So I scheduled yet another comedy meeting---a totally brand new meeting, with brand new people. The reason being because I have had so many residual e-mails from random craigslist people. And I'm not one to exclude other's from the fun.
So I decided to arrange a few more meetings, at the newcomers' indirect request.
I went through all the replies in my InBox and then sifted through comedy forums and collected e-mail and complied a MEGA-email! Expectedly, I received a ton of e-mails in response to my MEGA-email and gave several options for date, time, location-- so each budding comedian could choose the best time to accomodate their schedule. Each respondent RSVP'ed with the best chosen dates. I tallied the most votes and finalized the date, sending out a reminder email.
And with all that effort, it turned out to be a big bluff. A serious amount of no shows. Out of 5, 1 showed. 2 including myself. I put a lot of faith in people's word. Perhaps, this is a lesson I should learn--and re-learn.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
So I scheduled yet another comedy meeting---a totally brand new meeting, with brand new people. The reason being because I have had so many residual e-mails from random craigslist people. And I'm not one to exclude other's from the fun.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Last Wed night was a ball!
We went to ITU. I totally got reamed for trying to incorporate the recent school shooting into a joke.
Okay, full story. Leo Allen was the host and had derived a formula for how much time needs to pass in before we can make a joke about it.
And I made a suggestion for the recent school shooting.
"No, too soon!"
Dude! You just made a formula which supposed to explain how long before we can make jokes. The shooting would be a perfect example.
Anyway, I felt like a doof because I never got to explain that point.
Later on, we (non-comedy buddy and me) invited ourselves to a party. We met some cool comedy folks and then ate some chips and pizza. It ended up being a house warming party and we even met the gay dude from Prime. (Note: He's not gay in real life.)
Friday, April 20, 2007
I've had a seminal moment in my quest and the moment is prefaced by bagels. Let me explain. I walked into the neighborhood H&H bagel shop, which is a bagel shop in the definitive. I'd never been there before, despite having walked by several times never fully being enticed to enter. But I emphasize 'definitive,' in that they do nothing else but sell bagels--that's it. No making of bagel sandwiches, no toasting of bagels, no butter or cream cheese. So it's a bare bones bagel shop. And so, it being 10am in the morning on a weekday, I was in the mood for a bagel sandwich. But I had to settle for plain and simple. I ordered and then waited. I turn to my right and what image do I see on the wall? No one other than my idol (and I'm hesistant to use that word, 'idol'), Mr. Jerry Seinfeld. The article was definitely post-sitcom, post-marriage, post-kids. The article profiled a shop in downtown Manhattan, that offered to name a sandwich after Mr. Seinfeld. The story mentioned how he was originally reluctant to have a sandwich he's never tasted named after him. So the store owner/sandwich dubber wanted to hold an official tasting. The sandwich was a peanut butter, cinnamon, jelly concoction. Seinfeld tasted it and was pleased, along with his wife. Consider the sandwich aptly named!
So why was this hanging up in H&H bagel shop? Because the sandwich was made with an H&H bagel. Surprise, surprise!
I was just happy to see a photo of Seinfeld. Further inspiration for me to continue on my quest.
* They need to add California bagels to their repetoire.
Monday, April 16, 2007
In my attempt to become an organic stand up comic, I was trying to derive all my material out of my head in one sitting, which a seasoned stand up comic could probably do. But who knows? My ability to create a joke is impeded by over-thinking and just plain old writer's block.
Little did I remember that I have always been keeping comments, asides, ideas, that come up in my life in a handy-dandy little black book. And I neglected to remember (until last night, when I hit a wall) that I already have a bunch of material written down in a petite black notebook. In fact, I had two notebooks fullgraduating to my second by 2005. (Moleskine's1--they're my favorite. Did you know Kafka used Moleskines? Yeah...yeah. Using a Moleskine is my attempt at feeling like an intellectual. Isn't that an oxymoron?--"feeling like an intellectual.")
So while in the middle of my white knuckled panic attack afraid that I wasn't going to be able to achieve my goal of having material by the end of the weekend, I found book #2 and casually thumbed through the pages. As most comedians would say, "I'd struck comedy gold!" I had already compiled a bunch of things that ticked me off, made me nervous, confused me, and was now ready to turn it into a concrete set.
In a way, I feel like I'm cheating myself, because the material didn't come from toiling away digging deep withing the annals of my subconcious. But it did come from me wisely continuing my comedy bookkeeping from year's past. And during those years, there was some work (i.e. inspiration) involved.
So what do you make of it? Did I violate the creativity pact?
Did I cheat to complete the mission?
You be the judge.
1Moleskine [Official Website|Official Blog|Wikipedia][Return to Entry]
Sunday, April 15, 2007
I find it weird that the adamant atheists that I meet are afraid of death. I went through all the phases of questioning our maker.
Atheist, after being raised pseudo-Catholic (baptized, communion, but not confirmed.)
Told there was a god and heaven/hell (childhood)
Completely confused by the concept of God (Agnostic - high school)
Finally, to complete my relationship with my maker is that I believe something exists. I have an acceptance that God=universe=love... much easier to visualize/sense, and to know that God exists in all of us, and that love exists in all of us. There is no hell. If there is, we are living it now. At same time, if there's heaven, we are living it now, and you have a choice of what type of lifestyle to indulge in. If you say life sucks, its because you make it suck.
Buddhism says, just accept.
Basically all religions are right in some form. And I don't think we're getting the big picture... Gnosticism teaches research of religious practices and combines all religions. I can respect that.
Anyway, we are surrounded by angels and demons. But for the most part, the balance in tipped in the favor of good. You choose to go to the dark side, believe it or not.
So my concept of God is different from what we've been indoctrinated with. It's more empowering to choose the God you are happy with, and to work within that concept.
Just ask any psychic. They can feel it... see it... know it. I don't question that!
But Atheists afraid of dying? Why? You know there's no God. So what are you afraid of?
It's well-noted that comedians are unusually twisted f*cks, and I say this with kindest and gentlest of meaning.
The one thing C and I noticed, as we sat down to write, is that, well, we're not thatangry. We needed to get angrier!
If anything I get confused by people because of their reactions.
But angry? Not so much.
It seems like it's every comedian's dream to work the college circuit.
Think about it.
You have a captured audience with readily disposable income and time! It's this college demographic every comedian wants in order to create a name.
Adam Sandler1 and his famous recordings. (I'm surprised Wikipedia doesn't give greater credence to his comedy albums. Because really, on the strength of his soundbytes passed from dorm room to dorm room is how he gained serious interest. I remember every drunk frat boy in the 90s quoting that album. It's the same way the Beastie Boys got firmly planted on commercial terra firma.)
So these recordings catapulted him into the comedy standard and the college circuit. Yes, he was on SNL, but I don't think it was solely SNL that did it.
The formula is as follows:
SNL + some other commercial medium = Comedic stardom
Adam Sandler + Recordings = Adam Sandler as we know him today.
Chris Rock + Bring the Pain = Chris Rock as we know him today.
(I guess you can include, Mike Meyers and Will Ferrell, too. But I don't regard them as standup comedians.)
And now the most recent "comedian" (and I use the term lightly) to conquer the college circuit is Dane Cook2.
Dane Cook's people (and perhaps he himself) are marketing geniuses, bypassing the entire SNL formula.
Personally, I don't think Dane Cook's comedy is that good (smart, witty, intellectual, original, etc.) But he really SELLS the joke. I'm talkin' Hulk Hogan / "Macho Man" Randy Savage sells it! Watch these clips and then think of Cook's comedy! Don't they remind seem awfully similar? I believe Cook took a few pointers from WWF/WWE.
Part of Dane Cook's great success can be linked to the guerrilla marketing behind his website. (Talk about pushing it to the Nth Degree.) Through that he garnered his devoted college following. I'm sure viral marketing was involved as well. (Of course, this age group being the perfect demographic-- having time, money, and email accounts.) Plus, he's white and male. I'm sure it's easier to garner the frat audience than say if you're black and female (i.e. Wanda Sykes3, Aisha Tyler.)
1 Adam Sandler [Official Site | Happy Madison Myspace] Wikipedia [Return To Entry]
2 Dane Cook [ Official Site |MySpace | Wikipedia] [Return To Entry]
3 Wanda Sykes [Official Site | Wikipedia
Semi-Official MySpace Page][Return To Entry]
So even though yesterday was a challenge, my goal is to get a solid set down on paper so that I can get on stage. (It's been two weeks since I've been on stage.)
...If you can get past that discouragement, you'll be fine...
Oh! I forgot to mention that I ran into two comedians yesterday while en route to our comedic meeting.
On the way to the meet-up spot, I ran into Zack Galifianakis,1 [zæk ˌgæ.lə.fə.ˈnæ.kəs] whose last name I still can't pronounce. I think I ended up saying,
"Hey, aren't you, uh, Zack, the comedian?" Smooth move, Lucy.
I get giddy when I meet celebrities, especially comedians. Particularly, when I respect their work so much. It's more the fact that they get up on stage and spill their guts. And if they're lucky, people enjoy their performance and ideally paid to be there!
As always, I asked him any advice he's willing to dole out.
I'll paraphrase: He mentioned he wasn't one for advice. But he did reiterate what Mr. Louis CK mentioned earlier--that you must fail and fail and fail, until you get the hang of it. I asked him how long he's been doing it for. Answer: Failing for 11 years. Yikes! (I questioned my dedication after he said that.)
"If you can get past that discouragement, you'll be fine," he said.
How long did it take him to get his swing? Answer: He said he's still working on it. He also mentioned that it took him longer because he had to build his self-esteem on stage. Talk about free psychological counseling. Just get up on stage.
"It took me longer because I didn't feel confident in the beginning."
He was dragging a small suitcase as he turned for the subway and made the comment,
"In fact, I'm going to Albany to go bomb right now."
With that, I thanked him for his time and wished him well on this next performance.
The other comedian I met was Craig Baldo1, whose work I wasn't familiar with until his performance at this past ITU Show. He indulged me for a bit. I asked him my round of questions. I told him that I just ran into Zack. He told me about house comedian's house swap, a comforting story.
You know me. I always take these random encounters with comedian celebs meeting as good omens, especially when it's on a day when I'm meeting with people specifically for the sole purpose of creating comedy!
1Zack Galifianakis [Official Site|MySpace|Wikipedia] [Return to Entry]
2Craig Baldo [Official Site|MySpace|Invite Them Up Album] [Return to Entry]
Saturday, April 14, 2007
...Comedy is not easy...
This is the realization I came to today. Even with the help of my comic buddy, I have come to realize that we both come from two different schools of comedy. C is coming from a school of theatrics and improv. I'm not against it. However, I come from a more traditional standpoint. I like the "Premise, Set-up, Punchline" formula. I like comedy to be quick and dirt-- well, not dirty, but satisfying. Like sex!1 What I'm trying to say is that I like my jokes to be tight and not too wordy.
I respect smart humor. In fact, I can almost say I get off on it. Humor that makes you think, and it doesn't have to hit you right away. It may come to you seconds later or perhaps the next morning, when you're in the shower. (Well, that wouldn't be good for the shelf life of the comedian's career.)
I like the hook and twist in comedy. Seinfeld is a master at this. He says line, sets you up with a premise, and drops a punchline. And then another punchline. And just when you think he's finished, he pulls a zinger from out of left field. He took it to another level. That is my aim--to get to his level.
...I'm determined...to create a new species and force the audience to evolve...
So yeah, I've decided to talk about my background as my first set. But not the usual stuff. I'm a weird cat, I know. I'm a minority within a minority within a minority. I don't fit into any category. And you would know this if you ever met me. Most people find it intriguing. I'm an alien--a mutant. I'm definitely a square peg in a round hole kinda chick. I'm not sure how much I want to go into my personality here. I think it might be best left for the comedy.
And part of my set is the idea that people feel the need to categorize each other. We always need to say, "I am this." Labeling seems to be a big part of our culture.
And when people meet people who don't fit into one of the imaginary categories that have concocted in their mind, they begin to ask questions. "Where do you fit?" "Who are you?" "What KIND of person are you?" ...as if we all are cookie cutter sets of each other.
It's the proverbial Jack Hanna, Lorne Green, Jacques Cousteau curiosity. Have you ever seen what a biologist/scientist does when s/he can't fit a plant/animal species into a category? They create a new TOTALLY NEW category. All for this one organism! I'm determined to become that organism in comedy. To create a new species and force the audience to evolve.
I still have yet to meet anyone exactly like me, which is why I think I'm doomed to singlehood. That's fine. I could die alone. We all die alone, eventually. Yeah, I know. I'm taking the sad clown theory to a whole other level.
I've come to grips with this. Unfortunately, my mother has not.
1Again, I would have no idea about the sex thing. I think my flavor of sex should be ample and long-lasting, like my chewing gum. [Return to Entry]
Friday, April 13, 2007
Of course this comes out now! Of all the perfect times for a movie to come out, this specific movie comes out! Perfect! Effing perfect!
Heckler the movie
This movie is going to spawn gross audience members and it's going to deliver massive blowback on us, comedians.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Hey, so I did stop by Rififi's tonight, which I found out is an unregistered name for the venue (maybe I shouldn't write that here.) Well, it's not detrimental if I write this (I don't think.)
I waved and said "Hello" to Mr. Louis CK again. Turns out he just moved to my neighborhood, as he mentioned in his routine. I may even be lucky enough to catch him at the local grocery store--and then maybe he'll put a snarling rant about some ditzy flaky girl in his routine. (I could only be so lucky!)
...Focus, you need to focus...
Later, I met and spoke a good 5 mins with very established comedian, Todd Barry1. After disclosing my ambition to become a comedienne, he unknowingly knocked the wind out of me, like a fierce high school soccer player. (I'm so easily discouraged.) The conversation went more like this:
TB: Are you a comedienne? (I'm sure when he said it, he probably mean "ian" over "ienne." But unlike the French language, we don't have the convenience or luxury of masculine and feminine.)
Me: Well, no! Well, yeah! But if this doesn't work out I'm probably going to head to (uncomfortable pause)
Me: law school.
TB: I was just about to say law school.
Me: I know, right?
TB: There's a considerable number of comics that started off as lawyers.
Me: Yeah, I heard Greg Giraldo graduated from Harvard Law. (pause) Well, at least they could study and hone in on their craft, not broke.
TB: So what do you do now?
Me: I proofread.
TB: That makes good money.
Me: Yeah, well, I have to take a lesser number of hours because I have to study for the LSAT.
TB: What type of law?
Me: Well, I guess (gesturing to the stage) entertainment. I really would rather be on stage, than be behind the scenes.
TB: So why do you want to do stand-up?
Me: Well, I think stand-up really is a one-man-show. I think it's faster than, say, investing in making a film. I could spend $100,000 over the next year with a staff of people creating ONE film. And then shop it around to film festivals for 2-3 years. Or I could work on my stand-up routine for $5 each time I want to get on stage, and write and write and write, and I am the only person I have to worry about. And by the end I'm a self-sufficient entertainer. I would be marketable because any studio, agent, manager, knows I can create my own material, and perform it. I would be a Triple Threat. Well, give me some time for the third one. But eventually I'll be a Triple Threat. Plus, I could negotiate my own contracts.
TB: Focus. You need to focus.
Ugh, that was the kiss of death. Talking to Barry gave me flashbacks to talks with any other adult that had some opinion on my life. I understand that I need focus. Focus to me is like telling the lothario bachelor, "You need to commit." It's a scary thought limiting my role in this world to one occupation--and a boring one at that!
I don't want to go to bed with the same occupation every single night.
I want to be able to sleep with all the occupations the world has to offer! And not just any occupation--mainly those occupations in entertainment. (I have a thing for occupations in entertainment. It's just my preference. Don't call me prejudiced!)
Well, this is the dilemma that keeps reoccurring in my life.
Want to see how much I've grown?
I've pretty much given up on flying by the seat of my pants. So now I've stopped running and have settled (reluctantly) on law.
The last comic on stage was Aziz Ansari.2 He really does have a southern accent (stemming from South Carolina) which is mind-boggling seeing as he's Indian-American. It definitely requires a double, rather a quadruple take. The accent is sort of hidden, but it slips every so often. And it's endearing. He's cute because he's already so petite and his voice is relatively high.
However, the topics he broaches upon are relatively serious and adult, even ripping on the hypocrisy found in MTV's programming. So you have to take him seriously. Plus he has a new TV show on MTV, Human Giant. As a part of his set, he showed clips of Human Giant as well as tell jokes about it in comparison to other lame-ass MTV shows. It was enlightening and disheartening at the same time. Once you cross that precipice that is stardom, selling out seems inevitable. So I say to anyone who thinks Aziz is selling out, why don't YOU TRY getting a hit TV show on America's most promising3 but least reputable network and try not compromising your talent a bit. I bet you would crumble under the pressure. It's so easy for us to sit on our fat never-seen-the-inside-of-a-gym asses and judge. What in the world do you know?!?!
Afterwards, I got to speak with another comic, someone whom I hadn't heard or seen before, who goes by the name of Leo Allen4. (I have no idea if he's related to Woody Allen.) But I decided to chat him up, because he was kinda giving me the "I think you're really interesting" look, also known as the "male trying to be subtle while ogling" look. Eh? So he likes me. Or maybe I have a big hubristic head? I think I must've been curious as to how "interested" he really was, so I approached him. I asked him a lame comedy question (I'm rife with lame comedy questions. Really, it's just one question. It just sounds brand new according to each new comic I approach.) Anyway, he indulged. Eventually, he was cock-blocked by a female friend. I was sort of relieved. I kinda wanted to head out. I really wanted to walk the streets of NY, because this other guy (that recently dumped me over e-mail) was interrupting all productive thoughts in my head. I needed time to think and perhaps vanquish the intruding thoughts. But it was too late and I was too tired. So I hopped on the nearby train.
The guy situation is still bugging me as I write this. And it's only because I want it to. It's a weird long story. Usually, if I like a guy, it takes, at most, a weekend to get over (1-2 days). But I volunteered to take on this strife. And of course when your mind is on a specific boy, EVERY SINGLE HOT GUY in NY comes out of the woodworks. And I'm really trying not to be distracted. I, honestly, think it's the Universe testing me to see if this sole guy is really someone I truly care about--over every other FINE-ASS distraction.
Okay, that's my complaint, aptly filed. I will check ya'll later.
1Todd Barry [Official Site|MySpace|Wikipedia] [Return to Entry]
2Aziz Ansari [Official Site|MySpace|Wikipedia] [Return to Entry]
3I say "promising" because MTV could easily be on the forefront of everything that is cool. But instead they harp on everything that still manages to make money and sucks. Obviously, these Execs are out of touch, including periodical media (i.e. Rolling Stone, Spin, NME). Thank God for Pitchfork. Although, I think Pitchfork can sometimes take on the role of the uptight admissions council for the boarding school of "Hardass Music Credibility," I still say "Thank God they're around." I think if Pitchfork were a political party, they would be the staunch conservatives (i.e. Republicans).
If anyone ever handed me the keys to the kingdom of a music television station, I would know exactly what to do with them. hint, hint [Return to Entry]
4Leopold Rufus Allen [Official Site|MySpace|Slovin and Allen] [Return to Entry]
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
[With this post I felt I needed some clarity, to help both of us out.]
Hello, brethren and sister-en? (Why isn’t there an equal term for sisters? That’s going in my stand-up!)
Let’s start again: Hello, fellow readers of bloggerel. I am a virgin stand-up comic.
(Virgin in both senses of the word), but a worldly one at that. I have a lot say and very little time to say it. I’m heading to law school soon. (The parents are upset I haven’t done anything with my life post-college. So I’m getting feverish pressure from ‘the units.’) I’m still in the process of applying, so I have about a 1yr and a ½ in my favor before I cross into the nether regions that is the study of law.
...I’m not obsessed with stand-up...
Okay, so why am I here? I want to be a stand-up comic. And I’m going to be documenting it all right here. Within that time period (1yr and a ½), my goal is to become a stand-up comic. Ha! Ha! I can hear you laughing now! I don’t know if I’ll be established or another comic force, but I want to see how far I can go. (Not much of a concrete goal, I know. It’s a pretty wimpy one at that. But there’s always room for change.) No, wait! That’s cop out! Okay, right here, right now. My goal is to play to an audience of 100 people. That is my goal! So, as Emeril would say, “Bam!”
Now, mind you, I’m not obsessed with stand-up. I’m not like all these other bloggers that have mind-numbing, social-life-crippling obsessions. The relationship between bloggers and the overall make-up of bloggers is weird. Bloggers are voyeurs and exhibitionists. Me? I’m an exhibitionist trapped in a voyeur’s body!
With regards to stand-up comedians, I don’t have any die hard favorites. I never idolize anything or anyone. I never had pop-icon posters up on the wall when I was growing up. (Mainly because my mom would flip—she spent a lot on the wallpaper). But I do see something in stand-up that I don’t see in any other forms of media. I have profound fascination, if you will. For example:
...I want this to be entertaining...
My goal with this blog is simply to document my ascent. I know that's pretty presumptuous of me, but I know this will work out if/when I put my mind to it. And someone with such dire and immediate goals needs to have this type of "fly-or-die" attitude. You must know it'll work out. You know, like Yoda said:
Do or do not. There is no try.
Cheesy, but true.
Why? Because it’s all on me. I have no one to blame but myself. I have a crap load to say. And you, the casual on-looker, will be in the forefront. (Congrats! Give yourself a pat on the back!)
Honestly, I want this to be entertaining as well. Why else would I choose stand-up? To bore you to death?
I know I’m kinda starting late on all fronts. My age: late 20s (Most stand-up comediennes start in college, 18-22). Entering the blogosphere: Any blogger worth their salt started their blogs in 2002 or at the latest 2004. So 2007— not even January, not even beginning of March, but the end of March 2007— is late in the game. I get it. I get it. I have a lot to pump out in order to make this worthwhile, for everyone.
I’m not a web-nerd. I’m not even that good of a writer. (You’ll have to excuse my lame editing and grammar.) I just need this for me. Me. One selfish thing in the world, built for me, by me. Is that okay? Can you give me that? And who knows. Maybe I’ll get a book deal out of it. *crossing fingers*
I’ll try to jazz this up and make it more visually stimulating. Perhaps I'll have to beg my techno-blogger friends to help me out. (I even bought webspace, but haven’t put it to good use.)
I’m huge indie/dance music fan, a relatively huge movie fan (before they started to suck ass and simultaneously cost 15 bux a head), and a less than moderate TV fan, (my interest waning every year.) So pop culture references will probably remain minimal. Unless, they refer back to the 80s, for which I am ever grateful.
To be honest, I think I’m more into ranting about cultural/societal norms and professing to break them in half. I can’t say I’ve been there done that. (Because remember, I’m still a virgin.) But I want to be heard! No matter what it takes, and I think stand-up is the medium with which to do so.
Thanks for your time and support!
Sunday, April 8, 2007
So the meet-up never worked out. I guess this happens in the comedy world. F had another scheduled meeting that went a lot longer than expected. And plus, F's meeting revolved around work (i.e. making money which leads to getting bills paid) and my meeting didn't. So of course, the former takes precedence. Totally, cool. I had an errand to run in Brooklyn.
In the meantime, I referenced C's book on comedy aptly titled: "The Comedy Bible," by Judy Carter. Great resource, if you haven't picked it up already. I've started to use the exercises, which forced me to think of comedy as a formula. (Ohh! So much easier on my brain. I think much better with formulas and equations.)1
One of the techniques the book forces the reader to implement is breaking a topic/premise into 10 different unfunny statements. Yeah! That's right. Unfunny. It says, outrightly, "Don't try to be funny at first." Just write 10 simple, poignant, original sentences. Bam! (As Emeril would say.)
Anyway, after having each sentence written. It then states to add "an action" to each sentence. It shouldn't at all be forced. It should come naturally and something eventually pops. I'm still working on the actions. But it seems deceivingly simple and straightforward.
Okay, I'll let you know how it goes. And I definitely endorse the book.
1In a way it's kinda sad that the basis of stand-up comedy can be distilled into a formula, but I think everything in life starts with a basic set of rules. And our job as humans, is break them, innovate, evolve. Catch my drift? If comedy was truly that formulaic, than all the comedians we know would be, in essence, the same. And we know, for a fact, that isn't true.[Return to Entry]
Friday, April 6, 2007
Another productive meeting. I met with Comedy Buddy "F".
The deal is, I would help F organize (paperwork, her room, etc.) if F helped me tighten my jokes. I have so much material to get through that I needed specific help.
I speak very quickly, and I forget that people can't absorb info (premise, set-up, punchline) of a joke, as fast as I speak. So I will have to make a concerted effort to slow down my mode of speech. Even as I write this, my hands aren't moving fast enough to capture my thoughts.
So we tackled some of my ideas. I didn't agree with all of the suggestions, mainly because there's a specific comedic voice I'm looking for and I wasn't confident the one F was providing was the one that matched in my head. But at this point in time, I need to just use any voice and move on from there.
I remember when Jason Alexander spoke about his first reading of the character "George Costanza" from Seinfeld. He simply was doing a straight Woody Allen impression. And slowly "George" as we know it came about. I expect the same will happen with my comedic voice.
We (F and I) made a pact not to share ideas and signed a non-disclosure agreements protecting both of us.
For the most part, that afternoon/evening was relatively relaxed. I'm never relaxed in another person's home. It's next to impossible for me to feel comfortable. But I was fed, which helped calm my qualms (try saying that 3x fast.)
F was happy with the meeting and called me soon after (perhaps 1 hour later), basically as soon as I stepped in the door of the apartment. F said we should meet again tomorrow. F seems really excited, which inspires me to strive for more out of comedy.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
So I decided to join the MySpace (r)evolution. [I don't how much of a (r)evolution it can be when it's run by Rupert Murdoch.]
All corporate bitterness aside, here's the MySpace link: Stand_Up101
It's sort of blank now. But keeping checking back for updates.
...get a tape recorder...
A lot happened this past Wednesday night. And it all happened within a span of 5 hours. The best thing about these unplanned nights is that, well, they're unplanned. Everything is spontaneous and everything falls into place, as if the universe was playing dominoes with events in my life.
I think the proper term is: Serendipity!
Yes! I got to meet Mike Birbiglia1 (nickname: Birbigs) as I popped out of the "L" Train on my way to Invite them Up [ITU], which I attended back in '05. I originally went to see Demetri Martin2 whom I had only caught a brief glimpse of on Conan O'Brien. That night was also serendipitous. I had gotten home late night and saw Demetri's set on Conan, then quickly did Google/MySpace search. I then found that he was performing at this ITU gala at Bowery Ballroom. A ticket was purchased! Bonus! And that's the story of how I got to ask Demetri Martin, "How do you get started in comedy?" He said, "Get a tape recorder and record your voice. Practice listening to your voice." That's probably not an exact quote, but he definitely said "get a tape recorder."
Let's start at the beginning:
6:30 pm - "C" and I met up at Starbux. And then we headed over to the original open mic, which C was signed up to perform. Again, very eventful and educational. [See post on Comedy Run #1]
8:30pm - C mentions ITU, a more established stand up night.
Instantly, I'm game!
So then we head over to the venue.
9:05pm - and it's a packed house.
Rififi's is a relatively small venue. And when we the get there the staff (usually interns for the club) are greet us and mention that the show kinda already started and that we should hang back before we pay. (i.e. we might not get in.) Yes, it's that popular.
Louis CK is on stage. (We, C and I, have the ability to peak through the French doors, dividing the non-paying from the paying guests.) By now, I'm salivating on the post-modern French doors. By the way, did I tell you that it was only $5 to enter?3
Why am I salivating? Because I have a pseudo-crush on Louis CK, and if he's anything like the persona he presents on stage/in his specials, then like Linda Richman "I'm buttah!" I definitely have a thing for assholes, but assholes from a distance. I'm not sub or anything. But maybe there's something to women mistaking assholishness for confidence. If you watch his standup Louis isn't confident either. He's just frustrated and he lets it rip on stage.
I'm not really supposed to have a crush on him, because he's married and has a kid. So that's why I say pseudo-crush, because it's there, but I could end it anytime and be brought back to the world of adulthood and maturity as I see fit.
I also have a mild crush on Demetri Martin, which I can go in to later.4
Okay, so how did this night end up?
C had gone out late the night drinking with some friends from work and she began to get weary and hungry. So we opted for pizza, nearby pizza. I paid, because, she had paid for the entrance to her performance earlier on?
Confused? Well, most beginning comics have to pay for their time on stage. Consider it "paying your dues," literally. To me that's a lot easier and less frustrating than kissing actual ass.
So typically, the bar/venue asks that you not only bring an audience member but to also have either you or that audience member pay for a drink (i.e. 1 drink or 2 drink minimum). Understandable. It's a business and it's gotta survive!
Back to the pizzeria: We sat, and ate, and chatted up the counter-people. It was all well an good. C wanted to go home still, and there was no way I was going to miss out on Birbigs performance.
11:15pm - Back to Rififi's - Birbigs was already on stage. I got to catch the last 5 jokes. He was good! He's a pro! Of course, he is.
So the he was the last performance. And Mr. Eugene Mirman closed out the night as emcee. He mentioned we should hang and there would be music. There was cool indie rocker music and I did hang. I ended up chatting Eugene's girlfriend[gf]. She was kind to listen me rattle off my law school woes. And she also encouraged my pursuit in my comedy career. She was super congenial. I also met her filmmaker friend. Also very kind. Kind enough to listen to me rant/complain/whine about what I should do in my law school/comedy crossroad.
And then I chatted up an intern/staff member at Rififi's. He described the usual clientèle and what takes place throughout the week. Very Informative.
As I prepped to leave, because I knew I was wearing out my welcome,
"Are you going to be coming often?" he asked.
I'm pretty sure he just wanted to ensure he could bet on good company that evening. No prob. I will be back.
At 11:55pm, I stepped out into the pavement, in 40 degree weather. The streets wet from the off-and-on drizzling rain and a very conscious thought occurred to me. I acknowledged that it was a perfect night. One of those nights that you want to preserve and place in a glass bottle, like a firefly. But you know you have no way of holding on to it to relive it. Eventually, the firefly will die.
You just have to let it be--a perfect, fulfilling moment. No photograph or blog entry can bring it back. Just let it be. Just try and remember as it was--a perfect NY night. My fear was that I would forget, that feeling, that moment, that perfect high. And I'm sorry to say, it has faded. The only way, as I see it, to bring it back, is to get on stage, and create it again and again.
1Mike Birbiglia [Official Site|MySpace|Wikipedia] [Return to Entry]
2Demetri Martin [Official Site|MySpace|Wikipedia] [Return to Entry]
3 People if you aren't catching my drift, comedy shows are waaayy cheaper than any movie, concert, or theatre show and just as entertaining! And sometimes, that admission gets you a free drink! Double-bonus! I don't even drink and I know that's a a good deal![Return to Entry]
4This crush would not classify as pseudo. This crush is quite real. But again, I reserve the right to renege on my crushes, mainly because once reality sets in, crushes tend to fade.
"Why even have crushes?" you ask. "They pose a function of disuse/misuse."
Oh, so true, dear blog reader. I agree. They're sort of a waste of time. In fact, they almost never lead to anything. (This could perhaps be fodder for a comic routine.)
Having crushes on people I would deem fellow comics could be detrimental to my career. Oh, this could prove difficult.[Return to Entry]
...fail and fail and fail...
Okay so, "What's a Comedy Run?" I just made it up this instant. To me it's a night where I run from comedy club to comedy club, most likely not performing, but casually observing, picking up info, and meeting new people. (Pretty self-explanatory, right?) Usually, they're random and unplanned, and last night didn't differ. [Ideally, I want to convert "Comedy Runs" to "Comedy Rants," where I go from club to club testing out material. The rant is me running at the mouth going from stage to stage. Maybe I should call that a "Stage Run?"]
Last night was not my first Comedy Run. I alluded to last week being my research run, where I got an idea of the scene and places to frequent. Perhaps, I should post photos of the venues and maybe comedians that I meet (established and up-and-comers).
I met up with Comedy Buddy "C" last night. C mentioned we should go to an open mic C was playing. So we did and it was eventful. The comics were B-class, which in my definition means they were seasoned but not headliners. And this night, their jokes weren't fully polished or topped off. B-class people clearly have been doing this for a while, and have a presence and a specific style. They may even have regular gigs. But tonight wasn't an A-game night for them. However, it did give me another perspective. Each time I go to these open mics, I learn something, usually osmotically. And unfortunately, for you, the reader, I haven't figured out how to define each new quality/attribute that I inherit. Therefore, I'll have a more difficult time describing it here in the blog. You'll just have to take my word for it. I'm learning something unique, and I know it's necessary for my development as a comic.
Let's revisit the B-class open mic. They were working and reworking material tonight. This is completely acceptable in the comedy world because open-mics are meant for practicing new material--material that hasn't been "tested" in front of an audience before. And how would you ever know if your material is good if you don't try it out in front of an audience.
I did come across a claustrophobic communal quality amongst the comics. The comic scene, unlike the music scene, or the theatre scene, is quite small, which makes me a bit nervous. I heard stories of the incestuous nature of comedians. Comics dating other comics, backbiting, gossipy conversations. I choose not to take part.
You see, I'm creating my own neuroses by giving credence to the base nature of humans. Shit happens. The shit that comes out of high school never ends. I can't control it. I only need to control my own actions. There! That's my therapy session for the day.
Anyway, at this B-class session, I got to see a lot of different styles, which was awesome. I still haven't found my voice, which I am begging God and the universe to hurry and help me find, so I can start honing in on it.
In comparison to other forms of entertainment, I love comedy for its gloves-come-off attitude. Comedy is immediate. It's gotta be direct and to the point. No half-assing it. I believe you can half-ass it in music.
In music, you can have sucky lyrics and an awesome baseline. You can have truly amazing songwriting skills, a kickass band, and a shoddy scream-o singer. If you're a relatively decent singer or musician, you probably will garner yourself some fans. My point is, you don't have to be spectacular to win yourself a fan base. If you're a busker, you will almost always get pocket change from commuters on their way to work. Perhaps, it's pity pence? And if you're a coffee-shop performer, you're probably a notch above horrible and you'll maybe even get a few good claps. (Maybe because the clientèle is happy you've finished. You see, you never know. (¿)
With comedy, you get up there and you suck or you "kill." And you won't have five songs to do it. You'll have 5 mins, perhaps even closer to 30 secs. And according to Louis CK1, whom I met later on in the night, he mentioned that you have to keep going up on stage and "fail and fail and fail" (so typical CK) and see what sticks. You'll find out immediately where you stand. Personally, I find that in comedy this "immediacy element" to be invaluable. I'm running against time, folks! Most comedians don't get really truly established for 10 years from their start. Where has the time gone?
Knowing about this immediate feedback, to me is thrilling, awesome, and enlivening! I don't know what grabs me about it. I almost want to fail, to see what it's like. When I get up on stage, I definitely shake. My hands shake. A part of it is control, getting up there and controlling my words (because anyone who knows me, knows I leak at the mouth). And you can tell by this blog entry that I have a lot to say, tangentially-speaking.
But what keeps me going back on stage, is that I have something important to say. Really important to me. And I believe deep down in my heart that people care to listen, especially if presented in a funny witty manner.
1Louis CK [Official Site | MySpace | Wikipedia] [Return to Entry]
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
So I finally got on stage and "performed." It was more of a fumbling act, but I did it. I had been told by several comics, that if I didn't hurry up and get on stage, I would lose my initial momentum. So within a week of my quest, I was on stage, in front of audience of about 5-7 people. Mild laughs. My jokes were "too wordy," according to the feedback received from the Emcee. I pulled him aside and asked how I could improve. He mentioned writing out all my jokes, verbatim, and then leaving a line of space underneath each sentence. (Essentially writing double-spaced.) Then he said to edit using only what's necessary to tell a joke.
Wait a minute! You're telling a writer she needs to lessen the number of words she uses? Why don't you just cut off my left while you're at it?
He made that suggestion, and immediately I understood. Most of writing is editing. And the best writers can edit their work, too.
It's going to be a long hard road, this comedy. But I'm in it for the long haul!