Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Very Special Christmas Blog

Christmas is interesting.  There are a few different ways to look at Christmas and the holiday season.  An optimist looks at Christmas as a time to spend with family and loved ones.  A time to eat great food and listen to great music.  A time to give and receive presents.  Oh the presents... A pessimist looks at Christmas as a time they have to spend with family they wish they didn't see and eat stale fruit cake.  It's a time to make sure you spend the same amount of money your cousin Chet spends on you... Because let's face it, that cheap son of a bitch is trying to do the same for you.  There are people that celebrate the commercialization of the holiday season.  These people celebrate the true meaning of Christmas (i.e. crazy spending, elaborate gifts and validating your place in society's sliding class system).

There are also a small number of people that celebrate Christmas for the birth of Jesus.  Now this is a very small minority within a group called Christians.  Most of these Christians are harmless and use the Jesus as an excuse to exchange gifts and celebrate the real meaning of Christmas (Santa Clause and spending money).  A small minority within that minority celebrate Christmas because they truly believe that is was a fellow named Jesus H. Christ's birthday.  They also believe that Jesus came out of a Virgin's vagina thousands of years before artificial insemination was invented.  This is also the same group that doesn't believe the Easter Bunny existed but that J.H.C. died and came back from the dead (like Superman or Stephen King's Pet Semetery).  Now the group that believes that is an interesting group.

I pretty much look at Christmas as a combination of all of those things (besides the Jesus bullshit).  I enjoy good food and some family.  I enjoy receiving and giving gifts.   I even enjoy the fact that It's a Wonderful Life plays 24/7 on TV like C-Span.  I'm one of the only people that has never seen that movie and I probably never will... but I at least like knowing that it is there and I have the option to watch it.  Tradition is great and these Christmas traditions are powerful and good enough to overshadow the annoying family members (that we all have), commercialization and pressure we are put under in celebrating this holiday.  

My biggest gripe with Christmas is Christmas music.  Stores and radio stations start playing Christmas music before the last trick-r-treater snags your last Snickers bar.  Christmas music is already grating by Thanksgiving and by the time Christmas comes you want to smash a guitar like John Belushi in Animal House.  Christmas music is hokey and annoying.  It's made for the same people that complain about rock music being the devil's music and keep Jay Leno on the air (fuck him by the way)....

If I had to pick one Christmas song that bothered me the most, I would pick the traditional Christmas standard "Do You Hear What I Hear?"  Besides being one of the oldest and crappiest turds of a Christmas song, it is wrong and lyrically irritating.  There is a lyric in the song that goes "A child.  A child.  Shivering in the cold.  Let us bring him silver and gold."  Why silver and gold?  How about a sweater?  Silver is great... but it's not curing hypothermia.  And gold isn't bringing back that little fucker's foot that he lost to frost bite.  I can't see how silver or gold would be at the top of a starving, freezing orphan's priority list.  

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" must have been written by an American.  America epitomizes and represents the "Hey there's a problem?  Let's throw some money at it!" attitude better than any other country in the world.  It's like when you see starving Africans on television.  All they want is food when Sally Struthers waddles out with a giant check (that looks like a check golfers win at tournaments).  The little guy is holding the check saying: "I really don't have anywhere to cash this... Can I have a McRib instead?"  We just sit and wonder why other countries are so ungrateful.  But I digress....

We all know what it's like to have to sit in holiday traffic to visit family we wish didn't exist, only to be disappointed year after year after year that you didn't get stuffing because your annoying Uncle Pat talked your ear off about the PBS documentary he saw on universal health care on your way to the bathroom and by the time you got out your Aunt Grace ripped through eight servings of your Mom's awesome stuffing like she was R. Kelly at a Kid's Choice Awards after party.  Now I don't mean to sound negative towards my family.  I never want to imply I wish they didn't exist.  For the most part I like my family, but I'm also a misanthrope. I don't like many people.  There are roughl6,889,700,000 (a number from Wikipedia) and I like 25 on a good day.  So, I'm bound to hang out with one or two of the 6,889,699,975ish I don't like during the holiday season.  Its going to happen.  But again, I digress...


We all deep down love this stuff.  Despite the hokey music and shitty fruit cake, Christmas is fun.  Traditions don't just stick around for hundreds of years because they're tolerable... They stick around because they are worth while.  So no matter what sex or race you are or what religion you follow... have a great time and enjoy the family you have (even those idiots Uncle Pat and Aunt Grace).  They are the only family you have and its probably the only time all year you will be forced to hang out with them.  

I wish a safe and Merry Christmas to all... Even the Jews.  


P.S. This is pretty much the only Christmas song I like.  


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shitting the bed while winning a dick eating contest on an atom bomb: By Mike Finazzo

I bombed.  I bombed hard.  It was like Pearl Harbor.  Not the underwhelming box office performance of the Ben Affleck shitfest.... but like the island in Hawaii that Japanese dropped bombs on (an event that inspired that terrible ball-eating Ben Affleck movie).

Now there is certain terminology we use to describe bombings.  First, there is the common "I bombed."  "I bombed" is the equivalent to "I sucked" or "I blew." Bombing is common.  Everyone does it and every comedian has said that phrase.

"Shitting the bed" is a popular phrase.  I have seen a lot of comedians shit the bed.  I've even shit the bed once or twice.  I like to think of shitting the bed as bombing in front of a small audience (something common in Baltimore).  It is not uncommon to have an open mic with eight comedians and six apathetic audience members.  Sometimes you have a bad set or a good set where no one laughs and it's like shitting a bed.  You made a mess but no one is there to see it.  However, you are still stuck with the neuroses and humiliation and lying and settling in your own feces.  Insert funny joke with the word "poop" in it to end this paragraph.

"I ate a dick" or "eating a dick" is also a favorite among comedians.  I learned this phrase from my good friend Tommy Sinbazo.  Tommy bombed once and said "I ate a dick last night." At first I thought this was a performance art piece.  Tommy used to dabble in prop comedy so maybe he literally ate a dick on stage (he owns a double-headed dildo)..... But  how exactly would he eat a dick?  Would he use a fork and knife and cut a grilled penis into bite size pieces or he would he chomp into that son of a bitch like a 7-11 Big Bite.  Obviously, T-Bone did not eat a genitalia.  He had a bad set and described it as a good ole' dick eatin'.  I picked this phrase up and use it whenever I have a poor set.

There really is no way to get around dick eating while shitting in your bed.  It happens.  Every comedian  has bad sets.  Sometimes there is barely an audience.  Sometimes you have an audience that doesn't understand or wants no parts of you.  Sometimes you just flat out suck.  Last night I just flat out sucked.  But as always, I record all my sets.  I'll watch the game film and get back on the horse.  I'll learn from it and get better.  I'll also be ready for it to happen again (but like every other person that does this more than a handful of times... it will).

There is a great book called "I Killed." It's basically 200 essays/short stories of comedian road stories.  The book is a collection of every well known comedians telling the story of their best bombing.  The book is honest, humbling and hilarious.  I like reading it, because it's written proof that people more famous and way better at this than me have had similar and often times worse experiences.

Anyway, I'm going back to the drawing board and working as hard as possible to make my next set as good as it can be. So until my next dick eating, I leave you with a video of Bill Hicks (a comedian better than pretty much everyone who has ever tried this) talking about his worst gig.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The War for Late Night


I bought Bill Carter's "The War for Late Night" Friday and just finished it. At four-hundred pages, the book is an incredibly well written and amazingly detailed account of the whole Conan/Leno debacle. As a Conan supporter, I appreciated the book's honest analysis and detailed account of his career and insight of all of the players involved in late night comedy. As a reader I enjoyed Carter's novelistic and entertaining account of the late night wars and network politics. The book is definitely a "must read".





How can you not love this guy?

Monday, November 1, 2010

With Regards to Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen

Hello friends (Mom, Laura, Anne, random person that stumbles across this, etc)... How are you? I am fine. I've been busy doing a lot of stand up and various projects recently.  Mainly I've been writing and performing stand up, working on movies, and a full-time job.  Oh yeah, I'm getting married too...  That takes up some time.  I also own a cat now.  Its kind of like having a child but its cuter and can poop in a litter box.  My cat's name is Digby.  He's pretty awesome...

"Taye Diggs"
In stand up news.... I've been writing a lot of new material.  George Carlin and Louie C.K., my two comedic idols had/have a tradition where they write a new hour of stand up every year and then get rid of it and start fresh. They use this as a tool to stay sharp but also to get better.  Logic says, if you keep doing something, you should get better at it. Why keep repeating yourself and doing the same thing you did years ago? I think that's a pretty cool practice and something I'm trying to do.  I tend to write in sections (i.e. I work on ten minutes and then work on the next ten minutes and so on... When I have longer sets in the 15-20 minute range, I mix and match a set out of each 10 minutes). Right now, I'm working on my third section.  I got to do my new set at Baltimore Comedy Factory this past Saturday... I had a great time opening for a Philly comic named Turae (check him out if you get a chance). The new stuff went over very well.  I enjoy doing it because its more personal and in a lot ways more relatable.  It still needs some polishing, but I think section three is my best section yet.

Opening for Turae.

I was doing a show at Illusions recently and met Andrew Larsen and Sasha Borodovsky. They're really nice people that host a radio show twice a week for WJHU.  Chris Barylick (who also performed at Illusions) also appeared on the show.  Chris and I sat in for the entire two hour segment and had a good time. We talked about the show at Illusions, current events and had a conversation with New York Gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan.  I also shared a few stories about my stand up experiences and random celebrity encounters.  It was a good time, and I really appreciated Andrew and Sasha having us on. The episode is podcasted so if you'd like to listen check it out:


(Warning: The show contains bad language and adult content)

I've also been working on a few movie projects.... My good friend Anthony Jackson is a talented and up and coming filmmaker.  He has directed over fifty short films and is finally beginning work on his feature debut. I've been co-writing the script with Anthony and I'll also be appearing the film. Its a cool Relationship Dramady with a pretty big ensemble. Think Boogie Nights meets Garden State. I'm excited about the script and know Anthony will knock the ball out of the park with his first feature.

I'm also putting the finishing touches on my second feature film, Pavement Tune (which Anthony also worked on). I met with my producer and sound designer Zarieff this past week and we are a few weeks away from having a 100% completed film. The movie turned out well, and I'm really looking forward to sharing it with everybody. In addition to finishing the sound, Z also put together the movie's first poster. We had been kicking around poster concepts for a while... Zarieff and I really liked the idea of Punk-rock imagery and a D.I.Y. attitude.  I think he captured that attitude in a big way here.

By Zarieff

Lastly, I cut together a second teaser trailer for Pavement Tune.  I'm not going to take a lot of time to explain it. It features some footage that isn't in the movie and some that is. It also features an awesome song by the Black Keys. Anyway, I'd love to know what you think of it...



Anyway, I hope all is well in whatever world you are currently living on.  I always say I'm going to update this blog more but let's face it... I'm lazy and Blogger blows.  So here's to updating this at least one more time before 2011!

Be well,
Mike

P.S. Fuck Jay Leno.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

4th Place/3rd Loser

I was part of the "Baltimore's Next Superstar Contest" last night. I finished 4th. Ok, I didn't even finish 4th, but I didn't finish in the top 3....So I am assuming that me and the other eight comedians all tied for 4th. I have said multiple times before tonight that "I rather be known as a 'good comedian' than a 'comedian that wins contests'". But for some reason this stings.

Baltimore Comedy Factory holds this contest yearly. I don't know why they call it "Baltimore's Next Superstar". Its not American Idol. Its not America's Got Talent. Its a comedy contest where comedians gather to tell jokes about O'bama, Tiger Woods and kicking girls in the stomach (all topics covered). So to call the contest "Baltimore's Funniest Comic" would be acceptable. "Baltimore's next comic who brings the most people to Baltimore Comedy Factory on a Wednesday night" would be pretty suitable....but to say the winner of this contest would be labeled a "superstar" is kind of an insult Mary Catherine Gallagher and all the people that were previously named "superstars". All Kidding aside, the winners and most of the comedians were very very funny and deserving people. It was cool sharing the stage with them...and also performing on the same stage as my comedic idol: Louis CK.

So anyway, without further ado....here is video of the set that put me into an 8-way tie for dead last at "Baltimore's Next Superstar".

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hangin' at the Double Deuce

So I had a gig at a "redneck bar" the other night. It turned out to be a great time with a packed and very receptive audience. I did some new jokes and dusted off some old ones too. I really did have fun and was surprised that the set went over as well as it did. However, my favorite part of the night came after my set....

A drunken redneck with a Vandyke (note: a lot of people would have referred to his facial hair as a goatee, but its important to point out to that a Vandyke is when a guy has a mustache and hair on his chin. Not a goatee, but a Vandyke) came up to me and said: "I just want you to know I was the one in the back bashin' ya. Yup, I was bashin' you. I just want you to know that you weren't very funny tonight... but you gotta a lot of balls for getting up there".

It is important to point out that he wasn't mean. He didn't come up to me and yell: "You suck!" It was the equivalent of a guy listening to a bar band, getting drunk and at the end of the night going "I SHOULD START A BAND! I COULD BE A SINGER! YOU GUYS NEED TO PLAY SOME MORE SKYNYRD! I LIKE BEATS! NOT LIKE MUSIC BEATS! LIKE VEGETABLES AND SHIT!"

Anyway, I had a great time and a good set in front of 150+ people... but it was the one guy that gave me the greatest compliment I've never gotten. Stuff like that keeps you humble.

Be well,
M

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What is this blog all about?

Question: What is this Blog all about? Answer: I don't know. In fact, I would like to take this time to point out a giant pet peeve of mine. I hate it when people say "question" right before asking a question. Just ask your question. I think it is even more annoying to answer your question by starting your answer with "answer." Do not say "Question: Should we go to the Maroon 5 concert? Answer: Yes we should." Just say "Maroon 5 is a terrible band and we should never go to see one of their concerts." Cut out all the words and bullshit in the middle.

Now as a new reader (right now I have seven followers on blogger, one of which is my mother who still doesn't know how to turn her computer on..... so I assume everyone is new) to this blog, you may wonder "what is the point to all of this?" Answer: Fuck if I know. I opened this account last year to post pictures from the movie (Pavement Tune) I was shooting. I got too busy with shooting and post-production on the film, that I couldn't keep up with the blog. I had a great time making the movie, but when you work full-time on a movie, work a job and have a fiance; blogs with little followings fall by the wayside. Not to mention, all the entertaining blog-worthy stories that happened on the movie..... I can't repeat publicly (but if you run into me at a local bar or an Orange Julius, I'd love to share some of these wacky tales with you).

So when the dust settled on the movie, I jumped into standup comedy. Since January I have been doing comedy anywhere from twice a month to five times a week. I'm not quitting or giving up on movies, but standup has become an great platform and a weird form of therapy for me. I think I've become a better writer and made some really cool friends by doing it. I plan on using this blog as a forum to share standup comedy stories and experiences (i.e. when I bomb horribly and/or make an ass out of myself).

I thought about calling this blog "Diaries of a Neurotic mad man" and that is basically what this is. I'd like to use this as a forum to share and to vent, but also to learn more and communicate with other people. As far as subject matter goes, anything is welcome here. I look forward to writing, sharing and reading what other people have to say. I also promise that future blog posts will only be half as pretentious and self serving as this post has been.

Be well,
Mike Finazzo

P.S. Yeah, Maroon 5 really does blow it pretty hard.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Life and Times of Cardinal Gibbons High School

Poop is hilarious. Like most teenage boys, and yes I am comfortable referring to a fifteen or sixteen year old person as a boy, I found crap or anything feces related absolutely hilarious. Blame it on genetics, maturity, gender or whatever you want, but it’s true. I do have a point to this...

February 11, 2000 was just another day in my second semester of my second year at Cardinal Gibbons High School. I was not a particularly good student but I usually held my own (i.e. I usually passed my classes with 3-5 points to spare). A lack of a solid work ethic and maturity placed me right in the middle of the dozen or so honors students I sat with in Mr. Jauquet's religion class. Roughly thirty minutes into Mr. J’s Religion class is when the following announcement was made: “Faculty and Students... All students, faculty and staff are to remain in their current classroom or area until further notice”.

The brief announcement was quickly made and wrapped by our principal Mr. Gary Meyerl. Whispers and talk of what could possibly be happening was interrupted by Mr. Jauquet who insisted that he should keep teaching. Like the other students, I could hardly pay attention to the now extended curriculum that day. Our middle age religion teacher carried on like a man on a mission teaching the gospel of Mark as the group of fifteen year old sophomores theorized what was going on in the halls around them.

Who knows if anyone else thought it but my first thoughts were of Columbine. The Columbine massacre had only happened ten months prior and left everyone saddened if not on edge. However, it did not take long for me to put that thought out of my neurotic teenage head. Gibbons had its problems but nothing that extreme. Not to mention, with a student population less than three hundred, there is no way shootings or any other wide spread violence could have happened without us finding out by now.

Jauquet eventually gave up teaching that day. Students talked openly about the possibilities of what had been referred to by some as a “hostage situation”. Broken pipes, medical emergencies, or even a surprise Field Day/Pizza party all came up as strong contenders. To a teenage boy being isolated in a small classroom for an hour and forty-five minutes was worse than being stranded on a deserted island (Watch ABC’s Lost for further parallels and comparisons).

The worst part for me was not being able to go to the bathroom. I was the kid that went to the restroom during every class. To this day I have a problem being in groups that have more than six people. A mild case of social anxiety and an even more extreme fear of being called on by a teacher or superior to speak has always made my throat dry up and caused my brain to go blank. On better days, I would leave class simply to break up the monotony known as "high school". Unfortunately on this day I genuinely had to go to the bathroom. With the school in death-con five/lockdown mode, this was not going to happen.

Roughly two hours and one sore bladder into the said “lock down”, the overdue follow up announcement was made. Our principal proclaimed the release of all prisoners (students) from their holding cells (classrooms). He went over the newly amended class and lunch schedule (thank God) for the day and informed us there would be an assembly to discuss what had happened.

Despite my fear of crowds, I loved assemblies. They were usually at the end of the day, and always meant classes would be shortened or canceled. After an Austin Powers like trip to the bathroom and a much needed lunch break, I anxiously attended the program. The pending end of the school day and curiosity factor of the day’s events made this visit to the crowded and dumpy Gibbons’ Auditorium extra special.

Like every other period, the assembly started with a prayer. I half heartedly participated throwing out random but fitting phrases such as “God”, “Lord”, and “Jesus Christ” until the prayer concluded with a simple “Amen”. It was time for Mr. Meyerl to address his students and explain the days' events. The forty-something brown haired man thanked us for meeting and also for our patience in the eyes of a tough situation. “Get on with it” I thought to myself (a thought that I imagine most other people shared).

An obviously uncomfortable Meyerl went on to say: “Today, I gather you here to talk about the delays and why many of you were forced to stay in your classrooms. It was an unfortunate day”. He paused for what seemed forever, before he explained: “Today, the first floor stairwell was covered in what appeared to be feces”. Most students and faculty for that matter could not help but laugh. A response he did not take very well.

After silencing the crowd, he went on to explain that four students pulled a prank with a substance that “looked, smelled and had the texture of real human or animal feces”. Just in case you missed that, I will repeat. He said the substance had the “texture of real human on animal feces”. Now if this were an open forum, I would have asked: “How did you know the 'texture' of the feces? Did you touch real feces then the fake feces to compare the two? Sub-question: Was there a taste test involved?” That would have possibly catapulted me to legendary status in High School for at least a week.

Mr. Meyerl finished his statement and the assembly ended. A letter was sent home explaining the incident and how two students bought the realistic fake poop at a novelty store in Marley Station Mall. The letter also talked about pending disciplinary action, which eventually led to the expelling of two of my classmates.

The expulsion of the two young students actually angered a lot of people. Sure it was stupid and disrupted the lives of staff and students for a few hours, but it did not hurt anyone. Suspension? Sure. Kicking two dumb teenage boys out of school and killing their futures? Absolutely not. In a culture of Christ, forgiveness and second chances, expulsion for these actions in a school run by the catholic church (an organization that forgave the guy who shot the Pope and countless pedophiles within the priesthood) still baffles me.

Time was relative in High School. Each day seemed to move slower than the day before it, but the next two years flew by very quickly. Despite the expulsion and the passage of time, the boys and prank were not forgotten. It was occasionally referenced in the remaining years and used as anecdotes in many pupils’ senior yearbooks. I thought of the incident myself when I pulled my own feces related prank (which most people still do not know about to this day) on Graduation day in 2002.

After High School I went to college and eventually found a job that I adore. I have a house with my fiancé and can truly say I am proud of the man that I have become. I have had many differences with my past, many of which have been with Cardinal Gibbons High School. But to say it had nothing to do with the man I am in 2010 would be a lie.

A lot of my friends have decided to take the loss of CG, and look at it like the loss of a family member. Being more than seven years removed from High School it is nearly impossible for me to do that. Most of the staff is gone and I have lost touch with many people throughout the years but for my time there, I spent more hours with those students and teachers than my own family. I can however look at Cardinal Gibbons as my second home from the fall of 1998 through the spring of 2002.

Like it or not I was a Crusader. To say my path since High School has been interesting is an understatement and for better or worse would not have happened if it weren’t for the four years I spent at Gibbons. Most of the meaningful relationships I have today stem directly or indirectly from my days at the senior high school on 3225 Wilkens Avenue in Baltimore. The school itself may close but those relationships will not.

When the Archdiocese of Baltimore decided to close down Cardinal Gibbons, it caused anger among many. I feel deeply for those families who now have to look for news schools and regroup with little time left in their son’s high school career. The fact that many parents and students have to take a break from college visits and preparation to look for and adapt to a new high school school this fall is certainly not right or fair. I wish those young men and their families an easy transition but more importantly I hope for a lack of cynicism. Hopefully when the dust settles it is easier to realize that great things happen when they are least expected. It is a clichĂ© for a wonderful reason…It is true. Our greatest triumphs, successes and surprises come out of the darkest times. I am also a great believer that some of the best human qualities came out of great loss and sadness.

The end of Cardinal Gibbons High School is a sad day for many. For me, it may not equal the loss of a family member but it is the loss of something that for better or worse represented a huge chunk of mine and many other guys’ journeys. The boy in me misses the innocence of hanging out with his friends, playing in bands and pranks involving defecation. The man in me appreciates the ride and how it aided and affected so many great things that have happened since. I hope others can look back and feel the same way.

James Cardinal Gibbons pray for us (If you believe in that stuff),
Mike Finazzo

P.S. At age 25…Poop is still hilarious.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A stand up guy....

So recently I started doing stand up comedy.....It has been a lot of fun and I've gotten some really good feedback from it. I've always been a fan of comedians like Louis CK, Chappelle, Conan and Aziz Ansari, but I've never really been able to incorporate that part of my sense humor in my movies. Film has always been a different beast for me (and one that I continue to work on and do) but man, this little side project has been fun. Anyway, if you have a dirty sense of humor-- here is my second stand up show ever....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The lovely and talented Karen Scuderi....

The movie is basically done. We are currently sound mixing, and color correcting. We are also putting the finishing touches on music selection and the score. There is not much score in the movie (we use source music mostly) but we got Karen Scuderi to write a song for one scene in particular. The scene in the movie takes place in a coffee shop....her song plays in the background. It really is a beautiful song, and I wish her style of music fit more of the mood and style of the movie.

Karen is a wonderful singer-songwriter and if you do not know who she is...you will soon. If you would like to check out a demo of her song featured in the movie, check out her myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/karenjonasmusic). The song is called "Meet me".

Anyway, I'm going to go back to work.

About to be exposed to the world,
Mike