Archive | March, 2010

The Day The South Rose Again

8 Mar

Completing my week of zero tourism, I passed on all of Atlanta’s many cultural landmarks in favor of lying in bed blogging and then drinking a smoothie.  The right choice?  Unsure.  But I can’t undo it now!  I’m already on an airplane headed north to Boston.  But, thanks to the magic of the internet, I’m blogging also.

At 1pm, comics, industry, friends, and people I didn’t recognize all convened at Piedmont Park.  There were snacks and shorts and the weather was a mild 55 degrees.  Perfect for kickball.  In the interest of fairness/reviving centuries-old tensions, we played North Vs. South for kickball supremacy.  The north jumped out to an early lead under the leadership of Mike Palascak, our leadoff kicker and most credible seeming sports-guy.  (Also a super comic.)  But, as has been predicted for a century and a half.  In the end, the South won a tight game.

Personally, my play at third base was consistent…and I don’t necessarily mean that in a positive way.  Also, sorry to Jeff Dwoskin for getting him out by kicking a ball at him accidentally.  He was on my team, and that was wrong of me.

Sunday before I left, I met up with my cousin Jesse who I’ve never met before.  He was really cool, and so was his girlfriend Colleen.  We had a great hangout for breakfast at Einstein’s, and I learned to love grits as long as they are filled with cheese and shrimp and little pieces of tomato.

Also, the contest finals and semifinals went great.  I met so many cool people (including Lenny Bruce’s daughter!), and I think I’m going to get the opportunity to do more comedy more places.  I can’t say enough good things about the Laughing Skull Festival or the club.  Thanks to Marshall Chiles and Steve Hofstetter for putting it together as well as the staff.

At the end, they gave me a trophy!

The Unaccomplished Tourist

6 Mar

There are lots of things to do in Atlanta.  You can visit its famed aquarium, home to two beluga whales.  You can tour CNN headquarters and see into the brainbuilding of newsmaking.  You can visit the Margaret Mitchell house, in memory of the author of Gone With The Wind.  Or, for the intrepid traveller, there is the opportunity to stay in your hotel until one in the afternoon and then gorge yourself on southern bbq.  Obviously, I opted for that.

Now, I’ve been sleeping about four hours a night here and waking up excited to blog my latest exploits for you eager readers.  Because I wouldn’t want to let my parents and girlfriend and one other person down by not writing.  But then, since my two hotel roommates (Mark and Jess) are very reasonable, they continue sleeping for several more hours.  And since I’m in an addled meth-like frenzy from lack of sleep, I don’t have the wherewithal to start touring on my own.

In any case, friend and excellent comedian Andy Sandford picked us up from the hotel and took us to local bbq joynt “Daddy D’z.”  I needed some veggies, like, real bad, so I ordered the broccoli casserole.  It was all sold out, so I had to get the fried okra instead.  So…I tried, body.  Really, I tried to do something nice for you.  Sorry it turned out not so great.  The food was delicious, though, so at least I did something good for the mouth part of my body.

One increasingly-intense part of the trip is that Boston comics Jay Marcus, Sean Wilkinson, and I are giving everyone meet “Dog” nicknames (everyone I don’t call “No Remorse” at least).  It’s sort of spiraled out of control, and now we have friends named Big Dog (Jay), Smash Dog (Sean), Top Doggg (Me, 3 g’s like the Verizon network), Bulldog, Slaw Dog, Shaggy Dog, Drug Sniffing Dog, Dog Dog (D-Squared for long), King Dog, Lion Dog, Attack Dog, Zim Dog, and several more.  It’s getting to be a real problem keeping them straight.  At breakfast were Bull, Stray, Smash, Big, Nate, and King.  So..that’s weird.

Afterwards, we walked through scenic Piedmont Park.  It was a nice loop, and a good chance to scout out the scene of today’s kickball game.  Side note, if you want to see some fictional kickball exploits, sift through the hilarious insanity of the Quiet Desperation Web Series (www.quietd.com).  In Episode 12, I perform a kickball-themed slam poetry piece entitled “My Big Jew Right Foot.”  Even though I’m left-footed.  Trust me when I say, you will enjoy this more than you understand what’s going on.

Last night, I went over to the Laughing Skull to watch friend and roommate Mark Normand tear it up onstage.  He took a very respectable and hard-earned 4th place finish, and he moved on to the wild card semifinal.  I was very proud, and cheered with lots of enthusiasm that I had to match when cheering for everyone else, so as not to seem biased.

Then, it was time for my show.  Instead of doing a longer set up front, host and festival organizer Marshall Chiles brought up a special guest to do a set.  That guest was Margaret Cho, who was funny and very nice.  She left the show before I went on, but she’ll always live on, on my resume.  My set went very well, but I didn’t feel like I blew the doors off of the place.  I left the room to eat a burger made out of a bison (delicious), and when I came back, they were announcing the winners.  I think the crowd had been tight from beginning to end, and I ended up tied for first place, which was really exciting.  I’m in the semi-finals tonight, so I’ll spend some time today putting together a whole new showcase set, which should be fun and challenging.  Everyone has been so cool, and this has been a really rewarding experience so far.  I’m looking forward to tonight.  Cross your fingers for me, blogfolks.

Josh

No Mercy, No Remorse

5 Mar

It's like that Magritte painting, but with pancakes instead of a giant apple.

The Laughing Skull Lounge. I like the name, but I also like that there are no cackling skulls just floating about on fire.

We came. We photographed. We festival-ed.

So, here’s a confession, internet friends.  I loaded all my pictures from yesterday at once, thinking it would be easy.  But now I have no idea how to type above or between them.  You may say:  “Joshua, you were in Hotlanta (don’t say that, no one does) for a full day, and you took three pictures?”  Yes.  There would be four, but I couldn’t take a picture of myself napping.  So I’ll run down the day in order of  the pictures above.

Picture 1:

The Flying Biscuit.

So we’re (we meaning myself, great New York comic Mark Normand, and Comedy Studio manager Jessica Mozes) staying at the Hotel Midtown, which is very close to the Laughing Skull.  It’s also close to a famed local breakfast chain called The Flying Biscuit.  It’s like if Waffle House was classy and didn’t set fire to your insides.  We met up with some other comics and had a good time.  I got the turkey hash, which was delicious.  There were also biscuits with cranberry apple butter, which is like butter made out of fruit, so it is delicious, and I am able to pretend it was healthy.

Afterwards, Jessica went over to the Laughing Skull for check-in duties, while Mark and I hung out with Grant Lyon, a San Francisco based comic.  I had a blast hanging out with him.  After he left to buy socks (we all had to do laundry after the smokiness of Clermont), Mark and I shared the hope that he was also funny onstage.  (Spoiler alert: He is!)

Picture 2:

Laughing Skull Lounge

There’s the setup of the room!  It’s small and tight and great.  Mark and I went over there to eat burgers (right after the turkey hash?  nope.  the elapsed time is nap time), but the restaurant was crowded, and the comedy part was empty.  So we hiked over to our show for the night.  In my head, there was a swingers-esque: “This place is deaaaad anyway.”

Picture 3:

Midtown Tavern

Mark, Denver comic Rob Gleeson, and I walked the mile down the road to the Midtown Tavern for a show.  First, we stopped and ate Chinese food, which was a good choice.  Over at the Tavern, the crowd was slight, but there were some fun other comics.  Hampton Yount, from DC did a really really great set about Nascar romance novels.  I went up after him and learned exactly how long my set is with zero laughs.  Good news, the timing is perfect!  Thanks to Justin “Mad Dog” Morgan for putting me on the show!

Back at the Laughing Skull, we watched some really killer performances.  The bar for tonight is reallllly high.  I’m very excited to do my set.  (10:30 tonight if you live in Atlanta…or I guess also if you don’t).

Post-show, there was a charity poker tournament, which was a lot of fun.  Although I did insist that a fairly prominent booker from the midwest was nicknamed “No Remorse,” a nickname that I called him for the rest of the night.  So…good career move?  Or best career move?

Today we’re going to actually leave the hotel and do touristy things.  And, if I know what’s good for me, I’ll run on a treadmill for a while.

Blog to you soon,

Josh

Welcome to Atlanta, Where the Players Play

4 Mar

Hey Everyone,

I know it seems like I blog about as frequently as Haley’s comet crashes into the leaning tower of Pisa (see: never), but really it’s a direct link with how often I do comedy outside of the northeast.  And, whuh-oh!  The place is here (Atlanta), and the time is now (now).

I left Boston yesterday after a hard day’s preschool teachin’ and took an airplane to Atlanta, Georgia.  In Boston, there were intermittent snow flurries yesterday, and the temperature hovered around 37 degrees.  Now I’m in “Hot-lanta,” as the natives would probably slap me for calling it, and the sun is shining and the weather might top out at a balmy 50 degrees today.

Boston or Atlanta? If you said Boston, you probably spotted the clandestine racism somewhere in there.

I had the good fortune of sitting in an emergency exit row on the plane, with a seat between me and my closest neighbor.  I wanted to take a picture of my impressive leg room, but I figured it would look like I was casing the joint for some future terrorist activity.  On the flight, I read about half of the book The Hardest Working Man, the story of how James Brown’s Boston Garden concert the night after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination stopped potential race riots all over Beantown.  I figured this book was an apt beginning to my trip, since in Atlanta I might see actual black people (unlike in Boston where we hide them away from convenient public transportation or commercial areas).

Anyway, I took Atlanta’s convenient four-color/four-branch public transportation system right to the venue (The Laughing Skull Lounge, http://www.vortexcomedy.com), and dropped my stuff in the green room.  I saw my friends Jason Marcus and Sean Wilkinson from home rip their sets, and I enjoyed the comedy from other people who were not yet my friends.  Good times!  Also well described, me.  I say that like I couldn’t go back and change that sentence at any time.  I can.  But I won’t.

After my plane ride, which was just very convenient economy seating, things have been first class all the way.  The festival staff is helpful and super on top of things.  The other comics are friendly and fun and talented.  The hotel is affordable and close to the venue.  The venue itself is amazing.  If you know the Boston comedy landscape, think The Comedy Studio as a black box theater.  It’s small and run well and there’s a disco ball for some reason over the crowd.

Anyway, the after party was at the Claremont Lounge.  It reminds me of one of my favorite places from fiction, The Double Deuce.  For those of you unfamiliar with Roadhouse, go see it now and then resume reading this after.  It’s like a strip club, sort of, but in a New York Knicks sort of way they frittered away all their early-round draft picks and got stuck with journeymen veterans and undrafted free agents.  It’s truly a place where dreams come true.  If your dreams include second-hand smoke.

It was a late night and then an early morning.  So let’s see how early I get silly and punchy tonight.  Wheee!

Play on, players,

Joshua