Monday, November 28, 2005

Why Show Business is So Much Fun

Before the holiday I got an envelope in the mail, one of those 9x12 manila ones that means there's something important inside. It was from a big time talent agency. I was excited. Perhaps they had seen a repeat of my Premium Blend episode, or checked out some of the new videos on my website.


As I began to open the envelope the first thing I saw was me, or rather a postcard of my new headshot, staring back at me. I had recently sent out a batch of postcards of my new headshots to the standard list of agents, managers and casting people that I always send flyers to. I send these mailings into the void every six months or so to convince myself that I'm doing something to further my career. Never have I had something returned.

But this agency was kind enough to go even one step further, because included with my postcard was a form letter saying how they were unable to represent me (though I didn't explicitly ask them to) and that I should contact S.A.G. for a list of agents that might be interested.

It may seem like no big deal, but here's why I think it's a hearty 'screw you':

I sent them a 23¢ postcard, they spent 60¢ on postage to return it to me in a full-sized envelope along with a copy of a form letter on their stationary. Throwing it in the trash would have been free, as would throwing away every subsequent mailing from me. But apparently the workload on the temps that actually do the throwing away of postcards is too great and they need to put a stop to it.

Then again, perhaps it's not necessarily a negative. Back in my band days we considered it progress when we started getting individual rejections from record labels, so maybe getting them to respond to a mailing rather than completely ignoring it is a step up.

At this rate I should expect a phone call around 2025.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The "C" Stands for...?

AMC is a basic cable station, and I was under the impression the initials stood for "American Movie Classics," but I'm rather curious about their vetting process for what constitutes a 'classic' because last night they treated their viewers to a showing of Species II.

Now, one could argue that it's a decent sci fi movie (they'd lose that argument) but I don't think anyone out there would have the stones to argue that it's a classic. So how does a movie like this get on American Movie Classics?

What's next, The Independent Film Channel showing "Titanic"?

How about "Pulp Fiction" on ABC Family?

Or a bunch of teenagers just sitting around and talking on Music Television?

Oh wait...


Friday, November 18, 2005

I put on the Nazi uniform, and then things got weird

This week I was an extra on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and my part involved dressing as a Nazi officer, complete with swastika armband, wig, and Hitler mustache. Now, while it's fun to be behind the scenes at a network comedy show, it's kind of disturbing to be dressed as some of the biggest villains of the 20th Century.

"These can't leave the floor" was the first thing the wardrobe people said to us when they handed us the armbands. It's not like the four of us were going to roam the streets of midtown Manhattan in full Nazi regalia, but I did have to take most of the costume off when I went up to the commissary for lunch. I must have been a sight standing in line in my skater t-shirt wearing jodhpurs and knee-high black boots, between one guy dressed as a mummy and another dressed as Kevin Federline.

We stood in the hallway as the band and guests filtered in, and the four of received a steady stream of horrified looks. Everytime someone made eye contact with me I just wanted to say, "I'm so sorry, it's for a bit."

Rosario Dawson was one of the guests and it was hard to hit on her dressed as one of the most evil men of the 20th Century, but so help me I tried.

The bit was actually funny, we were a college mascot called "The Jug Band Hitlers" which proves that you can put the words "Jug Band" before anything and make it better.

"He has cancer."

"Actually, it's Jug Band Cancer."

"Oh, that's not so bad."

Jug Band Car Crash, Jug Band Hurricane. Try it yourself, it's fun!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Scanning Day

So today is the traditional day on which my people sit in front of the computer and scan pictures. It takes a long time because there are always some surprise photos, like this one.

This is a postcard I got from the Ray Rayner show. It was a local morning show in Chicago, where there was a lot of local kid's programing back in the day. In fact on Chicago's local Bozo show, Bozo had a sidekick named Cookie whose voice Chicago area native Dan Castellaneta's inspiration for the Simpson's Krusty the Clown.

One downside to scanning day is that you also come across lots of photos from people that are no longer in your daily life, some of whom you want to stay that way. This causes lost time because you then have to build a fire. But all in all it's a fun way to spend a fall afternoon, and I was able to add some more pics to my photo galleries at my newly redesigned site.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Pleased to Meet You

I was at a party last night where not one, but two women gave me grief for not shaking their hands properly. I would have explained but when talk of a handshake starts a conversation, for me it also usually ends the conversation. But I figured I could use this space to expand upon the subject, which unfortunately makes me realize I'm kind of a sexist.

"What's wrong with being sexy?"

"No, sexist Nigel."

See, the reason I don't shake your hand like I shake a guy's hand is because you're not a guy. I'm not worried that you may have a gun, we're not going to fight later, and I'm not trying to join your tribe. When we were children, you were a girl and I was a boy.

Boys break things. On purpose. When boys get bikes we build ramps to see how far we can jump them. When boys get dolls (action figures) we burn them to toughen them up.

We spend every spare second during recess punching each other in the arm to see who can punch the hardest. We invent games to punch each other. "Did you see my thumb and forefinger in the shape of a circle?" I get to punch you. "Did you flinch when I tried to punch you?" I get to punch you twice.

We flick each other in the knuckles until one of us cries 'uncle.' We take two fingers and slap each other on the inside of the forearm until we're black and blue. We have games called 'Mercy' and 'Smear the Queer" (which has nothing to do with sexual orientation, we just pick a guy and tackle him... wait, maybe that does have something to do with sexual orientation. That'll be another discussion).

What I'm saying is that after skipping years of boyhood initiation you can't all of a sudden come out of nowhere with this whole handshaking business. If you want me to shake your hand like a guy you're going to have to get punched in.

Until then it's knuckles up, fingers down, and when I take your hand would it kill you to curtsey?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bring in Da Funk!

Today at my laundromat there was a funk-off. I had no idea it was going to happen. There were no flyers posted or announcements made, but it's the only way to explain the amount of fragrant people that were milling about.

At first I wondered, "how do you decide to do laundry before clearing up the cloud of rotting ass smell that hovers around you." Then I realized that the hands-down winner of the funk-off wasn't even there to do laundry, he was just perusing today's Daily News.

Luckily it wasn't that crowded. I think other would-be competitors came in, took one whiff, and knew that they had no chance of taking home the title.

I did learn that Mountain Scent Downy is capable of repelling superhuman funk, for at least an hour. I folded as fast as I could and got out of there before any of the smellocules could settle on me or my clothes permanently, but I think I'll take an extra shower tonight before I head out to my friend's birthday party. I don't think they'd appreciate an impromptu funk-off.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

How to Help Our President

This is free advice to the pundits, opinion writers, and political blowhards out there who want to help our president. I'm talking to the people that start boycotts of the Dixie Chicks and French wine, the people that come up with gimmicks like Freedom Fries, the people that are paid by the administration to promote the administration. The Bill O'Riellys, the Rush Limbaughs, and the countless other talking heads that promote the conservative agenda.

Your President needs you. He's having a hell of a time, with everyone he knows being indicted and with all of the disasters exposing his appointed buddies as the duds they are. Here's how you can help:

Catch the Bird Flu.

You heard me, go out there and get yourself infected by the Asian Bird Flu.

Your president tried to get the issue on the headlines last week but it didn't work. And it's going to be hard to sell fear of something that hasn't affected Americans yet. It's up to you to bring the fight home.

Rush, you got busted for popping pills and all of a sudden everyone was talking about oxycontin. Imagine the news media's response if you came down with the Black Death of the 21st Century!

O'Rielly, if you were dying of the latest and greatest pandemic virus people will actually listen to you when you call everyone around you a pinhead.

Armstrong Williams, I've got $200,000 here for you if you can get yourself the bird flu.

Come on men, step up. You've been there for the good times, when everyone in the country was on your side. The least you could do is put your immune systems where your disproportionately large mouths are.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Flashbacks at the Laugh Lounge

You're probably wondering why, after doing a showcase at the Laugh Lounge in NYC that had a sold-out crowd and some of my best friends on the lineup, I would post a picture of the men's room. The show was great, all of the comics did really well and it was a fun night for everyone. So why the urinal?

It's because of the damn slate paint they have on the walls allowing people to write in chalk everywhere. The smell of chalk dust and slate was overpowering, and every time I walked into the men's room part of my brain was instantly transported back to Washington School in Waukegan, Illinois. I'm trying to get my brain together for my T.V. five-minute set and all of a sudden I'm worried that I forgot my milk money.

But maybe it was just what I needed to keep me from over-thinking the whole thing because the set went really well, and it's the first time I've showcased without the guitar, so I'm pretty psyched.

I'll be getting a video of the set that I'll post soon when I do my website redesign. And hopefully I can figure out a way to encode the smell of chalkdust into the video file so you can feel like you're there.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Something Blowed Up on My Street

I was coming home from a show tonight, and right when I got to my door a heard a loud bang. Not earth-shaking but pretty loud, like those annoying fireworks that don't have anything shiny in them they just blow up and set off car alarms.

It was nice to have the crap startled out of me after a night of trying to make New Yorkers laugh. On the upside I got to talk to some firemen and feel like an idiot when I realized I couldn't get into the basement of my own building.

Seriously, I have no idea how to get down there. The elevator used to go to the basement but it doesn't anymore. It's quite a conundrum. It may just keep me up all night.

Which is better than the usual all-nighters of watching cartoons.