Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time, and you don't realize that you were until it's long over, and it's thirty years later and you're talking into some VH-1 documentarian's camera about how Jim Morrison slept on your couch.
Then sometimes you're in the right place and it's the right time to be there and you're with the right people and you know it.
Then you hear your comedy friends doing shrill Chris Rock impressions downstairs, and you can feel the hard consonants through the wall, and you know if you don't hurry up they'll leave for bagels without you, so you finish washing your hands and stop staring in the mirror and go downstairs into Sunday morning, Saratoga Springs, New York.
Last weekend was the National College Comedy Festival, hosted by Skidmore, which is upstate. This is last weekend we're talking about now, Valentine's Day, not one but two Shins gigs in New York I missed, that last weekend. I have been lax in getting this all down because due to events that rolled out of events that will later be unfolded. But here goes.
There are two comedy groups I'm in here at school, an improv group (known, until this weekend, as Camp Anawanna Swim Team) and a sketch group, Hammerkatz. There have always been a lot of crossover between the two groups, and since the recent round auditions both groups undertook independently, they've sunk deeper into each other, like two acrobatic lesbians on a futon. (That's my submission to the 2004 Pornographic Similie With A Random Piece of Furniture Thrown In For Good Measure Awards. I know it's not the season, I'll probably re-release it at the end of the year, take out a full page in Variety, maybe.) Formerly-Known-As-Anawanna was sending 11 peeps, Hammerkatz, 7, plus our green-yet-steadfast AV guy, Adam, and all those Hammerkatz with the exception of one were also improvin'. You're not even supposed to have two groups from the same school at this festival. Our secondary yet ever-present concern was not to be seen as arrogant stage-grubbing self-loving assholes. But our primary concern was to Rock.
So with that desire hovering foremost in our sleepy heads, the two headed comedy beast of NYU climbed in three cars all-too-early on Friday morning (ten thirty AM, and if that doesn't sound early, think back on college, and if you haven't yet been imagine a place where your ability to get up before noon has been replaced by a prediliction for booze, flirting, and long, long douchey conversations about people's "early stuff") and headed upstate.
I'm gonna break out for a second and note that I have just received loud belligerent confirmation that I live in the Drunken Shouting In The Street Below Your Window at 3:15 AM Capital of the World. It's on the sign as you're driving into town.
On the way up, we discussed virginity and how apparently, Sophomore year, every girl who had every intention of keeping it 'till she had a ring on her finger and a veil on her head feels suddenly left out, says "fuck it" and proceeds to do just that, "it" being a trucker-hatted fratboy, through a drunken haze, to the whiteboy psuedo-stoner-blues stylings of Jack Johnson. Max, a new guy in Formerly-Anawanna, drove the car I was in, having scared it up from his parents in Connecticut (none of my friends drive on a regular basis, which made the car situation, uhm, interesting). We stopped for McDonald's, and enjoyed authentic fat people (there was one in Manhattan, for a brief period, but he chased a McRib wrapper which was fluttering in the wind right into the East River) (who am I kidding, I love McRibs, I would hella do the same). Upstate seems like it would be lovely in spring and summer but the two times I've seen it it's been a bunch of twigs sticking up from barren tundra. I'll have to try again sometime. We made good time, got to Skidmore's campus, and followed the bubble-lettered signage to our ultimate destination.
Our ultimate destination, of course, being a lecture hall full of pizza and free festival t-shirts and friendly Skidmore folk, some of whom's floors we would be sleeping on for the duration. Doug, a guy in Hammerkatz, used to go to Skidmore and thus knew the festival inside and out, and though he couldn't go, he'd sent us rocketing northward with this bit of advice: Don't be on. Y'know how you're usually the funny guy at the party? Yea, at this party, everybody's the funny guy. Don't be that guy. Don't be on was the mantra of the weekend. Did we necessarily always obey? Nah. We are sad, sad people in need of constant approval. But for those first few tranquil minutes, we ate cold pizza and introduced ourselves friendly-yet-sedately and got things squared away without so much as a well-meaning quip.
This is us dropping our stuff off at Carrie Anne and Becca's house, where we stayed. I had forgotten this happened that afternoon, until I saw the picture. Huge gaps in my memory of recent events? Hella college style.
The problem was solved with minimum panicage: The wonderful Carrie Anne Whose Floor We Would Later Sleep On helped us sign one out from Skidmore. People went to town for props and food, we dry-ran the Viking video stuff, people returned, we tech-ran in Skidmore's cool-as-hell 3/4 stage (I think that's what it's called, a bit of the stage juts out from under the proscenium for an psuedo-in-the-round effect, anyway, it's a killer space), then various cars went various places for food. Ours went to Boston Market. They were out of Chicken Pot Pie, so I went with its turkey equivalent. Under normal circumstances, in my exhausted state (didn't get the planned nap on the way up thanks to the sexchatter) I would've feared the triptophan, but (and I'm gonna go into Action-Movie-Trailer-Mode for the rest of this paragraph) tonight my pot pie and cornbread meal came with a side of adrenaline.
And macaroni and cheese, which Boston Market pulls off orgasmically, although later in the green room I'd get some of it on the scarf Alecia's mom made me.
We watched Yale warm up and ate our food. They went on and we warmed up. The bathroom, I remember, smelled terrible. Dan had had to go buy the Bone Thugz CD at Barnes and Noble 'cause our mp3 wasn't working. We got fucking pysched as hell.
Then, we killed.
I have to wake up at 8:30 and go to Brooklyn and babysit, so Part 2 of the Skidmore Follies will have to be postponed. I know, right?
Tommorrow: Bears, Swastikats, manginas, "Y'all don't know about the Listerine," the loss of crucial telecommunication accessories, and plenty of Sweet Lady Booze. Stay tuned.
I am hell of poor.
As I've watched the bank account dwindle I kept hitting bumps in the road to starting my terrible telemarketing job. I was supposed to start two weeks ago but today was my first day. That's two paychecks that will remain strictly hypothetical, and my balance shows it.
It's a shit job. I'd figured that from the beginning, today merely reinforced that fact. It also turns out it's a shit job I won't be able to keep; my schedule just doesn't permit it. You have to work three shifts a week, and they're only during certain times. With the exception of Sundays, I'm not particularly free any of those times, what with night classes and rehearsal and stuff. So I'd only be able to work two, and they demand three. Which means today was my first and last time getting hung up on by a rapid succession of surly old Jews (I'm not being anti-semitic, it's a Jewish charity, it just so happens everyone I called today either wasn't home or was old and surly, or, I would speculate, a combination of both. I loves me some Jew, ask anyone), the first and last time I'll get to hear "Justin Goldberg" (probably not his real name, I was "Josh" today) at the end of the row of cubicles opining on how much he loves golf and how he's "off his game" and how much better it would be if he ran this place and breaking into spontaneous rap verses and discussing freestyling strategy with the equally-if-not-more-whiteboy across the way in between calls, and hopefully the last time I will look around and think "If crushing depression were a place, it would be this one."
I have to call them tommorrow and tell them I can't come back. I don't expect them to be pleased, it takes hella paperwork to get hired at that place, but I don't expect them to be surprised, when you're in the business of interrupting people at dinner and shaking them down for cash you kinda have to anticipate turnover. I sort of wish I hadn't gone uptown ten times on seperate occasions for a job I shouldn't have taken on principal and now can't keep in practice. But as ass a time as it would have been, a couple of weeks' pay would have been nice. And by "nice" I mean "a thin rope keeping me dangling above abject poverty rather than wallowing in it."
'Cause right now I'm wallowing.
There's one way to look at it, which is the Hemingway-in-Paris Lost Generation way, the romantic bohemian ideal of getting by on the skin of your teeth. Hemingway is quoted as saying hunger found its way into his work, he would find his characters digging into thick steaks.
I don't write a whole lot of fiction these days, but a lot of my protagonists' dialogue would be about how they just want to be able to buy a slice of pizza when the dining hall's closed.
So yea, the bohemian way is bullshit.
Then there's the hip-hop way of looking at it, where you do what you have to do to get the paper. This is more where I'm at. Thoughts of mine that don't concern sex or comedy or how cold it is are brimming over with money and how to get it. Nas' suggested solution is slinging rock, or starting a multi-million dollar rap career. Mine is getting another job, and fast. My thoughts have always had a shit time of translating into action, but we're working on it.
My bank balance also happens to be my lucky number (27.) So as Atticus would say, it ain't time to be worried yet.
Broke college student. I know, real unique and valid complaint. But I suck at being poor, and this is what I'm thinking about.
I no longer have any patience for pursuits that do not have the potential to make you feel like a rockstar.
The way I figure it, and I know it sounds simplistic and empty and cheap, but being a rockstar is pretty much the highest goal to which one can aspire. I mean, granted there are more important things, like and love and what-have-you, but in the realm of pleasing-yet-superficial recreation, which is a competitive sphere full of sparkly distraction, rockstardom is pretty much the tops.
And I don't have musical talent. I look inside myself regularly, to see if maybe my contents have shifted and some guitar inclination was hiding in a dusty corner behind an armoir, but I never find anything. And fuck what they told you in school, tambourine just doesn't cut it. I know, thousands of dollars and early mornings of training down the shitter. But that's just the way things are.
So then. The next best thing. Things that make you feel rockstarlike but require none of the usual skills.
Comedy. Comedy, writing comedy, performing comedy, is my rockstar activity. I have found it. I recommend you find yours.
I got to meet Lorne Michaels today. They do these Dean's Roundtable things, apparently, where showbiz luminaries come and representatives from each department of the School of Arts come and there's a Q and A. AJ got my name on the list, along with Donald, future Hammerkatz director (I'll be assistant director, this is all next semester.) It was fucking surreal and amazing, and he was hilarious and realistic without being cynical and we left wanting to do comedy. We came in wanting to do comedy, granted, but we left, I don't know-- charged.
"Creative people don't necessarily benefit from a lot of time."
"We do the show not because it's ready, but because it's 11:30."
"Of all the things you can expect as an artist, one thing you can never expect is to be understood."
And most importantly:
"The time is always now."
Then we got to leave and go do an improv show.
This is sloppy and it's late, but when life gives you days where you completely forget how cold it was two days ago and how rainy it is today, and how poor you are and this job you supposedly have is jerking you around, and how much you just wanna go to fucking bed but your room needs cleaning and your laundry needs doing and how that doesn't mean you're not just gonna go to bed anyway, it's important to, you know, demarcate them.
Although it's not like I'm gonna forget.
3...2...1...Trevor is the bomb, and he's ready to go off in your shit