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 I'll be waiting by the computer. At the 24 hour internet place. Drinking coffee.