Floating Jokes

Floating Jokes

Comedians spend most of their working lives in comedy clubs. Sometimes, we are asked to perform in other venues. The other night, the Comedy Cellar had the first of two annual boat rides. Comedy boat rides are a challenge because of the constant movement of the boat along with a horn blast that comes at the most inopportune times. I have learned to negotiate the waves and not drink until I finish working.

The weather was ideal, a perfect summer night. The experience included a 4-hour trek around Manhattan with two shows, the first starting as the boat leaves the dock. On a lower level, the second audience is dancing to a DJ while waiting for their show to start about 15 minutes after the first show ends. Comics hang out in a roped-off section on the stage level in the open air. About 15 of us wait there for our turn to perform, nibbling from a 10-foot hoagie and assorted fruit plates.

I hosted the first show and was the first act on the second. Both went great. The audience rocking the boat with laughter. After my work, I went down and danced to the only song that moved me−MJ’s “You Wanna Be Starting Something.” Back in the comedians area I had a couple of rum and cokes while sitting at a table with fellow comic Ryan Hamilton, enjoying the sweet summer breeze.

On the surface, one would think we have little in common. Ryan is a Mormon from Idaho and doesn’t drink, smoke, or curse. I asked Ryan what it was all about. I waited for my answer while Ryan pondered my query. Sometimes, comedians actually have meaningful conversations! He leaned back in his chair, spread his arms out to the sky, looked around and said …”this.” I took that to mean making people happy a couple hundred at a time.

Chris Rock

Chris Rock Workout

After my set at the Cafe Wha? I ran into Chris Rock at the comic’s table in The Olive Tree, a restaurant above the Comedy Cellar. The same restaurant where the idea for Colin Quinn’s Tough Crowd TV show came about. Chris sat next to Gilbert Gottfried and was howling about a Gilbert joke:

“I took my wife to the doctor and said I don’t know if she’s got VD or TB. If she coughs, fuck her.”

I told Chris I got the script for my Black Cop role in the untitled movie he is currently shooting and wondered if I was actually going to shoot the scene since I only saw one line so far. (I had been scrolling through the script on my phone and my thumb got tired). His response was vague, so I guess I have to wait and see.

Chris was going on stage after a couple of acts, so I decided to hang out and watch him. It’s been about a month or so since I last caught his set and I wanted to see what he’s done with the jokes he was working on. I walked down the back steps and heard the crowd roar when he was introduced. I stood in the back corner as he told the audience to lower their expectations, he wasn’t going to be that good.

He mentioned it had been a while since he did standup and it looked like it. After asking himself what was going on a few times, he started hitting his jokes. In his 45 minute set, I heard new lines added to bits I had heard and some I hadn’t. Whenever I watch Chris he always says at least one thing I wish I had thought of first.

When we watch his specials on TV, we see rapid fire, boiled down, broke down to the nitty gritty funny. His pace in workout sets crawls in comparison. I try to figure out which lines he had written and which lines came to him in the moment. After closing his set with a huge laugh getter, we headed back upstairs.

He asked how long I thought he was on stage and I guessed 45 minutes. Back at the table he talked about how his new standup material was coming along.

“I love Louie, and I love Kevin Hart, but I don’t want there to be a conversation!”

The Audition Pt.2

The Audition Pt.2

I walked into the casting office 5 minutes before I was due, offering the young woman behind the desk my standard “Good morning!” She reminded me it was well into the afternoon and I replied it was the morning for me. She then asked where my kid was. I told her I was there to read for two parts in the Chris Rock movie. She was under the impression they were looking at kid actors all day. I was shown a seat to wait for the casting associate to come get me.

After 15 minutes of going over my lines I start to get pissed, wondering why they always make you wait. Five minutes later a thin narrow-faced guy comes out and leads me to the room for my audition. It’s a long winding walk past several kid actors and their parents nervously fumbling with their 8X10 head shots. Inside are the casting directors Matt and Vickie. I am greeted warmly and Matt adjusts the camera to record my audition. Matt suggests I sit for the cop reading.

Vickie and Matt read the other parts and I give them 4 readings of the “you better watch that shit” line. After the last take Vickie does that Tiger Woods fist pump and we move to the next role. I’m standing as the theater manager and we do another 4 takes and we are done. The entire audition lasted fifteen minutes. I felt good enough about my performance, but you never know about these things. Vickie asks me about working on the road and other show biz type questions. I notice pictures on the wall and was told they are either in the movie or being considered for it. I recognize a few faces including my stand up comedy buddies Dennis Regan, Doug Stanhope and Kevin Hart. I’m told the shooting schedule for my role(s) is around July 7th. They thank me for coming in and at the door I ask for a trail of Skittles to find my way to the exit. Now there is nothing to do but wait.

The Audition Pt. 1

With the passion of the greatest love of all time, I hate auditions. Most of them are a complete waste of time. I have big trouble showing my best performance to casting directors because they are part of the show business machine I detest. You know, the suits.

Auditions are usually held in the daytime. Not the ideal time for me to be awake let alone out and about. I have been a night hawk since I was a kid. Before you walk into the casting office, you see 37 other actors that look just you like heading in for the same reason you are. That familiar bummed out feeling is settling in now as you sign in at the desk and deal with clipboard guy/gal. Their headsets have gone to their heads, and they act like you came in to impress them.

This week I got a call from the casting director’s office of the new Chris Rock film project. Matt tells me they have a couple of small parts Chris wants me to read for. This is exciting news. Working with Chris elevates my performance and I’m less nervous since we go back many years. It takes Matt 2 days to email me but I’ve still got more time than usual to learn my lines. 30 hours!

I finally get the sides (section of script), for the two roles. One is for “cop” and the other for “theater manager.” Of the two, the manager role is bigger than the cop role, and I will concentrate on those lines. The reality is even if I land either role, my part could be cut out of the finished product. That’s cool because for me its all about the process of working with good peeps. I will walk in tomorrow afternoon at 4p.m. with confidence. I already have the cop part down.

“You better watch that shit.”

Page 9 of 9« First...56789