Woohoo for “Lady Dynamite”!

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Weirdness descends on Maria’s Thanksgiving.

Netflix (finally!) set free into the world my pal Maria Bamford’s wonderful new show “Lady Dynamite.” While it’s nothing new to feel this way about Maria’s work, I’m so proud and excited you’d think I’d done more than just background artistry, (albeit very diligent and skilled background acting).

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Who’s this Bitch?

If you place some toothpicks between your eyelids you might catch me as a guest at Maria’s awkward tense Thanksgiving dinner. Or you can see me cry at Blossom’s funeral while one of the Karen Grisham’s (played by June Diane Raphael) cuts in front of me. (Bitch!)

Anyone who has seen Maria perform knows that she’s touched (in a good way) by a special talent.   Direct contact to source energy, if you will.   But even insanely talented people struggle and fear.   In fact, sometimes I think the more talented the person, the more struggle and fear. I have seen much confidence behind a dick joke (didn’t mean to go negative….but, maybe a little).

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Vision Boarding with Maria in 2002.

Over the years, (creaky old lady voice) I have spent many a New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day creating vision boards with Maria. My VBs often featured touched up pictures of models pretending to be in love and paradise vacation spots (let’s face it, there is no vision that doesn’t begin in a magazine ad.)  Maria always honored one thing in her VBs and in life: Creativity.   She communes closely and possesses a deep reverence for the mystery and power of The Muse. She  also, not surprisingly, has a lot of respect for everyone’s unique weirdo-ness. She once told me that any show (not just standup) is a unique beautiful and perfect work of art that was meant to exist exactly as it manifested.  In other words, she honors the over-confident dick joke.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 11.48.15 AM I was into my 4th hour of Saturday morning binge-watching the show, when I heard my name come out of TV Maria’s mouth and saw my name appear on the close captioning of the screen.   (Audiences may assume that TV Maria is friend’s with Beyonce’s sister). Lennon Parson, who plays Larissa, had told me this when I worked on the show (scene stealing extra) but I had completely forgotten.  Needless to say, I felt deeply honored.

I have since finished the show and am going to do a second round of appreciation-watching for all the jokes and layers I missed.

Looking forward to the future of Lady Dynamite!

Posted in Acting, Comedy, Maria Bamford, This Los Angeles Life | Tagged | Leave a comment

I Ate The Stage

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Nobody took a crotch shot when I fell.

Lately, when the host announces my name, I have developed a “thing” where I run up to the stage like a game-show-contestant.  Maybe I thought it “brings energy.”  Best not to question my experimental impulses towards standup because the whole idea of demanding that everyone listen to my dumb jokes seems ridiculous at times.

Last Sunday night I spoke about this to a young man who asked to interview me after an open mic (he said he likes to interview “random” and “homeless people,” so, I didn’t take this request as the beginning of my meteoric ascent). I told him that I sometimes like to do uncomfortable things  on stage, like yoga poses or dance moves, or even just take risks with bad jokes, because the discomfort keeps me present and engaged with the audience as a human being, as opposed to a disconnected bobble-head joke-robot.   I thought I sounded very creatively wise and evolved at the time, which wouldn’t be a bad thing had not IRONY not reared it’s head.  When I say “irony” I mean the Oedipal kind, not the hipster racist joke type.

The following night I went to another open mic (the glamour of my life is overwhelming at times) at a restaurant in Marina Del Rey.  Boats lightly swayed outside on the water while white people sipped drinks the color of Fruit Loops with pineapple wedges stuck in them.  (What I’m saying is, not a lot of Hilary supporters). After I heard my name called, I started my game-show-contestant run to the stage.  Suddenly, a collective cry from the audience (this mic had an actual crowd) and the taste of the carpet, alerted me to the fact that I had not arrived to the mic, but had landed face down on the stage.  The next thing I knew, the host was peeling me off the floor with a concerned look and I wondered if I had just been roofied LSD. (Does anyone do LSD anymore?)

“I totally meant to do that,” I assured the crowd once I realigned my knee sockets and wiped carpet threads off my face. “I’m awesome,” I assured them.

That line may have been used by every public faller known to history, but rest assured, THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE.  The audience seemed to enjoy it.

I talked about the quality of my shoes and then did my planned set, but nothing was nearly as interesting — nothing will ever be as hilarious or brilliant — an unplanned face-plant.   It had nothing to do with me, personally and everything to do with the Lady Who Ate The Carpet.

I have a friend who spends money to do hallucinogenic drugs with groups of people under supervised medical care in the Hollywood Hills  He says it helps him release The Ego.  Rest assured, falling down on stage does the same thing.   For a fraction of the price!

My comedy will never be so genius again.

Posted in Stand Up Comedy | Leave a comment

You Can Call Me Names, But I’m Still Supporting Hilary

A very flattering picture.

It’s not about what she looks like, but this is a very flattering picture.

A few weeks ago, I posted some pro-Hilary articles on my Facebook page. I assumed that the large part of my Facebook friend population consists of left-leaning, democrats or otherwise who respect my intelligence and would be up for a friendly debate. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

First of all, I don’t think most Bernie supporters are assholes.  Most are thoughtful people who just happen to prefer a more ideological platform.  What’s not to love about Bernie Sanders?   However, since I avowed my pro-Hilary stance on Facebook, I have had to block and restrict more vitriolic comments than ever before. I’ve not only had my own intelligence and reasoning attacked, but have had to delete attacking comments towards my Berkeley aunt WHO VOLUNTEERS TO GET ARRESTED FOR CAUSES.   She bristles if I call her “liberal” (she prefers “progressive”) and accuses me of “not doing anything to change the world.”  She also prefers Bernie Sanders in an ideal world.  (No sarcasm meant on the word “ideal”).  The point is it got unnecessarily ugly on my FB page.  It’s one thing to insult me, but leave my 70-year-old aunt alone!

Jesus.  What the hell?  Are we on different teams?  I could understand this hysteria if I supported for Trump. But the fact that we all want the same things (economic equality, health care reform, the protection of women’s rights) makes these attacks unreasonable.  And about something else.

I have been accused of voting for Hilary based on gender lines.   I don’t ask Bernie supporters, “Are you AGAINST Hilary because you’ve internalized the ubiquitous message that power and ambitious women are shrill, evil demons?”  From the legions of comments I’ve read (on other articles), it’s becoming clear that a Bernie-loving stance could be the perfect guise for hiding a deeply harbored misogyny. (And women can be misogynists, too).

Weirdly, among white liberal people, supporting Hilary Clinton seems risky, alternative, or as this article says, a “subversive act.”  She’s not a glamorous candidate, she doesn’t make you feel better than anyone else.  She’s not a perfect candidate or a perfect democrat.  But a “lying “war monger”?  Yes, she voted for the Iraq war, but it only takes one lazy Google search to find out how she felt at the time.  Does a war monger say things like, “This is a difficult vote. This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Any vote that may lead to war should be hard…” She has the best truth telling record of any Presidential candidate of 2016.  (If you don’t have time to click on the link, this is written by a little known reporter named Jill Abramson.)

As this great piece pointed out, to support her, is to “empathize” with her.  Which I don’t have a hard time doing.  She’s taking huge bullets for Team Powerful Women.  I think about all the smirks, eye rolling and condescension I have endured in my less than stellar career.  I sorely lacked Hilary’s resiliency and fortitude.  I cry and wimp out when my writing is rejected.  Boo hoo.  Poor me. This woman has been attacked for decades for the color pant suit she wears.  And for aging.  Ladies, we will all be there if we aren’t already.

When Gloria Steinem faced a torrent of backlash for telling Bill Mahr that young women vote for Bernie Sanders because “they were going where the boys” I couldn’t believe that stripper-loving Bill Maher got off scott-free.  He set her up. But we live in a world where women are taught to tear each other down, where men routinely paint women as shrews and hags, where the biggest crime is not to be attractive.

Even if I didn’t believe she would make a phenomenal president (and I do). I would still pay respects to anyone who has endured the hate and still kept going.  It only seems to make her stronger.

Posted in Hilary Clinton | Leave a comment

I ♥ 44

That 35-year-old "hag" Blanche DuBois.

Look at that 35-year-old hag Blanche DuBois.

I remember in my early twenties studying older women (old, as in over 30), and feeling sorry for them.  How sad they must feel about the circles under their eyes and the frown lines along their mouth, the glances cast by their husbands and boyfriends at younger women, the desperation at the edges of their feigned passion for life…ugh.  So embarrassed.  Youth is wasted on the young, but so are brain cells.

Of course, now I understand this line of thinking of the result of swallowing the eyeball of the male gaze.  Most of these thoughts bore from the corners of my psyche where culture, advertising and comments made by male members of my family festered into the shame of Blanche DuBois’ desperation.  (Even though, as I learned in theater studies, Blanche DuBois really represented Tennessee Williams’ own shame about his homosexuality.)  I actually wasted time and energy thinking about thus believed it true any woman who did not go out of her way to obsess about her appearance bordered on criminal behavior.  How dare a woman just like herself?     I, of course, always felt bad about my appearance.

Blanche DuBois needs to have a chat with Jane Fonda.  "Girl, get over it...get your whiny ass out of the male gaze."

Blanche DuBois needs to have a chat with Jane Fonda. “Girl, get over it…get your whiny ass out of the male gaze.”

Throughout my thirties, I lived in what’s fair to call terror of turning 40. I danced around my fears.  I, literally, went out to dance salsa three to five nights a week, rushing out at 10:00 pm on a Monday night after a post-work salsa nap on a  with sparkly top and some lipstick to some sweaty guy’s lead.  I didn’t care about the guys so much as  I wanted to live in the sensuality of my body before it became a decayed creaky old piece of furniture.     Each night I danced as if it were the last hurrah.  Some day I won’t be able to do this, I told myself.  Even when it no longer felt fun, or I found the male attention I was supposed to covet nauseating and boring.   I dated younger men, thinking that it would neutralize the old hag-ness that waited for me.

Even as I found greater confidence each year of my 30s, I started to panic.   One night a few months before my birthday I called my mother and cried out, “I’m going to be 40!” the way I had once cried that my boyfriend had broken up with me.

“Any woman will tell you that her 40s were the best time in her life,” she responded.

A few months after that conversation my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  I walked through the door into 40 more worried about my mother’s health. I was shocked to find that a band of men in ski caps didn’t kidnap me and put me in a dark closet, only letting me out to work and make social appearances. I still dated guys and felt like myself.  But more so.   I actually felt kind of relaxed And then came 41, 42, and 43, and I started to just feel kind of free, I seemed to acquire more “don’t-give-a-shit-ness” or what is also known as “zero fucks.”

I don’t love everything about aging, I hate dying my hair, and cracking in yoga…but it seems a fair price for the benefits of feeling like when I open my mouth, the person speaking is actually me and not some version

Right before my 43rd birthday my mother passed away.  The sad irony is that after the anticipation, all that I really miss of my youth is my mother and my grandmother.  It wasn’t my youth so much as a sadness and desperation that I was hanging onto.

Last August, I found myself one unemployed Wednesday afternoon wondering what to do when some voice in my head told me to go to Santa Monica College and sign up for a Jazz Dance class. It was literally 45 minutes before the class began, on the last day of registration, and, yet, I made it in time.   I fell in love with the teacher and hardly noticed that I could have birthed three quarters of the class.  I took the same teacher’s Modern Dance in the Winter and there I was literally the oldest woman in the class by twenty years.  I never felt more age-less or cared less.  I choreographed a piece with a group of 18-year-olds and listened to them talk about birth control, Taylor Swift, weight gain.    I didn’t exactly relate to them, but I also didn’t feel a generational divide.  I just felt like a dancer among dancers.

I’m thinking of becoming a dance major.

Posted in Aging | Leave a comment

This Website Endorses Hilary Clinton For President

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It’s alright that I took this picture straight off the NY Times endorsement…right?

Yesterday, the New York Times published an editorial endorsing Hilary Clinton for President.   Today, SearchforSanity.com endorses her as well.  Media, take note! This blog support Hilary Clinton for president for the following reasons:

1) She understands political realities.   Hilary understands the game.  She works within the system.  Her number one goal is to get shit done.  Yes, she has changed her mind about healthcare from when she was a doe-eyed wife of a presidential candidate in 1992.    In 1992 I believed in my Top Gun bomber jacket and a life dedicated to Art.  But things came up that made me question my Ayn Rand type of thinking, things like, rent and heath insurance.   Reality.  Hilary knows a thing or two about reality.  Presidential husbands lie, politicians turn their backs and haters hate…she can work with that now. Especially having weathered more shit storms than a public restroom. Sorry, for the gross analogy, but the Hilary in my head would say it’s true.

2) She forgave her cheating husband and moved on.   If we discredited all women who stayed with their philandering partners the list would include Frida Kahlo,  Simone De Beavoir, and Eleanor Roosevelt, just to name a few that we know about.  Brilliant males do horrible things.   Sometimes their brilliant wives want to keep their husbands’ brain around, but you can’t separate the cerebral cortex from a penis: you have to live with the whole human.    Bill’s escapades were just a hiccup in the wheel of Hilary’s life’s work.  She faced public humiliation and came out more committed than ever to her goals and life’s purpose.  More importantly, she understands that men and what they do should not be at the center of a woman’s life.   How many people get over betrayal like that and go on to a higher state of bad-assness?

3)  Bernie is great, but Hilary is Badass.   I’d love to have Bernie Sanders sitting next to me at Thanksgiving.  I’d even feel OK letting him give me a hug. But we’re talking about leader of the free world.    Hilary Clinton is a searing comet, the mountain around which the wind blows.  Bernie is a solid Pine tree on top of the mountain.  Maybe my metaphors are falling apart, but the point is that women, forces of nature, create weather.

4) She inspires me.  I am a fairly non-political person.  I think the system is rigged and all politicians have howling winds where their souls should be (more nature metaphors).   And, yet, in 2008 I did unusual-for-me activities, like drive to Hilary Clinton’s campaign office and call strangers and ask them to vote for her.   I did this not because I didn’t want the other person (Obama) to win, but because I wanted Hilary to lead this country.  Prior to this moment in my life, my political choices consisted of  justifications like, “Well, he’s better than  this other creep.”   My faith in Hilary has nothing to do with anyone else.  I sometimes cry when I think of her winning. This has no basis on intellectual thought. I understand the criticisms. I just believe in her.  I feel it in my bones.

5) She inspires me some more.  I have learned that female success results in a lot of hate, snark and comments about said woman’s appearance. Have you noticed that?  No?   Hilary has absorbed more than her share of that hate and somehow has managed to contain it in a box marked “toxic” that she stores with her feelings towards Gennifer Flowers and large glasses.  Because this giant box has contained so much hate and bile, she’s really making the world a less toxic place for women.   Whether or not you support her, she’s made the world a better place to be a woman.

Therefore, this websites fully endorses Hilary Clinton for the democratic nomination.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

“Changes In The Mating Strategies Of White People” -The Complete Play

On January 17, 2014 the play I wrote “Changes In The Mating Strategies of Women” opened at the Lounge 2 theatre in Hollywood, California.  It closed on February 28th and my friend Jim Coughlin filmed (or video-ed) the last show.   People have inquired about watching it or when the next production will mount and because I’m missing some brain synapses it didn’t to me that I could put it on YouTube until my friend Kendall Sor asked. I know YouTube is the last place where you want to watch a play, but I believe this is worth an hour of your time. Just take it out of your binge-watching time budget.

 

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Why I Can No Longer Watch Dead Or Dying Girls On TV/Internet

Smokin' Andrea. You can't kill her!

Smokin’ Andrea. You can’t kill her!

The other night I watched a really bad movie — I forgot the name — but it involved caves and scuba diving and my self-inflicted choices were that or “Love Actually.”  When the first two characters died —a woman and the only ethnic person— I almost stopped the movie.  Have we learned nothing since the 80s?  Or, at least, since T-Dog died in Season 3 of  “The Walking Dead”?  Then the only other female character died a death so gnarly I had to fast forward.  But she was a stuck-up bitch who refused to wear a wet suit, so she deserved it…right?  I finished the movie (underwater caves!), but I couldn’t sleep that night and later had flashbacks to that scene the next day.

A few days later I read Rebecca Solnit’s piece about books women should not read, and after getting my mind blown, decided to trust my instincts about the media and art I consume. The imprints left on my psyche of seeing women tortured, killed, mutilated, raped or denigrated verbally or otherwise in every multitude of imaginative ways as conceived by mostly male writers who may or may not — probably, mostly not — respect women, have to be just at least as bad for me as gluten.

The effects of violent imagery towards women on my brain does not go away in a day or two.  Twenty years ago I went to see  Cape Fear with my friends and to this day, the scene where Robert Deniro bites Ileana Douglas causes me to experience a PTSD wince. In fact, every time I see her, I think about the scene and worry about her happiness. Has she had an OK life? Was she abused in her relationships?  She did marry Martin Scorsese.

Here’s a short and incomplete list of scenes from movies and TV shows that continue to traumatize me.

1) Cape Fear (yes, it’s worth mentioning again) – Scene: When Robert DeNiro bites Ileana Douglas cheek off.  I can not imagine what that scene provided to the story, let alone the world, except to disturb me.   Teri Gross discusses this scene in a recent interview with Ileana Douglas.

2) The Sopranos – Scene: Silvio murders Andrea.   Tony tells Andrea that Silvio will take her somewhere safe.  For a moment Andrea imagines driving away alone.  Run Andrea! Run!  Alas, she ignores her instincts and gets whacked by the cheeziest thug on “The Sopranos.”   I have fantasies of her life as a fugitive and late at night I sometimes wonder what the world would be if Andrea had lived.  [Note: Special mention to the scene when Dr. Melfi gets raped in Season 1)

3) House of Cards – Scene: Doug Stamper, Chief of Staff to POTUS and murderer, kills Rachel, former prostitute.  For a moment, he lets her go, but then changes his mind and murders her, even though he has a limp.   Again, why could she not have run off into the desert, hidden and lived….?

4) The Following – Scene: Almost every one.  I hated this show with a passion I could spend on more productive experiences.

5) True Detective – Scene: When Matt McConaughey discovers the first female victim. I don’t know how many others he discovered because I stopped watching the show.  (If I want to see hot actors take themselves too seriously, I’ll just go back to my Meisner acting class.)  More nightmares…

6) The Fall Scene: Sociopath/doting husband and father ritualistically murders young woman.  Apparently, if a show features a strong female lead, it gives it license to depict new levels of gruesome deaths for multiple young women.

7) Fargo – Scene: Martin Freeman’s murder of his wife.  Same note as “The Fall.” Also, this show gets credit for attempting to rewrite the feminist triumph of a [SPOILER ALERT] pregnant Frances McDormand single-handedly capturing the killer by giving that credit to Solverson’s husband.

The list goes on. (I have not watched Dexter, much of SVU, or ).  I don’t know when I became so desensitized to gruesome images of violence against women.  Did I decide at some point that it’s cool to watch this shit?  I used to carry a feminist crowbar with me whenever I watched or read anything, ready to pull out the entrails of misogyny.    I’m proud of my 19-20 year old self for having the capacity to think that Nabokov set back child victims’ rights a few centuries, Hemingway might have been less vapid with a positive male role model, Jack Kerouac needed to get a real job, and Ulysses by James Joyce (which I was assigned a three times), exists for insecure lit majors needing reasons to feel superior.  I’m not anti-man writing. Fitzgerald, Shakespeare and Tennessy Williams remain the gold standard.  But I also include  Zora Neale Hurston up there right next to them.  Who is Zora Neale Hurston?  EXACTLY.

I’d love to watch detective shows and hate-watch the parts I don’t like and go and live my life like a normal person (i.e., white male), but these shows don’t exist in a vacuum.  They either mirror, inspire or re-calibrate the status quo which consists of  at least one woman in every three being beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.   I don’t know how many women are murdered on standard TV a night, but, six women are murdered each day in Mexico. Is there a connection? I’m going to skip the sarcasm and just say that as women we live in a cultural milieu of blood, knives and fear.

I have no answers.  I have an addiction to serial episodic TV.  Sure, I can stay away from detective crime shows starring Kevin Bacon, but am I seriously NOT going to watch the next season of House of Cards?

What shows traumatize you?

Posted in misogyny, Movies, TV/Movies, Women | Leave a comment

Earthquakes vs. Lightning

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Some Tips On How To Be A Successful Freelancer

multi-tasker2Eight years ago today — the day before Thanksgiving — the digital agency I worked at for two years laid me off.  Since then I have worked as a freelancer/contractor/person not bound by salary and benefits. How have I managed to find dozens of jobs in the past eight years?  Sometimes I need to remind myself.  Here are some actions that I believe have served me well.


1) A flurry of communication (aka, a squeaky wheel).  
While gig hunting, I send out emails, texts, Skype, Facebook and LinkedIn messages, tweets and I even make phone calls (gasp).  Many of these are ignored. I often feel like a 7th grader trying to get a “cool” kid to pay attention to her.  But the reality is that most people barely see them, or glance at them, or forget, or email me weeks later.  I have come to understand that people in 2015 Los Angeles hardly register an earthquake, let alone my emails.  Nobody is thinking about me because —amazingly— people have their own problems, too.  Sometimes, when I finally get in contact with someone after what seems like a torrent of communication, I might hear a surprised, “Hi Solange, Good to hear from you! ” I realize that all those emails impacted her like Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons.  I don’t notice them until I need to buy some sheets.  Most people are drowning in responsibilities.   It’s up to me to make a loud “squeak.”

2)  Stay connected with colleagues over coffee or lunch.  Sometimes an acquaintance will ask me to lunch or coffee and I’ll worry about losing a few hours of job hunting or writing time, even though it would most likely be spent scrolling Facebook for cat videos and heartfelt political rants.  I don’t mean to spend time reading a TBT picture essay about their 11th grade year abroad, but, let’s be real, it’s part of my “process.”   Once I forego the Deer Loves Dog video mashup, and I go to Peet’s to meet a flesh and blood human for caffeine, something magical happens.  I find out that he/she just got a new job, broke up with someone, has a sick parent; basically, has real troubles just like me.  He/she also may know of someone who might need someone to do this thing.  This weird human connection thing happens and, unlike an email, it won’t disappear in two seconds.  Networking is cheesy and exploitive and possibly creepy.  But real human connections can result in solid colleagues or actual friendship.  I have gotten many jobs from acquaintances that I bothered to get to know and care about.

3) Help other people find work.  If you want to live in the murky waters of freelancing, help keep your fellow peeps afloat.   Someone needs an art director? Flash programmer?  Tutor? Cleaning lady? Psychic? Dog sitter?   I love when I refer someone to a job and find out that they stayed there for a year or two.  It’s not just good karma, but a sense that my actions are part of the machinations of good. Without sounding like a movie star out of rehab, we are all connected.

4) Talk to Recruiters.  But be careful.   Yes, recruiters.  Sure, they take up to 30% of your hourly rate, and, yes, I’ve met some who would sell me to a brothel for a $100 referral fee, but they also desperately want to place their clients.  I know a couple of recruiters who I trust and respect, but I vet any new ones lest I end up interviewing for a start-up in Tiajuana for $.50/hour. (Please note: working directly with a company is always preferable, but not always feasible.)

5)  Faith.   This is a hard one.   I often cave to fear and take the first job that comes my way, even if the business is carpeted in red flags. If a work environments reeks of sad, unsmiling people, who roam grey hallways with jugs of coffee and that lost, bewildered “this is my life?” look on their faces, then I’m better off living in the uncertainty of unemployment.   The compensation from such a job may momentarily ease financial strain, but in the long run, will result in  lots of frantic calls to my therapist, or some cortisol related illness.  I’ve learned this lesson many times and I now try to remember the proven fact: THERE WILL BE ANOTHER JOB.

6) Learn a variety of skills.  I make most of my money as a project manager. BUT I get hired as a PM because I can also make wireframes, user flows, write copy and blogs, and fix things in Photoshop.   I learn programs, read best practices, and, like any technophile, try to predict the future.  I also love making technology more intuitive, a sadly unsung requirement in this world.   Being versatile has keeps me marketable, but just the fact that I have curiosity seems attractive to clients who understands that digital technology thrives from creative thinking and problem solving.   Some could say I lack commitment, but I like to think that I’m a Jack Of All Trades Master Of Keeping An Employable Skill Set.

7)  Keep Hustlin’.  A friend described me as a cat, I always land on my feet. I don’t  have a superpower, I just don’t give up.   I know that freelancing has created a happier life for myself and I’m willing to do what it takes.

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What A Female Comic Sits Through For Stage Time

A misogynist comic can have great jokes about everything but women.

A misogynist comic can have great jokes about everything but women.

A few weeks ago I met a brilliant young designer named Emma who interviewed me about an exhibit she plans to curate about Women in Comedy. (Details will be forthcoming.) Prior to meeting her I sent her all the blogs I’ve written about being a female comic (like this, this and this).  When we met she asked me why I stopped writing about this delightful topic and I came up with something about not having the energy to be angry and how a lot of these misogynist comic guys are a little sad anyway.  Kind of true.

Then last night I went to an open mic near my apartment that I would consider relatively friendly, not a cold dungeon of social misfits, more like a hippy enclave of West LA misfits.  I have not felt “triggered” (therapy word) by an open mic in a while. Years of open mics, (ugh on the word “years”) have taught me to develop some measure of built-in psychic ear plugs to filter out bad jokes, general disturbing ideas, hackneyed premises, and, yes, misogyny.  Maybe it was the PMS, but several of the  “premises” I heard threw me into the old “what-am-I-doing-with-my-life?” existential plunge — a pretty common experience in comedy for all genders — that kicked in my instinct to flee any place with an amp, coffee, and depressed white men.

What did I hear at the mic last night?  Nothing that unusual. A guy said that he’s getting married because he likes to “suck on his wife’s XXX.” So you can see the level of comedy genius we’re working with here. The problem I have with such remarks has to do with the numbers, the volume,  (not the mic volume, though that too) but the amount of material of this vein.

It struck me as odd that a liberal wealthy enclave of Los Angeles would tolerate the lady hate vibe.   This coffee shop is in Mar Vista, next a soap shop, a pet store, and a vinyl store.  People sip on $4 on coffee while they wait their turn to play their ukelele or read poetry. People who would not tolerate gay bashing or racism. And, yet, a white male can go on stage and talk about how he humiliated a prostitute and call it “comedy” and nobody bats an eye.

When people talk about political correctness ruining comedy, I’m a little confused.   If we are politically correct now, what did comics say about women thirty years ago?  Comedy seems more violent and denigrating to women than ever. Even a smart comic might seem like a really intelligent and astute about everything, until he talks about women.

But maybe it’s just a reflection of our society.  Compared to the bloodied images of women’s naked bodies on TV, video games and movies that making a clearly offensive joke about a prostitute seems almost tame.  Violence against women has become a “television staple.”   The serial killer who employs genius and bizarre creative executions of sex murders has been played out on True Detective, The Killing, The Following, and now Wicked City.  I recall watching Kevin Bacon have a whole casual conversation on The Following in front of a bleeding crucified Jesus-Christ-style blond sorority girl.

I rarely, if ever, address this at open mics.  There is some comic credo of not attacking other comics for their material.  But I also wonder if I should spend precious stage time reacting to these dumb ass jokes that usually bomb anyway.  But this type of comedy behavior is exactly why I’m the only female comic in the room.   If I speak up, I fear I’m less of a comic…but second to writing a blog (done), it’s all I can do.

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