Friday, January 23, 2004

(a reality tv show where stand-up comics wait in a line outdoors when it's 5 degrees outside and the last one to drop dead wins)
by Jessica Delfino

I went to the Last Comic Standing auditions yesterday at the Comic Strip in NYC. I live just six blocks away from the Comic Strip so I thought it was going to be an easy cattle call. The audition started at 10 am, so I assumed if I got there by 6 or 6:30, I'd be first in line. I stayed up all night and colored, listening to music and eating snack-sized new Kit-Kat yummy mint candy bars. (They taste sort of like Andes candies but crunchy.) Around 5 am, I got myself up and together and was out of the door by 6:30 am. I walked slowly thinking I had time to kill. As I got closer to the 'strip', I noticed the line had already started. "Shit," I thought and sped up the pace. As I approached the line, I saw it stretched down to 82nd St and around the corner, spilling down the sidewalk. "Fuck," I said aloud. I got there in time to be number 99.

I was irritated when I did the math, figuring I'd be seen around 3 pm. It was very cold outside and I couldn't even imagine standing out there for 8 more hours. The people were pretty nice, though. They came out around 9 am and handed out application forms, gave us number slips with an estimated time on them and sent us on our way. They actually made us leave and come back half hour before our time. I haven't ever seen that before in the open call process. How advanced!

I went home and fell into a weird slumber. Every dream I had was interrupted by a phone call - first my landlord, then, Liz Laufer to see what she'd missed at the open call, then my boyfriend to check in on me, then some lady who had the wrong number, then some other lady who worked for a bill collecting company, then my friend Joanne. When Joanne called, I was so out of it I asked her 4 times what her name was. I slurred my words and couldn't properly speak. She said she was worried about me. I dragged my ass up and out of bed and splashed water in my face. I was so tired, but I wanted to go back to the audition for my time slot at 4 pm to find out if I was one of the funniest people in America or not.

I did end up getting myself together. It was cold out and I knew it was going to be, so I wore two hats, two pairs of gloves, two pairs of pants, two jackets, a scarf and two pairs of socks. One of my hats was also a face covering mask which I heard are illegal in NY but it's so cold my line of thinking is, at least if I get arrested I will get to be warm. I walked quickly back up to the Strip and they made us wait outside in small groups (my group being the 4 pm group.) I had my guitar strapped to my back with a sign safety pinned to the guitar case advertising my one woman show at UCB Theater with all the details (Feb 2nd at 9:30 PM) so that when the TV crews got there, my sign might be put up on live tv. I am so smart sometimes.

Finally, they let the 4 pm group in. Kurt's ex-girlfriend (I think her name is Kristen) works at the Strip, so she and I interact regularly. It's kind of annoying, especially because Kurt told me once on an angry phone message that he fucks her in the ass every night and she loves it (yeah, sure) and so now when I see her, all I can think of is him clambering around in her bunghole and how sorry I feel for her. She is always cordial to me, so I can't even hate her, and I certainly don't envy her, and anyway, they seem to be happy, so whatevereverever. As we filed into the joint, Kristen took my photo with a polaroid and stapled it to my application. She does have a slight air of something I think she tries to hold over me, like, "I'm fucking your ex-boyfriend and I'm sort of in a slight position of power over you because I work at the Comic Strip and you don't" kind of a thing, but I always ignore it because I'm prettier and funnier than her and probably smarter, too. But she's nice-ish to me in her own way, so, like I said, I can't even properly harbor hatred towards her the way that exes should.

We had to wait around for a few minutes and during that time, I made friends with one of the show's people. He was cute and we joked around for a few minutes while I waited to go try to be the funniest person in America. He kind of looked like David Blaine. I invited him to my one person show. I hand made all the invitations (300 by hand) and I'm hoping people will think they are so cute that they will come to the show. My line of thinking can be somewhat deranged or crooked sometimes, but I like to think one day I'll think of a great idea that will make me a gazillion bucks.

Finally, finally our group got called to go in and audition. I was not nervous at all because I know I'm not the funniest person in America and I was sort of hoping I didn't win because I am afraid to fly and I had plans that evening that I'd have to cancel if I had to come back for the second evening audition and I didn't really want to cancel those plans. As I stood in line waiting to go in, the producer lady interviewed me. I was super delirious from lack of sleep and a leftover painkiller buzz and I have never been unfunnier when it sort of probably mattered in all my life. I'm sure interviewing me was like listening to television static and I even bored myself. I got back into line and the guy two people in front of me was just coming out of his audition. He made it to the second evening audition and everyone was happy and patted him on the back. I think he was gay. I bet he was funny, he looked funny and gay people are usually pretty funny.

I went in and the moment I stepped into the room, every thing inside of me that was funny took a flying fuck out the window and I was left with nothing but my stupid guitar. The guys said, "Start with where you're from and your name," which I did, and it went downhill from there. I told the joke about me never getting to kiss the kid I wanted to kiss during the game spin the bottle (I'd always end up having to kiss my best friend's dad instead which was weird....) That joke got a small chuckle and then I played "No More War" and they sort of laughed but not really, then the two gay guys made jokes to eachother about licking pussy and the people who were sitting around watching the auditions laughed a lot about that, then I left feeling like a dumb dumb because I didn't really get why that was so funny, until later someone told me the auditioner guys were both gay.

As I came out, the producer lady wanted to interview me again and so I got interviewed again. (I should really work on making a point to remember people's names, and I should start with being able to remember semi-important industry related people's names.) She asked me how it went and I had to say on videotape (for all of eternity to remember me by) that I sucked, and that was humbling. Then, she said, "Will you do it again next year?" and I made some lame joke about how next year I'll probably be really busy with tour dates and managing all the money I'll be making and that they'll probably have to come to me...ha, ha, ha, I AM funny.

As I left, I imagined that Kurt's girlfriend was secretly happy that I didn't get picked, even though she didn't know yet, probably, or maybe she did. She was wearing a headset. She probably just assumed that I wouldn't get picked because Kurt has surely told her awful stories about me, certainly including stories about how unfunny I am, what a terrible person and lover I must have been, how I was a slutty go-go dancer, how I was a rotten girlfriend, and so on and so on. (He's really good at making his current girlfriends feel secure, he did it with me and the ex before me. He shit talked her so badly I couldn't even be jealous - I just pitied her terrificly instead. I can't hate him for that, I understand his line of thinking. It makes his life a lot easier probably if his current ladyfriend only feels sympathy for his current ex.) Maybe I could blame not getting picked as Ms. Funny American on any negative energy she might have directed subliminally towards me if I was a little bit more wiccan or something.

I went outside and it was snowing. I saw some comic friends who were out there waiting to go in and audition. We sang some songs that I played on my guitar and some guy came out of the place next door and asked me if I wanted to play there on Friday night for tips. I gave him my card. A female comic, Sharon, and I made up a funny dance to some songs and Bert Paseo's pseudo-twin who's name I always forget egged us on and sang along. I thought about how I'd be able to go see the show I had planned to see - a dance theater piece called dAMNATION rOAD by Miguel Gutierrez at The Kitchen. And thank goodness I didn't get picked, because dAMNATION rOAD was supposed to be a really good show.

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