Thursday, February 28, 2008

So Goddamn Sixy...

Hey there 'Redheads... Before I get things started, I wanted to let you, my loyal readers (play along), know that I've stepped back from the ledge I was so precariously perched on in the last installment. I think this picture best describes things...

Married To The Sea

You take the delirious highs with the soul flattening lows...more often than not, it averages out to a big bowl of okay. Besides, I've reached another imaginary milestone in my trivial pursuit. I'm six. Yes, it was the last weekend in February 2002 that my buddy Bill and I trekked up I-95 to the open mic at Winchester's in Baltimore. The club was a hole in the wall, but it was home to a close knit comedy was like Cheers, with health code violations. So, six years doing stand-up. In Jerry Seinfeld's documentary, Comedian, he said that your years in comedy are equivalent to a person of the same age. At this age, I say the darndest things and farts are hilarious. Here's to six more...months.

For those of you clamoring to see me locally, mark this down on your calendars. March 26th-30th, I'll be hosting a slate of shows at the DC Improv with Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock. Now, quit your clamoring.

Belated condolences on the passing of one of the best open mics in the area, The Laughing Lizard. I never had a bad time there. They always managed to draw a crowdesque audience and the fun house mirrors behind the stage made the jokes seem larger than they appeared. Hopefully, Tyler and company will be able to find a new venue for similar shenanigans.

And now, the news...
Alabama: Birmingham - The state unveiled a $1 million ad campaign aimed at scaring teens away from methamphetamine with images of strung out addicts with rotten teeth.
The budget was originally bigger, but they cut costs by using production stills from Flavor of Love 3.

California: Modesto - Angela Nellany was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading no contest for trying to kill her estranged husband. Prosecutors said she left a soda can full of wasps inside her husbands truck. Court records said her husband is deathly allergic to wasp stings.
It's not all bad news for Angela. The video of the attack won her the $10,000 prize on America's Funniest Murder Attempts.

Nebraska: Omaha - Police say a 4-year-old girl showed them how to smoke marijuana from a joint, a pipe, and a bong - techniques she learned from her mother.
Police suspected something was wrong when she polished off four sleeves of Thin Mints at snack time. Her kindergarten class voted her Best Show and Tell Ever.

Enough of that. You have some comedy homework this weekend. On Saturday, check out two international raconteurs, Larry Poon and Jim Marsdale, as they bring their comedy stylings to the intimate stage of the DC Improv Comedy Lounge. On Sunday, also in the lounge, a massive comedy conga line shakes its collective groove thang. Erin Jackson, Ryan Conner, Chris White, Erik Myers, Jason Weems, Jon Mumma, Justin Schlegel, Seaton Smith, Aparna Nancherla, Kojo Mante, and Rob Maher will showcase for a chance to be a part of the Just For Laughs and Great American comedy festivals. Click the link to get your tickets.

To be continued...

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Regarding the Aforementioned Disappointment...

Hey there 'Redheads... Where do I begin? When I left you in the last installment, I was full of starry-eyed optimism, with a couple of pipe dreams flowing through my head. First, I was looking forward to playing in a poker tournament that could've ultimately led, slim though the chances were, to a seat in the 2008 WSOP Main Event. Also, I was moderately psyched about doing a set at Caroline's on Broadway in my first show in NYC that wasn't a bringer contest. The world was my burrito. But, as we all know, when it comes to burritos, as delicious as they may seem in the beginning, they can tear your insides out like so much shredded cheese-like food product. I have bag of frozen peas on my bruised ego. My starry eyes are now squinty and my optimism has been overthrown by a mob of mopes. At this point, if life gave me lemons, I wouldn't be shocked if I got lemon AIDS. So, in order to properly vent this malaise (that's Hellmann's malaise...ask for it by name), I'll be detailing the debaclery for your diversion (alliteration, baby). Now serving Pity, party of one...

Let's flip the calendar back a week or so to last Wednesday, which was the night of the poker tourney. I knew my odds were slim going in, let's not have any illusions. The best I'd ever done in a poker tournament was the 3rd place I took in Vegas, and that was against 50 people who only had to pay the entry fee to play. This night was upwards of 70 players, all of whom had qualified by making final tables in smaller tournaments throughout the four weeks previous. I had to do the same, so I figured on having a puncher's chance if I played tight and didn't do anything stupid. If only I had typed these words before I played. The tournament started at about 8:30, just after I got to see my Terps get clobbered by Duke in high definition. I was gone at about 8:37. Three hands dealt. I only needed to play one. I'll try not to be too technical for anyone who isn't poker savvy. I was dealt King/Eight of Spades, so after folding my first two hands, I figured this one was worth playing out. The flop, or first three cards, comes down Jack of Spades, Ten of Clubs, Nine of Spades. Let's break this down. There's a straight (five cards in numerical order) draw on the board, and with my two spades, I have a flush (five cards of the same suit) draw. I bet 200 chips. I get a couple callers. Next card is the Eight of Hearts. No help on the flush, but now there's one card to a straight, and I paired my eight. I bet 200 more. Good poker players out there are probably screaming at this blog right now. One caller. The last card is the Eight of Clubs. The flush is gone, the straight is there for whoever has a queen or a seven, and I have three of a kind eights. I push all in (yes, Joe...irresponsible). The other guy calls. He has, drum roll please, Queen/Seven...had the straight both ways. Thank you, goodnight. The only flush left is the one that sent my hopes of playing on ESPN down the crapper. I was the first player eliminated. That stung a little...but by a swarm of angry bees. It's taken a week to stop from replaying the hand in my head...or folding it altogether. Ok, so, no big deal right? Poker is just a game. I didn't lose any money, and some would argue that I have no pride. 'Twas a simple pipe dream. I put poker on the back burner, and refocused my energy on getting my act together for Caroline's. Yeah, about that...

On Tuesday morning I hopped on a bus up to New York City. By the way, if you're traveling to the Big Apple, do yourself a favor and take Vamoose. $25 each way and it leaves from Bethesda or Arlington. Your chances of having a story about a urine soaked homeless guy puking on your shoes are about as slim as my chances in the poker tourney. It was a 4 hour straight shot. I slept for two hours and got ignored by the hot girl sitting next to me for the other two. I had some time to kill in the city before I met up with comedy compatriot, Ryan Conner, who was cool enough to allow me to crash on his couch. I figured I'd get a better idea of where I was going later that night and headed toward Times Square in search of Caroline's. Just so you know, I am not a city mouse. I am Aquaman out of water. The fact that I found Broadway was a victory on the level of Rocky knocking out Drago. I have the sense of direction of a dreidel. So, it was only fitting that about a block from Times Square, a lovely young lady asked me for Times Square. Even I had this one covered. Her name was Valentina and she was from Italy. She knew enough English to introduce herself and ask which way she was going. It turns out, for people who don't speak fluent English, I talk fast. We walked together for a bit, but my Italian is limited to ordering from a Carraba's menu, so the conversation crumbled like so much parmesan cheese. I took in the sights, sounds, and smells for a bit. My theory on New York is that, other than the tourists, the people parading up and down the sidewalks are hired by Central Casting to give NY the proper freak flavor. They show up to a warehouse of mismatched clothing in the morning, take their pick, and then get paid to walk around for a couple hours. All the out of work actors get to work on character exercises and mutter to themselves while the families from the midwest gawk. I met up with Ryan at the subway to take the train to Hoboken (Hobo Barbie sold seperately). He explained which bus I'd need to catch to get back into the city later that night. Unfortunately, he had to fly out to a gig in Denver at 6am, so he wouldn't be able to check out the show. We hung out with fellow DC comedy transplant, Matt Mayer, and rocked out on Rock Band for a couple hours. I'm Les Fucking Claypool on the bass...set on easy. Time passed. We got out of there close to 7:30. My show was at 9:30, and I wanted to make sure I got there with plenty of time to spare, just in case. Well, upon checking the bus schedule, we find out I missed the bus into the city and the next one isn't for another 45 minutes. Ryan drives me back to the train station and I head back into the city, with about a 15 block walk to Caroline's once I get there. It's cold and windy and foreshadowy. I get to the club at 8:30 and check in with the nice lady working at the box office. I tell her I'm on the 9:30 New Class Clowns show. To which she replies that the 9:30 show has been combined with the earlier 7:00 show. Fuck. The next thing I discover is that I'm not on the list of performers on the program. Fuck a duck. The next thing I find out is that the guy who booked me is no longer with the club. Meep. She points me to a guy in a dark suit who is the manager of Caroline's. I tell him about my situation. Luckily, he was very accommodating. He offered to put me So, I head into the showroom where a comic is on stage and killing. I get to follow him. Thankfully, they get my name right and I hit the stage. I'm a sweaty mess. The back of my neck is a log flume down my back and into the crack of my ass. I played the hits and got some decent laughs, but my mind was darting from joke to joke rather than flowing and I was not having fun. My 7 minutes was over in a flash and I shuffled off stage. I met no one. And the few people I had coming to the show missed it because they were coming to a 9:30 show. Oy vey. I met up with them as they walked in and made the awkward apologies for the crappy situation. We then left for some much needed alcohol. The highlight of the evening was the stellar roast beef sandwich I had at a bar called The Perfect Pint. I also had several pints of perfection, which made me feel even more inadequate.

I :-/ NY.

There ya go. High hopes...big splat on the pavement. One of these days, I'm going to learn to lower my expectations and stop having these Walter Mitty moments. Until then, I'll be pinning my hopes to these lottery numbers I got off a fortune cookie...I got a good feeling about this one.

To be continued...

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Milkshakes and High Stakes

Hey there 'Redheads... And welcome to any new readers who found their way here through my guest post on Arjewtino. Wipe your feet and try not to bust up the joint. This is why we can't have nice things. A couple random cool things to cover in this installment, so allow me to whip out my extra large butter knife, so I may slather it on thick.

I my first road gig of '08 over the weekend. Thanks to Dave, Tony, and the rest of the fine folk at the Funny Farm in Youngstown, Ohio for making it worth the trek up the PA turnpike. To help kill my Saturday, I took in a matinee at the local multiplex. It was a coin flip between No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Blood won the toss. I cannot recommend this movie enough. Daniel Day Lewis is a magnificent bastard. And yes, *spoiler* there is blood. See this movie...then thank me afterward. It contains my new favorite notable quotable. It won't do it justice to type it out, so here it is...

I can't stop saying it. It'd be nice to have a few people out there who knew what the hell I was talking about, so go check it out. It's even cooler in context. When AFI puts out the new list of Top 100 Movie Quotes, that one better be on there.

Before I hit the road for Youngstown, I took in a show Thursday night at the DC Improv. Not only were two of my favorite local yokels, Jon Mumma and Herbie Gill, on the bill, but before the main show, the audience was treated to an impromptu feast courtesy of the Food Network show, Dinner: Impossible. Chef Robert Irvine was given an improv theme and had to put together a three course meal using 15 mystery ingredients, including ramen noodles and hot pockets, and using members of the DC Improv Comedy School as sous chefs. So the cameras were rolling whilst 250 other patrons and I served as guinea pigs for meals that may well have actually contained guinea pig. They were pretty damn delectable, especially a chicken breast stuffed with crawfish. I think I might've snuck on camera for a reaction shot, we'll see when it airs. The coolest part of all, was the executive producer of the show...

It was a physical challenge to get this picture...

Marc Summers from DOUBLE DARE!! If you were in middle school when I was, that show was appointment viewing and you almost put yourself in traction practicing the physical challenges and training for that glorious day when you'd run the oozy obstacle course to capture the flags and win fabulous school supplies. Ah, memories...

It's all about being on TV in one way or another, isn't it? It starts when we're young with stuff like Double Dare, then you think you could be picked to live in a house with seven strangers, now there are so many goddamn reality shows out there, the dream is being realized by just about anyone whom light doesn't bend around. Where is this going, Jared? Good question. Well, I've got a cool opportunity to be indirectly among the televised masses. I've qualified for a poker tournament that'll be played Wednesday night. The top two finishers in that advance to a World Series of Poker charity tournament on Saturday. The winner of that gets a $10,000 buy-in to the WSOP Main Event in Vegas...which is covered by ESPN. I have a shot at a shot. I've got a lottery ticket and I get to fish around the ball hopper. My poker skills are on the better side of okay. I've been playing in free weekly tourneys for the past couple months against players much better than me and my dignity is still fairly intact. My big weakness is my poker face. I'm easier to read than the Cliff Notes to See Spot Run. It's a chance, though. My fate isn't up to some shady tv producer casting a show. I really want to take down a big pot in dramatic fashion, so I can bellow, "I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!! I DRINK IT UP!!" Seriously, go see There Will Be Blood.

I'll keep you posted on the inevitable disappointment.

To be continued...

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Groundblog Day

Greeting from beyond Gobbler's Knob, 'Redheads... I bring news that you've already seen, heard, and don't care about from the land of not much else besides Punxutawney Phil, the world's foremost immortal prognosticating rodent (suck it, Chuck E. Cheese). I braved the bitter cold, a sleepless night, and some shitty pancakes to bear witness to the furry oracle declare that six more weeks of winter are nigh (he also said to take the Giants and the under). Contained within this groundblog are the details of my journey. This is the story of how my plucky band of pals and I made the trek to stand in the cold and dark for 5 hours with 30,000 other goofy white people to watch some shmuck in a top hat yank a groundhog out of a stump at daybreak and tell us that Spring is going to start in March. I hope I'm not overselling this...

So, you may be asking yourself, "Why bother?" A couple reasons. Primarily, to indulge the whimsy of a friend, whose birthday is on Groundhog Day. The other reason was why the hell not? It's a fun thing to do once, cross it off your bucket list, and take a fun roadtrip. So, the group of us piled into a couple cars and left DC on Friday afternoon in the only kind of weather that would make northern Pennsylvania seem cheerier by comparison, torrential rain. Since Punxutawney proper was occupado, we stayed at a campground in DuBois (which is pronounced doo-boys, because PA is classy), about 30 minutes away. None of us had much of a clue as to the timetable of the blessed event, but we planned on getting up around 5am, since Phil was due to appear around 7:30. It wasn't until we dined at the local Ruby Tuesday that we found out that we overshot our estimate just a smidge. Our waiter let us know that in order to beat the inevitable crush of people and get a decent view, we'd have to get to Gobbler's Knob around the time it opened at 3am. So, we went back to the cabin, set our alarms for 1:45, and tried to grab some shut-eye. Waking up early wasn't going to be much of a problem for me, since the couch I was sleeping on conveniently folded out into a medieval torture device. Nothing like a spring in your spleen to give you a spring in your step when you wake up. We got up at the crack of night and bundled up for the kind of cold that makes you want to crawl inside a dead animal for warmth.

Control yourselves, ladies...

We got to a bustling Punxutawney at 2:30 and found a parking spot in the frozen lot of a Long John Silvers. There were two ways to get to Gobbler's Knob. The first was a bus shuttle that ran on the half-hour. The other was to hike the 2 miles and change on foot. We opted for the latter, only because it would mean we could keep moving and slightly warmer. It also lowered our DDQ (Drunken Douchebag Quotient).

Not pictured: Tensing Norgay
Stay classy, Punxutawney
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here...

As we got closer to the site, music and random revelry echoing in the distance, our buddy Guillaume made one of the greatest statements I'd heard in awhile. He said, "Chances this is a vampire herding, 1 in 10." We'll revisit that in a bit, but let's just say that context made the next 5 hours a bit more tolerable. We reached the Knob and what lay before us was...not a hell of alot. You can't tell from the picture, but the sign for Gobbler's Knob proclaimed Punxutawney to be the "Weather Capital of the World". Really? That's like saying that my refigerator is the chocolate milk capital of the world. How shitty does your town have to be when the selling point is having weather? Off to the right was a raging bonfire, where I could only assume the virgin sacrifice to Phil was to be made. To our left was the main staging area for Phil, which was occupied by a bevy of bundled beauties, led by a guy in a long coat and a top hat, who were dancing to the Led Zepplin that was piped through the speakers. The organizers did their damndest to keep the huddled masses distracted. They played music, they brought some lucky people out of the crowd to play low-rent gameshows, and the crowd favorite, launching t-shirts and stuffed groundhogs via air cannon. Nothing like getting a beanie baby at terminal velocity. A few people took advantage of the spectacle and popped the question on stage. There were three a row. Each one stealing some thunder from the one that followed. The third one was a half-assed job...more of a converted shout out. I'm pretty sure that marriage is only going to last six weeks. They also had another top-hatted guy on stage with a giant clock around his neck (if he had a viking helmet on, he would've been the photo negative of Flavor Flav), who kept a check of the time. And the time passed slowly. To help pass the time, we played a game called Spot the Black Person. That ended in a scoreless tie. The event should've been sponsored by Wonder Bread and Hellmann's. Speaking of which, the experience as a whole could be best described as a misery sandwich on fun bread. What I mean is, the first couple hours were fun, the middle couple hours were painfully awful, then the last couple hours rallied back to fun.

Getting back to the vampire theory, we came up with three possible storylines for a new Groundhog Day movie. The first was the vampire story, with Phil being a vampire of some sort, which explains his purported 122 year lifespan. The next was a Phil assassination which plunges the world into an eternal winter. The last one would revolve around one of the afore mentioned cheesy marriage proposals. Hey, if Meet The Spartans can top the box office, I think we can get one of those greenlit. As a side note, if you spent money to see Meet The Spartans, we can't be friends anymore.

As the appointed time drew closer, the crowd ballooned from roughly 5,000 to about 30,000. At 6:00am, they shot off a fairly impressive fireworks display. That was just enough to distract me from my frozen toes. Then they amped up the pageantry to get everyone ready for their audience with the rodent Pope.

The groundhog illuminati lined the stage and sounded off their important sounding weather-related titles, Stormchaser, Cloudformer, Sunbeamer, Gay Namegiver, etc. Then they had a local gal sing the national anthem. Then it was time for them to pull Phil out of his stump for the prognostication moneyshot. One of the top hats was designated to talk to Phil, because he could "speak groundhogese". According to the legend, Phil is 122 years old and is fed some sort of life giving elixir every year to extend his life by another 7. I'm pretty sure if he could talk, he'd say, "Please kill me." Anyway, after a brief pow-wow, it is declared that Phil saw his shadow and six more weeks of winter is on the way. This is met with a chorus of boos from the fickle masses. After that, they pretty much told us to get the fuck out. Thanks for hanging out...there will be no don't have to go home, but you can't stay here. And so the mass exodus of 30,000 people ensued.

It would've been cooler with vampires.

Before I sign off, here's your comedy homework for the weekend. Go check out the show at the DC Improv. Two of the funniest guys in the area, Herbie Gill and Jon Mumma, are opening for Allen Havey. Miss it at your peril.

Also, if you're in the Youngstown, Ohio area, I'll be at the Funny Farm this weekend with Scott Dunn.

That is all.

To be continued...

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