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.
Whooping applause welcomes Louis Katz, comedian/director/person, to the crowning of his album recording; a hot, Sacramento crowd. Such love isn’t something to squander, oh no, as Katz returns the sentiment with immediate self-deprecation, the kind characterized by skyward chin, erect spine and a flaccid penis hanging through a gaping, open fly.
I had a nightmare, a flashback to last year’s fiasco. The gung-ho Sylvan, vikingesque spirit in the morning devolved into utter agony and sunken morale by nightfall. We struck a contingency plan, but it relied on rest and strategy.
Sleep remained elusive as a will-o’-the-wisp; I only managed to dominate three or four “Z’s”. After the glorified nap, energy trickled in adequately, a lazy aqueduct flowing past bodies, the night’s leftover affiliates. A hot roll of hearty spray reset my decay. By three-o-morning I stood alert inside sodden jeans, a Sylvan tee, neon-green Newport cap, rolled-sleeved collared shirt, everyday shoes, Miramonte hoodie, gardening gloves (lesson learned) and a considerable amount of anxiety. The rest of SylvanHouse floated lazily in stasis.
You shift uncomfortably from foot to foot, queued on the sidewalk adjacent to a steamy Italian cafe. Quickly losing patience, which you’ve arguably never had, you’re inundated with idle conversations in a quagmire of unified strangers. Ostensibly waiting for comedy, truthfully you’re here for a single comedian, whom, is actually your charismatic co-worker, or your drug dealer, or your unhinged grandmother with a new lease on life. The Purple Onion straddles the coasts of the jostling Chinatown and North Beach’s unchecked vitality. Slinky couples clutch and shuffle through the habitat of urban smear mired in San Francisco’s classic, cellophane gray. As the proxy collective pulses forward, around and down a cumbersome staircase (very safe), and each individual is tolled by the ticket taker, the night’s makeup couldn’t be more smeared.
Hey folks, welcome back. I know, it seems just yesterday that the blog went on hiatus. One might assume the brief break was a presumptuous misstep, a short-sighted call for attention or a smoke screen for a holiday. Alas, as quickly as it returned, Courting Comedy was dead.
In the midst of a lovely conversation at the Brainwash, the very fruits of my entertainment (a glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon) became the ultimate source of chaos. One false move and the amber nectar splashed a leaky, lethal injection onto my laptop. My laptop, the pride and joy, crux of my creative and professional endeavors, the keeper of my passwords and past words, was finished. To properly frame the predicament: not only would I cease to work, I would cease to eat; I would cease live.
I live on a diet of stale bread, student loans and spaghetti. My income is more modest than a rural mime. I planned to shuffle around town, shave my head, grow out my beard, write notes on napkins that I would never post for people who would never read them. My love of comedy would have melted away into bitterness and eventually I would watch the stage with dead, sunken, joyless eyes. Worse, it was my fault. Such mistakes, such regrets, such shame only enhance listless loneliness (different story, different day), and I was completely ready to give up.
Thankfully, I’m blessed with some remarkable friends. One such compadre is David Cairns, a man I’ve admired from my baby steps at the House of Shields to the James Browning at Madrone Art Bar. Love is a depressingly shallow word for what I have for David, the George Harrison to my Monty Python. He saved my life (no exaggeration). Funny, yesterday he stated that he was a “business man” and that my work was his “investment”. Now I shall work even harder to warrant such generosity. Those who know gasp at that idea; I’m a tireless servant to San Francisco Bay Area comedy. Personally, any other life is a not a life worth living.
Thank you. Love you. Laugh you.
P.S. When you see David Cairns ( @davidcairns ), give him a big hug on behalf of Courting Comedy.
Last month, Sylvan Productions presented a night of stellar comedy at Vitus with Amy Miller, Sean Keane, Chris Garcia, Natasha Muse and highly touted, heavily hilarious Rory Scovel. Scovel took a few minutes to answer some aptly absurd questions. Enjoy.
James Adomian is talented beyond your knowledge and/or opinion. If you’ve never heard of him, you lose. If you’ve seen him on Last Comic Standing, you lose. If you’ve heard him on Comedy Bang Bang (nee Death Ray), you lose. If you’ve seen him on stage or screen, you lose. There is no polite way to inform you that you have missed out on a genuinely great comic mind. All that can be said is: catch up. One way to catch up is seeing him this Tuesday, at the Milk Bar, performing at the fiercely independent “Eric Show w/ Eric Barry”. Below is an exclusive interview with Mr. Adomian. If you read it, and fail to attend his rare appearance in the Bay Area this Tuesday, you lose.
The night narrowly avoided calamity; Kelly was pulled over by an officer of the law en route to the show. Luckily the officer only issued a warning. “Wow, I learned something… I’m really pretty!” declares the sprightly comedian. Thus sets the tone for I’d Eat Them Both, a stand-up comedy album from Kelly McCarron, recorded live at the historic Purple Onion in San Francisco.