Distraction and Datstraction

Hey there ‘Redheads… Sorry for neglecting my blogular duties. I’ve been distracted over the past week. Mostly by comedy, but some other things have kept me from unleashing the 1000 monkeys on the 1000 typewriters of my soul (deeper than necessary). The perils of home ownership are also giving me fits. One of my walls is throwing an Amityville Horror hissy fit, courtesy of a leak in my upstairs neighbor’s washing machine. Lemme get a few thank-you’s out of the way, then we’ll shave off some blog meat, slather it with A-1, and dig in.

Big thanks to the fine folk at the Baltimore Comedy Factory, the Mid-Atlantic Comedy Smorgasbord, and Taglines, for allowing me to shuck and jive on their stages. I got to work with some of my favorite comedic talents, T-Rexx, Mike Storck, Kelly Terranova, and Seaton Smith to name a few…watching these guys work was a pleasure.

Some of you may have heard the rumors swirling that I, Jared Stern, patrol the streets of Baltimore when night falls. Perhaps, you saw the story in the news…

BALTIMORE — Soldier Killed in Shootout With Police Officer

A 25-year-old soldier from Fort Meade was fatally shot in Baltimore yesterday in a confrontation with a police officer, Baltimore police said.

The soldier, identified as Alexander E. Larkin, was killed in an exchange of shots in a parking garage in downtown Baltimore about 2 a.m., said Officer Nicole Monroe, a Baltimore police spokeswoman.

She said that the officer, Jared Stern, was working in uniform on officially sanctioned overtime when he came upon an altercation involving two men in a garage on Market Place. Each of the men in the altercation was accompanied by another man, Monroe said.

Apparently, I’m on administrative leave, pending investigation. The screwy thing is this took place over the weekend that I was playing the Comedy Factory. What the story didn’t mention was that the guy was a heckler…I don’t fuck around. I had a laugh with my parents, friends, and co-workers the next day…quite the coinky-dink. But, it didn’t end there. When I got home from work a couple days later, I found a folded piece of yellow notebook paper sitting on the front stoop of my apartment it had Mr. Stern please call scrawled on it. Within the folded paper was a business card that said…

Surveillance * Claims Investigation * Fraud Management * Trial Prep
J. Beska
Senior Investigator

…yeah. Needless to say, I was bit weirded out. So, I called the number on the card. I got the guy’s voicemail, left a message wondering what was going on, and got ready to go out. A return message was waiting for me when I got out of the shower, “Hello, Mr. Stern, this is Mr. Beska. Thank you for getting back to me. My first question to you is are you a Baltimore City police officer? If so, please contact me as soon as possible.” This guy, a professional investigator, thought I was the cop. Obviously, his investigation technique was the same one used by the Terminator to find Sarah Conner.

It’s a good thing I’m not a low-rent Baltimore vigilante (Wombat-Man), because there were enough costumed freaks in the area that weekend. Otakon, an anime and video game convention, was in town. And with it, a swarm of dorks, geeks, and various other species of pimpled awkwardness…

Welcome to VirginFest…

On my way home from the club, I spotted a guy on the corner of Lombard & Charles dressed as a Wii controller. A giant white plastic rectangle cube with the controller buttons drawn on and two Birkenstocked feet sticking out of the bottom. Dude, you’ve got all those extra lives…use one for yourself. You are Wii-tarded.

August is right around the corner, and you’re probably wondering, “Where can I find the correct Jared Stern for all of my comedy needs?”…I’m not a mind reader…if you weren’t wondering that, just work with me. Here’s where I’ll be…

Aug. 8th – competing in the Funniest Person in Baltimore contest at the Baltimore Comedy Factory…I need votes, so come check it out.
Aug. 9thHBO Comedy Festival contest at the DC Improv…the line-up for this show is phenomenal…Chris White, Rob Maher, Joe Robinson, Randolph T, Seaton Smith, Jon Mumma, Erin Jackson, and me. Yeah, I know…I don’t know what I’m doing there either.
Aug. 10th & 11th – featuring at Cozzy’s in Newport News, VA.
Aug. 24th & 25th – MCing at Banana’s in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

Stalk away.

Before I go, here’s a short clip of my impossibly cute nephew, Mo, at the pool. Betcha can’t watch just once…

To be continued…

Advertisements

The Buckeye of the Beholder

Hey there ‘Redheads… Greetings from beyond the PA turnpike. I’m back from a great weekend of shows at the Funny Farm in Youngstown, OH. Big thanks to Tony and the rest of the staff for making my first time there a pleasant one. Before I get into the details of the trip, I’d like to let those who care know that my impossibly cute nephew, Mo, has said his first word. That word? Wow. That’s one of the things I love about the little guy, he appreciates what it means to be a baby…exploration, discovery, and drooling on those discoveries. Everything is pretty new to him, so it figures that he should be in a constant state of amazement…now he can voice it.

Wow, my uncle is a dork…

I can’t wait to talk to him about last weekend, so it can sound like someone gives a wet Huggie. Until then, I’ll settle for assuming that you guys do…

So, Youngstown was a fun trip. The club is in a Holiday Inn, nestled in the back of the hotel’s dance club. It had it’s own room, of course, but as the clock struck ten, you could feel bass that could dissolve kidney stones thumping through the back wall. It wasn’t terribly disruptive to the headliner, the very funny Steve Iott, but those of us sitting in the back had The Tell-Tale Heart told by C & C Music Factory (I Love the 1850’s). And the lights on stage were HOT. I’m pretty sure my shadow was burned on the back curtain. Steve had a great line, “I feel like I’m a boxer trying to make weight.” There wasn’t any blood or tears, but we sweat buckets.
I got a chance to buddy up with local Ohio comics, Katrina Brown, who was popping her club MC cherry on this gig, and Michael Malone, who did a guest set on the Saturday show. Both were very cool and funny, so I was batting 1.000 with nice folk to work with.

When it came to killing my Saturday, I defaulted to the local mall/movie theater. Usually a safe bet to shampoo the boredom out of a 3 to 5 hour rug. I had to catch up on my cinematic blockbuster viewing, so I plunked down $6.50 for a noon matinee of the flick that would test my fragile childhood memories, Transformers. Overall, I enjoyed it. The good outweighed the bad. First, the good: Hearing Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime made me feel 10 years old again. There were also some nice little touches, like the phrase printed on the Decepticon cop car, “To punish and enslave.” The movie was a pinata of eye candy, and Michael Bay took his directing stick and beat it until every piece of digital Dubble Bubble hit the floor. Action is his forte and every dizzying robotic clash was expertly executed…the final dust-up rattled my eyeballs in a martini shaker of metallic mayhem (alliteration, baby). Now for the dork complaints. Three words: Too many humans. The only two who were remotely compelling was John Turturro’s slightly eccentric head of secret group Sector 7 and the smoking hot love interest of Shia LeBeouf…but only because she was hot…seriously, her belly button had a separate credit. Also, it took way too long to get to Megatron and Starscream…it was a 2+ hour flick and they were first shown with about 20 minutes to go. Of course, they took some liberties with a couple of the characters, most notably turning Megatron into a jet instead of a gun, which is forgivable. What did bother me was the conversion of Devastator from a giant 6-robot wrecking machine into just a suped up tank. Overall, my childhood remained relatively unscathed. I sat through the entire length of the credits to see if they slipped in any extra footage, then left the theater. I was heading for the exit, when I noticed a father and son going to the adjacent theater to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I still had a couple hours to kill, so I slipped in for a double feature. I hadn’t snuck into a movie since The Lost World at a sold out Uptown ten years ago…ah, memories…me and my buddy sitting in our seats while two paying customers frantically searched for a spot. So, two first run flicks for $6.50…that’ll help the healing after paying full price to see The Hills Have Eyes awhile back. The new Harry Potter flick followed the same formula of the previous five, but this one was easily the darkest of the series so far. Ralph Fiennes did his best impression of a Marilyn Manson stunt double as Voldemort and they didn’t waste the talents of Alan Rickman for once…he was Hans-tastic. After spending roughly 5 hours in a dark theater, being bombarded by special effects, my peepers hurt somethin’ fierce. But I got my money’s worth.

This weekend will be a “Hilarious romp!”Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazine. I’ll be featuring at the Baltimore Comedy Factory with the Hollywood Crushers, Adam Jacobs and T-Rexx. Do yourself a favor check out one of the seven shows on the slate. One show on Thursday and 3 on Friday and Saturday. It’s a much better comedy investment than seeing that new piece of garbage Adam Sandler opus…trust me on this one.

See you in Charm City.

To be continued…

Portrait of a Crappy Gig

Hey there ‘Redheads… I haven’t got much for you for this installment. No cute baby pictures, no funny videos, not even a decent amount of charming self-deprecation. I wanted to get a blog in before I hit the road for the Funny Farm in Youngstown, Ohio. It’ll be my first road gig in about a month, and I’ll be happy to knock the rust off. Next week, it’ll be back to the Baltimore Comedy Factory to work with one of my all-time favorites, T-Rexx. Do yourself a favor and come check out one of these shows…he’s fuckin‘ hilarious…I’m okay too. And my good buddy, who recently shipped off to L.A., Adam Jacobs, will be back in town to host. Top to bottom, it’ll be a great weekend.

Now, you may’ve noticed the title of the blog. That portrait was snapped last Friday at a one-nighter on Maryland’s eastern shore. It hit for the cycle of crappiness: an audience unaware of the show, a sound system that made Stephen Hawking sound like Josh Groban, and it was the venue’s first stab at comedy. Like every black cloud, this one came with a silver lining which was the headliner I worked with. Michael Dean Ester, a cool guy who’s been doing this for 15 years and did his damndest to breathe some life into a dead on arrival gig. He described it best in his response to my email thanking him for his effort…

Jared,

Like I said, it will make a great story someday. If there’s a lesson in Friday night, it’s that standup comedy doesn’t work as surprise entertainment. You can’t drop a comedy show on an unsuspecting crowd. So, sometimes comics have to grab people by the short hairs to make them listen, then we can entertain them. That’s all I did. Somebody taught me a long time ago: Never let the crowd get away with not laughing at a joke. You have to call them on it, especially when your stuff is good. And your writing is strong. Unfortunately, the situation was stupefyingly awful. Nobody wanted to give the show the benefit of the doubt at first. So you have to leave them no choice. Refuse to be ignored and your confidence will win them over. Neither of us would be there if we weren’t professionals, but the audience didn’t necessarily come for comedy, so we have to work that much harder to make them listen. Once they’re listening, only then can we get a damn laugh.

By the way, I saw the booker in person on Saturday night and I told him what’s what. He did send a promo package with pix and posters to the club, but the dingbat manager didn’t bother to put them up anywhere (hence the surprise show).

The moral of the story: We blazed a trail, my friend. We suffered the slings and arrows of an outrageously shitty road gig so that others who follow may have an easier time and keep the room alive for the next time we go back and collect a paycheck.

All in a day’s work.

To be continued…

Independency

Hey there ‘Redheads… I hope everyone had themselves a festive 4th of July. While watching the rocket’s red glare from the Key Bridge, I definitely felt less dependent. I heaved a case of Lipton iced-tea into the Potomac to give the celebration that little something extra…my apologies to the poor saps in the kayaks below. So, with the oddly placed holiday, it seems like it’s been awhile since the last installment (yes, I know, the waiting is the hardest part…especially when you’re waiting to put up with me). Quite a bit of fun was had on my behalf since then that I’ll be more than happy to share. First though, congratulations to local funnymen Chris White, Rob Maher, Marion Kendrick, and L.A. transplant Dawan Owens for being picked to compete in Comedy Central’s Open Mic Fight. They’re part of a group of 72 that were selected from a nation-wide online search…I’m pretty sure more than 72 people submitted, so it’s a pretty big deal. Sadly, I did not make the cut, despite sending them a dynamite set for their consideration. I’d like to think I was number 73 on their list (and number one in your hearts…five, at least). Here is what they chose to pass on…

Freakin’ dynamite…blowin’ up…they thought it just blew. Anywho, enough about me…let’s downshift into 3rd person and get into the great couple of days had by Jared Stern, shall we?

FRIDAY: I returned to my alma mater, Springbrook High, to check out a fellow alum, Lewis Black. I was class of ’93. He was class of ’66. Pretty cool, eh? It was a sold out auditorium with alumni from every previous class from ’66 to now represented in some way or another. What was amazing to me was they were able to dig up his math teacher, who probably could’ve been carbon dated. I’d never seen Lewis Black live before, and despite some high school AV issues, the show was amazing. And did he tone things down at all for the elderly or school administration in attendance? Noooo. About a minute in, he told anyone who didn’t get a joke to go fuck themselves. This is what high school math class daydreams are made of. After he closed the show to a standing ovation, he was presented with a football jersey. And he did the show gratis, all the proceeds going to scholarships. I’m sure they’ll name a bathroom after him, or something.

SUNDAY: What a gorgeous day. The first in several weeks which the air wasn’t chewable. Luckily, I was able to take advantage of it by going to a park party in Dumbarton Oaks, complete with frisbees, sport-related balls, and all sorts of other tools for recreation. It was a chance to bask in the joys of being nine again…except for the sangria. The other major stumbling block in our trip back to recess, was that our late-twenties, early-thirties bodies just don’t quite bounce back the way they used to. This was evidenced primarily in our game of Spud. Remember Spud (click the link if you don’t)? It’s a dodgeball variant that involves a lot of full-speed running and sudden stops then more full-speed running. After playing two spirited games with nine-year old reckless abandon, my body slowly began to rust. I’m not in great shape (I’m getting winded typing this), but I’d like to think I can handle a little bit of activity. Turns out, nope. The next day, I was one giant cramp. Pretty much crippled from the neck down. I was very close to renting a rascal to get around in.

MONDAY: I found out about a freakin’ sweet bit of promotional to-do going on right in our backyard. Turns out that twelve 7-11’s across the country have been chosen to be converted into Kwik-E-Marts in order to promote the up coming Simpsons Movie. Aside from the facelift, these stores will be selling Buzz Cola, Krusty-O’s, Radioactive Man comic books, and Squishees in collectible cups. In cities like New York, L.A., Denver, Chicago, and…Bladensburg, MD…about a block from where I work. Here’s a little video tour of the one in Burbank, CA…

I’ve been drinking an Squishee a day since Monday…eventually these collector’s items will be worth…at least half of what we over-zealous nuts are paying for them.

TUESDAY: I’ll just say it…I went to Drag Bingo. My friend Allyson wanted to go for her birthday, so a group of us headed down to Club Chaos in Dupont Circle for bingo…hosted by drag queens. Drag bingo. Sure, it sounds like fun. That’s what we thought too, but there wasn’t quite enough bingo and it was kind of a drag. I never thought I’d leave a place saying, “If they only played more bingo…” We played 4 games total in about 3 hours time, the balance of which was taken up by our three hosts strutting their…*ahem*…stuff and essentially demanding dollar bills. One guy looked like a Klingon in an evening gown. Another actually had boobs, showcasing the kind of plastic surgery that harkened back to this scene…

Of the three of them, only the Tina Turner look-a-like displayed any real showpersonship.

THUNDERDOME!! She entered. We left.

It was just plain odd. Now let us never speak of it again.

To be continued…