Saturday, January 24, 2009

How you know your friends love you

My ladies came out last weekend to Cambridge and we had weekend Lady Dinner at a restaurant in Porter Square. Then everyone came to my comedy show. Isn't that awesome!

My pal Jennifer Adams blogged about it here.

The previous weekend Trevor and Nancy came out to see me. A different day last week, Trevor's son Jason and his lady came out as well.

It feels so nice to be surrounded by the love of my friends during this crazy month.

If you want to come out for a show, please consider ordering your tickets in advance at The Comedy Studio Web site. Shows sell out quickly there. It's a small room, and if you arrive just a minute after the show sells out, you're out of luck - unless you buy in advance! Don't drive all the way to Cambridge to be turned away at the door.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Video from Jan. 10

Jokes about Scott, the economy and Grandpa with the new extra tagline.

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Fame and fortune, fame and fortune: they will be ours someday!

Lookee here.

In the print version (available wherever free newspapers are given away in eastern Massachusetts), they turned the photo of my head into a line drawing that makes me look kind of weird. Who cares! It's free publicity.

Sara Faith Alterman is a big fan of comedy. She was the responsible party back when that little clip of me telling jokes was featured in that larger video about the Studio. I was excited to do the interview. I didn't turn out as funny as I would have liked, but I'm just a human.

Incidentally, I think Shigella is only funny to me and other people who grew up in Springfield. Remember when the Shigella outbreak swept through all the schools? Some people nearly died. Not me or anyone I knew, luckily. The funny part about it is that there were signs all over Springfield Central, my alma mater, about proper hand washing procedures.

My favorite was a crappy drawing of a clown with enormous hands and a stupid smile that said, "Wash your hands so you don't get sick!" I'd almost be willing to pay money to lay eyes upon that clown sign again. Almost. I wish I had had the good sense to rip one down as a memento. Who knew I would be nostalgic for it nigh on these years later?

Shigella causes Shigellosis. Back in the day, we used to make jokes about shigellosis all the time - oh, and we would laugh. I guess it's no laughing matter, what with people nearly dying. But it's still funny to me.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

I did the same set three nights in a row

I did the same set three nights in a row and tried to make it more succinct each time. I started with stuff about Scott, did my grandfather jokes in the middle with my jokes about being a fattie at the end. I always end with those jokes, but I'm not sure about whether that's a crutch or not. I think it's a valuable summation, but I think this coming week I'm going to work on ending on different jokes and seeing how it goes. I'll upload another clip or two this week.

I've been focusing on not backing off jokes and just letting them sit out there, moving on without addressing the silence, and it's uncomfortable, but I think it makes the set better and tighter. And I think that's the point.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Saturday night's set

It looks a little stretched out. If anyone knows how to fix that, e-mail me. I'm kind of proud of myself for figuring out this YouTube thing myself. I feel like the smartest girl here, except for the part where about a billion other people have also navigated the YouTube upload function successfully.


Comic-in-residence: Day five

Day five: Thursday, January 8, 2008

Tonight's show was hosted by Zach Sherwin, a.k.a. MC Mr. Napkins, who is an excellent comic rapper. This sounds like it wouldn't be funny, but he's hilarious. Please visit his MySpace page and listen to his track about sphygmomanometers. It will change your mind. (Note: If you listen at work, you maybe want to put on your headphones since he drops a big MF right in the middle.)

I paid special attention tonight to not backing off jokes when they don't get any response from people and I didn't back off any jokes that I'm aware of, I just barrelled ahead.

I have to give mad props to my pal Nancy, who in a condolence note said something about No-legs having had a good run and I thought, "Can I use this?" And it turns out I can! So I added a tag to the joke, where I say, "He was 88 when he died. He had a long run." I tried it tonight and there was dead silence, so I just stood there and waited and it washed over the audience like a warm bath. There are a number of parts to that joke that I will never be able to tell again what with them being very rude parts, but I am really happy that I'm able to salvage some of it and write new parts.

When Zach got back up after my set, he said that he hadn't heard about No-legs and said something along the lines of, "Gosh, I've been hearing about your grandfather for so long, I almost feel like he was someone in my extended family."

I guess he kind of was, since we're all members of each other's extended families.

I was watching the video of me telling some of my nerd jokes about Scott and I noticed I got a better reaction in one set when I described my own nerdy behavior first before I started making fun of Scott's. So I tried the jokes again tonight and included the critique of my own behavior first and I think it turned out pretty great. I'll get the video at the end of the week and watch it early next week to decide for certain.

I'm really enjoying the part where I'm having a chance to actually make friendly-friends with so many comics I've been just passing in the night for so long. I think half of glory and fun of the comedy is all the great friends I've made so far. I'm on my way to making even more.

I really love the comedy.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Comic-in-residence: Day four

Day four: Wednesday, January 7, 2008

It was Scott's big 4-0, so I was planning to do my Scott jokes, Husqvarna and all the rest. My economic stimulus package joke is a real crowd favorite, and it's partially about him, so I planned to do that as well. I wrote a few new jokes about career separates. I keep getting mixed results with those jokes, so I've been tweaking them and tweaking them.

If you've been to a Studio show more than once, you may have noticed a pattern, which is that the music directly before the show is the same every time. Rick starts playing a mix of popular tunes as soon as the doors open, but then right before the show, he plays Edwin Starr's "War" and then the beginning strains of "Dirty Water" and then the show is on.

Last night, halfway through "War", Rick Jenkins comes up to me all casual and friendly-like and asks, "Hey, you wanna host tonight?"

He's a sly debbil, that Rick Jenkins. He surely knew he was going to ask me to host long before he actually asked me, but he asked me to host about one minute before I was going to have to host. I think it was a test.

And I think I passed. I ended up doing most of my current strongest jokes, sprinkled in a few new ones, and overall had a great time. I think one of my biggest anxieties while I was actually in the middle of it is that I had to introduce people I didn't know, and I couldn't figure out who they were to talk with them before actually introducing them. It worked out okay, though. I don't think I mangled any names or gave anyone too crappy an intro.

We hung out at the bar on the first floor after the show was over and talked to Rick and the gang. It seems Rick's biggest criticism of my style is that I back off my jokes when it seems the audience isn't responding. He reminded me that sometimes an audience is amused but not laughing and when I start backing off it confuses them because they didn't notice that anything was the matter. He said that when you're doing a big show and 100 people say, "Ha!" it sounds much louder than a smaller show and 12 people saying "Ha!", but the 12 people aren't enjoying the joke any less.

Good point. I knew this month-long project would turn me into a better comic just by virtue of getting up and performing every single night. I think Rick's criticism, however, may be even more valuable. I hope I can break myself of the backing-off habit.

More later.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Comic-in-Residence: Days one, two and three

Day one, Friday, January 2:
Upon my taking the stage, a lady heckled me with a shouted, "Easthampton!" as I was greeting the audience.

I replied, "Do we know each other?"

She said, "I saw you in Easthampton!"

My material went over great. I got lots of laughs and left feeling basically like a king.

Day two, Saturday, January 3:
This was the day of the funeral and I was feeling pretty glum. I tried my Grandpa No-legs jokes and included that he had just died and that I had given the eulogy for him that morning. I built up the tension so much that the room was totally quiet. When I gave the punchline, the crowd went completely bonkers. Even so, in the middle, I thought I might cry a little bit. It took all my power not to cry. The rest of my set went really well.

After the show, I was surrounded by people who wanted to talk to me. I was surrounded by one group who wanted their photo with me, and I was game. I posed with my posing smile face (you know the one). They went on and on about how great I am and how funny they thought I was, and right in the middle of it, one of the young men took my hand and said, "I'm so sorry about your grandfather." And I nearly lost it.

Another couple wanted to talk to me. They waited for the larger group to be done. When they came up to tell me how funny I am, the man in the couple said, "My father is a comedian and I see a lot of comedians and I don't usually think that women are funny, but I think you're hilarious!" What a weird compliment. I said thank you, of course, but I didn't even know what to make of it.

Even so, I left feeling like HBO should reserve a spot for my special.

Day three, Sunday, January 4:
We took a wrong exit and ended up driving around in circles for more than an hour, so by the time we got to the Studio, I was ready for bed. Scott and I bickered in the car needlessly due to us both being totally frazzled from being lost. We were at one intersection where I said, "Which way am I supposed to turn." He replied, "East. Go east!" But I didn't know where we were and there were no signs indicating direction, so I replied, "I am trying to drive a car!" That might not sound that bad, but if you had been in the car and heard the tension, you might just open the door and roll out into traffic to get away from it.

I tried a bunch of new material and I apparently wasn't doing it with confidence because the audience totally didn't come with me. After, Rick Jenkins told me that I have to fake confidence when I don't have it and I can't rely on such crutches as, "Well, this isn't going over." to make the audience laugh and try to win them back over. And he's right. But I left feeling pretty crappy about everything and ready to fall instantly asleep. Unfortunatly, I can't really fall asleep in cars, so I didn't get to sleep until we were back home.

Here's to this week. When I get my DVD from last week's show, I'll try to post Friday and Saturday's sets for your perusal if I can figure out the YouTube.

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Waves of sadness

I'm surprised by how sad I am about No-legs. It keeps washing over me in waves.

When Grandpa Myszkowski died, I cried for about 24 hours straight. I have felt choked up about him a number of times since, of course, but I haven't had to cry and cry about him since the day he died. With No-legs I keep accidentally crying about him in public, including at work, which is pretty uncomfortable for everyone involved. I try not to reveal that much humanity all at once at work.

Maybe the difference is that there wasn't a service for Grandpa Myszkowski, so maybe it didn't feel as real to me as this does. Honestly, No-legs' service seemed to be when my unraveling started in earnest.

I had a particularly hard time looking at the collage of photos and seeing photos of Grandpa standing up. He'd been sitting down so long I hardly remembered him being just a regular guy. There was a particular photo of him standing in his garden in his shirtless old-guy way that made me cry out loud. He was really into his garden. I regret not including that in his obit or in my eulogy. It's been so long since I saw him like that.

I was flooded with memories of him when he was just my regular grandpa. I included some of those memories in my eulogy, but they keep coming and I keep being sad.

I feel smooshy on my insides. And I know the smooshy part is going to pass. I'm almost afraid that the smooshy part will pass and I'll accidentally forget the good parts about No-legs (I'll have no problem remembering the bad parts, I'm sure).

Here's the obit I wrote for him. I was concerned that if I didn't step in it would be too much like the "into the pearly gates" "onto his heavenly reward" "angels called him home" bullshit that's in the papers today. The funeral home added a couple things, but I'm pleased they submitted it to the papers nearly as I sent it to them.

I tried my No-legs jokes on Saturday night. I was afraid I was going to cry right in the middle, but I didn't, and I got an incredible laugh and a loving response from the audience. More on this when I report on my first three days as comic in residence. In any case, I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to tell the jokes again or how they'll end up when they're done. I'll keep trying.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Eulogy for Grandpa No-legs, January 3, 2008

I gave a eulogy for Grandpa No-legs at the Church of Saint Matthew in Forestville, Connecticut today. I am extremely grateful I had the good sense to write it all out before hand. At first I thought I would write down the salient points and remember all the other parts, but when I got up there and started crying out loud, I was relieved to be able to read it off the paper. Here's the text of what I wrote, which I may not have read word for word since my eyes blurred with tears and I had to free-style it a few times:

Shortly after my grandfather died, the family gathered in his room at the nursing home and my aunt Carol said to him, “Curt, you lived life on your own terms.” And I thought, “This is the most incredible understatement I’ve ever heard, indeed the most incredible understatement of all time!”

He was difficult to get along with, no doubt, and he was sometimes a real jerk. But when I was a little kid, I had no idea. He was just my Grandpa.

He was an exuberant grandparent. He took great delight in our events and performances, arriving with camera in hand, ready to capture every moment. At one of my first piano recitals, flash photography wasn’t permitted, so he took dark and grainy photos without the flash, then afterwards set me up at the piano to look like I was playing in the real recital. The only thing that gives the photo away is that you can see the chairs are empty and people are sort of just milling around with snacks and beverages in the background.

He’d entertain us for hours taking out his teeth and putting them back in. He lost his pinky finger in a printing accident, so he would put his pinky stump into his nose and pretend his finger was stuck there - this was high comedy for us kids. He would take off his prosthetic leg and let us draw all over it – with pencil of course, so it could be erased and we could start all over again. He taught us how to play checkers and would tell us how to make moves so we could beat him. He took us to every kid-friendly museum in the area, and then – joy of joys – out for pizza after. And in true grandparent spirit, he let us drink soda and eat sugary snacks before he sent us back home with our parents.

I regret that Maya and Jacob didn’t get an opportunity to know him as this Grandpa and only knew him as a sick and cranky old man.

I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I know he did, and I'm going to think of him now in heaven, reunited with his parents and his brother – and also his teeth, pinky and legs - and I'm going to hope that he can feel how much we love him.

My uncle also gave a eulogy about Grandpa growing up in the Depression and how it turned him into the guy he was, how no matter what a pain he was, he was always there, etc. There was lots of crying.

People have been asking me if I'm still going to do my Grandpa No-legs jokes and I think I will. I'm going to try tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.