Sunday, September 25, 2005

DJ Hazard records his new CD at the Comedy Studio

There are still a few guys hanging around Boston, providing not only hysterical, professional stand up comedy, but veteran leadership to the latest wave of stand ups. DJ Hazard is one of those guys.

DJ was a founding member of The Ding Ho, the legendary comedy club that started it all in Boston. Formed after guys like Jay Leno cut their teeth accepting road gigs and every minute of stage time available, including strip joints, The Ding Ho boasted a legacy of comics unparalleled by any club still going today. Ding Ho Alums include Lenny Clark, Steven Wright, Paula Poundstone, Denis Leary, Jimmy Tingle, Barry Crimmins, Bobcat Goldthwaite, Tony V and (Curb Your Enthusiasm's) Jack Gallagher, among others.

DJ is still wowing audiences and maintains a huge cult following from local performances over the past twenty-six years, as well as his days as a Doctor Demento regular. DJ throws out a mix of bang-bang style jokes, with longer, story-like material, as well as musical impressions and song parodies. His impression of Bruce Springsteen singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame as "Meeting Across the River" is freakin' brilliant.

Hazard does it all.

I got a chance to watch DJ record his second CD this past Friday and Saturday nights. It was truly a privilege to watch a master work his craft. The funny thing is... well Hazard is so humble that he cringes at suggestions he is a virtuoso, and if called a "master" he would probably throw up on the spot. One can see his discomfort even as host Rick Jenkins sang his praises, calling him the best friend he ever had and mentioning that "DJ literally saved my life."

"Who am I, Dr. Phil?" Hazard cracked as readied himself for the stage.

It was a joy to watch a real pro control the fire-code-ignoring-sized crowd from start to finish. Shifting gears at will, keeping the audience off-balance but always in the game, not knowing what to expect, but eager for the next shoe to drop.

Though I have seen DJ perform many times, for me it was like a little kid going to Fenway Park and realizing that he wants to play center field for the Red Sox. Even as I marveled at DJ's brilliant and unique material, he made it look so easy that I thought "I can do this, I can really do this."

I can "do this"... not at the level of a DJ Hazard, but my act has improved steadily, and I connected to moments in my own short career where I dominated a crowd for a few minutes the way DJ did for an hour. If I can "do this", it's in no small part because of guys like Rick and DJ, Jimmy Tingle and a host of others that have taken the time to give helpful advice, share a wealth of experience and actually watch my sets.

When a patron says, "you're funny" it feels good, it makes you smile.

When a master of his craft like DJ tells you "that was a good set", it feels like you hit the number without even buying a ticket.

Then you start to think, "Hey... maybe I can do this."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Comedy Benefits for Victims of Hurricane Katrina

A woman contacted me the other day and mentioned she wanted to do a comedy benefit for the vistims of the hurricane. I said, "well I can put some comics together for you if you'd like." Kirsten Meyers, of Globond, the company that is spearheading the effort, thought she could get 100-1500 people to attend within the 10 day span.

The next thing I know, she was talking about Thursday, Sept. 29th, and my jaw dropped. How could I get this together in 10 days? "Yikes" I thought, then, "double yikes."

I guess it was meant to be. Within an hour, I got emails returned from a few comics, volunteering their time and talent. My friend DJ asked about the number of comics I planned to put on. I had been thinking 6 or 7, assuming I had to jam in as many as I could. He humbly suggested a "classic" format to the show, with a host, an opener, a middle and a headliner.

Had I been aware that DJ Hazard, Boston comic of the year for the last umpteen years, cult hero and Boston Comedy Legend (he would be cringing if he read that) was going to volunteer fifteen minutes after I asked for help, I might have had the same thought.

So the first show is all set, talentwise. I will host (an unnatural position for me, but it should be fun), Shane Mauss will open, Rich Gustus will work the middle slot and DJ will close the show. I am going to enjoy this, these guys are three of my favorite comics.

Rich is available for the second show as well. Joining Rich and myself for the October 6th show so far is Mary Beth Cowan and Dan Hirshon. Mary Beth is a terrific writer and performer. Many people think she just might be the next comic to bust out of the Boston Comedy scene. She won the hearts of half of America in her national television debut on Last Comic Standing, scoring a coveted feature spot on the first episode. Dan is starring in a demo for a comedy series that I have a peripheral part in. he is another of Boston great young comics that really write. He's immediately likable and has good stage presence.

I am waiting to find out the venues for these events. i don;t how they plan to find such a venue is such a short time, but I'll leave that to the experts.

More information will be available through my website, and mostlikely, the globond website listed above.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tim McCarver = Pantload

I am against capital punishment, but I could be swayed if Tim McCarver were to find himself on death row for assassinating the art of announcing baseball.

Extreme? Okay, maybe a little, but how much inane commentary can one man come up with in a lifetime? How much can people be expected to listen to before they strike back, possibly even with nukular (as George W. likes to say) weapons?

The man is one of these guys that feels compelled to say something after every *&%$#$#@ play, even if he has nothing whatsoever intelligent or pertinent to say. McCarver isn't about to let that slow him down. Maybe he makes so much money, he feels he owes it to us and his employers to state, and repeat the obvious, tempered with silly theories based on nothing that makes any sense at all, just his musings, that's enough. I muse idiocy, therefore 'tis true.

From last year: "A walk is as bad as a home run."

I have heard this before, and I get the point, but...



Not in any capacity is giving up a walk as bad as a home run. Bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded in a tie game, maybe. The ninth inning of a game where you lose by one run would be the exception. I get his point- giving up a walk at certain points in a game is a bad idea, and is worse than others, but ARGH!!! Stop the ludicrous exageration to make your point, jackass.

He is like a child that heard something once and now repeats it with conviction without having the slightest idea what it means, but can't wait to use it, whether or not it is in context. You'd think a guy with 40+ years in baseball would know better, but he doesn't, or he doesn't want to know better. I'm not sure which.

Earlier in the year: "You don't want to let up a lot of runs when your club isn't scoring. It's practically impossible to win when you aren't scoring runs, but you're letting up a lot of runs."

Geez...Do ya think?

Last month, before I could get to the mute button:

"You want to cultivate players like Kevin Yuklis in your minors that can play at the major league level. If not on your team, they can play for another club."

And this is beneficial...Exactly how?

Sox/Phillies: "You don't want to give up a home run to Jim Thome is the 5th inning of a 5-1 game. If you give up a single that's okay, but not a home run."

Okay, Tim, help me out. When exactly IS the opportune time to allow a home run to Jim Thome? Would be...oh, say in a 3-3 tie in the ninth inning? Ooh ooh...How about in a 7-2 game in the 3rd inning? And would it be better to allow a single than a walk, because from what I've heard, a walk is as bad as a home run and if a walk is as bad as a home run, it must be far worse than a single, right?

My favorite quote from last year's world series: "Pedro...He's crafty like a ...(pause) WOLVERINE!"

You see, Tim, well...The thing is... Wolverines are not really crafty. They sort of tear stuff up, that's their gig.

And today, which forced me out into the computer area to write this foolish blog.

"No, he has not underachieved. He's had a bad year. Who people pay you 19 million dollars and you don;t put up the kind of numbers you'd expect, it's a bad year."

Wait a minute, I might be catching on. So one wouldn't say that Tim McCarver has underachieved...One would simply say he's a bad announcer.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Alas, I am no longer alive in the Boston Comedy Festival. I appreciate the batch of you guys that came out to the show tonight and gave me such generous support. I started a little uncomfortably, and not with as much confidence as I would have liked, but rebounded. I can;t complain. I felt like a king when I left the stage. I never expected to do as well as I did. I daresay once I settled down, I destroyed. I felt the power surge about 2 minutes into the 6 minutes set that you get when you know you can do anything you want with an audience, and I rode it out to the end.

I felt as though I didn't belong in the festival until 1/2 hour before the show, then a calm came over me and I was somehow relaxed. When I went on, I felt ready, though my opening "pretend" off-the-cuff joke died, I used a saver to bail out, and it worked. I started my first real bit a tad slow, but really wound it up strong and kicked into my main bit with a good head of steam. By this point, my confidence had skyrocketed.

As I left the stage, I knew I had just hit a grand slam. It was a great feeling. I had been hoping to not embarrass myself. My spiritual buddy told me to aim higher. He kept saying "aim higher, aim higher", so I did say a prayer along those lines, and the results were dramatic. I never thought I was going have a set that strong. Comics were congratulating me left and right. At that moment, I didn't care whether or not I won, I had done what I set out to do.

As the night wore on, I began to believe I had a real shot. I am the first to hammer on myself for a bad set, or be overcritical with regard to any set I do, but I gotta tell ya, with the exception of Dana Eagle and maybe Simmons, I felt solid. I actually sat there and became aware that i expected to win. It was weird.

Dana, a really cute girl with a routine about being plain, kicked ass. Her writing was original and personal, her presence that of someone that has logged a lot of stage time in places like LA and NYC. It's hard to guage your applause against someone else's, because you're on stage, closer to the audience than when you are in the Vault. But, I felt she got on a good roll and finished really strong. I thought I might have had the most applause, but then I'm a local boy, and you're supposed to get more. Anyway, I knew she was going to be tough. The other winner in my preliminary was Lamont Ferguson, who was very humble and looked like he was surprised. I missed some of his set, but the stuff I caught was smart and funny. Tom Simmons, last year's runner-up followed me. He started a little slow, but did a good job and picked up steam. I considered him a favorite to win the whole thing.

All in all, it was an interesting experience. I'm glad I did it, but I don't like feeling the way it feels to do everything right and lose. But that's comedy contests. The people in this contest are so good, a lot of them do everything right, and 95 out of 96 are going to lose, that's just the way it is.

Tonight's the Night

Well, it's finally here at least. My preliminary in the Boston Comedy Festival is tonight at 8pm. I went last night, and the shows were not sold out, so I guess Tuesday's crowds were not indicative of what to expect for the rest of the week. Well, the prelims end tonight, and I have no doubt the semis will sell out, but contrary to my panis attack Tuesday night, you may actually be able to get in if you show up a bit early.

Last night's prelims were interesting. The first one was wide open. We all sat around with really no clue as to who was going to win. I was a little surprised at the results, as they didn't really reflect audience response, not that the winners always have the biggest response, sometimes that goes to a local guy because he brought half the audience.. There were two guys from NYC that I thought were great, but I think one of them might have gone over his time which is basically a disqualification.

The second show was the best I had seen from the first comic though the twelfth. This kid Ryan Stout (from San Francisco) probably had the set of the contest so far. No one was surprised when his name was called at the end of the show. The guy who came in second was a Jewish dude with a huge afro. The show was so good and the field so wide open that I wouldn't have been surprised no matter who got the other slot. This guy was good, and pretty strong all the way through his set, but so were at least four other comics.

My friend Rich Gustus went on first (took the "bullet") we call it in the "biz". He did a real good job. He is a low key guy, not a real physical comedian. The one hole is tough for most people to come out of, but for an intellectual dude like Rich, it can be even harder. I thought he did real well.

The second comic was some guy from Detroit with a guitar who was very good, and quite off beat, a nice change of pace. They just kept rolling with good set after good set. Like I said, the only guy that I thought really separated himself from the pack was Stout.

So I did everything I could do to prepare myself for today. I have completely avoided even looking at my material until last night, and threw together a set that is a little to close to the 6 minute limit for comfort. I will work on it today and show up tonight after praying my ass off.

I took the precaution of staying up way too late last night and getting a terrible night's sleep, as I like to do before nearly every important day of my life. I feel exhausted and crappy- perfect. I'll try to grab a nap-a-roo later. It's good to know the old self-destructive mechanism is still on auto-pilot, it makes me aware of the reality that I am totally screwed iunless I throw myself on the mercy of the court. It makes me more able to just throw in the towel and accept Guidance. Once I realize I am done, and that I am not going to "figure anything out", things usually go pretty well for me.

I am going to do my meditation etc, have some much needed coffee, and get this rollin'.

I look forward to seeing some of you cats tonight.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

WARNING: check for ticket availability!

I was pretty bummed out tonight as I was absolutely jacked up for the show and got denied entry. The Vault is so small and the place was so packed that they weren't even allowing comedians on the shows to stay in the room before or after their sets. From what I grasp, they were going down in groups of three, wow.

Terror is running through my head now... what if what if what if... what if someone does a similar joke to something I have planned, what if...argh...

Anyway, I wanted to warn any of you cool cats that might be planning to come down to the show Thursday night that there will not be any tickets available for you. You can order them online and as far as I know, there are still tickets available at this point, but there won't be for long. Even comics, notoriously cheap and as willing to pay for entry to a comedy show as Bush is willing to admit when he fucks up, were talking about buying tickets to make sure they can get in to shows.

Comics are allowed free entry as long as there is room, but the Vault only holds about 50, plus 25 standing room, (plus indistry folks that sit in the "vault" area, usually reserved for comedians) which I believe violates a few fire codes, but who's counting?

The place to go to order tickets is and you can do it online. i;d like to tell you it's easy, but I have no idea.

Two guys won tonight in the third preliminary that I haven't heard of. A couple of my favorites were in, so I was really hoping they would come through, but didn't make it.

Again- if you are planning on attending Thursday, order tickets online. DO NOT try to show up and get in, even if you show up really early, you will not get in. If you do get tickets online, STILL show up early, as it is general admission, and some of the seats are going to be standing room.

See some of you Thursday!

Prelim 1 & 2 at the BCF

What a night.

Peter Dutton and Chance Langton advanced to the semi-finals out of the first heat. I am going to resist "rating" the comics, as I would have to throw myself in front of a train, but I will say this, Peter was brilliant as always and I thought he really deserved to move on. I thought the kid after him was great, too, and the guy after that... a couple of dudes named Chris White and Andy Hendrickson. After Dutton, I thought it was wide open, and the slot went to Boston legend Chance Langton.

The second preliminary was absolutely loaded with talent. Ira Proctor blew the friggin' roof off the joint, coming out of the hated two-hole and took one of the spots to advance to the semis. Kelly Mac drew the dreaded bullet, and did a damn good job of showing us who she is and appearing relaxed. She is such a pro that it amazes me that she isn;t plastered on the TV screen on some show. Every time I see her do a short set, I wish she was doing a half hour, I just want to see more more more of her (nothing dirty Kel...more of your ACT I mean).

The Steamy Bohemians did a terrific job, and looked totally calm throughout their set. i think it's tough to come up in the middle of a bunch of stand ups, it seemed like people weren't sure what was going on at first, but they were terrific.

This guy from NYC (called Cauvin I believe?) was in the tenth slot and did a great job, from beginning to end, and took the other slot with Ira.

My hero of the night was MYQ Kaplan, who found out he was performing yesterday afternoon when he was perusing the prelims to see who was on. Apparently he had been given a spot at the last minute and somehow had never gotten word. He did a solid job like he always does, even though the crowd was ready to leave after Cauvin set the place on fire. This kid's work ethic has long impressed me, and the fact that he threw together a damn good set with a couple of hours notice shows what a pro he is.

I am excited for tonight's prelims and totally ready to get to mine, which isn't until Thursday night. I am looking forward to the rest of the shows, but I can;t imagine a more balanced, powerful lineup than that of the second prelim.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Comedy Festival Cocktail Party

Saturday night, Sept. 10th was the welcoming Boston Comedy Festival cocktail party. I am not much of an elbow-rubber, but I must admit, it was kind of cool sitting ten feet away from Lewis Black and Alonzo Bodden, as well as the cream of the Boston comedy crop at the Charles Street playhouse.

It was a mix of bigwigs, wannabees, usedtabees and people like me- those that were just happy to be invited and soak it all in. It was cool, but I was ready to come home.

The preliminary rounds of the contest start tonight with what should be the toughest prelim going off at 9pm at the Charles St Playhouse. It is prelim #2, and has DJ Hazard (finalist last year and Boston comedy legend) Kelly MacFarland, and Ira Proctor. Ira seems to keep getting these tough draws, neeting DJ in the prelims last year as well. It also has one my favorite local comics, MYQ Kaplan, who almost didn;t get in, but I think is just terrific both in writing and performance. The Steamy Bohemians, buxom chicks that sing hilariously tasteless songs with beuatiful voices, are also on the card. I really think someone will see them at this festival and they will take off. They are so talented and so different. I'm not sure how they wound up in a stand up competition, but all they need is to be seen by the right people and wow...

I like so many people in the 2nd prelim that I don't know who to root for, but I just hope they all perform up their potential and kick some ass. When a big crowd sees a great comedy show, everybody wins.

The photographer that did my headshots, Andrew Miller, set up a file for me pout of a headshot shrunk down to a 4"x 6" size so I can make some promotional post cards and hopefully leave them out Thursday. I would like to promote my show at the Comedy Studio on Oct. 26th somehow using the postcards if I can.

i've got to hit the road and get ready for these shows. This should be a blast. I am going to use Wednesday and Thursday afternoons to prepare for my set Thursday night.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Holy Crap, I enjoyed myself

I drive out to Worcester every Saturday morning. I usually have one or two sketychy characters keeping me company (and splitting the tolls) but today I was flying solo. I felt a tad liberated.

Last night I stopped by The Comedy Studio, half hoping to jump on and do a set. It probably worked out better as Rick (club manager) needed some help in the booth, and felt good to make myself useful. A technical wizard I am not, and I have goofed things up in the booth in the past, but I didn;t louse anything up for a change.

Truth be told, it was probably good to take a break from doing comedy for a night. My ride to Worcester (sorry to go parenthetical on you there, but that's how my brain works) was most enjoyable. I listened to a little "Breakfast with the Beatles" on 100.7 wzlx, then broke out my new digital recorder and yammered away, doing (not practicing) some of my newer bits, and favorite bits. I just rattled through them, making myself chuckle. It was the first time I had fun doing comedy in a couple of weeks.

My mission? To have fun, dammit. I am going to a cocktail party tonight with many of Boston's comics, a real opportunity to yuck it up with some fun folks. The amazing thing is that I will have fun without nearing a blackout or making a goon out of myself (thank you, God.) This week I will be performing alongside some terrific comedians in front of some juiced crowds, and seeing some old pals I haven't seen in twenty years. What's not to enjoy?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Be Myself???

To quote (sort of) Woody Allen, showing up is 90% of life (or is it 80%).

To quote on of my favorite comics and people, MB Cowan, "I swear, if one more person tells me to just be myself...I'm gonna do it!"

I am recovering from watching the DVD of my "practice set", taped at the comedy studio last night.

Horrible. Just horrible.

I have struggled to cut down the material to 6 minutes, and this set lost all character. I raced through jokes, skipping by potential laughs in the interest of expediency, and not hitting words that usually deliver laughs every time out. My friend Mike watched it with me, and when I complained about getting no reaction on a line, he said, "well... You didn't really sell it."

He was right. Thank God for video. As I watched, I wondered who the clown on stage was, butchering my work. He didn't resemble me in the least. The only time I looked relaxed or at all like I was having a good time was when I improvised or tested out a new tag line.

I feel like I was completely missing the point of an economy of words, to get in less filler and more funny, not to get in more Joe Isuzu like rambling and blast through material, editing out the funny.

A friend told me yet again today to not worry so much about the material, that it's really me that's funny, and to just be myself. I wish I could say I'm sick of hearing this, but it's like I forget it daily. After the disaster from last night (by the way, no one except me thought it disastrous, but anyway...) I decided to watch an DVD of a show I did this spring where I absolutely killed. It's the DVD I edited into the set I submitted that got me into the Boston Comedy Festival. It was good to see myself doing well, reminding myself that I actually can do this.

I can't believe I forgot the strategy I used to get through my first major show, almost two years ago. I prepared fairly well, then just prayed my ass off and said, "hey, if I suck, it's God's fault."

God is an excellent place to cast burden, both historically and personally. So instead of driving myself insane over the next week, practicing and repracticing the same set, I am going to do my best to prepare myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I'm going to do my best to enjoy every second I spend on stage or off, talking with comics, meeting people in comedy I admire, and hanging with my comedy buddies.

It's pretty cool that I got into the festival, but I don't want to turn it into an agonizing experience. I just got emails today from some guys from my hometown that I haven't seen in almost twenty years. Apparently someone read an article about me, googled me and passed the word around. It's pretty neat to hear names from the distant past like that. They are a good bunch of dudes, though many of my memories from that era are lost in blackouts.

I talked to my spiritual advisor today and told him my goal was to not embarrass myself.

"Aim higher," he said.

"Shit," I thought.

"Go be yourself," I heard for the umpteenth time.

I briefly thought of the necessity of a new girlfriend, a poker tournament or any of a number of distractions, then a clear thought came to me.

So I am revamping my strategy for the week of the Boston Comedy Festival. My goal is to have as much fun this festival as I can. I am going to do a bunch of bits beforehand and decide the morning of my set what material I am going to do, which sounds insane because it is. I'm gonna pray and trust that God knows what the hell He is doing, because I'm pretty certain that I don't.

And oh yeah- I'm gonna show up.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

BCF set, Take Two

Amid the semi-self-created distractions and difficulties in my life, I have managed to narrow down my set to three "bits" for the upcoming festival. It may still come in a tad too long, so I have to check it with a live audience and get it timed out to a safe distance under six minutes. I believe what I have now (including some painful editing) may still be too close to the limit, not really allowing for laugh breaks at all.

It is the hardest thing I've done... editing, slashing, shortening, re-arranging jokes. Thankfully, my friend Dot gave generously of her time and helped me decide between bits. My plan was to find my favorite punch lines, and jam them all (or as many as I could manage) into the short set. The problem being that these lines are in a multitude of bits that last anywhere from 3 or 4 minutes to 8 or 10 minutes. And there were so many I really liked, i think I started with about fifteen. What made it impossible to structure a decent set from this mess was the length of the individual bits, and the fact that the punch lines don't really stand a lone, they tie in, there are many small punches leading up to them and they lose their teeth when extracted from the original jokes. I guess it's a good problem to have.

I talked to one guy I respect immensely, and he is jamming a ton of jokes into his set. Another guy told me to be myself, and if I want to do one bit for 6 minutes and it's funny, then just do that, at least I'll be at ease, and looking and being comfortable is very important.

My friend Mike helped me out as well.

"Who are you?" he asked, then answered his own question, "you're FROM here."

Good point. So who am I? I'm from Boston, so embrace that. I have a joke that people seem to remember about red lights in Boston, so that goes in the pot.

That line of thinking reminded me that much of my comedy is based in alcholism and recovery type stuff, and that may be a leading reason why I got in, it's something that makes me a little different from the next guy... so that goes in. On top of that, my favorite bits generally stem from those lines of thinking. It just dawned on me, that in my mind, the guy yelling at me in the red light bit is either rushing home for a tall boy or a dry drunk.

This was tough, because I had to scratch what is one of my favorite bits with some really terrific punch lines. But, the bit is too long and doesn't break down well. The later punchlines are so punchy because of all the set up and mini-punches, and the shortest I could get the bit- and that was hacking it to bits, was still about 3 1/2 minutes. So I had to choose between that piece and "drunk chicks", which most people who enjoy my stuff seem to say is their favorite bit. Drunk chicks is about 6 minutes itself, but I got it down to just over three with some tearful slashing.

Okay... so that's two pieces to the puzzle, what's left? Well, I'm from a big family, but more importantly, I'm my father's son. My dad is the seed of many a joke in our family, and quite a few in my stockpile of material. while these jokes are ALWAYS funnier at home, they seem to bring a smile to anonymous audiences as well, so i wanted to put something with dad in it in the set.

This is especially difficult because all of the bits I have ever written about dad are quite long because they are basically stories, re-tellings of events that actually happened, or stories that just wrote themselves based on who my father is. I had hoped to use this piece I call "Insurance Lottery" because it has one of my all-time favorite punch lines, and it also makes my dad laugh so hard tears roll down his cheeks, which I like to see. Lord knows that man made me cry enough over the years. But there was just no possible way to tighten it enough to get it in. It ran two and a half minutes, and that was with some goos lines pulled out for time's sake, so I had to drop it, which really bummed me out. The saving grace was Dot helped me trim down another joke about my dad's propensity to brag about his kids. To be done right, this should really be 2 mins and 10 seconds or so, but I grudgingly slashed a chunk out and got it down to about 1:30.

I'll close on this joke, as it has the most ludicrous punch line I have ever written. I had written the joke based on an experience I had with my dad and one of his navy buddies. As I was brainstorming for the punch, something you hear constantly on the nightly news popped into my head, and the joke finished itself.

All I have to do now is practice a couple of times, test it out at the Vault Thursday, so some minor editing, and show up at the Vault next Thursday for my preliminary.

What could go wrong?

Friday, September 02, 2005

I'm Boycotting Gas Boycott Emails

Gas-boycott emails, if you have one, please send it... To yourself, and preferably with a virus attached. I got one two days ago, and again yesterday telling me although we couldn't stop using gasoline, we could boycott the top two petroleum companies, Mobile and Exxon, and cause a "price war". Yeah... cuz this has worked so consistently over the last twenty years. These emails do more than simply clog my inbox, they really bring the gas companies to their knees!

One email do-gooder nearly passed out at the suggestion that he ride his bike to work, or carpool as a means of combating rising gas prices.

He might have a point... Why take positive, constructive action by way of self-sacrifice when you can blame an arbitrary evil (gas execs) and remain blameless and responsibility-free... That's life, that's liberty, that's freedom (from accountability)- blame someone else!

We will never ever ever have a successful boycott against petroleum companies in this country, primarily because we are by and large, too lazy, greedy and pampered to give up anything precious to us, especially convenience. I'm not talking about members of our armed forces, which have sacrificed tremendously throughout our history. I'm talking about you and me... And people that send emails.

This will also provide a brilliant opportunity to attack Republicans. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather have the exhumed corpse of Joseph Stalin in the White House than good ole "Is our children learning?" Bush, but this is usually the perfect time for the liberal whackos to come out of the woodwork and lambaste their favorite evil Republican, or better yet- CREATE an evil right wing conspiracy!

"We've GOT to be able to link this to Trent Lott, Bill Frist or some red state loon-ball!" they'll chant behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, the nauseatingly trigger happy and slanderous right-wing will draw a connection to some country those gutless liberals wouldn't let them bomb in 1986, or an abortion Hillary Clinton not only allegedly financed, but performed personally on some sixteen year old while chanting a mantra of "I hate all life, especially that of defenseless, unborn children."

I hope gas prices go over $5 a gallon, then we'll be EVEN with most of the rest of the world, which has been paying this for years. As I drove down a jam-packed expressway (or "the distressway" as my friend Eileen used to call rte. 93) SUV after SUV with one passenger surrounded me. You'd think that gasoline was not only free, but instead of being by far the world's worst polluters, our exhaust actually fertilized magic jelly bean fields across the New England states.

Boy, do I feel better. Boy posting vitriol sure beats taking action.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Jack the Bartender

My only previous acting experience was a drug dealer in a drug and alcohol awareness program called "Eddie" at Westfield State College. To deter college punks from drinking and drugging, they have someone early in recovery tour with this "show", casting students in supporting roles to get them involved. "Eddie" is based on the true story of a kid that drugged and drank too much and died choking on his own vomit.

I jumped at the role when asked after I was told I could ad lib, meaning I got to call Eddie's girlfriend (played by an annoying co-ed I couldn't stand) a bitch and whine about how un-fun she was.

About a year ago, I joined a sober acting troupe called the Improbable Players. They travel to schools and put on plays about teen violence, drugs and alcohol and family dynamics etc. Except for several failed attempts to play the role of a sober driver in field sobriety tests administered by the state police, these are my only acting jobs.

Tonight I'm meeting with some people down in Marshfield to discuss, what would you call's not a pilot, it's like a pilot for a pilot. A "demo" I am told. These people made a pitch to some networky types, said networky types said, "put a 5-7 minute tape together of what the show is", so the people got in touch with a production company that is producing this little segment.

The series is about a bar with an open mic in it, and I was asked to play "Jack, the bartender". He also owns the joint.

The real Jack is about 40, so that's how old the character is. Problem: I am only 39, and I actually look quite a bit younger... can I really stretch myself that far in my first role? I told a friend I was not really an actor and she started howling and said something like, "oh please... you can act all right..." which I did my level best to take as a compliment.

Jack is a nice guy, on the quiet side, and does every job in the joint to keep it running. He is a new business owner, so he wears many hats. He's not a terribly funny chap, and I read the notes describing my character as "about 40, bitter" and started laughing.

So I guess I have to get into bitter mode, so I will fill my mind with unhappy exchanges with ex-girlfriends before we start filming anything.

The script is what they call a "loose script", meaning they tell you the gist of a scene and the actors work it out. There is some suggested dialog, but you can do whatever you want, apparently, which sounds fun. What they did was get a bunch of people they think are funny and plan to let them run wild. We'll see how long that plan is in affect after I show up in a beret, sporting a Peruvian accent, requesting to be called Jacque.

Someone will gripe that my name is now French, but my accent latin, I'll immediately demand my own dressing room, then the writers will fire us all and replace with actual actors.

This should be fun.

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