Saturday, May 31, 2008

The World Reacts

First the statistics:
MySpace friends BEFORE my "Last Comic Standing" episode aired: 1269.
MySpace friends AFTER: 1315 (+46)
Facebook friends BEFORE: 160
Facebook friends AFTER: 182 (+22)
Additional Blog Views: 598
YouTube views: Essentially unchanged.
So no, the world is not knocking at my doorstep, begging for more.
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Still toiling in obscurity.

On the other hand, I did hear from people literally all over the world via email, voice mail and text message. Some were people I hadn't seen or heard from in over 30 years. One guy emailed me to say he thought he recognized me as the guy who once watched a football game in his Ann Arbor, MI apartment in 1989. I know what you're thinking: "Adam watched a football game?" I find it hard to believe myself, but it must be true, because he also correctly remembered my parents by name.

A woman named Erika Amato, who played Evita to my Magaldi in a private school production when I was 16, emailed me to say she saw me on LCS. I recall Erika as being frighteningly talented -- probably the most talented person with whom I've ever performed, and it was a thrill catching up with her. I wasn't at all surprised to learn she's since become a successful working singer and actress.

Erika today. Work, bitch!

But my favorite blast from the past came from Mrs. Paulmenn:
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Adam Sank! I almost fell over Thursday when I saw you on "Last Comic Standing." I am sure you don't remember me, but I remember you. I was your kindergarten teacher at Brayton School. I can still see your Halloween costume-- you were a mummy wrapped up in ACE bandages. And then there was the time you came to school with your hair in about 20 rubber bands. You claimed to be Chinese that day. (I guess we weren't worried about political correctness back then.) Anyway I am not surprised to see that you have found your niche on stage and I wish you all the good fortune in the world.

Nancy Paulmenn


Actual photo of me that day.

It's funny, I remember the mummy costume vividly; like most of my Halloween costumes, it was thrown together at the last minute using stuff I found in my father's home doctor's office. But I don't really recall the rubber bands. I suspect it was something my sisters did to me before school.

In any case, I definitely remember Mrs. Paulmenn. She was a doll. And she cast me in my very first show, "Little Brown Bear." Of course, I had the title role.

Less fun was reading some of the things posted about me on various web sites.

There were a few that actually like me. Opined reality-tv-online:
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I hate that Adam Sank didn’t make it – I thought he was funnier than Esther Ku, but I guess you have to have the cute girl up there.
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Others were less impressed. BuddyTV described me as "a gay, Jewish New Yorker who tells some mildly funny Project Runway jokes."
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Mildly, perhaps. But maybe if LCS had let the bit follow through to its ultimate punchline, you would have laughed harder.

But a number of sites apparently regard me as a tedious sort of gay minstrel. Punchline magazine's blogger, in particular, really seemed to loathe me:

Judges Richard Belzer and Steve Scherippa passed [Louis Ramey]; good choice.
But seriously, they passed Adam Sank for doing a Fox News Channel is really biased and conservative joke and Esther Ku for god knows what reasons.

They went on to write:

Adam Sank kicks off the callback show; pretty much what you’d expect from an openly gay comic who can’t seem to joke about anything other than his sexual identity.

Ouch. I have to admit: That stung, especially because I pride myself on the variety and originality of my material, and the fact that I am far from the typical "Look at me! I'm so gay!" comic America has seen before.

Moreover, I find it interesting that Punchline loved Ramey so much. I love Ramey, too, but most of the material they saw him do -- "I like to go to tanning salons...," "I was the only black guy skiing in Aspen..." etc., had to do with his being African-American. I fail to see a big difference between a "black guy skiing in Aspen" joke and a "gay guy working at Fox News" joke. Both are about being outsiders, which is what nearly all comedians base their material on, especially in an audition situation in which we're all trying to establish our characters.

I couldn't resist leaving my own comment on Punchline's blog:

I can’t joke about anything other than my sexual identity? How dare you! I’d give you a good tongue-lashing, but I’m too busy sucking a dick right now while simultaneously crocheting a table-cloth and watching an old episode of “Desperate Housewives.” Ta ta.
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That'll learn 'em.

I have to say, it's an odd sensation for me to read negative comments about me posted by strangers. It's given me new perspective on my own blog, and the fact that I've written many nasty, sarcastic things over the years about people I've seen on TV, never considering for a moment how they could actually be affected by my opinion.

Apropos of that, The New York Times Magazine ran a fascinating cover story last Sunday by Emily Gould, the former Gawker blogger who found herself the target of immense online hatred once the Internet crowd turned on her. It's a must-read for anyone who enjoys writing, reading or commenting on blogs.
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Among the many passages from the piece that resonated with me is this one:

The will to blog is a complicated thing, somewhere between inspiration and compulsion. It can feel almost like a biological impulse. You see something, or an idea occurs to you, and you have to share it with the Internet as soon as possible. What I didn’t realize was that those ideas and that urgency — and the sense of self-importance that made me think anyone would be interested in hearing what went on in my head — could just disappear.

I know exactly how she feels.
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Back in "real life," people keep asking me if I'm truly "crushed" that I didn't make it further on the show. I'm not. For one thing, I've known the outcome of the New York auditions since February, and so I've had more than enough time to process all my feelings about the audition and get over it. Secondly, I got MASSIVE air time -- more than some of the comics who made it further. Plus, I was all over the commercials and promos leading up to the premiere. So I have nothing to complain about. It was a wild experience, and I'm grateful for every minute of it.
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Incidentally, people on reality shows love to complain how they were "edited" to come across a certain way, and it's true to an extent. I actually have no problem with how I was edited; I think I came off fairly well, though I do wish they had shown some of the backstage antics between Michelle Buteau and I, because they were pretty funny. (At one point we pretended to be Regis and Kelly.)
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But I do want to commend the editors on one choice, which was this shot:

Bitter Betty.

The way it was presented, it looks as though I'm glaring bitterly at Dan Naturman as he's celebrating making it to the finals. In the next shot, I bury my face in my hands, and my voiceover describes how crushed I was not to have heard Bill Bellamy read my name.

It's a nice little moment. But the reality is, the whole sequence was shot before the showcase even started. I'm not bitter or sad in these shots; I'm exhausted from two days of auditions and nervous as hell because the executive producer has just informed me that I'm going on first. (Obviously, the interview part, with me in the T-shirt, was shot the next day, after everything was over.)


If you're ever on national TV, try not to make this face.


People keep telling me I looked really good in the interview shots, by the way, and I tend to agree. They lit and shot them very artistically, with a single spotlight on me in the darkened club, and a camera moving slowly from side to side on a little track.

OK, enough naval gazing. I leave you with one big announcement. The management at Therapy has chosen the new host and booker of the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour following my departure. He is none other than my dear friend, the appallingly vulgar Brad Loekle, star of radio (Sirius OutQ's "Larry Flick Show"), TV (truTV's "World's Dumbest") and woods (Fire Island).

We celebrated Brad's coronation at last Sunday's capacity-crowd show, and I presented him with a special trophy.


Yes, that's exactly what it looks like.
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Congratulations to Brad, whose first show as permanent host will be July 27.
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Speaking of shows, I have a TON of gigs coming up, so please come out and see me before I move to San Diego! All my upcoming performances can be found here.
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Homo out (of LCS).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quick Hits

Hey, Kids.

A full-on, complete blog about the fallout from my "Last Comic Standing" appearance any day now, I promise. (And thank you for all the sweet emails, phone calls, text messages, smoke signals and so forth.)

But first, a couple quick mentions of some shows I have coming up. The first is tonight, and I'm headlining!

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The second is Friday, June 13, and I'm "very special!"

Click to see larger image.
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Hope to see you at either or both, and much love.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ode to Therapy

So as I mentioned below, Ted Kennedy's brain tumor preempted one of my scenes on "All My Children." (And yeah, it's bad news for Ted and all that, too...)

Fortunately, I still made air later in the original broadcast, and the entire episode was rerun later that night on SoapNet. I took some screen grabs of my most prominent moments:


Look! It's me! Only a couple feet behind the beautiful Greenlee, as she tries to contact her fiancé, Aidan.
Don't I look extra-special?

And there I am in the corner, with my head cut off, pretending to flirt with that hot blonde chick as Amanda, Kendall, Babe and Greenlee discuss the challenges of dating men.
Amen, sisters.
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I must say, my coworkers were far more excited about my extra work on AMC than about the fact that I'm about to be featured on a primetime network show. It seems there are A LOT of rabid AMC fans out there. I, myself, have always been a "General Hospital" devotee. But I do love La Lucci.
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Speaking of my impending fame (insert irony here), Robin Fox, my comedy mama, is convinced that all the attention I'm getting will earn me the "evil eye" from jealous, spiteful people. To ward this off, she made me promise -- PROMISE!! -- that I would wear something red every day this week.


Cuckoo!

This has to be one of the most absurd superstitions I've ever heard. And it's so typically Jewish: "Don't let anyone see your success! Everyone's out to get us! Remember the Nazis!" Nevertheless, I made a solemn vow to Ms. Fox that I wouldn't leave the house without something red on. So for the last two days, I walked around the city (and my office) with a red bandana hanging from my belt loop. I'm sure everyone now assumes I'm following the gay hanky code, but better kinky than cursed, I guess.


You don't even want to know what this means.

Today I decided on red sneakers instead. I hope they're sufficient.

This past Sunday, I emceed a brief show in honor of Therapy's 5-Year Anniversary. To mark this milestone, and since I'm just a couple months away from ending my three-year run as host of the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour, I wanted to say a few words about what Therapy has meant to me.

It was 2005, and I had been doing comedy less than two years when Tom Johnson, the owner of Barrage, a bar where I had recently worked as a waiter, approached me about possibly hosting a show at his other Hell's Kitchen bar, Therapy. I'm not sure Tom had even seen me perform at that point. At most, he'd seen me do seven minutes at a bringer showcase.

In any case, I had no business hosting my own show. Yeah, I could do my standard 7-minute set, but I knew nothing of hosting or crowd work, and I certainly didn't know how to make other gay men laugh. I was, to be blunt, awful. The crowd agreed.


Failing miserably, March 26, 2006.
Fabulous jacket, though. I wonder whose it was?

And while I was a slightly better producer than I was a host, I didn't really know much about putting together a comedy show, either. I look now at my early lineups, and I shudder. I'd put up just two comics, and often I'd open with the headliner. Ridiculous.

And my jokes. OH, MY JOKES! Predictable. Smarmy. Hack. And incredibly long. I have jokes I wrote during this period that take up an entire page. Type-written. Single-spaced. It's a wonder I didn't get carpal tunnel.

The numbers bore out the poor quality of these shows. If we had 20 people show up, that was a good night.

And yet, Tom didn't fire me, nor did Chad Ryan, who took over as general manager around the same time my show began. Instead, they waited -- ever so patiently -- for me to get better. Eventually I did. And somehow, miraculously, Therapy became known for having one of the best weekly comedy shows in the city.


Socarates, manager of Barrage, Brandon, assistant manager
of Therapy, Tom Johnson and me at Therapy's 5-Year Anniversary party.
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Me and Chad Ryan at Therapy's 5-Year Anniversary party.
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But it wasn't just patience that distinguished Tom and Chad. They were and are uncommonly decent, kind, fair-minded people. That's not only unusual in the comedy world; it unusual in the world of bar and restaurant management, period.

To put it plainly, Therapy treats its workers well. As a result, it's a happy place to work. Some of the bartenders and waiters have been there since opening night, which is sort of astounding. And unlike so many bars and clubs where I've performed, Therapy's management views performers -- even guest performers -- as valuable employees. They recognize that we bring something of value to the place, and that we should be thanked and rewarded accordingly, rather than kicked, scorned and humiliated. Why this eludes so many club-owners is a mystery to me. But I can tell you without doubt that the crowd senses what's going on behind the scenes of an establishment, and that Therapy's success as one of the most popular bars in the city is no accident.
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And then there's Luke.
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Performing at Therapy's 5-Year Anniversary.
Betcha didn't know he could sing.

Ah, yes. Luke Jones -- so much more than a tech manager, so much more than a man with a giant penis. (That was his crotch shot in the last blog.) Since day one, Luke has overseen the lighting, the amplification and the music for all Therapy shows. I didn't choose him; he came with the gig.

And how lucky I was, because his technical skills are unparalleled. But more than that, Luke has functioned as my sidekick and security blanket, feeding me lines from the DJ booth and playing hilarious sound effects (including crickets and car crashes) at just the right moments.

And, most of the time, not laughing. He's like the anti-Robin Quivers. No matter how hard I'm killing, Luke remains stone-faced. And even though I can't see his face most of the time, I know he's not laughing, and that makes me work even harder. It's a sick relationship, but it works.
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And so, to Luke, to Chad and Brandon, to Tom, to all the waiters and bartenders and busboys and kitchen staff, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of all the comics I've invited onto Therapy's stage. You have provided us all with a wonderful place to do what we love.
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Happy 5th birthday, and many more.


The view from the stage, Dec. 7, 2007.
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Homo out.
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Watch me on "Last Comic Standing" this Thursday, May 22 at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC!

And don't miss a major announcement when I host the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour this Sunday, May 25 at 10 p.m. My special guests will be Steve Hofstetter, Leighann Lord, Brad Loekle and Joanna Ross. Details on my web site.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

All My Extras

UPDATE: ABC News just broke in to "All My Children" to announce that Sen. Ted Kennedy has a brain tumor. So much for my big soap opera moment.

I am reporting this way too late, but in just about 20 minutes, I will make my network TV debut. No, not on "Last Comic Standing" -- that happens Thursday. Instead, you can see me as Man in Nightclub on ABC's "All My Children" (check local listings).


Honey, they ain't mine.

Yes, in a scene at the apporopriately named Confusion nightclub, featuring Kendall, Greenlee and a couple other very skinny soap stars, I can clearly be seen in the background, convincingly flirting with a beautiful young female extra while sipping blue liquid from a martini glass.

Incidentally, if you watch closely, you'll notice that we extras never actually drink the colored water. That's because the prop glasses are filthy, and the drinks are therefore contaminated with loads of dust and floaty things. (Oddly, the liquid is chilled before it's served to us. Perhaps that's to preserve the color.)

Feh.

Anyway, despite the fact that I didn't get to meet my idol, Susan Lucci, I had a blast. The other extras were very friendly (though about 15 years younger than me), and I got a close-up look at how a soap gets shot.

That's it for now. In the next blog, how the world reacts (or doesn't) to my LCS appearance, and Therapy turns five. Here's a sneak peek of the latter event:


Name that crotch.

Extra out.
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Watch me on "Last Comic Standing" this Thursday, May 22 at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC!
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And don't miss a major announcement when I host the Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour this Sunday, May 25 at 10 p.m. My special guests will be Steve Hofstetter, Leighann Lord, Brad Loekle and Joanna Ross. Details on my web site.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New York State of Mind

"I think there's a time to come to New York. And a time to leave."

--"Company" (Stephen Sondheim and George Furth)


I grow increasingly anxious as the premiere of "Last Comic Standing" draws near. I'm amazed by the number of people who have already emailed me to say they saw three seconds of me on the promo. The promo! That's friggin' crazy!

Actually, the first person I heard that from was my ex-boyfriend, Phillip. There was a sweet irony to this as he's the one who, when I told him seven years ago that my secret dream was to do stand-up, said: "I'm afraid no one would laugh."

Well, who's laughing now, bee-YATCH?!





I have no illusions that my appearance on the show is going to change my life in any appreciable way. I know enough comics who have done bigger things than this, only to find that they're still hustling and struggling for years and years afterwards.

But I do know that in exactly one week, millions of people will see my face and hear my name -- if only momentarily -- on their television sets. That's something I've fantasized about for as long as I can remember. It's surreal.

I'm not exaggerating, by the way, when I say "as long as I can remember." I grew up in the TV generation, during the golden age of sitcoms (not to mention game shows, talk shows and soap operas). When I was 11, I wrote a letter to a child actor named Christian Jacobs, who was almost the same age as me. Christian played Joey on the short-lived "All in the Family" spin-off, "Gloria," starring a pre-obesity Sally Struthers.


Sally had some big jugs, no?

I wasn't so much a fan of Christian's as a would-be protégé; I wanted to know how he got the part. Specifically, I was curious as to whether he had played the original infant Joey on "All in the Family." (I know now he didn't; that was someone named Cory R. Miller.)

Christian never answered my questions. Instead, I got a form letter from his management company (who probably suspected I was some creepy old pedophile), along with an autographed picture of Christian. Which meant very little to me as I already had an autographed picture of my true idol, Joan Rivers.

I'm not sure what the moral to this little story is. But in doing research for this blog, I discovered that Christian is still performing today! He's the lead singer for some punk band called the Aquabats. Also, he played Boy in Record Store in "Pretty in Pink."



Also, he's no longer cute.

The point is, I really, really wanted to be on TV. And even though I always dreamed it would be on a sitcom, this is still pretty fucking cool.

Here's a promo from the LCS web site that features me, along with two other comics, including my dear friend Michelle Buteau. I pop up last.

http://www.nbc.com/Last_Comic_Standing/video/#mea=245003


I find it funny that NBC considers this "blue material." Good thing I didn't do my Dick Cheney joke.

Since my last blog, I've been inundated with emails about my impending move to San Diego (including more than a few "What the hell's?"). I truly appreciate everyone's well wishes. I particularly enjoyed talking with the guy from Los Angeles who came to my Therapy show this past Sunday. "San Diego's gorgeous!" he told me. "Of course, you do know there are no jobs there." Thanks, dude!

Aside from all the people I'll miss in New York (yes -- even you, Mom!), I think I'm going to miss the New York attitude. People stereotype New Yorkers as being rude, pushy, aggressive and so forth. And they are. But more than that, New Yorkers are hilariously funny. Not just funny, but witty. I mean like the average homeless person on the corner could kill at a comedy club.


`Thank you! I'll be here all year!'

This was illustrated perfectly last Thursday night, as I was heading to Hoboken to do a spot at one of my favorite rooms, Danny's Upstairs. Arriving at the 33rd Street PATH station, I found that because of a signal problem, there were no trains running to Hoboken. Hundreds of hot, frustrated commuters milled about. As luck would have it, among them I spotted my dear friend Seth Gilmore, who lives in Hoboken.

"Come on," he directed me. "We'll walk to Port Authority and hop on a bus."

The bus was, of course, completely packed. Everyone was annoyed and checking their watches and shaking their heads. Then, one guy's cell phone rang, and he started talking into it.

Loudly.

"HEY, I'M ON A BUS! WHAT? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? NO WAY, REALLY? IS THE HOUSE MESSED UP?"

This went on for several more minutes.

"SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? WHEN ARE YOU GETTING HOME TONIGHT?"

From the back of the bus, someone replied, "Two a.m."

"WHEN?!"

"Two a.m.!" the guy in the back repeated, this time louder.

"Nah, 2:15! 2:15," shouted someone else.

The guy on the phone covered his ears with his hands and continued his loud conversation.

"SO IS THE FLOOR REALLY DIRTY OR WHAT?!"

"Sweep it!" cried a woman to my left.

"Yeah, sweep that bitch!," yelled the guy next to her.

"WHAT ABOUT THE HOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTER? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THE HOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTER?"

"Throw it out!" we all screamed, practically in unison.

"Shove it up your ass!," suggested an elderly man in a suit.

I cannot explain to you how funny this was. By the time we got to 2nd Street, the guy on the phone was crouched on the floor, determined to continue his conversation at any cost. I was laughing so hard there were tears running down my cheeks. Only in New York (or nearby Hoboken) would an entire busload of people spontaneously conspire to fuck with someone for no good reason.

These are the moment I'll miss in San Diego.

Homo Out.

No Therapy show this week, but come see me host it Sunday, May 25, when my special guests will be Steve Hofstetter, Leighann Lord, Brad Loekle and Joanna Ross. Details on my web site.

And don't forget to watch me on "Last Comic Standing" Thursday, May 22 at 9:30 p.m. on NBC!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Big Reveal

At last, I'm ready to let you all in on the worst-kept secret of the decade:

I'm leaving New York City.



Buh-Bye.

Yes, I'm getting the hell out of Dodge, I'm blowing this pop stand, I'm leaving on that midnight train to Georgia, I'm shuffling off to Buffalo, I'm getting my act together and taking it on the road.
Actually I'm moving to San Diego.


Hello.

I will be living with my military boyfriend, the aforementioned Boy Wonder, continuing to pursue performing opportunities on the West Coast and, I hope, finding a way to make enough money during the day to live on.

And now, some answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

1) Why the hell are you doing this?

Because I've fallen in love with someone wonderful, and San Diego is where he lives. Plus, it's one of the most beautiful places on earth. And finally because after 13 years in New York City, it's time for a fresh start.

I love New York; it's the greatest city on earth, my family lives nearby and I'm sure I'll come back here someday. But New York kicks the shit out of you after a while, particularly if you're not incredibly wealthy. It's an exhausting place, filled with stress and noise and filth and mice living under your sink. I've had enough for now.

2) What about your comedy career?

What comedy career?

Seriously, I've had some very nice things happen over the past five years. I'm particularly happy with how the Therapy show has grown into such a successful franchise. And it was thrilling to get on "Last Comic Standing," (which, by the way, premieres May 22). Plus I've met some wonderful people, both on-stage and behind the scenes.

But I've also become increasingly discouraged with the comedy scene in New York. It seems to be more about politics than about talent, or hard work or integrity. It's a big game, and one I suck at playing. Somewhere along the way, I've pissed off the wrong people, or failed to kiss the ass of the right ones, or both. I'm not getting into specifics; those of you who are close to me know the insanity with which I've dealt. Suffice it to say, there are people out there who seem bound and determined to keep me down. They know who they are, and some of them are reading these words right now.

Why do they despise me so? I don't know. Why did all those people on the school bus pelt me with snowballs in 7th grade? I've always been someone who inspires intense feelings in others. You either love me or hate me; there's no in-between.

My high school chorus teacher, a dear woman named Mrs. Lehrman, once told me that the higher you climb the ladder of success, the more your butt sticks out, and the more people will want to take pot-shots at you. (I'm sure I'm mangling her metaphor, but you get the point.)

I would hardly say I've attained any significant level of success in the New York comedy world. But I have, for whatever reasons, garnered a lot of attention, particularly in the first couple years, perhaps before I deserved it. I think this might have bred resentment among other performers. "What's so great about this guy?!," etc.

And yes, I have a big fucking mouth. I've said things and written things I shouldn't have. No doubt I've brought some of this on myself. But I have also, I believe, acted with integrity, generosity and fairness and, in the end, helped a helluva lot more comedians than ever helped me.

Bottom line is, I think I've gone as far as I'm going to get in New York City comedy. And while San Diego isn't exactly a first-tier comedy town, I'm confident that there will be new and exciting opportunities both there and in nearby L.A. And the truth is, there a lot of other things besides comedy I'm interested in pursuing, including acting, writing, surfing, etc.

We'll see.



I, Beach Bum.


3) What will happen to your Therapy show?

I'll continue hosting it until mid-July. After that, it's up to the owner and managers of Therapy. I hope very much that they continue doing a comedy show there Sunday nights, and I hope it's hosted by someone terrific.

4) Are you selling your condo?

No. I'm subletting it. Through a realtor. For a lot of money. You can't afford it.

5) What will you do for money out there?

No idea! Seriously! If anyone has connections in San Diego and wants to hook me up, please email me! I'd like to find something part-time and/or freelance to start before committing myself to another full-time day job.


6) Speaking of day jobs, what's this mysterious day job you've had all these years that you've never blogged about?

For the past six years, I've worked at The New York Times, first as a news assistant and then as an administrative manager. I actually did discuss it a couple times in some early blogs but then stopped doing so for reasons of professional discretion. I love The Times very much, and I'll miss working for them tremendously.

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I'm sure there are other questions, but finally writing all this down has exhausted me, and I'm going to take a pause for now. Needless to say, this is an exciting, terrifying time for me, and I'm taking it day by day.

Stay tuned.

Come see me host The Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour this Sunday, May 11, when my special guests will be Michelle Buteau, Eric Alexander, Lexi Cullen-Baker and Scott Ryan. Details on my web site.

And don't miss seeing me on the season premiere of Last Comic Standing, Thursday, May 22 at 9:30 p.m.!