©2012, Mirror Image Presentations
AUTHOR’S CAVEAT: This post has not been edited since 2012. I offer no apologies for excessive use of the words have had, and that, missing or misplaced commas, and excessive use of exclamation points!
This just in: In the continued pursuit of my career as a comic whose wit captivates an audience, wins over their acceptance and draws to me all good, I stood in line again yesterday at The (world famous) Laugh Factory for a chance to stand up a week later. I decided I would run some errands first, then get in line what I considered to be early, around 4:00 for a 5:30 chance to get up next week at 6:30. Just in case, I thought I’d drive by to see what the line looked like. Yikes! There were already about a dozen people in line and they only accept the first 13 who show up. I hadn’t even found a parking space and it wasn’t even 3 yet! I made an immediate right; one block and no parking except for the two spaces blocked by a moving van in the middle of the street.
Okay, next block; here’s a spot. Park; I tell Pokey, “heal!”. We get out and run (I’m so glad downhill) to the corner in front of The (world famous) Laugh Factory. Like the girl they almost saved from drowning, I (almost) made it! I was number 14 in line, among them: four smart people sitting in their fold-up chairs with coolers. I had gotten there so I stayed and sure enough by 3:20 Nr. 10 in line throws in the towel for whatever reason and I become Nr. 13 — yeah! I gave thanks to the gods that, in this heat, we were in the cool shade with a nice breeze that blows from below Sunset up the hill. Pokey and I went over our Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, Launce and his dog Crab’s lines.
Pokey had reminded me to bring his ball, Frisbee, and stick so that we could play during the two and a half hour wait. After about an hour I realized, without a chair, how comfortable the fire hydrant on the corner was, so I sat there comfortably in the shade for some time, waving to the constant line of tour busses, passing by. Are they as interested in seeing us, I wonder, as we are in seeing them pass by like caged animals? Of course there was the standard barrage of interested people who asked me the same questions. I answered, “his name is Pokey; he is a Staffordshire Terrier, he is 10 months old, and no, he does not bite.” Then they want to know what a Staffordshire Terrier is, how do you spell it…so from now on to anyone who asks, he is a Whippet and I’m ready to make a sign for him to don upon his neck stating such. We’ll see what we arrive at after the pooch and I have negotiated.
This time, The (world famous) Laugh Factory employee girl came out early (in my world, anyone younger than I is a boy or girl and everyone older is a man or woman) and since another had person passed out, she had me sign up as #12. So, I have an appointment next Tuesday at The (world famous) Laugh Factory at 8001 (verify) Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, about three blocks west of Sunset to go up after 6:30, #13. If you come, you will need to pay half price entrance ($10.00) and unless you walk, skate, bike or have handicap or diplomat plates, you will most likely need to pay another $10 to park, but you are worth it and so am I! The audience may not find me funny but I promise to arrive as the what are known as The 3 P’s: pumped, prepared, and professional.
Before leaving, I did my usual survey and this week’s results are in: Person #1 in line, a fine looking, tall, slender African American man in a tank top, baggy pedal pushers and Vans, began the line at 10:00 that morning! His friend, #2, arrived with him at 10:01. They were alone in line (I am assuming in the sun until about noon thirty when blonde Girl #3 arrived. #4 arrived around 1:00 and my predecessor, Nr. 13, said he arrived at 2:39, about 20 minutes before I arrived. Last month’s survey, in comparison, revealed that #1 in line arrived at 1:30, two and a half hours later than this week’s Winner of Spot #1. To get that information, I had to subject myself to the uncomfortable experience of people referring to me as, “Sir”. What an insulting compliment. Time does change everything. Everything is changed by time and time is everything and nothing at at once.
So I let Pokey run free up the hill to the car (he knows exactly, that when I say “heal”, it is for his safety). We got into the car and I drove down to the Hollywood Improv on Melrose where, for the sixth time, I put my name in a “hat” to be called to stand up for something lest I fall for anything. I must be the only person who signs up using a FineLine® Decocolor™ fine green tip pen on a slip of their paper folded into an accordion. So, I waited and when the list was posted, there was my name — at the bottom. Nr. 13 seems to be my lucky number for getting a chance to stand up for something. This is when having Pokey around became a problem (but ONLY in my mind, I realized).
I am very conscious about leaving him at home jumping and humping the cats without me there to referee, tied up on a leash, or alone in the car. Tema Dogs: if you love animals, catch last night’s performance of The Dancing Dogs on America’s Got Talent! Back to the Poke: he’s proven over and again that he knows the difference between his toys and mine, but if a dog is left confined in a car too long and frustration sets in, leather seats and door panels become a delicious temptation, especially when the heat makes them so maluable. I’ve heard it happen. Not enough time to bring him home and return, me thinks, so I cracked all four windows and the sunroof and left him in the shade, drunk and drained. When I retrieved him 90 minutes later, my seats and panels were in order and Pokey didn’t even need to drain.
Again, I’ve been cast in the penultimate position; not a good one to begin with as most of the audience is either on their cellphones or has left. Most are not polite enough to stay and offer their support to their fellow comics but this world (and the comedy scene) is not about learning to understand the principals of life and success and how we can align these to create a better world. No, it’s about me — me — me! And this is where I come in as an experienced credentialed teacher and as a stand up speaker. Perhaps this is why I am here because growing up, it was always about someone else; it was never about me and there was never anyone who took my side or stood up for (in Italics) me.
So here I am now, insisting that my audience listen to and support — me! “Give me your attention”, the comic cries from the mic. The girl to my left had spoken to me earlier, and so I asked her if I might use her name in my act. She did not like that idea (okay, I had not explained to her how I wanted to use any name she might have offered me, since the next comic was just taking the mic and I thought it rude to talk over him. Nonetheless, she continued to focus her attention on her cell phone. She wasn’t even watching the comics but she did give every one of them an equal three to five claps — upon their exiting. I guess it was at least supportive that she was there, and that could be said for everyone who showed up — and we few who stay.
My view is this:
if you make the effort to stay, at least applaud your colleagues. I will applaud anyone unknown to me who has the guts to get up and take a mic. Until one has done it, one has no idea of the fear that that alone can prompt. If, after 3 minutes, a speaker has displayed any sign of talent whatsoever, I applaud them and not just with a limp wrist, but as with anything I do, I put my heart and soul into it. I will not clap once for biggoted, vulgar or profane comics. I refuse to give my energy to that which does not heal the self or the planet. I asked the host, (since my set is a 12 Step program), if, when I introduce myself, he might call out, “Hello Alan!”
“I don’t do call outs”, he said. Okay, I understand. So, here I am, second to last up, fifteen people left in the audience, none of whom responded to any of the evening’s comics’ opening line, “so how are you all tonight?” — the stupidest waste of an audience’s time. It’s a stupid opening but at least throw into the deafening empty space of sight and sound, a bone to the comic so desperate as to ask such a mondane question. I much prefer a stupid comic to a vulgar one but that is Christin—strike that — I mean Alan speaking.
So, I step onto this particular stage for the first time ever and I am blinded by dozens of bright lights all pointed directly into my eyes. Yikes! I know this experience but it’s been a while since I’ve been there! I know that my bits are good (and G rated) but ALL! depends on the audience. Most prefer vulgarity. It’s a terriblus feeling one gets in the solar plexis just before going up. Call it butterflies, stage fright or what one likes. it all comes down to fear, either “false evidence appearing real”, or
“fuck everything and run!”
In this case it was false evidence and I was up there with my recorder on the table documenting my life edited down to my three minutes. I’m on stage thinking: there is no one here to support me, no one to respond, no one who cares. I felt so alone, not unusual for me, but then I remembered to send out love to every member of the audience — if only I could see the audience but I did my best. I delivered my entire routine with my left hand over my brow, but IT WAS DELIVEREd and my worst fear was laid to rest; I did not die or worse; get sick.
Some of my comedy, certainly Shakespeare, goes over most people’s heads. I need to research: does American youth today know what “The Wall” or “The Iron Curtain” refers to? Do they know the difference between the Civil War and WWI, or what stocks, or the pillory, or a farthinggale of The Elizabethan era are? I thought stocks were my parents’ money in the bank until I learnt. Does my audience understand English? I didn’t until I opened both of my ears and followed with my tongue. If you’ve ever watched Jay Leno as the man on the street, today’s (American) youth has no clew, not even a clue!
I know this: either my delivery was off last night, or some of my references just went over my audience’s head. I know I must get to know my audience, what today would be my grandchildren had I chosen to bless the world with a carbon copy of myself as so many of us choose to do. I was standing up there blinded, like a deer caught in the headlights and went completely blank. Luckily, Alan stepped in at just the last moment to save the day (or minute). Then, I didn’t notice when the red light went off and the loud music began to blare, just as I threw out my closing line: “ladies and gentlemen, before you overwhelm me with your love by cutting off the mic, a quick joke for those with mental telepathy”.
Maybe I need to change the material, maybe I need to change the audience or the venue. By the time I stepped off stage, there were three people applauding; I didn’t want it to be obvious that one of them was I so I turned. Then I ran out to the car to retrieve Pokey, and returned with him to where I had been sitting. Not minutes later, a restaurant employee approached me. I know the routine so I spoke: “He’s a service animal and I have his papers if you need to see them.” Usually, it’s left at that. People have not insisted that I produce papers which I do not always have on me. The mgr. nods and leaves, only to return less than a minute later.
I know the routine and I wanted to avoid a scene — especially in a place where I want to put my best paw forward. “When and to who did you show his papers?” English teacher that I am, I did not correct him. “This is ridiculous,” I thought, he is disrespectfully speaking over the comic on stage, which I guess everyone but me does. I searched my memory under trivia and came up with, “the man at the box office, two weeks ago.” I didn’t know the guys name but I could have described him had I wanted to talk over the man who had the floor. “You’ll need to show…” said Mr. Mgr..
I knew what he wanted.
He wanted to demonstrate his powerful masculinity over the cur, interrupting Nr. 14’s act to do so. Graciously, I got up and proceeded to the door. As he thanked me I turned to him and said, “this dog is cleaner than many of your patrons.” It was nasty but I spoke truth. Pokey bathes regularly. Would I sleep with anyone who doesn’t? Forgive me, since forgiveness is what my act is all about. Oh, and Lord, please forgive Mr. Mgr. too.
Pokey had been such a good puppy. Five hours he had restrained himself, had been patient and had refrained from indulging in my leather seats and, as promised, it was time to take him to the dog park. There he could run and play with his friends for an hour before heading home to bathe and be pampered him with treats. Best of all, he seems to like to chew on his stick.
It’s a new day! I learned so much yesterday while standing in line listening to others while standing in line those two hours. Tonight I plan to stand up at Marty’s in West Hollywood, now that I know that it is not ‘on’ Santa Monica Blvd. but ‘off’ Santa Monica Blvd. As always, I appreciate the support of anyone who finds any value in what I have to share. Thank you to my devoted three readers!
There is one life.
This life is God.
This life is perfect.
This life accompanies me now. Everywhere I go, God is. I just realized how I am kinder, gentler, more patient with others. God’s will for me is to capture His wit and use it to captivate an audience, win them over. and move me forward into a position that benefits the entire world, beginning with my own. I know my word is Divine Cause, because my word determines where I take my mind and body. I am aware every thought, word, and action moves me forward toward a higher understanding of the purpose of life, a higher consciousness of my place in it, how I fit in. I know that the universe is abundant. There is enough for everyone to live in affluence when we accept this as possible. I accept all this good and more, and allow it to flow freely to me, through me, and from me.
All this and better I accept
in His Name.
And so it is.