For The Kids…

Hey there ‘Redheads… I believe the children are our future. Actually, I believe that flying monkey robots are our future, but kids’ll do for now. Last night I did a show at the University of Maryland. I just got back from doing a gig in a high school auditorium. If the trend continues, next week I’ll be playing a maternity ward (I can promise one of us will have a smooth delivery…Hey, who’s crowning?…If you have the kid during the show, we’re gonna have to charge you again).
Tonight’s show was interesting. It was a fundraiser for the high school’s athletic booster club. It was an all-ages show…and by “all-ages” I mean there were children there. The youngest was 4…Julie…cute kid. Anywho, that meant I had to be squeaky clean. I’ve addressed this in an earlier blog…I don’t consider any of my material dirty, but it is slightly evil. My act is a witty descent to hell…light-hearted darkness…it’s up to the audience to decide how far they want to follow me down the rabbit hole. Realistically, these kids don’t know what the hell I’m talking about…they’re too busy contemplating booger consistency to be bothered with my blind stabs at wit. That being said, I do feel a slight twinge of guilt when I talk about eating kittens or Muppets with flesh-eating virus, on the off-chance that a nugget of my knavery get lodged in their innocent little heads, to be later uncovered after years of therapy.

Last night, I went back to my alma mater, the University of Maryland, to be a judge in the District’s Funniest College competition. I always love going back to school…especially to judge others. The campus has changed alot since I graduated. Brand new dorms…an overhauled student union…the school has had more work done than Joan Rivers…but looks alot less creepy. I made sure to show up to the student union a little early, to savor the flavor of the shiny new food court and thumb through the Diamondback to check out the latest Terp news. I spotted a pair of ads in the paper that I thought made a dynamite combo. Ad #1 was for the half-price drink specials of Ladies’ Night at EJ’s Landing. Ad #2 was for a fertility clinic calling for women to sell their eggs for $5000. I wonder just how often one leads to the other…just curious.

As it got closer to showtime, I was joined by my fellow judge Ryan Conner, the hilarious Erin Jackson, and host for the evening Chris White. Then the contestants started filtering in. Cool bunch of kids, for the most part. One guy was wearing a bright red fleece…his face matched his fleece. It was like a cherry Blow Pop had wished to become a real boy. I accidentally bumped into him at one point. I said, “Excuse me.” He replied, “Yo, it’s straight dog.” It was at this moment that it became painfully obvious that I’m so out of touch with today’s youth, that I make Regis Philbin look like Gideon Yago. I wanted to say, “I’m sorry…I don’t speak asshole.” He proved later on to speak it fluently.
I’d like to commend UMD, first for coming out in force to support live comedy, and second for showcasing a great batch of stand-up talent for the contest. There was only one low-light…the afore-mentioned beet red assclown. His set began with what can only be described a date rape foreplay with a young lady unfortunately seated in his hazy field of vision and stumbled through a drunken waste of everyone’s time until he was eventually escorted/booed off-stage. I’m pretty sure this counted toward some kind of frat initiation. He embodied the Revenge of the Nerds ideal of the shitheel fratboy. What an asshat. And the damnable misery of it all is that he probably won’t remember one shred of what happened, while we in the audience will have to try to forget him.
That malignancy aside, it was great to see a solid comedy community at UMD. When I got to school in the Fall of ’93, the only game in town was the campus improv group, Erasable Inc. A couple years later, I latched onto the coattails of some very talented people who were looking for another comedy outlet, and helped found the sketch comedy group, Sketchup. That group will be having it’s 10th anniversary on May 11th. Now there’s a stand-up comedy group, called The Bureau. Go Terps.
People seemed to enjoy the pictures in the last blog installment, so here’s a picture from the heyday of Sketchup:

That’s me kneeling in the center (my chin was pointier back then). If you look closely, you’ll also spot DC comedy stand-out, Alicia Gomes and KFC Buffalo Chicken Snacker commercial actor, Christian Zonts. Good times.

Sunday night is the Poonanza. 8:30 @ Staccato Lounge on 18th St. It’s the biggest bang for your entertainment buck that you’ll find in city limits…it’s free. Experience the magic. Ride the Poon.

On a somber note, we say farewell to Don Knotts. Mr. Furley, we hardly knew ye.

To be continued…

News You Can…Ews

Hey again ‘Redheads… Happy President’s Day. I didn’t get the holiday off from work. My boss doesn’t recognize Washington or Lincoln…making change is a bitch.
Here’s a refreshing lime wedge of hilarity to cleanse the pallet after the sentimental tequila shot of the last post. Just a couple things I found while frantically thumbing through the paper in search of new material…just kidding, but I did find a few interesting nuggets in the daily birdcage lining.

Here’s a caption I found in the business section of The Washington Post:
Under NASDAQ chief executive Bob Greifeld, shares in the company have risen about 300 percent since the stock exchange went public a year ago.
Now, I’m no whiz with money. My financial acumen begins and ends with my ability to spot The Greaseman in those crappy CoinXChange commercials. Does it strike anyone else as odd that people are buying stock in a stock exchange? Kinda takes the sport out of it, doesn’t it? That loud noise you hear is the sound of the middle man being taken out back and shot.

Here’s another fun little tidbit… University of Utah archaeologist, Jack Broughton, has found evidence that the Indians were just as voracious as the Europeans who later stole their land and co-opted their iconography for sports franchises:
After studying thousands of animal bones found on the shores of the San Francisco Bay, Broughton concluded that Native Americans living in the area hunted several species to local extinction from 600 B.C. to 1300 A.D.
So, if you were wondering why there are no Do Do birds, Dinosaurs, Leprechauns, Unicorns, or Eskimos in San Francisco, blame the Indians. In light of this new evidence, I think an apology is in order from what’s left of the tribes. We’d like our blankets back.

Here’s a shocker:
McDonald’s is facing at least three lawsuits related to it’s disclosure last week that its french fries contain wheat, peanut, and dairy products, which can cause allergic reactions in food-sensitive customers.
The plaintiffs? These guys:

The primary reaction to these food allergins is spasms that cause people to uncontrollably file frivolous lawsuits. Look for this warning to be placed on french fry packs: These fries may contain wheat, dairy, and peanut byproducts. If you’re allergic to any of these…you’re a pussy.

To be continued…

I’m Good Enough… I’m Smart Enough…

Hey ‘Redheads… Today’s installment is not intended to be particularly funny. I’ll try and meet the laugh quota with the next one. Maybe this one can provide some motivation to those of you who might need a nudge in a positive direction.

I’ve been stuck in a rut recently. In comedy and life in general. While I have been working more, I haven’t progressed any as a performer in the last six months. I’ve been complacent about writing (this blog aside), developing material (choosing to fall back on the hits), and just plain getting out of the house and doing stuff. This sloth has led to a blue funk about where I am, the time I’ve wasted, and where I’m headed.
Rory Scovel made some great points in a recent blog of his about the first couple years of a comic’s development. This is the time to get comfortable as a performer, get an inkling of what you want to say, and to take an active role in the comedy community. I’ve lost sight of these things of late, and after getting a chance to see some of the very talented people in the area and their dedication to those goals, I’ve resolved to get off my ass and become more active in the DC scene.

Here is a list of affirmations I’ve come up with to ensure that I don’t fall into the same traps that I have in the past. Maybe they can help you too:

I will not measure myself by the successes of my peers.

I will accept compliments.

I will take criticism.

I will not let either go to my head.

I will assume nothing.

I will communicate always.

I realize this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I will fail on stage in order to succeed on stage.

I will write a funny, unpretentious blog next time…ok, maybe just funny.

To be continued…

66 Degrees of Bloggin’

Hey there ‘RedheadsSo happy it’s Thursday. I hope all of you had a fun, if not misery free, Valentine’s Day. Plenty of people asked me Hey Jared, what’re you doing for Valentine’s Day? Seething…thanks. Yes, I spent my V-Day inside, romancing my laundry…on the gentle cycle…I lit some candles…love and lint were in the air. It takes a special brand of loneliness to make it seem like the ads are mocking you (those couples…with their happiness). Anywho, I *heart* me, and that’s all that counts.

On to more pressing issues. It was 66 degrees today. The area’s worst blizzard was four days ago. Saturday, I thought I was going to have to subsist on toilet paper and milk sandwiches for the next week…today, a penguin knocked on my door to ask to sublet my freezer. Did Channel 9’s Topper Shutt run down a family of gypsies? That’s the only way I can explain this weather. Tomorrow look for a high of 60 and lo…custs.

With the cock-tease of Spring, I decided to hop in the car and head out to support THE FOUR FUNNIEST COMICS EVER EVER EVER (I love titular hyperbole…it’s the BEST form of hyperbole ever…hehe…titular). The Chinese secrecy of Frank Hong, the whispery off-the-cuffitude of Rory Scovel, the dark bitterness of Norman Wilkerson, and the anecdotal silliness of Ryan Conner combined to form Devastator at Wiseacre’s in Tyson’s Corner. Unfortunately, at showtime, the audience size was inversely proportional to the promised hilarity. Just enough to make ’em plural. The crowd ended up filling out and a good time was had by all. Do yourself a favor, if you have a chance to see any of these four guys, do it. All inside-DC comedy blog jokes aside, they are among the funniest comics in the area. Come and see me sometime too…I’m easily in the top 100.


To be continued…

Snow Business

Hey ‘Redheads… Greetings from beyond the frozen tundra. I’ve gotten a couple requests to update the blog more frequently…mostly from readers who are bored out of their collective skulls at work, and are looking for a way to combat the malaise (that’s Hellmann’s malaise…ask for it by name). So, Tyler, this one’s for ye…

This week I had the privilege of taking the stage at the DC Improv. The crowds are smart, sophisticated (mostly), and ready to laugh…in short, a gift. It really is one of the best clubs in the country and it boggles my mind when people tell me they haven’t been yet…do yourself a favor…I guarantee a good time. Ok, enough club butt-smooching.
For this slate of shows, I was MCing for neurotic comedy legend, Richard Lewis. I had heard all kinds of stories about how nuts he supposedly was. I was also informed that I had to be “network tv” clean for this show, according to his contract rider. So, in the days before the gig, I was stressing over having to meet the strict standards of a madman.
When I got to the club, my fears over content restriction were allayed somewhat when I was told I just needed to lay off the cursing and anything overtly sexual in nature (so, the nun-fucking bit would stay on the shelf yet again…*sigh*). I met up with the feature, a very funny guy by the name of Eric Lyden. He and I share a fondness for the darker side of comedy…if we were Jedi, we’d both be choking down hecklers (“I find your lack of taste disturbing…”).
Ok, so here were the guidelines I had to adhere to, as set down by Mr. Lewis:
The club gives him a call during Eric’s set. He arrives thru the back door, at which point the club gives Eric the 5 minute light. Then I bring Eric off, do minimal mid-show announcements, then simply say, “Ladies and gentlemen, Richard Lewis.” Easy enough. Far be it from me to begrudge an OCD guy his routine. Then, after his set, he flees out the back door and to his hotel room.
I had never seen Richard Lewis perform live before. What I knew of him was from his old sitcom with Jamie Lee Curtis. A good description of the experience was encapsulated in the Washington Post review of Thursday night’s show:

“…He elaborated on everything he “can’t take” for more than an hour in a frenetic monologue filled with illogical transitions, disjointed observations and unfinished anecdotes.”

Yes, that sounds about right. He did have his moments, but for the most part, he made Ozzy Osbourne sound like Frasier Crane, making about as much sense as a busted change machine (homonyms, comedy gold). Here was one other cool bit from the Post review:

“Comedian Jared Stern introduced Lewis…”

You heard it here first, people. The Washington Post acknowledges Jared Stern as a, “comedian.” Can’t argue with print, people.

Last night, the Blizzard of ’06 hit. A foot of snow dropped on a city that had been enjoying 60 degree days in January. DC was turned into a frozen wintry landscape. I was worried my tan-tan would freeze before I hit the first marker (and I thought that reference smelled bad…on the outside…).

So, it’s cold and about to get colder…as Valentine’s Day fast approaches, and I’ve currently got the romantic prospects of a stench farmer…whatever the hell that is…it doesn’t sound very snuggly. I don’t mind telling you that it stinks. There was one young lass who I saw for a week, but she went inexplicably incommunicado…*sigh*. Ok, I’m done whining.

Here’s a timeless love story to get you in the mood for amore…

To be continued…

The Weekend That Was…

Hey there ‘Red Heads… Alot to get to, so let’s get this blog train a rollin’…
First of all, big news for those of you who just can’t get enough of me on the web. is back online and I’m currently moving boxes of my virtual crap to my refurbished internet home. I’ll have my tour schedule, pix from the road, links to my comedy pals, a big fat photo of me, and a link to this fabulous blog on there. Visit it. Make me whole.

On to the details of the last 96 hours or so… On Thursday, spurred by an overwhelming urge to get the hell out of the house, I hopped in the car to check out the open mic at the Topaz Hotel in DC…and hopefully get some time. I was able to catch up with a bunch of my DC favorites like Ryan Conner, Danny Rouhier, Larry Poon, Frank Hong, Jerry Thomas, and Jimmy Merritt. All very funny guys. Open mics are always a mixed bag. With the talented folk, you get a potpourri of the novice, the deluded, and the just plain awful. One particular gal embodied the latter two. I believe her name was Jenn. I normally don’t print names, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read much unless it’s on a liquor label. I wouldn’t call her a “comedian” so much as an “awkwardian”, but that implies she had any control over what she was doing. Not only was she an uncomfortable vulgar mess onstage (her material ranging from the romantic effects of douching with beer to creating a master off-white race to constantly repeating the word “cootchie”…she made Courtney Love look like Judi Dench), but she also committed the cardinal sin of heckling the other performers. She thought she was just being cute because she has big teats and the people she usually encounters laugh off her idiocy because they’re trying to score with her. She really should just save everyone alot of time and trouble and just “go wild”. Yes, this sounds cruel, but I believe I’m doing her a service by pointing it out. She is among the poor, deluded souls who think attention = validation, which must therefore = talent. You see these people on American Idol, grunting out a breathy version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, then standing aghast as Simon tells them that there ain’t no valley low enough to measure the void of vocal prowess that they actually possess. We need to stop encouraging these people…simply show them your back, like a dishonored Klingon.

On Saturday, I traveled to McSherrystown, PA to do a show for a Catholic high school athletic association’s fundraiser…in their gym. Oh, the glamour. For this gig, I had to be “church clean”. Now, I am by no means a dirty comic. When I do say “fuck”, it’s as an adjective, not a verb. For fuckin’ flavor. My comedy does have a bit of a dark slant to it…death, disease, and corny puns are my bread, butter, and…corn. The prospect of doing 20 clean minutes with 3 priests sitting front row center had me just a smidge worried that they wouldn’t be willing to accept the darker stuff and they’d just see me as a Jew without an alibi. I’m happy to report that I was able to file down my horns and get through my set without making baby Jesus cry. After all that worrying, they turned out to be a great crowd…when a priest laughs at your Parkinson’s joke, you must be doing something right.

Speaking of Jesus, apparently he decided to forsake the Seattle Seahawks and waved his terrible towel while he turned water into boxed wine for his big Super Bowl party in the sky-y. The game was ok. Here are a few observations I made about the other phases of the broadcast:

Stevie Wonder did a great job with the pre-game show, but did anyone else find it mildly ironic to watch a blind man in HD? Maybe it was just me…

The anthem would’ve been easier to listen to if I wasn’t so distracted by the giant Hershey Kiss on Aaron Neville’s face or by the pity I felt for the family of Marmosets that had to perish to make Aretha’s fur coat.

If I were a player on either team, and I hadn’t won a Super Bowl yet, I wouldn’t want to be photographed ANYWHERE NEAR the Lombardi trophy. I’m sure Matt Hasselbeck is gonna want some 8×10 glossies and a couple wallet-size copies of his crushed dreams.

I dug most of the commercials, especially the one for Burger King with the women dressed as fixin’s. I felt sorry for the gal who drew the short straw and had to be mayo.

To be continued…

Caution: Road Work

Greetings ‘Red Heads… Just got done with another slate of out-of-town shows with road warrior, Mike Diesel. We did a show in the Mountainlair at WVU on Thursday night for a crowd of students that can only be described as spiritless. Maybe I’m just out of touch with the youth of today, but getting more than a timid chuckle out of these kids was like getting gum out of your hair…it took some cuttin’.
From Morgantown, WV, we trekked north to Broadalbin, NY for a couple shows at what was left of the Funny Farm since it recently changed ownership. The club used to be located in a very cool refitted barn…it held about 150 people and it had a condo above the club where the comics stayed. It was a great atmosphere for comedy…and convenient since it was easy to just stumble upstairs after a night of drunken carousing with staff and audience. Well, the club is now for sale, and a pale shell of its former self. We were still housed in the condo, but the club below was gutted, dark, and vacant. The new location was 6 miles down the road at a restaurant that held about 70 people, tops.
This was my second weekend of four in a row of comedy work. One of my goals for this year was to book at least 26 weekends of work. I’ve managed 13 so far, so I’m pretty excited about what lay ahead. That excitement may very well give way to exasperation as the well of shows (not to be confused with the Well of Souls, where the Lost Ark was) dries up…or a baby falls in it, or something. This is a business, after all, and my procrastinating nature doesn’t lend well to staying on top of deadlines and other things that I’ll discuss later… see? Luckily, DC is a very supportive comedy network and funny people around here like to see other funny people do well.

I’m watching the State of the Union as I type this. Here’s a fun quote from the President: “There is no peace in retreat and there is no honor in retreat.” Which essentially means, “The best defense is a good offense.” Lovely. During these speeches, half the fun is watching the crowd reaction. As he said something about our terrorist enemies underestimating our resolve, the room erupts in applause (the audience at the State of the Union is easier than a Premium Blend crowd)… the camera cuts to a representative from an Arab country shifting uncomfortably in his seat. The Supreme Court justices are a tight bunch…I haven’t seen them give it up once yet. Perhaps Bush should’ve loosened up the room with, “…anybody celebrating a birthday? anniversary? confirmation?” The Patriot Act line got nothing from the right half of the room. Now he’s doing his wiretapping bit. I think I heard it on Mind of Mencia the other night…

Here’s some disturbing science news:
A chemical used in the making of Teflon has been found to be a “likely” carcinogen. Doctors are rushing to find a way to combat the expected outbreak of non-stick tumors. In other health news, it has also been found that excessive drinking also causes cancer. Yes…if you excessively drink Teflon.

I was thumbing through the dictionary (play along) and I found a glaring example of Webster getting lazy:

inconspicuous adj – not conspicuous

Hey Emmanuel Lewis, if I’m looking up inconspicuous, chances are I’m not stuck on what “in” means. Get off your stack of phonebooks and fix this conspicuous example of crappy reference. Sorry for the nitpickery, folks, but that bugged me.

To be continued…