Hidden Gems

‘Redheads, please don’t judge stand-up comedy by what you see on Last Comic Standing. I have the show on in the background as I type this. If I knew nothing else about stand-up except the apparent under-developed reconnaissance photo that this dreck is, I’d rank it just below birthday clowning on the ol’ respect-o-meter. We’re better than this. At least, I hope to hell that I am.

I hope all of you had a fine Father’s Day. My parents and I traveled to Philly to visit my sister and her husband. We got the fam-damn-ly together for a cookout and a Fudgy the Whale cake. I haven’t spent much time in Philly, so it was cool to get a chance to take a stroll through the historic area and down South St. It was HOT. It was very interesting to see everyone in the city making their own…gravy. Here’s a fun faux paz I heard on the radio on the drive up… Hey, Happy Father’s Day everybody. Now here’s Eric Clapton with Tears in Heaven. Great way to commemorate the day for dads…by playing a song that a guy wrote for his 4-year old son that fell out a window. That ranks right up there with when I heard Metallica’s Fade to Black and Shinedown’s (Staring Down the Barrel of a) 45 played back to back. You know some depressed teen took that as a sign.

Now, on to the title of this blog. In this day and age of easy access and instant gratification, it’s easy to focus just on what you already like and maybe overlook an underexposed hidden gem. If you’re a fan of music, bargains, and just plain cool shit, then I highly recommend you check out Joe’s Record Paradise. When I was in high school, and knew jack squat about music, I would sift through the wide selection at Joe’s and choose the CD with the coolest cover art. This was the first one that caught my eye…

No, I’ll put YOUR eye out…

This is The Bogeymen’s There Is No Such Thing As. It was the only album they ever record. No one has ever heard of these guys. It’s one of my favorite albums. I found myself back at Joe’s a couple days ago, and thought I’d give my old system a whirl. This grabbed my attention’s ass (look carefully)…

Stare at it long enough and you’ll see a sailboat.

Treephort’s Use Your Illusion III. A fun little punk record that’s over before you can get tired of it. I think all six tracks ran about 17 minutes. But that’s 17 minutes more than the real GnR has done in the last 15 years.

Because I have to get up an hour early for work tomorrow, there will be no new update to the joke-a-day in June this time. My sloth is getting the better of me…I’m a couple days behind… Ok. 5. I’ll have a whole mess of pithy one-liners in the next installment. In the meantime, here’s some homework for you. Go see my buddies Chris White and Danny Rouhier over at the DC Improv this week w/Adam Ferrara. Or go see my buddy Rob Maher up at the Baltimore Comedy Factory w/Jim Florentine. And for extra credit… I have some laundry that needs folding.

To be continued…

Of Mice and Men

Greetings from beyond the Big Apple, ‘Redheads… Yesterday, I took a trip up to New York with my buddy Adam Ruben, to compete in the prelims of the Funniest Jewish Comic contest at the world famous Laugh Factory. More on how well we represented DC/Baltimore in a moment.
Adam Ruben is a very smart guy. He’s in graduate school at John’s Hopkins University for microbiology. If that gig doesn’t work out, he has the comedy to fall back on. Well, before we could begin our roadtrip, he had to tend to the lofty business of finding a cure for malaria. This involved injecting mice with the disease and then injecting them with something that’ll either cure it or help write the next Secret of NIMH sequel. The best laid plan was for me to meet him up in Baltimore around noon, then we’d hop in his car and hit the road with plenty of time to both find parking and avoid rush hour. Here’s the call I got at 11:00… Hi, Jared…it’s Adam. You might want to hold off on heading to Baltimore for a bit. I just accidentally stuck myself with a needle that had malaria-infected blood. The first thought that would go through a normal person’s head would be I hope he’s ok or Maybe we should call off the trip… Not me. The first thought that went through my head was Shit, now I’m going to have to drive. Those other thoughts came next, but they should’ve been first is all I’m sayin’. It turned out that he was fine…whether he has since developed super-mouse gnawing powers, I have no idea. This minor scare did, however, push our departure time from noon to 2:30. We had to be in NY at 6:00 for roll call. To save time, I drove. I’m a bit of an aggressive driver. I gave Adam some minor palpitations…he kept checking his seatbelt connection and he left a handprint in my oh-shit handle so deep it was philosophical.
We ended up making great time…we arrived the toll for the Lincoln Tunnel at 5:30, full of hope. Then our fast-paced hope hit a bottleneck of sluggish frustration as the six lanes of toll traffic had to squeeze into the two lanes of the tunnel. We sat in that for roughly 45 minutes. Over that time, we got a great view of billboards for Panasonic HDTV and the Yaris…I now have a seething, middle finger-popping hatred for both products. We finally emerged from the tunnel into the bright lights of the big city…or the sun…yeah, I think it was the sun. Luckily for us, the club was only two blocks away from us and we found reasonable parking just across from the tunnel. On to the contest.
The Laugh Factory is a pretty big club. It has at least 3 rooms that can handle full-fledged shows, and it has a labyrinthic quality to it. When we got to the roll call, we were met by the contest organizers from Jewish Week and our 20 other fellow competitors, including Matt Liebman, a talented young comic from UMD’s Bureau. It turned out that the club had grossly underestimated the turnout of both comics and the sheer size of their Jewish support groups. As a result, they split us into two shows to keep things manageable. The top three from each show would advance to the finals. This worked out well because, by sheer luck of the draw, Adam and I ended up in different rooms, so we didn’t have to compete against each other. We were free to focus on other things besides beating each other’s brains in. The contestants ran the gamut, from the uninitiated to seasoned pro. We had a great crowd to work with. Packed house. After everyone got done we were treated to a great comic named Al Lubell (who, unfortunately, doesn’t have a web page, or I’d send you there). Not only was he hilarious, but he had a great hook that made sure you’d never forget his name.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. How well did Adam and I represent the DC/Baltimore Jewish comic community (which is pretty much me and Adam)? Well, in Adam’s room, Adam took first place. In my room, with plucky young whippersanpper Matt Liebman and the guy who won last year’s contest, who’s name escapes me…I took first place. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like a first place finish in the prelims of a contest to instill the kind of false bravado that’ll guarantee…that I tank in the finals. We shall see. I’ve told Adam that he can’t handle any diseased animals before the trip.

I competed in this contest back in 2003, when my aunt and uncle spotted the ad in Jewish Week and thought I should give it a shot. It was at Gotham Comedy Club that year. To prep for this year, I popped in the DVD from 2003. This was back when I was sporting the Superman S with the black leather jacket look. That subtle combination of Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock that I had no chance of pulling off. My sideburns were of unusual size…I looked like I was wearing a furry Centurion helmet. What I’m getting at is this, where were my fellow comedians to tell me what a ridiculous mess I looked like? I’m positive it was being muttered behind my back…the voices tell me it was. Sure, I probably wouldn’tve listened to you, but at least you could’ve said you tried.

Here now, are my latest updates to the joke-a-day experiment:

6/12/06: I woke up around noon today and checked my MySpace email. One of my friends had emailed me in the morning and said she wanted to go sunbathing but it was too chilly out. I emailed her back and asked her if it was still nippy outside. That’s a sure sign you have a problem. When the window you open to check the weather is on your computer.

6/13/06: I was watching ESPN2 and I saw Championship Dominoes. It’s nice to know that my dreams of eventually being on ESPN aren’t completely dashed. I’m brushing up on my Hungry Hungry Hippoes for the 2007 season.

6/14/06: Out of my entire family, I’m the only one who doesn’t wear glasses. I got my grandfather’s eyes. Which made for an awkward will reading.

On a somber note, this blog would like to bid farewell to John Tenta, who passed away after a lengthy battle with bladder cancer at the age of 42. Who was John Tenta? Wrestling fans knew him better as Earthquake.
Under the management of the Mouth of the South, Jimmy Hart, Earthquake was a force to be reckoned with in the WWF. His finisher? He sat on people. He’ll make a formidable tag team with Big John Studd at the afterlife pay-per-view.

To be continued…

Living in a Procrasti Nation

‘Redheads, June is a down month for me. That’s dangerous for a guy with procrastinating tendencies. I find myself constantly grappling with sloth…not the three-toed kind…they’re scrappy. Thankfully, my dedication to my many readers, and the delusion that I have many readers, has kept me from sinking too far into the ass crease in my couch. So, for you, here’s a quick counterstrike to my laziness.

So, turns out the world didn’t collapse into demonic ruin on Tuesday…or, if it did, we were already too far gone to notice. Yep, the day of the beast came and went and the clock just keeps on ticking. I think we all know who we have to thank for that. Jack Bauer. In the 24 hours of 6/6/06, he traversed the eight rings of Hell and gave Beelzebub a taste of real time fury. We all know he has the pedigree to handle the minions of the abyss…

You have no idea what’s at STAKE!!

…that caption was cornier than it needed to be.

So, it’s potentially the last night of planet Earth. What better night to take in a horror flick at the local megaplex? I saw The Omen on Tuesday night. I was expecting alot worse than I got. While there were points when the audience was genuinely laughing at the gruesome goings on, the movie had some pretty good moments. You can’t go too far wrong with an impalation AND a decapitation that would both make Rube Goldberg proud. The film also featured a truly creepy turn by Mia Farrow and, the best nebulous accent in Hollywood, Pete Postlethwaite (who, I’ve discovered, I can do a damn fine impression of…I’ll go ahead and put that in my grab-bag of obscure voices, along with Cookie Monster and Jack Bauer). And, of course, there’s going to be an Omen 2. It’ll suck having to wait until June 6th, 3006 to see it.

I’ve encountered an interesting dilemma. On Wednesday night, a female comic from Chicago approached me after the open mic at Wiseacre’s. She told me I was “too good looking” to tell my jokes about not getting laid. Apparently, it’s not believable. Great, so the few jokes that I tell that ARE based in truth are betrayed by my inherent adorability. Hey, I wish I was making this shit up. She’s not the first person who’s told me this. This means I need to do one of two things. Either find some way to turn my life into an Axe Bodyspray commercial, or find some way to dial down the charm. Yes, I know, these are horrible problems that I’m saddled with. My gift. My curse. Pity me. Or not. No pressure.

In another attempt to stave off comedic atrophy this month, I’m going to try an exercise that should result in one or two workable new bits. Write a joke a day. I’ve been inspired by writing machines like Chris White, Erik Myers, and anyone else who’s not me. My mind works in fits and starts. Regular writing has never come naturally to me. Why not force it? You’ll see the answer, because I’ll be posting the daily jokes right here for your judging eyes. Starting…now:

6/10/06: I read a review of The Hills Have Eyes that said it “redefined horror.” Apparently, “horror” now means “shitty.”

Solid bronze.

Before I go, I’d like to make an open plea to the world of cyber-typery. If you’re trying to make a point, a rebuttal, or a statement, here’s a tip: Overuse of capitalization, exclamation points, and LOL’s make it impossible to take you seriously. You type like a 13 year old girl…or a pedophile posing as one.

To be continued…

I, uh…

Hey there ‘Redheads… It was recently revealed to me that my act has become a kind of party game among my fellow DC comics. Count the I, uh…’s. Apparently it’s some kind of drinking game. Which makes sense. It was only a matter of time before my act drove someone to drink. Yes, it’s a stylistic crutch…used to stretch 20 minutes of good material into 30 mediocre minutes. Check out my MySpace page (conveniently linked to your right) and click on the audio clips to play the home game.

Well, it’s June ’06, which marks the one year anniversary of a great feature on DCStandup.com (also conveniently linked to your right), MonoBlog. Where area comedians submit topical/news-related jokes in late night talkshow monologue format, for your amusement and our own desperate need to see our thoughts in print. In celebration of this passage of time (and because I need to fill space), here are some of my favorite contributions to the MonoBlog

(June 07, 2005) Teenagers who think they are too fat are more than twice as likely as normal-weight teens to attempt or think about suicide, a study found. This may be fueled by the notion that decomposition is a great way to shed those excess pounds. Suicide isn’t the way out for these kids … ’cause if they think people are judgmental HERE…

(June 14, 2005) Steve Garcia, an insulin-dependent diabetic convicted of trying to kill his wife three days after she asked for a divorce, won a chance for a new trial when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3 that low blood sugar can cause involuntary intoxication and leave someone incapable of following the law. His attorney has entered a plea of “not guilty by reason of cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs”. Mark Hacking, recently convicted of shooting his wife in her sleep, now wants a new trial, claiming he “did it for a Klondike Bar.”

(July 03, 2005) Forty-five people were arrested during nighttime raids for allegedly conspiring to smuggle South Korean women into the U.S. to work as prostitutes at massage parlors. It should be noted, however, this story did not have a happy ending…that costs extra.

(July 14, 2005) Just hours before the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,’ news reports cite 2003 letters by then-Cardinal Ratzinger which show that Pope Benedict believes the Potter books subtly seduce young readers and “distort Christianity in the soul.” He states that the only work of fiction that is appropriate for young Christians is the Bible.

(July 15, 2005) Amma, the Indian “Hugging Saint”, was welcomed to Crystal City by a crowd of thousands who lined up to receive her healing energy yesterday. The lines were considerably shorter, however, for a guy claiming to be the Mexican “Fondling Saint” and a man offering “Noogies for a Nickel”.

(Aug. 17, 2005) The Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game is using a video game called Laser Shot to help train young hunters. In a related story, the Idaho Dept. of Health is using Pac-Man to treat eating disorders… and the Dept. of Public Works is using Super Mario Bros. as a plumbing tutorial.

(Aug. 26, 2005) A man who exposed himself to children in Fairfax County libraries is in custody. Library officials became suspicious after the children recounted the reading of the “Sammy, the Squirting Snake” pop-up book. In an ironic turn, the book was repeatedly yanked from shelves until the public was satisfied and began coming to the library.

(Sept. 06, 2005) On a tour through Houston’s AstroDome to visit hurricane refugees, Barbara Bush said that amidst the chaos and misery, she sees a “silver lining.” It was later discovered to be cataracts.

(Oct. 31, 2005) Along a stretch of the West Maui Mountains where winds blow up to 50mph, officials have broken ground on the site of what will be Hawaii’s largest wind farm. This follows the success of Hawaii’s sand ranch and oceanwater corral along the coastline.

(Nov. 14, 2005) Scientists have discovered a new hormone produced by the stomach that appears to play a crucial role in controlling appetite. Apparently, the hormone regulates the body’s ability to “make it’s own gravy.”

(May 22, 2006) Rocker Axl Rose and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger got into a fistfight outside of a Manhattan nightclub Thursday night. The fight was apparently over who was less relevant.

(May 26, 2006) Researchers in England and the United States are laying out the blueprint and calling for help in developing the exotic materials needed to build an actual cloak of invisibility like the one in Harry Potter. Unfortunately, the technology to make a fully functioning Hermoine doll that doesn’t find them skeevy is still out of reach.

Yes, I do notice that there is a sizable gap in my entries from Nov. ’05 until about a month ago, but that’s only because I’ve been using all of my harnessed written wit for this blog…for you. It’s all for you. In any case, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed doing it to you.

If this entry seems to lack inspiration (yes, I know…how can you tell?) it’s because I wanted to get one more blog in before the end of the world on Tuesday, 6/6/06. It only comes around once every 1000 years, so something better happen besides a shitty remake of The Omen. My advice? Enjoy some live stand-up comedy to brighten your soul before it’s swallowed by the blood-crazed hellions. On Sunday, head on over to the Comedy Spot to check out the graduating class of Chris White’s College of Stand-up Knowledge (enroll today!). They’ll be joined by Rory Scovel, Erin Jackson, and yours truly for a solid comedy jamboree. On Tuesday, get your soon-to-be-flayed alive carcass down to Nanny O’Brien’s for their stellar monthly showcase. Get in one last laugh before the fiery cataclysm.

Evil unbuttoned

To be continued…?