Well, the countdown to baby dos is at a month and I thought it would be a good time to review comedy and babies, now that I have had one and can be a seasoned vet for number two.
“You’re going to get tons of material!” Yes, but I’ll be so damn exhausted, I won’t remember most of it. The number one thought I had when my daughter came was “What in the hell am I supposed to do?” and number two was “When can I sleep? Even for three minutes?” Then they get a bit older, you relax a bit and some funny things happen, so you finally start gleaning a few nuggets of humor you can use in the wealth of free time you have to write jokes.
“You can just tell the stories onstage about the pregnancy!” Eh, sort of. Single Chris wouldn’t have comprehended one joke about breastfeeding, delivery or infants. Parents I talk to LOOOOOVVVEEEE jokes about parenthood and non-parents generally stare at you as though you are reciting the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Bhagavad Gita in a dead language.
“Do you try jokes on your kid?” No and hell no. My kid laughs when I blow raspberries on her belly. Although there have been gigs where that would’ve worked better than my set. “C’mere angry trucker in the front row!”
We’ll see if I can get some more material this time around, I am about 15% more knowledgeable than before. Plus we’re having a boy, so maybe I can exploit a new “men and women are different, can you believe it?” hack line of jokes just catered to toddlers.
Yesterday my wife and I closed on our former home officially, beginning a new era where we had had only mortgage payment instead a couple. Well, not to get political, but I support that. Luckily, now we can stockpile all our money and build a new empire (looks at calendar, sees second kid is due in less than a month, looks up how to rob a bank online).
It’s a strange thing, what you feel about a house when selling it. At first, you think of the things you will miss (and not miss) about the house, then you drift in and out of nostalgia. Then you get the remedy list where you have to fix all the stuff you’ve been putting off and you start to hate the house with all your soul. Luckily for us, we did a lot of work (by we, I mean mostly my wife) so it was ready to roll. Even then, we redid the cabinets, put a support jack beam in the garage, had some electrical work done, which is fun when you work all day, then fly over to your old house and put in four hours at night. That’s called sarcasm, it’s not even remotely fun. With my condo that I used to own, I had to rent it out, which is a pure living nightmare. Rent checks late, renter calls you to tell you drain is clogged (did you try Drano? No? Can you start there? You’ve been living there a year.) I was researching how to get away with arson when suddenly I got an offer on the condo. Maybe next time, arson!
All that said, it’s a big relief and we went to celebrate at Red Lobster, since we haven’t had seafood outside of fish sandwiches from drive thrus in months. My daughter wouldn’t get away from the “pinchers” in the lobster tank, so I spent the first 15 minutes hearing her say she wanted to touch the “pinchers” and “See the pinchers?” I also ordered lobster, which I began to feel guilty about, but luckily they had ice cream and my daughter didn’t notice. Pinchers are delicious.
One of my favorite Willie Nelson songs is a Horse called Music. It’s a pretty well written and depressing tale about an old performer where his singing is a metaphor for a horse; I wouldn’t recommend listening if you are about to hit the dance floor, but I’m not much of a hit the dance floor type, so I like it. Of course, there’s no song called a Horse called Comedy, because most comics I know drive piles of shit for cars and exactly none could ride a horse without falling off and dying. Maybe I’ll write a song “A beer drank alone at a dive bar that is probably going to stiff you on your $20 called comedy.” Pretty catchy.
I just hit 220,000 miles on my car – I bought it brand new in 2008 and promptly put 40,000 miles on it in the first full year. I was doing a lot of road work and at the time was in a purely outside sales role, so I more or less murdered my car early. I’m about to go car shopping, since my rear window defrost went out (again), my headlight went out (loose wires, I was pulled over heading to a show two months ago), my auto door locks don’t work on the driver’s side (they do on the passenger’s side) and the passenger rear door unlocks about one of seven times. The remote starter keychains quit about 2013, so winter sucks for me also. The horse is about to go to the glue factory.
That said, this car has taken me to hundreds of shows and endured thousands of farts, so I will miss it. I have taken this chariot from Maryland to Minnesota, Alabama to Pennsylvania and all parts in between. Maybe I should do something nice and memorable, like put one the Ozzy’s Boneyard satellite channel on max volume and drive it into the side of a redneck bar for a nice send off. I’m kidding, that would be wasteful. I’ll probably just stage a car theft for the insurance payout, like a true professional comedian.
I don’t mind cold weather as much as most, but once it hits the single digits I remember my keychain car starter died years ago and I contemplate quitting all outside commitments for all times. “Grocery store? No, we are eating this coloring book with a side of ketchup packets. It’s too damn cold.” At least it’s not 1991 again, when I lived through the Ice Storm of northern Indiana.
I lived north of Indianapolis for four years growing up. That part of the country is devoid of hills, has about three trees and the wind, when it blows, is usually about 150 mph on average. In March of ’91, three inches of ice hit the north central part of the state at 40 mph. Literally everything was encased in ice, and I mean everything. Cars, trees, mailboxes, it all had to be laboriously freed from an icy crypt. It was very strange to look outside, it was like a shiny layer on everything, much like my oily face in seventh grade. My parents took a weekend off and we fled to Ohio to visit family, but had to return for the next week. We managed to find the last kerosene heater in the neighboring county, which was huge, since 200,000 houses lost power.
The balance of the next two weeks we had no power. The little kerosene heater was placed in my parents’ room and four of us, plus our dog, sat in that cell. When we wanted to eat, it was cold food or lamely heated up on a pan sitting on the heater. Day 5 of turkey or peanut butter sandwiches and I nearly went on hunger strike. Bathing meant heating up a pot of water on the heater and washrag cleaning yourself like it was Appalachia in…well, any time really. The worst though was the abject boredom. We read the same books over and over, played board games and cards and prayed for the power to return. Sadly, I was too young for alcohol, I’ll bet I would have flown through that storm now like a boss. No lights at night other than candles, no heat outside that room – leaving the room was like entering an ice cave in Toth – and no music, other than what two radio stations we could get on a battery powered radio, which we conserved for weather updates. Going outside meant slipping and sliding and falling down. We couldn’t make it more than about ten feet before giving up and belly crawling like salamanders back to the door.
The power finally returned to our house at almost exactly two full weeks. We sprung into the air with joy and immediately went to our own rooms and locked the door, vowing never to speak to one another for a month. Delicious heat poured from the vents and sweet, sweet TV broadcast images from places where the sun still existed. I lost my virginity that night with my eight bit Nintendo – “I’ll never let you go baby! I love you!” Now when the power goes out, I get light headed and begin to shake with fear. Long story short, yes this cold weather stinks, but if the power goes out that long again, I’m wandering out the front door like the mom on the Road.
It’s that time for the year end recap of my blogs, which are read by humans or spambots at a clip of thousands of times a minute. OK a year, but thanks for reading and please get me an ad sponsor, I’m poor.
My most read blogs this year were #3, Chris Cornell and Suicide, which you can read here. I will miss that man’s flawless rock voice and his contributions to music. My #2? I CAN’T REPOST IT OR SHARE OR EVEN HAVE YOU READ IT! I went on a rather pointed rant against a company, which thanks to you, the readers, caused their corporate office to call me and offer an “agreement” in exchange to remove the scathing review. POWER TO THE PEOPLE AKA ME.
My most popular blog this year was my take on the kneeling during the anthem. Ta-da! That was number one, so basically suicide, horrible life experiences and an event that caused national strife – all my most read blogs. The other top hitters were about my kid, because no one cares about me anymore, but it’s OK because she’s really cute and I’m an asshole. Come back in 2018 for more depressing and somewhat maybe humorous hot takes!
A very active post went up in one the comedy “community” pages I’m a member of about local bookers or fellow comics using the same people. By the time I read it, there were over 400 comments, mostly rage-filled insults and debate, so I didn’t comment, but thought it may make an interesting post, even for non-comics, so here goes.
Be funny. Surprisingly, most comics who are “funny” get more shows than comics who are “not funny.” By making people “laugh” as opposed to “sit silently” or “heckle” or “get up during the set and mutter obscenities under their breath,” you may tend to see more work! (This post works best for sarcasm if you make the hand gestures for sarcasm for the quotations.)
Run a show. It is truly amazing when you book people for shows, they tend to book you back! CRAZY! It’s almost like a strange you scratch my back, I scratch yours agreement.
Bring people out and promote the shows you are on. I know this is nuts, but bookers tend to like people who advertise, promote and hustle to get butts in seats. I have a show where I book comedians and I have already mentally banned a few that made zero effort to even post one post online about the show, even when I specifically asked them to. I had a comedian refuse to post about a show I booked this person on, but the day of, manage to find time to promote another show instead that was an open mic.
Show up late to shows you’re on, not even take 4 seconds to click attending on Facebook events, or go over your time. In other words, don’t be a problem. Booking an event is tough; you have consider who is on the show, balance it with other comics, set up the event and hope the turnout is good. One easy way to make sure you aren’t part of the equation is to cause stress.
Get smashed before your set…or after and cause a scene. That tends to annoy those who book shows. (See above: don’t be a problem.) Of course, causing a scene sober also will make sure you don’t get booked. I watched a comedian get onstage at an open mic, insult the crowd, then remove his pants. He never did stand-up again in Columbus, that I saw.
Fail to memorize your set or do the same five minutes for years. I booked a lot of comics over the years at various rooms and one thing that blows my mind is how many comedians cry about not getting stage time, but have literally five minutes only. Five minute set for late night shows – good. Everywhere else? Write more material. Then practice the material. Sometimes you may not get booked because the booker knows your set to a tee and it may not work in the room (or may not be long enough for what they want). I have done over an hour a handful of times. That gives you multiple more opportunities than having five minutes about jello or politics that you’ve been doing since 2012.
Even worse – be unprepared and try to riff. If you’re getting paid, do your best stuff. You’re not George Carlin. Don’t get up there and rant with no direction. I had two comedians in particular that I remember doing that at a show I run. Both bombed miserably, one even getting destroyed by a heckler. You have five minutes. Don’t waste it.