Posted by Steven Alan Green
So far, San Francisco’s been great. Unlike Los Angeles, it’s a real city. And, it’s beautiful without make-up or fake tits. The local city government communicates with its citizenry, in the same friendly paternalistic way London does with its own. A great public transportation no less, that actually lets you know to the second, when the next bus, train or street car is due. Bus drivers who speak with you and strangers on the street who not only don’t run away, but actually know of what they speak. I saw a fire truck roll by Market Street today, full on sirens, heading to some sort of mid-town emergency, but what struck me were the two giant San Francisco Giants flags flanking the emergency vehicle. And apparently – I haven’t checked this out yet – but apparently there are flanks of naked men walking around the Castro District under some local self-expression ordinance. Let the truth hang out! Haight Ashbury (where I start working on this week’s blog at “Coffee to the People”) is like the Grove during the day and Falluja at night. Long-lensed touristas swarm the holy corner of Ashbury as if they were hypnotically visiting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, but instead of leaving paper written prayers in its fissures, they write little notes on rolling papers as they unconsciously pass by where Jimi Hendrix lived and breathed his first cup of vomit. I drove up here two weeks ago with comedian/filmmaker Dave Sirus, who is directing me in his mockumentary about the world’s worst comedian, Archie Black. Dave never stops talking. Even when he’s dead, Dave will still talk. In fact, he’s the Talking Dead. But, I love Dave and he’s really a whiz kid comedy genius filmmaker and I’m very lucky to work with him. (Does that cover it?) Dave’s the passionate sort and the thing which raises his cockles more than anything is stupidity, especially bad drivers. He would rail against this driver or that driver and yet, I would try and point out to him that to make himself so upset over people you’ll never see again in your life is the definition of insanity. It’s like me going on and on about Jerry Lewis. And, everyone knows, I would never ever do that. Besides, I don't drive. Remember?
I spent the first week at the lovely home of Doug Ferrari. Doug was one of the local comedy all-stars back in the day when the San Francisco comedy scene included pre-national/international famed local heroes Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGenerous and Robin Williams, and was to be the citadel of American stand-up comedy where The Comedy Big Bang occurred, at least according to comedy historians, astrophysics and the eponymous Big Bang herself, Snooki. These days Doug spends his time in semi-seclusion, working on writing projects in his high-tower security building. Doug is a bit infirmed with a bad leg and doesn’t go out much. I’ve never met anyone more passionate and knowledgeable about local history of the San Francisco comedy and he’s been an absolute Sherpa guide. Another alumnus from that era, Rick Right (real name Brian Seff) was up here last week and we drove out to see him perform at The Throckmorton Theater, where Rick dazzled them with his amazing Flamingo Guitar (it looks like a flamingo) and his never-ending knowledge of not just how to play any rock and roll song every written, but in making it originally funny. Rick was on my first High On Laughter Show at the 2,000 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and eventually settled in, got married and lives to this day in England. Rick was part of Rick and Ruby, a famous San Francisco comedy rock duo in the 80’s and made several appearances on both Mork and Mindy and was Robin’s opening act at concerts. Last Saturday, my new friend, comedian and radio show host Howard Stone and I went to his place of employ, the Encore Karaoke Bar in Polk Gulch, where I sang “Danny’s Song,” enjoined in dance and harmony by a random sexy young lady, as the entire place sang-a-long, “Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you honey….” It was truly a great moment for me. And, for “my audience,” of course. I cannot deny them their feeble pleasure of enjoying my vast array of talents. Howard likes to eat. Maybe that’s why he’s fat. I mean let’s face it. He’s a big round ball of hairy Jewish flesh. At the same time, one of the smartest and nicest persons I’ve had the pleasure of urinating on quite a long time. (I’m kidding. It wasn’t so pleasurable.)
Continuing on our little “We never know when you’re kidding” tour, I moved out of Doug’s and found a nice respite from constant random information at the San Francisco Guest House, a very nice, clean and quiet hostel on Geary, run by a Chinese woman named Kim; a place where you are required to take off your shoes. Sleeping in a bunk bed again brought the bed-wetting child back in me, but the creaking of the contraption made me feel macho like Dragline from Cool Hand Luke. I’ve met some very nice interesting world-travelers and twice now, I’ve overslept and somebody ate my eggs. Oh well. Toast with jam will do. I’ve gotta get a job, things are getting very tight. I’ve walked into every store with a Help Wanted sign and have been trawling Craigslist like prospecting desperado. No luck. I filled out one application in a used clothing store and in previous experience, I wrote: “Bereaved Fashion Consultant”. I dropped off my voice-over CD to an agent whom I spoke with months ago. We’ll see. I don’t have much faith in voice agents in America. The ones have had in London have been pretty straight forward. The ones I experienced in LA have run the gamut from boring to insane. The first best time here was at Cobb’s Comedy Club’s 30th anniversary show. Hanging out backstage with my good buddy Rick Overton, there was also San Francisco’s local boy makes good, comedy star Greg Proops (also extremely popular in England) and comedian extraordinaire and Letterman warm-up guy, Eddie Brill. Eddie’s comedy is kind of like if Robert Klein and George Carlin had a baby and then told it not to curse. He’s a very funny man, who’s got that old showbiz thing about wanting nothing more than to make the audience happy-er. I really felt at home, hanging out, playing guitar, talking with Cobb’s retiring manager Tom Sawyer, and doing it all with none of the baggage I usually bring with me, like Pigpen’s swirling stench. I even had a nice heart to heart with Eddie, telling him about my nervous breakdown and my founding The Laughter Foundation and COMEC, the Comedy Museum Exploratory Committee. Eddie said he’d help in any way he could. What a sweet guy. It’s such a shame we both got each other so wrong so many years ago. Oh, well, what’s past is past. What’s present is politics like it’s nobody’s business.
Will Durst is one of the best and most respected political comedians in this or any other country in the Western Hemisphere. Hell. The Eastern Hemisphere too! The New York Times calls him “possibly the best political comic in the county” and he currently writes a nationally syndicated humor column and his writings have appeared in Esquire, The San Francisco Chronicle, National Lampoon and The New York Times. Durst (a San Franciscan stand-up stalwart) recently sat down with your humble ETV comedy blogger precariously balanced atop Coit Tower, to perhaps answer a few of the myriad of vexing questions surrounding the national election. The rest of the interview took place in jail, where I was doing time for TUI (Typing Under the Influence) while Will was making a celebrity visit to a few home-challenged poets who, by lot, won the office pool….. (again, I have no idea what that last sentence even means, but I love the way it sounds)
SAG: This is obviously the dirtiest campaign since Meshulam Riklis wined and dined the Foreign Press Association to secure his trophy wife Pia Zadora a much undeserved Golden Globe for the 1982 film Butterfly. How has this nasty presidential campaign affected your confidence in the integrity in the US Electoral System?
WD: Hasn’t. I actually think we're headed in the right direction. Moving our political process from confrontational to gladiatorial. Mano a mano. Full body contact debate. Looking forward to 2016. “2 go in. 1 comes out.” Thunderdome Politics.
SAG: If Romney wins, do you predict he'd be as dangerous as he sounds or will he be all toast and no jelly?
WD: Slippery toast. Over-buttered toast. Float like a butterfly, sting like a jelly-fish toast. He will be the most limber of all our Presidents. The Human Etch A Sketch has flipped and is shaking so hard the fillings in his back teeth are starting to rattle and cascade like some great crumbling Utah Butte. His ads should end with “I’m Mitt Romney and I both approve and disapprove of this ad.”
SAG: The great Senator George McGovern just passed. A great loss for our country. Do you think a true liberal can ever be president? And, why not?
WD: My answer can best be defined by the great Adlai Stevenson who once was told, “You’re going to get the vote of every thinking American.” And he rejoined, “The problem is, I need a majority.”
SAG: Why are Liberal Leaders (unless they are a Kennedy) less funny in terms of being a target?
WD: Conservatives tend to be funnier because they see the world in terms of us vs. them. Black vs. white. Make themselves easier targets. So I hit them where they hurt the funniest.
SAG: Maureen Dowd has suggested that Obama doesn't really want to serve a second term, which is why (according to Dowd) he may be taking a dive. Care to comment?
WD: Think mayhaps Maureen might just be loitering at the bottomless margarita bar a little long. Again.
SAG: In England, it's the party (not the candidate) that wins or loses. They have three "major" parties, not counting the Monster Loony Party. And their entire national campaign only lasts about 3 weeks; each candidate restricted to spending no more than around $150,000 on advertising. Do you think the Brits have a better election system than America does and, aside from driving on the wrong side of the road, what could we learn from them?
WD: Nah. Three weeks isn’t enough time for Americans. We have the attention span of high speed lint. But, there is stuff we could learn from the world. In Australia, voting is compulsory. Failure to vote results in a $25 fine. Of course, that’s $25 Australian.
SAG: What is America's role in world affairs? Is the Monroe Doctrine dead or just Mr. Monroe himself?
WD: The only Monroe Doctrine Americans care about is the one Marilyn and JFK wrote.
SAG: Compared to 30 years ago, how well do you think today's American youth are fully educated and engaged in national politics?
WD: Kids today aren’t being plucked from the suburbs and shoved into a war. Also they have 30,000 different streams of information shooting at them. Surprised they aren’t collectively shaking like a shaved poodle nailed to the foul pole of Wrigley Field during a night game in April.
SAG: Can government create jobs, other than governmental jobs?
WD: And, what’s wrong with governmental jobs? Maybe that’s what we need. A fedocracy. Where we all work for the government. What did they used to say in Russia? “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”
SAG: Other than Mitt Romney winning, what is the number one threat to our democracy?
WD: Paul Ryan being one chicken bone away from the Presidency.
SAG: Aside from instant news awareness, how has the Internet affected national politics?
WD: Makes suspect polls more accessible.
SAG: Should an American even expect financial security from his country?
WD: It’s called a safety net. Not a safety blanket.
SAG: If North Dakota invaded South Dakota, as President, would you intervene?
WD: Of course, but I sure wouldn’t want to stick my fingers anywhere between Vermont and New Hampshire.
SAG: Do you think a Romney Presidency could reinvigorate Comedy?
WD: Dubyah was the Golden Age for political comedy. He may have sucked for the country, the hemisphere, the planet, the solar system and the universe but for me, he was pure gold. Romney shows great promise along those lines.
SAG: Do you believe, come November 6, Americans will make the right decision? And, why not?
WD: My prediction is Romney wins the popular vote and Obama wins the Electoral vote, and try explaining that to the Tea Party members. “Yeah, he won. But, not really. Better luck next time. Not really.”
SAG: Other than the price of bagels and other forms of fuel, do you think the average American cares much about what goes on in the Middle East?
WD: Unfortunately, most Americans think the Middle East crisis is a late November football game between Ohio State and Michigan.
SAG: How come there are no (or known and respected) right wing political stand-up comedians?
WD: There are, but they’re not funny. Just angry and mean.
JANN KARAM’S RECLINGING NUDE ON LA CIENEGA - October 6, 2012
I knew I was in for a real treat when I arrived at the Elephant Stages in Hollywood to review Jann Karam’s, “Reclining Nude on La Cienega”. The semi-in-the-round feel of the 99-seat Lillian Theatre audience poised itself in zoo-like view of a huge art loft/gallery. Three pillar canvases, two canvases on easels and nearly random Sergio Mendez music lets us all know we’re more than welcome; as creator, writer and star of “Reclining Nude on La Cienega,” stand-up Jann Karam (Letterman, HBO) invades “our” space, dancing and stretching and being a girl, all as if we were secretly invited guests into her private sanctuary. This was good, as I was still nervously reeling from trying to remember that the theatre was not actually on La Cienega: the concept was, foretelling the disappointment there may not be any nudity involved either, unless I felt too hot in the theatre, then who knows. I’ve been known. Karam fearlessly flies up and down ladders and flitters like a semi-buff butterfly holding a paintbrush, as she expresses something or other (we know not yet) with large brush strokes and drippy colourful real paint to happy Broadway music. Stopping to admire her own creation…
“That’s superior!,” referring to one of the paintings, making one think, “Hey! We’ll be the judge of that, thank you!!” But, no. We’ve been fooled, tricked and set up. Jann was impressionistically painting her home town, Superior, Arizona, where there are “beige horses, mountains and different shades of brown, scorpions and earthtones.” “Thanks a lot, Cosmos!...Don’t you know who I am???” Karam asks as if each and every one of us in Hollywood don’t already ask ourselves that same question every single second of every hour, waking or otherwise. “There’s no doubt, in my mind, I would move onto greener pastures!” informs us that this story we’re about to hear, doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending. The ending seems pending. Unlike all the other “A funny thing happened to me on my way to the forum” showbiz struggle autobiographical one person shows I’ve seen both here in the States and in the UK (Scotland included, even though they’d rather not be!), Reclining Nude on La Cienega is the only one I’ve ever seen that constantly feeds you pure hope, in the literal form of newly splatters of fresh coloured paint, fueled and guided by the perfect balance of romantic (almost gothic-like) dreams, both of the true romantic and of the true artist: two inner-equal-sides of omni-talented Karam, whom – with imaginary long stem rose ‘tween her chompers – metaphorically tangos forth and back on the open-gallery stage, nary to pick who leads, in a show choreographed to mirror her inner-thoughts and well thought out oft-tortured feelings. Her father took over his parents business (a clothing store) and helped the local miners with donations, discounts and deals, allowing him to build a house in the better part of town, and unfortunately cementing Jann’s biggest obstacle: that of breaking free. “It’s not possible!” (to find a better part of town). Living in a house with drawn blinds was “Living in lockdown”, keeping the air-conditioning bill down, “Thanks a lot, Vampira!” and conversations with her mother, are all postcard perfect shorthand for a life too well known to be fully appreciated. Feeling trapped, not comforted, is how we all feel at times in our lives, especially when others can’t seem to understand why you are being so unappreciative. This is what I call the “house pet dilemma”. We think little Sparky is full of love and joy, wagging his tail, but he just needs to get out and pee and he might kill you if he has to. Realizing she holds her own jail cell keys, Karam ventures out into the outlying desert, escorted by her two loyal dogs to the Magical Cactus Forrest. “Needles everywhere!....Now I avoid those pricks!” is not so secret code to her lonely sisters in arms, who have all experienced God’s punishment of dating jerks; the men in the audience thinking they being the sole exception. Our hearts are further broken as “me, Mom, brother Johnny, sister Charlene, travel in a car up to Roosevelt Lake; but Dad was not there,” he was too busy playing local politics, spreading goodwill throughout the local community to spend any time with his kids. Then Jann sees water. Jumping into the lake, she cries, “Heaven is here!” as she splashes bright blue paint on the canvas. “All I had to do was grow up and become an artist” was her perceived calling, as she unceremoniously painted butterflies on old furniture. “The more I engaged in artistic pursuits, the less alone I felt and accepted by my parents,” as proved by a much appreciated and demo’d sock puppet show behind the couch on stage; and in reminiscing her father overhearing her play piano and then the next day, delivering an upright to his talented daughter, only to shout at her, “Goddam it, Jann!” as she played “Nocturne” for din-din.
JANN KARAM'S COLOURFUL POV
Karam dreams forever and repeatedly for an artist colony, her earthly version of nirvana in this life. “We all understood that art was constant and beauty was everything” is the up of the see-saw. “That was my dream. Here’s what happened…” is the down. Literally reclining on the couch, Karam quotes Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, “Life and mortality do not allow us to be true to the guileless unrealism of our youth"; then her shrink throws her out of the office, but a new one suggests finding like-minded people, “So, thanks for coming…” Her Achilles Heel was lover Jack, her downfall, whose, “I’ve been drinking” red-flag remained ignored as she equally was by her own too-busy father. But, she clung to familiarity rather than love, and thus remains the enduring theme of this saga of intertwining odyssey in an oscillating search for a compromise between opposing twins of love and artistic freedom of expression. A criticizing mother who ignores her amazing accomplishment of a Letterman appearance with a simple critique of her hairdo, metaphorically sums up Jann Karam’s lot in life: Nothing she does or tries to be free and happy will ever please her family, which is all she ever really wanted, mostly as sign-posts to self-identity. Nonetheless, she loves them anyway and would never trade them in for the world; but know this about her: She will “make a left on Orlando,” regardless if it’s okay. And, if you don’t like it, then there’s something vapid in your mindless soul.
Director Sabrina Lloyd (NOT the actress of “Sliders” fame!) is the master zookeeper who feeds and trains her dancing and dreaming endangered multi-talented and radiantly gorgeous species with the subtle and clever finesse of the bestest friend a performer ever had; never getting in the way and always encouraging and inspiring. Whatever becomes of Jann Karam’s unfulfilled romantic and artistic dreams, are more than fulfilled during this show, maybe not for her, but for us, the audience; which is the textbook definition of bravery in performance. What a gift to us this show is. Perchance to dream whence you’re awake is the bliss we all seek; and only the blessed few will ever find; and if they do, it’s only because they already put in the prerequisite eternal internal work; the external fading to dull grays, unsure blacks and shy whites, drying on the canvas of life and we, the freshly splattered red paint, are merely the honored drips on Karam’s painters smock of love and acceptance. Running away from the crazy family took Karam to the forest of stars in the desert sky. And she thought, “THAT’S where my artist colony is!” True enough. Because Jann Karam is truly a glowing star in the desolate night sky known as Los Angeles, the city of ignored, forgotten, misunderstood and, yes, broken dreams, ever illuminated and eclipsed by sparkling new ones, and even brighter and more meaningful than ever before. (AND, she’s hot!) Kudos to Adam Hunter for brilliant Set Design and Matthew Richter for equally brilliant Lighting Design. Catch Reclining Nude on La Cienega when (and if) it reclines once again. Nothing beige about it whatsoever.
I give Jann Karam’s Reclining Nude on La Cienega 8 out of 8 Menorahs!
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
SPECIAL NOTE: For RNLC to return to LA, it’s a matter of production money. Any producers or investors out there interested? Contact: email@example.com
BILL BRONNER'S FREE SPEECH SHOW @ THE LAB - October 8, 2012
Comedian and promoter Bill Bronner explains to us, his “Facebook friends,” he created the Free Speech Show because he was “bored with everything on television”. The packed house at the Improv Lab couldn’t agree more, which is why I suspect they were waiting tooth and nail for this rare comedy show to begin. And for a about ten minutes, nobody could find the manager of the venue to get the air conditioner going; it was like being on the A-Train at Shavuot rush hour! Sardines had more leg room. Okay. Having said all that, the show? The show made me feel utterly miserable. Miserable only because I WISH I could produce a show this good, this funny, this free spirited and this entertaining. Of all the live comedy shows I’ve seen in my first three months or so as your venerable comedy reviewer/reporter/bitter guy, Bill Bronner’s Free Speech Show is up in the top ranks. What makes it good is the same thing Tony Conrad’s and Paul Provenza’s Set-List has. Simplicity. The idea here is that stand-ups go up one by one and all of them deal with the same talking point. It’s almost like improv in reverse. Then, when they’re all done, everyone in the cast comes on stage and there’s a group discussion. What makes this idea genius is that, as the viewer, you kinda know in advance what the talking show points are gonna be for each individual comedian because they already expressed their point of view in their stand-up slot. And as the conversation floats over to various subjects, hither and dither, the audience gets to enjoy how good the comedians truly are because now they have to be true to themselves. No act to hide behind. They are actually speaking their mind. It’s very interesting! Bill Bronner – a middle aged better looking Captain Kangaroo by way of David Lynch – is a former bakery worker with a law degree (there’s a yeast joke there somewhere….), who fought the power back in the day to insure he and his co-workers got their “fair share of the pie.” He’s a good egg and low in cholesterol. He’s also one of the most affable hosts on the comedy circuit in Los Angeles, where most comedy hosts tend to be snarky pimpled punks who think they know so much just ‘cause they live in an age when the cost of a gallon of gas will soon catch up to the minimum wage.
Tonight’s topic: “Advice for the Candidates”
“He needs some enthusiasm. Barack, grow some! They elected you to make change, not to say you can’t make a deal!” Okay, true but not particularly hilarious. Ah..But, that’s where the genius comes in. Bronner is secretly setting this up as the challenge. To make the passion of his life (Social Injustice) the talking point for the other comedians to work off of! NOT a competition….a seminar! I mean yes, Bill is funny. No doubt. Romney taking Ecstasy for example. Great concept. For sure. But, what was most funniest about Bill tonight was how some of the acts made fun of his introductions of them. Bill Bronner is the Joe Biden of Comedy Hosts.
Carrie Snow is one of my favourites, if you have been following Enjoy the Veal! religiously, you should already know that. So, ignore what I say about her. I’m biased. And, when I say “religiously,” I mean, on your knees, facing a hanging icon. And, when I say “hanging,”….
“I couldn’t be crankier about this election….!”
An audience cell phone rings.
“It’s my ex-husband, nobody listens to me. I told Sarah Palin: nobody wants to see your unfortunately named children in public!”
Then she gives advice about Trader Joes & it’s “Nobody listens to me: Part II”…. Explaining how politically active she is, “I gave away registration forms to people and felt like Eleanor Roosevelt.” HUGE laugh. Snow is just warming up, but you can’t tell. Explaining to “this kid” who works at her Medical Marijuana dispensary and is complaining why they simply don’t legalize marijuana, she says, “Listen, if the other guy wins, then your girlfriend will die of an illegal abortion and you won’t be able to get high.” As for her direct advice for Romney, “I'm a woman and he wouldn't listen to me anyway, so why bother?” Not much of advice for the candidates; more like advice for the electorate. Carrie Snow, once again, disproved that American stand-up comedy by women has to be vulgar, insinuating, sarcastic, dead-on and cleverly hilarious. But, she does it anyway and the loyal followers at The Lab this night were ready to take torches to the streets; but first, the rest of the comedy show.
Patrick Devine has the cred. His one-man show “Breaking Down in America” is a bravado work of a car’s final road trip and the people he meets along the way. “As a single guy, not married, no kids, nobody cares about my voice” is the only way to open this type of discussion. (Like Rick Overton said, we’re all part of the “Demographic Party”.) Devine’s advice to the Dems is “to go to the CDC, get something percolating in the lab, and then give it to Joe Biden. Give him laryngitis.” Explaining that The Gap clothing store knows Americans better than Democrats, because they know Americans love to be lied to, Devine cuts to the heart of the matter and provides the predilection that Romney’s next card has to be a Christian conversion, but then Devine drops the comedy like a lose mic chord and explains the value of each Swing State, turning it on its head with a Tim Tibow joke. This “ducking and diving” sharp-minded comedy nefro should be heard more often; his comedy thoughts and conclusions could swing the election. Commenting on Bill Bronner’s lame intro, Carol Ann Leif tells the tale of the worst introduction she ever got was from Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, who unfortunately compared her to Emmy winner Carol Leifer. For her, Mitt is a family matter. Romney reminded her of her first husband; her grandfather’s perennial habit of giving a family speech, then rounding the room, addressing each member one by one, saying to the member of the family who didn’t do much,“Hey! Keep doin’ what you’re doin’! THAT would be my advice to Mitt Romney.” Painting Mitt as a “little brother”; and that Barack never had that and should “live with a 5 year old boy,” Leif advises us when we watch TV to broaden our horizon. Realizing she was an idiot “because Ed Schultz had a poll – Will the Republicans ever stop lying about Health Care?,” she pounds in the notion that Rush Limbaugh (and his ridiculous accusations) would chill out with a little brother.
Host Bill returns with the out of place announcement that Rick Shapiro couldn’t make it due to illness, and with that deep hole, comedian and blogger James Tripp was next! Tripp’s advice to the candidates? “Shut up!” Advice for Mitt consists of, “Keep lying! It works!” (I was starting to get the inkling that perhaps – I can’t say for sure – but just perhaps, this comedy show was put on by Liberals. I’m just sayin’.) Getting all Poe in our face, Tripp fantasizes that they should dig up Ted Kennedy, and tells Romney to “keep wearin’ that underwear: ‘cause it works!” Oddly, his advice to Obama? “I’ve got nothing to say to him.” (hmmmm….) Then he closes with, “James Tripp for President!” And, why not. At least, unlike our two contenders, Tripp is a trip on purpose! The crowd nearly carried him off on their shoulders. Bronner: “Our next performer is delightful and hates Romney!” God, this is getting a little embarrassing, Captain! Lighten it up a little, will ya? I looked around and several Dust Bowl farmers standing in the back of the room, holding pitchforks and with the stern look of Merrill Streep.
Cathy Ladman reminds us, “Those intro’s are getting better!” (I like it when the performers actually review the show for me! Talk about a time-saver!) “I’m really tired and I think I have cancer” is a comedy ice-breaker deluxe and the crowd laps it up. Admitting her husband is not really “informed about this stuff,” but that she’s learned a lot, and still wonders if she’s actually qualified in giving political advice to the candidates, Cathy then did what any good Jew does. She brought her mother into the picture.
“I’ll just say, my mother, when she gave people advice, it never mattered if she knew anything. So, my mother should give advice to Barack Obama.”
Cathy’s mom: “As long as you’re friends with Israel, then okay!”
Cathy’s mom: “You should have a little sucking candy to give you energy.”
Cathy’s mom: “You need to speak your mind!”
But Cathy’s channeling skills were somewhat limited tonight and had to channel Ann Romney, rather than the Mittster himself: “Mitt! You were so great! Just keep lying!” Cathy Ladman is one of the freshest veteran stand-ups on the circuit. Team her up with Rick Overton as they star in their own sitcom. He’s the hard-boiled 91st President of The Federation of Radioactively Safe States of America and she, his Secretary of Sector 9. Executive Odor! This Friday on FX! Cathy got a well-deserved standing-ovation from the entire room.
Michael O’Connell’s opening line carried on the “night of continuous bad intros” with a sad remark about Cathy Ladman’s passing. Hell-arious! His advice to the candidates? “I resent both of you, because you’re vacationing more than I do!” and he advises them to vacation in The States. “If your financial records read like a John Grisham novel, it’s not a good thing!...I think the debates suck because it’s just two guys at a podium. I think they should magically saw Michelle in thirds! Mitt can explain Trickle Down Economics by levitation.” I gotta catch my breath, folks. One original idea after another! On Presidential Fashion, the photo of Barack Obama on a bicycle, eating ice cream, well, let’s just say this is one smart Liberal comedian who agrees with Ann Coulter on this point. (the “R-word”?)
Steve Tatham (“The Ointment”) finally decides to address the elephant in the room. Remarking on the nearly overly sold-out show, Tatham boasts, “67 million watching the debate, not nearly as many people watching this show!” Steven then addresses Bronner’s kid spending way too much time watching his computer.
“I’ve become an advice columnist in a small town newspaper…..
‘Dear Steve…,’” as he reads a letter from Mitt Romney.
“Dear Steve, although I have excellent hair, no one seems to like me. Young people need a little push. I do care about people as much as required by law. So, my question is – what can I buy so people will like me?”
And, now a letter from Ann Romney.
“My Dressage horse competed in the Olympics and though he didn’t perform the way I wanted him to, I think I might let him live. The poor people don’t understand -- My question: Are there no decent restricted country clubs anywhere?”
There’s no need to comment on just how funny Steve Tatham is. It’s all on the page.
It was now time for the last part of the show: the group discussion. The entire audience gave a reverse walking ovation as all the comedians (not the audience) returned to the stage, grabbing chairs and truly relieved that Bill Bronner will not have to introduce them again tonight. A hearty political and funny discussion ensued, Q&A participants from the audience and crew and by the end of the night, I was exhausted. Like a really really good shag with a tranny dressed as Alberta Einstein, I felt smart and satisfied. Brill Bronner’s Free Speech Show is somewhat of town meeting on Mars and Bill, although extremely affable, is nearly the worst at introductions I’ve ever seen, but what saves the night and makes it truly memorable is that Bill, like all great artistic puppeteers, stands away from the spotlight, slightly behind the curtain; because after all, isn’t that what we all really want to know? Who is behind the guy who says he’s on our side?
I give Bill Bronner’s Free Speech Show 7 out of 8 menorahs!
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
Last Tuesday, Brian Seff (Rick Right) drove me out to the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, where he was performing. Mill Valley is the place “where the rich hippies live” and where the elite smart and the overly-relaxed just give up. The “Throck” is a very old theatre, where Charlie Chaplin played and seats around 350. Tuesday comedy night and this is the place to be.
I splurged most of the night hanging in the green room with political comedian Scott Blakeman from New York, whom I haven’t seen since Edinburgh ’04, and introduced my toe-stepping self to comedian and comedy producer Mark Pitta, who runs the Tuesday night comedy shows with the flair and aplom of an affable baseball coach. And two other guys, one I met long ago. Robin Williams and the great Mort Sahl.
Backstage @ The Throck with Mork, Dork, and Mort!
Robin loved my Eric Douglas story (read the Rick Overton review) and I swear, when I was telling Robin, face to face about The Laughter Foundation and my dream for The Comedy Museum? I swear I could detect just a whiff of “wow” in his eyes, though to be honest, I couldn't tell if it was just night-blindness. And, I loved meeting and talking with the great Mort Sahl and meant to tell him my theory on who really killed JFK. You see, the 1960 campaign song to elect Kennedy was “High Hopes”, as re-written and sung by Frank Sinatra. The original song was from a 1959 Frank Capra movie, starring Frank. The film?
“A Hole in the Head”. You cannot make this shit up, folks.
Besides, the Giants won the World Series. Yeah, right!
Enjoy the veal, folks. I'm having a great time up here in San Francisco. Sue me.
Have a Happy Halloween, everyone. And, Mitt? Take off the rubber mask.
Your humble comedy reviewer, Steven Alan "SAG" Green
Enjoy the fuckin' veal, already...will ya?
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
6.5 million Americans desperately in need of power. Well, 6.5 million + 1, if you count Mitt Romney.
Hurricane Sandy has left hundreds of thousands of undecided voters in the dark. So, no change there!
Letterman's show is funnier without the damn audience!!
Don't know which material I'm gonna do tonight....I KNOW!! I'll do what Mitt would do. I'll make it up as I go along, and hopefully everyone with a brain will laugh at me.
You're the last person I'd ever call upon. Then again, I like to start at the bottom of my list and work my way backwards.
I have the complete collection of Hoarders. I have them on DVD, Blu Ray, Betamax, VHS, Analogue sound tracks on reel to reel, cassette and 8-track; I have the complete written transcriptions of all the narration and dialog (in two separate categories, of course!), plus complete profiles on all the crew (including recent photos) and an accounting of all the officers of the production and distribution companies and a mailing list of all their subscribers.........What?
It's the story of a dyslexic policeman who wears a unicorn.
Prop 46 wants to "protect Californians from dangerous and violent criminals". Thank god for that. I can put up with dangerous criminals, but violent?
When I was a kid I wanted to direct traffic. Now I just want to produce.
To me, being an artist is like being the manager of a baseball team, with the opposing team being reality.
I'm a Nano-Sexual. I like having sex with tiny electronic devices.
Signed up with J-Date. Leno's picking me up at 8.
Romney is a devout Moron.
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Uncabaret, Sun, Nov 4. Great line up!
Henry Phillips, @ Molly Malones, Monday Nov 5
Veterans Day Comedy Benefit @ Flappers in Burbank, Sunday, Nov 11.
INTERVIEWS & PODCASTS:
Interview with Steven Alan Green on The Frankie Pace Show.
Interview with Steven Alan Green with The Apartist.
Steve Pearl & Al Clethen's Riff-erendum interview with Robin Williams!
ODDZ ‘N ENZ:
A quick shout-out to our friend, George Wendt, who is on the mend! Hang in there, Norm! We love ya', George!!
Special thanks to All Clethen, Maggie, Bean and Steve Pearl!!!
And to all our comedy friends on the East Coast, please stay, dry, warm and safe.
To have your comedy show reviewed or hire your humble and almost always broke (but always incredibly charming) comedy writer or to complain about anything: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Never take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive!!"
10/30/12, San Francisco
10.11.13 at 1:51 pm | Steven Alan Green back from the comedy dead.. . .
5.23.13 at 2:31 pm | On the occasion of my old pal and nemesis Jerry. . .
5.16.13 at 12:22 pm | A great new opportunity for our favourite. . .
4.7.13 at 5:32 pm | It seemed like an impossibility before, but I am. . .
2.20.13 at 1:09 pm | My long-awaited review of Nato Green @ The. . .
1.15.13 at 9:49 am | My public appeal to the director of Duel, 1941. . .
9.26.12 at 3:32 pm | I hereby call upon the powers that be in. . . (13)
10.11.13 at 1:51 pm | Steven Alan Green back from the comedy dead.. . . (7)
5.23.13 at 2:31 pm | On the occasion of my old pal and nemesis Jerry. . . (4)
October 16, 2012 | 2:01 pm
Posted by Steven Alan Green
President Obama shouldn’t blame Bush for the economy any more than I should blame Jerry Lewis for my current financial meltdown. After all, we live in the now. Then again, if you remember, Obama didn’t bring Bush & Cheney to a war crime tribunal either; and, likewise, I never sued Jerry. Last week, I wrote an open letter to my ole friend. That’s how weird my life has become. And, I could go on and on and talk about myself, blah, blah, blah. But, what good would it do? Nadda, my friend. Sometimes I think if I whinge and whine online and yet come out on top, it will inspire other people: people in and out of the arts, who may be struggling, and as unlikely as it may be, in some similar ways as I. Other times, I know exactly why certain very prominent members of The Society of Internet Important People have done everything to isolate me from un-friending me on Facebook, to actually offering me paid writing work. I don’t know which is worse, frankly. You see, although I’m currently “technically” homeless (but sitting at a very cool Interweb café writing this here blog) I’m actually looking down at my very nice (but dusty) natural Maplewood coffee table base because “Katrina,” the housekeeper was fired last week because some dopy local councilman told me he’d donate to my pet charity, “Blackberrys for Assholes” if (and only if) I fired any “questionable employees”. So, no, I’m not homeless by a long stretch. In fact, my life has surprisingly become a naked embarrassment of riches. I’m actually having the time of my life. I’ll give you a quick run-down on what’s happening with me, but in the meantime, I’d like to make a Presidential Endorsement.
Enjoy the Veal hereby publicly endorses Roseanne Barr for President of these United States.
Roseanne is the only candidate to openly support a free Medical Marijuana Marketplace via legalization, the revenue of which could go a long way to paying for Arnold’s divorce settlement with Maria. I knew that guy was a bit off when I saw him bouncing around his pecks at the old Red Onion pick-up jernt in Beverly Hills in the 70’s. Hey, Schmucko….. How many times I gotta tell ya -- Never sleep with the help! Who do you think you are, Bill Clinton? It’s the French Washer Woman syndrome: Lavandiere. The “thrill” of making it with the same person who cleans the skid marks outta your shorts. Fine, that’s your business. Frankly, I kinda wish you woulda kept it your business. And, while you’re at it, Terminator Breath? How ‘bout getting together with Stallone and all those other past middle age tough guys and do “The Expandables”? Nine former tough guys get together and buy Sears Sansabelt slacks. But, I digress. (Actually, digressing is what I do. I remember one time…)
Roseanne Barr would make a great President for the following three reasons:
So, a little more than 30 days ago I was given 30 days to vacate the couch of my ex and let her have her space back. If there was one person who really helped me this last year, it was Angie (not of “List” fame). And it wasn’t just the couch or the oft-full fridge, or use of the Internet and cable TV; it was companionship. What I found troubling to deal with was that we were, and still are, friends and collaborators. But, I had to come to grips with the reality. I wasn’t very happy living in Pico Robertson anyway. The very Orthodox/Thai Nail Salon/Medical Marijuana District was just not my scene, man. But, ever since I was evicted from my mother’s condo (which was on a reverse mortgage when she passed on) my HQ had been my local Starbucks and Angie’s couch. Three years before all that, I was living majestically in my multi-level Notting Hill massionette in jolly old England. For months and months, my life consisted of pedaling back and forth to Beverlywood Tobacco, where I would hang out and smoke cigars with Sam and his crew, including my old friend and oft-spiritual advisor, character actor and comedian Beano (He’s got a Snapple running) then over to Starbucks to write. It’s just been way too bloody hot to pedal up to Melrose, where I would hang out with Taz & crew at the V-Cut Cigar Lounge; and I was really starting to worry about the isolation and onset of depression. Where was I gonna live and how was I gonna pay for little things like food? Still not having a car or the right to drive, and having been on more job interviews that yielded nothing but frustration and disappointment, I have been beside myself – so much to the point of questioning my own sanity. And now, Steven Questions His Own Sanity:
STEVEN: Hi, Sanity! How are you!?
SANITY: Fuck off!
I know what I have to do. I can’t be alone too long or I will go nuts. Again. I have to figure out how to make some money. On the other hand, through all this turmoil and uncertainty, the artistic/magical side of my life started to mysteriously come together. As you may know, writing the blog has not only been great fun, it’s been incredibly therapeutic. I mean think about it: What a great forum for Mr. Isolation. And it’s led to some good things, including a temporary writing job fixing up a fellow stand-up comedian’s one-man show. And, comedians and promoters have now started to inquirer when I can come and review their shows. I’ve got two reviews at the end of this blog (which are way overdue) and two more shows I’ve seen and need to review! I’ve been invited to perform on other people’s shows, including Rick Overton and Friends, where I had a great time (comedian translation: I did very well), and was treated like the way I like to be treated: Like family. But, the strangest “job” I’ve had recently is being in a very odd film. A Mockumentary about the world’s worst comedian, Archie Black. Comedian and director Dave Sirus has created the most complex despicable character since Grover Norquist. Before I got on board, all these comedians were talking to camera about this legendary comedian Archie Black. What Archie did, how he always got in trouble and always made it worse. But Dave didn’t have Archie cast yet. Chris Bonno (artist comedian and musician on the very smartest of the LA comedy club scene) outta the blue, recommended me. I met with Dave and we hit it off immediately. We’ve shot scenes all over LA. It’s great fun. In the meantime, I had to vacate Angie’s couch and I didn’t want to sleep on anyone’s couch again. I was fed up with being a leach. I just wanted employment of any kind and a pillow of my own. I wanted to maintain the one thread of dignity I still possessed, my confidence in everyone else’s confidence in my writing. Enter Hank Rosenfeld.
I met Hank a couple of years ago through Angie. Hank is quite a character. A one-time Pirate Radio DJ, an as-told-to ghostwriter for Marx Brother’s films scribe Irv Brecher (“THE WICKED WIT OF THE WEST” – available @ Amazon) and current newswriter for KNX Newsradio, Mr. Rosenfeld is exactly the kind of friend a beleaguered Humphrey Bogart would find up river, running a floating rum and gambling den for useless regulars such as Ernest Hemingway, DB Cooper and Ted Baxter. Hank is an enthusiast. He embraces life with a wicked sense of humor and is about the most well read and politely opinionated person I know, aside from my proctologist, who keeps insisting I return his pet monkey. (“you’ll have to WAIT, doc!”) The day I arrived at the yellow house in Venice Beach, was the day after I had another nervous episode with Angie. I was scared. Not of moving out. I was happy to give her back her space, both literally and figuratively. I think I was afraid of what I do to people I meet in life. Half the population of people I know are simultaneously fascinated by me and completely put off by me, because and especially in this town, failure and being broke is a contagious disease. And with all the Jerry Lewis stuff? Well, you know. Some people don’t get it and that’s always gonna be the case. But, arriving at Hank’s was like stepping through a magical door to another world; a parallel universe to the Pico/Robertson world of Angie.
The Yellow House is a rest home for creative souls. An old turn of the century wooden multi-level house, sectioned off into apartments, big and small. Very dorm like. Massage therapist and all around great guy Giovanni is upstairs, with his houseguest, the wonderful Clive Natterling, King of wax candle distribution, who, in his day, a local northern British legend and just a real interesting guy to listen to as you fall asleep to his highly imaginative conspiracy theories. My Sunday was pedaling my bicycle up and down and all around Venice, looking for the right breakfast, coming back, singing and playing guitar in the yard, as a pretty neighbor renting the guest house, listened in sort of an aware eavesdrop scenario; going back to the café, writing my blog and tightening up my screenplay, and arranging my trip to San Francisco. In fact, Dave Sirus is driving up with me. I’ll be staying with Bay Area comedy legend Doug Ferrari’s gaff and he’s promised to be my Comedy Sherpa Guide. Very much looking forward to meeting with Dan Dion, the great photographer and all around true friend of comedy. Last night I was talking with a mutual friend, Paul Provenza. I’ve known Paul for over 30 years, starting either here or New York. A great stand-up comedian (appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson), the replacement star for Rob Morrow on Northern Exposure and creator of The Aristocrats, The Green Room (on Showtime), Satiristas and co-producer of Set-List, Paul is still not happy. Not until comedy is completely dead. Paul is perhaps the greatest advocate for quality and meaning in Comedy today and was a huge proponent of my one man show about me and Jerry Lewis and was in fact on the London Palladium show that fateful night. It was Paul, who insisted I read the book, King of Comedy, by Shawn Levy. And, in spite of all his accomplishments, Paul is still just not funny. I’ve never seen him get a laugh and he has a tendency to pee his pants in mid-joke. He’s a girly-man and nobody wants to book him. In spite of all those aforementioned absolute lies, I love Paul and who he is and he knows it. He knows I was on the ledge. And, that’s always a problem for someone like me. Someone who once claimed he was committing suicide in four days? I tell ya’, one thing; if you ever decide to let it be known that you were done with life? If you live through it, you’ll always be labeled a liar. But, I can live with that, if it can live with me. Works for Paul Ryan.
When I performed in Rick Overton & Friends at The Improv Lab a couple of weeks ago, it was wonderful. Chris Pina runs a very nice friendly streamlined ship and I get to work with and see great funny story tellers such as the great Robert Altman actor Paul Dooley (Breaking Away) and the amazing multi-level mind of Bob Dubac (Free Range Thinking). Also on the show was Cathy Ladman. How can I describe Cathy…. She’s Jewish. She’s middle aged. She has an adopted Chinese kid. You know. A regular person. But, she is just so fabulously funny. I mean, really really devastatingly funny. Again, I go with the age glass ceiling in LA comedy. It’s wrong. Cathy is so superior and really does her own thing. In any case, after the show, Cathy (whom I really don’t know all that well) gave me a big warm, “we’re glad you’re still around” hug. She didn’t say any of that; but I felt it as she hugged me. (I then double-checked for my wallet. This is L.A. after all.) The next day, I sent her a message, saying, thank you, I guess you heard of my serious health crisis. She said, “No, what crisis?” I told her nearly three years ago I had a good old fashioned life crisis and wanted to end the crisis by ending my life. But, that I found therapy and a bicycle and founded The Laughter Foundation to help other comedians in trouble as well as try and start a world-class Comedy Museum. She didn’t know. Now she does. Awkward.
So my plan is thus. This week, Dave Sirus and I are driving up to San Francisco. I’m gonna meet with Dan Dion and have Doug Ferrari show me the town, as I do “Enjoy the Veal, San Francisco!” I’m hoping to spend a month up there, though I have promised to review a show in LA November 1. I’m also going to be launching a Kickstarter campaign – hopefully this week – for something called “Enjoy the Veal-Ickle,” which is a mobile podcast studio, so that I can interview comedians coming right off the comedy club stage, all hot and sweaty, ready to be interviewed for my podcast and eBook, “Enjoy the Veal, America!”. Venice Beach has given this sorrowful soul a new and fresh look at LA. It is very much inspiring me. So, that’s my life. I’m okay. I’ve got therapy, a bicycle and my blog. Aside from real love, what more does a crazy Jew comic need? Now read these reviews and pay attention, because, well just read ‘em. We’ll talk later…
ERIN FOLEY AND FRIENDS @ The Lab 9-5-12
Erin Foley is the best American stand-up comedian this comedy blogger has seen in a long long time. End of review. Drive safely. (No. Keep reading. Trust me, I stop being cruel in a minute.) Erin Foley is very good. “Full stop,” as we say in England. I don’t know if I’ll be able to bottle it for you, but let me have a bash and see where it goes. Just know, that if you know how much I care and know about comedy, I mean it when I tell you how good Ms. Foley is. Part of what makes a great comedian is stepping out the way of the joke. You know how some comics set themselves up as the target of their own slings and arrows? Erin would never dream of such narcissistic folly, unless and only unless, it informed us about something larger, much larger about society as a whole. A fully-packed Labor Day crowd at the Lab (which is becoming one of my more frequent of review venues) were in for a great night of comedy and they knew it and expressed it. Slinging a non-sequetor at the beginning of an evening of comedy was a new twist for this reviewer as Foley (Comedy Central Presents and Conan O’Brien) slung them like there’s no tomorrow. “Are we doing anything crazy?” is a good way to get the crowd together, but following up with “that’s why my mind wanders and I don’t drink,” and “Where are my lesbos?” informs us of her genetic comedy code: Gay and Lesbian Society (and it is a society) with all the classes and pitfalls of so-called normal normality. Only more so. Gay men’s parties are better, they need two sets of luggage for costumes, and “The challenge” (being that Gay Men are so creative) is to have a party with no theme at all. Brilliant! And, it’s somehow all safe and cozy hearing this stuff from a pro like Foley, who, in particular stage lighting, looks like a young Pat Benatar on her day off with the flu. Topic sub-headings for things like “politics” can be the darkly self-admonishing, “Last week, I wanted to kill myself!,” which given the timing of the frustrating presidential debate, was pin-prick right on.
“We don’t really have a choice,” and the fantastical notion the GOP Convention shoulda been held in historical witch-hunting Salem, Mass, was greeted with huge concurring applause, though to be honest, I swear the man behind me uttered under his breath, “Burn her at the stake!” (I turned around, it was Pat Robertson.) Erin thinks Obama should’ve responded to every Romney sling, lie and accusation of failure to the American people with, “Yeah, but you strapped your dog to your car,” which is exactly the kind of moral simplicity and litmus test all free dog-loving people believe in. (For my money, I just wouldn’t want Fido making doo-doo on the roof of my Lexus; especially on the sun-roof.) And yet, Foley doesn’t stop there. She demonstrates what it would be like to quote, not from The Bible (as the Republicans do), but from Harry Potter, and literally demonstrated said created dialectic logic with the acuity, timing and authenticity to detail, mode and emotion, like some of the greats, in particular the late great Alan King, whose only real difference between him and Erin Foley is that he smoked a cigar and she’s an “open” lesbian. Great stuff, Erin. You are amazing and I would be proud to see you play the United Kingdom, should
you they ever get the opportunity. Erin then turned host and first up was Kevin Hart, who was about to host the Video Music Awards on MTV.
Opening with pixie-like charm and with all the energy of the falsely accused, Hart tells the tale of how he asked MTV for a “little security” and got himself, a short black man. (Hart, himself, is African American.) Hart is all over the place, especially when he gets specific. He’s a man who knows details are important and he expresses his points of view with all three comedy tools: body, face and mind, very much like Jim Carrey in the early days, but with a little more mind. In spite of his subject matter being a little over the gossip head of this reviewer, I got the message he was trying to illustrate about Hollywood and egos. Referring to an apparently famed bottle throwing incident at a club, Hart explains the Chris Brown and Drake bottle-throwing altercation can all be written off to Drake being from Canada, so he recycles. That’s taking violent imagery and literally recycling it into a benign and popular cause. Brilliant. A routine about singer/songwriter Frank Ocean followed with a Doyle-esque deductive examination of how Frank came out of the closet in mid-song. “It’s not about Lisa; it’s about a boy,”; and batting them over the net like Andy Murray, Kevin gave us shattered moving imagery of Snooki giving birth to a Foot-Long at Subway, the politics of the sorted affairs of Kristen Stewart and all of us basically living in the “Stage of Mistakes”. Kevin Hart left with his small entourage, sweeping with him a real “who was that guy?” feel, but not too much as to distract from the entire evening. A real class act that guy.
Claudia Cogan (semifinalist on Last Comic Standing 7) was next up. Claudia’s opening gambit was a very well-received, “It feels weird, because I look like a nutritionally deprived Erin Foley,” followed un-synced with, “I live in a gas chamber, facing an alleyway filled with skunks, I slam the window shut,” is like something out of an early David Lynch film, then moving to her practicing then demonstrating her “Depression Stare,” which is the “exact opposite of what I’m getting with the Community College Stare”. Being turned down by restaurants looking to hire only “hot girls”, and pointing out the absurdity of working as a waitress is what most beautiful women actually want, Claudia cheers up with the possibility of finding a restaurant looking to hire “character waitresses”: “As if the Coen Brothers opened a cafeteria”. Her 81-year old father Googles her. “Typical guy. Wants a lesbo.” ZING! Rounding out her anthropologic lectural on stupid human behavior based on assumptive language, Claudia points out that when the term “Fudge-Packer” was adopted by homophobic bigots to describe gay men, it must’ve really put undue pressure on actual fudge factory workers, some of whom were in fact, paid by the hour fudge-packers. Brilliant stuff and the show was only beginning.
And, outta shoot #3 is Jonny McGovern! Hilariously funny, gay as a spring day and one sexy funny rodeo clown. Looking like Jethro Bodine’s younger bearded clone, Jonny is a rootin-tootin’ straight-shootin’(well…) open 24-7 gay comedian, who fires as soon as the saloon doors swing open. “I’m feelin’ extra faggy tonight! An ass-bandit, I’m a skin-flute player, I’m Abraham Lincoln in drag! I’ve got Homofagititus and never getting a cure! I have to be gay, even on the bus. I will pull out my bible and read it. Vogue.” The Right Reverend McGovern is extremely evangelistic and purposely physical, as he preaches to the overly-converted and attempts (and succeeds) to convert outsiders, such as your humble heterosexual scribe. His sheer joy and commitment to his main cause (that he is funnier than hell) are exemplified through his Miles Davis by way of Harvey Firestein default vocal and yet, he moves like Madonna’s first dancer. “Being gay is a get out of watching sports free card,” “Batman needs to lighten the fuck up,” and snapshots of Gay Pride Parade stalwarts: the Steroid Queens and the general freak show, are all crudité samplers of a mechanized beat-backed rap dedicated to the “Circuit Queen,” with just bizarre non-sequetarian remarks and observations of mundanity such as, “Do you ever have a sandwich with bread?,” always coming back to the chorus: “I got gay questions; and I need gay answers!” Jonny McGovern is not your grandma’s fegala.
I must add at this point, that Erin Foley is a very affable host. Many comedy nights in LA are produced or co-produced by the comedian who is the host. Most comedians suck as host. Erin doesn’t suck. Not by a long-shot. Padding a much needed breather between acts, Erin does a routine on drugs, contact lenses and accidentally scratching your cornea, which was as funny as Woody Allen’s “The bullets go right through” from Broadway Danny Rose. And, in no time, she was able to squeeze in a pastiche on dating a murderous Edgar Allen Poe, which however fanciful, had my blood curdling in the most unusual places. Betsy Salkind was a revelation, as well as up next.
It’s always incredibly inspiring when a physically challenged comedian performs; and often challenging to the audience themselves, but Betsy Salkind handled it like a trooper. “My boyfriend and I broke up, because I never listened to him.” Laugh. (Get it? She’s deaf! Okay, I’ll play.) “What do you call a guy laying at your front door?...Matt.” (Okay, I’ve heard all these, but I like the fact that a deaf comic is doing them.) And, as the audience called out the correct answers, she never hears it of course and repeats the question. What in tarnation is going on? She had a receptionist job. No one ever called. Dating an epileptic put her in the precarious scenario of dealing with a grand mal seizure. They were making love, she wanted to help him, “but I was almost there” is a classic example of a beautifully constructed joke. Then, when we least expected, Salkind pulls off the rubber mask and comes out of the deaf closet by revealing she’s actually a normal hearing person; she just studied Sign Language. From there, she becomes her own opening act, as we move onto Obamacare, Dick Cheney’s refusal to die after multiple heart-attacks and the total absurdity of accusing Obama of being a Nazi. “Hitler would never have a black man in charge.” The GOP as over-crowded clown car, Michelle Bachman having a vaccine to cure mental retardation and paranoid opposition to Gay Marriage because millions of fleeing Gay Mexicans will flood our borders, are all tough topics, acutely and astutely conquered by this master comedy crafts-woman, who proves that comedy is truly a silly art form with her closing “Squirrel Eating Matzo Routine,” which, for my money (and I got in free) had me rolling on the floor, like a man with severe internal bleeding. Whew! What a night and it’s still not over…
James Adomian rips it up in NYC with his debut comedy album “Low Hanging Fruit”. “I grew up with strange food diet restrictions, but then I heard a woman in LA say, “I don’t eat salad. I’m homosexual.” Rolling out a 1930’s melodramatic film explanation, “a low-handed fist shaker” leads to a great George Bush impression, “I want to love you gay people to death!” Growing up in LA, he pretended “we” don’t have an accent, but we do, according to James; and he rightly demonstrates and instructs us to “put your tongue out and speak.” A loose Jerky-Boy character, he advocates urinating on the street, rather than occupying Wall Street; and then gingerly swings to his friend telling him of all the “butt fucking in jail”. “Da queers are movin’ up in the woild,” as he tries to get the jail man to pass his number. Why they never built Disneyland in New York having to do with the monorail being down for schedule maintenance (“I gotta be in Tomorrowland yesterday!”), followed by an explanation why Donald Duck doesn’t have pants and closing with his impression of comedian Louise CK (who was next store in the Improv main stage), James Adomian is a comedian to be watched. Not so much because he’s dangerous and yet, exactly for that very reason.
Topping this fantastic evening of joy, frivolity, and genuine gut-busting laughs was Gloria Bigelow, an openly gay African American comedian, telling us about the subtle difference between being marginalized and ignored, with a painfully funny anecdote of trying to get the attention of a Midwestern woman at Whole Foods. A male friend (whom everybody knows is gay but him), as well as another friend who was shocked to be hit upon in a Gay Bar (“he’d better learn to butter his bread one way or the other”), all add up to a genuine radical, a venerable Angela Davis of Comedy, whom (I’m presuming by her world demeanor) has much larger aspirations beyond the stand-up circuit. This is all contextual assumption on my part, I’ll give you, but I have a pretty good instinct for these things and with radical and individual comedy nights like Erin Foley and Friends (a night of not just great comedy, but of indeed radical revolution by way of friendly and funny acceptance) it serves up as a paradigm for nearly all our socially imbalanced society: not to mention, I don’t think I’ve ever written a more incoherent and pretentious sounding sentence. Closing out the evening, Ms. Bigelow showed us White People what it be like to have a Starbucks in the Hood, Al Sharpton’s voice, getting on Tyler Perry’s mailing list, made up choruses for Booty songs (“Chicken and potato salad”), all leading up to the great object lesson of the evening. When Gloria was a school teacher in the Inner City, she penalized students 25 cents per use of the “N-Word”. “But, Miss Bigelow, What are we gonna call each other?” inquires a representative student. “How about by your names!” Indeed, Miss Bigelow. Indeed. And a great comedy show by any other name would be, would be…just gay!
I give Erin Foley & Friends @ The Improv Lab 8 outta 8 Menorahs!
TAMMY JO DEAREN & FRIENDS @ The Comedy Store Sept. 15, 2012 – The Belly of the Beast
The Belly Room literally lies in the belly of The Comedy Store, the black monolith on Sunset Boulevard, just between Kings Road and Queens Road. I guess, if this were an inside-straight, The Comedy Store would be the joker. Apocryphally, The Belly Room was supposedly where the owners of Ciros would have belly dancers, as a way of entertaining late-niters who refused to go home after seeing Martin and Lewis in the Main Room. It’s where I saw Whoopi Goldberg showcase for Spielberg, Streisand and Nicholson. And, most historically, it’s where Mitzi Shore, created the first comedy space in history, solely devoted to women stand-ups. These days (and as nearly always) the Belly Room is one of the three rooms of The Comedy Store, rotating various shows at almost all times. The other two rooms (The Main Room and The Original Room) both have their own unique vibe. The Belly’s vibe is that of surreal intimacy. Kind of like the little bar in the Upper Class Lounge on a Virgin flight, a booking in the Belly Room sounds conversely like comedy banishment, as well as new beginnings. Tammy Jo Dearen, a comic, impressionist and empowered-female extraordinaire is heavily rooted in the comedy community, as both comedian and booker. Nicknamed the “Comedy Jackhammer,” and having been on Mind of Mencia and Ricki Lake, Tammy Jo is also an occasional comedy co-worker with the likes of the quickest minds with toughest-tongues in Comedy, such as just about everybody worth their salt. Tammy truly cares about comedy, the comedy community, other comedians, and the most important element: the audience – even more than she seems to care about herself. Send this Hollywood Freak packing! Setting a good example ALWAYS makes the rest of us self-serving and self-deluded cry-babies look even worse. Who needs her!
Starting off an evening of never-ending entertainment (like the people mover at the airport) was a West Hollywood City Council sketch, led by the Right Coast’s Jackie Monahan, actress, comedian, cabaret performer and all around nice gay rights supporter. Representin’ Weho, all three (or 4) performers dawned sunglasses as they mocked their campaigns to offer “free Botox until you get high”; this was local city government meets Barbarella.
ANNOUNCER: "Welcome to Comedy Store Live Saturday Night!"
Okay, the syntax was “up fucked”, but I’m down. Jackie returns (sans extras), this time in a blue sparkly dress, and as our host for the evening. “Where does everybody live? Are we from LA? Is there a Comedy Store at the airport? People can be weird in New York, a story of saying “God-bless you” to someone who sneezed, then coughed." Doing a “too soon” (the current comedy meme) after a remark about Jackie O. Just found out its not sarcastic when you say the luck of the Irish; and how people associated with great food are often associated with murder (like the Italians)” was the first routine which fully caught my attention. I don’t know; maybe I’m getting too snobby, but to this reviewer, Jackie seemed like a lot of young and talented comedians I meet in LA who come from complex artistic pedigree (acting, dance, theatre/usually from New York) who view stand-up as an alternate way to get their name out there and have fun. When you add up all the numbers for the night, Jackie Monahan was clearly the most talented of us all, but, perhaps I would’ve liked her a whole hellofa lot more if she didn’t opt for costume changes and spent more time and energy on premise changes. This is stand-up, sweetie. Dirty Tee-Shirt is all that’s required. My favourite line of hers was, “Are you guys ready for a great show?” She then introduces the host for the evening. Yes, I’m as confused as you are. There are more hosts and introductions on this show, than when the Osmonds wife-swapped with the Romney’s.
Tammy Jo Dearen. What can I say. More like, what can’t she say?
“I went to the doctor to find out why I’m a lesbian. Turns out I have a nut-allergy,” as she waves the magic wand of the microphone over her crotch, just in case, we missed the joke the first time. I wanted to slit my wrists until she followed through with a home run with “These are the jokes!,’ MEANING: we have an experienced, well-trained comedy professional at the helm finally thank god for that. TJD is a high-energy communicator, whom if this were pre-war Germany, would certainly be recruited to convince the local villagers to just simply accept The Dish Network as their lord and savior. “Internet Dating… show of hands!” demands and indeed commands this combination of community organizer, veteran pro, and the spirit of the late great Phyllis Diller, and who laughs and giggles like the late great Paul Lynde. She and her girlfriend tried to move into the ‘gay section of San Diego… Camp Pendleton.’; “If you’re quiet enough in Weho, you can hear the dicks slapping; “I’m a Dikey-Dike,”; rants on hoarders and PETA people and a fantastic long stage mime demonstration of an angry lesbian eating raw hot dogs, were comedy point after comedy point of this very well-thought out comedy set from one of the funniest and professional comedians out there, “lesbozo” or otherwise. Tammy Jo never stops firing and nearly almost always hits her mark dead center. She’s all energy and seems to care about us, the audience more than even her most precious of subjects: Balsy out there big-dike in your face lesbians. Who says “they” have no sense of humor? Oh, yeah, it was the random hetero male comedian on the random comedy show who probably couldn’t follow her. Nothing random about the next act at all!
Omar Nava was next and billed as our “first comic” (I am so confused… ) a laid back with reserved energy open immigrant from Mexico. “I’m Mexican. So, I really don’t have goals in life – I have GOOOOOOAAALS!” was very funny and really kicked this show into the kind of gear Tammy knows it can be. Impression of a stand-up comedian from the People’s Republic of China somehow led to Omar’s very brilliant and original “Homeless asking for change” routine, which was built on the interesting premise of paying attention to previously ignored detail of a class of human behavior one would never really consider. “He didn’t look like he would spend it wisely,” is the starting gun of a comedy run of literally interviewing homeless beggar after homeless beggar, until he finds the right qualified one, “Excuse me sir, you don’t look like Barack Obama, but would you like some change?” But, that was only where we THOUGHT he was going. Omar’s penultimate point was that if you saw Lewis Black ranting and raving on the street, you wouldn’t pay him the $35 to see him in concert; so, as with all things: its all context and perception. This crowd favourite works at Toyota during the day, and insists only on cracking inside jokes. Which ultimately, is his ultimate point. The inside joke is the most powerful.
Aiko Tinaka was next up in this sushi bar of exotic and dangerous tastes. Born in Tokyo, this former MTV and Soul Train dancer opens with a cultural comedy of manners, explaining that when “we Japanese take Ecstasy, we bow the shit out of each other”; quickly entering the radioactive field of TMI and total nonsequetor. Tinaka’s name means “Bastard in the rice fields,” she “works in a Chinese Restaurant for Jews” whose customers have odd requests such as “can I suck your dick?” I think it’s funny and I don’t get it. Her See You Next Tuesday sister, her superstitious mother, going to Vegas for the strippers, having to stop drinking and her not being “gay -- I’m Japanese” all worked for this Lucille Ball by way of a cute and sexy Miyoshi Umeki, who needs to lose the self-commenting on jokes that don’t work and concentrate on taking it even further on the mat. If you’re gonna mock Japanese behavior, tradition and mores, you might as well be Pearl Harbor not Pearl Bailey. Criticisms aside, Aiko is cute, funny and available with a USB Port.
Up next was Aaron Marz (though I think it’s Erin Marz and I can’t find anything on the web) a perky big-breasted ex-stripper from Ohio, who informs us she’s just happy to be working a Saturday. This life-transitioner went to Beauty School, which (anthropologically) is the natural progression of a stripper. “What else can you do with glitter?” Taking us into an underworld we’d just as soon not think about, we’re forced to ponder the concept of being a past her prime stripper: “You turn into a Day Stripper.” Cinema verite details such as “watching Judge Judy on the bar TV as you work” are brilliant feathers of a bird, this writer thought was long ago extinct: The Intellectual Sex Pro. Explaining what we probably already knew; that when you start stripping, you choose a name like, “Ruby,” but after 35, you become “Carol”, this real life mom is true testament to turning your life around and making the best of the bad. I like her. But, I need to get the spelling of her name right, so there’s no confusion. Let’s just call her Ruby for now.
Jason Le Cour was next and really surprised me with the opening line, “Cops are useless See You Next Tuesday’s” (That’s a censored paraphrase.) I can’t decide if I’m offended or impressed that not less than three comedians in the same show all felt casual and familiar enough to use the word that begins with “C”, ends in “T” and has the United Nations in the middle somewhere. (I lived and worked as a comedian in England for 20 years, so I’m quite familiar with the word.) Randomly pointing out that nobody ever says, “Sweet! The cops are here!” and that everyone loves fireman because, “they stay the fuck in their station and wait for us to call them”, Le Hart instructs us on updating the Second Amendment to meet modern technology, all brilliantly and mysteriously woven into a treatise on Batman and Gun Control. Turning the current comedy meme “Too Soon?” into a bending point, a veritable fulcrumatic left turn: “You know what else is too soon?..... Going to see a midnight screening of a comic book movie!” More comedians should take a page out of Jason’s book. He knows his stuff and I wouldn’t be surprised if HBO or Comedy Central took notice of him.
Billed as a “Special Appearance” was Mark Valley (known for his role as “Brad Chase” on Boston Legal) who immediately starts in with the insider social comparisons. “I like to hang out with stand-up comedians; actors are all huggy,” and when he’s hugging a guy, he doesn’t want to let go. His dog’s been dragged into this by having to watch him masturbate (which now forces us to picture all that), but in the end, dogs are a great way to meet women in LA. The absurdist picture of a person yelling in the canyons for something lost of ephemeral and relative value, “Integrity!” (“Where ARE you…?”), this Gulf War vet is truly funny and yet, he doesn’t seem to care about all the adulation that other comedians die for. Like all good soldiers, he’s just good at what he does and doesn’t make too much fuss about it.
Liz Wheat goes to so many self-help 12-Step meetings in LA, she’ll go into a meeting, stand up and admit she’s been having sex all day, only to realize she’s in the wrong meeting, giving us the ultimate awkward comedy moments. Highlighting the forgotten obvious, Liz will point out that if you openly tout that you are in AA, you need to drop one of the “A’s”, which leads to the very inventive concept of the “AA Questionnaire,” which includes such delightful queries as, “Do you seek lover companions when drinking?” and “Do you snort cocaine off of toilet seats?” bending the last corner of the evening into a sort of treatise on living the high life in the low life. A story of an actor who appeared in Robert Rodriguez films who was her lover at one point, gives her set a TMZ patina The Comedy Store audience seemed to lap up like free Mojitos. Five years sober contrasts her previous lovers having to hold her hair while she puked into the toilet. Instead of house-flipping, she’s a “Man-Flipper” (“Definitely have to mow that yard!”); and taking us home to obsessively holding onto a broken vibrator like a broken relationship and trying to make them both work nonetheless, all add up to a hard-living life-changer who shows us how to turn the seedy side into the funny side. Just being in the same room as Elizabeth Wheat, is life-changing enough; and in a very good way.
Ari Joffe is a comedian, but also a budding filmmaker, who immediately explains he needs our approval, as he is a “child of divorce” and that he “needs love”. Strangely disclaiming he “doesn’t want to talk about his small penis too much,” instead he does a little rap on the little feller. Ari is a man of modest height who dances the funk. “I’m Poly – I can do it three ways. I’m rock hard and you can tell. Thanks, Rabbi!” Closing with an impression of him masturbating at work, made me wonder – after seeing this show tonight – how much masturbation is actually going on out there and perhaps Tammy Jo shouldn’t just book and produce the show, but maybe do some hook-ups; or at least offer some free lube. An awkward little guy, who has his watch set to his birthday, probably was my favourite. Then again, I’m all for masturbation. As Woody Allen said, “It’s sex with someone I love.” And, I do write this blog singlehandedly.
Returning to our little Roman exhibit before Pharaoh, was our own Jackie Monahan, this time in dark purple outfit (WTF! She got Bob Fucking Mackie backstage?!) and now ready to do her complete comedy set. Frankly, I was a little annoyed that it all seemed a little trixy that when you first see a performer and they give their all, that’s one thing. But, when they return again and again, that’s just asking a bit much from the audience. And that is my one big complaint about this show. I didn’t know whose show it was. Tammy Jo or Jackie M. Having said that, our work-horse comedian had barrels of material, including, “Let’s hear it for the deaf”; approaching strangers in Vegas, desperately pleading if they’d seen her sister, the high rate of dentist suicides, and warning a future employer who inquirers what one word would describe herself, with the answer: “Vindictive”, I really started to warm up to Jackie Monahan. Maybe she’s got it right. Life is a cabaret. And, I’m the one being the heterosexual uptight closeted bitch. In the end…scratch that. I mean, in conclusion, I just wished she would’ve put it all together in one fell swoop and no pointless costume changes. Or at least done some material on the costume changes. Costume acknowledgement. Because after the first couple, I felt like I needed to leave the show for a moment and change out of my fireman’s costume once again.
Up next was Gerrence George, who hits the stage like he’s double-parked, informing us that, “…it’s hotter than a mother-fucker; I’m sweating my ass off!; Somebody call the board of health!” Because “This is America!,” we should have Colt 45 flowing everywhere; “I’m a black man and I don’t go to therapy!”; "Thanks to auto-correct on my phone, does anybody know how to take ‘cock-block’ off my text app on my phone?’; “I haven’t taken a vow of celibacy, but I do drive a PT Cruiser” are all good comedy club premises, set-up and delivered well; but I was starting to lose the plot. Mr. George seemed a little out of place for this evening of Gay and Geek comedy. But, what the heck; it was The Comedy Store. Gerrence was hilariously funny, if not totally out of the subtle web of righteous indignation it seemed the evening was building towards; and that’s because for Gerrence, he seems to not just accept the unbalance of his environment, but indeed barreling through it is exactly what he does in life, as well as on stage. I’d book him.
Nearing the end of this cavalcade of comedy contributors was Tammy Sorenson, who immediately confesses, “I just lost 263 lbs. I’m much happier. His name was Zach” lets us know she was straight and is a comedian. “I’m not a Vegan, but I am annoying,” was a great set-up, with no memorable follow-up. Many of the newer I comedians I see seem to do this. Thinking the set-up is the punchline, when indeed it should be the introduction of a new premise. I would’ve loved to hear why being a Vegan is annoying, but like the joke, there was no meat. Following this was an annoying menu of bodily silliness, including “Yoga Back Farts,” “Vaginal Farts,” and sex advice. Okay, I admit. I was tired. We were well into the three hour point and my writing hand was starting to feel like I’ve been masturbating a corpse. Closing the show was Michael Lenoci, whose act I completely missed because I had to go to the bathroom (not to masturbate) and by the time I got out, was accosted by a fan of the blog who wanted me to introduce her to Jerry Lewis. My apologies, Michael. And, I promise next time you’re performing to try and catch you and write about what you do. In the meantime, please feel free to use this quote: “America’s newest comedy find!”
The headline take away is that Tammy Jo Dearen is The Goddess of West Hollywood Comedy, the heir apparent to a young, vibrant and gay Phyllis Diller. And I want to personally thank TJD for sweating her tits off week after week, putting on comedian after comedian at various venues around LA. The shows are often uneven, but then again, you never find any gold if you don’t shake the sifter. I just wished I knew when Tammy’s show began and The Comedy Store’s show ended. One stage at a time.
I give Tammy Jo Dearen & Friends @ The Belly Room @ The Comedy Store 7 out of 8 Menorahs. (And, I duly expect to see an 8 out 8 from TJD quite soon!!)
And, so I hit the “publish” button on the Jewish Journal online blog upload site and wish you all well. As for me, a few more glorious nights, sleeping on Hank’s porch, fending off the saturated ocean chill and the night bugs, and staring up at the few constellations the Auto Industry still allows us to see. I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. Should I not go up to San Francisco and explore the comedy scene up there with “Enjoy the Veal, San Francisco!”? Should I stay here, in LA, seeking out that respectable day job and finding an apartment of my own? Should I just take the money and finally go back to London, forgetting this long nightmare, as well as my American Dream? All I do know is this. As much as I missing England right now? I know I don’t want to find myself in the pub somewhere, telling me mates about the great adventure I created then abandoned: the dream of The Laughter Foundation, Health Care for Comedians, The Comedy Museum, and of course, my weekly duties as your humble crazy man here at The Jewish Journal online and “Enjoy the Veal!” Because then I’d just be another bitter American Ex-Pat. Working, yes. Respected, possibly. Bitter? Only if I turned on the telly and saw Jerry Lewis doing my farewell routine once again. Besides, if I do go back home, we’ll always have, “Enjoy the Veal, London!” Like in G.K. Chesterton’s 1904, “The Napoleon of Notting Hill” when all the intelligent and important men are reduced to eating veal cutlets off the lawn, simply because it was deduced at the time to be the done thing of its day, I will service my country in the most noblest of ways. I will continue to be the prankster. A prankster with a mission. A mission from God, the greatest comedian of all time.
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
SPECIAL NOTE: The Laughter Foundation supports a good person and a great comedy artist. Tig Nataro. She'll be fine. (xx/oo!)
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
I can't wait for the debate between Mitt Romney and himself.
There once was a candidate named Mitt, Whose positions he’d always make fit, To the IRS he’d be lyin’, While his Vee Pee named Ryan, Looks just like a big eared young twit.
I think I'm gonna take a psychotic break!
The dude a-Bidens.
I've always wanted to be a member of a firing squad; just so when the guy with the sword says, "FIRE!!!," I could say, "What?"
What did one Jewish zombie say to the other Jewish zombie? You're eating my heart out!!!
Whenever I'm in a restaurant, and I hear the order up bell, I always expect to see a prize fighter, boxing his way out of the kitchen.
Being broke isn't my problem. It's my collector's.
You can now say to a corporation, "Now, don't take this personally, but..."
ELEVATOR FILM PITCH: A woman is murdered in the back of the bus, for the continued and meaningless use of the word "like". Local police suspect the driver. "Fatal Liking"
What do you MEAN it's not all about me? – God
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Garfunkel and Oates 4th Anniversary Show @ Largo, Weho this Thursday Oct 18 @ 8:30pm
The Crispy Comedy Show in Silver Lake this Thursday Oct 18 @ 7:00pm
Set-List + Nerdist Showroom @ Meltdown - Saturday Oct 20 @ 9:00pm
Beth Lapides's Uncabaret - Sunday Oct 21 @ 8:00pm.
Lenny Schmidt Live at the Comedy Store Main Room - Sunday Oct 21 @ 8:00pm
ODDZ ‘N ENZ:
In next week's Enjoy the Veal!, reviews of Jann Karam's one-woman show Reclining Nude on La Cienega & Bill Bronner's Free Speech Show @ The Improv Lab
To have your comedy show reviewed or hire your humble comedy writer or to complain about anything: email@example.com.
"Never take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive!!"