Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
This is a video I made for my friend, Gaar, because he loves animal videos and recently mentioned the song "O Little Town of Bethlehem." In this excellent version, the tune is sung by the phenomenal Aaron Neville. I recommend all of his holiday hits. Enjoy!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
- my roommate and I made a pirate ship out of a cookie cake
- I AM The Snuggler.
Here are some photos:
Friday, October 24, 2008
Pretty heavy, I know. But I'm watching The Darjeeling Limited right now, as a reward for my busy weekend and pounding out a five-page education paper about topics I've previously discussed right here on this blog. Within less than 24 hours I went to dinner with my friend and her father, saw a Broadway play, went backstage, went to a party, went on my first Seaport Museum training sail, attended the PhiloStream Planetarium event, and gave a speech at the second annual Broome Street Residential College Convocation. I'm. . . pooped.
I must say that the soundtrack for DL is probably my favorite movie soundtrack to date. In fact, it's the first soundtrack I've purchased since Clueless came out. I'm not afraid to admit that Clueless still might be in my top 10 favorite movies of all time and I'm even less afraid to admit - perhaps even a bit proud - that I can recite most of the dialogue unprovoked. I'm also still a bit depressed to find out with every viewing that my "man Christian is a cake-boy."
I chose this particular lyric from "Strangers" by The Kinks because it proves to be a bit ominous, and I think the topics discussed in the following paragraphs are, too. For my Conversations of the West class I am required to read a few books of the Old Testament. Tonight I dove deep into Genesis and discovered a thought lodged deep in my brain that I had never found before.
We all know the story of Noah and his ark. Here’s the abridged “Leave Your Keys in the Bowl Version” if you’re a little fuzzy:
God thinks that the world has gone to shit. The humans are stinking up the earth. God decided to drown everyone except Noah and his family. He also makes Noah round up some of every "crawling thing" that roams the land so they can procreate after the whole ordeal is over. God, in the parlance of our time, "makes it rain" for 40 days and nights, killing every living thing except those in the ark. Then, the rain stops and Noah and his family and all the animals have a big orgy and repopulate the earth.
God never touches the sea creatures. In fact, he gives them more living space. I know that the humans were the problem, but perhaps the sea creatures have something to do with evil coming back to the earth. Maybe they influenced us to be bad again, after we had just undergone a horrible, horrible punishment - mass drowning. While God was busy with all the land animals, the sea creatures were deviously rubbing their fins together, plotting their evil plans to corrupt humans. We do eat them, after all. Maybe the sea is full of mysterious evil or some other kind of even more powerful force and that's why humans are so fascinated by it. The sea has such a strange and sublime hold on humanity, and no one can quite put their flipper on it.
Also, have you seen these creepy-ass satanic-looking creatures:
I will admit, though, that some of these odd little guys are kinda cute (but then again, I've always been known to love the weird, uncanny type):
Sunday, October 19, 2008
TESTIMONY OF A.K.
(The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.)
Mr. MCCONNEL. Miss K, will you give your full name?
Miss K. I am __________.
Mr. MCCONNEL. And your address?
Miss K. Broome Street, New York City during the academic year. Rensselaer, NY the rest of the time until I graduate from university.
The CHAIRMAN. And what university is that?
Miss K. That would be New York University, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I see... We will get to your academic proposal in just a bit. But first, we would like to ask you a few routine questions.
Mr. MCCONNELL. Yes, Miss Kannes, how old are you and what year are you at New York University?
Miss K. I am 19 years old as of June 22nd, and I am currently in my junior year.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Where are you from originally and what kind of high school did you go to?
Miss K. I am originally from Rensselaer, New York, right across the river from Albany. I went to a small Catholic high school in Troy, New York named Catholic Central High School.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you a Christian, Miss Kannes?
Miss K. Well, no, sir. But I don’t believe that has anything to do with my proposal.
The CHAIRMAN. I think that we will be the judges of what does or does not have to do with our decision, Miss Kannes. So you attended Catholic schooling, but do not conform to the beliefs?
Miss K. Right, I do not.
Mr. MCCONNEL. And would you mind sharing with the Committee why you feel this way?
Miss K. Umm, well... I do not refute all of the beliefs; I believe that their New Testament doctrine of love could be a good thing. However, I think that one must not passively go through their lives. I believe that one must constantly question and challenge what one is taught to get to a greater truth. It is unfortunate that this religion, and most others, does not believe this. I once asked one of my theology teachers –
The CHAIRMAN. Is this relevant, Miss Kannes?
Miss K. You asked me for my reason and I was simply giving it.
The CHAIRMAN. Alright, proceed.
Miss K. I asked one of my theology teachers how it could be possible for all humans to have free will if God already knows everything we are going to do before we do it. He answered, “For those who believe, no answer is necessary. For those who do not, no answer is possible.” Ever since then I have not been a Catholic and have been a firm supporter of the use of reason over blind, submissive faith in anything. Intellectual inquiry and reason –
Mr. MCCONNEL. Next question. Do you or any members of your family have any official political ties or allegiances?
Miss K. Gentleman, I really do not understand what this has to do with the paper I want to write.
Mr. MCCONNEL. We would just like to find where your loyalties lie, nothing more. You opinions will indubitably come through in your academic labor, and it is our duty to find out just what kind of labor we may or may not be allowing to take place.
The CHAIRMAN. This information is of great interest and importance to us, Miss Kannes.
Miss K. I have a strange inkling that although we are in the land of freedom of political beliefs I may be penalized for a “wrong” answer, and I am not sure how American this Committee is turning out to be. You think you would have learned from before tha –
(The CHAIRMAN bangs gavel.)
Miss K. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Will you please answer the question? How were you raised politically and what is your status today?
The CHAIRMAN. We must know or we cannot let you pursue your paper.
Miss K. Fine. You’d love my parents. Blind, unquestioning Republicans through and through. My mother even has a job cleaning the Republican majority in the New York State Senate. Depending on how the election goes, she may not have this job for long. My father is a fan of McCain’s without really knowing anything about him. Your favorite type of voter, I’m sure.
The CHAIRMAN. I would be careful with your words, Miss Kannes. Your biases scream with every syllable. Please continue.
Miss K. Everyone has biases. In academia, it’s just a matter of working through them. I am, obviously, more liberal than my parents. Especially once I started going to school in New York City. I am not affiliated with any political party, however. I do not like to make commitments of that nature. I believe in the use of government to ensure freedoms. I believe that there are unnecessary laws in place that waste time, energy, and money of the government. Our system of courts is sometimes glorious, and sometimes too politically charged and bureaucratic to be fair. My father was incarcerated for seven years for a non-violent crime after such a trial, so I have strong feelings about this part of our nation’s notion of “justice.”
Mr. MCCONNEL. Fascinating.
The CHAIRMAN. It says here that you would like to research and report on the use of communism during the Federal Theater Project. Have you ever been involved in any communist or theatrical endeavors?
Miss K. What a poorly worded question. Is this some kind of trap? Have you guys ever cracked open a history book? It’s not going to work on me, sirs.
The CHAIRMAN. Alright, let me restate them as separate questions then. Have you ever been involved in any kind of theater or performing arts?
Miss K. Yes. I performed in plays all throughout high school, wrote a play that was performed by one of the classes, and once directed a children’s play. Currently I do stand-up comedy when I have time. I started doing stand-up when I was 14 years old, which led to a job seating guests and hosting the late shows at an upstate New York comedy club. I am very much a performer at heart and hope to be somehow involved in the entertainment industry at some point in my life.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Do you have any *political* material?
Miss K. Not on purpose.
The CHAIRMAN. Hmm... What is your view of communism within the Federal Theater Project?
Miss K. I have only done limited reading thus far on the subject, but I do believe that there were communists involved in the project. I am of the opinion that the political nature of the project definitely produced some passionate theater. I hope to research this matter further and report on my findings.
Mr. MCCONNEL. So you think it was alright for communists to be infiltrating our nation’s works?
Miss K. I said it made for passionate theater. I did not say I supported the communist party. That’s not what I said at all. Everyone knows that theater with a cause is always more complex and interesting and more electrically charged than a show with no heart behind it.
The CHAIRMAN. I think we’ve heard enough. We will now adjourn to deliberate on our decision about whether or not we will let you pursue your academic endeavor.
Miss K. Wait just a minute, please, Mr. Chairman. You have not let me finish my proposal. There’s more. I know you are judging me on my experiences and thoughts, but I would not be a true historian if I did not know how to set these aside.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Well, then, you think you are a true historian, then? Prove it to the Committee.
The CHAIRMAN. You can say that you will set aside your prejudices, but how can we know that you really will?
Miss K. I think of research and writing as a conversation. In order to have a fully successful and worthwhile conversation, you have to be willing and open to having your mind changed by the end of it. Sometimes it can be just as interesting to try and disprove your own opinion. And usually, through this kind of work, you can make your own argument stronger because you will catch all of its weak spots. Looking at information and documents from different angles is the only way to get everything out of them. My training as a stand-up comedian has taught me to look at situations from different perspectives. It would be unethical to prevent me from pursuing this topic just because you think I might “side” with the people you think of as “the enemies.” I cannot guarantee you what side my argument will prove, if any. I will not know what my argument is until I’ve done extensive research. And this, Mr. Chairman, is what I am seeking permission to do.
Mr. MCCONNEL. Anything else?
Miss K. That covers it, gentleman. I hope that you will consider my proposal for academic study with impartial minds and understand that it is not in my desires to disrupt what is left of our nation’s order. I sincerely think that intense studies of the past can shed more light onto the future. Thank you.
Mr. CHAIRMAN. Alright, Miss Kannes. We will see about this after lunch.
Miss K. When and how will I know of your decision?
The CHAIRMAN. We will let you know of our decision via the great United States Postal Service within 4-6 business days.
Miss K. (under her breath) Did I just order my decision from Amazon.com? I bet I have to pay for shipping...
It was later found out that A, not Barack Obama, had been the one palin' around with terrorists as Governor Palin warned.
Monday, September 29, 2008
This goes out to you, Meg.
Friday, September 12, 2008
What exactly is a Maui Taco? I'm still not sure. All I know is that the place that makes them has a basement wtih a stage and a weekly gathering of New York City's unsightly's - including myself. For that one week, at least. Perhaps more in the future, but I'm still recovering from my first experience in front of that disheveled graffiti tin-roof background and duct-taped microphone.
The Maui Taco is indeed a taco eatery, although I did not partake in any of their menu items. I can't eat before I perform. Well, I can, but I've found that my time before getting on stage is best spent looking over my tentative set list than umm. . . well, you understand what I'm getting at. No need to be rude. Let's just say I still get a bit anxious before I perform.
I brought a few friends along for moral support in case the place turned out to be some kind of scary dive bar. In high school I did attend open mics at such places, but never by myself and always with my two 30-something trench-coat wearing bitter yet endearing male comedian friends. And, especially in the city, I was determined not to make a go of it alone at this juncture. My mom makes sure to relay every story about young college girls being raped and mugged in late-night Manhattan.
When we got to the outside of the "venue" -and I use this term loosely - I was confused. It looked like an indie version of a Taco Bell. I kept apologizing profusely to my companions, warning them that this wasn't a regular show, open mics are usually sucky, and not to be alarmed. I promised them that I would do whatever it takes to make up to them this possible several hours of torture. As a comedian I am used to such drudgery, and once once goes to an open mic one realizes why many comics are so bitter and "tortured" and angry by the time they make it. Go to one on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, and stay the whole time no matter what. You're bound to ooze frustration. But it's part of paying your dues and any performer should never complain if they're getting an opportunity to step on a stage. But I still believe it's okay to realize that watching one unfriendly yet unfunny and uncleanly performer after another drunkenly swagger onto a stage that barely sits six inches high off of the floor is a pretty shitty way to spend a night. Getting your own five minutes during which other breathing human beings are forced to listen to your words is definitely worth it, however. I think in a later blog post I will get all "deep" about how weird it is to be alone in front of people with only your words to woo them and get them to like you. The performer is basically in control of the audience's lives for however long they stand up there. But back to the Maui Taco.
The host was drunk, 80% of the other comics were at least a couple drinks in, and the friends I brought were the only non-performers in the dank, dark basement dungeon of forced, uncomfortable laughter. I felt right at home. When I first moved to New York City I had been afraid to perform here, even at the no-pressure open mics. I imagined that everyone would be very cold and snooty and look down on me as a young know-nothing loser who doesn't know a tag from a call-back. So wrong I was. The open mics here are E X A C T L Y like they are in Albany. Awkard but kind of exciting, small audience, small stage. I think it must be universal. It's an interesting experience; everyone pretty much keeps to themselves and talks to whoever they came with. They sit at tables alone while scribbling and clandestinely peering around. There's always one or two comedians that will come over and introduce themselves, and it turns out to be just a passing greeting or something "clicks" and you end up having a really long exchange about your crazy families until the event commences.
Here's a few realy embarassing pictures of me and a couple of my best friends from high school at various open mics around the Capital Region:
I would have just posted a couple here, but Blogger is being a douche.
It's nice to connect with other people who have similar inner-workings of the mind; others who are not afraid to share things about themselves at the expense of being considered Odd in "normal" situations. The reality is, once you find someone like that to converse with, you're not weird at all. You fit right in. I kind of befriended this one young woman who used to go to NYU just like me, and she told me some of the darkest, disturbing details of her life and how she got into comedy. I shared some similar stories -although I'm not sure I topped her long family history of debauchery and drugs. Still, I've always felt that in order to be a really good performer, you have to have some kind of burning sense of redemption and miscellaneous yearning working for you. That moment was the first time in a while that I thought, "Wow, this is it. This is where I'm supposed to be. (Not specifically at the Maui Taco, I think I'm at least ready for the Alaskan Enchilada). This is probably the only place where I won't consistently get that 'awww you're kind of funny but really weird and take it a little too far' look." Just ask me about performing at the sonic boom that was Gould Plaza. And any recitation or group hang-out with new people I've ever attended.
I'm so grateful for my friends who came to support me, but there was a point when I felt them getting bored and creeped out by the excessive and aggressively not funny dick/boobie/vagina jokes. I don't really hear them anymore. Whenever there's someone who's having a difficult time onstage, it's best not to dwell on it and I always make sure to laugh heartily at anything they say that might have some kind of potential. What I actually really liked about this particular open mic was that if you had good material, you got laughs. I've been to way too many places where the comics just sit there stone-faced, even trying not to laugh, just because they're too absorbed in their own stuff.
I do believe that mis amigas gained something from the experience. Not only did we "fuse like a family," as any emotionally harrowing experience spent in a beer-stained basement that reeks of sour cream and old salsa (just listen to Colin Meloy and his musical account of male prostitutes), but I think they learned a bit about why I am the way I am. Most importantly, they learned never to eat nachos constructed with a Hawaiian flare.
Here's the video from that night. Thank you Katy for posting it! I look pretty terrible but I'm willing to blame it on the poor lighting choices made by the interior designer of that classy cellar of a room. No, I don't know why I did a jig in the middle of my set, either. It's a compliment that the camera shook a bit at some parts because it means at least Katy was laughing.
Remember, similar to the disclaimer I fed my friends, it was just an open mic. But it's still somethin'.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I haven’t been too consistent with this blog updating-thing, but I have a plethora of excuses and will be able to provide a very detailed and impressive list for anyone who may question me. This summer has been quite a ride, a lotta ups and downs, strikes and gutters; a lotta what-have-you’s. I’m finishing out the season with three funerals, lots of rain, a couple concerts, and some hearty life experience. I stole a TV, did some more time, but now I’m back in school! And though the faces may have changed, the hassles are just the same.
Before I delve into a lovely anecdote that ends as a life lesson, I would just like to bring something to your attention first. Yesterday my best friend and roommate Michelle and I were walking up Third Avenue to Coral, another one of NYU’s dorms. We were going to visit our friends Mallory and Katy, for they had birthday presents and a delicious home-made chocolate cake waiting for my arrival. Michelle and I crossed the Bowery and entered a maze of scaffolding covered in posters. Usually the posters are for the same things over and over again, a Sonic Youth concert or a movie that’s already out, or some cryptic advertisement that only makes sense months later. So I usually ignore them. However, we made a left turn in the paper-covered steel maze, and I gasped.
(I asked Michelle how she would describe my reaction, and she all said was: “You did your noise.”)
Remember my post about that “Songs of the Soul” tribute concert to Sri Chinmoy? You know, the guy who named Albany as the First Peace Capital? The concert that I still shudder when I think about, the one that made me bleed internally from uncomfortable muffled laughter?
It’s back. Again. Already.
When I saw the same flyer of Sri Chinmoy that I had been handed last spring, the one where he’s holding his holy instrument with his eyes rolled in the back of his head with yellow glowing all around him, I couldn’t contain myself. The only thing I could get out after “my noise” was,
OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. IS THIS SERIOUS? OH MY GOD.
Usually I’m more articulate than that, but do you judge or criticize a Vietnam Vet for the things he cries out during his flashbacks? Regardless, I muttered out loud in disbelief while the other walkers became gawkers. The woman who had been traveling behind us stopped, looked at me, looked at the poster, and looked very confused. She had obviously no idea what chaos was being advertised right in front of her nosy nose and continued on her way to what I assume was Ben & Jerry’s – or The Continental.
Now, the line-up for the concert hasn’t changed, only this time Phillip Glass was not on the bill. He must have had the same reaction I thought he did, and had the smarts to get out of that sleepy-eyed CreepFest. Roberta “Batshit Crazy Drunk” Flack was still the headliner and I’m going to go ahead and believe that she still hasn’t taken off that blue sequined tragedy and that they rolled her into a bus, took it to the depot only to wake her up the evening of the next concert. Then they would immediately hand her a flask of whiskey, give her a nudge and say “Get out there, girl!” The concert is not on NYU soil anymore, but at a smaller venue, a Presbyterian church. How this all makes sense I just don’t know. I thought tribute concerts were only once a year. Did they go on tour? Was the tour so short that they’re already back where they started? In my mind, I see Roberta Flack leading the group into small cities in her pumps, holding up her middle school baton in the air, with the rest of the show sauntering in formation behind her with their Stepford Wives smiles and matching robes, each holding one of the 15 million bird drawings. I can also imagine a legion of Midwest housewives with brooms shooing them out of their towns and towards the hills, state after state.
Poor Sri Chinmoy. No man deserves to have this as his legacy, no matter how absurd it is to spend an entire lifetime scribbling birds and writing songs such as:
Saturday, August 9, 2008
This whole summer has been nothing but a big puddle. A big puddle that's been beckoned me into a big muddle. It's been a soggy few months for everyone and we've all learned to make sure we've got our umbrellas on hand at all times. There's something ominous and eery about all of this precipitation and I can't tell if it's a cleansing or a punishment, or both. It depends on who you are, I guess. For me, it depends on the day, the hour, and sometimes even the minute. Sometimes I feel comforted by the fact that the only thing that's been consistent lately is the one thing no one would ever think they could depend on.
This week at my job was both the best and worst of the summer. It was terrible in the fact that it's the second to last week and it's getting ridiculously tedious. But it was also fantastic because our mutual disgruntleness caused me to bond with one of my coworkers. On Friday we decided to do enough work that lets us just exceed our expected quota, and then dick around the rest of the time (which only turned out to be about 45 minutes or so). As long as we're getting enough done, it really doesn't matter. And the more work we do, the more patients hate us.
I work in a department called Pre-Registration where we call patients before every appointment to make sure we have all of their "information" correct. We try to call them only once a month if they are repeat visitors, but sometimes errors are made and people get called multiple times a month. People are also scared of the title "Pre-Registration" and often complain that when thy hear it on their answering machine they get scared and think they're on some list to get surgery or something.
Long story short, we get a lot of angry patients answering the phone and calling us back. I hate talking to people on the phone in a professional setting anyway, so talking to angry people on the phone is what I think my hell is going to be like. This week an old man called our office back just to yell, and I was the lucky one who got to take the call. He was an angry coot. I think if I was as old as him I'd be perpetually pissed off. Imagine not being able to talk or pass gas without dust flying everywhere.
Our conversation went a little like this:
"Sir, our department is trying to help the patients by calling them and getting their information before the appointment so that when they get there they can go right in to see the doctor."
"That's not true. No, your department is a WELLFARE program designed to CREATE JOBS for people who can't get one!"
"Sir, I'm sorry you feel that way, we really are just trying to help."
"Yeah, yeah, sure. Thank you young lady...JERK."
And then he hung up.
I hope his balls fall off. If he didn't like getting the call, why did he call back? He went out of his way to ruin someone else's day.
I used to volunteer at a nursing home and there was this one man who would spring out of his room, ranting and raving and shaking his fuzzy slipper in the air. Coming from his aged and cracking vocal chords we'd hear a thick screech: "YOU'RE WALKIN' TOO LOUD! GET OUTTA HERE." We were there to make their days a little less shitty by listening to their same awful stories over and over and over again about the pastor's boy rollerskating in the church.
If you're going to be cranky and make everyone else miserable, just die already. Once I become a burden to people around me, that's the end of me. Maybe that book The Giver didn't have it so wrong. Except for the whole lack of color, though, that's gotta suck. In high school I wrote a paper called "Should They Stay Or Should They Go?" about the euthenization of the elderly. It was for an assignment called "Arguing With Yourself" so I had to agree both for and against the idea. In my research I found out that the numbers of car accidents caused by old people are staggering... and I'm going to leave it at that.
*Note: I'm not saying all old people are mean, just a large portion of them. I'm sure you have an "adorable grampy" or something and I'm more than happy for you.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I received some pretty terrible news today. My comedy godfather, mentor, and role-model, Mike Irwin, passed away today around noon. Mike had been battling Stage IV bone cancer for a few months, eventually contracting a staph infection among a myriad of other complications. If there ever was a guy who deserved to be ridiculously famous and live for billions of years, it would be him. I could try to be eloquent and try to come up with some grand metaphor about the circle of life and blah blah blah, but that just doesn't fit. The only thing I can say that feels right is:
This completely sucks.
There's no way around it. Fuck the universe, as my very insightful friend Brian Peek would say. And he always seems to be right.
If it weren't for Mike Irwin, I wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to pursue comedy. The summer after my freshman year of high school was a restless time. Even though I was barely fourteen, I felt a restlessness inside that wouldn't stop. My family had been in a sort of disrepair for reasons all two of you readers already know and I had just experienced the first year where I could actually notice a bit of social separation between my peers and I. I had been following comedy and various comedians since the time I had fully grasped language, and one night at a Fresno's restaurant while dining with my sister and brother-in-law something clicked.
"I think I could do stand-up comedy. Why not? So many ridiculous things have happened to me that it seems like something I have to do."
My brother-in-law was especially encouraging, but at the time I didn't think either of them were really taking me seriously. I went home and left them a voicemail at their apartment:
"I'm really serious about this. I'm going to do it. I'm going to. I have to. I'm serious."
The rest of the summer was spent e-mailing comedians and researching classes and clubs. The whole process was actually quite a success, and I caught a few comedians when they were stll answering their own e-mails. My favorites, of course, were from a one Mr. Galifianakis and I had an oddly lenghty correspondence with Jay Mohr who told me to "sin bravely."
Towards the end of the summer, I found the website for our local comedy club, The Comedy Works, which was then located at a Quality Inn in Glenmont. Mike Irwin was offering stand-up comedy classes there and I immediately e-mailed him my situation, about how I was a youngin' but I knew that this was something I was very passionate about. He was quick to respond and said he would check about things, making no promises but said: "If you really want to do comedy, you'll find a way."
I e-mailed the owner of the club to see what he had to say, and I later found out that he had suspected I might be a police officer posing as a little girl to conduct some kind of sting operation. So, like all kids do, I had my mom call. And then Mike Irwin got back to me with good news: the only thing I had to do was send in a permission slip, which I did right away. I was warned that there would be "adult content" and was instructed to prepare 2-3 minutes for the first night of class.
At the time, I was the goalie for my school's JV soccer team and went directly from practices and games right to class. Sweat, adrenaline, and all. I was so nervous before my first class, but as soon as I met everyone my large intestine sensed there was nothing to fear.
Mike did not treat me any different than the rest of the class, although the next youngest person after me was around 20. No one watched their language, watered their material down, or made me feel awkward about being there. It was from Mike I learned about stage presence, the basic joke forms, how to memorize sets, and how squeeze the most out of every single minute on stage. He taught us his "5 Rules of Comedy," which have always rung true. Comedy is almost impossible to pigeon-hole into various equations and explanations and organizations, but somehow Mike did it. Every week we were given assignments and writing exercises, many of which I still use today. One of my favorite assignments was when we had to make a list of things that were orange. By far, the best answer came from my pal Don: "Bougars mixed with blood!" I remember choking on my water from chortling. It's the best kind of pain there is.
The most valuable things I gained from the class were my "older comedian friends" and my relationship with Mike. Every teenage girl should have them, and they're the only reason I wish I could go back to high school, so I could spend time with them on a regular basis again.
Every week we each had to perform on stage for 2-3 minutes and even if we sucked, Mike would make sure to find something positive about what we did. But he wasn't afraid to tell us what didn't go so well. Sure, many comedians may end up bitter and jaded, but Mike knew that it didn't have to be that way - and that we weren't going to succeed if it happened to us. Later that year I took an improv class with him and some of my friends, and he opened up that world for me as well. He could have just said, "Go away, kid, get outta here. Come back when you're not a fetus." But he didn't. Honestly, I probably would have given up my quest. Without his belief in me and my potential, I think I'd have hung back more in my life. I don't think I would have pushed myself or accomplished anything near what I have. His instruction and faith gave me the confidence and tools to make the best of my situation that I desperately needed at that particular point in my life.
I don't think I have ever seen Mike get angry or badmouth another comedian. When I think of all the god-awful comedians (famous and not), managers, and Biz people he's had to deal with, that fact truly amazes me. It seems that no one ever got the best of him, and he was always ready to do favors.
When I started performing more, opening shows and going to open mics, he was always there when I had questions. He seemed to be watching proudly as I kept at it, and whenever I perform I perform as if he were there, because I know that's when I do my best.
Last summer I had the pleasure of doing a guest spot when he was headlining at The Comedy Works, which is now located on the corner of State & Eagle Streets in Albany. I got to hang out with him, his wife, and his son - and my friend - Carter. It was one of the best nights of that summer. Of course I had seen Mike perform, but not for a while. I've always admired how he never stopped writing and always had new bits. What sticks out in my mind about his performances, however, was the pure, unadulterated glee that you could tell filled him whenever he was behind a microphone. His smile and manly giggle were enough to make me smile and -yes, perhaps a bit masculinely - giggle.
Like many comics, he took his life's struggles as fodder for entertainment. But there was something twisted and sharp and endearing about his cadence and writing that never got boring. He was the kind of guy who wanted to win the lottery just for the interview. He wondered why the winners always want to buy a car when there's so much that can be done. Mike knew just what he would do: create a jell-o shortage. The man was a genius.
Of course, I saved my favorite joke of his for last. He used to talk about how one of his relatives had been on the wrong side of World War II, and the only picture they had was of him in his uniform. So whenever people would come over to his family's house, everyone would see all the normal, lovely pictures of the family. . .
"and then some fuckin' Nazi."
"Oh, who's that?"
"Umm...that's just Gramps. He was really into the theater."
Mike, all us comics miss you.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
What will I do with my free time, you ask? Oh, the usual. Bowl, drive around, the occasional acid flashback. Maybe a yoga class. Hopefully I'll get back on the arduous Upstate NY Comedy Circuit. I think my lack of personal productivity is contributing mercillessly to recent stresses and upheavals. That must be changed!
Recently, my friend Steph - the same one who fell in love with the young busboy - shared an uplifting story with me. She currently subs at a Nursery School, and is finding it rather rewarding. She feeds them, washes their grimy faces, teaches them the alphabet, and sings songs about manners and baby animals. Steph attends to the kids' every need and whim - even their budding sexual desires. What can I say? She loves the youths.
But it's not what you think: "We were outside on the playground. I was just standing there. Two kids came up to me joking like aahhh I'm gonna get you or something like that, and one was hugging my leg. And that one became the humper." A three-year-old boy humped her leg, which brings about two questions that I would like answered, no matter how prudish you readers may be, and because I know you two readers, you have no excuse. Here are the hard-hitting questions:
1) Does that action even feel "good" and "special" at that age?
2) Should Steph stop taking the kid to Chuck E. Cheese every Friday night to "play" with him in the ball pit?
On Tueday a friend and I purchased cheesy gordita crunches before our last night of exam scoring. It took forever as usual, but it was also worth it... as usual. As we stepped out of the car to go inside, we noticed that two infants were sleeping in their carriers in the back of a sedan next to us, with only one of the back windows open. At the very worst we hoped the parent was just running in to use the bathroom or to get something quick. Not that this would be acceptable, but it's better than what we ended up witnessing.
After we had waited 15 minutes for our tasty helpings of tortilla, beef, cheese, and vegetables in various combinations, we made our way back to the car to speed off. Following us out the door was a young couple in their late twenties. They sauntered over to the sedan with large fountain drinks in hand. They got in the car. They drove away slowly.
This winning boyfriend and girlfriend duo (no rings) had ordered a meal and ate it inside while their infants slept in the oppressive car heat. If everything we do is an argument, this one's a doozy. Their actions argued that eating inside Taco Bell is of more value to them than the comfort and well-being of their TWO babies. What disgusts me is the fact that they value eating inside the Taco Bell establishment at all. It's sticky, badly lit, uncomfortable and - worst of all - plays the "number one hit music station" of the Capital Region. I would rather eat in oppressive car heat with screaming infants surrounding me. Couldn't one of them have gone inside to get the food? Then they could have gone home and ate together as a family, fighting over the television remote and who was going to get the last cinnamon dessert twist.
A few days ago my friend Jackie and I dined at the Macaroni Grill and we had an excellent dinner for a chain restaurant. At the Mac Grill they have paper tablecloths and the servers write their names on it upside down in an act of friendliness. Like a party trick to break the ice. They leave the crayons on the table, and for some reason at tables with only adults at them the crayons are left undisturbed. It's okay for children to amuse themselves while they wait for sustinence but adults have been conditioned to sit quietly and make inane small talk until they glance their meals coming to the table from the corner of their eye.
"Yeah, yes. . . it's uhh terrible that they uhh in the news I saw ummm. . . Oh, here's the food!"
Fun and colors and art and doodles are nothing to be ashamed of. Jackie and I had a grand old time drawing cartoon cows and stars and writing our names and playing games and it really took the edge off our hunger. We discussed that a trip to an establishment like the M. Grill would be a great place for dinner in the early stages of dating. I'm not saying I endorse testing those you date and I'm not saying I ever have, but I think we've got something here. Does your date even notice the crayons? What color does he/she choose first? What kinds of pictures or words do they draw? Do they press hard or shade lightly? These answers could serve as an intriguing litmus test of personality.
I - pretty obviously - would enjoy someone who draws and doodles furiously without hesitation. Preferably elaborate stick figures or other amusing illustrations. No mundane boxes, please.
Speaking of a a dislike for the mundane, I'm not so much excited for my actual birthday weekend as much as the two weekends that follow. Although I've planned this weekend chock full of karaoke, parties, and Cranium, I'll still be in waiting. For next weekend one of my best friends, whom I admiringly refer to as just "Givney" is having me up to her camp on Lake Champlain.
Many a good time and life lessons have happened up at that there beach. Her family and I get along well. I'm pretty sure, after attempting water-skiing, that one of her uncles wiped the snot from my nose. We've bonded. I think everything was solidified after one enchanting occasion.
Givney and I were sitting in the camper enjoying refreshing beverages. This day I was partaking in Mountain Dew: Code Red, as when I was younger I used to consume it every day of my life. Just as I was taking a sip, Givney's father walked in the room from his shower with a silky royal blue Hawaiian shirt bearing an eye-catching pattern.
Givney brightly remarked, "Wow, Father, don't you look dapper today!"
I laughed so hard I puked.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
...Don't try and tell me otherwise! I can't keep from talkin' 'bout these guys.
These are a couple NYC musicians that must be recognized. Before Washington Square Park was in disrepair, Feral Foster and Frank Hoier, were often found in their own musical world under one of the cozy tree spots. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Feral Foster on the edge of the fountain one day and he asked to borrow my pen. I let him keep it. Feral Foster is a raggedy-haired, passionately gruff belter and Frank Hoier croons like a bird. One evening my friends and I sat with Feral and Frank and enjoyed a sing-a-long. I've been following their careers ever since. At the Sidewalk Cafe, the home of Anti-Folk, The F's are often found. One time I went there and Feral did a fantastic version of the classic "John Henry." They both have great respect for traditional and new folk/blues/bluegrass/etc and put their own fascinating spin on it. Frank's song "Jesus Don't Give Tax Breaks to the Rich" was featured on some new political song list created by Neil Young.
The "41st Street Blues" are fantastic. My favorite lines are:
You're ridin' downtown in that old wheelchair,
But I can't stop starin' at your pretty brown hair!
You look good to me, you look good to me
Oh, ou look good to me and I hope you like me, too
Here's and interesting live version:
Frank & Feral:
Feral's rendition of "Orange Blossom Special":
Alright, had to get that out of my system. Hasta luego.