Archives for posts with tag: comedy

Superwhy did I volunteer for this?

Quentin likes watching PBS in the mornings. He loves starting his day off with the “Abby’s Flying Fairy School” on Sesame Street. He loves watching “TCITHKALAT” and “SuperWhy.” Today’s episode of Superwhy started out with the three pigs fighting over how to build a house. The message at the end of the episode is “work together.”

This got me to thinking about things. Those three pigs reminded me of David and Zada. They fight and argue all the time, as if in some sort of power struggle. Overall, they behave very well, but far too often it seems they argue and fight. It’s a real challenge, because I can rarely ever prevent it, and usually it ends up with me yelling at them and sending them to their rooms.

Two positive things about Roy. This was one.

Both have gotten into this bad habit of correcting each other, which is usually how the arguing begins. And it usually ends up, if I’m around, with me giving the correct info followed by one kid pouting and one kid gloating. Then it ends up with two kids pouting. And me thinking of Roy.

Roy was a chubby toe head who wore glasses. I met him through Cub Scouts. I went over to his house one day to work on some projects. I don’t remember the projects, but I do remember playing Boxing on the Atari.

The only lovable Jerk in the entire world.

Roy lived with his mom. I think his parents were divorced. I don’t think his dad had died. Or maybe she was just a single mom. I was 7 or 8, and didn’t pay too much attention to these things. What I did remember about Roy and his mom was that she let him get away with quite a bit. He talked to her in a way that I’d never talk to my mom – if I did, I’d pay for it, not unlike Atari Boxing. I think I only spent one afternoon there, but that was enough.

Some amount of time later, maybe a day, maybe a week, I corrected someone on something. Either I corrected my dad, or corrected someone in front of my dad, but my dad pointed out that Roy corrected people. He pointed out that it made me feel bad – it did, when Roy corrected me – and that I shouldn’t do that to other people. He also pointed out that Roy was rude and a bit of a jerk. At that very moment in time, I made a vow to never be like Roy. And it has stuck with me ever since.

I’m not sure my dad would remember Roy (he didn’t even remember the cake, and that was more recent), but I do. He has been etched into my memory, forever to stay. Funny how one afternoon can have such an everlasting effect on a person’s overall personality? I’m betting Roy probably never even thought of me after that day. He probably didn’t even think of me when I was there, to be blunt…

These two probably needed a Roy in their lives as well.

Now I’m in the position my dad was in – trying to teach my kids how to behave, and how not to behave. Unfortunately, I don’t have a ‘Roy’ to introduce my kids to. I can’t say, “Hey, you don’t want to be a jerk like Roy, do you?” Because they’d look at me funny. No one names their kids Roy now (skip to the 3:00 minute mark).

I suppose now I’ll have to ask at the parent teacher conference who the real jerk of the class is, so I can point out these kids to my kids with the insightful message passed on to me from my father. “Hey, you don’t want to be like that kid, do you?” I’m just hoping that it isn’t my kids who are the “Roys.”

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It’s been pretty hectic this last week. Had quite a few gigs this week, and the big one is almost finished. Should be done this afternoon at the latest. Once it’s done and uploaded, I’ll be posting links so that you guys can all watch them and comment and hopefully get them into the finals.

I shot a comedy show, Humor for Heroes, last Monday and am in the process of finishing that up. Wednesday was Corridor, which I haven’t even touched yet, and last night (and tonight) I shot for Gy Odom and Curtis Hammill. And I’ll get to that after the other two gigs are done.

And next Friday I have another comedy gig to shoot at Hotties Bar and Grill in San Antonio. It’s a new venue for me, so I’ll have to leave early so I can figure out what I need to do to set up properly.

And right now, I’m looking into selling my Canon XL2 and getting a Canon T2i. There are a few reasons as to why I want to do this. One, it’s full 1080p HD video for less than $900. Even the cheapest 1080p pro camcorders start at $2500. And if I want to get that ‘film’ look that the DSLRs get, I have to buy an adapter and then buy lenses. So, I could get a good rig for about $1500 with DSLR, or I could get something equivalent using an HD camcorder for about $7500. Even if math isn’t your strong suit, it should be fairly evident which is a better deal.

Another thing to consider is the media. Right now, I’m shooting on tape. Which is okay, but for every minute of video I take, I have to spend a minute capturing it to the computer. So, if the gig is a 2 hr comedy show, I have 2 hrs of video I have to play onto the computer. THEN, I can start editing.

With DSLR, I just take the SDHC card and pop it into the computer and can begin editing in seconds. And, if I’m shooting something with multiple takes, I can review the clips and only put those clips onto the computer.

Even with the HVX200a, the P2 cards are expensive compared to the same size SD card. So what’s the point?

Size. My XL2 is arguably the best Standard Definition camera on the market. There aren’t many SD cameras out there that are better. When I show up to a shoot with my XL2 and people see me piecing it together, they are impressed. I never fail to get a compliment when I’m out (unless I’m doing the normal gigs, and people are used to it).

However, if I showed up with what amounts to a still camera, people aren’t as impressed. In their heads, it’s a still camera. It’s not a video camera. It’s not impressive. Yes, it’s nicer than their little point and shoot jobber, but it’s not an intimidating impressive machine. It’s something they think they can get off the shelf at BestBuy. Which technically they can.

So what’s next week? The normal gigs, editing these vids, and hopefully getting a new T2i…

Staged.

Is this thing on?

Last night was the weekly open mic at Corridor – my comedy home. Every week is fun, but last night was a bit different.

I started off my evening of comedy by heading over to Michael Nieto’s place. The one and only Wade Word was over and they were recording their podcast, “Before the Show” (caution, language). I was surprised to see Curtis Hammill there. So this particular episode of BTS could be quite interesting. I know I had a good time. We wrapped up and headed out to Corridor.

As always, the show started late.  There were quite a few people in the main room at J’s Bistro, but the lounge was strictly comics. There was a new guy, who slightly resembled a Zack Galifianakis. The people in the main room? His friends. The kicker? None of them wanted to pay the $5 to get in. At first. Then they all relented and got themselves inside. And of course, Galifianakis-man had to comment on that. He was the first guy up for the night.

This guy wasn't there.

I had asked my good friend, Nick Kukowski to come out and run the camera so that I could concentrate on comedy. Last week, I showed up without the camera and it was a great time. I wanted to keep that going, so I asked Nick to help out. The deal was I’d split the cash we made. Which was $14. Go us! But I must admit, it was nice to be able to just do what I do without having to stress about the camera. I didn’t realize how much of a toll that takes on the comic side of myself.

I got everything set up, and Nick rolled in. I showed him how I had things set up and chatted for a bit while we all waited for Galifianakis, Jr. to get his people inside. And then we started.

Oh, I should mention, the guy who runs the place, Nick Aluotto, has been choosing the host of the open mic a few minutes before the show starts. That was another thing we were waiting on. He picked Paul Roca, and once he got the list together, we got rolling.

And what a ride it was.

I didn’t stay in the lounge area often, I stayed in the main room and talked with the other comics. It’s refreshing to talk comedy and life while comedy and life is happening. While Galifianakis Jr. was on, Curtis walked up to me and voiced his concern, which was the same concern I had just had myself.

We were both concerned that when this guy was done on stage, all his friends would leave and we’d all be stuck doing comedy for each other. It’s fine, we’ve done that before, but it’s an odd thing. Comics don’t really do comedy when it’s just comics, they talk smack and just do a bunch of ‘inside’ jokes. So even if someone walks in, they don’t get the comedy. Fortunately, the friends stayed and the show rolled on.

Later on, Curtis and I would realize that since the guys were scraping up funds to see a show, they’d get the most of their money and stay the whole two and a half hours. That’s two bucks an hour. What a bargain.

If I may digress here, one thing I’ve noticed about stand up comics is that when someone first starts doing comedy, they bring friends. Sometimes it’s four or five friends, but many times it’s something like 8 to 10. Then for the second outing, there’s fewer friends, if it was 8 before, it’s 5 now. And this trend continues until the comic can’t even get the spouse to show. And as time goes on, you get a bunch of comics watching comedy with a bunch of comics. Especially in San Marcos where comedy takes a back seat to drinking and dancing. In Austin, it’s not a big deal, because there are plenty of people who wander in, or specifically look for comedy.

Perspective

Like these people, comedy isn't always straight up.

I wandered in and out of the room, and noticed that the crowd wasn’t shy – meaning a couple of people didn’t mind joining in the show, even though they weren’t invited. One guy in particular was constantly heckling. I’m not sure what his deal was, but he was the sort of heckler that thinks he’s adding to the performance. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.

I’m going to take a minute and break the illusion of comedy. The reason comedy works so well is because it’s well rehearsed. It’s rehearsed to be energetic and off-the-cuff. Bad comedy is bad not so much because of the material, but because the performance. Imagine if Louie CK just mumbled his jokes in a very sloppy way. Or if Brian Regan just sat in a chair relating his Pie Joke in a very A.D.D. manner? It wouldn’t play. The reason it’s funny is because it comes of as new. Fresh. As if the comic just thought it up on the way over. If you notice, comics will almost always say something happened recently. They saw something on the way in. They had something happen yesterday. Or last week. It’s always timely. That’s part of the illusion. I saw a comic last year, and saw him again recently. He has an airplane joke. It was the same both times. And both times it happened last week. To the uninitiated, it comes off as he just thought it up. To the comics, we know that it probably never happened. But the illusion is there.

This is part of the problem with the heckler. The heckler believes in the illusion, and that the comic really is living in the moment. Sadly, most comics aren’t that great on their feet and can’t really handle the immediacy of an idiot in the crowd. Even more sad is the fact that the comics that can, usually default to verbally abusing the heckler. It works, and most times shuts up the heckler, but not always.

Heckler UMP

Not your typical Heckler.

So this guy was talking all night. Adding little comments here and there. I can’t say how the other comics handled it, because I was in and out of the room. I know a couple comics addressed it and did their best to shut him up. I imagine others just ignored the guy. Either way, it’s not a fun experience for the comic, and truthfully, the audience tends to really frown on it too. Any heckler video you see on YouTube usually ends with the crowd cheering the comic, because they really can’t do anything to the heckler to make them stop. It’s up to the comic or the establishment.

Which brings me to another point. A lot of comics look forward to dealing with a heckler. When they know there’s a heckler in the audience, they start ignoring their material and start concentrating on that heckler. They want to get some practice in dealing with these guys. The truth is, as a comic, you’re going to see a heckler fairly often. More often than one would like usually. So when a comic does get the chance, the comic will take it.

It’s not always the case. It’s not always funny. And it’s not always the best thing for the night. The trick to dealing with a heckler is to walk that line between doing material, handling the heckler, and not offending the audience. It’s a tricky, fun walk to take. I’ve personally had two hecklers in my short time on stage. Once was from a drunk lady who had been a bit distracting and practically ruined David McQuary’s set that night. She was leaving when I got on stage and I sort of agged her on. She stayed and magic happened.

Last night was my second time handling a heckler. I don’t have video up yet, but I will, and I’ll post the link in the comments. Hopefully.

After the show, the heckler stuck around and then apologized to various people about what he did. He actually told me, “I’m funny, I’m actually funny!” which was really annoying, because this is our craft. Imagine if you’re a CPA and some guy comes in and starts manipulating your numbers and then says, “I’m good with numbers, I really am!” Yeah, not funny either way.

But we all encouraged him to show up next week and get on stage. I don’t know if he will, but if he does, I’ll put his video up just on principle.

Hey, thanks for reading folks – I really appreciate it.

Sometimes I get asked, as a Christian, why God lets bad things happen to us. I can’t pretend to know the will of God, but based on some experiences in my life, I know that good always happens – especially after bad.

As an example, I usually relate the story of how I gave up just about everything – including the core of my being – to be in a relationship with someone. It ended horribly, but that experience taught me through the heartache that I can’t give up who I am to be with someone. I have to stay true to myself in order to make anything work. As a result, I’ve been married to my wife for 8 years. We are about to have our 4th kid, and the last 10 years have been some of the greatest moments in my life. And I have to thank that bad relationship for giving me all this goodness.

For the last year, I’ve been performing stand up comedy. I’ve met lots of people. Two of them have really been inspirations – not only to me, but to others as well.

Born with it
I first saw John Dittmar (warning – language) at an open mic. When I saw him, I thought to myself that I didn’t want to give sympathy laughs. In my mind, I didn’t think this kid would be funny, and I didn’t want to patronize him by giving soulless laughs just because he had Cerebral Palsy. As it turned out, I didn’t need to. He was hilarious and probably the best comic of the night.

He turns 21 soon, and I’ve gotten to be friends with him over this last year. He does a lot despite having this… this… thing. This past summer he taught at a sort of Tech Camp. He helped a bunch of 5th graders learn about math and computers and stuff. That’s not something a typical 20 year old guy would do. He tells me about this and it’s usually about how horrible those kids were – but I could hear in his voice how much he really enjoyed it.

He doesn’t know it, but he’s been an inspiration to me. And if he’s been an inspiration to me, there’s no telling who else has been positively affected by interacting with John. He’s genuine, and he tries to help out whenever he can. He gives. He gives of himself and he gives what he can. Sometimes it’s just a self-deprecating joke. Other times it’s offering his time or knowledge on something. I always look forward to spending time with him.

If John didn’t have cerebral palsy, I may never have met him. He probably wouldn’t have gotten into comedy. But most importantly, he probably wouldn’t have been as much of an inspiration to others. I know he’s touched my life, and I can only imagine the countless others that have been inspired by John and he has no clue!

Life Changer
I believe it was October when I first met Bobby Henline (warning – language). I didn’t know his story, but I definitely knew he wasn’t born a burn victim. Later on I found out that he was serving in Iraq when his Humvee hit an IED.

Over the last four years, Bobby’s life has been drastically changed (to say the least). Rather than wallowing in pity and grieving over what had happened (like I think I would do), he turned the tragedy into comedy. And that has been an inspiration to just about everyone who has met Bobby.  I know that he has inspired me to make the most of what I have.

Yes, Bobby’s last tour in Iraq really was a horrible thing, but there’s no way to measure how much good Bobby has been able to spread around the world. He regularly visits wounded soldiers, and recently did a comedy show called “Humor for Heroes” where the majority of the crowd were veterans.

Bobby could very well have let this turn him into a bitter, hateful man, but he chose to go a different route, and I know I’m better for having met the man.

If you get the chance to meet either of these guys, or would like to see their comedy – you should. I know Bobby is a regular at LOL in San Antonio, and John is doing what he can to perform while going to Texas State.

Life would definitely be better for both of them if things had turned out “normal,” but thanks to these events, I have come to know a couple of great guys. And I also know that these two guys have been able to inspire those around them. It would be easy to question God’s motives for both of these men’s lives, but in the end I feel the sacrifices made were worth what we’ve gained.