Posted by Steven Alan Green
Dear Steven Alan Green Fans:
Short blog today. I need your help. Financially, yes; but we'll get to that in a minute. Here's the deal. Now, many of you know me as this "really interesting writer guy who started The Laughter Foundation, who lived in England for many years and was a successful stand-up comedian there and now is back in America and has been writing this here blog (Enjoy the Veal) for nearly a year". Others know me as a great lover. Be that as it may...
For the past six weeks, I've been having the time of my fucking life. And, I don't mean, "fucking life,"; I can't get laid for the life of me these days. Maybe that's because I'm living in San Francisco, and my beard makes every Gay man attracted to me; but alas, I'm not Gay. Nothing against all things and people Gay, but as comedian Richard Belzer says, "I have nothing against homosexuality, just don't shove it down my throat."
Stage Time With Steven Alan Green is my new radio show. It's on the Internet as a podcast, but it's also heard live, every Monday from 10am to Noon, Pacific Standard Poodle Time. Stage Time is a combination of great stand-ups, musicians, film and TV clips and great convo. I'm having the time of my life. We've had some great guests, including political comedian Will Durst and "Jaws" and "The Jerk" screenwriter Carl Gottlieb. I'm getting a lot of accolades, and I think I've finally found the perfect medium. My mind is utilized, my voice, my vocal characters, my writing, my booking and producing knowledge, and my formidable interview techniques. Right now, Stage Time has a healthy listenership of over a thousand a week, and growing. I really feel there's a future in this for me and I'm very grateful to John Miller at Fccfreeradio.com for giving me the opportunity.
Those of you who know my personal story, know this is a very good thing. For those of you who don't, basically, I had everything and lost it and wanted to literally end my life. Instead, I started something called The Laughter Foundation. Now, although we have done some pretty good and cool things at the foundation (including saving a single mom comedian from eviction), our dream for a fully operational and functioning Laughter Foundation is a long ways off. I have to concentrate on myself for now, my career. For the past seven months, I've been living up in San Francisco and having a great time. Reviewing comedy, doing shows, and now my own radio show.
What I need you to do; ahem, what I would like you to do, if you can, is to help us keep the show going by making a few clicks and giving whatever you can. A dollar; anything. It's a two hour show, fully packed with fun and you can hear it every week!
So, please, think of all the times I've made you laugh, think and feel. Think of how great it is to know that, by your tiny donation, you are helping build a potential media success, by financing it brick by brick. In fact, you just gave me a great idea. Remember how I was trying to raise money to build a world class museum to study and exhibit the art, history and science of Comedy? The Comedy Museum? Well, how 'bout this.... For every $5 donated, you get a brick of the Comedy Museum. A brick with your name on it and even your favourite joke, if you like. I cannot guarantee the museum will ever happen. I don't want to scam ya'. But, I can tell you this. I'm sitting here by my PayPal account and I'm seeing the money roll in as we type. Please, donate now. It will go a long long way towards making my dream come true. A dream so fantastic, I would never want any other dream after that. And, that dream is to never have to ask anyone for money ever again. No, just kidding. (See how I did that?)
Do it now. Show me ya' love me.
After all, aside from a new Beemer, isn't love all we all really need?
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4.7.13 at 5:32 pm | It seemed like an impossibility before, but I am. . .
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12.25.12 at 10:47 pm | ETV Interview with big time comedy and comedian. . .
12.9.12 at 4:34 pm | Been another crazy week here at Enjoy the Veal,. . .
5.16.13 at 12:22 pm | A great new opportunity for our favourite. . . (64)
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9.26.12 at 3:32 pm | I hereby call upon the powers that be in. . . (13)
April 7, 2013 | 5:32 pm
Posted by 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,
Sag, 4/10/13, S.F.
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
February 20, 2013 | 2:09 pm
Posted by Steven Alan Green
Firstly, my sincere apologies for the delay in getting this review of Nato Green out so late. It’s been a perfect storm of living and moving personal chaos in my life, seeing other shows for review, working as a stand-up and writer, having a good time in the various great bars here in SF, and a genuine desire in delaying reviewing anyone else named Green. Last week, I did a comedy gig in Oakland at the Pan Theatre. Produced by a very nice comedian up here, and someone I reviewed months ago and really loved. Samson Koletar. Before the gig, Samsom brought a man backstage, a horticulturalist at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. The man was a comedy fan, and wanted to meet me and one other comedian on the bill. I thought it must be a mistake, but played along anyway. In the natural course of conversation, the guy asks me why I never did the 305 mile bicycle run from LA to Vegas for The Laughter Foundation. This was a giveaway. As hard as it was for me to believe, here was a genuine fan of Steven Alan Green! I thanked him and explained that we couldn't get the star name commitment for a show IN Vegas and therefore didn't have production money. He then pulled from a little plastic baggie, a little black leather-bound autograph book. He asked me to sign and gave me a full page. I was stumped. What do I do? So, I asked his name again (which was embarrassing) and then started to write something like, "To _____, You are the funniest horticulturist, etc., etc." And, no, I wasn't going to go the easy way out by stealth quoting Dorothy Parker, who, when challenged to use the word, "horticulture" in a sentence, said: "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." So, in general, my problems are seemingly solving themselves for me, with a little help, some luck and help from those invisible earthbound angels known as friends and clients needing my writing services.
So, I had to cancel the April 1 show at The Castro. This was going to be a benefit for The Laughter Foundation and specifically, COMEC: The Comedy Museum Exploratory Committee. We had some good names attached, but none big enough to add up to a sell-out. And, when that happens, the money is just not there to produce. However, Barry Katzmann (who runs Comedy Day here in San Francisco) has graciously offered to co-produce it with me in conjunction with Comedy Day mid-September. In the meantime, I get restless, ya’ know? My writing agenda is super-busy these days, what with two new writing contracts (one editing a book, the other writing someone else’s stand-up act), my working on the TV show pilot, writing my new novel, reviewing and performing shows), and yet; I kinda miss the bigger idea. So, here’s the latest plan. I am in very very early stages of producing a series of shows at a well known (but slightly smaller than the Castro) venue here in San Francisco. Four shows instead of one, and the selling point is that these shows will A) Display various aspects, genres and histories of stand-up comedy and B) All four shows will be produced by four independent producers. Me and my partners will provide the venue, the financing, advertising, publicity and let you (the comedian/producer) roll with it. Great comedians and comedy show themes and it's all under wraps; so don't bug me.
My personal big news is that I have just signed with a great voice-over agent. Stars is the biggest and the best in San Francisco. This is good news for me because I made carloads of cash in the UK doing voice-overs. But, for a variety of stupid reasons, it took me a long time to find an agent up here. But, a little persistence and it paid off. I was hesitant in telling this story because I don't want anyone to think I'll just write about them if they piss me off. It doesn't work that way anyway. No matter what I think someone has done to me, writing about them (as I have done once or twice with Jerry Lewis...have you noticed?) seems to often leave a bad stench in the mouths of the readers. I don't want to do that. However, I can't hold back this time. So, here's the story.....
I had contacted a voice-agent here in SF about a year ago when I was still in LA. Initially this agent was very nice and sounded enthused. She suggested I send up a CD of my voice-samples, which I thought was a bit antiquated, considering most voice agents these days use email and MP3 files. Nonetheless, I sent a CD of my voice samples, which included work from the BBC, Comedy Central UK, British Airways, etc. I called her a few months later and she told me she lost the CD and asked me to send a second one. I thought, of course! But, when Dave Sirus decided to film a bit of his mockumentary Archie Black (whereby I play the world's worst and most obnoxious comedian) up here in San Francisco, I brought the voice CD with me as we drove up. So, on the 3rd or 4th day I was in SF, I walk up to the voice-agency. I tell reception I am here to see the agent. The agent comes out, I formally introduce myself and hand her the CD. She thanks me, I thank her and leave. Then....nothing. I didn't hear a drip from her for nearly 5 weeks. I thought, time to follow-up. Which I hate doing in these circumstances, because the outcomes are never good. But, I did anyway. The few times I actually got the agent on the phone, she told me she hadn't listened to it yet, but would. I thought, okay, fair enough. But, then weeks stretched into months and, in the mean time, I had developed a phone friendship with someone else in the agency. The agent's assistant. The assistant was always very nice and professional and even complimented me on my phone voice. The assistant seemed to believe in me, as well as know something about this agent I didn't, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I knew the agent didn't come into the office more than 3 days a week, which was odd, but I was in no position to judge that as even relevant. After several attempts over as many weeks, I finally asked the assistant to listen to the CD himself and if he liked what I had to offer, to please pass along to his boss and if he didn't, I would simply go away, no harm, no foul. He agreed and within an hour, got back to me, told me he was definitely going to try and get it under the agent's nose. This went on for another few weeks. Finally, I called again and this time got the agent, who was just sounding like it wasn't a good day at all; and apparently, I was about to make it worse. I asked the agent what she thought of my voice CD. Very dismissively, she said, "Well, I listened to one track....." Yeah, yeah, I thought....and....? There was a long pause then she said, "It doesn't even have a label on it! I'm not interested." No, "Well, thanks for submitting to us, you are very talented, but unfortunately, we have someone just like you, so please check back in six months!" No. Just a real nasty unenthused crap bullshit answer. I thanked her anyway, thought to myself, "Well, her loss..." But, I wasn't done; oh no; not by a longshot. I know what I'm about to tell you is cringe-worthy to say the least. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes right now, reading this; so kids, close your eyes, here goes... I called the agency one more time and spoke with the assistant. I thanked him for all he tried to do and said if he ever went on his own as an agent, I would be honored to be represented by him. He was equally gracious, polite and professional, as he has always been. I then said to him, "You don't know who I am, do you?"
He froze. You could feel it by hearing the dead silence. I told him I write a very popular blog for The Jewish Journal online, reviewing live comedy, with a little bit of my personal travelogue in there for good messure. Furthermore, it wasn't the rejection that appalled me. It was the way the agent handled it. Forget leading me on for months and months on end. I'm loyal, that's my choice. I won't "shop" myself around. If someone is interested, I will wait until they say yay or nay. And, people change their minds all the time; this is the business we've chosen. However; as in everything in life, you gotta be nice. You don't dismiss a voice-actor with the talent and credentials I have with, "There was no label on the CD, therefore the answer is no." And, the reason there wasn't a label was that I couldn't afford to fork out the couple of hundred to get them professionally pressed, because I've been outta work! I mean, duh!! I just wrote my name, phone number and email on the CD. I'm not a graphic artist; I'm a voice-over actor. I informed the assistant that this is exactly the kind of thing I would write about in my blog. The cold rudeness and blatant stupidity of some people in the business. Well, he broke down and gave me the skinny. That he too hated the agent, thought she was unprofessional and rude to everyone (including him) and he was leaving the agency and told me to hang tough. Which I did. He knew some other agent who might be interested. Cutting to the chase........ I am very proud to say I am now signed by the finest voice-agency in San Francisco and perhaps the world (!) because they have Steven Alan Green! Thank you, K.G. Thank you. If anyone needs me for voice work, please contact Nate at Stars. I like happy beginnings.......
So, without any further ado, here, alas, is my review of comedian Nato Green at The Punchline comedy club, followed by my reviews of Solo Sundays in The Mission....
NATO GREEN @ THE PUNCHLINE with Jessie Elias and Jason Wheeler - San Francisco -12/20/12
The Punchline is one of the two main “real” comedy clubs in San Francisco; the other being Cobb’s Comedy Club, both of which are now booked and run by Live Nation; the aforementioned behemoth live booking and producing company simply the renamed Clear Channel. This is a huge departure from the natural order of things. San Francisco, like most of the great comedy scenes, had and have their time. And, there’s still time left. The Punchline, Cobbs, The Holy City Zoo, The Other Cafe, The Boarding House and The Purple Onion, were the basics where the The Big Bang of Comedy took place around the turn of the 80’s. Notice I didn’t say, “The San Francisco Big Bang of Comedy.” No. Because, I’m sure there would be many who feel that “Comedy” (the modern day stand-up boom) started in Boston, or Chicago or New York or LA, etc., etc. But, I bet my very limited knowledge under my instinct that it really started in here in my new hometown of San Francisco. The Punchline was owned by legendary rock n' roll macher, the late Bill Graham, and during the 80’s it was dominated by the producers of the San Francisco Stand-Up Comedy Competition, Anne and Jon Fox. The night I went to review Nato Green, the Punchline had too clinically a corporate or tourista feel to it; kinda like when the Hard Rock Café went national. There are nearly 50 photo portraits of culturally notable comedians covering two of the main walls of the club, done by the Bay Area's own, Dan Dion; while the green room contains about ten shots by Yoni Mayeri from the Eighties, all of which made me feel like I was entering a hallowed comedy club which was truly one of its kind. But, in a way it was like visiting the Washington Monument. George was no longer home. The three quarters full comedy night (a Thursday) displayed customers dining on big fluffy deserts, the extreme American version of Brits downing pints of beer before and during a show. Judge Judy dramatic prerecorded music pipes up outta nowhere, the lights go down and then the perfunctory, “No cameras, cell phones, etc., during the performance” announcement and we’re off for an evening of live comedy at one of America’s best known automated comedy venues. Welcome to Disneyland. Oh, but what’s this? Another bit of evidence, that I’m right. That like video killed the radio star, the absence of a professional emcee killed the comedy clubs.
“Host” comedian Jessie Elias, who looks like a downtrodden version of actor Jessie Eisenberg by way of proto-generation SF comedian Steve Kravitz, creepingly hits the stage with both his feet and his eyes. I’m not exaggerating. Elias never once looked up at the audience. Instead, his nerdy demeanor required the commitment of staring at his shoes the entire time, as if he’s being harshly disciplined. I tried staring at his shoes too, but lost interest after the first row of lace holes. “Charging people to cross a bridge is medieval. Give us 3 riddles to pass!” set the tone of starting off with a non-sequitur, which is like ending with the beginning. Okay, this guy is not doing an act. This is his brain. This is his brain on insert drug joke here. I like this guy until he suggests to “the guys” in the audience that since it’s too awkward to meet girls, your best option is “hitting her with your car; then you have to exchange information.” Clever, but you get the feeling that were he not a comedian, he really would do that; and worse, thought of doing it anyway. You just have to remember, he's a comedian whose awkward presentation is the filter by which to discount taking what he says too seriously. “Every 20 years, the population doubles, so if a cataclysm hits, we’d be back in the nineties” was a postulation I didn’t quite get; until his punch line of primrose positivity, “….the 90’s has better flavors”. I don’t even know if that’s true, but that’s not the point. Like all interesting and original comedians, Elias is training us, the audience, on the illogic in his own mind, ‘cause that’s where all the information gets filtered, rejected and processed. Continuing the weird food template and analogy, he advises us not to cut hard-boiled eggs lengthwise, “…’cause then you end up with a toilet bowl with pee.” Every word dripping out of his mouth; the ideas drooled onto his shoes. Finally acknowledging his presentational weirdness, Jessie admits to us and admonishes his dad by explaining the papis fermentice wanted him to make more eye contact with people…. “I showed him!” Wowzie. Who wins in that scenario? Not him. Not his dad and maybe us, the passersby forced not to flee the scene of the accident. Finally getting into Steven Wright-on world, he points out the probability that, “every time you see a homeless person sleeping in a box, that means there’s an appliance sleeping in a house.” The funniest stand-out of his comedy jaunt was recounting in trivial detail putting his name and birthday on a Coldstone ice cream email list and dredges us through a year’s long Draconian recount of getting constant unwanted updates about ice cream. This was hilariously funny because it spoke to the trickery of corporate consumerism; one that all of us, no matter how rustic and authentic of a left turn we think we took; always ends up sticking us statistically in the arse. He reminds me of Bobcat Goldthwait in his oft pained barely visible personae and bark. Whilst informing us he took acid in college, listened to Rossini and went on a little too long about the price of nachos at 711. Anecdotally visiting the Oakland Zoo, Elias makes an interesting tourista insight; that because Oakland, like San Francisco, has its own airport, football team and aforementioned zone of caged wild beasts, it’s analogous to the Soviet Arms race. I didn’t quite get all of Jessie Elias’ jokes, but no matter; the audience seemed to and, most imperviously, so did he, which may explain why all the shoe-staring. He was probably hiding a grin.
Then, Jessie reveals to us he’s the emcee for the night, the host and awkwardly reminds himself and us that he’s not really suited for the job; thus getting a joke out of it. Ha bloody ha. For my money, that’s the like cockpit door opening, the pilot coming out an announcing he’s not really a trained pilot, he’s a reenactor . This is not to blame Jessie in any way. He's just doing a hard and difficult job the best he can. But, come one, folks. Uhh….where do I begin. Look. I don’t want to detract from this review too much right now; but rest assured, in the coming months, I will write extensively about how important a good emcee is in producing a good comedy show, to the comedians and to the audience. David Letterman was one of the house emcees at The Comedy Store back in the day. He didn’t just learn to be a host on the air. Richard Belzer at Catch in New York and the list goes on. A good emcee is essential; a great emcee is a great show. It's a different skill set than stand-up. Okay, so, back to the review...
Jason Wheeler was a little more on my track, both in traditional modern man style and in perfunct delivery. “I’m like the dumb in a smart sandwich” is one of those interesting openers that belies itself, if by nothing more than, thinking if he’s smart enough to know that, then why does he think he’s dumb? “The San Francisco weather is unpredictable and seeing a rainbow in the sky might indicate the Castro exploded,” sounds out of place in this non-homophobic era and kinda smells like a joke he’s either been telling for a long time or has been waiting to. But if you’re paying attention, and add up the “dumb sandwich” joke with the rainbow one, you might find a brilliant comedy mathematician, who wants you to hate him. Jason knows this and proves he knows it by following through with audience admonishment, “Don’t groan; it’s just gonna get worse!” Which it didn’t. In fact, it got better. This mid-forties comedy time-traveler recently went back to school to finish his degree, which, according to him, was the dumbest thing he ever did. Hanging out with 18-year old “kids filled with hopes and dreams” made him feel filled with “angst and vodka.” (Now, he’s talking my language.) A tear on the newly corporately sold out James Bond, who now drinks Heinekens (“I’ll have a bottle, not in a can”), Wheeler’s double-Oh wears a track suit with chains, his pen releases Axe body spray. “I’m the Bond man” is the perfect keyhole in culture clash and Wheeler does it not only without a whiff of shame of knowing too much, but indeed with pride of disassembly. Something about predicting Tebow getting dropped by the Jets all because, as a good Christian, he won’t have sex with women, thus engendering blue balls went way over my metaphorical head. Growing up Catholic, he learned to read; and offered the safety travel tip that if you read The Bible on BART, nobody will fuck with you; which opens up a brilliant insight of how acceptingly gullible we are to accept that Eden had a talking snake, but serious Christonians will argue to the death about whether it was an apple or a pomegranate, which ingeniously nullifies the talking snake argument. His snap comparative between “homosexuality” and religion goes to where we’ve all been before in our heads, “on my knees, in front of a man in a dress, my mouth is open and he’s putting something in my mouth, saying, ‘This is my body,’” does make an important point about submissiveness, which segues right into rednecks harassing a gay guy, threatening him with his own temptations. “How’d you like it if I fucked you in the ass; you’d LOVE that, wouldn’t you, you faggot!” Beyond Jason Wheeler’s material is his delivery; and beyond his delivery is authenticity. Not in a long time, have I seen a comedian as committed as he and it’s a good thing, because at the end of the day, what makes really good comedy is authenticity and funnyman Wheeler is beyond the real thing. He’s one of us. I like him. More please.
Closing out the evening was our headliner, Nato Green. This comedian and writer on "Totally Biased with Kamau W. Bell" show on FX, this American Jew, opens us with a stance on mental health, guns and white men; which struck me as “finally, someone with something topical to say”, but then he pandered; or seemed to. “White guys should be regulated” following by, his real point: Supporting the right to bear arms for women. Building a case for the Second Amendment, Green references a militia in case we’re invaded; our “thoughts” are with the people. “We don’t pray; we think” kinda lost me, as I was too busy thinking. With a name like Nato, you’ve got to Google him and (as he points out) he does give the green light in Syria. People saying “Merry Christmas” are somehow being unintentionally anti-semetic, speaks to his own Jewishness. Not a fan of ballet (why? Did it come up?); for him, The Nutcracker is a girl meets Col. Sanders, he gives her mescaline and hallucinates for a half-hour is the same kind of culture-classing we’ve accustomed to, whereby a non-informant is not only the outsider, but the wiser. In Nato's case, it seems to sum him up. Being first a Jew in California, then New York, Nato explicates the secret code for politely guessing someone is a Jew, “I think you’re from New York” unintentionally harking back Lenny Bruce’s string theory that if you live in New York, you're a Jew. (Because he lived in NY, even "Cardinal O’Conner is a Jew” was Lenny.) Other Nato Green "Jew?" codings include, “You sound like Seinfeld”, “I bet you know a lot about cheese cake” and “pain”. Nato goes back to First Person again: “Whereas in New York, there are Hasids and [he] might as well be 'Hamas with bacon wrapped around [him]'. Covering more ground than Raymond Burr on the beach at sundown, Nato went prolifically everywhere. If there is a comedian who keeps up with the times, it seems to be Nato.
“Ever since having kids, anytime someone acts like a total asshole, I think they need a nap….such as Rush Limbaugh” reminds us that even though Nato’s a revolutionary, he’s first and foremost a family man. A little routine about waking up with an erection and hearing his kids outside the room was TMI foh show. But, being grateful the order of events wasn’t reversed was a place he didn’t have to take us. But, he did. SF skyrocketing housing prices, Haight Ashbury Freak jokes not working in Oregon, naked men in the Castro and “banning assholes in the Marina” were all spot-on local San Francisco referenced comedy material, and like Saddam Hussein, expertly written, neatly laid out and perfectly executed. Grabbing the wheel of his own getaway vehicle, we are now suddenly in the Middle East, where Jews are best at arguing. “We argue in my family to stay limber.” Green exposes it’s okay to hate the Israeli Military, and that’s not a prejudice. “Like I don’t like the comptroller.” Closing his Middle East section with commentary on Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israell, “You don’t need someone to recognize your right to exist if you exist,” makes an excellent existential point across all borders. Before the evening was over, Nato would cover the national election, the Republican’s hatred for Obama, the 3-Strikes law here in California, Gay Marriage, Activists Judges, the Fiscal Cliff, a brief drive-by on the Holocaust and yes, like all good Jews, Nato Green closes his set with a great psychological set-piece on eating and guilt. But, before he grabs his coat, Nato Green takes one final swipe at “people in the Heartland worried about losing America”, leaving this reviewer very interested in hearing what he has next to say and I guess one of the best ways of doing that (other than seeing him live) is to watch Totally Biased with Kamu Bell, for which Nato is one of their hottest & smartest writers.
As I left the Punchline, I was pleasantly greeted by the doormen and went to say hello to Nato, who was way too busy signing and selling CD’s. I introduced myself to him. He knew I was coming. Let me put it this way. Maybe he had a lot on his mind. After all, he just got off stage after a great show and was dealing with his public. Or maybe, just maybe, he was way too preoccupied with it being the eve of the scheduled Mayan Apocolypse; something, by the way, nobody on this mixed style comedy show even bothered to mention. Maybe, they didn’t have to. After all, the great Punchline is now run by a corporate giant. For some, already, that is the end of the world.
I give Nato Green, Jessie Elias and Jason Wheeler @ The Punchline Dec 20, 2012, 7 our of 8 menorahs.
Get a flippin' emcee who knows what he’s doing and let the stand-ups be stand-ups!!
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
SOLO SUNDAYS @ STAGE WERX starring Maria Affinito & Sara Felder - 1/20/13
Producer & Publicist Bruch Pachtman (the other half of the production team along with Ty McKenzie, the artistic director of Stage Werx in the Mission) is simply a man who cares way damn too much. Bruce is one of those guys who literally seems to know it all, everything having to do with solo performance; how it’s done, what it means, how to do it, how to promote it, when it’s good, when it’s not. But, what is “Solo Performance” so you say? Is it stand-up without the jokes? Is it self-mutilating public flagellation? Is it a stone-stepping to greater things? Is it…ahem…a chance for the solo artist to open their emotional veins and let flow the wonder of their lives, their experiences (and pain) and how they view them now? Well, I don’t know, and more importantly, I don’t care. What I do care about is that there is A) such a thing as Solo Performance, B) That (masturbation jokes aside) it’s a fascinating performance genre and C) that someone like Bruce has taken up the mantel of The PT Barnum by way of Moses with a smartphone of said aforementioned performance art-form. In short, Bruce Pachtman makes one of the most difficult performance disciplines out there, fun. Or at least seem that way, to us, the all important audience.
“Welcome to Solo Sundays!”, proclaims Sir Bruce, the audience in his kingdom answering with unison public square cheers. Pachtman goes onto explain that Solo Sundays have been around for 4 years, not unlike a proud father talking of his kid playing third base. He also announced that, as of this year, Solo Sundays would also be included in SketchFest, a big deal up here in the Bay Area. (Since when did “Area” mean city or surrounding cities? Sounds like a rug. I hate it. Get rid of it.) So, without any ado (because you can’t say, “further ado” if there already hasn’t been at least some ado), please welcome the first half of our evening of Solo Performance, Maria Affinito. Oh, and I should point out at this very awkward and inopportune time, that Bruce wanted me to stress that, “these are workshops”, meaning not the final product. Hey, Bruce. What isn’t? I’m in my mid-fifties and still working on my vapid personality.
At 5 foot 4, 120 something pounds, this blue eyed, auburn curly haired steam-driven dynamo immediately grabs you by the short hairs, pulling you face-to-face into her crazy scene (man) with a mad (the English “mad”, meaning crazy to the point of functionally eccentric) and histrionicly loud attention-grabbing Italian mother, as if you were watching Neopolitain Twilight Zone cartoons; Maria has that much power in her tiny pretty little Italian hand. Hailing from a small town in Napoli, her mother doesn’t seem to know the difference (full stop) and in any case, doesn’t seem to mind, in the customs and obligations of mother-henning her daughter olde world style, virtually pimping her out to anyone and everyone in the local modern village of Redwood City, California. Which of course, embarrasses Maria once again, establishing who is really the adult/parent in this family scenario, which would certainly be a very intense afternoon over at Sigmond Freud’s therapy office & acting class. Even as they get back to the car to download the groceries; after her mother unsuccessfully tried to find a husband in the market (literally and figuratively) for her daughter, who was not in the market (figuratively or literally), her mother metaphorically rummages through random rubbish looking for cans. A can, a man, what's the difference. Mismatched clothing and diabetic pills left on the nightstand would be a black and white police APB of little Maria’s mum. Instead, she chews on a clove of garlic as if it were Wriggly’s, not even hearing her daughter scream and admonish her against, “….trying to sell [me] at Safeway!” It only gets louder. Poor Maria. No wonder she became an actress. It was either that or join the mob.
We are literally dredged through each cringe-worthy World War I-like attack from the trenches, as her mother shows up (I assume invited) to see her play Viola in Bill’s Twelfth Night, shouting on cue, an unwritten part from the gods, “That’s my daughter!”, as if her mother’s index finger had a powerful spotlight of shame on its tip, illuminating her red-faced turning daughter into a scarlet letter. In the play, of course (as if I know…), her character has a twin brother and they keep missing each other, prompting Heckling Mom to once again pitch in a slider, “You brother! He no dead!” (I can’t imagine what this is like, though I have done stand-up with my dad in the audience prompting me, but it actually saved my ass that night. Another story, another time. But, my mother would make crinkling noises in the audinece too.) And, then to make it a perfect evening of intensely awkward parental artistic bonding, her mother meets and tells the director, “You ah-need to-ah shave.” Then Maria does something stand-up comedians cannot do, but good actors can. She jumps out of character and tells us, the audience directly, “You laugh, but this is my mother.” It was at this point I totally got lost in the magical powers of Maria Affinito. I can almost buy an actor playing a character other than themselves and momentarily lowering the mask and talking with us. How magical that can be. We are immediately sucked not just backstage, but through the actor’s ears and into his/her head. I’ve been there; seen it done. But, it’s rare and even if an actor does it, it’s already written into the character. But, for an actor to first come on stage in the character of themselves, explicating their biggest awkward lifelong fears (that of their mother giving birth to them but never letting them live their own lives) and then, after that, break a forth wall which was never there in the first place and address us as if we were hiding in the backseat the whole time, is, well, stunning. What tightroped dexterity. Such displayed skill. But, then in a zap and she’s back into her Embarrassing Crazy Mother World, and this time, we’re now in the front seat.
Inexplicably, like Bill and Ted, the pair, daughter and mother, separated by a generation and not unlike the two brothers in Twelfth Night, are now in Rome together. Romulus and Remus meets The Last Detail. Maria explains to us, the audience (her new best friend) over and over her dilemma (and not as if we can solve it, and she knows that) and that dilemma is that she loves her mother anyway. That’s the dilemma. She cares for her without feeling sorry for her and yet somehow invisibly enjoys her mother’s company. The only mother she’s ever known is, after all, a mystery to her. How could this be my mother is the kind of question that most likely forged Maria’s strongly defined personal character, with perhaps a tinge too much to deal with pre-emptive bottled up anger. (A fine emotional vintage, this writer and comedian is well stocked up on in my own cellar.) I mean, this is the definitive definition of love. Folks, we forget we live in a world of, “are my thighs too fat?” and “if I comb my hair over my bald spot…”, thinking loneliness will be that sorrowful little puppy we can’t lose, but let’s not forget what true love actually is. Maria reminds us in her love-hate affair with her mother. Nothing reverse Oedipalian about it at all. I’m not saying that. I’m talking about Butch Cassidy still trusting in The Sundance Kid, even though he can’t swim.
Cut to: Rome clothing boutique…..
Rome, of course, is very beautiful. And to share natural and manmade beauty with your mother is nothing less than a poetic and brave thing. But, it’s also insane. And, this is what Maria is ultimately fighting for within herself: How insane must she be to love someone insane? (a showbiz metaphor?) And, of course, as usual in her life, psychodramatic real life scenarios await in the shadows with baited breath and drippy axes. An incredibly imperiously snobby boutique owner literally slams the door on her mother’s face. Seeing there are other customers in there, then panning to her mother’s mismatched fashion choice and missing teeth and her heart sinks and stays there laying helpless on the bottom of the sea of self-hatred; Maria forever regretting not telling the store owner off. Oh, I see, Maria. Only YOU can admonish the crazed escaped circus hobo, eh? Okay, you have your standards; and to be fair, it’s always easier to see others behaving like assholes than ourselves. (I’m the exception. I only see others as seeing me act as an asshole.) Her mother calls her horrible nicknames in Italian. Flashing back to 5th grade, her friend coaches her on how to fight; after all, her boyfriend Juan, can’t do shit. Cut to afterschool with the bully-supporting crowd shouting, “Punch her!” and “Strip her!”; but little Maria bites her opponent on the thigh like a good Mexican wrestler or hungry alligator. The next day, the bully limps, still hurling threats, although this time, less meaningful, less, ahem, bite.
Back in Italy…..
A 3-hour countryside train ride with her mother and all Maria can do is stare out the nostril-fogged window, continuing to beat herself up for not beating up the snobby boutique lady. Why does this bother Maria so much is the real question. One would think there would be a gracious transference; the abusive boutique owner playing the role Maria herself could never play; and that was closing the glass door on her mother’s embarrassing face. All of sudden they arrive at the small Italian village, a visage across the tracks is her mother’s childhood friend and they immediately share, “generations of secrets and profound loyalty,” the literal passport to enter, or re-enter the old world. Lila scrubbing underwear, her olive-like skin and pink soap are purely whistful and not at all expectedly lesbionic. Being quizzed by Gina what she cooks, sends Maria back to jumping rope and yet another horrible emotional verbal punch-up with her mother, this time involving the biggest symbol of Italian solidarity, spaghetti. Wandering through this non-material world, Maria is once again the victim of “bitches” who she revenges by picking up the piano and singing the most beautiful, haunting and transcendent song, Con Te Partiro, which instantly changes the molecular structure of the evening into smoothness, peace and harmony. Never to leave a good moment unchallenged, Mom attempts to follow her opening daughter with a poem for the groom, but ah-no ah-one lissens. And, just when you start to lose patience with both cringe-mom and overly-tolerant-daughter, Lila drops a bomb. Maria’s mom, was “raped by soldiers like Sophia Loren in the movies”. Her father would have her way anytime he wanted to with her mother. When she was 11, she was kidnapped. Never the same, Maria finally mea culpa's: “Too much suffering for one lifetime”, and, “as a teenager, I didn’t make it much better.” Folks, there’s lots of yelling in this show; and you’d expect there to be; that is, if you’d expect an authentic tale told with emotional acuity (quote alert), which is what you get. Maria Affinito is Carol Kane cute and as deeply talented. The type of talent which cannot be, and never is, learned in an acting class. Maria’s been both actress, director and anti-heroine her whole damned life. Her tears are ours; and we should be grateful and welcome them. After all, it is the sherpa guide who ventures up to the highest peak, reaches down to us, saying, “It’s okay; gimme your hand.” That’s Maria. Her mom? Probably waiting on the peak, teeth missing, mismatched clothes and nothing but an avalanche of love and embarrassment for the entire unsuspecting village below, as she yells, "Once you-ah make-ah yor way outta the snow, my daughter needs a husband!"
Bruce returns, taunting us with a secret weapon. Chocolate. Explaining that he would like our email addresses, he promises some very nice bits of chocolate for whomever has the clearest scrawl of the night. This is the kind of blood-thirsty showbiz tactics we want to see more of! And, now, Act Two of Solo Sundays at Stage Werx...
Clown nose, white umbrella and Confederate hat (as you do), Sara Felder marches into our view, with a “Ba-Dum-Dum” non-verbal, but audience participatory greeting, like the toy soldier replicant in Blade Runner. Enlightened to find a table of little plastic army men, Sara pantomimes war with herself, adding a second hat to the hat she’s already wearing and a red scarf indicating blood and foreshadowing an impromptu funeral in a potted plant for one of her soldiers, as rain SFX began. Then, she speaks. Tells us how it rained for weeks in Berkeley, literally “sheeting rain”, and then pulls back, informing us she doesn’t mind the rain, especially on the bus going to campus. The mixed cultural world of the bus foments a friendship with a female history major who likes Abe Lincoln, whom Sara dresses as during Halloween and Purim. Looking like Margaret Hamilton after a long weekend with the high school football team, Felder decides to write her senior thesis on Lincoln, removing a souvenier quill from the actual Lincoln Memorial. A dedicated deconstructionist of the Addams Family, Sarah is encouraged when her new found bus friend promises to one day take her sky-diving. Inviting her for Chinese, Felder learns that “deconstructing means taking your clothes off”; spurring an affair, which is contropuntally underscored with Camptown Ladies playing over the PA, and Felder, acknowledges us, the audience, and this entire silly scenario with, “I hope I meet your expectations; I know I met your price range.”
In the world according to Felder, there is plenty of Lincoln humor, and explicates the ancient Greek template for the four different body humors with as many chairs and varied coloured juggling balls, Klesmer music, juggling and the news that Lincoln was a funny guy, who loved humour, bodily or otherwise. Melancholic music, as Sarah does an impressive weird dance with the black ball; sitting on the floor, chair upside down on her lap, she plays – what else – harmonica. “Why do people go over the edge?”, a small thing out of order, “one more adjustment, I just can’t make”, and she always knew where the edge was: The Empire State Building. She doesn’t have a fear of falling; she has a fear of jumping, equalled to her fear of hugging someone on the subway. There’s lots of fear here. Fear of laughing at funerals, fear of losing her bathing suit in a pool. The PA announces, “Welcome back Susan Feldstein!” to which she replies, “It’s Sara Felder!” “Glad to be talking with you about Lincoln, the Jew who was shot in the temple!”, as she puts on the Lincoln costume. “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion,” made me wonder for the first time, what voice are we hearing? Is it hers or Lincoln’s or even ours? Serious Civil War music starts and now she’s wearing the red clown nose with the Lincoln costume and reads a letter to her from the man himself, the 16th President of these United States of Emotional Confusion. Suddenly, as with all blackouts, there’s a blackout, show’s over. You know, as I write this review, a few weeks after, I still don’t get it. What the hell did I just see? It certainly was “interesting” and entertaining on some surreal level. I don’t think we quite understand the context of it all (and context gives all things meaning), but perhaps that’s the message itself. All this talk of war and Abe Lincoln, mixed with impestuous affairs with bus lesbians, does what it’s supposed to do. It says it’s all trivial. It doesn’t matter, so why worry? A Comedia del Arte version of Gone With the Wind with a little girl-on-girl action thrown in for good measure, can never be beat as far as fun entertainment for the entire spooked-out big-eyed average American family. I mean, the hipsters and supporters in the Mission District loved it. Maybe it’s just a matter of time before we’re all wearing clown noses, studying Abe and dating lesbians. One can only hope.
Solo Sundays is a great idea, and like all great ideas, it has to be executived properly. Bruce Pachtman and Ty McKenzie do just that; providing space and guidence to new and experienced actors, comedians and mad creative people. And, after all, in the crazy world, it's always good to have a good Sherpa, not to mention a nice piece of chocolate. Catch the next Solo Sundays by visiting Stage Werx. Con Te Partiro? The song Maria Affinito sang and magically brought peace and justice without clenching her fists this time; the english translation is "Time to say Goodbye". And, she's right!
Enjoy the veal....
My life at Jimmy Woo's is interesting, if not cramed. Located in overly fashionable "The Marina District", me and about half a dozen regulars cram and live in what was once a Kareoke studio, now turned 8 beds in a small room hostel. It's all good. Certainly the price is right and the commitment of finding and getting an overpriced apartment in San Francisco is just too much for all sorts of reasons at this point. Plus, Mimi has offered one of her bedrooms in one of her houses in the small town of Albany, near Berkeley. That could be a new adventure. But, I want to hold tight where I am. Magic Mike, Reggie, Phillip and even Jimmy Woo himself all make up the unwashed hearts and minds representing a fabulous future forged of hard times, adventure and certainly, alcohol. As a matter of fact, just up the road on Lombard, at the base of the Precidio, is Liverpool Lil's, a great pub and restaurant, which has by default become one of my new HQ's. Julia (my executive assistant) and I met there after we visited the Palace of Fine Arts in Golden Gate Park, with a view of producing the next benefits for The Laughter Foundation. Yesterday, I helped one of the new residents with her rent. I didn't want to, especially since I thought, hey, A) I can't really afford to be doing this sort of thing and B) If I did it once, well, you know.... If anything, it made me feel better for calling that homeless person last week, a "Republican!" The other night, I brought my guitar down to Jimmy's Chinese & Japanese combo restaurant, which, as usual, was empty (mostly a food delivery business) and played guitar and sang. Jimmy and crew were astonishingly entertained. Who knew? Right? You never know; that's the entire point to understand here folks. Time must be evicted. Life is what you make of it, folks, true. But, in that making of it, it's about paying attention and keeping an open mind, but up to a point. I keep getting hit upon by gay men who think I'm gay. I guess the beard. To be honest, I'm not really ready to go there, just yet, if ever, thank you. I think I'll stick with chasing crazy women. The bottom line for me, when it comes to homosexuality, is a simple Narcisistic one. If I'm gonna love any man in this lifetime, it's gonna be me. And, I nearly never ever cheat on myself.
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green, SF 2/24/12
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK
They just discovered small amounts of chicken meat in McDonald's Chicken McNuggets.
I hit the mute button on the remote; The Miracle Worker came on.
I was once arrested for emotional rape. I forced my personality on someone.
When my British friends ask me why Americans talk so loud, I always say, "So, we can we can hear each other over the gunfire."
It's always good to remember the good in people, especially when destroying them.
My career is like my hair. Thin and unmanageable.
This relationship I'm having with myself isn't going anywhere.
My performance enhancing drug of choice is sleep.
From Golden Gate to the (818) @ Flappers Burbank. Mike Uryga (a very funny guy unto his own) always puts on great compilation shows favouring the San Francisco comedian. Now at Flappers in Burbank, this show is definitely worth the traffic. Thurs, Feb 28 @ 8:00pm. RECOMMENDED, ONLY IF YOU DRIVE.
Comedy Cult. Dave Sirus assembles an ecclectic bunch of jokesters at a unique performance space. This is a show I would not only find parking for, I would consider it my civic duty. Wed March 6 @ 8:30pm EXTREMELY RECOMMENDED
Mike Daisy's new show @ Joe's Pub. "Faster Better Social Click Lke Touch Tweet Yes Yes!!1! (or, Our Slavery is Rich and Full)" is the fucking title and longer than the show itself. Daisy has become reknowned as America's finest comic story-teller. Check him out if there's still tickets left. Joe's Pub Tuesday Feb 26, 9:30pm HIGHLY RECOMMENDED WHEN I WAS HIGHLY.
Samson Koletkar @ The Punchline. A very funny clever comedian, plus support from Edwin Li, with "The Minorities Stand-Up" - Punchline comedy club Tuesday February 26 @ 8:00pm. READ MY ETV REVIEW OF SAMSON HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Mark Pitta & Friends @ The Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley. A great venue, once graced by Chaplin himself, Pitta has reinvented modern comedy in a pastorally rich setting. Tuesday nights and this is the place to be. He can't say it, but the rumours are generally true that a once alien playing stand-up comedian of great note works out there on a semi-regular basis. I can't say for sure, but a little birdie told me. A little robin. Every Tuesay @ 8:00pm JUST F#&KING RECOMMENDED
Lewis Shaffer's American Guide to England is fellow ex-pat's piss-take on England's blurry vision of Americans. Lewis is always funny, quirky and ready to give. Leicester Square Theatre, Sunday, March 3, 6:00-8:00pm. RECOMMENDED RATHER HIGHLY
Beth Lapides's Instruction on Love in the Huff Post. UnCabaret creatix and comedy & spoken word guru-ess, Lapides is one of a very kind. Her words are all personally baked in her kitchen of love, acceptances and decadence.
G.O.D. On Demand. Comedian & Filmmaker Scott Miller crossbred the Trinity Broadcast Network with SCTV with hilarious results!
ODDZ 'N ENZ
Recently, I lost a family member. Anselm Hollo was my father-in-law, beloved father of my ex-wife, Tamsin Hollo, who has (and will again) contribute to ETV. Anselm was a true gentleman and intellectual knight. As a seminal brick in the wall which became the Beat Movement, Anselm worked closely with Allen Ginsberg. He had a great chuckle and we miss him. Anselm's obit in The Independent.
To have your comedy show reviewed or hire Steven as a writer, comedian, keynote speaker: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, 2/24/13
January 15, 2013 | 10:49 am
Posted by Steven Alan Green
Dear Steven Spielberg:
First off, congratulations on your Lincoln nominations. Well deserved! Personally, I’m waiting for a Millard Fillmore biopic, and hey, perhaps Richard Dreyfuss is available. No, Mr. Spielberg, we’ve never met, but we have crossed paths in conversation. Jerry Lewis. Remember him? Perhaps the greatest comedian and comedy filmmaker since Chaplin? Oh, sure, you had Billy Wilder and Howard Hawks, but were they creating genius on both sides of the camera after sound came in? Jerry Lewis was. Jerry brought your name up to me in conversation one time. Let me give you some background information. Thank you.
A little over ten years ago, I was invited on board the California docked yacht of “Mr. Smooth” himself, my childhood hero, the one and only original rebel genius of comedy, Jerry Lewis. The invitation was a result of another invitation I sent Mr. Lewis to participate in the third of a new series of a live television stand-up comedy shows I created and produced, benefitting a drug and alcohol charity launched by Princess Diana and Jerry invited me to lunch on his yacht. “Bring a big appetite!” he said and I got in my VW Beetle (license: GREW V) and rolled down to meet the man, the magic, the mystery. Jerry wanted to meet me because of the venue. High On Laughter III took place September 8, 2002 at The London Palladium. Where the Beatles rattled their jewelry for The Queen, where Abbott and Costello publicly argued on stage, where Laurel humiliated Hardy, where Judy Garland spun her heart-breaking magic, and where 50 years almost to the date when Martin and Lewis played to sold-out London Palladium houses to great acclaim, Jerry was my star. And, my very close and dear friend. Or so I thought. Well, without getting into the intricacies of what happened that fateful night (or the three months leading up to it) in essence, my world came crashing down around me as a result of September 8, 2002 at The London Palladium. And as a direct result, many years later, I literally lost my home, and I don’t mean, I was drunk in London and couldn’t find my way back home. I lost my home to repossession. Like millions of people around the country, only difference was, I lost my home by breaking the Number One Rule in Show Business: Never use your own money. But, I was naïve and flashed cash like a Lower East Side pimp after a good day. I believed in my friend and star. Eight years later, I found myself in a terrible set of circumstances and eventually in very deep psychological danger, questioning my very existence and purpose in life. Rather dramatic, eh? You bet your shark-bitten ass! Jerry Lewis was not only my star, an investment in a business, Jerry Lewis was my childhood idol.
I grew up in awe how Jerry broke the fourth wall, not just visually like Ernie Kovaks in black and white 1950’s button-down American television, and not just audibly like Groucho blowing comedy smoke through the radio speaker. Jerry broke through both the physical and aural impenetrable and invisible boundaries of Comedy. Like Buckaroo Bonzai, Jerry piloted the Jet car right through the solid mountain of reality. A mountain of national sorrows from the incredible losses of World War Two, which were the manifested price of victory. He and Dean created and delivered hope. They were indeed American Comedy and Entertainment Heroes.
London Palladium, 8 September, 2002, Sunday night 10:43pm.
As I watched Jerry Lewis collapse, just off stage, just as he was about to go on and accept a lifetime achievement award from me, I said to myself, “My god! I just killed Jerry Lewis!” Mr. Spielberg, I was scared to death; I kid you not. But, it did much more than that. Going out on stage and making a speech which would not only get huge national (in the UK) and international coverage, and my name forever linked with Jerry Lewis’s near death, was the moment that changed my life forever. It was simply too much for me to handle. And, yet, Jerry Lewis’s collapse became the literal handle I unabashedly grabbed like the long lost mythical ring of potential success. Since that fateful evening, I’ve been plagued with and by Jerry Lewis. Plagued. The first thing was, after “The Palladium Incident”, everybody (comedians, comedy club owners, friends, agents) wanted to ask me one menacing question and one question alone. “Did Jerry Lewis fake his collapse?” Mr. Speilberg, let me rephrase that. “Did Jerry Lewis – The King of the Pratfalls – fake his collapse?” This became the big imponderable. I had my suspicions. Jerry never went to the hospital and everything leading up to his collapse had an eerie feel to it, including him ordering me to get him a tank oxygen last minute and the way he collapsed just at the perfect time. Anecdotal evidence, such as orchestra leader Gareth Valentine (whom also conducted Jerry in Damn Yankees) being told by Jerry, just as he was about to step on stage, “If I fall, just leave me there”. What Jerry ironically never knew was that, for 16 years, up until that point, I had been doing a high-concept stand-up act, where every show was my last and at the end, I’d put a fake prop pistol to my head, telling audiences at home and abroad that I was literally, “addicted to showbiz” and that I got “high on the laughter” and was addicted and therefore “tonight is my last show.” 16 years and over 5,000 “farewell performances” (every one my last) in comedy clubs and theatres across North America and the UK, got me loads of publicity. Because of this, it naturally occurred to me, when Jerry Lewis “collapsed”, he might have been unintentially “stealing my act,” and certainly the spotlight. Nevertheless, my answer to that ever-repeating public mantra of whether Jerry faked his collapse was a simple: “I love Jerry Lewis; Jerry’s my friend.”
Jerry had said to me early on, “Steven, a long time ago, an independent producer, such as yourself, hired Dean and I to do a private charity engagement, such as the one you’re producing, and when we arrived, there weren’t many people in the audience and the promoters then turned around and asked for our expense money back. You know, the airfare and accommodations. You’re not going to do that, are you, Steven Alan Green? You’re not going to ask for money back from me if this show you’re producing doesn’t draw a crowd and do well?” My response to Jerry Lewis was simply, “Jerry, you’re my friend. I love you. Of course I would never do that. They’re gonna love you in London!” Jerry Lewis was my friend and therefore I was his friend. My magical comedy genie, who literally reached through the television screen, grabbed the younger me by the collar, wiped away my childhood tears and made me laugh. He forced me to laugh. Jerry Lewis, whether he knows it or believes it, literally saved my life when I was a child. It was Jerry’s comedy, emanating from the next room’s TV that got me laughing one very sad day, spitting out the half bottle of pills I stupidly nearly swallowed. Running into the living room, the television framing the miraculous multi-physical imaginings of Jerry Lewis, aglow like a halo. I realized what I wanted to be in life. A television repairman. How could I possibly live with myself if I had anything to do with my childhood idol's premature death? Even if he did steal my act.
A year after The Palladium Incident, I met John Dowie through Peter Grahame. Peter runs the oldest and best comedy club in London. Downstairs at the Kings Head is considered my “home club” and boasts a line-up of the best new and established comedians on the London circuit. I’ve worked with an unknown Russell Brand at Peter’s club. Eddie Izzard, Robin Williams and even funnyman Bob Dylan have graced the Kings Head stage. Peter is a family man with showbiz history. His father played percussion in the Benny Hill Orchestra and his sister, Lisa, plays Saxophone with the Jools Holland Band. I came to Peter because I thought (rather than having to continually answer questions about Jerry Lewis) it might be good to talk about it in front of an impartial jury, an audience. Peter put me in touch with John Dowie. Dowie, a collaborator of Neil Innes (The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band & The Rutles) has a keen insightful sense of social justice in his comedy and poetry. Maybe John could help me turn my Jerry Lewis story into some sort of one-man show. But, meeting and listening to Dowie, my goals and agenda took a very deep and unexpected turn. Dowie convinced me my problems with Jerry weren’t really all with Jerry Lewis himself; they were a partial carry-over from my unresolved issues with my dead father. Hello! Alas poor Lewis, I knew him well….LAAAA-DEEEEE…….!!!
Dowie was right. “I Eat People Like You For Breakfast!” premiered at The 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival to high acclaim and at one point, ranking just number two in the entire UK, just behind a live appearance of Rickie Gervais, who by the way, was in the audience that fateful night at the Palladium, along with his co-creator of The Office, Stephen Merchant. Rickie told me he was. I first met Rickie, sharing at pint at the Hen & Chickens in Islington. I know, he’s a dreadful liar, but that’s what we love about him, don’t we? “Breakfast” asked the simple question, “Who was I – a comedy club comic -- to judge the great Jerry Lewis?” And, more importantly, why did Jerry’s collapse and near death ring so deeply within myself? Julian Krainin is an Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Emmy winning producer, most noted for his smartest baby, 1994’s “Quiz Show”. I’m confident you are familiar with the film and perhaps the man himself. Julian saw my one-man show, stood up and shouted, “Let’s make a film based on your life, from tough showbiz childhood, your days as a professional comedian, your success in London, as it all led up to your friendship with your childhood hero Jerry Lewis and how you nearly and accidently killed him at the London Palladium, but in the end he didn’t die, and the entire life-changing experience rocked your world to the point where you had to reconsider your relationship with your father, who passed away and with whom you had unresolved issues of self-esteem and anger, but you fall in love with a pretty British woman and find your true comedy voice so all is not lost!!” I replied, “Pass the potato salad please.” I then walked through Julian’s garden, hands in pockets, repeatedly thinking, “Why me….”
“How I Nearly Killed Jerry Lewis” or “Why Dean Drank” is the screenplay of my life, growing up in ShowBiz infested Beverly Hills in the literal middle of a very nasty divorce, my salad days at The Comedy Store, my relocation and success in England, and finally, bringing my childhood idol to a big gala show I created and produced for a drug and alcohol charity launched by Princess Diana. This story is so many things. It’s touching, funny, revealing of the world of stand-up comedy and speaks very deeply on the myth of idol worship and our relationships with our fathers. And, of course, it’s a love story too. A love story between an unknown struggling and misunderstood stand-up comedian and one of the most famous comedians of all time. A love story between an overly ambitious young man and a fan of comedy who takes him under her English wing. And, it’s all true. So, why you? Why am I even writing to you in the first place? Good question. Glad you asked. That means you’re paying attention! The answer is simple. It’s of historical obligation.
When I first met with Jerry on his yacht, the very first thing he told me (very enthusiastically, not to mention completely out of context) was how in 1982 in Cannes, after the premier screening of E.T., you, Steven Spielberg, got a standing-ovation. And, in the middle of that standing-O, according to Jerry, you turned to Jerry who was sitting in the royal box and waved the ovation over to him. And as the audience’s enthusiasm continued, King Jerry took a formal bow to his loyal subjects, including your good royal self, sir. Why, Steven Spielberg, was the ET/Cannes story first thing Jerry Lewis insisted on telling me? Me! Not, “So how long you being doing comedy?” Not, “So, what’s it like living in England?” Not, “Did you have a nice drive down?” No, the thing that Jerry couldn’t wait to blurt out to me, like an excited little kid waking up to presents under the Christmas Tree; the first bit of important information about himself Jerry Lewis insisted on telling me (extremely passionately and proudly) was the story of him receiving public tribute from you. Why? That question has plagued me for as many years as to whether Jerry faked his collapse, but I think I now know the answer and maybe kinda always secretly knew. It’s Jerry’s way of feeling connected to the world of great filmmakers, continuing the tradtion of when he was lunch-tutored by Billy Wilder on the Paramount lot and his friendship with Chaplin. But, I think it’s even deeper than that. Jerry Lewis is all about preserving childhood. His childhood. A parentless childhood left to his own imagination, in a world full of wonder, excitement, deep emotional pain and mystery. The self-admitted 9-year old Jerome Levitch was not only saying to me that Steven Spielberg knows who Jerry Lewis really is, Speilberg may be the only one left on the planet who truly gets him. Jerry identifies with you. Or maybe he identifies with E.T. himself. Maybe it’s a Jesus Complex. After all, like Jesus, E.T. was abandoned on Earth, preached love, was persecuted and summarily executed by the secret government, rose from the dead, promising one day to return to Earth, touching Elliot’s chest where a crucifix would be. Maybe Jerry thinks you can bring his filmmaking career, his youth, his impact on the modern world back to life.
Mr. Spielberg, there’s both a real and a surreal story here. When I briefly met J.J. Abrams after a screening of Super 8 on the Paramount Lot, I told him a little about my Jerry Lewis personal story and how I lost my home as a result. He was locked in attention. Julian and I once had an Oscar nominated director attached and he felt only one actor could ever play Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis himself. At one point, we had the possibility of Jack Black to play me. Whether this film ever gets made or not, it doesn’t matter to me. What does matter to me is I would like nothing more than to tell my story and possibly reconcile with my childhood hero and former friend. But, Jerry won’t talk with me anymore, ever since I told him of the loss of my home, my resulting serious nervous breakdown and my founding of The Laughter Foundation. And, writing about him in this very blog probably hasn’t made him too happy with me. I created High On Laughter to help addicts and comedians, but also to help myself. An annual internationally broadcast live comedy show from London. This was my business and Jerry – whether he meant to or not, single-handedly destroyed my business. For the past three years, I have been on the continuum of couch-surfing and near homelessness. How could I not feel emotionally charged when I see Jerry in the news. I doled out more money than I care to think about for literally a 4 day holiday for Jerry and a few of his close friends; and Jerry just used the situation to walk all over and humiliate me. And yet, I see through all that. Jerry Lewis is a comedy genius. He can't help it.
Every day I check the news and hope Jerry stays with us. I can’t emphasize enough to you, that in spite of what I now know about working with Jerry Lewis, that there isn’t a day goes by, that I don’t think of the times we had on the phone together, laughing or crying. My relationship with Jerry Lewis was something so extraordinary; it surely will never be repeated. I understand his genius, in that I know I can never truly understand it. I know he does things accidentally/on purpose. I understand the self-destructive artistic syndrome. I understand the Jekyll and Hyde personality. I even wrote and directed a little film about split personality. (No, I didn’t; yes I did!) And, as a comedian myself, having to go to a European country to achieve real success, I get Jerry’s sense of disenfranchisement and peer rejection. When I first arrived in England, after a stand-up show, somebody would inevitably come up to me, smile and say, “You’re brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!” Then, later on at the pub, one of my comedy mates would pick up a pint and go, “This beer is brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!” Nonetheless… I think, what makes me the fly in the ointment for Jerry, is that I’m probably one of the only people since Dean Martin who not only really got him, but who was strong enough to stand-up to him too and still love and accept him. Maybe that’s an exaggeration or an assumption on my part, but I can tell you this, he liked and respected me for that. Just like the relationship I had with my father, I wasn’t afraid to stand up to him, but incredibly fearful of him never talking with me again. When Jerry refused to talk with me, it reminded me of my relationship with my dad. Jerry Lewis and I laughed together; we cried together, we fought together. Mainly about whose show it was. King Jerry tried to take over and I think know why. He was scared. He saw how well the younger comedians were doing on stage. Jerry locked in the dressing room with my wife-to-be, telling her he was upset with me because the advertising said, “Starring Jerry Lewis”, not “Honoring Jerry Lewis”, a minor adjustment I surely would’ve accommodated my star had I only known. 15 British and American comedians on stage, all doing well, including me. When I initially invited Jerry Lewis to the London Palladium, on the advice of a comedian, I offered Jerry an award. You see, this all started when a friend of Jerry's, comedian Max Alexander, desperately wanted to get on my show. I didn’t want Max. Max was funny, but not a draw. I was literally talking with Mike Myers, for example. I had Mike’s old comedy partner, Neil Mullarkey on the first High On Laughter in 2,000 and I was trying to reunite them. I was talking with Roseanne and even Spinal Tap and many more big name comedians who could sell out The London Palladium. And the funny thing was that all the Hollywood agents and managers were sending me their comedians, most of whom I never heard of; but even Jay Leno or Dennis Miller wouldn’t sell out in London, especially then; because “we” don’t get HBO or NBC in the UK. Against the advice of some very smart people (including the late legendary publicist for Frank Sinatra and family friend, Lee Solters) I stuck with my friend. I understood Jerry’s erratic and histrionic behavior because I was like that too. I was a live wire, 100% of the time on stage and thought telling people off as much as possible (as long as I was funny) was a smart life plan. But, all it did was result in getting banned from comedy clubs and making me more angry. I used to have a joke (well, I still have it somewhere…here it is!): The joke is that I have anger problems because I couldn’t succeed in stand-up comedy. So, I sought anger management. Now, my anger has management and is headlining. (Bah-dah-BING!) How wrong was I and I had to learn my lessons the hard way, especially when I moved to the UK. So much so, that I literally became British in manner and dress.
The High On Laughter Award was offered to self-proclaimed “Super Jew” Jerry Lewis for all his achievements in Comedy & Charity. Jerry (my sudden unexpected and uninvited collaborator/co-producer) suggested we call it The Charlie Chaplin Award instead, as Jerry was always compared to the Little Tramp (as was my first wife!) and knew Charlie personally. I thought it was a wonderful idea. I mean, why not! What Jerry didn’t know is that I knew Chaplin’s granddaughter; she put me in touch with The Chaplin Estate in Paris, I asked them, they said, “no” and I called up Jerry Lewis to tell him. You could hear Jerry harrumph on the other line, “Why did Steven do that!” Jerry says to me, “That’s okay, Steven. Let’s call it 'The Jerry Lewis Award’ and then each year, you can give it to another comedian.” That’s right, Mr. Spielberg, I was giving Jerry Lewis the first ever Jerry Lewis Award. And the nominees are, Jerry Lewis, Jerry Lewis, Jerry Lewis, Jerry Lewis and Myron Fincklestein. I don’t know how much money you had to give the Todd Family to secure the rights to Abe’s life, but you don’t have to give a dime to get mine. I’m dying to tell my story. (the screenplay’s another matter entirely, of course) I’ve been somehow locked into fate, star-crossed with one of the seminal cultural figures of the last 100 years. But, make no mistake about any of this, Mr. Speilberg, I am proud of what I built. An international comedy show broadcast on Bravo UK. I did this, in spite of Jerry Lewis. Can you imagine how angry you’d be if the studio financing Jaws suddenly jumped the shark? And, yet, my heart breaks in a million pieces when I consider that very precious short time when I could safely say, in full confidence in pride that the greatest comedian of the second half of the 20th Century (and my childhood hero) was my best buddy. It was like being a kid and having the private cell phone of Santa Claus. Mr. Speilberg, please know I am not crazy and I am not lying. I’m telling the truth. My heart and soul and Julian’s patience and expertise have been poured out in this screenplay, which we call, simply, “Why Dean Drank”. Ask around Hollywood, do a little Google. Sure, you’ll have comedy people in power who will dismiss me. I don’t mind. That’s why I went to England in the first place. That’s why I booked and brought over comedians, like then unknown Zach Galifiniakis to Scotland and London. I was considered by some, one of the worst comedians in LA. The biggest idiot. The biggest trouble-maker. But, in England, they loved me, because they got me. I was just trying to share that bit of comedy gold on Earth with some friends back home. But, no matter what anybody says about me. That I’m obsessive. I’m crazy. I’m deluded. Whatever. I don’t care. I know who I am and what I've accomplished. My therapist thinks I’m rather healthy with some very big burdens. Then again, my therapist doesn’t speak English and I only found this out last week after seeing her for three years. She should speak up more, ya’ know? Here’s my point. I, Steven Alan Green, stand-up comedian, created and produced a TV show at the London Palladium, starring 15 of the best British and American comedians and got it broadcast on British television. I did this. Me. In spite of what Jerry Lewis did to me and my dream – and whether he did it on purpose or was overly medicated on the steroid Prednisone he was taking or whether it’s just his inner duality, whatever. Even the great Jerry Lewis, my childhood idol, cannot take that away from me. I got myself and a handful of other American comedians on British television for the first time. I’m damn proud of that fact. So, please, after you've collected a new batch of golden statuettes; after you've come back from a much needed holiday; after you've had your office vet this very real, news-making story; please allow me and Julian the chance of getting this film done right.
Steven Spielberg, you know a little about comedy. That moment in Close Encounters when the Colonel says they’re gonna need something so scary it will scare every Christian living soul and then you cut to government vehicles retrofitted with Piggly Wiggly signs. Hilarious. Thank you for your time, thank you for your films, and I hope you don’t feel too weird about this public open letter. If it’s any compensation for you, I had to sit through 1941. And, I don’t mean the film. I mean the year and it’s kinda strange considering I wasn’t even born until one and a half scores later. Good luck at the Oscars; not that you'll need it.
Steven Alan Green
CONTACT INFO: Steven Alan Green: email@example.com / Julian Krainin: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE COMEDIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT @ KIMBALLS IN OAKLAND 1/10/13 – “Social Justice Through Dick Jokes”
For most of us getting blind drunk on New Year’s Eve, I once again fell into serendipitous fortune when 10 days later I was invited to see one of the most interesting, diverse, inspirational and downright funny stand-up comedy shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of nearly witnessing. Nina G is the brains and inspiration behind what seems to be an entire underground movement of undernourished comedians with one form of disability or another. Generally, when I review comedy shows, most of the comedians I see perform are funny. Most of them. All comedians – by definition - have one form of disability or another, usually stemming from fucked-up childhoods or just being born with a Lydia Deetz over-abundant handicap of obsessive observational abilities. An odd way of looking at the odd world. That they can’t help. Kinda like being born with Comedy X-Ray Eyes. Not so ironically, this “dis” ability is what makes their comedy to begin with. Chris Rock’s disability is being a black man in a white man’s world and an intelligent African American in a “Wot up, niggah?!” world. George Carlin’s disability was that he was able to see not only the inequities and incongruities of everyday reality as beset by the powers that be, but literally tossed aside the Scrabble board of the American English language, scuppering it for what’s really being said and heard; and more importantly: What’s not being said. Ellen DeGeneres’s disability is not being able to turn off her own self-imposed running-faucet honesty within the not so obvious short-comings of modern day awkward fear driven society. These so-called “disabilities” are in fact, the fulcrumatic dis-ease that foments true comedy genius, which is why, in general, good-looking together people are almost never funny. (on purpose)
Nina G is her name and stuttering is her game. Well, it ain’t no game and Nina G is a very funny stand-up comedian who happens to be a stutterer who happens to be a stand-up comedian who happens to stutter who happens to be a stand-up comedian. And, she makes plenty of very dry bones about it and wants you to know a little bit more than you initially cared to know about what meets the eye and what doesn’t. Nina G is all about self-preservation in a good way, standing up for the individual rights of Stutterers and making you spit out your bevvy, just when you thought you could get away for a second without laughing. Most handicaps go unnoticed. Especially in ourselves. I, myself, have been in and out of therapy many years, trying to figure out why I self-destruct or get in my own way. Is it my OCD or simply an overly-nourished Narcissistic personal habit? I don’t consciously think about that stuff in everyday life. Like being on stage, I’m fully confident in life, or at least, as my Number One Directive dictates: I must at all times appear to be. Nina G and her Cavalcade of physically challenged comedians are a true in fact unabashed Army of Humanity, whose motto could simply be: “And what makes YOU so special, you able-bodied non-stuttering everyday uneventful boring person?” I recently went to review The Comedians With Disabilities Act in Oakland for this here blog. What I never expected is that, I too, would walk away (with a dragging limp) feeling somewhat disabled myself.
Stand-Up Comedy, like any profession, requires the proper tools. Unless you’re presenting a post-modernist take on the art-form of stand-up itself, a properly working sound system is more than merely essential. It’s oxygen onboard the Space Shuttle. Sure, you really want to have proper lighting and nice and comfortable seating and things like not having the bathroom right next to the stage. Hell, I would even see a show in the dark, as long as I could hear it. Ironically, seeing The Comedians With Disabilities Act Jan 10 in Oakland was like being bound and gagged and thrown in the back of a Mafioso getaway vehicle. For the first 90% of the show, aside from the continuous mumble of amplified distortion, I couldn’t hear a fucking thing. Which, when I consider that most of the crowd was laughing, made me feel like I belonged on stage that night. Thus, I became the deaf comedy reviewer. This wasn’t Nina’s fault, it was the venue in Oakland and just towards the end of the show, as the last act was being introduced, the manager of the venue, came by the stage (as another act was already on stage performing), adding/changing a speaker from completely muffled to actually intelligible. But, it was too late. I couldn’t possibly write a review of an entire evening of half a dozen comedians, when I could only hear but one! That would be like judging the entire American Presidential history by merely sampling George Bush; and how unfair and wrong that would be. I would’ve sat in the front row, and certainly would’ve heard better had I done so, but as the reviewer, it’s just too distracting to the performer and the rest of the audience, as I sit scribbling away. I must hide inconspicuously in the back, like some shadowy government official. So, in order to find a solution to this problem, I have decided to introduce you to all the comedians via their bios and YouTube videos. In addition, I’ve included Part One of my exclusive podcast interview with Nina G herself in a new segment of Enjoy the Veal, “Enjoy the Veal Radio!” All recorded with an app through my Droid phone. Finally, I am planning on reviewing Nina’s show “Four Comedians Who Stutter” January 30 here in San Francisco. So, without further ado, please let me introduce you to some really great comedians, great peoples, tough, brave and soulful stand-up comedians, all of whom I believe should be grouped together and slotted in on NBC Thursdays 9pm, in a sitcom or variety show. I can identify with all these particular comedy artists; after all, as it is well known, I am a total retard.
Nina G: Nina G is the world’s only female stuttering stand-up comedian (or at least until she finds another). She is also a storyteller and educator and has presented to countless audiences. Bringing together her humor to help people confront and understand social justice issues such as disability, diversity and equality, when she isn’t performing at comedy clubs like the San Francisco Punchline, the Improv or the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, she’s also a keynote speaker, most recently at Yo! Disables and Prod’s Anti-Bullying Summit for young people with Disabilities. Nina was diagnosed with a Learning Disability and began to stutter while in elementary school. She struggled to deal with teachers who underestimated her abilities, teasing from peers and family members, and issues of self-esteem. Nina was raised in the Oakland area and attended UC Berkeley where the roots of the Disability Movement took place, solidifying her identity as a person with a disability, one she sees with cultural and political empowerment. This coupled with supportive parents has helped Nina not to overcome her disability but to overcome the attitudes about what women and girls with disabilities can achieve.
Steve Lee: A fresh new voice in the San Francisco stand-up scene since 2010. He is the only Asian Disabled Comic in America, performing all over the San Francisco bay area and Asia, receiving high praise on both continents for his off-beat brand of humor. His comedy blends his Chinese roots with his love for all things American. He performed at Cobb's Comedy Club, the Punchline SF, San Jose Improv, Purple Onion, Rooster T. Feathers,Tommy T's, Takeout Comedy Club (Hong Kong), and many different comedy clubs. He also was invited to perform at the Not Your Normal New Years Eve Show 2012 at the Herbst Theater in front of 900 people. (The show headliner - Brent Weinbach, winner of the Andy Kaufman Award at the HBO Comedy Festival.)
Michael O’Connell: An unemployed auto claims adjuster and wheelchair user, Michael O'Connell took a dare from a friend in January of 2010 to try doing five minutes of open mic comedy at a local club. He did so, and ended up winning the competition that night. He's never looked back since, and has gone on to do his special brand of "wheelchair humor" in some of the best-known clubs in the comedy world, had his story covered in print and television and radio, and garnered several Hollywood celebrities as his fans. His business card reads “100% Comedy, 0% Stand-Up”.
Eric Mee: Sacramento native was only eighteen years old when, while protecting a young child, he was stabbed in the chest. Complications resulting from his injury led to the loss of his eyesight. Choosing not to let this drastic life change get him down, he began joking about his condition and giving speeches to groups that were always filled with humor. After many suggestions to do so, he turned his talents to stand-up comedy, and now brings his manic energy and outrageous tales to the stage, both at clubs and college campuses.
Steve Danner: “We’re all comedians first,” said Napa native Steve Danner, the little person comic, “and it’s a comedy show. But who says you can’t make people laugh and send them home with something to think about too?” Danner’s comedy career began as an audience member at a club. The comedian on stage that night decided to have some fun at his expense, and Danner’s skills in heckling back at him led the comic to approach Danner after the show and suggest he give comedy a try. Danner did so, and soon began a career as a prolific comedian and producer, delighting crowds at clubs and comedy rooms all over the west coast with hysterical tales centered heavily on his dwarfism. His comic journey keeps him on the road much of the time, but as Danner is fond of saying, “Shrimpin’ ain’t easy!”.
Aaron Snyder: Aaron Snyder is a comedian from Cheyenne Wyoming with cerebral palsy. He has been doing comedy for three years now. After quitting his job three years ago he thought to himself "well what now?" He thought of his favorite comedian Josh Blue, Last Comic standing winner who also has cerebral palsy. Aaron thought "if he did it why can't I?" Aaron was a semi finalist in Denver's new faces contest in 2011 and 2012 and has opened for Josh Blue. He knows this takes a lot of work and has proving he is willing to do that. Want to book him for a show? Contact him at email@example.com
Loren Kraut: Growing up in New Jersey, Loren has held numerous jobs – birthday party clown, writer, comedian, pastry chef, Off-off Broadway stage manager, special ed teacher, waitress, admin assistant, mortgage consultant, call center operator, and briefly, housekeeper for a high-class brothel in NYC. Loren won “Funniest Person in Downtown Berkeley” at the Berkeley Marsh in January 2011, and was a finalist in the Battle of the Bay Comedy Competition 2007 and 2009. She’s performed at the Punch Line in SF and Sacramento, Cobb’s Comedy Club, Herbst Theatre, and the historic Purple Onion.
THE COMEDIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT VIDEO ARCHIVES:
In all my 30 plus years of hanging around in comedy clubs, up until I saw The Comedians with Disabilities Act, there were only really two comedians I ever felt completely envious of. A young Michael Keaton (yes, Batman was a stand-up!) in the early days of The Comedy Store, and Jim Carrey. Keaton, because I've never seen anyone as natural of a comedian as he. A good looking charismatic light on his feet compelling master comedy story-teller, and Carrey, whose sheer supernatural physical talents simply put my clever mortal efforts completely outta the box. I knew, in my broken heart, I could never be as good as those guys. However, we now have a new winner. With all my complaining, my whinging and moaning of not being appreciated as much as I think I deserve -- the cast of The Comedians with Disabilities Act, has put me to complete shame. I hope I've learned my lesson. These are very funny stellar performers with vision, talent, bravado and heart never seen equalled by this comedian/comedy blogger. I am humbled beyond imagination on my bitter and worn out knees. Thank you, G-D, for showing me the light. Even though you've been shining it in my eyes a bit too long.
Enjoy the veal, Steven Alan Green, 1/20/12, SF
So far, it's been an interesting year. I don't pretend to know anything; I'm just feeling my way in the dark like the rest of us. I've moved out of the San Francisco Guest House. The owner, Kim (the Korean woman who runs the music school), got very melodramatic, showing up at the foot of my bed like a Korean vision of the Madonna at 7am telling me I was a day late or she was closing the school; and then she'd break out into opera. She inexplicably kept moving me from room to room; and I complied, even though I knew she was trying to avoid me gaining tenant's rights. And, although she is a woman of great inspiration, I just couldn't stand the melodrama. For the last ten days I've been living at another hostel on Lombard, just above a former Karaoke bar, now a really good Chinese & Japanese restaurant. Very cramped quarters, 8 of us living in 4 children's bunk beds, phones going off at 3am, smelly feet and farting every ten seconds. But, I've bonded with a few guys there and it's all part of my adventure. I'm getting local comedy gigs and reviewing comedy shows and in fact I plan on reviewing my own next performance. The San Francisco Comedy Scene has really embraced this weirdo and I am very grateful. I'm here to retool my comedy act and just get the fuck out of overly competitive and multi-CULT-ural LA for a while. I'm looking for that elusive day job, I'm meeting with people through Craigslist for writing jobs and finally I got paid for the TV commercial I did in England. I am really kinda falling in love with San Francisco. It's like London on hills. Oh, and I started a new novel. A futuristic political thriller. That's all I can say right now. (And, yes, Noah, I'm working on turning that film idea into a TV show, so bear with me and thank you for believing in me.) I also want to apologize to comedian Nato Green, whose show I saw in December and still have yet to write and publish a review of his show. But, I promise for the next edition of ETV, along with a review of a couple of one-person performance pieces I saw last week down in the Mission. And, a shout out to my new best friend, Mike, one of my roomies. Great guy, smart guy. Thanks, Mike. Folks, whatever happens in life, always remember that success doesn't always depend on you and love is always just around the corner. Missing my mates in London and my friends in LA. And thank you to Mimi for love, support and advice. No greater friend have I. Prayers out to my ex-father-in-law Anselm Hollo and my great friend and philosophical guru Beano. Stay on the mend, boys! To all my readers and comedy fans on Facebook, thank you for "liking". Love to you all (including my former best pal Jerry Lewis) and when you're feeling down, just remember, folks.......
Enjoy the veal....
Steven Alan Green, SF 1/26/13
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
People have been telling me of late, I'm a natural born leader. Ok, I'll accept that as the highest compliment. Now, can anyone tell me what to do next?
According to historians, Abraham Lincoln's actual voice sounded like Daffy Duck, leading a cadre of conspiracialists to believe he was assassinated by Elmer Fudd.
Life is a very strange experience; like nothing I've ever experienced before.
99% of all mistakes result in some sort of progress. The other 32% result in miscalculation.
Life is a roller-coaster. You climb to great and dangerous heights, you take treacherous turns and you fall at great speeds. And, it's all over way too quickly. Then you throw up.
If I could live my life over again, I would not include the part where I consider living my life over again.
If Paul McCartney really died in a car crash in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike, and the lookalike is on shows like Letterman today, denying he had anything to do with the Paul is Dead rumours, Here's my question: Who replaced Letterman's hairpiece?
This is exactly how it felt the last time I had Deja Vu.
NEW RESTAURANT IDEA: Spinal Tapas. Little Spanish horderves served under the blaring rock and roll thunder of the worst Heavy Metal band in the world.
Life is strange. One minute you're sitting on top of the world, the next minute you're watching the microwave timer count down from 30 seconds.
Old people's faces often look like they did something wrong. Young people's look like they're about to.
PERSONAL AD: Smelly zombie corpse, with an appreciation of Beethoven, Korean food and Jane Austin novels, seeks intelligent prisoner of war, who likes tickling astronauts, smashing raw eggs on your face, and stuffing Mars Bars into electrical wall sockets, whilst listening to the prerecorded sounds of terrified geese stuck in the La Brea Tar Pits. No weirdos!
ODDZ 'N ENZ: To have your comedy show reviewed or hire Steven as a writer or comedian: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 & on Facebook. Never take life too seriously, you'll never get out of it alive!!! SAG, SF, 1/26/13 DONATE NOW
December 25, 2012 | 10:47 pm
Posted by Steven Alan Green
Twas the week before Christmas, and all throughout Geary,
Not a creature was trippin’, ‘cept Mr. Leary.
I’d like to share with you something I wrote the day after the horrific school shootings last week:
Yesterday was another tragic day in America. Twenty innocent children and ten innocent adults lost their lives. Thousands of people directly affected. Millions of the rest of us pretending not to be. Some of us have the courage to cry. I see it again and again and again. Something like this happens and people get all up in arms (as it were) and demand something be done about it. The anti-gun lobby finger points at the NRA-run gun arm of government which has been aiming at us Peace-nicks from the bushes since Kent State. Let’s face it. We live in a gun culture. And, if we don’t soon take heed, we will die in a gun culture. They are everywhere; we just can't see them. Hiding in the safe or under the seat, burning to be put to use. One of the things I loved about living in London is that the street police don’t carry guns; they carry something much more frightening. They carry threat. The London street bobby is armed with a little microphone and a button in his pocket. He or she is very polite and calls you, “Sir” or “Madam”. They try and make you feel welcome in your own neighborhood, not the other way around. However; should you prove a potential threat to them or to the local citizens, they will slightly push that button in their pocket and within just a couple of minutes, a van screeches around the corner and four special unit police with flak jackets and Uzies, and maybe a couple of dogs show up. That is governance by the art of subtlety. "The Cops" are viewed in many of our major cities as the enemy, especially in Los Angeles where police have much more to be cautious of. The post office and the police are the only two "branches of government" the average American citizen ever has human contact with. You got one profession who responds too slowly and one profession who responds too quickly. No wonder, we are so confused in this country.
The day after the horrible shootings in Connecticut, I posted a joke on Facebook. The joke goes like this: “Hey, here’s a new one…. 2,000 students walk into a school. 1,980 walk out. What? Too soon?” Most of my sick Facebook friends loved this one. Some got offended. One actually got it. I wasn’t at all joking about children getting shot at school. I was commenting on it happening again so “soon” once again. The joke was built on the double-meaning of the phrase, “too soon” and what it has come to mean in the current comedy lexicon. “Too Soon” (in stand-up comedy terms) means, “I know it is offensive to joke about the tragedy so soon; that's the joke and fuck you if you don't get that!” At least that’s what The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as. It's Tragedy + Time = Comedy. Its etymology comes from JFK jokes. And of course, the ultimate in “too soon” jokes are Christ jokes. How much time has to pass a tragedy before we are allowed to make jokes about it? But the real emotion its dealing with is: "How much time has to pass before we can heal?" That's what "too soon" really means. Here’s my theory. If a joke is intelligently constructed and delivered with precision and accuracy, and the listener is extremely knowledgeable about current events and varying cultures is offended, it is the listener who is not listening correctly. The most common occurrence going on when a joke misfires is the audience and comedian are simply not on the same page. Clarity is everything.
Last week, I answered a critic of my foundation with more words than I care to remember. It really hurt. It just seemed so mean, and people have accused me of this before: Running The Laughter Foundation towards my own ends. In any case, two weeks ago, I found myself in a bad situation. I was two weeks behind in my rent and had no money. The two grand coming in from England from the TV commercial was delayed again and I haven’t found or looked hard enough for that day job. My street campaigning seemed to go nowhere and I just got caught up in things, ideas and writing. I was hoping for a comedy and writing gig that didn’t come through, and was expecting that check. I was up against it. So, I thought about what this critic, calling himself, “Geri Luis” said: that I had set up the foundation just to help myself. I thought; why not. He’s right. So, I posted on Facebook that I had to raise my rent, and within 18 hours, through PayPal I was able to raise all my back rent. It’s amazing how generous people can be. I thank you all. Inspired by everyone’s generosity, I have begun work on putting together four new programs through The Laughter Foundation, that surely will help other comedians in need.
Joining The Heckler Fund (our emergency grant program for comedians) and COMEC: The Comedy Museum Exploratory Committee, is our “One Niter Program”. Sponsored by The San Francisco Guest House , comedians who – for whatever reason – find themselves temporarily homeless, now have an emergency place to stay for one or two nights. The San Francisco Guest House is safe, clean and quiet. Another program we’re developing is the, “Eat Something Program”, which is being sponsored by a few local restaurants and will premier in the new year. Each restaurant will provide a dozen or so meals a month for a select number of comedians. I’ve even got a local barber who will provide free haircuts. We call that the, “Cut-Up Program.” Plus, I'm working on finding a San Francisco based therapist to be "on-call for appointments". I know, from personal and anecdotal experience, how important therapy is for many comedians, funny or not, successful or not. In exchange for providing meals and beds and haircuts, these businesses get a sponsorship on the Laughter Foundation website and at the benefit at the Castro Theatre, April 1. Any stand-up comedians in need of any of these services, please contact me for details and qualifications. email@example.com
Each comedian applying for assistance will be taken on a case by case basis by impartial committee of experts in the field of professional stand-up comedy. If you're a long standing local comedian doing open-mics, you may qualify. If you've been on the road for 30 years and are now in need of a good talk with a shrink, we're here to help. We’re there to fill in the gaps, when you’ve had a great set, but are too broke to eat and are just feeling shitty about yourself and everything. Come to us. These four new programs should be fully operational in the new year, perhaps by the middle of January. The One-Niter Program is up and running now. We hope to one day have a full service system set up so that whatever comedians may need, they can get from us. We at The Laughter Foundation want you, the comedian, to concentrate on being a comedian, developing your material, having a good time and paying close attention to your craft. So, stay tuned for more info on these programs, as well as the upcoming benefit show for COMEC & The Heckler Fund at The Castro Theatre on The Laughter Foundation website and this blog. Thank you for your continued support of The Laughter Foundation. Because when you support The Laughter Foundation, you support the comedians who make you laugh.
A lot going on this week, including another edition of Tales from the Comedy Crypt with Ritch Shydner and a review of Denny Dench’s Comedy Show at the Bazaar Café as well as a linked contribution from the one and only Paul Krassner! But first, a special ETV event. An interview with a true comedy fan. Brian Sontag.
Brian Sontag is a dyed in the wool Groucho Marxist, who loves butter and steaks. He worked for the same company for 24 years. He loves as much freedom as it takes until you invade his life, and thinks laughter is the cure for everything, we need more studies. Brian hosts the PA Podcast, which is dedicated to interviewing and highlighting all comedians. Alongside Brian Sontag are Brian Kilpatrick and Jenny Coe. Brian Kilpatrick does freelance work for The CIA during the week, which when quizzed, he answers, “What can I say, it pays the bills!” In his time off, he enjoys sky diving, working as a street mime, “screwing with Tag” (Brian Sontag), day trading, listening to David Allen Green (I think he means me) Comedy skits on Acid and, of course, being part of The PA Podcast with Brian "Tag" Sontag and Jenny! The third wheel of this mad comedy caravan is Jenny Coe, a housewife from Pennsylvania who designs beaded jewelry and, only since joining up with the podcast, discovered a natural talent and ear for audio editing. She and Mike, her husband of almost 13 years, have no children, save for their cat Buddy who is most likely to be seen gracing Jenny's Facebook profile shots. Probably the shiest of the three, she hopes to one day write a novel worthy of publishing.
I recently sat down with Brian "Tag" Sontag for a quick interview, as he was being called to duty to be staff sergeant for the Petaluma National Guard, who were desperate for his unique parachuting abilities having to do with a last minute emergency run on both pets and lumas. Apparently, there was a scarred kitty cat up a tree. I stood by the tree, looking up at “Tag” (That's Brian) trying to beckon the frightened feline into his arms, armed only with a pith helmet, half tin of tuna and a litter box with the image of Simon Cowl. Brian is one of The Laughter Foundation’s biggest supporters and even went as far as to hock his grandma’s iron lung to make a very generous and timely donation.
SAG: Thanks, Brian. And, thank Grandma. I really needed to buy that Maserati, which, because it’s a stress reliever, is a write-off by the way! Thanks for coming through, Bri. How you doing?
TAG: Fine, fine, Steven. Let me catch my breath. Here, hold this.
SAG: That’s a very wet and scared cat! OUCH!
TAG: Quick squakin’.
SAG: I guess you’re right. So, you ready for the interview?
TAG: Yeah, hang on. Let me remove my bee-keepers outfit.
TAG: I SAID LET ME REMOVE MY BEE-KEEPERS OUTFIT!
SAG: I CAN'T HEAR YOU, WHY DON'T YOU REMOVE YOUR BEE-KEEPERS OUTFIT!
Brian Sontag removes his helmet, now his protective tin-foil suit, and now he's dressed as a a Mayan god.
SAG: Brian, given recent tragic events in Connecticut, is this a time we should abandon or embrace humor and comedy?
TAG: We should never abandon comedy and humor, however there are times a pause is called for out of respect.
SAG: When is it "too soon" to make jokes about tragedy?
TAG: There is no hard or fast rule there... for some, a year can be too soon to hear a joke about anything, and others a lifetime.
SAG: Of all the comedians you've interviewed, who has the best perspective on life as we know it?
TAG: Without a doubt Tom Dreesen, just an amazing person and he has it right. One listen to my interview and most will agree.
SAG: I have and you're right. Who would you like to interview if you could get anyone?
TAG: Bob Newhart or Dick Van Dyke. It's a tie. Both big influences in my childhood.
SAG: I once spoke with Dick's publicist, Bob Palmer. We should talk.
TAG: That's how we roll!
SAG: Which of your questions to comedians seem to be the most probing and thought provoking?
TAG: Well the simple one. Why did you go into comedy? It opens up the flood gates of emotion and story. And they are all great stories!
SAG: Interesting. Are the funniest comedians the best interviewees?
TAG: Comedy is so subjective, so there is only the funniest to me or you. But for me, if I enjoy their humor, it will be always be a good interview.
SAG: How long you been running your podcast?
TAG: Since fall 2011.
SAG: Please tell us about Brian Kilpatrick and Jenny Coe. I understand, like Jake Giddes in Chinatown, you can't do everything by yourself.
TAG: Do you know the saying "Things happen for a reason"? BK is like a brother from another mother and a truly kind and caring guy with a great sense of humor. Jenny is the ultimate den mother and one of the sweetest people I have known. She keeps us level and sane. I couldn't have started this without them and their help and input.
SAG: Tell us a little about your FaceBook groups Pokaholics Anonymous, Thinning the Herd, and Exaggerators Anonymous. How'd they get started and which one is the most fun to run and why?
TAG: PA started this madness... as a fluke by myself and BK one late night. Then we did improv events on our group and had so much fun. We brought Jenny in then, she was a stand out! Hence papodcast.com. Well then a comment on PA light bulbed the Thinning the Herd, we all need some of that right? Then someone posted a pic, I think Don McCleary. Then Exaggeraters happened. They all are fun to be part of I have no favorite. Each a different niche and that is cool, some people cross over and very cool. I enjoy them all and the members.
SAG: From all you've been able to glean, do you think comedians can make the world a better place?
TAG: Without a doubt, yes! Carlin made me laugh and taught me critical thinking. Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams taught me about being silly and letting go. I can go on, but they charge by the character here right?
SAG: Two characters are enough, you and me!
TAG: That's how we roll!
SAG: Are there comedians you'd rather not see on television, some that might offend you or make you feel are denigrating the audience?
TAG: Nope, all should be free to express, the people will judge that.
SAG: Did you ever have the desire to be a comedian yourself?
TAG: Yes, if I wasn't so scared of public speaking.
SAG: But, you sky dive! You're not afraid of that!
TAG: That's how I roll.
SAG: Are you funny every day?
TAG: No one is, but I try to make myself laugh everyday. If others enjoy it, that's the icing on that cake.
SAG: Do you think when times get tougher, the comedy gets funnier?
TAG: Not sure if tough times make it funnier, but surely people need it more during those times.
SAG: Do you validate?
TAG: Yes, if you are a decent human being.
SAG: How often is there a new PA Podcast interview with a comedian?
TAG: I wish every week, but we roll with the flow of our schedules and lives. Ideally I want one per week. I pledge for 2013 to make that happen.
SAG: If you could interview Lenny Bruce, what 3 questions would you ask him?
TAG: Strange you should ask that. I named my cat LB BTW. Aside from that. Why the hate? You still smoke? What would your mother say?
SAG: As not just the Enjoy the Veal interviewer for The Jewish Journal online, I am President & Founder of The Laughter Foundation. I'm really curious. Tell us what it means to you to give to a cause you truly believe in.
TAG: I have always had a deep respect for comedians and the art of making people laugh. I feel they put their heart out there and give us that needed laughter that can help us make it through the day. They are important to society and truly under respected.
SAG: What is it that fascinates you so much about comedians?
TAG: I would guess their ability to influence someone's day or life, with just words. And laughter is healing and that is a proven fact, so they can be healers.
Just the then the cat I was holding the entire time of the interview, clawed deep into my flesh, I heard bone, I screamed and the cat took off, its ass flashing in front of my face just for effect. I turned to thank Brian for the interview, but it was too late; he was already paragliding off over the rooftops and into the mysterious and moody clouds, where a little by-plane picked scooped him up. His red jumpsuit and greying beard, only made me shake my head even more when I swear I heard him say from the echoey sky, “Listen to the PA Podcast...Ho...Ho....Ho...Ho...Ho....”
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
RITCH SHYDNER’S TALES FROM THE COMEDY CRYPT!
One of America's greatest stand-ups in the last 50 years, Ritch Shydner co-created, "I Killed: True Stories from the Road from America's Top Comics" (Random House)
In 1962, when Johnny Carson made his debut as host of the Tonight Show there were three channels on the TV. Pick one, read a book or stare at each other. In no time Carson was The King of Late Night, and for the next thirty years the most powerful man in the world of stand-up comedy. Cable TV started to bite into the broadcast pie in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but nobody touched Johnny’s slice. A young stand-up comedian of this era heard the overnight success stories while learning joke structure. Carson's show was the launching pad for stand-up stars like Joan Rivers in the 60’s and Robert Klein in the 70’s. Johnny’s Midas Touch was still there in 1982 when an unknown Steven Wright went from a killer first Tonight Show, to a stunning second shot only days later, and into packed theaters. Do not stop. Pass Go and collect a career. At the very least, an appearance on the “Johnny Carson Show” was a marker of show business success that even a comic’s worried family recognized.
My first Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was on August 30, 1984. As a stand-up, this date was more important than my birthday. This birth I did. This birth I remembered. This birth I sweated. The comic’s mid-wife was the Tonight Show talent coordinator, Jim McCauley. He decided when the new Jester was ready and what jokes to present to the King. Whenever Jim McCauley entered The Improvisation or The Comedy Store, the room became electric. Doubt disappeared, hope materialized and the push for the stage resembled the Oklahoma Land Rush. After several successful minor league stints on The Merv Griffin Show and Evening at The Improv, Jim declared me ready for the majors in the summer of ‘84. He cherry picked jokes from my act. I then fashioned segues to stitch up the disparate pieces and practiced those five minutes night after night, word for word, until it became part of my DNA. I even managed to stop drinking and drugging two weeks before my scheduled date. However, the pre-show stress caused painful shingles blisters to break out on my right hip and thigh two days before my due date. There’s no crying in comedy.
The day of the shot my message machine filled with well-wishes. My acting coach, knowing my tendency to speed talk my way to incoherency said, “Speak slowly. If you’re worried you’re speaking too slow, then slow down some more.” Jerry Seinfeld said, “You already hit the homerun. Just don’t trip rounding the bases.” When the applause began after my final joke that night, I did as instructed and looked to Johnny for my next move. He had three basic signals for a new comic. The first was a wave to come do panel, a sign of total love and acceptance. The second was an outstretched hand with the forefinger and thumb forming a circle, meaning a passing grade, nothing special, but you lived to fight another day. That’s what I got. At least Johnny wasn’t tapping his pencil on the desk, while smiling and nodding to the music. That was the third option, the equivalent of a trap door opening beneath the comic. Few survived the execution after the pencil drum roll. A very happy Jim McCauley greeted me behind the curtain. Jim lived and breathed with the comics he brought to the Tonight Show. His job was on the line as much as yours. As the Show ended, McCauley positioned me along the path Johnny took every night from the set to his office. For my efforts, I got the standard reward for most first time comics, a handshake, a photo op and a second appearance. I was relieved, happy and soon on my way to drunk. My second Tonight Show shot was scheduled for February of 1985. This time I decided I wanted more say about the material. Spending a lot of time with Jack Daniels, Peruvian Product and Sam Kinison gave me a blurred, but intense vision of a need to be edgy. My idea was to end it with two jokes about suicide which were working in the dark, boozy clubs. Jim knew the difference between night club funny and TV funny. A couple of relationship jokes were Jim’s choices for my closing. I agreed, but soon became obsessed with new jokes about Barney Clark, the world’s first artificial heart recipient, and the lifesaving technique of Defibrillation. The Barney Clark joke was a reaction to a doctor’s assertion that, “Mr. Clark would lead a pretty normal life.” I complained that it would at least hinder his bowling game, and ended the bit by mimicking Clark trying to pick up a spare while dragging the two hundred pound heart-pump. I then pointed out that the Defibrillator caused the patient’s body to jump off the bed. Some sadistic doctor was sure to turn up the juice in an effort to set a record height. This bit ended with doctors using two sets of paddles to volley a patient back and forth in a game of tennis. To me there was nothing wrong with this material. I was getting laughs by complaining and pointing things out. That’s what stand-ups do. Almost every night I practiced with a different closer. The drinking and drugging was by now a daily chore, a tedious job. It was a huge effort to abstain the night before the show. It was not so much as a sober night as the start of detoxification. I placed a post-show gram in the pocket of my show suit, an addict’s security blanket.
The night of the show, I begged Jim to let me do the heart material, arguing it was a perfect fit with the rest of the set’s jokes of broken bones, doctor advertising, and brain storage capabilities. McCauley was reluctant, doubting if it suited Johnny’s taste. I was a crazed comic begging for his artistic soul, which at that moment meant being the first on TV with a Barney Clark joke. The Devil was bargain shopping. Jim finally relented. The set went fine; the laughter coming at all the right places. I closed and looked for my signal. Johnny was tapping his pencil, smiling and nodding to the music. Jim met me behind the curtain and hustled me straight to my dressing room. Jim was pleasant. He gave me a beer, but offered no pretense as to my situation. There was a problem with my set. Although all the blame clearly rested with me, Jim was the one apologizing. “I should have known Johnny would hate that heart stuff. He smokes three packs a day and worries about having a heart attack. We better stay in here for a while.” It took me two more months of bad decisions to finally quit alcohol and drugs. Thanks to Jim McCauley’s advice and support I did a third Tonight Show in late 1986. It probably didn’t hurt that Johnny Carson stopped smoking during that period. Jim helped me through nine more Tonight Shows before Johnny finally retired. I regret never fully thanking him for what he did for me and all the other comics in his 25 years at the Tonight Show.
Rest in Peace, Jim. If there is an afterlife, please tell me there are no pencils.
Danny Dechi’s Comedy Show @ The Bazaar Café
One of the things I love about my job here at Enjoy the Veal is that I get to explore various comedy venues in new parts of town for this writer. The Bazaar Café is a little artist’s consignments shop in the Outer Richmond, with a tiny little stage “area” and upright piano on the side, with a sign overhead warning of “doing covers”: only original songs are encouraged, which is probably not so much an artistic enhancement, but indeed, avoiding paying song performance royalties is a fiscal one. A 7pm show scheduled start realized into a near 8 start, as the performers waited and waited for the audience to show up. Who forgot to book the audience? “Finals” is what host/producer Danny Dechi told me as to why his usual packed college audience locked themselves in their dorms. Nevertheless, nothing wrong with performing for yourselves and save for one miserable live comedy reviewer from The Jewish Journal online, who also happens to be a stand-up comedian himself, the show simply went on. I, the reviewer for the show, seemed to be - other than the other comedians, the only person in the audience. The rest of the breathing souls around the sides and in the back shadows of the room were the comedians waiting to go on. Maybe a real customer, I couldn't tell. And, of course, the cafe employee behind the counter, but I think she was paid to be there. Let the awkward evening begin.
“Welcome to the Bazarre Café!” Danny explains the show is every 3rd Wednesday, there’s food and drink, which leads to his first joke of the evening about preparing beer battered fish and deciding on using either a full bottle in the recipe or an empty one. “There was a river so full of mercury, I could take my temperature with a salmon.” These are not just the jokes, folks, and they’re not just fish jokes, no, this is Danny Denchi, a San Francisco pillar of cutting-edge traditional comedy performance art and I-did-the-best-I-could considering promotion. Danny runs at least three comedy rooms I'm aware of and don't get me wrong. I know his rooms pack out. Tonight, though, not. Danny explains he was released early from jury duty for eating his shoe and that he learned today that there is no crying in yoga. “Honey Boo-Boo….Who is her father, Yogi Bear?” Danny, in spite of some of his gawd-awful material, is hill-LAR-ious. Did ya’ hear me? Danny is very funny. Not his jokes. Him! “The big announcement of the week? The end of the world! Presented by the Three Stooges Marathon!” Even when he writes to culture, Danny is a throwback to the post-Carson era of keeping the fun in the joke itself as the preeminent comedic discipline. His new movie category for the Oscars is “Best film without Liam Neeson”; His 79 Oldsmobile’s hood ornament is a Smart Car, which he splurged with a car wash and a Brazilian wax: “Looks good, but my carpets were wrong. I’m here all week!” fully acknowledging his jokes aren’t not only not always funny, but aren’t always even meant to be funny, which doesn’t exactly fit in with today’s personal confessional rant style of comedy. No. Danny is doing something more. He’s simultaneously operating on two levels. One is on the face of the material itself. Is the joke funny? What if you read the joke? Would it still make you laugh. That’s the first level. The second level is that Danny is able to get laughs not just on the jokes themselves, but on the idea that he is completely unflappable; a conscious hapless fool, Peter Sellers clumsily finding his way round a dark room, choreographed down to the Nth detail. Anti-comedy. Imagine Roberto Benigni were he a stand-up. Dechi’s secret? He’s having fun and he doesn’t really care, but he wants you to think he does. It’s a brilliant one-man double-act. During his presentation, his phone rings, he answers it: It’s his cat, who wants him to bring back whip cream and anchovies, was both completely surreal and believable. And, his optometrist ordering in a Chinese restaurant is classic Ed Sullivan. Then, he played The Nutcracker with a pencil repeatedly hitting his cheek. Yes, folks. Danny Denchi is the “World’s Number One Number Two Pencil Musician.” And, he’s also the emcee, so on with our show, and did a great job keeping the show moving right along all evening.
Next up was Rebecca Ward, who introduces herself to us (well, me), “You probably know my parents, maternity and psychiatric?” She explains she’s Native American Indian, her hubby isn’t: “he tries to get me drunk and steal my properties.” On dating much younger men – who use her just to get into R-rated movies, she asks us (again, just me), “Do you ever think of something that you think is very funny, but nobody else does? That’s my act.” Not what you call a good saver; and not that she even needed one. According to Ward, her kids have the nerve to “complain” about a 1 inch splinter and have yet no idea what real pain is like; so she holds up her thumb as if there's a splinter there, and say, "Was it a 9 pound, 8 ounce splinter? Was it eleven days late coming out of you? Did you spend three hours trying to push it out of you? No? We'll talk when you do..." You tell 'em, mom! Her birthday being 2 days before Christmas, she would get presents wrapped in Xmas paper, along with the admonishment, “This is for both.” On Obamacare, “Good thing we didn’t have Bush-Care….a waxing facility”; her car, which is a two-tone of rust and primer is really like a girl, always demanding attention then breaking down. Meeting Madonna she wanted to say something she probably never heard before and lays on the Vogued One, “I really like your movies!” Hill-AIR-ious! Rebecca Ward is an adult doing comedy with a truly youthful perspective, proving it’s really quite a feat to grow up, and yet still be able to pretend. I liked her and can’t wait to see more and in front of a proper audience.
Mike Capozzola, a stand-up comedian and talented cartoon artist, who seems like a comic caught between generational warps. His attitude seems to come from a smarmy guest character dating Mary or Rhoda, but his material is classic Modern Awkward in the true vein of Rickie Gervais, one half the original creator of NBC’s The Office and the progenitor of The Modern Awkward Comedy Movement. Mike’s the kind of comedian who is certainly well trained and armed for blood, but that’s not his thing. (stand-up material unavailable for this review)
Jill Borque’s culture is moving forward: “we are embracing diversity, but where are the Norwegian Latinas?,” left me a little unsure in which exact way was she anti-racist. But when she explained “we” don’t have any parades or holidays, I get it. She’s talking about her cultural heritage. DOH! “I can't even get a decent Lutefisk enchilada. There's no one to fix my low-rider Saab. No radio stations that play Death Metal Mariachi. Nothing. It's tough to be a Norwina.” But, then the comedy lights momentarily went out. We lost mental power. I think this is where I saw bravery in performance. After what seemed like endless incoherent ramblings for about ten seconds, this beautiful comedy mind suddenly found her place and hatched the brilliantly simple notion we all have to learn to compromise. Dems and GOP’s, both have to come together and then she explains in simple human terms, “Look! I can’t have everything I want at the same time! I can’t have carbs and boobs! I don’t have wet dreams, I have wheat dreams, doing a 3-way with a bagel and cream cheese”. This Dorothy Parker of Pillsbury then took the spotlight from her ideas to her; absurdly standing alone on an imaginary comedy stage, doing her comedy soliloquy, knowing fully well she was being reviewed and there was virtually nobody in the audience, but her comedy mates and friends in the back and me, the comedy reviewer reviewing her. Ironically, this is exactly why I’m there.
“You can get amazing alone time on this stage” is one of the greatest comedy save lines I’ve ever heard; unfortunately, in the venue that night, it only made things worse. Jill Borque feels connected to us and her list of highlighted accomplishments begins and ends with being married 12 years. Offering up relationship advice, Borque defines the Mason/Dixon between monogamy and monotony: “Victoria’s Secret and you’re haggling at Cosco for big panties.” Each week, she and hubby have a special communications session, “Known as a fight.” She doesn’t fight in front of her kids, she and her husband, “fight with our eyes” is a great cinematic visual. She’s not a “housewife”, more of a self-proclaimed, “house-bitch”; and did some “Hard Time” in dating in San Francisco. “Stringles” – the few straight men you have to date outside your hetero comfort zone in this Craigslist world. Her 10 year old talks to them like adults, like a Tenderloin wino, “Just one more book, momma!” Jill Borque is The Jane Jetson of Modern Stand-Up. Her dilemma is most relatable. How does one deal with whiners and complainers when you’ve got enough trouble dealing with your own problems. I’m smelling HBO series.
Charlie Ballard is warm and invites those in the back of the room to “come up!”, but of course they wouldn’t because they were other comedians. (Actually, regular audience members rarely move up.) He’s happy to be “back here 10 years later; the crowd hasn’t changed” made me think he was up the river, but I suspect if he was, it was on a River Boat entertaining Mel Gibson. “I made love to a woman for the first time. It was cool. I’ve been gay all my life. It was okay, but she wanted dirty talk. ‘Where do you want me to stick this penis?’ That joke was a total lie, by the way.”
Cut to me.
Then. He talks to me. The reviewer guy. He tells me, a Jewish Joke. After all, “you write for The Jewish Journal!”
Ballard did a classic “baby shaking” joke, following up with pointing out that I was clicking my pen and putting my hat on and off. Referring to the Berkeley cupcake sliding scale social experiment, Ballard gloated how he tricked them by claiming he was Native American and therefore, offended, so they gave him the cupcake for free. Following that up with, “That was a great joke!”. Being Indian, and only bringing two people to the show (did he think it WAS a bringer?), “well, if your people hadn’t killed off our people….”, seemed like a stock joke within his culture. Charlie closed by grabbing one of the guitars in the window, singing, “I’m not really a musician….”, leaving the mean guy in me, changing one word in that lyric. Again, I would love to see Charlie Ballard perform in front of a real crowd one day. I get the feeling, he’s secretly great. And, in a good way.
“Welcome to the Fear of Large Crowds Workshop!” was the first huge laugh of the night and brought on by comedy powerhouse Bobby Salem, who arrived late. About twenty years late. Bobby is the classic throwback to the East Coast Club and Borsht Belt Resort Comic. I’ve worked with many guys like Bobby on the road and they are the true keepers of the Hidden Secrets of Comedy. Only they know the difference between a red velvet curtain and a red velvet cupcake and we are mere comedy mortals in their presence. This is the kind of guy who probably grew up in the Bronx and literally had to survive on his wits and comedy talents. He’s asked by a citizen of San Francisco if were a “bear” (which is a fat hairy bloke who is gay) and it bothered him; he’s not even gay. Funny. His same sex marriage joke of having the same sex every night is a winner, but his outta nowhere impression of Bill Cosby as The Wizard of Oz talking to the Tin Man was almost as good and enlightening as his impression of the late black comedian and Oceans 11 movie star Bernie Mac, were he Jewish. “Israel, Oh, Lord!” His non-sequitur, “Kim Kardashian is a whore!....(that’s the joke)” is caboosed by, his Taylor Swift joke, “Taylor Swift is a whore!”; his cat awakens him at 6am so he “broke her of that habit” by waking up at 5:45. This guy is funny. Daffy Duck singing Village People and a great story of a guy sneezing in the elevator only to confront Bobby with, “Well, aren’t you going to bless me?” are topped off by his impressions of Tom Jones and Jerry Lewis (“She’s a laaaa-deeeee!”); he dovens as Neil Diamond, Bruce Springstein and Queen (“We will rock Jew!”) and his closer Middle Eastern George Costanza, “I invented Habbib!” is Hill-AIR-ious…! Danny kept the show rolling along, bringing on a boom-box and a kid’s joke and then introduced our final two acts for this very strange evening at the Bazaar Café.
Mr. Mystic wears a top-hat a tux and a hypnotic swirl as a pendulum hanging from around his neck. As Holly Jolly Christmas plays, he informs us he is going to levitate us, the audience, and we must do as he says. Bringing some balloons to someone in the front row (a late arriving customer), he warns us to, “Focus!”, then space-disco music plays and nothing happens. Of course. And then he offers the man in the front row a $100 bill to testify he indeed levitated. The man says he did levitate, but Mr. Mystic tells him to scram, sending back tail-between-his legs to the audience. Other weird background music serves to soothe and calm as Mr. Mystic tries to get everyone to do strange things with their hands, clasped, twisted and otherwise. Puff Puff the Psychic Bunny is his assistant puppet, whom only appears when Theme from a Summer’s Place is on. Asking for a number between 1 and 1,000, he admonishes the guesser with a premade sign, “No!”. He reads The Night Before Christmas and his book literally catches on fire, which was even funnier when you consider he claimed to have actually burned his hand. I liked Mr. Mystic; he's a throwback to Vaudeville and every weird after school local TV host every assembled. And if I were a child and he came to entertain my party? I’d have entered therapy several decades earlier.
Closing out this exercise in the surreal was Rollie Moe. I first saw Moe in London, at a show ten years ago we were both booked on at a now defunct comedy club called Ha Bloody Ha. Dressed like a bow-tied college professor, he holds a beer and talks in a very high voice, a strained voice, a fake voice. A monotonic continues flat-line whine. “We’re swimming in the ocean, you see a shark, your life passes before your eyes – Why did I eat so many Skittles? Why did I trust Mitt Romney? When taking communion wine in church, never ask for a second round; worm in an apple? Robins, robins, they’re not so sweet if you’re a worm!; consider Ross Dress for Less as no way to sell clothing: How about a matching can-opener or frying pan with that dress? ; chaos implies value: our marketing plan!” Rollie Moe is definitely nuts. Or wants us to think he is. From Brady Bunch aliens to why was Hitler so angry: (and let’s find out with him visiting an Ikea); to feeding penguins cheese; to great one-liners such as, why the KKK spells “clan” with a K ("they didn’t finish 5th grade"); Rollie Moe’s closer is a reenactment of Martin Scorcese’s “Taxi” acted out solely by Barbie and Ken dolls.
When the evening ended, I thanked Danny and he offered me a gig. But, he also told me about another comedian who needs help with some medical bills. Danny is a man who cares about comedy and, more importantly, cares about comedians. I think the show I saw tonight was awful in so many ways, and mostly not anyone's fault. A comedy show needs an audience. On the other hand, in many more ways it was truly the greatest comedy show I saw (and unwittingly participated in) all year. Long may Danny, the World’s Number One Number Two Pencil Musician, stand-up comedian and local San Francisco comedy promoter reign. I’m a big fan and I’m glad I went. I only wished I didn’t have such a large laugh. Always points me out in the crowd.
I give Comedy @ The Bazaar Café 12 Days of Christmas out of 8 Menorahs!
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
I finally got me a job. I am housekeeper/maid service and on-staff duty at The San Francisco Guest House three days a week. In exchange, I get free rent. So, that’s my life. Cleaning toilets and reviewing comedy shows. Redundant I know. If you want to come see me perform comedy live, I’ll be at Danny Denchi's Cup O Comedy @ Emma's Coffee House TONIGHT! (Dec 27) 5549 Geary Boulevard, (415) 933-6632 FREE! Map. Start time: 7pm. Come and say hello. (Just not during the show.) In the meantime, I just want to thank everyone, my bosses over at The Jewish Journal, including my inimitable editor, Jared Baker. The comedians I’ve met over the last few weeks since coming up to San Francisco. Laughter Foundation supporters alike and in particular Mimi Smith, whose been a much needed friend and educated ear. And of course, Brian “Tag” Sontag and to Jenny Coe for maintaining The Laughter Foundation website so well. Special thanks to Enjoy the Veal contributor, Ritch Shydner. Ace Reviewer for LA, Tamsin Hollo, will be back after a short break. Two of my favourite blokes. And thank you everyone who donated something last week to save me from eviction. I know who you are and I know some of you who helped out, are struggling as well. I'll never take for granted that just because someone helps, doesn't mean it's always easy for them. I am deeply moved and now have to live up to my word and make The Laughter Foundation a reality.
And, thank you, my fine readership. You’ve given this miserable misanthrope of a poor excuse for a comedian, some much needed and valued hope. I’ve been so inspired by it all, I’ve started writing a novel and I guarantee you this. Whether you know it or not, you are indeed all characters in it; as an artist’s work is his life, you are indeed characters in my life. Love to you all. Except of course, Geri Luis. The real Jerry Lewis remains a mystery.
Try not to shoot one another, people.
And, if you're in San Francisco tonight, I'll be on Danny Dechi's comedy show tonight at Emma's. Come on down.
Kim, the woman who runs the San Francisco Guest House also has a music charity, a school that teaches little kids to play violin and piano. And, her school, has a hint of yellow, my mother's favourite color and many of you know my mother went from real hard times and nothing, to building Glendale College of Business and Paramedical into a $10 million business, graduated 35,000 students, helped a lot of people, and had the highest placement rate in the nation. If you went to her school, and buckled down and did your work, when you graduated, you'd have a job waiting for you. I miss Gloria Green. She was an amazing lady, an amazing person. And, I look up to her. I want to be like her. So, maybe one day, I too, can walk down the street and people see me and will go, "There goes an amazing lady."
And, if you can afford to, please donate a little to my blog here, so that I can know that I'm entertaining you as much as I think I am.
What? Too soon?
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
Most conversations I eavesdrop on are extremely fascinating until I figure out exactly what they're talking about.
I suppose, in the case of working for a medical marijuana dispensary, random surprise drug testing is simultaneously a good and a bad thing.
Unpaid bills are like high school bullies; you gotta distract them, make fun of them, then kick them in the nuts.
Shallow person looking for a deep relationship. Willing to pretend to care. Good at nodding head when feigning interest. And, can cook like there's no Mayan end of the world. Drawback: I am a monster in bed. And, what I mean by, "monster" is when I get turned on, two metal bolts pop outta the sides of my neck, my skin turns green and I sleepwalk with a limp. No weirdos.
I love cocaine. It's like heroin to me.
NARCISSISTIC DIRTY PHONE CALLER: "What am I wearing?"
The Mayans (a nice Jewish couple from Great Neck, New York) sincerely apologize for any negativity.
Why do drivers who almost mow you down, apologize with the Heil Hitler sign?
This is exactly how it felt the last time I had Deja Vu.
Every time I'm on the 43 Muni bus from Haight to the Inner Sunset, and the prerecorded announcer lady says, "The next stop is Frederick," I want to stand up and shout, "It's FRO-derick!" And, when another bus announces, "Hyde", I crawl under my seat.
Every once in a while, a great visionary and savior like Jesus Christ, Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, arrive in our world and fuck everything up.
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Los Angeles: Friday, Dec 28, BILLY THE MIME LIVE IN LA @ The Upright Citizen's Brigade @ 8pm. For more info click here.
San Francisco: Comedienne Sandra M. Risser, Dec 28, 800pm, $8, The Stand-Up Show, Sacramento Comedy Spot, 1050 20th St, Sacramento. More info.
Tuesday, Jan 15, Danny Dechi's Comedy Stars Pro Showcase at Neck Of The Woods! - Great line-up! (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
"What Would Jerry Seinfeld Do?" on Salon.com. Written by Andy Cowan. an award-winning writer, producer and performer, whose credits include "Cheers," "Seinfeld" and "3rd Rock From the Sun." He can be reached through his website, upanddownguys.com.
RIFF-erendum - The Steven Pearl and Al Clethen Interviews
ODDZ 'N ENZ: Next week, review of Nato Green @ The Punchline. To have your comedy show reviewed or hire: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hollywood film or 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 & on Facebook. Never take life too seriously, you'll never get out of it alive!!! SAG, SF, 12/27/12
December 9, 2012 | 4:34 pm
Posted by Steven Alan Green
“It’s pretty telling of your character as a person when you describe the ladies who gave you 20 dollars for you foundation 'unsuspecting victims'. You should rename the Heckler Fund what it really is: The Steven Alan Green Fund. There wont be a show at the Castro Theater. It’s a false pich just like the Hollywood Bowl show or you riding your bike to Vegas for a show. Just more hype to get money in your pocket. Folks who don’t know you (like the old ladies who gave you the 20) give you donations because you pitch them on your pie in the sky ideas and they believe you. They probably are fooled by your fake sincerity, which is as real as you awful British accent.
Enjoy the fail.”
Comment by Geri Luis on 12/02/12 at 8:35 am
Yeah, folks, that’s the thanks I get. A nasty comment on last week's blog, replete with typos and misspellings and sent to me by someone calling themselves, “Geri Luis”. Look at that. “Enjoy the fail” Geri says. And, in case you’re wondering, ladies and gentlemen, I did not post this comment at The Jewish Journal; nor did I have a confederate do so in my stead. I swear on both my parents' graves I did not post this negative comment. I just woke up, checked the popularity count on the blog and had to read this vile nonsense. And, I’ll admit, even though I was warned to ignore it; it got to me. I tried to email email@example.com, but the email bounced back; meaning the account was probably closed. So, in an effort to set the record straight, I’d like to take this time to address Geri Luis directly through my blog, Enjoy the Veal.
Dear Worthless Scum:
You are an idiot. First, of all, let’s start with how transparent you are. The very fact that you even know about my attempt at a show at the Hollywood Bowl, or riding my bike to Vegas or my “awful British accent” means, by definition, you read my blog, and read it with great frequency. So, the first question I’ll ask you, Mr. Luis (assuming you are a man; and actually, you’re probably not in any sense), I ask you first off the bat: Who taught you how to read and write? ‘Cause you ain’t a very good one. You’re passionate, and I like that, but you’re lazy. Typos and syntax errors aside, I felt your letter lacked a certain….let me think…a certain “spark of resonance”. There was nothing revealing in your letter, which would inspire anyone else, but you – an obvious semi-literate with too much time on your hands (are you currently incarcerated?), to join arms with you and rattle their burning torches at Comedy Frankenstein. Nothing. You sound to me like a child who never grew up, which of course, makes me think of the real Jerry Lewis, but I don’t think this is him. Jerry Lewis – perhaps the greatest comedian and comedy filmmaker of all time (and my former best buddy) has conveniently forgotten me. So, "Geri Luis", I don’t know who you are, what you are, who you think you are, who you may be. And, frankly, I don’t give a rat’s fuck. But, you do bring up some good points and I’d like to address those points and I thank you for writing in and keep reading Enjoy the Veal. Glad you’re enjoying it!
“It’s pretty telling of your character as a person when you describe the ladies who gave you 20 dollars for you foundation “unsuspecting victims”. You should rename the Heckler Fund what it really is: The Steven Alan Green Fund.”
Okay, let’s take it psychotic paragraph by psychotic paragraph. (again, a typo: should be “your” foundation, not “you” foundation) The implication from your opening paragraph is that I’m a scam artist. You’re right. I am. But, not in the way you are implying. I not only run a tight ship, I am the ship. With the exception of a few very-busy-with-other-things, but dedicated people, I not only run The Laughter Foundation, I am the Laughter Foundation. It’s all me. The ladies who gave me the 20 bucks were helping a cause I convinced them to help and every smart person out there knows, that when you give money to street campaigners, those campaigners are doing it as a paid job. I know. I once worked for a company that sent us out, soliciting unsuspecting shoppers as they exited Whole Foods to help Amnesty International because, “There is a woman in Iran who is going to be executed tomorrow morning unless you help right now!” It was fairly easy to get people’s attention with that kind of international emergency in their face. But, it was my second day at work and third day at work, when I noticed we were still supposed to say, “There is a woman in Iran,” etc., etc., “who is going to be executed 'tomorrow' unless you help right now!” By the fifth day, I was asking myself and my bosses, “How many women in Iran named blah, blah, blah, are going to be executed tomorrow?” And, of course, I was actually pissed off they didn’t execute the woman, even though it meant I’d be out of a job. Nothing personal. So, that was a lie and a scam to get people’s attention. Do I think Amnesty International does good, great and important work? You bet your ass I do. I wasn't working for Amnesty International. I was working for a company that was contracted to supply street campaigners. Let’s be clear about that and when I have money again, I will support Amnesty International financially as best as I can. I think they are the heroes of conscience of the day.
Do you think it’s easy going out there in the street and pitching perfect strangers like this? It’s not. People are downright assholes about it, they don’t want to be bothered, and I don't blame them. I learned long ago, that I cannot pitch or sell anything I do not fully understand and fully believe in. One of the day-jobs I applied for in LA was to sell water purification systems to film studios. In the recruitment meeting, they said they had, “…the exclusive rights” to sell their product. They emphasised this point. I raised my hand. “Uh, when you say, exclusive….just so I can answer the customer, should they ask, do you mean exclusive for Southern California? California? The entire US?” They didn’t invite me back. I asked too many questions. Because most of what's out there these days are scams of some sort. But, I believe in The Laughter Foundation. The Laughter Foundation is not a scam. We have a proven track record. Historically, The Laughter Foundation has saved a comedian and single mom, Aubrey Kapree and her little kid Sklyer, from eviction. We started an online campaign through our Heckler Fund to raise all her back rent and legal fees. We were only able to raise her legal fees, but that was enough to delay and then stop the eviction. We saved a single mom, someone I never bet beforehand, and her little 8-year old boy from eviction. How's that for a slice of fried gold? We’ve given cash to TV personality and comedian Suzanne Whang, who has Stage Four Cancer and cancer meds are expensive. It wasn’t a lot of money, but Suzanne was brought to tears when she accepted the money on stage at a benefit in Los Angeles, because there was an entity there that cared for comedians. And, let me be very clear. Jamie Masada, who runs The Laugh Factory, has an open-house Thanksgiving dinner for stand-ups and he’s been doing it for years. Jamie helps a lot of comedians in many ways and doesn’t publicize it. And, Budd Friedman, although he and I have a negative history, I would guess with all my heart that Budd, and his former partner Mark Lonow, have helped numerous stand-ups. Over the years, I’ve personally given many stand-up comedians meals and places to stay, whether it’s in my apartment when I’m out of town or on my couch when I’m there, those comedians have had a place to sleep for the night. I’ve given several of them cash. Thousands. (when I had it) This is what comics do. We help each other. I’m a comedian too. Let’s not forget that. For 30 years, I’ve toured the best comedy clubs and universities, performing stand-up comedy, all throughout North America and in Great Britain. I was on television at least 3 times in the UK and was employed by the BBC. So, yes, Geri, when those two lovely ladies gave the 20 bucks, I went and had a nice meal. I was hungry. I deserve help too. I've paid my dues.
Have you ever built something? Have you? What have you ever created or built in your life? Anything? Because if you had done, then you would be admiring what I’m trying to do, not attacking me. It’s hard to do what I do. I’ve produced four Laughter Foundation benefits in LA, and after production expenses and replenishing our Heckler Fund to help specific comedians, I’ve been in the hole financially every single time. But, that doesn’t matter. I’m building a brand. I’m trying to get people’s attention. Ask me why I started the Laughter Foundation. Go ahead, Schmucko. Ask me. Was it only because after going through a literally life-threatening situation – all because I didn’t have health care in America (but had it in the UK from the UK government!) and wanted to help provide health care to all comedians? No. Was it because I envisioned a world-class museum to study and exhibit the art, history and science of Comedy. Nope. Was it so I could schmooze with the greatest modern comedians around? No sir. The answer is a lot more cynical than that. I needed a job. A job I could get to because I no longer had Los Angeles driving privileges. A job that was essentially a sales job, but not a scam. I made loads of money in the 1980’s in telemarketing. Office supplies. We all know that scam. But, I was not a scammer. Unlike my employers who offered one thing and did another, I was honest. I made big sales and livened dead accounts. I wrote a quarter-million in 1981. I was damn good. And my company delivered quality guaranteed merchandise; although at a very inflated price and at enormous unnecessary volume. That was the Office Supply business. I didn’t create it, I just worked there and I was amongst the best of them. And, I took the job seriously and opened my own company and helped friends and family. High On Laughter is another of my brand. “HOL” benefits a drug and alcohol charity launched by Princess Diana. Turning Point Scotland takes average teenage kids, who by sheer bad luck, happened to have been born and raised in one of the heroin capitals of the world, Glasgow, Scotland. Ken Blackie and Netta McGiver do great work, although my understanding is that Netta has moved on. (Hi Ken.) Turning Point Scotland, unlike you, is real. Take the time to see this short video. It's background and show clips, including George Wendt, "Norm" from Cheers and a pre-famous Zach Galifianakis, both of whom I brought to the UK. I produced three HOL shows, from August, 2,000 to September 2002, which was the end of the line for HOL when Jerry Lewis busted the bank, sabotaging the show. Jerry cost me a quarter of a million dollar business, which eventually toppled over my home, the only home I ever owned. And, after going through a lifetime of family turmoil, a home of my own was my literal sanctified church. We all see the contemporary old Jerry Lewis. The fragile man who must be shielded from "nut-jobs" like me. What you don’t see is what I not only saw, but dealt with ten years ago. When I asked Jerry to help me save my home from repossession three years ago, he laughed at me. I was only asking, maybe 1/10th of the money I doled out to him, on the understanding that he was to “give me two weeks of publicity” and then to appear on stage, sing three songs with the orchestra I provided, and accept an award from Hollywood comedy star Bobcat Goldthwait and Pierre Etaix, whom I flew in from Paris. Instead, Jerry reneged on any and all publicity, pulled out of the show four times (which made me look like an idiot for taking him back each time), didn’t bring his sheet music, screamed at me in front of everybody, locked himself in the London Palladium dressing room, had alcohol going back there, tried to have me thrown out of my own theatre and then “collapsed” just at the perfect moment, never going to the hospital and flying back to America the next day, never to contact me again, not even to say thanks. Four days in London and that son-of-a-bitch not only cost me my business, but my home, which was financing it. Read more from the BBC. So, I’ve never done anything for a comedian? How about flying over a dozen American comedians to London, including unknown-then-but-now-he’s-a-star-Zach Galifiniakis? Zach did two of the three HOL shows; and I'm greatful to him. Zach was great.
Much like life, Show Biz is one big lie. “I’ve got so and so attached to my film!” Fuck you, you don’t and who cares. And this is where I come in. I’m the real deal in a land of confederates. I actually have produced big things. A live comedy show at The London Palladium, starring Jerry Lewis and a cavalcade of British and American stand-ups, including big-time movie-star Zach Galifiniakis and touring stand-up big-wig Jim Gaffigan, which was partially broadcast on Bravo UK. Here, check out the 5-min HOL III highlight reel of what was a great show, in SPITE of Jerry Lewis backstage, acting like a big unprofessional diva baby. (And, by the way, word up, Hollywood Big-Wigs, I still am sitting on over 3 hours of broadcast quality, never been broadcast great comedy show. 15 British and American comedians. Call me!) When my car first got towed away, I was trying to raise money to get it out by bringing my friends together for a benefit show, just to help me. It was called, "High On Laughter Four Me". And, a lot of them came through. Rick Overton, Wendy Liebman, and ten others. I called up the manager of one of the comedians whom I brought to the London Palladium. This comedian was now a rising star in the world of stand-up comedy. Don’t remember the name of the manager and don’t care. I’ll never speak with him again. I told him that I had brought his client (not Zach) to London a few years earlier and now that he was a famous comedian, I am asking for help to get my car out of the tow yard. You know what the manager told me? He told me that I couldn’t have his client because his client appearing in my benefit, would (and I quote), “eat into his client’s Los Angeles market”, meaning that if I were to get the client and then marquee his name, on a show with a dozen other comedians, then when his client plays another nearby venue on his own, those people who already came to see him on my show, would not come to his show. What bullshit. And what thanks. And, yet, I still want to help comedians? I must be nuts.
There wont be a show at the Castro Theater. It’s a false pich just like the Hollywood Bowl show or you riding your bike to Vegas for a show. Just more hype to get money in your pocket.
The Hollywood Bowl was reserved for April 1, 2011. My co-producer, Marc Weingarten, and I put together a plan and worked tirelessly for seven months, booking the show, putting together a budget and searching for sponsors. Starting with Roseanne (who came on board because she hates Jerry Lewis so much and had sympathy for me), I was able to get “soft commitments” from Penn & Teller, Margaret Cho, Bill Maher, Tim Allen, Dane Cook, Robin Williams and Conan O’Brien”. Nobody was committing or allowing me to use their name publicly. It was simply a polite, “Yes, sounds like a great cause, and should you get the money together, please contact us again and we’ll see if our client is available then.” Do you know what that even means? They fucking responded to me. They (the managers and agents I now have to go through) don’t know me and they get hit up every single day from this person and that person who wants to use their clients. Their job is to say “No”. That’s their job. The fact that I got a bunch of “maybe’s” is a great accomplishment. We just never got the production money, which I had hoped would be an insurance company, because it was about health care for comedians. Same thing with the show at The Smith Center in Vegas, but with that one, we couldn’t get the names. And, I was trying to make a film. “Peddling to Vegas” was going to be three weeks of me pedaling my bicycle 305 miles from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, culminating with the big show at the Smith Center. Having to suddenly take up bicycling as my main mode of transportation in car-minded Los Angeles in my mid-fifties was very daunting, but I did it, peddling as much as twenty miles a day. The plan for the film was for me to ride 30-50 miles a day, stop off somewhere, have a little adventure, meet a desert mystic (played by the great Rick Overton), meet this lost tribe or whatever and just contemplate the moon as to how I ended up here; and all of it culminating in the big show at the 2,000-seat Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas. Don’t forget, I had a very serious nervous breakdown and wanted to kill myself. When you get to a place like that? The only way to survive is to keep on pedaling. Create something. Something good that will benefit other people, as well as yourself.
The problem, my very stupid friend, is that you seem to not just be forgetting the facts, but in fact, have no clue as to how ShowBiz works. Though some might disagree, in my opinion, the bigger word is “Show”. Producing is basically like throwing a party at your house. You don’t call each potential guest up and say, “Hey, I’m having a party this weekend and I haven’t invited anyone yet, you’re the first person I’m calling. Anyway, would you like to come?” Obviously, that wouldn’t work. So you send out dozens of invitations, hoping that a percentage will even respond and some of those can make it. You are giving the illusion the party is gonna be jumpin’; that’s what a producer does. The only thing stopping me from reaching my goal for the establishment of The Laughter Foundation is when I pay too much attention to nitwits like yourself. Yes, I am currently benefitting from The Laughter Foundation. After all, I am President, so there is my salary. And, I’m a client. I’m a comedian. For the show at the Castro Threatre, April 1, 2013, we are going to be replenishing The Heckler Fund to help three specific comedians (other than me) who need help. It’s gonna be a great show and a sell-out. Everything’s looking good at time of publication of this blog. I already sold two sponsorships. One to a mobile app company and the other to a 30-year San Francisco Comedy tradition. Mobile app “Court-O-Rama” and San Francisco’s Comedy Day, which is a decades old tradition, where a hundred thousand people celebrate comedy in Golden Gate Park. Please check out our Sponsorship page, you douchebag. Plus, I am applying for national corporate sponsorship and will be launching a Kickstarter program. And, if we get lucky and have a big sponsor, I'll probably have to drop the use of the perjorative "douchebag"; therefore, I'll use it up while I still have time. Douchebag. You, "Geri Luis" are a first-rate douchebag of the highest order.
I don’t know about you, Geri Luis, by I, like many people I know, have dreams. And, what is a dream? A fantasy that hasn’t happened yet. Like you getting laid. I was able to envision High On Laughter at the London Palladium, a night honoring Jerry Lewis. I pulled that together, all except Jerry Lewis making it the few extra feet to the stage. But, 15 great comedians performed and many of them got broadcast on television for the first time thanks to me and my efforts. All I know is that I’m gonna do my best. And, it's a learning curve, for sure. I’ve got great people surrounding me and the idea of The Laughter Foundation is a great one. But, you know what? You bring up a good point. I’m broke. I’ve got money “coming in”, but right now I’m two weeks behind in my $185/week rent at the cold guest house and I don’t know how I’m gonna even pay for food in two days. Not exagerating. In fact, if I don't get some money soon, not only am I gonna be out on the street, but there's gonna be a woman executed in Iran tomorrow morning. So, yeah, I’m gonna hit the streets and I’m gonna sell my guts out. And, if you’re so inclined, if I’ve turned you around and now convinced you of my worth, both as Enjoy the Veal blog writer and as folk hero Laughter Foundation dude, then please make an online donation to me directly. Not to The Laughter Foundation this time. Help me directly. 5 bucks. 50, if you want. And thank me and pay me for writing a very entertaining blog. You, are the ligger. You are the parasite, enjoying Enjoy the Veal and not paying for it. In fact, to my entire worldwide audience, please, show me you love me. Please make a small donation. (Info on how to donate at the end of my rant.) It really would make me feel a lot better about assholes like the one I’m writing to. Plus, I really could use the money!!
Compliments are flowing in on how good a writer some people think I am. Here are just a handful:
“You are ONE funny writer----Everything I read of yours makes me laugh and think---Not just the kind words about me....But the insights you have for the Comedy racket...You’re Barbara Hersey---we are beaches.” – Taylor Negron; comedian and actor
"SAG is a maven of comedy. He makes stream of consciousness look easy. He makes belligerence fun. He makes taking comedy seriously lighthearted. He makes me laugh." -- Beth Lapides; creater and producer of Uncabaret (and Sex Goddess, IMHO)
"Thanks, Steven. Great reviews! It’s so refreshing when someone actually listens, cares, and articulates." – Cathy Ladman, stand-up comedian, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, HBO, Craig Ferguson.
"Entertaining, informative, honest and hilarious! Keep up your sumptuous banquet of delectable observations, insights and obsessions. Each blog delivers a veritable cornucopia of surprises. Your writing is more than just comfort food — it’s an array of morsels that can satiate even a glutton’s appetite for guilty pleasures! More, more, Mr. Green!" –- Julian Krainin, Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA winning film producer of Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show”.
"This is absolutely inspired stream of consciousness! Hysterical, funny, biting, insightful, grandiose. A surreptitiously diplomatic narrative smart enough to sanely and ultimately further his own self interests. Greene is a brilliant but fatefully undisciplined comic genius, grabbing the baton, (i.e. QWERTY keyboard in this case) from the likes of J. Hunter Thompson and Norman Mailer (Think “Fire on the Moon”). Even if you don’t follow it all, its a wonderful run-away train ride consisting of his painful life experiences, his attitudes, observations and especially his misgivings. Kudos and hosannas!! About THAT, there are no misgivings on our part!" -- Danny & Joe (I don’t know who Danny & Joe are, but I LIKE them!)
"Nice writing!" – Martin Olson, Disney Animation Studios Head Writer Phineas and Ferb.
"Brilliant review of Ms. Karam's tour de force, sir." – Bill Zehme, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Playboy, Rolling Stone contributor and writer of the New York Times bestseller, “The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Living.
"Steven Alan Green possesses the kind of writing that reminds you of when better writers were in the fore. He has a twist to the twist of phrase, that is his own. I am a big fan of his words." – Rick Overton, comedian & actor, HBO and Soderbergh's, "The Informant".
"SAG is better than a union of thousands of actors. He's a one-man army of unrelenting enthusiasm, humor and grit." – Hank Rosenfelt; author of "The Wicked Wit of the West".
I’m still struggling financially, but that's Showbiz. I need work done on my teeth. I’m worried how I’m gonna pay my rent, my phone. I’m searching constantly for day jobs. I’ve applied everywhere. The only thing which brings me consistent money is The Laughter Foundation. It’s a business. Yes, it’s helping me now, mostly. But, that’s okay, I’m a comedian. I’ve accomplished a lot and deserve a hand. I’ve helped many people in the past. When we produce an event, such as the Castro, it goes through our Fiscal Receiver, because we’re not an official 501(c)3 just yet. We pay a 10% fee for that service. And, one of things we want to raise money for is for "admin", and specifically the $1,000 or so we need to apply for our own 501 status. If people want to give directly to me (as they have) I'd be very greatful. And, if anyone donates to me personally, through my PayPal account, $25 or more, you get a free ticket to the show at the Castro April 1, 2013. This is a limited time offer. Did those two old ladies get tricked by me? Did I lie to them that I was helping comedians? I don’t think so. Because, even if the money I got I used to feed myself and not anyone else, that’s helping other comedians, because it keeps me, the person running The Laughter Foundation, alive, so that the company can grow and one day help hundreds of comedians. That’s why I’m producing the show at the Castro. To help launch the foundation into reality. I’m not ashamed, nor should I be, for “lining my own pockets”. I’m doing good work. Why shouldn’t I be paid for that work? Then again, maybe it is all a scam. After all the show, "Comedy: The New C Word" takes place April 1, 2013 @ The Castro Theatre in San Francisco. But according to the Mayans, there will be no show. All comedy shows cancelled due to the upcoming End of the World. I hope I’ve explained and answered your stupid unfounded accusations, Geri Luis, whomever you may really be. When you accomplish something great in your life, you let me know. In the meantime, let me leave you with some words of wisdom I once learned from my Gramma Anna.
“Go fuck yourself.”
And, Merry Christmas to the real Jerry Lewis.
The Great (and a little late) Steven Alan Green, at your service!
(Donation info at end of blog, just before Facebook Tweets.....THANKS, SUCKERS!!)
Dan Dion is a world-reknowned rock n' roll and comedy photographer, who happens to keep his long lens where he lives, in the Bay Area. Dan is internationally reknowned as the world's most prolific portrait photographer of comedians, and is the long-standing house photographer at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium, here in San Francisco. Dan's snaps have been featured in Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Spin, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire and Variety. In May, 2010, his first book was published by Harper Collins, a collaboration with comic and filmmaker Paul Provenza, ¡Satiristas! was met with high critical acclaim. Dan's portraits wrap the walls of the finest comedy clubs in the country, including San Francisco's Cobb's and the Punch Line, and Gotham Comedy Club in New York City. I connected with Dan, when I was still in LA, plotting and planning my San Francisco adventure, reaching out to anyone I knew or could connect through Facebook. As a former stranger to me, Dan was very friendly and helpful, leading me to believe, since I was hailing an attitude cab from LA, he wasn't the genuine article. However; to my delightful surprise, Dan is more than the genuine article. He's the entire newspaper. Creative, prolific, calm and a true orginial. That's how I would describe him to the police. And, though I don't like to lift the veil completely, in terms of whom I know, who is my friend and who hates me nearly as much as I hate myself, I am proud to say openly that I am gay. Not true. But, were I gay, I would be openly proud. Where was I.... Oh yeah! I am proud to say Dan is a friend. So, given that you trust me, and I'm not just out there to boost and network (anymore than I am here to attack and tear-down) please allow me, with great professional pleasure, to introduce to you, The David Bailey of Comedy, Mr. Dan Dion.
SAG: What made you get into photography and when?
DD: It seems I've always been "into" it- when I took my first photos of family and friends I got the bug. Professionally, I began work at a portrait studio when I was 18.
SAG: Who are more interesting to shoot, Rock n Rollers or Comedians? - and why?
DD: For me, I like comedians because I understand their art in a different way. While I'm not a musician, I think that comedy is a part of my life every day, even though I'm not a stand-up. The musicians that I shoot are at such a high level, that while I have access to them, they're not really "accessible" in the way that comedians are. And I think that I can represent comedians in an image the way that musicians can't be.
SAG: Who are more easy to deal with? - and why?
DD: Comedians are easier for me because they trust me- I have a different kind of reputation with them. Famous musicians have levels of gatekeepers that you have to get through, and by the time you get there, the subject has his own walls up. That said, with my work for The Fillmore for example, I'm often getting them right before or after they get onstage, so I get a more honest portrait, as opposed to a magazine shoot, for example, with a makeup artist, wardrobe stylist, etc.. And comics want to work with me, whereas most musicians feel that photo shoots are a necessary annoyance.
SAG: What qualities do you try and draw out of any subject?
DD: I want my portraits to be honest, and represent who that person really is, not necessarily their stage persona. Shooting Lewis Black, for example- my shot is of him smiling and flipping the bird, not looking angry and rantish. He says it's his favorite photo of himself, which for me is the greatest compliment.
SAG: Without naming names, who was the most difficult to shoot?
DD: The self-image issue with some women is sometimes tough to deal with. I may think a shot is perfect, but she doesn't like the way her eyebrows look. I find women lovely in so many different ways, that it's disheartening to hear the way they think about themselves sometimes. It's so unfortunate that so many women can't see their own beauty.
SAG: What's the weirdest shooting scenario you've ever experienced?
DD: Perhaps the Jim Rose Circus. That's pretty weird. But then there's GWAR, the Genitorturers, and other erotic novelty acts. I did once have to shoot 25 Irish wolfhounds in a bar, so that was...different.
SAG: Who would you like to shoot more than anyone? (aside from the bill collector)
DD: Undoubtedly, a portrait of Tom Waits is at the top of my list.
SAG: When working on ¡Satiristas!, you were shooting a bunch of contemporary intellectual comedy rebels; modern day folk heroes. Was there a special challenge there, whereby you may have felt extra pressure to get the essence of the subject, without making it look too friendly, funny or just damn commercial?
DD: Thankfully, it already suited my style, because I rarely go out to take "funny" pictures, unless it's a concept shoot for CD/DVD or specific promo. I usually go for a smart look and that perfectly suits satirists, who get annoyed when photographers portray them as clowns. You can't shoot P.J. O'Rourke, Paul Mooney, or Marc Maron as joke monkeys.
SAG: You have snapped nearly a 1,000 comedians in your day. Over how many years is that?
DD: It started in 1992 when I worked at the Holy City Zoo and has been pretty much non-stop ever since. It just kind of snowballed- once comics saw my shots of their friends, more and more of them wanted to shoot with me, to the point where I don't have to bring my portfolio around anymore- which is nice.
SAG: How have comedians changed their looks or the way they want to be seen?
DD: Ten years ago we were still in the age of black and white 8x10s. That has changed dramatically. Color is the name of the game now, and comics have gone way beyond headshots. I like to think I had a small hand in that, as they've gone more towards portraits with personality.
SAG: Who are more concerned with image: comedians or musicians?
DD: Musicians expect to look cool. Comics are grateful if you make them look cool. Musicians are confident, whereas a lot of comics are insecure about their image, so if you can make something that dispels that insecurity, you've got a friend for life.
SAG: If you could go back in time, which comedian (living or dead) would you like to photo?
DD: Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, or Peter Sellers.
SAG: Explain why a good photo is so important for an artist?
DD: Well, different photos do different things. At a crass level, as a selling tool, the right photo can get you a lot of press coverage. If it's your DVD cover, the image is HUGE, because you're concerned about what will make people pick it up at Wall-Mart. For a touring comic, a great image will get published in the calendar section of newspapers wherever you're playing, which makes the difference between a tiny listing and a featured selection. That's some concrete money shit right there.
SAG: What makes an iconic shot?
DD: Honesty, spontaneity, context. Those all help. And it seems to me that people feel portraits of artists when they're younger seem to have more value. Or rather, lesser-known. Before they're hugely famous.
SAG: How much of what you do is by accident?
DD: Nothing. I'll sometimes get surprising results from musician performance shots, but accidental shots just aren't how I work.
SAG: How has working strictly digital changed your work?
DD: The conservation of film is a thing of the past. Digital greatly impacted concert photography. Whereas I may have shot three rolls of chrome film before, now I can shoot the equivalent of 30 rolls in three songs. Plus before, when shooting slide film, you had to nail your exposure. If you were a stop off, your image was garbage. Now you can use all kinds of digital tricks to salvage a poor exposure.
SAG: Tell us about your future plans and projects.
DD: Survival. I'll let you know how that works out.
SAG: What's the biggest mistake you ever made photographing somebody?
DD: Besides not loading the camera with film? (R.E.M.- figured it out about a song in to the concert.) Early in my career, probably around 1994, I was doing a quick portrait of Ray Romano, and had to use the available light. I used a footlight that was on the ground and he said "Isn't that going to look terrible?" I said no- it would be fine. It looked terrible. There's a reason uplight is called "Frankenstein Lighting".
SAG: Does a comedian have to be naturally good looking to be a good photo subject?
DD: Absolutely not. "Naturally Good Looking" is boring to me. Character is interesting and beautiful to me.
SAG: Do you try and set the comedian in a shooting locale and a set that reflects or enhances who they are?
DD: That's the essence of what a location portrait artist does.
SAG: If you had to choose between photographing John Lennon or Lenny Bruce, which one would you choose?
DD: Can't say on that one. How about some kind of hybrid clone? John Lenny Bruce?
Dan Dion has the soul of a comedian; his microphone is his camera and in a very real sense, Dan's been on the comedy stage, performing through his photography, anthropologically documenting not only stand-up comedians and rock musicians, but in a very real way, he documents us; the audience. Because after all, who we watch, who we listen to, who we laugh at; they are indeed a reflection of our dreams, our thoughts, our beliefs, our suspicions and our paranoia. Comedians, as Dan Dion continues to prove, are an exact reflection of who we are, as people. And, no matter how you frame it, that's the funny truth.
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green, 12/9/12
Catch The Musical Image - Recption for 20-Year Music Photography Retrospective by Dan Dion @ Madrone Art Bar, 500 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, California 94117. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO & Dan Dion's website.
ENJOY THE VEAL PHOTO GALLERY LEGEND:
Zach: Backstage at the Fillmore after his big closing number. Such a fun night. Perfect after-show vibe.
George Carlin: When interviewing with Paul Provenza for our book ¡SATIRISTAS!, George said it was the photo he wanted to be remembered by. Three weeks later he died. So bittersweet.
Seinfeld: Backstage at The Paramount in Oakland. Jerry said he loves this photo because it makes him look like Buster Keaton.
Mike Meehan: Back in 1992 at the Holy City Zoo- the first time I took a shot of a comedian that I felt showed how photography can convey what comedy really is, and not just the artifice or the act. It's haunting, I think.
Russell Brand: After a show at Cobb's. Aesthetically speaking, it has all the elements of a great shot- light, shadow, composition, mood, pose...sex. But I also love that his set list is written on his hand.
Tenacious D.: Clown princes of acoustic hard rock, and supreme humorsicians, The D. rules the land.
Lewis Black: Look closely and you'll see the ghosted bird being flipped. That's on the original black and white neg- not Photoshopped, and not by accident.
Greg Proops: A portrait befitting "The Smartest Man in the World" and quite possibly the funniest. I'd stack his stand-up against anyone's. I was looking for a Hollywood glamour shot, and managed to get the smoke just right.
Spinal Tap: I will never....ever.... be cooler than I was at that moment- hanging out with Tap.
Photo credit of Dan Dion's portrait: Alex Shonkoff.
And, now a new section to Enjoy the Veal....
TALES FROM THE COMEDY CRYPT! -
With Ritch Shydner
"Shyde" has done it all. One of America's greatest stand-ups in the last 50 years; only, he's not that old. Ritch Shydner (along with fellow stand-up comedian Mark Schiff) created, "I Killed: True Stories from the Road from America's Top Comics" (Random Hosue) Shyde shares with Enjoy the Veal one of his own incredible showbiz stories. Take it away, Ritch!
In 1986, Robert Palmer did an industry show for his hit single, “Addicted to Love,” at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go on Sunset Strip. Industry crowds are notoriously difficult to please and engage, so someone at William Morris thought it a good idea to have a comic lay on the barbed wire for Mr. Palmer. There was no pay, but the gig was sold to me as a favor to the music depart-ment and a great opportunity to be seen by some of Hollywood’s Boozers and Fakers. No one greeted me at the crowded club that night. After a frustrating search for someone in charge that matched Martin Sheen’s in Apocalypse Now, I approached the sound man. He told me to stand by the stage for his signal. A few minutes later the sound man waved for me to go onto the stage. Thinking he wanted me in motion for the introduction, I walked slowly while he waved me forward. This continued until I stood behind the microphone. I stared at him. He stared right back at me. After a very long moment he thrust both hands toward me, and nodded his head vigorously which I interpreted as the international rock and roll signal for, “What are you waiting for, idiot?! Go! Go!” No introduction, no lighting change, but I dutifully launched into my first joke anyway. It got nothing, neither did the second, third or fourth; not a laugh, a chuckle, or a groan. My amplified voice bounced off a solid bed of loud conversations. Right in front of the stage stood Jack Nicholson, whispering into the ear of Whoopi Goldberg. Everywhere I looked there were stars, all talking to each other. It was a big show biz cocktail party and I was the carved ice sculpture in the center of the room. The most I got was a glance while they sipped from their drinks. I dipped into my deep well of self-doubt and ladled self-deprecating jokes to the crowd. In an effort to protect the future of my material, I created imaginary dialogue for the conversations happening all around me. The savers and the improvisation got a single laugh here and then another one over there. Whenever there was a laugh, I aimed my next joke in that direction hoping to build on that tiny success. It was a futile game of comedic whack-a-mole.
It had been years since my last bombing, but here I was experiencing a major ass-kicking. I entered that vortex where the chill from the lack of laughter eventually freezes time. I think Einstein called it, “Stagengefucked”. Then with no warning, and while I was still talking, the sound man interjects with a booming voice, “Let’s have a hand for comedian Ritch Shydner.” For a brief moment the whole room went silent, everyone looked at me and then returned to their conversations. The guy skipped the intro, but made sure everyone got the name of the ship they just witnessed burning and sinking. I left the stage as I took it, without one bit of applause. The crowd parted for the leper. Eyes averted mine. Bodies recoiled from any possible contact. Hollywood always treated failure like a communicable disease. I was a carrier, a career killer. Before I turned onto Downer Road to begin the long drive to Depression Gorge, a young man with a brilliant smile stepped into my path. “Hey, that took a lot of courage to do what you did up there.” Donny Osmond shook my hand and then disappeared into the crowd. One person offered one bit of acceptance, and the lame was healed. I ran to the Improv stage and let fresh laughter wash away the stink. (RS 12/12/12)
That's about it this week, folks, I hope you've enjoyed Enjoy the Veal this week. And, many many great things ahead, including my exclusive interview with Comedy Podcast Hero (and Laughter Foundation supporter) Brian Sontag! Plus, many more reviews of the San Francisco Comedy Scene while it still welcomes my sorrowful soul. You know, I hate to drag anyone down. I know I'm belly-aching, and it's true, I am. But, I'm not just hurting financially. I'm hurting down to my very soul. All I ever wanted to be, ever since I was a little kid was a comedian. I've pissed a few people off along the way and have had my great Icrarusian adventures. And, yet, I feel like I'm just geting started. I don't know if I'll ever get an apology from Jerry Lewis; probably not. Everybody tells me what a bastard he is. Good for him. I hope he lives out his remaining years loved and respected. I do. That's because, no matter what, I care about comedians. You know why? I'll tell you why..... Because I care about Comedy. And, you want to know why I care about Comedy? I care about Comedy because I care about the World. Thank you to all my readers, in 6 countries around the world and the combined total of approx. 3,000 people who follow Enjoy the Veal and The Laughter Foundation monthly. Please help me raise a little money until the TV commercial money comes in about a month. Here's me, Steven Alan Green, playing "the obnoxious American". A role, I was born to play. Shame on you Geri Luis. At least the real Jerry Lewis had the courtesy to yell at me directly.
Good night, folks. I'm outta here.
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green, San Francisco, 12/11/12
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
This is why I love San Francisco. Two cops just gave a homeless guy a $175.00 ticket for smoking in the same square they completely ignored two buck naked men.
Whenever I want to feel like I'm back home in England, I listen to BBC Radio 2. When I lived in England and wanted to feel like I was living in America, I listened to BBC Radio 2.
I'm as broke as Back Mountain.
I know invisible angels are helping me achieve my dream, I just wish they'd introduce themselves; they're starting to creep me out.
I pledge allegiance to the bills of the United Debt of America. And to the high interest, for which it demands, one nation under water, insurmountable, with bankruptcy and high taxes for all.
Joe Biden looks like a 1970's TV cowboy actor. Doug McClure, Tina Louise and Joe Biden in....The Outlaw from DC. Tonight's episode. Injuns: From VP to TeePee.
Forming rock band. Looking for guitar player with a hook or an eye patch. Musicianship not a criteria. Drug habit or mental illness a plus. Firearms license required. Satanic worshiping a bonus. No weirdos.
Santa is a redistributionist commie.
In the Afterlife, as in Life, whether you get to Heaven or go to Hell, is mostly a matter of office politics.
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Highly Recommended (I was high when I recommended it....JOKE!): The AMAZING Beth Lapides' UnCabaret show on Sunday! Great bill, including Jake Johannen, Tim Bagley, musical guests conniekim, The Goods, Marcella Detroit. More info on Facebook & Ticket info.
Highly Recommended - Sunday, Dec 23rd @ 730pm, Rick Overton & Friends @ The Improv on Melrose. Great line-up includes: Chris Pina (host), Kelly Carlin, Rick Shapiro, Gary Shapiro, Chris Bonno, Suzzane Whang, Bob Dubac, Dylan Brody, Carrie Snow. More info on Facebook.
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! More info on Facebook.
Cup o' Comedy at Emma's Coffee House hosted by Denny Dechi, Wed, Dec 13 @ 7pm 5549 Geary Blvd (corner of 20th Ave) (415) 933-6632, www.DannyDechi.com
The Comikaze Lounge: Dec. 19 @ 8PM at Cafe Royale, It's Free. The lineup includes Ron Funches, Ray Molina, Eloisa Bravo, Nick Palm, Cara Tramantano, Greg Asdorian, Stefani Silverman, and Kate Willett. More info on their website.
Nato Green headlines The Punchline, Dec 19 & 20th @ 8pm. Tickets: $15 at 415-397-7573 or thru the Punchline website.
ODDZ 'N ENZ:
To have your comedy show reviewed or hire your humble and always incredibly charming comedy writer or to complain about anything: firstname.lastname@example.org. To hire Steven for any Hollywood film or television writing jobs, please contact Noah Jones @ The Gersh Agency (310) 205-5836. Follow Enjoy the Veal on Facebook, and The Laughter Foundation and on Facebook. And remember, Never take life too serioiusly, you'll never get out of it alive!!!
Steven Alan Green, San Francisco, 12/12/12
November 29, 2012 | 6:27 pm
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 @ email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.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
November 14, 2012 | 7:09 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: email@example.com
To have your comedy show reviewed or hire your humble and always incredibly charming comedy writer or to complain about anything: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Never take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive!!"
11/15/12, San Francisco