Adam “MCA” Yauch

Yesterday Adam “MCA” Yauch, one of the three Beastie Boys, died of cancer.  He was 47 years old.

Adam Yauch and his daughter, Tenzin.

If you’re my age or within 10 years or so, you probably know who the Beastie Boys are.  Even if you aren’t a huge fan, you’ve probably heard some of their songs (just do a YouTube search.)  If you aren’t or are but don’t, it’s difficult to explain, really, just what a big deal they were in music.  They were three Jewish nerds from Brooklyn who decided to become a rap/hip-hop group and utterly conquered the music industry.  Their first album, “License to Ill,” hit the music world like a hydrogen bomb.  Their second, “Paul’s Boutique,” was so innovative and brilliant that it sold a million copies and nobody knew what the hell to make of it anyway.  Every album after that was one masterpiece after another.  In defiance of all odds, with people laughing at them pretty much from the start, giggling at the notion that three white guys with names like “Horowitz” could make it in a music genre dominated by black gangsters (or usually black artists acting like gangsters) the Beastie Boys became not just insanely popular, influential and successful, but proved to be, for guys who couldn’t sing, musical geniuses of the first order.  Every album broke new ground, tried new things, added new concepts.  Their videos were often brilliant.  Their technical proficiency was out of sight.  A list of great Beastie Boys songs is almost too long to attempt; I can think of five great songs of theirs just limiting myself to songs that start with the letter S: Shadrach, Sure Shot, Sabotage, She’s Crafty, and So Whatcha Want, but don’t forget Brass Monkey, Intergalactic, Paul Revere, Girls, Hey Ladies, Pass the Mic, Ch-Check It Out, Three MCs And One DJ, Body Movin, and a dozen more.  They fused rap with rock, punk, jazz, techno, and made it effortless and seamless and brilliant.  And for all their genius, the thing about them was that for 25 years they never once lost sight of the fact that their music was supposed to be fun.   They never looked down on their audience, never made fun of them; they engaged with the listener, let the fan in on the fun they were having.

Of the three, MCA was clearly the leader, not that he would ever have said so – the three never had any sort of public feud or ego battle, working as a harmonious unit from the first day to the last.  But MCA was the smartest one.  His rhymes and delivery were the most thoughtful and brilliant.  He was the band’s filmmaking genius, directing many of their greatest videos and branching out into feature productions.  It was his idea to have the group’s seminal concert video created by giving video cameras to fans at a concert, and then edit the footage to create a concert movie.

A lot of famous music artists have died in the last few years; I wrote a blog about Michael Jackson, too.  None, though, have hit me in a way I could honestly say was emotional.  This one did; I haven’t really been able to take my mind off it this past day.

I originally thought of titling this post with the title of a Beastie Boys song or one of his best rhymes.  In the end I couldn’t really do it.  For one, it’s kind of hard to pick one out from so many.  And for another, I kind of felt like I’d be trivializing the man, though, ironically, it would have been entirely consistent with his, and the band’s, attitude that I throw a rhyme out there as a title or a closing line, because he of all people would want his fans to keep having fun with his music.  So it’s not out of a sense of moral righteousness that I titled this post with just his name and stage name.  It’s just that my heart is too heavy to make light of it.

I guess what gets me about this isn’t just that he was one of my favourite musicians, though he was, but that he was, to be honest, someone I’d very much want to be like.  Not an idol, but certainly a role model.  Not in all the details; I’m not interested in being a Buddhist or a vegan, as he was, and for that matter music is not my art of choice.  But he was a dedicated husband and father. He had a little girl, like I do, and he loved her very much, like I do. And more than that, he worked hard, harder than I ever have or could, growing and becoming even more than he was, learning and trying new things and, by God, succeeding. He was a consummate professional, never feuding with his bandmates, ignoring the nastiness directed their way (people don’t remember that the rap giants of the day in the late 80’s/ early 90’s, who now praise them, often sneered at them) and forgetting every insult while remembering every act of kindness. He was a star at 22 and, despite that, didn’t let it wreck him, as it does so many; instead he just spent a quarter of a century pumping out brilliant works of art.

He stood up for what he believed in, even if it didn’t necessarily sell another record or go with the flow in hip-hop. He was thoughtful and kind and decent, and instead of retreating into a mansion built with bricks of $50 bills, which he could have done, he went out of his way to try to help people. He was a family man, a man of dignity and charity.  He never pretended to be anything he wasn’t; it’s often noted that his hair went gray young, in an industry where that sort of thing is about as accepted as having a booger hanging out of your nose all the time, and rather than coloring it, he wrote jokes about it into his songs.  He never forgot that while he was MCA to millions, he was still Adam Yauch to the people who really counted.  He only lived 47 years, which is terribly unfair, but he got every last goddamned ounce out of those 47 years a man could get.  I never met the man and now my eyes are watering.

Goodbye, Adam. 

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If World War II Had Been An HBO Miniseries

In five twelve-episode seasons, like “The Wire”:

SEASON 1

1.01 “The Corporal” (2-hour pilot)

1.02 “Uncle Joe”

1.03 “Poland, My Poland”

1.04 “Phoney War”

1.05 “Right Man, Right Time”

1.06 “The Quisling”

1.07 “Blitzkrieg”

1.08 “Off The Beach”

1.09 “Their Finest Hour”

1.10 “Desert Crossing”

1.11 “Axis of the Willing”

1.12 “A Storm In The East”

SEASON 2

2.01 “June 22, 1941”

2.02 “The Arsenal of Democracy”

2.03 “The Land of the Rising Sun”

2.04 “The Frozen Army”

2.05 “East Wind, Rain”

2.06 “Siege”

2.07 “Midway”

2.08 “The Two Deserts”

2.09 “Enigma”

2.10 “Blood In the River, Part I”

2.11 “Blood in the River, Part II”

2.12 “The Final Solution”

SEASON 3

3.01 “Across The Bluest Sea”

3.02 “General Consensus”

3.03 “Ironbottom Sound”

3.04 “Europe Ablaze”

3.05 “Il Duce E Deposto”

3.06 “Scorched Earth”

3.07 “Geysers of Blood”

3.08 “The Mountains of Italy”

3.09 “Kursk”

3.10 “Rosie the Riveter”

3.11 “Forward, Comrades”

3.12 “Thousand Bomber Raid”

SEASON 4

4.01 “Across A Frozen Lake”

4.02 “A Little Girl’s Diary”

4.03 “From Tuskegee To Ramitelli”

4.04 “Bill Slim’s War”

4.05 “The First U.S. Army Group’s Inflatable Tank Division”

4.06 “Crusade”

4.07 “Bagration”

4.08 “Two Armies Destroyed”

4.09 “Kamikaze!”

4.10 “Resistance”

4.11 “Camps”

4.12 “Vive La France”

SEASON 5

5.01 “The Manhattan Project”

5.02 “Lieutenant Volkov’s T-34”

5.03 “A Bridge Too Far”

5.04 “A Starving Nation, And On Fire”

5.05 “Down In The Bunker”

5.06 “Nuts”

5.07 “How To Divide The World”

5.08 “The Road To Berlin”

5.09 “Across the Rhine”

5.10 “Black Sand”

5.11 “Next to the Body of His Poisoned Dog”

5.12 “…And I Remember, From the Bhagavad Gita”

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Kiss My Ass, I’m Not Irish

ImageI’m sick today and in a miserable mood so I’m going to take it out on the world in the form of an angry blog post.

Today is March 17.  This has been without a doubt the most meteorologically beautiful March Break in the history of southern Ontario, absolutely lovely and I’ve enjoyed going outside in warm weather.  Unfortunately, it being March 17, today is St. Patrick’s Day.

 

St. Patrick’s Day is the most stupid bullshit “holiday” to ever come down the pike, and I’m including Administrative Professional’s Day in that too.  It’s absolute and total bullshit.  Oooh, St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, hooray.  (Or course he didn’t drive any snakes out; that’s a metaphor for driving out Ireland’s previous religions and replacing it with the one that involves ritual cannibalism and priests raping children.) 

Now everyone’s pretending they’re Irish, wearing green, and drinking.  It’s bullshit.  We don’t celebrate the national holidays of any other little bullshit country, do we?  We don’t even celebrate the national holidays of any other SIGNIFICANT country.  We don’t celebrate the national holidays of Portugal or Luxembourg or Bulgaria because we rightly don’t give a shit.  Heck, I don’t even know the national holidays of most other countries save the USA and Australia (I don’t know why I remember that but I do; it’s January 26.) I used to think I knew Mexico’s too – I assumed it was Cinco de Mayo, but I just looked it up and actually it’s not.

Who gives a shit about Ireland?  I don’t.  I assume the Irish do, and good for them.  I don’t care about their country any more than I care about, say, Cambodia, or Botswana, or Peru.  Why don’t we all celebrate Botswana’s national holiday this year?  (It’s September 30.)  On September 30 I’m going to dress up in the national colors of Botswana – blue, white, and black – and wish everyone a happy Botswana Day (it’s actually called that) sing Tswana songs like “Goin’ Back to Gabarone” and get absolutely wasted on whatever the most popular drink is in Botswana (I just looked it up, and it’s beer.  I’m starting to like Botswana.) 

Of course, if I do this, everyone will think I’m a poseur and a huge asshole.  Well, guess what, St. Patrick’s Day celebrators?

Let me ask you this; do they celebrate Canada Day in Ireland?  On July 1, do the Irish run around in red clothing getting drunk and sporting buttons saying “Kiss me, eh?”  No, they do not.  If you suggested it to them they would rightly think you insane.  They would say – I presume, because they speak incomprehensible, garbled English – that it made no sense to celebrate some other country’s holiday, and that if they did that for everyone you’d not have a week go by that you weren’t celebrating national holidays. 

St. Patrick’s Day is just a day to get drunk, and hey, if you want to get loaded that’s fine, but don’t pretend you need an excuse when you can use the perfectly valid excuse “It’s Saturday.”   To hell with St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m going to bed now. 

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Panic! At The Snowstorm

Those of you living in the Toronto area have probably noticed that we didn’t really get winter this year.  That’s fine, whatever; it’s happened before.  What fascinates me is that despite the fact that we never got a winter, people quite ofted acted as they did.

As God is my witness, last week – February 29 – the news said there was a WINTER STORM ALERT!  This concerned me because on that particular day I was in Orillia, which is both a substantial distance from home and along a route infamous for its poor weather.  So I looked up the nature of this WINTER STORM ALERT! and found out that it was an ALERT! for…

… two centimetres of snow.

For those of you not familiar with metric or weather measurements, two centimetres is less than an inch.  An inch of snow is nothing.  Less than an inch of snow is barely worth shovelling.  On a major highway that amount of snowing will have no effect whatsoever, because it can’t accumulate before it’s blown off the highway by the cars.

And yet this meteorological non-event was treated as a serious panic.  Entire school bus fleets were grounded in terror at the thought of an amount of snow that would not slow down any school bus that has ever been constructed; in at least one school district all the buses were cancelled in the morning for a snowfall that was expected to begin later that day after the children had gone home.  The media played up the little snow dusting as a natural disaster on par with a Category 5 cyclone.   It would have been amusing if it wasn’t so irritatingly stupid.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I mean, it’s not like I’m being a useless old government-money-sucking fogey and talking about how we had more snow in the olden days, back when men were men and we walked 15 miles uphill to school both ways and minorities knew their place blah blah blah, because I don’t have to go back to olden days; I have to go back to what, two years ago?  The winter of 2009-2010 was insanely snowy; I probably lost twenty pounds shovelling my driveway over the course of one insane blizzard after another, and despite my best efforts had to pay the guy next door to use the snoeblower on it.  When the snowplow went by it would thrown several hundred pounds of slush and snow back onto my driveway.  Which is the way it’s supposed to be ’cause this is CANADA.  It SNOWS here.  It was a classic Canadian winter, and it was just 24 months ago.  So this is not ancient history, it’s recent, and I swear that people were actually less panicked that year than they are this year.

It’s not just snow.  Earlier this winter the temperature dropped to something like -11, and the CP24 people and other sources breathlessly announced that we had a COLD WEATHER WARNING.  A woman on TV said, with a straight face, that this amazingly cold weather would “freeze exposed skin in a matter of minutes.”

Well, I’m sorry, but that’s a fucking lie.  I guess “a matter of minutes” is undefined and so it could technically be true if you went outside in -11 weather naked, stayed out for hours and hours and passed out and died in a snowbank, but for what people usually understand to mean “a matter of minutes” as in “15 or less, maybe a bit more but not half an hour” that’s just complete bullshit.  If exposed skin actually froze in 15 minutes you could never take a walk or go for a run in winter with any exposed skin.  I’ve been outside in -11 weather for a lot longer than 15 minutes – pretty bundled up, but it’s not like I own a snow bodysuit – and have never had frostbite.  If you don’t believe me, take a 30-minute walk the next time it’s -11 and don’t wear a ski mask.  Do you have frostbite on your cheeks?  Of course not.

Now, in this case, I decided to go back to the old days.  My recollection was that winters were colder in my childhood; that -11 was a pretty conventional winter temperature back then.  So I looked up the weather history for Kingston, Ontario, for a few random January/February weeks in 1982, a year in which I had to walk about a quarter of a mile to my bus stop every day.  Not too long a walk, but it takes about ten minutes, let’s say.  Sure enough, I was right.  Most days the temperature went below -10; the average low was about -9.  There were two days, January 22 and 27, when the HIGH termperature was -15.   I honestly cannot recall anyone ever suggesting it was too cold to walk to school, or to go outside, or raising a Cold Weather Alert.  You just put on warmer clothes.

Now, I’m not saying we were tougher back then.  We were just colder.  But this is just a sign of how people get scared at the wrong things.  And I blame cable TV.

The problem with cable TV is you need to report something, and nobody wants to hear a new report like “Well, nothing going on here.”  What sells is fear, and so they sell fear.  As near as I can tell, the basic cable news story-choice logic goes like this?

1.  Has a white girl gone missing somewhere?

2.  If not a white girl, has any child gone missing somewhere?

3.  Has a celebrity died?

4.  Has a war started?

5.  Has there been a hideous murder?

6.  Has something else violent happened?

7.  Did the local sports team do something noteworthy?

8.  Is there weather?

So the weather is what they land on if there’s nothing else to say, and no matter what it is, they gotta run with it?  It’s moderately cold?  JESUS FLURKING CHRIST COLD WEATHER OH MY LORD GOD WHAT WILL WE DO SET YOUR GODDAMNED HOUSE ON FIRE IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO STAY WARM ENOUGH OH MY MOTHER OF FUCK IS THAT A SNOWFLAKE CALL THE ARMY.

Because all they sell is fear people panic over stuff that isn’t actually a threat.  People are utterly terrified of strangers abducting their children despite the fact that, in Canada, the likelihood of this happening is essentially zero.  But they’ll let their kids go over to a friend’s swimming pool, which is – I am guessing low here – a thousand times more dangerous than letting them talk to strangers.

The thing about cancelling school buses because of snow is that, and this seems really obvious to me, it puts the children in danger.  A school bus is very possibly the safest form of transportation ever devised by humans; per kilometre travelled it is safer than almost anything, including walking.  Since the schools (Simcoe County) were not cancelled, that means the children were either walked or, usually, driven to school in their parents’ cars – which is vastly, vastly more hazardous.   So the response of the Simcoe County District School Board to a minor snowfall was to do something that would make their students likelier to be killed in a car crash.  I swear to God I am not making this up.  And the next time we get a light dusting of snow they’ll probably do it again.

I don’t really have a solution to this because I find it baffling.

 

 

 

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Dive In

Last night I did a comedy gig at a place called TA’s in Brampton.  It was not my first time there; a  month and a half ago some friends and I went there to watch hockey and eat wings (and ended up singing karaoke; I did “Authority Song.”)  TA’s is a bar on the corner of a suburban thoroughfare, in a commercial strip mall, and it looks like it.  It has the look of a place that is not yet on the brink of bankruptcy but is maybe one robbery away from it.   It actually has a juke box.  I once saw a guy in there wearing an authentic Golden Tee warmup jacket, which I am pretty sure is a signal to all the world that you have spent more time in dive bars than you have spent at your job.   It also achieves the mathematical impossibility of being perpetually understaffed even though there’s never very many customers there, and last night, while I was doing my set, I believe a patron threw a bottle at the waitress.  So I was a bit worried about taking up a gig there without knowing anything about the guy running the show, but it actually turned out very well.  It’s a neat show, was well hosted by the very funny Neil Griffin, and had some really terrific comics, so I endorse comedy Sundays at TA’s without hesitation.

Anyway, that’s not my point.  My point is that despite everything it has going against it, TA’s is actually kind of a fun place.  I like it.   Conversely, I detest Shoeless Joe’s, a popular chain of sports bars.  I find this curious, in that Shoeless Joe’s is clean and I’ve never seen a Golden Tee jacket there or an outright waitress assault, and certainly the chain is popular enough without having to resort to karaoke.  So, being a nerd with a few minutes of space time, I decided to devise a scoring system for bars.

I came up with a mnemonic, PALACE, to remember what a bar needs.  But the problem is that I just was writing letters and ended up with something like WWLTCP, which can’t be a word, and so changed some of the letters to synonyms for the aspects of a good sports bar, and then fed it into a Scrabble cheater I found to come up with PALACE, which sounds great but then I’d forgotten what the letters stood for.  So screw it.  I’m just going to explain:

1.  PRIORITIZATION OF SPORTS.  A good bar always turns the music off when the big game is on and doesn’t hold the comedy or the karaoke until after the game is over.  If they won’t do that, it’s a shitty bar.  In this regard TA’s scored half a point; they keep the comedy and karaoke off until the hockey game is over but they have that awful jukebox.

2.  BIG SCREEN HD TELEVISIONS.  Of course, point 1 is without value without big flat screen TVs to show the game.  The TVs must allow comfortable viewing from most seats in the bar and the waitstaff has to know how to turn the channel to the right station.   So much the better if they have enough televisions to show two games at once.  The TVs should have HD and the bar should be equipped with the proper cable packages to get all the relevant local games.

3.  WINGS.  It’s critically important that a sports bar have good chicken wings.  Proper wings must be big, freshly cooked, and offer a reasonable selection of flavours, for while all true men love wings, men may disagree on the taste of wings they prefer.  (I like them like I like my women; really hot but not too gooey.)  The wings should be offered in a range of portions to allow for sharing; a really good sports bar has 1, 3 and 5-pound servings of wings.  (TA’s does well here.)

A few weeks ago a paper – I don’t remember which one – ran a review of Toronto sports bars and had the gall to list some European-themed dump that did not serve chicken wings at all.  A place that does not serve chicken wings is not a bar, not in my country, goddamnit, and isn’t fit to to be burned down for the insurance money.  If you don’t like chicken wings then screw you.

4.  BEER.  Of course all bars have beer, but a good sports bar has a reasonable selection of beers to please the palate of a variety of customers, so that nobody will be left out.   At least half a dozen good brands should be on top, preferably more.

5.  PRETTY WAITRESSES.  It’s very important that a good sports bar have waitstaff that are female and at least moderately pulchritudinous.  I do not advocate sexually harassing, or even trying to pick up, the waitresses, but it’s just a nicer experience if they’re attractive.  They must also be friendly and know which flavour of wings the kitchen specializes in.  And, again, they should be up to speed on what games are taking place and have access to the remote to ensure you can watch the games you want.

6.   AUTHENTICIY.  It’s hard to precisely define what I mean here, but a bar should be decorated like a bar without being too obviously trying too hard.  Most chain places try too hard.  Shoeless Joe’s has an absolute shitload of sports crap on the walls that’s made to look old and authentic but it’s all factory-made crap pumped out specifically for chain sports bars, and you can tell.  A really good sports bar should be decorated by stuff that either belongs to the owner, was left over from the last guy who went bankrupt, was donated by a beer company, was actually framed by the staff, or was actually stolen.  There should be a framed photo of a professional athlete who is known to the locals but can’t really be called a “star” – in Toronto, you might want the likeness of someone like Garth Iorg or Allan Bester, or a guy who used to be an offensive lineman for a CFL team.  There should be neon beer signs that look like they’re a week from breaking and spewing neon all over the patrons and a smattering of wall decorations and chipper mirrors that look like they were liberated from garage sales and Value Village.  The tables should be wooden, heavy, and bear more dented laquer than a bowling lane.

7.  SOFTBALL TEAMS.  A truly great sports bar must sponsor a slo-pitch team.  It doesn’t matter if anyone who works for the bar plays on the team or if they’re even aware what league the team is in, or if in fact the team ever actually plays slo-pitch, someone, somewhere, must be wearing a slo-pitch jersey with the bar’s name on it.

8.  DARTS.  A truly great sports bar should have dartboards.

9.  REASONABLE PRICES.  If you’re going out to eat a ghastly amount of chicken wings and quaff a lot of beer it’s going to cost you some money, but it shouldn’t be ridiculous.  A night of hockey, wings and beer should be reasonably afforadable for a person on a normal salary.  The famed Real Sports bar in downtown Toronto is a great sports bar but is simply too expensive; $15 for a plate of wings is just too high.  A plate of wings should cost $9.99 and there should be wing specials at least twice a week, and the beer should not be $7 a glass.  If you have a few extra bucks it should go to the pretty waitress.

10.  ROOM.  A sports bar should be able to accomodate parties of well over 10 people, because it’s just more fun that way, dammit.

If you’d like to post comments with your favourite bars please do so because I’m always on the hunt for a good plate of wings.

 

 

 

 

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Funny Words

Some words are just funny because of the way they sound.  English is a wonderful language that way, in that words can impart meaning by their sound, not just by their literal meaning.

See, it’s easy to make a word funny by giving it a definition, or because it sounds similar to a word for something funny, like “Uranus” or “Titmouse.”  Or “Assonance,” with sounds like something to do with your bunghole but actually just means the repetition of a vowel sound.   “Erection,” for instance, is funny, because it means a schlong but it also has other meanings.  In the steel construction industry the act of putting up the steel frame of a building is called “erection.”  I have to work with these people all the team and they use the term without shame.  They speak of erection diagrams, erection drawings, erection crews, and erections of all sorts without batting an eye.  I of course, being an immature idiot, avoid the word as much as possible so I won’t start giggling.

Hee hee hee hee

But I’m not talking about ERECTIONS ERECTIONS ERECTIONS today.  I’m talking about funny words and names that just sound funny.

For instance, a major road here in Burlington is called Guelph Line.  Just say that.  “Guelph.”  (It starts with a Gw- sound.)  I guess it’s someone’s name, but really it sounds like something that would come out of a sick cat.  It sounds like your vet would ask you questions like “have you noticed Fluffy bringing up any guelph?”   He might ask for a guelph sample.  Toronto, of course, has Spadina Avenue.  “Spadina” sounds like part of a person’s genitalia; a doctor (hopefully not the one asking about Fluffy’s guelph) might, in a sombre voice, inform you that you have warts on your spadina.

Some words don’t see funny at first but when you think about it they really are.  Say “Horse.”  Horse.  Horse.  HORSE!  Horse is a funny word.  It seems almost too funny a word for such a beautiful, majestic animal.  We bestow other beautiful animals with fitting names; “tiger” sounds menacing, “lion” is short, a beautiful word, and majestic, “eagle” sounds great.  But “horse” is silly.  Say it aloud ten times, you’ll see.  I think that’s why we’ve come up with a zillion subwords and technical terms for horses like “mustang,” “thoroughbred,” “stallion,” “colt” and the like just because deep down inside when you say “horse” you know it’s kind of silly.

And for some reason some place names just sound silly.  Guelph is an obvious one, but there’s something just damn silly-sounding about Fresno or Brainerd.  Terrebonne sounds like French for “bonerland,” presumably a place with many ERECTIONS, and Pickering sounds like a kind of fish.   Plano, Modesto, Yonkers, Yakima, all funny.  The UK has a city called Woking, as well as Crawley, Scunthorpe, and, for what reason I cannot imagine, Bognor Regis.

I want to live in a place like this.  “Burlington” is just too boring.  I wanna live in Bangor.

 

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Ouch

You can’t win them all.  Last night I did my first real opening gig, at Club 54 in Burlington, Ontario, and did a full 12 minutes of quality material… and the audience just wouldn’t laugh much.  Here’s the video.  I’m sorry but the sound and video quality is brutal and you might have trouble hearing me; it’s just my flip camera, which is cheap:

http://youtu.be/DLk7CONWoow

(This may not be available until Sunday morning, due to long upload times)

Damned if I know what I did wrong.  The “My Appearance” joke, which has NEVER failed to garner big yuks, simply didn’t interest people.  Few of the jokes did, really.

Now, in fairness, I was warned.  For one thing the club’s acoustics for comedy have changed; it used to be better set up but now the stage sort of sits in the middle of a cavernous room and the sound vanishes into the back and up into the ceiling; I couldn’t hear people laughing who apparently were, in fact, laughing.  But the headliner warned me it was a tough, sullen crowd, and he sure was right.  A resurrected Jesus Richard Pryor couldn’t have warmed that room up.

One thing I’m learning is that crowds are radically different depending where you go.  Toronto crowds are generally friendly and very quick to laugh, and they respond to a very wide swath of material.  The San Jose crowd was vaguely similar but there was a remarkably obvious race separation in what people wanted to hear and laugh at.  I’ve been told small towns and suburban crowds are (a) hard to please, (b) easily pissed off and (c) like more lowbrow humour, and the folks who told me that were proven right.   The crowd wanted to hear jokes about racial stereotypes and how men and women are different, very 80s stuff, and stuff I simply don’t have in my arsenal; they did NOT want to hear me insult Nickelback, which I believe was their favourite band.

Doesn’t this upset me?  Not at all.  Well, a little; I always want to kill.  But I did about as well as apparently it’s possible for an opener to do there, and it’s another learning experience.  I had a real professional comic not only say I did a great job and that she loved the scorpion joke (watch the video) but offer me a spot right then and there, and that’s an honor.  And, it’s TWELVE MINUTES.  I got to do my longer form set in front of a paying audience.  Stage time, stage time, stage time.  It’s twelve minutes of footage for me to analyze and write notes and figure what I like and what I don’t like.

We could see more of this this week as I’m playing both London (Ontario, not the good one) and Hamilton for the first time.  We shall see, folks.  We shall see!  And come on out and laugh, won’t you?  See the listings to the side of this page.

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