I Don’t Know What I’m Doing Which May be a Good Place to Begin

As I get older, the carrot of money, prestige and stuff has become less and less of a motivator to create things.  I’m not sure if they ever were at all, but at the age of 47 with an ample income, house paid off and more clogs than I ever could have use for, I need to  trick myself into writing another hour of stand-up comedy.

Therefore, in an effort to get myself to write (my last special OLD BABY came out on Netflix the beginning of 2017), I’m starting a blog. I love an audience and so, here we are.

I’m not the best comedian, I’m certainly not the smartest or hardest working, but I thought maybe it’d be helpful to share how I wrote a new hour- and if in sharing, I actually ended up writing and polishing a new hour? All the better! And if that means out of it comes a lot of writing that could be a self-published book on Amazon that could be passive income as I age?   Well, don’t mind if I do!

And really, why write a new hour of stand-up comedy? (i’m asking myself this question, as you  might imagine).  I could do the same act for the next 20 years and make an ok living.  What’s the point of new stuff, existentially-

Especially, when:

-I’m a relatively unknown (my name will not be remembered in the next century or most likely even in the next 10 years)

-I’m a white middle aged lady whose pov is the equivalent of Priv Lit. It’s time for me to step aside and hand the mic to any number of extremely talented artists whose voices aren’t being heard. I’d be more useful being volunteering as a secretary at a non-profit.

-I’m  dumping onto a hoarders’ mountain of content

-I’m distracting people (including myself) from the horrifying social inequalities, the degradation of our planet and the general Room for Improvement in Everything.

So, here’s the only reason I can come up with:

It makes me feel good. Maybe even happy. And I’ve only got one life- so, even if no one else cares, I do. And that’s probably the one person who should.

I feel so pleasantly “used up” after doing stand up (especially when they are new rrrrrich bits and the audience’s laughter has sculpted the rich bit itself!), that it makes it worth all of the painful procrastination, self-loathing and stage fright.

It feels good to try. And even to fail. And then, try again.

And that’s reason enough I think.

I apologize for all of the terrible grammar and spelling mistakes and poor journalistic structure in advance.  Let your disgust at my half-assedness trampoline you into working on your own stuff!

So, thanks for reading.  This is my first entry to tell you about the writing of a new hour of material.  It may take me 3 to 5 years.  So, buckle up if you want, but we’re going to be in the driveway for a few hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back from Reality to reality.

As we’ve all heard, reality tv is not real, but it pays well and I learned to make pizza and met LaToya Jackson. I’m pretty sure woody Guthrie would not approve. It was absolutely ridiculous and I got eliminated after 3 rounds. There was blood, goring fish and I went out on a mixed green salad with goat cheese and raspberries.

Now, back to the real real writing real.

I have a show tonight after 2 weeks without performing (or it feels like 2 weeks) and so very nervous. It’s a show in our new neighborhood we’re calling “free cake” because we will be serving free cake. The idea was to have a show in our hood where all comedians had a 15-minute set (which is rare in Los Angeles) and maybe we’d get to meet our neighbors.

I’ll bookend here that I listen to the hour-long set I did 2 weeks ago and try to refresh my memory.

I do not want to listen to it. At all.

Did it! I know I missed a chunk or two, but it was good to hear that it went well in Boston.

Now, need to go through with my face. I’m going to do the Worst Job Possible and then, get back to you.

Did the show at the cafe de Leche Altadena last night and it was a grand success (in my biased opinion). I was able to do almost all of the new material and I forgot to time people and so the show went a little long, but the crowd was very generous and well-lit outside.

I’d like to do some writing today about a visit to the Harvard lampoon society and worst cooks show. Feeling like I should make room for other comics and stop performing- but I need to have a way to earn and maybe I can just talk about that on stage, do some writing about that.

Now, heading off on my first cruise! It’s a comedy and art and games cruise called JoCo after musician, Jonathan Coulton. I asked for an 8 am show every day to rehearse in a small room on the ship they use for magic. That way, I can get the new bitz into muscle memory and work on new stuff- even if it’s for 1 or 2 bleary-eyes early risers. Hubby Scott laughed and laughed when I told him about these bird-worm presentations, but I have a feeling he will attend in his pjs.

Afternoon rehearsal show!

Thanks for all of the kind comments!! There haven’t been trolls and so I’m feeling better about reading them.

Today is a new day- doing hour of material rehearsal At The Clubhouse theatre in Hollywood (in a strip mall between a sprint store and fallas paredes (low prices?) clothing. It’ll be at 5:30 pm and so maybe no audience, but even one person is very helpful.

Now to just get myself to rehearse the bits in a row!

I’m really happy with how the hour is going and I’ll transcribe it here (as soon as I stop throwing up at the idea of doing it) and maybe that can count as rehearsing before the rehearsal. Also, a 20 minute spot at 8:20 so I’ll be checking in throughout the day.

I listened to the new material from show in Boston. Yahooie! The next step is to type it all down. Aghwah. I think I can do it in the Lyft ride to this voiceover job. Will check back in when done.

(Also, here are my current distractions which may or may not being taking up space in my brain: animation project, new hour, reality show, mad magazine project, regular voiceover jobs, and tax bookkeeping for business/personal). I worry that I over commit out of FOMA and financial fear- that I’ve got to have tons of irons in fires- not sure if that’s totally true due to lack of clarity with spending. )

Tried to type in Lyft ride to mixed results but I’ll try to cut and paste as far as I got. I may pay a young comedian to transcribe the hour just because it is so painful that I’m worried I won’t do it.

I did, however, rehearse for an hour while walking from labrea to Vermont on sunset Blvd. and no one notices you are talking to yourself on the street in Hollywood. It’s a really hard scene – 50k people live on the street in Los Angeles, making it illegal to be poor as they keep moving people from tents or taking their shopping carts. It blows.

  • I’ve given money but I haven’t done outreach work with people because of fear of shame and discomfort (on my part, obviously) for being such a privileged unwoke asshole.

Ok- off to do show.

Did it! And I always ask for a lady comic to open 5 minutes from the crowd and another lady to close and they were great. And I remembered to record – so victory! And now going to do 2nd 20 minute set (after dinner with fellow comics at diner- all probably 20 years younger than me).

Did second show last nighT for 20 min at largo and it was a little jumbled, but better for rehearsing for sure. Then, the 45 minute drive back home to Altadena from West Hollywood.

Thank you for accompanying me.

Home with a cold

I think it’s allergies. I don’t feel like doing anything today but bookkeeping and I need to do it.

Year end taxes are serious, need to fill out and send 1099s and I’ll try to make it fun by listening to my 12 stepper podcasts. (Big fan of debtors anonymous despite my atheism- see other human beings as flawed Higher Powers instead and it turns out human beings and answer more often then God, in my experience.

We don’t have any debt beyond 80k on a 15 year mortgage (having a tv show is like winning the lottery), but I’m conscious that these are probably my highest earning years AND we want to give back more than just 10 percent of income- we’re out to beat the Christians at their own game and currently giving 11 percent monthly to local foodshelf, homeless shelter. My dream is to be the Paul Newman’s Salad Dressing of comedy- all profits going to charity, but we still have to save a little more for retirement. The merch I have all goes to charity so that is something!

As for writing or rehearsing, today I’m doing a show that’s improvised at 8 and so I’ll just stick with that.

On way home!

Last night’s show was ok- not the greatest. Rehearsing more would have helped, I’m sure.

The plan now is to schedule some daytime shows (2 or 3) and see if I can do a daily show on the JoCo cruise at 8 am or something ridiculous.

Ok! I scheduled shows at 8 am every morning on JoCo cruise so I can work on my hour for a small crew of early risers. I am not an early riser myself and I know I will have to go right back to sleep afterwards, but it will be a great way to start the day and make sure I don’t get rusty over the 7 days at sea. My husband Scott is going to laugh and laugh about this.

I might do a few shows this week during the day, but I have to check to see if there’s space.

New Haven

Very tired and I lost the check I was paid with for Boston last night. I put it in my pocket and managed to let it fly out somewhere in transit. Very mad at myself, but this has happened before. Despite needing money to live, I will sometimes lose the paperwork that represents money to live.

Drove 3 hours to new town and at a hotel I stayed at only a month ago.

Was able to rehearse:

Saturation point

Beat the Christians

With Jackie Kashian in the car and then worked out the idea of being an atheist preacher and have some beats for that and so that’s exciting.

But I feel so tired (I think I forgot one of my meds last night) and gross (just ate Milano cookies and an Arco tuna fish sandwich and breakfast was cheese popcorn and peanuts with cold brew) and I’d like to take a nap. I know it would help to rehearse before I go up tonight and to work out so I feel better physically. So, committing to the group of us 20 that I’ll nap one hour, excercise one hour and then listen to set from last night/or rehearse all new material for an hour. Oof. I know it doesn’t seem like much and with all of the suffering the world it seems completely irrelevant, don’t need to hear from any more white ladies’ POV, but if it cheers me up, maybe that’s something. I don’t know anymore what’s useful.

I’ll check in after a few hours to say what actually happened if the above intended actions.

Well, I did listen to 30 minutes of set, but no rehearsal. It is depressing how many ums and ahs I have. Goal tonight: pace it up and enunciate!

The production staff said there is a lot of heckling in New Haven and what to do with hecklers, should they speak up. It’s been a while since that has been said before a show. I told them to remove them after 3 interactions (rule of 3).

 

Day of show

Starting late in the day. Have appointment with friend to listen to my hour via FaceTime at 5 pm and wrote the set list.

Will bookend here that I’ll go through all new material and then, fall into a heap for preshow nap prior to FaceTime sesh.

Visualizing that smooth and joyful performing the shit out of everything will be enough! The Facebook messages critiquing the last show in Eugene have really made me nervous that I’m incompetent, don’t know what I sound like, but all I can do is prepare and well, that’s it, prepare.

ok! I did it! Thank you, wordpress village for your support! I lay in my hotel room and did:

Disappointment

We cannot

Why everything so good?

Another thing

Tremor

Suicide joke

Commencement

Deeply religious

Seduce hubby

Social fantasies

Sharing and caring

Saturation Point

And I’m going to do it again along with rehearsing the old stuff at 5 with my pal, ivana, on FaceTime. (I pay her as it is a real service and is a very safe space- and all of my friends are artists and we all need the money).

Ok! Went through over phone face with ivana and it was so fun! She hadn’t heard a lot of the material and I was able to tell her about the audience complaints from Eugene and it was very healing, as everyone in Los Angeles says. What a relief and so grateful for a good friend and fellow artist’s earballs.

Now- the show!

I plan to do all of the new stuff and close with my new song and let you know what happens. I might talk about trip to Harvard lampoon office visit which was like an intellectual haunted house of s and m. Lots of masks, control and confusion!

It went GREAT and all the rehearsal really made a huge difference. I am (embarrassedly) grateful for the critique of the Eugene show. I think I have been very loose and resting on the good wishes of the audience (“you didn’t kill yourself! Yay!”) and not crafting a tight set of entertaining material. I know when I was younger, I’d see other comics (who had found success) who seemed like they were just be working out stuff on stage and I always felt sort of horrified – like- you can’t waste peoples’ time with something you just thought of on the drive over for 10 minutes (not that that can’t be very funny and many comics have the gift of improvising and crowdwork, but that is not my story). And I think I’ve been doing that even though my process is writing and memorizing and rehearsing very theatrical presentations. Well, learn and learn and live-learn.

On way to Boston!

Anxious that I need to rehearse on way in plane- rewrote set list and did some rehearsing in the Lyft.

The great thing about the complaints is that I feel energized (now, after crying :)) to really tighten up what I have. I think I have been coasting on the Good will of the audience and -though I’ve been rehearsing – I haven’t been tightening or going up doing sets nearly as much as I have in past years (we moved a little farther out of the city and I need to drive to sets). So, humbling, embarrassing.

So, for the purposes of giving the best “show”- I may not float as much new material in these headlining shows. I tweet messaged some other comics to get their experience and it seemed like the consensus was it’s ok to do “old material” well and err on the side of great show and not on “all new material”.

So the plan is- begin with these jokes:

Disappointment

We cannot

Why everything so good?

Tremor-is not my incompetence my greatest strength

Suicide joke

Commencement

Deeply religious

Seduce hubby

Social sexual fantasies

Sharing and caring

And then let the rest of the show be tried and true material.

If I can work on the following premii,

that’d be great, but if they are too loose, just do work off my last special and do it the best I can.

Weaker bits:

-Athletic insider

-Beat the Christians

-Saturation point

So I performed all the jokes to myself (beneath my sweatshirt on the plane) except for Beat the Christians – which is an unwieldy long winded bit of late that I feel lightly depressed about. Maybe I’ll try it in the Lyft to the hotel (beneath my sweatshirt).

Back to rehearsing- 2 bad reviews via Facebook

Feeling sad. Had a few people write me to say that Eugene show was disjointed and had too much old material and I just feel embarrassed.

The hilarious part is that I thought I did great at that show – was excited about new material- and response to it. So, what to do.

With critique, I’ve read the thing to do is to see what’s true about it- the truth is I Am a slow writer, I do old material and the new stuff IS disjointed (to me, too). And those facts are disappointing to people who have paid $37 a ticket and expected a whole new polished hour. Those thing are very true. Thusly, I have refunded money to anyone who wrote and complained. (Checks in the mail to Oregon!)

The part that is difficult now is just the sadness or shame- like, I shouldn’t have even performed or tried the material I did try or I need to make a public statement of apology and that seems off the mark. I performed at the top of my ability at this time for an hour and that’s got to be good enough or if it isn’t, then we’ll, I don’t know what to do except keep going.

And now today: keep preparing for shows in Boston and New Haven this weekend! Yoyiyoyoyoyiyo-yo.

I’ll bookend here doing my new jokes for my pal Steve on FaceTime and listening to set from Eugene- just so I have an idea of what happened that night and what is disjointed.

Sad, sad, sad.

ok! Went through all new material (53 minutes) w pal Steve over FaceTime and that brings relief and hope.

My sister also sent me a Teddy Roosevelt quote about trying and “being in the arena” that made me cry. She’s also experienced some rough reviews for her book and I’m honored that she’d share her experiences with me. She’s writing sincerely about things that mean a lot to her while I get to hide a little behind performance.

Now- going to listen to Eugene show while walking to drug store and see if I learn anything from the dreaded, disjointed programme!

Ok! Listened to it! Harrumph. It was disjointed and rambly. Aaaagh. With some good moments! But I can work on it. I’m going to try to do better to tighten up the new stuff and rehearse so I don’t stumble as much. It is probably a gift of having fans that know that the material can be better. I’ve never had big crowds before and expectations are probably higher (along with ticket prices).

Even if I have new material, people deserve a “show” and so I guess this has been good. Aaaaaaaagh. Just embarrassing that I had to have an audience member complain before getting this stuff tighter.

I’ve gone through my opening bits 2x now- once by myself and one with a friend and so that makes me feel better that- at the very least- I’m trying.