Wednesday, December 27, 2006

$15 Please, Officer

Headed down to Florida for the big day, to see my little sister and her family. I drove it. A bit of a hike from Chi-Town, but standup made driving long distances a snap long ago. Why drive? I can't stand the holiday rush at airports, not to mention the risk of being stuck in one for Christmas.

I've been pulled over roughly 15-20 times since starting comedy in '90. I have yet to get a ticket, although I have gotten some great "getting-pulled-over" stories. Today's goes down in the books as my second favorite.

I was making great time, leaving Orlando this morning and hitting Tennessee before rush hour. I was zipping along at 75 when I saw the flashing lights in my mirror. Damn! Does this cop have any idea how much faster I'm going to have to drive to make up for lost time after he lets me go? He's creating an unsafe situation by pulling me over...

I pulled over and waited. (Of course, I could have outrun him but I wasn't in the mood, so I decided to let him pull me over.) He got out of his patrol car. You can always spot the troopers right away because of the hat and height. The hat has the wide brim and every trooper has to be at least 6'3" to get the job.

He walked up to my window and began the usual drill.

"Afternoon, sir. In a hurry today?"
"Not really."
"You know the speed limit here?"
"Actually, it changes to fifty-five a few miles back."
"Oh, I missed that."
"Where you headed?"
"Ohio? From Illinois? You're taking the long route."
"I'm coming from Florida."
"Where in Florida?"
"Down there for the holidays?"
"Yes, sir, seeing my sister."
"And you're on your way to Michigan?"
"No, sir, Ohio."
"That's right--Ohio. And you're coming from Georgia, correct, sir?"
"No, Florida."

These are typical tactics. The trooper goes on a fishing expedition. He's looking for inconsistencies, trying to trip up the driver. If he finds one, it might serve as probable cause for a search of the car. Perhaps the driver is drunk or high; changing stories can be signs of these conditions.

The questioning continued.

"I'd fly to Florida from Chicago."
"I'm used to driving. I was a standup comedian for a long time."

All right, now he'll ask for some jokes. Should I go dirty or clean?

"Is that what you were doing in Florida; comedy?"

Huh? No jokes? Uh-oh, I might be getting this ticket. Fuck, that'll screw up my insurance.

"No, sir, I was seeing my sister in Orlando."
"That's right. Mind if I look in the trunk of your car?"
"I prefer you don't."
"Any particular reason?"
"Just got a lot of stuff in there for the holidays and don't want it all moved around."

He nodded thoughtfully. A lot of people think you have to let a cop search your car if he asks. The truth is, he can only search your car if he asks and you agree, unless he has a warrant or probable cause. Still, even when people know this, they will let a cop search their car, fearful that if they don't, they cop will make things hard on them. Again, not so. Cops are professionals; they won't get upset if you don't let them search your car.

"Why didn't you fly to Orlando?"
"I have a book coming out of my funny dating disasters as a comedian. I have to carry them with me when I travel, to mail out any that are special ordered. I can't carry them easily on a plane."
"'Coming out?' How can you carry books around if they're not out yet?"
"Well, the official big release is Valentine's Day. A lot of times you do a small release first, though; to get reviews to print on the back of the book and to see what the public thinks."
"And what do they think?"
"So far, so good. Everyone seems to like it, even women that are offended by it."
"Why would they be offended?"
"It gets graphic here and there."
"Pfft. Please. The women I pull over are a lot more graphic than the men. I could tell you stories."
"I bet."
"So the women like it even though it offends them?"
"Not all of 'em were offended but the ones that were said they still loved it."
"Huh. You said you have copies for sale?"

This guy was good. I wouldn't let him look in my trunk and he knew how to get me to change my mind. He knew I'd pop the trunk for a potential sale. He might see something that would warrant a search.

"Yeah, I have copies."
"I'd like to see one."
"No problem."

I popped the trunk and got out. I had to pull almost everything out to get to the books. I noticed Starsky searching the pile with his eyes.

"Here ya go."

I pulled out a book and handed it to him. He started to flip through it.

"The idea is that God is a woman and she's screwing me and all men over when it comes to dating."

The trooper chuckled, "Sounds about right."

I checked his finger. No ring. I decided to push.

"The stories are hysterical. Then I use what I learned as advice."

He wasn't listening; he was reading the intro. He laughed. He flipped through, skimming a few stories and chuckling. He closed the book and looked at the back cover.

"Naw, $15."
"Wait here."

He handed me the book and went to his patrol car. He returned with his wallet.

"Here ya go."

He reached inside and pulled out fifteen dollars, which he handed to me.


He then helped me reload the trunk!

"Have a safe trip, sir and please keep it below the speed limit."
"Yes, sir, thank you. Feel free to let me know what you think about the book. My email's in the back."
"Will do. I look forward to reading it."

I got back in my car and started it. Well, this was definitely one for the books. Or perhaps a book. A book of getting-pulled-over stories. So, what's my favorite getting-pulled-over story? Another time; I have to hit the hay. Still have more driving to do tomorrow. And more books to sell. I'll crank it up to 85 to make sure I get some customers...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Almost One Last Laugh

This is a story I submitted this week to Chicken Soup for the Soul. We all have a little bit of George Bailey in us; I found that out...

What the hell was I doing? I really didn't know. I was twenty-four and I was a standup comedian. Like I said, I didn't know what I was doing. I mean, what was the point? Was I having any impact on anything? Sure, I was having a lot of fun making people laugh, but so what? I wasn't really contributing to society or people. I was just making patrons laugh so that a bar could peddle a few more drinks.

Such were the thoughts harassing my mind back in 1996. I was seriously considering quitting standup, a job I had started at age eighteen while in college, and maintained as full-time work once I graduated.

I didn't mind that my friends were starting to make real money in real careers. I didn't mind tirelessly driving across the continent. I didn't mind the loneliness (back then there wasn't email and I didn't have a cell). I didn't mind not being in one place long enough to date. I even didn't mind living out of a suitcase.

What bothered me was the fact that I wasn't doing anything of any real value. I didn't contribute to society. I didn't affect peoples' lives or make a difference. I just made people laugh like crazy. I was good at it, there was no doubt about that, but "that" didn't mean squat. It was time to quit.

I was seriously thinking about it; quitting. I didn't know what else I would do, but I knew I needed to find something that contributed to society. I was bummed because I loved doing standup but it wasn't enough.

I pulled into the hotel parking lot in Columbus, Nebraska, several hundred miles away from my home in Chicago. I was near the end of a twenty week tour, tired and depressed that I would be quitting standup soon.

It was a Saturday night and I headed down to the hotel bar, where I had two shows to do. After the first show, a bunch of audience members asked to buy me drinks. (This is quite common for audience members to do when they like an act. Between ages nineteen and thirty, I never once paid for a drink. I was later shocked to learn how expensive alcohol was at a bar!)

When people buy a comedian a drink, they want the comedian to drink it with them. That night, an unusually large number of people bought me booze. Normally, in such a situation, I would simply drink two of the drinks and explain to the patrons that while I appreciated their generosity, I had a second show to do and I would be hammered, unable to perform, if I drank all the drinks.

But I was tired and depressed and didn't care. So I downed seven pint beers along with several shots. I was far more depressed than I was when I started. Sure, everyone was telling me how great I was and how much they loved my comedy, but I didn't care. They could have carried me around on their shoulders and I wouldn't have cared. Comedy was an empty gig in an empty life.

Somehow I got through the second show. I don't remember anything about it, I was so groggily drunk. Fortunately, I had done enough shows to operate on autopilot when needed. Afterwards, I collapsed in a booth in the back of the club, unable to work up enough strength to head up to my room. People filed out the other side of the bar, glancing back at me. They knew I didn't want to talk (a rarity for me; I always chatted it up with audiences after shows, grateful to them for coming out to support live comedy).

One guy remained in his seat. He just stared at me. He was a year younger than me, maybe two. He sat in his seat until everyone else left the bar. When the waitress approached and told him he had to leave, that the club was closing, he whispered something to her. She nodded her head and walked over to me.

"Ian, this guy wants to talk to you. He says it will only take a second. Do you mind?"

"Sure, whatever." I couldn't go anywhere in my current state, so why not? I just hoped he didn't want to buy me a beer...

The waitress summoned him, then walked away to wipe-down tables. He came over.


"How ya doing?"

"Um... I just wanted to tell you that you will really funny. I loved your show."

"Thanks, I appreciate that."

"I almost didn't come out tonight."

"I'm glad you did."


I could see something was on his mind but he was struggling with it.

"What's up, man? Seems like something's on your mind."

"You'll think it's weird."

"The last time I was in Nebraska, I was in North Platte. After the show, two guys spent the entire night telling me stories about how they go raccoon hunting once a week and how the coons outsmart them every time. Some trips they shot themselves in the foot, others they drove their truck into a lake or ravine. I spent hours listening to the stories. So tell me whatever you want. Believe me, it won't sound weird."

He smiled, then became deathly serious. "I was going to kill myself tonight."

I was stunned. I had nothing to say.

"I had it all figured out, everything in place by this afternoon. Then I heard on the radio that you were in town tonight. The last time you were here, a guy at work saw you and told me you were hilarious. I figured I'd come out for one last laugh, then go home and do it."

I still had nothing. He could see it and kept going.

"But in your show, you talked about so many of the things that were bothering me, things that I wanted to... end things over. But you laughed at them. You laughed at them all. You made jokes about the things that upset me so much."

Tears started to swell up in his eyes and roll down his cheeks.

"You made me so mad. How could you take these things so lightly? They weren't funny. My life is not a joke. But you kept at it. And as I listened, I couldn't help but laugh. By the end, I forgot why I was so upset. I couldn't be further from wanting to end things now. Thank you."

I just nodded once.

"Well, I should go."

He turned to walk away.

"You didn't tell me your name."

He turned back.

"You really want to know?"


He told me while I signaled the waitress for some comped drinks. We sat in the bar for the next two hours, him laughing and me listening. Before he left, after swallowing my last swig of beer, I looked at him.

"Thank you."

"What for?"

I told him how I had been thinking about quitting, that I wasn't doing anything of value. He vehemently shook his head.

"Oh no, don't do that. You do a lot of good. Making people laugh... it's big... it's real big. People need it, believe me. They need it. You have a real gift."

Remarkably, on two other occasions after that I had someone tell me after a show that they had decided to commit suicide and that my comedy stopped them.

I still don't know what to think about that. I don't analyze, I don't feel important because of it. I'm just glad I could help and that I stayed in comedy, where I was able to make a difference; able to affect people.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Jargon Chicago Article

An article I wrote for Jargon Chicago that was recently posted. or

I'll be doing more of these for Jargon, other sites, and magazines. I write 'em because I love writing, want to help, and to help let people know about the book. I'll keep you posted. Thanks for reading and spreading the word.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Apple's Lame Mac Commercials

I have grown tired off Apple's commercials with the two guys pretending to be computers. One is a young, attractive man, intended to lure us in to buying a Mac. Ooh. Yes, I suddenly want a Mac. The other man is older, wears glasses, and is dorky. He represents PC. Boo! BOO! I smashed my PC after seeing this clever commercial and went out to by a Mac. Unfortunately, none of the four stores I went to carry Macs.

What a clever marketing plan. Yes, it is very clever to compete in this manner. It is not at all the lamest form of advertising to attack the competition. It doesn't look at all desperate. And, the smartest thing in the world a company can do in its advertising, is to mention the name of the competition, oftentimes more than mentioning their own name. Yeah, that's what you should do in an ad. Attack the competition, mention their name a bunch of times, and then don't do anything to stock the most frequented stores with your brand. This way, when people who see the commercial run out to buy a Mac and can't find one in convenient stores, they will just stand there, staring at a bunch of machines put out by the competition that you mentioned a bunch of times. Yup, get them eager to buy computers, then out to the stores to just stand there and stare at your competition's machines. It would not even occur to these eager customers to buy a PC . . .

What a great ad for PC's--er, I mean Macs. Great ad.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Italian Stallion

Ah, what a relaxing night. Actually, I have a lot of work to do. Got a writing gig (I'll fill you in when it's done) and information on how to apply to freelance for a local popular paper, so need to get on that, too.

But I just needed to relax, you know? Jumped into a nice hot bath (which I rarely do). Yes, guys take baths, even though most are too wussy to admit it. Of course, it's a little messy in my tub. I play volleyball on the beach all weekend long, every weekend, throughout the summer. I've been so busy with book stuff, I still haven't had time to clean the sand left from those summer days. There's about 8 lbs. of sand in my tub. So it was a real manly bath.

I left the TV on and heard the commercial for Rocky Balboa. Ah, yes, another Rocky film. The best thing about Rocky isn't Rocky; it's the story behind it. Surprisingly, a lot of people don't know it. Here it is.

Sylvester Stallone wanted to act. He wanted to be known, to get the roles he wanted. He had a few no-one's-going-to-remember-this-character roles which, yeah, pretty much no one remembers. To make ends meet he stared in soft porns, where he earned a nickname--the Italian Stallion.

Stallone thought hard about how he could make it. On March 24, 1975, Stallone saw the Ali-Chuck Wepner fight which inspired the foundation idea of Rocky. That weekend Stallone went home and pulled his blinds, so there wouldn't even be the distraction of daylight. In three days he had written the script for Rocky.

Stallone tried to sell the script with the intention of playing the lead role. He was offered several hundred thousand dollars for the script by different studios but he didn't accept, holding out to play the lead himself. Word is, studios wanted Burt Reynolds for the role. They leaned on Stallone. No dice.

Finally, a studio reluctantly acquiesced. In 1976 Rocky won the Oscar for Best Picture. Rocky used Stallone's nickname "the Italian Stallion" in the film, a reminder of where he started. A great inspirational story for us all.

Learn one of the most

Romantic Languages
in the world when you
Learn To
Speak Italian
. The
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you may find many words and sayings surprisingly familiar.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Did You Notice...

Before I get started, had a nice treat today. Stopped off at a bookstore to see about getting a copy of I Killed: True Stories of the Road, a new book out that's a collage of road stories from some of the most well-known comedians of today. Didn't find the book anywhere, but did see my book on the shelf! Two copies of God is a Woman: Dating Disasters were sitting on the shelf. Pretty cool considering that the "official" release is in Feb. 07, which means we will do our first big print run for bookstores then, which will include reviews on the back cover. This means that the store must have been getting enough requests about the book that they decided to stock it early. Sweet! Lots of marketing to do; this gives me a burst of energy, though.

Any rate, did you notice:

How many arabs and Iraqis were on the study group analyzing the U.S. strategy in Iraq?

That you can't buy lawn darts because some kids got killed by them years ago? (We played lawn darts as kids almost every day; great game and good for eye-hand coordination.)

You can't buy this horse racing game I had when I was a kid because some group complained that it taught kids to gamble? (It was the best game. The horses, eight of them, raced out of the gates. You never knew who was going to win and you just watched as they moved to the finish. It operated on batteries.)

A group wants to change cars, charging car companies millions (and thus consumers thousands each) because cars don't have safety features with keys in the ignition. Kids turn the keys in the ignition and shift the cars into gear, tragically rolling over a smaller sibling. Um... isn't the fact that you have to HAVE keys in the ignition THE safety feature? Why the hell would you put a key in the ignition then leave the car unattended with children around? Some new law takes effect in 2010 requiring cars to have some key-safety feature. Not a clean air feature but a safety feature, which cars already have.

That U.S. national parks are overrun with the construction of fences and barricades on cliffs and rises to provide safety and easy access to visitors, while the rest of the world leaves their parks as unfringed upon as possible? (It is ironic to build on protected land people are supposed to visit for its natural beauty.)

That dodgeball and tag are illegal in some areas because they are unfair to some children who aren't as skilled in the aspects of the game? (In which case they will soon have to outlaw baseball because it is an unfair sport to the Chicago Cubs for the same reason.)

Perhaps we should stop fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq and start fighting for it here...

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Letters in Bra Sizes

Did you ever stop to think...

What the letters in bra sizes stand for?

D- "Damn, Dynomight!"
C- "Caramba!"
B- "Bummer."
A- "...Ah ha! There they are."

In case you're guessing, yeah that's a bit I used in the act. Fits here, too, though. Don't worry A-ladies, I make plenty of fun of myself and it's just a joke. You can catch a short comedy clip of me making fun of myself here:

Feel free to cut, paste, and forward. It makes me feel good to know people will be getting a laugh at work, hopefully when they need it most.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Be Approachable

I promised to post a piece of dating advice for women and had two different articles ready to go, but unfortunately/fortunately both got picked up by two different dating sites for women. I'll post the link and let you know when they get published. In order to keep my promise, I have pasted this excerpt from God is a Woman: Dating Disasters. It's a "quickie"--a short piece of dating advice in between chapters of the book, geared toward either women or men. This one is also on

I HAVE A LOT OF WOMEN FRIENDS. MANY OF THEM COMPLAIN THAT GUYS don't approach them, whether they're at a bar, sporting event, party, or so forth. Contrary to popular opinion, when we guys are on the prowl, we're not looking for pretty women with great bodies; we're looking for approachable women.

When a woman catches a guy's eye, he watches her for a moment before deciding whether to approach. Is she smiling? Laughing? Does she look like she's having a good time? Is she drinking? Are her arms crossed? Is she arguing or debating with anyone? The guy is trying to determine if she's approachable, if she wants to meet someone. Women with crossed arms or who are debating a serious topic, tend to be much harder to approach. Women who aren't drinking tend to be out because their friends dragged them out, not because they want to be, at least as far as guys are concerned.

Women that don't catch a guy's eye when he originally surveys the room often will catch it later with lots of smiling and laughter. Their demeanor makes them attractive. Look around. Are the guys hitting on the smiling, laughing women, or the sourpusses? Among friends, who gets hit on the most--the smiling, laughing ones or the frowning ones with crossed arms?

A lot of my women friends don't look approachable. They're great women, but they're not sending out a welcoming vibe. Want to meet more men? Smile. Laugh. Have fun. The guys will come.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Do I Look Fat in This?

I've gotten a few emails from people saying I should put stuff up here about dating, given the book, maybe even clips from the book itself. I'm not going to do that because there is an excerpted chapter, as well as clips from the book, on the book's website, and because the stories are in the book. It's like when I did radio to plug comedy shows for the clubs. If you do your act on radio, people have already heard it when they show up to the club. I feel bad that people pay to hear something they've already heard, so I did other, still funny things, on the radio.

Instead, I will post articles I'm writing for dating websites or magazines that tie into the book. These articles are similar to the "Quickies" in the book--one to two pages of dating advice for men or women in between chapters. This first one is for the guys, although women will find it interesting. I'll post one for the women later in the week. Thanks everyone for your suggestions and I hope this works for ya.

“Do I look fat in this?”
“Which should I wear, the red blouse or the white one?”
“Do you think she’s prettier than me?”

Aaargh! It’s enough to make a guy pull his hair out. We’ve all been asked them, we’ve all fallen victim to them, and we all have to deal with them. What are they? The absolutely ridiculous questions girlfriends or wives ask.

We’re not going to answer whether a woman looks fat in something, we don’t know what a blouse is, and no one is prettier than our beloved. So why do they ask these questions? It’s not the answer they’re after; they’re after the WAY we answer. Why did you hesitate when she asked if she looked fat? Why did you have to look at the woman before answering she wasn’t prettier? It’s a ridiculous, annoying game, which we can never seem to win . . . or can we?

I have never had to deal with the stupid questions women ask while dating more than once for each woman I’ve dated. What? How is that possible? What’s my tactic? I simply threaten to withhold sex for a month any time they ask a stupid question . . . woo, THAT was funny! I beat the question with complete absurdity. I give her nowhere to go, no reason to get angry. The only thing she can do is stop playing the game. How do I use absurdity? Here are my answers to the above questions:

“Do I look fat in this?”
“I’m sorry, did you say something? I wasn’t paying attention. I was too focused on holding onto this chair to avoid being sucked into your gravitational pull.”

“Which should I wear, the red blouse or the white one?”
“Wear the white one, I was planning to wear the red.”

“Do you think she’s prettier than me?”
“I would sell you into white slavery if she would just talk to me.”

See? There’s nowhere for her to go. I’ve left her no room. My comments are so outlandish all she can do is laugh. And, more importantly, never play the question game with me again.

So the next time you get asked some dumbass question by your girlfriend or wife, intended to find fault with you no matter how you answer or what you say, crush it with an outlandish response. Of course, I should tell you that I think my current girlfriend is slowly poisoning me with a pinch of antifreeze in all of my drinks because of my outlandish answer, but hey, I’m sure all you guys would agree that is far preferable to playing the question game.

All tongue in cheek aside, if your significant other asks these questions, there is a good chance she feels you are taking her for granted. She may ask which blouse you think she should wear because she is hoping you'll notice she bought a new blouse to look good for you, and so forth. Pay closer attention and offer more sincere compliments, about things she thinks you don't notice.

Ladies, two key things to remember about men: First, we spend a great deal of our time trying to figure out how to get you out of your clothes, which leaves us very little focus for noticing the clothes themselves, which is why we suck on clothes questions. The tighter, skimpier, sexier the clothes, the more we want to take them off, often making them even less memorable. So while an expensive tight shirt is very memorable to you, it may not be to us, because all we can think when we see you in it is "Wow!" and nothing else--a compliment to the shirt and you, just not the one for which you were looking. Second, we are with you because we think you are the prettiest woman with the best taste. When we take you for granted, you're better off giving us a swift kick in the ass with a direct approach, as opposed to expecting us to figure out the real meaning behind your questions. Notice how men tend to communicate with each other? Very directly with jocular name calling. So next time you're about to ask a question, try something like, "Hey, Mr. I-didn't-notice-my-girlfriend-got-a-new blouse for this party, do you think I should wear it or this old one? Or do you even care?" You're far more likely to hear, "Is that a new blouse? I'm sorry I didn't notice, it looks great." And, more importantly, he'll get your drift.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

T-Day: Family, Turkey... and a New Sweater?

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving; I am only now just able to re-button my pants after my mom's excellent meal. By the way, yesterday was Black Friday. Michael Richards completely misunderstood the meaning. He went out of the country, took some needed time for R&R, and went to a slave sale. Hey, hey, HEY! He's not racist; he only browsed, he didn't buy. Racists buy. Grr, I'm still so mad at that guy! Then he further adds insult by saying he's not racist. Okay... yeah, right. I feel bad for the guy who had to follow him, that had to suck! No one's stopped to think about that guy. The other comics probably made some first-timer go up.

"No, no, go ahead. The crowd's great."
"Yeah, man. 'Worked into a frenzy' and 'the crowd's angry like a lynch mob' are good terms in comedy."

Poor guy. Anyway, as I alluded to, I headed to my mom's for T-Day. She lives in Rockford, OH, in a house with her boyfriend (they've been dating for nearly twenty years, far longer than either of them was married). For those who don't know, I live in Chicago. Rockford is quite a change. It's a small town in the middle of nowhere. The closest "city" is Ft. Wayne, IN, which is an hour away and hardly a city. So I had to drive it, which I prefer and I must admit, although I wouldn't want to live in Rockford, it is a nice change of pace from the city. It's quiet and there seems to be far more time to get things done.

I was the only one who made it to my mom's this T-Day. My younger sister has her own family of two kids in Florida and my older sister was stuck in a suburb of Chicago with her three kids, making Ohio even more peaceful than past holidays. I do love having the nieces and nephews around, and they adore me because I play with them constantly, but it is nice to just sit around and do nothing. I was wary of not having my two sisters around, though. And with good reason...

While all three of us enjoy going home to be waited on hand and foot by my mom, there is always something that we know she is going to do to make one of us feel like a little embarrassed kid again. Being the only one there, I was her only option to embarrass and this year she was in rare form. (Mothers have a gift for making their children, no matter how old, how big, or what their vocation, feel like the eyes of the world are watching and laughing at them. Mine excels at it; the mom in Everybody Loves Raymond studied under her.)

On my way into town, I stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up my mom a birthday card (she turned 65 on T-Day). While I was there, I met a cute employee with pretty eyes (I'm a big sucker for eyes; they're my one weakness when it comes to women). We got to talking and she gave me her number. I figured we'd get together on Saturday night. It helped a lot that I was from the big city, which tends to intrigue lots of small town women, especially ones like Teresa, who had never been to a city.

I got to my mom's and gave her the card. She thought it was so funny, she insisted we go back to Wal-Mart immediately and buy several more. At Wal-Mart, she coaxed me to the back of the store, where she promptly had me remove my shirt and took my measurements with a tape measure. She had decided to knit me a sweater for Christmas. How nice. We couldn't do the measuring at home for some reason, no it had to be in the store (I think she wanted to buy yarn while she was there). People walked by and pointed while I stood there, being measured by my mommy for a sweater I'll probably never wear. I felt exactly like I was five again. Good times. Oh well, I guess I should be glad. When I was a kid, she would have measured me in the front of the store, where no patrons would miss it. She's getting a little better at being more thoughtful... It was almost over when who should walk by? Yup, Teresa, of course. She stood there and stared at me, frowning, before walking away.

I knew I was screwed but I found Teresa anyway (which is no easy feat. Ever been in a Wal-Mart? I just thank God it wasn't a Super Wal-Mart... you could park a 747 in one of those places and not find it). She gave me a phony smile and I told her I'd call her about Saturday. Much to my surprise, she replied, "You know, I just remembered I have plans for Saturday. I'm sorry." I went from being studly big city guy to lowly mommy's-measuring-me boy. She probably even thought I was bs'ing about being from Chicago after seeing my mom measuring me.

"I understand. Take it easy." I found my mommy and we headed home.

That night over the turkey at dinner, the topic of my book came up. My mom's boyfriend, Rudy, had started reading the copy I gave him earlier that day. (Incidentally, although he wouldn't tell me this, my mom informed me that he liked it a lot. He said there was a lot of good advice in there that would have helped him out back when he was green and that the stories were funny and engaging. This is great news for two reasons. First, it tells me that my notion that the games men and women play when it comes to dating and sex, as well as their thinking, have not changed much over the last several decades, is accurate--Rudy's 78--and second, the book appeals to a broad audience, since Rudy is well out of the 18-45 year-old target demographic.) Any rate, Rudy commented, "You didn't date much in high school or when you visited home from college. I remember that. Also, you've only ever brought one of your girlfriends by."

My mom jumped in, "Yeah, why is that?"

I simply looked at her, smiled, and shrugged, "I don't know. Think you'll have that sweater done for me in time for Christmas?" I took a sip from my plastic mug--mom's afraid people will break her glass ones...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Don't Break Up at a Comedy Club

That's good advice for both comedians and audience members... here's the story.

(I hadn't intended to make another entry so soon, I'm leaning toward one entry a week, to give people time to read each entry, but Michael Richards changed that this week.)

Michael Richards lost it onstage. Everyone knows, it's all over the news. Did he stop to think before he spoke? Ah, no. There's no excuse for it and I won't even comment on his statements; there's no need to. They were horrible and he obviously has some strong feelings and/or experiences, despite whatever he says in any apology. Hopefully, he can work through them.

Everyone is talking about the racial issue, which is obviously warranted and understandable. But I wanted to stop and think about another issue, which applies to every comedian, anyone who visits a comedy show, and anyone who watches one at home. Comedians MUST be funny at all times. Michael insulted comedians everywhere by forgetting this. When we work clubs, what are we really doing? Pushing drinks through laughter. That's it. It doesn't matter who you are, that's what you are doing. (If you're playing a theater, that's a different story. But he wasn't.)

No matter what happens during your day, week, month, or the show, a comedian must be funny. That's the gig! That's what we signed on for. My grandma died when I was on the road. I still had to do my shows, still be funny. I had horrible days, I still had to do shows, still be funny. If you don't handle hecklers well, ask the club to throw them out. I worked with Kevin Meaney one night and that's what he did. Someone heckled him, wouldn't shutup, Kevin said, "I don't do hecklers. You have to leave." The guy whined about paying his $20, Kevin pulled $20 out, passed it down to the guy, and told him, "Now get out." Kevin then held up a wad of cash and said, "I have plenty more where that came from for anyone else who wants to leave," at which point I walked up to the stage and yelled, "You suck!" I then held out my hand. The crowd went nuts, Kevin laughed, I went back my seat, and he went on to have a great set.

Okay, okay, the story. One night I was doing a gig in Michigan in front of a packed house of 200 people. A couple sitting upfront decided a comedy club was just the place to try and save their relationship. During the first two acts, they argued and ruined the show for everyone. The club had never experienced something like this and they were too nervous to remove the couple because of the visibility, the couple being right in front of the stage. The first two comics were too green to deal with it.

Time for me to go up. No sooner had I hit the stage when the guy yelled at the girl. I had to shut them up but still be funny, even though they had long passed pissing me off. I looked at them, "Hey, I don't want you two to worry. We've called Jerry Springer and he's on his way. He'll patch this up in no time." The crowd laughed racously.

The guy actually said to me very loudly, "Excuse me, we're trying to have a conversation here."

I laughed, then told her to break up with him. "If he's so stupid to try to fix this at a comedy show, dump him. He has no brains at all. In fact, I'm done here in thirty minutes, you'll be free by then, want to show me around town?"

The crowd went nuts. I ribbed them for another few minutes before they finally got up and left, to the ovation of the crowd.

See? Not that hard. Hecklers happen. Deal with it. By the way, there's a really good example of dealing with hecklers and loud audience members on my site under "comedy clips." Check it out by clicking below if you want. It takes a while to load because it is 20 minutes long but it is good. Scroll to the bottom to find it, it's the last clip on the page.

Also, please read "Blame the Homeless" if you haven't. I don't want that overshawdowed by this. It is good and something we should all think about. There is an underlying message in it about improving ourselves and the environment around us.

Happy T-Day.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blame the Homeless

Welcome to my first blog entry, glad you stopped by. Enough chit-chat; let's get started (don't use that as a pick-up line. It doesn't work... trust me.)

Last Friday afternoon I was walking through a park in a ritzy area of Chicago. I passed a bunch of teachers and small kids who were on a field trip in the park. I waited while two teachers leading a group of kids, like a couple cattlemen driving a herd to the ranch, crossed the path in front of me. As they passed me, one teacher noticed two empty bottles of Ty NanT on the ground. She turned to the other teacher and instantly remarked, “Tsk. I tell you, those homeless people, leaving their trash everywhere.”

The other one chimed in agreement, “Oh, I know; they just leave their trash everywhere. It’s disgusting.”

Ty NanT, for those that don’t know, is carbonated bottled spring water from Wales that costs $3.69 for one meager bottle . . . before tax. And I, too, hate it when the homeless leave empty bottles of it scattered around the park in a rich neighborhood, like it’s their own personal dumpsite. Many homeless people drink Ty NanT, while eccentric wealthy people don’t. The homeless often think Thank God I’ve finally raised eight dollars. It took me a week of begging and pleading to get this money, and now I finally have it. I’m not going to buy a six-pack or a cheap bottle of scotch or wine with it, no, that would be stupid. Finally, FINALLY, I can buy some Ty NanT! That’s what I really want and need, because even though I can stand digging thru the trash each night looking for scraps of food people didn’t finish, and I can stand sleeping on a piece of cardboard stained with piss by its last user, and I can stand fighting pigeons and squirrels for the empty shells of nuts, and I can stand pushing everything I own around in a shopping cart, and I can stand sleeping in two degree weather wrapped only in a single blanket feasted upon by moths, and I can stand pooping in the open and wiping my butt with week old newspapers, I will be damned, BE DAMNED, if I’m going to drink tap water! No way I’m drinking tap water! Yuck! That’s disgusting and degrading. Nope, it’s Ty NanT for me all the way. The fuck with the four drinking fountains in the park, I want TY NANT!

A lot of people probably think the homeless WOULD buy booze to gulp down in order to help them forget that their eyes water all day from smelling their own ripe stench. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. No, the homeless prefer expensive bottled water. It’s cleansing and wakes the mind, which in turn enables them to take careful stock of their lives. And that’s what vagrants truly want--to take stock of their lives.

On two other occasions I've overheard people complain about the garbage homeless leave in the park, once after seeing Atkins Bars’ wrappers on the ground, and, my favorite, the other time after a PRADA bag blew by. (Not many people realize that the homeless buy all their clothes at PRADA. Occasionally, they do shop elsewhere, but the homeless refuse to set foot in any store that is not spelled out in all capital letters on the store sign.)

So the next time you are in a park and see a PRADA bag or expensive bottled water or Atkins bars’ wrappers, blame the homeless (we all know that they are responsible for all litter). Better yet, find one and kick him in the balls, then, as he’s lying helpless on his back, force tap water down his throat. That will teach them polluting homeless! Fucking no good vagrants. They make me so mad!