Sunday, February 26, 2006

This Little Piggy

First of all, I'm blond again.

Two reasons:

1) I turned 35 on Thursday, and I figured if I'm going to be an old queen, I might as well be a BIG old queen.

2) A week from today I leave for a one-week Atlantis Gay Cruise through the Caribbean, and I figured, when in Sodom...

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

"Wait, Adam -- didn't you once perform on an Atlantis Gay Cruise?"

Why, Constant Reader: What a good memory you have. Actually, I performed at one of Atlantis's land resorts in Cancún last May. But I've never been on a cruise before.

"So, Adam, did they hire you to perform again? Is that why you're going?"

Oh, Constant Reader, you flatter me. But if you'll remember, I bombed beyond reason when I did the
Cancún gig. I actually did ask the Atlantis folks if they'd hire me for this cruise, and the answer was, "We'd consider it, but we'd want to see another tape first." (Translation: "No.")

"But, Adam, won't it be a little weird paying to go on a vacation with a cruise line that paid you to perform the last time? Especially since some of same the people you performed with in
Cancún will be working the cruise? Won't you feel like a loser? A big, untalented, peaked-before-you-ever-got-started, aging, fake-haired..."

Fuck you, Constant Reader! Get off my ass! I haven't had a real vacation in five years, and I deserve one.


I celebrated my birthday Thursday night with a dozen or so friends at my favorite Chinese place, Grand Sichuan on 9th Avenue. Despite the shabby ambiance and incredibly hostile service, we enjoyed the sumptuous food along with copious amounts of beer and wine, all of which came to a grand total of $20 per person -- including tip. Try to beat that anywhere in NYC.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Q: How Many Queens Does it Take to Roll a Moo Shu Pancake?
A: 11. One to Roll it, And 10 to Criticize His Technique.

Afterwards we headed back to my apartment for some heavy drinking and to continue an argument about Miss Piggy that had begun on New Year's Eve. We had been playing "Celebrity," which is a faggy party game in which you draw the names of famous people and try to describe them to your partner. It's sort of like "$25 Thousand Pyramid" crossed with "Password."

Anyway, the rule is, when giving clues, you can't say any part of the person's name. So we're playing the game on New Year's Eve, and my friend Ray from Costa Rica pulls out "Miss Piggy." Here's the clue he gives his partner:

"OK, it is a muppet. And her name is Miss..."

His partner immediately shouts out, "Piggy!"

Of course, I refused to give them the point. Everyone knows that "Miss" is part of Miss Piggy's name.

But Ray was adamant: "No! Her name is 'Piggy!'" 'Miss' is just a title, like 'Mr.' or 'Dr.!'"

I pointed out that none of the other muppets have such titles. It's not "Mr. Kermit the Frog," or "Messrs. Statler and Waldorf," but somehow Ray felt that only bolstered his argument.

"Exactly!," he said. "So if it's just 'Kermit,' it must also be just 'Piggy!'

Then someone wondered if Kermit would ever call her simply, "Pig." My friend Bill said yes, but only when he's talking dirty to her in bed: "Yeah, you like that, don't you, Pig?"

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Ray, With His Boyfriend Charles MISS Piggy

Needless to say, the argument remains unresolved.

Some more photos from birthday night:

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
George and Marcos

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Jeff, Seth and a Pre-Blond Me

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
On Your Marks... Get Set...

Special thanks to:

All the boys for coming to my celebration, and for the X-rated cards and gifts.

My hairy sister, Anna, for lunch, and for the new flatware. LOVE IT!

My conservative sister, Laura, for the cologne.

My coworker, Adrienne, for the champagne and the cake.

All my Soapbox friends who left birthday greetings on my last blog.

My Jersey-Boy Fans, Beachy, Cookie and Kristopher.

And finally, my parents -- who couldn't celebrate with me because they're on six-week sojourn through Australia, but who did send me a postcard with an Aborigine on it, along with the message: "Dearest Ad: This guy is the Aborigines' most famous stand-up comic (just kidding!).

You can see where I got my sense of humor -- or lack thereof.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

You Say It's My Birthday...

Today I am 35. I feel OK about it, although it seems kind of impossible: Some of the parents on "American Idol" this season are younger than I, for God's sake.

It's only a number, but it's also an important signpost for me. Ever since I graduated college, I've been setting goals for myself for every successive birthday divisible by five. (I'm a bit OCD that way.) By the time I turned 25, I was to have gotten either a master's degree or a "real" job. I achieved both. By the time I turned 30, I wanted either to own my own home or be involved in a long-term relationship. Again, double-bingo. (Although the "long-term relationship" went kaput after four years. Thank God the home still stands).

So what were my goals for 35? Just one: To appear on television as a comedian. I'm not saying I expected my own HBO special by now; I just wanted to have had my face and my words televised in some capacity -- even if just in a 15-second clip on a VH-1 show, for instance.

An unrealistic goal, perhaps, given that I only began doing standup at 32. But an unrealized goal, nonetheless.

This doesn't feel like a failure so much as a warning: Either I need to get my ass in gear and redouble my efforts
comedy-wise , or I need to reevaluate whether stand-up is really what I want to be doing. It may very well not be. In any case, I'll still be 35 for the next 12 months. Are you listening, TV folks? My balls are in your court.

On the up side, after a (too) long absence, I'll be heading back to Carolines to perform in Brian Kennedy's "New Class Clowns" on April 25. Sweet -- I miss that place. Also, I may be headed to Asbury Park this summer for a big gig at the Paramount Theatre. Details to come.

And my performance at last Sunday's Therapy show was at least better than it has been of late, if not particularly spectacular. One added bonus for me was the presence of eight (!) girls with whom I attended Summit High School. And they weren't just any eight girls, but those popular cheerleader-type bitches who ruled the school, including Liz Gaynor, Liz Schwarz, Stephanie Levin, Allison Reilly, Rosemary Balchunas and Molly Calvert.

They came to see me perform, and to celebrate the impending nuptials of Liz Schwarz, who's marrying a hot doctor in Costa Rica next month. (Lucky bitch.) Anyway, they laughed their asses off throughout my set, for which I am eternally grateful. We also had a great time after the show reminiscing about the old days. It was surreal for me, though. I've known some of these girls since I was six years old, but I haven't seen or spoken to most of them in nearly a decade. They all look fabulous.

As for the other performers Sunday night, Michelle Buteau, Neal "Colt 40-" Feinberg and the Glamazons, they were all wonderful. Michelle, especially, killed. My good friend Dean Kurth took photos throughout the evening but ran out of memory before the show ended. "No problem," I said, taking the camera from him and deleting some less-than-stellar shots. "Now you have room to take more."

Unfortunately, in my frantic, semi-drunken state, the photos I deleted were mostly of Michelle, Neal and the Glams. Yet I managed to save every photo of myself. Talk about pathological narcissism.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Look! It's Me... in a Suit!
The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Still Me... Still in a Suit.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Larger Still... Same Suit... With Added Faggy Hand Motion.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Not Me, at Last! It's the Glamazons, Rockin' the House With Their Bad Selves!

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Truly Booty-Licious

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The Buteau-Full Michelle Buteau

And now, some random observations on this, my 35th birthday:

¤ On every episode of "Project Runway," Heidi Klum says: "Models, this is also a competition for you as well." Someone should tell her that "also" and "as well" mean the same thing.

'I No Speak Da English Too Good'

¤ That 16-year-old girl Paris on "American Idol" looks like Gary Coleman in drag. I'm sorry; that's just the way it is.
'Whatchoo Talkin' About, Willis?'

¤ Speaking of which, Tuesday night, I was waiting for my friend George to come over and join me in watching "American Idol." About 10 minutes before I expected him to arrive, my buzzer went off. Assuming it was him, and for no particular reason, I spoke into the intercom in a totally offensive, stereotypical Chinese accent. "Ohhhhhhh! You so earrrrr-reeeeeeeee!" There was silence, so I repeated it, but even more exaggerated this time: "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh! You sooooooooo earrrrrrrrrr-reeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Another pause, and then I hear a voice go: "Uh, Delivery? Chinese food?" It turns out the recipient of my hilarious Charlie Chan routine was an actual Chinese delivery man. Classy.

¤ A new study out of the Netherlands finds gay men with large penises enjoy higher levels of confidence and self esteem. Apparently, gay men with small penises become stand-up comics.

¤ Finally, a very happy shared birthday to my beloved stage mother, Ms. Susan, of Raleigh, NC, without whom I might never have become such a flaming theater queen. I love you, Baby!


Monday, February 13, 2006

The Show That Wasn't

I'm completely addicted to Kathy Griffin's "Life on the D-List" on Bravo. I've always enjoyed Griffin's stand-up, and the show fascinates me because of her willingness to appear vulnerable (and, at times, pathetic) on camera, while still maintaining a certain integrity -- unlike less talented trainwrecks such as Anna Nicole Smith or Danny Bonaduce, who end up looking merely pathetic.

The show is often very funny, but it can also be very sad, particularly when Griffin exhibits the pathological insecurity and neediness that virtually all comedians share. She throws a charity event at her home and obsesses over whether big stars will attend. She works out with a trainer and then stuffs herself with junk food. She mocks her putative D-List status but is clearly pained when only 10 people show up to buy her DVD at a New York City store signing. (And why her management would choose the Manhattan Mall in Herald Square for such an event is a mystery for the ages. Talk about the wrong demographic!)

But saddest of all is watching the interaction between Griffin and her sad, bloated sac of a husband, Matt. "I love him so much he may have to get a restraining order against me," she quips in the episode I watched tonight. But the dramatic irony is, the two filed for divorce shortly after the first season wrapped. A recent article on claims: "[T]he couple is apparently in the process of reconciling and Matt is expected to be part of the new season."

Whether that's true or not, I'm dubious about their chances of long-term success. Later on tonight's episode, Griffin makes an appearance on "The Tonight Show" to promote her DVD. She does a bit where she holds up photos of herself alongside celebrities. Apparently -- we're never shown the clip -- when she holds up a side-by-side of her and Carmen Electra, Leno jokes that it looks like a before-and-after photo. He also makes a remark about how Carmen looks like the hot girl in the bar you want to hook up with, and Kathy looks like her ugly friend. Griffin, deeply wounded, proceeds to cry on camera. (Did anyone actually see this when it happened? I can't believe there wasn't more of a buzz.)

First of all, I'm shocked that Leno woke up from his coma long enough to make an actual joke at one of his guest's expense (and a pretty funny one at that). But the most telling thing is husband Matt's reaction later, in the limo, as Griffin is sobbing over her public humiliation. "I'm not the ugly girl in the bar!," she wails.

There's a long pause.

"You're very pretty," says Matt, turning away from her.

Now, I'm no straight guy, so maybe I shouldn't be giving advice on how to deal with your hysterical wife after Jay Leno has just called her ugly in front of millions of people. But I think I might -- might -- put my arms around her, look her in the eyes, and say something along the lines of, "Honey, you're the most beautiful woman in the world. And that fat, skunk-haired, elbow-chinned asshole doesn't know what he's talking about."

Just my take.

Speaking of needy, neurotic comics, I had a typically uneven weekend. Friday night I met my old friend Henry and his hot boyfriend, Doug, at Rose's Turn. The crowd was small but terrific. As I stood up there, singing my song, doing my bits, tossing off ad-libs, I wondered to myself: "What am I doing differently here than I do at Therapy? How am I holding the mic? Am I making more or less eye contact? How did I get them to pay attention immediately?" The only thing I could come up with is, I approach the mic at Rose's with far more confidence. I expect to do well, and I do.

Also, I think the singing helps. I've never sung at any other venue -- it's never occurred to me to do so -- but maybe it's something I should consider. While I'm not the world's greatest singer, I can carry a tune, and the music is definitely a means of connecting emotionally with the audience. After that, they're watching and listening.

Unfortunately, I can't play any instruments, so without the great Michael Isaacs to accompany me, I'm sort of limited.

Left Rose's and headed over to "g" bar for a drink, where I ran into my friend Mark. Mark is insistent that I mention him on my blog. So there; consider yourself mentioned.

Saturday night I tended bar at a private party in the Village, aided by my friend Amy Slotnick. In spite of the snow, the party was well attended, and we worked our tails off. By the time we left,
it was truly blizzarding.

Woke up Sunday morning and checked my voicemail. My headliner for the Therapy show that night was canceling due to the snow. Checked my email. My feature was stuck in San Francisco and was canceling due to the snow. At 6 p.m., my final remaining performer called; she was canceling due to the snow.

Do I understand why they canceled? Yes. Would I ever -- EVER -- not show up to a gig after I had twice confirmed my appearance if there were any possible way I could get there? I would not. But that's the way it goes.

I worked the phones all day trying to find replacements, but when I could only confirm one person, I threw in the towel.

Therapy's manager was incredibly understanding about it. But when I called him again at 9:30, curious to find out if anyone had ventured out on such a wintry night, he informed me that every table was filled. Somehow, that felt worse than bombing.

And now, a few photos from the aftermath of the Blizzard of '06:

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The View From my Living Room Window

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The Courtyard Out Back

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Across From my Building, 47th St. and 10th Ave.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Further West on 47th St.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
9th Ave. at 50th St.


Wednesday, February 8, 2006

That Giant Sucking Sound

So I don't know what's going on, but for the last two weeks in a row my Therapy shows have sucked beyond belief. Or, more accurately, I have sucked; the other performers have been fine, and in some cases, brilliant. Only I, the MC, have stood up there flailing about, sweating like a drag queen at a NASCAR race, laying egg after egg while the crowd stares at me (or, as is more often the case, ignores me) while nary a laugh escapes their lips.

There are any number of reasons I can come up with to rationalize my poor performance:

1) I'm the MC; it's my job to eat the awkward first 10 minutes.

2) The crowd at Therapy, as at any gay bar, are toughest on gay male performers, especially when we're neither obese nor in drag.

3) They've seen me enough times by now that they've lost interest.

4) I'm doing the wrong material.

5) I suck and have no talent.

All valid possibilities. Except. Here's the thing:

1) Yes, it's always toughest on the MC, but I watch other MCs all the time, and, with the exception of some bringer shows I've done, they don't bomb as hideously as I've done at my shows lately.

2) Yes, gay guys are horrible to other gay guys, but not every gay guy bombs at Therapy. Some, like Bob Smith and Danny McWilliams, have killed there.

3) Maybe they are tired of me, but it's not like we're getting the exact same audience week after week. I see at least 50% new faces in the crowd at each show. (And for what it's worth, we're packing them in consistently.)

4) Perhaps I'm doing the wrong material, but frankly, I'm running out of choices! I do my "A" stuff and they sneer. I do topical, pop-culture stuff and they yawn. I do crowd work and they tune out. WHAT THE FUCK DO THEY WANT FROM ME?!

5) It could be that I suck and have no talent, but then how come I do well everywhere else? How could I do 30 solid minutes at some piss-ant hotel in the Catskills where nobody's ever heard of me but I can't do 10 minutes at my own show? And why have there been some weeks when the crowd at Therapy seems to love me, and then other weeks like the last two when they regard me as a steaming pile of dog poo
on the sidewalk into which they've accidentally stepped?

(In Carrie Bradshaw voice:) I suddenly have to wonder: When it comes to my comedy career, is the joke on me?

Take this past Sunday night: I thought I'd revive my "Brokeback Mountain" stuff one last time since the movie had just been nominated for eight Oscars. Yes, it's hack at this point, but that's part of the bit -- how hack it is to joke about the movie. I strode to the stage dressed in gay cowboy gear as the movie's theme song played. The crowd seemed to respond to this. Then, I set up one of the jokes: "Now, I have to be honest, I didn't like the movie that much..." And before I could get the words out, they started to boo. And that was it. I was done. They had voted me off the island. And I never got them back.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
'Please laugh... somebody... anybody!'

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
'Maybe if I close my eyes, they'll all disappear'

It didn't help me that Brian Barry was the opener. I love Brian; he's a friend of mine and a natural at comedy, even though he just started last year and has only been up a handful of times. But every time Brian performs at Therapy, his friends show up in droves and give their attention to him and him alone. All through my set they chatted loudly to one another, talked on their cell phones, sent text messages and generally acted like 8th graders (which some of them appeared to be). Then, when I introduced Brian, they exploded as if Madonna had just walked on-stage.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Brian greets his adoring fans.

Vidur Kapur went up next. I first met Vidur when we both performed at the Gay and Lesbian Business Expo at the Javits Center. He's a terrific comic -- someone who's been on TV and headlines around the country and whatnot. And the crowd was even shittier to him than they were to me, if that's possible. At one point he was actually reduced to yelling, "Listen! Listen to me! You have to listen!"

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
'Fuck Adam Sank for putting me up in this shithole!'

I went up and did one final attempt at a bit -- telling a story about a movie audition I went on a few weeks ago during which the director kept wanting me to play it gayer. This actually got some scattered chuckles, which soon dissipated. "Are you ready for your headliner?!," I asked in my big bogus MC voice. "I'm ready to go home and put a bullet in my head!" This actually got my biggest laugh of the night. Figures.

Finally I brought up Lisa Landry. And here's the thing: From the moment she took the stage, the crowd -- even Brian Barry's friends -- sat up in their chairs. They stopped sending text messages. They listened to every word she said. And they loved... every... word. Lisa killed, just as I've seen her do so many times before.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The Landry Lady commands respect, at last.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Mugging after the show.

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Adam takes his aggression out on Brian Barry.

I don't know what the moral to this story is. All I know is, I want to be the kind of comic that Lisa Landry is: Someone who can stand up every time in front of a rude, stupid, loud, unruly crowd and command their attention. At the very least, I don't want to be the kind of comic who has to fear MCing his own show.

Will I ever get there? I honestly don't know at this point. But it sure sucks waiting around to find out.


Monday, February 6, 2006

I'm "Out in Jersey!"

In December I was interviewed by "Out in Jersey" magazine, a free bi-monthly (and bisexual) periodical. At long last, I picked up the February-March issue featuring my interview today. All in all, I'm happy with it, although I don't recall saying "fuck" quite so much. Also, I don't know what the hell I was talking about in my analysis of comedy over the decades. It also may be the world's first print interview that contains vocal impressions.

In any case, here's the interview. (Apologies for the poor-quality scan; no online version exists.)

P.S. I just spent over 90 minutes trying to get this on the screen. I realize it's basically unreadable, but I give up.