Poison My Eyes

Hey there ‘Redheads… Greetings from beyond all the Newport News that’s fit to print. Just got back from a great weekend at Cozzy’s, one of my favorite clubs. Before I get this blog a rollin’, I realize that July has been a below-par month as far as blog frequency. I’ve been trying to offset that by making the blog as meaty as possible. This week is no exception.

First and foremost, thanks to Lorain, Corry, Karen, and the rest of the Cozzy’s staff for an amazing weekend. All three shows were packed to the rafters with folk that were ready to laugh. I wish I could take credit for the sell-out crowds. I suffer from many delusions, but “being a draw” is not yet one of them. The capacity crowd was all thanks to a DC legend, the Fat Doctor. For those of you who don’t know, the good doctor has mentored guys like Martin Lawrence and Dave Chappelle. He’s a favorite down in Newport News, and it was very cool to watch him work. Another thing you may not know about Doc is that he was a contemporary of the late great Richard Pryor. It’s one thing to work with a cool headliner, but getting a chance to work with a font of comedy wisdom…that’s the icing on the gravy.

This was my third time at Cozzy’s, and this was my most consistent weekend there so far. This was best crystallized by Chris, a patron of the club who’s seen me all three times. “Dude,” he started, “The first time I saw you, you seemed to lose the crowd about halfway through. The second time, I was like ‘This guy is funny.’ Tonight, I was like ‘This guy has a point.’ ” The several pitchers of beer he’d thrown back aside, I found his observation encouraging. Someone out there thinks I have a point. Now, all I have to do is…find a point. I’ll be taking suggestions.

Speaking of nebulous points, you probably read the title of the blog and are wondering what the hell it has to do with my weekend adventures (but, I assume too much). Well, much of my weekend was spent mainlining junk into my peepers. It started after my set on Friday night. It turns out the town of Newport News was named for the cigarette, because these people smoked like cancer is a prize. There was a thick haze that you could see in the stage lights. Usually, I don’t mind the smoke…I have a second hand smoking habit, but that night the nicotine cloud formed two fingers that poked me right in the eyes. I got all teary, like Matt Lauer just asked me if the papparazzi had gone too far.
The assault on my eyes continued the next morning (ok, it was closer to noon…the sun was shining, anyway), as I went about killing my Saturday. My usual routine is to catch a matinee at the local multiplex. The showing of Clerks 2 didn’t start for another couple hours, so I had some thumb-twiddling time. I usually find a bookstore or a DVD store to pass the time, but this time I wandered in what I thought was a video game store, called Gamer’s Haven. Turns out, it was a place to play video games. Roughly 15 PCs all set up to run networked games. You pay by the hour and log on to all sorts of retina-burning fun. I chose Doom 3 so I could kill both time and demons with one stone. I bought this game for my home computer, but apparently the graphics are too vivid for it, because when I attempted to play it, it looked like I was reading an apocalyptic flip book. So, being able to play the game on a high-performance machine was a plus. They supply you with headphones and a flatscreen monitor…very immersive. Midway through the game, I felt like Bill Paxton in Aliens. Oddly enough, that was around the time that my hour ran out…game over, man…game over.

After I got done, I went to check out the latest from Kevin Smith, Clerks 2. I’m not going to review the movie. If you liked Mallrats or Dogma or the original Clerks, then you’ll enjoy this one. What caught my eye was a preview for another flick, The Protector. This is the newest movie from Muay Thai dynamo, Tony Jaa. No digital effects. No wire stunts. Just pure badass martial artistry. If you haven’t seen the man in action, I give you the final fight from his first movie, Ong Bak: Thai Warrior. Enjoy…

Pretty flippin’ sweet, eh? Expect more of that barbaric ballet in the new one, which should hit theaters in late August.

Well, it’s getting late, so I’ll leave you with that. Your comedy homework: Go support the comedy showcase at the Arlington Cinema n’ Drafthouse on the 26th. If it sells out, good things happen.

To be continued…

Beach Blog Bingo

Greetings from beyond North Cack-a-lackey, ‘Redheads… Just got back from a 4-day comedy vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Many thanks to Ed, Leslie, and the rest of the staff of The Comedy Club for an amazing week of shows. Ed and Leslie are a rare breed of club owner, allowing 4 comics into their home EVERY WEEK. Given the off-balance nature of comedians, this is alot like giving a monkey 4 hand grenades (or, is that one hand grenade and 4 monkeys?) EVERY WEEK. Luckily, the arrangement has worked out so far without their house collapsing in on itself like in Poltergeist.
I mentioned 4 comics. They run two rooms during the week, so the headliner and feature from both rooms stay at their house, a really cool place right on the Albemarle Sound (I’m pretty sure I didn’t spell that right but, I’m still kinda in vacation mode). Along with me, was the very funny and super cool Greg Lausch and the equally cool Chad EO (I have it on good authority that he’s funny, but I never got to see him on stage…no relation to Captain EO). Ok, that’s only 3…unfortunately, the other headliner, the hilarious Sonya King, is allergic to dogs, and couldn’t cope with Buddy and Sadie, the club owner’s pooches (that was an assload of commas).
So, what do three swingin’ comics unleashed upon the beaches of Nags Head, NC do? Not a whole hell of alot. Highlights include:

-Lunch at the Nags Head H(.)(.)ters… Nothing like cracking jokes with a really hot waitress…who doesn’t understand sarcasm. She won the looks lottery, I guess it’s too much to ask that she know when someone is kidding…ever.
While we’re talking about the Maxim of restaurants, a moment of silence for Robert H. Brooks, who, as the self-styled “Worldwide Wing Commander” of Hooters restaurants, died on Sunday at his home in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He was 69(…figures). Apparently, God needed a franchise. Kudos to you, Mr. Brooks for providing the world with two things: 1) day jobs for strippers and Hawaiian Tropic models and 2) yet another forum for fat slobs to think they have a shot with hot waitresses who know better. As per his wishes, his body will be breaded, fried, and slowly lowered into a vat of bleu cheese dressing. There will also, of course, be a 21 tit salute.

-Poker. Apparently, Ed is a bit of a cardshark. He introduced us to a whole new world of poker, beyond the milquetoast Texas Hold’em. Our poker nights, which went to about 5am one night, were all about the wild cards. Variants on 7 card stud like Low Hold Wild, Night Baseball, High Chicago, and, the game that grows the pot faster than your college Ultimate Frisbee team, No Peek. Screw the World Series of Poker, ESPN needs to televise four comics shootin’ the shit over a pitcher of margaritas and freshly baked tollhouse cookies. You want drama? Here’s how one hand played out…Greg shows four-of-a-kind Jacks…Chad shows four-of-a-kind Kings…after seeing both hands, I got to say, “Well, gentlemen, that’s a damn shame,” and showed my four-of-a-kind Aces. I felt like Doc Holliday. I’m your huckleberry.

-Lunch at Five Guys. One of the greatest burger joints has extended its reach past Va. If you’ve never had a Five Guys burger, do yourself a favor. The basic burger is two patties thick. Nothing but the finest toppings. I bit into a jalapeno so green, Lex Luthor could’ve used it to take out Superman. Delicious, yes. The bathroom aftermath it caused hasn’t been seen outside of Fat Man and Little Boy (look it up).

The weather was sunny and spectacular for the most part. Except for Thursday night. At around 6pm, I looked off into the northern sky and saw darkness. This darkness slowly got bigger as it skulked down the coast and swallowed the sky. As Greg and I drove toward the club, the stormcloud followed close behind. If you’ve seen The Neverending Story, essentially The Nothing was chasing us to the club. Once it settled over the ocean, the storm was an amazing sight. Massive lightning strokes. Rain blowing sideways. Like God was putting on a seaside Gallagher show (be careful in the front row…you will get wet).

There are some other details I’m leaving out…alcohol + heatstroke = fuzzy memories…

To be continued…

*Insert Witty Title Here*

Hey there ‘Redheads… I hope everyone can still count to ten on both hands after the alcohol-fueled celebration of our nation’s independence. I got a chance to enjoy multiple fireworks displays from my friend Pam’s rooftop. Usually, the 4th of July’s combo of beer, humidity, and loud bangs are the recipe for a big ass migraine. This time, after a brain-pain free evening, my luck was ruined by a screeching five-year-old on the metro. The kid had alot in common with a certain kind of firework…the one that makes alot of noise, calls a bunch of attention to itself, but ends up fizzling and not doing much with its life.

I finally saw Superman Returns last night. I was not disappointed. I can understand why some people were. Essentially, it is a carbon copy of the original Superman: The Motion Picture. Deliberately paced, focusing more on the dramatic than the bang for the buck. So, if you went expecting an action flick, it probably left you wanting. There was no epic fight scene. What this movie did was reestablish Superman as an iconic character in the hearts and minds of movie-goers. Brandon Routh is, no pun intended, a dead ringer for Christopher Reeve in look and performance (and bears an eerie resemblance to DC comedian, Paul Schorsch). Sure, if you want to nitpick, the plot has plenty of holes, but lighten up people…it’s a comic book movie.

This blog has reached a mini-milestone: 5,000+ hits…as of a couple days ago. Now that it has reached that mark, I’ve done some calculations to give myself a rough idea just how many of you read this. Ok…as of right now, the blog counter is at 5057 (minus the hit I just used to check it). Not counting this post, there’ve been 53 posts since I installed the counter. To account for the amount of times I check the blog, let’s subtract 3 hits for every post…that’s 5057 – 159 = 4898. So, we take the remaining hits and divide by the number of posts…4898 / 53 = 92 and change. 92 hits per post. Even if that’s 46 people checking it twice, that’s still very encouraging. It ain’t an Oscar, but you like me…you really sort of like me. May this be the last time I ever use math in this blog.

It may be the last time, only because my mental faculties are slowly slipping through my fingers, like so much sand (thanks Chris). Here’s the evidence of my descent into dementia. As alot of you know, before I started doing stand-up, I spent 2 1/2 years as the associate producer of DC101’s Elliot in the Morning Show. I got a chance to meet a bunch of big names…Bobby Slayton, Jim Gaffigan, Jay Mohr once called me an idiot for my fantasy football picks, I drank Sam Adams Summer Ale with Jim Cook. Here I am with Lord Stanley’s Cup…

It’s filled with Molson

What I’m getting at is, I have alot of vivid memories from my short time there. So, on Saturday morning, on my drive to work, I turned on the Best Of Elliot to liven up the commute. There was an interview, live in studio, with Dave Chappelle. Pretty cool. You’ve got my attention. As the interview goes on, I hear clues that this is a vintage segment from maybe a couple years ago…pre-Chappelle’s Show. Then I hear me (yes, the trademark “HA!”). I was in studio, with Dave Chappelle (who, granted, wasn’t as famous back then…this was from roughly ’99), AND I DON’T REMEMBER IT. Not a lick of it. And I edited this interview for Best Of. I’m one step shy of being the guy from Memento. I going to have to take pictures of my friends and write footnotes in sharpie that say, “Be nice to these people, they’ve put up with you for this long.” I’ll be tattooing my closer on my chest. I need a vacation.

Luckily, comedy has come to my rescue. On Tuesday, I hit the road for four nights of sun and pun in Nags Head, NC. This’ll be the furthest south I’ve ventured to be paid for my services (I did a showcase in Charlotte and auditioned for LCS2 in Nashville). This’ll also be the most exotic locale that comedy has taken me to…although, when Buffalo and Erie are your main competition, that’s not saying much. The past two days have been spent looking for my swimtrunks, some sunscreen, and the courage to take my shirt off on a public beach. The hairy puff-pastry that is my torso isn’t exactly something I like to show off in broad daylight…especially since my gut is close to being broader than daylight. I’m looking forward to a couple days of beach bumming, then hitting the stage after being freshly stroked by the sun.

To be continued…

SuperBlog Returns: Part Jew

Hey there ‘Redheads… As promised, I’m back on track with my bloggery. This is, by no means, a guarantee that this Amtrak won’t derail again at some point (or collide with my train of thought), but for now lets head to the dining car and feast on some hearty blog meat…or, for you vegetarians out there, bloccoli (and, apparently, corn).

Now to answer the burning question (would ya believe “smoldering”?) that’s been on everyone’s mind: Am I the funniest Jewish comic (of the roughly 50 that entered an arbitrary and completely bullshit NY bringer contest)? Sadly, no. I am, however, somewhere between the 4th and 15th funniest. I am happy to report that Adam Ruben is the 2nd funniest Jew on record. For this accomplishment, he was awarded a $150 gift certificate to Macy’s. If he has any sense of finance, he’ll invest that money…in a stake in the 50 foot, floating UnderDog balloon from the Thanksgiving Parade. A big thank you to my two friends who came out to support me, budding rock star, Marissa Levy and song parodist extraordinaire, David Brody.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a fun experience. Getting on the main stage in front of a packed house at the Laugh Factory, even if only for 5 minutes and for 300 old Jews, was quite a rush. This was a great example of how moody a contest can be…the judges and crowd love you in the prelims, and for some reason that connection is lost in the finals. It’s a mystery. The crowd for the finals skewed older…I know this because I could carbon date most of them. It looked like a casting call for Cocoon 3 (yes, there was a 2). Older people don’t respond to the same things that young whippersnappers do…factor in some inherent uptightness and the ambient temperature of the room being about 100 degrees, you’ve got a dangerous concoction of kvetching and shpilkiss.
This was evidenced as I was coming off stage after my set. A lady, who wasn’t old, but fit the uptight mold, waved me over to her table. Here’s what she lays on me… You should rethink that Parkinson’s joke you tell. My father is dying of Parkinson’s. It’s very offensive. I’ve never been a huge fan of this rationale. And I said to her plainly, I didn’t write the joke about him. A good friend of mine died in a rainstorm last week, should I now be offended by jokes about driving in the rain? This lady might as well have said this…You should rethink that bobblehead joke you tell. My father choked to death on a bobblehead doll. Lighten up people, they’re just jokes. If you are offended by something, it shouldn’t be up to the author to change his or her worldview because you feel snubbed. I should write a book, but that lady might burn it. Well, enough of me taking myself way too seriously…for now.
A cool highlight of the show, was its bookend special guests. The show was opened by Freddie Roman. In the green room, he regaled us with a story of how he and Henny Youngman were arguing over who headlined at the Copa Cabana. Just to give you some perspective, that story is currently being studied in the comic antiquities wing of the Smithsonian (by top men…who?…top men). The show was closed by Mickey Freeman. Mickey is the last surviving member of the cast of television’s Sgt. Bilko. They were both very entertaining. Now, when you see a headliner get on stage and tell book jokes, you roll your eyes and wonder how they’ve made it this far. Here’s the thing, though…these guys probably WROTE THE FUCKING BOOK.

Guess which ones aren’t Muppets…

Since neither of us accidentally infected ourselves with mouse malaria, or monkeypox, or hamster HIV this time, we arrived in NY with a couple hours to kill. We wandered through Times Square and found our way to the Toys R Us. Unfortunately, we were unable to recreate the scene from Big, but here are a couple things that we saw worth noting…
1) Bulk Legos. Making a three story replica of Tara Reid, but don’t have enough purple for the crotch? Fear not. They have buckets and bins of every piece you could need, sorted by color, size, and configuration.
2) The wall of Pez. Every type of Pez dispenser imaginable, from Darth Vader to Bruce Vilanch. They also had everyday heroes…a firefighter, a policeman, and my personal favorite, the nurse…which dispensed placebos.
3) A kid throwing a major league fit. No toy store visit is complete until you see a kid blow his top because his mom won’t buy him that three story replica of Tara Reid. This kid was screeching like he’d just burst out of somebody’s chest. His face was beet red, which made his blonde hair look like spaghetti noodles on a dodgeball. The mother held him like a trophy for the Most Justified Reason to Hit Your Kid and she rushed out of the store. Priceless. Remember, you too can be a winner in the game of Life.

And now it’s time to debut a new feature on the blog. After the utter failure of Joke-a-Day in June, I’ve decided to narrow my focus to bring you the best of a phenomenon I’ve always enjoyed: Gas Station Marquee Words of Wisdom. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Either motivational, uplifting, or biblical, these blurbs come straight from the Unleaded Supreme being to help you through your day. Each blog, I’ll post a new one…plus my own commentary. I dub thee John 3:16 9/10. Enjoy:

If you seek vengeance, dig two graves. That’s sound advice, because when I get revenge, it usually involves cutting somebody in at least two pieces.

Superman Returns came out last week. I’ve always been a big fan of the last son of Krypton. I’ve heard good things from my dork sources about the movie. I’ll have a full write-up, of course. In the meantime, here’s a panel from a Superman comic that I’ve always identified with…

Well, the year is half over. Time for the real procrastinating to begin. Have a safe, emergency room visit-less holiday. May the 4th be with you.

To be continued…

SuperBlog Returns Part One

When it rains, it pours. If wetness is the essence of beauty, then the last 7 days have been fuckin’ beautiful. ‘Redheads, it has been too long. My apologies for contributing to the delinquency of my blog. I received this response to the placeholder Coming Soon blog I put up: WEAK….Hella WEAK…seriously? Seriously I loaded this page for that…..what a waste of all that Al Gore created for us. WEAK….I can’t believe my comments are longer than your blog. That is just plain sad.
It won’t happen again. We good? Ok then. Let’s get on to the business of retelling the good, the bad, and the downright tragic. Poppin’ a recap in your ass.

Let’s begin where I last left you. Your homework was to go check out my fellow Guys Watching 24 (still conveniently linked to your right) co-stars, Chris White and Danny Rouhier at the DC Improv with Adam Ferrara. I went ahead and did the assignment too. Turned out to be an awesome night on a few levels. Level 1: Danny and Chris had great sets in front of a sold-out crowd. It was also a pleasure to finally see Adam Ferarra live. He is a great example of what separates a true headliner from a guy who can do 45 minutes. To me, anyway, a headliner needs to leave the audience with something. He or she should lead them down a rabbit hole and give them a glimpse of something they haven’t thought of or seen before. Adam Ferrara did just that, and had the crowd hanging on his every word. Very cool. Level 2: When I got to the club, they were slightly understaffed. So, rather than simply freeload, I got put to work. I was put in charge of the light…the signal that tells the comic on stage how much time they have left. There’s a delicate art to giving somebody the light. You need to make sure they see it, but, at the same time, you don’t want to be distracting to the performer. It takes a certain amount of poise on the comic’s part to see the light mid-joke and not break stride. That comes with experience. Most open-mikers don’t know to look for the light, and when they do see it they treat it like the neuralizer from Men In Black. It was a fun bit of responsibility…I wasn’t drunk with power, but I was sipping it…especially when I lit Adam Ferrara. Level 3: The DC Improv is going through some renovation and expansion. The bathrooms are now fully functional and a wall has been erected behind the curtain that drapes the walkway from the green room to the stage. For those of you that’ve been there, this means the patrons are no longer able to back up their chairs into the walkway. Unfortunately, the air conditioning wasn’t functioning. This made the evening sticky, sweaty, and otherwise swampy. Pardon this imagery, but by the end of the night, my nutsack was stuck to my inner thigh like a wacky wall-walker…and my asscrack could breed mosquitoes. Secret Level: One of the cool things about a club like the DC Improv, is that every once in awhile a big name will show up unannounced. Dave Chappelle has done it recently. Well, this night we got a surprise visit from SNL alum, Kevin Nealon. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to meet him…or light him.

Before I went inside the club, I spotted a homeless guy begging for change…not so much begging as bugging. He had an empty Coke cup that he held outstretched, and when the inevitable passer-by shrugged him off, he followed behind them for about 100 feet, clearing his throat. Now, I have never been homeless. I have, however, been locked out of my house. That was frustrating as hell (I’m not trying to diminish their situation, I’m just saying there but for the grace of God go I). So, these people have to deal with that frustration every day. If I was homeless, and my survival depended on the charity of strangers, I’d like to think I could give them a reason to part with their change. Por ejemplo, the homeless guy I encountered the next night as I was going to meet my family for dinner. I was about to parallel park, and this guy began waving me into the spot. I didn’t need the help, but he was willing to offer it. Putting forth an effort. I was more than willing to give him a couple of bucks after he offered to watch my car. Comics sing for their supper on a nightly basis, so I can appreciate when a guy in need does what he can to sway an otherwise indifferent stranger.

Editor’s note: I’ve decided to break this entry up into two parts. For those of you clamoring to know how I did in the finals of the Funniest Jewish Comic contest, that will be posted in a day or so.

When you hear about the weather related fatalities from the past week, more often than not, they’re anonymous, but for the mention in the paper. Unfortunately, this time, I was not so lucky. Marlie Griffin, a local actress who I had the privilege of sharing the stage with, died in a car accident in Sunday night’s storm. She was 43. In every creative endeavor that I’ve entered into, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by talented people. She was one of them. Marlie, you will be missed.

To be continued…soon, I promise…