Archive | August, 2010

It’s Always a Red Eye If You’re Tired Enough

29 Aug

Hey Everyone,

I’m at the airport in Austin right now.  It’s dark outside still, but I can get Tex Mex food from the food court.  But no ice cream.  Oh well, no place is perfect.

I’m a little sleepy, since the shows didn’t end until about midnight, and then I had one more beverage (Dr. Pepper!  They had that there!) with awesome comedy friend Andy Ritchie and new comedy friend Ruby Collins.  Then I went back to the hotel and packed, and passed out.  Pretty soon after that, I woke up.  And it was time to go home!

Yesterday I had brunch with fun and great comedian Kerri Lendo at Mi Madre.  I had my second breakfast taco experience of the week.  I’m still in favor of them.  Although, a breakfast taco is mostly just a taco that you eat for breakfast.  So, with that as a guideline, I would like to work towards making Boston famous for breakfast ice cream sundaes.  It’s a long-term goal.  And I realize that breakfast tacos have eggs in them.  But doesn’t ice cream?

I sort of stalled out at the hotel for a while watching 30 Rock and talking to some friends, and when I got into gear I had enough time to stop off at Book People, a big locally owned book store, to do some browsing and pick out some gifts for some friends.  Then I went over to the Central Market cafeteria to meet up with a family that used to go to the school where I teach but has since moved to San Antonio.  I was so flattered that they drove an hour to have dinner, and they even baked me cookies.  I gave the two older girls (ages 5 and 2) the books I had bought (callback!  wait, that’s not what that’s called.) and the six of us had a really nice dinner.  Followed by gelato.  Followed by dancing to salsa music.  It was so great to see everyone, and hanging out with kids got me more mentally prepared to go back to work on Friday.  (This Friday?  Gah!)  It was such a nice and normal experience to have so far from home.  You know how that is, right?  Salsa dancing with a baby?

Back at Cap City, the last two shows were very good, making it 6 for 6 on good shows for the weekend.  Once more, I’d like to thank the staff at Cap City for being super nice and helpful and making my job so fun and easy.  I unloaded most of the t-shirts that I brought for the weekend to sell.  (Most of them were bought by staff members who get to wear them to work, which was a sweet thing.)  Hopefully they’ll have me back soon!

Now it’s just about time to board the plane.  See you later, Austin.  See you soon, Boston.  Time to finish moving stuff into my new apartment and doing real person things.

Hooray!
Josh

Advertisements

Surpies!

28 Aug

Good morning!  (Or whenever it is now!)

Yesterday was a little more relaxed than the day before.  I mixed a nap in with my adventures, which turned out to be much-needed.  I got a lot of writing done, jokes and some work on this musical I’m trying to write.  Musical?  Oh yeah!  But Josh, do you write music?  No!  What?  Uhhh, don’t worry about it.  I’m working on it.

I went to Kick Butt Coffee, a local coffee place, for some caffeine and a mid-afternoon treat.  And while I was there I did something I’d been meaning to do for a long time.  Something I hadn’t done in a while and had been putting off for no good reason.  I ate a slice of pie.  Now, normally, I don’t go a week without pie (give or take).  But I can’t even remember the last time I had any.  Probably this week I will do some blogging about my love of pie in general, but let’s just say that it is one of my top ten favorite things in the world.  The pie I ate yesterday was key lime, which I like to eat and also to make.  Secretly it is very easy to do.  Not eat.  That’s what they call an “open secret,” that it’s easy to eat pie.  But making a key lime pie is not that hard.  Even the crust.  I know.  Secret’s out, pie!

The key to lime city. What?

Also, I can’t speak highly enough of the Cap City Comedy Club.  The staff is friendly and fun and helpful.  The  hamburgers are delicious.  And the shows have all been amazing.  Four -for-four on great crowds.  The audiences have been large and enthusiastic but not too talky or shouty (with the exception of the “Jaaaaaaaager” girls on Wednesday).  So good!  Thanks to Cap City for having me.  And I’m not just saying this because the manager told me she read my blog yesterday.

I’ve got two more shows tonight, and then I fly home early tomorrow.  Next week I’m doing some scattered stuff in NY and then I’m back to babyschool on Friday.  Whoa.  Today the family of a little girl I used to teach is driving from San Antonio to have dinner with me in Austin.  I’m so excited.  I am going to go out and get them some presents.  What do kindergarten students like?  Shouldn’t I know this already?

Also, just a quick annoying favor.  If you listen to my podcast “The Two Man Canoe With Dan and Josh,” and you enjoy it, would you mind writing a little review on iTunes so we can maybe cultivate a little bigger fan base?  That would be really swell.  And if you don’t listen, but you might like to, search “Two Man Canoe” on the iTunes store.  The content can be a little explicit/adult at times, but it’s fun and great, and Dan Boulger and I have our favorite people on and talk to them about stuff.  That’s the premise.  Anyway, enjoy!  Or, if you’re already enjoying, let iTunes know!  We have some other photographic content at our blog http://www.twomancanoe.wordpress.com  Ch-check it out!

Thanks!
Josh

Now Museum, Now You Don’t

27 Aug

Guys,

Austin is a lot of fun.  Yesterday I had the hotel breakfast (great by hotel breakfast standards!) which included an apple and a biscuit and gravy.  At first, I thought the gravy was grits, and I was prepared to eat it as such.  But, fortunately, someone clued me in to it’s non-grits-itude before I ate a big bowl of it stupidly and then got major league sick.  Hooray, that guy!

After putting forth a real weak attempt at fitness, I showered and ventured into the city!  The number 10 bus took me downtown, and I wandered 6th St. (the Fanuiel Hall of Austin, for my Boston-centric readers).  I went to the super-touristy “Museum of the Weird,” which was fun and silly.  I took some pictures of Bigfoot relics for the benefit of friend/roommate/Bigfoot enthusiast Shawn Donovan.  Good times.

Sasquatch and learn.

Then I wandered around until I found a place to get some lunch going on.  On the recommendation of the folks at the visitors center, I hiked down to a place called Ironworks Barbecue.  It sounded industrial and delicious.  It was!  I got two enormous beef ribs, some potato salad, pickles, onions, and beans.  I had intended on writing while I ate, but I was too consumed with the food/messy from the food to get much work done.  It was worth it.

Pickles are a vegetable, right?

Then, more museums!  What?  I know!  I headed for the O. Henry (real name William Porter, which I knew thanks to a crossword puzzle I did earlier this week) Museum.  But, on the way, I got hijacked by a different museum next door.  It was in the former home of the only English-speaking survivor of the Alamo who was old enough to remember the battle.  Her name was Susanna Dickinson, and she was married five times.  That’s a lot of times to be married.  I also learned that only one soldier from the battle of the Alamo was buried.  All the others were disposed of unceremoniously.  This one guy was only buried because his brothers were fighting for the Mexican army, and they recognized his body and got special dispensation to buy it.  Awk-ward.

Then on to the O. Henry Museum, where I took a tour of the former home of the “master of the short story.”  Also on the tour was a couple from Lowell, MA.  Coincidence!  Yeah!  Fun O. Henry Fact: He was convicted of embezzling from the 1st Bank of Austin (where he was the only teller), and he spent three years in jail.  While imprisoned, he wrote letters to his daughter and claimed to be “away on business” the whole time.  In jail, he sent his short stories to a cousin, who submitted them for publication.  This is how his career got kicked off.  I’m getting some ideas, guys.

Then it was a bus ride back to the hotel and out to dinner with aforementioned Boston ex-pats Shane and Maggie.  It was really great to see them, and I was very flattered that they stayed to watch my set at Cap City.  Then, after the show, David McQuary and I hopped over to the Velveeta Room, where I got to do a three-minute set on their open mic.  Which was really fun.  It was nice to soak up the vibe of the scene when there were more comics around.

The Velv

This morning was breakfast with Shane and Maggie as well as super funny and cool comedian/writer Margaret Smith.  I had “migas” which I think is Spanish for Tacos For Breakfast.  And they were awesome.  Now I’m back at the hotel, relaxing and writing for a little bit.  I think a friend from high school is coming to the show tonight!  Hooray for fun!

Talk to you soon, team,
Josh

“Oh, I get it. You live in fear.”

26 Aug

So now I’m in Texas, everyone!

Yesterday I flew Austin by way of Dallas.  I learned a few things.

1. American Airlines gives you the whole can of soda.  Booya.
2. If I have to pee really bad, and a lady refuses to watch my bags because of security warnings, I will accuse her of “living in fear.”  Then, once I have used the bathroom, I will apologize several times for being rude.
3. My roommate Audrey is an American hero for getting up at 6:30 to drive me to the train so I could get to the airport on time.

When I landed in Austin, I was really excited because it is like the fun capital of America.  Even the airport has kind of a cool yard sale-y feel about it.  There were locally owned coffee shops instead of Starbuckses.  Also, can we talk about who the Hudson Booksellers are?  I’ve never seen one outside of an airport, but they’ve got the terminal game locked DOWN.  Are they owned by a larger company, or was it just one guy with a vision of airport domination?  Once again, I refuse to do any research on the matter.

My cab driver was super friendly, and we talked about travel a lot.  He’s from Ethiopia, and he told me about how his parents came over to Texas eleven years ago on Diversity Visas, which I found fascinating.  He had a cooler of water bottles in the taxi, which came in hand, because I will sweat at the drop of a hat.  Also once more when picking the hat up.  Then again once I’ve put the hat back on my head.

Anyway, the hotel is good, and the week’s headliner, Iliza Shlesinger, was gracious enough to give me a ride to the club, because it would have been a hot walk along a highway.  I would have looked like I was immigrating to a comedy club.  Also, Iliza’s boyfriend Jamie and tiny dog Blanche are super nice.  The show was great!  I’d guess that if the room seats just over 300, there were around 230 there.  There was a great lively energy in the room, and the Austin crowd was up for anything.  My friend John Ramsey dropped by to do a guest spot, and he told his joke about unicorns, which is one of my favorite jokes of ever.  My set was so much fun.  I went off on a weird tangent where I tied elementary school Spanish in with Fight Club and then Biggie.  So, you know, all the things I’m an expert on.

It was really great to watch Iliza’s show, too.  She maintains such a consistent energy and intensity over an hour, which is pretty inspirational to me, because even when I’m only onstage for five minutes, I pretty much just stand in one place and whisper.  One time a few weeks ago I crouched as part of a joke, and both of my knees audibly popped.  So I learned my lesson.  Never move ever for any reason.  Also, Iliza did an amazing job handling a really shout-y and “woo”-y girls night out group.  She was really funny on the fly and really calm about how many times they screamed “Jaaaaaaagerbombs!”  I probably would have dealt with that situation by alienating the entire audience and/or weeping openly.

After the show, David McQuary (the host for the weekend) and I went to Kerby Lane, which is kind of a locally-owned Denny’s, for a late dinner.  It was delicious.  David is a pretty new comic, and was really funny, and we had a good time kicking around and eating diner food.  As we drove around, I recognized some places I went last year when I passed through.  Specifically a bar called Hole in the Wall where Shawn Donovan and I played pinball until an amazing country-blues band started performing and we sat down and watched them for an hour.  Fun City, USA, I tells ya.

Today I’m hoping to venture into the city and do some exploring and adventuring.  I’ll bring my camera so this blog will be less of my goofy words and more of my goofy pictures.  Game on!  Any ideas, guys?

Tonight, dinner with Boston ex-patriots Shane Mauss and Maggie MacDonald, and then a show at 8.  (Then tomorrow and Saturday shows at 8 and 10:30.  www.capcitycomedy.com)

I’m going to make fun come true!

Hooray,
Josh

Humble Pie

25 Aug

Hey Everyone,

Last night I performed at Brandeis University (goooooo Judges?) as part of an alumni comedy event for new students.  It was really great, and I got to perform at the Spingold Theater, which is beautiful and was mostly full.  The opening acts were Boris’ Kitchen (a student sketch troupe) and Sam and Matt Present: Sam and Matt (super-talented sketch/improv guys who graduated a couple of years after me and are doing lots of good stuff out in Chicago now).  Both groups killed, and it was encouraging because the crowd seemed really on board with material that pushed the envelope a little bit.

Anyway, I opened with some riffing about the weather in Boston (grizzly, drizzly) and how the new students should have stuck with their safety schools in Florida and blah blah blah.  It was connecting, and the crowd was engaged, but after an hour of sketch comedy, I felt their energy fading a little bit.  (I love sketch comedy, but I think it’s hard to switch gears so deep into a show.)  I turned behind me to the large Brandeis banner and read the school’s motto: “Truth, even unto its innermost parts.”  And then read the Hebrew: “Emeth.”  Which, for a laugh, I incorrectly translated as “That’s what she said.”  Huge applause break.  Soooooooo cheap.  Even cheaper because it was a callback to a sketch that Boris’ Kitchen had performed earlier in the night.

Immediately I called myself out to the crowd.  “Great.  A callback to a thing I didn’t even write.  Borderline unethical, Gondelman.”

Anyway, I didn’t need to worry.  The crowd was great and they stayed with me for some really bizarre and personal material, and it was a super fun show.  I did 40 minutes, and the show went pretty long, but it was great, and thanks to everyone for having me!

But, god was that a cheap joke.  Ugh.

With Humility,
Josh

Good News for People Who Like Good News

23 Aug

Hey Everyone!

I’m at the airport in Atlanta on my way home to Boston.  I’ve got a tutoring client and an open mic tonight.  Then moving and doing a show at Brandeis tomorrow.  Then on Wednesday I go to Austin, for my last airplane-driven trip of the summer.  Adventure!  Excitement!

Here are some exciting things that happened on my trip:

-Several breakfasts at the Flying Biscuit.  The turkey hash plate is probably enough food to last me through the winter.  I think I need to hibernate now.

-Worked out a bunch of promising new material in front of great fun crowds.

-Met Chris Tucker of Friday and Rush Hour fame.  He was super nice.  He did a set on the late show last night, and his chest was distractingly smooth.  Maybe that was just distracting for me, as my chest is as thickly carpeted as a rainforest floor.

– I successfully napped at least once!  Usually naps make me feel like I just got out of a cramped, sweaty time machine that only takes you 35 minutes into the future.  But I nailed this one.

-Great shows with fun comics Gary Gulman, Odinaka, Andy Sandford, Trey Toler, and great hangouts with Marshall Chiles, Justin “Madd Dogg” Morgan, and Jessica Hinckle.

-A guy gave me a condom at the end of one of my sets.  He didn’t wait for me to get offstage.  Just came up and handed it to me.  Thanks for believing in me, buddy!

-Later that night, a woman came onstage to film a video message from Gary to one of his old college friends who wasn’t there.  But that lady (black) was drunk, and she first showed off a picture of her boyfriend’s (white) penis on her phone.  Let that be a cautionary tale, smartphone users.

-I got a really sweet e-mail last night from a lady who had seen the show!  So nice!

-Also, possibly the best compliment I’d ever gotten.  “My friend is going through a divorce, and you made her laugh for the first time in a month.”  That was such an encouraging thing to hear.  It was so nice of her to pass on.  It reaffirmed my policy of always passing good news along, and also reaffirmed that it is okay for me to live like a selfish baby with a driver’s license.

-Wore only one pair of pants for the entire time I was in town.  (With the exceptions of sleeping, showering, and fitnesses.)  Welcome to Successville, Population: Me!

-Fulfilled goals of writing, working out (quarter-assedly, I couldn’t even muster a half-assed effort), and finishing 30 Rock Season 2 on DVD.

-Guys!  Chris Tucker!  Seriously!  I talked to him, and he understood the words that were coming out of my mouth.  I played it cool and remembered not to mess with his radio, or do a thing that is a reference from The 5th Element.

-I’m expecting a handwritten letter from a friend in the mail this week, and I hope it comes before I leave for Texas.  Here I goooooooo.  Turn the paaaaaage.  PS. Come see me at Cap City in Austin the 25th – 28th!

Everything’s the best.  Hoping to come back to Atlanta in April for the Laughing Skull Festival.  Details to come!

Hooray!
Josh

She’s Diabolical

22 Aug

(For this blog, a special thanks goes out to terrific comedian and Beastie Boys expert Gary Gulman.  Buy his CD “Conversations With Inanimate Objects” from his website or from iTunes. You will be pleased with yourself.)

The Beastie Boys’ debut LP License To Ill is not known for being a master class in subtlety.  In fact, critics and fans alike cite its musical bluntness and lyrical ignorance as its chief drawbacks/pleasures.  Simply put, it’s known for being an hour of smart New York kids acting stupid (and when I say stupid, I mean “stoopid fresh”).

There is, however, one moment on the album (or CD or digital release, depending on when you got it) that gives a clinic in understatement.  The song, of course, is “She’s Crafty.”  Though it seems at first, like a straight up story song with very little subtext, a closer reading of the text uncovers a masterful use of subtlety, even amidst the crudeness of the song’s semantic content.

The track kicks off with a guitar riff from Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.”  Zep were never hailed as experts in the field of the soft-sell, so the choice of the sample only serves to underscore the song’s overall irony.  The narration involves King Adrock’s tale of meeting a young woman who was reputed to be somewhat promiscuous, and possibly a prostitute (“I think her name was Lucy, but they all call her ‘Loose’/I think I saw I seen her on eight and forty-deuce”).  Even the local taxi drivers are cautioning him to her scandalous lifestyle.  (“We got into the cab, the cab driver said/He recognized the girly from the back of her head.”)  First of all, cab driver, be a gentleman.  Second of all, this verse ends with the young woman reduced to tears in the taxi.  So tales of her craftiness may be overrated, or perhaps she’s just sensitive.  If, in fact, “crafty” were used as a synonym for sexually active, then it might be a dead-on analysis.  The second verse, however, deepens the meaning of “crafty” in a more traditional yet distorted direction.

To wit…(I’ve always wanted to say that.  Just typing it made the room smell like pipe smoke and brandy.)

When MCA (Adam Yauch) brings home a female fan after a show, the other two Beasties react with incredulity; they recognize the girl from elsewhere.  In fact they are struck dumb by her presence (“they didn’t say a word/they just stared at [him]” (being MCA, not a transvestite.  different song)).  God, I’m nesting parentheses like an eleventh grade math teacher.  Once shaken out of their stupor, Mike D and Adrock begin safeguarding their home against this intruder.  Adrock “started hiding everything in sight,” and Mike D “pulled [MCA] over, said hide your gold/the girl is crafty like ice is cold.”  Meaning, of course that craftiness is part of the very definition of this woman.  Craftiness defines her as coldness defines ice.  But, cab driver from the first verse, you’ll notice that Mike D pulls MCA aside rather than making a lewd comment right in front of the lady.  That’s just courtesy.

Now, a word to the wise.  We all know that it is  not helpful do talk trash to your friend about a new romantic interest.  It generally just drives a wedge between you and your buddy.  But, guys.  Or ladies.  If you bring a new person home, and your roommates start battening down the hatches…that’s a problem.  You should maybe reevaluate your relationship.

Here’s where things get interesting.  In the song.  My writing maintains about the same level of smugness/emptiness.  The next day, MCA reveals: “When I woke up late in the afternoon/She had taken all the things from inside [my] room/I found myself naked in the middle of the floor/She had taken the bed, and the chest of drawers/The mirror, the TV, the new guitar cord/The remote control and my old skate board/She robbed us blind, she took all we owned/And the boys blamed me for bringing her home.”

Now, there’s a lot going on here.  First of all, this woman clearly was bad news.  Mike D and Adrock were correct.  It is never made explicit how they initially came to the conclusion, but it was indeed valid.  But what is really wild is that that the same chorus (“she’s crafty/she gets around”) is used  to describe the women in both verses.

While the first woman may have fit some definition of the word “crafty” the second woman is literally a criminal mastermind.  She could not have been working alone, first of all, considering she stole an entire chest of drawers.  So she has a team consisting of at least one other thief.  Plus, she heisted the bed out from under a sleeping Yauch, which means, most likely, she either drugged him or bludgeoned him over the head in order to incapacitate him.  Not only that, to say that “the boys blamed me for bringing her home” implies once again that Adrock and Mike D knew that this woman was incapable of righteousness.  She is crafty like ice is cold, or like a wolverine is wild.  Perhaps a better description for this lady would be “she’s diabolical” or “she’s attractive and/or charismatic to the point where one loses all sense of reason and trust for one’s closest friends” or simply “she’s an actual dangerous criminal.”

So therein lies the understatement.  The subtle labeling of this woman as “crafty” underscores her wildly unethical behavior.  But!  There’s one more point that this technique serves.  By likening a woman’s promiscuity to another woman’s blatant criminality, the Beasties make a point about the vilifying of empowered female sexuality in American culture.  To draw a direct linguistic parallel between a practiced and premeditated act of theft (and possibly violence), and the unpinpointable “harm” caused by a woman freely exploring her sexual identity casts a harsh revealing light on the male view of female sexuality.  It suggests, of course, that men see a woman’s sexual openness and assertiveness as implicitly criminal.

Or, they were just twenty years old and kind of sexist.

Either way, one thing is for certain.  I should probably apply for grad school and stop wasting everyone’s time.