Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Sad Day Indeed

Two Days ago, the unthinkable happened. My Xbox 360 decided it wanted to take a holiday for the holidays. Heidi and I have guests arriving for the weekend, and we were going to be throwing down on some video games. In anticipation, I went to Blockbuster and rented Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I’d seen some adds and had been hearing the hype, so I wanted to check it out. After popping it in for all of about 3 minutes, I was going through the training section and my system froze. It was odd, but I just turned off the machine and powered back up. It went to just about the same spot and froze again. This time, when I powered back up, I had three red lights shining back at me.

This didn’t feel so much like a disappointment, but more like I had a loved one taken away from me. Perhaps really not that drastic, but my gut dropped. I take good care of my stuff, and kept it in a well ventilated area, but my launch time 360 finally bit the bullet. Dealing with the problem wasn’t too bad, I called Microsoft, and they are sending a package aka “The Coffin” to send it in for repairs and they will cover the costs of repair and shipping. I am however going to be without my primary means of entertaining myself for probably about a month or so. I have other game systems however, but really it’s not quite the same. It’s kind of like, you’ve been dating the head of the Cheerleading squad for a couple of years, and then she breaks up with you for some guy in his Sophomore year in college studying the metaphysics of plutonium’s affect on tumors in lab rats. Then after she breaks up with you, you have to go back to the girl with the last eye from the glee club that you had said a few nasty things about when you started getting busy with the popular girl.

So instead of fragging noobs in Halo3, and pulling a laserflip to frontside crooks over the gap and dropping in on the hubba in “Skate”, I’ll be rolling balls made of paperclips and kitty cats in Katamari Demacy, and getting some kills in on Black, but still there’s that empty feeling of not playing online with the headset. Not only that, I just ordered 2 games that are coming from and they’ll just have to sit and wait for me. The last 2 mornings have been strange.

I’m a creature of habit. If things aren’t going in order, I tend to forget things and have a strange feeling of emptiness about me when my routine is bothered. Sometimes I may forget to take medicine, sometimes I may skip taking out the recycling. Little things, but enough to know that something’s not right. It’s going to be a long hard road until my system comes back from repair, but I hope it flies by and I’ll be back to my old habits when it comes back and I won’t have to dread the ring of red.

It seems strange to have something so trivial taken away from me. What’s next? No flashy sneakers? No juvenile hip hop? No pizza? Dark days are ahead, and I hope that’s the end of my troubles for awhile.

Until next time, happy gaming?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Artistic Cock, or Terrible Gift?

There’s one of those moments that will hit you. An Epiphany. Sometimes it’s in the form of just the right punch line to a joke, sometimes, it’s realizing you can make a difference in someone’s life, and sometimes it is when you find just the right gift for the right situation. Enter the glass rooster.

Here’s the situation. I got invited to a home warming party. It’s for a couple of old friends that I used to work at Souper Salad with. It was one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had and made so many great friends. It was a job that never really paid the bills fully, but you had so much fun there it was hard to leave. Even when I worked full time as a Tandem Mainframe operator, I still worked on the side there to make some extra scratch and hang out with my friend Mark Caulkins. Throughout the years I’d worked there, I’d been kind of known as a goofy funny kid. Not much as changed, but Souper Salad doesn’t exist anymore and this is a good opportunity to see old friends.

The invitation said “no gifts”, but seriously who ever listens to that. Not that I’m going to go out and buy a crystal vase or anything ridiculous, but I needed to bring something. My plan was to go to Marshalls and pick out something crazy, leaning towards the side of ugly. Not so much to be a jerk, although that’s a bonus, but for that golden moment when someone opens a bad gift and they’re forced to pretend they like it. I was thinking of a beaded monkey or perhaps a gilded pig, but then like a shining beacon from heaven, my eyes landed upon the rooster. The sound dropped from my ears and a moment of vertigo took over. There was nothing existing in this world at that moment aside from this hand blown glass cock from China. How could I resist. I walked around Marshalls with it clutched to my body like a Heisman trophy. Tucked into the crook of my arm so as not to drop it, it was more precious than a Ming Vase.

Look at it. It’s hard to look away, and it’s stunning in its ridiculousness. It came in at a whopping $7.99 because it was from Marshalls, but I think it would be safe to say that if it were at a gallery in Portland it would fetch hundreds. From the side, it catches the light just right and if you listen close enough you can hear the faint whisper of angels singing. But from the front, it looks like a full on infected pecker. And I don’t mean that in the sense that he’s a foul and eat with his pecker, I’m referring to if this were a flower, it would be the stamen.

Giddily I went home and snapped a couple of pix of it to capture the beauty, and wrapped it up until it unveiling on Saturday. I don’t really know for sure what my friends will think of their rooster, but I sure hope the moment is awkward. Because if you can’t take joy in the awkward moment of a young couple unwrapping a glass cock, what can you really take joy in?

Monday, November 12, 2007

What’s Going On????

A lot of things have happened since my last post. I know I haven’t been very diligent about updating my blog, and for some reason, lately I’ve been getting hits, so I thought I’d make a quick post.

Behold the power of the dragon. The time I normally would have been doing stand-up has now been filled with the sounds of myself getting punched in the face. Heidi and I have been taking karate since January and have been moving up the ranks. Starting at white belt, then yellow, then orange, and currently we’ve graduated to purple belt. It’s something we both always wanted to do when we were younger, and figured what the dilly-oh, let’s do it. We’re part of the Villari’s school out of Scarborough, and I’m pretty surprised how much we’ve learned up to this point. That, and Heidi looks cute as a button in her karate PJ’s.

I’ve still been thinking about comedy and keeping the wheels moving. I’ll be back to represent in 2008’s Portland’s Funniest Professional. I’ve got a few more jokes lines up playing off my Fajita joke, and those folks that have heard it seem to like that direction of my humor. I still miss standing in front of a crowd making them laugh, but the constant nagging fear of “this could be the single worst moment of your life” thought of bombing onstage no longer haunts me.

Recently, people have been asking me a lot about stand-up, even though I’m not active. A really cool thing happened during the World Series in October. I wanted to go to Olympia Sports in the mall and pick up a Red Sox players hat for the Series. A kid behind the counter that I didn’t even know asked me if I was still doing stand up. I was kind of shocked, I didn’t expect it. He said he’d caught my act before and really liked it, especially my Red Sox joke, which is actually my Swahili Lover joke which is also one of my favorites. It almost always works. That was a really great feeling. As I’ve said before, if I can say something funny and put a positive spin on something someone experiences later on in life, I feel good about what I’ve done. That was quite the circular sentence, but you get the gist.

The Red Sox won the World Series. It was just as sweet to see it the second time. I got to go to a couple of great games this year too, with great seats. I saw Dice-K’s first game at Fenway, from about 10 rows behind the Sox dugout. I was in heaven. Elliott hooked me up with a free ticket for that game. I also got to see Clay Buckholts’ first game for the Sox too. My dad brought me along as his guest and we were on TV most of the game we were so close. Also another highlight, that and my dad’s cancer (he states) is close to in remission. He’s hard of hearing though, but he really is doing so much better than a couple years back when we almost lost him.

I’m on two wheels. Maybe not now because it’s gotten cold, but Heidi and I got our motorcycle permits. I bought a 150 cc moped online and put most of it together. It was a great way to learn about my scooter, but I didn’t expect to have to assemble so much of it. Because of the size of the motor, I had to register it as a motorcycle, but it’s been a ton of fun. I’ve gotten it up to about 70mph and put well over 500 miles throughout the season. Because it gets around 90 miles to the gallon, I’ve saves a ton on gas over the summer on my commute to work and back. It’s been a blast, and Heidi and I go on rides all the time when it’s warmer. I may have to move up to something in a big boy bike next year or so, but for now, the moped does the trick.

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately. One of my favorite finds recently has been MC Chris. If you’re familiar with Aqua Teen Hunger Force, he plays the part of MC Pee Pants. His voice is very high pitched, and at first I had a hard time getting used to it, but after a few listens, its fine. His creativity is really well executed. He can really puts images and phrases together so well, and raps about video games and Stare Wars among other things. I’m real impressed, and his music has been kind of inspirational in my thought process for some of my newer jokes. Not lifting or using his material, but following his thought process. Redman is also a great inspiration to me in the same way in my comedy.

I’ve been playing quite a bit of video games on my 360 lately too. I just beat “skate” which was rad beyond rad. It made me wish I still had that coordination to skate still, but sadly I do not. Bioshock was pretty slick too, but now I’m engulfed in the world of Halo3. Heidi’s brother plays it quite a bit, and he’s really good. We play on XBOX Live when we can. If you play Halo3 and want an easy frag, check me out my gamer profile is: peabean. It’s a combination of my nickname for Heidi “Peanut”, and my musical nom de plume Beanz, from when Pork and Beanz was all the rage.

Speaking of comedy and CD’s, you have to check out Mike Birbiglia’s new one. My Secret Public Journal Live. If you’ve heard his older stuff, some of it will be redundant, but he put it together really well. Also I was surprised with how much I enjoyed Patton Oswalt’s Werewolves and Lollipops. Normally I find his comedy to be too formulaic, but this time it worked more fluidly. Then my friend Mike said he thought this new album seemed a lot like how I tell jokes. That was a nice compliment.

The Celtics are contenders once again. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a rapid Orlando Magic fan, but Mike and I have been going to the Celtics for a couple of years now. I’ve enjoyed them as a secondary team, but I cheered for them in the New England way. I’d sit there and go “Yup, that’s why they suck” pointing out their faults and giving my opinion on how they could be a legitimate franchise once again. Usually bitching about the selfishness of Paul Pierce or the inability of Coach Doc Rivers ability to coach anything. He was fired from Orlando a couple years back at his supreme ability to suck in an unparalleled fashion. Now with the acquisition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, even with Doc’s horrible coaching they’re doing great things. 5 and 0 as of this post. Let’s hope they keep it up.

My favorite football team, Packers, are still kicking bootay! Behind the helm is the man Brett Favre. I have a man crush on him. Nothing involving penetration, I just think he’s cooler than titties. I expect the bottom to fall out at some point in and around the playoffs, but I’m riding high for right now.

I guess this isn’t such a quick post after all. I guess I’ll tie it up for now, and will try and make a valid attempt to update this more frequently. There’s tons of other stuff that’s gone on since my last post, but I’ll catch up on that as we go.

Monday, July 02, 2007

What's Going On? Are You Retired? Again?

I keep hearing it. Are you done? Did you break your funny bone in a horrible gardening accident? Are your stand-up comedy days over? The answer is no, I'm not done and I'm not retired. But I'm not performing. What does that mean? Just about what it sounds like. It's a little cryptic, I know.

Here's the scoop. I'm not retired. I said thank you in my last post, but not as a goodbye. It was an honest heartfelt thank you. The thing is, I'm a stand-up comic. I've got it in my blood, but I became a little too addicted to it, I guess. I had to curb my habits. It felt great to be up there and people were eating up the funny things I had to say. It did wonders for my self-esteem. It was a great escape from the things that were taking a toll on me. The passing of my mother, my father's illness, and my own scare with cancer (still waiting to hear back on that one, but no longer worried about it). Although it took me out of that frame of mind, it took me away from other things that mattered to me. My personal life, and those that I love and care for. I guess I became distracted, and that wasn't fair of me.

So how is that not retired? It's simple. I plan on coming back and doing the Portland's Funniest Professional Competition each year. That way I'll still get to bring it out once a year, dust off a couple of old jokes and have a couple new ones to debut. I figure if I can bring 5 minutes of rabid humor each year, I'll be satisfied. My goal has never been to become famous or anything, it was just to release a creative outlet for myself. I've always done something artistic, be it music, comedy, painting, drawing, or writing novels. I always seem to have some sort of creative feeling to release. If people heard my jokes and look at anything differently or from another angle, I think I did my job.

I know some of my fellow comedians wanted to know what happened to me, I've been a bit of a hermit from the scene. I felt that I needed to remove myself from it, or I'd never be able to leave it behind me. I made some great friends, and hopefully this will make some sense to them why I'm out of contact. Just think of me as the little dog that ran away. If I truly love it, I'll be back, if I run away it was just meant to be. Just know this, I never meant to pee on the rug.

Until the next performance at the Portland's Funniest Competition, I'll update the blog every now and again. Probably nothing for my comedy routine, I'd like the humor to be a surprise to those that like my stuff when I get there. I'll be going on road trips and will take artsy pictures from time to time and make a post. Just know I'll be thinking of new jokes for my 3-5 minutes of glory next year. Enough funny stuff will happen between now and then. As a matter of fact, I've ordered a scooter to save on gas milage. If something ridiculous doesn't come of a grown assed man riding a scooter, I've lost complete control of my comedy barometer. Until you see me on the stage again, know I'm still thinking of it, and will do my best to impress when I get back.

Also, some comics asked to use my material or buy jokes from me. My jokes aren't for sale. Even if I don't use them, a joke seems like such a personal thing, I couldn't feel comfortable doing that. Although I have been flattered that a couple people have used my material with permission, I hope that's as far as it goes. The Portland comedy scene is so ripe with talent right now, anybody can write something more prolific than I have. Trust yourself. The reason you're a stand-up comic is because you feel you have something funny to say, not something funny to repeat. Not busting chops, just explaining why I don't want to seperate my material for someone else's gain.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thank You

I wish it was something more profound. But "thank you" just about covers it. It'd be more powerful if this blog were a big white space like a snow covered field with those two words in the center, challenging you to think of anything more appropriate outside of those words, but it's not that way.

Thanks to everyone that said I was funny. Thanks to everyone that came to a show to see me perform. Thanks to my fiance for putting up with me while I lived out a childhood dream. Thanks to all the other comics I met and had fun with on the way. Thanks to all the clubs that gave me 5 to 30 minutes to make people laugh. And mostly, thanks for the laughs. A momentary hiccup of breathing that happens almost by accident for some, but it meant the world to me.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Not Too Bad, But It Could Have Been Better

I had been saying all along that I didn't care if I went through and won the competition, and that wasn't a lie. Up until a couple of days ago. Somewhere along the lines, it got in my head that I did want to win it. All through the couple days leading up to the show, the thought kept running through my head "This is my competition to lose". I'm not sure if that's what took me out of last night or not, but I can tell you this, I was disappointed.

And I wasn't disappointed that I didn't win. My real problem was that I had gotten so wrapped up in it, that I didn't have the best set I could. My material was fine, but I was a bit rushed, and I was very nervous last night. More so that I usually get. Also there were some mic problems that were affecting me, which didn't seem to happen to anybody else, but that could be because of the odd way I hold the mic. I can't be sure if it was the anticipation of the show, or hearing less than desirable news at the doctor's office, but something had my nerves up pretty good last night. But it's behind me now and I'm a bit relieved that I don't have to go through that anymore. I know those all sound like excuses, and I'm not saying it would have been different had everything gone perfectly. It probably wouldn't have, I'm just painting a picture from my perspective.

Congrats go out of course to Timmy Brochu, Chuck Sanborn, and Renee Wright for moving on to next week's finals. I wish you luck, because I probably won't be there to see the show. It was fun while it lasted, and I wish everyone luck in the competition.

One really cool thing that came out of last night was a story I heard in the "green room" before the show that cheered me up. Ian Harvey had left Portland a few months back to head out to L.A. to hone her/his craft. Working in a niche demographic of gay/lesbian humor, she got taken on by Margaret Cho to open shows for her. She told me that she's always talking about different jokes that her friends back in Maine tell, and she told Margaret Cho my "Douchebag (Dowshbag)" joke. I asked if she liked the joke, and she said she almost pissed herself. I can't be really sure if she liked it really that much but it was still a cool story to hear. To think that my little joke in little old Portland Maine, made it to Cho's ears, who makes scratch for being a professional and made an impression, well that was the cat's pajamas.

I do appreciate all of the people that did come out to support me, and I apologize that it wasn't my best work. I've done better and I'll do better again. Comedy isn't easy, and it isn't an exact science either. You try and learn and move on. With that said. I'll be back on the little stage in front of the bricks again on May 13th. I'll be hosting that night and plan on having some fun with the crowd. We'll see if it goes well or poorly, but either way, you'll be able to read about it on the 14th.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Phew! That's Out Of The Way

Last night, my set was good and bad. It's hard to explain why this makes me feel good, but most honestly it's because I'm a little superstitious. I had been on a stretch of really great shows. It seemed like I could do no wrong, and it was making me uncomfortable. Anybody that's worked in stand-up will tell you, you're bound to have some stinkers in the mix, it's just how it goes, but it'd been too long.

First off, the first half of my set went great. I was killing throughout. That was the set I keep running getting ready for Portland's Funniest Professional next Wednesday. I feel really good about that set, and feel it represents my humor well, as far as delivery, content, and creativity. The material isn't over the top raunchy either, and as a matter of fact, I don't believe there's any cussing at all in the set.

The second half of my set is where the gravy train lost the biscuit wheels. I didn't bomb at all, but I wasn't cohesive either. I ran a couple of new ideas I had floating around, but it's obvious they need to be flushed out to become jokes. I ran a couple of other jokes too, and my "accidentally gay" joke seemed to have fallen a little flat last night. In retrospect, it still got laughs, but maybe I'd gotten too used to the harder laughter my usual set gets. Not a problem though, I took the opportunity to play with the crowd. It was fun, and I realize that when I "spar" with the audience, I usually do pretty great. It's becoming a bit of a fail safe for me to bail out if I don't like how things are going.

I capped the set with a street joke, but I had gotten away from my clever joke material, so it seemed to come out of left field. It got some laughs and chuckles, but not uproarious by any means. But it felt good to get it out of the way, to suck a little life out of the room. I'm not very worried about that for next week though, because I feel like I have my competition set down pretty well, and there's not a lot of room for error. When you only have between 3 and 5 minutes, you don't play much with the crowd, and surely don't bounce new material off a crowd.

I'm excited for the competition. Once again, not because I think I'll win, because the crowd should be big and fun. Also I'll be tripping the light fantastic with some great comics and close friends. I was sad to find out that my friend Dustin didn't make it to the finals. He went over on his time, and if you go over, it's done for you. I was really hoping to find myself, him, and Timmy Brochu on the last night if possible. Those have always been my favorite shows to do all along. They're great guys and really funny. I think the three of us have material that plays well off the other and our target audience is about the same.

My next update should be next week Thursday morning, because the competition is on Wednesday night. Regardless if I have a great night, or a lousy one, you'll still get to hear about it. Wish me luck and say some prayers. Because as we all know, God wants a little unknown comic from Portland Maine to do well with his fart and rape jokes.