Sunday, March 13, 2016

Comedy Etc.

This weekend was a good weekend. My first night didn't look so good. It was like being at a party where you meet someone who seems nice but as you talk you have nothing in common. When most NYC comics come across this, they figure it's a gig and they get in and get out, happy they are still alive to tell the tale and laugh it off later. After stepping off the stage I figured they were nice at least, but these werent my people.

However, luck would soon change. The club owner who's also a comic, one who has headlined in Vegas, and does so twice a year, had some things to say. One being, "Things better be different tomorrow night."

Usually when a club owner gives feedback one shrugs and says whatever, or it's good. It all depends on the club owner. At first in my mind I was like, "Whatever, I've been on TV." It's a craptacular attitude to have albeit an egotistical one, but it has kept me going as my life has unraveled the last few months.

However, within seconds my attitude changed once it was revealed he had been doing comedy for 25 years, nearly as long as I had been alive. During some of that time, he also taught comedy and mentored comedians quite a bit. Oh, and he had just returned from a headlining engagement in Vegas. During our talk, he mentioned Abbot and Costello, something my mentor always cites as an example of what a vent act should be. And then he also mentioned he liked the Mr. Okay concept and used Defending the Caveman as an example. (The longest running Broadway show on The Las Vegas Strip). Yes, another show my mentor is very heavily involved with. Something in me, that part that sometimes has a good idea, said, "Don't be your asshole self and listen to this man."

He worked with me for quite a while the next day on my act and had some excellent suggestions. I tried them the following night and it was like NIGHT AND DAY. Even the waitstaff of the club was like WTF?!!?!?

I was talking with the headliner who told me it was good I took suggestions, good I listened. In the end I figure why not? The worst that happens is someone's suggestions don't work and I move on. Or they do and I am better because of it. Either way, I was very happy with the second night and now know what to do to go to the next level with my comedy.

Our headliner who was in several movies has been doing comedy since before I was born I think. Actually, yeah he has. Either way, he was what the owner referred to as a 10 on the scale of funny and headlining. The way this man closed out a show was amazing. I'll admit I pale in comparison, but he has made himself so funny that he's impossible to follow as all closers should be.

At the same time, he's been doing comedy longer than I have been alive. It was amazing how he could just make the room do what he wanted, and didn't sweat about being liked. A lot of comedians do that. Yeah, I am trying to do it less, but when the audience doesn't give me what I want I panic. I go for the cheap laugh. The club owner as he was working with me said don't go for the cheap laugh.........but it's so easy when you aren't getting what you want. I think most comics do it out of fear. Actually, we all do it out of fear. But this headliner, it seemed as if that fear was gone. Maybe it was because he didn't care, that's why he just killed it so easily.

Another comic who partners at the club is also a touring headliner, however, he didn't headline that night but rather stepped in because the club owner was doing a spot elsewhere. He revealed he had been doing comedy for a mere 20 years in comparison to the club owner's 25 and the headliner's 32. We had a conversation about wanting to be liked onstage, and he said the most important thing was to have fun. If you had fun the audience would have fun. And the audience, they are on your side. They want you to do well. How hard that is to remember when you are onstage. But they are on your side......and we both agreed yeah, again, it is hard to remember sometimes.

The fellow who booked the gig has also been involved with comedy for sometime. Maybe not as long as I have been alive but since the 80s. While never a comic himself and always on the booking end, he is an eternal student of comedy and has even hung out at clubs just for the hell of it because he likes being around comedy. When he takes notes at a showcase, he goes joke by joke writing everything down. I know because he has done so for me in the past. Very thorough, he tells you what works, what doesn't and why. His feedback has never failed me. Translated, just like the club owner, the headliner, and the other partner in the operation, he knows his shit.

This whole weekend, my mentor in Vegas was there for emotional support. Of course he's managed some top grossing variety acts who have been on every major TV program ever. And he is actively involved in the Vegas scene, and his people play Caesar's Palace among other places. It is safe to say he's been involved in show business longer than I have been around. Mind you he started his life as a magician touring college campuses and evolved into managing. As I was bitching about all that was happening, he says, "It's called growing pains. That's all."

Eh. Growing pains. Eh. Then again, he's probably also thinking that I'm a little over a decade in, oh poor kid, she's only ten years old........

I guess the point is, you are always still learning and growing. And sometimes it is best just to listen to people with more time at something, because they might know something you don't. Actually, most of the time they know something you don't. Bottom line, you only know what you know when you are supposed to know it. Am I a better comic and ventriloquist than I was years ago? Probably. Still, it's amazing how much I still don't know after all this time.

However, I am also learning to embrace the knowledge and experience of those that do know. It's cool to get to work with those people. It's cool that they were so gracious to guide me. The club owner mentioned that others had done the same for Mitch Hedberg (RIP).

My landlord mentioned the same is true with life, you are never an expert and you are always learning something new. Mind you, he always understands where my parents are coming from being one himself. Yeah, he's got more time on this planet which comes in handy sometimes. It's life.

Comedy is about being real. It's about life. It's about telling the truth. It's about reaching people. Fake doesn't sell. How soon we all forget. Or maybe we don't realize until we are supposed to. Shit this was deep.

Either way, my problems are now I need to perfect my act to go to the next level. I need to purchase a stand for my puppets like the one the club had on hand this weekend that MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD and suggested I use. I need to stop saying the f word onstage. I also need to talk slower. Oh, and I got rid of a really hack stupid bit I leaned too heavily on that was just cheap. Go team!

As opposed to a few months ago when I was being eaten alive by bed bugs and the mold in my place made breathing difficult. Not to mention when I complained my landlord retaliated by trying to evict me. My hair was also falling out because of the chemicals, stress, and other issues involving my living situation. I was in court or a lawyer's office at least once a week. Then when my landlord tried to burn down my apartment I was told by the cops to find somewhere safe, and had to move under duress. Once I moved the doctor's thought I might have uterine cancer because of the way my tests came back.

These days my problems are having my act be funny onstage, and how to make that happen, being the headliner who can reach all audiences like a Jeff Dunham. (The booker mentioned he was the most watched Comedy Central Special of all time). Heck, my sister in law and 13 year old cousin both love him. I can focus on what's important, and that's what I do onstage.

Maybe at times I am guilty of becoming embittered and beaten down by the politics, or resting on the laurels of the successes I have gotten so far, refusing to grow. Both are the wrong way to go because they warp your perspective. I can say that for all the hell I have been through in recent months, for the first time in forever I really and truly love comedy again. I love it. I love it. I love it. I will scream it I LOVE IT!!!!!!

(Of course all those I encountered this weekend have probably had similar feelings to mine at times)

And if it took walking through hell to get me to this feeling and a rough first night in the middle of no where complete with pinched nerve in my neck, I will do it again. Watch me, I'm unstoppable. But first I need to take a shower because I don't want to be unstoppable for all the wrong reasons.

I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

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