Monday, May 30, 2011

Road Journal Part 3: California

5/26/11: San Francisco seemed like one day, and I mean that in a good way. Time has flown the past few days, but I can certainly tell I’m in California, which again, I mean in a good way. Did a few sets in San Francisco, had a great time at Brainwash and the Rockit Room, I also got to spend some time with my buddy Stueve who let me crash at his place. Stueve’s got a gorgeous set-up close to Golden Gate Park and North Beach. I never spent much time in that part of town, so during most of my time during the days I hung out in that area. I didn’t get to some of my favorite spots: Chinatown, Little Italy, City Lights Books, but I had a short time to spend and had stuff to do. Besides, after shows we hit some pretty cool bars, and on Tuesday night Karen was in town and her and her boyfriend Ed came out which was awesome. Later Tuesday night Stueve took me to this burrito place where I had some of the best Mexican food I’ve had in a while. That place is definitely a repeat. So far Los Angeles has been going strong. Shows went well, met some cool people, and got to see some great comedy as well which has been nice. Ed Galvez’s show in Santa Monica is a great room. The last time I was in LA I wasn’t really doing comedy, I had been on stage a few times but was going through that period where I was debating whether or not stand-up was something I really wanted to do. Coming back to LA now that I’ve been doing this for a bit I have a much greater appreciation for the city and how it works. I used to only ever want to consider New York in terms of relocating, but after this trip I think I’d be open to either one, especially since winter is not among my favorite things these days. I’m staying with Jesse Case and he’s got a gorgeous place. Apparently this place I’m staying at used to be an old Hollywood hang-out. There’s a shaded porch with tables, surrounded by orange and lemon trees, a pool and a hot-tub. Rumor has it Marilyn Monroe swam in this pool before. Jesse’s writing space is certainly far superior to my little office writing space in Pittsburgh so I’ve been enjoying spending the days writing jokes in the shade and hanging out by the pool and hitting the comedy shows and stages by night.

5/27/11: I dozed off pool-side reading some David Sedaris. Life on the road is tough. Earlier today Jesse helped me record another Thoughts, Rants and Cold Coffee episode which was very helpful. Hopefully I’ll get to knock out another segment or two before returning to Pittsburgh. Not too much else to report, trying to get some writing done, and planning out the rest of my summer when I return from the road. LA’s definitely helped me have a better idea of some of the work that needs to be done in the near future to keep this whole thing moving along and not stand still. Tonight Jesse and I are going to hit some stages and then tomorrow I head off to Las Vegas to take a break for the holiday weekend and meet up with my girlfriend and family. I definitely can’t wait to see them, still, I only feel like I’ve been gone about a week, which is good and hopefully will continue. Some California shout-outs are in order. It was great to see you all again and catch up/nice to meet you: Alysia Wood, Andy Wood, Andrew Sleighter, Ed Galvez, Danny Dechi, all of the LA comics that I got to meet and hang out with/put me up, Karen and Ed, Stueve, Tim and all of Stueve’s roommates for not minding the passed out dude on the couch, Jesse Case for letting me tag along for the evenings, letting me crash, and picking me up from the hustle and bustle that is LAX. It’s been real Los Angeles, tonight we duel again and tomorrow I head for Vegas.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Road Journal Part 2: Pacific Northwest Continued

5/18/11 It’s been a few days because Seattle’s kept me on the busy side. Odd Duck Show on Sunday went well, Monday night I hosted the open-mic at the Comedy Underground. Hosting the Monday is something out-of-town comics usually do when they’re coming back through, so it was cool to come back through for the first time since I moved. It was cool to see Seth doing his thing managing the club, and it was great to see some familiar faces, although well-over half the comics I didn’t even recognize. Tuesday I hosted a gong show in Lynnwood, WA which was a good time as well. Tonight, unfortunately, the Thurst gig got cancelled. It used to be on Thursday and this was the first week it was on a Wednesday. Message must not have spread because there were only 3 comics and no audience. I’m one of those people that takes a canceled gig pretty hard. You bled to get where you’re at, the show must go on. Even if it’s an open-mic, hell, let’s just work-shop on stage together, anything to avoid canceling. I remember winter last year when the huge snow storm happened, nobody really left home for about 5 days. Finally, people could get out and I had something scheduled at I believe the old Funnybone and it was canceled due to no audience. I needed to get on stage that night, it was withdrawal. I ended up going to every bar in the Southside that was supposed to do open-mic that night, everything was canceled because people still weren’t coming out. Finally, after the third attempt, I went back into the bar with the canceled open-mic and asked the bartender, the only other person besides me in the establishment, if I could do five-minutes for her. That’s how much I hate canceled gigs. But, I don’t like to step on people’s toes or have them think I’m crazy because I think we should just deal with the hurricane and maybe just shave 5 minutes off everybody’s set before the stage gets demolished. Besides, there were several bright spots: I got to record another segment thanks to Brett Hamil letting me use his audio segment, and then Brett, myself, and Owen Straw hung out for awhile, which was awesome. The closest bus I caught back to where I’m staying let me off over 30 blocks away from where I needed to be. I put my head down, my hood up and started up the hill. I wasn’t hanging out with friends anymore, so I had nothing but the weight of a canceled gig on my shoulders, no distractions anymore. When it comes to comedy, I’ve learned to take the good in with the bad. There’s nights where you feel like you’ve got the world by the balls and then there’s other nights where taking a toaster in the bathtub doesn’t seem like a bad idea, any other way and it’d be boring or fake. I got home to find an e-mail from my mom that they’re likely going to have to put the old family cat, Blizzard, down. He wasn’t the world’s friendliest cat, but he’d been around since I was 13, it’ll be weird without him around. Besides, I’m drawn to cats partially because they have somewhat of a fuck-you attitude towards humanity. Nothing wrong with a little critical thinking and nothing wrong with critical concluding, if I ever brought life on to this planet I’d want my kid to be the one that questioned what they were agreeing to while being taught the pledge of allegiance. Anyway, needless to say, crappy news on top of a crappy occurrence. I’m trying to shrug the night off, tomorrow’s another day. All-in-all, so far so good. Shows have been solid, with exception to tonight of course, and I’ve got to re-connect with a lot of people, which has been awesome. Here’s to sleep and a new day.

5/19/11: Yesterday started rough but then ended amazing. I woke up still relatively bummed out about the whole situation with Blizzard which made me reflect on my old roommate, Kimmie, who’s part of the reason I ended up in Seattle, who I discovered had passed away last year. But, I had a great day which helped me get through the depressing parts. I started off doing Mike Cumming’s podcast. We talked about comedy, academia, politics, family life, my relationship, the Northwest, the Midwest, the Who, Pink Floyd, movies I hadn’t seen, Joaquin Phoenix and that’s all I can remember off the top of my head but there was oodles more. How does it all tie together you ask? You’ll have to listen to the podcast when it comes out! Oh, podcasting, we talked about that too. Later I met up with my good buddy Ed and had lunch. It was great to see Ed doing well and enjoying living in Capitol Hill and working in downtown Seattle. We talked about the east for awhile because Ed’s from Boston. Later I met up with Karen and she got a snack and we headed to the Comedy Underground. I did a quick set and got to catch up with Derek Sheen, Rory Scovel, Seth Lazear, and Carl Wormenhoven. It was great to see everybody and it was really great to see Carl after he had had his stroke. Carl seemed in great spirits. First thing I said to him, “Carl, how are you feeling?” “How am I feeling? Or, what am I feeling?” Carl even returned to the stage not too long ago. I did my set but then had to split for dinner plans with friends. Had dinner at my favorite spot in Seattle, Brad’s Swingside CafĂ©. Was amazing to see Brad and spend a relaxing evening with friends enjoying good food and wine. Next time I come out this way I need to make sure to schedule a few days with no gigs at all I can enjoy nights like these more, it’s important. Ringo said it best, I get by with a little help from my friends.

5/21/11 Carmen’s was a blast as expected. I love that club. It’s obvious that Carmen’s in it because she loves comedy and truly cares about the club she’s running. I wish I could say that about every club owner I’ve met, but that’s definitely not the case. Earlier today I got to attend a Hawaiian jam session with Kermet Apio, who headlined the weekend at Carmen’s. I’ve never sat in on anything like that before so it was a fun cultural experience. The place we went to for the session was a Teriyaki restaurant run by some people who were at the show on Friday night. They gave us our lunches for free which was incredibly kind of them. I regretted not bringing my camera to the event to get some photos. Anyway, the shows went great, crowds were fun and energetic, decent sized especially considering summer’s lurking in the shadows. Tomorrow I head to San Francisco in the evening and should probably get to bed.

5/22/11 The N Gate at Seatac Airport has the worst food options known to man. 5-ish hours ago Kermet and I had Thai food in Issaquah which was excellent, I’m hungry again and had I known that my food options would be this lousy I would have eaten elsewhere in the airport. There’s a Starbucks and a Burger King, I don’t mind Starbucks but it’s not all that helpful when I’m looking for food, and there’s a place called the Bagel Bakery and some other restaurant called Big Foot or something original like that and they feature dishes that revolve around baked beans. They should re-name this gate the culinary abortion gate. First, the bagel place. I’m all about bagel sandwiches but this place has bagels that look like they’ve been sitting for a few days, topped with meats, add-ons and condiments, however don’t worry, portions are small enough so that it doesn’t bleed over the bagel at all. That’ll be $9 please. The other restaurant revolves around baked beans…enough said. Even if you like baked beans, you don’t start a restaurant that revolves around a food that’s most commonly associated with transient people and a campfire. Whoever came up with the idea for this moronic bagel shop must have also dreamt up the idea for this lame-ass baked bean train-wreck. I refuse to accept that the notion that there are two different people breathing on this planet who are capable of such shitty ideas. It’s one guy who lives in the San Juan Islands, listens to John Melloncamp daily and blames all of his problems on Obama. If you ever find yourself near that dude’s house please feel free to take a whiz in the flowerbed. I’m going to have to choose between a rock and an over-priced bagel turd soon though, because I’m dizzy with hunger. In closing, it was wonderful to return to the Northwest, I definitely need to be getting back here at least once a year. It was amazing to see so many wonderful people both in comedy and personal friends. Thank you all very much. It’d be too monotonous to name everybody, and I’m sure I’d forget some people, ah…what the hell. Thank you/it was awesome to see you and you’re great/it was awesome to meet you in no particular order to: Adam Norwest & family, Brian & Cherin, Brett Hamil, Owen Straw, Billy Wayne Davis, Jen Seaman, Andrew Rivers, Solomon Georgio, Barb Sehr, Derek Sheen, Rory Scovel, Ian Edwards, Jonas Barnes, Quincy Jones, Mark Walton, Charles Dorby, Emmett & Kate Montgomery, Joe Fontenot, Brian Boshes, Seth Lazear, Carl Wormenhoven, Mike Cummings, Carmen Garrison, Kermet Apio, Doug & Kermet’s jam buddies, Benee Kent, Tracy & Linn, the Garrison crew, Anthony Calderon, Tom at One Eyed Jack’s, Sunday night karaoke crew, Ed Cleaves and the legendary Brad Inserra, it’s been way too long, and last but certainly not least, James and Karen, you guys are the greatest. If anybody reading this feels they’ve been left out blame Gate N for holding me without nourishment against my will.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Road Journal Part 1: Pacific Northwest

5/13/11: Tacoma, WA: I find road-journals tacky. Extremely tacky. Some people use it as a platform to just boast about what they’re up to, others as a last resort at solidifying some type of accomplishment, others as something to later give their unborn children that they probably should reconsider having. Then, of course, there’s that special something that occurs when it’s done right: It’s incredibly fun and therapeutic to read. And it has been done right, just read Henry Rollins or Michael Azerrad. That being said, I can’t promise that I’ll do this right. But, I can promise that my intentions aren’t to excessively drop names or validate myself or anything else, there’s plenty of that going on elsewhere, and besides I’ve got nothing to prove. My intention is to provide something mildly informative and entertaining for anybody who’s wondering how this little tour of mine is going. I guess it’s less common for a comic to go on an extended run hitting charted out cities in the same manner that a band does when they go on tour, but plenty of comics do, I’m not the first or last, and quite frankly I think that’s a good thing. So, moving right along, Tuesday night, May 10, I hit a few spots in Pittsburgh and said my goodbyes to some of the comics there. Early the next morning I flew out to Seattle with my final destination being Tacoma Comedy Club. First and foremost, wonderful club, wonderful people. Couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. I got off the flight from Minneapolis at about 11:15am. I was operating on about 2 hours sleep, although I slept most of the time on both flights so I caught up some. I had a bag of pretzels on one flight and cookies on the other, they let you pick your snacks at Delta, woot! When I landed I knew I had to somehow find my way to Tacoma. Despite having lived in this area for several years I had only been to Tacoma three times and all three times were for gigs so I was in and out, needless to say I didn’t know the area very well or how to get to and from. I called the club owner about getting the key to the comics’ condo, and he told me he was planning on picking me up from the airport and taking me there, which was thrilling to hear. I went to baggage claim, and waited for my ride.

Wednesday night was open-mic night. The owner asked me if I wanted to stop by and I said yes, I wanted to get the stage-jetlag off before the weekend started. I ended up hosting, and apparently it was an off-night as only a handful of comics showed up. Still, we all had a fun time.

On to Thursday, Ian Edwards is headlining this week and he’s fresh off a Conan appearance. He’s been doing boatloads of local press for the shows this week so the club’s been busy getting him to local television spots and whatnot. Dug his set, he has a bit about sharks that made me laugh so hard my ribs hurt. That doesn’t happen too often, and usually when it does it’s when I’m hanging out with my former college colleagues from the Governor’s Mansion. Earlier that day I took a long walk to downtown, they had a farmer’s market going on which was nice. Tacoma’s tiny so I walked all the way down to the port. Tacoma’s a nicer place than people give it credit for, but in terms of scenery I’ve got to say I’m itching for Seattle.

5/14/11 I’ve had an odd craving for sushi the past few days which has gone unquenched. I’m trying to monitor my budget and grocery store sushi just doesn’t seem rational as it’s expensive and not all that filling. As today’s the last day of the club run, I decided to load up on some groceries for the day at the Safeway up the hill. I had previously been going to Save-A-Lot, so I thought, “what the hell, it’s sunny, it’s my last day here, I may as well splurge and go to Safeway!” As I approached the parking lot I saw a woman yelling at her child. She picked him up, held him chest-high with one arm, and then proceeded to beat the shit out of him with the other. After a few blows she put him down, and then continued beating him while he was standing. Kid started crying and she continued yelling at him, I have no clue what this kid did or could’ve done because one second they were just walking to the car and the next she’s kicking the shit out of him. I now know why the locals tell you to beware the Hill-Top. I still stand by what I said, Tacoma is nicer than people give it credit for, but I did write said statement before I wondered up to the Hill-Top Safeway. I still stand by it, but with far less enthusiasm than I had yesterday. The Safeway wasn’t anything to write-home about, tiny, small selection and over-priced even for Northwest rates. I looked at a few sandwiches and deli options, everything was at least one-day old and I could get a cheaper sandwich at Subway. I left Safeway empty-handed and instead opted for the Subway down the road.

Due to a conversation I had at the Maproom, one of my new favorite bars, I’m reading “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” It had been on the list for quite some time and I never got around to it, people have told me it’s the perfect travel book so I decided it’d be my first summer-reading on the road. I think once I’m done I’ll do something else light, because later in the month I’m planning on diving into some heavier works some of my colleagues had recommended.

I haven’t mentioned the shows much thus far, and that’s for the sole reason that I’m slightly weird and superstitious about that sort of thing, especially club weeks. Meaning, the shows were going strong, so I didn’t want to mention something on Friday and then jinx the rest of the week. Alas, strong shows were had from start to finish. Late show Saturday was tiny bit rowdier because there were a lot of fairly drunk people, but nothing unreasonable or out of line, crowds were great all around, all the comics were great to work with and even got to meet a few people popping in for guest sets from out of town.

5/15/11: My original plans to hop a bus to Seattle at my leisure changed when the bar manager, Brian, invited me to his birthday brunch at Salty’s at Redondo Beach. If you happen to reside in the Northwest area, their seafood brunch is absolutely incredible. I joined Brian and his wife, Sharon, who also works at the comedy club, and then they told me they’d take me to Seattle because they were going there for the day for his birthday. Needless to say it is a very, very pleasant surprise to enjoy an absolutely incredible seafood buffet and make some new friends when you were originally planning to spend way too long on a Sound Transit bus. Kudos to Brian and Sharon for being so flippin’ cool. They dropped me off in Capitol Hill and wished me well, I told them we should plan on doing this again next time I’m in the area.

I hung out at the Tully’s near the Odd Duck Theater because I had all my stuff with me and didn’t want to be walking around too much before the show. I got some e-mails sent and writing done and sipped on a cup of coffee. Staying in trend with pleasant surprises I got a call from Brian Boshes saying that he was going to be meeting his girlfriend in Capitol Hill and that he’d head up early so we could chat awhile at Tully’s. I’ve always pegged Brian a renaissance-man because he has a technically demanding job at Amazon, is a very funny and talented comic, and he can build shit. Turns out he’s an entrepreneurial mind as well! It’s always great to catch up with old friends. Which I got to do a lot of last night! It was amazing to see some familiar comic-faces at the show last night, and it was super, super awesome that some friends came out to the show and are letting me crash at their place. Shout-outs to commence later.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Thoughts, Rants and Cold Coffee has recently been getting airplay on New Dissident Radio. New Dissident Radio is an online radio network out of Los Angeles. From their webpage:

“Created by award winning radio personality & veteran comedian Johnny Dam, New Dissident Radio finally fills the intellectual gap other talk radio stations ignore…a home for anything that flies in the face of social convention. It’s not for the light of mind or those of abnormally strong moral fiber. It’s for those that want and expect more from their talk radio radio AND their Internet!

Dissidence breeds knowledge

Silence breeds ignorance”

Needless to say, it’s a thrill and an honor to be played on a network alongside such acts as Johnny Dam, Rick Shapiro, Dylan Brody, Kelly Carlin and many, many more. Check out New Dissident Radio at and be sure to check out Thoughts, Rants and Cold Coffee!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Corbett Proposes Budget Solutions for Higher Education

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has been urging various state universities to consider shale drilling to help them with their expected budget cuts. “Look, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and I thought, what better egg to break than higher education, so these cuts are pretty significant, I mean, not enough people in academia vote for me anyway and the students don’t care, so we may as well drill.”

Under the current law, however, any royalties from said drilling would go to the state’s Oil and Gas Lease fund and not the University. When questioned about this, Corbett shrugged and threw a candy bar wrapper on the ground, “Details, details! I mean come on, look at all this land, sure some people see a preserved nature-esque campus ideal for scholarly pursuit, but me, I see dollar signs baby!”

Governor Corbett went on to give further suggestions for Universities to seek out revenue in light of his proposed budget cuts, “Start a garden, you could grow all kinds of crops and sell them at wholesale, have the students tend to them so then you won’t even have to pay for the labor, give them internship credit or something.” Gov. Corbett did indicate, however, that school must come first. “Oh, definitely, I mean we only want the best for these kids and the awesome job market they’re getting into, so unless your GPA is above a 1.7 you won’t get the opportunity to work in these campus gardens.”

Other revenue-building suggestions from the Governor included leasing out campus land for mini-landfills, eliminating all student and employee benefits, and holding volunteer bake sales. He even offered to rent space on campus for his campaign office. “We’ll transform a place on campus that’s pretty much useless, you know, like a library or something.”

Before leaving Corbett once again emphasized drilling. “There’s no reason not to, we should totally drill, it’ll be safe, I’ve got a whole committee overseeing all of this,” he added, “a few of them even have environmental backgrounds.”