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…

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