Posted by Steven Alan Green
The great thing about being crazy is that you can say you’re gonna do or accomplish anything and people generally don’t believe you. Heck, I even find myself believing my own stories sometimes. Slow night. Ya’ know? Up here in San Francisco, now going on 4 or 5 weeks so far (I hope the local government doesn’t check for my work visa or passport; after all, I am from the distant land of LA!), I am really making headway, both in my artistic delusions and in incomprehensibly confusing and dysfunctional relationships with other comedians. It’s so bizarre. This last week had me tangling horns with a comedian I hadn’t even met yet! I had put out notice on Facebook that I was looking for a Thanksgiving dinner to crash, bring stuffing, bring my guitar and if someone could recommend me to someone. I just didn’t want to spend my first San Francisco Thanksgiving alone. A local comedian suggested I contact someone, another local San Francisco comedian named, “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?”. So I politely and briefly email “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?”, introduce myself, etc. He was initially really cool with me and like, “Yeah, man, come on down!” Again, I thought to myself, that great San Francisco, “We’re all comics here, no judgment!” that Steven Pearl and Al Chethen not only talked the talk, but walked zee walk too, know what I mean? So, I asked “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” what should/could I bring, it being a pot-luck, and I didn’t want to bring pot (har-har), I’m sure there would be plenty there. “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” said, “Yeah, man, most of the comedians are bringing wine. Oh, and there’s not gonna be enough turkey for everyone.” So, I thought to myself. I had lived in England for twenty years and when I was there, I really missed the American holiday Thanksgiving. Sure a Christmas goose now and then and some occasional nice blood pudding for breakfast, but Thanksgiving isn’t really about food, is it. It’s about community, family, forgiveness and a literal pagan ritual prayer to the gods of the seasons, hoping for health and abundance in the coming year for all our loved ones. I made a turkey there once, but it’s hard to get your English friends to come over and celebrate America’s one big massive land grab over its indigenous people. The Brits? Been there, done that. Too close to home, mate. So, I thought, ya’ know, I really do want to dig into a big ole Tryptophan-soaked, hormone-infused, high-cholesterol, preservative-laden American style turkey dinner somewhere. Where can I just go and be done with it? Tommy’s Joynt, my new “Musso’s on the Sea”.
So, I gets (purposeful “s”) on the 38 bus and heads (that was a typo) up Geary to Van Ness and I’m thinking. I check my wallet. I still have a couple grand coming in from that commercial I did in the UK and I’m owed $75 from the stand-up gig for John Fox down in Santa Cruz that Al Clethen got me and Hank down in LA is selling my Trek bicycle to his gardener and I have a few hundred in donations to the foundation coming in…what do I got, let’s see. Hmmm….. 47, 49, 50. 51 bucks! I take a deep breath; think what I’m about to do. Then, all of a sudden, I stand up in the middle of the bus, dozens of local Thanksgiving rush hour San Franciscans not knowing what’s about to happen. We get to Van Ness and suddenly, I drop trou and shout, “I’M PRESIDENT OF THE LAUGHTER FOUNDATION! I’M GONNA FEED COMEDIANS TONIGHT!!” The entire bus population turned their heads and one man blankly said to me, “Yeah? Comedians, huh? You should meet MY family!” At least, I thought in my head I did that. In reality, I looked at my phone, and after getting “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” to send me his phone number via email, I call up “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” with the intent of asking him how many comedians are coming and would he like the idea if I went somewhere reasonably cheap and – with their help too – bring and share with the local comedians a nice Thanksgiving dinner? “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” answers the phone like a very impatient in a damn hurry drill sergeant, “YOU GOT THREE SECONDS!!!” What the fuck? I thought. “Excuse me, this is Steven Alan Green, you invited me to Thanksgiving. I was wondering how many comedians do you think are coming tonight for Thanksgiving dinner?” You know, I don’t exactly remember what “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” said after that, but I will never forget his exasperation and how stupid he made me feel. I think “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” was out trying to arrange this and that and was in a panic, and thought I was being your typical pain in the ass comedian. I just said to “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” in the politest of tones, “I’m sorry, I think I’ve dialed the wrong number; sorry and Happy Thanksgiving,” and hung up. I then headed for Tommy’s Joynt for the $13.95 turkey plate special, desert included, but when I got to Tommy’s, the line was very long and I decided to walk a bit.
Walking down Polk Street east towards California Street, where I knew there was a cigar store that had my brand at the reasonable price. Walking uphill, Polk Gulch becomes another morphing section of magical San Francisco. Somewhere between a squooshed version of Melrose, Sunset Blvd and Pasadena, if you can imagine. Bars, good eats, young people and homeless. Bums, as we used to call ‘em. And, I’m referring to the young people. I get to Cal and Polk, but it’s closed. What to do. I know my stupid habit won’t let me get past dinner without a follow-up 21 tobacco salute. Hmmm…… Ah, what’s this? A pretty young woman, blonde woman with some pink streak is approaching me, her eyes locked on mine, she walks right past, her eyes looking back. I stop. Turn 180. There she goes. Up the block. She’s gone. Oh, well, turkey plate special at Tommy’s here I come! Wait. Think. You want to have adventures, right? You want to have adventures you can write about, right? You want to get laid, right? I run after her. Catching up out of breath, I suddenly become my upper crust posh British character. “Ah, excuse me, could you possibly inform me where one might find a tobacconist at this time of eve?”
She immediately comes to order, pulls out her iPhone and says like my venerable assistant for 20 years, “Well, let’s see….According to this, there’s one just 150 yards down on Mason, you turn left and then there’s another one just up the road….” She rattled on and on and on and I didn’t give one holy fuck where the tobacconist was. Whereas moments before, I was beswept in creeping depression out of my recent nasty social altercation with “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?”, and the dreadful thought of being alone on Thanksgiving, I was now in the formidable company of a blonde stranger with pink highlights and an iPhone 5. I snap out of it. She asks if I’d like her to show me where the nearest open tobacconist was, and so we walked and strolled up and down and back and forth all over that section of San Francisco, I’m not sure what its name is yet, bad syntax, I know. I finally found one that had my inexpensive brand and then, we decide to grab some food. Sushi, because that’s what she preferred for this Thanksgiving, and yes, we split the bill. Jesus! Anyway, we had a grand ole time at the Sushi Boat, stuffing ourselves for less than 20 bucks each, with me talking like the Brit with squid in my mouth for at least a half hour until I finally revealed myself not to be British, but she liked me anyway, it was awkward for a few minutes, but only in my head, then we paid our bill, then some more walking and then finally at that bar we thought was gay so we walked past it to a bar she knew, but it was Thanksgiving so it was closed, so we went back to the bar which we thought was gay, but wasn’t and who cares if it was anyway, I didn’t care and we sat and had drinks and laughed and talked and I walked her home, we exchanged numbers and as I watched her blonde and pink hair recede into the yellow fog, I felt like Bogart, just for a brief second. I was cool under pressure. And to think, I could’ve, instead, gone to “FUCK HIM WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” for crappy Thanksgiving of wine and no turkey with probably a bunch a loser comics. Oh, by the way, “FUCK HIM WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?” real name is…….Hang on, my phone. Hello? Yes, this is the great Steven Alan Green……
So, bearing in mind that you never know what’s around the corner in this life….
I am very proud and pleased to announce that The Laughter Foundation.....will be presenting a very special evening in the Spring of the new year. As many of my readership may already know, of the two working programs the foundation runs, The Heckler Fund is there for emergency grants for comedians. We’ve helped save a comedian (a single mom) from eviction (the landlord had no sense of humour), provided cancer meds for comedians, meals, beds to sleep in and even psychiatric therapy. The one thing we can’t provide are jokes. Though, we can heckle. The other working program is a little more new to the world. COMEC is The Comedy Museum Exploratory Committee. This is to form a committee of experts to look into a way to build a world-class museum to study and exhibit the art, history and science of Comedy. The Comedy Museum. A projected $25 million project. Target city: San Francisco. And, I am also pleased to announce a stellar addition to The Laughter Foundation “bored”. Eddie Brill was only recently, the talent coordinator for stand-up comedians to get on Late Night with David Letterman for many many years, and was instrumental in helping launch many of the modern greats. Eddie’s also a brilliant comedian himself and continues to be the warm-up comedian for Letterman when he's not on the road. Not only has Eddie joined the Laughter Foundation board, but has agreed to take part in something I’m producing, should he be available. Which is kinda like saying, the beautiful blonde at the end of the bar will sleep with me, IF and ONLY IF there are no more horny straight men or slightly distracting and very dysfunctional women left in the world. Eddie is a busy guy. But, the fact that he’s lent his name is extraordinary. Thank you, Eddie. As in all things I borrow, I’ll give it back one day with interest!!
COMEDY: THE NEW “C” WORD
As in the past with all my big productions in the UK, the event will take place at an historical theatre. The Castro Theatre, right here in San Francisco. In benefit of The Laughter Foundation’s Heckler Fund and COMEC, “Comedy: The New ‘C’ Word”, will be an open town hall discussion about what is okay in terms of profanity, words and ideas. What can a comedian say and get away with? And, what’s with all these new single-letter coded words? The N-Word. The F-Bomb, etc. When is it okay for a white comedian to say, not “the N-Word”, but indeed the camouflaged word itself? What subjects are verboten to comedy? And, why? How can one minority or one majority literally own words? Where does network and film studio censorship take over? What about the freedom of expression of the regular working class stand-up comedian working the “Hoo Hah Room” in Pougkeepsie? Can the club owner tell him or her what not to say? Why are we using words to divide us? And yet, do we really want to take the bite out of comedy by making it all very PC? These are just a few of the questions to be discussed Monday, April 1, 2013 @ 8:00pm at the beautiful 1,400-seat Castro Theatre in glorious San Francisco. It should be a night of intellect, but also bawdy fun, outrageous philosophy and plenty o’ laughs. In addition to all that, I am very proud and pleased to announce the acquisition of Calvyn Winter, who is onboard as co-producer. Cal co-created The Green Room (Showtime) with Paul Provenza and produces big theatre shows worldwide. With Cal’s help, I expect the show at the Castro to be truly stellar. Censorship in Comedy is a subject, not just every comedian wants to talk about, but people on the street, in the shops and neighborhood restaurants are invited to give their opinion, in what I hope will be the first of many events like this for The Laughter Foundation. Comedy is the People’s Art Form. My job – both as writer for this blog and as President of The Laughter Foundation, is to remind people how important comedy is in their everyday lives, especially in these continuing troubling times. I will post more information as we get it; who’s on the show, ticket prices, etc. It’s gonna be huge, and how many times have I said that to a woman.
COMEDY IS THE PEOPLE'S ART FORM
“Comedy: The New ‘C’ Word” will be presented by COMEC and Inbrook Productions and benefit The Heckler Fund. We need to replenish that. Right now there are at least three professional and established comedians who need my help right now. (Four, if you include me. I’m broke as back mountain.) The beneficiary comedians will be publicly announced around the first of the new year. If you want to donate to the Laughter Foundation, every bit helps. And, if you donate now, just 20 bucks, you get a free ticket to the show, which are going on sale for $35 & $50. (make sure you email me once you've made the online donation so I an reserve you a ticket)
Joining the Enjoy the Veal Team, starting this week, is a terrific writer, Tamsin Hollo. Tamsin’s review of Uncabaret is below. Please enjoy her unique intellectual points of view and great imaginative and funny writing style. And, incidentally, if you’re in a city around the country or around the world, and you want to review comedy shows for us, to possibly be published in this blog, please contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, now….Da Revee-oozze…..
WILL DURST @ The San Francisco Jewish Community Center – “Exceptional Comedy Value for Money” 11/3/12
As The Eagle’s “Victim of Love” plays over the PA of the beautiful 450-seat Maurice Kanbar Theatre nestled within the warm confines of the San Francisco Jewish Community Theatre, I counted half the audience being approximately the age of exhumed. Then, Lenore, Director of Friend Center of the SFJCC, comes out, holding a binder. She makes a funny. “Someone from Massachusetts sent us a binder”. Nice one, Lenore. Funny. But, so “pre-election”. Then again, so was this show....
Then, over the PA, Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s ace political anchor, who cut his telejounalistic jib during the first Iraq war. Wolf Blitzer. I bet his real name is Hiram Finklestein. Wolf. Who the hell is he kidding. This “Good Night and Good Luck” splash of cold water on the face of the audience was a bold aesthetic move to open a comedy show. But, that’s Will Durst, a man who wants you to know almost as much as he knows; and you get the feeling if he told you too much, it would freak you the fuck out, break your heart and make you want to take up Chinese. "Durst does his homework." (This Friday on Fox.)
“Screw Chicago!...this is San Francisco!” the Giants fan enthusiastically proclaims to the post World Series/pre-Presidential Election audience, without a tincture of false loyalty. Durst can’t suck up; he's too smart. And he doesn’t need to. Because, even though he knows he’s taking all of us on a very scary, educational, and yes, very funny journal through the operating table of American politics, he knows exactly how much we can and cannot handle. None of it, basically. Still, he wants to speak. He’s got some things to say. Warming us up with a charming little story of he and his wife, Deb; they go on a Golden Gate Bridge celebratory rabble-rouse over Obama’s Victory. “We were a flash mob.” He gently breaks it to the blue hairs that, “Deb is a liberal. If she went to Hogwarts….” (I got distracted by an old woman’s sudden hacking cough right behind me, missing the rest of the joke.) Keeping local, like all politics are, Durst takes us to snooty hippy Mill Valley, “so precious, so darling,” a veritable “Yuppie Terrarium” where “threat levels are burgundy” and how on arrival, "a spontaneous drum circle appeared as if from a Hobbit village, celebrating the reappearance of the ring.” And, after telling a joke or two about Obama, “You can’t see him, the halo’s too bright”, Durst explains he’s not a "satirist" like Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, “who says things he doesn’t mean for affect.” “I need people who know how to read or knows someone who does,” shows us Will Durst is not only aware of the various class systems in America, he’s not in of any of them. His dad was working class, fair enough, but he read three newspapers a day, “which you may have heard of its (newspapers) demise in a Tweet.” In his day, Durst explains, everything was political. Math Class was political. Recounting his first political joke, “Nixon resigned and went to the hospital, which just goes to prove, when the going gets tough, the tough get Phlebitis.” Not surprising, this older skewed educated audience is eatin’ it up.
Pointing out that being a political comedian is not a way to riches, he speculates that, "Jon Stewart is the Wallmart of political comedy shows, and, …me? I’m a small boutique in Soho.” The audience loves this one, whom were with him from joke one. To my surprise. I mean, many of these people were old. Ish. But, they were Jews, so old, schmold! They were as smart and sharp and receptive of any comedy crowd this ace reporter has seen from Kankakee to Timbucktoo, or three, I can’t remember. Durst reminds us of the obvious, which we never think about. And that is how being a political comedian is much harder because you’re always getting rid of your old material because of constant new world events and then finally admits, “My William Howard Taft material will have to go….” Durst then takes us on a pictogram of being your humble political comedy jester under Kings Reagan, Clinton and of course “W”, whom was the golden age of comedy for Durst. “He sucked for the universe, but he was like gold! He was a father to me! He was a Wheel of Fortune President in a Jeopardy World!” This is exactly where I joined in with the rest of the audience and fell in love with Durst. Most comedians I see, at some point, no matter what I do, I get somewhat envious. I want to be on that stage, I want to be that good. But, with Durst, even though he is probably better at the craft of comedy than most comedians (political or otherwise), what takes him to the next level is that he doesn’t have a whiff of superiority about him. Nor is he subservient or an alarmist. In fact, he has no opinion, he’s just reporting the facts, putting things into swallowable perspective, which is what makes him the most credible comedian out there period. He’s as politically neutral as another Will this country knew early last century; siding always and only with, common sense. I mean, on surface, yeah, one would think Durst hangs out with Abbie Hoffman, but in reality, I’m can see him hanging with Abbie Normal. And the man is as prolific as a hooker with a flight to catch. Pat Robertson saying the field of Republicans is too extreme, Bush getting blamed for Katrina (“a low pressure system”), blaming Obama for the Secret Service Sex Scandal, even though, "he didn’t know….John Edwards…Maybe!” Mitch McConnell, the “reanimated pumpkin’s #1 priority to deny Obama a second term” and “alien president kills Osama Bin Ladin”. “Obama,” Durst explains, “could discover a cure for cancer and the Republicans would blame him for hurting the pharmaceutical industry.” Trump would never run for president because, “Marine One’s chopper blades would mess with his comb-over.” From pot-smokers to Sarah Palin to John Huntsman, Will Durst is the living incarnate of C.K. Chesterton’s Auberon Quinn from his 1904 political satirical masterpiece, “The Napoleon of Notting Hill”. He’s a knowing prankster, who cares more that we are entertained than educated. He forgives us. He knows it’s not our fault. And, that’s why he educates us anyway. When we’re not lookin’. Going on about Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan, “They said Ryan was a bold choice….No, no, no. Whiskey for breakfast? THAT’S a bold choice!”
And, so is Will Durst, San Francisco’s comedy voice of political discontent, or as Woody Allen so eloquently put it, when commentary and dissent merge, you get dysentery. Will Durst can be seen playing around town at various venues, check your local listings, as well as his website. He’s really a great contemporary comedian of the top order in any genre, political or otherwise, though I've never seen him juggle. He’s even lefter of Bill Maher and that’s like saying a whiter president than Barack Obama. And much funnier. “Tea-baggers? That’s a euphemism for gargling testicals. What’s next, Corn-Holers for Democracy?” Obama would never say that shit. At least not in public. Catch Durst before the CIA does.
I give Will Durst at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center 8 out of "Eat Something!" 8 menorahs!
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
And now, a review and a clue by ace reviewer, Tamsin Hollo, who, herself is a vegetarian!
Beth Lapides Presents: Say the Word: The New America (Skirball Center)
Let me be upfront about this: I am no girl racer. I'm used to people asking if I got lost on the way over. Friends refuse to take road trips with me unless they drive – the whole way. I cruise through this great semi-tropolis to the tinkling soundtrack of honking horns. But driving down Sepulveda to the Skirball on a rainy Los Angeles evening was a hazard taken in the line of comedy duty which I prayed didn't deliver a cream-pie medal in the ER later. Scattered raindrops smeared my dust-encrusted windscreen, as I battled through the mysterious, ever-transforming roadworks, and displayed my yellow belly to every entitled Westside driver who sailed by in their entirely redundant off-road leisure vehicle, while, ever the multi-tasker, I cursed comedy down to the last fiber of my public-transport-loving being. As the Skirball finally appeared on my left, a suburban mall fever-dream of a high art fortress, I slunk into the underground parking spot near the elevators with that chill cascade of relief you got as a kid when your sister cracked an imaginary egg on your head. Maybe that's how 007 felt, as he entered Dr. No's secret lair. Because I, too, was on a mission: to observe some of the best minds in TV and film comedy, live and face to face.
Beth Lapides' Uncabaret has long established itself on the LA scene as a haven for comedy hipsters in the know. In the Cotsen Auditorium, designed with a deco-burlesque-palace-meets-Star-Wars-intergalactic-mothership-with-a-cousin-in-corporate-events theme, the mostly over-30 crowd forsook the bar, shuffling back to their faux-candle lit tables with good strong coffee and chunky low-fat sandwiches in time to the 80s pre-show music. Ms. Lapides, ever the good host as a self-identified “silver lining girl”, squeezed her multi-layered, evocative story of personal despair in the shadow of "Hollywood double-speak" and "DWC's" (Driving While Crying's), into the “New America” theme, discounting that fantasy of a perfect life where we “only choose rainbows” in favor of one in which we view happiness, and the experience of life, as a continuous spectrum. Watching her, one is reminded that good writing is gender blind.
Kevin Rooney, veteran of Politically Incorrect, My Wife and Kids, and Til Death, to name a few, makes it look so effortless. As he masterfully guided us through his potted whistle-stop tour of American history, his dazzling ability to conjure startling, crystalline images prevailed. His coolly sardonic demeanor belies the fury of the talent beneath: his images of Republican "heads so full of holes" they whistle “Onward Christian Soldiers” when accelerating; or the image of a fat kid “like a pond in a pair of sweatpants” inventing the internet, are observations which will shift your perception forever, and force your frontal cortex to work a little while you smile. Moshe Kasher was a welcome revelation to me, but not to the multitude who have seen him on Conan, Chelsea Lately, Jimmy Fallon,or, in short, own a TV screen. His surreal story about a white “Aunt Tom”, an Occupy Oakland protester known as the "Camp Creeper", with Malcolm X tracts caught in her dreadlocked hair, culminated in a sweetly salacious finale, which critiqued the American pursuit of self-invention succinctly, and not without a little venom beneath the boyish grin. Unmissable. Cindy Chopek's (Modern Family) straight-from-the-uterus story about re-defining motherhood offered us a poignant picture of true relatedness, while giving us some uncanny impersonations of too-old-to-party eggs and sperm ("You kids go on") and their Hollywood agents. Crowd favorite Taylor Negron (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Last Boyscout, Call Me Claus), recent New York transplant and self-proclaimed “Che Guevara of vegetables”, fresh from the hurricane-torn East Coast, didn't disappoint with his election year story about generational identity politics, in which he fantasizes about "slave angels who park and sometimes even vote" for him. His charisma and personal connection with the audience are as matchless, as his advice: "If America's going to survive, America must make a sex tape. If America does not make a sex tape, the terrorists have won!". Brian Finklestein, (UCB, The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Moth) served up arguably the most ambitious piece of writing of the evening, a dual-world comparison of his life as a “revolting” young man juxtaposed with that of a Tiananmen Square revolutionary. Somehow or other we end up in Tijuana watching donkey sex. How? We don't know, and we don't care. We're just enjoying the ride. Compelling, thought-provoking, and twisted. What more could you ask for?
So, listen up, young comedy hipsters. Those over-30s may be on to something - after all, only smart people survive long enough to achieve oldster status. Don't let them keep this venue their personal secret. Go to the UnCabaret at the Skirball in February for their next star-studded line-up. You'll get great cheap coffee, a nice healthy sandwich, and you will definitely learn something about unparalleled comedic writing in all its styles and manifestations. Just get your granny to drive. And check uncabaret.com weekly for show schedule at Uncab's regular weekly downtown venue.
I give Uncab at The Skirball 8 out of 8 menorahs!
Enjoy the tofu,
Kung Pao Kosher Comedy™ Presents… “Comedy Returns to El Rio!”
What’s always encouraging for me is when I find a great comedy venue in what otherwise would never be. The 50 seat theatre in the back of the El Rio bar down in the Mission was just such the place, replete with actual stage lighting, a stage and a sound board. This inevitably helps comedy, as the finest comedy clubs I’ve ever played always have the eyes and ears of the audience focused in the same direction: That of the comedian. Host and producer Lisa Geduldig is a young Joan Baez by way of Rhoda Morgenstern. “For those of you following my story, I’m dating a straight woman.” (And, it’s always nice when the performers have something in common with this writer.) Lisa opens up a couch-surfing story, which for my money (and I didn’t pay to get in), was gold and about a French woman showing up and her making said surfer French toast. A whole interweaving story unfolds, with people showing up with just a toothbrush and a Latin/Jewish woman who was, “gay on vacation”; truly the kind of interwoven plotline in most great comedy series.
“Has anyone ever gotten together with someone of the opposite sex and it worked out?.....No?” I felt extremely left out, until I thought of the last two dozen of my failed relationships. Visiting her friend in Canada, Immigration asked if they met online, leaving Geduldig feeling there must be a giant “L” on her forehead. Speaking of Obama winning, she confesses she was doing extremely important election coverage on Facebook, which is about as bang-on an observation of any one-liners about America’s current who-cares zeitgeist, and because it's Lisa, it’s also a personal confession. She insightfully noted that all states beginning with “M” are gay legal, so one gets the feeling, Lisa, like all great comedians, believes life is a fixed game, so why play?, but let's talk about it in a funny way anyway. Lisa Geduldig is really your classic stand-up, borrowing the stylings of a young Joan Rivers, when she was an innocent in a land of Men, not the Queen of Sheba gay icon she is now, and yet she’s nothing like Rivers. She’s more like an even more beleaguered Steven Wright, except Lisa has a much better grip on reality. I’d love to see a TV series built around her too thought out perspective.
Kate Willett was up next. “I’ve spent a great deal of time here. I love the Mission. Existential, desperate, burritos, alcoholism. It’s the best!” Growing up bisexual, Willett recounts a baby-sitting incident where the client’s progeny asked, “Why do you have so much hair on under your armpits?” Answering the young innocent flower, Kate explains, “It’s science. My armpits are because of science,” then breaking fourth wall with us, the audience, telling us the real reason is “bouncing between hetero and gay relationships.” So, she hit her. Working in HR in software, the guys there are called “Bro-grammers” and she reads their sexual complaints, one guy flirting with the office ice-breaker, “So, you’re the only woman here.” Non-Secquetorial emotion dictates she’s not ready for matrimony (but an eating disorder might be premature), she judges whether a guy would make a good father based solely on him helping pay for the abortion, and dating one hipster dude who had so many commitment issues, he couldn’t pay his phone bill. “Hey, ATT, Don’t pressure me. Let’s just see where this goes….” Not liking the term “bisexual” because of its negative connotations, she prefers, “nymphomaniac”. Finally, when someone in her life referred to her love life as a “string of one-niters,” she reacts quite surprisingly, “Really? Do you think I should go back and sleep with them all again?” I’m telling you, Kate Willett should be on Conan immediately. And, she’s a great actress within the joke, which is usually the left out secret ingredient in explicating dark humor. On an awkward recount of a date exposing himself, Kate reacts at first, in shock and horror, saying, “Dude! That really makes me feel…..PRETTY!” Kate Willett is beyond a doubt top-notch in comedy writing, execution and overall presentation. I can’t wait to see her again. And show her my dick. Again.
Host/producer/comedienne Lisa comes back up and talks awkwardly about bisexuals, then says, “I can’t believe I said that, especially with a reviewer in the fifth row.” Cut to me, almost done masturbating. (And, yes, I apologize to the lady in the fourth row.) Talking now of being an extra in a Robert DeNiro film, “…you didn’t work with DeNiro, you stood behind him,” she tells of the half-heart break of telling her hero Woody Allen face to face how great he was and him not saying anything, just walking past as if she were invisible, was funny and interesting, but in a strange way, nearly equally as awkward hearing this story at this particular point in the evening. Lisa didn’t really need to fill in any time, she could’ve made one quick joke and bring up the next act, right away; keeping the energy in the room going, not pulling focus back to the emcee. For the sake of the flow of the show, I wish all comedian/emcee’s would save all their extra material for maybe another long spot towards the end of the night. That’s my only real criticism of the night. It’s a common "mistake" I see in many one-niter city gigs, but, I’m a bit biased towards the issue of the art and profession of emcee’ing. I was, for 10 years, one of the main house emcee’s at The Comedy Store; and part of my job was to keep the show flowing. It wasn't about me. Even, and especially, when I happened to get more laughs than the previous act. I admit I’m an old dog and this idea of the emcee doing the most accumulated stage time is modern traditional. After all, they are usually the comedians who build a great night like this one, and one of the reasons they do is to give themselves stage time to work on material. Do all your material up front and little bits in between, keep the show moving and keep the great energy from the act we just saw, rolling over to the next act. The fact that Lisa Geduldig happens to be funny as fuck, makes it even harder to make my point. I hope she takes this advice with the love it was intended with. The big old lezzer…..
Next up was Stefani Silverman, who came with her own entourage of vibe. Sexy, smart, all business-woman, this pink scarf wearing “regular-person” looking comedian let’s us know up front, she’s on to our game. “I’m not a Goth, I’m a Nin-Jew.” She works in the Marina District, a "gated-community for the Greek System,” a joke I didn’t quite understand, though the audience did. Stef sounded a bit unintentionally imperious when displaying her street cred for “loving the Mission” (District). She clearly has class issues and went to the food metaphor of being a Jew and still eating bacon. “I’m a child. I’m a grown-ass woman and menopause is right around the corner, and I forgot to get a tampon” was totally antiquated parlance for this particular comedy time and place, not to mention mixing bacon with menstruation; that’s been done before a MILLION times! Stef, not only had the best line of the night, but one of the best lines I’ve ever heard, this or that side of Comedy: “I passed the bar, but I refuse to be a lawyer because I wanted to be a nice person,” so, in real life, she became an esthetician, a bikini waxer. And, it wasn’t all fun and glamour for her. No sirree-Bob! Harping back to her previous life as a constitutional minion, she points out that now with her new day job she could be considered a “pubic defender”. As a lawyer, she often maintained life and death decisions over other human beings. "As a beautician, what's the worst they're gonna do...YELP me?" Personally, I think Stef has a gold mind here, yet to be completely mined. I would’ve loved to hear a two-tiered routine comparing being a lawyer with being a beautician. They’re both about image. They both leave scars. Etc, etc. I had to mention this, because I do honestly think Stephani Silverman has real big time relatable potential; I mean, she’s more than 99% there. Just…give us a widdle more! Just watch the TWEEZERS!! YIKES!!
Lisa, our host, came back with another story and then it was time for Samson Koletkar, who was perhaps the most interesting performer of the night. A tall and good looking Indian American, Samson tells of recently auditioning for America’s Got Talent and was asked what has been his biggest struggle in life. He wanted to put, “none”, because he had to see all the struggles his parents went through. I felt the blood run out of my body with shame, until Sam revealed his biggest struggle is when he posts on Facebook and not enough people “like” it. He had me fooled. Total deadpan, which is an art you cannot learn. Samson was born with it in spades. An agent asks him how does having an accent make it hard for him to comedy, to which he answers quite plainly, “To a billion people…YOU have an accent!” (Touche’!!!)…and that, “There are more English speaking people in India than in America!” And, he's not mean about it. He's like a calm emergency room surgeon. Dropping us into illogical complexities as, “Two days ago, President Obama told us to move forward and two days ago they told us to set our clocks back,” is only really the kind of comedic observations which could be made by an outsider. Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair? “We comedians talk to empty chairs every night!” And, of course, “If Mitt Romney says the government can’t create jobs, then why are you (Romney) seeking the top government job!” Explaining he was born in India and raised Jewish, he gets a lot of questions, such as, “Are your parents Jewish?” His reply is as snarky as it is clever as he is funny. “No, my mother is a Christian, my father a Muslim; they hated each other so much, they decided to raise me Jewish!” Samson Koletkar is a find. I declare him, spiking the Enjoy the Veal flag into his bloodied skull. I like this guy, I think he’s heading for very big things, if and only, he continues one foot as the outsider and someone important on the inside sees him. Samson Koletkar. Change the last name, will ya’, Sam? You’re a Jew, right? How ‘bout, “Sam Kole”. Will fit on the marquee better. Dumb ass foreign types....
Closing out the night was David Hawkins, who was something straight (ahem) outta The Wiz meets A Chorus Line, gay and flaming and prancing and posing like Madonna’s second dancer. And, I’m not being homophobic here. (I'm being homophobic there.) This was what Hawkins was and displayed and proud of it, honey! Um-hum! His iPhone has “Grinder,” an ap which informs you when you’re in the vicinity of another man who may want to have sex with you. He tells us he’s, “…so fucking broke”, yeah, like we aren’t, but my bitter cynicism is quickly modulated into observation as he brilliantly details lying to a homeless man when he can hear your change jingling. Very keenly observed, Messer Hawkins. (SPECIAL NOTE TO ALL STAND-UPS: Do not tell the audience you are broke. It makes you look bad, like nobody wants to book you. It makes the club owner look bad, 'cause they look too cheap to pay you; and it makes the audience think of their own problems. Instead, put some time between it. Tell them, you're doing well now, but last month....) Going down the road of TMI, David lets us know he’s never actually seen a woman’s vagina (leading me to query in my head, well, species of vagina have you seen?) and then, this stage-moving, somewhat restless, double-parked comedian just blurts it right out. “We can’t have a woman president, ‘cause she could have her period and blow up the world!” Okay, I dunno about that. First of all, there are women in the audience. Secondly, there are woman on the show and thirdly, A WOMAN PRODUCES THE SHOW!! DOH!!! In the last ten years of the stand-up comedy trade, pro comedians have generally dropped the use and imagery of tampons and periods, period, especially, and most importantly, the propogated notion that women's menstrual cycles dictate mood, intellect and responsibility. It says that women can't completely control themselves. I mean, it’s just mean, and to most, disgusting and certainly and most offensively, not new. But, again, David redeemed himself in my sorrowful eyes with a great analogy of predicting what a woman’s vagina looks like by her hand bag. I didn’t see the relevance, especially to an on-stage-openly gay comedian, who has already mea culpa’d up front, he ain’t never seen a damn pooty-tang. Who cares what he thinks about it, unless, and only unless, as a long-standing member of the audience, I’m questioning my own sexuality and need some evidence by way of less than Intelligent Design. David is a great natural comedian and one would hope, he takes a leaf out of Eddie Izzard’s book and talks about something else other than being gay, because at the end of the day, the comedy detritus we’ve been left with is simply all about you. And, narcissism is never a good quality or characteristic for any comedian. We are the fools, remember, not the ruling class. Then again, I have yet to suck another man’s cock (only metaphorically so far), and so maybe I’m missing something. And, that’s not a pubic invite. I’m still having trouble sucking my own.
At the end of the day, I proclaim Lisa Geduldig provides a great public comedy service. She brings new and honed professional creative and edgy comedians to a new audience in a new environment. She herself is as funny, clever and self-deprecating and above all, intriguingly interesting, as anybody I’ve seen doing comedy in America. I think you could probably package this whole show and take it to the Edinburgh Fringe. A sexually ambiguous comedy show from the Mission in San Francisco. You aren’t gonna find anything consistently funnier in town, and frankly, nothing more neurotic; and at the end of the day, a political show. 'Cause if sex ain't politics, I don't know what is. With its minor flaws, I loved this show and long may it continue to reign!
I give Kung Pao Kosher Comedy @ The El Rio 7 out of 8 menorahs!
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
Catch the 20th Anniversary of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy™ Jewish Comedy on Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant. “Comedy Returns to El Rio!” (check website for weekly listings) December 22-25, 2012, 2 shows a day. Judy Gold, Scott Blakeman, Mike Capozzola, and Lisa Geduldig, New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific Ave, San Francisco's Chinatown. Info & tix: www.KosherComedy.com
As President and Founder of The Liver Foundation, I mean, Laughter Foundation (sorry), it is imcombent upon me to keep things on the up and up and not embarrass anyone or get them in trouble. That’s why I am typing this paragraph, completely in the hairy buff on the 38 bus heading home back to Geary Blvd. I absolutely love San Francisco. It’s like London with hills and none of those annoying Brits who are always getting in the way. I’m in my mid-fifties and have had many personal relationships. Many girlfriends, lovers and one wife (now ex, but greatest friend in the world), but for me and all my stupid flaws and faults, I’ve never been able to make the human relationship last as long as the blatant love affairs I have for and with the cities I’ve been lucky enough to be honored as a guest. New York and London and now San Francisco. And, one day, Paris, I hope and dream. LA’s my “home”, so that doesn’t count. Sorry, LA. I supposedly grew up there. Besides, LA reminds me of the gym I used to belong to there. It was actually a “mental health club” and I spent way too much time in the self-esteeme room. I know I’m gonna get some argument about this, but from all I’ve been able to deem, San Francisco is the birthplace of American stand-up comedy. Certainly the Comedy Big Bang happened here in the very late Seventies. And, it’s easy to see why. Something in the air, the sea, the landscape, the architecture, the people. I think it’s that element of magic that I experienced in Paris. Can’t quite put my finger on it. And, next week, Enjoy the Veal is pleased to announce an interview with Bay Area Rock n’ Roll and comedy photographer extraordinaire, Dan Dion. Dan has shot everyone from Mick to Bruce, from Robin to Proops (Greg Proops, above right). Dan's a true original. And in the next few weeks, we’ll have more reviews of live comedy from both LA and San Francisco, AND an exclusive interview with Brian Sontag. Brian is one of the Laughter Foundation’s biggest supporters, and along with Brian Kilpatrick and Jenny Coe, has created one of the best podcast interview shows I’ve been on or have heard. It’s all about comedians and nobody loves comedians more than Brian Sontag or perhaps, Mitt Romney. Check it out and don’t miss my exlusive interview with Mr. Sontag in the next few weeks.
So, I’m surviving. And, that's good. I need to concentrate on the Laughter Foundation, producing the big show at the Castro and writing this here blog. The other night, I was flat broke and thought I’d do a little street campaigning. I really haven’t been all that successful at it. I don’t want to bother people. But, I was broke, hungry and I am a comedian. I take the 38 to Union Square and with clip-board under my arm, start looking for unsuspecting victims. There. Two 60-ish ladies holding Macy’s shopping bags, one trying to take the other’s picture in front of the big Christmas Tree. Ahem. I assume the role of the British gent once again. “Uh, excuse me, would you ladies mind if I helped you and perhaps took both your pictures?” Of course they agree and while I got in position, I couldn’t help but think how easy it would be to simply run away with their expensive digital camera. After a few poses and getting them to laugh, I said to them, “Isn’t laughter wonderful?” Of course, they enthusiastically agreed. I dropped the accent and launched into my pitch, being myself. “Well, I represent The Laughter Foundation. We started out as health care for comedians, but we have two working programs. The Heckler Fund is for emergency grants for comedians and COMEC is to build a Comedy Museum.” With the twenty they gave me, I decided to call it a day and headed over towards Tommy’s Joynt and once there, I finally had my Thanksgiving turkey dinner, one day late. Eh! The sushi was better. I’ll leave you with this, a recording of my recent San Francisco musical debut. Enjoy Steven Alan Green @ The Red Devil Lounge. And, of course, special thanks this week goes out to “FUCK HIM! WHY I SHOULD I GIVE HIM PUBLICITY?”. I couldn’t have done it without you.
Enjoy the veal, (you've got three seconds!)
Steven Alan Green
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
When taxicab drivers ask if I'd like a receipt, I always say, "No thanks. I want to forget this ever happened."
The only difference between charity and entertainment is ratings.
Don't hate me 'cause I'm incomprehensible.
I feel like the press is waiting for me to make a statement.
Today, at a private luncheon with President Obama at the White House, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney was served a crow sandwich.
The "Please Hold On" announcement on the San Francisco Muni bus really helps me get through the day.
Imagination is simply the ability to observe.
FROM SAG'S DEVIL'S DICTIONARY- "Compromise": A noun or verb signifying a willingness to bend positions, in order to get the upper hand on your opponent, so you can kill them. Compromise.
Working on creating a TV show for the best and most talented dog. "America's Got Rabies". Anybody? Bite?
I just censored myself. You shoulda seen what I was gonna post.
Whenever someone ends a text with a , I inevitably respond with: "What's wrong with the crack of your ass?"
In Thailand, Thai Food is called Food.
I've been horny and hungry, but never exactly at the same time. Except in First Class, of course.
I slurp my granola more when I've got my headphones on.
I always wanted to say to LBJ, "Who died and made you boss?"
If I ran a coffee specialty place, I'd make the special Frank Sumatra.
I know this prostitute who is so broke, she can hardly rub two nipples together.
Peace in the Middle East can only be achieved by everyone moving outta there.
In honour of Israel, I declare war on myself.
Facebook is all about keeping your friends close and your Facebook friends closer.
Only those of us who've had great success in the past can complain. The rest of us still dream.
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Saturday, Dec 1 @ 11:55 pm: Ron Lynch's "Tomorrow!" Presents the Best of "Tomorrow!" @ The Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Friday, Dec 7 @ 7:30pm: The Kamau Mau Uprising with W. Kamau Bell @ Largo @ The Coronet.
SPECIAL RECOMMENDATION: Now through Jan 31 @ Madrone Art Bar: Top Rock n' Roll and Stand-Up Comedy Photographer Extraordinaire Dan Dion's The Musical Image, showing & retrospective, ongoing now thru end Jan. Don't miss the official reception Thursday Dec 13! Next issue of Enjoy the Veal will include an exclusive interview with Dan Dion!
Sunday, December 2, at 7pm at the Retro Dome in San Jose, "Latkes & Laughs", fundraiser for Temple Emanuel in San Jose.
ODDZ ‘N ENZ:
To have your comedy show reviewed or hire your humble and always incredibly charming comedy writer or to complain about anything: email@example.com. Follow Enjoy the Veal on Facebook & The Laughter Foundation and on Facebook. And remember.....
"Never take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive!!!"
Steven Alan Green, 12/1/12, 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. . . (11)
5.23.13 at 2:31 pm | On the occasion of my old pal and nemesis Jerry. . . (6)
11.29.12 at 5:27 pm | It's been a very busy few weeks here at Enjoy the. . . (4)
November 14, 2012 | 6:09 pm
Posted by Steven Alan Green
One of the finer things of moving from city to city is that you get to reinvent yourself. Nobody from your past life knows you, except maybe your other personalities. For all strangers know, you could be a serial killer, or worse, a comedian. I’ve been playing this role as your faithful comedy review blogger for three months now and it’s been truly fun, oddly fulfilling and incredibly difficult at times. Difficult because I’m known in the comedy community as a comedian myself, and suddenly I’m thrust into reviewing a comedy show, that only a month previous, I was unsuccessfully trying to get on. And, not that in a hundred years, I would ever think that someone should have to put me on their stage! That's not me. The truth is that some people have been just downright rude. I’ve had one comedy promoter, whose response to a simple post-show email with a handful of pertinent and relevant questions, such as, “When did you first come up with the idea for this great show?,” was a plain and simple, “Why don’t you go fuck yourself?” Perhaps he thought I was being sarcastic. I don’t know. I’ve had comedy producers at major and well-known venues actually charge me to get in to their show that I am there to review. And, I’ve had comedians invite me to shows that have been cancelled, but they somehow conveniently forgot to notify me of this minor little set-back. Never mind that I’m on a bicycle and a bus. I’ve had it all basically. I have to say, out of full and honest disclosure, as well as public appreciation, that most of the comedy promoters, comedians and comedy clubs have been super nice to me. I don’t ask for much. Just a seat in the back, preferably next to a cocktail table, with a little light and perhaps my prerequisite Diet Coke with lemon. I’ve long ago dropped my request for an evening with one of the waitresses, especially since they’ve started hiring male. Like I say, I don’t ask for much. Well, this morning, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I received an email from a comedian I’ve never heard of; a comedian who had some rather harsh things to say to me about me and how I run my insignificant little blog. Below is the entire contents of that email, followed by my response: (and he spells my name wrong!)
Dear Mr. Allen-Green:
I am a 50-year comedy veteran from the British Isles. I’ve been on all sides of all Show Biz media. And, I must say, although I truly enjoy your little insignificant blog at The Jewish Journal online, Enjoy the Veal, I am a bit disappointed that you haven’t highlighted any British comedians up until now. I say, “up until now” because, I’m hoping, after reading my letter, the winds of unfairness swirling ‘round your obviously hollow head will soon change direction. I did see your piece on London comedy promoter Peter Grahame. I know his club. It’s great. I think he’s a git. Didn’t like my heckling other comedians “so uncleverly,” as he put it. Anyway, by happenstance, I find myself delightfully stuck in in the fair city of San Francisco and I would very much like you to come down and see my act some time. In England, I once reached the glory of fame, sharing the limelight with the likes of such British comedy greats as Jeremy Picklesworth, Mondo & Minnie, and one memorable evening with Francis Bavier, who is best known for her enduring and memorable role as “Ain’t Bea” on The Andy Griffith Show. (I always thought, by the by, if she wasn’t Bea, then who was she?! Lol. I just love that joke. Anyway, carry on.) Bavier happened to do an hilarious impression of a drunken accordion player on the wavering deck of the Titanic, which almost always brought down the house, as well as the boat itself. But, I digress.
The purpose of this letter is two things. One, I’d like to ask you a favour. Two, I would like to take you to task for your continued unfair treatment of Jerry Lewis. I’ve been a huge fan of Mr. Lewis for decades. Perhaps more than any other living Subject of Her Majesty’s Empire, I am completely well-versed in all aspects of Jerry Lewis and his incredible accomplishments and I must take exception to your “Open Letter to Jerry Lewis” published on Sept 26 of this year and I am hereby challenging you to a formal and public apology to Mr. Lewis. What you say about him and his past actions have no bearing whatsoever on the man’s truly incredible accomplishments, both in the fine art of comedy and in the world of philanthropy. You should be fully ashamed of yourself and in my humble opinion, should be banned from ever writing another syllable again.
Having said all that….
If you can, Mr. Green, please, please, please, come down and see my act, just once, let me buy you a drink (a Diet Coke, if you prefer) and then perhaps I can begin my mighty climb back up the imaginary ladder of success, all the way upwards to the floating cloud of glorious fame, of which I obviously and forever belong, but not necessarily in that particular order. Whichever way you like, is fine with me, sir.
Thank you for your time and kind consideration. And, please. Leave Jerry Lewis alone. You git!
Nigel Arrisson, Comedian, Capitalist and Theatre Critic for The London Fogg
Here’s my simply response back to Mr. Arrisson:
Dear Mr. Arrisson:
Thank you for your passionate inquiry. Consider yourself ‘on’. I’ll be there at the next show and very much look forward to sharing a drink with your kind self, sir; after, and only after, I watch you bring down a San Francisco comedy house down like the 1906 quake with your aforementioned and intimated incredible arsenal of mirth and frivolity. And, as far as Jerry Lewis is concerned, if, and only if, I think you’re intellectually capable of understanding the complexities of the situation, will I even engage in casual conversation about said subject. It’s very complex. Jerry cost me quite a bit, and yet, he still is, and shall forever remain, my childhood hero. In short, if you impress me enough with your comedy (as you’ve certainly done with your email) then I’ll give you the privilege of grilling me hands-free about said French-worshiped comedian and comedy god, free and clear. In fact, there’s nothing I look forward to more, except maybe Princess Kate.
Steven Alan Green, Enjoy the Veal, The Jewish Journal online.
So, I’m gonna check Mr. Nigel Arrisson out; see if he’s for real and report back to you when I do. And, of course I will inform him exactly how it works. I charge $500 for a good review, $250 for bribing me not to write a bad review and $1,000 for a quote. JOKING!!!!!! Oh, I crack myself up sometimes.... In the meantime, there’s a lot to present to you this week. A lot going on and I want to get to the main meaty event straight away.
Steven Pearl is a total nut job. But, he’s also one of the most dedicated and funniest nut-jobs truly “out there”. Pearl is a hybrid comedian. He’s one half super-fast, super-imaginative, super-prolific rapid-fire comedy manufacturer and distributor; who is counter-balanced by another half of himself: a to-the-book traditionalist and rationalist, who – were he suddenly magically transported to Grossingers in the Borst Belt in 1958, would quickly excuse himself to the bathroom, comb his hair the other way, put on the stolen bow-tie he just grabbed from the Maître d' like Groucho, and as soon as the band fired up, he’d adjust his posture like a goodfella, then casually stroll into the basking smoke-filled ghost-white spotlight, which shields and filters the audience into black and white Holocaust snaps. Steven Pearl is truly one of those left behind treasures the Pirates of Hollywood either forgot to pilfer or didn’t understand what is value for money to begin with. Besides, WTF do they know? They’re from Cornwall. Steven is not. He’s from Far Rockaway, NY by way of Long Island, the little bit of dry-land (well, not these days!) by coincidence, your not-so-humble comedy reporter hails from. My parents left Long Island, moving across country to Beverly Hills when I was 3. I found them six months later…
Conjuring excitement in audiences’ faces like they were on an out of control downward Coney Island roller-coaster car since 1979, Pearl burst onto the New York Comedy Scene when it was still white hot. Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Lewis, Larry David, Carol Leifer, Paul Reiser, Paul Provenza, Rick Overton, Andy Kaufman were just about to be plucked by such early comedy sherpas as Chris Albrecht, who himself, started as one half of a double-act, co-anchored by Andy Kaufman’s writer Bob Zmuda. “Albrecht and Zmuda, Comedy from A to Z”. Once opportunity hit, Albrecht dropped the mic, picked up the phone and took over management of the Improv on 44th and 9th, turning it into roller-skating waitress heaven, whilst some of the greatest comedy minds of the time graced Budd Friedman’s well-controlled stage, in what was to be the main emerging ripple-making cultural revolution river, with tributaries running from San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York, all culminating and feeding into the dangerous rapids known as Hollywood. Albrecht went on the represent the likes of Eddie Murphy and a skinny and goofy unknown Toronton, Jim Carrey. From there he went on to create one of the greatest media empires, HBO. Then he supposedly hit his woman outside the fights in Vegas. HBO fired him. But, I thought HBO stood for “Hit the Bitch Outside”. Now THAT’S a joke, folks. Not advocacy for domestic (or even foreign) violence. Anyway, my whole point about Albrecht and New York and the original Improv is that Steven Pearl was an emerging part of that incredibly creative scene, out of two of the main and important New York comedy clubs, Catch a Rising Star and The Improv. But, it was in San Francisco, during the Comedy Big Bang, where Steven Pearl was to find comedy atmosphere he could breathe and where the audience, who by nature of their locale, were genetically altered, predisposed, and indeed proudly possessed positive predilection towards not just new, but indeed incomprehensibly new ideas, and that, my friends, is the pearl of Steven Pearl.
A late Eighties gig opening for Sam Kinison brought Steve to The Comedy Store in LA, holding his own as a writer and performer amongst Richard Pryor, Kinison and Roseanne. Subsequent TV appearances on Evening at the Improv and Caroline’s Comedy Hour, led to more road work, but it was writing for and working alongside such comedic legends as Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Rodney Dangerfield, that was the true highlight for Steven, a true unabashed fan of the greats. These days, in addition to doing gigs, Pearl co-hosts and co-produces a very popular podcast on the subject of comedy. They interview comedians. How simple of a great idea is that! The other half of "RIFF-erendum" is another San Franciscan comedy stalwart, Al Clethan, a veteran incredibly youthful funnyman and great writer, whose multiple appearances across the universe of comedy broadcasting (Showtime, HBO, Comedy Central, A&E, MTV) have cemented Al as one of the dependable and established names on the comedy club scene. The two of them go together like ebony and ivory, broadcasting their blatant enthusiasm for comedy and other comedians, which is something so close to my heart, it could turn your blogger into a girly man. I not only had the recent fascinating pleasure of interviewing Steven Pearl for ETV, but also had the chance to catch his act, as he performed to another sold-out house in Oakland. For me, watching Steven Pearl perform is like watching a prize fighter, but it’s never a championship. No, it’s a sweaty gym sparring session; and I’m loving every stinky minute of it.
SAG: Steve, How would you describe your act?
SP: Now, wait a minute, didn’t you just see it?
SAG: Well, no not really. I was planning on it, but on the way out to Oakland, I found out that the BART train stops at midnight and your show started at 10. So, no. I didn’t make it I’m sorry. Was worried about getting back home.
SP: That’s okay.
SAG: Yeah, I’ll catch you next time. I promise!
SP: No problem.
PEARL & COMEDY LEGEND SHELLEY BERMAN
SAG: You know, Steve, I've been in the room numerous times over the years when you're on stage and have always enjoyed your amazing comedy stylings. Tell you what…Why don’t you tell me specifically what you did on stage last night?
SP: I can do that. Well, I did my "Dis Must Be the Place!" song and squirting flower opener that's been slaying them since 1948 and then I went into a few "Hey, how about these gas prices?" jokes to get 'em on my side. Then I did an impression of Lorne Greene and Vic Tayback in a gay bar which slays 'em every time! From there I went into my "What if the Civil War was fought with pies?" recital which got them thinking, and then I finished with my musical "Tribute to cobalt" bit that requires 112 dancing dwarves, 16 purple spotlights, a 73 piece kazoo and Jew's harp band and never fails to get the crowd on it's feet cheering for more!
SAG: Sounds like I missed genius.
SP: Actually, I think of myself more of a savant. I'm also an excellent driver. An excellent driver.
SAG: So, how did you and Al meet?
SP: We met on a teen tour in Zanzibar. No, actually we met at a little dive called the Holy City Zoo on Clement Street, a smelly little rotting cabin that had comedy every night. It held maybe 70 people and was packed with a great audience every night. It was the first place I checked out for comedy when I came out here from NY in early '79 for a few months to see if I wanted to move here permanantly. I met Al and a whole mess of my other whacky comedy friends there. A lot of comedy magic happened at the Zoo back then. It's now called the Dirty Trix Saloon and they're doing comedy there again a couple of times a week. I went on a couple of months ago and it was a wild feeling performing for a bunch of people who weren't born when I first played there! Coincidentally Robin (Williams) was there the same night and also went on. It was the first time we’d both been in that room since 1987!
SAG: Is there one guy in control of production and how do you share your production duties?
SP: What production? We bring the digital recorder and we talk to whomever we're interviewing. Later on, I record an intro to the interview, I take it to my webmaster Waitman Gobble's house and he splices the intros to the interviews, uploads (or downloads or whatever) it onto our "RIFF-erendum" page and the iTunes page and that's that. If anyone is in charge of the production I guess it would be Waitman since he's the electronic genius and knows how to do all that stuff. I'm an electronic water-head on the computer. The last time I tried to download something I accidentally burned a Synagogue to the ground.
SAG: I'm sure our readers will find that a bit horrifying. Moving on... How and when did you come up with the idea of a podcast interviewing comedians?
SP: Michael Pritchard, an old friend and a long time Bay Area comedian, actor and motivational speaker, mentioned that I'd be good doing a podcast show, but I didn't think much about it since everyone and their brother has one and a lot of 'em suck. On the first day of 2012 I was at a New Years' Day get together at my friend Becky and Dan Spencer's place and Rick Overton was there and also mentioned that I should do one. In fact he came up with the name "RIFF-erendum". I was gonna call it "Riff-O-Rama" which I wasn't crazy about since it sounds like the name of a ride at the county fair. Rick came up with the much better "RIFF-erendum name and I used it. Al was there when I talked about it with Rick and he said "Lemme do it with you!" and I said "Sure! I don't wanna do this shit alone! I'm not responsible enough!" Robin was there that day too and said that he'd love to be on one of our shows and that alone was enough to get me interested in getting it done! We started doing interviews in April and got the show up and running online in late July.
SAG: Is there a discernible difference between interviewing comedians young vs. old, famous vs. anonymous?
AL CLETHEN, RIFF-ERENDUM'S PARTNER IN COMEDY
SP: Well, famous people may have more stories about other famous people, but there are many famous people that are very dull; and unknowns who are kickass funny and amazing storytellers. It all depends on the person. So far the only household names we've talked to are Robin and blues legend and guitar shredder Johnny Winter and they both told a ton of great stories! Johnny's brother Edgar also said he wanted to do one and whenever I get to L.A. I'll try to get an interview with him. As for young vs. old comedians, the older ones may have more stories to tell since they've been on the planet for more years, but once again, it all depends on the individual.
SAG: What’s the one question comedians almost always get wrong?
SP: Who would win a naked celery eating contest between Fabian and Bobby Rydell? They always say Fabian! Silly mislead losers!
SAG: Do you validate? I mean, you guys seem incredibly encouraging to other performers. Why do you think comedians (at least within the ranks) seem to feel that other comedians are all selfish bastards who wouldn’t help an old lady cross the street unless she had some great material to steal?
Steven Pearl with Rock n Roll legends Edgar and Johnny Winter.
SP: We're not L.A. comics, bubbie! We encourage other talent if they're good. Very few backstabbers, users and fair weather friends up here. As in any other profession there are good people and azzholes. There are some lowlife thieves and slimeballs out there, but there are also some very good hearted people who won't hesitate to help another comic (or generally another human being) out.
SAG: I can personally attest that both you and Al have been super nice and accommodating to me. And, I appreciate that.
SP: No problem. And welcome to San Francisco!
SAG: Thanks! So, how did your life get so low that you’re actually wasting your valuable time doing an interview with me?
SP: I lost a bet with Pat Cooper.
SAG: You guys could be called “San Francisco Comedy Veterans,” I think that’s a fair statement without calling you old, war-weary comedy soldiers. And, you’re both also still working the comedy boards. Tell our Enjoy the Veal readership how the San Francisco comedy scene has changed – for you, as working comedians -- in the 25 years since the Stand-Up Comedy Big Bang?
SP: You forgot to say "battle fatigued shell shocked has-beens".
SAG: Oh, sorry!
SP: When I started here there was a great comedy scene starting to grow. I always thought San Francisco and Boston were the capitals for the Comedy Boom of the 80s. I don't think anyone set out to make a big comedy wave. It just happened, and in my humble nickel and dime opinion, San Francisco and Boston were the creative hub of the action. In fact, we kind of had an exchange program with Boston then. Some of them would come out here and work and we'd go there and work. It was wonderful! A guy named Alex Bennett, a long time NY radio personality came out here in '80 and he started having comics on his show in the morning. Luckily I was one of the comics who was a regular and you could riff to your heart's content on that show. He was a great straight man for many of the comics. Doing his show helped make many of us local stars and people turned out in good numbers to see our gigs. There were also many brilliantly funny original comics, who each had their own style and always brought the goods to the table. There was Al, Michael Pritchard, Dr. Gonzo (John Means), Jeremy Kramer, Kevin Meaney, Will Durst, Dana Carvey (although he was in L.A. a lot by the time the scene was really developing here), Sue Murphy, Dan St. Paul, Bobby Slayton, Rob Schneider, Kevin Pollak, Rob Becker (who wrote and starred in the longest running one man show on Broadway history), Dana Gould, Tom Kenny, Paula Poundstone (who all came out from Boston), Ellen DeGeneres, Evan Davis, later on Larry "Bubbles" Brown and Michael Meehan and some others I can't think of at the moment. There was a small army of us and we were fairly supportive of each other and most of us were good friends. A real family atmosphere.
SAG: Nice. Sounds great. Both you and Al did your time in the penal colony known as Los Angeles. I know you, Steve, were incarcerated at The Comedy Store (I was in Cell Block B - the Belly Room). Tell us about some of your LA experiences. And, please give us an anecdote which symbolizes it completely. A good ole Hollywood story.
SP: For me, L.A. was fun the first 6 years or so, then it wasn't so much fun and then it was a living Hell. When I first moved to L.A. in June of '87 the Comedy Store was still a happening place and it was fun to go there. I was friends with Sam Kinison, whom I'd worked with in the Bay Area before he got real famous, and Sam was the hot guy there at the time so no one really fucked with me as the new guy since they knew we were friends. The Comedy Store and the scene in general coincidentally started going downhill around the time Sam died in '92. It just wasn't fun to go there anymore and gigs were getting far and few in between. I was just playing these shitty free rooms for 6 drunks and hardly going on any auditions. I just got sick of being there. If I had a good Hollywood story it might be the time I was stopped at a red light and I saw George Hamilton in all his tanned glory standing on the corner. It just cracked me up seeing Mr. Almost Lynda Bird Johnson standing there, so as the light turned green I rolled down the window , said to him "So how's that facist c**t Imelda Marcos doing?" and tore off into the sunset seeing a disapproving look on his bronzed Hollywood face in my rearview mirror. I also remember doing a set late one night at the Comedy Store when there were about 11 people in the audience and I heard this hoarse drunk laughter and a weird kazoo sound coming from the back. When I was done I went back there and it was Christopher Walken with a date, drunk as all fuck and blowing into a kazoo that looked like a small white saxophone. He told me I was great and I asked him to autograph a napkin. He drunkenly scrawled his name and it looked like a cross eyed monkey wrote it. He was a nice guy, tipsy as he was.
SAG: I lived in London, England for twenty years as a stand-up comedian and I made a pretty good living, working local comedy clubs. And, it wasn’t because I was such a genius or anything. There are a lot of clubs and most of them pay a decent comedy wage. I know things in San Francisco changed. Seems the only comedians making any good local money these days are either the local legends or the comedians delegated to corporate work.
SP: Back in the 80s there was a major comedy scene here (and comedy clubs were also opening all over the country and Canada) and a lot of excellent comics. There were the clubs in the city and a zillion one nighters all over the place, Marin, the East Bay, everywhere. Even hacks were working! I was doing Alex Bennett's radio show pretty regularly and was getting pretty well known here and so were some other comics. I was a star in 3 area codes! There was so much work here, I only went on the road once a year, because I wanted to. In L.A. comics were getting sitcoms, HBO specials and becoming huge stars. One shot on the Carson Show could make you. That doesn't happen anymore. These days you kick ass on Letterman and the next night you're playing Spunky Puddle, Ohio for $200 and a plate of candied squid. Comics are outdated surplus now. It's like trying to sell stagecoaches! How many sitcoms are on now that feature comedians? I can only think of two and one of 'em isn't very good. It's all about reality stars now and dopey contests with manufactured talent dancing and singing cardboard songs devoid of any soul. Very sad. Most comics today who are making a living at it are doing so on the road, and who wants to do that when you're over 50? Not me! Not unless you're a big star making the Don Rickles bucks anyway. I'm sick of planes and hotels and I like waking up in my own bed at home next to my lady. No more road for this wandering Jew! I don't really see a strong comedy scene like we once had anywhere now, but there are young people doing it at various places. When I did that set at the Dirty Trix Saloon I told you about, it was packed with a lot of young people doing stand-up like I was doing there in the '70s and 80s. They're trying to make something happen and I think it’s great. I’ll help in ‘em any way I can.
SAG: How are the audiences these days? Are they smart? Are they paying? Are they coming in?
SP: Depends where you go. Whenever I play in Oakland it's always packed. There's the Punchline in the Financial District and they've been having consistent full houses since 1978. Mark Pitta has a Tuesday night comedy show at the Throckmorton Theater in Mill Valley and I've never seen that place less than full. I usually find the crowds to be great. They dig my groove, Daddyo!
SAG: There seems to be camaraderie amongst San Francisco comedians. I sense a duty of mutual support across the board on all levels. Is this true? Or have I drunk the Kool-Aid?
SP: I don't know exactly what's going on with the younger comics here, but back in the good old days when I was a lad we treated each other with respect and supported each other. A lot of us also hung out a lot together and helped each other with material. That's why I'm still friends with a lot of the people I knew then and I'm so glad to be living back here!
SAG: Who is the new “undiscovered comedy genius”? Is there one?
SP: Tommy Smegmetti the Clown Prince of Canarsie. He has a brilliant bit about Dutch Elm Disease and he does a gut-busting impression of Roy Cohn as a fry cook. Actually, I haven't really seen anything in a while that's blown me away like Robin, Carlin, Klein, Pryor, early Kinison, Hicks, Hedberg, etc. If there's a genius in that caliber out there I sure haven't heard of him/her. I doubt these days they'd get any press if they were that good! There are some very talented younger comics I've seen here that could go places. Ben Feldman and Coree Spencer both come to mind. They're both very funny and original.
SAG: Do stand-ups still feel they need to “go to LA” for completion of their comedy mating ritual? Or can a comedian be successful and content here in the Bay Area?
SP: L.A. and N.Y. are still the places to go if you want to "make it". That's where the cameras are! Of course, with the invention of the internet anyone anywhere in the world can make a video or do a podcast show or videotape their stand up set and post it for anyone anywhere to see, but you'll still eventually have to end up in L.A. or N.Y. if you want to get known. However, things have changed drastically since I started and nowadays. The odds of becoming a star from stand-up comedy are extremely minuscule. I'd tell most people trying to make it in show bidnizz to forget about stand up. Either write a script and try to sell it, take acting lessons and go out on auditions, make a sex tape and get a reality show out of it or make a sex tape with a poodle and get a reality show on Animal Planet.
SAG: If you could advise comedy club owners, promoters, agents and managers one thing, what would it be?
SP: Don’t ask me to do a third show on Saturday.
SAG: If you could advise comedians one thing, what would it be?
SP: Say no to drugs and olive loaf.
SAG: If you could advise audiences one thing, what would it be?
SP: Laugh, titter and guffaw like you never have before!
SAG: Where do you see yourselves in Comedy History?
SP: I see myself as a small, but well respected hair on a pimple on the comedy ass of life. Is that so wrong?
SAG: Depends on where the chair is. Is it possible for an audience to laugh uproariously at an unfunny comedian?
SP: Sure. Haven’t you heard of Pauly Shore and Dane Cook?
SAG: No comment. And good point. Though my personal theory is that if the audience is laughing, it must be funny to them?
SP: That didn’t work so well with the Nazi’s.
SAG: Another good point. Uh, one more question.
SP: Sure! Anything!
SAG: Can you please stop stepping on my air hose?
SP: Never my love.
Steven Pearl, the Edgar Allan Poe of Stand-Up Comedy, has been back and living happily ever after in the Bay Area since 2009 and is engaged to the woman of his dreams. Steven continues to work locally and only uses the finest homegrown organic jokes. And, Steven Pearl keeps proving at every show that several decades of doing stand-up hasn't slowed him down at all. A true journeyman comic, Steven Pearl continues to push the envelope of both good taste, sanity and propriety. More profoundly, Steven and Al fill a void. A deep void in within the San Francisco Comedy Scene. Back in the day, the early 80’s, what helped facilitate the Comedy Big Bang was local radio DJ, the legendary and left-wing politico Alex Bennett. Bennett brought to life the comedy movement by bringing on the likes of then emerging comedians Bob Goldthwait, Whoopi Goldberg, Dana Carvey, Ray Romano, Margaret Cho, and Jay Leno. The RIFF-erendum does just that. They fill the void. And, long may they reign doing so…..! Here!! Here!! Where?? Where? San Francisco, baby. San Francisco.
Tune in, turn on and get high on that comedy laughter with RIFF-erendum, hosted by Steven Pearl and Al Clethen.
The good news for me is that I haven’t had an attack of Clinical Depression since I left LA. It makes sense. Living in a city, a great city, with a world-class public transportation system, makes all the difference. I’m no long an isolated pathetic soul, unless being an isolated pathetic soul suddenly becomes trendy again, then I wanna be at all costs. I’m reviewing comedy up here for The Jewish Journal online and really having a great time, soaking up a new and exciting scene. Taking a street car to Chinatown or walking uphill to a park. NOT pedaling my bicycle up to the armpit of Western Civilization: Melrose. (And, when I say “armpit,” I mean the “fulcrumatic endpoint between the mind and the fingers”.) I’m still looking for work and this week I have an interview at a Funeral Home to be a “Family Counselor.” Which is really a salesman in the Death Business. Whatever; should be a day’s laugh. And I found a really good temporary home. A hostel on Geary that is $27/night, including breakfast. I’ve even got a better deal. And, Kim, the Korean hostel owner, runs a Korean Opera charity and will spontaneously burst out into Rigoletto when you inquire why there’s still no heat. I’ll be okay, and I’ve begun to hit the streets with street campaigning. Amazingly, people are donating to the cause. In the meantime, I’ve begun planning and producing a big night up here for The Laughter Foundation. It’s going to be at a fairly sizable famous theatre and it’s going to be an evening for COMEC and The Heckler Fund, which will go a long ways in helping local comedian Doug Ferrari. I’m assembling a great panel for an open town-hall meeting to discuss political correctness and censorship in Comedy. “Comedy: The New C-Word”. It’s gonna be great and I’m hoping it will all happen early next year. Doug, one of the Bay Area’s original kings of comedy, is infirm and The Laughter Foundation wants to help him. He’s a good guy and helped build this city, not on Rock n Roll, but on Comedy. Doug, we love ya’, baby! Hang in. We haven’t forgotten you!
As for my readers in France, England, Australia and of course, right here in the "US of...
Steven Pearl, SAG & Al Clethen
Ehhhhh….!, What’s your problem?", I’ve linked-up for download, our new Laughter Foundation FA-Q (get it?) sheet. Take a read and if you can, make a donation. You can contact me for any writing work too. I’ve just been hired to help write an iPhone ap and I have money coming in from a commercial I did in the UK. They’re renewing it. Here it is. I play “the obnoxious American”. It was easy, thank you. I can write anything for you. Just contact me. I’m really inexpensive right now. But, frankly folks, the way things are going? Who knows... Thanks so much for supporting Enjoy the Veal and The Laughter Foundation. It means a lot to me. A lot more than standing on the edge of the twenty-story Century City tower rooftop, looking down into the abyss, as I nearly did over two years ago. I honestly never thought I’d be alive to write this blog. Thank you to all my fans and supporters and please get the word out to “the sleeping audience”. They must be awoken and make their zombie-like way back into the comedy clubs.
That’s the only way we can make real change. See a live show. Nothing like it. You, the audience, after all, is what all comedians live for.
I asked Steven Pearl to say a few words of support to our friend and colleague Doug Ferrari, who (as I mentioned) is a bit under the weather these days. Here’s what Steven Pearl said about/to our good friend Doug:
“Tell the big lug I send him my best. He's a true citizen. Tell him to hang in there otherwise there won't ever be a High Wire Radio Choir reunion and the dream will be over. He'll know what it means.”
My dream is The Laughter Foundation. An entity that is A) There for comedians in need and B) The Comedy Museum & Institute. I'm gonna get us there. Some have said it’s a pipedream created by a deluded man. Others have called it an inspirational idea. For me, here’s what inspiration is: 99% ignoring reality and 1% alcohol. And in the mean time, I'm going to check out this mysterious British comedian, Nigel Arrisson and report back to you, my faithful readership.
Enjoy the Veal,
Steven Alan Green
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
I predict President Obama will retire next year and go out as a free agent.
Romney woulda sent in Seal Team Five.
From now on President Obama will hereby be known henceforth as "Prez-O2".
I wish people would stop using Medical Marijuana and just stick with weed. It's nearly as effective, less expensive and easier to Tweet.
I need a gay experience like I need a head in my hole.
Main Street USA business, although now on the mend, really got pretty bleak for a while. It got so bad at one point, storefronts and restaurants had signs which read, "Sorry We're Open".
There's no such thing as an "extramarital affair". Either its an affair or its marital.
When I make love to a woman, I'm like the little kid in the back seat. "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"
Today being Tuesday, May 22nd, I'm vowing to get a better grasp of reality.
Tonight's Special at Havana Negila, the Jewish Deli & Medical Marijuana Dispensary: Pot Roast.
Borsht Belt Comic: "Same Sex Marriage? I was married for 42 years to the same woman. The sex never changed. Talk about same sex!"
Please ignore all previous posts.
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Tonight, Nov 15, Kelly Carlin in "A Carlin Home Companion" @ Santa Monica Playhouse - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Tonight, Nov 15, Beth Lapides's Say the Word: The New America @ Skirball Cultural Center - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Tonight, Nov 15, Set-List Returns to NerdMelt - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Tonight, Nov 15, Jeff Garcia & Jay Phillips @ Irvine Improv - (free tickets)
Tonight, Nov 15, The Naughty Show's Final Countdown @ The Comedy Store Mainroom
Saturday, Nov 17, Top Tale @ The Fanatic Salon - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Sunday, Nov 18, Uncabaret @ First & Hope - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Sunday, Nov 25, Rick Overton & Friends @ The Improv Main Room - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
ODDZ ‘N ENZ:
Next edition of Enjoy the Veal! includes reviews of Will Durst @ The San Francisco Jewish Community Center & Lisa Geduldig Comedy Show @ The El Rio in The Mission District
Enjoy the Veal is proud to announce the addition of a great writer Tamsin Hollo. Tamsin will be covering LA live comedy in my absense, while I'm up here in San Francisco. If you have a live comedy show in LA you want reviewed, please contact Tamsin directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
To have your comedy show reviewed or hire your humble and always incredibly charming comedy writer or to complain about anything: email@example.com.
"Never take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive!!"
11/15/12, San Francisco