Thank you again to everyone who came out to the Comedy Castle this past weekend for my CD release party….and thank you especially to those of you who supported this new album in advance through my Kickstarter!
Now is the chance for everyone else to get their hands on my third album “nowadays.“. I’m really proud of this one. While it’s the dirtiest thing I’ve ever put out there, it’s also the most personal. The CD opens with a little skit that kind of harkens back to the old Read the rest of this entry
I have a couple non-comedy things coming up that I’m really looking forward to. My friend Jared Stroup has written a great screenplay that he’s gearing up to produce. There’s a really fun…and sizable role in it that he asked me to play. I’m super flattered and honored! I’m beginning to feel my limitations as an actor. I think sometimes people have a natural talent for things and sometimes they don’t.
My first love is music. I really wanted to be a musician. Growing up all of my friends were musicians. I was in a handful of bands to the dismay of my bandmates who had to carry my load. I think playing with good musicians helped me get better, but I just didn’t have what it takes to be good. I’m noodling around with a bass now and am probably as good as I was twenty years ago when I practiced a lot!
I’m hoping I’ll find some secret talent when it comes to acting. I just watched a clip of a thing I shot over the past year and was pretty disappointed. I think I did a passable job in Deadpan, but those were words that I helped write…and a character that was based pretty close to myself. Jared’s movie is going to be the thing that makes me decide if I want to keep trying this…or maybe check out an acting class. He and I have talked about my worries. I have a lot of confidence in him as a director though. Read the rest of this entry
When I was 16 or 17 years old I bought an Almighty Lumberjacks of Death cassette probably from Rock of Ages or Flipside Records. I never saw ALD live, but I certainly knew who they were. ALD were Detroit punk rock gods! That album “Always Out of Control, but Never Out of Beer” struck a chord with me. The songs ranged from fun anthems like the eponymous Almighty Lumberjacks of Death to the socially thought provoking Motor City Trick or Treat. Jimmy Doom was my guy. He was a local icon, but he was also dealing with the same girl problems I was facing because why else would he write Devil Girl?
I loved that album.
Fast forward years later and I meet Jimmy Doom. My memory of this could be way off. I was working at one of the many many comedy clubs called Wise Guys. I think every third or fourth state may have a comedy club called Wise Guys. Doug Stanhope was coming to town and we wanted to do something different to book his opener. I had the idea of having a contest. To find Detroit’s most extreme comedian, we’d have Detroit’s most extreme entertainers judge it. I brought in locals who wrestled in the WWE, Detroit Derby Girls, and musicians including Jimmy Doom. Even though I was probably maybe a little bit of a creepy fanboy, we hit it off.
If you’re 35 or older and grew up around Detroit you probably remember the Detroit Zoo talking animal commercial from the early 80s. I don’t think a week goes by that something doesn’t jog my memory about this ad. Well…I made a parody of it. It may actually be the first thing I’ve posted on Youtube that doesn’t contain anything objectionable!
I’m going back and forth between thinking I’m the worst uncle in the world getting my niece and nephew to say bad words into a camera and realizing that they at least hear way worse at school every day. Nevertheless, I thought it would be funny.
During my CD recording, I spoke a little bit about how my parents tried to shelter me and my brother. That only worked until outside forces invaded.
So last week I recorded my third comedy album. I had a sold out show at Go Comedy Improv Theater in Ferndale, MI. I couldn’t believe how many people from different chapters in my life showed up to support me. Five days later, I’m still glowing!
My buddy Erik Kitter opened for me. Erik used to work for me when I managed a Gamestop. He’s kind of like a little brother to me. Yeah, I already have a little brother, but if you know the two of us then you know he’s definitely the one who is way more mature! I bought Erik his first drink when he turned 21 and well…I don’t know…I tease him mercilessly, but that’s kind of what you do to a little brother…who isn’t a head taller than you and collects guns!
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?
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.
I was super active on Twitter over the past couple weeks while I was in Los Angeles. In case you’re not following me there (and why aren’t you?) here are some of the highlights.
Aug 22: The first time I brush my teeth after flying, I seriously worry that baggage handlers stuck my toothbrush up their butts.
Aug 23: LA is Airport Expensive!
Aug 24: Thank you Harry Moroz for taking me to a Latino Juice Bar to tell jokes.
Aug 24: In Detroit the homeless people want you to give them money. In LA they want to tell you about their “aggressive folk punk” music.
Aug 24: Either I saw Jamie Foxx at a gas station or I’m a racist.
WordPress offers a lot of cool stats. Below is a chart of what countries the people live in who come to this site.
I assumed I would have the most readers in the US and then Canada. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the UK was a close third. I love Australia too. I really hope I can perform down there soon. I know all the lyrics to Who Can It Be Now so I’ll hit in just fine. France is fifth, eh? I wish it was broken down to see where on the site people from each country were looking. Surprisingly, close behind France was Brazil. I sort of thought it would have been New Zealand or another European country. So, this may be interesting only to me, but it was interesting nonetheless.
I’m at a pivotal point in the screenwriting process. I thought for my own piece of mind I’d share the journey it took to get here. I don’t know where this story will end. I certainly hope it has a happy ending. Let’s start from the beginning.
I’ve written a lot of screenplays. Most of them were through my twenties. I burned all my bridges in radio and television, moved back to Michigan and had the first “real” job of my life working in a Toys R Us. Over the next few years I went through my Kevin Smith phase. I first wrote my “Clerks” about a guy who was working in a big box toy store cleverly called We B Toys.
Next when I was in an unhappy relationship and feeling like I was hundreds of miles from where I wanted to be, I wrote my “Dogma” about a couple in an unhappy relationship who die and get stuck in Purgatory…which happens to be a small town in the middle of nowhere.
After that, the unhappy relationship ended so I wrote my “Chasing Amy” about a guy who ends his unhappy relationship and starts a non-romantic relationship. I guess it was also my “When Harry Met Sally”. The main character in that one was a struggling stand up comedian. At the time, I hadn’t stepped foot on the comedy stage yet, so it was just a way for me to get out the material I wrote without having to actually perform it. Coincidentally, the arc of that character kind of mirrored what I ended up doing creatively in real life years later.
So, after those first few attempts at screenwriting I started doing stand up and seemed to have a knack for it. Most of my creative juices flowed into that outlet. Friends asked me if I wanted to partner up with them on scripts, but for one reason or another it never really worked out.
Last year a fellow performer named Lesley Braden and I met with some other performers about starting a sketch comedy group. That didn’t work out, but Lesley and I found that we worked really well together. She pitched me her idea for the story we ended up writing and I loved it. It’s like what they say about love. You find it when you’re not looking for it. I wasn’t looking for the perfect screenwriting partner, I just happened upon her!
Next time, I’ll talk about the story.
My CD “Full Frontal Nerdity” is available in just about every online place where you can get sound things.
If you already have it, you can still help me out tremendously by leaving a review. When albums get reviewed, the digital distribution sites look at other things you liked and they know to recommend it to people with similar interests. So by writing a review, you’re helping me get in touch with people neither of us know. You’re becoming a Bobbitt Acolyte! Bobbolyte?
Here are some links to where you can find me online:
Navigate the treacherous AMAZON
Coddle the CDBABY
Jam some ITUNES
Explore the CD UNIVERSE
Get epic on RHAPSODY
I had a blast. Connxtions is one of those clubs that gets so much right. This may sound surprising to some of you, but there are a lot of clubs where the staff is just a sour group of gloomy Guses. I think everyone who works at Lansing Connxtions works there because they love their job. Most of that credit has to go to Tina who runs the place. She’s a really good boss. Having been a really good boss myself back when I was at Gamestop, you can tell when someone is leading well.
This is a gross example of why I can tell Tina is great, but it’s the best example. Someone from the audience threw up Saturday night. When that happens someone has to clean it. That person ended up being more focused on who did it so they could direct their anger that way and never said anything along the lines of, “I can’t believe Tina is making me clean up vomit. What a bitch.” They party hard in Lansing, but only after they’ve worked hard. It’s a really good staff.
Emceeing for me was Lansing’s own Ian “Mulva the Vulva” Mulvaney. Ian did a great job. He was really excited to do it. My ego was totally stroked because there were a handful of Lansing guys who really wanted to work with me, but Ian asked first. I performed with him a little while ago at a benefit show for a mutual friend who died. I don’t know what I did that made it so Ian really wanted to do a set together, but I appreciated it a lot. That’s so important too. Something you say to someone that may seem totally insignificant could hit them totally different. I’m glad I did or said something nice then because I had a really good time hanging out with Ian. Together we looked like Earl and Randy from My Name is Earl. I think we should go on the road doing dramatic readings of famous scenes from the show.
My feature was Danny Kallas from Chicago. I loved working with Danny. He and I had a similar sensibility that worked really well together. We both had that “I’m going to take a lot of shots at a lot of things…including myself….so don’t get uptight” thing going on. Danny and I have a mutual friend in one of his fellow Chicago comedy brothers from the Comedians You Should Know. Detroit really needs something like that. I think the closest we came was having the Live Rude Girls, but a certain shitty lady finds a way to drive a wedge into any communal endeavor. She tried to do the same thing years earlier with The Desperate Houseguys, so I know first hand. Detroit really needs a group of like minded performers to form something. The reason CYSK works well is because you know by going to one of there shows what kind of show you’re going to get regardless of which members are performing. First of all, they’re all among the best in Chicago, but secondly they all approach comedy with a like minded point of view. I feel like I’m not wording this very well. If I go to one of there shows, and I’ve worked with four or five of them, I know I’m going to see a pretty smart guy in his late twenties or early thirties doing incredibly well written and dark material that doesn’t pull any punches. I not going to see someone singing Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer or a juggler or a person wearing a thong on her face.
Here’s the other thing that makes CYSK successful. Even if one person isn’t on one of the shows, they all promote the shows as a unit. The CYSK twitter account was promoting Danny being in Lansing even though he was the only one from the group that was. They’re also all strong and working comics. CYSK has become a brand. If one of them opens a door I think it becomes easier for the rest of them to go through that door because CYSK means quality. I think the closest thing we had in Detroit was when three great comedians Adam Sokol, Nate Fridson and Matt McLowry started to do stuff together. If they branded that union more and brought in more people that would have gone well with that group like Brad Austin for example it could have been the Detroit version of CYSK.
Unfortunately, Chicago, unlike Detroit is a destination city for comedians. Detroit is a place where people start and then leave. Three quarters of the Detroit guys I mentioned in that last paragraph aren’t even here anymore.
I got way side tracked, but to sum up, last weekend I worked at a great place with some great people in front of five great audiences. Each audience was uniquely different. Saturday alone had the fairly full audience of people who seemed generally tired so you had to work really hard to keep them with you and it also had the super large rowdy crowd that you had to work just as hard to keep them, but in a completely different way. I had a blast!
Here’s an exclusive clip from the first show Saturday night that you can only see through OffTheMike! Here I encourage the burly men in the audience to take their sexy back.
Nine years ago today I had my graduation show at Joey’s Comedy Club. Since then I’ve done over 1480 shows.
Some comedians argue about the benefits of comedy classes. I like them, but with an asterisk.
I don’t believe you can teach someone to be funny. I think it’s like playing a musical instrument. You either have an ear for music or you don’t. It’s the same way with comedy. Either you have an ear for what a joke sounds like or you don’t. Yeah, like with music, you can teach the mechanics, but some people just are never going to get it. They don’t have that natural ability.
Believe me, I wanted to play bass so badly. Practically all my friends when I was a teenager and in my early twenties were great musicians. A lot of my friends to this day are still great musicians. I just don’t have a natural affinity towards music. I practiced and practiced my bass until I was passable in a punk band where I wrote most of the songs so I knew I didn’t throw anything out there that was beyond my ability. My first passion is music. If I could do that, I would. I hate that I can’t. I took guitar lessons and tried, but at the end of the day someone else with a natural ability was going to have a much easier time and go a lot further.
It’s the same way with comedy classes. Some people take the classes with no ability, but they want to be a comedian so bad. They’ll never really figure it out. Some people have that ability and just need little pushes in the right direction. Some people may be amazing writers and just want to conquer their fear of public speaking. For that matter, some people may have no interest in comedy at all and only want to conquer their fear of public speaking.
I believe comedy classes are a good thing…as long as their being taught by a comedian. There was, for a time, a stand up class being taught by a local actor. I guess that class was for students who wanted to learn how to act like a comedian.
Bill Bushart taught my class. Bill himself is a great comedian, but what makes him an even better teacher is his ability to almost immediately tap into a student’s sensibility and punch up the material in their voice. Bill is a master of tagging jokes and in my opinion the best teacher out there. I don’t know how things would’ve been different for me had he not been my instructor.
I’m glad I took comedy classes and started this pursuit of this craft. I’ve never worked hard for anything in my life before this. Everything I did, I did because it came easy to me. I’ve sacrificed more for comedy than anything else or anyone else in my life. I don’t know that I’ve made the right decisions always. At times I’m almost certain I’ve made the exact wrong decisions. Comedy has given to me and it’s taken from me. I’m so deep in it now that I don’t see a life without it. I love comedy like a junky loves their fix. At moments of lucidity I see comedy as the Symbiote that at first helped Peter Paker and then later tried to destroy him. But when I’m on stage, I’m high and I like it there.
Looking back, if I were to give anyone advice starting out, it would be to set boundaries. Look at the things that make you happy now and never let comedy step on those things or take those things away from you. When you sit down with a note book to write new bits, write yourself reminders about where you are and what’s important. My personal experience is it’s hard to balance the life of a comedian with the real world. I think the people who have are the people whose real world really started once they reached a certain level of success. I don’t know.
All I’ve learned in the past nine years is that I’ve amassed a lot of opinions about things and an ability to spew them without having any real knowledge of anything at all. And that’s what comedy is really…when you break it down. One person in the spotlight spreading their thoughts to a somewhat captive audience.
Well…this return to the website took a weird twist, eh? Welcome back.
I’m fascinated by all branches of performing arts. Stand up comedy and burlesque share a lot of the same roots in show business, both starting back in the vaudeville circuit nearly a century ago. A few years ago I did a Halloween show with my friends the Detroit Rockabilly band Graveside Manner. Also on the bill was the burlesque troupe Detroit Dizzy Dames led by the wonderful Lushes LaMoan. We became Facebook friends and I couldn’t help to notice how incredibly busy she constantly is.
For me, the hardest part about being a performer is figuring out how to juggle so many different schedules. We’re all essentially small business owners trying to sell a product, and that product is ourselves. Somehow Lushes manages to not only juggle the business of Lushes LaMoan, but is additionally teaching burlesque and serving as the Branch Director of the Detroit chapter of Dr. Sketchy which is an “anti-art school” featuring local models and burlesque performers, and she manages to juggle it all very well! She’s one of the hardest working performers in the city and has already made a name with herself with noteworthy accomplishments like being featured on the cover of the 2010 Metro Times Lust issue.
I think I may have figured out how she does it all when I had a chance to catch up with her at a recent Dr. Sketchy event at the Scarab Club downtown. She multi-tasks incredibly well! We talked while she arranged snacks for all the attendees, delegated chairs being set up for the artists, and fielded questions from a long line of people.
The first I remember meeting you was that Halloween show a few years back.
Yes. I started managing the Detroit Dizzy Dames when SPAG went on hiatus. It started with myself and a few of the girls not wanting to stop doing burlesque. We carried on what we do and did it a little differently. So we started the Detroit Dizzy Dames and that show was the Halloween Hootenanny and that was actually our very first gig.