About the Genius

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Seattle, WA, United States
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Meeting "famous" people

Meeting characters from your childhood (or in my case older-hood), no matter how obscure, is always a thrill, at least for me. It's one of the major perks of being a standup comedian. This year I've been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to catch a couple of them as they were passing through Seattle.

One of them I actually had the pleasure of opening for. His name is Ben Bailey. Most would know him as the host of television's Cash Cab. I have seen him on that show of course, but my personal connection to him is that he was one of the first live standup comedians I saw at a comedy club. I caught him with a couple of my friends at a showcase at The Comedy Cellar in New York City. I remember a couple of his jokes, the most vivid was a joke about how he wasn't going to do his "jump-roping joke" at this club (as he's over 6 feet tall and the celling is about 7 feet at this particular club). I just remember that killing my friends and I (let alone the entire audience). So flash forward almost six years later (I was a sophomore in college when this happened), and he's coming to Laugh's Comedy Spot and I get to host the show he's on. Holy crap this is awesome!

Here's a picture of myself and him that we snapped on the second night. Slight height difference, no? I was his driver to the club (my "cab") on both nights, which gave me the chance to share the story above with him.z We talked about the jump-rope bit and whether it was still in the rotation. He shared some behind the scenes stories about the Cash Cab while the feature was on stage (Gabriel Rutledge, amazingly funny). His act has some pretty good stories about it too, so if you get a chance to see him live and are a fan of the show, you should really go. Even if you aren't, the story he tells is freaking hilarious regardless.

Ok, so that was pretty cool. A comedian from my past revisited. Can we top that this year? Of course!

Enter Bill Dwyer. Most people wouldn't recognize him out on the street (which is my favorite type of famous) but if you were a nerdy kid like me in the 90's you know his face and voice well. Who is Bill Dwyer and why does Brian have an obvious celebrity crush on this guy? Well, its because he was the host and lead commentator on Comedy Central's Battlebots! This was before Comedy Central had enough original comedy programming to fill the entire day, so some of it was filmed with random stuff like this. Bring on the random stuff I say! Battlebots was an WWE type show with robots instead of big muscular dudes, and Bill doing his best to bring words to the metallic carnage that was unfolding on your reasonably sized standard definition TV. It was on for a couple of seasons, so it filled some of my more impressionable years. I wanted to build a battlebot and have Bill narrate its rise to remote controlled stardom. That was my dream. Well, I never got to build a battlebot, but I did get to talk about them with Mr. Dwyer, which is close enough that I can die happy.

As you can see from the picture about, I was very (too) excited. Even better, he was super cool about me nerding out with him. I was thinking I was going to get a "that's great kid" type of response, but instead we talked about all the people and robots from original show, all the merchandising that went on, and even how some people are working to get the show back someday (fingers crossed). Then I was honored to have him watch me eat shit in that night's round of the competition where I took last place (having now looked at my scores I know this). Even after throwing my chances at moving on in the competition, he still took that picture with me though. Childhood star meeting, check!

So its been a pretty good year for meeting people, if not getting better at this whole comedy thing. BTW, last year I met Robin Williams and got this picture taken. So that year is pretty much the year to beat. :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Seattle International Comedy Competition - Night 5 & 6

Ok two more nights passed and one more blog. Again, so much more for one post per night. Oh well.

Night five of the competition was off to Bellingham, a city around two hours north of Seattle. This would mark the farthest we have traveled for the competition. I went up a couple hours before the show with Leyna to see the city and to have dinner with her Mom. We took the scenic route, saw some fabulous beach view, and visited an antique shop in downtown Bellingham. B-ham. Bellinghamster! I also got to visit Boundary Bay brewery, which was on my list of breweries to visit in Seattle. After a fabulous spagetti dinner, it was off to the Fairhaven POub and Martini Bar. Yes, a pub AND martini bar, in the same building, and it didn't look like either. They really should just call it Fairhaven bar with a stage. I think that was its qualification for hosting the show that night.

I knew that it wasn't going to be a good night. I wasn't going to change my set and something told me that my hobbit opener wasn't going to ring as true here at the pub AND martini bar. The comic before me had a rough set and I went up to probably the coldest room of the week. I actually held my room, but it was one of those sets where it was like trying to jog through snow compared with the night before. It was funny, while going into my hairy chest joke, some girl said, "I don't think so!" when I said that they could follow my Happy Trail. Part of me wanted to stop my set and say "Fuck you, my girlfriend is sitting over there and she follows it, so suck it! Actually don't,.." Maybe if I had, my score would have been higher. Cy called someone a "retarded faggot" and took 5th if that is any indication of what we were dealing it.

I didn't place tonight (shocker), but I'm still not looking at my scores at this point. Everyone else is freaking out at this point as we are heading into the home stretch. Most people are going to use tonight as their drop score. After my performances in night one and two, I don't think I have a drop score option anymore. :) Drop scores aside, Jose and Andy had great sets and scored first and second respectively. All in all, I felt my set went over pretty well for a bar show where I did the same set I did at a theater show. Doesn't really matter, time to get out of this town...

Into night six. Final night. Industry night! We had a talent agent from CBS and the guy that does recruiting for the "Just for Laughs" festival in Montreal. What we think this means is opportunities galore for all the comics in week one. What this really means is the toughest and probably most accurate scoring of the week. Still, having not looked at my scores, I'm feeling pretty good going into that night. I may still have a chance to make the top five (I didn't know how far from the truth this was). Fast forward to the set. I thought it was solid for the most part. Strong start, stronger middle, meh, ended kinda week. My closers have definitely been the weakest link this competition. One of the (many) takeaways. After leaving the stage, that was it. I had done six shows in six nights and it was all over. At this point, it was just waiting for the scores. I thought, I could have placed tonight? Sure, why not. I did not place, I did not move on. I didn't pass go either, but I made $200. The final five were Matt Billon, Jose Sarduy, Roger Lazola, Scott Monroe, and Andy Haynes. Andy took second on the last night and slipped right into 5th place for the week to upset Jane Stanton. It was a photo finish for the 5th place spot. I

I took 11th on the last night show. Not ever close to sixth. Heh. I also took 14th for the week. Ya, not even close to placing. Wonderful, wonderful delusion. Holy shit I'm glad I didn't look at my scores huh!?!? Right? Best decision I made all week. That and switching my set on night three. That took me from last place on Thursday (LAST!?!? WTF!) and 5th on Friday. I don't think I could have done that had I let the full weight of Thursday fall on me. That fifth place finish was all that I wanted out of this competition and I did it. So happy. Josh Gondelman took 5th on the last night, which was awesome, since I had displaced him for 5th in Aurbun by like one point. I got my picture. I'm good. But ya, scores. Don't ever look at them.

So ya, the competition is over! Takeaways? Don't look at your scores, I think I said that already?
Now that it's over though, I'm really interested in the raw scores to see if there might be some trends over the entirety of the competition. My strongest point? Probably overcoming my nerves the first night and punching through to take 5th on Friday. My weakest point? My set choice. You watch guys like Jose or Andy or even Ahmed and they have a varied set that I didn't have going into this competition. All their bits were unique but related to a common theme. For me, I think my voice is just starting to appear and all of my jokes were kind of generic. I knew this going into the competition, but didn't know exactly what I knew. My friend Toby explained it to me. My second to last joke's punchline was that I got an erection. My last joke was about getting an erection. No wonder my closer never landed like I wanted! I was basically telling the same joke twice.

Although I had so much fun and learned a bunch of stuff, I am so freaking tired. Maybe it's because I haven't given myself a break even though the competition is over. I went to the open mic last night at Laughs (where I took LAST!) and I'm writing this blog entry from an open mic in Magnolia. What the hell is wrong with me?!? :P

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seattle International Comedy Competition - Night 4

Last night's event was at the Historic Everett Theater in Everett, Washington. This place was a beautiful theater right in downtown Everett. Seated about 800 people on a packed show, I think we had around 450 people there. It had a mezzanine about a quarter filled (more on that later). Still, it was going to be very interesting performing in this kind of place. I have never done a theater show before, so this was many of the interesting learning experiences I knew that I would get in this competition.

I drove Ahmed Bharoocha and Josh Gondelman up there with me again. They've been good car pooling buddies. I've been taking the opportunity to bend their ear about Boston comedy and the scene out there. Networking with other comics is key for these sort of events. It's really the one thing that everyone gets out of the competition now matter how you place. Unless you're a douche-bag that no one wants to talk to. Thankfully, we haven't had any of those in our week, so overall the group dynamic has been great. Hopefully when I'm in Boston, or Dallas, or New York, or wherever, I'll be able to call back to these experience and friends that I've made so far in the competition and get some good stage time, or at least a couch to crash on. Ok, enough sappy stuff, back to the competition!

The Everett Theater has a great backstage, mostly because its a real theater. It was kind of cool to hang out behind the curtain and listen to the show, knowing that just a couple of inches beyond it was a comic and 450 people listening to him. Steve Monroe took the opportunity to explore the entire theater, including the rafters, while the performance was underway. What are you going to do with an ex-tech geek with a flashlight, I just don't know. Regardless, the backstage was more popular than the green room tonight. Possibly because the green room was the dressing room and sounded like there were birds mating in there due to a squeaky belt driven air exchanger in the basement. The backstage was also well insulated (unlike Auburn), so we were able to converse with each other about the sets previously and currently on stage.

I was up 9th tonight, which for most would be the best time to go up, but this night there was an intermission between the 8th and the 9th comic. This meant I was essentially the "first" comic in the second half. The host, Paul Myerhaug, who has been awesome by the way, did about four minutes in front of me to get the crowd going again. I hit the stage and it was another great set! I mean, I got my closest to going over seven minutes (with 6:34) because the crowd was laughing at my jokes for so long. I felt super comfortable coming off of night 3 with my newly arranged set and it shows. Also, comparing my nervousness level from night one to last night, wow what a difference. The confidence level and timing with which I've delivered this set has increased so much during this competition. I knew that I had a lot to gain going into this, more so than many of the competitors in this week, and my performance last night has shown that I took my punches from night's one and two and am bouncing back.

The long and the short of this though was that I didn't place last night. I apparently was very close to placing, as everyone was every excited to tell me that I was very close to placing, which means I took sixth. Not bad for someone who couldn't close just two nights before. :-) At this point though, every is surely freaking out about the scores. Word on the street (and mathematically), is that the top three spots are already locked in at this point in the week. This is not surprising, as Jose Sarduy again took first tonight. Matt Billon, Steve Monroe, Roger Lazola, and Jane Stanton rounded out the top five. Beginning to see a pattern here?

Spot number four is also pretty much spoken for. The fifth spot is up for grabs though. Currently Jane is in it right now, but I've been told that everyone down to 12th is a contender for 5th when you take into account the drop night. I'm tenth in that list. Dammit guys! I'm trying not to look at my scores here. Anyone who is going to, or who have been in this competition, not looking at your scores is the toughest freaking thing to do, especially as it comes down to the wire and everyone is freaking out. You will find out, even if you don't want to, because someone will want to talk with you about it and will "fill you in" just so they can complain or brag or whatever about their own position. "Hey Brian I'm 8th so I'm still in the running, you're 10th by the way so you shouldn't give up either." Dammit! Stop unpurifying my thoughts!

Jose Sarduy has been a really great guy to hang out with during this competition. Last night he offered me some great advice about merchandising and doing theater shows. Talked about writing jokes, his experiences in the San Fransisco competition, and just good comedy. He also complimented me on my sets the last two nights, which doesn't hurt either. It's this kind of stuff for which I'm really exciting to be participating this year. The field is so good, the sets are so polished, that I can't NOT learn anything just by being here.

We went out for drinks with most of the competitors last night in Capitol Hill after the show. This was the first (and probably only) outside show hangout everyone did together. We had a good 16 people at the bar, it was a nice sized party. I drove Ahmed and Josh down from Everett, and I introduced them to Dic's Hamburgers on the way to the bar. Ahmed says, "I'm kinda hungry" and I turn to him and say, "I know what we can put in your stomach, some Dic's." It then took me five minutes to undo the damage and convince him that Dic's was an actual drive in and not some gay stripper club. It's kind of a Seattle institution, just a notch below In-N-Out Burgers. They loved it and my car was filled with the smells of Dic's all the way to the bar.

I really need to take a shower as my ride is about 15 minutes away from picking me up to drive me up to Bellingham, where tonight's show will take place. Stay tuned for the fourth installment tomorrow!

Seattle International Comedy Competition - Night 2 & 3

Ok so I already haven't kept to my one blog post per night. Sorry, I had to go to work and it sucked yesterday. So here are my updates from nights two and three. Night two was at Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland. This is my home club, so I was expecting a great set. I was scheduled to go up third, which was a little early. I went after Jose Sarduey, which was the guy who took first from the first night. He had another great set, which I think set the expectations a little high for my set.

Regardless, I had a strong opening again. I think I lost the crowd though when I started being a little mean during my online dating joke. I also tried some new segways that were a little clunky, as I wrote them outside the club. Mistakes one and two for the night. I ended with a whimper again that night, which was upsetting as I was hoping to show well at the club I do the most sets at. Oh well. Steve Monroe took first with a joke about the five types of hugs, where he hugged some lady from the audience and explained what he was doing. I'm so upset that this guy comes into my home club and rips off my "Five different types of hand jobs joke", albeit my joke is a lot harder to get a participant to help with. Jose Sarduy, Roger Lazola, Matt Billion, and Andy Hanyes filled out the rest of the top five. Cy Amundson also had a great set, but was denied placing. Fun times in the life of comedy competitions.

So now we're going into night three, the Auburn Theater. I had gotten interviewed by the Auburn Reporter on Thursday when I was leaving work. I thought that I might be one of the many people that were being interviewed for the paper. I was wrong. When I got to the theater, a woman approached me and said, "I recognize you from the paper." I got a hold of the article that she was talking about; my mug was on the front page. Pretty cool eh? I was a good page long article about my rise to comedy greatness and my participation in this years show. Well maybe not greatness, but it talked about how I hate bombing my first year doing comedy. He also spelled my name "Boshe", which my dad wasn't happy to hear about. That last "s" is important you know.

The show in Auburn was awesome. Everyone was having killer sets. Josh Gondelman, a comic in from Boston who I had given a ride to the gig that night, went up and had the best set I've seen him have so far in the competition. He's a Jewish comedian of a similar age, our acts our quite a bit different, but he was the one for me to beat tonight. I was up 14th, which I was concerned about maybe the crowd becoming too tired by the time I hit the stage. I couldn't have been more wrong. They stayed strong the entire night and I had the best night in the competition so far.

In the previous nights, I had done a joke about "morning sex" and also a kind of sexist tag during my online dating routine. Both of those bits destroyed my closer, and I always ended weakly. I was determined to change this going into tonight. It was also "TV-clean" night, which meant that the morning sex bit was pushing it, so there was extra motivation there. I decided to replace both of those with a bit about restless leg syndrome drug and my experiences getting my wedding suit fitted, the latter which I had done on night one. The difference was sizable. There wasn't a reason for the audience not to like me anymore! I finally got to close strong, got my encore point, and left the stage thinking "that is how I should have been competing from the start".

This performance was enough to eek out fifth place right in front of Josh Gondelman, who was right behind me be one tenth of a point. I placed! That is really all I wanted to do; place one night of the competition. Get that coveted picture of me and the four other finishers that night. I was so excited, and happy, and thrilled to be on that side of the stage, in front of that great crowd in Aurburn, after having my best set of the competition so far. After the show, I went to Denny's with Josh, Cy, and Ahmed and had way too much sugar, and then drove Josh and Ahmed back to their host house in Wedgewood. What a great middle of the competition. I've reach my goal, and still have three more nights left in the competition. I figured out my set, this is what I'm sticking with for the rest of my competition. Too bad it took two nights to figure it out. :-) Who knows, I might actually have to start thinking about moving on to the semis, which in all honesty, I had ruled out before tonight.

Oh, and if you want to read the article, I've linked it here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seattle International Comedy Competition - Night 1

Tonight kicked off the first night of the 30th annual Seattle International Comedy Competition at the beautiful Columbia City Theater. It's the first night of my preliminary week, and my first night in a real competition (if we don't count Bend as a real competition). I drew 3rd in the lineup, which was a good place for me as I wanted to go up early this show and not sit and be anxious before my first set.

I'd like to say that it worked out that way and I wasn't anxious. That couldn't be more from the truth. I was super nervous getting through my entire set. My opener fell correctly though and my follow-up joke, which I had changed the wording to moments before hitting the stage, worked as well. The middle of the set also went well. My morning sex joke didn't quite land like I wanted to, but I heard a bunch of people loosing their shit somewhere in the audience, so overall I was happy. My closer did ok, but the thing I'm most upset about was I flubbed putting the mic back in the mic stand. I was so embarrassed as I sat for a good 15 seconds and tried to figure out how to jam it back in there. That might have cost my some points in my technique or something, but I'm not looking at my scores until this entire week is over. Should save me from a lot of head games. I did get the all important "encore point" which adds a point to my score. All but two comics tonight got that, and those that didn't had a bit of a meltdown (understandably).

So I didn't make the top five tonight. Jane Stanton, the only female in the group, took fifth. Matt Billon was fourth. Andy Haynes and Roger Lazola were third and second respectively. Roger had just come off the finals for the San Francisco comedy competition, so the second place finish was not to say expected, but well justified. Jose Sarduy took first and it was totally warranted. That guy destroyed the room tonight. His mostly Cuban-themed set was well polished, high energy, original and the crowd just ate it up, including yours truly. I'll be really excited to see him do that set again and again in this competition. If he keeps having reactions like that though, he's in the semis for sure.

It's going to be a really tough week from a competitors standpoint. It's just a really great field. There aren't any people that you watch and go "he's definitely not in the semis". Really, after only one night though, it's still anyone's game; no one is going to go quietly in this competition. That being said, all the guys seem really cool and fun to hang out with. I won't go into it too much more than that after the first night as they could all be douchebags and it may take a day or two to tease it out of them. Regardless, I hope to make some new contacts at least in some new markets and hopefully they enjoy Seattle.

Tomorrow we head to Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland, my home club. I'm going to shake whatever is left of these nerves and bring it tomorrow, HARD. Can't wait!

UPDATE: Just watched the video. It looked way better than I thought it was. Rock on!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Arizona Comedy Debut

Well it's come and gone. Well sort of, because I'm still here. My first comedy tour in Arizona is complete! Now its time to sit back, relax, take in more of this Arizona sunshine and visit with the family. I grew up here; born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. It's really important to break into this scene as I come down here a half dozen times a year. It would be really nice to be able to do comedy when I do, and then I could write off the flights as a "business expense."

The tour has been great! I love calling it a "tour" cause that is everything that wasn't. It was two shows in two nights. Last night in a bar, tonight in a video production studio. I'm totally moving up in the world.

Last night, after flying in and getting a quick meal with my parents, I made them drive me (cause I like feeling like I'm 14) into downtown Phoenix for my first gig at the Hidden House. This show was recommended to me by a fellow comedian in Seattle that got his start in Phoenix. The "Red Room" at the Hidden House is a room next to a bar that serves $6 steaks on Wednesdays, has $7.50 mini pitchers of beer, and could hold about 40 people without the fire marshal getting upset. Last night there were about that many people. I went up sort of near the end, so I was able to get a good feel for how the room was going to behave. Man, that was a trained audience. No hecklers. They've done a good job making a fine comedy audience at that Hidden House. My set was pretty good, but I thought I saw the light too early and bailed, which was the professional thing to do, but I was still pissed as I passed up time in front of a good audience. Still trying to work on my competition set, so I got some good mileage out of that regardless.

Tonight I performed at the "Thursday Night Funny" show at the Arizona Visual Arts Studio. This is actually a pretty cool place where local businesses can go to get anything from commercials made to 3-D animations for presentations. Oh, and on the first and third Thursday of the month, they also have free comedy on Sound Stage B. It was a pretty cool stage. The audience could have held around 30 people, so its a pretty intimate showroom. It was "very" intimate tonight though. I did get a free Miller High Life Light. See, now I didn't even know that they made that beer in a "light" form. The more you know... Did about eight minutes and some of the jokes I didn't get to do the previous night. I wish I could do some of my newer jokes that I've been writing, but for first impressions down here I didn't want to open mic it.

I've learned a bit about the comedy scene down here and I've found there are some interesting differences and similarities to Seattle and Phoenix comedy scenes. This opinion is formed after doing only two shows here, so bear with me, but it still deserves documentation in blog form:
  • Phoenix comics like to say "fuck" a lot, especially at the Hidden House, whereas Seattle comics like to say "shit" a lot, basically everywhere.
  • Comedy personalities transcend state borders. I've found doppelgangers of a couple Seattle comics that I really want to introduce to each other. It would be old Doc from "Back to the Future II" seeing past Doc, and one is freaking out because the other guy stole his premise.
  • No matter how creepy you might be, having an t-shirt with your head on it usually ups you on the creepiness scale.
  • My Dad loves trainwrecks.
  • Some of the coolest places to do comedy, not a lot of audience members come to. It all comes down to the most important thing in show-business, parking.
  • I have too much hair for some of the people in Phoenix. That, or a need a haircut. Probably both.
  • If you see a guy in the lobby with a guitar case, chances are, he is going to play it. If he plays it, you will feel awkward. There are no chances there, it's just a fact.
  • In Seattle people complain about the rain. In Phoenix people complain about Seattlites visiting in the winter because of the rain. In this situation, no one wins, except the comics. Even then, it's a viscous cycle of hack material.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vanity Series: Interesting Links, part I

Do you ever Google yourself? You know, just to see what's out there on you? I do, and just did. This post series will be dedicated to the weirdest places where I found links to things about me.

Tonight's winner goes to "Jew Station".


To think there is actually a website out there called "Jew Station". Jesus...

It features a comedy time video I did over a year ago which has been picked up by a crapload of websites that don't produce their own content. Comedy time, freakin best thing I did ever. Next time I'll wear a better shirt.

Seattle Comedy Competition Countdown

Friends and various blog readers, I've been away from the blog for a while. I'm sorry. Who would have thought an epiphany would be so time consuming. It's been a combination of things really, but needless to say I'm really happy right now. Which is usually bad for comedy, but I'm doing ok. This month will prove to be a very exciting month filled with some interesting gigs and writing I'm sure. Next month it gets even more interesting...

Starting the first week in November, I'll be competing in the 30th annual Seattle International Comedy Competition. Check it out here to see my mug on the page of comics (new picture taken just for the comp). I'm in week one of the preliminaries, which means I'm doing six back to back shows all over the greater Seattle area that first week in November. I'll be scored in a bunch of different areas like originality, likability, and stage presence. I'll be competing against 16 people in my round, with the top five moving on to the semis. The second prelim week will bring in another 5 out of 16 for a total of 10 in the semi-finals. Then it's whittled down to the final 5 for the last round. The final show is at the Moore Theater in downtown Seattle in front of multiple hundreds of people. The winner gets a CD deal (among other things). I hope to do a short blog post about each night as the experience unfolds. Let's hope I get to do more than six posts. :)

I think at this point I've figured out the jokes I want to tell for my first round set. It has to be somewhere over three minutes to score but under seven to stay qualified, and all of it has to be really funny. Especially the last part; closer has to be solid. That is where I think I'm the most shaky but have the most potential for improvement, so I've been hitting the shows and working on my competition set. I don't want to question anything about my set when I get up there and do it. I just want to go up and give the best performance I can six times in a row. That's all I can do. Hopefully if I'm not worrying about my set I can also enjoy myself just a little. That would be nice.

I'm also looking forward to meeting some of the comedians that are coming from all over the country (and Canada?). This year, Seattle only took nine locals, which is quite few when compared to previous years. It'll be good for both the audience and the competitors as it should be a pretty varied field with lots of different styles. I'm anxious to get some new comedy acquaintances that I can meet up with if I'm ever in their respective home towns. I hope they like me.

Many of the past competitors have been bending my ear on what a mind-fuck the competition will be and giving me tips to survive it. I'm really encouraged by the advice for the most part. I think that being able to deal with the mental (non-comedy) part of the competition is going to be the biggest part for me getting through this on many different levels. It can really do a number on you to take something subjective as stand-up, especially my stand which I have written is truly important only to me, and then try to apply a measure to it. Well Brian, your material is original, but your charisma is a three. WTF? These are the kind of things one has to be ready for when comedy competes.

Most of all, I'm really surprised (in a good way) of all the well wishes (in their various forms) towards my performance in the competition. Thank you to all my friends and colleges that have wished me well so far. You make me think I have a way better shot at this then I thought I did, and for that, I can't say how much I appreciate it. Good luck to everyone, but especially to yours truly.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Comedy Lightbulb Switch

I've been struggling to take another step up in my comedy over the last couple of weeks. I haven't had any crazy gigs since Bobcat came to Laughs in July. I haven't been booking myself out much either as the summer is pretty lite and I'm out enjoying the sun while it's still here. Still, I'm always somewhat working, always asking, what's next? I was most recently stressing over my audition set for the Vancouver Comedy Festival. I actually did the set twice, once to no one, and other to a booker I may never see again. Long story short, I'm probably not going to Vancouver this year (it's in 3 weeks). Regardless, a very big development did come out of the audition experience. Here's the story.

I had recently written a new joke about how nice it is when you get to have sex in the morning, before getting out of bed. I deliver it with more confidence than anything I've told before because A) it IS really nice, and B) it actually happened. It really is my favorite new joke. It's got a great, easy to relate to angle, characters, and fun twist at the end. Because of its energy, I started using it as my opener when I first wrote it. It would start my set with, "I'm having a great week this week because...", and go into the new joke. This is how I started my second Vancouver audition. The owner of Laughs Comedy Spot takes me aside and says, "Brian, love the new premise, but it really clashes with your other, more self-deprecating stuff. You should really think about changing the voice or moving it around in the set, because as your opener, no one knows whether to feel bad for you or not when you tell a self-deprecating joke later." As much as I love constructive criticism, I was upset by this comment initially. "It's my new opener!" I thought to myself. "This is the high energy stuff I should be doing! How dare he suggest I rewrite this!" It wasn't that dramatic but you get the idea. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. He was right. Time for an experiment.

My next big gig after the audition was opening for a comic named Brad Upton at a casino about 30 mins north of Seattle. I had decided earlier that I would open using my old opener (about my parents naming me BJ) and put the new morning sex joke at the end. I thought it would make a nice storybook ending to my set. "See all these bad things that happened to me? Well it doesn't matter now, cause I'm doing this" sort of thing. Best part, it worked! Left the stage feeling really good about how my act flowed and how my new joke worked even better as a closer.

But there was still something nagging me about this new joke. It kind of smelled different than my other material. Even as a closer I felt like the audience wasn't really going to accept this premise after hearing all my previous no-so-confident opinions about everything else. I didn't want to water down the morning sex material so to speak. I need a way to alter the approach on the rest of my act. Enter my friend Joe Larson. Joe is probably one of the hottest young comedians on the east coast who your probably haven't seen yet. You will very soon I guarantee it. His act oozes confidence, even when he's talking about how he's not, he still is. I wanted some of that in my act. I asked myself, what is Joe trying to say with his material? I wrote it down some of his jokes and the attitude/opinion he delivered them with. Then I asked, what am I REALLY trying to say with my material? Not "what am I saying today" not "what did I write down originally", but really, to me, deep down inside, why do I care about the premise? What do I care about? I looked at my jokes and then, suddenly, the attitude just started jumping out at me. I was so excited I could barely write it all down (maybe coffee was also to blame). I started grouping jokes into categories based on these various attitudes (which I wrote out as headers) and then segways and setups that had always seemed clunky and void of laughter became obsolete. "I don't need to tell them this because what I really wanted to say was this..." kind of thing. What was left was the real funny parts to my ideas but none of the "fluff" I had padded it with because I didn't know how to butt it up against anything else. When I finished hacking, my opener was gone, assigned to a point about 4 jokes into my first section. My closer is, well I might not have one anymore. Everything is a complete mess and, at the same time, more aligned than I have ever seen it before.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to put it any of this into practice yet. This could be an amazing new epiphany or just another detour on my development as a comic. I'll know in a couple of weeks. Either way, its moments like these that make the creative process something I never want to live without.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hemp Fest is filled with D-bags and Hippies, why do I go?

Cause I want/have to work the comedy stage there, that's why. Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland got the job of providing daylight comedy entertainment in a tent at Hemp Fest. Hemp Fest, if you don't know, is a weekend long celebration to the (hopefully?) eventual legalization of marijuana. It has very little to do with the industrial uses of hemp. Me, being a really big nerd, that was the reason I first went. I thought, "maybe I'll be able to buy a really cool hemp backpack or something. At the very least, a nice poster." So there I was, circa 2006 on the hottest fucking day of the summer, strolling down to the park to buy myself a backpack. Little did I know, the creators originally wanted to call it "Marijuana Party!" but Seattle talked them down to "Hemp Fest" with the provision that if don't actually blow the smoke in a cops face, they'll let you smoke pot in public just this once...

I didn't really know that Hemp Fest was this sort of mecca for some people. They come from all over. All different kinds of people. Actually they are all the same type of people. All selling the same thing. Bongs. And t-shirts with bongs on them. They had bongs made out of junk this year, that was interesting. There were Arabs selling hookas like they were electronics. That was fun to watch, especially at 6pm on Sunday when they all mysteriously went "on sale". There were bongs that were six feet tall, which is stupid, especially for a person my size. Even stupider were the douche bags that were carrying them around obviously for the attention. It was like a stoner's version of a Porche. I'll take a real Porche, thank you.

The one guy I did miss this year was the unbreakable pipe guy. He's been replaced with bamboo pipe guy, which was nice, but I really liked the other one. He would whack this thing against the table going "IT'S UNBREAKABLE" . "SEE?!?!" He was the Sham-Wow guy of Hemp Fest basically. That really is the only reason to go to Hemp Fest, the people are so goshdarned funny, even if they are all hippies and douchebags. If they aren't funny they are also semi-naked. There are two types of semi-naked at Hemp Fest. There are the girls sporting the bra because they live in Seattle and don't actually own a bikini. Then there are the guys. These guys I missed at Folk Life. These are the fellas that work out all summer, then go to events like this shirtless and strut around, as if someone is going to go, "OMG, I love your tat and your 6 foot bong, please have sex with me and my friend with the bra on". So now the guy driving around in the bong-Porche is getting it detailed as if that makes it look better? I did not see one hookup the whole weekend, although I did see a guy pleasuring himself under a tree. Now THAT was awkward.

The comedy? Oh right, that. I did 5 sets. I watched a couple comics get eaten alive by a stoned crowd with the munchies and no appetite for jokes. I watched one comic clear the room on purpose, and a couple more clearing it on accident. I even did some improve on stage with a bunch of other comics with a special guest host. I capped off the weekend with a set in front of the last act. It's really interesting to do comedy during the day time to people who didn't invest anything in seeing your act. By interesting I mean sucked a larger than average penis. Even so, I did about 15 minutes and really had the crowd on my side by the end of it (at least in my head that's how it went down). Was able to talk with them and had a lot of fun with it, good end to it all. Note: I want a 12 year old sitting in the front row at all of my shows and he has to be as cool as the one at this show. Thanks.

I think the best part of doing comedy at Hemp Fest was that we had a backstage with our own bathroom, drinks, and a place to sit that I didn't fear getting stabbed in the ass from someones broken bong or pipe. We were supposed to have other people that had backstage passes back there with us, but the owners of the club where like "ummm I don't know you, so get the fuck out of our area." Most of them wouldn't have stayed even if we let them; the other backstages apparently were much "cooler" than ours. And they had food. We had a bag of chips, but we were fine.

In the end, I was there for the same reason all comics go to this sort of thing, to get new material for my act (and my blog). And I got another really nice poster.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's so Freaking Hot! or: How I learned to stop sweating and love the sun

That's a lie. I don't think I'll ever stop sweating. At least not anytime this week. Yesterday and today Seattle broke the hottest day on record record with 103 and 96 degrees respectively. It's really freaking hot, for Seattle. Its like 85 degrees in my house when I try to fall asleep, at 2am. I've been getting about 5 hours of sleep this week because of the heat, so I've been especially tired and cranky at work. On top of this, I find myself waking up at 4am all delirious thinking that someone is trying to break into my house all because I'm sweating and dehydrated and the fan is blowing straight into my eyeballs so I can barely open them in the morning. Seriously, I spent a good 10 minutes staring out my window last night thinking that my "fire twin" was going to come in through the door and it was going to get even hotter! I was totally sober to the best of my knowledge. That, or I need to go get some more of those raviolis from the farmers market. It's actually really nice though in the morning. Reminds me of my first job in Phoenix when I was doing tech support and needed to be in at work at 8am. The sun was just starting to get hot and there was a muggy coolness to the air still. Then it got hot as balls (mine can attest to this).

But Phoenicians know how to deal with heat. So does anyone from the South or the Eastern seaboard. West coasters north of San Fran, they're all retarded. I say "they" and not "we" only because I bought my fans last year and haven't been a part of the fan and a/c buying frenzy that everyone saw coming from about a week away. Seriously, if I wouldn't feel like such a douche, I could have made a killing in the air conditioning futures market. What am I getting at? There are no fans left in Seattle. Actually there are still some left in Seattle. There are no fans left in Bellevue is more appropriate. There are big signs at the entrance to the Home Depot in Redmond that says they are out of air conditions, check back in 2 weeks. Two weeks?!? It will be probably be raining by then, who needs a flipping air conditioner then? (Hopefully not, my parents are coming to visit). I heard some friends saying that they wanted to check into a hotel room for the a/c. Consider you can't even buy it, I would be suprised if you could rent it...

But fans and fan technology has been the topic of choice this week, because I work with a bunch of nerds really. The current argument is that the "Vornado" is the best of fans. After Tuesday night, I'll agree with them, but the name is just silly. They're all silly names, I know. You go to Target and all the brands are "Hawaiian Breeze" or "Wind Extruder" or "Hunter". I think a good marketing move would be to make the brand of fans called "I Am Hot". Then all the different sizes and shapes could be different variations on the phrase. "I Am (A Little) Hot" would be the smaller one, good for bedside tables and office desks. "I Am (Always) Hot" would be a clip on solar powered fan, for the sweater on the go. "I Am (Really) Hot" would be the room sized box fan, great for any space inside the home. "I Am (Annoying) Hot" would be the one that rotates and purifies the air at the same time. "I Am (Fucking) Hot" would basically come with a block of dry ice and a package of condoms. I would have the "I Am (so hot I'm hallucinating 'fire twins') Hot" model, which, coincidentally, is also a box fan.

The other part of the Summer Heat Showdown 2009 that I enjoy are all the Facebook updates regarding the weather. I mean, even if you lived in an air conditioned bubble you could still experience vicariously the miserableness of others though the science of the internet. These daring pioneers of weather opinion reporting are also the same people, that, go back far enough, you'll see them complaining about it being too cold on their Facebook accounts. I'm convinced that God has a Facebook account and is friends with EVERYONE and is now just screwing with us all in response to his news feed. Twitter and Facebook are very god-like like that. If I could play God, I would really love to make it 45 degrees for a couple of days coming up, just to make the Facebook status updates go from "oooh this weather is cooling me off, so nice!" to "man I kind of miss the heat now, just had to turn on the heater" to "WTF! Its August and its 45 degrees! Seattle blows!". Until I have the power to control the weather, I'll write blog posts about it next to my box fan, ehem, I mean "I Am (so hot I'm hallucinating 'fire twins') Hot" fan.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ice Cream is BACK!

I like good food. I like eating. I like eating good food. Good food, I'm convinced, used to just be called "food" 30 years ago. It was just what you ate. You didn't really think about it. If it was sweet it probably had sugar in it. If it was salty, there was probably a crapload of MSG in it. Nutrition wasn't really an issue, since food was made out of food.

Now, there seems to be this idea of a "craft food" movement that is happening right now. Kind of like what happened to the beer industry 20 years ago. Refresher, before that point, all beer in this country was crap. But, like 100 years ago, beer was amazing, because it was really beer! Now. Fast forward today. Food, or the thing that we know of as food, isn't really food. 30 years ago it was, but now, for the most part, it is not. Enter the craft food movement. Enter, ice cream stores. These are on the forefront of the craft food movement, right behind those god damned cupcakes. We used to have ice cream store, then things like Dairy Queen and Baskin Robins took them off the map. We'll they're back my friends, back with a vengeance and a really douchy following.

Ok, first off, the ice cream (and the cupcakes for that matter) are delicious. Their great! Taste freaking amazing! Wish I could have them everyday. Good for those people for making such great ice cream. My problem with the whole situation is the douchebags that go to the new ice cream places when they open and comment how it tastes so "traditional and good, not like those brands you find in the store". Screw you people! You're the ones that welcomed the shitty ice cream with open arms when it first came out. Holy crap its a $1 cheaper and packed with more of that "home-churned taste." I'm just really afraid that in 20 years there is going to be a guy that opens an Apple Store that serves home grown apples that were actually grown on a tree. People will come and go, "Wow, all that classic apple taste. This is a place to bring the whole family to experience an apple, the way it should be." People will come by the hundreds to eat his apples, he'll open a chain of Apple Stores all over Seattle and Portland. A month later he'll be sued by the iPod-enabled robotic reincarnation of Steve Jobs. To think, his reintroduction, would have helped the APPL stock price that much.

This blog post is making me hungry. I think I might head over to Safeway to pick up a gallon of Dryers. They're 50 cents off today!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cleaning Gauntlet 2009, Summer Edition

My apartment has reached a critical mass of dirtiness. It's not really that dirty, but I think it's finally breached the threshold between "unkept bachelor pad" and "you should really wear shoes if you're going to be in the kitchen". That's how I know it's time. You know how you put those strips in a solutions in chem lab and they would tell you how acidic or basic a solution is? That is what my linoleum tile in the kitchen is like. When it gets to be a certain shade of dull gray, I can just assume my entire apartment is that dirty and it should all be cleaned. They should make a sticker for that...

So the summer battle is upon us. It's my apartment versus me. I've been training these last couple of months for said battle by watching as much Stargate SG-1 as I can on Hulu. My apartment, on the other hand, has been getting better and better at hiding things I know must be somewhere, but cannot find. I don't have that big of an apartment; it must be getting really good at this. Something must be done. So after my epic comedy weekend, I throw down apartment (read: actually have time). I bite my thumb at thee! Prepare for an onslaught!

Now, the only problem with putting off the battle this long is the following: I cannot battle the beast alone. My own two hands cannot conquer the task, or at least, that would be too much work and I could really use some help. Short of magic, more SG-1, or someone else to help me, I need supplies. Now, usually I would want to use something earth friendly, cause that's how I am. I have a size 9 carbon footprint and I aim to keep it that way. Which is great, cause today, there are dozens of brands of cleaners that don't have artificial scents or dies, are PH balanced, or all natural ingredients. And they work great, as long as you clean more than once a quarter. Unfortunately for me, my apartment has become to strong and can no longer be fought with such gentle cleaning method. It must be beaten back into submission, like a penicillin resistant bacteria. I'm pretty sure you could throw all the lavender water or dandelion paste in the world at the grease on my stovetop and it would just smile right back at you. Smile as only 3 months of making bacon and frying potatoes undisturbed can. So I have to bring out the big guns. The cleaning solutions that were reverse engineered from weaponry used during the first World War. Solvents that say fuck you to grease, mold, and certain car paints. Products that will probably cause cancer in your grandchildren, but holy crap does it make cleaning easy!

The dust clears. The level of toxicity has been deemed inhabitable for humans. My kitchen is spotless. I will try my best to keep it this way, but I can feel it already giving into the laws of entropy. The universe is forever moving to a state of disorder. Next is my living room. Then the bathroom. Don't even talk to me about the loft. I think that place is growing a personality from the lack of attention coupled with the fact that I'm using basically as a garage right now.

Mom if your reading this, really, its not that dirty...

Opening for an 80's Legend

Yep, that's what I was doing this weekend. Bobcat Goldthwait came to Kirkland this weekend as part of his "Alimony 2009" tour, and yours truly was his opener. Funny how quick this gig came up. I remember what Laughs Comedy Spot's owner, Dave, asked me about wanting to do this gig. I was floored. Bobcat Goldthwait!?! Me? Really? That's awesome. I've been listening to this guy for years, his last CD was hilarious (pick it up if and take a listen). I know, a lot of people grew up with this guy, and I'm about as old in living years as his comedy career, but it was still a big deal. So that was back in March I think and I was thinking to myself, "wow, July, that's in a while", but it has gone and went.

So I'm basically writing this post as an answer to the "how was it"s that I've gotten from all my friends. Not that I don't love them, thanks to everyone that has asked, I just work during the day and wanting to respond to each of you was making my head spin. So here's how it was...

We did four shows. Two on Friday and two on Saturday. I had done a show the night before at Laughs with a Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald (cat doctor / standup comedian) so I was feeling pretty good and practiced. One thing about this weekend that bothered me is that I didn't really have any new jokes besides one that I wrote last week. Good news is, the new joke is awesome, bad news was that I was doing a lot of material that people may have already seen. This bothered me some going into the gig (takeaways from the gig to follow). I didn't get to meet Bobcat until after my first set since he got there in between me hitting the stage. His sets were awesome. He did about 20 minutes it seems on Michael Jackson. I know that he had about 10 minutes on him before he died, so I think he knows that this is the death of the Michael Jackson bit tour. At least it would have seemed that way. Hilarious though for the next couple of months. He also told a joke about almost dying in a plane crash and the pilots reaction basically should have been, "ok, I'm going to try some shit I learned in pilot school..." Had me rolling every time (4 times).

My sets were all good. I never came close to bombing, although the first nights crowds were there to see Bobcat and really couldn't give a rat's ass who the openers were (or so it would seem). Here are some takeaways though from the weekend:
  • My energy level the second night was down. I really need to make sure that is up before hitting the stage. It showed a bit.
  • My long form jokes are getting better. Now that I know where the punches are and how I want to take the joke, I need to shape them so they sound more natural and less predictable.
  • I was able to tag the crap out of one joke by allowing myself to be overcome by the ridiculousness, I should do that more often.
  • My nerdy stuff isn't for everyone, but those that it is, it seems to destroy them.
  • My crowd interactions are improving, and going out into the crowd really helped my relatibility with the crowd
  • I think in one set, nine out of ten jokes are about sex in some way. I know, I know, I'm a 25 year old male, but I really think I need to branch out.
  • Bobcat's groupies are not called Bobkittens.
I got a new Mike Birbiglia CD from Amazon.com today, so I'm giving that a listen as he is doing the kind of story telling I want to be striving for. "Two Drink Mike" is his first one, already consumed that. It was a little bit better than "Secret Public Journal", but this one has more stories, and since that's what I'm trying to do, well there ya go.

Oh, and here is a picture with me and Bobcat. I'm way too happy in the picture but the other one didn't come out very good. I think it's because he just wrote "Good Job" on my CD before signing it...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Can you Transform into less awesome, no way!

Quick one on the movie I saw last night. First of all, I lowered all expectations before seeing "Transformers II". That's what you have to do. Set the bar so low that it feels like you are leaping over it, no matter what happens. So here were my three criteria for this to be a good movie: 1) Things had to explode, alot. 2) Things had to explode, alot. 3) Megan Fox has to be running around, alot. "Transformers II, Revenge of the Fallen" was three for three. How could I be upset about that? It really is the best mindset to have when going to the movies, especially when its $10+ dollars now to see.

Transformers even went above and beyond my expectations. We've got too more racist robots, Skid and Mudflap. Some hot biker girl robots. Oh, and (spoiler?) some crazy hot terminator 3 like robot that tries to fuck Shiala LeBeouf to death. Optimus Prime doesn't have lines like "my bad" which is kind of nice. Shiala's character's mom is also a highlight. She is the source of most of the swearing and sexual reference. Without her character I'm sure we could have brought this down to a PG rating.

Best part of the movie is the complete rush of "I want to blow some shit up" feeling that you get after watching this movie. That's really the only feeling you can have. Cause "that was a fantastic cinematic event" doesn't really come to mind much. So if you don't get the first one, you're kind of screwed. My friend Matt and I left the theater and decided it was a good idea to completely tweak out in front of all the parents and their kids. I was thinking, it must suck to take a kid to this film as a parent, then I realized how we were acting, and I thought, "crap, how much would it suck to take us to the movies? We're 25. Oh well, screw it!" Then we tried to do our best impersonation of a transformer sound, which probably would have confused even a meth-head from Marysville. About 15 minutes later I got home and passed out, having expended all the energy I unusually burn over 3 hours in about 5 minutes. Whatever, I blame the Linkin Park song.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I really am a good sexual harrasser

Last night I got to host a non-profit comedy show. Nice people. The organization's mission was to end sexual harassment of LGBT students K - 12. I'm all for that. Two thumbs up. Let them get married too. Support the troops. Ok, now, the second part of this story requires you to know that I'm also working my showcase set every chance I get. My showcase set is the 8 minutes I'm going to use to audition for the Vancouver Comedy Festival in a couple weeks. I'm trying to lock down the jokes and the order that they go in, so I try not to change things much. I open the show, introduce myself, and launch into my first bit.

The problem, which I realized after the first punch line, was that my opening joke was on how great of a sexual harasser I am in the workplace. I'm doing a bit on how good I am at sexual harassing people in a room full of people trying to end sexual harassment. Oh this is going to be good. I finished the first tag, "cause I'm really good at it..." and looked out into the audience. It was a mixture of horror and people thinking "that is funny, but I can't laugh at that right now." Oh, it was awesome. My best laugh of the night was me apologizing for being such a retard to open with that joke. I assured the audience that my harassment was always straight man against straight woman. I think someone booed after that one.

The funny thing was, the leaders of the organization where laughing the hardest. Everyone, LOOK AT THEM, they are laughing, you can too. Its like telling a black joke; if the black guy laughs, go ahead and let it out yourself! They were a good audience though. No hecklers, no one talked, no one laughed either, but what can you do. Make a set list that makes sense. Oh ya, that!

I was kind of bumming that my stellar performance last night, so I polished off a pint of ice cream and watched two episodes of Stargate SG-1. Yes, I'm watching a sci-fi show from the 90s, but I blame Hulu and all the other good shows ending for the season. Don't cancel "Chuck" please! Also, don't go thinking I'm a tuby for polishing off that ice cream. I'd been working on that pint for a couple of weeks. I have constraint, it takes me a while to finish one of those. That, and I think I'm becoming lactose intolerant as I get older. I blame heredity. My mom loves milkshakes. When I was little I would offer her some of mine. She would reply, "oh honey, I would love some but they don't agree with me." I thought that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard. If you like something, eat it, it doesn't matter what it "does to you". God has an interesting sense of humor.

Monday, June 22, 2009

We support a fun work environment?

So even though I don't talk about it in my act, I do have a day job. Its a programming job. The job doesn't suck, which is great for many reasons and bad for two. Its bad because I probably won't quit it to pursue comedy any time soon, and it usually doesn't give me anything to write material about. Programming isn't that funny. It's not retail, its not fast food, I don't work with people. People are funny. Computers, not so much.

Regardless, I sometimes have a hard time leaving comedian Brian at home, or at the very least, out of the office. This is exacerbated by two other things here. One, my bromance friend Matt sits about 15 feet from me, and two, he thinks I'm hilarious. Because of this situation, if you worked at my office, you would have gotten to hear this today.

Brian: Matt, do you want some of my peanut butter cookie?
Matt: No, I don't like peanut butter. Actually I like peanut butter, but just not peanut butter cookies...
Brian: That is stupid...
Matt: If I had some peanut butter right now I would even lick it off... (makes circular motion across pectoral area as if he had breasts, then quickly points away to) ... that whiteboard.
Brian: Nice save... You should really like peanut butter cookies, it tastes just like peanut butter but better.

(pause) Enter comedian Brian

Brian: I mean, it's YOUR dog.
Matt: What?!?
Brian: It's not cheating if its YOUR dog. Right?
Matt: LOL
Brian: Man I love "Road Trip"
Matt: That was from "Road Trip"?
Brian: Ya, they were talking about cheating with reference to area codes and then the one guy mentions peanut butter and says "its not if its YOUR dog".

At this point, the 3rd iteration of "YOUR dog", the office behind me says, "Matt, please be quiet!" and rolls her door close (we have those retarded rolling doors here). She probably would have said "Brian, be
quiet" if she knew my name, but she doesn't, so Matt gets double blame. Ha ha!

I mean, this place SAYS they promote a fun work environment. So you can see how I would be surprised that as soon as I quote a movie line which details a dog licking a peanut butter off of his master's penis, three times at an elevated volume, that I would get yelled at. Fun environment, sure. All the fun that silent Nazi-regimented programming can evoke. Tell the Jew to shut up and get back to work, I should complain to HR.

Brian: Ya, so I was talking about peanut butter penises and then this lady tells me to get back to work. She should probably be reprimanded, or at the very least, that retarded ass door removed.
HR woman: Brian are you coming on to me? You should. I think you're really attractive and muscular and I love peanut butter.
Brian: You're place? 7pm. I'll bring the wine. You bring those comment cards and that sassy mouth of yours.
HR woman: Your office fantasies are so HOT!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Crow on Crow Violence

I bike into work on most days because its cheaper than driving my car, reduces my carbon footprint, and keeps me from blowing up into a giant fat person. That being said, one of my favorite things about riding my bike is being able to take in a lot more of my surroundings while I'm riding around. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad. Other times, like this morning, its fucking disturbing and forever alters the way I perceive the world.

The short version of the story goes like this. Today, I saw two crows gang up and murder another crow by positioning it on the street in front of oncoming traffic.

So, here's the longer version. I was biking down the street when I heard this loud "cahwing" from trees above. Then three birds fall out of a tree, right into a street. I had been riding in front of traffic, so all the cars were behind me. I began thinking, "man, if those birds don't move, they are going to get hit by a car. Don't they know they are in the street." Then I realize that the two birds were actually attacking the third bird, and the bird on the bottom looked upset. A few seconds latter, the two birds fly off the third, and it's just lying there, obviously hurt and pretty pissed off for being shoved into the street. Then a Cadillac runs over him! Holy shit! That wasn't a coincidence. Those other two birds placed the other right in front of the car tire knowing full well that a car was going to hit him. Now, I know that animals rummage through our garbage, or swim in our pools, or occasionally are violated sexually in towns only tens of miles away from Seattle, but I have never once seen an animal use human technology to kill another animal. This is crazy!

So, this is really fucked up and for some reason I'm having a hard time dealing with it. It kind of rocks my whole perspective of the animal kingdom. Now when I see roadkill I'm going to have to ask if it was a suicide or homicide? I mean, if crows are plotting to get other crows run over, what else are they thinking? When pigeons shit on my car, do they do it because they really had to go or because they openly hate Volkswagens? Does the woodpecker who is trying to get into my chimney do it not because he is stupid, but knows its the loudest way to wake me up at 6am? Ok, maybe it's just birds. Maybe birds are the problem. Wait, when did it become me against the birds. We're still just dealing with crow on crow violence. I guess that's ok. I'm not a crow.

Still, it makes you wonder. Was the flight that ended up in the Hudson a coincidence, or like the avian equivalent of a Jamestown massacre for some crazy bird cult? Ya...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Opened at Harvey's Comedy Club in Portland

Last Saturday, my good friend Joe Larson (very funny, check him out if you've never done so) calls me up telling me there is an opening for a hosting spot at Harvey's Comedy Club in Portland that night. So beyond my own expectations, I hop in the car and make the 3 hour drive down to that fair city to the south. By "fair", I mean "hippy utopia". Harvey's is an amazing club. Sits over 300 when full, and it was packed for both shows. I've done crowds that size before, but it hadn't gone that great (thanks Tulalip casino), so I was pretty nervous for the first show. Needless to say, I did well, thanks to about a year of practice since eating it in front of a large crowd. Still, I wasn't so much presenting my jokes as I was saying "hey audience, here is my joke, hope you like it." Not where I wanted to be. My jokes are good enough to say, "hey audience, here is my joke, its fucking awesome and you're going to love it!" That was much more the way I ran the second show, and I knocked it out of the park. It was only 10 mins, but I could get used to that wall-o-sound laughter that came at me after some of those new tags. Thanks Portland for two awesome shows!

I'll say this, Portland does know how to do Sunday brunch pretty well. The only problem with that is that EVERYONE goes out for brunch. There is no good time to go outside of 10 - 2 for brunch on a Sunday, and who gets up before 10am on Sunday!?!? Actually, despite my ranting, we didn't have to wait that long. Most places have coffee to drink as you sit as well. To top it all off, our eventual server could have been a stand in for Matthew McConaughey. You want some eggs? Alright, alright, alright...

I ended up getting the biscuits and gravy. It was hidden on the bottom of the menu, I almost got the chorizo scramble, which would have been equally as good, mostly for the sour creme. I'm still chasing the amazing biscuit I had in Bend, Oregon at the West Side cafe, which is why I switched. If you're ever in Bend, go there, that thing was freaking amazing. This one though, not too shabby. The eggs held together much better than the fiasco in Reno. Those biscuits were pretty money, and the sausage gravy on it was perfect. Not to heavy, not to salty. But you know what can make even the best gravy better? JAM! Heaps and heaps of purple jam. What kind of jam was it Brian? Who the hell cares, it was delicious. It looked weird, tasted even weirder. But you know when something tastes so weird it actually tastes good? That's what the jam on the gravy tasted like. I'm like one of those people that puts a pickle in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Mind you, I've never done that, those people are weird, but I can empathize with them. Good breakfast "Genies" in Portland, you done well.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Reno Trip, complete with Breakfast!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Reno, Nevada for some training for my other, "real" job. That isn't important. The important thing was that I was in Reno getting paid to work. Jealous yet? You will be (but probably not). Here are my takeaways from Reno:
  • I'm a very well put together, attractive, skinny, young 25 year old male compared to many of the people I came into contact with in Reno.
  • OMG, seriously, the best steakhouse in Reno, is still very crappy.
  • If you stay downtown you get a lot of crackheads. If you stay out of town, you can replace crackheads with old people and its about the same thing.
  • If Las Vegas wouldn't host your shitty event, Reno will. That same weekend there was a quilting expo, bowling tournament finals, and a tow truck convention. I was there for warehouse training so its not like my excuse was any better.
  • Blackjack dealers learn your name, which is kind of creepy when they are calling it out the next day as you walk by the tables. Its bad enough that I've got an itch to play, but do you have to cup my junk while I do it?
  • Free drinks is one of Gods many gifts to men. Fortunately, my money is also a gift for the casino, so you're welcome.
  • No matter how gay sounding a slot machine is, it could still make you the biggest winner of the weekend. My friend won $200 playing a game called "Kitty Glitter". He got a double super Persian cat bonus on a 30 point spin, whatever the fuck that means. End result, he won $200 and we laughed hysterically as he proclaimed, "look at all the kitties!".
  • Apparently you can cheat at the midway games at the Circus Circus and as long as no little kids are playing, the operators couldn't give a rats ass how you won.
  • Yes, you will get to go to Circus Circus against your friends wishes if you "accidentally" lead them there somehow.
  • You will smell like cigarettes regardless, so you might has well smoke while indoors.
  • Don't go head to head with a cabbie on how disgusting you can talk about a subject, especially having sex with midgets. He will win, ALWAYS.
But do you want to know the real reason I get to talk about this trip? Because, I got breakfast! Hooray. The coffee shop at the Peppermill here I come. A recreation of the Peppermill coffee shop from its previous location (not always in a casino), it had a 40s dinner charm, if that 40s diner charm was located in the Mad Hatter's dinning room from "Alice in Wonderland". I really wish I had a picture of the dining room. Lots of purple and pink lights with a fake cherry tree in the center. So unbelievably awesome yet trashy I didn't know whether to be disgusted or aroused. But yes, I'm getting behind myself here, the breakfast!

Corn beef hash and eggs. One of my more favored breakfasts. Corned beef hash, if you don't know, if crubed corned beef and usually potatoes. If you're good you put a little bit of onion and green pepper in there, like the best parts of a Denver omelet. Unfortunately the light in this picture isn't that great (blame the purple neon), but I don't know if it would have looked that much better regardless. It's a little sad looking now that I take a second look. I was really tired that morning, as it was our last, and this was the only real breakfast we had our 3 days there. Maybe that's why I was so excited.

If the eggs look like they are ready to bust out of there, its because I asked for them "over easy". At the Peppermill coffee shop, this is apparently too easy. As soon as I grazed the top of one of these bad boys, the entire thing burst open and fell apart. It was a sloppy mess, like a flooded New Orleans. I had my two dikes of meat and potatoes to keep it contained to at least one part of the plate. Thank god we left the pumps on! Good thing they gave me all the bread on the left too. Its like the R(i)ed Bread Cross ready to swoop in and clean up the neighborhood. Looks pretty dry and ready to soak up some of that eggy mess. But this is before it was reveal that it was actually, (duhn duhn, da!) a butter sandwich Where was that in the description of my meal. Poor planning. Looks like everyone needs to make their own way into the Superdome, which is what I'm calling my stomach from now on.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Seattle's Folk Life Festival

I finally went to this thing again (its been 3 years). The Folk Life Festival marks the beginning of summer here in Seattle. That, or Memorial Day does it. I guess it just depends on where you are that day? Anyways, the weather was awesome, so everyone and their hippy-ass brother was out at the Seattle Center. I tried to look as folky as I could, which for me, consisted of my Oregon Country Fair (2006) t-shirt and a hat I got in Oregon made by the "Hat People". So basically, folk = Oregon for me I guess. I don't know what else to wear. If there was a grunge festival in North Carolina I would wear my Seattle shirt, if I had one. Or maybe something from Folk Life.

The thing about festivals at the Seattle Center is this though. If you plan on getting near the thing at all with a car, shoot yourself in the head because I think that will feel better than trying to deal with parking around there. You think Seattlites can't drive, wait until the sun comes out and they try to park in Queen Ann on a festival weekend. Even the buses are screwed, since people are driving into town to part in OTHER neighborhoods so they can take the bus in the last 3 miles. Wallingford, my neighboorhood, is one of the favored ones on the list, so my buses are fucked. The crazy thing is, if you have a bike, you can ride almost all the way to the entrance and lock up like 50 feet from the gates. That and I saw maybe 15 bikes by my entrance. WTF? Come of folkies. More people will bike to my work tomorrow, and they hate peace and love! Maybe if that hemp wearing 4 year old of yours could bike 15 mph on a busy thoroughfare we would be in a bit better shape huh. Can't find a space for your Prius? Awh... so sad.

I will give the hippies this: their whole notion of ladies clothing, from the waist up, I'm totally in agreement with. I never see bikini tops in Seattle until this weekend. NEVER! Folk Life weekend comes around, and its bikinis for everyone! I know, some people shouldn't be wearing them regardless of the dress code, but they are, so we have to deal. My favorite though has to be the ladies that aren't even wearing bikini tops, just bras. I know they are arguably the same thing, but somehow it just looks a little less classy. I feel like everyone that sees it is like, well you went through all the trouble to expose yourself, but you did that way? Did Folk Life catch you off guard this year? I know its Seattle, but would it kill people to have bikini tops and shorts available, just in case? I know I do. Actually, I still need to get some shorts...

I did get my quotient of viewing crazy hippies today. It really is a shame. Most of the year when they dance in the park people look at them and think they are crazy, which is kind of sad. At Folk Life though, people probably think the same thing, but at least now the crazy hippy man has a backup band. You dance your little dreadlocks off you grey haired dude with an entire life tree tatooed on your back. Hooray awkwardness!

So I'm ready for my Seattle festival seasons. I still can't wait for the Puyallup Fair. That one is most excellent as it has a rabbit barn and a craft showroom, among many other things. How could you go wrong with a craft showroom!?! Never. Also, Hemp Fest in August also continues the folky bikini top tradition, so at least there is that to look forward to.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Twice the Spock For The Same Price: My "Star Trek" movie reveiw

So I just got back from seeing the new "Star Trek". I know what you're thinking. "Brian? I thought you were a super huge nerd and would have seen it opening weekend." Well, I'd hate to be predictable. That, and, like Wolverine, I had better things to do. Two good things come out of waiting to see Star Trek until two weeks after its opening. One, whenever a character people know is introduced on screen, it isn't accompanied by a bunch of cheering (and/or erections) from all the hard core fans in the audience. I mean, I had an erection the entire movie, but at least there wasn't any cheering. Secondly, my mom even heard it was good from one of her friends, so guess who bought my ticket to the movie. My dad. But my mom came too. So it was like a family movie outing. Yay. Made the erection really hard to deal with though...

How was the movie? Ok, there will be some slight spoilers here so if you haven't seen it, don't read on. Just know that it was worth seeing, stuff happens, go watch it. Still with me?

Ok, so the movie in itself was an excellent movie. Plot, lots of action, plenty of colorful things and attractive people, awesome sound, and some comedy to boot. Also put in a handful of throw-backs to the original, and you've got yourself a good Star Trek flick. This is about where my compliments for the film end. Let's look at the characters. All the original cast has been re-incarnated into newer, younger, more attractive versions of their former selves. The guy who plays Spock does a pretty good Spock. The lady who plays Ahura is a good (read: hotter) Ahura. And the guy who plays Zulu is Asian! Close enough!

Spoiler Alert! Ok, here is my one major gripe with this film. This is not really a Star Trek film so much as it's a "hey, how can we cash in on yet another preexisting body of work without having to really honor and of the story structure that happened before." Simple, we'll just create a new timeline with the old characters, make up some junk about it being a new timeline and how it came to be, and wah-lah! A blank check to use as you will to make countless sequels and oodles of money without actually having to write anything new. Albeit the story in the movie was actually quite good, but I thought good story should be taken with a grain of salt, that grain being an excuse.

You can't really blame them too much. The Star Trek universe has dealt with time travel before in that movie where they all go back in time to steal the whale and end up meeting the mom from "Seventh Heaven". I really liked that one; right up there with the one where Christopher Lloyd plays a Klingon. Then there was the whole "Enterprise" series where they basically break it off into its own storyline by declaring that it was taking place in a different reality. Also a good show; the Vulcan was hot and in many episodes was scantily clad. Almost outed Seven-of-Nine for the top spot on Star Trek characters I want to have sex with, but I digress. So now I guess the grievence is two fold. They are caching in on a previous body of work AND using a mechanism said work has already used to branch itself off of itself. Shenanigans indeed!

Somehow I couldn't help feel like I was watching an episode of Lost or Heroes due to the proximity of directors and actors who contributed to this film (JJ Abrams and the Spock guy). Also there were many more close up shots than in the original Star Trek films. I remember the older ones being much more fans of the wide pan than the shots in this film. Ok, that is way too film nerdy. I'll stop there.

In conclusion, go see it, its good.

BJ rating for Star Trek originality: C-
BJ regular movie rating: B+/A-

PS: I also found it funny that, as previews for the movie, we have "Transformers" and "GI Joe", two other movies that are raping the cache of fan sentiment as a way to make a bazillion dollars off of nerd erections.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First cramp, First press

Today two things happened today. First, I did three pushups and then threw out my shoulder. WTF? Three!?! Only three. I mean, I know, I didn't stretch, but this has like, never happened before. I was kinda pissed because I was in the mindset to bang out a few good ones too. Since last week, when I found out I have abs, I've been more motivated to work out. Mind you, this doesn't mean I've actually been working out more, but motivation is key. Keep on riding that bike, if it ever stops fucking raining this summer. In Seattle, April showers brings May showers brings June showers brings July. In July, we go freakin crazy and no one stays put and then we all collectively pass out in October, but that's a rant for a different time.

Secondly, when I get to work, my friend James sends me this:


Ladies and gentlemen, my first press where my comedic style was actually judged. Judges say, "eeeeer, WRONG". I call schenanigans, the judge was acting like a douche! Survey says: affirmative. Actually he really didn't have much nice to say about anything in the show, so I guess I'm lucky that I got a whole paragraph of him not liking me. The board and "Seinfeld Constant" he refers to is something new I'm trying to integrate into my act. In my defense, it was the first time I'd used it on stage and I'm still getting used to the mechanics of it. Since this performance, I've done it a half dozen more times, and I've gotten some pretty good feedback on it, so I'm excited. Don't feel bad for the article, this is why its good to start off in Seattle. Make "mistakes" where no one can see them. I mean really, who reads the Spectator anyways?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wolverine on Wolverine - my X-Men review

I saw "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" on Sunday. I know, your thinking, "Brian, what happened to Thursday night at midnight? Or at least Friday night?" To that I answer, "I had to be at work early on Friday and then that night I had dinner with a girl, which unfortunately, was way better than the movie". But I did see it opening weekend and was able to add my money to the $85 million+ total it took in domestically. Jesus Christ!

My review starts before the movie even does. Previews; big fan of them! The movie theater where I went now plays the commercials BEFORE the previews, like when you're just sitting there wishing you had bought some popcorn because they seriously put crack in it to make you want to buy it. So no commercials during the previews = awesome. Halfway through the previews though, I had a moment where I thought, "Man, these are some nerdy previews", but then quickly remembered what movie I was there to see. Are previews like movie foreplay? I wonder...

Ok so the movie already. As an almost nerd, I'm becoming a little disillusioned with the X-men franchise. I feel like in the first movie, they introduced a crap-ton of characters and for the most part, they were all pretty fleshed out from a character standpoint. You knew what power each of them had, usually their name, and a bit of back story within, meh the first 5 minutes of them on screen. Remeber the beginning of X-men, in the concentration camp, with Magnito, and the Nazis? Fucking brilliant! That's good storytelling. Storytelling apparently doesn't mean jack to the X-men writers anymore. They aren't story-telling so much as story-feeding. You need to come prepared! Don't know who that character is on the screen, tough, we aren't telling! If you did know who he was though you would probably just have creamed your pants because you totally didn't expect him/her/it to make an appearance, you can thank us later. So aside from Wolverine, Sabretooth, and maybe Gambit (a stretch), you shouldn't expect to know anyone else in the movie. I know, I know, its the Wolverine movie, but I'm a bit disappointed. At the very least, watch the first two X-men movies before seeing Origins so you can feel at least a little bit involved when the cameos come a calling.

Hugh Jackman is "naked" for maybe 30 seconds. Nakedness is implied, not realized. Topless with a bit of thigh would be more appropriate. Ladies this is not a reason to see the movie, but if you boyfriend wants to go, I guess its a plus. If you want naked, see "The Watchmen" (see previous post on that).

The story itself is ok. It has a beginning, middle, and an end, so at least its complete. The beginning was unexpected and awesome, but unfortunately they used up their awesomeness quota for the first 45 minutes in those first 5. After those first 5, hunker down with that popcorn you broke down and got, you'll be glad you have it. 40 minutes and a couple of forgettable characters later, we get to the plot that we knew had to happen to get to the end of the movie. I don't like movies like that. Like "Meet the Parents", you know it has to all go to shit so things can happen. Wolverine definitely had that feeling till about the hour mark.

The ending was exciting, but really confusing. Why are there 50 mutants just hanging around doing nothing? Couldn't you all be kicking ass right now? Shouldn't at least one of you be pissed enough to do something stupid and show off your powers. Nope, sorry, we only have the budget for the approved mutant powers for mutants with lines, so you guys, just act scared and follow (points to random character with a name), that guy. Cue the fight scene on ridiculous location! Andddddd, movie over! People died, we don't care, get out of the theater!

Ok, I think that's enough without ruining the movie for everyone. Really, I could have told you the ending and it probably wouldn't have changed much. You weren't going to see it for the story anyways, were you?

BJ Movie Rating - C+