Thursday, December 22, 2005

I'm Not Here. This Isn't Happening.

The Carnival story - part 2. Scroll down for part 1.

This story is turning out to be longer than I thought. I've decided to make it three parts. Part three will be up in a couple days.


Before this story goes any further, it’s time to introduce the major players in this little drama, so here they are.

Al Ernst
Veteran cruise ship comedian and president of The Floating Mullets Chapter 437. Al was the organizer of this entire event, so every comedian in the world should thank him for the wonderful opportunity. After all, you're not a real comedian until you've told your jokes in international waters. I'm guessing that when Al performs, his intro is something like, "he's played the east coast up and down the east coast, and he puts the star in starboard..."

Walt Wiley
From TV's All My Children. Walt was slated to host the final as the "celebrity" guest MC. My, how soap opera stars have fallen. Remember when you could turn on daytime TV and watch your favorite soap star barking out clues to hapless idiots looking to improve their lives by winning a year’s supply of flavored rice or a new stove on some shitty game show? Well, folks, those days are over. These days, soap opera stars who want that extra bit of cash and exposure have to occasionally pass themselves off as comedians. Usually, you can find them popping up in out-of-the-way midwestern comedy clubs, surrounded by actual desperate housewives who have decided to be naughty for a night and ignore their chores to go see a real live famous person. So the parking garages fill up with minivans and the housewives descend, referring to the actor only by his character's name. I wonder how the clubs get the smell of White Diamonds out of the carpet.

"Oh my god, Mildred, it says here that Risk Mudshark from 'Woodshop Sweats' is going to be at the Chuckle Bunker this weekend. I really love that guy. Remember last year, when he was about to get married? Yeah, he was going to marry Menses Collagen, the heiress to the 'Support The Troops' sticker fortune, but she died that one time she went to use the ATM, but when money was supposed to come out of that little slot, a swarm of killer bees did instead. I felt so bad for Risk. We should go see him."

Then she goes and yells at her husband for watching professional wrestling. What a bitch.

The Judges:

Joel Pace - Booker for the Comedy Zones

Everything I've heard about Joel is a good thing. Everything said to me about Joel has been said by a comic who wants to work for him. For example, no one has ever said to me, "Joel Pace likes to throw jellyfish at babies…I’m sending him my avails tomorrow!"

The Comedy Booker From Carnival
I don't remember his name, but I’m guessing that about 80% of the people he books own propeller hats. That’s not such a bad thing. Propeller hats probably help you escape the sharks if your ship ever sinks. The minute the sharks see the hat, they’ll realize that you’re already dead inside. They prefer fresh kills.

Les McCurdy - Owner of McCurdy's Comedy Club in Sarasota, FL.
I don’t know much about Les, but he seemed like a nice enough guy to me.

Eddie Brill - Comedian and booker of comedians for Letterman.
He’s the greatest guy ever! I mean it! The greatest!

The Blinking Flamingo
Most comedy clubs have a little light above the stage that turns on to alert you to how much time you have left in your set. Sometimes, instead of a light turning on, someone in the back of the room will hold up a candle or shine a flashlight. It's a perfect system, which means that people have to keep fucking with it. For the Carnival Challenge, a big neon flamingo was placed near the side of the stage. When the flamingo turned on, you had a minute left. When the flamingo began blinking, your time was up. When the flamingo shouted "Y’all ready for this," a gay dance party was to begin. Now, picture yourself sitting in the crowd at a comedy show. Don't you think you would be distracted by the sight of a giant neon flamingo suddenly lighting up and blinking next to the stage?


On with the story...

After the prelims, all of the comedians were given a voicemail number to call later in the evening to find out who would be chosen to perform in the final. When I called, I was shocked to hear that not only did I make the cut, but that my roommate and fellow hilarious comedian Mike Payne had also made it. In fact, the field for the final had been increased to 14 to accommodate the abundant wealth of talent in NYC. Hooray for NYC. Everyone here is soooo talented! I mean everyone. There's not one bad comic in NYC. Nope. Not one. Not that guy you’re thinking of. Nope, not that other guy, either. Believe it.

Somehow, after being the first of about 80 comics to audition, I had beaten the odds and made the final. Now, a strange thing happens when you get into a competition. Even though you had never taken it seriously to begin with, you suddenly find yourself entertaining these delusions of grandeur. You picture yourself dominating the competition and running away with first place. You imagine gatorade being poured over you as strippers hoist you onto their shoulders and take you away to the Playboy Mansion. I wasn't even interested in winning this thing. All I wanted was to be seen by the guy from Letterman. But, after making the final, I started imagining myself as a cruise ship comedian. I would grow my hair long and change my name to Saltwater Laffy. I would sail the high seas with a banjo and an arsenal of buffet jokes. This was going to be my big break, one way or another. Plan A and Plan B being fulfilled simultaneously.

The following evening, we made our way to the club where we would find out the order for the show. I remember, in the car, having a definite feeling that I would draw first again, but I didn't mention it. I was trying to stay positive. We arrived at the club about twenty minutes before showtime and were handed a piece of paper with the order written on it:

1. Andy Kline
2. Mike Payne
3 - 14. People who actually had a chance.

That's right. After having drawn first in the morning prelim, I once again beat the odds and drew first. My bad luck had rubbed off on my roommate as well. The crowd was to choose the winner at the end of the show and they never remember the first guy. Never.

I made my way downstairs to the showroom and met up with Al Ernst to ask him about the format for the show. I asked Al who was hosting and how much time the host would do before introducing me. His response:

"Yeah, Walt Wiley isn’t here yet, but he’s the host. I’m going to go up and make some announcements, explain the rules, then I’ll bring you up and bring up the host, you know, but Walt isn’t here yet. He’s running late."

We weren’t sure where Walt was, but I suspected he was busy signing some secretary's breast while her child suckled on it. Fearful that our host wouldn’t show, I asked Al if he was prepared to host in Walt’s absence. After all, Al is a comedian himself. His response:

"Yeah, Walt Wiley isn’t here yet, but he’s the host. I’m going to go up and make some announcements, explain the rules, then I’ll bring you up and bring up the host, you know, but Walt isn’t here yet. He’s running late."

Great, Al, thanks for the info. This was the second time in a matter of minutes that Al had mentioned doing announcements, then bringing ME up, and then bringing up the HOST. I assumed he was just speaking too quickly and jumbling everything together. I mean, there’s no way he’d bring the first contestant up before the actual host, right?

As soon as Al was able to confirm that Walt was near the club, he decided to take the stage, make the announcements, introduce the judges and explain the rules. The whole process was incredibly lengthy and boring. Al wasn’t even trying to be funny. Usually, when you put a comic in front of a microphone for any reason, a few jokes will naturally spill out, but that’s apparently not Al’s style. Al went through the announcements with the demeanor of a Tori Amos fan. Serious, methodical, and completely unentertaining. About two minutes into Al’s announcements, Walt stumbled into the club reeking of skin cancer and Crest Whitestrips. He gave a nod to Al, then sat down. Al finished the announcements, gave smelling salts to the crowd and proceeded to start the show.

"Alright, let’s get things started…your first comedian this evening…give it up for Andy Kline."

What the fuck? He’s introducing me? The host hasn’t even gone up, yet. The crowd is ice cold. What the fuck? Now, normally in situations like this, my instinct would be to take the stage and comment on the awkwardness of this predicament and even take a couple shots at Al, but I had this neon flamingo staring at me and there were only six minutes to impress Eddie Brill. I couldn’t waste any time. be continued

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bloodied On The Shore

The Carnival Story.

This story is a bit long, so it's been broken down into two parts.

This is part one.

I am not a cruise ship comedian. In order to be a cruise ship comedian, you have to be able to work squeaky clean to an audience ranging in age from 9 to 90. That's about three requirements too many for me. I always imagined the perfect cruise ship comic would be a guy who spends his entire set shaping balloons into animals that have gone extinct.

"Look little girl, it's a birdie!"

"Look grandma, it's a passenger pigeon!"

Oooh's and aaah's all around. Everybody wins. Why, then, did I find it necessary to enter the barely heralded Carnival Comedy Challenge NYC in 2004? Good question. For some reason, most comedians have deluded themselves into thinking that any stage time is a potential opportunity. Even that 2am open-mic set on a Sunday night in front six barely conscious drunks is worth it, because you never know who might walk in and whisk you away to stardom. In reality, the only person who might walk in at that point has probably just shot the President and is looking to hide out until the heat dies down. Lee Harvey Oswald should have gone into a shitty open-mic instead of that movie theater. The idiot comics would have been so happy to have a real live civilian in the crowd, they wouldn't have turned him in. They probably would have let him do five minutes out of courtesy.

"So...what's the deal with treason?...Anyway, uh, can you imagine if Arnold Schwarzenegger was Kennedy's head? It would be like 'I'll be back...and to the left!' Get it? Anyway, I'll be selling my CD in the back, and look for me on MySpace!"

But, the Carnival Comedy Challenge actually presented a real opportunity. The winner, of course, would be given the dream job of entertaining diapered vacationers on the high seas. The losers, though, would at least be able to perform in front of the panel of industry judges. When comics see the phrase "industry judges," the words appear to have huge breasts and blink bright red neon. We can't resist. The judges for this particular competition consisted of some good road bookers, the talent director for Carnival, and special guest judge, Eddie Brill - comedian and comedy booker for The Late Show With David Letterman. When comics see "The Late Show With David Letterman," the words appear to be hot college girls fisting eachother while playing Madden 06 with their free hands. We have to sign up. Even if we don't win, we'll probably get on Letterman. That's the actual thought process. Seriously.

The entry fee was something like $25, which I paid gladly. Now, here's how the whole thing worked. There was a preliminary round in the morning, and another prelim in the afternoon - judged by the road bookers and the Carnival guy. Out of those two rounds, twelve lucky finalists would be chosen to perform the following night in front of those judges and Eddie Brill. Of course, in typical "let's make it like American Idol" fashion, the crowd that night would actually choose the winner, while the judges would just give you a critique after your set. Simple enough.

Now, I have a terrible track record in comedy competitions. I never do well, but I also never have any luck. I always seem to go up first, second, or last. The crowd is either ice cold or dead tired. Every competition I've ever done has followed this pattern. From the Boston Festival, to the Seattle Comedy Competition, to Comedy Central's Laugh Riots, to the Funniest Person In Baltimore, it doesn't matter. I never get lucky and draw 6th. There's always that extra little hurdle to overcome.

I, along with a couple dozen other comics, was part of the morning prelim. We filed into the comedy club at 11am and listened to the rules. We would be given three minutes to strut our stuff in front of the judges and whoever else happened to be hanging out in the room. They would just pull names randomly out of a hat and call you on stage. Care to take a guess who the first name was? Me, that's who. Out of roughly thirty people, I was picked to be the first comic on the first prelim. Not shocked at all, I shuffled onto the stage, did my three minutes, did pretty well and left. be continued.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Please Don't Make Me Explain

I'll have a new blog up in a day or two. Maybe a comedy competition story. Maybe something else. Maybe nothing at all. Stop hassling me. I don't need this. In the meantime, to quench your thirst for hilarity, I've decided to post the lyrics to LL Cool J's "I'm That Type Of Guy" complete with my comments. Do you think "Trapped In The Closet" is a bad song? It's "Imagine" next to this thing. This is seriously one of the worst songs ever recorded. It should have ended LL's career.

I'm That Type Of Guy

You're the type of guy that can't control your girl
You try to buy her love with diamonds and pearls

99% success rate.

I'm the type of guy that shows up on the scene
And gets the seven digits, you know the routine

Smooth. Good start, LL.

You're the type of guy that tells her, "Stay inside"
While you're steady frontin in your homeboy's ride
I'm the type of guy that comes when you leave
I'm doin your girlfriend, that's somethin you can't believe
Cause I'm that type of guy

Talk about a plan backfiring. You tell her to stay inside so you don't have to worry about some clown hitting on her, but he just shows up at your house and does her. That's something I can't believe.

You're the type of guy that gets suspicious
I'm the type of guy that says, "The puddin is delicious"

Next time you're fucking and/or going down on your girl, stop, look up and say "Hey baby, this puddin' is delicious!" She'll smack the shit out of you. Even if you light a cigar and break out the Bill Cosby impression. At that point, you might as well just go all the way and put out the cigar in her puddin'. Then yell "Dynomite!" because you can't tell black people apart.

You're the type of guy that has no idea
That a sneaky, freaky brother's sneakin in from the rear

Damn. He's sneaky, freaky, and he sneaks. Did I mention he's sneaky?

I'm the type of guy to eat it, when he won't
And look in the places that your boyfriend don't

"Hey bitch, I got this flashlight...let me look in your ass."

" boyfriend never does that."

"Really? What a fag!"

You're the type of guy to try to call me a punk
Not knowin that your main girl's bitin my chunk

BITING? CHUNK? Is she having a seizure?

I'm the type of guy that loves a dedicated lady
Their boyfriends are borin, and I can drive em crazy
You're the type of guy to give her money to shop
She gave me a sweater _kiss_ thank you, sweetheart
I'm that type of guy

I'm the type of guy that picks her up from work early
Takes her to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and breakfast

What kind of hours does this bitch work? You're picking her up from work early, then taking her to breakfast? She's been at work ten minutes and you're all ready to dip your bite-scarred chunk into her delicious puddin'. Tell your chunk to chill out for christ's sake. Chunks are fragile things, and besides, too much chunk can turn a delicious puddin' into a muddy mess. I mean, you're freaky, but you're not that freaky. Besides, your chunk needs to heal from all the tooth marks. I speak jive. By the way, can we get away from all the food references?

You're the type of guy eatin a tv dinner

Guess not.

Talkin about... "Goddamn it, I'ma kill her"
I'm the type of guy to make her say, "Why you're illin, Bee?"
...You're the type of guy to say, "My lower back is killin me"
...Catch my drift?

Catch my drift? In a rap song? Saying catch my drift is the rap equivalent of tapping the microphone and saying " this thing on?" There is nothing more emasculating. And what a great insult with the whole lower back thing. Guys with lower back pain are dicks and their relationships deserve to be ruined. Good call, LL. Personally, I like to stand outside a chiropractor's office with some banana peels and a mace.

You're the type of guy that likes to drink Olde English
I'm the type of guy to cold put on a pamper
You're the type of guy to say, "What you talkin bout?"
I'm the type of guy to leave my drawers in your hamper
I'm that type of guy

No idea what this means. Epsecially the pamper part. "What you talkin' bout" is a legitimate question.

I'm that type of guy
You know what I mean?
Check it out...

T-y-p-e g-u-y

This is something cheerleaders would yell if male secretaries had cheerleaders. Then, they would chant k-i-l-l y-o-u-r-s-e-l-f, y-o-u-'r-e d-o-i-n-g a w-o-m-a-n'-s j-o-b.

I'm that type of guy to give you a pound and wink my eye
Like a bandit, caught me redhanded, took her for granted
But when I screwed her, you couldn't understand it
Cause you're the type of guy that don't know the time
Swearin up and down, "That girl's all mine"
I'm the type of guy to let you keep believin it
Go 'head to work, while I defrost it, and season it

I'm that type of guy

Mmmm...defrosted, seasoned, delicious puddin'. Just like mom used to make. Personally, I like butterscotch puddin' with cracked pepper. What's with all the food references? For some reason, ever since 9 1/2 weeks came out, erotic sex has been associated with food. Wanna improve your sex life? Get a vibrator and some magic shell. Underwear, lotions and oils can all be consumed now. Maybe it's because there are so many fat fucks out there who can't be bothered to stop stuffing their faces long enough to get laid. It's like sex is just the bullshit they have to put up with to get dessert.

"Come on now, you know the have to let me suck it before you get ice-cream."

"Alright, fine, but can't I just eat it out of a bowl?"

"Hell no! You have to fling it at my face with a slingshot first. Then you lick it out of my hair. This is gonna be sooo hot!"

I'm that type of guy
Know what I mean
I'm that type of guy
"So ridiculous"
So funny
I don't know
Come on down
Like real cool, you know what I mean?
I like just going to your frontdoor ringin bells
And just like, ha, leave...

CD's should come with a commentary track just like DVD's. That way, people could be held accountable for their nonsense. Next time I'm bored, I think I'll break down LL's "Big Ole Butt."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Truth Covered In Security

A lot of comics have great road stories. The really insecure ones always have this incredible tale of taking that hot piece of waitress ass and her twin sister back to the hotel room for a weekend-long orgy. It usually goes something like this:

"Dude, I middled at this Eat 'N Park in Bibleburg, Tennessee. It was so awesome! The crowd loved me, man. They really liked the smart stuff - especially that bit about if Cancer and AIDS were Tekken characters. They got all the references. And my 'Jesus was kind of faggy' closer destroyed. The headliner was this idiot redneck hack. He totally couldn't follow me. Anyways, after the show, I shit you not, this hot waitress - someone told me she was just voted Bibleburg Locust Queen, and I wouldn't doubt it - came up to me and said, 'Wanna go back to your place and make baby carrots disappear?' And I was like, 'Sure, but only if you have a twin sister' and I'll be damned if she didn't. Her sister liked celery ifyouknowwhatimean. The whole weekend was incredible. It was like I was in that scene from Wild Things and I also got 10% off chicken tenders. They're bringing me back in two weeks to headline for quadruple the money."

It's always some bullshit story involving a beauty queen, perverse sex and the greatest show ever. The sad part is, I usually find the greatest show part to be the least believable.

The hardcore/edgy/pretentious/telling-the-truth comics always have some self congratulatory story about getting booed offstage and run out of town by all the dumb rednecks/republicans/suburbanites in the crowd. It usually goes something like this:

"Talk about hell gigs. I opened for this lynching in Yes Massa, Arkansas. Normally, I don't like doing shows in the south because the south is dumb and I'm smart, but these people needed to hear my truth, so I took it. I'm a mind-changer. Anyway, I decided to get them on my side, so I opened with this bit about how even though I'm against the race war, I do support the troops. Even the guy getting lynched had to clap it up for that one. It was smooth sailing until I got to the abortion chunk. Some lady didn't like my tag about how old fetuses can be used as anal beads. This stupid bitch got up and started yelling at me like I'm the dumb one or something. She's the dumb one. She's from the south. I'm not from the south. I'm smart. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I just started screaming at this bitch. Insult after insult. South this, redneck that, NASCAR this, evolution that. I'm so hardcore. I mean, she actually told me I needed to listen to some Toby Keith. What a moron. I told her the smart people listen to political bands like Green Day. That shut her up. At one point, I remember falling to the ground and just screaming up into the air. It was like I was Bill Hicks or Sam Kinison, man. Then these farmers came up to the stage with shotguns. I dodged their blasts while doing my last five minutes on hemp laws, then I sprinted offstage and into my car. They followed me in their trucks for about ten miles. It was like the opening scene in Mississippi Burning except I'm probably more persecuted than those clowns. I didn't even get paid, but hey, that's part of the game. I'm spreading truth, man. I'd do this for free."

I've done my share of road gigs. No stories. Nothing interesting, nothing incredible. I just show up, have a mediocre set, avoid eye contact, get paid and drive home. I do have a couple interesting stories from comedy competitions, though. Maybe I'll start posting some of those here. That'll be a new feature as long as I can remember them.