Buffalo Soldier

Hey there ‘Red Heads… I bring good news from Bills country. First, let me extend my hearty thanks to Randy, Carrie, Dave, Tracy, and the rest of the crackerjack staff at the Comix Cafe for a fantastic weekend. All five shows packed with great crowds who were ready to have a good time. Also, thanks to emcee Anne Kurtis and headliner Blane Kelly, who provided the perfect Oreo cookies on either side of my sugared lard middle. If you’re ever up that way, I highly recommend checking out the Cafe. And now, my Buffalo travelogue:

THURSDAY– I packed up the Liberty and, under the guidance of MapQuest, ventured forth on a 7 hour schlep to Buffalo, NY. A tank of gas and $10.60 in tolls later, I was at the club and ready for the three days ahead. Apparently, a less established club in downtown Buffalo, Wit’s End, had gone belly up on Tuesday so two banquet crowds equaling roughly 70 people ended up taking their business to the Cafe. This pretty much sold out the Thursday night show, which is usually a crapshoot as far as crowd size and quality in the comedy world. The show went great and afterward it was KARAOKE TIME!! I didn’t sing, but I was happy to bathe in the drunken migraine that the evening quickly turned into. During a particularly horrible rendition of Piano Man, I remarked, “Billy Joel is spinning in his bed right now.” While the karaoke-ers took turns singing songs like they were angry at them, I got to know the club staff a bit better. Dave, the manager, I found out, is a professional wrestler…seriously. Much like comedy, there’s the big time and there’s the smaller circuit. Dave is Ice in Empire State Wrestling. I’m a wrestling fan, so I was more than happy to hear, first hand, about getting hit in the head with a steel chair. We swapped stories of performing in moose lodges and fire halls.

FRIDAY– Typically, on the road in a small town, there isn’t much to do during the day except go antiquing. Not so in Buffalo. My cousin, Janna, goes to school at the University of Buffalo that was a mere 3 exits down the highway from me. So, I sat in on her Abnormal Psychology lecture. The professor had a *ahem* distinct speaking voice…kind of a combination of Frances McDormand in Fargo and Edie McClurg in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. When I was in school, lectures like this went in one ear and out the other. With that voice, this lecture went in one ear, burrowed into my brain, and left a bloody trail on the way out the other. Oy vey. The lecture topic was “What is Abnormal?” One example of mania she mentioned was when a person was disturbed by the voices in their head. About 20 minutes into the lecture, I was praying for some form of schizophrenia…ANYTHING to get her voice out of my head. After that was over, I took my cousin out for lunch at Duff’s, a Buffalo institution. It was there I had my first steaming hot plate of sauced dismembered chicken appendages…yummy. Here’s the thing about spicy hot Buffalo wings, they taste great on the way in, then they sit in your stomach and slowly turn into hot razor blades for the trip out the other end. My apologies to my ass.
Both Friday night shows went great and my newly sharpened whoring skills sold $120 worth of CDs…more on the life and times of that money in Saturday’s recap.

SATURDAY– This was the day to do the touristy thing and go check out Niagara Falls. Before Saturday, the most I’d seen of the falls was in Superman II. The Buffalo weather had decided to show it’s true colors and I was greeted with freezing rain and blustery winds…not exactly sightseeing weather, but I had to see spectacular combination of water and gravity. It was about as impressive as water can be. I hear, that to get the full effect, you need to see it on the Canadian side…it was still pretty cool. After checking out an awe-inspiring wonder of the world, it’s best to take your high spirits and crush them at a casino…a place where dreams go to die. I mentioned my newly acquired CD money…it’s original purpose was to aid in the care and feeding of a sick puppy…me. Instead, it was donated in chip form to the firewater fund of the Seneca Indian tribe. My Indian name is Plays With Crappy Kicker.
The final night of shows at the Cafe brought a very judgmental crowd to the early show. My first 10 minutes of jokes were met with ewww’s and awww’s… I hate to do it, but I had to stop the set to let them know that the people in these jokes don’t exist…and don’t benefit from their pity. I got their dark side to show through in the end, but it was the first crowd of the weekend that really made me work for it.

On the whole, I give my Buffalo experience an A+. Great club. Great crowds. Great staff. Good times.

To be continued…

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Back in the Saddle

Shiny as the day it came off the Chrysler assembly line, my Liberty is back in its rightful place in front of Stately Stern Manor. It’s freshly detailed and the engine purrs like a kitten…with emphysema. This is about the nicest it’s looked since I drove it home from the dealership. I’m thinking if I can get it stolen every one or two months, I can keep it looking tip-top. I’m very happy to have it back…just in time to drive it 7 1/2 hours to Buffalo, NY for a gig at the Comix Cafe. The schlep should take the truck’s glistening black gloss and turn it to a hazy off-dirt finish. Between the rock salt and the road grime, I’ll be driving a Jackson Pollock painting home. The next step will be to increase security. I’m torn between the smaller Club or the larger Rotweiler. I’ll probably go with the Club because it’s more of a set-it-and-forget-it tool…and it won’t shit in my truck.

I’m looking forward to the trip to Buffalo. Sure, Buffalo in January has the potential to turn this trek into a Donner Party tribute, but the town has other things going for it. It’s a stone’s throw from Niagara Falls (…slowly, I turn) and one of my favorite foods comes from there: the Buffalo wing. I plan to consume alot of spicy chicken and bleu cheese during my stay. Buffalo, stock up on wet-naps. Whenever you’re in a town that has something named for it, you gotta try it… though, if you’re ever in Cleveland, avoid the steamers…just sayin’ is all.

So if any of you ‘Red Heads find yourselves in western upstate NY (maybe you’re heading to Canada to try some Canada Dry), come check me out at the Comix Cafe with Buffalonian, Blane Kelly. And yes, I called you ‘Red Heads. If a fan club ever forms, I figure my minions will need a catchy moniker…something the newspapers can latch onto when the FBI raids the compound. Hey, this blog is up to the 700’s in readership…I know that really only amounts to 15 or 20 regular readers (or me hitting the refresh button 699 times), but ya gotta start somewhere. I’m the poster boy for delusions of grandeur…the poster is HUGE.

To be continued…

Regarding January 11th: A Bad Day

Oy vey. Wednesday, January 11th 2006… the first crappy day of the new year. Three small things conspired to slowly erode my usual good mood and leave me just plain pissed off by the end of the day (y’like the inadvertent a-b-a rhyme scheme there?). Ok, let’s start from the bottom and work our way to the top.

The cherry on top of this turd sundae was watching my Terps get their asses served al dente by Duke…in HD. Every misstep in vivid detail. The Terps had 30 turnovers. I’ve seen fewer balls thrown away in a dog neutering facility. All this was made worse by having to listen to Dick Vitale verbally fellate J.J. Redick throughout the game. It was an embarrassing display and it’s a miracle we only lost by 24 points. I think, in order to properly motivate the team, Gary Williams needs to threaten each player with the loss of a finger for each botched pass. They’ll either get their shit together or learn to dunk with hooks. Tough love.

Moving a bit further back through the abyss… It turns out you truly can’t please all of the people all of the time. Especially one guy in particular, who sent a complaint email to the DC Improv expressing his distaste for my set during the Sunday show. The Improv forwarded the email to me. I’ve gone back and forth as to whether I should email the guy back, but I ultimately decided not to empower one reactionary shmuck who didn’t get me by giving him a response. I will, however, post it here and add a few clarifications. Here ya go (he’s in red…I’m in grey):

We attended the Jeff Caldwell show last night (our fifth or sixth show at the Improv). As always, Jeff was hilarious. Herbie, the MC/opener was great as well.

But this is somehow the second time we’ve had to endure Jared Stern–we had to sit through his act before the otherwise great Arabian Nights show (where he did the same lame jokes)–and someone needs to clue the guy in. Two things: a) endure? ouch…you wound me, sir. b) In my 9 or so times on the Improv stage, I’ve never been a part of an Arabian Nights show, great or otherwise. Maybe I appeared to you in some kind of peyote-induced vision quest. Which makes sense that you didn’t like me…I never do well in my dreams either. But, please, enlighten me…

People dying of starvation in Ethiopia is not funny. Stern, I assume, is Jewish; would he make jokes about the Holocaust? If not, what’s the difference? Is it that Ethiopians are BLACK? By the way, you can treat my comments as a fortune cookie. Except, instead of adding “in bed”, add “you twit.” Try it. It’s fun. Without explaining the joke, it’s not making fun of starving people. It’s a corny take on what Ethiopian cuisine might be. Nowhere in the joke do I taunt a near-skeletal infant with a chicken wing. And there are plenty of funny Holocaust jokes. They’re dark and twisted, but in the end, they’re just jokes.

Stern, in his act, picked on:

Gays
Fat people
Parkinson’s sufferers
People dying of starvation
AIDS patients
Asian people (Stupid “Me make you laugh long time” comment)
You forgot: the Amish, albinos, Alzheimer’s patients, people with prosthetic limbs, the blind, unwed mothers, bulimic muppets, dead celebrities, and dim-witted knee jerks like you who can’t see past your over-inflated sense of morality to find humor in ANYTHING. And I wasn’t making fun of Asian people with that line. It was a reference to Full Metal Jacket, labeling me as a whore to those people who, y’know, get jokes.

Hey, Jared! Guess what! Some people in your audience are fat. Or gay. Or Asian. Or have a relative with Parkinson’s or AIDS. Or know someone from Ethiopia. Or just find the idea of making fun of others’ misery really low-class. You managed to alienate 90% of your audience by the time you were done. See above.

Jared should take a lesson from Jeff Caldwell, who did not once pick on a group of people but who absolutely killed the entire audience for over an hour.

Let me add that we’re big fans of Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle–the difference is, you can make fun of yourself or your own race/ethnic group. But kicking people when they’re down is just un-American. Point of note: this is the part of the email where the guy tries to back up his ignorant comments by claiming to be a fan of a famous comic that he probably doesn’t understand or know much about, but Tom Shales gave his show a glowing review, so he must be cutting edge. Listen, asshat, if you think that Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle only make fun of Black people, then you couldn’t be more full of shit if you were, to quote Dennis Miller, “a port-a-potty at the Lollapalooza festival.” And kicking people when they’re down is America’s bread and butter…it’s what Tiggers do best.

Other than Jared, it was a great show. We may come back–but we’ll first call to make sure Jared isn’t on again. And may I never have to endure your ass-backward sensibilities again…

Well, that was cleansing. See what I have to deal with? Any words of encouragement, for either party, are welcome.

The initial bit of crappiness that made the 11th so odious was the memories it dredged up. January 11th marked exactly 4 years since I was unceremoniously shitcanned from a supposed career in radio with Elliot in the Morning and DC101. It’s not all bad, though. That job, while fun, was slowly killing me from the stress, exhaustion, and unhealthy habits that come with morning radio. I put on 30lbs in 2 1/2 years, I was constantly falling asleep behind the wheel, and the job was a rut with no real room for advancement. A party every morning…including the hangovers.
If I hadn’t been shown the door, I probably wouldn’tve completed my COMM degree, become a stand-up comic, or started writing this blog… Merry Christmas movie house!!

The cool thing about January 11th? It’s over. Long live the 12th.

To be continued…

Found Money

Well, one week down…51 more to go. My first week of ’06 ended with a cool bit of luck. At noon on Saturday I got a call from my friends at the DC Improv. Apparently, their feature for the weekend had fallen ill and they needed a less stricken comic to fill-in. Fit as the proverbial fiddle, I quickly dumped my plans of lazing on the couch in my underwear for paid stage time at one of the top clubs in the country…twist my arm, why don’t ya? And as an added bonus, my good buddy Herbie Gill was MCing, so there was definitely a great couple of shows in store.

When I got to the club, there was a group of about 20 guys all dressed in blue sportcoats, khakis, and ties singing in the lobby. Apparently, they were an acapella group from Yale who were touring the country and they had landed stage time at the Improv. I figured they were going to be the “guest set”, which meant I was going to have to follow them. I found out later that they were going on before the show…with no intro. The club simply turned down the music and they filed onstage like some kind of Republican parade. Now, when a non-comedy act plays in front of a comedy audience, you’d think they would choose a peppy number to get the crowd in the mood to have good time. I believe they closed with John Henry Was A Steel Drivin’ Man. Not exactly a feel good hit. After the calls for Freebird died down, they filed back off the stage, got on their bus, and headed back to their lives of privilege.

The shows for the weekend went well. The headliner was Jeff Caldwell. He has a very dry wit. We had to bring in a humidifier for the late show…there was some chapping. I wish January would make up it’s mind and either stay in the 50’s or cut the shit and just be cold. Saturday night, it was so cold you could hang meat in the lobby. They kept the showroom well heated. I was afraid it might rain if they opened the doors.

Now, along with the opportunity to perform came the opportunity to whore myself after the show and hawk my CD. I did modest sales, but I had two odd monetary transactions. One CD was paid for with a $5 bill, a Susan B. Anthony dollar, and four Sacajawea gold coins. Getting paid in gold coins gave the evening a kind of Dungeons & Dragons feel…though I got some good XP from taking out a Gnoll outside the club…it could’ve just been a hairy homeless guy, but the dice he was rolling said I hit him. I know…I’m a level 5 DORK. Another CD was paid for with 5 $2 bills. Don’t get me wrong…money is money…I’d take ten bucks in Chuck E. Cheese tokens if needed to, but these seemed one step shy of bartering. Where was they guy who was gonna pay me with a live chicken and wampum?…or magic beans, perhaps? Make me an offer, is all I’m sayin’.

News Flash:
Drug maker Pfizer has begun attaching high-tech radio ID tags to packages of Viagra to thwart counterfeiters. The tags emit a a signal that U.S. pharmacists may pick up on scanners to verify authenticity.
Groovy…so now you can get a four hour erection that gets XM.

News Flash:
A 9-foot sculpture of a film-era Ronald Reagan on horseback will be the centerpiece of a $3.2 million riverfront development project in the former president’s hometown of Dixon, Illinois.
The roads will be paved with jellybeans and the addresses will be purposely vague so people will forget where they live.

Well, because I was delinquent in updating, I give you two website treats to reward you for your patience…
To fill your creative mischief quota, check out this fun site. Make sure to hit the refresh button a few times. High quality.
And please enjoy this video that answers the eternal dork question of who would win in a sci-fi throwdown. You’ll be tapping your feet and humming along to the cartoon carnage.

To be continued…

…my head hurts

Welcome to 2006, loyal readers. I know I promised a year-end wrap up, but my head still has My Hump thumping in it and I’m a little too groggy to be retrospective right now. I can do the next best thing, however, and recall the details of last night…something not everyone can brag about.

As the orchestra was about to play off the overblown acceptance speech for Best Cinematography that was 2005, I got together with my good friends, Chris, Allyson, and Jeff for dinner at Tunnicliff’s in DC. Seated to our left, was a table of police officers…in uniform. To our right, a table of priests…in uniform. All we needed was a table of rabbis and we could’ve had a re-enactment of the greatest joke ever written. Tunnicliff’s had one of the greatest deals of New Year’s Eve. For $20.06, you get an appetizer, soup or salad, entree, and dessert. Spinach dip, caesar salad, NY strip steak, and a brownie sundae…I was one step shy of taxidermy, I was so stuffed.

From there, Chris and I parted ways with Allyson and Jeff and headed to The Ugly Mug for the drunken countdown to ’06. We staked out some primo real estate in the middle of the bar…if people wanted to have fun, they had to go through us. As we started on our first of four pitchers for the evening, a menagerie of furry friends joined the merriment. I’ll try to paint the picture… 5 people: one in a pink bunny suit, one in a Frosty the Snowman suit, one in a gingerbread man suit, one in a bear suit, and a guy in a chicken suit… It was like the bar scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by way of the Mickey Mouse Club. So, we’d barely begun dulling our senses, and the Heffalumps and Woozles stroll in to get the night jumpstarted. The night got louder and more raucous as the year slowly faded away. Chris and I began chatting up two lovely ladies, Emily and Nikki…we hung with them for the rest of the night. On the TVs, Regis Philbin rang in the new year. At one point, he was speaking live-via-satellite with Donald Trump…y’know, nothing screams 2006 like two guys who’s combined age is 2006. Unfortunately, there was no kiss at midnight, but there was beer spilled on us at 1:45, so at least one tradition wasn’t ignored. As the night crept toward last call, some very demonstrative gals decided to practice for their Girls Gone Wild audition and began dancing and gyrating on the bar. It would’ve been hot, if they weren’t so sloppy drunk. Emily remarked, “They’re like Coyote Ugly.” I replied, “You’re half right.” ZING!

A good night was had by all. Easily, the best New Year’s Eve I’ve been a part of in the last three years…Top 5 all time. It’s tough to top the trifecta of good food, good fun, and good people.

So, what is my New Year’s resolution? To stop procrastinating. Actually, the was my resolution for ’03 but, no time like the present, eh? Here’s to everyone who made ’05 fly by so fast. To the new friendships and the rekindled ones. To Johnny, Richard, and Mitch… To The Riddler, Scotty, and Mr. Miagi… To everyone who laughed at me in ’05, may you not tire of me in ’06.

To be continued…