Wed, Apr 03
COMEDY WITHOUT AIRPLANES@ 12:00 AM
I hate airplanes and hotel rooms now. I used to love them. Sealed in a roaring time-capsule in the sky, watching movies on my laptop, eating the turkey sandwich I’d bought at Starbucks before the flight, sipping coffee, thinking. Then a hotel room – sealed, brooding, quiet. Those were two fertile places for my comedian’s brain to bind connections, go down paths, make discoveries.
But that changed. I know it sounds facile and obvious to say it was the birth of my daughter that changed it, but there you go. I’m a dad now, and I find my child endlessly fascinating and funny and mysterious. It’s not a startling reason, or even a funny one, but there it is. Don’t like being away from home, don’t like missing time with my daughter. These are the conditions that prevail, to quote Sufi philosopher Jimmy Durante.
I still love comedy. Love it. Love getting up onstage, seeing what’s going to happen. I’ve always got a rough outline in my head about the jokes I want to do, and the overall map of the set, and where it will take me. I especially have an idea how it will end every time. But the in-between? The sudden revelations when the surf-sound of laughter eases the tension-wires in my head and body? The middle of any stand-up set, for me, is always more terrifying than its beginning, and more satisfying than its end.
It’s the goddamn getting to the stage that’s no longer fun. The airports, the hotel check-ins, the waking up in a sterile room, the same as a thousand other rooms in a huge, humming building in a city that isn’t mine. The waiting. The waiting. The waiting. Ugh.
Spending a lot of time in airports has, for me, driven home the reality that yes, living in America means living in an empire whose decline is taking its first toddler steps towards a full, bolting run to ruin. On every flight I’ve taken in the past year, something’s been broken. A seat won’t go back. A bathroom breaks. No coffee. How many of these minor, insignificant annoyances hint at an engine that’s about to drop off a wing, or a roof that’s about to peel back like a tangerine skin and send all of us in coach sling-shotting into the clouds?
Hotels and new cities when you’re in your twenties, which is pretty much where I spent my twenties, are awesome. Constant adventure. Late night. New bars. Unspeakable anecdotes. In your forties? Not so much. Constant hotels and new cities in your forties make me think: divorced dad, traveling salesman, drug mule, serial killer.
Still, I’ve got to get ready for this album and special. As I’m writing this, four months away from recording it, I’ve got 45 minutes of…good material. Just good. Passable. Laugh-worthy. But not startling or memorable. I’ve got to hit the stages.
So here’s the plan I’ve come up with. One that gets me a shitload of stage time, and gives you guys a three month window to see me and, when I do announce where the taping will take place (probably in two weeks), I’ll be doing it in a city (San Diego during the Comic-Con) where the most amount of my fans will be in one place at one time.
Comedy without airplanes. Or hotels. Or road food. Comedy with my own bed at the end of the day, instead of a hotel bed (and the subsequent, nutrition-free hotel sleep). Also, tucking in my daughter pretty much every night and taking her to pre-school in the morning. Holy fuck, I’m getting boring.
I’m doing this in four stages. Here they are:
…wherein our weary comedian writes and writes and writes
Every single Thursday starting on Thursday, May 2nd, through Thursday, July 11th, I will be appearing at The FAKE Gallery on Melrose and Heliotrope in Los Angeles. Are you visiting Los Angeles during those three months? Well, this is your chance to see me for whatever you want to pay. The FAKE is an amazing, tiny art gallery and performance space, and they survive through the talent and charm of its owner and founder, Paul Kozlowski, as well as putting on the most consistently creative, risk-taking shows in the city (in my opinion). These shows will be my rawest. I’ve got to go up every single Thursday, in front of probably a lot of the same people (or maybe no people), and I’m determined to do as close to a new 45 minutes as I possibly can. I will also have two younger, lesser-known comedians open for me. Right now Los Angeles is lousy with incredible new talent, and I want to watch them as much as I want other people to see them. Chris Thayer, Shelby Fero, Charlene deGuzman and many other people who I probably need to e-mail or text and ask if they’re free.
By the way, take careful note that I don’t really mean every Thursday. The second week of this residency, I’m doing my show on Wednesday, May 8th. Why? ‘Cause I’m still a hopeless movie junkie, and that night the Egyptian Theater is doing a screening of a rare, pristine, 35mm print of William Friedkin’s Sorcerer. Friedkin will be there. So will I. Of course, I’m also doing Wednesday, July 3rd. But that’s only because that Thursday is the 4th.
Come experience the sloppiness! Watch bits get worked out before your eyes! And, like the immortal Schwa Restaurant in Chicago, there’s no way to make a res! Show up – the of the shows are at 8pm – line up, get in!
…wherein our confused, aging jokester drives down to Irvine, CA once a month to edit, edit, edit
The flipside of the FAKE Gallery is the Improv in Irvine, CA. Part of a massive, outdoor mall. Suburbanites. Sun-baked blandness and flat horizons. I love it.
For as much creating as I’ll be doing at The FAKE, I’ll be honing and paring down the output on the unforgiving, carpeted stage of the Improv. One Monday and Tuesday in May, June and July, I’ll crawl down the 5 South into the living Lean Cuisine entrée that is Irvine, soak up the punishing sunshine, and kill all of my darlings in front of potato skins and discount drinks. I’ll probably bring Blaine Capatch down with me. He’s amazing. No one hates Blaine Capatch. Sets a perfect table for me to go onstage and be forgiving. Buy your tickets for the massacre here.
…wherein our hero pays homage to the stage that helped make him what he is, and makes things hard on himself
Three Saturdays at the Largo. In May, June and July. The FAKE is for writing, the Improv for editing, and The Largo is for adding the flourishes, side-alleys, and details that make the bits fun for me to write.
I’m also going to call in some favors and have some of my heavy hitter friends open for me. I’ve had Louie CK in before (I didn’t have the balls to follow him, and made him go on as a surprise after me). I’ll probably drag dapper, devastating dandy Paul F. Tompkins in for one of these nights. Todd Glass? Maria Bamford? You never know. I never announce the guests. The May show is already sold out. June’s going fast. Snap ‘em up!
…wherein our whining protagonist visits one of his favorite cities
Well, I had to go on the road once during all of this. So I picked a city where I could bring the family. Portland! Endless walking around, great parks, rose gardens, yummy donuts, and an amazing kid’s museum. May 24th and 25th, 4 shows only. Don’t ask me to get high after the show – my daughter will be waking me up at 7am every morning for pancakes and adventures. I just have to find a place that makes pancakes that don’t look like scary vaginas. Oh Portland, you know I’m just kidding.
Committing to the Infinite
…wherein our pasty Pagliacci puts it to posterity
San Diego. July 20th. Announcement soon. Two shows. Stay tuned.