Friday, January 28, 2005

To the Haitian woman who asked me "Why dat?" this morning

“Why Dat?” she asked from the bench behind the subway turnstiles. She was asking the world more than me specifically, but her question was specifically motivated by my kicking of the turnstile after I went through it.

I realize it’s not rational to kick an inanimate object, and it wasn’t like I did a full roundhouse on the thing, it was just a quick shot with my boot in retaliation for giving me the “Swipe again at this turnstile” message two dozen times.

It’s cold, I realize that, so I had patience with the machinery the first couple of times I got the message.

Five more swipes of my card and I still can’t get through. Morning commuters pile up behind me forming a grumbling mass, looking at me like I’m doing something wrong. “Can’t this idiot swipe a Metrocard?”

Four more swipes and I ponder going to the next turnstile over, even though I know that means I could lose the fare that is in limbo somewhere between the card and the reader. But I can’t. That’s my two dollars and I can’t let the turnstile win.

I swipe fast. I swipe slow. I talk dirty to the turnstile to see if that will get it off.

Swipe again at this turnstile

I’m going to have to jump over this thing, I think, and I prepare myself for the embarrassment of being the only person above the age of 14 to be stopped by the transit cops for jumping a fare.

One more Hail Mary swipe.



“Suck it, bitch!” I yell to the machine as I crank through the bars. On my way out of the other end I send the steel toe of my boot towards its metal base and it makes a loud clang.

“Why dat?” asked the Haitian woman.

I don’t know, really. Maybe it’s my frustration with a world that seems not to listen to reason, or my indignation that the MTA is going to raise fares while cutting service, or maybe it’s some sort of early-mid-life thing.

At least she didn’t hand me a copy of the Watchtower.

Monday, January 24, 2005

To Better Crowds Indeed

Last week we toasted to better crowds. Last night the better crowd arrived.

It was the relaunch of the Comedy Pro Shop, and despite freezing temperatures and the aftermath of a blizzard, a huge crowd turned out to see a great show. It was standing room only and the energy was great throughout the entire night.

I haven't had that much fun at a comedy show in a long time. It was great to see a bar full of people hang on every word of Andres du Bouchet's Naked Trampoline Hamlet monologue, delivered as he walked through the crowd. And it's always fun to see such great comics perform in an informal environment.

I realize it's just the first night, but I think this new incarnation of the Pro Shop, produced by the Brooklyn Comedy Company, is going to be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

One of those nights

Monday night was one of those nights where I could have done more for my comedy career by staying home and watching the Oxygen network than going to the show in which I had a set. Thanks to the ass-biting cold not much of an audience showed up, only half of the comics showed up, and some of the audience members that did show up were apparently raised by wolves in Saskatchewan, well-suited for the weather but not really steeped in the etiquette of watching a live performance.

There was a man in the audience whose obnoxious, drunken behavior disrupted every set. What was more galling was that it turned out he wasn’t drunk, he was just an asshole. And his date was worse.

It’s not that they were saying mean things to the comics, they were just talking throughout the entire show. Talking to each other, on their cell phones, to the comics on stage.

I think for some people watching a comedy show is somehow surrendering too much authority to someone else. It makes people feel as if they’re lowering themselves if they have to listen to someone else. Or maybe it makes them feel too vulnerable to open themselves up to a stranger’s sense of humor.

But I think for this pair it mostly came down to attention. They wanted it and they resented anyone else who was trying to get it. At the end of the show the host even offered the woman the chance to come on stage for five minutes and say whatever she wanted. The others in the crowd that had to endure her incessant babbling perked up at the opportunity to give a little something back.

She of course declined.

Getting attention is one thing, but having the balls to go up on stage and earn it is entirely another.

After the show the other comics and I retired to another bar for a drink and to look forward to better crowds.

“It was just one of those nights,” we told each other.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Third Watch

Who knew it took so many people to compete with J.A.G.?

Seriously, I thought a surveilance tape at my local supermarket could beat J.A.G. in the ratings, but apparently it takes a few hundred people to make an episode of NBC cop show Third Watch. A few hundred people that have been milling about my neighborhood for the past two days.

They started Sunday around midnight when the actual NYPD started towing all the cars parked along the street. Then the temasters came in with all of their trucks, which idled loudly all night long. Now there are lighting trucks, catering trucks, and signs pointing the way to extras holding areas (in the local Jewish Temple, the chosen people, I guess).

I've seen a couple of pretend cops coming out of their cars to check in with casting (either that or they were real cops trying to break into show biz) but I have yet to see any drama. No stuntmen, no big camera cranes, no shootouts-- nothing close to the way I picture the behind-the-scenes action on a cop show set.

Bummer. Another example of how t.v. has led me astray.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Seriously, it's a new year?

Holy crud, it's already January 9. The frantic pace of the holidays has led straight into the frantic pace of trying to get a few new shows up and running. I thought I was just going to hibernate for a while.

The good news is that the Pro Shop is coming back! The weekly stand-up show that I ran over the summer will be returning, presented by the newly formed Brooklyn Comedy Company . They've been doing a lot of cool things in Brooklyn and asked me to get their Manhattan show up and running. The big opening night will be a fantabulous gala event! No cover, no minimum, and some of the best comics in NYC!

Here are the detais:

The Comedy Pro Shop Opening Night!
@ Sin Sin
Sunday, January 23rd
8:30 pm
No Cover, No Minimum
Christian Finnegan as seen on Comedy Central Presents, Chappelle's Show, Tough Crowd and more!
Victor Varnado Comedy Central's Premium Blend, End of Days, Pluto Nash, and more
Eric Kirchberger: Premium Blend, Aspen Comedy Festival, many national commercials
Andres du Bouchet One of Time Out New York's best comics of 2004!
Susan Prekel: Montreal Comedy Festival, Marshall's Women in Comedy Festival
Elon James White: The Improv, New York Comedy Club
and me, Rob P. as your host and emcee.

Get there early for a good seat, there's going to be a nice crowd.