Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Prisoner Of New Year's Eve

Stand-ups always work on New Year’s Eve. It’s one reason I’m not a fan of that day.

Flashbacks. In the 90's I was booked with two male comics to do two New Year's Eve shows at Lompoc Maximum Security Penitentiary north of Los Angeles.

Upon arrival, Paul, (I can’t remember his real name) Bobby and I were ushered through a security check and asked to remove our belts and keys. We also had to surrender our drivers’ licenses. I asked why.

"In case something happens to you in there…we’ll need some sort of identification to uh…”

“...identify the body.” Bobby finished the sentence for him. It's probably important to note that prison guards don't carry guns. And that prisoners were allowed to talk to us.

As we walked through the halls we passed a locked glass-encased bulletin board. Inside were our pictures, all smiley and show bizzy. We were escorted backstage and introduced to our M.C., a prisoner from Cell Block Kill The Comics.

The headliner, Bobby Gaylor, was a very funny guy who wrote for the sitcom Roseanne and was a veteran of prison shows. As first-timers, Paul (John, George, Ringo?) and I asked him if there was any advice he could give us that would make the gig easier. Bobby said nothing could make a prison gig easier.

The M.C. introduced Paul (Pius, Benedict, Boniface?) and he hadn't said two sentences before the cons started heckling him. I stood backstage and prayed for an earthquake. I decided to keep my biker leather jacket on because I had the blonde hair liability going on. During my half hour on stage I heard “show me your tits” more than I’d ever heard it in my entire life and that’s including from my gynecologist.

After my set ended and I went backstage to learn how to breathe again, a prisoner named Ronnie came up to me holding a camera and told me he thought I was funny, which I hoped wasn’t a prelude to shivving me in the neck. He was nice, sweet even, and very shy. We talked for a long time. As Gaylor came backstage after his set a guard motioned for me to follow him. I shot Gaylor a parting glance that said, “Don’t lose me in here, dude. Seriously.”

“Do you have any idea who you’re talking to over there?” The guard asked, motioning towards the prisoner with the camera.
“You mean Ronnie?”
“That’s Bruiser.”
“He said his name was Ronnie.”
“Yeah, on the outside, in here he’s Bruiser and I gotta warn ya; he’s the most dangerous guy in the pen. We have no idea how many people he’s killed.”
“He must have a file; aren’t the numbers in there?”
“No, inside the prison.”

As we waited for the next show to begin, a deafening siren sounded and we were escorted out. Security said they would come and get us when it was safe to go back in. We walked out to the deserted parking lot in a cold, drizzling rain and piled into Bobby’s car. We decided to take off. Fuck the gig. No amount of money was worth dying in a prison riot although we all agreed we could use the press.

Fifteen minutes later security tapped on the car window. There had been a fight but the guards broke it up. YAY, AND NOW MORE COMEDY!

As we walked past that locked glass case, I noticed my picture was missing. I asked a guard what happened to it.

“Probably stolen by a con.”
“But that case was locked with a key, how did they open it?”
“They got tools.”
“Where do they get tools?”
“They make 'em.”

We went backstage and prisoners from the first show were still milling around. One came up to me with a pen and my head shot from the locked case. I asked him how he got it and he just smiled. I signed it and I’m pretty sure that picture ended up with my mouth torn out in the shape of a circle. Bruiser asked me for my address. I gave him my agent’s address. Better that he kill him when he got out instead of me.
A month later my agent called and said there was a package for me from Lompoc, from some guy named Ronnie. I went to pick it up and inside was a little ship inside of a bottle with my name spelled out in calligraphy on one of the sails. I called Bobby Gaylor and told him what Bruiser made for me.

“Made for you? Soro, he had someone make that for you. He’s the head con at Lompoc. He had a camera; no one has a fucking camera in the pen.”**

I still have that ship in the bottle. It reminds me that no man I’ve ever been with has ever bothered to shake down someone into making me a present. Or killed anyone.

End of chat.
*** Ronnie, aka Bruiser, took the picture of me above and another one where I appear to be not scared to death of having the stage rushed by a bunch of convicts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The 12th Day Of Christmas

Santa Tracking dominates the news. How many 5 year olds are watching the news?

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, an organization made up of the United States and Canada, tracks Santa Claus every year. I can understand why Canada is tracking Santa Claus; they have plenty of free time on their hands. But the United States? People are gunning for us all the time. Shouldn’t we be tracking where Kim Jong Il drops off his plutonium? Or in which cave Osama Bin Laden is reading back issues of How To Kill Americans Digest?

This was the quote of the week from NORAD “I hope Canadians and Americans are assured that NORAD is prepared to respond to threats as they present themselves and to deflect and deter those attacks before they occur.”

Dude, you're tracking Santa Claus, who doesn't exist. I’m not all that assured you’re prepared to deflect and deter attacks from giant killer tomatoes, much less suicide bombers.

This is the NORAD War Room. Thank God we're prepared in case that shifty Santa Claus sends in his Trojan Reindeers and attacks us.

If you want to track Santa with your kids, go here.

And now, the picture I picked as the winner of the 2007 12 Pets of Christmas Contest.
It was the most imaginative. And didn't really make sense. Yet made me laugh. You always get points for that.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 11th Day Of Christmas

This is the first - and last - Christmas tree I ever bought. I vaguely remember buying a box of blue ornaments and some tinsel. I have no idea where the angel on top of the tree came from. I do remember the day I threw it out.

I must have been very proud of my efforts because I invited people over.

The girl on the left is Celeste. She and I waited tables together at Hobeaus, a fish restaurant in NY that served dead lobsters along with live ones in a two for one sale. Only no one knew about the one dead lobster. Beware of all two for one sales.

The guy next to her is Chris. He and I went to the same university in Paris and his father was the German Ambassador to France. His brother Karl de-virginized me. And broke my heart in a million pieces. Chris now lives in Berlin and is a very successful psychoanalyst. I hope Karl is his patient and discusses how he should be forever punished for breaking my heart. Their mother made me get on birth control pills.

The guy who appears to be leaning into my boobs? I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THAT IS.

I had Christmas trees growing up, of course, but my parents never mentioned the downside to owning one and it's just one more thing I get to blame them for in therapy. Those things leak needles. I found them years later, hiding in the cracks of wooden floor boards, in the cushions of my couch and in my cereal.

When I moved to L.A. 13 years later, I found some under one of my rugs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The 10th Day Of Christmas

If you've been reading me for a while, you'll remember the Suicidal Bear from the 12 Pets of Christmas Contest of 2007.

I'd only been blogging a little over a year back then and mistakenly thought that I'd get HUNDREDS of entries in this contest.

I was wrong.

So my friend McLoserstene and I desperately cobbled together the teddy bear I got as a kid, Christmas ornaments we both had and McLoserstene's fake gun. The bear is wearing my Chanel eyeglasses. And I never told anyone I made it myself.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The 9th Day Of Christmas

Every year each comedy club in NY gave a Christmas Party. One of the best ones was at Caroline's Comedy Club.

In 1988 they rented a photo booth and this is a picture of Larry David, creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and I together. Obviously, we were drunk.

I love Larry for many reasons, not the least of which is that he put me on his two TV shows. But the main reason is because of something he did for me in the late 80's.

I had auditioned for and made it into Catch A Rising Star, the best comedy club in New York at that time. Not once, but twice. I had been thrown out by one booker but managed to get back in when another booker named Cynthia took over.

Cynthia really liked me and I got lots of stage time. Then she had a stroke. I wish I was making that up, for both her sake and mine.

So the club hired their bartender to take over. HI, WELCOME TO COMEDY!

The bartender didn't like me. And the more I knew he didn't like me, the worse I treated him. I do not recommend this as a career move.

The bartender slash booker, let's call him Hassle, would put me up when there were no other comics hanging around the bar area. In those days, you had to pay dues by hanging out at clubs for hours at a time, every single night. Then the booker would walk up, tap you on the shoulder and say, "You're on next." And you'd better have been prepared because the odds of you getting another chance after bombing were slim.

Because of that, I've never hung out at bars because I'm always waiting for someone to say, "You're on in 5."

Larry and I played a lot of the same clubs and he noticed I didn't get a lot of stage time at Catch. So one night he asked Hassle to put me on more.

Hassle liked Larry. Admired him. Thought he was a genius. And totally ignored his request.

Hassle said he didn't think I was funny. Larry said I didn't work like most comics. I didn't sit down and write jokes. I made up jokes while I was on stage. Which was harder.

Hassle didn't care.

Larry asked him to reconsider. He didn't and still never put me on unless there weren't any other comedians available.

I only heard this story because other comics had been at the club when Larry did this. And they told me.

Because of Larry I can't stay friends with anyone who isn't supportive of my career. So thanks Larry, for saving me from a lot of people like Hassle.

If you add an "o" to the anagram Hassle, you get the word Asshole.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The 8th Day Of Christmas

One of the first year readers of my blog, Anne, sent this in for the 12 Pets of Christmas Contest in 2007. Anne no longer blogs and I have no idea what happened to her but wherever she is, I'm betting she's scaring kids half to death.

The Bloggess isn't the only one who likes stuffed whateverthisis.

While you're visiting Jenny, read about the Christmas miracle she pulled off for families on the blogosphere. A M A Z I N G.

Also? This picture did not win the contest.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The 7th Day Of Christmas

This is the picture my college roommate put in her Christmas cards three years ago.

She's now divorced. She went back to her maiden name after 23 years of marriage. And she changed her first name.

No good can ever come of dressing up for your Christmas card.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

The 5th Day Of Christmas

Me, the last guy I almost married and my dog Kiko. Kiko was an AKC show dog, which explains why he's posing perfectly. That dog knew where his key light was. I did his hair and makeup in case anyone's wondering.

I look so young in this picture I've decided never to look in a mirror again.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 4th Day Of Christmas

This is a picture of comedian Lisa T. She made gingerbread houses every year at Christmas and passed them along to agents, bookers or anyone else in Hollywood who had helped her career.

Of course it couldn't top what I gave these people at Christmas: Indigestion.

I went to her apartment one day while she was assembling the houses and they were really spectacular. I noticed there was one that sat apart from the others. She called it her practice house. It looked good to me but she said it had lots of mistakes on it. There are no mistakes in candy, Lisa.

I asked her what she did with the practice house and she said she saved it for someone she didn't like that much.

So here's Lisa, a week later, having forgotten what she told me about the practice house, giving me the practice house.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 2nd Day Of Christmas

Whereas I send emails every Christmas that say Bah Humbug Please Stop Contacting Me, comedian Steve Altman always comes up with a card that doesn't contain bile.
Bing Crosby, Steve Altman, Mary and Santa Claus cross Abbey Road.

Steve and I met at a club around San Diego years ago. The Owner of this particular shit hole put us up in separate condos and then later paid for all my drinks. He also offered to buy me a massage from His Massage Girl, as long as he could watch. Yeah, that's a normal part of a standup comic's career.

I turned The Owner down. Well, not the drinks part.

That entire weekend poor Steve ran interference for me with The Owner, who stuck to me like an uncancelled stamp you're trying to soak off an envelope. He said he would be glad to help me with my jokes and had I considered wearing shorter skirts on stage?

Yeah, yet another normal part of my job, short skirts.

To punish me for not returning his attentions, on the last night he wouldn’t pay me after my set until after Steve’s part of the show was over. Steve always did an hour and sometimes went longer. I had a lengthy drive back to L.A. so I begged The Owner to please pay me so I could go. I called my agent at 11 pm and begged him to talk some sense into this clown. My agent declined. THANKS! The Owner finally paid me after he deducted the cost of all the drinks he had bought me that first night.

Our business is so full of classy people and no MEN DON'T HAVE THESE PROBLEMS WHEN THEY PERFORM.

Steve has loads of extra talent, as you can see from this clip.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The First Day Of Christmas

A few years ago I had a 12 Pets of Christmas contest and this photo from one of my close friends was submitted. It didn't win but it did make me laugh.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I'm Tired Of Writing

Thanks for doing this Lisa!