April 7, 2013
The Lenny Bruce Interview, Jill Bourque’s How We First Met and Stage Time With Steven Alan Green
Well, Folks, been a while. I’ve just been so crazy busy. Lots of private paid writing contracts and starting a new radio show. That’s right, I got my own Internet radio show. Stage Time With Steven Alan Green can be heard live Mondays, 10am-Noon Pacific Time, then online and downloaded as a podcast any time. I’m having a great time in San Francisco, although the hostel is getting a little old. I haven’t slept well in weeks and every time the dude sleeping in the creaky bunk above me changes positions like Mitt Romney, my bunk shakes and rattles like a classic min-quake, awakening me more times than my bladder has liquid for. But, turns out, it’s only some British bloke, Ollie, who’s real cool and we get along; gonna grab a pint soon. Okay, we did. Still nice bloke.
I’ve had to temporarily mothball The Laughter Foundation and concentrate on my own career(s). It’s still a great idea, but perhaps a bit too idealistic at this point. I don’t really have the money or support to do it right; but I hope one day to be able to. In the meantime, I’ve done some nice stand-up comedy gigs around the Bay Area; and, sometimes there’s even an audience in the room at the same time. Comedian & filmmaker Dave Sirus was up from LA and we shot the final scenes for his pseudo-documentary about the worst comedian and human being in the world, Archie Black. I play Archie. (Thank you.) Been getting in late from my writing workplace (the coffee shop), getting up early to record voice-over auditions and get them off to my new agents. Haven’t hit one yet, but at least I’m once again in the game. I’ve been playing music live at the Hotel Utah, which is like the coolest little place. Touted as the best open-mic music gig in San Francisco, I’d say it’s the best music sign-up night I’ve ever encountered in LA and New York to boot! An old theatrical/vaudeville venue, run by the very cool and smart Brendan (brother Dylan works the bar). Justine, a great singer/songwriter, and I meet down there on Mondays, sign up and watch each other sing; and for the first two Stage Time radio shows, Justine was my guest co-host, and will be back to sing on Stage Time now and then.
Danny Dechi (whom I wrote about in this here blog months ago) is truly the comedy man about town. An EPA employee by day, at night, Danny literally dons a super-hero’s cape and, holding court with his pencil-hitting-cheek-songbook, produces and hosts several really good comedy nights here in SF. He also is the creator and host of Radio Ha Ha, an Internet radio show and podcast on the FCCFreenetwork.com . Having been a guest on his show a couple of times, I nosily inquired and Danny put me in touch with Station Manager John Miller, who seemed to immediately know who I was; which, with memories of having to see the awaiting school principal more than once, sent chills down my hairy spine upon cold childish reflection. Well, one thing led to another, and like a bad porn film without plot, dialog, special effects (or even actual sex) I am very proud to say that I am now the new host of a new show on FccFreenetwork.com.
Stage Time With Steven Alan Green eponymously pats someone on the back and it ain’t gonna be me. That’s why I’ll never go to prison; and if you can explain that joke, email me and I’ll tell you to get a life. Stage Time is all about Comedians, Comedy, Politics and Sexuality. The Four Basic Mood Groups. Our first two shows are up online for free download and FCC Free Radio apparently has nearly a million monthly downloads across the network, so this ain’t chopped liver. I’m having such fun and the shows are chocker-blocked with great guests and features. I’m gonna be writing more about Stage Time in the coming months, so please tune in and hear it either live, Mondays 10am-noon PST, or do like most, and download it at your leisure, as if you had any. I really feel like I’m finally in my true creative zone with this show. I have much hopes.
Personally, I’m doing better. Things at the Lombard hostel have been up and down. From the high school contingency and the psycho-probably-wanted-me-to-fuck-her teacher who screamed at me and tore me a new asshole, just because I asked her (after being awoken too early by one of her students), “So, where you guys from?” (what a psycho); to the regulars like Mike and Ben and good old, kind-hearted and overworked Jimmy Woo, the manager of both the hostel and the restaurant below. I’ve had some shitty days, but I get through them a lot easier. I think it’s all good, ladies and gentlemen. I haven’t had one attack of Clinical Depression since leaving Los Angeles nearly six months ago. Sure, it’s tough sometimes. People can be dicks, both in and outta showbiz. But, people can be nice too. Especially those friends who take the time to talk with you, listen to you, encourage you, or simply inquire how you are.
Last weekend, my ex-wife and forever great friend Tamsin Hollo drove up from LA to attend and present at a tribute to her father (and my former father-in-law) translator and poet Anselm Hollo, who passed away this last January 29th. Hosted at California College of the Arts, a very beautiful and moving and often funny casual afternoon ceremony with participation by celebrated poet colleagues, poetry fans, Jane (Anselm’s widow) and organized by Gloria Frym and Steve Dickison. I miss Anselm, though I hardly knew him. He had a great voice and wit and his poetry zoomed you right into the world of the poem and then strikingly out again. He translated John Lennon, worked with Allen Ginsberg and was respected, awed and loved by all. Tamsin did a poetically wonderful job reading one of his poems, in fact, the last one he ever wrote. Wild Dreams was entirely evocative of life's journey in the sereen vocal hands of the poet's daughter, my lovely ex-wife and forever friend. And, while she was up here in San Francisco, Tamsin graced Stage Time with her usual stellar talents. How odd. One of the people I am most close to is my ex-wife. And, yet I know we can never truly be together again; and part of the reason for that, is that I was never very together to begin with.
Speaking of death. (I know; I’m the King of Awkward Segues...)
Being somewhat crazy (or at least perceived to be so) does have its perks. For example, I can communicate with the dead. And, I don’t mean the cashier at Costco. I mean, the actual dead. Yes, I can. In fact, I shall prove it to you today or tonight, depending upon which side of Allah, Joseph or Elijah your cosmic snooze alarm belongs. All Hail Groucho Marx and John Lennon. (Thank you, Firesign Theatre.) Not many people know about this, but there is a secret literal stairway to heaven, located dozens of stories below Angels Flight in downtown Los Angeles. If you got the right connections (as well as an up-to-date Inter-dimensional passport), you can get on what is now an express elevator to heaven. Between my Jewish Journal blog and my lifetime subscription to Mad Magazine, I had the press credentials, and through some dead connections, was able to get a sit down with comedy legend and the patron saint of political incorrectness, the one and only, legendary Lenny Bruce. We met at the Coffee Bean just outside the Gates of Heaven.
So, without any further ado, please enjoy The Lenny Bruce Interview: 2013.
ENJOY THE VEAL EXCLUSIVE:
THE LENNY BRUCE INTERVIEW: 2013
SAG: How’s Heaven?
LB: Fine, if you're into total enlightenment. The problem is there's no struggle, man. Trying to figure things out was my gig. Without the human condition, there's no struggle, no pain and that means no laughter. Yeah, there's lot of giggling and smiling, but no real belly laughs. I miss that fix, the most. I mean, dig. Everything that ever existed, that you ever thought about, is in front of you, but you require nothing and possessions are meaningless. The whole place is like a mall. Musak and endless window shopping for things you don't need and don't even want anymore. I dig the scene, but there's no reason death has to kill all desires. Everywhere you look there are naked chicks and it never crosses your mind to shtup one. It's Hell in Heaven!
SAG: Are you working?
LB: I never dug work, so death emptied that bag for good. Once you take away the struggle for food, clothing and shelter, work is the one four letter word that offends everyone. Everything is provided here. It's all built and nothing ever gets dirty, but there are still a few squares who got to look busy wherever they are, so you always see someone swinging a broom or forming a committee to study something. Even if you wanted to do a thing, there's no one in charge. God is a no show, even here. I mean, I've talked to biblical cats, and Neanderthals who been here since day one. No one here has even seen the Big Boss. Ever. That part, I hate to cop to, is unchanged from life on earth. It's all happening so you just got to believe that God exists.
SAG: What are your thoughts on the state of Stand-Up Comedy today, which has (since you’ve been gone) turned into a huge industry, with comedians becoming movie stars?
LB: Part of the kick of making people laugh was doing something different. We were a rare breed - spotting one of us was like pinning a space alien, or abdominal snowman. There were maybe a hundred stand-ups in the whole country when I was doing it. Now, you got a hundred comics working out of Toledo. It became all so acceptable, with parents signing their kids up for stand-up classes like it's Little League. Today the rebel takes a job at the Post Office. My only challenge was to tell my truth, man... figure out what I had to say. These days, it's not enough to boost that roomful of strangers. The young comic spends all their time trying to sound different from the million other jokesters grabbing for the mic. What you end up with is outrageousness without the laugh - comedy as electro shock therapy. Edgy means you kiss corporate ass, while using the word, “shit.” It makes sense, but for the wrong reasons. Fame became the brass ring instead of good and funny.
SAG: They say you broke language and censorship barriers; and frankly, it probably didn’t help your career. In terms of the state of American Culture today, do you think it was worth it?
LB: It's fucking bullshit man! There. I just cursed as much as I did in my 10 years of doing stand-up. Rookie comics say "fuck" more in their first five minutes than I did on eleven albums. I didn't use “fuck”, even when I was talking about fucking. I dug "shtup" or "ball" or "doing it". That ratfink B.S. Pully worked bluer than I did, man. Did they roust Pully out of the toilets he was working? No, man. They came after the noisy Jew because of what I was talking about, not the words I used. I was a Jew talking about Goyim religion. If I had just stuck to Moses, everything would have been cool. But, copping to being part of the whole Christ murder conspiracy got everyone goose-stepping again. They should be thanking my people, because without that cross scene they'd have no religion. Anyway, you can only dance to the culture playing at the time. This I learned the hard way. The crooks downtown figured out that comedy is like a hammer. It can put up a barn and it can knock down a wall. So they bought it outright and marketed it as Comedy Central. One stop shopping, everything under one roof is easier to control when the truth starts to leak through. They let a couple of the political ones up top and then pull up the ladder.
SAG: What do you think of political correctness?
LB: Well dig, every group, every system has a set of values and morals and when you get outside those, then the alarms ring. I was politically incorrect to 95% of the country; luckily my 5% had the bread to come see me. Every group needs a comedian. A comic who is politically incorrect at the Berkeley campus might slay them at a Klan rally. You dig?
SAG: What group did you fit in?
LB: The group that doesn't want to be in a group. We meet once a year in a darkened room, and pay some heavy dues in the days in between. It's Outsiders Anonymous, man. No secret handshake, no medals, not even any eye contact, man... just a quick nod as you pass by.
SAG: What are your thoughts on the Internet?
LB: You should hear Gutenberg go on and on about it. The guy just won’t shut up. His mind is blown, man. "There is no greater tool since my movable type for the common man to express his thoughts." All I can think is, a lot of it is stuff we scribbled on the bathroom wall. I dig it. To say whatever nonsense comes into your head without any repercussions has got to be a bigger high than heckling a movie screen in a darkened theater. If the internet was around in the 50's I might never have picked up a microphone, just counted "liked" on Facebook instead of laughs in a club. The bosses must love it, a big release valve on the communal pressure cooker. You can add the internet to John Lennon's list of distractions - dope, sex and religion. They got everybody where they want them, with their heads down, typing the entire Goddamned day, like slaves, thinking they're gonna change the world with Twitter.
SAG: They say America’s gotten stupid. Care to elaborate?
LB: Yeah, the percentage of knucklehead's seems to be bigger today than in mine. Or maybe it's just because of the internet and a billion reality shows, you just see them more. I know this, man... Darwin's theory is as dead as he is. Everyone is surviving, fit or not. Years ago, any kid dumb enough to chase a shiny object down a well was dead, and out of the gene pool. Now they got the technology and medicine to save the fool so he can breed more open mouth breathers. And, once the country was settled and built, the bosses changed the order from a stack of educated workers to a barrel of minimum wage lottery dreamers.
SAG: What do you think of the Gay Movement?
LB: At least it's moving now. In my day, it was hiding. Not moving. You gotta move, you gotta groove, man. Especially after being trapped in a closet for years. Look man, I wanted out of the navy so bad in '45, I faked homo to get a discharge. It didn't matter that the Germans surrendered, I knew we were heading to Japan and I was done with that scene. Nobody cares about gay or straight here. It matters no more than what was your blood type, eye color or size of your shmeckle. Another blessing of the fresh start in the hereafter. Anyway, I see my old USS Brooklyn shipmates, walking around with their USS Brooklyn ball caps and we laugh. They say, "Hey, Lenny, we would have joined you in a circle jerk on the open deck if it ended that war." But dig, there's always a down side with any freedom. It's not just homosexual freedom, but any sexual freedom comes at a price, and that is usually art. When homosexuals were repressed, you got Tennessee Williams. Today's tolerance got you Hilton Perez.
SAG: What are your thoughts on Scientology?
LB: Hey I think it's great man. You know, I tried the religion scam in Miami, so I know how hard that gig is. But, if you can get it to work, starting your own religion is a license to print money, man. It's a tough sell, but once they believe, you own the bank. (Psst, L Ron's up here now you know, so I have to look out for my Heaven-based entertainment career too.)
SAG: What do you think of “Medical Marijuana”?
LB: Medical Marijuana? Wow, suddenly my toe hurts. Owe, it's suddenly chronic pain. REALLY chronic. I'm surprised it's taken this long to become legal. The war on drugs. There's a lot of money in wars, except in the war on poverty. Can't make any bread helping the poor. Ask Jesus. There's no money there, man, which is why they shut that one down faster than a peace march. You got a million drug laws now because the bosses figured there was more money in putting people in jail than taxing something anyone can grow on a window sill. You know, I once said that the pot smoking law students in 1960's would decriminalize it in their self-interest. I just didn't allow for hypocrisy, racism and Zoloft.
SAG: If you were back down on Earth today, do you think the audiences would get you?
LB: I'd have to make some major adjustments to a new culture... get a little meaner, a little shorter with my bits, stop reading and only watch television. Ultimately, it depends on which audiences you mean. Could I work Larry the Cable Guy's crowd? No. I suspect I would reach the grandkids of the same 5% who got me in 1963. I'd probably need a whole new act or risk being run out of the business for stealing my own stuff from all the guys working it today.
SAG: Does being a Jew have anything to do with being funny?
LB: Yeah man. It's all about the tsuris. All comics take shit, and make shitaide! And Jews have been dealt some shit for thousands of years, man. That's a long time in the comedy school. It's like that with every beat down group, the Jews, the Irish, and the Negroes.
SAG: I think the term is no longer Negro, but “African American”.
LB: That's it now? I can dig that one... a bit heavy with the geographical relevance, but their whole trip is laid out in two words. "Colored People", "Negro", "African American"... They're all shorter to say than "former slaves who still catch a lot of flack for the color of their skin". The point is you got to pay your dues to get the joke. Besides, laughter is cheap and very portable. If there's a pogrom, or they're blaming you for the plague, nothing is easier to pack than a sense of humor.
SAG: Everyone’s smoking “Medical” marijuana these days. Considering your historical earthly fate, do you think you were simply born in an unlucky time?
LB: If I just stuck to pot I might have found out what a drag being an aging hipster actually was. I bet you'd really see that picture of my naked ass on the bathroom floor than an old veiny me hunched over a walker. Here's the mind blowing thing, man - I had to be there THEN, so you could have a "Lucky Time" here NOW. You can't just run out and start the car until some cat invents a car, dig? And I'm sure that half the buzz from smoking grass was the fact that it was so illegal. Oh, man every age has people who know how to bring the house down. I thought we jazz cats had the market locked on fun, until I ran into the Druids up here. Good thing I'm already dead, because these cats can party.
SAG: What’s it like being dead? Have you met anyone interesting? What’s your day like?
LB: Anyone interesting?! Every interesting person in history is here. The problem is, so is every bore who ever lived. Death is like being alive, but with other shit to worry about, mainly that there is nothing to worry about. You don't sleep, so the day never ends, or night. I still haven't figured out whether it's day or night here. Ran into George Carlin recently. He said he was WAY off about the "No heaven" thing. Might take him an eternity to get over that one.
SAG: Who are some of your favorite stand-up comedians in the last nearly 50 years?
LB: My young buddies George Carlin and Richard Pryor. Can't wait for my old friend, Dick Gregory to get here; not hurrying him, man. Once he gets off that juice diet he's gonna wail again. Just for pure funny, Steve Martin. Those angry goyim, Bill Hicks and Sam Kinision, are nutty, baby. This kid Daniel Tosh is so wrong, he's right. I can see Chris Rock and Louis CK heading my way, and I dig it the most. There are so many funny chicks now, ones you want to ball, a Sarah Silverman. Chelsea Handler isn't the funniest or most original, but you know I go for a sloppy drunk shicksa.
SAG: What were you doing in heaven when Nixon resigned? The moon landing?
LB: We were all surprised that everyone just stopped at the moon when all that was there were some souvenir rocks. Galileo reminded me that it took about a couple thousand years for the Europeans to move off that continent. When earth gets good and crowded, like 15th century England, then some new Pilgrims are gonna rocket their Mayflowers to a new solar system. Besides, the Moon is a shit gig. Cold audiences at the Comedy Crater. No atmosphere. My material is only 1/6th as heavy. Watching that Watergate thing, I was sure Tricky Dick would slip the noose again, but it was a lesson for a fellow bullshit artist, eventually everyone runs out of bullshit. As a comic, I understand the desire to tape everything, but you got to keep the offstage stuff off stage. You dig? I was surprised when Nixon passed the test and showed up in heaven, but, I guess Hitler threw off the curve for our century.
SAG: If you could make one more television appearance, what show would you do and what would you talk about?
LB: I feel the same way that I felt about playing a "good room". Hip is the size of the paycheck. I'd be on whichever show pays the most bread. Other than that, TV is just advertising for your live gig, so I'm playing whichever show is gonna get me the biggest crowd. I'd probably want to go on America's Got Talent, but the only show that would probably have me would be some new Internet channel. I'd talk about the injustice of not being able to say "cunt" on late night TV, because I'd want to appear outrageous. I certainly wouldn't take on the bosses; I got enough of that whip by 1966... Thank you and goodnight, ladies and gentlemen. Then, I'd get good and juiced, ball young female comic wannabes and complain about club owners. Same thing I did fifty years ago. Got a light?
SAG: Yeah, sure. Here.
SAG: What do you think of the last national election and what are your thoughts on America’s first African American president?
LB: A Negro President? Yeah man! That is swing'n good news! Now, we'll see an end to all wars and... What? Drones? Bees are attacking? Come on. I did this routine in '62. Every tribe needs a good front man to sell the program. Who better to convince the Middle East to give up the oil, than a brown man with a Muslim name? I avoid the news because it makes your soul shrink, and that's all I got left up here, you know? And, yes, in case you’re wondering.
SAG: Do we really have freedom of speech in this country?
LB: No, we have freedom from speech. Nobody can sit through the reading of a fortune cookie, let alone a speech now. We used to call ADD, "You become more interesting, baby. I'm browning out." Freedom of speech is a two way street, man. You have the right to say whatever you want and the Boss has a right to tell the police to arrest you. End of story. You got another cigarette, man? I’m out.
SAG: Yeah, here.
LB: Thanks, man. You know, I dig you!
SAG: And, I dug you….Dug you UP!!
LB: I never was tight with the pun jokes but if you want to swing with them, go man.
SAG: Is America better off than she was 47 years ago?
LB: Has it been 47 years already? Jeesh. Alive 41 years, dead 47. Or as we like to say here in Heaven, when someone asks you, your age, you subtract your alive years from your dead years: “I’m 6 years old”. Well, 50 years is a day here, so yeah. In some ways, America is better, since I left, especially human rights. In some ways, it's worse, in the rights of humans. Yeah, they let Negros….
SAG: African Americans.
LB: Yeah, sorry. They let African Americans vote, but make them wait eight hours in line to do it. Also, I've been swinging with some founding fathers here, and I told Jefferson and Franklin that they did no one a favor when they laid that "pursuit of happiness" on us. That luggage is too heavy to schlep around day in and day out. It would be an easier score if it were just the pursuit of a decent cup of coffee or a good bowl movement. It's way different than 1966, so roll with that. We got a saying here in heaven, "Nothing lasts forever, except this". Take it from me, when every second is the same as the last, change is good.
SAG: What do you think of Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the Tea Party?
LB: We had assholes like that back then, man. - Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn and the John Birchers. But, today they get made into television stars. They even make them dance with each other, man. Never before has dancing made me sad, but this was like, Wow baby; they're making dancers into gladiators in an arena. Not only is Rome burning, but the smoke is covering the smell of bullshit, man.
SAG: Any advice for those of us still living here on Earth?
LB: Yeah. I don't want this to sound like a commercial pitch for my company's product but, try to lighten up and have a few laughs. You get hooked on the job, the promotions, the clothes, the cars, the houses, blah, blah, blah. The first thing you realize when you die is how absolutely meaningless all that is. It's weird, man, but the more you’re into that stuff, the harder it is to swing with what's happening here. Look man, I gotta run. I’ll see you up here soon, I guess.
SAG: Soon?! Whaddya know?
LB: Oh, man. I forgot you don't know. Dig it. All I can say is don't worry, you're never going to know what hit you... till you get here.
As I watched Lenny walk back inside the gates of Heaven, I thought about an old joke I once heard. This man passes a law firm, Cohen and O'Reilly. Sitting at the desk is a man in a black suit, long beard and flat hat. The passerby asks the man, "So, this is a law firm where a Jew and an Irishman can work together. I'm very impressed with your progressive ideals." The man behind the desk smiles to himself, then says, "I got something even more impressive. I'm O'Reilly."
I don't know what made me think of that joke, other than it's late at night and I need to go to bed and get up and do the radio show. I'm now repeatedly pressing the elevator back down to Earth. It's taking a hellofa time to get here. Oye. SAG
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE: Lenny Bruce’s “voice” and answers, brilliantly designed by comedians Rick Overton and Ritch Shydner. Thanks guys. Can’t wait to interview George Carlin next!!
Jill Bourque’s HOW WE FIRST MET @ The Marines Memorial Theatre – 2/14/13
The Marines Memorial Theatre is an historic intimate 650-seat jewel box theatre located in the heart of San Francisco's theatre district between Union Square and Nob Hill. Built in 1926 and dedicated to bringing the best national, international and local Music, Dance, Author Talks & Lectures and theatrical/film presentations to Bay Area audiences, the theatre has hosted a number of legendary performances, including Stomp!, Angels in America by Tony Kushner, Forever Tango, Camino Real by Tennessee Williams and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. And, on this past Valentine’s Day, Bay Area comedian and promoter host/director Jill Bourque brought the house history down; down to earth, and, in specific, down to heart.
HOW WE FIRST MET is a presentation in hybrid romantic flux. One part Dating Game, one part improvised sketch comedy and one part Cupid as the Devil, HWFM places the audience as couples counselor in transit, transmuting the definition of comedy crowd, to indeed modern ancient Grecian council of psychotherapists by way of J-Date. Imagine, voting on the veritable elevation of couple’s life’s love choice. Geesh, what’s next? America’s Got Eulogy? Don’t get me wrong (and it’s almost always impossible to get me right); I was thoroughly entertained. But, most of my evening’s enjoyment was in watching people delude themselves into evangelistically continuing and fomenting the insipid belief that love is a decision. It ain’t. Love is a disease. Let’s get that straight, for starters.
The 650-seat historical theatre was nearly sold out, and I mean that in nearly every sense of the word. With the ghost of Arthur Miller standing in the back, arms folded, the ever-wisp of unresolvable deep Marilyn sadness deep in his eyes, it was hard for me to take this show entirely seriously. And, that’s a tough conundrum to be under when the show isn’t supposed to be done so anyway. It’s a comedy. After a short set of some very upbeat N’awlin’s two-piece jazz, we see three love seats and twice as many stools on stage. A tango, then applause. Has the show begun yet? Lights go down. An announcement. Jill appears. All is good, as our effervescent hostess/producer explains to us the audience, that everything is made-up, improvised, and that three couples are the finalists in the best story of how they first met. 41 online entries, whittled to eight by online voting, and then the eight couples on stage whittled down to three by a ten word story of how they first met, and audience vote. Traditional “woo-hoo’s” from the crowd and Bourque intro’s six improvisers, all of whom define the center-piece of tonight’s show. This is a sketch comedy show. Each competing couple tell in ten words how they first met, the audience votes by applause and then Pat & Mark (a couple together 48 years) are one of the winners. Another loving couple, Brittany & Joanna, Lesbian love birds together eight years (“I saw her online, and who could resist a high-school cheer leader!”) gets mild applause. And, rounding out America's modern demographic, Corey & Kendall, a Gay couple. Now, the voting by applause, scientifically judged by applause meters, which is one of the improv actors, doing the wavy-arm-thingy Robin Williams used to do, something like a Heil Hitler salute with a nervous tick. Jill explains to each couple they can pick which improviser will “play them”, thus setting the pattern of the evening. Six human persons, symmetrically divided by the three complete collectors set of committed love: 48-year veteran Middle American Gothic hetero marriage; Modern-day we’re nice, but don’t fuck with us Lesbian couple: and the best of the bunch, in terms of economic viability (a two-male household), the Gay couple; and each and every one of them, represented by actors (of their choice) who will act out (in a comedic way) bits of their individual and coupled romantic history. All of this seems like it’s just a big set-up for the chance to see Jill Bourque work her magic. As our venerable cocktail talk show host, she does just that.
Like the Secret Service, Jill Bourque's sexual torque is most disarming. She’s got that kind of Rita Rudner deer in the headlights melodic eyes. She’s neither modern woman, nor is she retro. She is a Beacon of non-definition, a veritable shop window womanikin; and that’s what makes her show work. This isn’t about her; it’s about love. Like the Good Witch of the East (but with better eye make-up), Bourque treats everyone in a way which seems to make them feel and behave like autistic children at a dysfunctional summer camp, while, at the same time, she’s the secretly swigging alcoholic camp counselor who hears nothing, but listens to everything. The textbook definition of an emotional diplomat. Jill’s interview with Couple No. 2 Mark (the 48-year hetero) reveals himself to be in high school in the 60’s, just before the Summer of Love. And, yet, he’s nothing of an aged Hippy; more like a Ben and Jerry’s employee who made some bad career choices. So, now, a scene form a 60’s rock opera is improvised. And, it truly is. You can always tell true improvisation, because it’s rarely perfect and when it is good, it’s not only very good, but perceived by the audience as being genius, just ‘cause it was just made up in front of them. Humans are like this. That’s why frozen yoghurt shops are popular right now in Los Angeles. People aren’t paying for the yoghurt. They’re paying for some sense of control in their lives. (“I’ll put coconut and chocolate on my mango yoghurt if I want to!”)
Over to Kendal (one half of the Gay couple), who was/and is still is in HR, ironically. “Hiring and firing, so [he] fixed his x!” (cue defensive cat scratch sound). Cory was in play, somehow playing “angry homophobic bartender” – oh, wait. Jill wants to see that scene, and so, cut-to the improvisers portraying an exaggerated version of good HR dude vs bad bartender. Brittany and Joanna met online in a chat room about online etiquette, vis a vi Lesbianism, and once again, Jill queues the Improv team and they go into hilarious action. And thus defines the night. Jill interviewing each couple on the subject of a particular phase of their relationships. How and when they met, when they moved in together, etc, etc. And, each answer, although extremely carefully listened to, is acted out in proverbial exaggeration by a wonderfully talented group of very funny and versatile improvisers, who also sing, dance and do impressions. The anonymously named players include (who they played in parentheses): Paul Erskine (Corey), Laura Derry (Kendall) Deborah Wade (Pat), Lauren Nagel (Brittany), Scott Keck (Mark) Anthony Veneziale (Joanna). They truly were the stars of the show and I hope to see more of them. Great traditional live improv. Touche'!
It’s a very fun evening, certainly a great way to spend Valentine’s day, especially if you like watching other couples celebrating their number one fetish: Each other. There was no winner in the end (except the audience), which was very surprising; especially given that there was audience voting from the get go. Quite perplexing, actually. Kinda like we can vote in the primaries, but not the general. In spite of that minor critique, it was a genuinely funny show, there were lots of laughs; and occasionally, a truly touching show, a meaningful show on some level other than kisses and dirty notions. Sentimentality, serendipity and serenity; all good literate themes, and I’m available for wedding invitations and ransom notes. But, here’s my problem with the show. Jill Bourque has not only a missed opportunity, but in fact an artistic and societal obligation. The best way to describe what I’m feeling is through a metaphor. A lonely man or woman is mining gold, “gold” in this case, being everlasting love. Nobody really knows how they got there. There is no formula. These were three lucky couples; specifically defined by six former lonely people. Other than how they first met (as well as what makes their relationships last), we learned nothing about the wider picture of love and commitment. And, maybe that’s the entire point. You’re either in love or watching others in love. Like being caught in the snow, pressing your nose against the glass of a busy Parisian bistro. I only wished Jill Bourque would do the same show next time with just a minor twist in tow. This time, with bitter and divorced couples. HOW WE FINALLY SPLIT! From them, we can learn something, I’m quite sure.
Online weekly episodes of How We First Met begin April 22 on Youtube.
I give HOW WE FIRST MET 7 out of 8 Menorahs. Lot’s of great talent, lots of great elements. Great entertainment, which ultimately leaves us empty and wanting to toss our souls into the existential recycling bin. I’m kidding! Great show. Truly worth your time. Trust me. I’m a doctor.
Enjoy the veal,
All in all, I'm doing okay. I'm enjoying my life, because, at the end of the day, if I don't enjoy my life, no one else will. Last night, my good friend Susan Murphy took me to see comedian and WTF podcast host Marc Maron at The Palace of Fine Arts. It was a great show and afterwards, Susan and I ended up getting smashed and stuffed at my new hang, Liverpool Lil's. Susan, a top Price Waterhouse accountant, was up here from LA working on the Star Wars and the entire Lucas empire transfer to Disney. Lucas has offices in the Presidio, which is a ten minute walk from the Lombard hostel and near Lil's. Great time, Susan! Thank you and see you tomorrow morning on my radio show!
I'm receiving a lot of accolades and compliments for my writing and the radio show. That's always nice and tells you you are on the right path. The right path. That's the mystery map of life, isn't it. If I'd only done this, only done that, etc. Regrets are former dreams, aren't they. We all have 'em. In and out of Showbiz. And, by the way, Jenny Coe updated my own website. It's still kinda in the growing stages, but check it out if you like. stevenalangreen.com (And contact Jenny at email@example.com for amazingly affordable and quick expert website design!) I'm very excited about the radio show (did I mention that already six times?). You really should tune in and give it a listen. I've been told I have a face for radio. (is that good?) A big Mea Culpa to Nina G and The Comedians with Disabilities Act. I had gone out Oakland to review them in January, but (I may have posted) the sound system that night was so fucked up, I couldn't hear a word. And, so I came back a few weeks later and reviewed a wonderful redo and was ready to publish said review, when BOOM! I lost my notebook. It's somewhere in my luggage, clothing, computer bag; I've spent hours looking for it. I publicly extend my apologies to Nina G and the entire crew. I will find the review, and if I don't, I will try for a third time's the charm. And, as consolation, I plan on asking them to be on a special edition of my radio show, Stage Time with Steven Alan Green. Upcoming guests on Stage Time include the great Will Durst, Rick Overton and, in the upcoming weeks of this here blog, a new interview with George Carlin. In the meantime, please take care of each other. Keep a sense of humour. Be funny. Contact me if you need an editor or writer. I've got half a dozen writing contracts right now, including editing three manuscripts, writing a website, doing a bio, etc. As a writer, my stock is rapidly rising; catch me while you can. (contact SA Green Writing Services @ firstname.lastname@example.org) Thank you.
And, I leave you with this. From my late father-in-law, Anselm Hollo.....On the Occasion of a Poet's Death:
The dedication and intensity of the dead
always were greater than ours.
No doubt it seemed that way to them too
as dusk was falling
on their last weary glimpse of a land
populated by twerps.
The disembodied glories of Hades awaits us.
I hope you got your returns in on time and let's just hope, Folks, that the bad times are behind us and the great adventure continues down here on Earth. Love is the message. Enjoy life while you can, Ladies and Germans.
And, don't forget to....
Enjoy the veal....
Steven Alan Green 4/14/13, SF.
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK
Nepotism is a relative thing.
My phone is so old, it doesn't have a camera, it's got a sketch artist.
PERSONAL AD: Quadriplegic auctioneer, with a taste for the unusual in terms of African Zulu headgear, who enjoys shooting disdainful glances at out of work dentists, seeks fun-loving Mafia accountant, who can break and square dance simultaneously, with a view towards controlling an unsuspecting ant hill by towering over it, reading Proust and farting the entire first act of Rigoletto in Morse Code. No weirdoes.
In honor of Margaret Thatcher, I'm being mean to everyone.
My past keeps catching up to me; the future eludes me; and the present just won't shut the fuck up.
A FAN WHO HATES ME: a Fanemy.
The only difference between my life and a cartoon is the music.
I'm sorry, this conversation is outside my torture zone.
My life is a never ending miscarriage of fulfillment.
Money is a lot like sex. It doesn't matter how you get it; just as long as it's legal and you don't have to wear a rubber mask.
Patrick Ford hosts the Ho Ho Show at The Hollywood Hotel: With guests like great Eddie Pepitone, this show is guaranteed to be a cracker! Friday, April 19 @ 10pm. Facebook info page. DEFINITELY RECOMMENDED
Top Tale's The Last Tale: Culminating a great run with its 22nd show, with an all-star cast and wrap party, Top Tale is the best story-telling competition show around. Catch all your favourites making it up on their feet. Sunday, April 20 @ 8pm @ The Fanatic Salon in West Los Angeles. Facebook info page. SUPER RECOMMENED!
SAN FRANCISCO/BAY AREA:
Comedian Nina G Book Signing. Meet Nina G (author and Mean Dave ilustrator) of Once Upon An Accommodation. Hear Nina talk about her experience as a successful adult with Learning Disabilities. She will be selling her new book illustrated by comedian/muscian Mean Dave. Come support your local author, illustrator, and Book Shop! Saturday April 20, Noon Facebook info page. (Again, my apologies to Nina G and Crew for the lost review!)
WTF Show with Helen Lederer and Special Guest....: Helen Lederer is a very talented comedic actress and performer. She's worked with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in a stage act and was a semi-regular on Absolutely Fabulous. Most embarrassingly, she played my wife (or should I say, I played her husband) in the never seen yet TV/web pilot, "May Contain Nuts". Join her Thursday 9th of May 8pm @ The St. James Theatre in London. Facebook info page. ENTHUSIASTICALLY RECOMMENDED!
Lewis Shaffer is Free Until Famous Comedian, colleague and friend Lewis Shaffer is one of a handful of American comedians living and working in London and is there with his disarming charm and quirky points of view in this free show. Every Tuesday & Wednesday @ The Source Below in Lower John Street in Soho, London. Facebook info page. ABSOLUTELY RECOMMENDED!
ODDZ 'N ENDZ
JONATHAN WINTERS It's been a big loss for Comedy in general this week with the passing of comedy great Jonathan Winters. Time constraints and publishing deadlines forbade me from researching and writing something concise about the late Winters. Stay tuned and I might update this edition later this week. RIP JW.
Listen to STAGE TIME WITH STEVEN ALAN GREEN on FCC Freeradio.com
And, for godsakes, donate something, will ya', you cheap free-loading comedy-loving bastards! I'm working my fingertips to the bone over here! Come on, just get your credit or debit card and go here. Whatever you can. It all helps. Thanks. Here. Go here. It's worth it. There are no droids on this planet. TO DONATE: Click HERE already! Jeesshhhhh........ (x)
To have your comedy show reviewed or hire Steven as a writer, comedian, keynote speaker: email@example.com. Hollywood film & TV writing jobs for Steven Alan Green, contact: Noah Jones @ The Gersh Agency (310) 205-5836. Follow Enjoy the Veal on Facebook, and The Laughter Foundation and on Facebook. Never take life too seriously, you'll never get out of it alive!
SAG, SF, 4/14/13
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