none of them were my real family). As they got out of the cart they started arguing and accusing each other of several different crimes. They were yelling at each other and saying they all needed to behave because they were visiting me. I frowned at Michael Cera and he looked at me with a helpless expression. I knew then that he'd only wanted to surprise me with a visit from my loving family. --------------------------------------- I think I'm reading too much Game of Thrones.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Katherine Hepburn, Arya Stark

It's been ten years since Jim lost his job and we moved back to Riverside. It's been twelve years since I last had what I considered to be a stable life. Jim had his career, we had our two girls, many wonderful friends, and the first house that was our own. Then things started going south at Hewlett Packard. The founders were no longer in charge, and it was decided that HP would be split into two separate companies. Jim was so disturbed by this. The company hired consultants who instated policies Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard never would have tolerated. Employees who didn't adjust were considered to be a liability, and grumbling about the coming changes could get you put on the fast track to getting laid off. Jim took all of this personally and became very depressed. Watching all this happen was like seeing a train wreck in slow motion, and eventually he was laid off along with hundreds of others at the Santa Rosa division, many of them our good friends. -------------------------------------------------- Most of you know the story from there. We moved back to Riverside and settled in at the farm. Soon after, Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and Jim and I became his main caregivers. Jim grieved over losing his job. It wasn't just a job. The culture at HP had been something he really loved. The company had the reputation of being very good to their employees. Holiday parties and picnics, perks and bonuses were the norm. Just about every friend we had was connected with HP, and most of them were musicians. The good times rolled. And when it was gone, my husband couldn't deal with it. The sadness lasted until the day he died. ---------------------------------- My girls and I had to build a new life. My daughters dove into the big adventure of building this new life because that's what young people do. Young people can fly without a net. Not so easy for me. When I was younger I worked mostly in dead-end retail jobs. When we had our kids I was a stay-at-home mom (thanks to that great HP job of Jim's). I went to junior college and dabbled in the fun stuff, but didn't take classes to develop any useful or marketable skills. So now here I am, a middle-aged widow who needs to find a way to support herself. It all looked pretty bleak, but because I had the good fortune of being part of a family that is completely awesome on several levels, I was able to get a good (although low-paying) job that gave me the opportunity to learn some skills, and to modify and apply my many nature-given talents. Things were looking up. Sort of. ----------------------------------- Still, I had no real stability. Hell, I still don't! The last twelve years have pounded me from all directions. Many, MANY great things have happened in that time, and I'm grateful for the mind-blowing opportunities that have plopped into my lap, but I haven't ever been able to get back that feeling of security and stability that was such a big part of my former life. I have taken all the blows and kept going, but I haven't been entirely ok. Lots of fear going on here. Depression, inertia, grief, anger, more fear, fuck-it-who-cares, failure and fatigue are all there just below the surface. I could lose everything. My inner Sarah Palin screams, "You're too old, too fat, too stupid, too whatever to succeed!" But I'm trying. I really am. That little motto at the top of this blog: Right foot, left foot, repeat. That sucker has gotten me through some rough times. --------------------------------- The last time we went to the river I bought one of those commemorative Life magazine issues to read under the easy-up. It's about Katherine Hepburn 10 years after her death. I've always loved her. The Philadelphia Story is my favorite movie. The dialog is loaded with the snappy, witty repartee typical of movies of that era. I totally dig that shit. And hell, I just love her. But in her live interviews there always seemed to be a certain amount of bullshit. I never really bought the real Katherine Hepburn. She always seemed to be just a little too much in love with herself. But there were some photos in this special Life issue that smacked me. One is of 80-something Hepburn in a bathing suit, running with a towel after swimming in an icy lake. Snow is on the ground. Another photo shows her at about the same age playing tennis. So, ok. Maybe she had to be in love with herself to accomplish what she did in her own era. She had endless energy and drive, style and beauty, and she died at age 96. That's not bullshit. She didn't mope and whine about life's hard knocks. I'm not even sure she noticed them. --------------------------------- Ok, on to Arya Stark. I came to Game of Thrones a bit late. I tuned in for the last third of season two and I've seen all of season three. I'm entertained, but I don't know who the hell anyone is or how they got there. I decided I'd read all the books before the next season starts so I can catch up. Damn, I'm loving these stories! I plowed through the first book in about three days. I decided to slow down a bit for the second one. I found myself going through my day in Game of Thrones mode, which might not be appropriate for 2013 real life in America (Do NOT impede my progress for I am bound for the check-out line! STAND ASIDE!). The character I love the most is Arya Stark. Holy crap. There have been a few times where she has shed some tears, but mostly she just gets it ON. Sneak, run, stab, survive, outsmart, hide, fight, stab some more, lie, run, run, run, sneak, stab... Dayum, girl! Does she boo-hoo because she misses the comfort of stability? NO! She's plotting who she's going to kill next! God, I love her. ------------------------------------- All this has been swirling in my head. And it's making me happy! I don't know what the future will bring. Some stuff is in the works but it's not a done deal. I'm no more stable than I was six, ten, twelve years ago. I could still lose it all. I might be completely deluded, but I feel pretty fucking good these days. I've been eating low carb, which reeeally helps. I'm finally getting some meaningful work done on my house. Lots of good stuff on the horizon, performing-wise. All that adds up for sure. But keeping Hepburn and Stark with me as I go through my day helps me feel empowered (and that's CRAZY!). Today I went to Costco. When I went to my car I couldn't find my keys. I went through every pocket in my purse but no luck. I was just about to look through the window to see if I had locked them in the car when I saw them at the bottom of my shopping cart, dangling, ready to drop and be lost forever. I laughed at myself. "Woman, you'd die in the wild." As I'm loading the car and laughing, "You're no Arya Stark." As I shut the back hatch, "You're more like that shit-for-brains Sansa."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's too fucking bad, isn't it?

The news has been crazy lately. Two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, taking three lives and blasting the legs off of several innocent bystanders. The suspects were quickly identified, and an aggressive but well-executed manhunt ensued. The city was almost completely shut down as people sheltered in their homes. The response of law enforcement was massive and it didn't take long for them to find the two suspects. One was killed in a shoot-out and the other was apprehended, alive but with serious wounds. ____________________________________________________ There's so much sadness woven throughout this story. We've been seeing photos of those killed in the explosion, as well as the campus police officer that was killed later that night. We've seen photos of the other victims in their hospital beds surrounded by family and friends and (really?) Bradley Cooper (as if we all needed one more reason to adore him, which I do). We've also been hearing the stories about the heroes, and the helpers, and the sheer awesomeness of the cop who brought milk to a family who couldn't leave their home. All these stories are quite amazing and you can almost hear the frantic phone conversations of studio heads scrambling to secure the movie rights. _______________________________ But I'm also struck by the sadness of the story of the nineteen-year-old bomber who survived. Don't get me wrong. Hear me out. When the first photos and the security video were released showing the two brothers walking through the crowd, I felt immediately that the younger man, the one following a few paces behind, the one with the satisfied smile, wasn't like the older one leading the way. Even in those grainy pictures it seemed to me that this was the smile of a young guy who was just happy to be included in the plans of the older guy. I really felt that whatever the older guy's motives were for carrying out this horrific act, the younger guy didn't share them. Not entirely, anyway. __________________________ Once they were identified and the people who knew them began to share their stories, the picture started to become more complete (For me, anyway. All this is just my own idea about the thing). We heard that the younger brother was just a regular kid. His father described him as an angel. His former teacher said that he idolized his older brother and followed him around like a puppy. We've seen photos of a very attractive but serious young man with cold eyes. I wonder about that a little. I'll bet there are plenty of photos of him laughing with his buddies. We won't see those because it's important not to humanize him. He must continue to be portrayed as a monster. The media is doing its job. ___________________________________________ So here's a kid who looked up to his big brother. It's too bad that no one helped him to stand on his own. Big brother got involved with some jihadist group, for whatever reason, and the little brother was easily sucked in. Big brother didn't give a shit about the people that were killed and maimed, but he also didn't give a shit about his younger brother. Did he care at all what might happen to him? Oh well.______________________________________ So hey there, little brother. You went along because your big brother was everything in your eyes. You killed and maimed, and stabbed an entire country in the heart because you never learned to listen to your own. Your brother fucked you and now he's dead and you're laying in a hospital bed alone. The doctors will heal your wounds and you will get to live, alone, until you are placed in a cold room, alone, with a needle in your arm, where you will die, alone, with others watching.

Thursday, April 04, 2013


Boy, I have certainly gotten out of the habit. I really should (said it before, I know) get back into it. This blog has saved my sanity in the past, and now I'm in another crappy life phase. Blog, bitch, blog! ******************* So, once again I'm unemployed. This time around I don't have health insurance. Great. So, I need to cultivate those healthy habits. I'm walking more. Today I took my bike in to get fixed. On Fridays I walk with Jeff. Last Friday I went to our meeting place and waited for him in my car. I saw an attractive young woman jog up. She had probably the most perfect body I've ever seen. She was curvy, but trim. Her arms were toned and she was very well-proportioned. I said to myself, "Well, good for you honey. Congratulations. You've won the genetic lottery but you're also doing a great job of keeping yourself in shape. Good for you." When she jogged by I watched her in the rearview mirror. She got into her car, which was parked right behind me. I hadn't noticed it before. A brand new, white Mercedes. Then I was all, "Oh fuck you. Fuck you and your perfect body and your white Mercedes." *********************** I just couldn't support that. *************************** On Saturday I'm going to Flappers in Burbank to sit in on a Comedy Traffic School class. I'll be in training. We'll see how it goes. I do think it'll be a good fit, and I'll bet it'll be a good way to develop my audience skills. I really admire comics who can interact with an audience and do it well. And hey, teaching Comedy Traffic School will be something I can do on the side and make a little money. *********************** Last Sunday I went to open mike at Flappers Claremont. A comedian's open mike is an interesting thing. It's not at all like a musician's open mike. It's mostly comics who are trying out new material, which means almost everyone bombs. Even comics who are otherwise pretty good. But it's ok. It's really a pretty forgiving and supportive environment. Still, you'd better not go in there expecting a lot of laughs. It's not an ego feed. ************************* That's about it for now.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Still no paragraph breaks. Blogger, you continue to suck.

Testing, testing

I've been having problems with Blogger lately. A kind blogger sent me this link. Let's see if I can make paragraph breaks. Like this one. Or this one.