Monday, February 28, 2005

Sour Grapes

As instructed, I got to the Improv Saturday night at 6:45. I went straight down to that back room that always reeks of fried grease, to find a guy named Kevin addressing a large group of dour looking bringer comics. "OK," he said. "Joe LaRocca is the M.C. He'll open the show. Then he'll introduce Clayton Fletcher and Adam Sank. They both have five-minute guest spots, so they'll warm up the crowd and get 'em laughing. Then, those of you who brought the minimum 10 audience members will each get your 7-minute spots..." etc.

My first thought: "Hey -- they regard me as semi-pro! And I'm going on second! Cool!"

My next thought: "Five minutes?! Shit! There goes the 10-minute set I'd prepped."

Then Clayton pulled me aside. "Hey, man -- would you mind if we switched places? I'd really like some time to set up my camera. So could you go on first?"

Sure, I could.

The show began. LaRocca took the stage. Now, it's never a good idea to diss another comic, especially in print. But to be perfectly frank, he sucked. I don't know if he was having an off night; I don't know if he was pissed he had to M.C. a bringer show. But he had the energy of a corpse, and he asked the crowd no less than three times, "So how you guys doing tonight?" (Can we who comprise the comic universe collectively decide right here and now to ban that question? It's the laziest, hackest, most humor-killing device. It always reminds me of a nursery school teacher trying to get the attention of her class. And it NEVER works.) He went on to do such groundbreaking and original material as "Everyone pretends they're Irish on St. Patrick's day and gets drunk."

As the crowd sank deeper and deeper into depression, I made a vow that I would get them laughing or die trying. Upon my introduction, I bounded on stage like a Chihuahua on crystal meth and gave the most energized five minutes of my performing life. And it worked -- sort of. They weren't exactly roaring, but there was more laughter than silence, and I took that as victory.

Backstage, I approached Kevin. "So thanks a lot for the guest spot. What's the next step in this Montel Williams thing?"

(chirp chirp)

He looked stupefied. "Uh, well, have you competed in the semi-finals?"

(chirp chirp)

"Well, um, I thought this WAS sort of a semi-final for me. I had emailed Rich Ray Brooks about the fact that I never heard back about a date after I initially made the next round. So he told me to come by tonight."

(chirp chirp)

"Well, I don't know anything about that. You'll have to talk to him."

So back home, I emailed Rich Ray Brooks again.

Hi, Rich -
I just got back from my set at the Improv. Thank you so much for the guest spot. The crowd seemed to like my stuff a lot. When I asked Kevin about the Montel Williams thing afterwards, though, he told me didn't know I was there for that.

Not sure if my performance tonight was judged in any way, but if it was, please let me know if I've moved onto the next round.

Thanks a lot.


No reply from him throughout the weekend. Then, this morning, the following arrived in my In-Box from the Improv general email address:

The Montel Williams MS Charity Showcase have been announced. Nancy Dadairo, Lisa Landry, Liz Meile, Mike Siscoe, Steve Gorda, Jason Scarlotti, Erik Rivera, Mark Jeffries, Bill Scully, Victor Wishnu, and Baron Vaughn will perform on March 9 at the IMPROV in front of a packed industry full house. These comics will also appear on the Joey Reynolds Radio Show.

OK. I'm not saying I should have been among the finalists; maybe they are way better than I. And maybe Rich Ray Brooks or some other Improv booker was secretly hiding in the audience during my set Saturday night and decided I wasn't good enough to advance further.

But I don't think that's what happened. What I think happened was, the Improv fucked up: They had like 100 of those first-round competitions, selected four or five comics from each one to advance to the next round, and simply couldn't keep track of everyone, neglecting to notify some of us -- and yes, I doubt I am the only one -- regarding further details.
Then, when I pointed this out to the club, they had me come by for a token appearance to make it look like they were being above board in their selection process.

I might be way off base here; the timing and sequence of events just seem highly peculiar. Regardless, it's back to the drawing board for me.

End of rant. Coming tomorrow: My complete Oscar wrap-up. ♥

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Adam Plays the Gay Expo

So it turned out we Homo Comicus comedians were the second act to perform of the entire weekend... 40 minutes after the doors opened. In other words, we had the worst possible spot, save for the New Jersey Gay Men's Chorus. Let me just say this about them: They make the New York Gay Men's Chorus look like supermodels. And the poor dears played to mostly empty chairs. An awesome warmup.

Afterwards the GLBT Expo "M.C.," a twink of no more than 20 named Joey, took the stage to introduce me. I had written out a simple introduction verbatim for him, which was supposed to go as follows:

Next up we have performers from Homo Comicus, the monthly show at Gotham Comedy Club that brings together the best lesbian and gay standup comics. And I'd like to introduce the M.C. for this show. He's a comic and writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times. Please welcome, Adam Sank.

Here's what Joey actually said:

Next, we have performances... Homo Comunniques...a monthly show at Gotham...Comedy.... the Club that brings together the best Lebanese and gay standing comics... And I'd like to introduce M.C... the M.C... for this show. He's a comic and written... has written... writer... whose articles have appeared in New York... the Times welcomes, Adam Sank!

With an intro like that, I was sure to kill. So out I strode onto the stage, which was quite large, actually, considering there were only chairs set up for about 200 (3/4 of which were empty). Giant rainbow-colored balloons behind me, I took a deep breath, grabbed the mic and went for it.

"Well," I said, "I've always wondered what it would feel like being in a Christopher Guest movie. And now I know."

I must say, looking down and seeing Jason, Jeff, Seth and Fred in the audience was a tremendous life-saver. And although I couldn't hear any actual laughter in the acoustically deprived Javits Center, their smiling faces convinced me I could get through this.

So I did my set, and it wasn't half bad. By the time I introduced the next comic, the Israeli Guy Winch, the seats had begun to fill up. Guy did some edgy stuff that included a joke containing the phrase "vaginal tearing" that I might have stayed away from, especially with lesbians in attendance. But his stuff about Martha Stewart as host of her own S & M porno was killer. (The gist was that Martha would begin tying up and binding a submissive guy. Then, she'd reach under a table and pull out a pre-prepared submissive guy, already bound and gagged.)

I retook the stage, did a bit about the gay penguins at the German zoo, the punchline of which was that in addition to refusing to mate with the female penguins, they're also fastidiously neat and addicted to crystal meth. (I forgot to mention that their sexual orientation might explain why they walk like that. Damn!)

Next up was Vidur Kipur, whom I introduced as having a name that sounds like a Jewish high holy day, but who is actually an Indian homo. Vidur was wonderful -- I had never seen him before, but I really enjoyed the whole Indian/American gay/straight cross cultural thing. It also provided me with the opportunity to do the joke about how my parents traveling in Southern India at the moment -- not to help out with tsunami relief, but just because they thought there'd be really good deals on pashminas right now.

Finally I introduced Dale Sorenson, whom I knew from Don't Tell Mama. He closed with his always-funny bit about cheating on his ex-boyfriend. ("It's not cheating if you don't swallow!"). And that was it -- I thanked the crowd, plugged my website (which is hopelessly out of date), and invited slow Joey back up to the stage.

All in all, not a bad experience; it was great working with a wireless mic, and I have a pretty cool credit to add to my sad little resume.

On to the Improv!♥

Friday, February 25, 2005

Here I Go Again

Once again, my comedy career goes on life support for an entire month, and then BOOM; I find myself with two fairly significant gigs in the next 24 hours.

First I heard from Bob Montgomery, who produces "Homo Comicus" monthly at Gotham Comedy Club. I did that show once, more than a year ago. Never heard from him again; assumed he thought I sucked ass. Anyway, he sent me an email last night asking if I wanted to perform at the GLBT Expo at the Javits Center, representing his show and the club. It's a strange gig -- 11:50 a.m. at a bustling business convention -- sort of like Catherine O'Hara at the end of "A Mighty Wind" when she's accompanying herself on the autoharp at her husband's bladder control trade show -- but whatever, sure I'll do it.

Yeah, but the difference is, I'm funny. You're not, gay-boy.

Then Bob calls me today to ask, would I like to M.C. the show? Would I? Does George W. Bush move his lips when he reads? Hell yeah, baby.

Meanwhile, back in October, I had performed at the Improv in that ongoing Montel Williams multiple sclerosis contest. Was told afterwards that I had advanced to the next round and would be contacted with further details.

Four months later, no details had arrived. But I did get a mass email this week from Mary Louise Picerno, the woman in charge of the competition, announcing that she was moving to Los Angeles and would not be involved with the Improv anymore. Perfect. Luckily, she included the email addresses of two other guys at the club. So I emailed them and asked, "What's the deal?"

So last night one of the guy calls me and he's like, "Uh, have you like, performed in one of the quarter-finals yet?"

And I'm all, "No."

And he's all, "Well, come to the club this Saturday night at 7 p.m."

And I'm like, "Uh, to perform?"

And he's all, "Uh, yeah."

And I'm all "Word."

So there you have it. Of course, now I'm freaking out. So not ready am I to do two gigs tomorrow. I'm going to chain myself to the computer all night and pray for inspiration.

By the way, did anyone else catch the NBC special on the first five years of Saturday Night Live? I found it fascinating, and was thrilled to see my dream woman, Marilyn Suzanne Miller, prominently featured -- even if she did look like hell.

Wish me luck, mofos.♥

Monday, February 21, 2005

Happy Birthday To Me

Too lazy for a real blog. Just want to report that it's my 34th birthday tomorrow (Wednesday). No celebrations planned; I did that Saturday night, when my nearest and dearest (including the new mystery man) and I went out to Grand Sichuan for a Chinese feast. Totally delicious and fun, despite the hostile waitress who threw menus at us.

I've uploaded a bunch a pictures, but you may not be able to view them unless you have AOL. Here's the link.

Been spending most of my waking (and sleeping) hours with the new man, hence the lack of blog. (You know how it is -- we're still in the "brand new" phase, where it's too soon for me to talk shit about him on-stage or in my blog. Give it time.)

Also allegedly working on a new article for publication... details to come.

That's it! I suck! I miss you all...

Monday, February 14, 2005

My Anonymous Valentine

I've been blogless for several days now and am beginning to receive complaints from my loyal fan base, otherwise known as the five former elementary school friends who check out my blog when they're bored at work. Kasey Gatlin (nee Anderson) writes: " Valentine's blog?? I NEED HUMOR!!!"

Look, honey, we all need humor. But a man's got to eat and sleep sometimes!! And truth be told, I actually had a date this Valentine's Day -- the first time that's happened in two years. Modesty forbids me from revealing more at this time. Suffice it to say we enjoyed a delightful meal (chicken marsala with fettucini for me, lasagne for the mystery date) at 44 Southwest on 9th Avenue, followed by a piece of pink-frosted cake at Amy's Bread. (Have gayer words ever been typed?)

Then it was home to watch another bangin' episode of "24," which included a positive portrayal of Arab-Americans in the form of Mrs. Araz's pharmacist brother, Kalil. (Unfortunately, he wound up dead pretty fast.)

Friday night I performed in Darlene Violette's show at NY Comedy Club. The crowd was pretty small -- maybe 30 people tops -- which was a bit disappointing. But Darlene did something really smart beforehand: She asked me and the other comics not to get up and rag on the turnout in our sets. It made sense, if you consider; why make the few people who did show up even more uncomfortable? "Ha! Your suckers -- you actually came to our shitty show?!"

All that notwithstanding, it was a weird crowd -- one of those crowds who laughs at "and" and "the," but not at the punchlines. I tried some new material about Michael Jackson, the gist of which was that he's probably going to release a statement insisting that if he ever had molested children, they'd be a lot hotter than Corey Feldman. Alas, they were not amused.

"Macaulay Culkin is really more my type."

I stayed until the end and watched the other comics, most of whom had similarly uneven experiences. Met a cool dude from Charlotte, North Carolina named Jesse Jones, who opened with a joke that included the phrase "big floppy titties." It struck me, and apparently no one else, as hilarious. (I'm sure Michael Lemming would have laughed, too; I'm now picturing him doubled over in hysterical laughter; I share a 14-year-old comic sensibility.)

The strangest performance of the night was definitely that of a blonde punk rock chick whose name escapes me. (She only had one name, like Cher or Madonna.) Anyway, she got up with a guitar and announced she was singing a special song for "Valentime's Day." She repeated the phrase "Valentime's Day" like 50 times, and I'm pretty sure she wasn't being ironic. Her song was some sort of angry, anti-government, feminist tirade with a few vagina references thrown in for good measure. The crowd seemed perplexed at best.

What else can I tell you? My parents are enjoying their trip through India, based on the emails my mother has sent out. Apparently my father thought his wallet was stolen and accused several poor Indians of being the culprit, before later finding the wallet in his pants. God, I'm proud to be an American.

Spent my lunch hour at Banana Republic picking up a birthday gift for my mystery date, whose birthday is tonight (exactly one week before mine.) Everything this season is apparently pink. He's a lawyer-to-be, so I wanted to pick something conservative; not easy in a world of pink. I ended up getting him this tie. Feel free to comment on my selection. He can always exchange it.

That's all for now, folks. I'll be at Ron Poole's Gay & Lesbo Comedy Fest at Don't Tell Mama March 3rd... mark your calendars!♥

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

A Prince and His Dog

Paula Abdul's descent into madness continues. Last night on American Idol she got into another blow-out with Simon over some no-talent loser she wanted to keep on the show, after Simon and Randy made it clear they were voting against him. Unable to sway either of her fellow judges, she called executive producer Simon Fuller onto the set and whined to him that she wasn't getting her way.

Fuller, looking puzzled, pointed out to Paula that she was simply out-numbered, two against one. Her Thorazine must have suddenly kicked in, because she gave in immediately, and then, moments later, allowed Simon a bear hug. AND WHAT THE HELL IS WITH HER HAIR? If that's not a wig,
Ryan Seacrest's not a bottom.

I'm as sane as I am talented!

Meanwhile, the show continues to soar. Last night consisted of group auditions, in which contestants are put in groups of three and have one night to rehearse a number. Most of them sang, "Baby Love," and the staggering thing was how many of those morons couldn't remember the words. Also fascinating were the group dynamics, particularly among two hideous, vicious women who turned one their (albeit pathetic) third teammate to an extent that left her vocally and emotionally paralyzed. Girls are bitches, man.

Speaking of which, how 'bout that hag Camilla Parker Bowles getting Prince Charles to marry her?! It's hard to fathom how he could have preferred that leathery old drag queen over Diana, but maybe it's a British thing. I wonder if the Prince turned on by Gary Busey, too. Anyway, I predict another deadly car accident in the near future, compliments of Her Majesty, The Queen. (And I'm not talking about Ryan Seacrest this time.)


Tomorrow (Friday) night at 7:30 p.m. marks my return to New York Comedy Club. A busy work week has kept me from writing any new material, but perhaps I'll be inspired at the last minute. Hope to see everybody there!♥

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Bad Guys on 24

You won't believe this, but I had another dream about Marilyn SuzanneMiller last night. It was a sequel to my last dream; she had read myblog and was rather miffed at my description of her as "horsey, Jewishy and middle-aged."
But she was willing to overlook it and proceed with our workingrelationship.

What on earth could it mean that I've had two dreams about a fairlyobscure comedy writer I've never met? Should I try to contact her? Isthis a sign? Am I insane?

Lately my dreams  ingeneral havebeen incredibly vivid and numerous. It's kind of fun -- like watching aconstantly changing 7-hour DVD every night. That is, as long as I don'thave that stupid dream where I'm in school running around trying tofind a class I've registered for but never attended, and it's exam day,and I'm freaking out, etc. etc. I HATE THAT DREAM.I've been through it enough times that you'd think I'd be able to stopin the middle and say, "Hey,dude: You're 34. You don't go to school anymore. Chill the hell out." But no.

I'meagerly awaiting tonight's episode of "24."

I read an article in this week's Entertainment Weekly that Arab andMuslim groups are outraged by this season's portrayal of Islamicterrorists living in the U.S. I'm the first one to rail againstrace-baiting, but I find this particular protest sort of ridiculous.First of all, the show centers around a counter-terrorism agency; ifwe're being honest, not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terroristsare Muslims. And as for the ones who are not, I hardly think Basqueseparatists would serve the role of a credible threat to America.

Don't hate me because I'mbeautiful; hate me because I'm a terrorist.

Secondly, "24" did employnon-Muslim and non-Arab bad guys for most of its prior storylines,including last year's Colombian drug cartel plot (which was a snooze).

BREAKING:After Iposted this, I watched tonight's episode. And lo and behold, 14minutes in, a Keifer Sutherland came on camera in a PSA, which I nowreport to you verbatim: (Thank God for DVR!)

Hi,my name is Keifer Sutherland. And I play counter-terrorism agent JackBauer on Fox's '24.' I would like to take a moment to talk to you aboutsomething that I think is very important. Now. while terrorism isobviously one of the most critical challenges facing our nation and theworld, it is important to recognize that the American Muslim communitystands firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resistingall forms of terrorism. So in watching '24,' please -- bear that inmind. And now back to tonight's episode, entitled, 'Those fuckingragheads are at it again.'"

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog entry:

But mostly, I shudder when political pressure is applied to art orculture, either from the left or the right. I didn't watch the SuperBowl -- the Oscars are my SuperBowl -- but from what I understand, the commercials and theentertainment contained therein were a pitiful shell of their former,pre-Janet Jackson tittified selves, so terrified was the network ofincurring the wrath of the FCC. And that is truly frightening.

As an aspiring entertainer and certainly as a vociferous consumer ofpop culture, I fear we're increasingly headed toward a theocratic,moralistic, authoritarian society, where Spongebob is regarded as toogay for children, and a shot of Mickey Rooney's 100-year-old ass in acommercial is considered sexual content. And through all this,President Bush keeps saying we're a model for freedom for the rest ofthe world.

So I say, bring on "24's" Muslim terrorists! Bring on the Super Bowlboobage! And bring on tonight's dream cycle, baby!♥

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Dream On

OK, folks - on the advice of fellow Soapboxer and resident pontificator Luke Thomas, I am trying out a Netscape program that automatically converts regular text into HTML. If I want it to be red, I simply change the font color. If I want it to be italicized I just select italics and voila. I can even insert links to other websites instantly!

If it works, I will be quite the happy camper and will buy Luke a beer someday, after which he will probably smash my face in. (Incidentally, for anyone keeping track, today's font is Lucida Sans Unicode.)

I had a vivid dream Friday night that perhaps beautifully encapsulates my aspirations and anxieties vis a vis this whole comedy thing. In the dream, I'm at some sort of writers meeting. There are about a dozen comedy writers and myself seated at a large table. To my left, I come to realize, is Marilyn Suzanne Miller, one of the founding writers of Saturday Night Live. Now, I have no idea what Marilyn Suzanne Miller looks like in real life; the only reason I know her name is from reading "Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live," by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller (which is great, by the way). But in my dream, she's sort of a horsey, Jewishy, middle-aged hippie type with a raspy smoker's voice.

Amazingly, I just googled her and found a grainy black & white that's not too far off:

What the hell am I doing in your dream, you putz?!

Anyhow, she's still writing for SNL in the dream, and we start hitting it off. And suddenly, I'm inspired -- I've got the idea for a killer bit. It would be during weekend update. Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler would welcome me on during Chanukkah, and I'd begin to sing "O' Chanukkah, O' Chanukkah," one of several hideous dirges taught to Jewish children across America. I'd go on to explain how Christian kids have all the luck because they get to sing all these beautiful Christmas songs. They get the huge Christmas tree -- we get a friggin' candle-holder. They get candy canes, we get pancakes made out of shredded potatoes. You get the point.

As I dream, I furiously write all of this down. But for some reason, I'm lacking paper. So I'm writing on anything I can find -- receipts, Chinese fortunes, used napkins and so forth. My sense of urgency is intense; this is the most brilliant bit I will ever think of, and if I don't get it down on paper, I'll lose it. Marilyn loves the idea, but fails to offer me anything else to write on.

Then I wake up.

Now I probably don't have to tell you what three thoughts hit me simultaneously:
1) The bit is beyond hack.
2) Adam Sandler essentially did the same thing on SNL 10 years ago. Some of you may have heard of it; it's called "The Chanukkah Song."
3) Why can't I dream about sex like normal people?

Speaking of SNL, I believe the show hit its nadir last night with guest host Paris Hilton. I'm not one of those harpies who always complains the show isn't what it was back in the 70s. In fact, I've watched nearly every episode of SNL that's ever aired in reruns, and the truth is, it has always been and continues to be uneven -- sometimes brilliant, sometimes painfully bad.

But how Lorne Michaels thought Paris Hilton could be entertaining as host is a mystery. The tone of the show was set immediately. Paris came out to do her "monologue" holding that stupid rat-dog she carries around with her, made one lame joke about how she was happy the show was live so there'd be "no videotaping," (HAR!), and was quickly joined onstage by Kenan Thompson, holding another dog. Soon Kenan's dog started thought-speaking to Paris's dog, flirting with her and so forth. It was essentially an unfunny rip-off the Dog Show! sketch that Molly Shannon and Will Ferrell used to do.

Who's the dumber bitch?

It was downhill from there. Even the news sucked.

Bring Back Marilyn Suzanne Miller, I say!♥