Austin

Here for the moontower comedy festival. So lovely to connect with other comics and hoping to have dinner again with OphirA Eisenberg and Jackie Kashian.

Will bookend working on set- listen while walking the river trail downtown and writing for 20 minutes on book.

Set went ok last night but I hadn’t rehearsed and I jumbled words during an 8 minute performance and that felt dumb.

I am just having my publicist (a short story writer herself) Jess “like” and “mute” all the more horrendous tweets. I’m all for free speech but there’s only so many times I need to read “you’re an idiot c–t”. (Though subjectively true- I am a woman who had a c average from a state school).

Will check in later that I have done my tasks!

Did the listening to Addison set! Feel very chuffed how it went- the crowd was just lovely.

now to prepare for Saturday long set- I do not want to, but I know I’ll feel so much better after I have gone through the words. Maybe I can convince myself to do it with the promise of a treat. A $5 cold brew from the royal blue grocery, perhaps. I will bookend it with you, blogoterias.

I listened and rehearsed for about an hour. Worried I get used to such nice crowds that I’ve gotten “soft”. I’m not sure what I would be “hard”, but I think I might speak faster or more succinctly. It would also involve living in New York City for at least a month.

Tired

On way to Houston and haven’t rehearsed. Had an odd experience with taking action on a joke premise. I thought it’d feel like doing “something” to file a restraining order vs the President. The internet feedback is – and I should have predicted this- half-good, half-bad. And my usual reaction of course is shame- that I shouldn’t have done it. And there is some of the criticism that rings true- it is just for attention, it is narcissistic, it is something that a white lady with plenty of free time can do, it does stuff up an already burdened legal system. All those things are true. So, maybe a mistake, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

There are so many comedic premises I’ve heard over the years that aren’t considered as “real” possibilities. These are relatively inexpensive and legitimate actions of diplomacy or domestic policy- like sending in a high-energy high school marching band into a conflict, giving convicts years off a sentence for certification in Byron Katie’s life coaching program, “the Work”. So I thought I’d follow through on the comedic premise that our President has threatened our safety and the powerlessness I feel as a citizen to do anything about it. I guess the one good thing is trying- even if I was wrong to do it. Maybe someone else will think of something more useful. Ah well. Off to Houston.

A book!

WHY I WANT TO WRITE THIS BOOK

-Because I don’t know how else to make this new hour of material meaningful

-becuase maybe it can help other comedians (or creatives) to go forward even if they think what they have to say is unneccessary or that their point of view is redundant

-because  it would be great to have something to keep me company on the road along with Jackie – something that is just MINE

-because I’d love to create something that isn’t dependent on my skill as a performer

-because it might be a great way to connect with other artists and maybe build my business in  a new way- where I can be of support and connect with others as I get ollder

-because it would be an added form of passive income  where I can live anywhere and I don’t have to travel

-because I LOVE BOOKS

The Older Artist- how to keep going – I’d like to share how to keep going when the money is still needed but the driving force to be “heard” has been more than sated.

How I work with fellow artists and with income decreasing and the embarrassment of making mistakes as a perfomrer and as a business owner

Being married and having a traveling business

Then ambition- honesty with what I am willing to do, what I have time and energy to do- rather than loioking at the prestige, fame or money

Doing something with creepy pressure from others (when something doesn’t seem like it’s yours anymore)

Working with others- i hate effort and compromise- not knowing what is important- what is compromise.

Juggling things daily with voiceover and developing the series and living in a new neighborhood and responsibilities and friendships and family and health

How can I help people- I dont’ know- I guess showing the process of writing material- how slow it is  – having this feeling that I am a “hack” -I am doing very old material, shame. Lack of willingess to do short shows in LA.  

I’d love to share the numbers too-I’d love to put in all of my spending- because that is hilarious to me too. I mean. Why not?   

So I guess filling out the journal.  I no longer have anything more to say about my own experience with mental illness- I’ve been stable for 7 years and it just isn’t something I’m that into anymore as a result of positive brain circumstances.

Southwest flight home

I’m reading a book about writing and it suggested that I write why I am writing (this blog) in order to inspire myself to keep doing it when I want to fall backwards into a pool of emails.

To give myself meaning to this part of my life. That I’m not saying anything new, but maybe in trying to describe my limited experience- I can participate and share with all of you (flowers and ghosts and trolls included) and maybe, inspire someone else to risk continuing forward with whatever their deal is- even when it seems like there are plenty of reasons not to (who cares, make money, no one needs to hear your opinion, etc). I know what I am: an extremely priviledged, sun damage spotted, shaky older white lady with a few generic character impressions. I am lazy, I did ok in college but not great, I’m no genius and I’m in the latter part of my life- after big success (for me, anyway) and without aspiration for anything bigger than ongoing employment due to above-mentioned sloth. And if I can act like my creativity is worth pursuing, with all the doubts and realities included, maybe someone will be able tell their, more interesting story and I will get to enjoy it. And honestly, and this is the less admirable (?) part, I’d love to have written a book. I love, love, love-love-love-love books.

Waukegan, IL

In an effort to do “something”, I contacted a woman off Facebook from the league of women voters in Waukegan to register people to vote at the shows and she said yes and so that’s “something”. I’m trying to get voter registration at all of my shows til the end of the year. I’d love if I knew more about local politics if there were any petitions to be signed or anything needing support but I’m not sure how to do that without getting totally overwhelmed with ppthe myriad of worthy causes and social conditions that are in a snafu. I tweeted out to LWV Dallas and Houston for upcoming dates and maybe can connect with people there next.

Now it’s been nearly two weeks off of performing and so I need to rehearse today or at least listen to the last set that I did in U.K. That is one thing I can do and I will bookend it with this community du blogop.

I’ll try to listen to 5 painful minutes now just to start. Aaaaasaaaagh!

Did 40 minutes of listening! Yahoop. Maybe I can transcribe some more today for 30 minutes and cut and paste it here so you see how far I’ve gotten.

Well, I failed to do that. And now it is the day before the show and I’ve procrastinated enough to not have rehearsed at all beyond the listening to the set. Embarrassing.

I was interviewed by a guy from Texas (I think- everyplace runs together in my head unfortunately) and he was asking what is motivating me to write now (if not mental health advocacy, I guess) and I’m not sure today except for my own enjoyment, meaning and, of course, employment. It’s pretty selfish and I wish that it were for some greater cause like gun control or human rights or environmental protection. I support the above causes (I’m “for”) with donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, Nature Conservancy, Everytown for Gun Safety and sign all of the online petitions that come to my email inbox, but my writing (now) is about marriage and religion. It’s clear to me that I’m not doing enough- not participating in local government, not making calls every day, not putting these issues first because they haven’t affected me personally yet. Beyond bumming me out as terrible ongoing news. Maybe I could write a political action bit where make one call to my representative on stage? At least that’d be a way for force myself to something every show.

I’ll listen and take notes (maybe transcribe?? Come on, Maria! You can do it!!) on the flight to Milwaukee on Southwest. If I do it, I will reward myself with a new pair of socks!

Ok! Did 1 hour over the phone with friend Melinda and that helped enormously with the building pressure-dread of procrastination. I don’t know why I can’t just skip that part and do continuous rehearsal every day, but as of yet, I have not managed that change in pattern.

Went to lunch with Jackie kashian and we did bits back and forth. I’m fleshing out worst cooks and Harvard lampoon bits and that feels really hopeful. That they may have added meaning beyond just the stories themselves (which I feel ashamed are too boring or irrelevant to anyone alive in the world.

Waukegan show done! Slogged through parables bit and then went into old stuff. I need to work on on the worst cooks and lampoon pieces to make a full hour of new stuff. I didn’t have the courage to put out more new stuff after asking the audience to have the patience to hear bible stories.

A sad note, I may not be able to afford to bring an opener (jackie Kashian) to the rest of my gigs for the year. As a part of not having the extra tv income, the business numbers have dropped drastically and so I need to make sure Bamfooco, Inc is netting enough to pay me and the rest of its employees. Jackie and I have had a profit-sharing agreement the past 3 years where she is payed one third of what I net off of each show (because she provides one third of the show :)) but I might have to scale back and it really sucks. She’s been kind about it but I feel embarrassed. It may end up working out later, but for now I’ve got to be clear that I’m making enough money to pay the business bills.

Oh! And as an idea for “something” to do about fascism, I’m filing a restraining order against Trump! The paperwork in California was only 39 bucks and I figure that’s cheap to try to keep him at least 1000 yards away from my democracy.

Leaving U.K. with inspiration from other comics at Bill Murray theatre!

Scott and I have both been sick in the hotel for a few days and just got out today to meet with the founders of The Bill Murray theatre- Barry, Sarah and James. The pub theatre they organized was crowd-funded and has a lovely, community arts oriented vibe, a home for comedians. They have promised to Sherpa Scott and me through the process if we decide to start a place in altadena (our new hood in la) and that feels hopeful as a regular performance space for me as well as a wonderful place for other comics to perform and meet. Just at the gathering information point right now but it feels exciting to think about.

London!

We missed our flight yesterday due to duncery and had to re-book for today, but I will make all of the shows. Worried that I won’t have time to make changes to help translate jokes properly, but I guess that could be the fun part – long, sincere explanations of every unknown reference. Oh boy.

I’ll commit to the blogsquare that I’ll verbally rehearse my set on the flight and let you know how that goes. I listened to the set from Salt Lake City and I’m not sure if it’s an accurate representation of how strong the material is – I feel like I get a lot of slack and laughs which may or may not be earned. And, of course, who cares.

IM HERE!!

next day: struggling with depression from jet lag. Everything seems pretty dark. Did podcast last night and though everyone was kind, I felt off. Talked with pal Jackie about pre-show irritability (fear, I think). It’s like everything pinches and it’s embarrassing that I’m not more relaxed, cool-casual.

I asked my pal Ivans to listen to me rehearse on the phone and feel hopeful that that will help. She’s an actor and coach and is ultra-positive.

Ok! 1st show down. Felicity Ward so funny and fast and thoughtful. Felt scared to follow, but I did it and did new beat the Christians material and so, a success on some level.

I hope to bookend here listening to the set tomorrow in order to have a better idea about what happened. I wish I didn’t feel so jumbled on stage and had smoother transitions. And I need to rewrite some bits – the beat the Christians- to have a more nuances version of my mother and to attempt an explanation of why I want to feel like I need to do a better job of being “good”.

OK! I jus listened to the set from last night and it went much more smoothly than I felt. My hands were really shaky and I’ve had that foggy, awful jet lag feeling and so- nice to feel like it went ok. And after listening to “beat a Christian”, I feel excited about it again.

I’m doing more of my old hour here. I wish I had all new material. In UK and OZ, comics do a whole new hour of material every year, tour the country with it and then start all over again the next year. I’m sure they are the stronger writers and performers for it, but I’m not sure if it would be possible for me even if I wanted to do that (which I don’t which makes it totally impossible). The two comics I’ve seen- felicity ward and another guy briefly before me on a show at the bill Murray theatre- were so fast and punchy and erudite and it might be the accent, but I don’t think so.

Goals for tonight’s two sets: do all of my new stuff up front and close with new song, enunciate and pace it up. And before all of that, breathe and enjoy. I may never be here again and so, blow it out!

I’ll check in later and let you know how it went. Feel free to post your own “bookends” in the comments! I’d love to hear what everyone else taking small steps towards. I think-in this one hour, I have a solid 25 minutes- hard to say.

One show down and I think it went well! It’s recorded and so that’s great. I’m getting nervous for 2nd show- a familiar dread. I’d love to transform that dread to a more grey area of resignation or actively trying to do the worst job I possibly can. I haven’t seemed to “look forward” to long sets out of fear of letting people down. I know that sounds dumb being that comedy is ridiculous and without real importance, bu my brain has seems to always go back to panic.

2nd show crowd was delightful and I am pumped to listen to set to see if anything got better. The best part is hung out with U.K. lady comics at Chinese restaurant and so good end to 2 shows. With taping, I have 43 minutes of new material (with a quite possibly ridiculous amount of laughs) and felt like jokes got better because of audience response, act-outs more energized.

Got 4 reviews on first show which is very English! They were fairly glowing, but did notice that I had old material from last special. The comics in U.K. and Australia develop a new hour every year to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and then tour 40-200 dates with that material and start all over again the next year. It is astounding. Now, feeling pretty depressed. Oof. I think it’s the jet lag and discombobulating sense of no schedule or shows to do, but maybe it will dissipate in a few days.

London (England)

We don’t leave til Sunday, but I’ve started to get a little anxsh for the shows. I’ll try to get some guest sets once I get there – to try out stuff and get comfortable. I know they review shows there and so feel a little scared of that, but criticism – so far- has only been helpful in life. And if it’s not- like I got a 1 pint out of 5 pints review at the Edinburgh festival one year and guy said he thought the show was “boring”. That didn’t give me a ton to work with unless I was going to add horses and explosives. but other crit has been more interesting like “not political enough” and then that’s something I can genuinely ask myself “do I want to be more straightforward in my political beliefs, make a clearer stance, call people (and myself) to real action?”

Anyhobnobs, I’ll be checking in to prepare. Did a short set (5 min) last night just telling story of reality show experience on Worst Cooks of America and have recording from Salt Lake City first show to listen to- bummer that I forgot to hit record on second show that went better performance-wise.

Salt Lake City

Hoping that second show will be tighter. I got a little rambly and lost confidence in the very long joke about Competing religiously with my mother. I have it recorded and I hope that will help me edit it. Will check in after second show -the goal being- do all of the new material, but maybe in a different order so that it doesn’t poop out at the end.

Second show did go better!

I rewrote the set list to put the weaker stuff in the beginning so I could feel more confident as the set progressed. And as I do here, I bookended it with my buddy Alex- just to not feel so alone in the process. It is so uncomfortable (for me) – though OF COURSE it’s the reality that I’m just ok at my job most nights. Unlike the hyperbolic descriptions of artistry happening in reviews or horrible slurs posted on YouTube, I’m just in the middle and sometimes ok, sometimes not that great at my job. In my mind- it can seem more admirable to be either the best or the worst rather than just amongst.