Friday, March 30, 2007

Things That Make You Go, 'Hmm'

Forgive the cheesy 80's song reference, but it's fitting given all the bizarre things happening around me lately. I don't know if there's a full moon this week or what, but there is certainly some craziness afoot.

It started Monday morning when I opened the door to my apartment and found the following memo from my condo management company:

To All Tenants:

We have recently had some incidents in the building unlike any we have ever seen before. First, over the weekend, someone discovered a crack pipe, a pair of underpants, and several cigarette butts inside the roof landing. The door to the roof was locked.
THESE WERE LEFT BY SOMEONE IN THE BUILDING.

Then, this morning, someone apparently urinated in one of the dryers in the basement.

We urge you all to keep your eye out and report any suspicious activity to the management company or the police.

Thank you.

Some of you may recall this is not the first case of odd things happening in my building. Three years ago, an intruder broke into my apartment, destroyed my Ikea bed and fled -- an incident about which I eventually wrote a piece for The New York Times. More recently, someone placed dog-doo under the mat in the lobby. And then there's the person who rips down my "Gay Bash" flyers moments after I post them on the bulletin board.

But none of that compares to the crack-smoking, dryer-peeing menace we apparently now face. What could be motivating him? (And it's most certainly a him, as the dryer is a front-loading model.) Does smoking crack lead to confusing a household appliance with a toilet? And why would this mad pisser travel five floors down to take a leak when he could have simply pissed on (or off) the roof?

The mystery continues.


Not a toilet.

Meanwhile, this morning on my way to gym I saw a car driving up 9th Avenue. Let me repeat that: The car was DRIVING UP 9th AVENUE. For the non-New Yorkers among you, avenues in Manhattan run either one way or the other. Sixth goes up. Seventh goes down. Eighth goes up. Ninth most certainly goes down. Seeing a car driving up 9th is like seeing a woman nursing a teenager. It's just wrong.

Even at the relatively mellow hour of 7 a.m., it was fun to see how many passers by took it upon themselves to scream at the errant car. "Yo, Stupid! You goin' the wrong fuckin' way!," etc. The car continued unabated until it met a sudden rush of oncoming traffic at 50th Street, at which point it quickly turned right and hurried along its clueless way.


Note: All the cars are headed the same way.

Later I was doing cardio on a running machine at the gym when I noticed a guy coming up the stairs from the street level. In his mouth was a white gym towel, which he was carrying as a golden retriever would a chew toy. I could sort of understand doing this if one's hands were completely full, but this guy was totally unencumbered. I stared at him, thinking he would realize how foolish he looked and move the towel to his hand. But he merely stared back at me, towel dangling beneath his chin, and headed up to the locker room.


He looked sort of like this, but without
the neck brace.

But the craziest part of my week came yesterday, when a fellow comic emailed me to demand that I remove photos of her from my blog.

I hesitate to write about this; I hate to burn bridges, and the comic in question seems like a genuinely nice -- if deeply troubled -- person. But in the end, this is what I do: I tell true stories. If doing so ends up biting me in the ass, so be it. You only live once.

The comic -- let's call her Maria Conchita Alonso -- had done my Therapy show several weeks back. As always, I took group pictures of the performers after the show and posted them on the blog later that week.

Well, Maria Conchita freaked out that she was in two of the pictures. So intense were her body image issues, she said, that she couldn't bear to see herself in photos, let alone have others see her. At first I thought she was kidding. But her emails to me became increasingly frantic:

"I didn't realize and didn't agree to them being posted on the internet for all eternity," she wrote. "Please please be considerate of the fact that I am hypersensitive and remove them."

I explained to Maria Conchita that it was virtually impossible -- and in any case extremely time-consuming -- to remove her image alone from the blog. My blog entries are written using an HTML program, and the photos are embedded images I have to upload one at a time to a file server. (I didn't even point out that the other comics in the pictures might be as unhappy with my removing them from the blog as she was with my including her.) But she was insistent, and I was tired of trying to reason with a crazy person, so in the end I simply reedited the blog and removed the offending section altogether.

But I want to make clear the utter insanity of her demand by highlighting a few points:

1) This woman is perfectly normal-looking. She's attractive and not overweight in the least. Not that attractive people never have body issues, but there are a helluva lot of people out there with far more hideous bodies who can deal with seeing photographs of themselves on my little blog or elsewhere.

2) She posed for the photos. They weren't candid shots taken during her set; they were group pictures taken after the show. If you're that terrified of your own image, you're certainly welcome to say, "You know what? I'd rather not be in the picture." No hard feelings, no harm done.

3) SHE'S A FUCKING COMEDIAN! AND ONE WHO'S APPEARED ON NATIONAL TELEVISION! I imagine she could have chosen any number of careers that wouldn't involve having lots of people look at her, but she chose comedy! If she can handle being videotaped for a television show that's seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers, she can probably get over the terror of being seen in a snapshot by the 47 people who read my blog!

So ultimately, I feel this was simply about control. "I want this, and therefore you must do it." Or it was about her not wanting to be associated with my little Therapy show, in which case she shouldn't have accepted the booking in the first place.

Or maybe not. Maybe her request was totally reasonable, and I'm the one who's crazy. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a load of laundry waiting in the dryer.

Come see me host the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour this Sunday, April 1 at 10 p.m., when my special guests will be Lisa Landry, Vanessa Hollingshead and Scott Sussman! Details on my web site, photos to come.

And come see me host Adam Sank's Gay Bash on Thursday, April 19 at 8:00 p.m. at Comix, with headliner Judy Gold and special guest Bob Smith! Purchase tickets here!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Granny's 90th, Part 2

First, a little plug on behalf of two dear friends of mine, Robert Dover and Robert Ross:

O
n Friday, April 20th at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, the Equestrian Aid Foundation is sponsoring DIVAS LAS VEGAS -- a (gay) celebrity dance party. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people are expected to attend, along with some amazing entertainers, including Taylor Dane, Martha Wash, Deborah Cox and Jennifer Holliday! For more information go to: www.equestrianaidfoundation.org


'And I am telling you...
I'm not Jennifer Hudson!'


And next, a little plug on behalf of my favorite TV show, "Friday Night Lights." I mentioned this on the blog a while back, but for some reason, many of you are still not watching, and this masterpiece of the small screen remains in danger of getting canceled. LISTEN UP, YOU BITCHES! There is no better show on TV, and if you'd just give it a chance, you'd see what I'm talking about!

"But wait," you protest, "I haven't watched a single episode. How will I know what's going on?"

It doesn't matter! I have friends over all the time to watch this show, and many of them are FNL virgins. Without exception, they're instantly hooked. So Wednesday at 8 p.m., set your Tivo or tune in to NBC. There are only three episodes left this season, and if this show doesn't come back, I'll have nothing to live for.


'Friday Night Lights'... Guaranteed to be 100% Sanjaya-free...

And finally, before I recap the rest of Granny's 90th, a word about my MySpace page. I've noticed something very distressing: I can't seem to exceed 600 friends. Every time I go above that number, I find that at least a dozen of them are bullshit profiles -- you know, the kind with some scantily clad whore trying to get you to click on her porn site. So I delete all those, which brings me back down to the 580's. Then I'll inch back up to 600, weed out the whores again, and so forth.

This has been going on for months! What is it about this magic number 600 that makes it so unattainable for me? And more importantly, why do I care?

OK, back to Granny: So after the initial JetBlue nightmare, a good time was had by all, with the exception of my poor bald brother-in-law, Guy, who was stranded by the snowstorm in New Jersey.

All told, Granny had all six of her grandchildren and all 12 of her great-grandchildren there. The party itself, organized by my Uncle Steve and his girlfriend, Kim, took place at a beautiful country club, and we couldn't have asked for better weather.


Granny with her grandkids (from left): Cousin Jodi, my sisters,
Laura and Anna, me, cousin Stacey and cousin Scott.

The highlight of the party was a 24-minute photo-video presentation of Granny's life, which my cousin Stacey put together with her friend Suzanne. My sister Laura also got up and recited an ode to Granny. Many tears were shed. So afterwards, Granny, clearly overwhelmed with emotion, stood up to thank everyone for making the party so special.

She thanked Stacey for the photos. She thanked Laura for the poem. She thanked my Uncle and Kim for throwing the party. She thanked my aunts and uncles on my father's side from driving down from Boynton Beach and Port St. Lucie for the party, and for being so wonderful to her through the years.

Then she turned to me. Her face darkened.

"And Adam," she snapped, "I was really hoping you were going to perform today."

Oh, snap.

In my defense, I am always the one who puts together elaborate presentations for family events. When we had Granny's 85th, for instance, I wrote and performed an 8 and ½-minute song parody to the tune of "American Pie."

Well, my, my, Granny's now 85...
Always movin', always groovin', now she's really alive...
She'll still be the same when she's 105,
Singin' 'Happy birthday, you're 85...'
'Happy birthday, you're 85...'

I even hired a guitarist at the time to accompany me.

In preparing for the Ft. Lauderdale trip, I considered updating the song:
Well, my, my, 90 years have gone by... etc. But I couldn't exactly bring an accompanist with me to Florida. And when I tried to find a karaoke version on iTunes, it was way too high for my vocal range. (I'm no Don McLean.)

Moreover, I knew how hard Stacey had worked on the photo show. I figured, why not let that stand on its own and I'll stay out of the spotlight for once?

Clearly, I made the wrong choice. For the record, I'm already working on the song for Granny's 100th.


And you thought Livia Soprano was scary...

More drama with regard to Granny turning 90. Friday night, my friends Will and Mark drove down from Jupiter to hang with me.


Will and Mark (shinier than usual)

Will had met my family before, but Mark hadn't. All he knew was that someone was turning 90. So they walked into my uncle's condo, and everyone was eating Chinese food around the table. And Mark asked, "Who's birthday is it?"

My Granny, trying to be funny, pointed to my mother, age 66. Mark instantly turned toward my mother and said, without a hint of irony, "Happy birthday!"

My mother looked like she had just been sprayed with poo. "I'd say you've got a little perception problem there, Mark," she murmured. And then, as we were leaving, she added, "It was great seeing you, Will!"


Can you spot the 90-year-old in this picture?

And now, a couple more random cute photos:


My nephews, Xander, 3, left , and Leo, 6 months, right.
Perched on Leo's back is my cousin Scott's son, Luke, 4 months.
My sister Anna is crouched behind, acting as puppet-master.



Granny with her 12 great-grandchildren. Faces of three of
them have been hidden by request of their paranoid mother.

By the way, the flight back to Newark was delayed about four hours (thanks, JetBlue!), so I ended up missing my own Therapy show Sunday night. Special thanks to the bodacious Brad Loekle for filling in as host at the last minute.

But I will be there to host the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour this Sunday, March 25 at 10 p.m., when my special guests will be Danny McWillians, Bernadette Pauley and Scott Sussman! Details on my web site.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Granny's 90th, Part 1

First of all, Granny looks pretty damned good for 90:


Va Va Voom!

Seriously, she could pass for 75, right? I hope I got those genes.

We all had a wonderful time celebrating her birthday, but the long weekend began inauspiciously for me. First I missed my terminal on the airport bus from Port Authority. I had told the driver to "please" let me know when we get to the JetBlue terminal, but he ended up not announcing any of the terminals. So engrossed was I in a Vanity Fair article on the Scooter Libby trial that by the time I looked up, we were already at Terminal C. "Last stop!," the driver barked at me.

"Is this JetBlue?" I asked.

"Jew puss."

"Excuse me?"

"Jew puss." I realized after several seconds that he wasn't hurling an anti-Semitic epithet at me but rather telling me I had passed my stop.

So I had to enter the terminal and take that glass Wonkavator back to Terminal A, which took about 15 minutes. Checked in at one of the little JetBlue kiosks and, as I had no bags to check, headed straight to security. On the way, I passed a Subway and decided a little six-inch ham and cheese on honey oat bread would really hit the spot. So I ordered it the way I always do -- with green peppers, cucumbers, mayo and honey mustard. But as I watched in horror, the woman behind the counter squirted about 16 oz of regular spicy yellow mustard all over my sandwich instead. "No!," I wailed, though it was too late, "I said 'honey mustard!'"




Feh!

She slowly looked up at me, her mouth forming into a wide grin that said, "Isn't it adorable how retarded I am?"

"Never mind, it's fine," I said, conceding defeat. I added a bottle of water ($2.50) to my order, paid, and bolted toward Security.

I didn't get very far.

"You can't have water," said a stout TSA worker as I untied my shoes.

"What? Even if I drink some in front of you?" The last time I flew, this was the rule -- take a sip and they'll let you carry on a beverage.

"No, you can't have water. You have to throw it out."

So I tied my shoes, walked to a nearby garbage can and chucked $2.50. Then I returned, untied my shoes again, emptied my pockets, placed my two carry-on bags on the little X-Ray conveyor and walked through the thing that blows little puffs of air at you. Almost immediately, I heard the urgent voice of TSA worker: "Bag check!"

She pulled me aside and emptied the contents of my backpack. Scanning my toiletries -- mouthwash, hair gel, shaving cream, cologne, toothpaste -- the TSA lady shook her head and clucked her tongue like she had discovered a heroin works. "You cannot carry on any of this!," she suddenly screamed with shocking ferocity.

"Why?"

"Because they're all more than 3.4 oz!"

Now, I'm not a total ignoramus. I knew about the supposed threat that led to a ban on all carry-on liquids and gels back in August. But for some reason, I missed the memo that there was still a 3.4 oz limit. I had thought the ban was canceled altogether in September, and I haven't flown since then.



Mouthwash = Death



Well, I was not about to throw out $50 worth of perfectly good toiletries (on top of a full bottle of water), so I put my shoes on again, packed all my forbidden toiletries in my duffel bag and headed back to the JetBlue ticket counters to check the duffel.

The queen behind the counter was not pleased: "Why did you get a boarding pass from the kiosk if you had baggage to check?" he sneered. I explained my predicament in between bites of my mustard-soaked sandwich, and he reluctantly took my duffel and issued me a new boarding pass.

So I headed back to Security, removed my shoes for the third time, and -- finally -- headed to the gate.

About four
hours later, I met my parents at the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport and we waited at baggage check. When my duffel finally came down the carousel, it was completely unzipped. Contents from it -- including those evil toiletries -- had spilled out and were piled in little heaps on the carousel.

The queen's revenge, methinks.

In the next installment: Granny calls Adam out for being a bum, and Adam's friend Mark insults Mama Sank in a big way. Also, why I don't really have 600 friends on MySpace.

And come see me host the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour this Sunday, March 25 at 10 p.m., when my special guests will be Danny McWillians, Bernadette Pauley and Scott Sussman! Details on my web site.



Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Coke Adds Life

First off, because I haven't blogged in weeks, Therapy roll call:


Yamaneika, Amy Patrick, Me and Ophira Eisenberg; March 4, 2007.

The Therapy shows have actually been really fun lately, at least from my perspective. After two years, I'm feeling like the (large) crowd we get every week truly enjoys stand-up and looks forward to getting to know performers they haven't seen before. Last night, for instance, was Broadway veteran Rick Crom's first time at Therapy. He KILLED. He literally had them at "Hello."

I also find I get the best response from Therapy's audience when I do fresh material based on recent news events, a la late night talk show hosts. Of course, this is quite a challenge. Unlike Letterman and Leno, I don't have a staff of writers working on topical material. I just have me. On the other hand, it's not as hard as you might think, because audiences naturally respond to something they know is fresh. In other words, a mediocre Ann Coulter "faggot" bit this week does better than a great Dick Cheney-shoots-man-in-face bit from a year ago.

Here's an example: Watching the news Sunday, I saw that 2,000 angry people showed up to protest George W. Bush's Colombian leg of a South American tour. I tried to think of a funny way to spin this. All I could come up with was: "And Bush was shocked. Because given all the coke he's done over the years, he thought they'd LOVE him in Colombia."

Which didn't strike me as particularly clever. I mean, wow Bush does coke; that's pretty hack in 2007, right?

But I did it anyway that night -- and got an applause break. Why? Not because it's great comedy. But because the incident had JUST HAPPENED, and mine was the first joke they heard based on it. So there's a lesson in there somewhere.


'I can't feel muh teeth!'

(Of course, the downside of jokes like these is that they have the same shelf life as a quart of milk. I'll maybe get to use that Colombia joke one more time before it elicits no more than a groan.)

The real lesson is, keep writing, keep writing, keep writing...

The Richard Jeni suicide has gotten a lot of attention, both in and out of the comedy world. I have to confess, I wasn't really familiar with Jeni's stand-up (which is odd, given how huge he was and how many years he'd been around). I was far more affected when Mitch Hedberg was found dead in 2005.

But obviously, Jeni's death was a senseless tragedy. What strikes me as particularly ghastly is that he and his girlfriend were cooking breakfast at the time. I can sort of imagine someone alone, at the depths of despair, taking their own life after some intense meditation and planning. But it's very hard to picture a scenario where you're in the kitchen with your significant other on a normal routine day, and you go into the bathroom and blow your brains out. Awful.

Speaking of awful things, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter Pace, told the Chicago Tribune Monday that he thinks "homosexual acts" are "immoral," and therefore the Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy, under which thousands of gay servicemen and women have been dismissed from the military, should be maintained.

This is preposterous. There are many, many fine gay people currently serving in the military (at least in my sexual fantasies), and to discharge them (so to speak) during a time of war because your particular interpretation of religion tells you God doesn't like what they do in bed is not only unfair -- it's dangerous for our country.


'Vee haf vays of making you straight...'

Russell Shaw wrote a nice response to this buttheadery on the Huffington Post, in which he says, in part:

I will tell you what's immoral. This war, the more than 3,000 U.S. dead, scores more Iraqi dead - as a result or consequence of an invasion conducted by a military that you now head.

Amen, brother.

So the weather's finally warming up here in the Big Apple, just as I head off to Ft. Lauderdale to celebrate my Granny Lipton's 90th birthday. Granny is quite a character, and one of my major influences. About 15 years ago, when she was shopping for bagels at the A & P, another elderly lady approached her.

"You know, you really shouldn't touch the bagels unless you're going to buy them," she said to Granny Lipton.

"Well," protested Granny,"I only touch the ones I'm going to buy."

"Oh," scoffed the lady, rolling her eyes. "That's what they all say!"

"Well," Granny replied, "go fuck yourself."

You go, Granny!

Oh, and one more thing before I sign off. My Gay Bash is definitely happening on a monthly basis at Comix! The next one is Thursday, April 21 at 8:00 p.m., and I have a kick-ass lineup booked, including Judy Gold as headliner and Bob Smith as my special guest. Click here for tickets!

And come see me host the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour this Sunday, March 18 at 10 p.m., when my special guests will be Janice Messitte, Susan Alexander and Hoopachoo!! Details on my web site.