I've been very fortunate as an upcoming comedian. I've worked a lot of road gigs so far. Cities outside the Greater Los Angeles Area include BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
• Chico, CA
• Humbolt, CA
• Oakland, CA
• San Diego, CA
• Tucson, AZ
• Provo, UT
In LA, the audience gets up and goes home after a show. What I find so cool is how after a road gig, everyone in the building becomes your best friend.
I've had so many different types of people approach me after a show too. Beautiful women. Families. Gang members. Hot chicks. Dads. College nerds. Extremely gorgeous women. Doctors. Lawyers. Women who made me bite my lip while I was chatting with them. Pet owners. Blondes. Brunettes. Redheads. You get it.
After filming for Laughs in Temecula, the waitresses were so happy I tipped them well and talked after the show. In Tucson, I met two girls who just wanted to hang out after the show. In Oakland, this one group wouldn't stop asking me about my parents. They were my cousins, but that's not the point.
The point is that the road has reminded me that there are tons of great people just living life in America. And they're thrilled that comedians come out to make them laugh.
Oh. And the women are much more flattering too. After every show, at least one really cute girl comes up and says, "You're not fat. You shouldn't joke about it." Then they smile. Then I smile. Then we lock eyes. Then their boyfriend takes them away.
Today I tried rock climbing. I was invited by my friend Crystal to join our friend Caroline. To be honest, I was nervous at first. Mostly because I'm not very athletic. And they're two of the most athletic girls I know.
But I decided two years ago that I was just going to do anything (within reason) I'm asked to do. So I said yes.
It was so fun. My body feels so loose and limber. The girls even did a little aerobatic activities too.
By the end of the night (3 1/2 hours) I felt like a noodle. But I'm glad I tried something new. Life is about overcoming fears. So I suggest to you to find something you wouldn't normally do and try it.
I'm not talking about dating a homeless guy, by the way. I'm talking about making memories. Though, dating a homeless guy could create a memory. What do I know.
UPDATE: THE NEXT MORNING.
I used to be a TV junkie.
From 1993 until about 2010 I was obsessed with TV. I'm the 1990's I would plan my whole life around professional wrestling, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons. In the 2000's I had news shows, The Simpsons, and NBA games to watch.
I used to record shows on my VCR, watch others shows, and would watch the VCR tapes after school.
I can still remember in 1994 taping episodes of Steve Harvey's Me & The Boys but watching The Martin Short Show. Both shows were only watched by me.
I was a TV junkie. But that ended when I moved into an apartment in 2010, and to save money I eliminated cable and just read more and learned to love the internet.
But a funny thing happened in the January winter of 2016. I got a Netflix account. And my life has changed dramatically. I've fallen in love with TV again.
Returning to Cheers, The 70's Show, and finding new shows has been a real joy.
The Netflix originals Stranger Things, Lemony Snicket, and reruns of The People v. OJ Simpson made me love the power of TV again. And commercial free. Thank you very much. Hey Hulu! Get a clue!
Last week I recently binge watched GLOW and I'm currently watching Showtime's I'm Dying Up Here on their YouTube channel and will finish the show on their 30 day free app trial. I'm cheap. I know.
GLOW is a fantastic new show fictionalizing the birth of The Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling. I'm Dying Up Here is a new show fictionalizing the birth of the LA comedy scene. Primarily The Comedy Store.
Both shows have a lot in common.
Both are period pieces. GLOW tackles the gritty 80's. Dying tackles the 70's.
Both have a large ensemble cast.
Both tackle sexism, drugs, family life, etc.
Both are dramady in tone.
Both are about creating a character on stage to entertain the masses.
Here's where they differ: GLOW is fun and Dying is miserable to watch.
Dying only works if are a comedian. The cliché of the tortured artist is the only emotion it has. The actors are all fine, but the idea of only tackling the sorry saps of Sunset is hard to watch an hour of. It's based on a book that chronicles the comedy lives of famous comedians before they were famous. That would have made a great show. Young Jay Leno and young David Letterman, before they were enemies. That would be great TV. Instead we get boring conflict between unfunny characters yelling and screwing each other. It's not fun. How anyone outside of LA or NYC would enjoy this mess is beyond me.
Then there's GLOW. This funny, inspirational, dramatic, twist filled STORY is everything great TV should be. Instead of just saying "sexism is bad" the show says that while exploiting it's characters. As a character is being called a prude, she's stripping down in the locker room of a gym. There is true satire there. The idea that a post feminist culture created an even more sexist world is deeper than anything Dying has to say.
The shows are both anchored my great performances though. Melissa Leo is fantastic as a Mitzi Shore rip off Goldie, and Marc Maron is a revelation as Sam. But where Goldie is willing to backstab and show she's one of the boys, Maron's Sam is not trying to be one of the girls. He's frustrated and anxious, but it's charming and builds empathy in the audience. We want him to win. With Goldie, we want other characters to defeat her.
The major area Dying gets wrong is the tortured artist syndrome. Yes. I get it. Stand up comedians have issues. But so do Wall Street gamblers. But a lot of comedians are funny people. I know. I am one. The myth that they're all depressed is not true. Many are just normal people who see this as an artistic outlet.
Jim Gaffigan. Jerry Seinfeld. Albert Brooks. They aren't tortured souls. Nor does their comedy reflect that. Yes, Richard Pryor was, but his story is an anomaly. Most of us didn't live in a brothel.
GLOW demonstrates the fun and excitement of performing. These girls want to put on a good show. The comics of Dying want to entertain themselves.
Either way, TV is totally back. And 13 year old Paul is thrilled he can watch it all on apps instead of a VCR tape.
We are 6 months into 2017 and so far the films presented to us have been excellent, with the best ones having been sci-fi and thriller films. The comedies and dramas have been underwhelming, whereas the Guardians have guarded, the X-men have been more human, and the monsters have been sentimental. With a lot of more fantastical films still to come, here's my list of the best films so far...in no particular order.
This brilliant social satire is both a dark comedy and a sci-fy thriller. Jordan Peele's script has to be nominated for Best Orginal Screenplay, and the supporting cast is off the hook fantastic.
Samuel L. Jackson is so underrated because he's consistently great in everything he does. Kong is no exception. Here, the filmmakers are able to take the political energy of Apocalypse Now and shift it into this fantasy adventure film with some of the best sunsets in movie history.
I promised to write about this before and got lazy. Colossal is a hard hitting look and the man v. woman relationship dance with Anne Hathaway giving an award worthy performance as an alcoholic who realizes her actions effect more than just her. But Jason Sudeikis' "nice guy" old friend is the real find. Nacho Vigalondo's screenplay is after the idea that "nice guys" are monsters too when they try to win love through giving instead of loving.
This is not a mistake. This is M. Night Shyamalan's best work in decades. Here he begins to tie his world's together, creating his own Marvel-esque universe. James McAvoy should get some love come oscar season if there's justice.
Edgar Wright's indie Fast & Furious-lite is the perfect summer get-a-way film. The writing, the music, the cast...all of them are brilliant. Here's a film that everyone involved seems proud to be involved.
Gaurdians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is another rip roaring, heart tugging, excitingly funny film from Marvel. The first five minutes of Baby Groot dancing was worth the ticket.
OJ: Made In America was the winner of Best Documentary for 2016, but Hulu put it up in January. If you haven't seen this 10 part series, you missed the best documentary since Hoop Dreams. This should be required viewing in every senior government class.
Im pretty sure Hugh Jackman has become one of our finest actors. He's created an iconic Wolverine while also doing great theater, musical, and dramatic work in other films and plays. Logan is everything Christopher Nolan's Batman series hoped to inspire, which are great comic book films drenched in blood AND humanity.
Another strong documentary about the painful life of stand up comedians. I related a lot to this film, and if you want to understand where Hobbies end and obsessions begin, watch this on iTunes.
What's left for 2017?
So far I haven't seen all the trailers, but there here are five trailers that I think make 2017 look still very promising.
I'm on the job hunt again. Ironically, there's no jobs. There's $12/hr jobs that require a college degree and 10 years experience. There's multi level marketing schemes. They're called pyramid schemes. College kids love them. There's commission based door to door sales and cold calling. Because strangers love learning about things they've lived their whole life without, right?
That is about it. Oh. There are classic jobs like waiter, bar tender and Verizon Wireless sales rep. But they pay little and the customers suck. Not you. You're awesome. I'm talking about your uncle who voted for Trump and thinks Hindus caused 9/11.
My search has been going on for a month. Most resumes just go to the internet abyss. I don't know if anyone got them because when I call the establishment there's no one to talk to. Either the business has extensions to every department but HR or HR doesn't pick up. I feel like I'm on Tinder. I'm swiping like crazy. Just no one else is on or swiping back.
I did get a few polite rejection emails. Those were sweet. One place wrote back "we have no work for you at this time." Oh they still have a job for someone. Just no work for me.
I feel I'm a solid candidate. I'm personable. I'm highly educated. I have vast amount of work experience. But alas, just like with women, no one is biting. Oh god how I'd give for a biter.
I'm not even applying for big time jobs. Just regular writing and consultant jobs in the mid $40k a year. I'm not greedy. I don't want all the Universe's money. Just enough so my rabbit doesn't starve.
Why don't we have Living wage jobs anymore? Because greedy capitalists decided we didn't need to pay for time. Just results. So if you make some shmuck money, he'll give you a cut. But if you don't, your effort means nothing to him.
We also have greedy 22 year old college grads filled with hubris willing to live at home and try commission based jobs. Why hire an established person whose past employer can't afford to run the business when there's a go getter with no experience willing to potentially never cut a check.
In many ways our lack of jobs reflects our society's lack of desiring experience and wisdom. As a teacher, marketer, writer, coach, etc. I can bring a lot of value, but in a market place that thinks instant gratification, a ship full of cocky minnows is better than an experienced seaman. I hope you enjoyed my double entendre. It was very self gratifying.
Sadly, I'm an overqualified, under skilled, too old to start, too young to manage millennial. If the 1940's were the greatest generation than today's 30 year olds are a lost generation; a group of lost souls caught up in a social media blitz that proves they're tech savvy but not skill savvy.
One of my favorite films of all time is Up In the Air. George Clooney plays a guy who fires people for a living. Then he almost loses his job. Then he loses the girl of his dreams. He feels the loss that all those people felt by him. It's a carthetic film. A film that makes you feel.
I just want to feel again. Feel useful.
Bill Maher is in trouble again. This time for saying the N word. I'm not going to defend him. At all. But I will say, I once called myself the N word too. For a joke.
Let me explain.
When I was in 5th grade I said the N word. In class. During a discussion on what we wanted to be when we grew up.
Teacher: "Class, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
Most kids said basic things: Firefighter, Superhero, Astronaut. Yep. They were more popular in 1991.
At at that time in my life I was listening to comedy albums. When my parents took me to the mall, I'd run into the book stores to buy books and cassette tapes. Yep. They were more popular in 1991.
I grew up on Steve Martin, George Carlin, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. And Richard Pryor liked saying the N word a lot in earlier albums. He changed his mind after going to Africa.
I didn't know what it meant. All I knew is that he'd talk about "n***ers" and the people would laugh. I still remember the drunk story. Everyone was laughing. I was 10 or 11 and didn't realize the context.
So when it was my turn to answer what I wanted to be, I told Mrs. McMahon "I wanna be a n***er because they're funny!"
Luckily for me none of the other white classmates in my private school knew what in the hell I said. But there was a black girl named Camielle. She knew. And she cried. And she ran out of the room.
I was sent to the office to see the principal. My mother was the school secretary. She asked me why I was sent. I told her I didn't know. Then she got a call.
Mom: "Hello? [...] He said what?!" She looked maaaaad.
I still didn't know what I had done.
Then I saw the principal. He told me that it was a bad word used to make fun and mistreat black people.
I said, "Like how kids call me fat?"
He said yes. "That hurts your feelings when kids say that, right?"
I said, "Sometimes. But I am fat."
He looked flustered. Looking back, I realized that having this conversation because of my ignorance was not on his agenda for the day.
Eventually, my little marshmallow body was sent back to class. Camielle was better. Mrs. McMahon was back to teaching. I just went on with the rest of my day.
The truth is, it's hard for some people to understand the historical context on how and why the N word gets used. I didn't really understand what I said until years later. It just wasn't a word I heard in my daily life. Just comedy. But later when I heard Richard Pryor talk about how he'd never use it again, I understood that what I did, though in humor, was still wrong because I hurt people.
So so with all the talk of Bill Maher this weekend, I think I understand that Maher didn't realize what he said. The difference is that he's a grown man. I was a kid. He should have known better by now.
It's been too long!
I haven't blogged in 3 months.
I feel like like a dad who walked away from his family. So I feel like my actual dad then. Wow. I became my dad. I suck.
In all reality, I've been so busy. Since The Oscars I've had some amazing and weird things happen.
- Earned my first TV Credit (Laughs TV)
- filmed a comedy special (streaming soon!)
- lost my job due to budget cuts
- helped a buddy film his comedy special
- performed over 75 comedy shows
- switched from vodka and tonic to vodka and soda
- got stood up 3 different times
- found out Bumble isn't for me
- moved to the San Fernando Valley
- saw a bunch of movies
- And my step dad gave me this cool jacket that got me two phone numbers.
The TV credit and comedy special were the coolest. And losing my job stunk. But new roads are paved over old paths. So the journey continues and I'll keep moving on. Just like the Billy Joel songs says.
Well now, wasn't that a show!
With Moonlight pulling off the upset, in M. Night Shamalan formation, the 2017 Oscars will go down as a "best of" TV moment. But what about the rest of the night? Here's a few thoughts.
The acting awards offered no real surprises, with award darlings Viola, Casey, Emma, and Ali running the course to the finish line. Thought Denzel looked peed off!
The writing and director if awards seemed to be on par with the general consensus.
Techie and below the line awards were split accordingly. Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, and La La Land won where most saw them winning.
So why do we tune in then? For speeches like this:
On the surface, what an emotional moment. Under the surface...what a self righteous piece of crap.
Part 1: The Process
On Saturday February 11, 2017 I became part of the cattle call of reality competition wanna-bes. I auditioned for America's Got Talent at the LA Convention Center. I left my house at 5:30am. Fought the morning storm. Two car crashes. LA parking. And found myself with a badge number.
Thousands from LA and surrounding areas were there. Moms. Dads. Friends. People in custumes. People who should have hidden themselves in costumes.
I was was lucky to have been called about an hour into the auditions. From the way it was explained to me, you meet a producer, perform, and if they like you, they move you to another room to perform for another producer. This process takes all day if they like you.
Simon and Howie are not there. That seemed to shock the people I met.
Part 2: Moving On Up
I was there in a room with ten 25-30 year old Adele wanna-bes. All with guitar in hand. There was a magician who did a weird nose and floss gag. Then I went. I stumbled out of the gate but got my mojo and had the room laughing hard. It was a good feeling. The room was a convention hall room. Not a club. No mic. No stage. This was like a pyramid scheme pre-meeting.
I sat down. I assumed it ends here.
The producer said, "Okay. Thank you everyone. Everyone but Paul is released for the day!" Wait. Paul? But I'm Paul! I'm Paul!
The others got up. Some became human puddles of mush. One girl asked, "Does this mean we aren't going to be on the show?" The producer said, "Sorry. No one here but Paul has a shot this year."
I was then taken to another room. The sweet production assistant said no one had made it yet, so she didn't know where to go. I said, "Ask another person with a badge." My fate was in the hands of an ill prepared 25 year old girl. Sounds right.
Finally we we found a room. I walked in. There was a camera crew. Two producers. This room was definitely not the last one.
Part 3: Parents Should Be Fired
Turns out I was in the right room but wrong time. The room was no longer a sea of 25-30 year old Adele wannabes. It was now a sea of 10-17 year old Adele wannabes. I realized this was not a 35 year old man's show. To be honest, I never really followed AGT. But they showcased comedians. So I went.
Eventually, I was brought in with the kiddos. One was a 10 year old girl whose father kept whispering to her, "You're going to win this whole thing." How cruel. She sang a Chris Isaac song about sex called "Wicked Game." The most erotic song of the 1990s. I'm pretty sure her dad's dream was being fulfilled. Not her's.
The next few girls were all terrible. There was a family that flew across the country to try out. Poor 17 year old girl out of tune the entire time. The redneck mother probably spent $2,000 for all of them to come out to Los Angeles. That's the first semester of books for the fall semester of college. Who told them to fly across the country? How cruel.
One girl was a 14 year old girl going on 24. Her father and two friends were there to support. She was just as mediocre as the rest. But I could see why they were past onto round two. Everyone there had a look. They'd play TV well.
I went. And the camera guy laughed. The producer laughed. The audience laughed. It was a good set. I sat down.
"Okay...I got some great news for everyone!" Oh crap, I thought. I don't want to be included with everybody! "I know you thought you would be here all day...but you were all so good I'm going to send you home before lunch!"
The girls cheered not understanding that we have all been sent home. Was I upset? Not really. I knew I was a long shot. But getting moved on once sparked hope.
Part 4: Final Thoughts
I knew that fame and fortune wasn't coming on February 11th. I knew that the real contenders have been already plucked by NBC executives from other deals. But parents didn't know that.
There were people that day who really thought they were going to win. They thought they'd become Hollywood's next big thing. And that's what made me sad.
The American Dream used to be the logical fallacy that hard work equaled success. Now The American Dream is to be the winner of a TV show.
Last Comic Standing
The Amazing Race
All promise to "discover" you. But what if there is little to discover? The saddest part is that parents make their kids believe they'll win. That's a psychological pressure that kids shouldn't endure. So many kids were cut that day. Their parents can now use this as a power play over them. Kids will quit singing, dancing, comedy, etc. because they think AGT didn't want them.
I'm conflicted about these shows. On one level I hate how they mock people. On another level they give people the "opportunity" to pursue a dream. In a weird way, if they were great, truly great, they could get on the main stage in prime time. It's just so unlikely.
As a teacher I taught Death of a Salesman. There is a line where Biff tells his dad he's not a special person. Just a normal guy. His dad, Willy, screams a mantra many scream through actions today.
That sentence defines our current generation. A generation of parents who believe their kids are more special than they are.
But what frustrates me is that these shows are what perpetuate the narrative that they are.
The art of binge watching is new to me. I had never done it until the weekend of February 3, 2017. From 2/3 - 2/7 I watched three of the best TV shows I've ever seen, and now I'm scared I'll never find anything worth binging on again.
I drowned myself in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortuante Events, Stranger Things, and The People v. OJ Simpson. All three completely different. All three very much a reflection of my adolescence and early adulthood.
Lemon Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events
I loved the books. I worked at Border's Bookstore from 2002-2003, when the books were at the height of their popularity. I'll never forget how engaged I was in the witty writing and pessimistic storytelling. I felt for the kids, but I loved the adventures. I was 21 and 22. I was a literature major at CSUN. I was taking a children's literature class at the time. It was destiny.
The TV show captures the misery. Though, I thought the film was more whimsical, the show plays up the tragedy better. You really hate the adults. And that's the point. I didn't really understand the narrow mindness of adults at 22. At 35 I fully understand it. The lack of paying attention or the inability to listen. That's what the books were about. That's what the show does so well. It's as close to literature as you'll see on Netflix!
Stranger Things is Steven Spielberg meets Aliens. It's both whimsical and John Hughes like, while also being a great horror show. It's 1983 setting is so spot on, I almost wondered if the show was made 30 years ago. The special effects are too good for that.
Winona Rider has earned a lot of acclaim for her role as a mother who lost her child, and she deserves it. Rider was once one of our best film actresses, but a jewelry theft gone wrong sent her to actor purgatory. Now she's one of best reasons to subscribe to Netflix.
What this show reminds us is that imagination without cynicism can be refreshing and inspirational. Filled with clichés, the show plays them as strengths. The nerd/jock/pretty girl subplot, the fat nerd, the drunken sheriff, the evil government agency, etc. All are iconic 80's motifs, but here are given fresh eyes.
This isn't an 80's hack job. This is what Tarantino did with. black spoiltation films and spaghetti westerns. He gave them facelifts. Stranger Things does the same.
The People v. OJ Simpson
This is the best piece of TV I've seen since Seinfeld. I was mesmerized from frame one to the last second. I lived through the 1994-1995 trial. I was in 8th grade and remember my grandma making me listen to a John & Ken to know he was guilty.
What the show does in 10 segments is not prove or disprove his innocence, but instead makes us look back at an era where there was no 24 hour news outside of CNN. When Americans were clueless about DNA evidence. When we just a few years out from the LA riots from Rodney King. The show is a pure reflection of a different era.
The acting is top notch. The writing Pulitzer level. The direction crisp. It's a brilliant piece of art.
The film leans toward a guilty action by OJ, but a not guilty criminal trial. You can see how Cochran got him off. Had we been on that jury during that time, we might have voted not guilty too. Either way...what a trip down memory lane.
Binge watching is a pure joy. It's pure escapism. And I look forward to the next journey.
Paul Douglas Moomjean Blog's About What's on His Mind
Blogging allows for me to rant when there is no stage in the moment to talk about what's important and/or funny to me.