The Naked Show, Uber Man, Bringers Bad, Magic Alex, and The Jaws Event
IT’S ALWAYS GOOD TO GET NAKED IN PUBLIC, ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE THE REVIEWER. After all, good journalism is all about being open, honest and too much unsightly back hair. But, it’s also important to be open and honest both within yourself and without the outside world. As many of you already know, I’ve had my incredible ups and disastrous downs. Oh, poor me. But if you’ve followed my personal saga, most of those ups and downs were in my head. Nonetheless, it’s my head, which I’ve already donated to science and which can be seen on display at The Comedy Museum if I ever get the funding for that brilliant-who-does-he-think-he-is smart comedy guy that I am. Six months ago I was homeless. Couch-surfing if I was lucky (and I often was). I was kicked out of my girlfriend’s apartment (she’s now my X) with no money or plan. It was rough. A night here, a night there. But all too often, a night in the “Coffee Hotel”, my nickname for DuPar's or Canters, sitting there all alone at a booth, trying to stay awake till sunrise while I figured out my next move and contemplated how I made it this far.
I had been down this road one too many times in the last five years, after losing both my London and L.A. homes to financial disaster. Six months ago, I was staying at comedian and filmmaker’s Dave Sirus’s house. Dave created the mockumentary film Archie Black: The Worst, a pseudo-documentary about “the world’s worst comedian and human being”, which I “played”. Dave and his roommates were all too generous and I just couldn’t go back to the girlfriend. Although I loved her with all my hard, I just couldn’t go back there. The wild mood swings which ultimately led to jail time. I finally had it. Had it with myself more than with anybody else. I felt I had been entertaining my online fans for free for years and although I had reached out now and then for a donation to keep me going while I looked for steady paying work, this was dramatically and exceptionally different. I was determined to pull myself back up from the depths of despair and back into the truancy of semi-normal life, which I had thirsted for ever since being thrown overboard Her Majesty’s secret international fantasy ocean liner so many financial lifeboats ago. I needed a lifeline. The one thing people seem to agree upon about me was that I was a good writer.
Crowd-funding is all about painting the picture of what you need or want and putting it out there. And to make it work, it has to be sincere and real and written really well. I set up the GoFundMe campaign to raise money for an apartment and within 48 hours, I exceeded my stated goal of $2,500. The result was truly inspirational and I was determined from that moment on to finally get my life solvent again, respectable and independent.
Kolping House is a 200 year old Catholic charity located in the Pico Union district near the Staples Center downtown. Run by Alma Tamayo, KH is a family affair. It’s an all-male residence in a great 1920’s building, originally designed and built for the “virgin employees of the owner of the May Company”. I guess Mr. May, or whomever, wanted to keep his staff pure. “Honey? I’ll be back in a couple of hours.” Kolping rents out rooms with board included: 3 meals a day at the Pavlovian sound of the proverbial and literal dinner bell. Each of us residents have our backstory and customized personal problems and issues. There’s the very spry septuagenarian former military man who spent serious time in a South American prison for smuggling something or other, but now and has always, fancied himself to be a comedian. He’s my good friend, Ted. We greet each other each morning with a Bilko inspired Hitler salute. There’s the young man with Parkinson’s who delivers one-liners with the deadest of pans, as if he were the nervous ventriloquist dummy. He’s a good guy. Paul. He does a lot of paid drug trials and you can always immediately see how he’s doing that day by the veracity of his shaking hand. I’ve also come to love the neighborhood. Pico Union is a real family hood with mothers pushing children around in little prams, people selling the best carne asade street tacos, and the most fabuloso Mexican bakery this side of the Rio Grande. It’s not Beverly Hills, but then again, neither is Beverly Hills; at least not the movie village I grew up in during the Sixties. We are a community here. A collection of oddball men who look after each other and have a laugh or two at the expense of one or two of the sometimes stiff staff. I’m very inspired here and have even started working on a new screenplay set in the Kolping House. Meanwhile, while I’m here, I’ve created and produced a new podcast.
The Uber Show is about all things Uber. Uber guests, uber comedians, uber interviews. Kind of like the show I had in San Francisco, it includes my original trademark regular pieces: Another Message from the Secret Government, The Church of the Divine Comedy. Plus, the incredibly talented “soon-to-be-ex-wife Tamsin Hollo” (I’ve been calling her that since 1999) contributes her genius creation: The Parallel Universe News Round-Up. Totally coincidentally, I’ve started driving for Uber. Yes, this is true. I’m employed and man is this job interesting. Aside from seeing all these great little nooks and crannies of LA I’ve never even heard of, I never know who is going to get in the back of my car. It could be three drunk studio execs out for a night on the town, two arguing lesbians (one flirting with me), or a celebrity. “Paul” from the British rock group Snow Patrol was a rider and took me on an off-course tour of Los Feliz hidden architecture. I picked up a cocktail waitress from The Comedy Store, who was super impressed I had my name on the wall of fame. I really love this job and I vow that even if lightning strikes and I get my fifteen minutes, to continue Ubering, at least one night a week. That’s right, famous Steven Alan Green will Uber. The Uber Show podcast is evolving into something new. In the first episode you can hear interviews with Hollywood publicist Xaque Gruber, “Jaws” & “The Jerk” screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and The Firesign Theatre’s Phil Proctor on the recent passing of Firesign member Phil Austin. Plus the aforementioned original comedy pieces. Have a listen if you like. I’m definitely changing the format to focus more on Uber driving and in fact, in this premier episode there is an interview with a Hollywood escort who happened to be one of my passengers. It’s always an adventure, one way or another. PLUS, in the last couple of weeks, I've turned the car into a mobile comedy club. I'm starting to record them and they will definitly be on the next episode of The Uber Show. Very funny stuff.
I’m employed and man is this job interesting
Doing the graveyard shift (10pm to 5am), my job is often to shuttle drunk clubbers from one overpriced bullshit club on Sunset to an underground after-hours drinking club downtown somewhere between a freeway interchange and the famed Western Exterminators sign. Last week, I got a call to Mullholland. It was 3:30 am; I had just dropped off some party kids in the valley. I’m tired, but one more ride. Driving my Prius along the badly lit near dirt road of the Hollywood Hills can be a dangerous thing. James Dean dangerous. The pick-up address is at the very edge of a very steep drop and the private street down to the house is at a 45 degree angle and, fearing I would get the chassis stuck at a fulcrumatic point, I had to creep the car up inch by inch. I get down to a big metal gate. Limo’s, black SUV’s, and a big guard protecting a modern Venetian compound. Three blonde Norwegian girls in their twenties get in. We head towards their destination and the story they told me, made me shutter. That story and the Saudi princess. Here are the two Facebook posts about those rides:
RESCUING THREE BLONDE NORWEGIAN WOMEN FROM VIN DIESEL:
Steven Alan Green
September 19 at 4:19am ·
Final ride of the night. Picked up these three gorgeous Norwegian ladies off Mulholland Drive at Vin Diesel's house. They told me they met him at club Hyde and were “thrown into a van” and taken up to his mansion. When they got there, they had to sign a contract not to take pictures or reveal information to the public. They said they weren't allowed to go upstairs to the second floor where Vin was for more than an hour. Downstairs there were dozens of gorgeous women just hanging around, waiting instructions. No men. The Norwegians got bored and felt uncomfortable and called Uber. That's where I came in. Rescuing women from Vin Diesel. Take that, Fast and Furious.
THE ANTISEMITIC SAUDI PRINCESS:
September 13 at 4:33am · Edited ·
My most dramatic Uber ride yet. I pick up a blonde American woman about 35 years old from the Beverly Hilton. Before I get there, her friend the account holder calls me to make sure I get her friend safely to her destination. And that she's been drinking. I pick up the rider who is wearing a black and orange Halloween gown, only it's not Halloween. The rider brings a lit cigarette into the car. I politely tell her there's no smoking and she tosses the cigarette. On the way, she has me stop at a 711 to buy cigarettes. She gets back in the car and starts “ordering” me to dial her phone because she couldn't find it. But she keeps giving me dialing instructions that don't make sense and she's getting more and more imperious and belligerent in tone. I do it anyway. She now wants me to go back to the hotel where I picked her up so she can find her phone. On the way she starts insulting me, telling me I'm nothing more than a stupid Uber driver and that she's a Saudi princess. I pull over and tell her to behave or get out of my car. I told her I understand drinking but she's being abusive. Continuing her insult, I told her to get out of the car. She refuses to leave and starts filming me on her phone which she found. Here's the thing. She wasn't the account holder. So I called. Her friend is apologizing to me and at the same time, the drunken princess is now precariously walking in the middle of the street as she screams that I'm a dirty Jew, in the middle of Beverly Hills, no less. She did this until she starts crying like a lost child. I told the account holder that this is really gonna hurt her account. She is worried about her friend. So, with the account holder on the line, I swing round and pick up the drunken so-called princess, who the account holder told me is not really; she just had a couple of kids with a Saudi prince. AND that the rider is banned from Uber, which makes total sense. I “apologize” to her (to calm her down), and with the account holder still on the line, I get the drunken bitch to her destination and I'm the hero. Dirty Jew Uber driver that I am. And gallant as well.
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Rather than driving people crazy for money, I’m driving crazy people for money.
UBERing is finally the job. No more working for liars. I’m my own boss. Every passenger is my guest. I love my job and hey; at the end of the day, it’s a travelling comedy show. And, as of a few days ago, I started driving for Lyft too. Rather than driving people crazy for money, I’m driving crazy people for money.
THE FISH MOVIE
Carl Gottlieb is an interesting man. A writer/director and actor, Carl has been an integral creative part in some of the most important and indeed iconic film and television. A Story Editor and writer of “The Odd Couple”, a staff writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS, (alongside Rob Reiner, Bob Einstein, and Steve Martin), which won the Emmy Award. Carl co-wrote The Jerk with its star Steve Martin. Not to be outdone by himself, Carl plays Iron Balls McGinty in the film. Carl also wrote the screenplay for the first blockbuster phenomenon, “Jaws”. In the film, he plays “Meadows” the somewhat in-league with the corrupt mayor newspaper editor in the film. He also wrote the most successful book on making a film ever. The Jaws Log is a fascinating look behind the scenes of movie making; from movie finance to fake shark making to actor wrangling and studio tendering. The book is witty, insightful and plain ole fun. So. Last July, there was a screening of Jaws at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Without his knowledge, I phoned them up, spoke with Grant Moninger and arranged for Carl to do Q&A after the film. Success. I moderated. The American Cinematheque (who also run The Aero), invited us to do same at their sister theatre, The Egyptian, in Hollywood the next day. And, then a week after that, same deal at Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema, to a very enthusiastic youthful crowd. There seem to be two sets of audiences for Jaws, a film in its 40th year. First, there are the nerds, the Jaws enthusiasts who know this to be a great film and want to get lost in its pre-CGI special effects, music and great directing and acting. But a cross-over audience seems to be new filmmakers and simple nostolgiacs, and boy do they get their money and time’s worth. Carl is not only one of the most knowledgeable experienced experts in getting films done, he’s totally enthusiastic; and in this bitter world known as Hollywood, he’s a total breath of fresh friendly air. So.
When Carl and Steve Martin were stuck in a writers room on the Paramount lot and had to come up with an idea for a movie, Steve says to Carl, “My most bankable joke in my stand-up is always ‘I was born a poor black child’”. They exchange a look that means an “Ah-Ha” moment, then Carl said “Ya’ know…” And, that’s how they came up with the crazy comedy plot to The Jerk. And in that same way, a big shark is not something I’m just gonna let swim away, especially if it bites me on the ass they way it did in a good way with the Jaws screenings/Q&A’s.
Cutting to the shark chase:
I am presenting a big “Jaws Event” at the 1,600-seat Ace Theatre downtown LA, which will take place Tuesday December 8th. It’s gonna be a screening of the film in this great formerly United Artists theatre, with its incredible original gothic Egyptian ceiling and architecture, along with a fine state of the art projection and sound system. Then, not just Q&A with Carl (which is a great evening on its own), but with some very special guests. So far confirmed is Steven Soderbergh, director of Erin Brockovitch, Sex, Lies and Videotape and the George Clooney/Ocean’s Eleven series. Plus, Joe Alves, the production designer on Jaws, who also designed Bruce, the mechanical shark. And, as we speak, more film heavy weights are expected to join the panel. This is a “Steven Alan Green Presents” production which means l'll be sharing the stage and introducing our speakers at the very least. Big fun for all. Next month, I’ll publish a very special Enjoy the Veal with a link to purchase tickets. It’s gonna be a sell-out, I’m sure. A great evening for one and all. See you there, with fins on.
Speaking of sharks, let’s talk about “bringers”….
Eons ago, when the world was nearly right as reign and things kinda made sense at the cusp of the Reagan Era (just after the Jurassic Period), there was something called The Comedy Store. A wonderful Disneyland for audiences thirsty for a significant break from the doldrums of the placid dry 80’s. Everyone was there. Robin. Richard. Sam. Roseanne. Dice. Me. Okay: me. Mitzi Shore was in her prime as the all-powerful specter of comedy queen that she was and nearly every comedy personage who was lucky enough to grace her magical stage was more or less directly approved by her. The consistency of quality was usually there because of this. True, Mitzi made some “mistakes”, passing on Garry Shandling and not giving Jerry Seinfeld enough cred, but she was also the only one in town who gave Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinison a chance, not to mention a huge supporter of women in comedy. She made some very unusual choices and was known for being a bit mysterious and weird. Cut to now. Mitzi is old. She’s in a home. She’s outta the comedy picture. Her family runs the place now and the comedy club seems to be on a comeback with the appearances of hipsters like Marc Maron, funnyman Jeff Ross, the incredible Louis CK, and just the other night, Adam Sandler and David Spade. However, a small but significant part of the Store is run like a whore house and recently, this comedy reporter and comedian got badly stung by The Comedy Store’s policy of running something called “Bringers”.
BRINGERS ARE BAD FOR EVERYONE
So, let’s say you own a comedy club. And, let’s say you have a regular slow night, such as a Tuesday. The club’s just not attracting the audience it does for one of its rooms. “Bringers” are a phenomenon whereby the comedy club will “give the room” to a newish comedian and then that comedian will book 10 other newish comedians and every “comedian” on the bill has to bring ten people to the show. In other words: Friends and family. The show is advertised as a professional show of high Comedy Store caliber and the public audience is unwittingly fooled into thinking it is a Comedy Store curated show. The comedians are fooling themselves because their friends are laughing at their underwritten jokes and not the other comedians as much. They are basically a public workshop and I have no problem with that if they advertise themselves to the public as such. As an “open comedy workshop”, but they are not and it’s basically artistic fraud and comedy misrepresentation. Plus, it’s subcontracting a subcontractor and I don’t even know if that’s legal. Be that as it may. Bringers are not going to be stopped on my say so and I suppose there is a need for them. But, only if they are run right. The one I was involved in was a total disaster, was a very painful experience for me personally and really turned me off from ever going back to the comedy club which still bears my name on its wall. That’s how embittered I am about this.
Several months ago, I was offered me a spot on a bringer show in the 450-seat Main Room. Never having done a bringer, I couldn’t resist the journalistic jape which was sure to follow. The idea is that you get a bunch of printed tickets with all the comedians’ names printed on them. You have to “sell” 15 of them. That’s the deal. You're never quite told explicitly if you don’t sell them you won’t be on the show, but that’s clearly the implication. The problem is two-fold. One. I hate obligating my friends to see me perform. Two, that people don’t do paper tickets anymore; they buy online. And on the Comedy Store website, the show is just listed, but with none of that week’s comedians. Being the social media maven I am, I set up an Eventbrite page, a Facebook Page and texted to everyone I could that I’ll be doing my come back at The Comedy Store Main Room. I carried the paper tickets with me wherever I went. The show was advertised online as my “farewell performance”, my trademark gimmick. Nobody bought any advance tickets (except sweet Ted at Kolping) and the very day of the show, I called the club and asked her if perhaps I should just cancel. I was told very clearly that I “should come down anyway”. The implication was that it didn’t really matter if people bought tickets; I was on the show. Well, you said that you were high tone; that was just a lie. I went home, head held in comedy shame. One person did show up; but I wasn't allowed on stage. And the person running the show, “Crazee Cindy” wasn't nice and screamed and insulted me. Who needs it, right?
I pity all those new young comedians working the boards now. Beware. Become famous or you’ll never be welcome back there again. Especially if you're me. (I was told recently by an established LA comedian that Mitzi never forgave me for leaving.) I know I have potential to be great again. I just need to get on stage somewhere, on a regular basis, to work on material and get back into shape. Back into comedy shape so that I will be worthy of booking again.
And, that's exactly where Alex Marshi comes in…
I recently interviewed Alex Marshi, a Rolling Stone contributor, and now a fine stand-up comedian and comedy club promoter.
I've been to hundreds of comedy rooms in my career, but even some of the best ones blend together in confusing clouded memory. I had the honor of being on the first comedy show at Movie Magic Media Studios in Culver City. The space was set up perfectly: Comfortable seats for the crowd and a separate room for socializing; the vibe was professional without being stuffy, the quality of performance was high, and the audience was warm, open-minded, and respectful. Movie Magic Media Studios is a working film studio; the performances recorded with high-def cameras, highlights of the show uploaded to the company's YouTube comedy channel. The owners, Micah Levin, Michael Larson, and James Larson, are strikingly skillful filmmakers and natural comedy show-runners.
The host and talent booker, Alex Marshi (an original, clever, charismatic comedian) is a published journalist whose work has been featured in Rolling Stone. Marshi kept the show's energy up and thus the audience engaged, treating the comedians with respect and kindness, a sadly increasingly scarce quality to find in many LA comedy bookers. Recently, he openned up a second room in Noho at a venue called Shaky Town Live. I've played both.
I asked Alex, aside from wanting to create another safe haven for comedians to workout new material, what makes his comedy rooms at MMM & ShakyTown unique.
“Los Angeles is home to an astounding number of passionate comedians,” Marshi says. “A lot of show-runners exploit that passion and treat great comedians as though they're doing them a big favor by letting them perform. I've even seen bookers heckle their own performers. It can be demoralizing, but we comedians love doing stand-up so much that we'll put up with the lack of respect. I'm at a comedy show every night. I just treat the comedians and the audience the way I like to be treated.”
But, Alex is much more than just another stage-hungry comedian turned overnight comedy promoter. He is like our much needed comedy pastor. Indeed, when asked about why comedy in general, he’s more than sufficiently evangelical.
“Laughter is a perfect moment,” Marshi explained.
He relaxes his mind by lighting another cigarette; and carries on…
“Laughter is a moment in which one is incapable of experiencing pain. Anxieties about the future, past regrets: laughter frees you from all that. Just by virtue of the fact that we're all here to laugh together means we have great lives. Everyone who's performing on this show is doing it because they love comedy and want to make people happy.”
But, what about when a comedian's material and performance just doesn't work that night?
“Bombing on stage feels so horrible that only people who truly adore comedy continue performing.”
You’re a published writer. Rolling Stone; that’s very impressive. Why put yourself through the nightly rigors of risking silence and disdain from the average Joe?
“I wanted to be a comedian since I was in pre-school, but I was told that 'comedian' isn't a real job. You can't major in it. I didn't even think about again until a year ago, when I fell asleep re-watching a documentary about comedy. I had a dream in which I saw myself do a stand-up set. I woke to a text message from a comedian friend, hadn't spoken to him in years. He invited me to an open mic where he was trying new material. He said I should go up, but I refused. Then, in the last minute of the last scheduled comedian's act, something came over me and I asked the host to put me on. I got on stage and did my first stand-up set, the set I'd seen myself do in my dream the night before. I've been doing stand-up every day since.“
Marshi admits he's been very lucky.
“I owe a lot to Steven Briggs. He got me my first paid gigs and took me on tours with him,” Marshi says. “He's an incomparable comedian. I'm also very lucky that MMM asked me to collaborate with them. I love running shows. It combines my entrepreneurial aspirations with performing standup comedy.“
Like a yet-to-be embittered Louis CK, Marshi expounds original ideas, his punchlines appearing seemingly out of nowhere. Always dressed in black, t-shirt, jeans, and a blazer, Marshi resembles a mildly-Semetic James Bond. There's something about Marshi which makes you want him to succeed. He's intelligent, but more importantly, he's interesting. As a fellow journalist and fellow comic, I liked being in the room with him.
“I live with my dad, neither of us like it, no grown man would. The only grown man in history who actually wanted to move back in with his dad was Jesus Christ. He literally killed himself so he could move back in with his dad. I wonder if his dad was disappointed, too.“- Marshi, on stage somewhere.
There is no one quite like Alex Marshi. His intelligence is incontestable, his charisma inescapable, and his comedy stays with you long after his set is over. For comedians and comedy lovers alike, Marshi's rooms are number on my list of Los Angeles independent comedy shows. Alex Marshi is what a comedian is supposed to be: an interesting outsider. You don’t want to be him, but you want to be near him.
Indeed Marshi is Magic Alex.
THE NAKED COMEDY SHOW
The Electric Theatre, Noho 7-11-56
If you’re gonna do something interesting on your birthday, it might as well be spending an evening completely in your birthday suit; in the complete nude with 40 other naked people. The idea of The Naked Comedy Show is just that. A naked comedy show. All the performers are naked, but (butt?) so is every audience member. As you can imagine, this was a sold-out show.
Arriving at the Electric Theater on Lankershim, I didn’t know what to expect; though I was told like Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker’s Guild to the Galaxy, to “bring a towel”. It’s a weird thing. You enter the tiny 50-seater theater, pick a seat and then start taking off your clothes. Everything. Undies too, you bet your sweet ass. You roll up your trousers and put all your belongings under your seat. A towel between the chair and your naked bum and you’re ready to be entertained. Unless, you have to go to the bathroom before the show, as it is announced the bathrooms are upstage and are only available before the show and during intermission. Being somewhat blatterly-challenged myself, I decided to take care of the business at hand. Because there was only one toilet, there were a half dozen performers, punters and one comedian/comedy reviewer lined up on stage, waiting their bathroom turn, totally naked. After we each do our business, we’re told to get back to our seats, because the show is about to start. Our Emcee is a hellofa fish. “Red Snapper” is a personable burlesque comedy hostess with sparkly bunny shoes. And that’s all. Just the shoes. She’s naked.
A very funny performer, who connects old school with new; with nude. I like Red Snapper; especially with lemon and capers. Red could easily command a Comedy Central series based in burlesque. Interesting lady and I’m not saying that because she was naked. I’m saying it because right now, I’m naked. Yes, imagine that. I’m writing this blog fully buck naked for the world to imagine. (I’ll give you a minute’s recovery.) In the meantime, back to our naked show:
“Now that my act is Blue-law compliant,” says Red, “…it’s time to introduce the first act.”
Jeremy Paul, a slightly well-built African American with a Beretta-era mini-fro, comes to the stage. Naked.
“If you love someone, let them go. If they’re pregnant, they’ll come back.”
“I love my women like my clowns. Sad and white.”
“Growing up in Peoria in 1989, 63% of all crime was committed by someone related to me.”
Jeremy doesn’t have kids, his “blood line is fucked”; his cousin Cedrick spent all his life in prison. Not a professional story-teller, Paul has plenty of stories to tell. Every comedian has to have an element of tragedy to them for their comedy to work. Jeremy seemed numb to his own very hard life; it was genuinely easy to both laugh and feel sorry for him. He worked as a comedian at an orgy. The details are too explicit to include in this blog, but suffice to say, as he says, “I’ll show up for anything.” As the reviewer of this show, increasingly embarrassingly, I can totally relate. Snapper is back and puts on a lightly sparkly girdle while telling some jokes, giving the audience the feel of being backstage at an authentic strip club. I fully expected an inebriated Tom Waits to show up at any minute asking for jumper cables. As she puts on silk stockings, she recites what seemed like a children’s folk tale, tailored for the clothing-optional crowd. “In certain circles, bare legs are a sin. But, they’re not sinful amongst us who like our own skin.” Something like that. It was hard to balance my writing pad on my naked crotch. As you can imagine. Need I say more. Perhaps I won’t. Never mind; please get to the next paragraph. Hurry. This is awkward. Thanks.
And, here he is…..Mr. Snapper!
A regular-looking bloke approaches the mic. He’s naked. Well, he’s “wearing” a ukulele. Still; he’s pretty much naked too. I must stop the review for a moment and reflect on the overriding emotion that this here writer/comedian experienced throughout the show. Normally, when one goes to a show put on by his peers (i.e., undeclared competitors), there is always a bit of jealousy. That’s just normal. Perhaps that’s why there are “lovies,” showbiz folk who are just flowering with overly excited dressing room compliments. “Oh, I’ve never seen a show so fantastic!” or the classic, “You should be on Broadway!” We’re saying it because we feel the dead opposite. But, it also helps shield from ourselves our own insecurities and pointed jealousy that we other performers always experience whilst watching a colleague’s show. We want to be on that stage; nobody else. That’s a fact. Even Mother Theresa felt that way. However, in the case of watching naked people, men in particular, as a man myself, I couldn’t help but compare. And, I’m not talking about their talent; or perhaps I am. Never mind. Move on. Getting awkward again.
Yes, it’s now time for me get up from my towel and stand about naked and use the bathroom again. Everybody is extra polite when they’re naked. Maybe that’s because you can clearly see they aren’t hiding a weapon. (Don’t go there.) I need a smoke first, so I slip on my trousers and shirt and go outside in my bare feet for a quick smoke, a turn on of my phone and just a break from what is surely a very unusual evening for me. I had to walk through the little lobby area, where they were giving away free wine and beer. As I stand there elegantly holding a plastic glass of wine, naked, trying not to lock eyes on everyone I pass, I see there is another queue for the loo. I better go. I quickly slip off my trousers and get in line. While waiting for the bathroom to be free, I look behind me and to the side and there is Dylan Brody. Dylan Brody who’ve I’ve known off and on for 30 years plus. Met him at The Comedy Store. We were on/hung around The David Feldman Show on KPFK a couple of summers ago. I’ve been on shows with Dylan. I’ve met his wife at Kelly Carlin’s party. In fact, Dylan was my first ever Enjoy the Veal review. But, now. I’m seeing him naked. And, he’s seeing me naked.
“Uh, when are you going on?”
“I think there’s one more, Tim, then me.”
“Okay, break a leg.”
“Thanks, Sag. Good to see you.”
He didn’t have to say that. My nickname that is.
I use the bathroom and then get back to my seat and towel and meld into the darkness of naked anonymity.
Red tells us a funny stripper story and now she’s donning red shoes and a cape/frock. I hardly see the point of her getting dressed. It’s like when House of Pies closes up.
“Alright, ready for some actual comedy?” delivers Red, clearly an homage more to self-deprecation and less to her own accuracy of self-assessment.
Tim Chizmar, the creator and producer of The Naked Show, is a jolly young man. And, by jolly, I mean happy, but also – not that I should talk – overweight. But, that’s okay, in fact it’s completely liberating to see a fat person clearly comfortable with their bodies. He moves about the stage, momentarily stopping to Vogue pose as part of his joke. Trying to get a better view around a support beam, I accidently touch my hairy shoulder into the naked girl sitting next to me. She doesn’t move; in spite of the fact that my body hair certainly tickles. I’m told, anyway. Be that as it may… Tim is spry. Tim is energetic. What a great spirit he is. Not necessarily an exhibitionist (though in the context of the evening, we all were), Tim exudes one thing. Acceptance. Accept yourself. And, in fact, display yourself. I must point out that there was one man in the audience who was, how should I put this properly to get past the Jewish Journal editor….Got it. The man was gifted. And, it’s hard (as it were) to not compare. I don’t know how the women in the room do this. But, I’m sure it has more to do with how fat they think they have on their thighs more than avoiding minimum exposure. Tim was marvelous. He talks about Nudist culture, the LA Naked Bike Ride with 400 riders.
“I was just a boy with a dream.” Then he shows a two-page spread in a magazine. “I just want the right to be naked,” I felt at the time was a bit snooty sounding for some reason, but then he expounds on “the Naked Mafia” and their lawyers who helped get a kid from unfair custody. “Girls and Corpses Magazine” was a sponsor and the publisher was present with two or three youngish tattooed naked babes. Tim’s set was more about promotion of the nudist lifestyle and culture. He was in essence, its naked spokesman. Nude bowling, naked house parties every month, clothing optional networks, I started to get the feeling I’ve been missing out on something great. I guess I like being naked. I do at home and, other than sharing the locker room at the gym, one doesn’t really have the random opportunity to be naked with other naked men, let alone strange naked women too. I liked it. It felt very liberating. At one point, Tim asks if anyone has a joke to tell; the best joke teller winning a copy of Girls and Corpses. Of course I go up and tell a joke. (My lying dog joke.) Naked on stage I was, telling a joke. And, yes, if you must know, only for a minute do you think about what you look like. From your overhanging belly paunch to the size and shape of your manly pride, all that stuff miraculously disappears once you start speaking. That is the magic of the show. Now it was time for our headliner.
“My sister is gay. I love her like a brother.”- Dylan Brody
“My sister is gay. I love her like a brother.” is a classic line from a hybrid comedy writing genius as Dylan. Anecdotes of a sperm bank; speaking in the style of a mother publicly nursing her beautiful daughter. His grandmother’s Alzheimer’s. All seemingly random and interesting targets and subjects, which as you listen, are not so random and indeed tied together with an invisible theme. Another sign of a good writer.
“Apparently if I take off my underwear, my tongue stops working properly,” shows us all, above all, master story-teller Brody is a comedian and a very funny one at that.
Sharpie marked cups play nametag. Rich, dark Colombian meets slightly bitter French, a pretentious morning blend. They come together and claim to seek no more than the hot foam and the sweet macchiato. – Dylan Brody's poem
Dylan Brody sees himself in the world as an intelligent everyman who is not just trying to get by. He’s looking for reason beyond the random events and those answers are what empowers him, as well as the rest of us. I highly recommend seeing Dylan in any show he is in. It's bound to be a better show than initially intended.
To be naked and free on stage doesn’t necessarily mean taking off all your clothes.
Overall, The Naked Show was one hell of an experience. The $35 cover was a bit steep; on the other hand I got to be naked and that was worth at least $17.50. The comedians were raw in more ways than one. All except Dylan who didn’t belong there, which is exactly what made it great to see him there. He was alone worth more than the price of admission. I can’t wait to see and experience another Naked Show; I hope to be on one of the shows in the future. And, no. I did not give this show a good review because I want to be on the stage. I think there is something of a beginning here. The beginnings of a new open movement of cabaret meets story-telling meets stand-up.
To be naked and free on stage doesn’t necessarily mean taking off all your clothes. The show’s all important overriding philosophy of being yourself is what’s important. Because no matter what you are in life, we’re all just who we are under our clothes. What’s in our hearts and minds is what’s truly important. May the Naked Show continue. It certainly is a fun night out. Being physically naked isn’t the same as revealing one’s fears. Anyone can strip. But few of us, clothed or not, have anything interesting to reveal.
I give The Naked Show several naked menorahs. If you’re out for a very unusual evening, this is it. Bring a date and be ahead of the game.
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
NOTE: For more information on the next Naked Comedy Show, visit nudistcomedy.com. Tim says they will have a New Year's (Nude Years) set of Shows and our focus is the film they are making: “ClothesMinded!
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEAK
Business idea: A film studio or television network where all the creative executives are in an artificially induced coma. Pitch meetings are a real bitch.
Everybody is where they should be. Except stalkers.
The key to happiness is in understanding nothing.
I'm a really good fixer-upper.
“Lying to use a restaurant's bathroom (a restaurant you're not dining in) is morally within bounds.” – Pope Francis
If the school shooters only targeted low academic achievement schools, I could almost see the point.
COMEDY POINTS OF INTEREST:
I've got two comedy related film projects to recommend. One on each side of the Comedy Atlantic.
Who is Earl Okin?
Earl Okin is a local London iconic legend. He also happens to be incredibly talented and unlucky for him, my best mate in London. It was Earl who drove me round London in his 1964 Rover, introducing me to comedy club to comedy club owner. In some ways we were comedy doppelgangers. With my then comedy costume, real guitar and funny hair, we both had an affinity for Groucho, The Beatles and unique performers; not just stand-ups. Earl was an audience favorite at my London Palladium show and has some very strong words for Jerry Lewis's behavior. Be that as it may. Joe Snelling is a young master film documentarian. I participated in this documentary (you can hear my voice in this clip) and from what I've seen here already, it's gonna be a bang-up job. Can't wait to see it.
Please click, view and support here. (There's a link underneath the video for the Indiegogo campaign to finish this very worthy film project.)
Another film project, which is just wonderful, is Kurt Weitzmann's Be Robin.
Kurt is a terrifically original stand-up comedian, as well as a dear friend of mine. His new film #BeRobinThe Movie is almost out of post-production and just about ready to hit the festival circuit. #BeRobin The Movie is an amazing documentary about Margaret Cho’s homeless outreach campaign inspired by the philanthropy of Robin Williams. After the death of her friend Robin Williams, Margaret Cho took to the streets with the mantra “Don’t grieve Robin, BE Robin.” What started as Margaret busking on the corner with a guitar case, rapidly turned into hundreds of musicians, comedians, and homeless advocates spreading food, clothes, money, and awareness in an amazing humanitarian street theater experience. The film that captured these events, is not only entertaining, but deeply moving and above all else inspiring. Mr. Weitzmann plans on taking #BeRobin on the road and creating #BeRobin events at the festivals and future screenings along the way.
Click here to view the #BeRobin film trailer. At the end of the video is the link to the Indiegogo campaign for the film's completion.
A Carlin Home Companion Kelly Carlin's new book (based on her one-woman show of the same name, reviewed here a few months ago in Enjoy the Veal) is published and available at fine book sellers such as Barnes and Noble. Haven't read the book yet, but knowing the story and Kelly, I'm sure it's terrific.
LATE BREAKING SAD NEWS:
Fellow comedian and all around great guy Tony Edwards was in a terrible traffic accent. His wife Laura was killed. Please see what you can donate so that Tony may mend without worry and that he can give his dearly departed wife a proper send-off. Heart-breaking. Click here to help. Thank you
And, so my fellow Vealers…
I’ve come to conclude that there are two parts to being a good writer. The second part is writing. The first part is living and interesting life. And, considering how on the serious brink I was a few years ago; how life just finally seemed discounted to me, that’s quite the milestone. I’ve got my life back and man, is it an interesting one. Rich or poor, my days are very rich. For that alone, I am extremely blessed. And, finally, I big incredible shout out to my soon-to-be-ex-wife-Tamsin Hollo. Nobody has been more supportive, but not in a codependent way. It was Tamsin who got me back on the road by providing a car and who works with me every day so that if I have to be on my ass, at least it’s at the helm of the Prius, earning money, meeting interesting people. Having what I haven’t had in a very long time. Hope. Daily hope. Thank you, my “wife”. You are a star.
A quick shout-out to the wonderful nurses and staff of the Monterey Park Hospital where I recovered last month from a bout of kidney stones. It was like a vacation from life. (the hospital stay; not the stones) Thanks to the two wonderful funny ambulance drivers and some thanks to Good Samaritan Hospital where I went to emergency. That place was a bit weird to be honest. Still, I'm glad they didn't kill me. That's my job.
Finally, a big congratulations to comedian and filmmaker Dave Sirus, who directed me in the title role of his film Archie Black: The Worst. Dave got a gig writing for SNL! Whoo-Hoo! Best of luck to you and Hana in New York. Proud of you, man. Or dude. Whatever.
Naked, in leggings or otherwise. I am, as always, Steven Alan Green.
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