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San Francisco Comedy Competition – Round 1, Day 4

Last night was the night when my mental wheels came off.  I drew first spot, also know as “biting the bullet” because it is a tough spot.  Well, oddly enough I had my best set of the competition.  I was very surprised by Grass Valley, CA (140 miles outside of of San Francisco, so yeah, not San Francisco) and the fact that they were the first crowd of the week not to “ohhhhhh” at my jokes, showing that they are the first audience mature enough to handle the comedic equivalent of a PG-13 movie. 

But because my fellow carpooler and European named Dartanion London had a 2+ hour drive, we left at intermission.  I felt confident that I would place somewhere in the top 5, thus keeping my hopes alive for a semi finals appearance, but then I got a text from the emcee that I did not place (and to quell my readers’ fears – leaving early did not and could not cost me any points).

This one stung because I crushed it and went first.  Tomorrow, assuming tonight is my last show, which it probably will be based on the math, I will give you all a real breakdown of this competition.  But here’s a tidbit – there are 7 alleged categories that the judges score comics on – but they really are all “audience reaction.”  They have items like “originality,” but if your judges and audience do not know stand up comedy beyond Don Rickles at The Flamingo 40 years ago or Larry The Cable Guy’s most recent movie, then how will they actually know that the following line is terrible comedy: (word for word set up and punch line of a joke in this competition) “I was at the movie the other day and I saw a group of black people walk in and I was like, ‘man, now I’ll never hear what they’re saying.'”  Immediately followed by raucous laughter and applause.  In 4 shows there have been 1.5 black people performing and zero black people attending, so I guess if you have never seen a comedy show and never seen a black person that might seem like a revolutionary and daring joke.  So I guess originality is an incredibly relative term.  But I will save the full rant for when I am actually eliminated.

But last night was one of those nights, like after the Presidential election of 2004, where I had to consider the following, “Maybe I am just out of step with these people.”  I consider myself a pretty mainstream comic (sorry alt comedy, but I will never grow a beard and I will never say a punchline that has nothing to to do with my setup or proceeding story), but without being a pandering hack (though I have had missteps along the way).  However, if Anna Nicole Smith jokes, Carlos Mencia-lite stereotypes and redneck shtick are still killing today across the country then what is the point of doing this other than as a hobby? 

Well one more show tonight and then a week in L.A. to do some shows.  Time to start working on my traffic sucks material.

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San Francisco Comedy Competition – Round 1, Day 3

Yesterday was a great day for many reasons.  The weather was nice, The Motel Aladdin, where I stayed last night had a great continental breakfast and, obviously, I did not get murdered in my sleep by the drifters that were probably staying at the Motel Aladdin or at least in the wooded areas nearby.  More importantly September 11, 2009 was the day that I officially got over 9/11, thanks to the overwhelming amount of Facebook comments from people who feel they have to let the cyber world know that they will not forget.  Phew, now I can finally sleep again. 

But the two biggest things of the day for me were John Stockton getting inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and me not performing comedy in front of inbred white trash.

Well, I had a good performance tonight, in front of an extremely good crowd and went over by 6 seconds, thus disqualifying my performance.  Rules are rules and I am not mad about that.  I am actually mad that now that means my casino performance must remain as one of the 4 scores towards my final score (we perform 5 times and the lowest score is kept).  Keeping that casino gig on my record is the comedic equivalent of a rape victim being denied an abortion; I now must carry the shame of that performance for the rest of my comedic life, or at least until Sunday.

I will say now that when I summarize this festival, whenever it ends for me, I will be offering some harsh words, but I don’t want them to be taken as sour grapes, but merely reporting some strange observations about comedy.  Stay tuned – it could be happening as soon as Monday morning.

So with 1 good performance and two stinkers I am down 2-1.  But one of my heroes, John Stockton was also down 2-1 in many series and you know what he did?  He lost to Michael Jordan and the Bulls both times.

Day 4 better be good for me or it could be curtains.  We go to Grass Valley tomorrow, which, naturally, is 150 miles away from San Francisco.  Apparently it is a burial place for old hippies.  Great.

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San Francisco Comedy Competition – Round 1, Day 2

The Lord giveth and he taketh away could define my first two nights of the competition.  After a good first night last night I made the mistake of not missing last night’s gig.  First off it was a 3 hour drive to the Indian Casino we performed at, or 4 1/2 hours with the traffic we encountered.  I probably would have had a more productive evening if we had driven off into a ditch for a few hours while I soiled myself. 

FYI – my fellow competitor and carpooler is Dartanion London, making us the most elegantly named pair of comics in the history of comedy outside of the Renaissance.

Well last night I got consistent “ohhhhhhhs” for my apparently edgy material.  Edgy if you live in 100% white, over-sensitive, under educated areas of California with Indian Casinos. I never approached the material that usually gets legitimate “ohhhhs,” but apparently last night I pushed the envelope in the wrong direction. 

We get to drop our lowest performance, so hopefully last night will be forgotten by me and the judges the way God forgot this part of California. 

Tonight is the third night and we are at the Napa Valley Opera House.  Because it is only an hour outside of a place with educated human beings I expect to have a better showing.  “This is like that movie Sideways…” HAHAHAHAHA

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San Francisco Comedy Competition – Round 1, Day 1

Last night I finished 2nd in my first preliminary round in the SF Comedy Competition.  Thanks to my law school people that showed up (I knew going to good schools would finally pay off – national reach means more friends in more cities to come out to your shows around the country).

I was a little nervous on the venue, The Purple Onion, because I had to pass approximately 9 strip clubs and a very dirty Chinatown (is there a Chinatown in America that does not appear seedy?) to get there, but it was a very nice venue.  Unfortunately it is the only venue of the 1st Round actually in San Francisco.  The rest of the venues range from 60 to 200+ miles from San Francisco.

Tonight is a Casino show 130 miles from San Fran.  Update tomorrow.  Or check tweets late tonight.

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Wake Me Up When September Ends

A lot of big things in September that can potentially lead to incremental success as a comedian or months of bitter regret.  I have not done any new writing since returning from Denver in a hopes to avoid what is often the death-knell for me in any audition/competition in the past.  It goes something like this: I think of a funny premise, which will be funny in a month, a week before an important show.  I then say to myself – this is my best joke!  I then do it and it ruins part of a set that would have been good, but for the prematurely born joke.  I then punch inanimate objects and write about my frustration.  Not this year.  Here are my upcoming trials:

The Boston Comedy Festival – August 30th-September 6th.  This is aspirational.  If I am performing on September 6th it will have been a success.  If I am not angry on September 7th it will have been a huge success/possible miracle.

I have not made the finals in Boston in 5 years and Aaron Boone no longer comforts me.
I have not made the finals in Boston in 5 years and Aaron Boone no longer comforts me.

An Obamacare Tale– We just finished filming my latest spoof/video and not only do I think this will be the best, but also actually semi-relevant.  Imagine a health care town hall with all the worst elements of Obama haters, then imagine a guy who looks like Beck playing Joe Biden and the best Obama impression you’ve ever seen by a member of my family.  Then model it after the scene in A Bronx Tale where Chazz Palminteri beats up a group of bikers.  What do you have?  A video that should go viral and be on Olberman’s Countdown and launch my new career as SNL’s Obama.  What will it actually get – 14 Facebook comments and 500-600 hits.  But it should be up this week and will make me momentarily happy.

What happens when the town hall gets our of control for Obama?  An Obamacare Tale... coming soon.
What happens when the town hall gets our of control for Obama? An Obamacare Tale... coming soon.

San Francisco Comedy Competition September 9, 2009 – November 4, 2013– This is a prestigious comedy competition that lasts for a very long time if you are good/lucky.  I hope to go far (it actually ends October 3, 2009 – see Boston Comedy Festival above for similar description).   I have never been to San Francisco, but I hear it’s a nice city.  I am sure I will enjoy my friend’s couch and the nearest 24 Hour Fitness club and Starbucks.  But don’t worry, I will tell everyone that it is awesome when I return, the way people returning from Europe trips show how much they were changed by experiencing Europe by saying things like Barthelona.

Hope to have good news to report in September/October.  Probably will be more entertaining if I don’t.  Stay tuned.