Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Joy of Sets

My apologies for the delayed report; I needed some time to come down.

I couldn't have imagined a more thrilling experience than doing six shows in a row, opening for Hal Sparks, in front of sold-out crowds at Carolines. It surpassed my wildest aspirations and made me think I might actually be a professional comic some day -- one who supports himself on comedy, alone.

The Sunday prior to my first show, I went and got my entire head bleached platinum blond. I have no idea what possessed me to do this, but it worked out for the best: I walked onto that stage each night feeling like I was wearing a mask -- like I was playing some stand-up comic character named Adam Sank. My new hair emboldened me; it made me feel gutsy. It also supplied me with my opening:

"I assume you're all applauding for my hair! I know this may surprise some of you, but this is not my natural hair color. The carpet doesn't match the drapes -- that's all I'm saying. And I'm a little disappointed. Because I told the hairdresser I wanted to look like Brad Pitt. And he ended up making me look like Anne Heche, during her most lesbionic period. And then someone at work told me I looked like Lamb Chop. Remember Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop? Yeah, well it turns out there's a very fine line between "Sexiest Man Alive"... and sock puppet."

This killed every night, and I built from there.


Separated at birth?

With each set, I became braver and more spontaneous. And while I stuck to pretty much the same lineup every time, I worked the crowd as never before. One night when I asked where the homos were in the house, some straight meathead guy to my right began to clap and cheer wildly. "Oh please," I shot back immediately. "Don't even pretend that you're gay. You know how I know you're not gay? Because I'm totally attracted to you." While he gasped at that, I added, "Who's laughing now, muthafucker?"

Another night, in advance of my Long Island waitress bit, when I asked whether anyone was from Levittown, a woman in the fourth row called out, "Yeah! Levittown, Pennsylvania."

"Yeah," I replied with a smarmy grin, "not the same thing. But thanks for playing."

It's not that these ad-libs were so brilliant; hardly. But they were instantaneous. In the past, I would kick myself later, thinking, "THAT's what I should have said!" It was that feeling like I was completely aware -- completely in the moment at all times -- that I had been seeking for two years. And for whatever reason, it happened night after night.


Hal and me. I'm the blond one. More pics to follow.

To say the crowds were magnificent is an understatement. After every show, I was inexplicably mobbed by throngs of teenage girls wanting their photo taken with me; I think the blond hair made me look like a boy-band singer or something.

One night three people asked for my autograph, which was surreal. My whole life I've been practicing my autograph for the day when somebody would actually ask me for it. When it finally happened I panicked, and the signatures were illegible.

Outside the club the night of my last set, an elderly woman approached me. Taking my hand in hers, she said: "I just want you to know that I think you're very talented. And Lenny Bruce was a friend of mine. And I think he would have been very proud of what you did tonight." Of course, she could have been off her rocker -- literally. But still, the nicest compliment I've ever gotten.

I also got wonderful feedback from the management at Carolines. Stay tuned.

As for Hal, he was lovely toward me and astonishing onstage. I realize now that I had never seen his stand-up. I assumed it would be good, based on his appearances on "Talk Soup" and all those VH-1 shows. But I never expected him to blow me and the rest of the crowd away. His energy was overwhelming. He managed to cram three hours worth of material into a single hour every night, and he never did the same set twice. I learned a great deal watching him and talking with him backstage, and I'm sincerely grateful.

M.C. Russ Meneve and Chris Bonno, the other opening comic, were also consistently kind to me and very, very funny.

And while I'm gushing, I want to thank everyone who came to see me: My hairy sister, Anna and her bald-but-beautiful husband, Guy, Julie Schoenberg Jacobs, Adam Grey (my talented and hunky website designer), my loyal friends, Seth, Jeff and Fred, the WABC crew (James, Lisa, Lee and their significant others), Cousins Susan, Mitch, Andy, Elise and their pals, the glamorous Dick and Kayla Pechter, Glenn from Atlantis, cutest couple Steven M. and Brett,
Ben Genocchio and my oldest and dearest friend, Amy Slotnick (avec date).

Notably absent were my parents, Phy and Lew (too busy summering in the Hamptons to attend), my sister, Laura (attending to her new dog, Trixie III), and my friend, Dan (who spent the night in jail).

Among them, Dan is the only one who's excused.

Apologies to anyone I may have inadvertently left out -- my brain is barely functional at the moment.

I'm off to Fire Island Sunday to perform for the first time at the Ice Palace in Cherry Grove. Let's hope they like the hair.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Yippee!

Well, at the risk of jinxing tonight and the rest of my shows this week, last night at Carolines was one of the most fun I've ever had in comedy.

Scott Nevins truly is the hardest-working man in show business. Not only did put together a top-notch lineup of talent, he also saw to every single detail of the production from start to finish, including entrance music for each performer. (Mine was "Let's Hear For It For the Boy.") This, in addition to charming the audience whenever he was onstage.

Plus-sized chanteuse Allison Tilsen opened the show dressed as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz," singing "Somewhere, Over the Rainbow." By the end of her number, she was completely nude, save for ruby-slipper pasties covering her gi-normous ta-tas and a huge mound of fur taped to her crotch. You had to see it to believe it.

Shayna Steele wowed the crowd with two soulful performances, hunky John Hill donned a skanky wig and wonderfully warbled "Part of Your World," from "The Little Mermaid," and none other than Andrea McArdle, Broadway's original "Annie," closed the show with a rousing rendition of "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow," with the crowd loudly singing along.

But the biggest surprise of the night was Hal Sparks, who showed up one night ahead of schedule and did a really cute on-stage impromptu interview with Nevins. He was seated behind the back curtain for most of the show with his girlfriend, so I wasn't sure if he was going to even see my set.

Ah yes, my set: Exhilarating. Magical. A reminder to myself of why I do this. The crowd was truly loving. They laughed at my setups. They howled at my punchlines. They yelled out things like, "Nice ass!" What more could you ask for?

Leaving the stage, I bumped into Sparks, who had gotten up to watch. Shaking my hand, he said, "Great job -- you and I are going to have fun this week."

Outside the club, I was mobbed by a gang of teenagers (boys and girls) from Livingston, NJ who just happened to stop by Carolines that night. (They had no idea it was a Gay Pride show.) "Ohmigawd!" screamed the girls. "We love you! Please -- please -- take a picture with us!" (I did.)

A straight couple from L.A. stopped me: "Do you ever get out to the West Coast? We'd love to see you perform out there."

Even Nevins's family from Flushing, Queens insisted I make a visit to their bar, Popeye's, sometime soon.

All in all, an awesome night. Let's just hope I can keep it going as I head into Round 2...

P.S. A photographer from broadwayworld.com took tons of pictures, so I'll post 'em here as soon as they're up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Here I Go Again

Tonight it begins: Seven shows, five nights, one comic (me). Am I ready? No way. Is everyone I've ever known and his mother coming to see me? Yes. (That is, everyone except my own mother and father, who can't be bothered to drive in from the Hamptons, where they're summering. P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom.)

Last night, I sat down at my computer to come up with a lineup. And I did -- only it seems really dull to me since it's the same friggin' material I've been doing forever. I keep picturing my friends and family, rolling their eyes, going, "Oh, great -- he's doing the Long Island waitress joke again. Most amusing." I realize I shouldn't be performing with them in mind -- these are professional shows with mass audiences -- but I can't help it.

Sometimes I do wonder why we put ourselves through this; it's torture. But then I'll listen to a comedian on Howard Stern and think, "God, I want that to be me!" Or I'll watch all those "Best Week Ever"-type shows on VH-1 and think, "Why am I not on that?" (Sidebar: Why AM I not on that?! How the hell do I get on that? Anyone? Anyone?)

I did have a very nice moment at the gym the day before last. A guy I know, Paulo, was talking to this other guy. Paulo introduced us. So the new guy goes, "You look very familiar to me. Do you ever go to Therapy? I work there."

And I go, "Yeah, I've actually performed there a few times; I'm a comic."

And he goes, "Ohmigod, yes! I LOVE you!"

He totally said it the way I would say it to Margaret Cho if I ever met her, you know? "Ohmigod, I LOVE you!"

That was a first for me.

So here's a joke I won't be using this week: Did you guys hear about what happened to Tom Cruise in London? Some dude squirted him in the face! Lucky for Tom, he's used to that happening. (Ba-dum-bum-chi!)

Happy Gay Pride, y'all.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Fun With Google

I have commented in this space previously about the peculiarities of google, but today I discovered my favorite phenomenon thus far. When one searches "Adam Sank" and "comedy," (as I do at least 10 times a day), one eventually finds a site entitled "Rock Star Penis Sizes." (WARNING: DO NOT CLICK ON THE PRECEDING LINK AT WORK; NOT ONLY WILL IT TAKE YOU TO A HARD-CORE PORN SITE -- AND ONE THAT, SADLY, SHOWS NO ROCK STAR-SIZED PENISES -- BUT YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO NAVIGATE BACK TO THE PREVIOUS SCREEN!!)

Now, without giving too much away, I can assure you I don't belong on any such site. But moreover, I haven't the slightest idea how google made the association. Oh, well. At least Nancy Lombardo no longer appears when you do an image search of my name, thank God.

Monday night I had an abysmal set at "Scott Nevins Presents" at Therapy. Maybe it was the oppressive heat. Maybe it was the crowd. Maybe it was that Scott went up before me and did 10 minutes of Michael Jackson jokes, all of which were funnier than the Michael Jackson jokes I had planned to do, and I panicked and wound up retooling my whole set at the last minute. Whatever. It sucked. I hate bombing.

Needless to say, I am FREAKING OUT about next week, when I open for Hal Sparks six times over four nights at Carolines. I've tried to develop new material over the last several months (most notably in advance of my ill-fated Mexico trip), but the bottom line is, nothing works as well as my standard set. So to all my friends and relatives who are coming to see me next week, my apologies in advance: I'll be doing the same ol' shit.


"Don't worry, dude. Nobody's coming to see you."

I've been having vivid, bizarre dreams lately. In most of them, I'm in a movie. I don't mean I'm acting in a movie; rather I'm actually a minor character in the narrative. For instance, the other night I dreamt I was with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the scene from "Traffic" when she goes down to Mexico to meet with the Obregon drug lord and presents him with the Espástico Jacobo doll made entirely of cocaine.


"I want our debt forgiven. I want to be the exclusive distributor of
Obregon Brothers Cocaine for the United States. And I want the
principle witness against my husband, Eduardo Ruiz, killed."

I have no real purpose in this scene. I'm just sort of cheering her on, like, "You go, girl!" It's probably a bad sign that even in my dreams, I'm an extra.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Bone Licking and Drunken Sisters

A curious thing is happening with regard to the Comedy Soapbox ratings. I've been pretty much stuck at No. 6 for the past couple weeks, which is fine, considering I hadn't blogged a peep. But today, pre-blog, I was No. 2. Absence apparently makes hearts grow fonder. Either that, or the whole thing is just completely random.

I had been stuck in a something of a creative rut of late, probably stemming from a positively putrid set I had at Rose's Turn a week ago Friday. I know -- you can never blame the crowd -- but this crowd was particularly bizarre. I observed them throughout the night being extremely quiet and attentive, yet not reacting to any of Rose's stellar performers. They were like a Stepford crowd.

But since Rose's Turn is the closest thing I have to an open mic, I was determined to try out a "brilliant" new bit I had come up with about how online sex is really just like a game of Madlibs. (Don't ask.) I don't want to say I bombed, but there was actual smoke coming out of my ass. Also, my usually adequate (though not professional quality) singing voice failed me, and I sounded like William Hung on crack.


And we're probably hung the same, too.

And whereas I'm usually slapped on the back (or lower) after one of my sets by people in the crowd there, in this case everyone averted their eyes. I left feeling utterly dejected.

Departed NYC the next day for Memorial Day weekend on Long Island with my extended family -- parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, nephews and nieces. We had all been prepared for the weather to suck ass so were practically orgasmic over the gorgeous, sunny beach weather. A good time was had by all, especially after I plied them all full of my homemade sangria. Highlights included watching my drunken sister, Anna, stumble up a flight of stairs, baby in her arms, big butt stuck way out to maintain her balance, and a discussion over the proper word for a male ballerina. "A fag," suggested my father. Good times.

The work week was uneventful, and then last night I had dinner with my dear friend Amy Slotnick at Bone Lick Park, which sounds like the name of a movie I'd watch with the shades pulled down but is actually a new barbecue place in the Village. Mediocre food and terrible service, but at least the waiter was bone-lickable. (If you happen to see Amy Slotnick today, by the way, wish her a happy birthday! Same goes for Julie Schoenberg Jacobs!)

Afterwards Amy I moseyed down to Rose's Turn; I had to get back on the horse. Upon arrival, I was thrilled to see Elaine Brier. Elaine had been a fixture at Rose's Turn for years, before moving on to Don't Tell Mama and other venues about five years ago. I have missed her terribly; she is probably the best comic singer in New York, with a staple of hits that includes "That's a Moron" (to the tune of "That's Amore") and "You Fucked Up My Life," (to the tune of "You Light Up My Life.")

Anyway, she's back at Rose's for guest appearances now, and last night she was in for Terri White, along with the always-wonderful Michael Isaacs, Kelly Howe, and Joe Ardizzone. The crowd was pumped. Michael called me up, and I tried out some new Gay Pride material I'm getting ready for the Hal Sparks shows. It was warmly received. Then I launched into my song (in far greater voice than last week, Thank God), and when I got to the bridge, I went into my Long Island waitress routine. And everything just clicked.

It's still a mystery to me why some crowds make me feel like a leper while others make me feel invincible, but when the latter happens, it doesn't even seem like I'm trying to be funny -- the funny just comes out of me. (Hey, Luke Thomas, there's another moronic line we wannabe comics tell ourselves that you can add to your list!)

I returned to my seat triumphant and was slapped on the back by several admiring lesbians. That's what it's all about, kids.

Come see me tonight at Don't Tell Mama for the 11 p.m. Poole Party!!