Popular Comedy Tropes

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Comedy moves quickly, but these bits will get you on all the cool shows and festivals, because everyone’s doin’ em!

Extremely Detailed Solipsism
Pretending To Be Mad About Small Things
ShockJock (90’s Nostalgia)
Fat Guys, Shirts Off
If I Yell It, It’s A Punchline
I Pooped In Public, A Closer
White People Interpreting Rap Lyrics
Homeless People Are Weird
That Time I Ate Too Much Pot
Hillbilly Philosopher (Nihilism in a Trucker Cap)

A Fun Meditation On Death

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I am writing my September 9th morning pages.

Looking at the date, I realize it’s my Dad, John Ryan’s, birthday, or- it was his birthday when he was alive.  I personally don’t think you can have a birthday after you die- the date stops being relevant to you.  It is, perhaps, the anniversary of your birth- but Mozart doesn’t have a 263rd birthday, no way.

My father was born Sept 9, 1948, to his mother, Ruth Ryan, who is now dead.  His father, Robert Ryan, was present at the birth, and is also dead.  The doctor and the nurses who attended the birth are all dead.  The maintenance workers at the hospital are dead, the policemen walking the streets of Houston, TX the day my Dad was born are dead, the mothers and fathers of the other babies born that day are all dead, some of the babies born that day are also dead. 

  Every singer on the radio that day is dead.  The number one hit song that day was the 12th Street Rag, by Pee Wee Hunt and his Orchestra.  Pee Wee Hunt is dead and all the members of the orchestra are dead. 

  The Oscar winner for Best Picture that year was Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet.  All the actors in the film are dead, the most recent being Jean Simmons, who died in 2010, three years before my Dad. 

  The stars of the most popular TV shows of the day, Ed Sullivan, Howdy Doody, and Candid Camera are all dead.  Most of the people who watched those shows are dead.  Everyone who worked writing or shooting those shows is dead.

  One day, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian and PewDiePie and Shane Gillis and David Duchovny and Taylor Swift and Lin-Manuel Miranda will be dead, and everyone you’ve ever known or looked up to or hated or had a crush on or wronged or bought dinner for will be dead.  It’ll happen so quickly you won’t believe it, sweeping unapologetically through the population and leaving you wondering what it was all for, all the striving and the cutting each other down and the aspirations and the heartbreak.  Nobody will remember your failed Etsy business, the time you threw up at Homecoming, the time Patton Oswalt retweeted you. If you’re lucky, 100 years after your death your descendants will remember your name. So, yes.  I am having another Frappuccino.

Jackie Kashian and Friends!

Posted Posted in comedy, feminism, los angeles, Uncategorized, women

“BLANK with FRIENDS” is a common name for comedy shows, but it’s nice because she’s really my friend. I had a great show at Dynasty Typewriter with heavy hitters like Kira Soltanovich, Janelle James, Wynter Spears, Zach Galifianakis and of course- Jackie Kashian and her new Ms. Marvel jacket, of which she is very fond. Jamie Flam got a nice greenroom picture of us that I thought I’d share here, to keep.

Postscript: Jackie and Laurie talked about my set a lot on the Jackie and Laurie show afterwards, and Kashian mentioned that we butt up against many of the same topics (gender issues, feminism) but that we each have our own spin on it. Apparently, my talk about butt stuff (against) led to a lively discussion in the green room between Zach and Laurie that neither of them appreciated. SORRY ABOUT THE BUTT STUFF.

The Incredibly Stupid Story About My Tattoo

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The Lack Of Origin Story 

I got through a questionable adolescence and  young adulthood without a tattoo.  I thought, well, maybe my thing is to be weird WITHOUT a tattoo.  When I was in high school, tattoos were for bad kids.  I wasn’t a bad kid.  My dumb hot goth boyfriend had BAD RELIGOIN tattooed on him at a party, which is now covered with a demon, and probably with dirt because I think that guy’s dead now.

 I am of a somewhat perverse personality, not with like whips and chains but in the way that if there’s something everyone else loves, I hate it.  I’ve never seen Titanic or had acid wash jeans.  Once something is a cultural phenomenon, I’ve already moved on.

   In college,  everyone had tattoos, so I turned up my nose.  When I left school, I found that every punk, every goth, every hip kid, every overpaid graphic designer, every coffeeshop-clogging creative was heavily inked.  How cool could it be?  I worried that a tattoo had to mean something deep and eternal.  I worried about getting something that would later be dumb.  My friend Bryan had a Stray Cats tattoo from the 80’s that I watched go out, and in, and back out of fashion, in a way that could make you seasick if you looked at it too closely.  So, I just didn’t worry about it.

Joker’s Comedy Club

   One time I was doing comedy in Tri-Cities, Washington.  That’s right.  Three small towns: Kennewick, Richmond, and Yakima, gather their low-self-esteem populations together and call themselves the Tri-Cities in an attempt to matter.  The Thursday night show had a promo table with a local tattoo shop, and they were giving away a tattoo to the prettiest girl in attendance who didn’t have a tattoo.  This really brought my two worst personality traits into the foreground: I am cheap and I am vain.  The nice tattoo lady said I was cute, I should put in to win the contest.  I laughed and said OK.  I didn’t think she was right.

  Then I had a really good set, I blew my headliner off the stage.  He was murky and resentful.  I was drinking for free.  I checked in with the tattoo lady.  She said I was still the winner by a mile.  I was feeling small-town famous.

  I hung out longer than I usually do.  I started thinking about what kind of tattoo I wanted.  I decided on an octopus.  Like on the Kraken rum bottle, although that is a Kraken, which is not real.   We got ready to line up for a vote.  At 11th hour,  she showed up: Brianna.  Brianna was 24 and had blonde hair piled up on top of her head, and was somehow wearing a pink baseball hat perched on top of that.  She had dimples.  I knew I had lost, and lost badly.

  Brianna got a dynamic ribbon reading “ALWAYS RESILIENT” tattooed on her ribcage, which I am told is a very painful spot, and that was a comfort to me.  It was executed right in public, on a rickety massage table in a dark corner of a nightclub.  I started to think maybe I was glad I didn’t win.

  But then, I woke up surly and resentful that I didn’t have an octopus tattoo.  Complaining to my friend Richie, he told me: believe, there is nothing more expensive than a free tattoo.  You’re glad you didn’t get inked in the shitty tri-cities.  When I got home to Los Angeles, I got a birthday gift from my baby sister so I could get a tattoo at a fancy shop, from the lovely Amy Nicoletto @amynicolettotattoo, and I don’t think I could love it any more.  It looks good with dresses, it looks good with t-shirts, it’s just an accessory that I have all the time, and it doesn’t mean shit.

Wisdom Of The Ages

 Looking back, I realize that if I had gotten a tattoo in my 20’s it would have been for The Cure, and if I’d gotten one in my 30’s, it would have been for Nick Cave, and they’d still be great today.  This is an often-overlooked plus to being someone who maxed out their taste and personal growth at 17, and will always be the same asshole, and who is also cheap, and also vain.

Where Earthquakes Come From

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Where Earthquakes Come From

Not the earthquake we were just in

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, and it rumbles and moves on. Then, my faraway friends and family start texting to see if I am still alive, and I smile at their naive, not-earthquake-having ways.

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 then-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, kids, and who got onto a Harold team on their first try.

The first big earthquake this week happened on the 4th of July, because God hates America, or at least, California. I guess it makes sense that God is a Trump supporter, because what else would explain the awful slo-mo car crash of racism and misogyny we are living through?

I slept through it. It may have woken me up, or else 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.

I got out of that party and went home. I 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.

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, except the water is the ground and I didn’t like it. 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. I think 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?