Jessie and I went to Birds after workshop yesterday again. It was the last of our Saturday classes, and we get done early enough that we find excellent parking easily in that very popular Franklin hive. We have made friends with the bar staff there, and that pays off like you wouldn't believe. I was drinking Jameson on the rocks, and I'm sure by the time we left, I'd had half a bottle of it. What a man I am.
Yesterday was not my favorite day. On my way to Hollywood in the afternoon, a phone conversation left me with tears streaming down my face and no tissues in my car or handbag. There's me, walking quickly to class and wiping tears away and hoping I'm not also wiping blue eyeshadow all over my face, and it's a good thing it's Hollywood, because no one takes an interest when scenes of sorrow and anguish play themselves out on the sidewalks here. I did not look as much a mess as I felt. And class went all right. And when we went to Birds, this fellow called Peter invited us out for a smoke and told us that some other guy he had just met at the bar told him that I had "caught his eye." And I guess that was by way of warning us that a chat-up was imminent. That guy did then suddenly join us outside and tried to make conversation with me. But I have to say, he didn't give it much juice. I'm not a snob. I will talk to a guy. Even if I have no agenda. I try to be a friendly conversationalist. But this was just one of those interludes that wanted for more effort on his part. He accused us of not being regulars, because I guess he's there all the time and has never seen us. So I explained that we take a class and we sometimes drop by afterwards, and he took immediate interest in the comedy tip, and made that one demand that cannot be tolerated. He asked me what my "style" is, and I couldn't really answer that, as I do improv and that's just whatever. But I said that I talk about my mother a lot and that I've been known to use a lot of smart words. And he said, "Like Dennis Miller?" And I said, "Well, I'm not a fan." And he said, "Really? I think he's really good." And I said," I don't care for his politics." And then I added, "And I find his rants to be sort of masturbatory." And he said, "Masturbatory? You mean he's doing it to amuse himself and it's not intended to inform people?" And I said, "Right. He's beating off." And he laughed. And I added that I suppose my style is also sort of vulgar. And then he said, "Can I hear a sample?" And this is the death knell for a conversation of this sort. Invariably, if someone finds out I do comedy and they say, "Say something funny," whatever I say next will fall flat. I'm always hoping that they're paying enough attention while talking to me that they might find me funny just sort of organically and on the sly. But if that isn't the case, and someone asks me to amuse them, I usually just say, "No." I didn't shut this guy down so abruptly, but I did sort of find a way to work myself back into the conversation Jessie and Peter were having, and the other guy pretty quickly excused himself and went back inside. Peter later relayed to us that he asked the fellow how it had gone, and he had said, "Not well. I don't think we hit it off." And then Peter tried to invite himself back to my place.
I suppose there's kindling for the self-esteem fire in there. This happens to me from time to time. And at bars -- and when I'm with Jessie -- more often than in other scenarios. It's flattering to have someone take an interest in me, but so often I really just want to be left to talk to the person I'm with, and all that attention is just an intrusion. Again, I'm not stuck-up. I just really like my friends, and I never feel as if I get enough of them. And when I'm out in the world, like on Friday night -- when I stopped in at a liquor store to buy some purse-sized whiskey to take over to Cranes because Kevin had mentioned that they don't have a full bar there and I'm certainly not going to spent the night trying to get hopped up on soju -- the guy buffing the floors said, "You look sexy tonight." And I said, "Thank you," but I didn't really go away feeling awesome because of it. That guy has never seen me before, so the comparative nature of his compliment was suspect. And he was the guy buffing the floors. The Korean guy behind the counter was not terribly flirtatious at all. He was friendly, but he wasn't trying to take me home or anything. And I wondered if it's because I can only catch the eye of the ones who aren't management material. Later, when I was walking up El Centro to the bar, a guy pulled over and asked me if I needed a ride. I declined politely. But that's an odd thing. It wasn't like I looked as if I was limping back to civilization after a harrowing brush with crime. I was walking with a great sense of purpose from my parking spot to a bar. And he was driving in the opposite direction. I suppose I could have gotten him to drive me the block and a half to the bar, but that might have turned out to be a block and a half of saved walking in exchange for being chopped up with an axe in the trunk of his Altima. I'm doing the scales with my hands right now.
On Friday night, I wasn't going to go to the Comedy District, but Mindy gave me a little push, and I relented. I have seen a few shows at that room in the back of San Gennaro, and it's really far less of an epiphany than, say, seeing the blood of San Gennaro recoagulate every year at that festival in Naples. It's a miserable room, and the last time I saw a show there, I was surprised that they weren't also selling timeshares. Jason Nash was hosting the show, and I leaned over to Paul (F. Tompkins) and said that Jason's hair is so long now that he looks like Dragonball Z. (And, of course, by that I meant Goku when he is in the Super Saiyan level and goes blonde. But no one would have found that funny. Too much detail. Too much geek truth. I'm not even a fan of Dragonball Z. I just know these things.) Jason didn't even know what Dragonball Z is, so no connection there. But other people did, so when Paul mentioned it during his set, it wasn't a dud and I was relieved and flattered. Howard Kremer was so great, and his coining of the term "cram hole" was my favorite thing in some time. Paul was also super awesome. There was a lot of gold in both his and Howard's sets that was specific to the odd awkwardness of that room. In a way, it's a shame, because that alone can't be reason enough to see or do a show there. And if you're ever able to get someone to bring you a drink in that room, you must be sitting under the halo of heaven and appear to be very special and important.
Two last things. If you happen to get seated next to a parent with a small child on a ride like Soaring Over California the next time you're at one of the Disney theme parks, you might notice as I did that the world is suddenly reduced down to a Richard Scarry book. The lady to my right spent the entire ride just captioning every object she saw for her youngster. And I distinctly noticed the absence of rat families, cat policemen, and whatever the foxes generally were. And here's a bit of conversation Jessie and I had last night that I thought was perfect.
Mary: You've got to see this outfit behind you.
Jessie: I saw it. It doesn't make sense.
Labels: comedy, Paul F. Tompkins, photos