Monday, July 24, 2006

Is This Thing On?

"And now... please welcome to the stage... your host... ADAM SANK!" As is the case every Sunday at 10PM, these were the last words I heard before trotting up to Therapy's stage last night, followed by my theme music ("Everytime We Touch," by Cascada).

"Hey, everyone," I yelled into the mic, smiling at the full house that had gathered. "Welcome to the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour!"

Here's what they heard:


"Hello? Hello? Luke, is the mic on?"


Now, I realize a non-working microphone is hardly unusual in the annals of showbiz, but it's the first time it ever happened to me. I've done shows where there was no mic, which was fine because they've taken place in small, acoustically sound rooms, and I've got a naturally loud voice.

But Therapy is no such room. It's a noisy lounge with drunk queens yammering away at the back bar and house music emanating from downstairs. I tried yelling to the crowd that we were experiencing technical difficulties and that we'd soon have them fixed, but everyone just stared up at me like I was a street mime.

So I did the only thing I could think of: I took my clothes off.

Well, really just my shirt. This got a brief "Woo!" from some horny audience members, but it didn't solve my dilemma: What to do next? Finally, I just left the stage and ran toward the DJ booth, my hands clenching in preparation to strangle Luke, my tech manager.

"OK, everyone," said Luke into his mic (which was working perfectly). "We're going to take a break and start the show again in 10 minutes."

And we did, with a fresh mic that worked perfectly. But the momentum had been lost, and nobody -- neither I nor the three highly talented comics I brought up, Danny McWilliams, Jayson Cross and Susan Alexander -- could get it back. Whether it was the mic or the heat or the alignment of the planets, the crowd just plain sucked.

In a recent episode of "Dane Cook's Tourgasm" on HBO, Dane admonishes his opener, Jay Davis, not to regard the crowd as a monolithic entity. "They're not 'a crowd,'" he says. "They're individual people, and you have to treat them that way."

With respect to Mr. Cook (a whiff of whose talent and success I can only dream of), I disagree. In my experience, comedy audiences cease being individuals the moment their first performer utters his first word. At that point they decide, "We love him," or "We hate him," or "We're going to reserve judgment for the first two minutes," or "We're going to drink too much and yell out stupid shit every time he tries to hit a punchline."

It's a mob mentality. And yes, if you're a truly talented, experienced performer, you can sway that mob in your favor -- maybe even make them change course completely. Sometimes. But last night's crowd decided early on that nothing was going to make them laugh (at least nothing other than crowd work, to which they responded with an occasional titter), and they stuck to their guns.

Strangely, they also stuck around until the bitter end. If I were at a free show and not enjoying it, I'd haul my ass outta there. There was no explaining these people; they were from Mars!

"Thank you so much!," I said at the end. "You've been a totally bizarre audience!" Again, blank stares.

Who knows -- I may be judging them too harshly. The other comics seemed to think the show had gone better than I did. And as Danny McWilliams, my headliner, said, "Who gives a shit if they thought it was funny? I did my best stuff, and I know it was good. If they didn't like it, that's their problem."

Words to live by, indeed.

Me, Jayson Cross, Susan Alexander and Danny McWilliams.
You may not think we're funny...

But WE think we are!

Afterwards, all three comics and some friends who had seen the show came back to my apartment for an impromptu after-hours party. Regrettably, the only thing I had to serve them was a half-cup of Manischewitz wine left over from Passover, two Amstel Lights, and a six-pack of malt liquor that had been in my refrigerator since the Democrats were in power. Every last drop was gone this morning.

There was none left for Elijah.

But it turned out to be a hilarious couple hours. I always hear these great stories about comics getting together after shows and partaking in all sorts of zany activities. In fact, I'm currently reading an advance copy of a book by Ritch Shydner and Mark Schiff entitled, "I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America's Top Comics." It's laugh-out-loud funny, particularly, believe it or not, an entry from Jeff Foxworthy.

So anyway, I hear about all this comic bonding, but I've seldom experienced it myself because... well, truthfully because I loathe most comics. They're always trying to out-funny one another. In terms of neediness and narcissism, they're worse than actors.

But last night -- between Jayson's regaling all the homos in the room with tales of his female conquests, Danny's demonstrating how the guests on "The View" should be forced to crawl across Barbara Walters's lap (you have to see it to appreciate it) and Susan's incessant, booming laughter and touching of all the boys' abs, I got a taste of the joyful silliness that can result from hanging out after a comedy show with people whose brains never shut off.

And you know what? It's even more fun than having a good crowd.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Memoirs of a Gaysha

I received an email yesterday from an unknown sender. The subject heading was "Seeking Actor."

Intrigued, I opened it and read the following:


Pure Theatre is a small professional theatre in Charleston SC. We're seeking an Asian female 25 - 35 to play the role of Setsuko Hearn in Naomi Iizuka's 36 VIEWS. Additional information is below.

Sadly, this is the most promising acting audition I've been offered all year. My tiny feet are often mistaken for those of an Asian woman, and at least I fall within the age range. Barely.

I think I'm turning Japanese...

Meanwhile, my mind is spinning out of control. I keep waking around 5:30 AM with my brain in mid-joke. And though I yearn to simply go back to sleep, I can't because I'm worried that the joke might be ingenious, and if I don't write it down it'll be lost forever. So wearily, I grab the little reporter's notebook I keep on the floor next to my bed and scrawl whatever it is that woke me. If I'm lucky, I can go back to sleep once I've done this.

Later, I'll read these bits of chicken-scratch. Without exception, they're terrible. Not just unfunny, but hack. It turns out my sleeping self wants to sabotage my comedy career. I shouldn't be surprised.

I've been catching up on "Dane Cook's Tourgasm" lately. I have to say, I'm sort of in love with Dane. Except for the most recent episode -- in which he acts like a complete asshole over a paintball incident -- he strikes me as a highly evolved human being: sane, reasonable, hard-working, comfortable with his masculinity, and with an ego firmly in check, given his meteoric rise to fame and the fact that he's worshipped by legions of college students. Plus, he's got enormous feet.

Unlike me.

My good friend Amy Slotnick came over Sunday to take new head shots of me, as evidenced by the one at the top of this page. And I want the straight men of Soapbox to appreciate that I chose the one that was least gay and least nude.

After all, I could have chosen this on

"You have the right to remain sexy..."

Or even worse, this one:

Talk about stomach-turning...

Finally, a hearty thank-you to Ms. Anne Neczypor, who filled in at literally the last minute at my Therapy show last night, after my scheduled opener canceled due to a car accident. (She's OK.) You rock, Anne!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

And The Winners Are...

OK, Kids, here we go: The drawing of the names for the Electro Shock Therapy Up-And-Comers Show, featuring comics who blog on (Yes, there are still about three hours left 'til the deadline, but I haven't gotten an email from anyone about this in days, so I assume everyone who wants to perform has contacted me.)

I'm doing this drawing in real time, as I type this. Just so there are no questions about fairness, here's a picture of me about to draw the first name:

By the way, it's a fabulous Panama Hat from Banana Republic.
I did the manicure myself.

And the nine spots go to:

1) Pat Breslin
2) Darius Douglass
3) Amy Patrick
4) Shaun Eli
5) Hoopachoo
6) Al Wagner
7) Rob Driemeyer
8) Jeanne Noll
9) Greg Manuel

And now for the alternates, who will perform should any of the above drop out or fail to show up:

10) Brad Loekle
11) Michael Hayne
12) Kelly Shannon
13) Josh Homer

If any of the names above belong to you, PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY:

The show is Sunday, Aug. 6 at 10 PM sharp at Therapy, 348 West 52nd Street, NYC, between 8th and 9th Aves. It will run approximately an hour and 15 minutes. Comics with numbers 1 through 9 are guaranteed a five-minute spot if and only if they show up at Therapy no later than 9:30 PM and sign in with me upstairs by the DJ booth. ANY COMIC WHO SHOWS UP LATER THAN 9:30 RISKS FORFEITING THEIR SPOT TO ONE OF THE ALTERNATES WHO, IF PRESENT, WILL RECEIVE FORFEITED SPOTS IN ORDER OF THEIR NUMBER. In other words, if Brad Loekle's there, he gets the first forfeited spot, and so forth. (Sorry, Josh.)

If any comic knows in advance of Aug. 6 that s/he CANNOT attend, please contact me ASAP so your spot can be given to one of the alternates, as described above. (I'll contact the alternates in such an event.)

As for your friends and family: Please bring them... LOTS of them! There is no cover charge, no drink minimum, and no reservations necessary... but they must be 21 and over with valid ID to enter Therapy. General seating at cocktail tables, with lots of standing room when those fill up.

The lineup is in the same order as your names were chosen, following my introductory set. Robin Fox will do a 10-minute headliner spot at the end. However, you must arrive by 9:30 regardless of your order in the lineup (see above).

You are also welcome to bring a video camera to tape your own set.

Any other questions? Email me through

Looking forward to what I'm sure will be a memorable night.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Big Announcement

OK, so it's happening: Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 23, I'll be producing and hosting "Adam Sank's Gay Bash," a monthly comedy showcase, at Carolines on Broadway. The show will feature me along with four or five other featured gay and gay-friendly comics, plus a headliner.

To say I'm excited about this is the understatement of the century; I am numb. I can't even process that it's really true. I'm also slightly terrified, especially given that I'll still be doing the weekly show at Therapy plus working a full-time day job (which is actually about to get a lot more challenging, but I can't get into that). It's a lot. But it's also the opportunity of a lifetime, so all I can do is work my ass off and hope and pray and have faith. In the meantime, save the date, kids, because I need every single one of those seats filled:

Adam Sank's Gay Bash
Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 9:30 PM

Unfortunately, this happy news hits me at the exact moment I'm suffering through what has become an annual midsummer flu. I left work yesterday at midday feeling achy and hot. By evening, my fever had spiked to 102 degrees. When I awoke this morning, it was still at 101 ½. Oy vey.

I've spent the last 36 hours on the sofa drinking cranberry juice and catching up on DVD's, including "Transamerica" (which is amazing) and a fairly interesting documentary about the Boston comedy scene in the 80's called "When Stand Up Stood Out." Tonight's schedule includes Sarah Silverman's "Jesus is Magic" (can't wait!) and "Monster's Ball," which I never got around to seeing.

I also watched "Ragtime" today on one of the HBO channels. It's a film I remember seeing as a nine-year-old when it first came out in the theater. Even then, I loved it (although I couldn't understand why James Cagney's appearance in it was such a big deal), and I appreciate it even more now, 26 years later. But I couldn't remember how it had done at the Oscars, so, since I have nothing to do right now but drink cranberry juice and sweat, I looked it up online.

Are you ready for this? No Academy awards. NONE! And the only major nominations were for
Howard E. Rollins Jr.(Best Supporting Actor)and Elizabeth McGovern (Best Supporting Actress). What the eff? No Best Director nod for Milos Forman? No Best Picture nomination? And you know what did win Best Picture that year? The most boring-assed movie of all time, "Chariots of Fire."


Speaking of "Ragtime," I had forgotten that Norman Mailer makes a random cameo as Stanford White. Also a very young Jeff Daniels plays a cop in one scene, as does the guy who played Pete on "Benson."

I'm telling you people; I have nothing to do with myself right now.

Speaking of the Academy Awards, at the end of "When Stand Up Stood Out," the documentary I mentioned earlier, it tells you what each of the Boston comics have done since their club days in the 80's. When it gets to Steven Wright, it says, "Steven Wright won an academy award in 1989." I assumed this to be a joke; I knew Wright had appeared in a ton of movies (including one of my favorites, "Desperately Seeking Susan"), but I couldn't think of a single performance of his that would have warranted such an accolade. It turns out a short film he co-produced, co-directed, co-wrote and starred in called "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings" won for Best Comedy Short (which I didn't even know was a category). Upon winning the statuette, Wright apparently delivered one of the shortest acceptance speeches in Oscar history -- turning to his co-writer and saying: "I guess it's a good thing we cut those extra twenty minutes. Thank you."

That's it -- I'm delirious with fever and headed back to the sofa. Thank you.

See you at Carolines.


Sunday, July 9, 2006

Hello Again, Vaseline

The response to my Soapbox Blogger show has been terrific so far. Eleven eligible people have put their names in the hat for nine spots, so there will, in fact, be a random drawing, with the final lineup posted on Friday, July 14.

Incidentally, I also received one INeligible application from someone who had only blogged twice in the specified period, and another from an unknown person at a truly bizarre email address, the contents of which appeared exactly as follows:

From: H.

Email: P.

I would like the chance to perform on the Soapbox Comedy night @ Therapy. Thanks

P.S. We did meet at the Strip during the raffle of the give away spots.


I emailed the person back with: "Who ARE you?!," but so far s/he hasn't gotten back to me. I have a feeling this may be the mysterious comic known only as "H.P.," but when I checked his blogging status I found that he hadn't blogged since December. So H.P., if it's you, you're clearly ineligible according to the rules, Bro. If it's NOT H.P., your name's not in the hat yet because I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Stay tuned.

So remember I told you about the HX photographer who took my picture at Dancing on the Bay, and to whom I replied, "
Sure -- but only if you get my name right"? Well, apparently, he had the last laugh (look at the caption):

So now I'm Adam Sanker. This can't be a mere mistake, but rather an intentional "fuck you" from the HX photog in response to what he perceived as a bitchy comment. I shall have my revenge...

Friday night I went with follow homo comic Jamie Pierce to Rose's Turn to bow at the feet of our mutual idol, Elaine Brier. Elaine, who also performs at Don't Tell Mama, combines a terrific and unique singing voice with campy, gonzo humor. Examples of her work include "You Fucked Up My Life" to the tune of Debbie Boone's infamously syrupy tribute to the Lord, and "The Deli Song," to the tune of Barry Manilow's "I Write the Songs," lyrics to which include:

I slice salami for the whole West Side.
I got the business from an uncle who died.
I make potato salad -- cole slaw, too.
I am deli; I'm a Jew.

She also does a joke involving copying the chinese characters for "Peking Duck" from a take-out menu -- the only joke I've ever truly stolen. (I use a version of it in my Chinese roommates bit. In my defense, it's only one line in a lengthy, otherwise original story.)

"I stole that from her," I said into Jamie's ear as Elaine brought the house down.

"I know," he replied to my horror, "I've seen you do it."

Elaine also does a version of Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again, Naturally," which she basically renders faithfully until the chorus, which she sings as: "Hello Again, Vaseline." It's been nearly 48 hours, and the song is still running through my head on a non-stop loop:

In a little while from now,

If I'm not feeling any less sour
I promised myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower... etc.

If you know the song, I guarantee it's now stuck in your head forever, too. You're welcome.

As for me, I was bummed that Michael Isaacs was not at the piano, but fortunately Greg Schlotthauer (a/k/a Greg Aaron) was filling in. (And as Rachel, the crazy red-haired chick Jamie and I sat with put it: "Greg's the best sub!")

Anyway, Greg really is a doll (as well as being extremely talented). He called me up for a rather pitchy performance of "Life in a Northern Town," during which I did a shorter-than-usual comedy set to a crowd that was friendly but not really in the mood for stand-up. An hour later, after countless demands from Rachel, Greg called me back up. By this time, I had downed about five Tanqueray and tonics and had warned Jamie not to let me sing anything other than "Cats in the Cradle" (which demands very little vocally). Miraculously, I got through it without crashing into the piano.

So remember the big thing I told you that may be happening? It still may be happening; I'll know more definitively on Tuesday and will make an announcement then. (Unless it doesn't happen, in which case I'll be making several Tanqueray and tonics then instead.)

Last thing before I leave you and begin prepping tonight's Therapy show: I am desperately in need of a new computer and am looking for recommendations. Here are my specs:

* I want a PC, not a Mac.
* Laptop/notebook.
* Used primarily to manage music, photos, video and text (i.e., porn).
* Fast, reliable and easy to use, with as many USB 2.0 ports as possible.
* Preferrably under $1000.
* Will not crash every three minutes and offers great service and support (unlike Dell -- feh!).

Serious suggestions are welcome, either via blog comment or email.

Hope to see you tonight at Therapy!