Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Depression

I can't account for it, but somehow in the last two weeks I have lost all my creative abilities. Even that last sentence took me about five minutes to construct, and it's hardly award-winning.

I don't feel depressed. I'm eating and sleeping just fine. I'm even managing to get to the gym most afternoons. But the idea of coming up with a joke, writing a blog entry or even emailing a friend right now is beyond me. It's like I've had a lobotomy. (And speaking of lobotomies, The Times had a fascinating piece about them on the Arts page today.)

All this would be well and good if I didn't have to MC three shows in the next 11 days. I honestly feel like I could very well get on stage and say, "Hi, my name is Adam Sank. Welcome to the show. Now please welcome our first performer..." (And can my fellow comics imagine how pissed you'd be if an MC did that to you?)

When this creative rut has happened in the past, I usually just wait it out. I have learned that being creative isn't something I can force. Either I have something to say, or I don't. But at the moment I'm feeling like, What if I NEVER snap out of this? What if I've already written every good joke I'll ever write? What if I've peaked before I ever made it? And what if the Democrats don't win back the White House in '08? (This last concern actually never goes away.)

Robin Fox wrote a blog entry a couple weeks ago in which she said she was sick and tired of her own material. That is exactly how I feel. About my material, I mean, not hers. If I have to listen to my coming-out-to-my-parents story one more time on stage I am going to have a seizure.

And yet... and yet... two years and four months into this adventure, the best bits I have are the ones I wrote in the first eight weeks after I started. And it's not from lack of writing new material since then, and it's not from lack of trying out that new material in front of crowds. The fact is, I just can't get back to that place I once was, where the stuff was just pouring out of me.

So here I sit, working my hum-drum administrative day job every day and watching endless hours of television at night, waiting for inspiration to strike.

And folks, that's not right. I'm like a crazy person.

P.S. Some of you have inquired privately whether I ever heard from the comic/booker who offered me a spot in a pro show in Jersey and then vanished. I haven't.

Friday, November 25, 2005

A Very Flakey Thanksgiving

The title of this blog entry does not refer to my own family's Thanksgiving celebration, which was quite lovely, but to the fact that in the past two weeks, I have been booked for two gigs -- about which I was really excited -- which ended up not happening,

In the first instance, a well-known and successful NYC comic/booker phoned two weeks ago and asked if I wanted to take part in a professional show at a night club in New Jersey this coming Saturday, 11/26. I was thrilled; it's not that often I get asked to perform in pro shows, and my entire extended family lives 15 miles from this particular night club, so they were planning en masse to come see me, along with a number of family friends who were visiting for Thanksgiving.

Comic/Booker told me she didn't have the details yet, in terms of show time, transportation, etc. but would get back to me.

She never did.

I've since emailed her and left her a voice mail on her cell phone, essentially pleading with her to let me know if this was still happening... and nothing. Silence. Crickets.

Meanwhile, faced with the fifth frantic email from my mother, who was trying to make plans for everyone to come see the show, I finally called the venue Tuesday night. They had no idea what I was talking about. They told me they had no comedy show planned for Saturday night.

So I think it's safe to assume the show's not happening.

In the second instance, I was asked last week to M.C. a show by someone who took my information and said she'd contact me the next day.

She never did.

These are hardly new occurrences for me; they are only the most recent. If I had a nickel for every time I've been falsely promised a gig, a date, a favor, or the slightest consideration by somebody in this business... well, I'd have at least three dollars,

Here's what I don't understand: WHY ARE PEOPLE SO GODDAMNED FLAKEY? I know we're all very busy people. Most of us, myself included, have to juggle full-time jobs along with our showbiz pursuits. But it takes less than 30 seconds to fire off an email or leave a voice mail saying, "Listen, I'm sorry, the gig's not happening," or whatever. It's not a Herculean task to follow through. It's just common decency.

For months now, I've been booking people for my show at Therapy. And as any of you who have performed for me know, if I say you're booked, you're booked. If I say I'll email you, I'll email you. Conversely, if I make a commitment to perform in somebody else's show, even if I'm just one of among many performers and I'm only doing five minutes, you can count on me to be there.

Isn't it enough that we work for essentially nothing, and have to suffer
the whole "bringer/barker" scam for months or years and get absolutely no respect and are repeatedly lied to about "industry showcases" and "comedy competitions" and "oh, there's going to be people from Comedy Central in the audience tonight!" and bullshit seminars designed solely to drain us of what little funds we've managed to scrape together? No, we also have to deal with bookers and club managers who ask us to nail down a date, forgoing any other gigs or personal plans that may have come our way that night, only to vanish into thin air, never to be heard from again.

And the worst part is, we can't call these people after the fact and go, "Hey, you fucker! What happened?," because, of course, we can't burn any bridges: we might need these people sometime in the future.

And people say, "Why are comics such bitter, angry people? It must be because they all had really fucked-up childhoods." Well, you now what? We did all have really fucked-up childhoods, but that's not what makes us bitter; that's what makes us funny.

What makes us bitter is that every time we advance one inch in this excruciatingly difficult business, someone throws a big steaming hunk of feces at our face for absolutely no reason.

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Last-Minute Booking

It turns out I'll be MC-ing the 9pm show at the Village Lantern tonight! Come on down -- great space, great show, no cover charge.

Last night, I worked at a truly unusual event at the Sage Theater near Times Square. Audrey Amey, a very funny and talented comic, actress and voiceover artist, threw herself a birthday party-show/Hurricane Katrina relief benefit and invited a number of comics and improv groups to perform with here.

We all had a blast. I went up second and had a terrific set in front of an easily-amused and enthusiastic crowd. (They especially liked my ad-lib about feeling like I was in a gay production of "Waiting for Godot." See, we were on this huge, minimalist, black-box stage with this little tiny disco ball hanging overhead and... well, you had to be there.)

Then, later, when "Fickle," an improv group from the Upright Citizens Brigade took the stage, they used part of my coming-out-to-my-parents bit in one of their improvs. Sweet!

After the show, the members of Fickle approached me and asked me if I wanted to host their show at the Access Theater on Dec. 9. Hell, yes! Nothing better than going to a gig and getting booked for another gig.

Reminder to anyone who may be thinking about coming to the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour this Sunday night: Don't. It's not happening. Instead, you'll find a giant lesbian party. (That is, a giant party for lesbians... not a party for giant lesbians. Although that may very well be the case...)

I'm not there the following Sunday, either. But save this date: Sunday, Dec. 4. That's when headliner Bob Smith joins me, along with Tara Clancy and Robert H. Keller. It's going to be phat.

OK, even I'm gagging on my self-promotion at this point. Later.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Miss Celie, Carpet-Muncher

More shameless promotion: As Jason Dinant mentioned on his blog, The Laugh Corner, a new comedy site, launched today. On it you'll find an audio interview with moi. You get to it by going to the site, clicking on "Comics," then on my head shot, then scrolling down and selecting your operating system (either Mac or PC), then clicking on the little "play" icon.

WARNING: Through no fault of Jason's, nothing remotely funny comes out of my mouth, and I sound like a dying frog. But there are two rather lovely reviews of my standup, courtesy of Jason and Alyssa Lee. You'll find these by clicking on "Reviews."

Speaking of reviews, here are a couple of mine:

Run... don't walk... to "Walk the Line," the new Johnny Cash biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, a free screening of which I went to with my friend Amy Slotnick on Monday. Disclaimer: I hate country music and had absolutely no familiarity with or interest in the careers of either Johnny or June Carter Cash prior to seeing the film. Didn't matter; I was riveted. Phoenix and Witherspoon, who do all their own singing, deliver two of the best performances I've ever seen on film. The movie is over two hours long, and I didn't want it to end (and this despite the fact that the AMC 42nd Street theater in which I watched it was overheated to the point that my skin was melting off my body). I left wanting to buy
not only the soundtrack, but also Cash's original recordings. And also wanting to shower.


'Could I BE Any Hotter?'

Less successful is the new Broadway musical, "The Color Purple" (or, as it's officially called, "Oprah Winfrey Present's: The Color Purple"), which I saw in previews Tuesday night with my friend Isaac Vaughan. It's good, but not great, and that's disappointing because I loved the book and the Spielberg film. For one thing, it's too damn long -- 2 hours and 40 minutes! -- and the music is mostly forgettable. Also, and I never thought these words would come from me: They need to cut the gay stuff out.

Yes, we all know Celie has a special bond with Shug Avery, and we all remember the kissing scene from the movie, which Spielberg handled with care and taste. But do we really need to see Celie washing Shug's hoo-hoo in the middle of a Broadway stage while singing about the tingles running up and down her spine? And then later, when Shug contemplates an affair with a 19-year-old boy, Celie gets all psycho-stalker on her a la Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Single White Female." I don't think I need to point out that "The Color Purple" shouldn't have ANYTHING in common with "Single White Female."


'I'm secretly reading "Juggs" Magazine'

Bottom line, given the context of the show, the lesbianism made me uncomfortable. And if it made me uncomfortable, you better believe it's going to make "Purple's" target audience uncomfortable. Then again, lesbians and straight men may come in droves (so to speak).

Next on my wish list is Sarah Silverman's new movie, "Jesus is Magic." There was a very nice profile of Ms. Silverman in "Entertainment Weekly" last week, one paragraph of which made me laugh out loud:

Silverman claims she first realized she was funny when she was 3. ''My nana came over, who I loved sooo much. I was coloring in the living room and she came in and said 'Sarah, I made your favorite brownies!' And I go, 'Shove 'em up your ass.''' All of Silverman's relatives found this hilarious. It's since become a family classic, retold during the holidays.

Now THAT'S a comedian.

COME SEE ME TONIGHT AT AUDREY AMEY'S "JUST 'CAUSE- A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION OF LIFE AND LAUGHTER
," A HURRICANE KATRINA BENEFIT AT THE SAGE THEATER, 711 7TH AVENUE, 7PM!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Best Reality TV EVER

So it turns out I was right the first time: I AM performing this Saturday night at the Gay and Lesbian Comedy Fest at Don't Tell Mama. Apologies for any confusion. (I know: This just throws your weekend plans into turmoil!) I've attached the flyer to the end of this blog entry. Please come if you can -- it's always a good time.

So last night I watched the conclusion of Fox's "Trading Spouses" episode, in which am obese, psychotic, Christian fanatic from Louisiana trades places with a sweet, new-age, mom with really bad hair from Massachusetts.

All I can say is, Wow. If you missed it, you really must watch it if and when it gets rerun.

The Christian, Marguerite Perrin, is like something out of a horror movie. Imagine Piper Laurie in "Carrie" crossed with Roseanne.

From the moment she arrives at her new family's home, she's out of her mind. She thinks the noisy dryer is possessed by Satan, which leads to her vomiting all over the garden. She sees a giant star on the family's barn and practically faints.

But the real trouble begins when John, the new-age, astrologist husband invites her to appear on his local radio talk show. It's a love-lines type show, and at first Marguerite seems to enjoy being the co-host. But then John welcomes a psychic (who also happens to be the gayest twink to ever live) named Tristan Rimbaud on the show. At the first mention of the word "psychic," Marguerite actually gags. "I rebuke this in the name of the Lord," she says, storming out of the radio studio.

It's downhill from there.

Meanwhile, Jeanne, the new age Mom, is terrorized by Marguerite's Louisiana friends, who grill her about her religious beliefs (or lack thereof). One particularly nasty bitch mocks every one of Jeanne's answers. ("Oh, we're all equal?", she says in response to Jeanne's feeble explanation of Unitarianism. "So like, rapists, terrorists, they're just like us?")

But despite their best efforts, Marguerite's kids seem to like Jeanne. And it's hard not to, really. She's very sweet, in a pathetic, stray-dog sort of way.

Jeanne's kids, on the other hand, are understandably terrified of Marguerite, especially after her vomiting attack. They pretty much steer clear of her for the entire week.

The finale is the real payoff. Marguerite returns to her family in Louisiana and LOSES... HER... SHIT. From the moment she walks in the door, she is screaming at the top of her lungs about the "evil," "dark-sided," "Satanic" things she has had to endure. Her family members are petrified, and they try to no avail to calm her down. She rips up the letter Jeanne has written -- both mothers are required to write letters in which they explain how they've allocated $50 thousand for the each other's families -- screaming that it's "tainted!"

She then attacks the Fox camera crew, saying: "Get the fuck out of my house, in Jesus's name, I pray." No writer could ever come up with a line like that. It's too fantastic.

You really have to see it to understand the magnitude of this woman's meltdown. The show's message boards have been flooded since last night. I can't wait for a follow-up.

In Jesus's name, I say:







Don't Miss This Weekend's

GAY & LESBIAN COMEDY FEST!


Saturday, November 12th at 11:00pm



"Hysterical!" - Time Out New York


"Lots of laughs, lots of music

and a lot of fun!" - Cabaret Hotline


"A Homo Hoot that should appeal to everyone regardless of their sexuality" - Back Stage


"Hilarious!" - HX Magazine


"Mega-Fun!" - The New York Blade News



Starring:

Rob Driemeyer from Stand-Up New York!
Erin Foley from Comedy Central's Premium Blend!

Mina Hartong from Carolines On Broadway!

David Hodorowski from Comic Strip Live!

Brad Loekle from The Starlite Lounge!
Ted McElroy from Fire Island's Ice Palace!
Danny McWilliams from Funny Gay Males!
Sidney Myer Award Winning Musical Comedian!

Adam Sank Opening Act for Hal Sparks!


Hosted by MICHAEL BRILL!
from Carolines On Broadway, Comic Strip LIVE,

& Gotham Comedy Club!


Don't Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St.,

$10 cover, 2 drink min., 212-757-0788

Monday, November 7, 2005

Fairy Happy Bar Mitzvah

Last night's Electro Shock Therapy Hour was like my very own "Truman Show." To my right was Rebecca Landwehr, a childhood friend I hadn't seen in ten years who now lives in Denver, and her father, Jim. And directly in front of me were Weiman Seid and Rachel Zuckerman Tigay, two former coworkers from my Miramax Films day. Miramax was my first job in New York, back in 1995. We were all in our early 20s at the time. Now Weiman has his own publicity company, Rachel is a married mother of three, and I... well, I host a semi-weekly comedy show at a gay bar and watch lots of reruns of "Friends."

But the point is, it was extremely weird and very cool having these colorful characters from my past in the audience. And fortunately for me, I did OK. Not an A + night for me, but a solid B. And thankfully, the wonderful performances of Randi Kaplan, Nanci Richards and Susan Alexander brought the show up to the A level.

I am happy to report that my crowd work seems to be improving. And I feel a lot less terrified performing in front of gay crowds than I used to. Now if I could only do something about the profuse sweating...


Me and Rebecca on Prom Night, 1989

Speaking of a gay crowd, I am unhappy to report that due to a miscommunication, I actually missed a spot for which I was booked this past Saturday night -- a first. I was supposed to appear in Ron Poole's Gay & Lesbian Comedy Fest at Don't Tell Mama, but I was under the impression the show was NEXT Saturday night -- Nov. 13. Drat. It was a great lineup too, including Bob Smith, the first openly gay comic to appear on "The Tonight Show" and have his own HBO special.

The good news is, I can now publicly announce that on Sunday, Dec. 4, the very same Bob Smith will be my special guest at Therapy. He is one of my comedy idols, and I am very excited to play host to him. I urge you all to save the date.

In other news, my root canal is complete. The actual procedure lasted... wait for it... two and half hours. The scariest part was when I first walked into the little room and saw what looked like a hundred tiny, razor-sharp drill bits lined up in an open tool box. I was immediately reminded of that scene from "Dead Ringers" when those terrifying gynecological instruments are revealed.


Actually, the things in my dentist's office were a lot scarier looking.


Surely, I thought to myself, those can't be intended for the roots of my mouth. But they were; and don't call me "Shirley." It turns out a root canal procedure basically consists of the dentist's screwing and unscrewing those drill bits, one by one, into the four roots of one's tooth, until the underlying nerves are completely destroyed. For two and a half hours. Without stopping.

I will say my dentist was a good guy in that he shot me full of so much Novocain beforehand he may as well have been using a rust pair of scissors. (I would have preferred gas... or perhaps heroin... but you can't have everything.)

Anyway, the temporary crown is back in place now, and everything feels OK except my gums, which are still rather inflamed. I go back in two weeks for the permanent crown. And then, God willing, it's over.

I was informed today by my dear friend Julie Schoenberg Jacobs that I am mentioned in the new book, "Bar Mitzvah Disco: The Music May Have Stopped, But The Party's Never Over." It's a collection of essays and photos submitted by people who were Bar Mitzvahed in the 60's, 70's and 80's. One of those contributors was Scott Gimple, with whom I spent many hours of Hebrew training at Temple Sinai in Summit, NJ. In his essay, Scott recalls that at his reception, "Adam Sank got up and sang, 'Ain't Nothin' Gonna Break My Stride' with the band."

Here's what is sad: His was not the only Bar Mitzvah where I performed that song. Not by a long shot. In fact, that little ditty by one-hit-wonder Matthew Wilder was my signature number, and a fairly routine part of every gathering of the 1983-84 Bar Mitzvah circuit
in the greater Summit area. HOW ON EARTH DID ANYONE THINK I WAS STRAIGHT?

So Gimple, wherever you are today, thank you for revealing to the world the one embarrassing fact about myself that I hadn't already revealed. Love ya, man. Shalom.

Speaking of adolescent embarrassment, a Happy 16th Birthday to Comedy Soapbox's own Michael "The Lemming" Lemme.

AND BY ALL MEANS, COME TO THE ELECTRO SHOCK THERAPY COMEDY HOUR THIS COMING SUNDAY, NOV. 13 WITH SPECIAL GUESTS BRIAN BARRY, MS. WENDY HO, AND THE BRILLIANT AND BEAUTIFUL ROBIN FOX.