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Jewish Journal

The Comedy Museum @ The Castro, Will Durst @ the SFJCC, Uncab at Skirball, & Kung Pao Kosher Comedy

by Steven Alan Green

November 29, 2012 | 5:27 pm

The historic Castro Theatre, site of "Comedy: The New 'C' Word".

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 @ sag@thelaughterfoundation.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

11/26/12

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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)
11/15/12

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,

Tamsin Hollo

11/26/12


Kung Pao Kosher Comedy™ Presents… “Comedy Returns to El Rio!”

11/12/12 

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
11/28/12

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
12/1/12


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:

LOS ANGELES:

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.

BAY AREA:

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:

"Kicking it with Tony" podcast, in which Steven Pearl and your's truly are interviewed.

To have your comedy show reviewed or hire your humble and always incredibly charming comedy writer or to complain about anything: sag@thelaughterfoundation.org.  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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Steven Alan Green is a New York born, Beverly Hills raised stand-up comedian, writer and Developmental Editor, who started at The Comedy Store in the 80’s heyday as one of...

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