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Comedy Gripe of the Week: The Two Deaths of…

I should focus on the good news in comedy and that is the fact that I am co-producing a fun show in Brooklyn, that will be weekly starting in June (“Work In Progress” at Smith’s Tavern in Park Slope).  So far we have had good audience and good comedians.  But I can’t help but be depressed over the two-venue show that I had produced, Always Be Funny, which died twice in unceremonious fashion.

The first venue for Always Be Funny was River Bar in a part of New Jersey known as 10th Avenue and 43rd Street.  I had been hooked up with the place through a friend.  He had a friend who owned a bar and they wanted some comedy to drum up some business (you know a bar is struggling when they WANT comedy to BUILD business.  Adding comedy to a bar is akin to arson for insurance in terms of what it usually does to a bar crowd).  So we started a show, which began very strongly, but ended sort of like that guy in Metallica’s One video who was begging for someone to kill him, but had no means of communicating that desire.  So we turned it into an open mic, which actually was, on average, more successful than the booked shows because all the comedians had to do was buy one drink and they got a free buffet and 5 minutes stage time.

The open mic had reversed what had become a pretty bleak situation.

And then one day I showed up to the bar and was told by the bartender that the show was over.  Fortunately I was given 10 minutes advance warning, which is about the same amount of professional courtesy I’d expect if I were a maid in Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s hotel room.  I heard it through the grapevine that my friend, who I saw less regularly than the bar owner, had had a falling out with the bar owner (no idea if this is true) and that he cancelled my show, which had been running for over a year between the booked show and open mic.  I e-mailed the bar owner, but failed to get a response.  It was like two parents had a fight and then in anger, one parent killed their brother-in-law’s kid.  It may not have been quite that dramatic, but it certainly felt rude and unjustified.  Now the only historical evidence of the show’s existence is this Glengary Glen Ross spoof we filmed to promote it:

And for reference – here is the original:

But just because one show died did not mean I was without a venue (isn’t that why people have more than one kid?).  I still had my monthly show at the Village Lantern.  Well, if the River Bar show was murdered, then the Village Lantern show was kidnapped and presumed dead even though no body was ever recovered.  Allow me to explain.

I never ran the show as a bringer because there was a cover and drink minimum.  If people are going to do that they should save it for a club.  So most of our traffic was derived from friends, Time Out NY or people barked in.  The showed hummed along fairly consistently, ranging from full to half full, but never empty (and not on a downward trend the way the showcase shows at River Bar show had been).  But as time went on I kept getting told that “management really wants it full” and then I had two straight shows cancelled, one a day in advance, the other 6 hours ahead of time.  So I became The Douche That Cried Comedy Show.  It felt like that scene where Woody Harrelson has to make a hook shot in White Men Can’t Jump.  Already a difficult proposition, the guy then tells Woody that he also must shoot at the basket on the other end of the court (a 60 foot hook shot being near impossible).  So I am given a late show, that gets cancelled last minute on me several times and I am still expected to fill the place.   Their house, their rules, but why have it it anyway if you do what you can to make it fail:

If those were the criteria I would be fine with having the show cancelled, but instead what I got was no response from the go-between at the venue.  Perhaps it is because I am a big dude and people assume I will strangle them if I get bad news, but that is not the case.  I remember I asked about an April date and received one response that said he was behind on Facebook e-mails because of travel (I did not mention that travel did not seem to preclude Facebook status updates featuring dick jokes for the bridge and tunnel crowd, but it crossed my mind).  Then I asked a follow up about my show in April or May and received no response (still waiting for that response).  This kind of treatment would be understandable, or even expected, coming from a bar owner, but the person was a comedian that was acting as the go-between.  I guess professional courtesy is harder to find in shi*ty professions.

RIP “Always Be Funny.”  Long Live “Work In Progress!”

Off to Philadelphia for the weekend and the I’ll be posting the Movie of the Week blog Saturday (either Will Ferrel’s new movie because I heard it is good or the new Pirates of the Caribbean because it probably will be terrible) and a recap (hopefully with video) of my Philly shows on Monday.  AND BE SURE TO BECOME A FAN OF “RIGHTEOUS PRICK” ON FACEBOOK

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The Curse of Lottery Ticket – Always Be Funny…

I should have known yesterday was not going to go as planned.  Perhaps it was the fact that Friday I secretly went to go see Lottery Ticket, the uproariously boring and unfunny film that feels one-third Friday, one-third Tyler Perry and one third after-school special all jumbled up.   For $6 the risk was very low, yet the film still underwhelmed.  Let me put it this way, Mike Epps is the funniest part of Lottery Ticket.  I did not realize that, like the old woman in Drag Me To Hell, Lottery Ticket placed an unfunny curse on me.

Lottery Ticket may look fun and black, but it's core is really an old, disgusting witch that puts a curse on comedy.

As Saturday rolled around I was very excited for Always Be Funny, my monthly show at the Village Lantern.  The lineup was power packed and it looked like we were going to have a big crowd.  So in preparation I plunked down for a few hours to play MLB10 The Show, the greatest sports game I have ever played.   My Yankees team had been playing .500 ball since I restarted the season (I was 20-70 in the previous season, which meant I was creeping in on irrationally murdering my PS3), but post-Lottery Ticket viewing I got swept resoundingly in a three game series. 

If there were an action-horror film about comedy this would have been the point where I go, “I gotta bad feeling about this.”

The show was supposed to be an 11 pm show, but the 9pm show went late for the 1,456th straight time so we ended up starting at 1130pm.  Of course before then I was attacked verbally and physically by the cu*t of a waitress that was working that night.  Here’s the play-by-play of the pre-show encounters with the waitress:

– The Village Lantern comedy room entrance is sort of a tight squeeze as it is as the bottom of a stairwell, which leads to a narrow hallway which also has the spot for the waitress to process checks (do we call those digital panels registers?).  But there is room for a few people to stand and wait and not interfere with the waitress, if she is not a cu*t.

C.W. “Hey, could you tell people to wait before coming to the show so I have time to clean up from the earlier show.”

J-L – “Sure”

3 minutes pass – a couple of people are talking to me that I know, still out of the way, as much as possible an 4 people I do not know walk down the stairs.

C.W. (pushes me angrily) – I fu*king asked you to keep people out of here and you are just standing there talking to people (trail off into more insults and expletives)

J-L (to people on the stairs) – Sorry – please go upstairs and I will come announce when the show is beginning (inner thought) – does this cu*t know I am not her employee?

C.W. – Well if they’re already down here they can go in.

J-L (inner thought) – Were we engaged?

Now I don’t believe in hitting women, but I do hope that one day C.W. dates a man who does not share my upbringing and beliefs.  There must be something on my face that ranges between “gentleman” and “bitch ass” because this is the second time I have been assaulted (in the legal sense) by a woman at a comedy show.  Now the first time was a little understandable (but not ok) because the girl had heard my routine where I compared an ex’s vagina to a concentration camp, but C.W. was just a little flustered and she got physical (and then like a bipolar woman, also known as a woman, she apologized).  Damn you Lottery Ticket curse!

So the show began at 1130 with Sean Donnelly emceeing and doing a nice job.  First comic was Sheng Wang and he, unknown at the time, would have by far the best set of the night.  The crowd was enjoying him and I actually thought the Lottery Ticket curse may not be true.  Further confirming this was when Brian McGuiness, the second comic of the night, also did well (he updates his PS3-cyber-awarded trophies on his Facebook page so it’s not a slam dunk that someone that does that will also do well at comedy).

Then the clock struck midnight and the horse and carriage turned into a bunch of mute fu*king pumpkins.

Owen Bowness went up next and did a set that was very close to the one he did several months ago at Always Be Funny, that absolutely killed.  But on this show he could have been Daffy Duck following Bugs Bunny for 2/3 of his set.  It was as if the brains of our audience were swapped at midnight with the minds of a terrible comedy club audience in the panhandle of Florida (trust me, the worst weekend of sets of my life took place in Destin, Florida).  They suddenly became slow to laugh, slower to get punchlines and not laughing at any funny setups to funnier punchlines. 

Damn you Lottery Ticket!

The bloodbath then began.  Comic after comic went up and received audience response ranging from apathetic silence to grumbling hostile silence. Sean Donnelly, as emcee continued to try to work the crowd hard.  Keith Alberstadt, a clean comic who has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, was driven to curse and call out the crowd for their apathy.  He sounded like a minister standing in the middle of a town being burned to the grown trying to plead with marauders. 

This could also be an analogy for Keith Alberstadt's mid-set showdown with the crowd - dignified, but defiant.

Right before my set I asked C.W. for a bottle of water (hey my show packed the room, which means lots of tips you don’t deserve and the regular waitress always gets me a bottle of water if I ask nicely) and she acted like I had just asked her to blow a yak.  So she brought me a tap water, because, like I said, she’s a cu*t.  I resisted the effort to throw it in her face.

I went on after Keith and was actually happy with my set for the most part.  Probably because my first line was “You people fu*king suck.”  I think I owe Keith a debt of gratitude because he seemed to re-focus the crowd.

After me was the surprise of the night.  High school classmate and 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist Tim Morehouse (fencing, calm down ladies) did a 6 minute set (he’s been doing comedy for 2 weeks) and he was pretty good (actually off the charts for a guy doing it 2 weeks, which proves that motivational speaking engagements for terminally ill children is great preparation for stand up comedy).

Ryan Conner closed out the show nicely for the 15 people who remained.

The official list of the fallen.
The next Always Be Funny will be on September 11th, obviously.  I don’t know, even given the date of the show, if we could possibly match the apathy of last night’s crowd, but hopefully when I build a model of an Islamic Cultural Center on stage it will get a reaction out of people.

And in case you missed the point of this blog – don’t see Lottery Ticket.

Not only is it not comedy, but it ruins anything comedic that it comes in contact with.
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2009-2010 All ABF Team

With the NBA Finals upon us and the end of the River Bar showcase (becoming a weekly open mic starting in July) I thought it would be a good time to announce the first and only All-Always Be Funny teams from both the River Bar and Village Lantern shows (criteria was crowd reaction, my reaction, difficulty of show (tilted heavily towards River Bar participants) and Paul The Bartender’s response if at River Bar).  But before getting to this I’d like to thank every comic that has appeared on my shows the last year. 

Now here comes a long comedy-sports analogy because I like both and know that 80% of comedians will not understand (so hopefully someone will be able to translate it into Marvel Comics language or something else that will compute)

1st Team

Yannis Pappas – The best performance at any show I ran this past year (July 2009-June 2010).  Granted it was at the Village Lantern which is like a Comedy Central Presents compared to half of the River Bar shows this past year, but it was a great performance that would have worked in a broom closet.  Killed it with a relentless energy and various pantomimes of sexual acts on stage.  I’m not sure there’s anyone tougher to follow in the city right now, but one of my favorites to watch. 

Rob O’Reilly– One of only a few comics to actually kill at River Bar when patronage was well down.  Also one of only 3 comics to earn an enthusiastic rating from Paul, the bartender at River Bar.

Helen Hong– ditto Rob O’Reilly – but was Paul the Bartender’s favorite comic.  One of the few comics to actually make multiple appearances at River Bar.

Rory Scovel – At a poorly attended show at River Bar, managed to save the show, by doing a 5 minute play by play of a playoff baseball game as if the pitcher’s inner monologue were a sensitive gay man. 

J-L Cauvin – if only for mere cumulative laughs from having been on every show sans one. And I am Paul the bartender’s 3rd favorite  comic.

2nd Team

Sean Donnelly – except for me, logged the most time at River Bar, which slowly became a torture chamber for comedy.  And despite this, SD was able to bully crowds into paying attention and eventually laughing. 

Matt Maragno– the Pau Gasol performance – great, but overshadowed historically by being on the same show as Yannnis Pappas (Kobe in this analogy with the same verbal aggression that Kobe has on the court and in Denver motels) on the same show.  Every resident of Gramercy should hear “Coffee and Cream” (and my use of the word “historically” above is limited to my memory of comedy shows I run)

Dave Lester– Unlike the NBA we had to wait until here to see our first full fledged black guy (also from the show with Maragno and Pappas).  Got an enthusiastic response from my friend John.  To put this in perspective, John once skipped a show of mine at a bar to go to a bar next door, just to avoid comedy.  So if he considered it worthy, then it was.

Jess Burkle– Saw this guy murder within his first months in comedy (which goes to show a Harvard degree and experience in acting can go a long way in making a comedian).  I was not present for his ABF performance, but word of mouth was very strong and having seen him kill in Hoboken at The Goldhawk (the ABA to ABF’s NBA) I have complete faith in this decision.

Mike Lawrence– strong set on a night that was almost derailed by an awkward Ray Combs Jr. vs. Joe DeRosa quasi-showdown.  It is also worth noting that Mike Lawrence just edged out Ray Combs Jr’s testicles which made a 20 second appearance on stage at the Village lantern.

Thanks again everyone – now come say goodbye to River Bar’s showcase THIS THURSDAY.  It will be a great show and followed by the Lakers-Celtics Game 1. So if you like comedy, hoops and comedy-hoops themed blogs then you should be there. It is free and the lineup is excellent.

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Good Week vs Bad Week

Last week started out terribly with the sweeping of the Utah Jazz at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.  If you missed it I tweeted incessantly, which just compounded my sadness (but I still feel I am less sad than the people who tweet about the weather, their meals, and other mundane things – namely a majority of people on Facebook and Twitter).  But that was just the beginning of the week.  I then had to cancel my show Always Be Funny that Thursday because we had 6 comics, 1 bartender and three people sitting at the bar, two of which were openly against the show and one who is a regular at the bar and is usually a decent audience member, except the time she heckled Jon Fisch.

This would not have been so bad if the show I was scheduled to be on earlier that evening was not also cancelled.

Comedy shows beware of J-L. Or call Atreyu if you have his cell number.

So feeling like The Nothing from The Neverending Story, as shows were destroyed in my path, I took Friday off from comedy to go to the Bronx DA’s Office for my former bureau’s annual Yankee Game party.  It was a good event, especially since A-Rod hit a Grand Slam to put the Yankees ahead in the game late (let’s look at the two live sporting events I have attended this year – the game of the year so far in the NBA in Utah and a clutch grand slam from A-Rod against the Twins – it is as if God is telling me that I should quit comedy and just go to sporting events professionally).

Well, it was time to get back to the grind of comedy on Saturday – I had a show at O’Hanlon’s on 14th and 1st, which I learned upon arriving, was… you guessed it – cancelled!  Fortunately I was able to observe 4 white guys threatening to beat up a black guy so that was entertaining.  The four white guys looked like they might have been firefighters – not the heroes that women want to have sex with of course. No, these guys looked more like the crew-cut, Irish, raised in effectively all-white neighborhoods, voting Republican their whole lives, racist type of civil servants.  Those guys, not the heroes.  Now I have to allow for the possibility that they weren’t, but they looked the part anyway.  The black guy was a black Israelite, who are known for their congeniality and open mindedness, but this guys was quadruple teamed and they were throwing his property in the middle of the street, hitting cars and cyclists while doing it.  So I did what any former DA would do – I called the police.  I offered a very detailed description, but I made two mistakes – one – i Said I did not see a weapon.  Two – I said it was four white males attacking a black man (I was not dumb enough to say he was a black Israelite).  I waited 20 minutes, which the four Klansmen did as well, but the police never showed up.

Perhaps if he had attacked, instead of being attacked there would have been a better response time.

A more effective call on my part might have been:

“Yes, I see four black men attacking a white woman!”

“Do they have weapons?”

“Yes, if you consider their large, angry black cocks weapons!  Hurry quick!”

I think the police would have been there quicker.

So that was the end of my bad week.  But with Sunday comes renewed optimism.

First I was shooting my new video.  The story is about black guy wants to date a daughter of a rabid Tea Party member and the agency that helps acclimate Tea Party members to ethnic boyfriends.  Of course, it started out poorly because one of the actors backed out at 10:07 am via text for an 11 am call time because he had to wait for furniture for his move with his girlfriend.  Sounds like a valid excuse, assuming people  move on 30 minutes notice and lack a nervous system.  So after setting a new volume record for how loudly I could yell fu*k, comedian Matt Maragno came to the rescue at the last minute and delivered laughs.  The shoot went well and it looked like the week was off to a great start.

My sketches are in good fun because obviously there is no racially-based anger within the Tea Party.

It got even better when I got an offer yesterday to open for Jo Koy in Cleveland starting this Thursday and running through Sunday.  That means big crowds and payment of money for my jokes.  Of course, without eating for the 4 days I will only net a little over $100 for my efforts. 

Tomorrow night I am making my tape for college submissions and I am confident that will go well.

So, in sum a bad week in my comedy life is witnessing a hate crime and going 3 for 3 in having shows get cancelled.  A good week, by contrast, is doing a YouTube video, netting $100 for half a week’s work and doing a bringer so I can one day entertain college kids, with diminishing social skills and emotional connections.  Like I have told friends – if you have a choice between your son or daughter being in gay snuff films or being a comedian, go with the snuff.

Sunday will be the start of a new week, but it begins with the season finale of Lost (a show that proves that like Dane Cook comedy, as long as you have a premise with no logical conclusion you can actually make millions, even if everything following the premise ranges between nonsense and stupidity) so I am not too confident in the prospects for a good week.

Like Dane Cook - I respect the effort put into the work, but not really the final product.
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Midtown’s Weirdest & Brooklyn’s Finest

Last night was another installment of my bi-monthly comedy show “Always Be Funny.”  The West Village Edition on one Saturday a month has been consistently strong, even though it costs money, but the Free show on River Bar (located at 42nd and 10th in midtown) has been struggling for audience.  It started out strongly, but with winter months and just general disdain fewer people have made the trek over to 10th Avenue (it might as well be west of the Mississippi).  So last night was a pleasant surprise when I saw a decent group of people in the cozy Hells Kitchen bar.  But looks can be deceiving.

When I tell friends about my show on 10th Avenue I think this is how far they think they have to travel.

When emcee Pat Breslin got on stage he may have felt like Bruce Willis in the 6th Sense because of the 12 non-comedian patrons, 10 continued their three respective conversations as loudly as possible.  To be fair, they may felt like Malcolm X, i.e., “We didn’t land on Always Be Funny; Always Be Funny landed on us!”

But the show continued with Helen Hong doing strong crowd work to get them involved, included two condescending “stage manager,” who I think were just two lesbians who thought this tiny 10th Avenue bar was secluded enough to just have a quiet conversation about stage lighting and organic produce without being bothered by annoying mainstream heterosexuals.

Mick Diflo took the stage next and absolutely killed it. By killed I mean had all the comics laughing and people still largely ignoring the show.  However, I think he did get the crowd’s attention when he began describing his bloody penile discharge.  By this time the crowd was down to about 8, but a few patrons had come in and actually watched and started to appreciate the free entertainment, especially this older black couple who were enjoying the show so much and sitting at attention you’d think they were at a fancy bringer show at a soul sucking comedy club!

Jon Fisch took the stage next and started with a seemingly innocuous line.  There was a small poster on stage for an upcoming Cancer benefit at River Bar and Jon Fisch said (paraphrasing), “Perhaps Cancer is not the best stage prop for a show.” To which a drunk woman (who is actually becoming our show’s first consistent patron) said, “Cancer is not funny!” and continued to berate Jon for most of his set. 

After that I took the stage and did about 25 minutes of work on only 3 topics: the WNBA (16 minutes), relationships (5 minutes) and Obama (5 minutes).  Women’s professional sports just baffle me in general, but i have devised a new video game – it’s called Conquer The Bad Sports.  The first level will be men’s and women’s curling, but as you move up levels it just becomes women’s pro sports. First golf, then soccer and then the last level is the entire WNBA in one arena and you have to destroy them all to save the integrity of sports.  Then, when you think the game is over, you have to face off against the game’s bosses – Serena and Venus Williams.  And just when it looks like they are beating you – it is revealed that Venus is actually a man and she helps you defeat Serena.  Next Play Station franchise – you are welcome.

The WNBA's new slogan: We're like the NBA, but slower, less fun and with slightly smaller cocks.

So after my diatribe/set the show concluded with a solid set from Calvin Cato for the 3 people I had not exhausted with my comedic and legal destruction of the WNBA.  I then went home to chug bleach.  Hopefully our April Fools show does better at River or else I feel like it will be time to pull the plug on that location.  At this point it basically feels like Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby.

Like my show - she looks charming and talented, but will end up dying a slow and painful death.

But as if one bad crowd was not enough – this morning I attended a showing of Brooklyn’s Finest at the world famous Times Square AMC – with 25 screens and dozens of arrests each weekend.  The movie was actually quite entertaining (think Training Day), but here were the real highlights:

  • The movie started 25 minutes late for no reason.
  • The amount of pre-show talk was at a level I have never heard before in my life. 
  • The talk during the actual movie was surprisingly low, except for when there were breasts on screen (which is when I and twenty other gentlemen of color stood up and ran up and down the aisle screaming “Damn them titties look GOOD!”) and the young Latina sitting next to me who took a 6 minute phone call during the movie for what actually appeared to be a job interview or set up for a job interview.
  • The old white guy sitting behind me who just before the movie started said to himself, “I’m just glad this is not a midnight movie.  This is not one I’d see then.” Racist? Maybe, maybe not. But 100% right.
  • Per information I have been told by someone who used to manage at that location, there was definitely at least one plain clothes police officer at the movie.  That is a job I would love to have.  Carry a gun, shoot people who start sh*t at movies, watch movies while working, get a sick pension and cheat on your spouse a ton (I worked at the DA’s office so I have worked with cops).  Maybe it is time I pursued that.
  • The new trailer for Wall Street 2 is damn good.
Worth seeing if you like tension, violence and latina breasts.

The bottom line is if you find yourself on 42nd street on the west side of Manhattan there will be funny stuff happening. So catch a movie and come see us on April Fools’ Day at 830.

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The Best Show No One Saw

Yesterday seemed promising.  Had probably the best lineup yet at Always Be Funny (two of America’s best up and coming comics – Amy Schumer & Julian McCullough, along with some of NYC’s best unheralded talents Brett Anderson, Mick DiFlo and Pat Breslin).   The lastshow had poor attendance except for a group of sh*theads who just kept talking loudly and drunkenly during the show.  Despite the negativity that permeates comedy and stand up comedians, the eternal optimist in us makes up excuses for bad shows (footnote Harris Bloom).  Mine was that it was the Thursday before Labor Day weekend.  But last night I hoped would be different.

I got to the bar around 8 for an 830 pm show and was happy to see that no one was there except the bartender.  No people at least means no hecklers.  A few people arrived, some to watch the show, some by accident and some to stand outside and talk for an hour before leaving.  All in all the audience of non-comics (though some comics did come by to show support – thank you) was 5.  We actually had more television credits (Amy Schumer carrying the bulk of them)than audience members!  That is a ratio that should never happen in comedy, especially for a free show.  The failure has to be mine as the promoter of the show, but it baffled me.  Is Thursday night the new Monday morning?

Meanwhile, as the show was starting I got a phone call from my girlfriend who was in my apartment taking advantage of my premium HD cable, telling me that the largest cockroach she has ever seen is scampering around my apartment.  Because one large bug generally makes me feel like I am in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, at that moment, my home did not even feel like a sanctuary from the comedy hell that was occurring.

Basically me around large bugs.
Basically me around large bugs.

Every comic was delivering good stuff and was getting as good as could be expected from 5 audience members.  Then I got on stage and delivered a rant that was worthy of an absent-minded dictator at the UN (footnote Jason Good).  Fortunately a documentary team was there filming so a whimsical look at abortion, racism and the friendless existence of comedians should be coming to an independent cinema near you in the future.   My personal favorite remark last night was: “This show, as a metaphor for life, is the point in a man’s life when he is in an alleyway sucking di-k for drugs.  You may see jokes and sarcasm, but this is the low point in my comedy career right now – a metaphorical back alley blow job.” My second favorite was calling myself Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood), but without the mansion and a bowling alley to kill someone on.

Some cite Seinfeld or Pryor as influences.  Here's mine apparently.
Some cite Seinfeld or Pryor as influences. Here's mine apparently.

6+ years in and this is the difficulty with comedy.  I am a nobody in the business, so I only have few fans based on some road work.  But I am not new at this so all my friends have moved onto more important things, like fantasy football and masturbation.  And obviously I am not alone in these feelings since Brett Anderson did a great new bit on purging friends.  I guess the lifestyle I have to embrace is hitting me hard, but I will just have to do to it what I do to a woman who bumps into me on the subway: hit back harder.

So I got home and basically napalmed my entire apartment with extra strength roach killer, while I bitched about my show.  I slept poorly, but woke up and saw a giant dead water bug by my desk.  And that is when I knew today would be a good day.

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Mad Man

Today I depart for Boston for the semi-finals of the Boston Comedy Festival.  Last night I had my own show that I produce and I was excited both for the great lineup we had, as well as the fact that I would be able to do a nice practice run of my set for tonight.  Unfortunately, that would not happen.  What would happen is that Medgar Evers College would finally be bumped down to #2 on the list of worst gigs I’ve ever performed.

Last night the bar was largely occupied by young members of an ad agency (think Mad Men, but all stupid, unable to handle their alcohol and unattractive) who had been there drinking and playing Wii since early afternoon, since they had a half day.  Even in my glass half empty approach to life I thought, hey maybe we could make fans of this group since they work nearby.   Instead what we got was a bunch of drunk as-holes.

Don Draper's expression says it all, but ad men are on the wrong side of this fight.
Don Draper's expression says it all, but ad men are on the wrong side of this fight.

I managed to get through about 4 minutes of material until I had to deal with the idiots (and they had already ruined 4 people’s sets).  There were two main offenders.  One was a drunk kid who looked like he was about 19.  He managed to make a spectacle during everyone’s set.  The other was a slightly older d-bag who would shout random things he thought was funny.  For example when I said the word Obama, he shouted “Obama your mama hahahahahaha.”  Even when they appreciated the jokes, they would then discuss and argue loudly why the joke was or was not funny.

I felt terrible and embarrassed for the great comics I had come to perform, but fortunately all of them know experiences like this.  I was very close to actually pulling the Chazz Palminteri scene from A Bronx Tale, which I ironically just filmed a spoof of, where he locks the bar door and tells them that they can’t leave the bar. 

Adding insult to injury, I was talking after the show outside with Nick Cobb when the 19 year old spectacle came outside and started talking to us.  So I said to him, “You just ruined our show, but now you are interrupting my life and a private conversation.”  Then when I was talking to Nick one of the worker’s from the ad agency, we will call him Token after the South Park character,  decided to flex his muscle by saying the following, “Don’t you hate comedians who aren’t funny and make fun of the audience.”  At this point he might as well have come into my apartment and taken a sh*t on my bed.  Despite actually trembling with rage (my only fear was that I might hospitalize the jerk – I am no fighter, but I am big and like most comics have very little to live for) I managed to utter out the most sensible thing I said all night – “you and your friends ruined the show in there, but now you’ve come outside and disrespected us out here.”  Hearing that, and probably seeing the crazed look in my eyes that only occurs during Utah Jazz losses and listening to Sean Hannity, he apologized. 

Token and his ad agency buddies made me very angry last night.
Token and his ad agency buddies made me very angry last night.

But there it is.  Bad audience, but not as bad as Medgar Evers College.  But the fact that it happened at my show and nearly resulted in misdemeanor assault charges makes it the worst.   All in all, since Monday, this has been the worst string of shows I’ve done (3 “eh” shows on Tuesday, an awful open mic on Wednesday, and a crime against humanity on Thursday).  Let’s hope Boston brings me back some good vibes.

There is a happy ending to the Always Be Funny show story though.  My friend who part owns the bar where my show takes place left me a voice mail last night.  He told me that the drunk 19 year old had torn down one of the bar’s signs in drunken stupidity and thrown it in the bushes outside, so my friend threw him in the bushes, at which point he began crying.  The only thing that would have made me happier is if Token had somehow had his jaw broken during this exchange, but even so, maybe it was a sign that my luck was changing at the right moment.

Hopefully his tears mean good things for my comedy fortunes.
Hopefully his tears mean good things for my comedy fortunes.

We’ll see – Boston Comedy Festival Semi-Finals tonight at 9 pm – Hard Rock Cafe.