Friday, August 18, 2017

Teenager in Love (Dion and the Belmonts)

My grandmother was a published poet at age 68. Her author bio read, "I have a large and colorful family. It's filled with chaos, excitement, drama, and rewards. I just write it down."

Nothing is more true in a large family. There are all sorts of characters. The way I explain my family to people in you are either at the top or down on the bottom. There is no middle ground. I take that back. Thanksgiving is the only place where someone who just got into Yale and someone who just got out of jail can eat together at the table of brotherhood. 

When I was in middle school, my cousin flipped out. He was the oldest of my grandma's kid sister's kids. My family is large as I explained, so I would have to have a flow chart to even add clarity and that would probably still confuse you some. Max was going through a problem phase. He was 16, in love, and willing to go the distance for his bae. Max had some revolting nickname for her which escapes my mind, but it was something like Sugar Lips. 

Max's parents wanted him to come home after a long day at the fair. The family had only one car, but Max had just learned to drive and wanted to stay and have fun with Sugar Lips. His parents explained it was near his curfew, but Max wanted to do what Max wanted to do. So as they were going home, Max insisted he and Sugar Lips could not be apart. His parents told him to call her tomorrow. On a long and lonesome dirt road, Max jumped out of the car as it was moving. He flew out, hit his head, and his mother was screaming. Her son was knocked unconscious. 

Max was put on a life flight. They were not sure if he would make it. After 2 days in a coma, Max woke up. It appeared he had no brain damage. His memory was still good, but he lost some of his sense of taste. Either way, his parents were glad to have him alive. 

Max went about his life. He was a hockey star, but seemed more aggressive. Max also excelled in math and science, but was more aggressive in class when he chose to show up. Before the head injury, Max's grades were lackluster at best. But after hitting his head they improved. However, as I explained he made a bad habit of yelling at his teachers. That's when he chose to deck one in the middle of class. As you could imagine, Max got expelled. 

Max and Sugar Lips were stronger than ever. Her parents were not fond of Max as he had just been kicked out of school for punching a teacher. But for as strong as teenage love is, it is about as strong as something that is built on quicksand because as we know the plot line could quickly get a rewrite. Another young stag entered the fray. Yes, one who was currently going to school but grudgingly so. One who went to the same church as Sugar Lips. One who Sugar Lips's dad actually introduced her to. One who called her by her real name, whatever that was, and not Sugar Lips. As quickly as he rode in, Max was written into the pages of history in this young woman's life. 

Well they say breaking up is hard to do. 

Max was blowing up the phone of Sugar Lips. She was not picking up. He showed up at her door. Her father told him never to come around again. Max was not giving up. So being the well adjusted youngster he was with a head filled with amazing decisions, he followed her and her new boyfriend. Her new boyfriend felt this was creepy and broke up with her. Max had his Sugar Lips back.......or so he thought. 

Apparently she was done. And so were her parents. So they got a restraining order against my cousin. But some call it legal action, Max called it playing hard to get. 

In rural Pennsylvania, people own guns. You have to. The cops are far away and if you have a farm you need to protect your animals from predators. This was the case with my cousin's family. Most folks use the guns for those purposes, but not Max. He went to his parent's tool shed, took a rife, and headed over to the house of Sugar Lips. His proposal, they rekindle their love or else it was murder/suicide time.

When he came over, needless to say she freaked out. The gun sent her screaming. Max  held her hostage for several hours as she was not allowed to call the cops. When her parents got home he held them hostage too. The police were finally called in some way. And when they came my cousin surrendered without incident. At that moment, he realized the relationship was over and Sugar Lips was gone forever.

Or so he thought. 

Max went to jail and the toss up was if he was going to be charged as a juvenile or an adult. Of course his head injury was taken into account. Max also got several letters from Sugar Lips in jail wanting to possibly be friends someday. She didnt want to cut him out as she still cared about him. However, her parents were quick to stop this. 

Needless to say my cousin made the news. My friends thought he was hot. Yes, at the end of it guys like my cousin get a babe and decent dudes dont. Max ended up being sentenced as a juvenile which relieved our entire family. Before he went away Max said to my grandmother, "You know, it's not going to be all that bad. I don't have to go to school. It's prison for kids."

Apparently it was going to be more than Max intended. In Pennsylvania, kids go to school 180 days. If you are an incarcerated juvenile, you have to go to school year around. Max was incredulous. Hey, it's prison for kids! 

Max had some hard lessons while he was inside. In Pennsylvania, if you are an incarcerated juvenile, your parents have to pay to have you housed in the system. Max's parents decided to emancipate him. So in addition to sucking at the whole parenting thing, they were cheap. Instead of looking at the choices that got them to this point, his mother told the judge her son was "a bad seed and the product of a criminal gene."

His father insisted that it was "just teen love gone wrong and boys will be boys."

Max never had a chance in hell of being normal. My grandmother knew this. She also knew his craptacular family had turned their backs on him. So for his birthday and holidays, she sent him cards and presents. Because his family wanted to save money, this meant commissary was out of the question. Knowing Max had no one, she put money on his books. This wasn't about a head injury or a criminal gene or even teen love gone wrong. Max was lonely, heartbroken, and had no half normal adult to talk to. 

He completed his sentence and got out. Max met a girl and got married. No, kidnapping and firearms were not a part of the proposal. 

Now Max is married with a kid. He's a good dad working 2 jobs to support his daughter. Part time as a used car salesman and part time as a lab test subject. Max's dad brags that it's the best job his son's ever had, "So what my boy can't pee on his own and glows in the dark. He's rich!" 

While he is quite the character, Max never forgot my grandmother's generosity. At her funeral he drove all the way from Ohio where he now lives to speak about how when he was incarcerated, my grandmother was the only one who remembered him when his own family wanted nothing to do with him. 

Now I write the story. I have to. Or in the words of my grandmother's author bio, "I have a large and colorful family. It's filled with chaos, excitement, drama, and rewards. I just write it down."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Taking the Plunge

My climb to headliner status has been a rocky one. This past weekend I headlined my first two nighter for real. I headlined and featured at the same time for the past several years never really knowing the difference. It was an appearance and a chance to make money while making people laugh. Sometimes being a woman was what bumped me ahead. Then it was being a prop act. Wasn't bad that I was on TV a few times.

At the same time being a woman has held me back. I have had bookers tell me I was "funny for a woman." Well Sir, these days not only are my people funny but we go to school, become professionals and even run for president. Really. You should see us. (Asshole). Then there have been men who were resentful that I was billed higher. They would tell me how accomplished they were while bad mouthing me when they felt I wasnt around, bemoaning their fate of having a woman who was higher up than them. At one point it got to me so bad I almost quit comedy. Add in the stupidity from male bookers and club owners who felt it was okay to sexually harass the talent in a skirt.

Then there was the fact I was a prop act. A club owner in Vegas would not give me a guest spot to be seen because of my prop act status. He said headliners didn't like me. He didnt even ask the headliner his opinion. It was just a chance to be a dick and close the door.

Then I was on TV, but it wasnt the right shows. I was a reality star. It wasn't Letterman or Colbert or whatever the newest trend was.

They say try to be so funny you can't  be denied. The nature of the beast is that even if you are funny, you will still be denied. Shit sucks but welcome to show biz.

This past year I have really been working my ass off to get to the next level though. I have been good about not letting the bullshit invade my life too badly. My focus has been on my jokes. I have been hitting open mics like Batman hits the Joker. Several events happened, my eviction and a breakup with a mentally ill partner, to make it so comedy was the very thing that kept me from killing myself.

I have become very conscious of delivery and writing in a way I never have. I did a one woman show, which is not the same as a headliner set but it's an hour of you onstage with no break. It's an hour where you leave swimming in your own sweat. It's an hour where you smash the stereotype that performers are selfish because you are giving your all and then some. It's an hour where you feel like eating lots of sugar afterwards cause you need the simple carbs. It's an hour where the next day you feel like you ran a marathon but don't remember running a road race.

This past weekend I was in Trump country. It was trippy and it wasn;t the easiest room because of the layout. It was sort of baptism by fire for my first headlining set. My first night it was a Green Acres learning curve where it was a love/hate relationship between the audience and I. The second night I was more relaxed and had fun. Both nights the room was tough.

Yet both nights the crowds were appreciative. Afterwards there were photos taken and drinks being bought. I sold some merch on the road, but like a green headliner didn't know to ask for a table to sell it. My first night I was reminded I wasnt in NYC as I have a bit where Kim Jong Un calls and a pipe line worker yelled, "Nuke that little fucker!" Yes, there was audience participation.

The next night, Donald J. Tramp has a joke where he goes to call Hillary Clinton the c word and I stop him. Someone yelled, "Call that bitch cunt what she is. A bitch cunt!" Yes, oh comedy.

(Note, May Wilson killed as usual and Mom was a hit)

One of the best moments though was when I went to the front desk before my second show. The front desk lady said, "Oh, you were the comedian, I heard all about you."

I did a shrug, that could mean anything. I was like wow, and then she said, "Oh, only good things. There was one older gentlemen who was nervous when you stepped onstage. He figured you would just talk about sex all night long. But he was amazed at the creativity and originality of your act and he intends to return tonight."

At first I had a laugh. Yes, women. Some of us have substance to my acts. But you should really see my people. But then I thought of all the women headliners who put up with the same shit I did. The same women headliners who also took time and effort to write an act with depth. And then I thought of all the headliners, male and female, who wrote an act with depth and went the extra mile. I thought of all the people who had helped me this past year and continue to help me.

I also thought of the meltdown my mom had about my life. But she also got me an aqua colored notebook. It's a place to write my new bits down. It's a place to bleed my feelings on the page. It's a place to create more bits that bring people together. It's a place where I can continue to do the work. It's a place where I remember how the rest of the comics wanted to impress me this weekend, and where I can continue to be someone to be looked up to. It's a place where I can write a lot of hack shit and have the bad die in a dark basement out of the sight of anyone important. It's a place where I remember it's a marathon not a sprint.

It's a marathon.

That's why I sweat when I leave the stage.

My mom hates my book but she's happy I am eating more fruit. You should totally buy it. Buy My Book

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Trying Too Hard

In my latter teens when I moved to NYC I tried too hard. I wanted to be cool and edgy when really I seemed desperate. I wore fake eyelashes that never looked right. I wore a hair attachment that always fell off. It was fake just like my exterior. I was a bad ass.

No, I was a dumb ass. Especially when I got hooked on a guy that didn't want me back and wanted to be older and more mature. Older and more mature involved getting piss drunk at a Cosi by myself and being dragged out. Hey, I was winning so much I was getting sick of winning. 

I completely tried my ass off when I was younger. I got out of a relationship with a violent, possessive SOB who made me choose between him and the puppets. I told my story behind the mic. I carried my battle scars with pride. I was an edgy feminist. Really and truly I was shrill, angry, and annoying. Feminism isn't about being shrill angry and annoying. It's about the assertion that women are people. Ha ha. 

Then I tried my ass off when I became a reality star and headline. I wanted to be uber cool. I wasnt embracing show business was a business. It was like I wanted to be a nightlife celebrity and Michael Alig was no where to be found. So when I answered fan mail and received eviction papers the same day I was surprised and alarmed. Show business is a business. Being on TV was nice but it's a marathon not a sprint. 

Of course you stop being cool when life shows up. Life showed up in the form of court dates with my landlord. It showed up with my water being turned off and him trying to burn my apartment down during a court date. In between I was abused by his lawyers with endless legal papers. 

Life stopped being cool when I found someone worse than my SOB former fiance who's psychotic breaks became more and more dangerous the more he refused to be medicated. It became even less cool when his friends and family members threatened me after things ended. And the bad boy became a sad tale when recently I found out not only is my ex homeless and shooting dope again, but he's apparently blaming me for the mess he calls his life. 

In between there have been growing pains behind the mic that have made me laugh and cry, and humiliations I thought I was above. 

Yeah, I stopped being cool

But a wise man once said, "Cool is the enemy of comedy."

So I have stopped being cool. My sets have gotten better and I have grown leaps and bounds as a comic. My bumps and bruises are part of my fabric, part of the very thread that weaves me together. But they don't define me the way they used to. 

I make an asshole out of myself on the regular. I played softball the other day and I play like a girl cause I am a girl. But I had fun and raised money for breast cancer, and I made new friends because I didnt try to be cool. 

I did a webcast yesterday. I did it, and tried too hard the first time and accidentally flashed the camera. I had to take it down. I didn't like it anyway. I was trying too hard. Second time I was much better because I was just myself. I didnt care. I cant rap or hit a softball but I am freaking adorable.

I was also able to raise money for breast cancer. I figured I would play for my Nuni Patti Wallisch who raised 6 kids, got her college degree at 66, and became a published poet at 68. She also survived Stage IV breast cancer. Now I think she is more awesome than anyone. 

Also, it was a nice reminder that while I am passionate about relationship violence given my past, there are other women's issues. 

I also tried my hour for a friend who told me to slow down. I thought I was gonna cry. Then I did it again. I slowed down. It felt better. It didnt feel fake. Hopefully it will be good this weekend as I have been working my ass off. Hopefully I won't be too cool. 

Either way I have grown a lot these last two years. The bumps and bruises are worth it. I am ten times the comic I was when I was trying to be cool. I know there's still work to be done. My softball game could also improve. I know I'm gonna be alright. I just need to shower and brush my teeth. Sometimes that's all you need to be fabulous

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Rey)

The last few weeks have been difficult. Seasonal depression hit like a ton of bricks. Typically I get depressed in the middle of the summer. Work slows and I have more time on my hands to think. There's an old saying. The most dangerous neighborhood is the one in your mind.

Last year I seemed to avoid the seasonal depression I got. I had battled it for several years and thought I finally had it beat. However, it was delayed until August. This was because my sister got married in July and then I went from her wedding to the RNC. I had things to do so the depression didn't have time to sink in. And then I was on Cloud 9 because May Wilson and I were on national tv the following week. I was an activist, an artist, a TV personality. I felt great about life. 

This year has been a lot of ups and downs. A lot of career let downs followed by a lot of ups. But each up and down has been followed by rehearsals, auditions, tapings, meetings, traveling, and other footwork. And even when there was a down there wasnt much resting as there was much more to be done. 

Plus a lot of personal problems hit me like a ton of bricks. A friend breakup that has been slowly happening for two years reached it's final conclusion. And one thing about a friend breakup is you lose a part of your heart that you never knew was there. A lover you know will screw ya, but a friend, you never see it until it's there.

As of last week, things started to get better. In part because I decided to stop paying attention to the facebook reminders of where I was a year ago. I also know I don't have the capability to do the things I am doing now a year ago. I am stronger than I was a year ago. And did I mention I rocked my friend's political fundraiser?

Hell ya. And that got  me back out there mixing activism with art. 

The depression is being lifted. Work is picking up. I had an international order for an autographed book this week to a gentlemen in Northern Ireland. I got out of myself and was there for a friend who had to go to the ER with severe poison ivy. I got out of myself and was there for another friend who's boyfriend is struggling with alcohol. I got out of myself and was there for another friend who is transitioning from female to male and needed a hug.

I also am looking forward to the aspects of my work that I like. I like making people laugh and smile, and I love each audience I perform for. All people do is want to laugh and I am allotted the opportunity to do that. I am also looking forward to doing a headlining set in my home state. 

Apparently this is a real thing. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a real thing. Yes, SAD is a real thing. So if you are experiencing this you are not alone. SAD. Sad. sad. Yes, it's SAD because it's real. It's Sad because you feel sad. And it is sad because here I am blogging about a first world stupid white bitch problem. Sigh mcsigh sigh