Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Wet Weather, Dry Month

It's pouring outside. More rain than Seattle. No joke.

February has been wet as far as the weather goes. As far as stagetime goes, it's been the Sahara.

There's a chance I might get up to Hollywood next Tuesday. That would put bookends on February if this were a leapyear. Since it isn't, looks like my next chance for performing will be next month.

Sometimes, it just be that way.

A number of forces have conspired to keep me off of the stage. Important ones. Family matters. Work matters.

Work matters?

Not these days.

But that's another story.

After going to Hollywood on the 1st, the following Tuesdays were occupied by SUV-hunting, preparing for a demo at work, and Jordan's birthday. Aside from the work-related one, I have no regrets. And even the work-related one shouldn't be something to regret. Even though I'm heading for the exit in my current position, I've still got to be responsible.

Anyway, that's the story of February.

I've still been thinking about the dream, man. No worries about that. This isn't a sign that I'm headed for the exit in Hollywood. It's on my mind. I'm writing. I'm singing, dancing, burping, farting... honing all of the necessary comedy tools.

Now if I could only find my way back into the spotlight...

Without giving-in to the urge to go to the Comedy Store in La Jolla.

Hmmm... let me sleep on that. Never say never. What's my problem with that place again? Let's face it... it's just a stage. So Mitzi pissed me off. So what? I thought she used me, and the other comics. So what? We drank her liquor. We used her, too. Who do I think I am?

Hypocrite alert!

Anyway, it's not about her. Or the Store. Or the Improv.

It's about the never-ending battle to shape my own damn character.

And lately, it's been a battle.

I don't know where the "Ommmm..." of a few weeks ago went. I'm hanging onto the hope that I'll grab it back again. But that's only if I don't try too hard. Anxiety rules these days. Dad came to town, which was good. But leading up to his visit, there were bad memories. And even when he was here, and the anxiety of something happening before him getting here went away, there was still the anxiety of the memories. And of my dad not being able to sleep, needing to drive around Oceanside in the middle of the night.

It's easy to be enlightened on the mountaintop. Staying strong and focused in the midst of emotional turmoil is another story.

Add to the memories some of the current anxieties over my job, and finding a new vehicle for Stephanie...

Damn, I know... I know... I know... it's not life and death. Still, it's gnawing at me. The more I type, the more I realize how silly it is. And yet, it's been gnawing at me.

Maybe this blog post will help.

I'll have to sleep on it to find out.

Or maybe I'll have to perform again to lift the cloud.

Who knows?

Definitely not me.

As my dad said to me years ago... "You think too much."

Of course, thinking is good. But not when it's the equivalent of a dog chasing it's tail. Or, worse yet, a snake eating it's tail.

Time for bed. Sweet dreams... I hope.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Chris Rock Oscar Prep... Oh, and I Performed, Too

It wasn't your typical open mic night. Well, most of it was. An endless stream of comics until last call. That was typical. But the third or fourth comic doing a surprise set to work on his Oscar-Hosting material? Definitely not typical.

Even in Hollywood.

Oh, sure... stars are always popping in and out of various venues around Tinseltown (does anybody still use that phrase?). And most of the people in those venues are accustomed to it. It's no big deal.

At least, that's how they act.

At least, I think it's an act.

So, Chris Rock did eleven minutes (give or take a few seconds) at 10:00 (give or take a few minutes), and that was that. Time to wait another three hours or so for my spot.

No big deal.

Yeah, right.

I've only told everybody at work about it. Told my family, too (of course). And here I am on Friday morning (the Jam was on Tuesday), still thinking (and writing) about it.

One thing that I'm thinking about is how it doesn't matter how big you are, you still have to go through the same process as the little hack wannabe comics to develop new material. The difference is in the results, the speed of development, and the ability to get a spot anywhere in town at a moment's notice.

Aside from that, it's the same process.

I can't wait to see how Chris does at the Academy Awards. If his performance is anything like the one at the Improv, it's not going to be your typical Oscar hosting job. They hired Chris Rock, and it looks like they're going to get Chris Rock.

At least, I hope so.

I'm not going to try and reproduce his material here. Let's just say that he's a funny MF. No news. Saw that when he was 18 years old, the last time I saw him live. That was at the La Jolla Comedy Store, a lifetime ago. Maybe several lifetimes. That's back when I was a doorman/comedian, and Chris hadn't popped yet. In the lobby, I told him how much I liked his stuff, and how cool it was that he was able to make "statements" without being preachy. That was the extent of our contact. He's since gone on to make his "statements" to millions of people, will soon be making "statements" to millions more in a single night at the Oscars...

After he's finished polishing those "statements" in front of dozens of people around Hollywood.

And to think I almost didn't go to Hollywood that night.

I'd called for a spot, but Matt Komen wasn't able to help me out. Said to check back in a couple of weeks. No problem. My call-in privileges are a new thing, I'm still low on the totem pole, I appreciate it when I do get a bump-up, and am not taking any privileges for granted.

With that said, I was pissed!

No, no, no... just an attempt at humor.

Actually, I took it in stride, and thought about heading to Ontario instead (since they haven't returned my phone call). Then I thought I'd rather call them again, or send an e-mail. How about Irvine? No chance of performing that night, but I'd gotten an e-mail from the club offering me free tickets to the Tuesday show (not because I'm a comic, but because I've been a paying customer on a number of occasions). I needed a night of comedy one way or another, performing or watching. And I might run into Kristian Vallee in Irvine (who's the house MC, and books a lot of the Tuesday shows there). But when I called, the show was sold out. Good for them, I thought. Sold out on a Tuesday. Good for stand-up comedy.

Anyway, after Plans B and C fell-through, it was back to Plan A... version 2. Drive up and hope to get a spot. If I didn't get a spot, there was always the chance that something interesting might happen. As I've written here before, the trips to Hollywood are always about something more than the 4 or 5 minutes on stage.

That was definitely true this week.

And if the show hadn't been sold out at the Irvine Improv, I'd have missed that "something more". Funny how things work out sometimes.

I know that there's stuff going on up there every day, so in a way I'm "missing something" on a regular basis. But let's ignore that fact for the moment, shall we?

By the way... I was #50 on the list, went up at about 1:30am, and had a good set. Not just in my eyes, either. Mac (the "sound guy" and MC) told me he thought it was my best set yet. Even though my main focus isn't to impress/please other people, it's definitely a part of the game.

And it's also nice to hear.

So, remember, boys and girls...

No excuses, man!

An audience of mostly comics is still an audience. You have to connect. It doesn't matter if you're Chris Rock or Joe Palen (I just wanted to see our names next to each other), you have to connect.

Sometimes, it seems so simple.

Comedy may be hard, but certain aspects are so simple...

  • Be confident, have fun... and connect with the audience.
  • Don't just talk in front of them... talk to them.
  • Pay attention... look and listen.

Oh, and did I mention "connect"?