Monday, July 9, 2012

The View on the Way DOWN

The View on the Way Down
There's an arc while being a stand up comedian, where you have a few years of riding the love wave. You get really great jobs and work the best rooms. You are hilarious. When I worked with George Lopez in San Diego, I was put up in this high rise building where most of the walls were glass and you could see the city from most directions. It was unreal. There were so many cool jobs like this one that come to mind. Another booking, right on the water in San Diego. Working with Ellen, also in San Diego and staying at the Marriott, having lunch and laughing and walking around the mall. Doing the Funniest Mom in America at the Laugh Factory in New York and looking out of my 10th floor room at Times Square. The New York city lights sparkling in the night as if they are saying, "We love you! We do!" Working at Catch A Rising Star in Vegas and walking in to the hotel and seeing my giant face on a screen at the check in desk. Man I'm great. Every club would be really kind to the comics and supportive. They would say, "Can I get you anything? Food? A drink? Anything?" Then at the end of the week, yes, I said week. That's how it used to be. Anyway, they would PAY you and then say you were funny and usually re-book you right there in their pretty business office. And then you would put on your bejeweled crown and ride your pony home. (I made up that last part) There was also a really great community of comics, really, really funny comics, and I was always happy to see them. We supported one another and helped each other and if someone needed something, we jumped on it. We respected each other. We laughed so, so hard in the back of comedy clubs and in parking lots. That didn't mean we thought every person was funny, but we made a point to know them as people, not just comics. We knew their wives and husbands and kids and their struggles. Because we knew them as people first, when they went on stage, we hoped for something great to ease their real life shit. I've known some brilliant people who have for whatever reason, slipped through the cracks and have been dismissed from the thing they love, and the thing that feeds their families and feeds their heart. I'm not sure how it happens, but it does. All the time. The journey on the way down is like that ride at the Stratosphere that just drops you 5 thousand feet, in a violent jolt as you plummet to the concrete? It finally stops and you're pretty sure you shit in your pants? It's like that. One day you look around, as the servers are dropping off hot wings to intoxicated customers, right next to the cut out piece of carpet that is the 'stage' area, and you think, "So this is the view on the way down." You need 30 dollars, so you show up to make the magic at a place called, 'Willies Wild and Whack Wings'. Or, 'Teddy's Taco Town', and you have to get your head in the 'place' where you have to lay this fucking bullshit on the ground, that's right mother fuckers! Set your taco DOWN. The room is dark, it's actually dank. Musty, depressed people drinking alone littered around in the darkness as they listen to Journey, 'Don't Stop Believing'. The anorexic bartender in a tube top pops over and says, "What can I get you 'hon'." In that crystal meth drawl. I say, "I'm one of the comics performing this evening?" Which is another way of saying, "May I have a free coke?" She looks at me like I broke her crack pipe, lifts her arms in a I don't give two shits attitude, and says, "Yeah. Okay?" Shaking her head in irritation at my implication that I am special. She doesn't charge me for the coke and I tip her 5 dollars because my need to be liked, especially by drug addicts, is more important than my desperate financial situation. The stage in this place was actually a clearing, where they removed tables, and now it's a space where the comedians stand, and talk, as no one listens because comedy is stupid and we come here for the tacos and the meth and someone got shot right in that stage area and we can't shake the memory, mainly because there is still blood splattered on the giant speaker next to you. The only thing that made it even better was the fact that there was a pinball machine right next to the performance space. So I tell a joke. Ding, ding, ding. I tell another and begin the hilarious punchline. Ding, ding, dong. Cha-ching! I look over, they guy is really focused on getting the most out of his quarter. Ding. ding. Joke. Ding. Half a joke. Ding, dong. I can hear voices coming out of the darkness as they ignore me and speak to one another as if I'm invisible, "Billy Junior got out of the hospital this morning and he is already drunk tonight." Another joke. Ding-a-ling. Finally! My big closer! And.... I'm off. Another moment of comedic magic in the box. I am given my 30 dollars and I do the math, after tipping Misty the bartender, I have made 5 dollars and have a new friend. I guess if I had to be honest, I've angered a few people. Sometimes I stand my ground to aggressively and in the process, pissed a few people off. But I've tried to stay out of the line of fire between the clubs and comics. I've tried to be compassionate about what people are going through and how that affects their words and actions, and then try not to take it personally. I know people's motives are not always truthful. It's a really tough business and people try to get what they can from someone else, and if you don't have anything they need, that's when you get on the ride that drops you on your ass. That is not ALL people in the comedy business, but some. I miss the old days. I miss the love and laughter. I miss the little community of funny people that I would watch perform and think, "He is going to be HUGE." Then 5 years later I see that same guy in line at the fucking ride and I wonder what happened. At some point I'll need 30 dollars again and I'll go through the same magical routine. I'll walk in to 'Debbie's Donut Hole' and say, "I am one of the comics performing this evening." A 15 year old girl will blankly stare at me, cock her head sideways, and yell, "Debbaaay!" I'll sit at the counter and write out my jokes, as the multi colored sprinkles from my mother fucking FREE donut will fall on 20 years of jokes. None of which are appropriate for this venue. I could do this one. I'll just change taco to donut. Yes. I'm brilliant.