Sunday, April 30, 2006

Eeney, Meaney, Miney, Homo

All week I've been wanting to blog about how Kevin Meaney showed up, randomly, at my Therapy show last Sunday and wound up doing an impromptu set on stage, and all week I've been putting it off.

Now it's Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Lisa Landry is picking me up in five hours to go to Morristown, NJ and perform in a Robin Fox-hosted Hadassah benefit, at which my entire extended family will be in attendance. Then I have to rush back into the city to host my own show at 10. I have nothing prepared for either show. NOTHING. I have sort of a vague idea of how I want open at Hadassah and a few of the tried-and-true bits I want to include, but beyond that, not a clue. And it's a 20-minute set. And then I have to do my own show, at which I SUCKED last week (in front of Kevin Meaney, natch), and which I am dreading like a recurrent case of scabies.

I am so completely stressed out that I'm actually listening to Inifiniteclassical.com, billed by iTunes as "An online classical radio network that will sooth all of your senses!". I'm curious about the misspelling of "soothe," as well as the exclamation point -- which would seem to denote the antithesis of "soothing," as well as the idea that it's possible to sooth my senses of smell, taste, etc. In any case, it's not working.

But first thing's first: I currently have 59 friends on my MySpace page. (I'm a late-comer to the whole MySpace meshugas). It's been this way all week, and it's eating at me: I need one more friend to make it 60. So whoever reads this blog entry first, if you're not already one of my friends, please add yourself here and leave a comment that you're No. 60. In return, I will buy you a drink at Therapy on the Sunday night of your choosing.

So back to Meaney: I walked in and there he was, in the downstairs table area, having a drink with a friend of his from Broadway's "Hairspray." It turns out that Kevin is currently appearing in the show, playing several characters as well as understudying Edna (originally played by Harvey Fierstein).

His friend, Joe, who works as a dresser for "Hairspray," is also the boyfriend of Therapy's bouncer, Blake, who was also chatting with them. Blake was like, "Adam, this is my boyfriend, Joe, and this is Kevin Meaney." I was like, "Wha-huh?!"

I shook hands with Kevin and told him he probably wouldn't remember meeting me, years ago, when he appeared as a guest on "Fox and Friends," the Fox News morning program on which I worked as a producer. In fact, he didn't remember me. But he did remember doing the show. Specifically, he remembered making a joke on air about Michael Kennedy's deadly skiing accident, which had just happened at the time, and not being aware that Michael's brother, Douglas Kennedy, was an on-air correspondent for Fox News and obviously grieving. Kevin said he was never invited back to Fox News. I told him he was fortunate in that respect.

Anyway, of course I told Kevin we were about to begin a comedy show, and would he be interested in getting up and doing a set? He was gracious but a bit sheepish: "Let's see how it goes. I might do it."

As luck would have it, we were a very packed house that night. Moments before the show, I saw Kevin and his friend ascend the staircase. I pointed out one remaining empty table, to the left and near the front, but Kevin demurred; he said he would watch from the back.

I started the show. From moment-one, I could tell I was off my game. No rhythm. No flow. Awkward crowd work. Flop sweat.

"But, wait, Adam," Constant Reader points out. "On April 15, didn't you post a blog in which you said, quote, 'I feel like I'm on something of a roll with regard to my onstage confidence level lately.'? And didn't you also, in the same blog, write that your last Therapy show had been 'magical,' that you 'killed," and that 'a little funny-chip had been implanted' in your brain?"

Oh, Constant Reader: I would really like to throw you down a flight of stairs sometimes. Yes, I said all those things. But I also said, in the Comments section of that same blog entry, "I'm still learning, obviously, and I still have a long long way to go."


"Hey -- you there. Could you please shoot me? Thanks."


In any case, by the time I finished my opening set, Kevin Meaney had apparently changed his mind and sat down at the table on the left near the front. He seemed to be enjoying himself.

Up went Rob Driemeyer, who killed with a set that was not only witty and original, but also politically insightful -- something I never thought could work at Therapy. Rob proved me wrong. They loved him.


Driemeyer explains the difference between "Osama" and "Omarosa."

Next up was Therapy fave and bane of my existence, Brian Barry. It's official now: Brian Barry is my bad-luck charm. Every night he performs I wind up taking a dump on stage. So why do I keep booking him, you wonder? Because he's great. And the crowd loves him. And I'm a fucking martyr.

Anyway, Brian got up and did 15 minutes of the most vulgar, scatological gag-inducing material I've ever heard. Anyone see "The Aristocrats?" That stuff was Disney compared to what Brian did. I can't even repeat any of it here, for fear of permanently turning off some of my more delicate readers.

You may think it's easy to get laughs with material like that. I assure you, it's not. But Brian totally pulled it off. I thought Kevin
Meaney was going to choke on his Heineken from laughing so hard.


I wish I could explain to you what Brian's acting out here. I can't.

During Brian's set, I sauntered over to Kevin Meaney's table.

"So?," I said.

"Absolutely," he replied.

It says something about the nature of comedy that most people in the room seemed to have never heard of Kevin Meaney, despite the fact that he's been on HBO something like 300 times over the last quarter century. He actually had a rough start, and for a brief moment I thought, "Gee -- maybe Kevin and I will both bomb tonight!"

Of course, that didn't happen. Within minutes, Kevin figured out the room and gave them exactly what they wanted. He joked about how it was his 50th birthday tonight, and he was out celebrating with a strangers in a gay bar instead of at home with his wife and kid. He ended by inquiring whether anyone would like to shove a Heineken up his ass. There were no takers, but there was thunderous applause.


A pro, through and through.

Afterwards, I led everyone in a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday," and Kevin came back up to the stage to be serenaded. "Thanks," he said giving me a hug. "I'll see you tomorrow in the steam room."

What a great guy.

Lest you're wondering, "Who could follow that?," the answer is simple: Lisa Landry could. And did. And as always, she had the room in the palm of her hand in seconds.


A goddess.

The thing about Lisa is, she always makes it look effortless. Like she's not performing -- she's just hanging out with friends, talking off the cuff. It's really fun to watch.



So if you're keeping score, that's four sensational sets -- Rob's, Brian's, Kevin's and Lisa's -- and one abortion -- mine.

But for what it's worth, Tuesday night at Carolines I had to follow Darrell Hammond, Rich Vos, Bonnie McFarlane, and a host of other A-listers. The crowd, which was tiny to begin with, had been sitting for almost three hours. Two years ago, I would have gotten up there and choked. In fact, two years ago I did choke in that exact situation. But Tuesday I got up and delivered a strong set. The crowd -- what was left of them -- were loud and vocal in their appreciation.

So maybe, just maybe, I'm learning something.

COME SEE ME PERFORM WITH ROBIN FOX, LISA LANDRY AND OTHERS AT THE CALALOO CAFE IN MORRISTOWN AT 6 PM TONIGHT! I HAVE NO MATERIAL, SO IT SHOULD BE GREAT!

AND THEN SEE ME PROBABLY FALL ON MY FACE AS I HOST THE ELECTRO SHOCK THERAPY COMEDY HOUR WITH SPECIAL GUESTS SHANN CARR, JAYSON CROSS AND ROBERT KELLER! THAT'S 10 PM AT THERAPY -- DETAILS ON MY WEB SITE.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Have Dog, Will Jump

Drama in Hell's Kitchen.

I am home waiting for UPS to deliver a chest of drawers that I ordered weeks ago. I have a long and sordid history with UPS; they always show up the moment after I leave the building or just before I get home. Often times, I am convinced, they don't even bother buzzing; they just leave one of those little post-its saying, "We tried to deliver" and flee.

Taking no chances, I wrote "I AM HOME! BUZZ ME!" on a large sheet of paper and went downstairs to tape it to the front door. It was then that I noticed major police activity on the street. At least half a dozen police cars and emergency vehicles were parked outside; they had closed down the entire block.

Just then, a neighbor from the first floor ran past me. "Did you hear!," he shrieked (it's a very gay building). "There's a man on the roof next door threatening to jump!"

My first thought, I confess, was: UPS is not going to be able to deliver my chest. Then a sliver of humanity crept in, and I realized this could turn into a very tragic situation. Or a very fascinating one. Or both. I ran back upstairs, grabbed my camera, and went back down to join the mass of people that had formed outside. Almost immediately after that, cops started barking at us to clear the sidewalk and go back inside our homes.




It occurred to me that I could get a much better view of the would-be jumper from my own roof, anyway, so up I went.

Rafael, my super, was already out there watching the action unfold. "He's moved down the block now," Rafael informed me. "Look!"



There, in the distance, I could just make out a middle-aged man wearing a wife-beater and standing close to the edge of the roof of a building about 10 down from mine. Some officers were apparently talking with him, but I couldn't see them from my vantage point. Then I noticed a sleeping pit bull tied up to the fence separating my roof deck from the one next door.



"Hey, what's this dog doing here?," I asked Rafael.

"Oh, that's the guy's dog. He brought him up here before he went to the edge. The cops tied him up."

After about 15 minutes, I could no longer see the guy and was starting to worry: What if the whole thing had ended, and UPS was downstairs buzzing my empty apartment?

I ran back down the street, just in time to see an ambulance pulling away. According to a guy across the street, the cops had somehow gotten close enough to the guy to taser him and then carried him down to the ambulance.

"What about the dog," I wondered?

"The S.P.C.A. is coming to get him."

When I checked again about five minutes ago, the dog was still tied up, alone, on the roof. He looks very sweet and gentle and I was about to try petting him but then imagined myself pulling back a bloody stump. (His owner, after all, is clearly batshit, so who knows what the dog's mental state is?) I'm hoping someone comes to pick him up soon, though. He looks really bummed.

Anyway, I'm back in my apartment now. It's 1:08 P.M.

Still no UPS.

COME SEE ME HOST THE ELECTRO SHOCK THERAPY COMEDY HOUR THIS SUNDAY, APRIL 23, AT 10 P.M., WHEN MY SPECIAL GUESTS WILL BE LISA LANDRY, BRIAN BARRY, AND ROB DRIEMEYER!

THEN COME SEE ME AT BRIAN KENNEDY'S "NEW CLASS CLOWNS" AT CAROLINES THIS COMING TUESDAY, APRIL 25 AT 9:30 P.M.! DETAILS FOR BOTH ON MY WEB SITE.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Granny's Middle Finger

I feel like I'm on something of a roll with regard to my onstage confidence level lately. I swear, for most of 2006, I've been wondering what the hell had happened to me: why wasn't I funny anymore? Why wasn't my tried-and-true material working? Why couldn't I write anything new? And why do I still get zits at the age of 35?

Then about three months ago, I had a conversation with Robin Fox, my comedy mama. She passed along some advice another comic (whose name now escapes me) had given her. Basically, it was that you shouldn't try to write new material in your third year. Your focus should instead be on developing your stage persona and shaping your existing material to fit that persona.

This led to a great deal of soul searching for me: What is my persona? How would an audience member describe me? "Oh, he's the guy who..." When I couldn't come up with an answer, I panicked. Because if you think about it, that's the key to success in this business.

Judy Gold? Oh, she's the one who talks about her mother.

Kathy Griffin? She trashes celebrities.

Jim Gaffigan? He interprets the audience's interior monologue in a funny voice.

So what the hell does Adam Sank do?

I don't have an answer yet. And I don't mean to grossly oversimplify the talents of the above comics by reducing them to one-trick ponies. The point is, they know who they are, and so the crowd knows who they are -- even without necessarily recognizing them from TV.

Thus I've lately been trying to act onstage exactly as I do offstage. Whatever it is I do to make my friends and family laugh in an intimate setting, that's what I'm going to do at the mic. And at least so far, this has made a world of difference.

Last Sunday's show at Therapy was magical. That loud sound you just heard was hundreds of eyes rolling as they read that last line. That's fine -- roll your eyes. You weren't there. It was fucking magical.

(Sidebar: My sister Laura told me that when her 7-year-old daughter, Molly, began reading my interview in "Next" a couple weeks ago, she stopped and asked, 'Mom, why does he say 'fucking' in the very first line?'" I'm such a good role model.)

But back to Therapy last Sunday: I killed. I had no fear. I did mostly crowd work, and it was like a little funny-chip had been implanted in my brain. The stuff just came out -- unplanned, unscripted and unpretentious. I felt like me. It was thrilling. I actually didn't want to leave the stage to bring up the other performers -- Goddess Perlman, Mina Hartong and Bob Smith. But I did. They all killed, too.

"Oh, so it was just a good crowd," you're thinking to yourself, Constant Reader. "Adam was probably his lame old self." Well, fuck you, Constant Reader! (Sorry, Molly.) Can you not allow me one moment of happiness?

In truth, it wasn't just a good crowd; it was an insane crowd. Literally. Straight women pulling out naked breasts during the show. Gay men dropping their pants. Straight men ogling the former and cursing the latter. Drunk lesbians vomiting on the sidewalk. At one point, I thought I saw a donkey walking near the back bar. I'm talking INSANE, PEOPLE!

After the show, when I brought the performers onstage for group photos, random crowd members jumped up there with us. Phone numbers were slipped in pockets. Inappropriate touching ensued. It was like a rock concert. Not since opening for Hal Sparks have I experienced that kind of energy.

Photos, you say? Why yes, Constant Reader, here they are:


Seeking Victims in a Sea of Insanity


Goddess Perlman Makes for a Not-So-Blushing Bride.


Mina Hartong Does Her Now-Legendary "How to Dance Gay" Bit (Which KILLED).


Headliner Bob Smith Goes to the Mat.


The Blonde Chick in the Polka-Dot Dress Was the One Who Kept Taking
Her Boobs Out. They Were Real... And They Were Spectacular.


This Ashton Kutcher Lookalike is Whispering
Filthy Things in my Ear, thus Causing me to make
a Bart Simpson face
. Oh, yeah -- he lives
in Vancouver.
Just my luck.

Wednesday night I headed to my hometown of Summit, NJ for a Sank Family seder. As always, our kind of seder would make religious Jews choke on their Manishewitz. We play with the text of the Hagaddah quite a bit, especially when it comes to the reading of the plagues. Whenever we get to the final plague, "the killing of the first-born," my sister Anna and I clap and cheer, and our older sister, Laura, looks pissed. After the meal, we sing a ancient Hebrew folk song, Chad Gadya (One Little Goat), which is basically "I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly," but with an angel of death playing the part of the horse.

Highlights included my 89-year-old Granny stumbling through the blessing over the candles and then giving me the finger when I tried to quietly correct her, and my Aunt Teresa explaining the difficulty my Uncle Michael has swallowing pills, even though, according to her, "He can swallow an entire banana!" Like uncle, like nephew.

Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera home with me. Mea matzot culpa.

Finally, last night I did Darlene Violette's show at the Improv Cafe. I had a blast, particularly since I did really well in front of an otherwise tough crowd. The aforementioned Jim Gaffigan made a surprise visit, and, of course, he killed. He was followed by a comic who shall remain nameless. "I can't believe I have to follow Jim Gaffigan," he told the crowd up front. "You're going to hate me." They did.

But I got to follow him, and there's nothing better than following the guy who follows the headliner. "How you guys doing?" I said, bouncing around the stage like a hyena on crack.

"Mmmrrrrrggh," they groaned.

"Good! Suck it!," I said with a huge grin, and they were mine. I had them at "Suck it."

NO THERAPY SHOW THIS WEEK BECAUSE OF EASTER, BUT COME SEE ME NEXT WEEK (4/23) WHEN MY SPECIAL GUESTS WILL BE LISA LANDRY, BRIAN BARRY AND SOAPBOX'S OWN ROB DRIEMEYER! THEN COME SEE ME AT BRIAN KENNEDY'S "NEW CLASS CLOWNS" AT CAROLINES THE FOLLOWING TUESDAY (4/25)! DETAILS ON MY WEBSITE.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Stupid Drunk Girls

It's not just sheer laziness that has kept me from posting a new blog in so many days. I actually got a new home computer this week and have spent much of my free time transferring files and so forth.

(This next paragraph is for techno-geeks only. Others are encouraged to skip ahead.)
Actually, when I downloaded the latest version of Netscape, I was horrified to discover that the "Composer" program had been removed from the program suite. "Composer" is, in my opinion, the world's greatest invention. It instantly converts any document one creates from normal text to HTML code. It's what I use to write these blogs, which is why I can change fonts or colors anytime I want, include links to fabulous web sites, and post photos...



and one of the primary reasons, I suspect,for the popularity of my blog relative to those of some others on this site that look as if they were written in cuneiform on a cave wall. It is beyond baffling why the folks at Netscape would remove "Composer," and needless to say, I was panicked until I did a little research online and discovered that by downloading something called seamonkey, which is a weird combination of Netscape and Mozilla (and not to be confused with Sea Monkeys, those microscopic brine shrimp that used to be advertised in comic books and probably caused psychological damage to an entire generation of children), I could once again use my beloved "Composer."

Which is an unbelievably long-winded way of saying, "I'm back."

One more quick word on the new computer: I got it for free! An incredibly generous and wonderful woman in my office named Adrienne Morris happened to have a new Dell Inspiron 1200 notebook she had received as a credit consolidation reward, and when she heard I needed a new system to replace my ancient, crashing, sucking Dell desktop, she simply gave me the notebook. I love it. And I love her. Thanks, Adrienne!

I've yet to post last Sunday's Electro Shock Therapy photos, and here it is Sunday again and almost time for another show! In fairness to last week's performers, all of whom were stellar, here's a (very) quick recap:


I Did My M.C. Thing...


The Glamazons Shook Their Big Things...


Ophira Eisenberg and Eddie Sarfaty Said A Lot of Funny Things...




And Cute Steven Fales (center), star of off-Broadway's "Confessions of a Mormon Boy,"
did the audience thing, along with my friend Aaron (left) and Unidentified Hot Chick (right).

Last night I did the "Gay & Lesbian Comedy Fest" at Don't Tell Mama, hosted by the hee-larious Michael Brill. Truly one of the strongest showcases of which I've ever been a part. The full-house crowd of mostly-straights seemed to take delight in every performer who went up: Anne Neczopor, Jay D'Ercola, Jaffe Cohen, Maureen Langan, Soapboxers Rob Driemeyer and Brad Loekle (who headlined/killed), David Hodorowski, Sidney Myer and Rick Skye as Liza Minnelli.

My only complaint was that there were two stupid, drunk, way-too-skinny straight girls in the front row, center table, who decided they were going to yell stuff through my entire set. This would have been OK, had their comments not been timed perfectly to disrupt every one of my punchlines.

Example: I do a bit about how Ambien is causing some people to binge-eat in their sleep. They wake up covered in candy wrappers. My punchline is, "I've taken Ambien hundreds of times and never woken up covered in candy wrappers. I HAVE woken up in a little black cocktail dress, but that had nothing to do with Ambien." Here's how it went down:

Me: Now, I've taken Ambien hundreds of times. And I have never woken up covered in candy-wrappers...

Drunk Girl No. 1: THAT YOU KNOW OF!!

Me: What?

DGN1: YOU HAVEN'T WOKEN UP THAT WAY THAT YOU KNOW OF!

Me: Right. But I have woken up in a little black cocktail dress. (Beat.) Which is much funnier when someone doesn't step on the punchline.

This literally happened every single time I went for the punchline. Luckily, Therapy's crowd has toughened me up, and I managed to turn the obnoxiousness of these two whores to my advantage; I think at one point I actually bent over and told them to kiss my ass.

OK, what else? Oh, yeah -- between now and April 30, I have six scheduled performances, including my first ever in New Jersey (along with the luscious Robin Fox). Six gigs in 21 days probably doesn't seem like a lot to most comics, but it is for me. As usual, I am facing them with a mixture of tremendous excitement and soul-crushing dread. Seriously -- nobody would believe how many times in a given week I say to myself, "That's it! I quit! This is too hard! Why am I putting myself through this? It's insane!"

Then something nice will happen -- like when three middle-aged housewives from Virginia Beach came up to me after last night's show to tell me how much they enjoyed my set -- and I'll think, "OK, maybe I'll keep doing this another week."

Happy Passover, y'all.

COME SEE ME HOST THE ELECTRO SHOCK THERAPY COMEDY HOUR TONIGHT, SUNDAY, APRIL 9, WITH SPECIAL GUESTS BOB SMITH, MINA HARTONG AND A MUSICAL PERFORMANCE BY GODDESS PERLMAN! DETAILS ON MY WEB SITE.