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