When you submit your comedy album to Pandora, like I did with my comedy album, Gothic American, they sort your tracks into little pre-written buckets for their algorithm- and the description of the tracks from my album, Gothic American, make a nice little poem about my comedy:
I’ve been in a couple of LA earthquakes, and usually it feels like a big truck is driving past the building where I am. It rumbles and moves on. Then, my faraway friends and family start texting to see if I am still alive. I smile at their naive, not-earthquake-having ways.
My First Earthquake
The only earthquake that left a real impression on me was one that happened a couple of years ago, at a comedy show in a dress shop that my friend Brandie booked me on. Handsome nerd actor James Urbaniak was attending with his girlfriend. During another comic’s set, I felt the room moving and watched pictures swing on the walls and thought: Wow, I’m gonna die in the same room as James Urbaniak. But nobody died, and we had great earthquake chitchat and went home. Once we have an earthquake it becomes THE small talk for the next 24 hours, outstripping weather, traffic, and who got onto a Harold team on their first try.
My Second Earthquake
The first big earthquake this week happened on the 4th of July, because God hates America, or at least, California.
I slept through it. I was awoken by many texts of friends asking did I feel it, and then talking about the biggest earthquake they had survived. I felt so left out. I wanted to feel the earthquake. It was like I hadn’t been invited to a cool event, just because I was sleeping in on a holiday. I couldn’t write a funny earthquake tweet, I couldn’t do anything.
At the fourth of July party, my friend Rick commented that he didn’t even know what to do during an earthquake, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t cuss and look for his pants. Everyone laughed. I felt so alone.
Got out of that party and went home. Couldn’t sleep, worried about not being in the cool earthquake club. At 3AM, my bed shook and I realized I was experiencing an aftershock. I was so happy, I stayed up until 5AM worried that I was going to die.
My Third Earthquake
The next night, I was eating dinner when the earthquake started. I walked outside to check on my car, walking 25 feet on tarmac that was shifting in the most unpleasant way. It was all the bad things about being on a boat, no drinks or swimsuits but nausea and choppy water. I asked the dog why he didn’t warn me. He indicated that he still wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. He may have missed that day of dog school. It lasted maybe 90 seconds but it felt like a whole episode of BBC’s Sherlock. My car was ok. Rick tweeted that he had been caught by the earthquake without pants on. Ithink that Rick taking off his pants might be where earthquakes come from, so please, Rick, if you’re reading- keep your pants on for the next little bit, OK?
Or, Places Where Men Will Hit On You On The Internet
If necessity is the mother of invention, men are the inventors of using non-dating sites to meet women. It’s been happening since the first terminal user logged into a message board to ask A/S/L (age/sex/location, young people).
Here’s some stories about creative ways men are connecting today!
You can get hit on from social platforms because strange men think the tiny photo of you is cute, or, let’s face it, they just get it in their head that you’re a woman at all. These picks are slightly off the beaten path, and a reminder to men everywhere- the world is your Tinder, just just gotta learn how to swipe!
Every couple of days, a dude will direct message me and say “Hi” or “Hello.” Has this ever led to sex, in the history of the world? I don’t know. I don’t think so, but if it was Chris Evans writing, I might change my tune.
Facebook Business Page:
I made a promotional page for myself (check it out, readers!) and got a creepy message asking that I tell the stranger on the other end “all about myself,” which was funny because that is literally what the page is. I ignored it for a few days, and then Facebook started nudging me to “keep my response rate up” by answering all queries to the page within two days. Finally, I wrote, “Hi! I’m Jack, Virginia’s manager. Thank you for your interest in her career! This page posts shows, podcasts, and other promotional info!” No response.
As creepy Facebook friends abate, Insta creeps abound! It took me a long time to find the little paper airplane that was my message inbox, but when I did I was rewarded with compliments from many randos, followed by some furious insults when I didn’t respond to those same randos.
A foreign friend was looking for cheap places to stay in the states, and strangers on Couchsurfing kept offering her “fun weekends”. I explained to her that these men thought she was maybe going to exchange sex for a place to sleep. She said, “But no women have offered me a space.” She finally messaged back and forth with a man who didn’t overtly proposition her, but the day before her trip he said that he gave great massages, and ultimately she had to book an airbnb.
Words with Friends:
I was playing with a stranger, and he wrote that my profile pic was beautiful and asked where did I live. I told him it doesn’t matter where I live, I’m not looking to meet people on Words with Friends. I’m here to play some Scrabble. He ended the game, and I changed my profile picture to a friendly-looking dog. I still love Scrabble.
My sister was job hunting, and a man in her field sent her a message saying that they should meet for coffee and discuss her goals. She thought this sounded great and they made a plan. The day before their appointment, he offered to take her to dinner instead, and named an expensive restaurant in New York. She said she’d rather have coffee, to which he offered an introduction to an executive in her field. She looked up his Facebook profile and responded that perhaps he’d like to bring his wife to the dinner, and used her name. See? Facebook is still good for something.
My friend Lizzie told me, “On my way to work every day, I passed a massage parlor that seemed to be open all hours and looked suspect. I was very naive, and thought I would post a question about the business on Yelp. Did men really get full service at these places? Men told me. Boy oh boy did they want to tell me all about it. They wanted to know if I’d like to meet and discuss it. That was ten years ago. I still sometimes get messages about it.”
I was selling some used Adidas Gazelles on Ebay, they were worn but in good shape. I got some messages, as ever, about shipping and auction dates, and then I got one about the wear of the shoes and what I had used them for. I was happy to reply. The writer asked if I was a cheerleader, and if I ever wore the shoes without socks, if I had ever gotten the liners sweaty, if I could send them pictures of me in the shoes. I wrote back and said sorry, I’m just a regular lady and didn’t need to talk to foot fetishists too much, buy the shoes or don’t. That person never bid on them, and they sold to a kid in Kansas.
If you’re interested in dating your rideshare driver, the best thing to do is to go home and write it in a notebook and bury that notebook in the woods. Don’t turn in a fake lost item report and ask them out. That’s creepy and it’s a disturbingly popular go-to. Just go out and meet people!
My friend Amy told me she liked stalking friend’s burgeoning relationships on Venmo. If people are constantly paying each other for beers and pizza, she knew that they were probably dating. Sure, you CAN change the settings to private, but few people bother. However, she didn’t reckon that some people would follow it so closely that they would notice when her recent ex was buying a new girl pizza, and that she started getting dm’s from men she knew slightly asking if she was ok, and if she’d like to meet and talk- over pizza.
Do all men do this? Of course not. But in an app-driven world, some people are ALWAYS looking for a special connection along with their food delivery, movie ticket purchase or money exchange!
Today we’d like to introduce you to Virginia Jones.
Virginia, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist. I used to do drawing and writing and dance, and now I do comedy, and also all the other things. It was a relief to me to realize that these things are not in conflict-they’re all part of the same thing, being an artist. I am also fantastically up my own butt!
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work? I am a standup comedian and comedy writer type person. I started by accident, like it was a bucket list “I’ve always wanted to do comedy” and then that became my whole life. I hope people come away from my act with some kind of new idea or a recognition of a thing they hadn’t named. I have the extremely unfashionable opinion that comedy should communicate something or else why bother- I’ve seen people onstage that can generate laughter, but it’s like a trick? People walk out of the room exactly the same as they walked in, except full of nachos. I am the kind of pretentious little shit that wants comedy to mean something.
I think my jokes are mostly about unexamined social inconsistencies, and also about animals.
Artists face many challenges, but what do you feel is the most pressing among them? I think the problems of an artist today are the same as they ever were- trying to be you the best you can while the industry wants the same five people, over and over again. I think it’s a great time to be a female artist, moving from being ignored to actively reviled. That’s cool!
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork? I have a record called Gothic American. I’d love it if you picked it up on Itunes, or, failing that, listened on Spotify or Pandora or Snapchat or Instagram or scanned a sticker from a banana peel that took you to it on Youtube or something. Is that something you can do? I have a website with dates and funny stuff on it. I like it when people show up to stuff. I’m very funny, I promise. I have a twitter account, but I’m bad at it.
Growing up in Texas but *with* MTV, I quickly identified myself as a New Waver and found the lifeline for all aspirational cool kids at the time, Star Hits magazine. It was heavily influenced by its UK parent, Smash Hits, and was chock full of awesome photographs of the most important people in my life, including Duran Duran and the Cure. They called Morrissey Mozz and Madonna Madge and they had advertisements for punk clothes and rare records and everything I dreamed of.
I always wanted to be interviewed by Star Hits, and realized that if I was going to be interviewed in that style, I would need to do it myself. So, here it is.
I meet Virginia Jones in a coffeeshop near her Silverlake abode. The coffeeshop also sells perfumes that are named for alternative rock hits but cost one gazillion dollars. She is sitting on the patio, dressed head to toe in black, and drinking a Dirty Ginger, a soy milk latte with spicy ginger syrup in it. She smiles slyly and says it’s her fourth. I greet her, take off my suit jacket, brush the shaggy blond hair out of my eyes, and set up to record our chat. She says she’s sorry but she only has half an hour before she has to go do comedy in the basement of a wine shop.
Who was your first crush?
Ohhh, this is weird but it was definitely Boy George.
Yeah, I just thought he was spectacular. I still do. When I was a twelve year old, I had a poster of Culture Club on my wall that I would kiss every night before bed. When I took it down, George’s lips were clear with greasy little-kid Chapstick kisses.
What was the first record you ever bought?
The first single was Celebration by Kool and the Gang. This was about ten years after it came out, but I heard it in one of my mom’s Jazzercise classes and I had to have it.
And the first LP?
Chipmunk Punk, obviously.
Which had no punk songs, but some new wave songs and some Billy Joel. The weirdest inclusion was My Sharona, which was written about a 15 year old girl and has some semi-explicit reference to thighs, but the chipmunks DGAF.
What is your most treasured possession?
When I was living in Portland, I did a show on Christmas Day at the same karaoke bar where I did my first open mic. This is probably ten years ago. It went, as I remember, horribly, but my friend Bri Pruett, who was KJing there at the time, gave me a card that permitted me to go next to sing karaoke. That potential, the idea that I could be next, even in a bar that will one day close in a town in which I do not live, makes it one of my most prized possessions. Also, that Bri gave it to me. I’ll never cash it in. I’m perpetually next!
Do you get presents from your fans?
Yes, isn’t it weird that people give you images of yourself? But I have some awesome fan art, including a Barbie doll of me, an embroidery of my album cover, and a pen and ink rendition of me and my many interests. They are displayed proudly in my home. When I was in Portland, I used to be given a lot of weed, which I saved in a tin and forgot in my apartment when I moved.
How often do you wash your hair?
I like to wait at LEAST three days between washes. If I can stretch to four, even better. My hair is long, so every time I wash it it gets tangled and dry and is basically a hot mess. If you ever see me wearing a hat, you know it’s day four! Sorry.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
I mean, I love the idea of a three toed sloth, but that’s not really my lifestyle. I’m more like a squirrel, out there hustlin’, always starting projects and forgetting about them, and of course, looking adorable.
Ok, the last question, and this is a deep one: Where do all the lost pens in the world go?
You know, I’m glad you asked me that, because it’s something I have thought a lot about. The size and shape of pens mean that they take up space on the horizontal, but also they can slip through any hole or crevice, and we live on this earth full of holes, and which is always rotating, so if you think of the world as a big Pachinko game, and pens as the ball bearings, pens wind up:
(Flabbergasted) In the center of the earth?
Yes, precisely. And that’s what magma is made of. Melted pens. That’s what makes it so dangerous.
I effused my thanks to her as she killed her last inch of coffee and took off, yelling thanks and that she looked forward to the interview. I had to take a second to catch my breath, and, folding up her paper coffee cup into my pocket to take with me, (don’t judge me!) went home to write.