Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Welcome back to real life in the post-holiday world!

Hey there! So how was your Christmas? Or the start of Hanukkah? Or the beginning of Kwanza?
"Oh man, it was nuts. My family is crazy! Crazy!!"
Oh yeah, I bet. Grandma is a racist. Uncle is drunk the whole time. Sister-In-Law is just an asshole. Mom and dad treat you like you're still a kid. That does sound crazy! I wouldn't know; most of my is dead, so I don't have those problems.

But it's entirely possible that your perspective on life in the rest of the world has been skewed by so much time spent in close quarters with your own bloodline. And as "crazy" as your holidays may have seemed, let me assure you that it's still straight-up insanity out here. To help you re-adjust to life in that reality, here are some headlines from Tuesday's, a major media outlet that spent much of the day screaming this in our faces...

Ginger ISIS fanatic orders beheading of elderly prisoner in front of a baying crowd after accusing the pensioner of being a WIZARD

Woman 'watched her stepdaughter being molested by a man in a park - but didn't intervene because she got distracted talking to other people'

Refugee worker, 31, is stabbed to death in Christmas bloodbath in a leafy English village

Penguins prefer to eat sexually aroused jellyfish to krill and shrimp, study finds

'I warned you, do not approach the bear!' Grizzly in a ridiculous costume attacks TV presenter who got a bit too close 

Witch doctor accused of burying evil charms under the homes of his rivals is stripped naked, beaten and paraded around his village in a wheelbarrow
Worst Uber ride ever

Shoe retailer under fire for telling women to take wolf whistles as a 'compliment' and to 'cover up and wear loose clothing' while running

'Heaven has gained another angel': Heartbroken daughter pays tribute to murdered father, 43, after he was 'battered to death by a bodybuilder'

Boy, 10, has his penis sliced in half with a laser during botched circumcision operation

Angry mall elf 'MACES family who brought three-year-old to meet Santa' after they tried to take a picture of her

Teenager, 19, born without arms and legs and forced to live in a plastic BUCKET in Nigeria dies on Christmas Day

Trump adviser who hoped Barack Obama dies of mad cow disease and wanted Michelle to live with a gorilla now says he's 'not a racist' and sent the cruel jokes by 'mistake'

Chaos reigns as malls across the country break out into mass brawls

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Viva Ybor!

Now that I spend a lot of time doing this stand-up comedy thing, I spend a lot of time in Ybor City. Because stand-up comedy happens in bars and taverns and Ybor is where the bars and taverns are. For those of you unaware, Ybor City is Tampa's equivalent of the French Quarter in New Orleans or Rush Street in Chicago. I'm not saying it's better than or even equivalent to, but it is Tampa's party district so maybe I am.

It wasn't always that way. Ybor was originally the first real settlement in the Tampa area, home to thousands of hard-working immigrants from Cuba, Italy and Spain who came here to make cigars. Now it's where people come to get weird. I spend a lot more time there now than I did when I was an age where getting weird is not only acceptable but encouraged. Maybe I'm a late bloomer or just slow on the uptake. That's just how it goes, I guess.

Ybor City is a strange place full of strange people doing strange things. I love it! In Ybor, you'll come across homeless people who will try to sell you a crucifix that they've made out of fallen palm fronds. Great. Religious symbols and yard waste; two things I don't want in my home. Yet, in Ybor City, this is a business somehow.
During my brief-but-anxiety-ridden tenure as a taxi cab driver, my one sure source of revenue was to make sure I was in Ybor at closing time and look for the white girls, sitting on the curb alone, abandoned by their pack, crying. "I am sooooo mad at my friends right now!" Hop in. Clearwater? No problem! What? Sarasota? Even better!
I don't drive a cab anymore but life goes on and so does Ybor.

A few months ago, one of the bigger clubs in Ybor burned down. Why? Because a non-licensed contractor screwed up while trying to mount a disco ball.
At the time, I thought that was a pretty good summation of what Ybor is all about. But then this happened...

A couple of weeks ago, a bunch of dudes got into a brawl outside of a bar in Ybor at 3:30 in the morning. That ended when somebody drove their car into the bunch of brawling dudes and also into the bar innocently minding its business behind them. Here's video of that happening, followed by some observations...

  • First of all, who mounted the security cameras in Ybor, Martin Scorsese? This entire thing is framed and focused PERFECTLY.
  • It's impossible to tell who's on whose side here. It's six or seven dudes, all fighting each other. When are there ever six or seven sides to an argument, all worth defending by getting into a fist fight?
  • Apparently, it's really difficult to stand up when you're wearing red shoes. Or wasted. Or both.
  • My favorite part of the whole thing is how everybody just kind of saunters away after the crash. As though to acknowledge, "well, nothing is going to top that."
  • I couldn't find the particular news report I saw when I first heard about this, which is a shame because I could have shown you the TV reporter who felt obligated to speak on behalf of the chamber of commerce, commenting "This incident doesn't represent what Ybor City is all about." Um, yes it does! It's the most Ybor thing that's ever happened in the history of Ybor. The only thing that could make this more representative of what Ybor is all about is if had been homeless drag queens fighting and not just random bro dudes. Sorry, generations of hard-working immigrants. This is Ybor today. They should figure out a way to make this video into a flag and fly it over the Columbia Restaurant (see photo at the top of this story). That's how representative of Ybor this is.
    Artist's MS Paint rendition of how that would look.
  • The reporter also mentioned that the bar didn't plan on closing for repair. Well, of course the bar didn't plan on closing! Why would anybody even think that might happen? I guarantee they didn't even open late the next day. Slap some plywood up there and open the taps! This is Ybor, baby!
  • The reason Tampa PD made this video available is that at the time, they were having difficulty tracking down the driver of the car, as well as the brawling dudes. This in spite of having the car. Now, I'm not a detective, but...did nobody look up the license plate? Or the Vehicle Identification Number on the dashboard? Or any of the dozen or so (I'm presuming) other ways to track down the owner of a car available to the police, especially when that car is in police possession?
  • Apparently it's harder to solve crimes when the people involved leave the scene before the cops get there. I'll bet this was not received well by all the people in jail to whom it never occurred to just get out of the vicinity. "You mean we didn't have to stick around after we robbed the bank? Well, shit!". So many perfect crimes foiled by criminals inability to plan an effective escape (effective escape = going somewhere else after).

If all of this sounds like I'm bagging on Ybor and that I don't like the place, then I'm not conveying the right sentiment. I love it! The Double Decker Lounge used to host the open mic where I did stand-up for the first 30 or 40 times so it'll always be home to me. Plus, I adopted the owner's cat, Muschi.
As seen when it's time to get up and prepare her breakfast
My friend Amy DeMilo is an Ybor personality, hosting Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary's and performing at the Honey Pot and other venues.
When not modeling for book covers
I've performed and had lots of fun in other places in Ybor. Such as Liquid, a gay bar that features a stage with a pulsating column of lights throbbing in the middle of it.

You have to navigate high and narrow steps to get up there and I thought about complaining, until I thought about how many people have managed to climb up there wearing 5" heels.

It's important to put things in perspective.

And that's why I can happily say I love Ybor City.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Just some suggestions...

Hi. Let's take a look at your calendar, shall we?

Here's you:
"Oh shit, what am I gonna do for Christmas?!?"

Here's me:

Here's you:
"Whew! Thanks! But...OH NO!...What about ringing in 2017?!?"

Here's me:

Here's you:
"Okay, good. Nice call. But...DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN!!...What about exactly two weeks into the new year?!?!?!?!?"

Here's me:
"An exercise in artistic protest, The *Not Normal Show will feature the great upcoming performers in this area, featuring comedy from Becca Childs, Melissa Nicholas, Blake MacIntyre, CJ Hernandez, and Clark Brooks. Musical performances from Tory Masci, Official.DMT, and Jâŷ Çâmârø.

$15 donation at the door, the proceeds go to the Hillsborough Naacp Branch, and The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay." 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"Homesick" for the holidays

I recently came across an ad for Homesick Candles. Pretty simple; they make candles with scents that represent certain areas, presumably for people from those areas who miss them. For example, if you're from Michigan, like I am, the Michigan candle "Takes you back to The Great Lakes State, with scents reminiscent of indian summers, cherries, and chocolate".
No, it doesn't smell like rust and Flint tap water.

I don't want one because I don't really miss Michigan all that much, but it's a pretty great idea. If the concept takes off, they can boil it down to very specific niches.

For instance, lots of people who start out in stand-up comedy don't stick with it for long. They don't like the hours. They get frustrated by a lack of success. They meet someone who loves them. For any number of reasons, they decide it's something they don't want to pursue. But maybe they remember their experiences fondly and kind of miss it a little bit. Well, here's the perfect gift for them...
It's the Homesick Open Mic Comedy candle!

Shipping note: Product ships by 12/20 and Christmas delivery is not guaranteed.

* Takes you back to those Wednesday nights when you were 28th on the list of 29 comedians scheduled to do five minutes ("you'll get the light at four and don't go over, or I'll cut your mic and you'll never do time here again, you sonuva...") at a dump called 'The Fiddlestick Grill' (or something equally stupid) in front of less than 10 actual customers who all thought it was supposed to be karaoke night ("Well, fuck. We might as well stick around for a while, since we're here..."), with scents reminiscent of nicotine, beer, despair and all the shitty ideas you wrote down in your old notebooks.
Standard issue for all comedians

* Made from all natural soy wax in the USA
* Typical burn time is 60 - 80 hours (which is 40 - 60 more hours than you invested in your comedy, if you're being honest about it)
* Candles weigh 13.75 oz each
* Hand-poured

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

It's annual holiday extravaganza special time again!

Once again, we're smack in the middle of the holiday season and once again, that means it's time to bring back your favorite immature robot with a foul mouth in lieu of writing new stuff!

Enjoy as much as possible!

Hey, do you want to see more videos? Then click here! (WARNING: Not all of them feature profanity-spewing robots.)

Friday, December 02, 2016

Lend me your ear holes

Tired of reading my nonsense? Listen to it instead!

I will be on Rachel Rowan's "Afternoon Delight" show on WUSF radio (1620AM / 89.7FM or right here on your on-line computing device machine) today (Friday, Dec. 2) at 5:00PM!

What will we talk about? I have no clue, but that has never stopped me from talking in the past.

I'm sure I'll be delightful. Rachel is, so I'll follow her lead.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The standard for getting a town named after you has changed

I'm performing at a show in Brooksville, Florida this weekend. Specifically, this show:
Hey, Brooksville! My name is Brooks! Maybe I'm related to the person the town is named after and it'll be a big deal for me to perform there!
Well, I sure as hell hope not, because the town is named after this guy...
You don't see a resemblance, do you?
"Preston Smith Brooks (August 5, 1819 – January 27, 1857) was an American politician and Member of the US House of Representative from South Carolina, serving from 1853 until his resignation in July 1856 and again from August 1856 until his death.
Brooks, a Democrat, was a fervent advocate of slavery and states' rights. He is primarily remembered for his May 22, 1856 assault upon abolitionist and Republican Senator Charles Sumner; Brooks beat Sumner with a cane on the floor of the United States Senate in retaliation for an anti-slavery speech..." - Wikipedia

His greatest achievement was beating the living shit out of a senator for speaking out against slavery, for which they named a town after him. That's equal parts badass and horrifying at the same time.
Step yo' game up and get on great-great-great grandpa Brooks' level of intolerance and hatred, Trump. You pussy.

Yeah, I think I'll just slip in, do the show and leave.

The Brooksville Comedy Show
hosted by Melissa Nickolas
1320 Commercial Way
Spring Hill, FL
Sunday, December 4th - 6 PM
Me, Tim Chirikalov, David Wayne

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The year in suck

2016 is going to go down in a lot of people's books as a terrible year.
I guess that's a fair assessment if you base it on the many truly beloved, talented and influential people who died.
I miss Prince something awful.
And of course, the election ran everybody through a wringer and revealed a lot of things about our friends, neighbors and relatives that we could have lived without knowing.
Also a bunch of things that sucked that we don't need to get into because everyone already knows they sucked.

So I get it. Somebody or something needs to take the blame. That'll make us feel better. It's good to have scapegoats.
After all, an actual goat helped Cubs fans feel better about not winning a World Series for over a hundred years.

I just don't know how fair, or logical, it is to pin it on the year, the relatively arbitrary label slapped on a calendar to help keep track of passing time. Nothing really changes on January 1st, things just happen and then they just keep happening. People are going to die next year too.
Besides, it's not like everything that has happened in 2016 has been terrible. What about people who had good things happen this year? People who got well after being sick. People who got better jobs. People who had some pretty great things happen in their burgeoning stand-up comedy career as well as their personal lives?

What about all the precious little innocent babies (even some human ones!) that came out this year? Do we really want to saddle them with the stigma of getting born during a crappy year?
10 years from now...
"Happy Birthday! How old are you?"
"I'm 10!"
"Oh, so you were born in... fuck you! You killed David Bowie!"
 Anyway, try to enjoy yourself during what's left of 2016. It's only a couple more weeks until 2017, when nothing is really going to be any different.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This happened: More fun with guns

As a still-kinda-new comedian, I'm continuing to cross new experiences off the list. Sunday, I was able to draw a line through "someone getting shot at a show". I wasn't there to perform, just to watch and lend support, but the people who were there to perform didn't get to, so I think it counts.

"Tampa Police investigate nightclub parking lot shooting"

This happened at the Pegasus Lounge on Sunday and calling the Pegasus Lounge a nightclub is like calling McDonald's a restaurant. The Pegasus is a dive bar and makes no pretense otherwise. They've received local acclaim for hosting "Pornaoke" (which is exactly what it sounds like; people singing karaoke in front of a big screen showing porn) every Wednesday. The most notable aspect of that is the severely low quality of the porn. The participants look like they were signed up by somebody with a clipboard at the mall...
CLIPBOARD PERSON: "Would you be interested in making up to $6.50 an hour appearing in pornography?"
PROSPECTIVE PORN STAR: "Sure! But...$6.50 an hour?
PROSPECTIVE PORN STAR: "Yeah. Isn't that less than the federally mandated minimum wage?"
CLIPBOARD PERSON: "Sir, this isn't exactly the kind of enterprise that's going to send you a W-2."
PROSPECTIVE PORN STAR: "Well, all right. But I will get to have sex with a woman, right?"
CLIPBOARD PERSON: "You let somebody at the mall with a clipboard sign you up to do porn. All of a sudden you have standards?"
 I'm just saying that I don't know what the Pegasus Lounge's budget for porn is but they're getting ripped off.

Anyway, I was there with my pal Spike (of "The Spike On The Mic Show") to watch a comedy show headlined by our friend Rio Paris. It's a bar and they don't serve food so there was a guy with a BBQ grill in the parking lot. Okay, that's all the background.

Spike and I are sitting at a table waiting for the show to start. Rio comes up behind us and says "it's going down in the parking lot! Somebody just crashed into the BBQ grill". Of course we got up to go look because of course we wanted to see that. Motor vehicle vs BBQ grill melee, with sticky chicken parts flying around everywhere? Yes please! Before we can get to the door, a guy comes in yelling "He shot him in the head! He shot him in the head! I can't believe it!"

This slowed us down.

He's followed by a woman, who pulls the door shut behind her. "Get away from the door! Get away from the windows! He shot him in the head and he's still out there!"

This stopped us.

Now, I'd been to the Pegasus a couple times before. Spike never had. But somehow he instinctively finds the back door and is gone.

Maybe I should have mentioned previously that aside from the bartenders, I'm pretty much the only white person there. I'll mention that now, along with the fact that at this point, I'm pretty much the only person in there at all.

And in typical Only White Person There fashion, I'm thinking "maybe we should make ourselves available if the victim needs aid and comfort, or if the law enforcement officers need assistance with their investigation."

Spike comes back in. "Clark! What are you doing?!? We have to get out of here!!"

I snap out of it and I realize that I'm Gene Wilder in 'Silver Streak' or 'Stir Crazy'; I am hopelessly and completely out of my element, and I'm paired with Richard Pryor (Spike), who is only marginally better suited for the situation. Still: "Yes. Of course you're right. Leaving is undeniably the best approach to take at this time", I say.

We go out the back door and it's REALLY dark back there. He's running and I'm kind of tip-toeing. He looks back and asks what the hell I'm doing. I said, "I don't want to trip. What if I twist an ankle or rip my pants?" He replies, "do you want to fall down or get shot??" "Those are my choices? Fall down or get shot? That's it? I'd like neither of those things, please. Can I get a 'none of the above'?"

We make it out from behind the building and there are more police cars than I've ever seen in my life. I don't see a victim (apparently he drove himself to the hospital right after it happened) or an assailant so I'm just hanging out behind a van parked on the side of the building and watching. Spike is gone. He hopped into his truck and drove off, followed by two police cars for a couple blocks before they figured out he probably wasn't a suspect and went back. I find Rio and other friends and saw that they were okay and told Rio, "I'm going to leave before I can't." Because at that point, there was no end to the police cars pulling in. and the parking lot isn't that big. If I don't leave now, I may not be able to for some time. But I could so I did.

Bottom line: I guess I was never in any real danger (thanks mostly to the lady who was so intent on getting people away from the door and windows) but once again, I'm not a big fan of people pulling guns in my presence.

Friday, November 18, 2016

How to Starbuck

Apparently, it has suddenly become difficult for some people to get a beverage at Starbucks without having some self-induced bad customer service experience. Here's a handy guide to help you in case you need it.

  1. Go to Starbucks. If you're already at Starbucks, don't talk about how Starbucks sucks and corporate greed and it's overpriced and indy coffee shops and any other complaints you have about it, valid or otherwise. The time for that, if ever, was before you got to Starbucks.
  2. Place your order. Whatever you want, don't be self-conscious about it. It's your beverage. The fuckers in line behind you can wait. You've earned this.
  3. Pay for it. (Duh)
  4. Give them your name so they can call you when your order is ready. Don't give them some other name because you feel like you need to make a stupid point about something or other. Look, it's early. Or late. Or the middle of the day some time. No matter. The fuckers in line behind you don't need to tolerate that bullshit from you right now. If you want to protest, go outside and block traffic like a regular person.  
  5. Wait patiently. They're busy. It takes time and effort to make everybody's drinks. It's literally impossible to do everything at once. That's just basic physics. You'll get your drink. Chill out.
  6. Don't call people trash. Okay, sometimes the wait is longer than you think it should take. That doesn't mean you should disparage the people who work there. Again, they're subject to the laws of physics and stuff. Or maybe they're bad at their job. You don't get to judge the quality of their character as human beings... aloud. Mutter that under your breath, if you feel like you have to comment on it at all, like the self-entitled psycho you apparently are.
    By the way, nice sweater vest and dumb haircut combo, douche.
  7. Get your drink.
  8. Get out. Either with your drink or after you drink it. But just...fucking go, okay?
That's it. Pretty simple, right? I think so. But if that's still too difficult, here's an alternate plan that's even easier...

  1. Don't go to Starbucks.
Happy Not Being A Pain In The Ass When Getting Coffee!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A suggestion, for what it's worth

Please pardon the inherent but unavoidable irony in the following...

Considering how people are frustrated and feeling a need to express themselves, if for no other reason than the therapeutic value that comes with that, maybe it would be a good idea to stop telling them how to feel about things and what to do about them.

Maybe, just maybe, it's not always up to us to determine whether or not someone else is justified in feeling the way they do.

Maybe, just maybe, it would actually be a really good idea if we spent some time trying not to jam every single opinion we have down everybody else's throat. Whether or not it's for their own good.

Actually, especially if you think it's for their own good.

Maybe, just maybe, we should consider the possibility that we might not always know what's best for everybody.

"But they're wrong...".
So what?
At least one of these three things is true:

  • They'll figure it out on their own
  • They'll never, ever change their minds.
  • YOU'RE the one who is wrong. 

And this thing is absolutely 100% true: Either way, it's none of your goddamn business.

"But they're annoying me!"
Well, maybe, just maybe*, it's not about you.

(* = No, it definitely isn't about you, even a little bit. Honestly, your approval or disapproval of virtually everything that other people do or don't do is so insignificant that it's almost impossible to measure, and you need to know that about yourself)

Maybe, just maybe, we should leave people alone and shut the fuck up, for once, for a while, for, if nothing else, a fucking change of pace.

"Get over it already."
"Stop whining."
"Let's move forward."

That's really great advice you've got there.
For you to follow.
Feel 100% free to do any and all of those things.
And do them QUIETLY.

Basically, do what I say and stop telling people what to do. 

(I know how that sounds but that's why I put the disclaimer first.)

I don't know. I don't pretend to have all the answers. Just something to consider, I guess.

But seriously.
Shut the fuck up.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Let the real madness begin

The 2016 election, widely decried as The Biggest Shit Show In The History Of American Politics is finally over, and I did my civic duty by participating as a voter. Was it The Biggest Shit Show In The History Of American Politics, though? Maybe, maybe not. If it was, it's because we made it that way, with our intolerance for the viewpoints (and in some cases, the very existence) of others, our proclivity to get really angry and/or offended by every tiny thing that doesn't go exactly our way and our enthusiastic embrace of toxic and banal institutions like "reality" TV.
Hey, if that's what we want, then this is what we get. No point in crying about it.
I will mention that I was wrong about something I've held as a fundamental belief:
"Good guys outnumber the bad guys. Always have, always will."
The truth is there are good guys and there are bad guys and they're both outnumbered by people who are easily manipulated by fear and are willing to cast their allegiance with the side that seems to suit whatever they perceive as their own selfish needs at a given moment. Oh well. Now I know.
Besides, the campaign season was just a preliminary and the election is just the beginning. Now is when it gets real.
Not that anybody should care, (hey, you're reading this) but here's how I voted on the big three things (my opinion) on this year's ballot...

Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use, Amendment 1: No. Nice try, power companies. Sneaky, greedy bastards.

Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization, Amendment 2: Yes, somewhat begrudgingly. I don't smoke it but that doesn't mean that I don't want the benefits of it to help sick people who could use it. But stoners and stoner culture annoy me, and probably the thing that annoys me the most is how stoners pretend they give a shit about sick people beyond using them as a convenient prop to legitimize their silly, self-indulgent lifestyle. Cut the bullshit, stoners. Go hang yourselves with a hemp rope.

And the big one...

Clinton vs Trump for President of the United States of America: Clinton. Lots of reasons, but here's one very simple one; I don't believe that everyone who voted for Trump is a stupid bigot but I'm absolutely sure that every stupid bigot voted for Trump. Sorry if you find that insulting, but if your candidate routinely panders to the lowest of the lowlifes, like it or not, that speaks on behalf of you too.

Anyway, enough already. It's finished. But here are some pictures from Election Day...

This is what it looked like from my place in line at about 8AM. I'm behind 12 to 15 people, patiently and quietly waiting for their turn to go inside and fill out their ballots. No menacing goons, no demonstrations, nobody even wearing hats or t-shirts. This was at St. Chad's Episcopal Church, which is located just east of the West Tampa neighborhoods.

I didn't personally witness this and it didn't happen yesterday. I just find it hilarious and a perfect summation of how off-the-rails this whole process has been.

Oh, so some idiot just happened to block the road to the polling place by getting his cement mixer stuck in a ditch on the day of the election. We're supposed to believe that's just a huge coincidence and not a blatant attempt to prohibit people from exercising their constitutional right to vote? Hmmm?!? 
Yeah, actually it was. 
He was only stuck for a few minutes and absolutely destroyed his lawn in the process of getting out of there. Awesome!

"Yes, I see by your shirt that you're still undecided, but the line forms over there, buddy."

Always nice to see signs like this. Thank you for doing the absolute least to keep me from being murdered in either language.

Here's a nice image to round this all out; a family celebrating their participation in the process with a photo to mark the occasion.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

It begins...tonight

And continues through Sunday!

Me, with other comedians, at Side Splitters Comedy Club!
  • Headliner Gary Valentine with feature act JB Ball - Thursday, November 3 - 8:30PM
  • Headliner Gary Valentine with feature act JB Ball - Friday, November 4 - 8:00PM
  • Headliner Gary Valentine with feature act JB Ball - Friday, November 4 - 10:15PM
  • Headliner Gary Valentine with feature act JB Ball - Saturday, November 5- 6:00PM
  • Headliner Gary Valentine with feature act JB Ball - Saturday, November 5 - 8:00PM
  • Headliner Gary Valentine with feature act JB Ball - Saturday, November 5 - 10:30PM
  • Headliner JB Ball with feature acts Elijah Henry and CJ Hernandez - Sunday, November 6 - 7:00PM

Special offer for Cubs fans*: All tickets FULL PRICE! 
Simply don't even mention that you saw this offer here to take full advantage of this 0% discount!

Side Splitters Comedy Club
12938 North Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33618 (813) 960-1197

* Offer restricted to fans of the Chicago Cubs and any other major league baseball team or team in any other sport or people who don't like baseball or who simply can't grasp the concept of paying people to play games for a living, those who don't understand that professional sports generates billions of dollars in revenue and is an industry that employs thousands of people. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

What a bountiful harvest of aggravation!

If you're a recreational hater, someone who looks for things to be annoyed by just for fun, you must love autumn. I'm a comedian, so I'm a professional. I can find things to make me miserable all year 'round. But for you, the hobbyist, it doesn't get any better than right now. Fall is an all-you-can-hate buffet. Especially this fall! It's getting cold out. But it's not cold enough. It's still kinda hot out. But not very hot. It's perfect for complaining!
So many exciting, awful, wonderful, shitty things!
Check it out...


It's a drink. It's harmless. Some people really enjoy it. So what is there to hate about it? Well, it's a harmless drink that people enjoy. That's enough, isn't it?

College or pro, the season is about half over and odds are your team is in the toilet. Gee, was September, the month you waited for since February, when the season started and hopes were so high, really all that long ago?
Just about 100 days was all it took to turn your dreams of championship trophies and victory parades into two turds over easy with a side of hashed-brown shits.

The Cubs and Indians meet in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series tonight. That means no matter what, one group of fans suffering will be over, but the others will reach a streak of at least 59 years. Mmm-mm, that's some delicious Schadenfreude! Also, think about this: one group is going to be really, really happy and your team probably didn't even get this far. Everybody wins, except almost everybody!

It's the most popular show on TV, yet people can't stop bitching about it. "I don't like this plot line...this character should die...this character shouldn't die...this character should have died, but not like that!"
Blah blah blah blah blah. Every week, all the time.
So why do people even watch it, if it pisses them off so much? Well, because it's the most popular show on TV.


Yep, you're right. It's not even Thanksgiving.
Yep, you're right. These were up before Halloween.
Yep, you're right. This nonsense seems to start earlier every year.
Yep, you're right. The retail industry has declared a war on Christmas.


For the love of God already.

There's more, but it's making me angry just thinking about it.

Happy Hating!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

What are YOU doing this weekend?

Watching football?
Deciding for whom to vote?
Enjoying the pleasant weather brought on by the onset of the autumn season, taking time to relax and reflect on life?

How pathetic and stupid.

Why waste time on nonsense like that when you can waste time on nonsense like this?
Come watch me handle the hosting duties for

Side Splitters Comedy Club
Thursday, November 3 - 8:30PM
Friday, November 4 - 8:00PM
Friday, November 4 - 10:15PM
Saturday, November 5- 6:00PM
Saturday, November 5 - 8:00PM
Saturday, November 5 - 10:30PM

"Gary Valentine "GV" got his start in the world of standup comedy. A 20-year veteran traveling the country refining his comedy, performing at clubs, theaters and festivals. He has since made the jump from Standup to Acting. Best known for his 9 years as 'Cousin Danny' on the hit CBS show the King of Queens. After appearing at the Montreal Comedy Festival and co-hosting 'Friday night' on NBC, he moved from New York to Los Angeles. He then appeared on such shows as The Tonight show, Conan O'Brien, The Late Show with Craig Kilborn, and starring in his own half hour special 'Comedy Central Presents'. GV also co-hosted 'The X Show' on FX and is now a regular on Chelsea Lately on E! GV isn't limited to just the small screen. He has appeared in such movies as 'Paul Blart - Mall Cop', 'I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry', 'Stuck on You', 'Jack and Jill' and the soon to be released 'Here come's the Boom'."


Side Splitters Comedy Club
Sunday, November 6 - 7:00PM

"Raised by a southern conspiracy theorist and a performer from LA, J.B. Ball is built for fishing out the ridiculous and putting it on display. As a charmer who refuses to let things go, he's deceivingly edgy and intelligent in a way that forces audiences to think and re-evaluate what's going on with us as individuals, a country, and a race of people.
His talents have landed him appearances on Comedy Central, MTV, CBS, COMCAST, SIRIUS/XM Satellite Radio, and Kevin Hart's new comedy streaming network "LOL".
He was selected for the prestigious "New Faces" at the 2016 Montreal Just For Laugh Festival, was the winner of the 2014 Trial By Laughter Comedy Festival, was named 2014's "Florida's Funniest Comedian”, performed at FunnyOrDie’s 2015 Oddball Comedy Festival, and was a finalist at the 2016 Laughing Skull Festival.
His clever interpretations of his life, the news, the world, and how we should be reacting to them have been leaving audiences of all kinds in stitches."

I hear you: "Gee Clark, that's great but we want to listen to the jokes that you make, and also hear you tell us about drink specials and upcoming shows and do introductions. Which of these performances will you be part of?" To which I reply, ALL of them and your grammar is terrible, at least in terms of sentence structure.
Please come see me. I'm somewhat less judgmental in person.

Side Splitters Comedy Club
12938 North Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33618
(813) 960-1197

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Let's "Get To Know" each other again

WARNING: No jokes ahead. Does that make this a 'serious' post? Not necessarily. Enlightening? Thought-provoking? Inspiring? I don't know. Probably not, but that's not up to me to decide. Read it and get from it what you will, if anything. Thanks.

A little over four years ago on this blog, I ran some interviews with people who identified with certain political ideologies. I don't know what purpose it served, but the intent was to demonstrate that there's a human element that bonds people on a deeper level than angry rhetoric.
Things seem to be nastier now than they were then. That's the perception anyway. So I thought it might be interesting to check in with the people we talked to then and see how they're doing now.
Here's how I led that off then:
"I don't know about you, but I've become pretty disillusioned with the political process, due in large part to what I perceive as a near-complete lack of civility and tolerance for opposing viewpoints and the people behind them...
With that in mind, I went on Twitter and asked for people who describe themselves as "staunch" liberals and conservatives to submit to a short list of questions for interviews that will be published this week. I wanted one of each and I simply selected the first of each to reply... There's absolutely no science involved, with no consideration paid to demographics or anything like that. It's completely arbitrary, like stopping the very first person you come across on the street and asking them what is on their mind. What's the point? I don't know that there is one. I certainly don't expect to change anyone's minds or philosophical ideals. I wouldn't even want to do that. If I were to dream really big, I would hope that a couple of people would read these and go forward thinking of those with differing opinions as human beings with their own valid reasons for believing the way they do."
You can check out the original interviews here, here and here.
Here's our panel...
Nancy P, who identified as Liberal in 2012
Chris C, who identified as Conservative in 2012
Sean H, who identified as A Self-Described Conservative At Odds With The So-Called Tea Party in 2012

Now, you're probably going to identify with one of these people more than the others and that's fine. Doing so is liable to put you at odds with the others, and that's also fine. But these are their personal opinions and they're entitled to them. You don't have to like what those opinions represent, but they're not wrong for having them. More importantly, please try to remember that these are human beings. You're going to be behind them in the check-out line at the grocery store, you're going to be sharing the road with them when you drive, one of them might help you find your lost dog. Keep all of that in mind. Thanks.

Before we get to the update, Sean is unable to participate this time around so his wife Tracey is tackling these on his behalf. Also, Nancy replied first, Chris replied second and Tracey replied third, in case you're wondering why they're in the order that they are.

Here we go...

Do you still consider yourself whatever you were (conservative, liberal, etc) four years ago?

NANCY: Yes, even more so.

CHRIS: My conservatism has not changed.  On the other hand my identification as a “Republican” has changed; I no longer am a Republican loyalist.

TRACEY: Yes, I solidly still identify with liberal causes.

If not, why not?
CHRIS: The GOP has lost its way somewhat, and seems to no longer be interested in fiscal responsibility or other traditionally conservative platform issues I believe are important.  As I read on the internet recently, “I’m for low taxes, strong defense and limited government.  Why doesn’t the Republican party want me?”

What's something that's happened since the last election that makes you happy?

NANCY:  2 things - 1. I'm very glad that all of my friends and family have the legal protection (and responsibility) of marriage, regardless of whom they love.  2. As a 60-year old cancer survivor whose employer does not offer benefits, I'm very happy that I can obtain health insurance.  Yes, it's expensive, but without ACA, I would be unable to buy insurance at any price.

CHRIS: a.   According to CATO, most states have balanced their short-term budgets.
b.   Fracking and domestic petroleum drilling has significantly dropped the price of petroleum.
c.   Electric car technology is getting better every day.
d.   General population gaining recognition of typographical and grammatical errors in everyday life.

TRACEY: The financial recovery of the country and the historic approval rating of President Obama.

What's something that's happened since the last election that makes you unhappy?

NANCY: The continued decline of civility between those with different opinions. I have to include myself in this, sometimes I've been very unhappy with how I've responded to people who think differently than I do.

CHRIS: a.   $15 minimum wage movement.
b.   Supposed prioritization of one race’s lives over all others.
c.   Notoriety given to protesting the National Anthem.
d.   Rise in the number of people that believe adding an apostrophe and an S to a word makes a plural.

TRACEY: The tragedy at Sandy Hook is something I think about daily, and has affected me in ways I couldn't have predicted.

A common sentiment is that this is the "worst election ever" in terms of the candidates. Agree or disagree, and why?

NANCY: It's a difficult choice.  Much more so than 4 years ago. Sure there are things about Clinton I don't like, no candidate is perfect.  But the alternative scares the bejesus out of me, even more than it did last election.  I was totally a Bernie supporter, but I know from the beginning that the only choice for me is the Democratic nominee.

CHRIS: I agree.  In this election, there are several third-party candidates (most of whom none of us recognize) and the two major party candidates are either the lying narcissist with ties to Russia, or the lying narcissist with ties to Russia.

TRACEY: In many ways, yes, because more so than any election in my memory, the focus is almost exclusively on personality, scandal, and very little, if any, policy opinions or issues have been debated or seriously discussed.

Without referring to your candidate's opponent for the sake of comparison, do you feel good and confident about your candidate as far as being qualified to do the job of president? Expound if you wish.

NANCY:  I do.  I feel she has the experience of a politician to be able to work with other parties, sides, opponents, etc to be able to get the job done in the best interest of the American people.  Being a career politician is not necessarily a bad thing.  That's how one prepares for the job of leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

CHRIS: As of the answering of this question, for the first time in my voting life I have yet to make up my mind for whom I will cast my ballot on November 8th.  Regardless of who receives my vote, I do have confidence on the candidate’s qualifications.  I believe this mainly because in today’s government process, the President-elect will have to surround him/herself with qualified advisors.  It is because of the reality of relying on those advisors I believe the President-elect will be qualified.

TRACEY: I do feel she is the most qualified and experienced for the office of the presidency, and am particularly confident in her foreign policy experience.

Again, without referring to your candidate's opponent for comparison, do you have any concerns about your candidate's shortcomings, if any?

NANCY: Of course, again, no candidate is perfect.  For some reason, people that dislike her or disagree with her really hate her.  I'm afraid that members of the other parties will be unlikely to work with her to reach compromises either to make a point or for fear of alienating their own constituencies. (did that stay within the rules?  I didn't mention the other candidate because he will not be part of the process going forward)

CHRIS: Similar to my previous answer, it will mainly boil down to the advisors the President-elect selects.

TRACEY: I am concerned with her ability to unify the country after the election.

Another common sentiment is that "we're more divided as a nation than we've ever been". Agree or disagree, and why?

NANCY:  Yes, it seems that there's no room for compromise on either side.  Every candidate is so afraid of losing a vote, they take the hard line dictated by the most extreme factions of their constituencies.  This is not just at the national level, I'm seeing it all the way down to county offices as well.

CHRIS: I don’t necessarily disagree, but I believe it has more to do with our collective inability to compromise.  Whether it’s because of social media or our shortening attention spans, I believe as a society we have lost the ability to see any benefit in the arguments on the other side of the political spectrum.  Whether it be the #BLM or #FreeMilo movement, hyperbole and demonization is the name of the game—because we seem to buy in to the argument of “I have to be right (correct) which means you have to be wrong.”

TRACEY: It certainly seems that way, but if current polling numbers hold true, then many places that lean solid red or solid blue turn more "purple", that might just be a catalyst for a more centrist era or at least more calls for crossing the aisle.

Are any of your relationships with friends and/or family members suffering due to disagreements over this election?

NANCY: I've said many times that I must have been adopted, my politics are so different from almost all of my family's.  And living where we do, it's only natural that many if not most of my friends are much more conservative than I am.  I try really hard to stay away from political discussions with people I care about, I learned that lesson in the last election.  What this means is that I often have to remove myself from situations with family and friends because I am not interested in arguing.  So yes, It has changed by relationships, in that I don't always feel I can discuss issues that are important to me without starting an argument or causing hard feelings.  And I'm resentful that I have to make this choice.

CHRIS: From my perspective they are not.  I have become more cognizant of my social media use, however—and have basically stopped posting any political information at all.

TRACEY: I have blocked or muted many on social media and or avoided any mention of the election with others. At this point, I don't think many are interested in discussion and nothing is going to change their minds. I find many of the "sources" quoted are either wrong, biased, or completely unfounded.

Are you at all dissatisfied with any specific aspects of the electoral process itself?

NANCY: I would definitely like to see Citizen's United overturned.  It's disgusting to me that a small group of very rich individuals can in effect buy an election because they have billions to throw away on it.  I also would like to see a shorter active campaign cycle.  Much shorter.  Like 3 months from declaration, then primaries, a convention and election day.

CHRIS: My dissatisfaction boils down to two aspects:
1.  I believe the election process involves too much technology.  It doesn’t take an extensive search of the internet to find stories about electronic voting machines being vulnerable to hacking or calculating votes incorrectly.

2.  I also believe there is no such thing as non-partisan news.  News outlets are in the business of selling news, and they’ll pander to the audience they feel will buy their news.  Therefore, the media plays too great a role in the election process.

TRACEY: I continue to be concerned and frustrated with congressional gerrymandering and voter ID laws.

This question is purposefully vague, but do you feel we as a nation, meaning specifically a collective of the people who live here, are heading in the right direction (feel free to define "the right direction" any way you want)?

NANCY: I'm very concerned about the intrusion of religion into every aspect of life.  The separation of church and state is becoming almost non-existent.  I don't want anyone judged on their faith or lack thereof.

CHRIS: No, I don’t.  There are several different reasons why, but I think most of the reason is we are no longer willing to work for success.  Society wants success handed to it:  all the benefits of success without the labor involved to get those benefits.

TRACEY: Yes. While change is slow, progress is being made on a number of social issues that I think are important, and I think dialogue has been opened on many others.

What's one thing that you're afraid will happen if your candidate doesn't win the election? 

NANCY: The erosion of relations with foreign countries, both allies and those who are not.  That is a recipe for disaster, in my opinion.

CHRIS: Loss of personal liberties such as (but not limited to) 2nd Amendment Rights, free speech, freedom to educate my kids as I see best, and economic doom.

TRACEY: While there have certainly been presidential elections that I didn't like the outcome, if my candidate lost I wasn't fearful for our nation. In this election, I truly worry economic, foreign relations, and constitutional crises of epic proportions. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Comedians hindering comedians

I've written about my pal Cam Bertrand before. Cam is now officially an award winning comedian. I'm very happy for him and very proud of him.

In the tightly-knit comedy family, we try to help each other out whenever we can, if it isn't too much problem and/or we feel like it. That may or may not come at a price sometimes. So when Cam mentioned to me that he had never attended a professional hockey game before and that he would like to do so, I was thrilled to respond that I was in a position to help make that happen. All he had to do was one little tiny thing when he picked up the tickets...

Look how genuinely painful that was for him to say that!
Great job by Missy Davis, Megan Gardner and Nicole Nastwold in helping torture him and capture it all on video.
I love it! And I'll pay for it at some point, but that's okay. Totally worth it.

Yes, they were good seats. There was also a VIP laminate from a recent Kanye West concert in there, because Cam loves Kanye and I'm actually not a total dick.