Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye 2011

After two hundred and three shows and one hundred and twenty-seven blogs... I'm calling it a year. 2011 saw me do a lot of comedy, finish editing a feature film and get a puppy.  Oh yeah, I got married too.

I'm very proud of the strides I've made with comedy this year.  I got to open up for some of the biggest names in comedy (Mencia, Vos, Friedlander), got up in some of the biggest clubs (Carolines, Comic Strip Live) and got to do what I love to do two hundred and three times for anywhere from three to thirty-five minutes a piece.  Most importantly... I improved.

I filmed almost every set I did this year and I saw dramatic improvement in every category from last January to now.  It gives me hope that when I check the tape this time next year... I'll see that much improvement (and hopefully more) in 2012.

Anyway, I hope you have a happy new year and that we see eachother again at comedy show or pumpkin patch near you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Shows #200, #201 & #202: Sidebar, Red House Tavern and Magooby's Joke House

Show number two hundred and one was a long set without a microphone in front of a packed house at the Red House Tavern.  It was also my most consistent and possibly favorite set from this year. 

Twenty out of the twenty-five minutes were written since September and they have finally taken shape.  I'm really proud right now but realize there is still way too much room for improvement.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Closing in...

Like most humans, I set goals and think of resolutions at the beginning of every year.  Like most humans... I fail to keep them. 

At the beginning of 2011 I set two goals for myself.  One was to perform two hundred sets and the second was to keep track of them by blogging.  Unless I die in the next seven hours (which Vegas has at 8 to 1 odds), I should accomplish both of these things. 

I'm proud of this but as much as these two hundred sets have made me better... These accomplishments will serve as more of a reminder of how much further I need to go.  I have to get better. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shows #192, #193 & #194: Sonomas, Allstar Bar and Red House Tavern

I am drinking a Chai as I write this blog.  Sadly, this blog will never be as good as this Chai...

My 192nd show of 2011 came this past Monday at Sonoma's in Columbia, MD.  Overall, this was a very good show.  My set solid and I got laughs throughout.  It wasn't easy following 80 minutes of an open mic contest but the crowd was great.  Despite being tired, the crowd (of around 75 people) stuck around and were incredibly attentive.

I'm most proud of how much new material I did.  Twenty out of twenty two minutes of my Sonoma's set has been written since September.  As a result, I only repeated one joke from my previous twenty minute set at Sonoma's back in April.  That is a lot of new bits. 

Set #193 was possibly the most miserable open mic experience I've ever had.  It featured bad comedy (on my part), awful degenerate and heckling groups of people and a blown circuit breaker that cut the microphone four minutes into my set.  It was was a waste of time, money and gas.  On the bright side, I left this open mic refocused. 

I followed the worst open mic ever with a pleasant night at Red House Tavern on Wednesday.  On a dare from my friend Dave Shofer, I did some of my "vintage" jokes (some of which I hadn't done in over a year).  This was a lot of fun and surprisingly one of the better sets I've had recently.  After listening back, I'm going to resurrect at least two of these jokes for the CD recording in March.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Show #191: Hightopps Bar and Grille

Last night I performed at Hightopps for the last time in 2011.  My eleven minute set went over very well and I am still more than pleased with my new material.  I listened back to my set and there are still a few things I would go back and change.  Though it got a big laugh, my set up on "CVS" could have been a lot better.  The same goes for "My Funeral".  I've only done that premise a handful of times and it is getting better... but still needs a cleaner set up. 

The hilarious Justin Jones and my Hightopps setlist.
Hightopps has been my homebase and a big part of hitting my goal of doing two hundred sets this year.   It is not always an easy room but a room that has made me a much stronger comedian.  I'll be back there next year when I headline there (by myself) for the first time. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shows #189 & #190: The Comedy Spot and Tigercon

I worked out six minutes of new material at the Comedy Spot on Thursday.  I only came up with two new bits (as of Thursday) this week but both of them have been getting a good response.  I wanted to get in a second set that night at RFD but ended up getting there too late for stagetime.  Spending three hours driving in a KIA to work out six minutes of comedy will be one of the constants I will look back on for 2011.

I ended my week with a really fun show at Tigercon at Towson University in Maryland.  This show was part of the Geek Comedy Tour at Towson's yearly comic book convention.  I was really nervous about this show because I do not do a lot of "nerd centric" material but my fifteen minute set killed.  I even got to include two brand new bits that went over very well.  The audience of two hundred was one of the best and enthusiastic crowds I've had in a while.  Awesome experience. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shows #186, #187 & #188: Ellies Place, Allstar Bar and Red House Tavern

After polarizing the audience at Busboys Monday... I had two sets with mixed results on Tuesday. The first came in a very good twelve minute set at Ellies Place in Millersville.  Ellies is a monthly open mic that is notorious for loud video games and non-existent crowds but Tuesday was surprisingly good.  My set consisted of two new premises ("Vanilla Dipper" worked but the other one did not) and other jokes I have been working on for the last month.  This was a consistently solid set with good laughs throughout. 

After Ellies I drove across town for a ten minute set at Allstar Bar in Baltimore.  As stated in previous posts, this is a room I go to every week to try out brand new premises and ideas.  It is getting harder and harder to talk for ten minutes without repeating myself every week and it showed this past tuesday.  Despite struggling, two brand new premises (out of ten) are going to be good jokes. 

On Wednesday I performed a set at Red House Tavern in Canton.  This ten minute set was one of the best shows I've had in a while.  Made up of bits written in the past month, every joke connected.  It felt very good.  With just a little more tightening and polishing, these bits are going to be ready for the taping in March.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Show #185: Busboys and Poets

I always wondered what would happen if someone found my notebook...

For the most part, I do not write out bits.  I usually write a keyword or bullet point down and then talk out a bit at open mic nights.  I repeat that process dozens of times until these bullet points/ideas become jokes/bits and then eventually becomes an act.  This is how I create material.  Aside from a few random jokes/ideas (that I want to remember very specific wording from the beginning) my notebook is littered with random phrases, premises, thoughts and things that out of context seem crazy.


After filling my old notebook, I bought a new one this past weekend.  "WBAL", "Sexual Harassment", "CVS/Anal Warts" and "Next Bus" (which was later replaced by "Alomar") were the first words written in this brand new black Five Star notebook.  To me this was tonight's set list but if left in a taxi, on a bench or God forbid at work... could come across as thoughts, potentially insidious notions and digressions of a serial killer or a mental patient.  Out of context, this list could be construed as a random itinerary or at the very least codewords by a Masonic or terrorist group of some kind but in reality it represents the scattered thoughts and ramblings of a moronic and neurotic stand up comedian.  Some could and would argue that the latter is worse.

P.S.  My nine minute set at BB&P was fine.  "Alomar" was too dirty/polarizing and I should not have done it (let alone closed with it) at this venue.

Show #184: Growlers Pub

I had a good ten minute set at Growlers in Gaithersburg last night. I stumbled at the beginning of one joke late in my set, but got consistent laughs and did well as a whole. I dusted off two older jokes that I haven't done in a while and did my new closer. The show had a great crowd (sixty-ish people) and an amazing headliner in Erik Myers.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shows #182 & #183: Allstar Bar and Red House Tavern

My one hundred and eighty-second set came at the Allstar Bar in Baltimore on Tuesday.  There was not much of a crowd (five comedians/eight bar patrons) but my eleven minute set went over very well.  I've been in storytelling mode for a while now and this format has been working for me.  Two stories that I started telling Monday (at Sidebar) have been killing and are bound to be set staples.  The only mistake I made was stepping on a laugh during my final bit.  I should have held for the laugh longer. 

I followed Allstar with a ten minute set at Red House Tavern on Wednesday.  This was a good set and a great pre-thanksgiving crowd.  The new stuff continues to progress and I closed with an old bit that did very well (despite my timing being a little off on the older joke's punchline).  Again... I made the mistake of stepping on a long laugh.  It killed the laugh that the tag of the joke usually gets. 

I need to fix that. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shows #178, #179, #180 & #181: Comedy Spot, Clare and Don's, RFD and Sidebar Tavern

Four sets this week... I worked on a lot of new jokes (most of them working well) and dismantled a drunken heckler at RFD on Saturday.  All in all, it was a very productive week and I hope to get in a few more mics before Thanksgiving.  Good times. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shows #174, #175, #176 & #177: Hightopps Bar and Grille, Busboys and Poets, Blue Banana Sports Bar and Allstar Bar

I've done four sets since Sunday and there was little to no bombing.  I've been working on three brand new premises this week and two of them are keepers.  The highlight of the week was my set at Busboys and Poets in Arlington. 

I enjoy doing shows at Busboys because it is made up of mostly poetry.  A lot of these poets are extremely talented but all of them are incredibly sincere.  As a comedian, these shows force you to be genuine and earnest (something we should be doing anyway). This set featured a lot of storytelling and my 9 minutes was one of my better received sets in a while. 

In other news, I have coined the phrase "Jewneral"....

P.S. It's official.  My first live CD recording is happening on March 4th.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shows #172 & #173: Allstar Bar and Red House Tavern

I had a good 8 minute set at Allstar Bar in Baltimore (despite being pissed at myself for messing up the wording on one of the new bits).  I followed up this set with a stellar 8 minute set at a dirty (extremely offensive) show at Red House Tavern in Canton.  The dirty show set consisted of material just for the dirty show and went over very well. I'll be back at Red House as the featured comic (doing my "regular" bits in two weeks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shows #170 & #171: Arlington Drafthouse and Sidebar Tavern

One bad show followed by a good show last night.... Long blog and news coming soon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shows #168 & #169: The Reserve and Red House Tavern

I did two sets tonight in Baltimore, Maryland.  The first set came via a six minute guest spot at The Reserve in Federal Hill.  Mediocre is the most positive word I can think of for my performance.  This was a yuppy-ish crowd and they were certainly polarized by the "edgier" material. 

Ultimately, I did not make enough adjustments during this set and it provided mixed results. I was also distracted by a table occupied by a kick ball team (I know this because they were wearing kick ball uniforms).  I should not have let them get to me...After one joke, a girl at this table gave me a very loud "womp wah". 

I'm assuming this girl will stumble across my blog at some point (because my shit is blowing up)...  so to her I say: I work hard on jokes and just because you didn't get it, doesn't mean you should drunkedly mock me to your drunk yuppy friends.  Also, you should consider playing a real sport like... Teather Ball.  P.S. Eat shit. 

After show one, I raced over to Canton for a ten minute set at the Red House Tavern in Canton.  I was very happy to get this set in, because I got a second chance.  I fixed a few of my mistakes and saw instant results.  It was nice rebounding the same night and not having to wait until tomorrow.   Overall this was a really good set.  The new stuff continues to hit and take shape.   I feel great about the progress. 

Special thanks to Dave Shofer for putting me on his shows. 

P.S. I know my shit isn't really blowing up.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Show #167: Busboys and Poets

I did 6 minutes at a cool open mic in Arlington, Virginia.  The mic was at a venue called Busboys and Poets and was open to poets, storytellers and comedians.  I had a very good set in front of a packed house and learned a lot about the new jokes I'm telling.  Besides flubbing one line, this was a very strong and well delivered set.  The response was great too. 

I performed 27 sets this month which is more than any other month since I started doing standup. I have also written more material than any other month and feel great about where I am. October has seen nothing but progress and steps in the right direction.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Show #166: Magooby's Joke House


P.S. It wasn't just me... Every comedian on the bill struggled. It was still a fun and character building evening.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Show #165: The Comedy Spot

I left my six minute set at the Comedy Spot in Ballston, Virginia feeling better than I have in a while.  The set was made up of mostly unpolished material, including two brand new jokes that I thought of this week.  Despite botching a joke, every punchline got a really solid laugh and did incredibly well.

It is amazing how a good set can turn your day around...

Shows #163 & #164: Sidebar and Red House Tavern

I had two good sets on Monday and Wednesday... The 12 minutes at Sidebar and 9 minutes at Red House Tavern focused mostly on new material and concepts that I came up with recently.  The new jokes (mostly from Red House) have a lot of potential. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shows #160, #161 & #162: Vespucci's, Varsity Lounge and Growlers

I did a 16 minute set at Vespucci's in Fairfax, Virginia this past Friday and it went over well.  I continued polishing long form bits and used alternate tags on older bits.  Due to working on new material, this was the first time I worked on some of my older bits.  For the most part, I delivered these jokes well and got a great response. 

I followed up Vespuccis with a 19 minute set at the Varsity Lounge in College Park and a 23 minute set at Growlers in Gaithersberg.  These were fun shows and the long sets went over well.  My new closer/story has been killing and is tying the whole set together in a very nice way.  I really liked doing these longer sets and am proud that I did not do all of my planned bits.  It has been nice doing 20 minutes without it feeling like 20 minutes.  I'm confident that I can go anywhere and do a killer 30 minute set. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Show #157: Allstar Bar and Grille

I did ten minutes at the Allstar Bar and Grille in Baltimore, Maryland tonight. I'm still working on the new bits from the past month and I got laughs. However, a new joke bombed and I screwed up the wording on two of the newer bits. One bit is close to five minutes long and there is a lot to remember. There are a lot of digressions and jokes within jokes, so repetition and practice are the only things that will help me with the wording.

It was one of those nights where on the surface I did well and got a good response... but I know I was off. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Show #156: Sonoma's Bar and Grille

I did twelve minutes at Sonoma's Bar and Grille in Columbia, Maryland tonight.  I continued to work on new bits and polish the material I have been working on for the last month.  My new closer is working out very nicely.  I need to cut out a few lines and do some polishing but it is going to be a killer chunk.  The new opener I have been using is also working out well.  I think this is going to be the opener for my long sets as well.

Show #151, #152, #153, #154 & #155: The Comic Strip Live, The Creek and the Cave (two sets), Andy Walsh's Apartment Mic and Perch Cafe

I got into New York City on Friday afternoon and got to work quickly. My first of five shows came via a showcase at the Comic Strip Live! in the Upper East Side.

The show at the Strip went very well but included a few interruptions.  During the seven minute set I delt with a cellphone ring and three heckler/participators.  A year ago, I would have froze and/or shit my pants in this situation but Friday I handled it all very well.  Each heckler repsonse got a laugh and the last one got a big applause break.  I'm proud of the composure I displayed during this set.  I got a lot of great feedback from the booker at the Comic Strip and will be returning soon. 

I followed up the Comic Strip Live show with two sets (one friday/one saturday) at the Creek and the Cave in Long Island City.  This was a fun and supportive venue to comics.  I had two good sets (with the better one) on Friday and worked on a lot of new jokes. 

Saturday evening was the most unique of the NYC shows when I did an "Apartment Mic" in Williamsburg (a Hipster Section in Brooklyn).  An apartment mic is exactly what it sounds like... Someone sets up a mic and PA in their house and invites people over.  Some shows (In New York, Baltimore and the rest of the world) can suck and bar shows can feature a million interruptions and distractions.  Atleast at an apartment mic, everyone is there for the same reason. 

This mic was at Andy Walsh's apartment (a comedian friend of a friend who I met at the Creek) and seated about twenty people.  Going to someone's apartment you don't know can be daunting and a little scary (I was a little worried that I would end up the backend of a Human Centipede) but this turned out to be great.  Everyone was really nice and supportive and I recommend every comedian does one of these shows.  A good set was a bonus to the night. 

I finished up the New York tip with a set at the Perch Cafe in Park Slope.  The nine minute set was spent telling stories and working on new bits.  It wasn't filled with laughs but I think people was engaged with the stories and enjoyed it.  I finished on really big bits and laughs but still need to cut the fat on some of these jokes. 

Overall, this was a great and productive trip to the Big Apple.  I have to give a special thanks and shot out to my friends Will Carey, Ben Rosen and Bryan Preston for showing me the ropes and hitting up some rooms with me.  I met a lot of really cool new people and gained a lot of experience from this trip.  This was definitely a confidence builder. 

P.S. If you are in New York... Eat a donut from the Donut Pub and a slice from Ben's Pizzeria. You can thank me later.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Show #150: Magooby's Joke House

Before my trip to New York, I did 5 minutes of mostly new material at Magooby's Joke House in Baltimore Md.  The new set was made up of bits I had been working on over the past two weeks.  These jokes are also my darkest and arguably most "offensive" joks to date and for the most part went over very well.  I think with talking about my marriage and being non-threatening in general, it helps me get away with this stuff.  I missed one line in a new joke that will make it a strong bit but overall this was a very good set.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shows #145 & #146: The Comedy Spot and RFD

After a few rough sets this week, I bounced back with two good sets tonight.  The first took place at the Comedy Spot in Ballston, Virginia.  The eight minute set consisted of all material developed over the past few weeks.  My first three jokes in particular popped...

I had been working a lot on the wording and phrasing on these jokes and it was nice telling them well.  I also used this set to get rid of two bits that I had been trying.  These jokes are an example of jokes that I am really proud but never really translated to crowds.  The jokes are a bit dark but I may revisit them in the future. 

After the Comedy Spot, I jetted over to RFD in Washington, DC for a six minute set.  I had to change my set list on the fly because the comedian that went on before me covered a few of my premises (something that is bound to happen when you're on a show with twenty other comics).  Every joke connected and got really strong laughs from the crowd of fifty or so people.  The two new jokes I focused on at Comedy Spot received even bigger laughs this time around. 

Overall, it was a great cap to a really good comedy night. 

Shows #141, #142 & #143 & #144: Growlers, Banana Cafe, Allstar Bar and Potomac Grill

I started off the week by doing an eight minute set at Growlers in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The set was made up of mostly polished material and went over very well. Despite the Ravens game and near by traintracks, I kept my composure and gave a really solid performance.

Growlers 10/1/2011
I followed up Growlers with a good fifteen minute set at the (now defunct) Bananna Cafe in Washington, DC. The new stuff is gelling and going well and I improvized two jokes that are becoming good jokes. I also had a good amount of fun picking on a member of the audience named "Justin" (I don't care what he says... his name was Josh).

Potomac 10/5/2011
I'm having way less fun than it looks like

I followed up these sets with two sets at Allstar Bar and Potomac Grill. The sixteen minute and twelve minute sets were kind of rough but certainly built character and material. When you do all new bits, there are going to be a lot of rough patches and growing pains. This week certainly featured a lot of both.

Though my batting average was lower when it comes to getting laughs (they should be when you do 10-15 minutes of new stuff weekly) the jokes that have hit have been big. I've been throwing a lot of things against the wall and seeing what happens... I've certainly been thrilled with what has been sticking.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shows #139 & #140: Allstar Bar and Grill and Red House Tavern

I've been working hard on new material and it is starting to take shape.  I'm looking to record a live album in February so all my time has been spent writing and polishing.  I don't have many shows coming up, so most of my time has been spent at the open mics...

From my 12 minute set at Allstar Bar and Grill
If you  are looking for a Mike Finazzo fix, please go to Itunes and download my episode of Digression Sessions.  It is a really funny podcast with Mike Moran and Josh Kuderna that I recorded last week.  It was a fun time and a good listen. 

P.S. Watch 50/50.  I was really looking forward to this movie and it still ended up exceeding my expectations.  Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth Rogen and my future third wife Anna Kendrick are all fantastic in it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Show #138: Looking Glass

I did 5 minutes at the Looking Glass Lounge in Washington, DC.  I have never felt better or learned more from a sparsley crowded and mediocre open mic set.  My opening and closing punchlines were met with awkward silence and my transitions (to the new bits) need shortening.  On the positive side, one of the jokes I started doing on Thursday did great and I figured out a way to work an older bit (that didn't have a place in my long set) into one of my newer stories.  This old joke has made a good bit into a great bit.  The long set is taking shape. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shows #135, #136 & #137: Comedy Spot, Terra Cafe and Laughter in the Basement

This past Thursday, I peformed eight minutes at The Comedy Spot in Ballston, Virginia.  Despite the extremely small audience (one patron and six comedians) I got a lot out of this open mic. Only one of my jokes had been previously told (the joke was written specifically for the "dirty show" I did a few weeks ago but has made it's way into my regular set).  The rest of the set was either brand new or improvized.  When writing new material, these sets are great.  I think a few of these ideas are going to stick. 

I had a similar experience at the Terra Cafe in Baltimore, Maryland the following night.  My eleven minute set was mainly used to work on the wording for new bits and trying out new ideas.  It was a very productive and character building set. 

I closed out with the week with a twenty-two minute set at Laughter in the Basement in Leesburg, Virginia.  This was a lot of fun and a really good set.  I did mostly polished stuff but also had fun playing "F, Marry or Kill" with the cast of "What's Eating Gilbert Grape".  Fun times. 

The show in Leesburg will probably be my last booked show sometime (with the exception of a trip to New York next month).  I haven't been trying to get a lot of shows and want to focus on writing and building new material for the next three months.  I'm looking to book a ton of shows in January and February and then recording a live album in late February.  So for now... It's all about writing and hitting open mics. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shows #127, #128, #129, #130, #131, #132, #133 & #134: Capital Comedy Connection, Sonoma's Bar and Grille, RFD, Varsity Lounge, Hightopps Bar and Grille, The Windup Space, Joe Squared and All Star Bar and Grill

I have a lot of shows to talk about, so let's get it started...

On Saturday (September 10th) I made my third appearance on The Capital Comedy Connection.  The show was a challenge because I had to work clean but I also did not want to repeat myself.  Going in, I did not know if I had a combined eighteen minutes of clean material but this ended up being my best set on the show to date. 

I followed up this appearance with a show at Sonoma's Bar and Grille on September 12th.  The show was a contest and my job was to warm up the crowd while the ballots were being passed out to audience members.  This was not ideal because the ballots were being explained and given to people, so the audience was paying attention in chunks.  This is a show that felt like work and I plowed through it.  Despite the conditions, it was a solid set. 

I performed at RFD in Washington, DC on September 15th.  As I have stated before, this is one of the best open mics in the region.  It is nice to see an open mic run by really cool guys and comics that look out for other comics.  I wish there were more rooms like this.  My five minute set was a very good one that included a new call back (a tag referencing a line earlier in the set) that received an applause break. 

After RFD, I closed out a showcase at the Varsity Lounge in College Park, Maryland.  This twenty-two minute set went over very well and included a lot of new material.  The call back I tried two days earlier got another strong reaction and applause break and has become a very good bit for me.  The highlight of this show was picking on the table of West Virginians (in town for the UM/WV football game).  It was all in good fun and showed improv skills that I did not have six months ago.  I'm going to post a video of this exchange in the next few days. 

My eight minute set at Hightopps in Timonium, Maryland was a really strong set.  This set was a return to my homebase for comedy and featured a lot of strong reactions.  One new joke didn't work out, but the rest of the set connected.  I need to simply the joke in question and set up the premise better.  It still has potential. 

This past monday featured two sets.  The first show was a fifteen minute run at the Wind Up Space in Baltimore, Maryland.  This is a monthly showcase that features Improv and standup.  It was an interesting energy in the room and I never quite connected with the audience.  Still, it was a good set and I got laughs throughout.  I just feel like I really had to work for laughs. 

My second set that night came at (the now defunct) Joe Squared which was run by my good friend Mike Storck.  I tried out a lot of new material and did a lot of improvizing which was very fun and important for me to do.  I hope Mike puts another open mic together soon because he is one of those comedians that looks out for people.  He is a genuinely good guy and I wish more people that ran open mics were like him. 

My last show was at Allstar Bar & Grill in Baltimore, Maryland.  This was the first open mic at the venue and run by my friend Leclerc Darguin.  This turned out to be a great work out room (the audience was made up of 15 patrons and 10 comedians) and I tried out and worked on new jokes.  As I watched the video back, I noticed how comfortable I was.  A few of the new jokes didn't work but I did't come off awkward or phased by that.  There was a time (not too long ago) that if I joke fell flat... I was done for the rest of the set (and probably the next day at my 9-5 job).  Now if a joke fails, I have more confidence that the next one will hit.  This is probably the area I have improved with the most at stand up.  I ended up closing out this set stronger than any other set I did during this run. 

Overall, this was a very successful series of sets.  I have a few really good new bits and got to work on a lot of things over the past week.  I just need to keep it up...

Sometimes you start liking something ironically... then you like it genuinely.  Now you hate yourself for it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011


I performed at Carolines on Broadway last Monday. This marked the fourth time I made a trip to the Big Apple for comedy. The first trip was last August when I did a bringer show (a show that requires a performer to bring a certain number of people in exchange for stage time) at Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan.

My first trip to Gotham was a great experience for me. I was only six months into my stand up "career" when I made this venture and there was a lot of excitement in being at that club on that stage. It did not matter that it was a six o'clock Saturday show that required I find four friends in NYC in order to perform or even that it was a low turnout of forty people in a club that holds over three hundred. The rush of performing on a famous stage like Gotham and passing pictures of every performer that ever performed there (including Steve Martin) on my way to the bathroom made this trip more than worthwhile.

Since this initial trip, I went back to perform in New York three times at venues such as New York Comedy Club, Stand Up New York and Carolines on Broadway. Being the home club of guys like Louis C.K., Bill Burr and many great guys before them, performing at Carolines was a huge landmark for me.

I first perormed at Carolines this past April and it was a crazy time for me. I was getting married in less than three weeks and because of that overbooked myself in March and April. I knew I would not be performing much in May and June (wedding, honeymoon, life, etc.) so I took every show I could leading up to that. This culminated in a trip to New York and performing at Carolines.

Though a great experience, I did not have the set I wanted to have. I was burnt out and tired. I had been performing a lot, worked a fulltime job, helped my wife with wedding planning and was forty-five pounds heavier than I am right now. This and the pressure I put on myself made my Carolines debut tight and tense. It wasn't a bomb but it was mediocre at best. Instead of going four for four with two homeruns... I went two for three with a strike out. Though it wasn't my best, the booker invited me to come back and I did so less than a week ago.

This time I went into Carolines in fighting shape and incredibly sharp (getting a weekend at Magooby's where I did five shows in three days certainly helped the crispness of this performance). My set was supposed to be six minutes and it ended up being ten minutes of constant laughs and a really solid performance.

Like my set at the Mencia show last month, I drew on the learning experiences of the past eighteen months and used them to put on a good show. The reason my set was long was because I never got the light (the mark tells you if you have anywhere from one to five minutes left in your set). There was a time when this would have rattled me. I would have been constantly looking for the light and not focused on the task at hand: having a good set.

In watching the video back, this is the most comfortable and engaging I have been on stage to date. I did a good job selling every joke and worked each side of the room filled with over two hundred people. The critique I give myself is with my closer. Because my set was longer than it was originally supposed to be, I closed on a joke that I typically would not have closed on. The joke did not bomb by any stretch of the imagination. In sports terms it was a bunt single after a stream of homeruns and line drive doubles.

After my previous set at Carolines, I was met with indifference by the other comedians. This time I was met with fist bumps, high fives and handshakes. I'm a guy that is hard on himself about a lot in life. I judge myself harsher than anyone does with comedy... but this time I crushed it at Carolines. To have a great set on that stage meant a lot and is a feeling I won't forget.

The highlight of the night for me was meeting Bill Burr. After my set, I walked out of the showroom to go to the bathroom and hang out at the bar. The first person I saw at the empty bar was Bill. He could not have been a nicer or cooler guy. We made small talk about comedy and a radio show we both did in Baltimore (Slavy Seconds). The thing I'll take away from this meeting is Burr's love of comedy. The man just finished taping his sixth appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman and he had an endless list of possibilities of things he could do to celebrate. He's in New York. There are a million bars or restaraunts he could go to. Hell, he could go back to the hotel and hang out with his girlfriend. Instead, he went to a comedy club to "hang out and eat some tomatoes." I hope this is the place I decide to hang out after Letterman when I'm two decades into the game.

Towards the end of the show, Judah Friedlander (30 Rock, American Splendor) stopped by to do a set. It was fun seeing a bigger name comedian coming by a room to work on his new material. It's a friendly reminder that in comedy we eventually end up at the same level. Despite money or television success, whenever a comedian starts that new set or new joke, he ends up at this comedic version of ground zero. I didn't get a chance to talk to Judah as much as I did Bill, but it was fun to watch his set. He is a really funny guy.

In the end, I got as much as I could have gotten out of this trip to New York. I got to meet a great comic and one I look up to in Bill Burr. I got to hang out with my wife and my great friends Will Carey and Ben Rosen. I had a great set and a great video of it on a stage that probably means more to me personally than any other one in comedy. Did I mention that I got invited to come back in October? As far as comedy Mondays go... this past one was a good one.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Show #119, #120 & #121: Carolines on Broadway, Baltimore Comedy Factory and Terra Cafe

I wrote a really long epic blog but a combination of Hurricane Irene and Blogger's ineptitude caused it to vanish forever.  I promise a really blog (that will mainly focus on my experience at Carolines in New York) is coming very soon...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shows #112, #113, #114, #115, #116, #117 & #118: Ragtime, Red House Tavern and Magooby's Joke House

After a brief family vacation/getaway, I had a busy week of sets...

On Tuesday, I hit Ragtime in Arlington, Virginia.  This room is run and organized by Rahmein Mostafavi at Cool Cow Comedy.  This is a great and intimate room that always seems to have the best lineups in local comedy.  My seven minute set went over well and was used to mainly go over and polish some of my older bits.  Besides one bit that could have been worded better and tightened, I did a good job delivering and remembering these jokes. 

I followed this set by working on new material at Red House Tavern in Canton, Maryland.  This eight minute set was a series of awkward silences and chatty bar patrons interrupted by laughs.  I've enjoyed this venue a few other times I've been there... but it was sparsley crowded on this occasion and featured a table of talkers in the back of the bar (something that is hard to ignore when the bar is as small as it is at RHT).  This open mic was productive in the sense that I got to work on new premises and cut the fat on new bits I've been working on.  Also, the four people paying attention like me...

I ended the week at Magooby's Joke House for a weekend hosting run.  This was a very interesting five shows in a three days.  The crowds were small because it is August and at the end of vacation season (not to mention, the friday shows were competing against a home Ravens game).  The crowds were a little older and tighter than usual, but I still had a lot of fun.  I sprinkled in a lot of new bits through out the shows and did a lot more improv than I usual do.  I'm also glad that I ended the week on a high note and had great sets on Saturday. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shows #106, #107, #108, #109, #110 & #111: Hightopps Bar and Grille, Potomac Grill, Vespucci's, State Theatre, Sonoma's Bar and Grille and Red House Tavern

I stopped by Hightopps Bar and Grille in Timonium, Maryland on July 31, 2011 to continue working on new material. I asked my good friend and showrunner T. Brad Hudson for some extra time so I could work on stretching these new bits and incorperating them into my longer set. Brad was generous enough to do so and give me the feature spot before headliner Jason Weems.

If you do not know who Jason Weems is... I highly recommend looking him up. Jason, a Baltimore comic and finalist on Last Comic Standing is one of the best comedians working and a really nice guy to boot. When I started doing comedy in February 2010, Weems was one of the comedians on the line up at my first open mic at the Topaz Hotel in Washington, DC. Jason was already a headliner at that point and his career has gotten even bigger since then.

I'm also proud to call Jason a friend in comedy. Since we met, he has been extremely supportive and gracious with his time and resources. Always kind and open to giving advice, Weems has provided a bit of a road map for me in my budding comedy career. The dude became a headliner and legitimate working comedian in less than four s(something I aspire to do). He is a respected locally and nationally and is one of the hardest working people in the industry. He does all of this while gracefully balancing a busy schedule that includes a full-time job as an elementary school teacher, a wife and his first child on the way. The way he balances his life and career is inspiring and one that should be appreciated by anyone in or outside of the comedy realm. With a wife, a job and comedic aspirations... I certainly do.

My fourteen minute set (that featured ten minutes that were performed for either the first time or only a handful of times before) went extremely well. Obviously, there was stumbling. I'm still figuring out what some of the new bits are and shaping them. I told two jokes incorrectly by telling parts of them backwards (switching the set up and the punchlines). I also forgot to tell two jokes that I wanted to polish. Overall, this was stil a really good set. Not my best or most polished, but my deliveries and salesmanship of the bits were really strong and I got laughs on every joke but one (that has been dropped since that show).

I followed up Hightopps with a set at Potomac Grill in Rockville, Maryland on August 3rd. I drove two hours roundtrip to do 7 minutes in front of eight comedians and two audience members. I didn't make these ten people or the invisible folks in the back of the room laugh but neither did anyone else. I will file this set in the "character building" folder.

On August 5th, I did a friday night showcase at Vespucci's in Fairfax, Virginia. This was a very interesting night that opened with a twenty minute performance by a belly dancer. This middle aged woman put the belly in belly dancer and made me feel like I was a lead character in a Christopher Guest movie.  I ended up doing fifteen minutes that was made up of a lot of crowd work (something I could not have done a year ago) and I got laughs through out my set. Overall, it was a fun night and I have to give special thanks to my friend Jessica Brodkin for setting me up with the show.

I was at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virgina the following night. This was a really good experience and a very strong seven minute set (which included all polished/established material) in front of one hundred and fifty people. The State Theatre is a beautiful venue and it made me feel like a legit performer. I entered the venue through a side door that read "Artist Entry". I didn't know that telling masturbation jokes made me an artist.

A classy picture Will Hessler took back stage
 at the State Theatre in VA.

I performed ten minutes at Sonoma's Bar and Grille in Columbia, Maryland. I used this set to continue working on new material. One of the bits I'm doing now incorperates jokes within jokes and has become a four minute bit. It has been getting a great response. I worked mostly on my transitions and remembering the order of jokes/bits during this set.

Despite the jokes still being raw and not polished or in their prime state, I'm getting laughs. I think my comfortability and joke selling is getting better and I am becoming more engaging on stage (I still have a lot of work to do on this but I'm light years past where I was at the beginning of the year). This was a set where I feel like I got by on being a good performer and not necessarily telling the best crafted jokes (something that happens when you're working on new material).

Tonight I did a set at the Red House Tavern in Canton, Maryland. This is quickly becoming my new workout room. I can just kind of show up and do time and throw out new ideas. I did fifteen minutes of the new jokes I have been working on as well as new concepts I was throwing out for the first time. It was a lot of fun.

I finally deleted a joke that I tried out three times and it never worked (that is a general rule in comedy... try something out three times before you judge it for better or worse). I still like the joke but in three attempts... it never got a laugh.

The aborted bit in question talks about wishing I was as excited about anything as my dog is about everything. For example: My dog wakes up in the morning and is excited to be alive. She wags her tail and is amazed by a life of eating, pooping and scratching her imaginary balls. On the other hand, I wake up every morning and am I mess. I'm groggy and tired. The first thing I say in the morning is: "Damn... well that happened again".

They all can't be winners...


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shows #100, #101, #102, #103, #104 & #105: Arlington Draft House, Sonoma's Bar & Grille, RFD, A Second Chance Saloon, Red House Tavern and Magooby's Joke House

Sorry for the lack of updates...

Show #100 was a twenty minute struggle at Arlington Drafthouse. The crowd was very tight and each comedian struggled to get laughs. The only silver lining was that I stuck with it. After struggling for 15 minutes, I kept pounding away. My last three jokes hit well and I ended on very high notes and big laughs. Overall, this was still a really tough set.

Show #101 was a fifteen minute feature set for Tony Woods at Sonomas Bar & Grill in Columbia, Maryland. This was a very good show and an honor to work with Tony. Mr. Woods has done well in his career (multiple Comedy Central Specials, headlines clubs across the county, etc) but I still feel like he should be selling out arenas. It was also nice that he went out of his way to give advice and was very complimentary towards my set.

Show #102 was a really strong five minutes at RFD in Washington DC. It was a mostly polished set to a crowd of one hundred or so people and I crushed it. Big laughs and two applause breaks. Good times.

Show #103 occured at A Second Chance Saloon in Columbia, Maryland. This was the first time I had performed at this venue and it was a good show. I did eight minutes and got laughs on every joke. I have to give major props to my friend and headliner Rob Maher... he is a very very funny dude.

I hosted show #104 at the Red House Tavern in Canton, Maryland. This felt like more of a fun social gathering because it was all comics and no audience. Still it was fun pitching new jokes to good friends and working on my improvization skills.

Show #105 happened at Magooby's Joke House in Baltimore, Maryland. I did seven minutes of mostly new and (slightly) dirtier material. I had a blast and enjoyed doing two bits I had never done before. These jokes are going to become staples. I can't wait for them to progress and evolve over the next few weeks. Overall, this was a very very good performance.

I wanted to thank everyone for the positive feedback and messages I have been getting about my Carlos Mencia blog. I always enjoy getting emails and message that don't say I suck, so the input and notes I have been getting are way too kind and really unnecessary. I hope to write more in-depth blogs and bring more content to this site in the future...

Again, I apologize for the lack of updates. I have been very busy but I promise there is a long video blog coming soon. Until then... blah blah blah blah and thank you for reading.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Mencia Show

Before I write about my one hundreth set this year, I wanted to expand on my experience working with Carlos Mencia at Magooby's Joke House last Tuesday. I have been promising a longer blog for a while and if there is any show that deserves one, this is it.

When Andrew Unger (the owner and booker at Magooby's) asked me to open a show for Carlos Mencia, many things were going through my head. First of all, I was incredibly surprised. It is a big deal for any comedy club to bring in a name like Mencia, but it is an especially big deal for a club in an area like Baltimore. Baltimore tends to get lost in the shuffle a bit. If a big act comes this way, they tend to go to Washington, DC. I don't know if it is because the Improv has a pedigree or if it is easier to get to from New York, but most major comedy acts forgo Baltimore and head to DC. If a big act like Mencia comes this way, he is most like going to be in a bigger theatre (as was the case last time when Mencia headlined the Lyric Opera House).

On this tour, Mencia focused on clubs. He wanted to use this as an opportunity to warm up for his new hour long Comedy Central Special and work out his new material. This is what brought him to Magooby's Joke House. To date, Mencia is the biggest name Magooby's headlined. As you can imagine, this was a huge show for them and there are probably fifty or so local comics the venue could have asked (or at least I would have asked) first to host. So it was a big surprise and great honor just to be considered.

That being said, I had some reservations in doing the show. Despite being one of the most popular stand up comedians working, Carlos has his share of haters. This hatred and stigma mostly comes from allegations of joke stealing and plagiarism brought on by several comics that worked with Mencia (two of which I am a big fan of in Joe Rogan and Ari Shaffir). Since the allegations he has admitted to some of these wrong doings and defended himself from many others. Is Carlos guilty? I think that is a debate that has been described by smarter people on better blogs (If you get a chance... Check out Marc Maron's podcast and interview with Mencia). Ultimately, his fans love him and his haters love to crucify him.

In taking the gig, I ran into many of the latter. Comedians that I barely know or talk to went out of their way to contact me through facebook or this site to bash Mencia or me for opening for him. A lot of the bashing was unconstructive and childish. I also know the comics that got on me for this would have taken the show in a heartbeat if it had been offered to them.

I accepted the show because it was a great opportunity. For me, it was a chance to perform in front of a sold out crowd at my favorite comedy club opening for a legit A-list headliner. Most importantly, it was a chance to get better at my craft. Of course I was going to do it. However the reasons I wanted to do it were also the reasons behind and cause of my anxiety.

As I've said in previous blogs, I'm still an infant in comedy. This show is a big stage (figuratively and literally) for any comedian, let alone a schmuck only doing comedy for eighteen months. Hell, I played guitar for fourteen years and never had a chance to open for Cheap Trick or Coldplay. I felt like I had just graduated from teeball to the instructional league only to skip high school, college and the minors before called up to catch for the Orioles.

My neuroses made me wonder if I was doing this prematurely. My biggest worry was letting down Magooby's. Andrew and the staff there have been really good to me (giving me way more chances than I deserve) and I did not want to let them down. Again, this is a big show for every one involved. I did not want to blow it.

I didn't eat and was anxious the day of the show. I'm not sure if then nerves or the empty stomach made me nauseous, but I had an awkward feeling in the pit of my stomach from the minute I woke up and it did not go away at any point.

One of my favorite songs is a tune called "How You Like Me Now" by a Brit band called The Heavy. It is a great song that you may recognize from the movie "The Fighter" or the TV show "Lights Out." This song (which I shared with everyone via Facebook status that day) and my supportive wife were the only things that kept me sane all day. With her and my Ipod by my side, we got to the club at around 7:30 for the 8:00 show. The place was already packed and I became even more nervous.

Before the show... there was some stress caused by miscommunication between Mencia's camp and the club that made me think for about five minutes that I was not going to open the show. Before the show it was agreed that Carlos would bring his own feature act (a comic that performs 20 minutes after the host and directly before the headliner) and that the club would provide a local host to open the show and introduce the acts (the idiot writing this blog). Mencia showed up to Magooby's that night with two comedians. Obviously, it was Carlos' intention to have one of his guys feature and the other to host. Luckily for me, Andrew at Magooby's was adamant about having me MC the show (again... way too fucking good to me).

I wasn't there for the conversation, but I imagine it wasn't that intense of a war room discussion. Carlos' Tour Manager Joey is a laid back guy and his host Rivist Dunlap (who was a really nice dude) was cool and agreed to do five minute guest spot while I opened and hosted the show. Though the crisis was averted, it did not help the sick feeling in my stomach or my blood pressure.

Carlos Mencia got to Magooby's Joke House at 7:45. The first thing I noticed is how different he looked. Apparently, he worked really hard to get into shape before and during this tour that he lost sixty-five pounds. He looked like a different person. We made small talk about the tour, Baltimore and his upcoming special that he was filming. It's weird to say, but I was surprised how nice of a guy he was. I know you shouldn't be shocked when people act the way they are supposed to but I was. Despite everything I heard (rightly and wrongly) he could not have been more of a professional or a gentleman during my encounters with him.

At 8:00 I sat along the side of the stage waiting for the show to start. As the pre-show announcements started, I did what I do before every set: I took three very deep breaths. I once took a cheesy breathing exercise training for work and for some reason part of the lesson stuck with me. The one simple breathing technique usually works for me. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. During my breathe out is when I heard it...

"How You Like Me Now" by The Heavy started playing right as the announcer started listing my credits. Dave Shofer (local booker, friend, colleague, sound guy) saw my video facebook status earlier that day and decided to use the song as my introduction music. It wasn't something we talked about (hosts or features don't typically pick their intro music) but something he said he felt like doing. As I heard the opening horns, I couldn't help but laugh to myself and any nerves I had disappeared. I took the stage to my favorite song at the best comedy club in front of a sold out crowd of 370 people which most importantly featured the greatest person I'll ever know... my wife. I could have died then and died a happy man.

I had a great eight minute and thirty-five second set. The only reason I know it was good is because I watched the video. As long as the built up felt and as excited as I was, the set itself was a blur. The only thing I remember was my third joke in got a huge extended laugh... As I paused to wait for laughs, all I could think was "Holy shit."

When I watched the video, the first thing I noticed was that I looked comfortable and relaxed on stage. The past eighteen months of shows, good open mics, bad open mics and countless learning experiences came together for one night in a very solid set. Every joke hit and despite the big crowd and sound issues, I never lost control. I don't know if he was really paying attention, but Mr. Mencia told me I did a great job and fist bumped me as I got off stage.

The cheers as I introduced Carlos were the loudest noise I have ever heard in my life. The only thing I can compare it to was how I remember it being when Ripken hit a homerun during the game he broke Lou Gehrig's record or Ray Lewis stopping a running back on fourth and one. The sound of the crowd was deafening. You could feel the stage vibrate and the energy coming off the biggest audience I have ever performed in front of.

I learned a lot from Mencia on and offstage. On stage, I saw a master performer. Love him or hate him, he can sell a joke as well as anybody. The audience was with him and ate up every punchline, gesture, facial expression and stool kick he did for almost two hours. I'm not going to justify the bad things he's done or has been accused of doing but his performance definitely made me see him in a slightly different light.

After the show I saw Carlos take time to meet every fan, getting his picture taken with and signing autographs for everyone who asked and going out of his way to acknowledge and thank the staff and waitresses for their hard work (in a non-public setting). Though this is part of the job, he handles this stuff incredibly well.

For a guy who has been bashed as much as Carlos has, I wouldn't blame him if he were jaded or socially awkward with people. Instead he handled his post-show meet and greet and thank you's with class and enthusiasm. I've seen some comedians (with far less popularity and even less demand) handle these situations like they are a chore. Carlos doesn't. If the guy is nothing else, he is certainly an engaging figure.

Overall, I rate this night as a major win and a great learning experience. Doing a show like this makes you work a little harder and yearn for that brass ring a little more. Performing in front of sold out crowds with top names in the best clubs isn't something I want to do every once in a blue moon. It is something I want to do every night and I feel like I'm on my way.

So far this year I have performed over one hundred sets, did a show at Carolines on Broadway in New York, opened for some of the biggest names in comedy (including Mencia, Rich Vos, Carl LaBove and Tony Woods), headlined the best bar rooms in the area and I married the girl of my dreams. Is 2011 my year? The neurotic jew in me thinks this success is proof that it really is all downhill from here.

My next entry will detail shows #100 and #101 (Arlington Drafthouse and Sonoma's Bar and Grille).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Show #99: Magooby's Joke House

Making 367 people laugh doesn't suck... I Had a great time hosting and doing ann eight minute set at Magooby's Joke House in Baltimore, Maryland last night. Despite everything I've heard, the Headliner Carlos Mencia was a class act and an incredibly nice guy. Not justifying things he has done or been accused of but the dude can sell a joke as well as anyone. I learned a lot from being around and working with him.

I have to give a major thank you to Andrew Unger at Magooby's. Again, this is the best club on the east coast and he has been especially supportive of my infant comedy career. I am incredibly proud to have been part of such a great and big show. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Show #98: Arlington Grill

I had a great set at Arlington Grill last night. Despite going first (something very few comics enjoy doing), I had a really solid five minute set. I used the show to primarily work on my older/polished bits that I haven't done in a while. Since my break, I have been working on mostly new stuff, so it was important to practice my "A material". Tuesday is a big show for me, so I wanted to make sure these bits were not too loose or rusty.

From start to finish, this was a very good and consistent set.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shows #95, #96 & #97: The Soundry, Potomac Grill and Hightopps Bar and Grille

I just wrote a long blog and my computer crashed before it was published... so here are the cliff notes:

- Set #95: Very solid set at The Soundry.
- Set #96: Was a waste of time and gas.
- Set #97: Great set and fun times at Hightopps.
- People bashing me for opening for Carlos Mencia can suck it.
- Everyone on planet earth should see Super 8.

I promise a long blog is coming soon...

P.S. The people I'm telling to suck it should especially see Super 8... It will open up their hearts.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Show #94: 11th Street Lounge

I performed six minutes at the 11th Street Lounge in Arlington, Virginia last night.  So far this is the best set I have had since my hiatus and it got a great response.  The set was made up of the new jokes I've been working on for the past two weeks and an older joke I haven't told in roughly two months.  The set went over wonderfully and it was the most fun I've had doing stand up in a long time. 

My only critique was that I stumbled into my potential closer (a.k.a. "Spunk Fitness").  This joke still needs polishing on it's segway and introduction but otherwise, the rest of the joke killed.  From start to finish my energy and performance was really sharp and the material is almost matching it.  Overall, I have many reasons to be happy about this show. 

I have to give props and thanks to Mike James and Graham Hall for the time.  11th Street Lounge has always been one of my favorite rooms and I hope it only gets better with Mike and Graham (two really funny and nice guys) taking it over. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Show #93: RFD

I did five minutes at RFD in Washington, DC on Thursday.   I'm really happy with the laughs the new jokes are getting and how well they are progressing.  The last bit (which is based on something real that happened to my less than smart ass at a Spunk Fitness) isn't quite there but has the most potential.  It is a longer bit and I have a lot of ideas for it.  I just need to continue working on it and see which lines are the most focused and consistent.  This routine could eventually be my new closer. 

I also tried out two new concepts during this set.  I thought of these ideas while talking to my friend Rob Nelson the other night.  It's funny how silly thoughts that come up in conversations with other comedians can turn into ideas which can turn into premises and eventually polished stand up bits.  The ideas got laughs and I sold them well but I would not consider them good jokes yet. 

Overall, I'm really happy with the new bits and how they are gelling with the older bits.  It's great to do new things and change things up but progress is the most important thing right now.  I feel like there is a lot of progression in my personal and comedy life.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shows #90, #91 & #92: Potomac Grill, Clare and Don's and Ragtime

Sorry for the lack of updates... I'm starting to get back into the swing of comedy and had three shows/open mics this past week. 

First, I performed ten minues at Potomac Grill in Rockville, MD last wednesday.  This was a really fun time and performance.  Potomac can be hit or miss when it comes to comics.  Some wednesdays, there are literally twenty-five comedians ranging from touring professionals working out new jokes to open micers performing for the very first time.  On nights like these, it is typical for a comedian to get five minutes of stage time.  With that many comedians, a comic should feeel lucky to get any time at all.  Potomac also has nights where only a handful of comedians will show up.  This is what happened last week. 

I was one of six comedians, so fill-in host Ayanna Dookie gave everyone ten minutes (a rare large chunk of time for any open mic).  Being rusty, this was a great chance to work on new bits and also refresh bits I hadn't done in a while.  Like I said, it was fun and the set went over well.  I have to give props to Ayanna for running a good mic. 

I followed this performance up with seven minutes at Clare and Don's in Arlington, Virginia on Thursday.  This is a great show run by my friend and very funny comedian Graham Currin.  This show features some of my favorite and most popular comedians in the area... unfortunately this was a strange night. 

Management at Clare and Don's (a nice beach themed bar and restaraunt) decided to push the show to the semi outdoor patio.  Graham was really against this idea and rightfully so.  Comedy is tough anywhere but can be nearly impossible outdoors.  There are so many distractions with foot and road traffic so audio can be a big problem.  On top of those factors it started raining and lightning.  The host for the night announced midway through the show that it was being moved in doors because of the bad weather.  This move was going to happen after the next comedian.  Unforunately, I was next comedian. 

Despite some of the audience moving inside, my time being cut short and my fear of being electricuted I had a good set.  All the comedians were great that night and it was a good show.  It just happened under weird circumstances on an overall strange evening. 

My last stop came at Ragtime in Arlington, Virginia.  This is a very good open mic run by the very funny Rahmein Mostafavi (Cool Cow Comedy).  I had a really good set (my best since my post wedding hiatus) and it was a lot of fun on stage.  The old and new jokes worked and it just reminded me how fun this comedy stuff can be. 

Looking at my calender for this summer comedy is going to be slow.  I do not have many gigs on my plate right now and think that I'm going to use this time to write and perform at as many open mics as possible.  It's time to get better. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Show #89: Sonoma's Bar and Grill

I did my first set in several weeks the other night at Sonoma's Bar and Grill in Columbia, MD.  The (mostly new) five minute set went over well and it felt great to be back on stage.  I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shows #84, #85, #86, #87, & #88: Magooby's Joke House

I hosted five shows at Magooby's Joke House this past weekend. It was a very fun weekend and I enjoyed working with the weekend's headliner and my good friend Mike Storck (if you do not know who Mike Storck is... stop reading and google him).

Storck is truly one of best comedians working right now. He is one of the Baltimore guys that has done well for himself and does this for a living now. Comedy may be a job for him but you'd never tell by talking to him. When not performing, the dude eats, sleeps and dreams about comedy. It's not a 9-5 desk job that he gets burnt out on. I know this, because it isn't uncommon for me to talk to him in person or on the phone for three hours about comedy right before or after a show. On top that, he's just a solid guy.

As for the shows themselves, they went well. I hosted Magooby's New Talent Contest on Thursday. This was a lot of work and a really long show (almost three hours). Though it was tiring, this turned out to be a really good experience. I had a lot of fun riffing and improvising in between comics. It's also a fun learning experience following comics that crush, bomb or end up somewhere in the middle (you get a lot of each at a show with fifteen open mic comedians).

I opened the Friday early show with a pretty solid twelve minute set. The late show felt a little rougher for me. When I watched the video, I notice my body language and posture were terrible. I was very tired and you could tell. My rhythm wasn't great and I wasn't terribly comfortable on the first show and I was even worse on the second. This was a night that I relied on my comedic survival skills.

After doing comedy for a while, you learn certain tricks and gain certain muscles to work with. A good comic finds ways to squeeze laughs out of times that he is off and even not funny. I did this very well on both shows Friday. Despite being rusty, tired and not very funny, I found ways to get laughs. I take great pride in that.

I took the "game film" seriously on Friday and recovered Saturday. I had a solid set on the Saturday early show and an even better set on the later show. I felt way more comfortable and confident during these shows. The timing was light years beyond what I did the day before, and as Storck said afterwards, I "nailed it."

Saturday also marked two other milestones for me. First, it was my birthday (yes, I'm getting old). Secondly, I wore a suit for the first time on stage. Our feature act Sonny Fuller tends to dress like a homeless person... so Mike and I thought it would be funny to wear suits for these shows. We did because we are wacky.

I'm getting ready to leave for my honeymoon, so I'm back to being inconsistent with the stand up and performing. I really miss the grind and pace I was on, but taking this vacation and break is important too. I will be back full force with comedy by the end of June. Until then... Grown Ups is a really shitty movie.

Show #83: Potomac Grill

I performed 7 minutes at Potomac Grill on Wednesday. Due to illness and wedding plans, this has been a really slow month for me.... so it was nice just getting out and doing some time. The results were good too.

I tried out a new joke inspired by my recent nuptials and it killed... The jokes continue to get more personal.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Shows #80, #81 & #82: Potomac Grill, RFD and Hightopps Bar and Grill

My first set since getting married took place this past Wednesday at Potomac Grill in Rockville, Md. Despite a small audience (20ish people) this ended up being a good set. It also introduced me to a problem that I didn't think I would have... referring to my wife as my wife (and not my fiance or girlfriend).

My next set was at RFD on thursday. As usual, this was a great crowd (atleast 100 people) and I got a great response. However, I still feel like I stumbled through this set...

I was working out the wording on new jokes and older jokes that I haven't done in a while. I've gotten a lot better at selling jokes and even when a joke isn't working or the wording isn't there, I can usually squeeze a laugh out of it. Despite not getting a good rhythm and still figuring out half of my set as I was doing it, I got a great audience reaction.

My last show of the week was at Hightopps Bar and Grill. This show happened...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shows #78 & #79: Illusions Magic Bar and Magooby's Joke House

I haven't had a lot of time for updates... but here are two quick overviews on last week's shows.

Illusions on 5/13: I had a pretty good fifteen minute set. It was a small but fun crowd.

Magooby's Joke House on 5/14: This show provided the biggest crowd I have ever performed in front of (300+ people). The only critique I give myself is that I ran over my set time. I was supposed to eight minutes and I went over by thirty seconds. Still... I crushed this one.

Again, I apologize for the lack of updates. I hope you understand I've had a lot on my mind...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Show #77: Sonoma's Bar

I performed ten minutes at Sonoma's Bar and Grille in Columbia, Md. This was a fun set in front of over one hundred people (which is very rare for a Monday night). The set was mostly made up of the new jokes I've been working on... After watching the video, the only thing I would do differently is work the whole room. I focused too much on the right side. That is an on going critique of myself. I need to focus on it more.

Overall, I was really happy with this set. I have to give major props to Erik Myers... He crushed it tonight. Amazing to watch.

Show #76: Hightopps Bar and Grille

I did seven (mostly new) minutes at Hightopps last night. The new bits are at times personal and leaning towards the more raunchier side. The set included talk of goals, the NYC subway and a coming of age story about a man and his turkey. I watched the video back... it was a good set. Once I tighten the jokes up, they're going to be really solid.

Three more shows left on the "Farewell to Freedom Tour"... then I'm married on Sunday. Should be fun!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Show #75: Make Me Laugh Comedy Tour

My seventy-fifth show of the year came at the Make Me Laugh Comedy Tour in Hagerstown, MD. Despite some adverse conditions... I had a great twenty-five minute set.

I woke up this morning with a really sore throat. By five o'clock this evening, I could barely talk. I almost canceled the show, but did not want to pass up a chance to perform in front of three hundred people. I spent the next three hours drinking hot tea, sucking on lemons and even drank Brandy. The last one made me a bit tipsy (I'm a light weight).

Despite sounding like Marty Funkhouser from Curb your Enthusiasm, I had a really strong set. I worked the entire room and had a lot of fun with this audience. It is almost worth the pain I'm in now (I can't speak at all and even swallowing water is painful at the moment).

Show #74: RFD

I did six (mostly) new minutes at RFD in Washington DC last night. This is still my favorite open mic to do in the area and I had a great set. I was very happy that the new jokes worked really well and every beat got laughs (that were supposed to). After watching video, the only thing I would do differently is work all sides of the room. RFD is a big wide open space, so you have to engage the entire room. Last night, I focused too much on the right side of the audience.

I've been feeling a little burnt out lately... Life has been hectic (stand up, wedding planning, full time job etc.) and the trip to New York took a lot out of me. After two days off, I watched an HBO special called "Talking Funny" (any person trying to be a comic should stop what they're doing and watch this). The show was a round table of Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais talking shop and comedy. Listening to those guys talk comedy really inspired and energized me. Between that and the new jokes, I am feeling slightly reinvigorated. I'm ready to work harder and keep getting better at this...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shows #70, #71, #72 & #73: New York Comedy Club, Perch Cafe, Stand Up New York and Carolines on Broadway

Here is a rundown of my shows in New York:

4/24- My first set was five minutes long at New York Comedy Club. I did a show at NYCC last year and decided to hit their open mic while I was in town. I had a good set and really enjoyed the "feedback" portion of the open mic. This is where the other comedians can critique or give suggestions for each comedian's sets. All the other comedians were extremely complimentary and someone suggested a really funny tagline for one of my jokes.

Later that night, I did six minutes at Perch Cafe in Brooklyn. I went with my good friend Will Carey (a great Baltimore comedian who moved to New York last year). This open mic was a lot of fun. This is the only time I have ever seen music and comedy work well together. There were some really talented folk musicians and comedians, so it was fun to watch as well as perform.

4/25- I did two sets on Monday night. The first was at Stand up New York. This open mic was a colossal waste of time. The club is a decent space and the owner Gabe seems like a nice guy. Unfortunately, there were ten comedians and zero audience members. Apparently, that is normal for this venue's open mic. I have no idea why anyone would show up to this club three hours before doors open to sign up early and pay money for stage time.

That is my biggest beef with the New York Open Mic scene. In researching, about three-quarters of the open mics charge comedians for stage time. Bringer shows are one thing but cash for stage time is different. Open mics charge anywhere from $5-$15 for five minutes of stage time. That is really all you are paying for too... the use of that club's microphone. There is usually no audience and little to gain. Unless you enjoy performing in front of an audience of twelve jaded comedians, I do not recommend most of these "pay to play" mics.

My last show at New York was at the historic Carolines on Broadway. This was a big moment for me. Every comedian I love and respect (including Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld and countless others) have performed on that stage. I'm proud that I got to do the same for six minutes and change on Monday. Despite going first on the bill in front of a tight crowd, I had a good set. I really wanted to knock it out of the park and didn't quite do that, but I still did pretty well. I was invited back to Carolines this summer and was also offered a spot on another showcase at Eastville Comedy Club from someone at the show.

Overall this was a good experience and quite a bit of fun. Special thanks to my friends Will Carey, Mark Hendricks, Sam Angell, Tom Decker, Josh Mccarthy, John Cramer, Caryn Heller and New York's newest New Yorker Ben Rosen for hanging out and showing me around the city.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Show #69: Magooby's Joke House

I ended up doing a last minute guest spot at Magooby's Joke House in Baltimore, Maryland. My six minute set went great and it was really good practice for Caroline's on Monday. I've gotten into the rhythm of doing longer sets (I still work best in the 20-25 minute range) so it was important for me to practice my shorter/faster paced "showcase set".

I'm going to cut a few lines before Monday but I think this set works very well. I'm really excited about doing stand up in New York over the next few days.

The Big Apple

I'm heading to New York City tomorrow and my goal is to do eight sets in three days (including my Monday show at Caroline's on Broadway). Due to a hectic schedule and unknown internet access status, I'm probably going to write about all of these shows in one monster blog next week.

Until then...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shows #67 & #68: Ilusions Magic Bar and NcDevin's Bar and Grill

I had two shows tonight... My first stop was at Illusions Magic Bar in Federal Hill, MD. My set was a little under ten minutes and it went very well. I felt very comfortable on stage and think this was a very good set from start to finish.

When I did Capital Comedy Connection last week, I used an opener I hadn't used before (in part because I needed something clean but also because I didn't want to open with the same joke twice on that show). The joke was a hybrid of three parts of jokes that didn't work seperately but now work really well together. I've used this opener a few other times since and I'm pretty happy with it.

I'm sure when I watch tape tomorrow... I'll be more critical. For now, I'm really happy with this show. I really have to thank Ben Rosen for having me. Ben is moving to New York and this was his farewell to Baltimore show. It was an absolute honor to be a part of it and Ben (as a friend and comedian) will be missed. Best of luck to him in NYC.

I co-featured my second show of the night with my good friend T. Brad Hudson at NcDevin's in Canton, MD. My seventeen minute set went well (but not as well as my first set tonight). The crowd was a little rowdier than I like, but I adapted and the set went over well. My written material got laughs and my improv did as well.

Overall... this was a good night of comedy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Show #66: University of Delaware

I performed fifteen minutes opening up for my friend Matt Baetz at the University of Delaware last night. This was a really fun show and I had a good set. I really learned a lot from watching Matt's performance (and re-watching my own set on tape). I should have worked the stage more. Matt did a great job of moving around and engaging a large room... I should have done more of the same.

Otherwise, I am the happiest I have been with my sets in the fifteen to twenty-five minute range. I'd like to get back to writing again. I can not reiterate how funny Matt Baetz is. The line "Suck it Dunken Donuts! Newark has Chipoltle now!" will stick with me for a while.