Ever since I lived in New Orleans about twenty years ago, I had the feeling that I would love Savannah, Georgia.
In my mind it was going to be like all the good parts of New Orleans without the public drunkenness and abundance of frat boys exchanging beads for boobs. Side note, if you’ve always romanticized the idea of going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, ask yourself this question. Would I like to be stuck in the middle of the world’s largest obnoxious and anarchic frat party? If the answer is no, but you still want to see New Orleans when something else cool is happening, go any other time of the year because something cool is always happening. Go for Halloween or Jazz Fest. Those are both great alternatives. If they idea of being in a giant awful frat party is something you’d enjoy, then what are you doing on my website?
Okay, back to the point. When I saw Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which takes place in Savannah, I thought for sure, “This is it!” Savannah seemed to have all the historic beauty and character that I had imagined it would have.
One of my favorite things about doing comedy on the road is getting to see cool places I’d never get to see otherwise. I saw the Earth burp flaming gas in an oil town in North Dakota. I’ve been to the SPAM Museum in Minnesota twice. I’ve fallen in love with Madison, Wisconsin. And I finally got to go to Savannah, Georgia.
Last year my comedian traveling buddy Jeff Scheen and I rolled into Savannah, up from a handful of gigs in Florida in the late afternoon. We drove around until we found a good place to park near a huge park with tons of weeping willow trees and an enormous fountain. While walking around, we saw kids (young adults) LARPing with their foam weapons. It was awesome. It was like a peaceful New Orleans…and maybe it was because we were so close to the ocean, it was like a less ridiculously hot New Orleans!
That night we went to do our show at the Wormhole. I could tell by the posters in the window that this place was going to be cool. When we walked inside, I felt like I was home. It reminded me of the punk and metal clubs I spent so much time in as a teen and in my twenties both in Detroit and while doing my traveling with Gwar. It had so much character and history. So many great bands I love to this day have played there and were still playing there. The staff was friendly and you could tell they felt the same adoration for the place that I felt.
Jeff and I did two shows. The crowds were small, but a whole lot of fun. They were smart. They were enthusiastic. Yeah, one guy was maybe a little too enthusiastic and never caught on to the idea that it was more of a speech and less of a conversation, but he was good natured and enjoying himself without ruining the show.
Soon afterwards, Amy from the Wormhole texted me to tell me how much the staff enjoyed me as well as everyone who was in the audience that night. She asked when I could come back. I told her I’d return as soon as I could. When I was there, their sound guy and I talked about recording a CD. He’s recorded a lot of the bands that have gone through there and it sounded great.
Earlier this year, Amy, Steve the booker and I set into plan my return and CD taping. I’m recording my next CD over the course of two nights. One night in June, here in the metro Detroit area and then again on July 6th at the Wormhole in Savannah, Georgia…my home away from home.
I don’t agree with the idea that there’s no such thing as a bad audience. Comedy in itself is a ridiculously challenging art form. Think about it like this. You have one person relaying words to a group of people who have nothing in common other than the fact that they’re all in the same room at the same time. That one person has to not only try to relate to everyone, but do it while the wait staff is walking around, people are in various states of intoxication, money is being exchanged, and who knows what other baggage was brought into the equation before it even began.
Last year I did a show in front of a group whose mission was to create a safe internet environment for children. Before the show I was dreading it. I thought how on Earth could my silly potty mouth and socially incorrect song and dance act entertain these uptight assholes. They ended up being one of my favorite audiences of the year. I never hang out with people after the show because I’m painfully shy in crowds. I’d rather be in front of a crowd than inside of one. These people were great. They had a great sense of humor even when it was aimed at them….which it was. I know how every single story I tell on stage ends. I never know how some off the cuff riffing is going to end. I also don’t have a filter on my uncontrollable urge to say just about everything that pops into my head on stage. I’ve always been a person too who likes to see how far I can push things, so I’m sure I pushed them pretty far when I saw they were game for anything. It was a really fun night.
Last night I did a show in front of a group whose mission was to create a safe internet environment for children. Sound familiar? Remembering the last year experience and how great it was, I was confident and ready to go. I’ve often been praised for my ability to tailor my act to include whatever special group is in the audience. Before I went on, I grabbed one of their little pamphlets to see if there was anything I could talk about. I think what this group does is a very noble thing. I would never make fun of something like that. Here’s what I did find though….
These guys were big on acronyms, but maybe not the best at creating them. The pamphlet had three. M.E.S.S.A.G.E., R.E.S.P.E.C.T. and L.O.S.S.
I hit the stage and opened with my silly little piece that I like to do in Canada where I mistake the highway “Fatigue Kills Drivers” signs for a warning about a Montreal serial killer who targets motorists. Bam, the audience is on my side…but not nearly as much as they were the week prior. It’s been a two and a half hour long show already, they’re just tired. Let’s include them right away and start riffing about their acronyms….
I pull out the pamphlet, telling them that it’s good to have them there and I support what they do, but I have a problem with one thing. Their acronyms. The pamphlet starts with M.E.S.S.A.G.E. which stands for Motivational Educational Sexting Seminar Aimed at Getting kids Educated….or something equally clunky that neglects half the letters in the A.G.E. part. I suggested Motivational Educational Sexting Seminar for Youths, which is M.E.S.S.Y. but a lot less messy than what they have now.
Some laughs. It’s been a long night.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T….They had words for the R.E.S. part, but stopped before they got to the P.E.C.T. You can’t just quit on RESPECT halfway through the word. It isn’t just R.E.S. It’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T, find out what it means to me. Aretha Franklin taught us that!
Really? Less laughs than on M.E.S.S.A.G.E.?
And finally L.O.S.S…..not acronym at all. It’s like you bailed on this whole idea during R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Hopefully you’re raising money tonight to get a new copywriter because the one you have now doesn’t finish what they start.
She bailed on acronyms and the audience bailed on me.
Nothing for the rest of the show. I couldn’t get a read on them. Smart abstract heady stuff certainly wasn’t working….of course not, no one in the group apparently noticed that between the 100 of them they couldn’t finish their stupid acronyms. Dirty stuff worked with pockets of people, but completely turned off a huge majority of the crowd. They had zero sense of humor about themselves. And keep in mind, if you’ve never seen me perform, 9 times out of ten if there’s a victim in a joke, I make sure that victim is me.
And by the way, I know the acronyms were created by a “she” because about five minutes before I was done, she started bringing their raffle items up to the stage and placing them in front of me while I was still performing. I addressed that too…which didn’t deter her. Maybe her mind was deep in thought trying to figure out the rest of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
When I finished, she got up on stage and said, “Thanks for….that. I do like acronyms…blah blah blah.”
A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Annoyingly Complicated Resource Of Ninnies, Yutzes & Mother-effers.
Before the show I was talking to the other comedian about self fulfilling prophecies. He said sometimes he just feels like the show is going to stink and then it does. I suggested that was manifest destiny. Shortly after I certainly proved my case wrong. Optimistically I thought the show was going to be great. It’s a room I’m comfortable in. It’s a show I did entirely because I’m neurotic and if I didn’t perform less than a week before the CD taping on Thursday I’d fret and worry. I could have enjoyed a night off and done something fun. I ended up filling in on this gig for a friend…which now that I think about it, every time he and I have filled in for each other it’s been a disaster for us. Maybe F.R.I.E.N.D.S.H.I.P. is over rated. Find Really Intense Endeavors Needing Dependable Showmen Handling Impatient People?
I just launched the Kickstarter for this new album. You can pledge to this project by clicking here.
If you don’t know what Kickstarter is, it’s a way to support a project and in this case basically just preorder it. Based on the amount you support I’ve offered lots of additional perks from copies of the previous CD, your name included in the liner notes, a thank you card from my mom and even this shirt that people seem to be digging!
I decided to limit the shirt to 150 and make sure that it’s only available through this program. I’m not going to cheat either and do the same shirt but with 2014 next year or anything sly like that. This Ramones inspired Nerd Punk Comedy shirt will only be available through this offer.
I’m really proud of the new material. The first of the two CD recordings is next week and it looks like it’s already very close to selling out. I’m overwhelmed by the support from everyone and can’t thank you enough.
If you have any questions you can drop me a line at email@example.com.
I’m getting ready to record my third comedy CD and I’m super excited! This one is going to be recorded on June 6th at 8pm at Go Comedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale. Here’s the poster.
This new CD is going to be called “nowadays” and I’m really proud of the material. It’s a lot more personal than stuff I’ve written in the past. Since recording the second one, I got to work with Marc Maron a few times as well as Louis CK. You can’t share a stage with heavy hitters like that and not come out a better comedian. Here’s the pitch for “nowadays“….which I totally know doesn’t sound that funny on paper…I start looking inside my brain and talk about how and why I react to obstacles and the things that cause me stress and anxiety in my life. Don’t worry…there are still poop jokes. Oh…this is the rough version of what the cover for that CD will look like.
My last CD “Full Frontal Nerdity” is good. I think I developed more as a joke writer, but there isn’t really a definitive thru-line to the material. My favorite track on it is “Titty Bars” which to this day may be the most personal thing I ever wrote. It’s a surreal bit about how I’m afraid of topless bars because I’m worried something bad will happen to me if I go…meanwhile a whole slew of great things happen, but all I do is focus on the negative. Yep, that’s how my broken brain works.
My first CD “Mikey Pooh” is an okay first effort. I have a hard time listening to it, but a Gamestop manager recently told me that it was his favorite of mine because he could tell I was still managing a Gamestop myself at the time. What I do like about this album is that it has a beginning, middle and an end. It follows me through a fictional day and ends with callbacks to earlier bits. I think maybe the best stand up special ever is Eddie Murphy “Delirious” because when he hits that last joke you know it’s his last joke. So often when you watch stand up, it’s joke one, joke two, joke three, goodnight. Where did that come from?
“nowadays” will hopefully capture the best elements of my first two CDs. I feel like the writing is stronger and more personal than ever, but there’s also a real thru-line. The material goes in a logical flow and everything does wrap up at the end. In fact, I’ve written so much material for this album that I’ve been putting some newer bits on the back burner because they just didn’t fit the story I wanted to tell this time. The first two CDs were pretty much everything I had at the time.
I’ll have information really soon about how you can pre-order “nowadays”.
Thank you so much!
Maybe it’s nerves or the adrenaline rush of doing what we’ve waited all day long to do, but many comedians tend to talk a bit too fast on stage. Comedian and owner of the Komedy Korner, Leo DuFour once suggested when I got off stage that I slow down and enjoy my time like I would a delicious meal. Maybe that was a health tip and I’m forgetting that I was scarfing down a Poutine platter at the time….it was Canada after all. Let me find another example.
One of my best friends asked me after a show why I don’t speak on stage like I speak normally off stage. He was right. I didn’t believe in my material at the time so on stage I would yell and ram my jokes down the throats of the audience as quickly as I could.
We need to remember that we’re performing for people who more often than not are in various stages of inebriation. Maybe they’re stone cold sober, but there’s room noise around them so it’s hard to stay focused on you. When we speak slower there’s less of a gap for the audience to hurdle to catch up with you.
Dave Landau is both one of my funniest friends and funniest comedians from Michigan. He speaks on stage about a half a beat slower than he does in real life. I’d argue that in addition to being a great writer, another reason he’s so good at the craft is because he has a slow, clear delivery. His jokes are punchy and his timing is impeccable.
There’s also an added sense of confidence when you speak slower. Rushing reeks of desperation. Very early on in my comedy career Steve Brewer said, “What you say isn’t as important as how you say it.” To a degree I believe that’s true. Delivering “edgy” material confidently tends to make that material hit harder. If you show the audience that you’re not sure of what you’re saying, they won’t be sure either.
If I can’t understand you, I can’t laugh at your jokes. If you tend to be a person who doesn’t enunciate well, slowing down may compensate for that. I have a friend who I understand without any problem off stage. When he gets on stage, I have a hard time deciphering a good chunk of what he’s saying. Here’s the one thing I learned from broadcasting school 22 year ago. Are you ready for this? This is eight grand of wisdom I’m going to impart on you for free. W. That’s is. W. Double You is a word that just about everyone mumbles their way through. Most people say dubyou or dub-o-you. There’s an L in the word. They stressed saying W correctly in broadcasting school because this side of the Mississippi and the Canadian border, all radio and television stations start with the letter. When I’m nervous before a show or feel like I’m just wrestling with my own tongue I’ll repeat W over and over again making sure I hit each sound of the letter. Dub-bul-you. I find myself speaking clearer when I’m on stage. You can paypal me four grand if you want to. In all fairness I also learned how to edit audio tape with a razor blade and tape on a reel to reel when I was at broadcasting school too.
I love metal. The best metal bands are the ones who didn’t just play million mile an hour blast beats, but varied their tempo. Dave Lombardo from Slayer blew away headbangers in the late 80s with his double bass fill near the end of the song Angel of Death. It’s only because the rest of the song wasn’t all double bass that makes that one of the most monumental moments in Slayer history. Since then, a lot of drummers have entire albums worth of double bass, but it’s not as impressive because that’s all it is. If you start at as fast as humanly possible, where can you go from there? It’s the same with speaking. If you’re speaking as fast as you can, how can you speed up for impact to stress a point or feeling? You can’t. Speaking slower gives you a wider range of things you can do with your voice to make your delivery stronger.
In two weeks I’ll have been doing comedy for ten years. I learn something new all the time…and I’m always trying new things. In the past month or so I’ve tried slowing down even more on stage. I’m speaking slower than I normally speak. Honestly, I think it’s helping. I am noticing that I’m speeding up during the beats where I’m not as confident in the material. That’s making me take a second look at that material to see if I’m not confident in it because it’s not ready yet. By slowing down a half a beat more than I’m comfortable it’s allowing me to be hyper aware of things like this.
I don’t have a good short set. For the past few years I’m always most comfortable doing a 35-50 minute set. Even as my material changes, 35-50 minutes just seems right. Having a strong short game is just as crucial in comedy as having a long game. Arguably a short game is even more important. No one does 35-50 minutes on Conan. My short set stinks because I try to cram ten minutes worth of material into a five minute set. My challenge to myself is to practice what I preach and do five minutes of material slowly and confidently in a five minute set.
Remember in the fable about the tortoise and the hare…it’s the tortoise who wins. Oh…oops….spoiler alert! In closing, a visual pun on tortoise and hare…er…hair.
I had a great time in Chattanooga, Tennessee this past weekend and I love that club.
The Vaudeville Cafe is beautiful and the audiences were smart. But that’s not the main reason I loved the club. At the end of the weekend, the owner, Chris Hampton, came up to pay the performers. The other guy was asking if the shows were fine or if they were too dirty or anything. Chris responded with, “I don’t care about clean or dirty. All I care about is funny.” I think a choir of angels sing every time a comedian hears a club owner say those words.
There is another place for comedy in Chattanooga. I don’t know anything about that place first hand, but from what I hear, it caters more to the more redneck kind of crowd. Not judging. That’s just their clientele. When the Vaudeville Cafe isn’t hosting live stand up, they’re home to amazing dinner theatre and murder mysteries. Their customers are more cultured or worldly. That’s what Chris wants from his comedians…..funny and smart.
I’m writing this for two reasons. The first, because after a rough couple nights of comedy where I wasn’t a good match, I was so grateful to be some place where the people “got it” and this is my way of saying thank you. Secondly, because I hope someone googles “Chattanooga” and “comedy” and stumbles across this. In my opinion the Vaudeville Cafe is the only smart choice for comedy in Chattanooga. I hope it continues for a long, long time because I can’t wait to go back!
There were a lot of huge popcorn films this year, but my favorites are made up largely of smaller films. For me in order to really enjoy a story I have to care deeply about the characters. While I recognize The Master as a great film it just didn’t click with me. I thought the world was interesting, but it followed my least favorite character in that world….much to the dismay of Jared from the Man in the Movie Hat website. The Master does follow the same theme that makes up my top five favorites though. It’s a story about friendship. So here’s my list.
#5: 21 Jump Street. Yeah, I know. I had so many movies to put in this slot. Moonrise Kingdom, Goon and Frankenweenie could have all easily been here instead. Ultimately the reason I chose 21 Jump Street is because if all four movies were sitting on the shelf and were the only thing I could watch, it’s the one I’d put in the Blu-Ray player. It’s fun and Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have real chemistry together. You get the feeling that it was just a fun film to make. Nick Offerman has a great scene where he basically goofs on the whole idea of rehashing an idea from twenty years ago. It’s self aware. There are a couple of great cameos that will probably take you by surprise too.
I don’t know or care about hockey at all, but Goon was great. The final scene is cringe worthy. Moonrise Kingdom is your typical quirky Wes Anderson film where every frame is a work of visual art. Frankenweenie had me really caring about an animated character and pleading near the end to just let the film entertain me and not remind me of any life lessons. All three films are ultimately about friendship.
#4 Looper. I’m always a sucker for time travel stories. I’ve worked on the idea on stage about how if I could go back in time to meet with my younger self I don’t think we’d like each other very much. That’s definitely the case here with Looper. Ryan from the aforementioned Man in the Movie Hat website saw this before I did. I sent him my prediction of what I thought it would be about. I was way off. So I went in excited to be surprised…and surprised I was right up to the finale. Maybe it’s not really a movie about friendship as much as it’s about self preservation….but hey…that’s pretty important too. Filmmaker Rian Johnson gets better and better with each project. the fact that he glosses over the mechanics of time travel has been criticized, but it’s just not important to the story. He does a great job of imagining a near future and creates it with a pretty limited budget. Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps proving himself as an amazing actor. Just look at his range when you compare something like this to Hesher from 2010.
#3 Safety Not Guaranteed. I haven’t been able to get into the whole “mumblecore” thing so I didn’t really have high hopes for this thing starring Mumblecore Lord and Savior Mark Duplass. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a small story about two people getting to know each other. One of them is either nuts or a time traveler. The story could have easily been a big film, but I think the fact that it stayed small really let you get to know the characters as opposed to inserting unnecessary big action pieces. Mark Duplass is seeking a travel companion to time travel and Aubrey Plaza interviews for the position. It’s a really sweet film. Aubrey Plaza does really nice subtle things with her face that’s proving her as a really good actress. I look forward to seeing her do something completely different in the future.
#2 Django Unchained. I just saw this yesterday and fell in love with it and the leads. Christoph Waltz plays a character so unlike his Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds…but maybe a little similar in some ways. Jamie Foxx is just plane cool. to borrow from my friend comedian Mikey Mason, Django is Han Solo cool. Samuel L Jackson is almost unrecognizable at the start and plays a role I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play. It’s epic. The music is amazing. It’s poetic. It’s funny at times…particularly the scene where Don Johnson’s posse is dealing with the eye holes in their lynching hoods. The blood and carnage are over the top leaving one of the sets looking like the house from Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. I loved it and can’t wait for the Blu-Ray….and I’m not really a big Tarantino fan at all. This is definitely my favorite film of his so far. Again, the friendship between King and Django really clicked with me.
#1 Silver Linings Playbook. I saw this last week and loved it. I’ve heard mixed reviews about how it’s all over the place and the ending is trite. I don’t care. I thought the acting was great. I love the way the story telling was frenetic because it matched the characters. The friendship that forms between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence was engaging. It’s arguably Lawrence’s first grown up role and she really pulled it off.
Some honorable mentions for me are a horror movie triple threat with The Innkeepers, Silent House and Cabin in the Woods. All three take the scary movie format and twist it to make for interesting films. Silent House is shot as one continuous shot….although not really through the magic of film making. I loved some big pictures too like Hunger Games, Argo and the Dark Knight Rises. Sleepwalk With Me was enjoyable and really captured what it’s like to be a comedian while diving into Mike Birbiglia’s sleep disorder….coincidentally, I’m typing this at a La Quinta Inn…people familiar with Birbiglia’s story should get the significance. I’m on the third floor. Luckily insomnia is my only sleep disorder.
In Bruges is a perfect film in my book so I really had high hopes for Seven Psychopaths. I think my expectations were too high maybe. It’s a fine film, but doesn’t capture was In Bruges did for me. Hmm, In Bruges is another movie about friendship.
I haven’t seen Beasts of the Southern Wild yet, but from everything I hear about it, I have a sneaking suspicion that it will probably end up in my top five. We’ll see. I was a little underwhelmed by Prometheus. I think I just fell victim to all the hype and speculation. The Avengers was fun, but I’m not really a big superhero guy. In fact I missed Spider-man completely and have no intention of seeing it unless it pops up on HBO when I have nothing happening.
For the past few months I’ve been tooling around with this idea to try to add it to the act, but this morning when I sat down with it, I realized it would just end up being the kind of thing I’m about to complain about.
Religion is a touchy subject, but I want to get this off my chest. I’m tired of the high and mighty pompous attitude of Atheist comics.
What I do or don’t believe when it comes to the existence of a higher power is my business and completely incidental.
My experience has been when you encounter a die hard Christian who finds out you don’t believe in what they believe, they’ll pray for you. Thanks! You’ll talk to your poss and put in a good word for me anyway? Thanks bud!
When you encounter a die hard Athiest who finds out you don’t believe in what they believe, they act like you’re the silliest bastard they’ve ever met. “You believe in God? What? Do you believe in flying mongoose farts and fairy dust too?”
No. No I don’t. It turns out that no one believes in that.
Atheists love ruining things. They’re like a person who goes to see a magic show and is quick to tell you how the tricks are done. “He didn’t really saw her in half, what’s under the box.”
Thanks. I was enjoying myself for a moment.
They act like they’re movie spoilers and they revel in it. “Rosebud is a sled. Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze. Bruce Willis is dead the whole time.”
But they’re not spoilers. They’re speculators. They don’t know how this ends anymore than anyone else. They’re more like the people on Ain’t It Cool message boards who feel the need to tell the world that the next GI Joe movie is going to suck. Yeah. Probably. You don’t know that. Okay. Most likely you’re right, but you don’t know for sure. We could all be surprised.
The only Atheist I’d put any stock in would be an Atheist ghost floating around, rattling chains and telling us in an ethereal voice, “There is no God. The human body is just a machine fueled by energy and I, and all ghosts, are that energy in a new form that science hasn’t figured out yet.”
Atheists remind me of the kid in elementary school who first found out about Santa and instead of sitting on it and letting all the other kids in class enjoy Christmas for another year, had to come to school and ruin it for everyone.
I firmly believe that anything should be open for comedians to talk about as long as it’s funny. I find when comedians talk about being an Atheist it comes off as preachy and condescending. I’d love for someone to tackle the subject in a funny way. I can’t think of an exception where those bits don’t end up following the formula of, “You believe in God? Do you believe in this ridiculously poetic bit of absurdist wordplay poetry that I put together too?” If there’s an exception to this, or if someone knows of a really great bit on this subject, please point me towards it. I love discovering comedy done well.
I could see it being argued that they feel they’re doing a service because religion is corrupt. Yeah, a lot of organized religion is pretty corrupt. Religious people do awful things sometimes. That’s because they’re people and people do awful things sometimes. But there’s a difference between attacking religion and attacking faith. What good comes from trying to shatter people’s faith?
And yes, I’m totally generalizing here. Some Atheists are fine and let people have their thing. Some Christians are awful and when they find out you don’t believe in what they believe they tell you you’re going to go to a place you don’t believe in in the first place.
Everyone should be allowed to have their thing even if their thing ends up being nothing.
Want to find out how you can get a physical copy of my most recent CD “Full Frontal Nerdity” for only five bucks? That’s half the price that you can download it for digitally!
Either shoot me a message on Facebook, E-mail or Twitter with your address and send $5 via Paypal and I’ll shoot you out a copy…..plus…..for as long as there is ink in my Sharpie, I’ll even sign and/or doodle on them for you!
Links to my Facebook and Twitter are on the right side of this screen and you can shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.