Mish-mash of Comedy Musings

I write my name on the paper strip and glance into the bucket to see if the paper strips are folded and then fold my paper accordingly. I got a tip early on that if I should drop my name into the bucket 5 minutes before the mic starts, my name would be closer to the surface. Superstition among comedians. Sure enough, I got called up first at The Hollywood Improv with this method. Most of the time I drop my name too early and then my name isn't pulled for a good hour. Maybe there's something to this. When my name is on the bottom, the host doesn’t always mix it well enough to get that baby back to the surface.

Why do I even think about this bullshit, just throw the name in.

********************************************************************************

The Devastator (a partial set)

One day she decided to meet me half way. She decided she was on board with anal sex...yeah. So that way technically she could still be a virgin...at least in God’s eyes and I would get what I want. And BOY let me tell you man, everything they say about the ass is 100% true, the tip just slides right in man and aww fuck... my asshole hasn’t felt the same since.

Scattered laughs. It’s over-rehearsed, but the joke sort of delivers. He’s wearing a loud Aloha shirt of the Weird Al variety. It feels like a put-on. He came with his friend, who of course is filming his set. He’s going by the name of Devastator. I can’t stand him and I don’t care what the fuck he’s doing. His tone is vaguely arrogant, but there’s clearly no truth behind his material and his delivery is boring.

The last girl I was dating was a fucking asshole. She made me do things I didn’t want to do. The last time I talk to her was...pretty rough. She made me stop watching black porn. Which is ridiculous man...I don’t fuck black women- I have nothing against them, I just can’t have babies with them because I have something weird called sickle-cell trait- you guys know what I’m talking about...it means my kid would come out retarded, so that’s the only reason I wouldn’t go out with them...that and cuz they’re black.

Wakka wakka. He ends his next joke prematurely, leaves the stage, putting on an air of “That’s EXACTLY how I wanted this to go down,” and exits through the side door to the parking lot.

Part of me wants to follow them down the sidewalk, close enough to hear them brag about their accomplishment,

"How fast can we upload this video?"

"That was so Andy Kaufman right there!"

Then I would interrupt,

“Excuse me, DEVASTASTOR? That was amazing man, I’ve never seen anything like that. So BALLSY and unfunny, just like you planned!”

"YO, this guy GETS ME!"

**********************************************

Some guy saw me standing around and introduced himself. He turned out to be the one thing that made the open mic worthwhile.

***********************************************

I was sitting next to a heckler at a bar while an open mic was going on. The host almost had a meltdown dealing with the guy earlier and for now it seemed like the heckler had won. He was yelling from across the room, so he clearly had the advantage over the host, who had to squint at his enemy through the lights. I was tempted to ask him for an interview, but he gave me the information I wanted pretty quick. The heckler complained to his neighbors that it was a bar, "Fuck them if they can’t handle it. Maybe they should perfect their craft first!"

Meanwhile, this guy showed up alone to drink, sharing boring conversations with like-minded idiots. I guess he perfected his craft.

(dramatic One-Up sound as if Marty schooled the man through a shitty blog entry months later)

************************************************

The crowd slowly filtered out, and I recognized an elderly couple giving each other loving looks. My heart swelled. They had chosen stand-up comedy for a date night. They were laughing through the entire show and on their way out the old man excitedly explained to his wife, "It was THE WAY he made the microphone stand an extension of his penis...that's what separated him from the other comics!" For a moment, I felt triumphant, until I realized he wasn't talking about MY SET, but Jareth's...who had stolen my bit for his own selfish shot of glory. (to be continued)

**************************************************

I'm going to be guesting on a few podcasts:

Comedian Talk (comedians talking about comedy)

Comic Gab (comedians talking about stuff related to comedy)

Funny As *%#! (comedians talking shit about stuff and comedy)

I Can't Stand That Mother-*%@! (comedians talking shit about comedians)

Comedians That Love Cats (comedians having cat discussions with token pussy jokes)

I'm Depressed (comedians working on their openers)

Dude, How'd You Do It? (comedians begging successful friends for advice that doesn't involve actual work)

Yeah, But You're White (black comedians guilting white comedians one joke at a time)

Yeah, But White People Have Problems Too (white comedians trying to convince black comedians that they understand the struggle)

Let's Get Baked (comedians getting high and struggling to make it funny)

Comedy Club Podcast (club owners talking about comedy classes and name-dropping. They need interns!)

I Killed Last Night (2+ year comedians bragging about their amazing sets to anyone who will listen)

Too Soon? (comedians ripping into celebrities that just died, with discussion about cutting-edge comedy)

I Have A Podcast (a comedian who co-created a podcast with a guy who gave up on it after 3 episodes. Should he keep recording?)

***************************************************

"SO you're a comedian, ay? Tough racket. Have a seat son. How long have you been on stage? A YEAR? Wow, you're still wet behind the ears. (fondly) I remember when I told my first rape joke. Seems like the day before yesterday. I went by the name of Johnny Bonkers. I used to take a banana and stick it up my ass. Then I never addressed it- I just went into my act. I alienated millions! It was very courageous for the time. But anyway, let me give you one piece of advice. Sometimes, you'll feel alone up there, when it's so dark you can't see if anyone is out there and there's that devil of a spotlight BLINDING YOU... and you can't remember the next joke, you're covered in flop sweat, and you start to feel the old ticker head-butting your chest, trying to escape the nightmare that is taking place. But you can't just leave! Because there's always that ONE COMEDIAN out there. Watching you...and you know what? He WANTS to watch you shit your pants. So let him have it."

- excerpt from "A Stand-Up Guy" A one-act play written by Johnny Bonkers.

*****************************************************

The laughs are not good enough anymore, I'm chasing after that laugh-clap. Am I a comedian or a bonafide junkie?

*****************************************************

There seems to be a pattern where I bomb miserably at a show and then I hit up a second mic where I have no expectations...or hope. I'm completely numb from bombing, but I end up having a good set. Because I'm loose, relaxed, and just being myself. This gave me the idea that I would go into every mic with the mentality that I already bombed in spectacular fashion, sulking my way to the stage, but I could only trick myself so far. The moment I gained confidence, I would start mugging my way through bits and trying too hard once again. Maybe I need a little guardian angel to approach me as I'm walking to the stage- give a quick whisper,

"You suck."

********************************************************

Don't Forget To Funny!

Shitting on people in conversation. Shitting on the Comedy Store potluck, it's clearly rigged! Shitting on people in jest because I'm fresh off a Roast Battle and just can't help myself. Shitting on other comedians because my comedy is far superior. Shitting on people when I guest on a podcast. Shitting on lowly beginners who don't know any better. Shitting on my own comedy. Shitting on people on stage. Shitting on the venue. Shitting on the host who means well, but still fucked up my name. Writing a shitty review on ITunes, just so I can shit on the host who I hate.

Shitting on the comedy couples who stick together. Shitting on podcasts that I wish I was invited on. Shitting on bookers that never book me. Shitting on comics that never say hi. Shitting on hosts that don't even try.

Shitting on bringer shows. Shitting on your Instagram account. Shitting on your pool party with your stoner friends. Shitting on your sexy pics.

Shitting on your stupid ass glossy flyer that misrepresents the shithole I'm performing in. Shitting on your outrageous cover charge for a show full of amateurs. Shitting on becoming a Comedy Store Regular- why you? Shitting on your tour. Shitting on your GoFundMyShittyComedyChannel.

Shitting on everyone in a public forum because you're all against me. Shitting on other clubs. Shitting on talent coordinators. Shitting on the 1-drink minimum. Shitting on you because I can't take a compliment. Shitting on you for being on your phone. Shitting on you for talking during my set. Shitting on you for leaving right away.

Shitting on your pre-booked open mics. Shitting on your living situation. Shitting on comedy festivals. Shitting on comedy contests. Shitting on clean comedy shows. Shitting on your inability to skip the rape joke. Shitting on hecklers. Shitting on your first open mic videos.

Shitting on your Twitter joke. Shitting on your pathetic merch. Shitting on your attempt to brand yourself with a catchphrase. Shitting on your hashtags.

Shitting on your blogs. Shitting on The Comedy Bureau. Shitting on that Netflix special. Shitting on improv, actors, and anyone who wants to check off comedy on their bucket list.

Shitting on tags that I didn't ask for. Shitting on your webseries. Shitting on your workout pics. Shitting on your inspirational quotes. Shitting on your sudden change of attitude you hypocrite.

Shitting on your new headshots, shitting on you for quitting comedy or not quitting comedy. Shitting on you for starting comedy. Shitting on you for pitching a joke to me.  Shitting on you for doing a show in your underwear. Shitting on the person who just died. Shitting on you for joking about it and beating me to it.

Shitting on all the negative fucks that I want to distance myself from. Shitting on desperate cries for help. Shitting on someone who just wants a sincere answer on Facebook. Shitting on people that just want someone to stand up for them. Shitting on your political beliefs. Shitting on you for getting political. Shitting on you for being emotional.

Man I'm exhausted. What am I doing here again?

15 Minutes in Spokane

Amber Scalzo and I are hitting the road. Santa Cruz, Coos Bay, Seattle, Spokane. Maybe Boise, Grass Valley, San Francisco and Bakersfield on the way back. It's a long haul for only a couple of shows and whatever open mics we manage to get on. Is this a tour or a very long drive?

Comedian Amber Scalzo.

Comedian Amber Scalzo.

I feel bad about it, but it wasn't for lack of trying. I've been down many rabbit holes the last couple of months, searching for mics and shows, trying to put the puzzle pieces down and creating a schedule that makes sense. Hitting up bookers and friends of bookers. Some of my LA friends tried to help and they came through. Some bookers asked for our stand up clips and never got back to me. Damn. It hurts that we don't have stand up clips that are current, I think it's blowing our opportunities. Then my new laptop died on me, so now I can't even edit the recent stand up footage I got of us. Great timing. When I load up my Macbook Pro it looks like an 8 bit video game that gets stuck on the apple boss.

I think the uncertainty of the trip makes me nervous too. We have two shows that are spread out and a lot of breathing room. Will we hit this mic, can we make the drive in time, should we just go here instead and meet up with these people or power it out and drive through the night? Boise or Everett? Portland or Grass Valley?

Fuck it all. This is what I love. To go on the road. This is an adventure. I'm super lucky to be able to do this. I'm unemployed and my girlfriend is letting me take her car so I can drive 2,400 miles. She knows I have to do this and she understands the difficult world of comedy that I've chosen.

Portrait of a saint.

Portrait of a saint.

 

So why feel bad about it? I'm already going on my 2nd trip, with only 4 years into comedy. I'm going to see some cousins and Amber and I have multiple places to crash. All we have to do is drive, try to get some sleep and do some stand up comedy. Yeah, there are some nights where it's just impossible to get to a mic without killing ourselves to get there, it's not worth it, we need our sleep. Sometimes the days and mics are not going to align perfectly. I guess that's when those pop-up mics come in handy, I gotta get my own setup like Johnnie Flowers.

We did a pop-up mic in front of a 24 Hour Walmart at 1 in the morning. Lot of shoppers surprisingly. Love the giant magnet sign that Johnnie slaps on his car. He just brings a simple speaker and microphone with him wherever he goes. "Sometimes, I don't even get out of the car!"

We did a pop-up mic in front of a 24 Hour Walmart at 1 in the morning. Lot of shoppers surprisingly. Love the giant magnet sign that Johnnie slaps on his car. He just brings a simple speaker and microphone with him wherever he goes. "Sometimes, I don't even get out of the car!"

Claire is carpooling and taking the bus while I'm gone. She lives close to work, but I still feel like I'm leaving her life in shambles. She's totally fine with it and only encourages me. I started feeling lonely last night and I'm missing her already. There's always Facetime and consoling emojis I suppose.

I'll be able to feed our cat Tune with this handy Kittyo app that I have on my phone. We have a Kittyo machine (it looks like a blender) that shoots kitty treats and has a laser pointer- so I can interact with the cat remotely. You know, the necessities in life. It barely works, but it gives me a cheap thrill. It was a Kickstarter project that was 2 years late on the delivery date and then it took me a year to get the damn thing working. Some things are worth waiting for. Now I can shoot treats at Tune's dumbfounded face!!!

I told my mom about the trip and when she found out I was going with a woman there was a long pause.

"Oh...that's nice. So Claire is okay with that?"

"Yeah... I mean Amber is a comedian too, we're just friends."

"Does she have a boyfriend?"

"No."

It was pretty uncomfortable and I even started to question myself. Wait, am I doing the right thing? Is there something wrong with this picture?

Claire was listening and she quickly pointed out that my mom must think I sleep around. Yeah...what the fuck? It's not like we're getting motels together or sharing a fucking sleeping bag. We're crashing on friends couches and driving a couple thousand miles to do less than an hour of comedy. And what does that say about Amber? Single people just hopelessly fuck out of desperation? It doesn't matter with who, where, or when, as long as it's a "plump delicious cock"? That's a Norm Macdonald description, sorry.

I'm no skank and besides, Amber likes men, not comedians.

The last time I hit the road was almost a year ago. Tom Allen, John Parr, and Casey, our video guy, hit Arizona for 5 days. We were extremely lucky. We had 7 booked shows and a couple of open mics thrown in the mix. A paid hotel, courtesy of my Aunt Dorise and Uncle Marty- incredible gesture. I was expecting to crash on their floor with a bunch of cats next to me, but they were happy to do it. To top it off, my Uncle passed away after the trip, so it was the last time I got to see him.

Casey filmed nearly all of our sets and some great behind-the-scenes footage, but we never saw it. Weeks after the trip, he said all the stuff he filmed was lost and then he abruptly moved back to Colorado. It's really a shame, our first comedy trip lost, so we'll just have to go by memory:

We did a backyard show, a dive bar, an upscale restaurant, a pizzeria, a blackbox theater and a comedy club. Every night was totally different and kept us on our toes. I had my first drunk woman rush the stage and blather at me,

"Wurst Wurst!"

Tom had the lights go out in the middle of his set at the Firehouse space. The outdoor crew rushed to fix it and 5 minutes later the spotlight came back on and Tom picked up right where he left off. We also watched Tom go into a sports bar no less than 3 times to ask a bartender out, but he would make a B-line for the bathroom every time because he was nervous. He would return to the parking lot, looking defeated, and John would start to build him up again until he reluctantly caved in and marched right back. Goddamn it was funny. We got invited to a coke party after a show. We ran into Arizona's Mike Enders EVERYWHERE. He almost became a parody of himself- the shit-eating grin, the warm greetings around the room, drunker and drunker every time we saw him. I'll have to write about Arizona in a separate entry.

Anyway, I guess we'll never see that footage. I'll just have to film these experiences myself from now on. Arizona was one of the best experiences of my life and now I have another trip to look forward to....tomorrow!

Bueller is a rich asshole that manipulates his best friend and gets away with everything, but man it looks fun. "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

Bueller is a rich asshole that manipulates his best friend and gets away with everything, but man it looks fun. "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

 

Got some good playlists. Going to have the blackest coffee, blacker than the souls that frequent The Blacklight District Lounge. I've got the right partner in crime. We have shows. There are mics to be had. No swanky hotel this time, just couches and floors and maybe a bed, but I might as well thank everyone in advance.

THANK YOU.

You want to do this some day? Here's Ron Babcock's helpful guide:

Ron Babcock's Do-it-yourself Standup Tour Guide

Something that really helped me is going through my Facebook friends and writing down a list of every state and linking my friends to the state and city, so I could map out a trip and know where my contacts are. I asked for places to crash or just invited them out to a show. No shame in it. I have family all over, so this is a good way to connect, even if it's incredibly brief. We gotta hang out when we can and help eachother out!

I also wrote down all my phone numbers in a notebook in case my phone decides to die on me. I guess I could write down all the directions too, but I'll just trust that one of us will have a working phone. Or use a handy Thomas Guide! (blows the dust off) *cough cough*

Oh and the day after we get back from this trip, I'm doing a show in Phoenix. Bad scheduling on my part.

 

YOU NO GO, STUPID!

YOU NO GO, STUPID!

I'll be back kitty. I should take that Medieval Times crown out of my suitcase.

 

 

Comedy Reminders to Myself (to others it may not apply)

1. Sometimes, it's not about the show. It's about the people you meet before/after. Oh yeah, I met that fantastic person at that shit show!

2. There may be less than 5 people in the audience, but they're nice enough to listen and they want to be entertained. Fucking give it to them! You never know who is watching.

3. Make eye contact. Don't be checked out and staring at the back wall.

4. Have something fun to say when you get on stage. Maybe a little thing to add to the last comedian's joke. A callback to something. A little greeting- something goofy, anything!

5. Before the show it's always good to meet the other people on the bill. Why be an anti-social asshole? Find out what these other people are all about. We're all awkward, it's not a big deal. Get past it now and try to learn their names.

6. If you're going to be on your phone, for fucks sake, don't sit near the stage! You're setting a bad example to comedians and you're telling other people in the audience that it's okay to check out.

7. Take a compliment and don't shit on your set. Just say thank you.

8. Don't shit on the venue, don't shit on other comics and stop being negative.

9. Don't give out compliments if you don't mean it. Just be genuine.

10. Take a deep breath, relax. Enjoy what you're doing.

Work hard. Be funny. HAVE FUN.

YEAR 2: The Worst Comedian (Part 2)

LA/Long Beach open mic experiences, bringer shows, self-produced shows, Kill Tony podcast, failures,  regrets, minor victories and unpleasantries.

Read More

This Half-Assed Hustle (compiled truths and occasional fiction)

2:25pm

Driving up to Los Angeles with my Spotify playlist on shuffle. Some day I would like to be driving a car full of comics, singing along to Lady Marmalade as we drive 100 miles to our next gig.

3:21pm

I have to piss so bad. I gotta get out of this fucking car. Adjusting my seat to find any angle that gives my bladder even the slightest relief. You can't pull a Dumb and Dumber in your girlfriend's car, you're not pissing into that bottle.

3:40pm

Park at Amoeba Music and then walk over to Arclight Hollywood. I haven't seen a movie here in years, but I'll happily take a piss any chance I get. The dome is especially good for taking a dump- best bathroom in Hollywood. Its been 10 years since I quit and I still have a couple of friends that work here. Amazing.

3:47pm

Go through hundreds of "As Is" used DVDs, prices ranging from $1.99-7:99. I'm gradually buying back my old collection- this was my addiction for awhile. I've bought and sold and repurchased DVDs from this place dozens and dozens of times. Losing money every time. Like when I first moved to LA and didn't have a checking account, so I'd go to one of those Check Cashing places and they'd take a huge chunk. I've perfected so many ways of losing money. Some comedian said, "I'm the Michael Jordan of overdraft fees." I think most comedians could've written that.

5:10pm

Meltdown Comics

Sign my name on the scrap of paper and throw it in the lunch pail. I see a comic that I want to say hi to, but I'm too worried he's going to think I'm kissing up to be on his show. Forced conversation might raise suspicions. He's kind of goofy like I am. In the end, I shy away. We give mutual nods of acknowledgement instead. I've made attempts in the past, but it never lasts past a couple of pleasantries. Goddammit, why do I act like it's a fucking audition, just relax.

5:20pm

The room is starting to fill up. People are smoking out back. I have a few exchanges with other male comics. Majority of comedians in Los Angeles are familiar with this dialogue:

"You going to the Store next?"

"Nah, I'm gonna bounce to Marty's or Pig N Whistle. You?"

"If I don't get up at the Store I'll go down to The Improv Space."

"Cool, cool."

It's all hollow and predictable, but I say these things all the time. Where you coming from? Where you bouncing to next? Is that a good mic? How many minutes? You got anything coming up?

If I find out the person I'm talking to was booked on a cool show I'll get a little pissed off. It'll show on my face too, I'm an incredibly bad liar. It's completely insane, it doesn't even matter if I genuinely like the person, I'll still feel a flash of jealousy. It's involuntary at this point, I've programmed myself to be competitive against everyone because everyone is doing things that I'm not.

Then I remind myself that I'm not very good yet. I don't have to be everywhere, Jesus. Get good and then worry about that shit!

Awkward hug. Forgot that person's name.

5:35pm

One of two hosts calls out my name for the 20th spot. Shit. I probably can't do The Store and then bounce back and make it work, so I guess I'll just be here. Some of the other guys know how to flip-flop to multiple places, but I haven't figured it out yet. It's a little disheartening when 3/4 of the room clears out and there's less than ten people in the audience.

6:20pm

Still waiting around. They worked in some of the more established comics into the line up, which drags things out. Still burns my ass when someone drops in for five minutes and then they're gone in a flash. Must be nice.

I step outside and I have a conversation with Jeff for a bit. He talks my ear off about surface level comedy shit and keeps asking me questions. It's irritating because he immediately looks down at his phone when I start to answer and then he asks me again. It all feels out of obligation and reinforces my fear of losing my own personality someday; where I become an automatic networking robot of a comic that vomits out the same line of bullshit over and over. Never connecting with people, only advertising, advertising, posting, tweeting, and screaming at all the other comics, HEY- HERE"S WHAT I'M DOING- HERE I AM! PICTURE OF ME AT SHOW. PICTURE OF ME HAVING ACCOMPLISHED THIS THING. PICTURE OF ME POSING WITH BETTER COMIC THAT SHOULD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!

7:10pm

I'm on stage and only half way through a joke when the realization that I'm bombing stifles the little energy that I have. I feel myself trailing off and force myself to finish. It's painful. I even got a fake laugh, which is worse than silence because it probably came from another comic. I'm supposed to listen to this set on my phone later to find out where I went wrong. How about when I got on the stage?

7:15pm

I'm scrolling through other open mic options on The Comedy Bureau. I really just want to go home. I don't want to pay $5 for a mic I can't stand, or a 1-drink minimum when I don't want to drink. I mean, I could get a soda, but when I'm at a bar I just gravitate towards beer. Why do I keep going to these 3 minute mics and waste my time with tried and failed material? Where's the progress Wurst?

By the time I decide on one, it'll be too late for me to get there in time. I suppose I could pop into Tribal and see what's happening. A nostalgic stop that probably won't do much for my mood, but I already bombed once anyway.

The romantic side of me wants to spend the remainder of my monthly allowance on a Reuben sandwich at Canters. Write jokes with coffee and a sandwich. Then worry about money later. But would you really write anything?

I like to bottom out. When I have a little money, I quickly burn through it almost to get it over with, embracing the inevitable. Then I hit zero and it's a reset button. I get help from my Dad, or I occasionally land some random gig with filming or editing. The audiobooks were completely unrealistic; I basically donated a few hundred work hours and barely made anything. I'll work my ass off on projects that make little to no return. I go after the impossible each time. Acting, filming, now comedy and audiobooks, why does anyone continue to support me?

7:26pm

I have Claire on the phone. She says I'm not a piece of shit. I was trying to convince her otherwise, but she knows my self-esteem is just low, because I bombed and now I'm just trying to bear-hug all the negative things that I can. I am a good person. I'm just incredibly stupid.

She says I'm not stupid. She says that I'm kind and generous. I finally give in and tell her I love her. I tell her there's a chance I'm going to hit one more mic. She asks me to text her when I'm heading home.

7:40pm

Sitting in the car, thinking I should've signed up at Anchor Bar for a late spot. That would've been perfect. Just get the fuck out of LA, you're burned out on this side. Maybe I could visit an old friend while I'm up here. I could go back to Amoeba and get that Kung-Fu movie for four bucks. Go home and eat that can of black beans and not spend another dime. Do mics in Long Beach the next week without spending anything.

I could easily make it to Mel's or Big Wangs later. The list at Tribal could be a mile long- plus I think you're supposed to order a sandwich now. Their food is good but their service sucks.

7:49pm

Hit the library just before it closed. A little inspiration might help! Autobiographies from Sarah Silverman, David Spade, and Bernie Mac! Plus a book about Cult Films and Facts I Should Know- warm up the brain matter, possible premises. I love walking out with a shitload of books!

9:30pm

Who calls it a night when comedy is just starting? This guy!

Claire is still up and our fatty kitty Tune is sitting an inch from her face, her paws propped up on her favorite human's chest. She's in purr mode, but when I get close she briefly sniffs my face for identification. I check out.

Sometimes it's not the number of mics I hit. I hit a wall tonight and needed an out. I need to cut myself a break. So many people are working harder than me and I know it. What's it going to take man?

 

 

 

 

No Comedy Advice.

Who the fuck is this guy? Should I confirm our friendship? We have 152 mutual friends. About a hundred of THOSE friends are comedian acquaintances. 40 of those I don't know if I've ever met.

I'm close to 1,200 friends. I can't believe how much this has jumped since I started comedy. I'm constantly adding people, I've got a backlog worse than my Netflix queue. That Netflix remark is dated now, everyone is streaming- FUCK.

Half the guys I talk to are constantly roasting. There's no flow of conversation anymore, it's just insult after cheap insult. I just walk into a room and someone is commenting on my wardrobe and my haircut, followed by their impressions of an airhorn- BUH-BUH-BUHHHHHHH.

I'm doing the Roast Battle again. I'm dreading it. I want to puke from the anxiety and bury my head under my pillow. It's not about the jokes anymore. I'm throwing myself into the lion's den. They just need another excuse to hate my stupid face and I'll give it to them. The mumbly guy, the Wurst, he's older- fuck him. I stutter out my jokes, Mike Lawrence destroys me. Periscope followers agree, this guy is truly the worst.

I don't have to worry, but I do. I lost the first time, but it was a fantastic night. Everyone was warm and supportive.  I got good advice from experienced roasters...I didn't take the advice, but I loved it just the same. I was a part of something great for one night.

My girlfriend defends every mistake I make in comedy. She knows I'm just venting and need to blow off steam, so she hears me out and builds me back up. I have to destroy myself in order to rebuild a better version of myself. Constantly updating software. Marty 2.0. Marty 2.5 Marty X. Now I'm driven and motivated. Hey, I accidentally had fun writing a new joke- how did that happen?

Oh yeah, I've been doing this comedy thing for years. Its always been there. Standup is just new and hard, but I'm learning. I'll get better. I have to. I have my own voice. That will always be my ace. A lot of people just hate this voice and I don't blame them. It's not sure what it wants to be. I need to remind myself what I'm going to do every time I walk up on stage. All those motivational things that I've read or written down in my phone, but never remember to look at again.

It's fun, right? It has to be fun, man.

Never let them know that you have doubts.

I just apologized for the next premise before telling the joke, JESUS!

My cat is burying her poop right now as I write this. She stares at me sometimes and it reminds me of the all-comedian audience that I'm bombing in front of. There's a similarity in the gaze. Neither audience understands that I'm funny. I want to scream, I swear I'm funny! Not for you, but maybe some day!

My cat just laughed at me. That hurts. It's terrifying too, but her timing is uncanny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR 2: The Worst Comedian

"Coming up right now, I hope he brings his...BEST material, uhhh, MARTY WURST MUCH?"

After bombing this particular set at the Silverlake Lounge, the host added,

"Marty Wurst...he has the secret to comedy, being loud."

That got a big laugh of course and nothing felt worse than some cheap shot after I already bombed. Everyone there hated me. It was like high school all over again. I'd go to these mics and sure, I sucked, but it struck me that the same group of stuffy assholes were laughing at each other's sets no matter how lousy their jokes were.

Self-deprecating comment (laughter). Fuck my life! (laughter) I should probably just kill myself (laughter, clapping). I don't even want to do comedy tonight...(standing ovation, ticker-tape parade, group orgy ensues).

Then I'd go up and just... nothing. Crickets puking.

I started off in 2013 with an adventurous spirit, where I was willing to try characters and bizarre bits on stage, but the constant bombing made me shy away- plus comedians I looked up to were always insisting, "You have to make it personal."

I've always resisted that. Why can't I just be goofy and absurd?

Nobody was buying it. They saw through my lies and I couldn't sell it, that's why.

I was determined to hit mics, though. Once I spent 5 hours on public transportation for a whopping 7 minutes of stage time. I must've been out of my fucking mind. One night I missed the last bus and was stuck in Hollywood, so I just wandered around for a few hours until I could take the train back to Long Beach the next morning. I wanted to hang out at The Comedy Store until 2 a.m., but I couldn't miss that last train!

I didn't mind taking the Blue Line up to Hollywood at first. I could read, listen to podcasts, work on jokes, and not worry about traffic. 90 minute trip. Honestly, I was afraid to start driving again, but Claire eventually persuaded me to take her car, for safety's sake. There were a couple of late nights where some drunken assholes tried to mess with me on the train and I finally said fuck public transportation. It's not worth it.

The first year I hit 88 mics. The second year was closer to 200, which is still nothing compared to what most comics do in my circle. I tried to hit 4 to 8 mics a week and anything under that felt lazy. I would get moody and depressed. Sometimes I'd be out of town for the holidays and I'd be lucky to get one mic in, it was something, but then a week would go by and it'd feel like starting over again.

Explaining this process to my family always came off apologetic. It's hard for anyone outside of comedy to understand that you have to go up almost daily. I sure as hell didn't know. The fact that I was barely getting booked must've seemed like a spectacular failure to them. It still feels bad. I can't really brag about going up in bars and coffee shops. The whole bringer show fantasy was gone and now it was time to put in the actual work.

Sept. 2014, Jeanne Whitney and I took a short jaunt to San Diego for a gig at the Second Wind Bar on Navajo Road. It was my first taste of taking a drive with a friend and doing a show more than an hour away.

The Second Wind Bar (which has since closed down) was an ugly little dive bar with a pretty good stage, but hey- a show! Plus, they brought in a giant pizza- we're getting paid! The dude who put us up on the show was nice enough and the place definitely had some colorful customers.

Funny how we were just a couple of hours away and the place felt like a total redneck bar in middle America. A couple of loud, drunken ladies were trying to size me up and had a few questions about my act:

"Are you going to do jokes about Mexicans?"

"Nah, nothing like that. Just goofy stuff."

"Are you going to do jokes about Asians, like how they're bad drivers?"

"No.'

The second hag-in-command got excited,

"You should, because it's actually true. I had one cut me off on the way here! Asians can't drive!"

"I KNOW," first hag interrupted, "You're going to do jokes about JEWS."

"Probably," I said.

The way she said it, too, "JEWHOOOOS," made it particularly offensive, but at least she was enthusiastic about a comedy show. Now that there was the possibility of a racist act, the ladies would probably stick around. They might even throw out some extra tags or slurs.

I should've opened with, "So a Mexican, an Asian, and a JEWHOOO walk into a bar..."

A phone went off during my set, but other than that, the ladies were surprisingly cooperative. Maybe they couldn't handle the suspense.

When is he gonna say what I'm thinking? Here it comes...wait for it...maybe he forgot, I'll help him! (mouthing the word) jeh-whooooooo.

They tore into Jeanne instead. Jeanne fought back and was really funny--I wish I had recorded that set!

Then there was the Kill Tony show in The Belly Room. I'd tried to get up for weeks and listened to the podcast a lot. It's a crazy, wickedly funny, and occasionally maddening experience. The hosts are so mean-spirited and for some reason I still wanted to do it. The guests were a huge part of the appeal: They've had Moshe Kasher, Bill Burr, Sarah Silverman, Doug Benson, Roddy Piper, Ian Edwards--it was pretty impressive.

Comics are picked randomly out of a bucket, then they perform 1 minute of standup in front of the hosts and a couple of guest comedians. Then there's a post interview that usually involves a lot of cheap shots and ridicule at the amateur's expense. There's rarely any constructive criticism, but it does make for an entertaining show. Tony Hinchcliffe is the snarky and quick-witted host, Brian Redban is the sleazy sidekick, and there's an audience of Neanderthals that gobble up juvenile behavior. Plus, you got a guy in an Iron Patriot costume standing there for the whole show. He was sort of the show's perverted mascot. The original guy was fired, so various comedians were subbing inside a cheaper get-up.

Ian as the Iron Patriot.

Ian as the Iron Patriot.

 

I used to see the original Iron Patriot character standing on the bus and holding onto the rail because he couldn't sit down in that expensive suit.

"Next stop, Hollywood and Highland!"

"Next stop, Hollywood and Highland!"

During the show, I hung out in the green room and would just hover in the hall when they were calling up the next guy. They only get 5 to 6 people up each episode, and I was so used to not getting up. It was one of those nights when I started to regret signing up altogether and kind of hoped I'd be passed by again. Jamar Neighbors and Brian Moses were the guest hosts--I barely knew those guys and couldn't care less. Eccentric comedian Mugzilla had just stormed out of the room. He went after Jamar Neighbors for being a paid regular and then threw the mic down, marching off in a huff. Eddie Whitehead Jr. followed him, doing his Samuel L. Jackson schtick and then plugging his documentary on Youtube. Then I was called.

I hurried out of the green room and was completely out of breath during my entire set. I sucked hard, the material was dumb, and the interview that followed is what temporarily destroyed me. I'm a sensitive guy and not cut out for The Comedy Store's frat-boy behavior. I've always been the pussy.

They took it easy on me by the end, but the damage was done. Like Tony said, I was about to cry--I felt like shit. I kept doing these stupid bits and everyone would take it as an insult to their intelligence. I felt misunderstood and they had basically told me to quit. My voice alone seemed to infuriate Moses.

You gotta build your armor Wurst, they tare you down to make you stronger.

Are you serious? So you only thrive at the Store if you're a fucking bully?

Anyway, it was a painful lesson. I didn't grow up with a bunch of friends constantly ribbing me at school. I'm not used to being called a pedophile for entertainment purposes. It wasn't a joke at my expense, it was just punishment. My material was that annoying to them.

Somehow I made one friend on Twitter.

I'd done The Laugh Factory "audition/open mic" a few times. The owner Jamie Masada was there on my second try, but I got passed over. The process got old pretty quick and it seemed like the serious comedians I knew were avoiding that place anyway. It makes me feel good to know that Jamie had to sit through my armpit farts. TOO CONCEPTUAL, JAMIE? DID THAT ONE GO OVER YOUR HEAD?

I was really gunning for a showcase, taking schoolyard behavior to the stage. I would forget about The Laugh Factory for months and then go back with no expectations.

Bombing at The Comedy Store potluck for the first time was exhilarating. That room is pure magic. Unlike the Laugh Factory, that club never felt like a waste of time.

You sign up at 6 p.m. with 50+ comics and wait until 6:45 for the list to be posted. It's a long shot; a combination of new names that pop out, friends of the hosts, and maybe a couple of randoms. I'd hear comics grumble over and over that it's rigged, but I brought a buddy who just started standup and he was picked the first time he signed up, so you never know.

Anyway, on December 1, 2014, they posted the list and Brandon Brickz called it out,

"Marty Wurst!"

(sings) I've got the gol-den ti-cketttt!

It really was exciting. Plus Jeremiah Watkins was hosting, who I sort of knew.

You talk to comics about the Original Room and I'm sure they'll say the same thing. There's so much history, it's got the perfect stage, perfect lighting, and the whole room is painted black, so everyone is focused on the performer. It's also the most deadly when you bomb.

I bombed for 3 minutes and Jeremiah was merciful on my exit.

"Guys, he had stage presence, he had character work... should've given a little bit more than that."

The performance sucked for a number of reasons, but I finally did it.

I'd had a good set on this stage before, but it was a bringer show. The potluck open mic actually meant something. I was finally a comedian. A shitty one, but I'd been coming for months and I finally got my 3 minutes. It felt like an honest failure. Many more to come.

To be continued... (when my girlfriend proofreads the next chunk)

 

For the next installment about "The New Comedy Store" click here

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