Friday, March 31, 2006

My First Cover

As Robin Fox mentioned on her most recent blog, she and I are on the cover of this week's "Next" magazine, along with Eddie Sarfaty, Bob Smith, Ophira Eisenberg, Danny McWilliams, Karith Foster, Brian Barry, and Mizz Wendy Ho, for the "Special April Fool's Stand-up Spotlight" issue.

You can read the article by clicking here.

But what you can't appreciate online is the fabulous photo layout; I did the best I could at scanning it:

P.S. Obviously, I spoke to the writer about the horrors of "bringer" shows... not "ringer" shows. Also, I was a senior producer at Fox, not a P.A. Also, they got the name of my Therapy show wrong. Also, Karith Foster's comedy is not an "ethnic stew."

But Hell, at least they got our names right...

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Guy With the Big Snake

No, don't worry, Mom -- this has nothing to do with sex. (And apologies to those of you who were unduly titillated by the title.)

Rather, there was a guy with an actual big snake in my apartment today. The snake in question was one of those electric snakes used to clear drain clogs -- and boy, did I have a doozy.

Longtime readers of this blog will recall that TWICE in the last two years, the pipes below my bathroom sink have sprung a leak, resulting in an enormous mess for me and ceiling damage for the apartment below (which thus resulted in hundreds of dollars in bills for me).

Well, no leak this time. Instead, for weeks now the sink been slow to drain. Every time I shaved or brushed my teeth it would practically overflow. I put off doing anything about it, of course, and by last night, the drain was completely clogged. I tried a home declogger remedy I found on the internet -- vinegar and baking soda -- and while the concoction did result in some very cool bubbles, it did nothing to clear the drain.

Then B.D., who was again visiting from Lancaster, suggested I try plunging the drain. This seemed like a great idea. It was not.

Gentle readers, never plunge your clogged drain. Within minutes, my sink -- and everything else in my bathroom -- was covered in thick, black mud. Yum! And just in time to get ready for my Therapy show, too!

(The show ended up going very well regardless... more on that later.)

So this morning, Monday, I called Rafael, the super, first thing. Rafael came up, removed the trap, took a peek into the dark muddy abyss and declared that I would need to call "the sewage guy." (At least I think that's what he said. He has a thick Puerto Rican accent, so maybe it was
"the Suez guy" or "the swish guy.") In any case, he gave me a phone number for the guy and left.

So I called the sewage guy and was told that he'll stop by "between noon and 3 p.m." Perfect: Guess I wouldn't be going into work today.

At exactly 2:59, Luis, the sewage guy arrived, big snake in hand. He shoved that giant thing into the gaping whole and then quickly yanked it out... splattering my bathroom with even more black sludge. "Damn, Bro," he said, "your pipes are for shit!"

"Um, OK," I said. "Can you, like, replace them or something?"

"No way, Bro. I ain't no plumber."

Apparently, plumbing and drain unclogging are two completely distinct specialties. Uncloggers will only unclog; they will not plumb. This strikes me as a tragically narrow vocation -- like a veterinarian who only treats lizards. I guess Luis saw my eyes starting to well up, though, because then he said, "You got a hardware store nearby, Bro'?"

I nodded vigorously, a lump forming in my throat.

"Shit, yo. Let's go. We'll get the pipe you need and I'll do it for you. But don't tell nobody." (If this were a porno, here's where the music would start going, "Bow-chik-a-bow-BOW...". But alas, Luis was speaking literally.)

While the hardware guy rang us up, Luis spotted some mini-flashlights on sale. "Damn! Those are da bomb. Yo, I could use one of those."

Recognizing this as my cue, I grabbed a flashlight and added it to my pile of drain parts. "I'll take this, too," I said. Luis's nod was barely perceptible.

Fast forward an hour. Luis is gone, my drain is clear, my rotting pipes replaced (thus sparing me another certain leak), and I am on my hands and knees scrubbing mud from the bathroom tiles. Just another glorious day in my glamorous life.

Speaking of which, last night's Therapy show was rather glorious. At the risk of jinxing myself, I feel like I've finally found my rhythm on that stage (knock morning wood). The trick, I think, is to not over-prepare. Rather, I came up with a loose set and zig-zagged around it with crowd work and ad-libs. Plus, I had about 90 minutes worth of pop culture material I had written this week for Vh-1's "Best Week Ever," 12 seconds of which ended up making air, so I sprinkled a few of those into the mix, too.

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The response was, overall, very, very nice.

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Even though it looks like nobody's paying attention, they really dug me.
Check out the guy in front of my right kneecap. I think he's going, "Woo woo woo!"

The adorable Shawn Hollenbach was my opening performer, and he performed three songs, including the hilarious ode to fag hags, "Don't Be a Cock-Block."

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J.C. Chasez, Eat your hear out!

Next to the stage was Therapy fave Audrey Amey, on the eve of her departure for South Africa. Audrey slew the dragons as always. The crowd especially enjoyed her bit about dating younger guys... and winding up in the basement of their parents' home.

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Audrey Likes 'em Young.

And what can I say about headliner Darlene Violette? Once again, she reigned supreme. My favorite joke of her set: "I joined Weight Watchers and gained three pounds. If I ever see that bitch Fergie, I'm going to kick her in the c-nt."

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Queen Darlene

Another thus another Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour is history. And speaking of making history, make sure you New Yorkers check out this Friday's issue of "Next Magazine." You should see some familiar faces on the cover.

Peace out, yo.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Bagel, The Boobs and the Bat Mitzvah


So I'm a totally delinquent blogger. Apologies to anyone who bothers to read me on a regular basis. Things around me are suddenly very busy and getting busier every day.

But here's a brief update since my last post:

Friday Night:

Chilled with Seth and friends at Seth's super-cool new condo. He's the only person I know in NYC who lives in a first-floor apartment... with a working fireplace! (Incidentally, there seems to be a bit of confusion about my relationship with Seth. Yes, he is a dear friend. Yes, we went on a cruise together. NO, WE ARE NOT ROMANTICALLY INVOLVED IN ANY WAY. I know it's a tough concept for some straight people to grasp, but not every gay guy has sex with every other gay guy he meets. We're not like rats.)

Saturday Night:

On the other hand, I did meet a very nice guy on the boat who came to visit me this weekend. Experience has taught me that the moment I name someone I'm seeing on this blog, everything falls apart. So for now, we'll just call him "B.D." (And no, it's not B.D. Wong.)

Randomly, the one person on all of Comedy Soapbox to have met B.D. in the flesh so far is Harris Bloom, alongside whom I performed at Gotham Saturday night. Six-minute guest spot, nice small crowd, then B.D. and I were out of there.

After a tasty dinner at Xing, we headed down to Rose's Turn. I wanted to try out some new cruise material -- basically the same stuff I blogged about. It was going OK, but midway through I wimped out and switched to my now-ancient Munchaba waitress routine. Of course, the crowd liked this a lot more than my new stuff, which only serves as negative reinforcement for me. Basically, I'm stuck with the same material for the rest of my life. Sigh.

Sunday Night:

Electro Shock at last! I hadn't done the show in three weeks and was nervous as hell. Not adding to my comfort level was the fact that the place was nearly empty right up until we started at 10 PM.
Then, miraculously, people started streaming in, and by 10:15 we were pretty much packed.

It was great to finally meet Amy Patrick and Josh Homer (who's definitely taller in real life than he appears in his head shot). After kibitzing with them for a while, I took to the stage and began the show.

I'm not sure how I came across -- both Amy and Josh seemed to emphasize my congeniality over my comedic skills in their blogs -- but I felt absolutely great up there: SO much more relaxed and loose and spontaneous than I've felt in a long time. As usual, my material (90% of it brand new) didn't exactly kill. But I did a ton of crowd work, and most of it met with laughs. Plus I feel like I took a cold crowd and warmed them up for the other performers. So I did my job.

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Adam Works the People...

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...And They Seem to Like It.

First up after me was Amy Patrick who, as she mentioned on her blog, inexplicably wore a tallis.

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"Barachu et-Adonai ha-Mavorach..".

But the Bat Mitzvah girl delivered a delightful set, nonetheless. What I enjoyed most about Amy is her utter lack of pretense. She doesn't speak in "Comic-ese." She just talks.

Susan Alexander was up next, delighting the crowd by flashing her breasts and otherwise pushing the bounds of good taste -- which is always a good idea at Therapy.

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Ms. Susan Gets Down and Dirty.

And just when the crowd thought it couldn't get more outrageous, up went Shecky Beagleman. If you've never seen Shecky perform, it's sort of hard to explain what she does. As an example, one of her signature bits is known simply as "The Bagel."

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The Bagel

Shecky's a kamikaze comic. You never know what she'll do or say next. And, as is often the case with truly original performers, it's not what she says but how she says it. The crowd loved her.

In sum, a lovely "Ladies Night" at Therapy -- and one of the most enjoyable shows of which I've been a part.

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Special thanks to Josh Homer for taking these terrific photos and many others.

In other news, I went into Vh-1 this afternoon for another taping of "Best Week Ever." Will I make air this time? Will it be for longer than 3 seconds? Tune in this Friday night at 11 PM to find out!


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Flames at Sea

I'm still not fully recovered from my week at sea, but I feel I must blog or risk forgetting some of the more notable episodes.

It was, overall, a great vacation, consisting largely of long days lolling by the pool (where I nearly finished Gore Vidal's 1995 memoir, "Palimpsest," which I highly recommend) and long nights stuffing my face in the ship's dining room and going to see various entertainers.

The first of these was Charo, still going strong at 67. That's six years older than my mother, and she still has amazing tits. (Charo, that is; I'll refrain from commenting on my mother's.)

More than just a refugee of schlock 70's fare like "The Love Boat," Charo is arguably the world's greatest living Flamenco guitarist. She's also undeniably charming and, as luck would have it, the first person I laid eyes on upon boarding the ship with my friend and traveling companion, Seth Gilmore. As Seth and I ascended the gangplank, I spotted Charo chatting with Malcolm, Atlantis's cruise director and master of ceremonies, whom I had gotten to know during my all-too-brief CancĂșn stint.

"Hey, Honey!," Malcolm exclaimed, physically pulling me into his conversation.

"Hey, Malcolm," I said. And then, turning to Charo so as not to be rude, I added, "Excuse me, Charo."

"OHMIGODE!," Charo screamed, throwing her arms around me. "JOW ARE YOU, JONEY?! EET EES SO NICE TO SEE YOU!"
Seth was baffled and looked at me as if to say, "You know Charo?"

Then Charo threw her arms around Seth. "AND EET'S SO GOOD TO SEE YOU, TOO BAY-BEE!!"

Clearly, Charo greets all strangers with such enthusiasm. Incidentally, I later found out that not even Malcolm knew who I was, even when I sparred with him during an Olympic egg-toss. More on that later.

Anyway, Charo was great on-stage - - all coochi-coochi and hilarious malapropisms ("Please do not misconscrew me!", etc.). And even if her live vocals were backed by a mega-boosted audio track a la Ashley Simpson, her guitar playing was truly phenomenal, and she ended up inviting audience members to join her for a giant conga line at the finale to her show. Coochi-coochi, indeed.

Our state room, way down on the ship's second level, was small but habitable. The best part of staying there was that every time we left the room - - even if it was for a 10-minute trip to the snack bar - - the chambermaids would duck in and clean everything, change the sheets, replace all the towels, etc. Someday I hope to be rich enough to live this way all the time. It's pretty fucking great.

Speaking of the snack bar, the food on the ship was plentiful and, for the most part, delicious. Seth and I ate nearly every breakfast and dinner in the formal dining room, along with our friends David, Josh, Robert and Robert. If you weren't in the mood for formal dining, there was pizza, pasta, sushi and ice cream bars pretty much 24-7. Fortunately, I had starved myself for weeks prior to the trip so had no guilt about being a total glutton.

On the other hand, while all food was included in one's cruise package, alcohol, soda and bottled water were not - - something about which I made a big stink every time I ran into an Atlantis staffer. Yeah, I'm sure they'll want me back to perform soon.

And the cruise line saw to it that anything extra you might possibly want would cost you dearly. "Hey, let's watch 'Capote!' It's on our TV set! Oh wait - - it's $9.95? Never mind." "Oh look - - they gave us big towels for the pool. What - - it's $40 a towel if they end up anywhere but your room? We'll drip dry." Etc. Cheap Jew that I am, I was determined not to spend one extra penny on-board. At week's end, my total account had come to $84. Which is not exactly peanuts, but compare that to the $348 Seth had to pony up, and you'll appreciate my frugality.

Apropos of all this, our first excursion was to a place called CocoCay Bahamas. Don't try to find it on a map; It's a man-made island, owned by Celebrity Cruises and sponsored by Coca-Cola (hence the name). There's nothing to do on CocoCay that doesn't cost money other than to lie perfectly still on the beach, which is what we did.

But after several hours of free sunbathing, Malcolm announced it was time for Beach Olympics. Only among other sentient gay men am I considered something of an athlete, so I leapt at the opportunity. We were divided into two teams - - red and green - - and our first activity was to come up with a cheer for our team in one minute. The red team went first, and all they basically did was yell "Suck it!" and moon the crowd.

As self-appointed captain of the green team, I insisted we be far more creative both in terms of rhyme scheme and choreography. Our team easily won the challenge with the effective if highly non-grammatical:

"Hey, Ho!

Shake and Dance!

Green team makes you come your pants!"

Next up was the tug-of-war, which we also won handily. The ship's photographer snapped a shot of me in mid-heave, and since it's the best my back will ever look in a photograph, I ended up purchasing it - - for a mere $14.95.

And check out the hooters on the guy in the upper left!

Then came a challenge in which we had to take turns filling a bucket by squeezing a wet t-Shirt into it - - clearly a nod to the water-sports fetishists among us.

And finally: The egg toss. I don't like to brag, but my partner and I were truly magnificent egg-tossers. We lasted until the bitter end, beaten only by one other duo. Unfortunately, my last toss fell short, and my poor partner wound up with raw egg all over his Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt. Oh well - - better him than me.

For our efforts, the winners were rewarded with Atlantis-monogrammed t-shirts and sailor caps. This being a gay cruise, the losers received same, lest they cry like the little girls they are. What else to tell you? Oh, the parties. Every night (and most afternoons) we attended a theme dance. Among others there were:

The 70's Tea Dance:

I was later informed that I looked more early-80's than 70's.

The Caribbean Heat Party:

We actually bought sarongs in St. Croix specifically to wear to this party.
Mortified by his own heights of faggotry, Seth later stuffed his sarong under a deck chair and fled.
Sarongs? So wrong.

And the White Party:

I was not about to wear an advertisement for the cruise line on my head.
Luckily, I had packed my own sailor hat.

The DJs, particularly Warren Gluck and Wayne G, were inspiring. For those who care about such things, the two songs that stuck with me the whole week were a super-fast mix of Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" and a really beautiful remix of the theme from "Brokeback Mountain." I can't seem to find either mix on iTunes.

One afternoon, as I was quietly reading my Gore Vidal book on the upper deck, the ship's photographer came by and asked me if I would like to pose for the "Men of Atlantis" calendar. I'd never heard of such a thing, but not one to refuse free publicity, I said, "Sure."

The photographer, a slight Asian man, led me to the ship's stern, where he proceeded to rub glitter makeup all over my face and body, all the while softly cooing in my ear: "Yeah, baby. You feel good? You feel sexy? I'm gonna make you feel sexy. Ummmm. Moan for me, baby. Yeah." Needless to say, this did NOT make me feel sexy. In fact, I felt horrified. I was so afraid someone I knew would walk by and witness this hideous spectacle. I felt like Coco in that scene from "Fame" when that pervy photographer makes her take her shirt off and suck her thumb: "A vous, Coco, a vous!"

But the photographer was undeterred: "Come on, moan, baby. I want to hear you moan." I am ashamed to admit that, eager to end this ordeal as quickly as possible, I finally let out a faint, "Mm."

"OK!," he said, suddenly all business. "You're ready! Now lie down on your stomach on this deck chair! Good. Now hook your legs up under the railing! Perfect. Now arch your back! Lift your butt! Tilt your head to the left! Put your right arm forward! Left arm back! Stare directly into the sun! NOW STAY LIKE THAT!!! AND LOOK SEXY!!!"
Never in my life have I felt less sexy. And while I never got to see the finished product, I have no doubt it will look about as appealing as one of those Abu Ghraib prison photos.

Weeks before we set sail, we had been informed in the brochure that a "special headline entertainer" would be joining us for the ship's Thursday night entertainment program. "And if you find Walt Nacke," the brochure hinted, "you'll probably figure out who it is."

Suspecting an anagram, I fed "Walt Nacke" into various internet descramblers. You'd think at least one of them could have come up with "Can we talk?," but alas - - I was still ignorant of the fact that it was Joan Rivers until we were already on-board.


How was she? She was terrific - - and incredibly brave. How brave? She told an AIDS joke to an audience of 1900 gay men. And not even a mild AIDS joke, but a pretty dark one: Referring to the organization that, for two decades, has been delivering meals to people with AIDS, she said: "I hate God's Love We Deliver. You know why I hate them? Because I've been delivering meals for years. And now AIDS has become a chronic disease, and I'm sick of it. I show up at the guy's house with the meal now and he says, 'Leave it on the table. I'm on my way to the gym.' Well, I'm sick of it! You're gonna die one way or the other, even if I have to kill you!"

That's. Fucking. Brave. And she pulled it off, after an initial shocked silence. (For those of you who recall my earlier Joan encounters, no, I didn't get a chance to talk to her and beseech her once again to do my Therapy show. She was on and off the ship in the same night.)

My personal highlight of the week: When we got to St. Croix, our cell phones suddenly came to life.

It was from the talent booker at Vh-1.

They want me back, baby! Stay tuned.


Saturday, March 4, 2006

I'm Having the Best Week Ever

Yes, folks, it's true -- I just made my national TV debut on VH-1's "Best Week Ever."

But don't blink, or you'll miss it.

I went in for an hour-long taping on Tuesday but didn't know until tonight whether any of my bites would make air. (Thus, I told almost nobody -- including my immediate family.)

The show just premiered, and I was on for exactly three seconds. My one line? "The stakes are so much higher on 'Bailando Por Un Sueno.'"

Anyway, I'm not complaining. A childhood dream has come true, and with any luck, they'll have me back again.

Special thanks to my dear friends Dean Kurth and Dan Rosenblatt, without whom I would never have had this opportunity.

The show repeats tomorrow, Saturday, at 11 AM if you want to check it out.

I'm off to the Caribbean for a week... much love to all.