Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Comedy Olympics

Last week, the Winter Olympics were wrapping up in Sochi. I must admit I did not catch much of the Olympic games on TV but it didn't bother me too much. I have a hard time watching sporting events that have been tape delayed. I would likely find out the results on Twitter, Facebook, or on the radio before I even started to watch.

While the Olympians were working hard on their goals, I was hard at work on mine. I had been booked a few months ago for a gig in a small town of Selma, CA on February 22nd. The gig was a fundraiser for the Selma Public Education Foundation. I was asked to emcee the show and was offered pay and a hotel room for the night. I was excited for the gig but knew that I had to knock off some rust and get myself "game-ready" so to speak.

For almost the whole month of January I didn't do any shows because I had been sick so I made it an effort to get in as much stage time as I could before the February 22nd show so I would be ready.

There are some comedians without day jobs who are able to do numerous shows during a week and not get tired. I work a 7am-4pm job Monday thru Fridays though so I knew I would be pushing myself a bit.

On Monday the 17th, I went to Woodham's Lounge in Santa Clara, CA for an open mic which is ran by fellow comedian, Pete Munoz.

It turned out that 4 (3 ladies, 1 guy) of my co-workers decided to go to Woodham's that night and they ended up being the center of attention. That may not have been the best thing. The women had been drinking for a bit before I had even arrived. I then signed up on the open mic list and was slated to go up 7th. The other comedians there quickly found out that these people were my co-workers and said, "Thanks a lot!" Most of the other comedians decided to just talk to them since they couldn't get them to shut up. I thought the whole thing was funny. These are the kind of things that happen at an open mic.

It got even more interesting when one of my lady co-workers (April) ended up getting sick before I even took the stage. I think she now holds the record for consecutive time spent in the bathroom at Woodham's.

Fellow comedian, Hannibal Thompson, was on stage when Melissa (one of my co-workers) got locked outside. For some reason, Melissa thought Hannibal was the one that locked the door so she started approaching him on stage and getting in his face. Hannibal handled it well and got a kick out of it. 

When my turn came up, I did about 5 minutes of mostly older material as all I was trying to do was re-establish my timing. It didn't bother me that barely anyone was paying attention.

Another lady co-worker, Cami  thought comedy looked easy so decided to sign up for the open-mic herself. She got booed off stage. Haha. I went up to her and said, "pretty easy, huh?"  Hannibal  told her a few pointers then took a photo with her and Melissa.

Around 11:30pm or so, it was time to drag April out of the bathroom and head to our respective homes.

On Tuesday the 18th, I went to Agave Restaurant and Bar in San Jose, CA, which has a Tuesday night comedy show run by Melanie Bega. This show is an open mic which has to be signed up for in advance. I opened my set with a joke I had just came up with a few days earlier where I compare comedians to musicians. Unfortunately, I messed it up as I mixed two jokes into one. I told the audience I was going to try it again though because I needed to work out the kinks. When I wasn't on the stage at Agave, I was eating their food. I love their Carnitas Burrito!

On Wednesday the 19th, I was booked in a show at Station 55 in Gilroy, CA and run by comedian Sam Meeker. Sam is the same guy who now runs the Morgan Hill Playhouse show that I had produced until the end of last year. I had asked Sam a week before if I could get a spot so I could prepare for Saturday and he said it wouldn't be a problem.  My good college friend, Cecily, and her husband, Dan, ended up coming to the show with another couple. Also, some audience members who would frequent the 9 Lives Club shows when I did shows there, were also in attendance. This time I nailed the opening bit about comparing comedians to musicians. I was really happy with how the bit went over.  The rest of the lineup was great as well, which included Matt Curry, David Burger (first time meeting him), Daymon Ferguson, and headliner Rachel McDowell.

I visited with Cecily and Dan for a bit after the show then decided to go down the street to The Longhouse Restaurant and Bar for an open mic.  I hadn't been to The Longhouse before but the word I got from other comedians was to go up early as the crowds get really drunk and rowdy.  When I arrived, there weren't too many people there. I waited around for a while and the open mic eventually begins around 11:30pm... This isn't a comedy only open mic, but the guy who went on first was also a comedian. I then went on next. I was feeling really tired at this point but still went thru some bits as best as I could. I did my joke about Vegetarians and how I saw a billboard that said, "Becoming a Vegetarian solves 80% of Global Warming" and then a lady from the bar yells "That's true!" So of course I responded to her and proceeded to say that Vegetarians are stupid. 
(note: if you're a vegetarian, this is just a joke, relax, you're not all stupid)

I get off stage then head to the bar and talk to a couple sitting there. The guy tells me he went to San Jose State so we talk for a bit and then I called it a night.

On Thursday the 20th, I was on a pre-booked open mic at The Blue Lagoon in Santa Cruz, CA which is run by comedian DNA. I picked up my friend, Brian, from his work and he went along with me to the gig. As we usually do, we went to 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall before the show, which is right down the street from The Blue Lagoon. Brian's dad met up with us as well. I ordered a double bacon cheeseburger then asked myself why as I only finished half.

After a couple beers at 99 Bottles I then went to The Blue Lagoon and downed another beer. That was probably a bad idea and I ended up messing up the comedian/musician bit yet again. It started off really well  - I just didn't execute it properly.  The drive home seemed like forever and I couldn't wait to get to sleep.

I thought about getting another set somewhere else on Friday but decided to just take it easy and rest.

On Saturday the 22nd, I left San Jose around noon for Selma. It was about a 2 hour and 30 minute drive. I left early so I could get the full extent of my hotel stay - check in as early as possible and leave as late as possible. Perhaps it doesn't seem like a big deal, but this is the first gig I've been booked for where I have been paid and provided a room to stay. While I hope it happens again soon (and I do think I am at point in my career where I deserve it), I still wanted to enjoy it to the fullest.

I reported to the venue around 5:30pm. I had been told there would be a welcoming committee that was taking the comedians out to dinner but apparently that fell through. I was okay with that though as I don't like eating too much before performing.They still had some nice complimentary appetizers for the comedians also for the paying customers.

The outside of the Selma Arts Center is pretty neat and the inside of the theater is beautiful as well.

Look at Selma Arts Center from across street.

 View of stage from balcony.

I was told that the show had been sold out. It turns out that while it was "sold out" about 1/4 of the people who bought tickets did not show up. They likely just wanted to donate to the cause which is a bit of a bummer for those who were still wanting to see the show.

I was emcee and the other comedians on the bill were Karen Rontowski, Jason Love, and headliner Kabir Singh. I have worked with Jason once previously and Kabir many times before this show. I ended up meeting Karen just seconds before the show.

Since it was a fundraiser for public education, I started with the joke I thought best fit. My slow children joke. I phrased it a little different for them. "I'm glad that Selma is having this fundraiser for education. You would never see something like this in San Jose. I drove by an elementary school the other day and saw a sign across the street that said 'Slow Children.' I thought 'well, what the hell is the school there for anyway? It's supposed to fix that problem!' I was so pissed off I sped right through the zone." The joke got a great response.

There was one guy in the audience that definitely wanted attention... yelling from the moment I stepped on stage. It seemed like it was his first time in public. I also hear he tried to sneak beer into the theater and ended up spilling some. I ignored him though as I knew Kabir would take care of him when it was his turn to take the stage. Kabir would later say something to him along the lines of  "You're Indian? You look more like a Mexican."

Karen Rontowski, Jason Love, and Kabir Singh all had great sets. Afterwards, all of us but Karen, who had to leave early, stood outside to talk to people and sell some merch.

We were then invited to an after party at a place called Spike N Rail which shared the same parking lot with the hotel so that was very convenient. Kabir and I went to the after party and we were basically treated like rock stars. I never paid a dime for any of my drinks. The people of Selma were all really nice and appreciative. I wish I had asked for the girl's name who bought me my second drink... she was cute.  The Indian guy was pretty much on Kabir's nuts the whole time, haha. I was asked about my TV credits by some people at the after party. (Karen has done Letterman, Comedy Central - Jason has been on HBO and Last Comic Standing - and Kabir will make his Comedy Central debut in April.) I told them all I had were local TV credits at the moment and was still waiting to be "discovered" in that way. They seemed surprised. Kabir and I were the last ones standing at the bar before heading to our respective rooms. It was also good to just chat with him though I don't remember everything we discussed.

I was then really hungry. I wanted pizza. It was almost 2am. I went online to see if anyone was still delivering pizza because obviously I was too messed up to drive. No luck. I ended up going to the Taco Bell across the street and made it there just before they closed and brought the food back to my hotel.

I left my hotel at 11am and decided to stay in the area for a bit. I took about a 20 minute drive to Fresno to see the Fresno St. Grizzlies baseball team play Nevada. I had seats 3 rows behind home plate. It marks another stadium I have gone to that I can scratch off my list. Fresno St. ended up winning 11-9. 

I then headed home after my eventful weekend.

To top it all off, I'm being told the show in Selma is getting nothing but great reviews from those who went.

1 comment :

  1. Selma sounds like a nice place, it's amazing what getting out of San Jose shows you sometimes. I am guessing if those people weren't your friends you would have been annoyed with them.