Monday, February 25, 2008

It Happened One Open Mic Night

Classic stage actor Sir Donald Wolfit once said, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard." Well, after my first foray into the world on stand up comedy I can say that making jokes about death is easy, getting laughs is hard. I walked into to the 404 lounge on Friday as the definition of an amateur, I have performed stand up a grand total of two times before and they have been in the safe haven of Regis. The 404 is an old timers bar that has not been completely over run by hipsters, yet. When I signed up for my slot I was quite intimidated, no one know who I was and everyone else performing seemed to know each other and their work. "Shit, these guys are professionals" I thought. When the open mic started the MC, some guy named Chris got on stage and told a joke about how he thought high fives are retarded. Silence. I began to worry, because if the "professional" couldn't get any laughs then I'm screwed. I got on stage and realized midway through my first joke that no one laughs at open mics! So, what did I have to lose? A funny thing happened though, I got more laughs then the first 4 comics combined. Obviously some bits bombed, but I'm just some kid getting on stage for my third time. In my act I covered recent stories in the news, television, and advertising, the kind of shit I write on here once a week. My strongest joke was "Fidel Castro resigned the other day and now his brother Raul will be taking over as el Presidente in Cuba. So does this make him the Jim Belushi of Communism?" I was surprised to get a fairly big reaction out of the crowd filled mostly with comedians and bar flies. After my five minutes were up I began to realize why a few of my jokes did so well, I'm not a misogynist, homophob, sexist, classist, or generally bigoted or mean spirited comedian, and I use that term very loosely. The rest of the night was a laugh less affair with one comedian trying to be Sam Kinison without the material making rape and gay jokes. The guy appeared to be a regular aspiring comedian who is a regular, but didn't get a single laugh. This appeared to be common place for this guy because at one point he said, "I'm not getting mad tonight, I usually get mad." Then he got mad. He was pissed because no one was laughing, but what did he expect? Uninsightful jokes that seemed more to shock than entertain are not going to get laughs. The guy might as well have been telling "black jokes." This came to an apex near the end of his set. He asked, "Come on people this is a comedy show, what did you expect? This isn't a bris." At this point I committed a cardinal sin of comedy, I heckled. I replied, "It feels like it." The guy went ape shit, but all he could come up with was to call me a "fuckstick" and told me to shut up. I'll be honest I felt like shit afterwards, not because the guy called me a fuckstick or that I disrupted his set, I didn't even interrupt a punchline, but after having a marginally successful set and feeling like a "real" comedian I reverted back to some asshole in the back. He was bombing, he knew it and so did everyone else. There was no reason for me to be the heckler. I will say, however, that no one thought him calling me a fuckstick was funny and a few laughed at my comment. I will also say that I am enjoying writing the word fuckstick way too much. After this comedian there was a stream of laughless silence that culminated with some guy in his fifties that made me think I was at an open mic in the late 80's. This guy has probably been doing open mics since Andrew Dice Clay was Dane Cook, he made me long for comedic stylings of Yakov Smirnoff or that I had drank 10 Smirnoffs or that I was in Russia under Lenin or that I was in a yurt in Serbia.
Before I entered the 404 on Friday I expected this tight community of good and unique comics that were cutting their teeth and taking chances. What I found was a hodgepodge of shortsighted impostors that made me realize that we are back to the black era of comedy of the early 90's. Never the less, I think I'll continue to write and try out material in an attempt to find my style and pay my dues in old timer bars surrounded by comedians I don't like, because I'm not ready to die.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidential Cliff Notes

Here is the cliff notes version of the old, and mostly dead, white men that have occupied the highest position in the free world.
1-6: The Great White Hype
The first six presidents are men that are mostly named John or James, deist who looked to dip their quills in the black ink and generally revered as the greatest presidents in history. When in reality they just benefited from having a largely uneducated country and not being Mother England. Imagine if today John Kerry started a new country and people followed him. It would look pretty good compared to the US currently, but does that mean that John Kerry is bright, insightful figure who was centuries ahead of his time? It is worth noting that George Clinton served two terms as VP during this time. If only we could get the modern day George Clinton in there, then we'll really see if America is ready for a black president. He's qualified, I mean he has been running a parliament for over 25 years.
Andrew Jackson: Thomas Jefferson, Jr.
Where Jefferson left off, buying up 828,000 square miles off native land, Jackson picked up the early eradication of an indigenous people. Jackson passed the bluntly titled Indian Removal Act, believed in Manifest Destiny, and was the foreman who paved the Trail of Tears. Think if there was a weaker Republican field this year we might be reading about Tancredoian democracy in 200 years?

8-15: The Guys that Weren't Lincoln
The most forgettable collection of presidents in history, all 8 served one term or less. The U.S. from 1837-1861 was as stable as the cast of the view.
Such achievements by this crew include, the shortest presidency (31 days), muscling land away from the Mexicans, aiding slave owners in tracking down there "property," claiming that states could not legally secede but held that the Federal Government legally could not prevent them, and had a fast food restaurant named after one (Fillmore).
Abraham Lincoln: Maynard G. Krebs Goes to Work
During the Civil War Lincoln used his war powers to proclaim a blockade, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, spent money without congressional authorization, and imprisoned 18,000 suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial. Kinda sounds like Bush, yet he is still top 3 all time.
Andrew Johnson: A President So Nice They Impeached Him Twice
Johnson passed the Black Codes making freed slaves second class citizens. He also had such a contention relationship with Congress they tried to Impeach him twice. Once for basically being himself and the other for violating the Tenure of Office Act. Yet, some how Bush has gotten by scottfree. Hey at least Nebraska became a state during his presidency.
Ulysses S. Grant: America's Fat Drunk Uncle
When the biggest scandal of his presidency was called "The Whiskey Ring" it is safe to say that Grant made people believe that anyone truly could become president. Grant was a fat anti-Semite drunk who led the U.S. into the Long Depression, today he would be on Fox News.
19-25: The Guys that Weren't Roosevelt
Strongest collection of facial hair by a string of presidents. In fact when the public decided that Harrison's beard wasn't really working out for them they elected Cleveland's mustache to a second term. Also, some of the best pet names took place during this time, Garfield, Grover, Chester, Rutherford. The only president during this time to not have facial hair or an animals name was McKinley. However, he was assassinated by an anarchist, which is badass in its own right.
Theodore Roosevelt: Speak Softly and Carry a Big Schtick
Roosevelt grew up a sickly pipsqueak in New York, but is remembered as a Rough Rider. He also believed in Nordicism. However, he appointed the first Jew as Cabinet Secretary and had the first black man to dinner in the White House. Who was the real Roosevelt? The Aryan academic with asthma or the rough riding Nobel prize winner?
William Howard Taft: So Long, Facial Hair
A fat man with a mustache, he really should have switched places with McKinley. Taft weighed 330 lbs making him the fattest president, which will now segue these facts in the form of Yo President jokes. "Yo President is so fat, when he was elected he brought his own cow to the White House." "Yo President is so fat, when he took a bath he got stuck." "Yo President is so fat, he need a bathtub specially built for him that could hold 4 men." "Yo President is so fat, he was the first to regularly use a car because riding a horse could be considered animal cruelty."
Woodrow Wilson: The $100,000 Man
Wilson was a policy making president, but lacked an real flare. Imagine if Roosevelt never pretended to be tough and you have Wilson. There is a reason no one remembers World War I. He did appear on the $100,000 bill which is as idealistic as he was.
29-31: The Guys that Weren't FDR
These three were corrupt and inadequate, Teapot Dome, Mississippi Flood, and Great Depression made the 20's roaring alright. Imagine if we had nothing but Reagan, Bush and Bush for 24 straight years, except worse.
FDR: Farce of Dimes
He confiscated privately owned gold, used a Japanese attack to enter Western Europe conflict, imprisoned Americans because of their race, and had an affair for nearly 30 years with the same woman. Another one of the greats, at least he repealed Prohibition. Cheers
Harry S Truman: Truman Defeats 220,000 Sleeping Japanese
This guy dropped the bomb that no one in the world has used since. Not Cuba, not Russia, not even a Bush. Somehow killing nearly a quarter of a million civilians is still not frowned upon.
Dwight D. Eisenhower: The Good Times are Killing Me
This guys presidency was like a Rockwell painting, it's easy to forget the planned coup in Guatemala and the Eisenhower Doctrine. But thanks to him I can make it to California in 16 hours.
JFK: Playboy of the Western World
Kennedy was so damn charming no one ever seems to care his father rigged elections, he had enough blonds in the White House that the Lincoln Bedroom looked the grotto at Hef's place, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, and committed troops to Vietnam. After writing all of that I looked at his picture and thought of how wonderful he was. There's a reason why everyone wants to be the next Kennedy.
36-37: Two SOBs You Don't Want to Fuck With
Everyone has seen the Oliver Stone movies and one thing is clear, LBJ and Nixon were two tough and crazy motherfuckers. Nixon had an enemies list and LBJ took on the KKK.

38-39: "They Never Told Me Being President Was This Tough" Ford was a clown and Carter was a peanut farm. I personally liked Carter, but this era hearkens back to some of the great lame duck stretches in history sans the facial hair unfortunately.
40-41: This is the End
Reagan and Bush I laid the foundation for everything that is wrong our society today. I could list everything but I don't have the time or the energy. Times like this I wish I could forget like Reagan.
Bill Clinton: The First Frat President
Everyone says Clinton was the first black president, actually he was the first frat boy in office. This guy loved McDonalds, fucked anything that moved, was a chubbie chaser, just wanted to hang with everyone, and had no problem with talking his way out of trouble.
George W. Bush: War on Error
Bush has been the worst president in the history of the U.S. He has run the country like a monkey with a hand grenade. If I didn't have enough energy to list what his daddy and Reagan did wrong I'm going to need to do way more coke lines to start this one. Considering he wasn't actually elected, I'm taking a mulligan.
There you have. No need to open a history book again. Happy President's Day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

10 Things I Hate About Matthew McConaughey

Since the last two articles I've posted have had Wolf or Wolves in the title I thought I'd mix it up a bit. Over the weekend the aptly titled Fools Gold starring Matthew McConaughey brought in over 22 million bone$. From what I can deduce based on the trailer it is about McConaughey as a crazy bachelor with his shirt off being chased by a hot lady. It's good to see as an actor he continually takes on challenging roles. Seriously, I'm not asking for Daniel Day-Lewis or anything, but how can he shamlessly re-do the same bullshit over and over again. For some reason today this all came out of me in an enraged monologue and I thought I should make an abridged version in this list. So here it is, 10 Things I Hate About Matthew McConaughey.
1. The last name McConaughey (this didn't particularly bother me until I began writing this and released it's hard as hell to spell and I had to keep looking it up, which has taken me a long time to write this list.)
2. He is always shirtless
3. He is always wet
4. He is always smiling
5. He is always shirtless, wet, and smiling
6. He turns on overweight women over 45, which then leads to them making innuendos that involve food and licking their lips. Horrifying
7. His forays into serious roles that end up more comical than shit like
Fools Gold (ie. Two For the Money)
8. He doesn't wear deodorant (which makes number 2 and 3 seem alot worse)
9. He is afraid of revolving doors (yes, like a dog. No word on if he is afraid of the vaccum)
10. His life motto is "Just Keep Living" (this sounds like a line from Joe Dirt, except he is serious)
There it is, the ten things I hate about Matthew McConaughey. In 20 years I will probably visit this list again, because he is having a kid. Yep, another generation of one dimensional rednecks, probably named Bud Wyser because "hey I love my son almost as much as I love a nice brew in the sun, with my shirt off."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Record Review: Idiot Pilot "Wolves"

In 1983, Scarface was just hitting screens across the U.S. With Brian De Palma, Al Pacino, and a plot about a ruthless gangster had the elements of another De Palma hit, Robert Loggia didn’t hurt either. A funny thing happened when the film debuted, people hated it. Not just critics, actors (reportedly Dustin Hoffman fell asleep and Lucille Ball walked out), authors (Vonnegut walked out in disgust), and of course audiences, De Palma fans no less. Today, Idiot Pilot is experiencing the same kind of let down that plagued De Palma 25 years later with the release of Wolves.

The duo of Michael Harris and Daniel Anderson first popped up on the industry radar after recording their debut Strange We Should Meet Here in Anderson's bedroom on pirated software 4 years ago. After gaining airplay around the Seattle area a bidding war ensued that eventually landed them on Warner’s Reprise imprint giving the band a nation wide re-release. Strange We Should Meet Here showed promise on tracks “Spark Plug” and “A Day in the Life of a Poolshark,” while still maintaining a sense of the rawness that two teenagers will produce as they are developing a sound. Strange We Should Meet Here was Idiot Pilot’s Carrie, inspired and overachieving with a raw sensibility that didn’t sell out theaters but got people’s attention, not to mention the way many songs change pace on a dime and break into a frenetic rage like Carrie after she is dowsed in pig’s blood.

Idiot Pilot's sophomore effort Wolves is bigger and bolder than Strange We Should Meet Here. The duo of Anderson and Harris have taken advantage of major label funding as Wolves gleams with high production quality and fuller percussion. Idiot Pilot has also taken some chances with Wolves by adding a more traditional percussion sound in favor of programmed beats on many songs. Specifically, "Elephant" and "Planted in the Dark" incorporate aspects of post-hardcore with punching guitar, bass, and drum sound. While "Cruel World Enterprise" invokes the strongest elements of Idiot Pilot's earlier work, electronic programming and Thom Yorkeesque vocals, "Theme from the Pit" is heavily influenced by Sunny Day Real Estate. With so many different influences at work on Wolves Idiot Pilot still has the ability to crank out an ear shattering break down as homicidal as Hector in Scarface when he dismembers Angel with a chainsaw.

Much like Scarface the initial reviews of Wolves are not glowing. Kevin Kostelnik of referred to Wolves as overcomplicated with overworked choruses. Fan reaction hasn't been much kinder, as one forum post stated that if they were Reprise, the bands label, they would have axed the record. The ambition and complexity of Wolves may not satisfy the masses of today it has the potential to be a classic ahead of its time. Today Scarface is revered as a classic with a place in nearly every rappers film collection, and it seems strange to think that Godfather Vonnegut walked out. Let's hope in 25 years Wolves will pop up in every other episode of MTV's Cribs.

Wolfe in Jornalists Clothing

Super Happy Fun Time Tuesday has come and gone. And the biggest winner of the night? Wolfe Blitzer's mom. With such a hyped up election year, a wide open race, and 5 major party candidates still in the field Wolfe Blitzer and his "awkward" situation room are having their biggest wet dream since Anna Nicole died. For some reason it's hard to tell the difference. As Blitzer brings in such astounding political minds as Bill Bennett and the like, I'm left trying to decipher if Hillary Clinton's consistent crying before major primaries are genuine or if they are just to manipulate and grab votes, much like speculating if Howard K. Stern's love was real or if it was just to manipulate and grab money. At what point did Wolfe Blitzer become Pat O'Brien? Well except for the whole drunk dialing thing. As the night progresses and the analysts "analyze" the results from each state, the term horse race continues to be used. This term was generally used in the past to decry the coverage of political elections in the manner that puts emphasis on candidates crying and if one white conservative millionaire will be able to take some of the momentum from another white conservative millionaire. Now cable news has pulled it into their lexicon of cliches with the likes of "comeback kid," "maverick conservative," "Kennedyesque' and "Reganesque." On the other hand, you have to hand it to Fox News for using the term horse race on a limited basis. Instead, they have played to their base with ads of stock cars zooming around a track with different candidates names on them with a graphic and voice over that says the race is on. And we all know that in the realm of cliches that horse race is the "Cliche of Kings," while any reference to NASCAR is the "Cliche of Guys-Who-Listen-to-Rush Limbaugh-for-the-News-While-Sitting-In-Their-Trailer-Eating-Stagg-Chili-Out-
of-the-Can." Wolfe Blitzer as a journalist should be aware of the cliches and avoid their use in reporting on politics, but he embraces them and helps turn the electoral process into American Idol, unfortunately this years Clay Aiken (John Edwards) has dropped out, making news another form of reality television. But what should we expect from a guy that shares his name with a meat head from American Gladitors? As if the redundancy and cliches weren't enough CNN has been trying their hardest to make the broadcast resemble an HP commercial sans Jay-Z, Shaun White, and Jerry Seinfeld. However, in their desire to not be out done by the other news channels CNN has rolled out this technology before all of the kinks have been worked out. This often leaves Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, or old sloppily dressed former fill in the blank strategist repeatedly touching a screen to no avail and looking like my nanny trying to figure out how to use the VCR. Yet, despite all of this CNN has become a rating juggernaut on election night with 3.29 million viewers during the New Hampshire Primary. That bested Fox News who are the highest rated cable news network. When ratings are high the network will keep going to the well and gives us endless hours of Wolfe and his pack, making Ma Blitzer very proud.