Exclusive: “So… I Quit Comedy”: A Journal by OJ Patterson

I quit comedy on July 7th 2014. It was glorious. Upwards to twenty people underlit by candles in a Mission-Protero eatery: the Rite Spot Cafe. Despite years of yearning, I had never played there, so, I reached out to my friend, hilarious rapscallion Trevor Hill, and he put me up to, ostensibly, put me out. I did well on a show chocked with loved peers and luminaries. The room was rough all night but I got them, I fucking got them. 

I had played the Rite Spot the week before. I did terribly. I tried to work “new” jokes to a sleepy, sparse audience. The next comedian, super smooth Gary Anderson, had the set of the night. I felt horrible. 

Good thing I had a contingency show. My farewell show. 

Comedy years are like dog years. After six months you feel like pro, after two years you feel grizzled. That grizzle refreshes. It’s a license to complain, to spat, to tell tired jokes, to side-eye newbies and hope-eye clouted colleagues. You can burn yourself out on that. Not me. I went bonkers. I was ubiquitous. I was jubilant. A sprinting, spewing, evangelizing, all-encompassing embodiment of my absolute desire. 

Like all great things, something changed. A lot of things changed. Hard comedy living was my post-collegial grad school (where I basically did all the things I should have done as an undergrad). I laugh at the idea of “maturing” through the most juvenile time in my life, but I did. In the midst of growing, I felt a shift, a push. I fell in love. I dove. I cannonballed. 

I don’t know who I am anymore. When you elect to lose yourself in somebody, you indeed, by my experience, lose yourself. It’s amazing.

It’s also frightening. My identity as a comedian was forged longer and spoke truer than any other ideology in my life. After a while I became less and less (less mics, less supporters), changed more and more (new job, new apartment) and then, BOOM: I’m not the comedian I want to be, not the comedian that puts in the work, not the comedian touring on planes, trains and automobiles, not the comedian hanging in the back, hanging at the bar, hanging at the house party, not the comedian producing shows, or hosting mics, not the comedian spreading the most accurate information (shouts to Matt Gubser). Most of the aesthetics I covet as a comedian requires a lifestyle I no longer have (or, arguably, no longer need). So, in order to claim my chaos, to protest my irrelevancy, to break the cycle of weekend warrior compromise, I said goodbye. 

I quit comedy on July 7th 2014. It is liberating. I love telling people that I quit. It bums a lot of fellow comedians out. I love seeing them squirm at a maniacal reflection of their creative mortality. No, I will not covet your stage time! No, I will not do your show! No, I will not cover for your mic! No, I will not roast you! No, I will not be rejected by your comedy club or your festival or whatever else inspires semiprofessional jealousy. No, I will not be the characteristic laugh during the awkward folly! I will not! I will not! I will not! I’m dead! 

Three things makes “quitting” the funniest thing in the world. One, fuck me, right? Who gives a shit—in a macro sense—about San Francisco comedy as a lifestyle. Two, in comedy, you HAVE to quit. Most people fade out, few make a show of, and those who do are (usually) using a false finish as a promotional stunt (shouts to Justin Scales). Three, it’s a legitimate satire. The great times were good, but the good times weren’t that great. Comedy is self-righteous suicide. I killed myself thrice over to chase the dream, but, in a city with little industry, having no transportation, little capital and less business sense, I got as far as I could professionally/financially. Maybe that’s good enough. 

I’m committed to this. I’m prepared to be the Sammy Obeid of burying my talents in the backyard. 1001 Days of Tragedy. Still, I miss it; miss more than the stage, or the rush, or the definition.  Comedians are my family, my tribe. They speak my language, I’m understood. Maybe I should get therapy, do yoga, start a hobby. Maybe I should find a balance, figure out a cure for my innate tunnel vision. Maybe you’ll see me around, maybe not, maybe later, maybe tomorrow.

Product Review: “50 Shades of Greg”

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Greg Asdourian amuses himself. Every allusion or gotcha elicits an understated chortle. Whether apart of an audience’s flurry, or a solitary, trepid chuckle, Greg has a finger on the pulse…Greg’s pulse. It’s hard to describe: “jolly” is banal hack; “smug” is harshly critical; “cocksure” is too presumptuous of motives and mentality. There it is again. A hushed, appreciative assurance.

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Bits and Pieces: Ben Feldman’s “‘Toothpick Guy’ vs. ‘Dental Floss Guy’”

Over the course of a comedian’s life he or she will experience thousands of jokes – some of them, they might even like. In the spirit of comics loving comedy, we present a short form journal of the Bay’s best comedians talking shop and throwing shine on their favorite jokes/bits/stories heard over and over and over again in cafes, clubs, and anywhere else with a microphone. 

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9/20. Brock Wilbur’s Free CD Recording Show @ Lost Weekend Video.

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Underdogs get another victory in a couple of weeks. On September 20th, Los Angeles-based comedian, Brock Wilbur, will be recording his sophomore effort at the performance paragon known as Lost Weekend Video’s Cynic Cave. It’s completely free, twice the word over: there is no cover and after this show, the material will be thrown in to the ether for Wilbur to start anew. Catch our mini-interview with the ambitious jokester below.

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Product Review: “Moshe Kasher: Live in Oakland”

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2012 was undoubtedly a watershed year for Moshe Kasher. An Oakland-grown street punk, turned decorated stand-up performer, Kasher dominated the year beginning with the release of a memoir — Kasher in the Rye — and concluding with a weekend at his home club, the San Francisco Punch Line. In the midst of his accomplishments he released “Moshe Kasher: Live in Oakland” through Netflix, his first stand-up offering since 2009’s “Everyone You Know Is Going To Die, And Then You Are! (Unless You Die First)”. And while the ambitiously long-titled primary offering represents a career on the rise, ‘Live in Oakland’ demonstrates a relative apex, Moshe Kasher 2.0.

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Show Review: The Business 4 Year Anniversary (4/17/2013)

It’s t-minus fifteen minutes. The audience remains translucent. 49-seats of emptiness connects two pools of light. In the lobby Wigglesworth, nicest cyberpirate, watches the door with French bulldog, Wellington, lazily laying nearby. Across the moody, barren strait, a smattering of chattery, the loudest voice belonging to Bucky Sinister.

Bucky has probably heard some offensive assumptions: stocky, tattooed, downplayed dapper with freshly cut, slick hair. In the avocado-green room, with suspended livery and hoarded horrors, the sensitive badass is a kingly raconteur, bouncing lively in badinage with two of the night’s guests, neighborhood chocolatiers.

The Daily Show, local anti-political performance art, pranks. A rich colloquial confluence of rolling anecdotes from legitimately interesting San Franciscans with one exception. Nato Green, native through in through, slinks into a sleeve of his own design, iPhoning with a casual aloofness. “Do we have two mic[rophones] ready?” Nato leaks. Bucky exits to check, leaving Green to pre-interview with ebbing/flowing soccerdadcoach excitability.

Sean Keane arrives ‘round eight, complimented on his “Let It Be” McCartney-ness before being whisked away by the natural chaos of live production. Comedy isn’t glitz, it is gridiron exhibitions containing a lot of audibles. Caitlin Gill arrives. It’s t-plus eighteen minutes. In a matter of thirty minutes the once husky belly of the Dark Room Theater is now paunchy and groaning. Baron Vaughn — “Way less famous than he should be,” spouts Nato — is running late, and everyone seems even keel about it. Hasn’t anybody told the showrunners that it’s their fourth anniversary, an occasion worthy of silk, flowers or at least punctuality? Why does everything seem like business as unusual?

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Show Review: “Mute Defiance” @ Stage Werx Theater (4/12/2013)

Endgames Improv does stuff. Also, they do it well. They’ve been doing it well for years and the city of San Francisco is made better by their exploits. On Friday, April 12, 2013, the group, known for divergent decisions and experimentation, presented Mute Defiance at the Stage Werx theater, a handsome, twilit proscenium. Improv actors set to challenge television by assimilating, by becoming one, by layering live intonations against projected programming, utilizing Netflix, the ubiquitous, quirky, dorky hamlet of entertainment, resulting in post-production puppetry.

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We Love Alex Koll – An Aside.

By 11:20 we are panicing. The typical Tuesday-night fecal-feature of “Shitprov" at Dirty Trix is interrupted by R. Kelly, being played by Drunk DJ. Some have come from Milk Bar, some have shifted from the neighboring Neck of The Woods, all have condensed to watch Alex Koll, beloved Bay-Area jokester, on Conan O’Brien. Yet, for some God-forsaken-sports-related reason, Dirty Trix’s satellite television is playing Eurotrip, a prepubescent abomination featuring the little girl from Harriet the Spy.

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Room Review: Portal’s Tavern

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It’s an open mic. An open mic is an open mic: it’s the karaoke of musings; it’s the intellectual cover band, it’s the Tito Jackson of artistic endeavors (maybe even Marlon). Sure, Portal’s Tavern open mic, located in the gallbladder of San Francisco, is well operated, well staffed, well attended and well received, but it’s still an open mic.

Mondays are notoriously adverse to comedy, especially of the unpolished variety. Stand-up is small potatoes, and on a slow night it can potentially poison the well for sports – Go Niners! Go Giants! – and good ole fashion alcoholism. And for additional subtraction, whether by frugality or poverty, comics are notorious tightwads. Since the great Purge of 2011 (Kimo’s; 50 Mason; 800 Larkin, again), and finales of other castoffs (farewell Deco Lounge), the bow of the week has been adrift. Thankfully, Portal’s Tavern floated along and jokers clambered aboard like ill-fated lovers on a freezing door.

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Show Review: Fucking Funny (1/18/2013)

House shows are the best shows. Every time the elegant edifice of modern comedy is torn from it’s standard, swarmy platforms — bars, clubs, theaters — and moved to naturalistic, “acoustic” settings, the best of the medium infuses with the luxury of living [rooms]. They are a temporal hybrid of contemporary DIY, boundless work ethic and the risque bawdiness of party record listening parties circa 1970s. These culture clusters’ significance are inasmuch undetermined and largely undocumented. Underground, tantalizing, scandalous, pivotal: parlors of the BYOBrood, with low expectations and high anticipation, are the gunpowder for unbelievably special moments within uncanny circumstance.

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