Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hey, Remember Me?

So I stop blogging for a couple weeks and Soapbox goes to Hell. Some woman named Marmaduke starts blogging meaningless two-line entries 10 times a day, and faster than you can say "illiterate ho" we have an all-out flame war involving Justin Michael Marler, Chris Quimby and Dave O'Gara (including accusations of goofy haircuts, webbed fingers and pubic facial hair), with two cents thrown in from a mysterious comedy fan known only as "warren."

For those of my readers who have no idea what I'm talking about in the above paragraph, check out the main page for Soapbox blogs, click on the various Comments sections, and you can see all the vicious and delicious details for yourself.

In any case, it's time I got back on the horse, so to speak, and I urge other Soapbox regulars to do the same. Marmadukes will come, and Marmadukes will go -- but as long as there are still intelligent, sentient beings writing about their thoughts and experiences on this space, our beloved Soapbox will live long and prosper.

Incidentally, let me take this opportunity to appeal to Soapbox's three youngest members: Where have you gone, Michael Lemme, Bob Reinhard and Eitan "Cancer Kid" Levine? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you...

So what's new with me? For starters, I got promoted at my day job, resolving months of stressful uncertainty. Now the only stressful uncertainty I face happens every time I get on stage. Butt seriously: The comedy thing's been good and steady, if unspectacular lately. Electro Shock Therapy continues to chug along at a healthy pace, and my third monthly Gay Bash at Carolines happens next Wednesday. Plus I've been doing a bunch of spots at the Duplex and the Lantern lately, which are a nice change of pace, and I have a couple Improv Cafe spots coming up in October. So, to use one of my least favorite expressions, it's all good.

Other than that, my television viewing has shot up exponentially since the new fall season began. I like "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," and "Weeds" quite a bit. And of course I'm dying for the continuation of "Project Runway."

But my favorite new show, believe it or not, is a traditional sitcom called "The Class," which airs Monday on CBS. The premise -- a third grade class reunites 20 years later -- is ridiculous, but the writing, and particularly the acting, are first-rate. Most hilarious (to me anyway) is a frenetic blonde named Holly (Lucy Punch) who, on the first episode, confronts Kyle (Sean Maguire), the guy with whom she went to prom -- and whom she caught later that night having sex with another boy. Holly has never gotten over the shock and betrayal of Kyle's homosexuality.

It's a funny scene, mostly because Punch's Holly is such a bizarre, vivid character. But just when you think they've wrung all possible laughs out of the scene, Holly introduces Kyle to the man she ended up marrying (Sam Harris) -- a guy who's so flaming he might as well be on fire. It's good stuff.

Also returning for its third season is "The Biggest Loser." I know I say this every year, but Caroline Rhea has now become so fat that they will only shoot her from the nose up. It's insane! This is a weight loss show. Why on earth can't she acknowledge that she has a weight problem? Here she's got two professional full-time trainers at her disposal and an entire stable of fatties to lend moral support. It would add so much to the show if we could see her working out with the contestants and weighing in with them each week. Then, by the end of the season, she'd look FABULOUS! But no, she continues to be the elephant in the room nobody talks about. I swear when she asks the contestants things like, "How do you feel about being overweight?" you can hear giggling in the background.

In fact, she barely appears on the show anymore. In last night's episode, she was completely MIA until the sandcastle challenge, when she suddenly appeared, momentarily, in a muumuu. Then she disappeared until the weigh-in and elimination round, when she says in that annoying Canadian accent, "I'm sorry, Tiffany. You are naught the biggest loser."

Please don't feed the has-been.

"Biggest Loser" did try to shake things up this year by featuring 50 contestants, one from each state, including Soapbox's own Poppi Kramer, who represented New Jersey. But alas, 36 of them (including Poppi) were arbitrarily eliminated in the first half-hour. Sort of a waste of everyone's time, if you ask me.

I had wanted to end this blog by posting photos from recent Therapy shows, but due to technical difficulties I am unable to do so at present. A complete photo-blog coming soon.




Monday, September 11, 2006

My Memories of 9/11

At the time, I was working at Fox News Channel as the producer of the 1 p.m. hour of "Fox News Live." My work day started around 8:30. When the first plane hit, our morning show, "Fox & Friends" was wrapping up. They went live to the smoking hole, and we all thought, "Wow. A small plane had a terrible accident. This will be our lead story all day." But truthfully, it didn't strike us as that big a deal.

The 9 a.m. show with Jon Scott began. He was chatting with an aviation expert on the phone over a live shot of the towers when the second plane hit.

"We just saw another one!," Jon exclaimed. "We just saw another plane hit the World Trade Center! This must... this has to be deliberate, folks." (Incidentally, despite my general loathing for Fox News, I have nothing but good things to say about Jon Scott. He is a fine person and a wonderful news anchor. Here's his recollection of that awful day.)

I remember thinking, "Jesus, this is a huge story!" But I was still reacting as a news producer and not as a human being -- even as this was going on about 70 blocks away from me.

Things got very frantic in the news room, but it was all business -- "Who can we get down there? What terrorism experts can we line up as guests," etc.

At Fox, as at most other news organizations, our computers were all hooked up to the AP and Reuters news wires. Whenever a major story would break, a flashing "News Alert" would pop up on our screen, accompanied by a short buzzing sound, kind of like an old stove timer.

At around 9:50, one such alert flashed on my screen and I heard the familiar buzz sound across the newsroom. I clicked on the flashing box, and the following appeared on my screen:

AP NEWS ALERT: Explosion at the pentagon.

That's all it said. And it was at that moment, for the first time that day, that I felt truly afraid. For some reason, those words frightened me more than the attacks that had just taken place in my own city. I remember saying out loud to nobody in particular, "My God, the entire country's under attack."

I shoved aside my feelings and continued to work on my 1 PM broadcast. A few minutes later, the South Tower collapsed. At this point I was in so much denial, I actually thought to myself, "Well, at least there will be one tower left. One tower's not so bad."

When the second one collapsed, I realized I should probably call my parents, who were on vacation in Paris and probably freaking out wondering whether my sisters and I were all right. After speaking briefly to both my sisters (who were safe and sound in New Jersey), I tried my parents' hotel. It took me about 40 attempts to get through.

They were not in their room. So I left a message with the concierge in broken French: "Tell them Adam called. He's at work. He says: We love you and we're all OK."

About 20 minutes later, my phone rang. It was my mother, and she was sobbing. When I heard her crying, I instantly began sobbing myself.

"Adam..." she said. "We just back to the hotel and got your message. We were so relieved. What's happening there? We're watching on TV."

"Well...," I said. And then, because I couldn't think of anything else to say: "The World Trade Center is gone."

"It's really gone?!" she wailed.

I realized I had to get off the phone with her or I would completely lose it.

I went back to working on my show and headed up to the control room at 10 minutes to 1. I don't remember much about that show, except that it was extremely noisy and chaotic in the usually quiet control room. The phone never stopped ringing, and Bob Males, my senior producer, kept yelling out instructions to the director with regard to which live camera view we should go to. "Take remote 12!," he'd yell. "Take remote 17!"

Around 1:50, something caught my eye. It was our control room feed of CNN, on which there were some very scary-looking men with long beards and turbans holding a some sort of press conference. (I later learned they were members of the Taliban government, disavowing any responsibility for the attacks.) At that moment, the phone rang. Bob picked it up, listened for a moment, and then said, in a booming tone, the words that had never before (and never since) been spoken in a Fox News control room:

"Take CNN!"

I remember our director, Vinny, turning all the way around in his chair to face Bob and me, something that had also never happened during a live show. "What do you mean, 'Take CNN?' We can't take CNN, we don't have it routed!"

A few minutes later, the show was over and I was done for the day. The executive producer of daytime told me to go home and get some rest; I'd need to be back at midnight.

When I got home, I was finally able to watch the news as an ordinary viewer. I sat on the bed with my then-boyfriend, Phillip, and we stared at the television for hours.

For the next seven days at Fox, we were live 24 hours a day, commercial-free. I was one of the producers assigned to the midnight-to-8 shift. (They always chose me for the plum assignments.)

Walking to work every night through the preternaturally quiet streets, I shuddered every time I passed a parked truck, terrified that there might be a bomb hidden inside.

I didn't know it then, but it was the beginning of the end of my career in TV news.
# # #

Wednesday, September 6, 2006


Like most men, I tend to stuff things into my wallet during the work week; business cards, taxi receipts, dry cleaning tickets, and so forth. At week's end I'll go through all the crap I've accumulated, throw out most of it, and file the rest as needed. But something mysterious happened while I was emptying out the wallet this week.

I came across the following:

Not only do I not recognize the handwriting; I don't even recognize the paper on which it's written, which sort of resembles Hello Kitty stationary without the kitty. And as for the four digits, what could they possibly mean? They're too few to represent a phone number, password, or lock combination. I thought perhaps it could be the phone extension of someone from my day job, but no -- dialing those numbers results in a non-working extension.

And how can I not remember someone handing me something I deemed important enough to stuff into my wallet, yet sufficiently self-explanatory that I didn't feel the need to label it in any way?

Readers, I implore you! If anyone can solve this puzzle for me, I'll be eternally grateful! This thing is keeping me up nights.

Speaking of puzzles, I recently purchased an external hard drive from CompUSA (or as my Latino friends call it, "Compusa"). The item came with a $20 rebate, which I dutifully filled out on their web site.

Yesterday I received the following email:

Dear Adam Sank,

Thank you for participating in the CompUSA eRebates program.
Our records show that your eRebates account status has changed.
Your account status will change for the following reasons:

-Your receipt information entered has matched our transaction data and your
rebate is in pending

-Your rebate has completed the pending period and is valid

-Your receipt information entered has not matched our transaction data after 5

This appears to be some sort of multiple choice test. If so, I would like to choose either (A) and/or (B), but definitely not (C). Seriously, WTF? CompUSA, if you're reading this, it's because of this level of shitty service that we're losing so many jobs in this country. You might as well change the name of your store to CompINDIA.

I'm feeling a great strain, people -- a strain so great there's no way for me to properly describe it, even if discretion allowed me. Maybe someday I'll write a memoir about what the past two weeks have been like. Until then, just know that there is nothing more true than the old adage, "Dying is easy; comedy is hard."

Here's something I can talk about: My opener failed to show for the Therapy show Sunday night. I'm not saying she canceled -- I'm saying she simply wasn't there. No phone call, no email, nada. (Two days later, in her reply to a "What the fuck?" email from me, she apologized and said she had thought her appearance was scheduled for the following Sunday. Those of you who have worked with me know I compulsively triple-confirm everything in advance. She's dead to me.)

It kind of sucked. We had a packed house, and I and the other two comics who showed up had to go longer than any of us had planned. Despite what Driemeyer said in his blog, he did fine -- it was just a temperamental crowd. And Darlene Violette was her usual wonderful self.

Two out of three showing up ain't bad...

I actually enjoyed my sets quite a bit, especially after I did a Katharine Hepburn impersonation and random queens began loudly critiquing it. I'm really starting to enjoy the give-and-take with crowds, even more that doing my own material. What a difference a year makes.

Amazingly, Kate looks better now.

This weekend actually marked something of a double milestone for me; it was the third anniversary of my stand-up career, and it was the first time I've ever had booked spots on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, all of which went very well (despite the fact that the Saturday night set, at the Duplex, had all of seven people watching. And three of them walked out during the set before mine).

Finally, my new nephew, Leo, had his bris this past Saturday. For the clueless goyim among you, the bris is the ritual Jewish circumcision, one of the few things mandated by the Bible of which I'm totally in favor. In a twist that seems to shock everyone, my father performed the bris, just as he did for Leo's brother, Xander. In addition to being a pediatrician, Dad's a certified mohel. He's great at what he does, and I'm told the procedure went off without a hitch, so to speak. So mazel tov to Leo and family, and good riddance, foreskin!

"Dude! What the Hell?!"

On that note, I've got to go bomb at Carolines. See ya soon.