Tuesday, December 31, 2002

It's been a while since I've written my last blog, with it being the holiday season and all, I've been very lazy.

I'm not a huge fan of the holidays. I say 'the holidays' like I'm referring to a fancy part of Long Island where rich people hang out all summer and take all the good parking spots at the beach with their antique volvos and saabs to show they've still got good old fashioned values. But what I'm actually referring to is Christmas and New Year's, in case you thought I meant Hannukah or Kwanza or Happy Present Day or whatever other ethnic holiday you might have confused 'the holidays' for. I mean, the holidays aren't the worst thing I've ever smelled, but I've never been one for celebrating other people's birthdays. It's not that I am not happy to celebrate the life of a friend, it's just that I never know what to get people. So I usually just end up getting them nothing. This works fine on my own birthday, where I give myself no presents. But it is annoying to my friends and loved ones, I'm sure. Or I make them something, which normally you might find to be cute but lately the things I've been making have gotten more slackful. I don't think that's a word, but let's go with it. Last year I made my sister a pair of binoculars out of two green bean cans.

It is late now, very very late on the eve of the New Year, and I am still awake, a little bit drunk from the evening before the eve of the new year which has now turned to New Year's eve morn. I don't know what to do with myself. I've been considering going to sleep but that would be too insincere. I don't care about sleeping. Why pretend I do?

So I wrote a list of my new year's resolutions. This year - I resolve to:
1. Find out what it 'really' means to be from Maine.
I'm from Maine. I drink Poland Spring water. Poland Spring 'claims' that is what it means to be from Maine. Yet, I don't buy it. There's something else I need to know. This year, I'm gonna find out, even if it means I have to go camping and technically, I'm probably too old to go on any more camping trips because every one knows that a camping trip is just an excuse to eat psychadelic mushrooms, and I've eaten so many. No more camping trips for me after I #1.

2. Eat more things that begin with the letter R.
I realized recently, there are so many things that begin with the letter R that I NEVER eat that sound so delicious. Rhubarb pie, radishes, raisins, rotwursts, the list goes on and on. Well, the last three don't seem so appetizing, but I bet if you put them into a pie, they'd be pretty damn tasty. I'm going to change my #2 resolution to: Make more pies out of foods that begin with the letter R.

3. Categorize my shoes by color more better often.
Right now, all my shoes are just thrown around my closet and apartment like so many goofy retarded children. This is not only not right, it's not fair to me or my shoes. THIS is the year when I am going to separate my shoes from the pile of shoes they usually play in, and pair them, and arrange them by color, more, better, often. The time is now! I'm getting older. I have to keep that in mind.

4. Start reading more porn.
I watch plenty of porn. But I bet the book versions are even better than the movies. I bet there's a lot of stuff the movies left out because they couldn't put it into words or fit it into the demanding time frame of a cinematic experience. Plus, I see more and more Mexicans every day reading porn on the train. If it's good enough for them, it's new year's resolution #4 for me.

5. Definitely lose weight, and if I can't do that, I'll try to lose some height.
I try to exercise but rarely do, I eat right a lot, several times a day, diet, maintain solid eating disorders, read vanity magazines, compare myself to models and actresses, stress over my clothes being too tight, compare myself to friends, compare my ass to strange womens' and gay mens' asses on the streets, wear tight fitting clothes to seem skinnier than I am, rarely go out in the daylight, do all the fashion tricks like wear a lot of black horizontal stripes to appear slim, starve myself, eat those low-fat chips with the stuff in them that makes you immediately shit them out, eat lots of them, especially after a big meal, eat low carbs, high proteins, low fat, high vegetable, low calorie, high nutritional, never ever ever look in mirrors because I am sick of replacing mirrors I have freaked out on, never stand on scales because it makes my personality take an immediate nosedive and do every thing else I have been trained to do by myself since I decided, for no apparent reason, one day long ago, when I was six, that I was fat. But I just stay the same FUCKING size. So this year, if I don't lose weight, I'm chopping off my feet to the shins. That'll definitely lighten the load by a good twenty pounds. In this day and age, I can cut off my feet, have them replaced by super light weight prosthetics and be up in time to go jogging the next day. So why not? People are getting their stomachs stapled shut! How about getting their mouths stapled shut! On to:

6. Get a fish, I think. One that eats people. While they're sleeping. In another state.
I don't know if there is a creature like this that exists, but I dreamed about something like that once, and if there is some wonderful fish like this, my #6 resolution will be to find it and keep it. There are a lot of people who live in other states (you know who you are) who deserve to get eaten by a fish while they're sleeping in the other state they live in. So, I'll make good use of it for awhile, then one day forget to feed it, watch it float for a few days, then eat it. Is that technically cannibalism? Who cares?

7. Make more friends, faster, without trying harder, easier, more often by using some kind of machine.
My mother always used to tell me, if you have two good friends, you are very lucky. I am so lucky. I've got like twelveteen. And I could probably use a lot more. So I'm going to try to come up with a machine that makes me make more friends, faster, without trying harder, easier, more often. This should be the easiest resolution on my list.

8. Replace my watch band with some yarn or one of those really thick rubber bands. That'd be original.
I'm never doing original things enough. I guess this resolution should really be, try to be more original. I'm always copying the newest pop star. Last week I totally copied Linda Rondstat by wearing rollerskates and five days ago I smoked crack like Whitney Houston. On the birthday of milord! So, maybe I'll just try to be more original. I'm gonna get a monkey to answer my phone from now on. Who else has a monkey who answers their phone? No one. Not even the president.

9. Make a commitment to my country to be more into my country and stick by it this time.
No more God Bless Puerto Rico or God Bless France stickers on my bumper. And the old stickers are coming off.

10. Try very hard to meet a man who's face is mashed up like hamburger meat and love him for the great man or artist that he is.
This one is self explanatory. I'm sick of loving beautiful men with no soul!

Some of these are going to be harder than others. Pray for me.

And bless you all! Every one! Except for anyone who doesn't like me. You should be seeing my fish soon.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Here's a story I wrote which will be printed in the next version of Backwash Magazine. www.backwashmagazine.com

Fun in Buskerville

By Jessica Delfino

Any where you go in New York City, you can find some kind of musician hard at work, singing for their supper. I’ve seen a sitar player performing at an Indian food restaurant on Bleecker St., two hopped-up crack smokers jamming out to the music in their heads in a seedy dive in Alphabet city, and at a coke bar in the outskirts of Brooklyn, I was thoroughly entertained by a Polish lady as she sang a native song, sans microphone, to a tape playing in a cassette deck.

That’s just a glimpse of the above ground New York music scene. But down below, there’s a whole other music scene that is growing and morphing into something bigger than anything anyone ever expected it to become. Take any train in any direction and get off at just about any stop in Manhattan, and you’ll see the ‘underground’ music scene, alive and well. Take the A,C or E train going up or down town, and walk through the long tunnel that leads from the A,C,E train to the N,R,1,9. There, you’ll see a man with one arm, beating a drum, slowly and just south of rhythmically. You’ll see a three piece Mexican guitar band, complete with sombreros atop the head and ponchos thrown over the shoulders. Don’t try to tip them in pesos, though! They only take American dollars and change.

Get on the N or R and take it downtown to Union Square. There on every platform is a musician exercising a different genre of music. Near the stairs to the L train, a 14-piece band complete with oboe and accordion gives passers-by wedding-y sounding songs to think about their problems to, while two girls pass out literature about the band’s upcoming performances. On the L platform, a very handsome young guitarist and his friend who plays the ground, garbage pail and various buckets with a set of drumsticks create a really nice pop and roll sound that the Brooklyn-ites can really dig while they wait for the train to take them to the Bedford stop.

This is a much different music scene, and subway experience all together than it used to be just 5 or so years ago.

“When I used to come into the city, I hated to take the subway, I tried never to take it at night. It was not well-lit and it was filthy. Only homeless people and degenerates were down here,” says James, 36, a graphic designer from Monmouth County, NJ.

Now, not only is the subway illuminated by a series of fluorescent lights that runs in a chain from one end of the platform to the other, but it is a hustle and bustle of people from all walks of life, all background and financial income brackets.

The MTA allows musicians to play down under on their turf mostly because, according to a poll that was taken in the 70’s, the sound of the music and the fact that it is real people playing that music gives the public a feeling of safety and calm. Technically, you are required by the MTA to have a permit to perform in the subway. But as far as anyone with any say is concerned and this is known simply by taking a look around you on any given day, anyone can play in the subway, homeless, creepy, talented or not. Panhandling is illegal according to NY law. It is also illegal to use an amplifying device such as an amp or cordless microphone. However, it is not illegal to just hang out and play your guitar. And, if by chance, someone thinks you’re doing a fine job and would like to give you a tip, that is what is known as a ‘loophole.’

The MTA does issue permits once a year. There is a whole rigamarole that goes along with trying to get a permit. You have to send a tape in, and an application, and it’s a process. Then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll even get one. While most stations won’t hassle you if you are playing on their platform, there are some places where it is more difficult to get away with playing without a permit. At Grand Central Station, they will promptly escort you out of the terminal train area. If you are lucky, they won’t ticket you, but they can and certainly will. Most musicians won’t meet too much opposition, though, and can play wherever they like, for as long as they like, and that’s that.

Some people are really against musicians playing in the subways. They think it takes away from the homeless people who are singing and trying to make money panhandling. But let’s face it, many of the homeless people playing music out there aren’t that good. They have no rhythm, they can’t hold a note, and they have no sense of musical style. They’re not in it for the love, they’re only in it for the money. Some are pretty decent. I’ve seen one or two singing on the actual subway cars in deep baritone voices, cups out, garbage bag shoes on, really making an effort.

There’s always a funny story we’ve heard with an interesting angle a person has taken to make a few bucks, such as the man who gets on the subway car and sings in the most hideous voice ever. Then after a few minutes he says to the people, “Pay me to stop!”

People who perform in the subways for money are known as “buskers” and are actually much more common in Europe. Really within the last ten years is when they started to pick up in the US, and mostly in New York City due to the large subway system. A sharp rise is always noted during the holidays and weekends when the subways are filled with tourists.

I did a short stint as a busker a year or so back. It was pretty fun, except for a few things that sucked. One thing was, I lived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, ten blocks from the subway. So I’d have to travel with my guitar to the subway, and then take the subway into my spot in Manhattan. It was almost harder then just getting a regular job. Then, to make matters worse, I’d have to carry my guitar in a hardcase because I didn’t have one of those soft backpack guitar cases that all the richer, cooler guitar kids had. It was very heavy and I kept having to switch hands. Due to that, my forearms got big and strong, like Popeye, which looks weird on a girl. Also, at first when I started, I decided to go to the A,C,E stop on West 4th, because it looked like a busy spot with a cool, rich, generous young crowd. I was right. I’d clean up there, making sometimes $50 or so bucks in an hour. But then one day, a crazy guitarist came along and made me leave. He was like, “Hey, this is my spot.” And I was like, “Well I don’t see your name on it.” And he was like, “Listen, bitch, I’ve been coming to this spot for four years. You’ve gotta go.” And I was like, “Let’s ask the people who they want to stay, you or me.” And he was like, “You’ve gotta finish your song, close your case up and go.” And I was like, “Whatever. ‘You pave paradise…put up a parking lot! Shooo! La La La La!” And he was like, “I’m talking to you, bitch. You better beat it or else I’m gonna get really pissed off.” And he hissed at me. And he was missing some teeth. And he was willing to fight over the spot. And he looked very ready and able to hit a girl. He looked like he’d probably hit many girls over the course of the years, which had not been good to him. And then I realized what the people meant when they said things like, “You shouldn’t play in the subway because it’s dangerous,” and by people, I mean my mom. And I also realized what other people meant when they said, “You shouldn’t play in the subway because you’re taking a job away from a homeless person.”

So, I rounded up my $35 in change, packed up my guitar, packed up my busking stint, and got a job no homeless person could take away from me – a job at Barnes and Noble. And so far, they have never asked me to play my guitar in the store, or in front of the store, or even behind the store. They like me to be as quiet as possible, generally.

Lots of people have a good life playing in the subway. They play songs, and they make a CD, and maybe a record executive hears them and gives them a lucky break, as was the case with Patty What’s Her Face on the 1995-ish album ‘Between the 1 and the 9’ (named after the subway line she could regularly be found performing on) featuring that song, “I can roll myself on down the line, telling everybody that I’m just fine….” You know the one, don’t you? Well? Don’t you?

Subway musicians come and go, and come and go and lately they’ve been coming more and going less. It’s getting pretty busy down there, what with the musicians and religious word spreaders, and the plain old change beggars, and then the actual people who ride the train. But if you live in or are even just visiting New York City, you have to take it all in and accept it, because it’s not going anywhere. As long as there’s a subway, in the subway, there will be panhandlers and beggars and commuters and performers and dancers and freaks and rats. It’s just a small sliver of what makes this city so stinkin’ neat.

Saturday, November 30, 2002

I am in Florida. I flew here, against my better judgement, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

I haven't seen my family in over a year. There's a (hundred) good reason(s) for that. But that's a whole other universe of blogs.

I get in on Tuesday night and of course, the first thing I do is try to get a spot somewhere on stage. Even before hug my mother. The next thing I do is realize it isn't easy to find stage time in Tampa, Florida. I went to the Tampa Improv on Wednesday night where the Homegrown Comedy Show is going on. I introduced myself to the manager and gave the show's emcee a tape. This show is noteworthy for the following reasons:
1) Homegrown is a lesser used word for 'sucky'
2) In the hour that the show takes place, I hear no less than 13 jokes I've heard on tv or read in joke books being told by comedians who didn't write them or purchase them
3) They won't let me do any time on the show because it's an evening of professionals, a special event

The five comedians on the show are mediocre at best, except one guy, Johnny B who is pretty decent and by far, the best one. He is endearing the audience to him, he is friendly, sweet, loveable, the funny fat guy. The hostess Renee is interesting. She insists on coming out barefoot, she looks like a man I used to be afraid of when I lived in Maine, she drinks and smokes on stage (in one hand) holds the mic with the other. She abuses the men in the audience and comes onto them in an evil and uncomfortable way. They can't help but resist her. She's polished in a way that says she has been doing stand up for a very, very, VERY long time.

The other comedians, and I use the term comedians loosely are just painful to watch. One of them 'shows his ass' as is put by a local, which in Florida means to act like a real idiot, but I know it as pulling down your pants at a person or group of people with the intention of getting a laugh from your buddies who are egging you on (also known as mooning someone), so I am confused until she explains it to me. One guy tells Stu Kamens old set verbatim. Stu is an NYC comedian who got out of the business about ten years ago. I think he's fucking prostitutes in Amsterdam on a bed stuffed with marijuana right now. Still another guy gives the audience the finger, talks shit about a previous comedian's set, gets into an awkward verbal altercation with a woman, bails his twenty minute set at 4 minutes, 13 seconds, and makes a beeline from the stage with his fist for a wall. Wow.

I go to speak to the bartender. I tell him I gave the emcee my tape. He warns me not to trust the emcee and recommends I get my tape back and give it to the manager. I do, and then quickly leave, but not before I see a separate comedian punch a wall inches from my face.

Over the course of the evening, I hear the phrase, "My husband was just released from jail" way too many times.

The next day is Thanksgiving and I eat my face off.

Friday, Gary calls me from the Tampa Improv and invites me to do a guest spot on George Wallace's show. I am totally thrilled and immediately commit.

10:30 PM, the Improv is packed. There've got to be 500 people there. Gary is the house MC and he tells me he is going to bring me up first. I am confident. I am certain this is gonna be awesome. I can just imagine the back pats and high fives I'm gonna receive when all this is over. I do notice the audience is mostly older black folks and white grandparents with their grandkids, but I'm ready for them. First, I'll do my pedophile joke, that one always gets a laugh. Then it's on to bulemia and then hating animals. This shit is gonna be fucking great.

I bomb at hello. I don't know what happened. The best part of my set is when some greasy Tampa cowboy tries to heckle me and I embarrass him and his two blonde bims. I take the winning heckle ticket as my big closer and get off the stage. 3 minutes, 28 seconds. I make a beeline with my fist for the door. I'm especially glad to know my sweet little sister cancelled her evening of hanging out with her boyfriend and had to see her big sister tank.

Gary greets me on my way out. He says, "Good jokes, wrong crowd." I feel like maybe he's right, but a good comedian can make any crowd laugh, right? "Don't feel bad," he says. "These people don't like New Yorkers. Marc Maron bombs every time he comes here, too." Strangely, it doesn't make me feel better. It makes me feel like serving my own bowels to myself, fresh from my guts. Somehow I muster a smile and a thank you, and slither out with my sister, embarrased, following behind me.

I get home and my mother tries to make me feel better. She says, "Aw, honey. Maybe you should think about your jokes. Maybe try to lighten up a little. These people are scared of jokes about gay people. They think bulimia is sad. How about if you tell them about how I made you take tap class in clogs? That's funny. Maybe you can tell them about the time dad cut his thumb off with the ax, or your first pap smear."

I fall asleep in front of the fire, thinking about how to change my act by 6:00 tomorrow evening when I am scheduled to perform at my Uncle's auction.

Thanksgiving day, my Uncle calls. He says, come perform at my show! I'll pay you! I want you to do comedy! It'll be fun! He puts my picture up on his website! Jessica Delfino! it says. Writes for MTV! She's been on Good Morning America! it says. My big fat face, smiling! Headshot! $150 from amybphotography.com! "Sure" I say. "No problem! Sounds like fun."

I arrive on Saturday at the auction, 5 pm. The crowd looks identical to the Improv crowd, but with even less brains than teeth, and lots of information for eachother about rims and predictions on the football game.

My Uncle comes over to me. He says, "Jess. I'm really glad you're here. Here' s the rules."
1 - No swearing.
2 - No dirty stuff.
3 - No sudden movements or breakdancing or anything like that
4 - These people are old, don't do anything to offend them. Stand stiff if you can. Don't move your arms.
5 - I can't pay you in money. I'm going to pay you in collector's item Dairy Queen glasses and a box of paperback books.

My grandparents have come out to see me. They have completely opposite ways of teaching me, showing me they love me. My grandfather all my life has verbally noted what a great ass I have and tells me the same dirty jokes over and over again; my grandmother speaks completely in parables and hugs me a lot. My twelve year old cousin is there, too. He's wearing his favorite Korn tee shirt. He give me a lot of harsh criticism and pulls my hair. I think that means he likes me. I wonder if I should be flattered that I totally have a chance with my cousin?

My Uncle gives me a grand introduction. These people are old, scary, and they all drive trucks. They are not going to like my jokes. They are not going to like me. I don't know what to do. I tell a few jokes about growing up in Maine. I stall. I talk to the guy in the front row. I get heckled by a guy wearing a plaid shirt eating a hotdog. My grandparents laugh at everything I say. My Uncle paces nervously. My cousin raises his hand and asks when I'm getting off stage. People are bidding on my failure. Then, somehow, miraculously, I start to get them. The minute my defeat settles in. I get them. They start laughing. I'm confused. Maybe my mom is right. Maybe I should pander. Maybe I should die. Maybe I should get back into graphic design. I have a degree. I know Photoshop. I know all about typesetting. Florida isn't so bad. Maybe I could move here and work for my mom's paper. Maybe I could just sublet my new apartment and find a rich guy down here and marry him, squeeze out a few fat babies, get old, get sick, get menopaused, get on social security, get whatever.

It seems like as soon as I feel like things couldn't get any worse, they break. I guess the moral of this story is, "every cloud has a valuable pewter lining" or "don't judge a box of paperback books by their cover" or "timing plus tragedy at the auction equals comedy".

On the ride home, I say to my grandparents, "I just don't know what to do. I don't know what I'm doing wrong." My grandmother says, "Oh, honey. Seek, and ye shall receive." Then, she kisses me and pats my shoulder. My grandfather says, "Did you ever hear the joke about the .50 cent prostitute?" I realize, right then and there, that all along, there has actually been deepness and meaning to his dirty jokes. Look what you're doing, he's saying. Doing this dirty business with dirty fornicators for going on two years. Up there, spread eagle. Telling filthy jokes, selling sex, selling your history and your future. Giving it away, practically for free. To anyone and everyone.

My grandfather is trying to tell me. I am the fifty cent prostitute.

I consider this for thirty five of the fourty minute ride home. Finally, I answer.
"Yeah, I've heard it, grandpa. But tell it again."

Friday, November 22, 2002

"Misfortunes, as is well known, seldom come singly." -Milan Kundera, "Immortality"

I've been having a lot of bad luck this week.

SUNDAY: I lost my favorite green hat, which was the perfect size for my head. It was an army green 'gay biker style' cap. Worst, I think I left it on a subway seat, so some homeless guy is wearing it or collecting change in it right now, as we speak.

MONDAY: Then, I lost my cellphone. Luckily, though, I found it. But for two days I felt like I'd forgotten my name. I left it in my friend's car, which indicates to me that I have trouble remembering to take things with me when I get out of things that are taking me places.

TUESDAY: While I was trying to straighten my hair, I picked up the straightening iron by the iron and not the handle. That was my own stupidity showing it's teeth. I didn't scald my hand, but it did scare me, it hurt a little bit, and I dropped my straigtening iron on the ground which couldn't have been good for it. You may think that doesn't sound like a big deal, but my hair looks terrible not straight. What kind of life would I have with out a straightening iron? 'Iron' ically, I learned about straightening irons from a female friend of mine who is jewish.

WEDNESDAY: I tank at the Boston Comedy Club in front of my friends. I drink a shot of tequila and get sick on the cab ride home.

After that, my friend broke her toe. Now you may be thinking that has nothing to do with me, but it does. I care about her, and that includes her toes, her shoulder, her knees, what have you. Plus, her foot's all casted up so she couldn't come out to co-host the show with me. I wanted her to do a set over my cellphone placed near the microphone, the same cellphone which I found that I'd left in my friend's car, but she nay sayed. She said she didn't want to bomb from far away. I can understand, and relate.

I'm not jewish, I'm italian. That means if you date me, you get all the benefits of dating a nice jewish girl (the religious under layer that leads to intense sex and neurotic behavior) but for half the price.

WEDNESDAY STILL: My mom INSISTS I fly down to Florida to visit for Thanksgiving which I don't want to do for a cavalcade of reasons (afraid of flying, don't get along with family too well, hate Florida, lots of old people there, fear old people, old people smell, hate the idea of being sandwiched in between two strangers breathing that wierd canned air in a flying ticking time bomb for two and a half hours, hate going places, hate the idea of smelling old people, just moved into a new apartment, want to decorate it, like to stay put, afraid of flying, planned to lose weight over the holidays which is not going to happen if I'm participating in Italian family holiday celebrations, so I might as well forget the whole losing weight thing because once the eating frenzy has begun, there's no stopping bathing suit season comes back around and I feel ashamed at what I've done to my body all the cold while, and did I mention I'm afraid to fly?) But I'm a good daughter who will never achieve the level of approval I'd like to have from my family, so I log on to Jetblue.com and look up cheap flights to appease her, thinking there'd be NO WAY I could find a cheap flight just 6 days before I planned to leave, and lo and behold, there was a very cheap flight within the Thanksgiving timeframe, but I know my mom and there's no way she has any money on her credit card. "Honey, I don't know if I have enough money on my credit card," she says. "YES!" I whisper to myself. "Let's try it, but I don't think it's gonna work." "Come on....not gonna work!" I say out loud. "What?" I remember my mom's on the other line. "Fuck, I'm sorry, mom," I say. "I'm watching the races on tv. I'm betting on a horse named, Not Gonna Work." So she reads out the numbers to me one by one, but not before asking me if I'm sure the server is secure, and but am I sure seven more times before then moving onto the quiz part of the process, a) how do I know it's secure, and b) when I say "I just know", how do I know? I get the information from her which is the opposite of pulling teeth, it's like putting teeth in the spaces between where teeth all ready are. Isn't that neat? I have to beg my mom to give me the credit card number to a credit card with no money on it so I can travel in a way I don't want to to a place I don't want to be. I get them, and type them in slowly, then read, please wait while we process your card. Hey, take your sweet time. Take forever. And it does. Things are looking good, it's taking too long, I can almost taste the "Sorry, you have insufficient funds at this time" page. But FUCK ME, it comes up instead with CONGRATULATIONS! Your flight has been booked. Then, I die a million deaths. My mother is so happy. "Oh, that's so great! I'll see you soon! I can't wait!" I love my mom. I'm looking forward to seeing her for Thanksgiving. I'm getting on a plane for her. That's the most sincere form of love I can offer.

THURSDAY: At the Believe Chicken show which I co-host, it's just me running the wagon. Liz is sitting at home, eating chips, probably with her 'broken toe.' She's got her casted foot up on the table, watching tv and thinking about how glad she is she didn't have to drudge down town in the rain. I'm running what actually, for once, happens to be a pretty decent show. A Comedy Central rep stops in as well as some people from a casting company and a booking agency. The line up is really great - Leo Allen, Demetri Martin, Lenny Marcus, Danny Cohen, Marianne Sierk, Abby Scott, Phil Ledo, The Haskell Twins, Rusty Ward, Nancy Lombardo, Chris Jurek, and a new guy I've never seen before who wants to do three minutes. Sure, I'm drunk, and why the hell not? I tried something new tonight where I play little songs in between the comedians on my purple electric guitar, to polite laughs. The biggest laugh I got all night was when Lenny called to me while he was on stage, and asked me what my goal, my dream as a comedian is. "A sit com?" He asks. I say "I would just like to be funny, eventually." The audience laughed, but what I want to know, is - Is that a case of laughing at or laughing with? Anyway, I got bored of guitaring in between songs and sort of just told jokes for the last few acts, thinking I'll pull off a grand guitar finale at the end. The last comedian, who's name I mispronounced as Michael Swallowy, does his three minutes and gets off the stage. I get on the stage holding my guitar, and he trips over the wire that is plugged from my guitar into the amp which I bought with my hard earned money, $220 of my hard earned money to be exact, which I didn't even have to spend when I spent it, and the amp lands face first on the ground. Having just experienced an auditory explosion of screeching and feedback, the audience is appauled except a few who are laughing. It's like the scene from Better Off Dead where Lane Myers scratches the chalk across the chalkboard and everyone's hair stands up straight. The time of the night has come for me to approach the realization that my amp is broken, and since I don't want to cry in front of my friends, I laugh, too.

When I go outside, it is raining, and I don't even have an umbrella. It's as if God or ghosts or the rain itself is telling me, "You know the drill. When it rains, it pours."

FRIDAY: I plan to just stay home all day today. Unfortunately, I have a feeling bad luck knows where I live.

Interesting end note: Que mal lastima is the only piece of spanish I remember from three years in highschool. That and abre la ventana.
Which I plan to do, just seconds before I get pushed out of it.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Running a show every week is hard work. If you want an audience, you have to promote the show. I'm not a promoter. I'm a comic, using the term comic 'loosely.' I have compiled an e-mail list of about 1000 names which I send one (1) email out to every week. I used to send two, but I decided one is enough. Now granted, I did put most of the names on the list without actually asking permission from the people, but I assumed no one would care, it's just an email, and it's a great show.

In the two months that I've been sending out this email list, I've gotten straight up HATE mail regarding being removed from the list. People have threatened the children I don't have now and never will, people have called me names, people have verbally assaulted me and my intelligence which is none of their business, and have otherwise just been really nasty. Don't get me wrong, the people who are supporters of the show are really nice. But the others are just, well, retarded.

It's funny, because they always begin with hello.


REMOVE ME!!! REMOVE REMOVE REMOVE!!! I hate your stupid chicken emails, You are a witch! DIE! DIE! DIE!

Jane Smith
Director of Childrens' Services
The Kindness Society
917 482-2868

Normally, it's common knowledge - if someone wants to be removed from an email list, they only have to write and ask, and then they are removed. However, when people start to get nasty, I say why be the bigger person? I have a special knack for being small minded and petty. I've managed to hide it away, but when I receive letters like this, it draws it out of me

REMOVE!!!!!! cunty@fullofunwarrantedrage.com... your constant unsolicited emails
are irritating!

Now, why? Why does it have to be like that? Let's give your letter a little face lift.

(Please) REMOVE!!!!!!

What's with all the other crap? No need to get personal, cunty.

Hey, just in case any of you naysayers are wondering, here's my take on it:
YOU are irritating ME with your stupid 'remove' requests.
PS. Don't YOU email ME anymore. YOU take ME off YOUR list!

This kind of treatment prompted me to send out this email on my Believe Chicken emailing list:

The Believe Chicken Promise:

We promise not to remove anyone's email adress from the E-mail list,
ever, even if they ask. That's the Believe Chicken Promise.

In recent months, a hand full of wack jobs and crack pots have
requested to be removed from the Believe Chicken E-mail list. We aren't sure what
their problem is. Maybe they hate their fathers. Maybe they don't know what
the future holds and they are scared. Regardless, requests to be removed
from the Believe Chicken E-mail have been considered, and then not honored.
Though this is probably illegal and may even technically be considered
cyber-terrorism, BC has stood with conviction by this promise. We
feel, once you are in the Believe Chicken system, you are in for life.

If you insist on being removed, we will consider your request, too, but
not honor it. Just do the following.

If you are interested in being removed from the list, be sure to
include ALL of the following:
-a letter of request for removal
-two forms of ID (valid)
-a head shot (in duplicate)
-resume (current)
-time, date, season, reason, and a word that rhymes with season and
reason and how it relates to you not wanting to be on the mailing list
-birth certificate (original copies only, we can not and will not even
try to accept photocopies)
-one (1) five minute tape of you saying why you would like to be
removed from the BC list. Try to be as expressive as possible. (*VHS format
only, please!!!*)
-an MP3 of your favorite song (the song better be good)

Materials can not be returned, even if you send a SASE. As a matter of
fact, make sure to include a SASE. We can not make a promise to honor
anything ever. The only promise we can make is to NOT honor any
requests. At Believe Chicken, like Roq, we keep our promises. Thank you.

13th St. and 2nd Ave. Manhattan
EVERY THURSDAY 7-9 PM (Happy Hour 6-8 PM)

MCS: Jessica Delfino and Liz Laufer



And super special surprise drop-by guests who you're gonna wanna see!!!

Be there. Believe Chicken.

**CONTACT US AT: Jessdelfino@yahoo.com or Lizlaufer@aol.com. We're
waiting to hear from YOU!**

And you know something? After sending out that email? I realize the whole thing is kind of silly. It's not a big deal. So what? People are rude without warrant and verbally attack me on a daily basis. That's what being a stand up comedian is all about. But just for the record, I'm not going to take any crap. Suffer the hard way, losers and Believe Chicken enemies. That's right. Now you're gonna have to hit delete.

Sunday, November 3, 2002

Last night I stayed up all night long to get a good place in line on the All New Star Search auditions. I tanked. So bad. But on line, I did pretty good.

I got to the line around 4:30 am. I was about 40th. Valerie Gurka was about three people behind me so we hung out and kept eachother company until the sun rose. Then some of her friends arrived with blankets and energy around 7:30. By energy, I do not mean cocaine, and by blankets, I mean 'warm cloths' that you drape over yourself to retain heat. Only three comedians were in front of us - Tarun Sheddy, Pete Glissman and Jane, a comic from Connecticut who's last name I forget. Everyone else was a singer or a model or a line space holder or a homeless person. The whole night and into the morning, every one was singing, practicing their songs. Do singers have snappy lingo for the few minutes or so when they go 'up' where ever and sing a song? Do they call it a set also? Or do they just call it a song? They probably just call it a song.

They, and by they, I mean the Star Search people came outside around 8 and started handing out bracelets that color coordinated each talent. Comedy's bracelet was colored green, which I found to be somewhat ironic - but not too ironic - just ironic enough to be a slight bit more than slightly interesting to me. Slight squared. Ironic divided by two. The line started to move forward which was very exciting after standing still for three and a half hours. I decided I should try to muster up some energy from somewhere after standing still in the freezing cold with no sleep for hours as I'd been doing. So I started to sing. And sing did I. I sang Chaka Khan, Guns N Roses, Rick Astley, and much, much more. And every thing I chose to sing for some reason was a huge source of entertainment and amusement to everyone around me. I was delirious and feeling stupid and bold, so I really began to play it up. I jumped up on a lamp post and hung singing from it, like a chimney sweep child in some movie about being poor that takes place in old England. That began attracting attention and before I knew it, I had a camera man taking all kinds of pictures of me swinging and hanging from this lamp post. And the crowd below was laughing and smiling, and waving at me and I was a hero of the people.

Then I went inside and ate my balls in that little room in front of D.J. and J.T., the two judges. It was pretty messed up the way they did it. They brought the comedians ten at a time into the little room, and the comedians took turns both auditioning and being an audience member at an open mic no one had signed up for. All the comedians who went on were people who I actually knew from doing open mics around NY, many of which could probably tell my set verbatim, they'd heard it so many times. Not only did the comedians not laugh at my jokes they'd heard or not a bunch of times, the judges didn't really laugh, either. I totally bombed. It went something like this: (They asked us to open up with our name, where we're from, and an interesting fact about ourselves.)

Hello, my name is Jessica Delfino, I'm from Damariscotta, Maine, and I'm 26. But I'm reading at a 28 year old reading level. (sprinkled laughter)

I'm not a vegetarian, for two good reasons. First of all, I like the taste of meat. But even more important, I really hate animals. (crickets, air flowing, the sound of people breathing, I heard someone swallow a gulp of water)

"Spin the bottle" joke went here. To this, I got frightened pity laughter from the judges. I actually heard one telepathically send a message to the other that went, "A pedophile joke on a television audition?" Then he went on to telepathically talk about lighting me on fire to destroy all evidence of me ever having been in the room. I think if someone wanted to press it, technically, either judge could have gotten fired just for having shaken hands with me, and are probably receiving hate mail as we speak for even allowing me to breathe the same air that was being used by the future stars of tomorrow.

The rest is a blur of bombing. Not even my poker straight hair or funky Chess Forum tee shirt could have saved me. When I was finished, one judge bum rushed me and held me down and the other washed my mouth out with soap and demanded back the 90 seconds of his life I'd taken from him. I told him I'd write him a check. But I never will. Even if I did, it'd bounce.

The judges left the room to talk in private and I actually heard one say, and I quote, "Jessica Delfino should be sucking dicks, not telling jokes." I was feeling fine with that, then he added, "And, she's not funny." When they came back in, they said they only liked one person's act, and that person was Tarun. He had the best set by far, heads and tails above. Funny, clean, good. Good energy, charming, not shy, funny. Good. When they said his name, I felt so happy. I gave him a hug and kiss which almost ruined it for him when the judges saw him associating with me. Then we left and had breakfast together at the Cosmic Diner, just a few seats away from where Jordan Ruben's photo hangs on the wall.

I learned a few very important things from this experience. One is that I am tired and cold. The second is that I have to poop.

Now, I could have made up all kinds of excuses. I was tired. I was cold. I had to poop. I went up in front of comedians. Many of them had heard my jokes. Boo hoo hooey hoo. But the fact is, I'm just not that good yet. Tarun was solid. He did not drop the ball. I've still got years of disappointments and blown opportunities to look forward to before I can call myself a 'good' comic, and even with time and hard work, I may never be 'good.' I guess I'll have to wait and see. Or make it happen. Or a little bit of both.

I mean, am I right, people?

People? Hello? Is this thing on?

Thursday, October 17, 2002

I performed in a comedy show at a Riker's Island Womens Facility yesterday. If I could only use one word to describe the show, it would have to be the word, "UNBELIEVABLY FUCKING AWESOME."

The line-up was a strange mish mash of comedians. Susie Felber, Clayton Fletcher, Paul Sullivan, Eddie Peppitone, Ray Rivera, some guy named Tim from Philly who I'd never seen before, a few other comics who I didn't know, and myself. Jessica Delfino. The Emcee, Peter Haywood, was a guy I had met in a Video Improv class taught by Victor Varnado.

When Peter first asked me about doing the show, I was thinking to myself, "No way, are you nuts? Me, in a room with a bunch of scary criminals, trying to make them laugh? I can barely make nice people at comedy clubs who are not scary laugh. Then I'm going to have to not only ward off hecklers verbally, but possibly also have to physically protect myself? Thanks, but I don't stinkin' think so. I need to do a show like that like I need to stick my finger up my own butt." He was like, "OK." Then, I told a comedian friend of mine, Roger Hailes, about it and he was like, "You should do it. It'd probably be the best show ever." I was like, "What?" He was like, "Yeah." So I thought about it and decided, hey. Let's give it a try.

I woke up at 9 am on Wednesday cursing Peter Haywood. I saw it was POURING, not raining, and my second thought after, "This is fucking bullshit" was, I do not want to do this show. I want to go back to sleep. I'm a comic for fuck's sake. I'm a vampire. I do comedy all night and sleep all day. That's my thing. But I got up, I pulled myself together somehow, and got over to Peter's in time for our 10 am round up. Peter had rented a van and was going to have us all caravanned over to Riker's together. Cool. The van showed up and we all piled in, like a bunch of retarded kids going on a field trip. I sat front and center, with Eddie to my left and Ray to my right. We all sort of bullshitted about comedy and stuff and got used to eachother's faces, then began talking about the show. "What kind of material should I do?" I considered not doing any rape jokes, and it was a scary prospect, because my act is made up of about 75% of them. Ray tried out a line, "So I was walking down the road as a free man," and we all laughed. That Ray friggin' Rivera.

By the time we pulled into the security check point before the Riker's bridge, we were all sharing a salad of fear and excitement with a light dressing of perspiration. It was just gushing rain out and the wind seemed really pissed off about something. We were instructed to pull into the security parking lot and give all our ID's to the officers so they could run warrant checks on them and issue us official prison ID visitor's badges. We sat there for about an hour and a half and considered just going home when finally they let us in. I was starting to really get scared. I prayed to god to make everything be okay, and if everything could not be okay, to let me be one of the ones who made it out alive.

We had to go into the prison and get another badge, and an infrared stamp, and a little speech from the warden who told us not to swear 'too much', not to talk shit about Bloomberg and not to say anything derrogatory about the facility or the guards. I was getting very nervous as we got led down a big long hallway to a small kind of auditorium. The audience was made of people who had been arrested for reasons I was unsure of. All female. Girls don't generally like me, anyway. And any one of these women had a reason to hate me. I'm free. I just look like I should have my ass kicked, two times in a row, for sport. They weren't going to be handcuffed, they weren't going to be muzzled, they weren't even going to be behind a rope. They were going to be TEN FEET AWAY. And they had been sitting, waiting for over an hour for us to arrive. As the first of the comedians walked in, the crowd of inmates just started screaming. It literally sounded like there was a riot going on. I got scared. Then, I realized, they were screaming for US. Like we were Hall and Oates. They were cheering and clapping, and they all rose up to their feet and were just going wild. I was absolutely blown away.

Peter went on and immediately brought up Ray, then Susie, then someone else, then me, then Clayton, then Tim, then the other girl, then Paul, then Eddie. And they were the best audience I've ever seen in my life, anywhere. They really laughed. They were so happy to be entertained, it was like we could do no wrong. They laughed at the set-ups. They laughed just for the sake of laughing. And there were 150 of them, so when they laughed, you really heard it. They LOVED Eddie, encoring him with the chant, "Sexy Eddie." At the end of the show, the inmates walked by and shook our hands, thanking us and giving us compliments. I think I speak for everyone when I say, we walked out of the auditorium elated.

Back in the van we unloaded our energy on eachother, spilling little tidbits of emotion into eachother's lap, speaking in front of the video camera one comedian had brought along. I felt good, like I'd done community service. But these were people who had been arrested for breaking the law for something more offensive than just a misdemeanor. Still, there was something good that happened there, that came out of that. I'm not sure, but I think it was something that stems from the idea of us all being one, all being connected. Or maybe they were just some people, down on their luck, in need of a good laugh. Either way, it was really, really cool.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

OK. It's about time I mentioned it. It's been going on for awhile now and it's doing pretty well. I'm talking about the stand-up comedy show that's getting put together every Thursday from 7-9 pm at Nightingale on 13th street and 2nd avenue in New York Friggin' City. It's Free. It's Free. And it's Free. It's called BELIEVE CHICKEN.

It's hosted by Liz Laufer and myself. We take turns going up and putting in our two cents between comedians. We take pride in the show, we put really good comics on the line up and some people who are working it out. The show starts at 7 pm and ends around 9. There's happy hour from 6-8, three dollar beers and four dollar drinks. There are good beers on tap like Saranac and I think Boddingtons. Also Bud. So drink up. There's cranberry juice there, too. And sodie pop.

I will now give you a run down of what to expect at Believe Chicken by describing last week's show:

Last Thursday, like every Thursday for the past three weeks or so since the show started, it rained. Not drizzled, not sprinkled, RAINED. I started to get nervous because rain deters people from coming out because they don't want to smell the poisonous rain fumes. At first there were only around 7 brave people in the bar when we got started. Then, as if a miracle were performed by God or Jesus, people just start pouring in like tiny magicians. Around 7:05, we got started. The crowd was so sweet! The bar was packed so full you couldn't swing a shoe without hitting a donkey. And the audience was chanting, we love you, Believe Chicken show! It was like a painting of a snowy river. I went up and warmed up the audience. They laughed at every single thing I said. Even when I paused they erupted with warm, sensuous laughter. One woman exclaimed she laughed so hard at a joke I told, she was going to have to go to the ladies room and do number 2. That was weird, but I took it as a seductive compliment. The crowd was so warm and full of energy, I decided not to hog it all for myself and brought up the first comic, Tom McCaffrey. He was very funny and the audience laughed and loved him so much. One girl got up and gave him a rose. I saw him escorting her into the bathroom about ten minutes later. After Tom was hilarious comedian after hilarious comedian. Cynthia Levin. Andrew Donnelly. Garry Leavy. Larry Getlin. Robert Rothstein. Ray Field. It was so wonderful and beautiful. The show went on and on. The crowd got bigger and better and laughed harder at each comedian. The bar made hundreds of thousands of dollars. My mother called me and told me how proud she was of me. I won the lottery later. It was the best day of my life.

That is what you can expect at Believe Chicken comedy show. So come and see the show. Liz and I will be there to make the transition from cold lonely world to warm funny unity sweet and soft, like a feather gloved pillow duster. You will be so happy you came out and you will enjoy yourself so much you will offer to buy one of us a car. And one of us will say no. But one of us will say yes. Come and see which one will do what.

Be there. Believe Chicken.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

I've been looking for an apartment and it's been so hard. It's too expensive to live alone and I make a really bad roommate for a lot of reasons. For starters, I'm too clean. I'm always straightening up, and never leaving messes anywhere. I'm also extremely generous, which can be VERY annoying. I'm always buying groceries, my roommate's favorite foods, and just leaving them in the refridgerator for them to eat. Sometimes, when it's a full moon or whatever, I prepare delicious meals, just out of the blue. RUDE!!! And I am a great listener, which is tough for people to get into. I'm always on time with bills too, early even. I totally suck. I have a self redeeming personality, though, so I'm working on all those things. Hopefully I'll be able to get it together before I get a roommate.

I found a surprise cheap apartment in Chinatown. It was only $700 for a one bedroom. It was a great building with so many perks. Like, for starters, it was on top of an all night fish market. So I could come home late at night, 3 am, and buy raw fish if I wanted to, and I'm sure I'd want to. Also, it was a seven story walk up. So I'd get a great work out every time I came home or forgot something. I'd save hundreds from not having to pay for a gym membership. And there was a sign that said the exterminator came two times a week, so I bet the place was totally bug free. And in the apartment on either side of me, lived a family of 10 and a family of 12. So there'd always be someone around. The floor was falling apart, but that just gave me an excuse to get a nice hardwood floor put in. And there was no fire escape but what are the chances of a fire happening in my apartment? I do smoke, sometimes when I'm sleeping, but I'm a very careful sleeping smoker. And as long as I bought a fire alarm and installed it at some point, there'd be no chance of me burning up in a fire in my apartment. Especially if I bought batteries to go in the alarm. And put them in the alarm. I'm a pretty heavy sleeper, I once slept through a 7.3 earthquake, but I had been up late, drinking tea.

I checked out the apartment during the day, so I figured it'd be best for me to come back at night and see what it was like under cover of dark. I just wanted to see if the neighborhood was dangerous. I set up a test - I planned to come back around 11 that night. I decided if I got raped, I was definitely NOT going to rent the place. If I didn't get raped, I figured the apartment was more or less safe. So I did, I went back and checked out the apartment that night, around 11. I didn't get raped, but I did get followed and some guy called me a lady of the night. So, the next morning, of course, I immediately went to put down a deposit. But it was too late. Someone had beat me to it.

So now I'm back to square one. Trying to find an apartment. I'm checking all the ads, Craig's List, The Voice, reading flyers on phone poles, eavesdropping on people's conversations in the park, at coffee shops, on the street. Harrassing people as they go into their foyers, "Are there any apartments for rent in your building? Are you sure? Are you moving out any time soon?"

I won't pay more than $1000, either for a one bedroom, or a studio, or to share someone's apartment. I mean, a one time sum of $1000. Is that unreasonable? Maybe so. But I'm making the rules in my apartment finding game. I thought about squatting somewhere. But I'm just going to have to stand back up eventually.

Any suggestions? Email me at jessdelfino@yahoo.com. I'll be waiting by the computer. At the 24 hour internet place. Drinking coffee.

Monday, September 23, 2002

My boyfriend and I broke up recently and I just want to get some stuff off my chest. First of all, I'd like to say, I'm glad. I mean, I'm SO glad. There are so many things I didn't like about him. Where do I even begin?

For starters, he'd never clean up after himself. Like, he'd never wash his dishes. He'd just throw them away. And he'd never sweep the floor. He'd just turn on the ceiling fan. And he'd never vaccum. He'd just leave crumbs on the carpet. Presumably for later. For me to clean up later, I mean.

I sure don't miss his messes. He made messes everywhere. In the bathroom. In the kitchen. On my stomach. He was so messy.

And he drank a lot. I guess that was his way of showing me how miserable and thirsty he was.

I do miss the little things about my ex, though. Like his pinky finger in my butt. He always could tell if I had a fever. No tricking that guy. He has a very sensitive pinky finger.

Even though my boyfriend and I had our problems, I guess if I had everything to do over again, I'd still do it the same. Except next time, I'd buy paper plates.

Saturday, September 7, 2002

I saw a friend of mine recently. She was all messed up on weed and acid, and she'd been drinking all day, and was just out of her mind. I asked her what was going on? She said, "I'm celebrating. I just found out I'm pregnant."

I thought I might be pregnant, recently. I had been eating a lot. I'd get hungry about every half hour. So I took a pregnancy test - but I failed. I didn't expect to pass it, though. I didn't even study.

Generally I do have a big appetite, especially for a girl. I eat like a horse, or a person with low self esteem.

I am glad I am not pregnant. If I got pregnant right now, I don't know what I would do. I can't imagine the guy who was my partner would be too excited about having a baby. He'd probably try to talk me into terminating the pregnancy. I don't know if I could go through with that. I guess I probably could, but only if he was treating. It just doesn't seem like the kind of date where we should go dutch.

You know the youngest person to ever get pregnant is documented in the Guinness Book of World Records as being 5 years old. That really, really bothers me. The girl was only five when she won her first world record. I'm 26, and I haven't done shit yet. I don't have any world records. I sure as hell don't have any babies.

Well, I guess that about wraps it up on this edition of Jessy Delfino's blog. If you thought this was in bad taste, tune in next time where I'll talk about something really terrible.

Friday, August 16, 2002

I recently took a fashion magazine quiz entitled, "Are you too obsessed with losing weight?" One question asked was, "Do you think all your problems would be solved if you could just lose ten pounds?"

I answered yes.

Last month, I lost ten pounds, and my life has never been better. I got a good job at a large company in the field I want to work in, I have been enjoying a healthy dating and sex life, and all my clothes that used to be tight and uncomfortable now fit perfect and look great on me.

In addition, I won the lottery, I was given a car by a relative who passed away, and I found out my father is gay, which explains a lot.

So it turns out, I did lose 10 pounds, and as a result, all my problems are gone. Now I just have to figure out how to get off the speed.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Last night I performed stand up at a place called "COZ" in the lower east side. Tightly snuggled in between the oh-so popular "Industry" and the chic, fashionable eatery, "Cafe", Coz's well-deserved traffic gets scoffed away by it's two neighboring hot spots. Upstairs is a big snaking bar that no one ever seems to be sitting at, and then downstairs, a rec room set up with mismatched chairs, tables in wood and metal, and trippy art work. The light is dim and unforgiving, the audience is generally sparse and a little drunk, the walls are laced with strips of color and fabric in confusing synchronicity. In other words, this is the PERFECT place for a comedy show to go down.

If you've never been to a comedy show in New York City, realize, there are two kinds. The shows that take place at the big clubs - Caroline's, The Comedy Cellar, Stand Up New York - these clubs showcase up and coming tv comedians. These young charmers are bright, witty, attractive comedians with some half-assed credits and possibly, sit-com potential. Eyes full of hope. All that shit. Maybe Jerry Seinfeld will pop in? Or maybe Tony Rock, Chris Rock's brother! Or maybe the show will consist of 'regular' comedians who have somehow managed to get 'into' the club by doing favors for the management, handing out flyers on the street, or just hanging around long enough for the booker to hear them say something clever more than once and realize, they aren't going to go away any time soon. These people are in it to win it.

Then there are the other kind of show, type B, let's call them. These shows take place in basements, in rec rooms, in bars, in the buffet rooms in the back of restaurants, in the large unused utility closet at the neighborhood event center, and just about anywhere else you can set up a mic stand. The spots are run by comedians who don't have the energy, wherewithall, juice to be persistent with the club bookers. Or maybe they do work at a club, a few clubs, even, and also just want to run a 'room of their own.'

This is Coz.

The line up tonight consists of 9 or 10 comedians, of which I am one. Also on the list are Nick Kroll, member of Improv Group "Littleman," Roger Hailes, who helps to coordinate and hosts the Monday Night "Bringer Show" at the Boston Comedy Club in the West Village and also writes for the MTV show, "I Bet You Will," Liz Laufer who has studied Meisner with Joanna Beckson, performs in every show she can get herself involved with, and waitresses part-time at Ruby Foo's, Allegra Barnett, who used to go to clown school with MTV's Jackass and traveled with the circus. There are at least 8 others who I can't remember, I don't care to mention, or I refuse to acknowledge as comedians. The host is Alan Corey, a good friend of mine who has been doing comedy for somewhere in between one and two years. He is a tall, skinny man with a pronounced adam's apple. "I saved a girl from being raped last night," he told the bored audience, 75% comedians. "I convinced her to say yes." That joke always makes me laugh.

I decide to try something new tonight. I want to talk about how I got attacked by a crazy person last Friday. (See "Attacked In My Car," two blog entries down.) Alan calls me to the stage and I begin - "This has been a hard week for me." No one seems sympathetic. "I got fired from my nanny job on Thursday." True story. "I deserved it. I was sticking cotton balls in the kid's mouths when they cried." Pause. Chuckle. Someone's chair squeaked. "And they weren't even sanitary." Ho, hum. Next? "So, I got attacked in my car last week." True story, again. "This guy smashed my window out and hit me in the face." Should we believe her? After all she 'is' a 'comedian.' "I was shocked, because I've never been hit in the face before by a man I wasn't dating." Oh, Jesus. Should we laugh? Is she serious? The poor girl. I continue on, fearlessly. "I called 911, and I might as well have been calling Pizza Hut." Responding.....wait, I heard laughter! "They put me on hold. I'm dancing to the Bee Gees while the guy is getting away." Nothing. I didn't have much faith in that one, anyway. I switch gears to some old stand-bys, or "Delfino Favorites" as I like to call them. "I'm from Maine. Has anyone ever been to Maine?" EVERYONE has been to Maine. OK, not a typical response. I'm gonna go with the flow. "There's nothing to do in Maine. After school, we used to play spin the bottle, every day at my friend's house. And I hated playing because I'd never get to kiss the kid I wanted to kiss. I'd always end up having to kiss my best friend's dad." I am making these people sick. And I am enjoying it just a little too much.

I tell my remaining jokes all the while secretly praying for Alan to give me the signal to finish up. After what seems like 27 years, he comes through for me. I don't feel bad when I got off stage, I had some quippy 'sides,' an unplanned call back or two, and I tried out new material about something important to me. Over all, it was pretty successful. The audience is mattering less and less to me as I get more involved in this crazy business.

The next few comedians go up and have a similar go of things. A laugh here, silence there. I'm in the back laughing heartily at my friends' momentary failures and successes. But I'm not laughing with evil intentions. One rule I've picked up along the way, is, if you can make a comedian laugh, you're doing all right.

Someone told me once, "Don't hate the audience. They are here to laugh. Make them laugh. That's your job." Someone else told me, "The audience is a bunch of filthy animals. Treat them like they're animals." I like to think I'm doing a little bit of both. Who knows if I'm doing it the right way? That's the beautiful thing about this business. You don't think about it too much. It's like Wiley Coyote walking across a cloud. Everything is fine until you look down. So I learned not to look down.

Walking out, two of my friends, both comedians, were having a conversation. One said to the other, "I think I'm funnier, but you're doing art."

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Some friends took me to the Hamptons this past weekend to recover from and get my mind off having been the victim of a violent attack by a stranger in mid-town Manhattan in broad daylight. (Read prior post for the story.)

If you have never been, it is definitely worth the two and a half or three, four or even sometimes five hour drive out there. It's best to drive yourself, who wants to be stuck on a big dumb bus with a stupid name like "the Jitney" for that long? I think "Jitney" is the English people's word for crap. As in, "Blimey! Am I the only one who has to take a jitney?" Just drive your overpriced, overly extravagant, unreasonably shiny import car East on the LIE to exit 70, then look for and follow the caravan of SUV's, Mercedes, and vintage sports cars. Make sure you are driving a nice car, rent one if you have to, or else four or five drivers who actually ARE in nice cars will gang up on you and veer you off a cliff. There are no Pintos allowed in the Hamptons. En route, I saw a Lamborghini with a bumper sticker that said, "My other car is a Maserati."

There are plenty of fancy places to spend money in the Hamptons. If you have money, can get money, are made of money, know people who have and like to share their money, your parents own a money factory, or you find a sizeable sum of money in your pocket by chance, you're bound to have a great time. Fancy pants restaurants and boutiques, spas, rich people places, fru fru salons, ritzy flashy fancy doodles (that's something rich people are into), even expensive-looking dogs line the streets and are hidden in unsuspecting corners and along dark, curvy roads. I heard that the local golf course in Amagansett has an 8 year waiting list and a $40,000 a year membership fee that you even have to pay while you wait. Who said you can't find ways to spend money in the Hamptons? No one.

While all my friends got settled in and lounged in the summer share affectionately referred to as the 'gray cube' because that's what it is, I went jogging to sweat out my worries. It's really nice to go jogging around there because there is very little traffic, big challenging hills and scenic, curvy roads that lead to more hills and other curvy roads. Plus, there are lots of pretty houses to look at that you will never get to see the insides of and many fancy cars to see that you will never get to ride in. I think this way because I am what you might call an 'optimist.' It's just the way I am, don't try to change me.

Later that evening, my friends and I ate dinner at an authentic lobster shanty in Montauk on Saturday night. We waited for about an hour for a table, but it was fun, because we brought a bunch of booze, we sat on the rocks, got very drunk and waited for our name to be called. The food was good and simple. I had a 'surf and turf' - that's lobster and steak if you happen to be one of those people who doesn't eat meat or seafood. The place was employed by a bunch of Russian chicks who like to drink while they're working, then talk about you in Russian and laugh at you while you're just trying to order a friggin' dessert, even if you aren't fat or ugly.

Late Saturday night we went to the beach, made a bonfire and watched the Persied Meteor Showers. I only saw two shooting stars, but I kept falling asleep because I'd been drinking wine AND beer, and was full of hot butter and meat. My friends claimed to have seen anywhere between three and five, but all my friends are well-documented drug and alcohol abusers, so either they were seeing shooting stars or the stars were leaving trails before their eyes.

Sunday, we went to Napeague beach and sprawled out under the sun on towels, on sarongs and in chairs, merely feet away from where we'd been burning wood just hours before. The beach is free to park at, but only if you have a beach permit on your car. If you don't have a permit, that's okay, just park anyway and a nice officer will be glad to place an expensive ticket on your car where a beach permit should have been. The day was beautiful, albeit the ocean was in a foul mood. Every time I stepped in past mid-thigh, a huge wave would come and confront me with a whole bunch of attitude, then whisper something softly that sounded like a cross between "sweesh swoosh" and "get out." So I didn't swim too much, instead I worked on my tan, played travel chess and lost twice to my friend Ed, and started reading a book by Judy Blume called "Summer Sisters" because no one ever took the time to tell me I'm too old to still be reading Judy Blume.

After the beach, we went back to the gray cube and showered, packed up and headed for home. On the way, we stopped at the lovely Amagansett Farmer's Market where I bought a delicious Caprese Sandwich and a bag of grapes. They have the best produce there and really delicious, fresh food. I promise. They aren't paying me to write this. We ate on the benches at the market, then got on the road. We had a pretty uneventful trip home, with just a little bit of congestion. My friends mostly slept and lounged while I sang every word to every CD in my CD player - The Grateful Dead's American Beauty, Wyclef Jean's The Carnival, John Lennon's Imagine, The Beatles White Album, Disc 1, Crosby Stills Nash and Young's So Far, and I forget the last one.

So that was my trip to the Hamptons.

As soon as we pulled out of the Mid-town tunnel, I turned left for 2nd Ave and waited for the light to turn green. The second it turned green the car behind me began furiously jamming on the horn. I didn't get mad. I just accepted it. That's what they do here. "That's how we know we're home."
I was a victim of a violent physical attack on Friday the 9th of August.

I was driving my employer's Mitsubishi Montero down 46th St. toward 8th Avenue, talking to a friend on my cell phone. All of a sudden, a white, fat, balding man with glasses bound across the street, jay walking while traffic had a green light. I came closer to him than he felt was appropriate, so he screamed at me, in New York fashion, "Fuckin' Asshole!" I looked at him expressionless, and kept on driving. Unfortunately for me, the light turned red before I got through it. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw big fat balding man stomping over towards my car. He didn't look like he was coming over to say hi. "This is going to get ugly," I said to myself. He stood next to my window and screamed, "You fucking bitch!" I held my cell phone up and said, "I'm calling 911." He hit the window hard with his hand and screamed again. "Fuck you, you fucking bitch!" He hit the window with his hand a second time, even harder. When he did, the glass shattered every where. His hand came through the glass and hit the side of my face, hard. Before I knew it, I had a mouth full of hand and glass. Blood started dripping down onto my hands. I think I was in shock, I couldn't really feel any pain. I started screaming, "I'm being attacked!" Then I hung up on my friend, who had been on the other end of what was probably the most horrifying phone call of his life. At that point, I did dial 911, and big fat baldy started running, well actually, he was more blobbering about, kind of shuffling as quickly as he could. I yelled, "You better run," then I thought better of it, and said, "But first, you better give me some money for this broken window you fat fuck!" 911 answered the call and I followed the fat man down 46th street, yelling my location to the 911 attendant, trying to answer questions and spit out mouthfulls of blood at the same time. Fatty came clambering back towards me and so I turned around, assuming he was ready to begin round two. But instead, he turned and flobbered down an alley towards 47th street. I chased him down the alley, then slowed up and let some distance come between us before I started following him again. He went into JR's restaurant where he made a phone call on the pay phone. I stayed by the door and tried to talk to the 911 operator, who kept asking me over and over where I was when I'd told her 23 times. Blobby came stammering over towards the door so I got out of his way. He flibber flobbered across the street and I followed him. Luckily, a Times Square Safety Patrolman was standing there and I called out to him. I hung up on the 911 operator who was totally useless and told the TS Officer, "This man attacked me!" And the big fat asshole screamed, "You fuckin' bitch! You tried to run me over! She tried to run me over in her car!" The officer said, "Well, you don't have a scratch on you and her face is covered in blood. Things aren't looking so good for you."

I went with one TS Officer and got my car, which I had left parked in the middle of 46th street with my purse, money and belongings in it, the window smashed out and keys in the ignition. Luckily, it was still there and everything was intact. I looked at my face in my rear view mirror and was horrified. My chin, teeth and lips were covered in blood. There were small scratches on my cheek and a bruise on my eye brow. I looked like I'd been punched in the face by a man. And I had.

When I came back over to my car, a construction worker came over to the car and said, "You should have told us what happened! We would have beaten the shit out of that guy!" I wished I had. One thing I regret looking back was that I didn't ask anyone for help. I assumed everyone would have been too busy or scared to want to get involved, but it turns out there are really two kinds of New Yorkers: the ones who actually have pretty big hearts and the ones who smash your windows out.

The TS Officers and I waited for the actual police to arrive, who took upwards of an hour and even actually drove by a TS Officer who was frantically trying to wave them down. Very disappointing. When they did arrive, we talked about my options, and I decided not to press charges, but I wanted the fat man to pay me $300 cash on the spot for my window, and apologize. We waited for about 20 minutes for the blob to get the money, then he came over and handed it to me without even looking at me, and refused to apologize. He also demanded a receipt, which he grabbed out of my hand like it was about to be his lunch, and flibbidy doo-ed down the road, looking for someone else's window to smash.

I would like to thank the Times Square Safety Patrol men and women on the scene that day for their attention to me and my situation, especially Times Square Safety Patrolman Cooper and the lady who sat with me in my car. If the Times Square Safety Patrol hadn't been there, who knows what kind of ending this story would have? Also, I would like to thank my friend, Roger, who came down to the scene and met me, called the mean man lots of funny names and made me laugh, then drove the car and me away from the scene.

So you, the reader, may be thinking, 'fat man got off pretty much scott free, and he didn't even have to apologize'. But the fat man didn't get off scott free. Him not apologizing means that the negativity he created is still out there, fluttering around, homeless, looking for someone's face to perch itself apon. Unfortunately, negativity has a boomerang effect. Hopefully he can learn that and make good before it comes back around to collect. And it will. It always does.

As for me, I went to the beach for the weekend. I took the car which I was victimized in. I'm not going to let this ruin my city experience or make me feel vulnerable. I've decided to take the lessons I can get from this and let the rest go. This is the knowledge I feel I have gained from this and how I plan to use it:

1. I WILL BE MORE AWARE. From now on, I am going to be a more conscientious driver. I certainly will not under estimate any drivers, jay walkers or pedestrians.
2. I AM MORE INFORMED. Anyone can be crazy, especially, and even, if they are fat, white and balding.
3. I WILL PROTECT MYSELF BETTER. I plan to carry weapons in my car now. Mace in the glove compartment and some kind of stick under the seat, also things that are easily accessible from any seat. My car is going to be like a really crappy version of a spy's car. I recommend every woman do this who drives in the city.
4. I WILL ASK FOR HELP. I shouldn't have chased the fat man. I think that could have been very dangerous. In the future should something like this happen again, I will probably be more likely to ask some big strong men for help. They seem to 'like' to help, and be ready and willing to help, a woman in need.
5. I WILL BE THANKFUL FOR EVERY SUN THAT I SEE SET. I have read about and seen stories on the news like mine that ended in total tragedy. My story ends with a fat lip, a bruised eye brow, a broken window, and an intense feeling of appreciation to, and acknowledgement of, god, the universe and the powers that be.
I will be thankful for every sun that I see set.

So that's it. It's a beautiful night. I think I'm going to go for a drive.

Friday, August 9, 2002

If you're into star gazing, this is an especially good time to do it. On Monday evening, sometime between 6 and 9 pm, the Earth is expected to pass through the thickest part of the Perseid stream, an intense meteor shower. The Perseid stream is basically just debris from the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. As Monday night is estimated to be peak meteor viewing time with an opportunity to see up to ten meteors per hour, this weekend the night sky should be ripe with shooting stars. So if you happen to be in the country, at the beach or camping, don't forget to look 'up'.

It may sound kind of corny to look at the stars, but it actually makes for a very opportunistic time for boys to impress girls. Take a blanket and a six pack to the park, your back yard, your roof top, kissy point or where ever you like to take girls, and pitch her this set up.

Dude, are you into stars? I totally love watching stars. I used to look up and think to myself, someday, I'll be a rock star. Do you want a beer? Here, I'll open it for you with my teeth. (Use your teeth to open a beer, chicks totally dig that.) So I heard there's supposed to be a bitchin' meteor shower tonight. If we watch, we'll be able to see a bunch of shooting stars and stuff. Here, you can use my pants for a pillow. (Take off your pants, ball them up into a pillow.) Dude, take your pants off, too. You'll be more comfortable like that. (Girls love it when you call them dude.) Oh my god! A shooting star! Did you see it? Did you make a wish? I did. I wished that, like, we would be together forever. And that you would touch my penis. (Say the last part in your head.) Then, lean in for the kiss. A-thank you.