Saturday, August 18, 2012

Show Time

I've been dabbling in this stand-up comedy thing since the end of last year, because my self-esteem wasn't quite fragile enough and I needed to completely destroy it and put myself in public forums where my self-worth is determined by a bunch of strangers.

So far, so good. I've made the decision to just stop at least three times now, but because I can't commit to any decision I make, I'm still doing it.

I've always known that stand-up comedy is for young straight guys, so it is no surprise that 90% of the folks I'm with in "the scene" fit that description. What I was too silly to realize is that this is a scene that takes place at night, when I'm in bed. I can't do it from bed, however, thus my dilemma du jour.

The advice I've been given is "do open mics, do open mics, do open mics". I have been doing them, but since most start at nine, about the time I'm usually turning out the light so I can get up before five to get my day started, I can't get to many. I meet the young straight guys there and get to hear how they have done seven or eight that week. I few of them have jobs. A few. I'm an unfamiliar face, because I average about one a week, two if I'm wild and crazy.

I was fortunate enough to land a gig early on opening for a Drag Queen Brunch about a mile from the house. There are two things that should never be done in the daytime, in a well-lighted room; comedy and Drag. We did both. I had no idea what I was doing. The story is that when you first start out in comedy, your family and friends will show up for the first show, a few at your second, a sprinkling at your third and then you are on your own. That was an accurate portrayal of my experience. Again, I felt fortunate to have friends, family and co-workers show up. Those who didn't had excuses and asked me how things went. At first. No more. They stopped with the excuses by March, and they don't make eye contact if I say the word "comedy". Of course, this could be read in a couple of different ways. The first one is that they are busy people with full lives and families and other scheduled events and day to day chores and routines to attend to. The second way to read it is that I suck. I always pick Option B. It is just my nature.

Getting laughs and applause on stage is one of the biggest highs I've ever had in my life. It is clearly addicting as well. Getting crickets or seeing yawns or watching people walk out isn't quite the kicky cool sensation as getting the laughs for some reason. I'm getting used to it, however. I think I'm at about 50/50 these days. I truly have NO idea how good or horrible I am. I am basing a good performance on how many folks, preferably strangers or other comedians, come up to be afterwards to say "Great job, I really enjoyed that" in their sincere voice.

The brunch has ended and this Friday I am doing the first evening kinda sorta version of it, except now I'm the Host and not just the warm-up. And I am putting it together, which is something I've never done before. It has been fun, stressful and an adrenalin rush which is helpful because I'm having to do it in a limited amount of time and it kept me from sleeping. There is no time to sleep in Show Business.

We might get five people, we might get fifty. I might get a few laughs, I might get crickets. On Saturday I might decide to quit, or I might start my new plan to take over the world.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I've been trying to go on a bike ride with Papa Seed most weekends.  Our bike rides are short, or would be for most people including the younger version of me, but they are strenuous enough.  I have to keep them flat, even the slightest incline makes my heart pound up through my throat, and the butt discomfort is intense. And not in a good way.

Years ago, my old bike was my essential means of transportation in Seattle.  I used it to get to work, to go to the gym, to go to the store and for recreation.  Funny what a couple extra hundred pounds will do to a body.  I don't recommend finding out if you haven't already gone down that road in life.  The late night noodles are delicious, but being able to move turns out to be better in the long run.

I'm trying to move again.  Today we rode our bikes downtown.  I had wanted to try this route but needed to do it during the early hours of a Sunday morning when things are quiet.  Along with oceans, forests, deserts and the interiors of funky art house theaters (RIP to most of them, but they will live forever in my heart), I feel most alive in quiet and abandoned industrial parts of town (even if the abandoned part is just every seventh day).  The route to downtown takes one past such areas, as well as shipyards, train tracks and construction sites on pause.  There were only a handful of people that we passed.  True, we were at times right by busy roads and bridges, but we were not on the busy roads and bridges.  The bike path took the road less traveled.

Near the end of the first half of our ride, we reached the official waterfront, and therefore people and cars.  I don't like most cars made after, say, 1970.  You have to go about a decade earlier for most people, and even then I prefer to read about them or see them on film than to actually interact with the, at least on a Sunday morning bike ride.  So we went a short distance and turned around.  Back to the quiet, the abandoned, the still and the peaceful.  It was a moody day with clouds and a crisp, cool air.  I like a good moody day, especially when on a bike ride through the quite and the abandoned.  Life was good.

Then we had to go back over a bridge.  Not a very high one, but the incline was more than my heft enjoyed.  My heart pounding, the gears of my bicycle kept slipping.  3/4 of the way up, I had to give in and then came the announcement that the bridge was "going up".  What was a racing heart became a frantic one, complete with dread and sweats.  The bell was deafening, my anxiety was blinding as I raced back to the halfway mark with visions of riding right off the edge of a lifting bridge to my horrible death (in fact, the bridge was low enough that I probably would have just caused a big splash before safely swimming to a boat dock).  Totally harshed my mellow from the quiet ship yards and big abandoned gray buildings.

The bridge doesn't actually go up.  The middle just swings around so one pleasure boater can get through while the rest of us wait.  I wouldn't have died even if I hadn't made it across the finish line.  Well, I may have.  My heart was pounding pretty hard.

A bit later I was home, exhausted and sore.  But proud of myself for pushing on.  I'll keep at it.  Eventually I will whip those soft inclines into complete submission.  It is ON!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Down and Not Quite Out in Middle-Age

Listening to Patti Smith's "Banga" gets me to thinking about how she had to be older to make her most youthful and innocent sounding album.  Sure, her wisdom and experience is clearly present as well, but there is a quality to her voice that is so sweet and pure and a vibrancy to some of the music that borders on playfulness.  It is easily one of her most powerful pieces of work

I wish I felt more youthful and innocent, and especially would like to feel more vibrant and playful.  I don't want to be young again - wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, especially in these gosh-darn messed up modern times.  Actual youth confuse me, what with their discarding of books and films for first person shooter "games" and tiny little screens to view photos and mini-movies.  At least five or six times a day I want to go for the throat of some young adult who will ask some variation of "What is that?" about a very newsworthy current event.  Now that newspapers are rarely found in homes and the evening news is just one of 600,000 options for post-work or school viewing, there is no need to keep up with anything that hasn't been reported by your Facebook friends, and most of that noise you can just scroll right by.  We know more about what our internet friends had for lunch than we do about what our government is doing.

I'm not the first middle-aged curmudgeon to bitch and moan about such things, and I won't be the last.  I am just as powerless as my peers to do anything about it as well.  Just sit back and let it all be, but I'll complain about it too.  That's how I roll.

My own attention span seems to shrink like an Amazon rainforest, month to month, day to day, hour to hour.  By the time I'm ready for diapers again, I'll have the focus of heavily caffeinated gnat, unless the depression helps me balance out into something like more of a flatliner with frequent brain jolts.  Most of my thoughts these days are centered around doing things I haven't the motivation or stamina to actually accomplish.  I have mental "To Do" lists of cleaning, writing, painting, exercising, cooking and learning but the exhaustion keeps me grounded in a chair, the joint pain and back pain and foot pain makes it difficult to move and the overwhelmingness of it all knocks me down when I start to gather the strength to move a finger.  I'll just sit it out.  This too shall pass.  Tomorrow I'll get up and get things done.  I ain't been licked yet.  Ms Ross sang that one, kids.  Google it.

Hell, I have things to do and things to say.  These damn young 'uns, I'm not going to let them take over the world just yet.  We are going to have to share for a bit longer.  You go and do your hot yoga. I'll just figure out a way to get up off my ass.  We shall live again, we shall live again.

I'm Back!

Damn it, I'm Back!

Had some weirdness attached to my Blogger account, complicated by a bad case of the Whatev's but today I finally had both the motivation slash burning desire and the patience to figure out how to get back in. So here I am now, entertain me.

Since I've been gone ~

* I've turned 53

* I started doing Stand-Up Comedy

* I started doing a monthly Stand-Up Comedy warm-up act right before a gaggle of Drag Queens entertain a brunch crowd

* I've become a Grandfather

* I met my gorgeous Grandson

* "Broke up" with Papa Seed (SPOILER ALERT - It was temporary)

* Went on a solo vacation and spent a week in a Hollywood hotel room sicker than sick

* Started therapy.

* Started couple's therapy with Papa Seed

* Celebrated 20 years together with Papa Seed

* Watched our beloved Kuma go blind and become disabled

* Watched our sweet, sweet Rusty get dementia and become disabled

* Watched our love puddle Aspen become more wonderful daily

* Been held a love captive by the terrorist cat known as Kerouac

* Walked. A lot.

* Read some books, ate some food, watched some films, heard some music.

* Other stuff as needed

Stick around please, now that I'm back. I'll give more detailed descriptions of what is now known only as the future.