Monday, April 30, 2012

What's in the Box?

Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I open my eyes to take a peep
To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquillity.
'Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love

--Donovan

Yesterday, for the first time, I sat down to watch David Fincher's "Seven." Yes, I know it came out 17 years ago, and it's a movie with which EVERYONE seems all too familiar. (After I mentioned it on my Facebook page, I got about a dozen "What's in the box?!" comments.) But even though I knew it was an acclaimed film and an important pop culture touchstone, I had never actually watched it.

I was scared to.

First, because I'm not a fan of horror or gore per se. I do enjoy a good suspense film. And I don't mind an honest-to-goodness fright now and then. I thought "Paranormal Activity" was brilliant, and "Silence of the Lambs" is probably among my top 10 favorite movies of all time. But I cannot tolerate torture porn: No "Saws," "Hostels" or "Human Centipedes" for me. (Even the trailer for the first "Centipede" disturbed me for weeks.) Honestly, I've just never understood the pleasure in vicariously experiencing someone else's pain. That's one reason I always hated "The Three Stooges" and refuse to see the Farrelly brothers' remake.

Please don't anyone ever get me this birthday cake.


But movie genre preferences aside, I had long been curious about "Seven," and had every intention of watching it someday. Then came 2007's "Zodiac," also directed by Fincher. It's been five years since I first saw "Zodiac," and all I have to do is hear Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man," and the cold shivers begin.

It wasn't the scary factor itself that bothered me, although "Zodiac" is often genuinely terrifying. It's the dread. In making that film, Fincher was able to create an all-consuming sense that the world is a cruel, twisted place where awful things happen to innocent people for no reason whatsoever -- that life is a series of ugly, unsolvable puzzles. The movie made me feel literally crazy.

I always figured "Seven" would have the exact same effect on me, and that's why I've avoided it. But I found myself yesterday with absolutely nothing good to watch on TV, and I needed something to occupy my attention while I made my weekly quiche. In scrolling through the Showtime-on-Demand movies, I came across "Seven" and thought, "It's now or never."

I should have opted for never.

 Not unlike what I look like after making my quiche.

As much as I admired the filmmaking, the performances and especially the horrifically brilliant plotting, the whole operation just left me feeling baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. The vomit bucket. The "Help Me" fingerprints on the wall. The knife dildo. It was all just awful. And even though I followed it up with four back-to back episodes of "Friends," I went to bed feeling completely unsettled.

Sure enough, at 3:30AM on the dot, I awoke from a disturbing dream. I can't remember the details. But it was dark and violent and filled with dread, and as I lay in the darkness of my room with the humidifier quietly gurgling alongside my bed, I was afraid to go back to sleep, lest the dream continue. So I stayed awake. I read from a length paperback (Gay Talese's "The Neighbor's Wife," which I'll blog about another time). I watched a movie on Netflix (some Z-grade gay-genre documentary called "The Adonis Factor"), I tossed and turned, and then, around 6:45, I fell back asleep... for 15 minutes.

Absolutely no reason to include this still from "The Adonis Factor," but I need to keep my gay male readers interested somehow.

Today I feel like absolute shit and am basically worthless. And I have nobody to blame but myself and David Fincher.

I think I'm done with scary movies for good.

Homo exhausted.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Falsettos and Arthur


It's been hot
Also it's been swell.
More than not,
It's been more than words can tell.
I halt.
I stammer.
I sing a roundelay.
What more can I say?

--"Falsettoland"

It's no secret that I'm a huge Broadway show queen. Even more, I'm a Broadway showTUNE queen. Other than Howard Stern's channel, I listen to the Sirius-XM On Broadway station more frequently than any other. There's something so incredibly stirring to me about the brash melodies, the clever and often provocative lyrics, the sheer drama of it all. It inspires me, but it also gets me through the day.

I have my favorites, of course: "West Side Story." "South Pacific.""Pippin." "Evita." And more recently, I am slightly ashamed to admit, "Wicked."

But I also love discovering musicals I never knew existed -- or  ones I have lost touch with. One of these is William Finn's "Falsettos."

It's hard to explain the evolution of "Falsettos" without a flowchart, but here are the basics: William Finn first wrote "In Trousers," a one-act, off-Broadway musical, in 1979. It told the story of Marvin, a closeted gay, Jewish man with a wife and son. Marvin's story continued in 1981's "March of the Falsettos," which opened off-Broadway in 1981 and focuses on Marvin's complicated relationship with his (now ex-) wife, Trina, his son, Jason, and his lover, Whizzer. (There are lesbian characters introduced as well.) The trilogy was completed with 1990's "Falsettoland," which ends with Jason's Bar Mitzvah taking place in the hospital room of Whizzer, who is dying of AIDS.

In 1992, Finn and collaborator James Lapine combined "March of the Falsettos" and "Falsettoland" -- parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy -- into one Broadway musical simply called "Falsettos."

How great is the Keith Haring poster art?

I can't recall which of these various productions I actually saw, but I know I saw one of them. Most likely, I saw the off-Broadway "Falsettoland" with my family in 1990, on one of our frequent visits to the New York theater world. I would have been 19 at the time, fully aware of my own homosexuality but also keeping it tightly under wraps. Tellingly, I remember almost nothing about "Falsettoland." I can imagine myself, sitting in the dark with parents and sisters, simultaneously exhilarated and terrified, as I always was when this taboo subject reared its forbidden head. But I can't actually remember any of it, other than the certainty that I did see it.

Anyway, Sirius XM On Broadway often plays "What More Can I Say" from "Falsettoland." It could very well be the most beautiful, sensuous song ever written for one man to sing about another. I did a thorough YouTube search and couldn't find a decent live stage version, but here's a perfectly nice attempt by some fresh-faced young student-type named Sean Salamon, accompanying himself on the Casio keyboard and seemingly struggling with a droopy microphone.



Warning: If you're not gay, you will be after you listen to this.

All of this is to say, I purchased a used copy of the original "Falsettoland" cast album for 36 cents (plus $2.98 shipping and handling) from Amazon.com, and now I am playing the hell out of it.

From the sublime to the ridiculous:

Lately, every time I scroll through the premium movie channels (for which I pay a usurious $190 a month -- Fuck you, Time Warner Cable), I see "Arthur" playing, and I get totally jazzed. That is, until I flip to it and discover it's the execrable Russell Brand remake instead of the Dudley Moore classic original.

Pure Genius.

Pure Ca-Ca


"Arthur" -- the 1981 version -- was one of two movies from which my friend Mike Bultman and I quoted liberally when we were ten years old, the other being the Burt Reynolds film, "Paternity."

Our favorite quotes from "Arthur" were:

You're a hooker?! Jesus, I forgot, I thought I was doing great with you!

He's taking the knife out of the cheese! You think he wants some cheese?! 

And most of all, this gem from Sir John Gielgud:

Perhaps you would like me to come in there and wash your dick for you, you little shit.

There's also this brilliant exchange between Arthur and Gloria, the hooker:


Gloria: My mother died when I was six.

Arthur: Son of a bitch! Don't they know what they do to the kids?

Gloria: My father raped me when I was twelve.

Arthur: So, you had six relatively good years.


We were some seriously dark 10-year-olds laughing at that shit.

I confess, I couldn't get past the first 20 minutes of the "Arthur" remake. I don't quite get Russell Brand's popularity in the first place. I thought he was terrific in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," playing essentially an exaggerated version of himself. But otherwise, I find him rather insubstantial.

Anyway, apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way about the two "Arthurs." I posted a comment about it on my Facebook page, earlier today, and so far 31 people have "liked" it. I am forever surprised by what connects with people and what doesn't. If I could solve that mystery, I'd be the most successful performer on earth.

That's pretty much all I've got to say for today. It's been a decent weekend so far. Went to a party with my friend Brent at my friend Neil Thornton's gorgeous new apartment last night. Drank too much vodka. Slept late today. Went to the gym. Made chili. Heading later tonight to the 30th birthday of my friend Corey Johnson, who is making a run for NYC City Council. Vote for him!

Homo falsettoing. 

P.S. Don't forget -- I'm opening for Martha Wash at Joe's Pub this coming Friday night!



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Doin' it for the Dominicans


The clown with his pants falling down
Or the dance that's a dream of romance
Or the scene where the villain is mean
That's entertainment!

--Band Wagon

Last night I hosted the weekly "Octagon" show at the Laughing Devil. (Beginning next week, we're changing the show's format and title. It will henceforth be called "The Big Thing." Insert penis joke here.)

I remember a comic -- I can't recall who -- once tell me that he had performed a show for an audience of one. "And you know what?" he said. "That guy was a great audience." Well, we had more than one person in the crowd last night, but not a whole lot more than that. And you know what? They were a great audience.

In the front row were a 20-something Dominican couple. The guy's name was Dainel. Not "Daniel" -- "Dainel" -- pronounced "Dye-NELL." His girlfriend's name was Jessica. They were both absolutely, stunningly beautiful. But more than that, they clearly came to the club that night to laugh. They were utterly engaged throughout the show -- indulging the comedians in our crowd work, answering back in hilarious ways and laughing appreciatively throughout. (When Dainel found something particularly funny, he pounded his hands on the table.) I can't remember the last time I enjoyed hosting a show as much. It just goes to prove that when it comes to crowds, quality is every bit as important as quantity. I wish I could clone those two.

I didn't take any pictures of Dainel and Jessica. That would have been weird. But here are two celebrities who might play them in a movie:

Fun fact: I sort of know him. We're Facebook friends, and I often run into him out and about.

Fun fact: She has a gigantic ass.

(Before I start getting angry emails, I know Wilson and Jennifer are Puerto Rican and not Dominican. But it was the best I could come up with after perusing a list of famous Dominicans.)

When you're a performer, having a good crowd is everything. It's like attending a party where everyone is fun and exciting and attractive, as opposed to attending a party where everyone's an ugly, boring asshole. That's what people don't get about live performance, and especially comedy: It's never a one-way conversation (unlike film or television).

In any case, I hope I meet Dainel and Jessica again. In bed. (What?! Kidding. About Jessica.)

Speaking of sexy-time, I was supposed to have an honest-to-goodness date tonight, but as I type this, I am reading a text message that my date is sick and has to cancel. Oh well. Guess it's Chinese food and "American Idol" results for me. I just went from ho to ho-hum.

One last thing before I sign off: I can now announce that my naked comedy show, "Dirty Laundry," produced by Daniel Nardicio, will be moving to Fire Island's Cherry Grove for a one-night-only performance on Saturday, July 21! Save the date, pervs!

Homo entertained.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Vagina Smoker

His name was Adam
When his mom had him
Dad was a phantom never took a look at him
Grew up mad and antisocial
Hated outdoors, always in playing Madden

--K'naan feat. Nelly Furtado


(Don't read a thing into that song quote. It just happened to be playing while I wrote this.)


I have even less to say today than I did yesterday or the day before, but I'm trying to keep my promise and write SOMETHING every day. So here goes:


Howard Stern hosted a naked talent show on his Sirius XM show this morning. It was called "The Triple X Factor," and contestants could basically do ANYTHING as long as they were naked. There were four acts: A housewife whose talent was burping, a man with a tiny penis who sang and played the ukulele, two former porn chicks who performed rock music and a current porn star who could smoke a cigarette with her vagina.


The porn rockers won, but the vagina-smoker was a close second. Afterwards, on the Wrap-Up Show, Howard's producer, Garry Dell'Abate, mentioned that originally there had been a fifth act booked -- a male comedian who was going to do naked stand-up -- but he backed out at the last minute. Since naked comedy is nothing new for me, I was kicking myself for not throwing my, er, hat into the ring as well. And literally at that moment, I got the following tweet from @poodiemuckle:


How were you not doing naked standup on XXX Factor on  today? It was a $10K prize!


Truly, I dropped the ball(s). A missed opportunity. Though in truth, no man is ever going to beat out naked female porn stars on the Howard Stern Show.


Very psyched to see him as a judge on "America's Got Talent" this season.

Tonight I'm doing my usual Wednesday gig -- hosting The Octagon (formerly the Great New York Mic-Off) at the Laughing Devil Comedy Club. The Devil is a new(ish) club in Long Island City, Queens that was founded, in part, by comedian Steve Hofstetter (who also started Comedy Soapbox, the original host of this blog and a site on which I am inexplicably still among the "Top Comics" listed on the main page).

The Octagon is a competition for up-and-coming comics. Eight comedians perform, and at the end we have an audience "clap-off" to determine the winner. I am grateful to have a standing weekly club gig, but it's a bit of a tough crowd for me. Ironic: For years, I loved straight crowds and feared gay ones. Now it's the other way around. I have so much filthy gay-specific material in my repertoire now, but not enough "mainstream" material. Must work on that.

(Breaking: Look for some big changes happening with this show very soon.)

Awoke from the trippiest dream this morning. Lately, I'm stuck in this awful sleep pattern where I have trouble falling asleep, sleep poorly throughout the night, and then, around 5:30AM, fall into a deep, dream-filled REM cycle from which I am awoken at 7:20 when my cursed alarm goes off. It blows.

Anyway, I don't remember all the particulars of this dream, but I know Madonna was at my house, getting ready for some charity event that would be taking place that night. I was dying to talk to her, but she was busy, and I didn't want to interrupt. I was painfully aware throughout the dream that I was over three hours late for work/school (the two always get confused in dreams), and I didn't have access to my car. (In real life, I take a bus to work and haven't owned a car since 2010.) Finally, I was able to hitch a ride with author AJ Jacobs - - a family friend whose new book, "Drop Dead Healthy," is currently No. 8 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Then I woke up.


Feel free to interpret, but I should tell you that Madonna pops up frequently in my dreams, including one that was highly erotic. Apparently a lot of gay men of my generation have had sex dreams about her. I don't know what that's about.


Not recently, though.


I have a bunch of fun gigs coming up I supposed I could mention. On Friday, May 4, I am opening for Martha Wash at Joe's Pub. (This was the event that was supposed to happen last summer on Fire Island, but Hurricane Irene put the kibosh on it.)


I'll be hosting another comedy night (my fourth!) at the Summit Elks Lodge on Saturday, May 19.


The next night, I travel to New Hope, PA for their annual Pride festival to open for Poppy Champlin.


And on Sunday, Aug. 19 I'll be getting naked again for GNI's annual gathering. Stay tuned for some other big events happening this summer on Fire Island.

That's all I got today.

Homo Mad and Antisocial.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Funnel Clouds

 
But you didn't have to cut me off
Make it like it never happened and that we were nothing
I don't even need your love, but you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough

--Gotye

Normally my musical quotations have some thematic connection to what I'm blogging about. The one above does not. It's simply a song that has been stuck in my head, 24-7, for weeks now. I wake up in the middle of the night hearing it, and I have to think of a new song in order to get back to sleep. (Which is only a temporary fix; I still wake up hearing Gotye when my alarm goes off.) It's not a bad song; I particularly enjoy this rendition by a capella group Pentatonix. But I really don't want to hear it on a continuous loop, and I fear that it is slowly driving me mad.

(Fun fact: Scott Hoying, the cute blond guy from Pentatonix, follows me on Twitter. I would like him to sing me to sleep every night.)

He's all, "No, thanks."

Did a set at Rockbar last night at the show run by Neil Thornton and Frank Liotti, two boys I like a lot. The crowd was small, but I enjoyed myself. This morning Neil emailed me that the staff at Rockbar thought I was really good. This to me is always the ultimate compliment -- when the people who are there because they have to be enjoy my performance. Back in my Therapy days, I knew I was having a good set when I could make the waiters laugh.

A mini-rant: One of the comics who was supposed to perform last night showed up, saw that the crowd was thin and bolted, giving some  excuse about "roommate drama." I've said this before a million times, and I'll say it again: If you're a performer and you pull that kind of bullshit, what you're really saying is, "I am flaky and unreliable; don't ever book me again."

Last week I flew to Oklahoma City just as deadly tornadoes were headed that way. Let me clear: It wasn't that there was a chance of tornadoes. It was a certainty, and Oklahoma City was at the center of the bullseye. My mother was freaking. By the time I landed in Minneapolis (the first leg of my journey), she had texted me three times and left a voicemail:

"Adam, we're watching CNN, and you need to come home now. I'm serious. As soon as you land, find the next flight to New York, and come home. This is not funny. You are going to be killed if you go to Oklahoma right now. Love you, bye."

I called her and assured her that I would, in fact, be continuing on to Oklahoma. Because the flights weren't canceled, and the show wasn't canceled. I made a commitment to perform at this venue. They paid for my plane ticket. They advertised the show to their patrons. I wasn't backing out. Period.

That's showbiz. And if you're not willing to make that kind of commitment to it, then you should quit and make room for those of us who are.

Tornado, Torshmado.

Incidentally,  my attempts to reassure my mother that I would be safe amid the wild weather were in vain. (Note: Her initials are PGS.)

She funny lady, no?

Needless to say, I lived through it. Kind of disappointed I never even heard a siren, actually. But I was treated with tremendous kindness and hospitality by the venue, Phoenix Rising, and especially by my friend, Scott, who runs a flower business in OK City with his long-time boyfriend, Robert. Scott first heard me on the Frank DeCaro show years ago, and when I was planning my cross-country break-up comedy tour in January, 2010, he was the one who initially hooked me up with Phoenix Rising. This time around, he treated me to dinner and even drove me to the airport in the morning. He is a doll, and I am forever in his debt.

Come to think of it, just about everyone I met in OK City was pretty damn nice. Cute, too. And with that, I have just pissed off my Texas, Arkansas and Missouri readership.

I don't have any performance photos or video from the show -- maybe someone took some and could send 'em to me? -- but here's a picture of me and Brian Barry beforehand.

Brian lives in OK City now, and he opened for me.
His set culminated in a dance tribute to Whitney Houston, in which he wrapped himself in a towel, did a bunch of coke, laid down on the ground and died.
Classy!

Day job crap is calling. More later today, perhaps.

Homo tornadoed. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Blah Hole

You have a story to tell, a novel you keep in a drawer. 
(Old sock drawer)
You have a painting to paint, but you're lazy like an old French whore
(Je suis whore)

--[title of show]

It actually took me a moment to remember the URL for this blog. That's how long it's been since I've updated it. And I doubt anyone, with the possible exception of pervy fan Paul in Mass (NSFW), has missed it.

It's been a period of utter hibernation for me. I haven't been happy; I haven't been sad. I've simply been. And other than writing a half-dozen so-so jokes and obsessively updating my Facebook page every hour on the hour, I have expended virtually no creative energy in months.

This happens sometimes, though not usually for this long. When it does, I try not to beat myself up over it. "You're resting," I tell myself. "You're recharging your batteries." "You'll come back and do something big, and when you do, it'll be great."

But lately I worry that my sense of inertia is simply feeding on itself, like a black hole of laziness and apathy. A blah hole, if you will.

The truth is, I haven't been writing because nothing has inspired me to write. Which is not to say stuff hasn't been happening to me. It has. Last weekend, for example, I flew to Oklahoma City in the midst of deadly tornadoes to perform comedy at a gay leather bar, after which I spent a night of passion with a llama farmer. That sounds like it has all the makings of a great story, doesn't it?


Actual photo of us from that night.

But great stories don't necessarily come from extraordinary events. In fact for me, they often come from the most mundane sources: A trip to the supermarket, a visit to the dentist, a walk in the park and so forth. It's all about finding the absurdity in an event and successfully conveying that, along with, ideally, an emotional take-away. It's not easy, but it's something I know I can do.

Except I can't lately. Because I can't find the absurdity, and I'm not taking anything away. I'm just... hibernating. Dozing. Waiting for the season to change. Waiting for inspiration to hit.

Because normally, it does. Normally, what happens is the stuff writes itself. Whether it's a joke, a Facebook update or a full-on blog post, it just comes to me -- usually completely formed. Then it's just a matter of getting it all down on (virtual) paper before it evaporates. It's like trying to take dictation from some manic boss who's talking way too fast. That's why my best blog posts have been written in chapters. Because when the shit is really flowing, it's too much for me to get down in one sitting.

But that voice -- the voice of the manic boss -- has been very quiet for months now. I can't say why. And I miss it, because it's my voice. I am fundamentally, first and foremost, a writer. And a writer who isn't writing ceases to exist. I can go through the motions of my life -- the comedy shows, the day job, the endless TV watching, the occasional romp with a llama farmer -- but I can't actually feel much of anything.

I know this is a lot of heavy shit, but in the absence of inspiration I'm going stream-of-consciousness -- hoping that the very act of typing words onto a page will get things flowing again -- a sort of metaphysical pounding on the ketchup bottle. So far it's... not working.

Instead of further rampant navel-gazing, here are some recent photos (for those of you who haven't already seen them on Facebook):

Me and Janeane Garofalo, in the green room at UCB East.
I did a show there with her this past Thursday and was thrilled to meet one of my comedy idols. Another comic did his best to cock-block me and hog Janeane for himself the entire time, but when I finally got to speak with her, she was amazing -- warm, engaged, funny, and genuinely interested in what others had to say. We talked politics, fame, showbiz, hecklers, Fox News, Bill Maher.
It was really, really cool.

Me and Mike Bultman in Midtown.
I met Mike in 5th grade, when his family moved to New Jersey from Michigan. We spent many years making music together (he far more prodidiously than I), along with silly comedy tapes. Mike lives in a suburb of Chicago now, where he's a much-beloved high school music teacher. He and his chorus came to NYC to visit/perform last week, and we caught up over dinner... the first time we had seen each other since 2003.

Me on the Caribbean cruise I took with my friend Walt last month.
There is absolutely no reason to post this photo other than the fact that I think I look pretty good.

Me, Miriam Shor and Frank DeCaro on Frank's Sirius-XM OutQ show last month.
Miriam plays Cricket on the new ABC show "GCB," and both she and the show are rather delightful.
It was a weird coincidence that I was co-hosting with Frank that day, because Miriam and I went to college together. She was a whore in the same production of "Best Little Whorhouse in Texas" in which I played Edsel, the newspaper editor. One of us has had a very successful performing career.

Ben McKenzie ("The OC," "Southland") and me.
Ben was also a guest on Frank's show the day I co-hosted. I want to have his baby.
Ben's -- not Frank's.


OK, that's enough for now. I going to try and post SOMETHING in this space every day going forward. Not promising anything. But I'm going to try.

Homo hibernating.