Surface to Air Miscellany

Hey there ‘Redheads… Thanks for keeping your breath bated as I kept you waiting for another dose of idle nonsense. I better have something remotely resembling something decent for you if I expect you to tolerate this constant tardiness. Well, sit back and enjoy while I broaden the definition of “decent”.

Yeah, unfortunately I don’t have a whole lot to report. I did just get back from a swing through Newport News, VA and one of my favorite clubs, Cozzy’s. Big thanks to Lorain, Karen, Jimmy, and the rest of the great staff down there for making me feel like Norm from Cheers. Not only was I the recipient of generous hospitality, but I got a chance to meet an area comic I had heard nothing but good things about, Hatton Jordan. His girlfriend, Jenn, was the MC for the weekend and he snuck in a guest set on the Saturday late show. The headliner for the weekend was Kevin Lee. Kevin is a prop comic/magician who juggles bowling balls, eats fire, and swallows swords. Pretty much my polar opposite on the comedy continuum. If there was a freak transporter accident during my set, Kevin would be the guy that would finish the show…c’mon my fellow dorks, stay with me…

I, uh…


Good times.

Segue…Apparently, I have a tiny YouTube sensation on my hands. The public’s ravenous search for video train wreckage to gawk at has brought them to a video I posted a couple years ago. I’ve shown you this 8 minute piece of evil before, in the hope that you would better know your enemy, making it easier to spot and thwart. Over the last couple weeks, the hits on this thing have ballooned from a couple hundred to about 5,000. Sign of the apocalypse? Perhaps. For your protection, you may want to view it through a piece of smoked glass. If you experience a dull throbbing pain in your psyche, close the window immediately. Please remove your belt and shoelaces and may God have mercy on your soul…

Those of you who are currently plotting revenge against me for tattooing that dreck on your mind’s eye, you can find me at Tagline’s on Thursday night with Freddie Vernell and Mike Shader.

I know April was dismal in terms of blog quantity. I haven’t been writing much material-wise recently. When I was at the Improv last month, my contribution to the backstage graffiti was, “Jared Stern told pretty much the same jokes…” Well, brace yourselves for another month-long stunt that’ll probably only make it a week. It’s JOKE/BIT/PREMISE/TAG-A-DAY IN MAY. To prime the pump and pick my brain up off the pile of papers it’s been holding down, I’m going to write something in this space every day in May. Something that’ll hopefully provide a jumping off point for some new usable material. Excelsior…or something.

Finally, on a sad note, a belated farewell to Adam Gregory, who passed away last week. Adam was one of the crew from Winchester’s, who started doing stand-up shortly after I did. Those of you up in Baltimore may have had the pleasure of working with him. He had a whispery voice that sounded like an inadvertent Godfather impression. He was a good guy and a funny fellow.

To be continued…

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Title Pending…

Hey there ‘Redheads… Sorry for the lateness on my blogness. A combo of being busy and being lazy has left the blogging in the lurch. If you’ll allow me to shed some light on recent events, I’ll allow you to pretend to care. Deal? Cool. You’re tough, but fair. I hope everyone got their taxes in on time. As per usual, I waited ’til the last minute to get my return signed, sealed, and delivered. Once again, I’ve limboed under the poverty line. Just to ensure a decent refund, I declared all of you as dependants. If you didn’t get your taxes done before the deadline, I hope you got a chance to appeal to a higher power by throwing yourself in front of the Popemobile during his visit…I hear that counts as a blessing. In preparation for the Pope’s visit, all Popeye’s restaurants are adding a comma after the first “e” and an exclamation point after the “s”…

POPE, YES!

Wow…that was stupid. I’m rusty…lay off.

Last weekend, I hit the road on a two stop trip that took me to exotic ports of call Prestonsburg, Kentucky and Charleston, West Virginia. A seven hour road trip, just in time for gas prices to go higher than Woody Harrelson on April 20th at 4:20. The prices on the gas station marquees were posted with numbers cut out of magazines. When a tank of gas costs as much as an X-Box game, you try to savor the flavor and not burn through a tank in a day.
One thing about driving when the weather gets nice, bug guts. I had so many insect entrails splat on my windshield, it became a big buggy cataract. The first stop was the Preston Station Comedy Zone at the Prestonsburg Inn, just off Country Music Highway 23. This was my first time playing this room, and I was more than a little worried it was going to be like the scene in The Blues Brothers…”What kind of comedy do you usually have here?” “We have both kinds. Country and Western.” Thankfully, it turned out to be a fun crowd and a great room. According to Mike, the manager, it’s the longest running one-nighter in the country. They haven’t missed a Thursday night in 18 years. The first comic on their stage was Jeff Foxworthy…the second was Carrot Top. I had the pleasure of working with the affable Monte Allen. Very funny guy who never saw a shot he didn’t like. All it took was the mere mention of tequila, and the crowd sent so many shots to him, the stage had an undertow. And he had a toast for each one he took. After the show was done, they took away the stage to reveal a dance floor for some boot scoot boogie. While I was packing up my CDs, I noticed this sign posted outside the door:

“Drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy or prior to conception can cause birth defects.”

This sign is a little off point. Yes, drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects. Drinking prior to conception just helps you ignore the defects of the person you’re *ahem* conceiving with.

On Friday, with only a two hour drive to my next stop, I went in search of an implement to kill some time with. I found a perfect place to draw a chalk outline around a couple hours, the East Kentucky Science Center. Stop laughing. What seems like an oxymoron is home to a planetarium. I haven’t been to a planetarium since I was about 8, so I figured it why not sit back and take in some space. Turns out I was the only one who did that kind of figuring…I chatted up the ladies of the EKSC, caught up on all the office gossip, played with the crap in the gift shop, then got a private showing of The Planets. I sat in the theater’s sweet spot, let my pupils dilate in the darkness, and listened to the dulcet voice of Kate Mulgrew tell me about the weather patterns on Jupiter. Two hours successfully dispatched…onward to Charleston, WV.

I pulled into the South Charleston Ramada Plaza hotel, home to the Charleston Comedy Zone. I was met with good news and bad news. The bad news: the hotel was full and they didn’t have room for the comics. The good news: they were sending us to the Hampton Inn about 20 minutes away. Twist my arm, why don’t ya? Sure, it stunk that we wouldn’t be staying on-site, but Hampton Inn is the Park Place of Ramada properties. And the wing where our rooms were was brand spankin’ new. Couches, flat-screen TVs, the works. The first night of shows, attendance was a little thin because of the Carrie Underwood/Keith Urban concert in town, but those that did show up were a fun bunch. Saturday was pretty uneventful. Nothing good was playing at the nearby multiplex…seriously, there’s some shit in the theaters right now…

Anywho, I feel this blog losing some steam, so I’ll just say that a good time was had by most. I’m looking forward to hitting the road again next weekend to play Cozzy’s in Newport News, VA, then in a couple weeks to play the LOL Comedy Club near Raleigh, NC.

Once again, it’s Passover. Another in the series of Jewish holidays with the theme: They tried to kill us. They didn’t. Let’s eat. So, once again, here’s one of my favorite Passover songs…won’t you sing along?

To be continued…

Kung Foolin’

Hey there ‘Redheads… Welcome to April. I hope everyone had a Fool’s Day full of prank and free of personal injury or embarrassment resulting from any backfiring of said prank. Here’s hoping you didn’t have any real serious information to convey to someone…reaction time is slowed exponentially when everything you say is met with, “Yeah, right…good one.” It’s why there’s a glut of obituaries on April 2nd. A good buddy of mine tried to tell me that his wife is pregnant with their second child. I was genuinely happy for him…until I hung up the phone and I remembered what day it was. My happiness turned to mistrust and betrayal. How dare he use his wife’s uterus for such a lark. I called him back to try to salvage my April Fool street cred and left a message on his voicemail. It took his wife calling to corroborate the story to set things right…let’s just say I’ll feel better when I see a sonogram. Other than that false alarm, my day was prank free.

This also is not a joke…

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — A Southern California McDonald’s restaurants official says Egg McMuffin inventor Herb Peterson has died in Santa Barbara at age 89.

Even though he shuffled off this mcmortal coil, he has a spot in all of our hearts…that we should have examined immediately by a cardiologist, in case it’s malignant.

Ok…enough of that. A big thanks to Allyson, Red, and the rest of the crackerjack staff of the DC Improv for another great week of shows. After taking the tequila shot of shucking and jiving for dullards in Hanover, PA, it was nice to suck on the refreshing lime wedge of appreciative DC crowds. I had the pleasure of working with two cool guys from the west coast, Ian Bagg and Reggie Steele. It was alot of fun to watch Ian work. His style is predicated on great crowd work interwoven with his written material. Essentially, he does a different show every time. I’m horrible at talking to the crowd, which is a pisser because I like to think I’m a decent conversationalist. On stage, my brain likes to stick to the script and rejects crowd interaction like a bad kidney. I don’t know if you read the other comedy blogs, I appreciate the brand loyalty if you don’t, but you should give them a looksee. Anyway, Erin Jackson had a link to a Bill Burr interview in one of her recent blogs. In it, he talked about how it felt like he was “reading from a teleprompter” when he was starting out. That pretty much crystallizes the gear that I’ve been stuck in. If I read from a teleprompter, Ian Bagg is the on the scene investigative reporter. A long way to go for the metaphor, but it’s an accurate comparison.

A word on proper audience etiquette when at a show like Ian’s, that contains crowd work. Let the show come to you. Don’t try to interject yourself. Speak when spoken to. I mention this because I encountered a putz who may well be coming soon to an open mic near you. About a third of the way into Ian’s set on Thursday night, a guy sitting toward the back of the club leaves his seat and introduces himself to me. He says he’s a former “teaser writer” for CBS and that he wants to start telling the jokes he’s been writing all these years. He seems nice enough. I give him my card and point him toward DCStandup.com for open mic opportunities. Then he eyes an empty seat on the right side of the stage and asks me, “What do you think he’d do if I sat down over there?” I shrug, “He’d probably keep going with his show.” He nods and waddles over to the spot he picked out. Sure enough, Ian acknowledges him. Everyone in the front couple of rows has had a piece of the action. Then this guy starts loudly piping up while Ian is talking to other patrons, acting as a giant sweaty impediment to comedy. This goes on for the rest of the show. Every time any comedic momentum is built up, this guy throws a handful of rusty nails on the road and blows out the tires. After the show is over, he comes back to where I’m sitting, looking for a high five. Normally, when a heckler comes up to me after a show, I nod and smile to keep the encounter as short as possible. But this guy, who planned on being on a stage at some point, needed to know how many pages of the comedy rulebook he had just wiped his ass with. “You weren’t helping,” I started. This stopped him in his tracks and he looked at me like a dog who just rolled over but was refused a snausage, “Wha?” “You contributed nothing to the show and you tried to be the show,” I continued. At this point he was too drunk to process what I was saying to him or coherently defend himself. “If you’re planning on doing stand-up, just know that what you did tonight is not cool. I’m not trying to be a douche. I’m just letting you know.” Then I awkwardly started talking to someone else and he shuffled out of the showroom.

Another big thanks to the crew at DCComedy4Now.com for having me on the latest Top Shelf show at Solly’s Tavern. Comedians in suits not worn since an aunt died or a parking violation was overturned. They had a great turnout for the show and a good time was had by all…aided by Pabst Blue Ribbon…oh, and tater tots…I dare you to have a shitty time with that combo in play…even if it’s your last meal.

A couple shows to let you know about. I probably should’ve led with this, but on Friday night (tonight, considering it’ll be Friday by the time I hit the publish button) I’m part of the kickoff show for the 3rd Annual Baltimore Comedy Fest. Besides me, the line-up is top-notch, including Erin Jackson, Mike Aronin, Mike Way, and Larry XL. The Fest benefits Autism research, so come check out the show and do some good while having some good done to you. Click the link for details. Also, on April 8th, I’ll be back up in Baltimore at the Comedy Factory for a Comcast OnDemand taping. That line-up will be stacked too…and you can get your mug on TV in a carefully planned spit-take reaction shot. See you in Charm City.

To be continued…