I’m in a free show tomorrow night. Should be fun. It’s an audition for Comedy Central’s “Comics To Watch”, which is part of the
| This Thursday, I’m performing Never Been to Paris at the Wilmette Theater. If you’re in the Wilmette area, this will be a|
very fun venue to see the show, as we are projecting the multimedia on a fullsize theater screen, behind the stage.
And if you’re not able to attend but know some people who might be interested, please forward along the details. We are recording the show in HD so the bigger the crowd, the better.
The Blackout Diaries is a Critics’ Pick and previewed in the Reader Recommends section of today’s paper:
The show debuts this Friday. Make sure to buy tickets in advance, as they are selling quickly:
I haven’t posted a video clip of my standup in ages (I always think standup looks boring on camera).
But a lot of people who live out of town have asked what my one man show is like. Here’s 5 minutes of it, filmed a few weeks back at The Beat Kitchen:
Thanks to Elizabeth McQuern for filming and sharing this… …and for helping to put-on the show where it was recorded
The Catholic Church ruled the Middle Ages, mostly… because they were the only people in town with a clock.
A couple years ago Joe Rogan confronted Carlos Mencia, on stage, about joke stealing and a clip of it went viral. It was the first time a lot of fans of standup comedy learned how much we despise jokes thieves, and, to that end, the clip was good for standup comedy. But it created a minor, negative effect: some people believe that joke-stealing happens at all shows.
Thus, there is a group of people who look for thieves at comedy shows- sort of, joke vigilantes. Luckily they are a small group- in eight years of standup comedy, I’ve only run into 4 of them. It always goes some thing like this:
me: leaving stage at the end of the show, thanking people
I have full confidence that no one has stolen a joke, but, if there is a comic out there doing a similar bit, I’d like to know since –if it’s some noticeable part of a famous comic’s act– I will probably drop the joke… I’m sighing because I’m equally certain this drunk guy is going to be useless at explaining why / where he thinks he heard the joke
random drunk guy: “Not sure… …On TV. Maybe the internet.”
Then they leave, being zero help and clearly disappointed that a big, professor-plum-in-the-library moment didn’t occur.
I raise this topic because I got this (kind of hilarious) email after one of my performances at Just for Laughs:
Since a lot of fans of standup comedy read my blog (‘lot’ = 9), I thought, perhaps, I can offer some strategy tips on how to confront some one you (probably incorrectly) suspect of joke stealing:
First, know that (much like real crime fighting) it’s handled most often, and best, by the professionals. The reason you can only name three or four joke thieves is because most are identified at the open mike level, immediately blacked balled in their town, and soon quit. They rarely last more than a month and almost never, ever (ever) get famous.
That said… say you are still positive it was stolen: confront the producer, not the comic. Confronting the comic creates an impossible situation, where neither believes the other guy is right (or being honest), and you both walk away thinking the other guy is a liar or incompetent. But the producer is more objective and if he or she forcefully insists the joke is not stolen, well- you are more likely to listen (and –if it truly is stolen– you are more likely to get a result, this way). Everyone involved (including the comic) will get more out of it, if you confront the producer.
Happy Hunting, everyone.
As an addendum, my reply to the emailer, not that it matters too much (since he won’t believe me):
Finally, some closing metrics on joke vigilantes: of the four people who have confronted me, I never heard back from 2 of them, after giving them my card if they can remember more info (that includes the above emailer).
The other two realized, after talking further, they saw me a few months earlier and were too drunk to place it.
|I’m in several shows during next week’s Just For Laughs Festival:
I have crunched the numbers. Ipods are ruining parties.
Why are iPods Ruining Parties?
In short: because they are too good. Music no longer stays in the background at parties. You used to talk or laugh or argue above the music at a party- some times barely noticing it, as the CD reached the album’s weak, unreleased tracks; or the station moved to commercial.
Not anymore. Music is now organized by playlists, collections of music the host built over several weeks. His most unique, attention-grabbing songs, and –like a man who wears too much cologne– it dominates your senses into noticing nothing else in the room. How does one talk over unreleased Nick Lowe? Early Public Enemy?
“The Horn Section”
The above is a homeless man who came to one of our parties. When ever someone played a song that was too modern (say, Blacked Eyed Peas), or too indulgent (say, Radio Head), this homeless guy would stop the music, eject the CD and replace it with a Motown album. I would enthusiastically scream, “The Horn Section comes In!“, high-five the guy, and those of us who liked Motown music would dance.
The party was great. People walked room-to-room, drinking; laughing; talking passionately. Eventually The Horn Section would tire of Motown music and the songs would change… until –inevitably– someone would get too greedy and stick-in a “The Flaming Lips” CD. The Horn Section would then charge out of what ever room he was in, stop the CD, insert Motown, and the cycle would repeat.
You are not going to meet a man like The Horn Section at the modern party (I don’t even think The Horn Section knows how to operate an iPod). He has been replaced; outsourced. The Horn Section lost his job to China- where they build gadgets to run our parties.
When a new technology is released, we apply it to every task it can improve, never asking if it makes the wider events and experiences that hold these tasks more fulfilling… I guess what I’m saying –if I have a point– is: you should get drunk with homeless people more often.
|This week’s Chicago Reader has a great article on the Lyons Den Open Mike, which was a very definitive Chicago comedy show, launching|
a lot of now-famous comedians:
When Lyons Roared by
I’m quoted several times in the section detailing the history of Chicago Open Mikes.
I may not be good at • traditional • details, like names and deadlines, but, when it comes to remembering hilariously bad experiences, I’m as encyclopedic a source as you can find.
(for consideration by the Smithsonian)
Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, told by Sarah Palin:
Sammy Sosa burned 700 calories per swing
I appeared on WLUW’s “Outside the Loop” radio show last week for a roundtable discussion on the Chicago comedy scene. Outside the Loop is a great show that focuses on Chicago stories that are being under-reported by traditional media.
If you’d like to hear a 30 minute discussion on Chicago Comedy, you can listen
The conversation focused on how the Chicago scene is perceived nationally; what are it’s strengths and weaknesses; and what we like and dislike about comedy, in general.
I was joined by the Chad Briggs and The Puterbaugh Sisters, all of whom are very funny.
The first theater that showed a “talkie” was ripped apart, after the audience thought it was haunted.
|Saturday– special free taping of Never Been to Paris
If you never saw Never Been to Paris (or have friends who never saw it), Saturday might be a good day to check it out, for free, at Depaul
|Saturday– 9 PM, Wilmette Theater
My show at the Wilmette Theater this Saturday night with Ken Barnhard (I’m opening for him) is a critic’s
|Thursday– 8 and 10 PM, The Lincoln Lodge
I’m hosting for TJ Miller this Thursday at the Lincoln Lodge
|I’m featured in the current issue of RE:COM. RE:COM is a great, new, comedy magazine that focuses mostly on alternative or emerging standup comedy. You can purchase / preview a copy of the magazine at|
My article, “Things That Only Exist in Standup Comedy”, stems from a conversation at the bar after a show, where I wondered what the least-realistic topic in standup comedy is. “Easy”, you might answer, “unicorns and ninjas”; but I wanted to talk about the stuff we (comics) present as true –stuff on relationships and jobs– that, in reality, is fiction.
…I don’t think you’d have to be super into standup comedy to enjoy the article, but… perhaps…. or maybe it’s just boring.
When you watch a zombie movie, you never complain that the dead can rise. No, you complain that, despite living in a world with no hot showers, the survivors still look sexy.
I’m that way with standup comedy: I enjoy the big lies; the small ones bother me.
Here is a list of such lies- small untruths that comedians claim to see everyday, but which –in reality– do not exist.
1) Complex Coffee Orders
Comedians are always stuck behind a lady ordering the world’s most specific cup of coffee: “I want half latte, half mochina, all soy, cinamon-in-place-of-choclate, iced drink, with room for sugar, and…“. No one orders coffee like this in real life. Ordering coffee (in real life) is like parallel parking in that you feel all eyes on you- half the time you panic and rush your own order, choosing to screw it up for yourself rather than infuriate a group of strangers.
No one has the chutzpah to walk before a crowd and say, “your morning is less important than how my milk is poured”, which is what such a customer would be stating.
In fact, the entire retail transaction is nothing like comedians claim. You are not, SIR, stuck behind a housewife writing checks- no one writes checks anymore. Checks have been gone for so many years, I wouldn’t even know how to fill one out. I mean, from what I recall, you had to spell numbers on checks, right? Jotting “138” wasn’t good enough. You had to write, “One Hundred And Thirty Eight“- with your bare hands, like some calligrapher from the Han Dynasty.
And this crap about people carrying too many items through the express lane? Again, this only happens in the world of standup comedy. I have never seen it. Truthfully: I expect to witness a hit-and-run auto accident before I finally see a person attempt to rush 15 items through the express lane.
Finally, don’t get me started on retail-line pranks. Name a place that puts us in lines –airports, banks– and a comedian will give you advice on how to have a little fun in that line, through a hilarious pranks (“turn to the person next to you and –do what I do– whisper, ‘I have the masks, did you bring the guns?'”). Stranger-on-stranger pranks do not exist. You’re more likely to fuck, murder or marry the stranger before you in line, then prank him.
Why?- because there is no possible outcome (of pranking him) that could be more fun than just quietly sitting in line. If he takes you seriously, and runs or gets a guard- you have to explain yourself and now look like a jerk. But, if he recognizes the joke and decides to play along (“NO- I thought today was the bomb day; I’m wearing a bomb”), well, now you are stuck in an even worse situation: an atrocious joke that neither of you know how to end.
2) Hand Jobs
Hand jobs are the go-to sexual punchline for comics, yet they never occur in real life. Hand jobs are probably so common in standup because it is the funniest sounding sexual maneuver. Most female misdirection jokes end with her giving the guy a handjob (“he didn’t get my name right; he vommitted in the sink… yep, I gave him a handjob”) and male comics tend to talk about it like it’s asking for a stick a gum (“I mean, Jesus ladies, can’t I at least get a handjob”). Hand jobs, however, don’t exist in the real world- to this end, they are like tigers: extinct in the wild, yet somehow we still talk about them constantly. Most adults would sooner abstain than ‘endure’ a handjob. If forced to choose, I can think of only two scenarios where a handjob would develop (in adult life):
3) Internet Porn
OK, I can’t claim that internet porn, something that accounts for 35% of all downloads, only exists in the world of standup comedy. But no one watches as much internet porn as male comics claim to view and NO ONE gets caught as often as they bemoan. Getting caught looking at porn happens exactly once in a man’s life- and then he changes all habits. It’s like a mini September 11th, in that you tighten every aspect of security and marvel at how lax you used to be: “Jesus, I wasn’t even locking doors beforehand”.
And, once you tighten that security, it is now, in today’s age, impossible to get caught looking at porn. The modern browser –just like the modern oven– cleans itself. Google Chrome, which I use, all but assumes you are looking at porn, opening up new windows in what it calls “inconginto mode”. The symbol for this mode is a sneaky, cloak-and-dagger spy. Mozilla is even more brazen: their symbol is an Eyes-Wide-Shut, Venetian, sexual-party mask. I half expect them to call it “Money Shot Mode”, over Private Browsing.
Regular readers of mine might find this content out-of-character- a blog that is mostly about sex and porn. However, I would point out: I am discussing standup comedy here, and it’s pretty much impossible to have that conversation without it being mostly about sex and porn.
Perhaps you disagree? Or perhaps you think comics don’t really talk about this stuff?- Well, that would make this whole blog a big lie, which, if you recall, is acceptable under my terms.
It was Abraham Lincoln –I believe– who said, “wake up every day and try to tell at least one really big lie.”
That’s still great advice.
The greatest band of all time recorded exactly one song, which was so good, the music industry forced them to breakup. They were a band for exactly 45 minutes.