Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ah, the rewards of a life in professional stand-up comedy!


People often (and by "often", I mean "have never once felt the desire to ever") ask me, "Clark, what's the very best. most wonderful thing about being a professional entertainer person doing stand-up comedy?"

"Is it your name in lights?"
Or chalk, in very small print, near the bottom of the board, as the case may be

"Is it performing in front of huge crowds?"


"Is it having an appreciative audience listen attentively to your every word?"


"Is it having the respect and admiration of your peers?"
NOTE: That's Josh Santos on the left. That is NOT me on the right, believe it or not.


"Is it the glamorous travel?"


"Is it being constantly surrounded by pretty girls?"
Actually, that happens VERY rarely, but when it does, yeah, that's pretty great.
Okay, it happened once.
But it was pretty great.


Believe it or not, it's actually none of those things. It's this:
This is a thank you letter I received for being part of a line-up performing at a fundraiser for a high school's music program a couple of weeks ago. No money, but a I got to perform for a bunch of nice people who showed up to enjoy themselves and then I got this letter on the way out. Perfect!
It probably sounds corny, but it's 100% true: human beings conveying positive feedback (preferably in the form of laughter, but letters are nice too) is the best thing about doing comedy. 


Just kidding. It's the pretty girls.
That really was pretty great.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The End is near

I've mentioned here previously how much I love Ellen Mueller (due in large part to the fact that she's a mad genius) and her art and how much I enjoy participating in her projects.

"Ellen Mueller has exhibited nationally and internationally as an interdisciplinary artist exploring issues related to the environment, hyperactive news media and corporate management systems. She creates experiences that engage with social and political issues through a variety of media." - http://ellenmueller.com/
Now, here's an opportunity for you to be involved in her latest project:

"The End"
Four artist researchers are gathering individual views on the end of the world, both on a global and a personal scale. This information will be compiled into a pocket guide, available as a limited edition artist's book produced by Small Craft Advisory Press.

All you have to do is click this link: http://scap.art.fsu.edu/the-end/ and answer the four questions.

Welcome to being art!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Look at the size of that thing!

The other night, I was at her house where we worked on re-vamping her web site. It was very late and as I was getting ready to leave, she asked, "Do you want some cooties?" What I thought was, "Yeah I want some cooties! Your cooties? Absolutely, I want them! Gimme every germ you got!!" What I said aloud was more like, "Uhh, erm, huh?" And she said, "Do you want some Cuties?". Turns out she hadn't offered me her cooties. She had actually offered me a bag full of 'Cuties', which are tiny, seedless oranges grown in California.
Actual size
"Q: What is a CUTIE®?
A: CUTIES® are actually two varieties of mandarins: Clementine mandarins, available November through January; and W. Murcott mandarins, available February through April. CUTIES® have several distinct characteristics that make them the perfect anytime, anywhere snack. Unlike other mandarins or oranges, they are seedless, super sweet, easy to peel and kid-sized—only a select few achieve CUTIES® ’ high standards." - http://cutiescitrus.com/faq/

I ate two of them on my way home and they just might be my new favorite thing. They're about the size of a ping-pong ball and as easy to peel as it is to unwrap a Tootsie Roll or a Jolly Rancher. They're bite-sized oranges, fer cryin' out loud! They're great!

Although, if I'm being completely honest, I'd rather have her cooties instead.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Lent-ish


Today is the first day of Lent '17!
"Lent (Latin: Quadragesima: Fortieth) is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement, and self-denial. This event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic Churches."
and
"In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penance. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God."
Me, I use it as a sort of discipline challenge: what can I give up for forty days that would be difficult and therefor, allow me to celebrate how awesome I am for going through it when it's over? Last year, I did without meat of any kind and that went pretty well. Until the first time I had some afterward and immediately experienced a severe case of meat bloat. I had just a reasonable portion of roast beef for dinner prior to a Lightning game and it made me feel like this...
All I wanted to do was lay down right where I was and sleep for three days. It was an awful feeling and I never want to go through that again. This actually turned me off eating meat in general and now, with ocassional exceptions fueled by ill-advised cravings and primitive pre-wired inclinations, I really don't eat it much at all anymore.
Coming up with this year's Lent challenge has been a challenge. What can I give up that will be a sacrifice and will test my stamina and discipline?

MEAT - Fun! Last year (as stated above).

SODA - Too late. I'm already off Coke, Pepsi, etc.

CANDY - I can't remember the last time I ate candy.

SOCIAL MEDIA - Tempting! Not exactly a sacrifice though.

HER - No. Absolutely not. Can't. Won't.

SPORTS WRITING - Too easy, because it would mean not having to associate with sports writers. I love sports. I love writing. But I really dislike most sports writers (old white men who sit around and swap stories about the 1987 NFC Championship and what a swell guy George Steinbrenner was or whatever). The other day, I had the distinct displeasure of listening to one of them complain about having to sit through four innings of a spring training baseball game. Ugh. 

PIZZA - Hmmm. Okay, yeah. I guess I'll do pizza. Here's hoping I don't come out on the other side never wanting to eat it again. Not exactly a spiritual penance, but as stated above, that's not really why I'm doing it. So, okay then. Pizza. All right.

Let Lent '17 (40 days sans pizza) begin!!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bringing in the month of March, like a whole bunch of humorous lions


Here's who's going to be part of the "Odd Wednesdays Late Nite Showcase" at the Tampa Improv this Wednesday (March 1):
Jorge Gonzalez (hosting)
Sloan
Mike Morris
Justin Cupo
James Bailey
Kristopher Shubeck
Zac Townsend
Nina Ramdat
Katie McCoy
Jeff Klein
...and ME!
While those names may not mean much to you (aside from mine, that is)...yet..., believe me when I say that these are all very funny local comedians. Beyond that and maybe more importantly, I like all of them as individual human being persons. I think if you met them, you'd find them funny and like them too. So, basically, what a wonderful opportunity this show is for you to stay up late on a Wednesday, come down to Ybor City and find these things out for yourself!
(NOTE: This is a show outside of the scheduled open mic there that night)

"Odd Wednesdays Late Nite Showcase"
Wednesday, March 1, 10:00PM
Tampa Improv
1600 East 8th Ave C-112 Tampa, FL 33605
(813) 864-4000




Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My best birthday present

I celebrated a birthday a couple weeks ago (Oh, thanks, that's very sweet of you to say something. That's not the point of the post, but yeah, thanks, still.) I had a ton of people offer best wishes on Facebook, which is always nice. My favorite was this one, which showed up the day after;
"Happy Belated! I saw Graham about 3 weeks ago as we were saying that working at the Cinema was awesome because we genuinely liked everyone we worked with." - Sabrina Hamady
Some background: What now seems like about three lifetimes ago, I managed this little movie theater in Sarasota (seen above). I was hired because of my concessions background in sports while another guy was there to manage the projection booth. That didn't really work out and I ended up responsible for the whole operation fairly soon after the theater opened in 1993. We had three screens, with a total seating capacity of 346 people. We showed artsy, independent and foreign films and served fancy concession items like cappuccino and pastries along with the standard popcorn and soda, which really wasn't done in most movie theaters at the time. It was a small theater but we were always pretty busy, working long hours, so at times it could be a difficult job. Because of the exposure to culture, it should have been a rewarding and fulfilling experience for all involved, but it largely wasn't. That's because the owner of the place, Dick Morris, was the most miserable, temperamental and despotic person I ever had the misfortune of working for. He was the kind of sicko who got off on being hated and often went out of his way to make that happen. His only "friends" were people who had something to gain by kissing his ass or were afraid of him or both. Ultimately, I was neither which is how I eventually got fired (although, I guess a paycheck qualifies as something to be gained, albeit I'd argue that it was earned).
I mention all this for one reason: to justify my focused efforts to staff the place with good, intelligent, hard-working, creative, high-character people who could work together and maintain a pleasant disposition. Most of them were college kids from nearby schools, either the Ringling School of Art and Design or New College. I love surrounding myself with people like that so part of it was for my own comfort, but I sincerely wanted them to not only work as well as possible with each other but to actually enjoy the experience, so chemistry among the staff was always very important when I hired people. I rejected a lot of people who probably would have been okay movie theater employees for that reason.

Sabrina was one of those I did hire and it's extremely gratifying all these years later for her to take note of that. Sabrina went to Brown (Ivy League!) and is a very talented photographer. She referenced Graham Brice, who is now a musician with a wife and kids in Brooklyn. I haven't kept in touch with all of them, but of those I do keep tabs on, they're all doing well and seem happy. That's gratifying too. Not that a silly part-time job they had a long time ago or my role as their supervisor had anything at all to do with it, but it confirms my instincts about them as individuals when I hired them. I think so, anyway.

Anyway, that was nicer than a piece of cake.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Whose side are really you on? And who's really on yours?

This incident happened here in Tampa last week:
"A lesbian couple leaving the Jimmie B. Keel Library on Monday night said they found a harassing note on their windshield..." (read more by clicking here) - ABC Action News (WFTS TV, Tampa)
A friend of mine, who is a lesbian, was understandably alarmed and posted the article above as well as the following comment to her Facebook wall:
"This happened here. What a complete coward and ignorant moron."
That's it. That is her comment on the situation in its entirety.
Here are the first two replies she received in response from friends...
"I'm a republican, but not all Republicans think that way. There are many very narrow-minded people out there, both Republicans and Democrats... John Q Republican [alluding to the anonymous signature on the note mentioned in the story - CB] is a ball-less human being."
"Horrible, but do not lump us Republicans in together. These are just people with limited ability to be compassionate and tolerant. Unfortunately, I see this kind of behavior on both sides of the aisle."
That's funny. Nobody said anything about Republicans. Anybody else find it an unnecessarily defensive reaction from these two people to defend the Republican Party, in spite of the fact that there are no references to any political party (other than the faux "signature" on the note mentioned in the story), critical or otherwise, in the story or my friend's re-posting of it?

More troubling, to me is that they felt the need to do that first, instead of acknowledging that their friend has a legitimate reason to be pissed off/worried/disappointed etc. about the incident itself. Rather than offer comfort and support to a friend who has expressed apprehension about a pretty clearly expressed threat, they chose to stand up on behalf of their party affiliation. The only reasonable explanation I can come up with for feeling the need to do that is a guilty conscience. I wonder if they believe that their 'side' would have their back if they were threatened, to a greater extent than an actual friend (without the quotes). If so, I pity them. For one reason, they're sadly mistaken and there's no way to learn that than the hard way. Second, obviously they have no real friends.

Regardless, making something not about you by making it about you (or some group with whom you choose to align) isn't showing compassion or tolerance. It's preemptively covering your ass because you're more worried about getting some stink on you than you are about the legitimate concerns of somebody you label a 'friend'. And if that's you, you're at least as much of a coward as the piece of shit leaving anonymous hate notes.