Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Well, now I know how this feels, oh goody

Took one hard for the comedy team, Torn Slatterns and Nugget Ranchers

It was hot in Los Angeles, the Dodgers were sweating like Lindsay Lohan walking past a TGIF during happy hour.

Tiger Woods divorce from Elin Nordegen is final. Tiger is left with half a billion dollars and he is free to date any beautiful woman in the entire world. Well, that should teach him.

In Oregon, the McMinnville High football team had to be hospitalized with a mysterious illness. They’re fine now, but it was serious, the players were so tired, so nauseas and so listless, they had to change their name from the Battlin’ Bears to the Oakland Raiders.

A man with two knives was arrested trying to break into Paris Hilton’s house. Paris became suspicious when she spotted a stranger who was neither naked nor in her bed.

Lady Gaga has surpassed Britney Spears in twitter followers. Dads, if your son knew that story, your chances of him being able to throw a football in a tight spiral are slim and none.

In fitness news, ab-exhibitionist “Jersey Shore” Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino will make over $5 million in endorsements this year. In a related story, god issued a statement that there is no him.

The latest disaster in New York, besides the Knicks and the Mets? Bed bug infestation in movie theaters. Especially if you go see that one movie: “Eat Prey Love Itch and Scratch.”

Since you asked:

Good way to start my morning: got my proverbial comedy writing teeth kicked in before Six AM.

Up until last year, I used to write sports jokes for Chainsaw of the #1 morning radio show in San Diego, “Dave, Shelly and Chainsaw.” For many years it was a great relationship, but they were dropped by their Clear Channel station, KGB, and picked up nine months later by Jack 100.7 on KFMB. But, due to budget constraints, I guess, our relationship suddenly and summarily ended without so much as an explanation.

Fine, I decided to shop my jokes around to San Diego sports radio talk shows. It didn’t take much research to find the top sports radio talk show. And, as luck would have it, I had met and chatted warmly with one of the two hosts at the gym, and the other host and I, also as luck would have it, have several mutual friends.

So, thusly emboldened, I float them an e-mail mentioning my references and experience and offering to provide them sports jokes. Almost immediately they respond with “We have an interest.” Not “Please write for us or we will die” but they clearly had an interest. So I shoot back;

“Great, I am excited you have interest, when can we start?”

Nothing. No reply for several days.

So, as the former computer and investment sales doggedy dog I am, I decided to go with the old assumptive close:

“Thanks for letting me contribute material, I charge X for a joke and we can work out the details later.” And I included a few sample jokes to get things moving.

Listening to their website recording/podcast that originally aired at about 5:30 AM, I hear the host mocking my proposal as not only laughable but asinine, uninformed and arrogant. Then he read the jokes in a robotic monotone, slaughtering the punch lines like a butcher who went in for filet mignon but came out with bloody hamburger. I’m not knocking the show nor the hosts, the show and the two hosts are very good. This is a big time radio show professional who knows how to read copy. Destroying my jokes was clearly the intent.

And, boy, did he butcher them.

The jokes sounded like they were written by a corny, drunk second grader. The engineer or producer mockingly laughed out loud – as I was now entering into a full-blown stage of actual physical and mental shock* - about how much money they now needed to send me, like I was a deluded hack/joke-writing tooth fairy. Suddenly I was Robert De Niro to Jerry Lewis in “The King of Comedy.”

When I responded by e-mail with genuine hurt and confusion, the host, I will admit, was exceptionally nice and apologetic. But not on the air. He claims he was laughing at the fact the show’s budget was too tight. But I heard them, they were laughing at how horrible they thought the jokes were.

Oh well, comedy writing is not pretty.

*Thankfully in my stand up career, I only really bombed horribly once. But it stands out as one of the worst experiences of my life that did not include a loved one’s death or serious trauma.

One night, at the Comedy Store in La Jolla, I decided to see what it would be like to totally wing it on stage. Truth was I had not had a chance that day to prepare, so that was my only option. When that did not work, I tried to shift gears and recall past material, but it did not go well.

As the jokes started to fall flat, my voice tightened and I could actually hear the fear rise in my throat as I could also sense the audience silently, but rapidly, shift from not amused to uncomfortable to embarrassed and then straight to angry and annoyed at me. (Some people get indignantly pissed when you claim to be funny and they think you're not)

When I staggered off the stage, no lie, I was in a state of full blown shock, not as bad as, but not unlike when my Aunt called to tell me my Dad had suffered a brain aneurism.

So the next time you feel like insulting a comedian, or his jokes, you might want to remember that. Granted it’s part of the deal, but it is brutal.

One of the greatest cooking stories I have heard recently is how Henry Ford II loved to brag about how down-to-earth he was because his favorite lunch at the chic and swanky Ford linen table cloth and china and crystal wine glasses dining room was a hamburger.

John DeLorean was invited for lunch and was so intrigued by how good the Ford hamburger was, he asked the chef to show him the secret. The chef then proceeded to drop a $100 aged Chateau Briand tenderloin steak into the meat grinder to make Henry’s humble burgers.

One thing that has changed about cooking is, when I was a kid, salt came in a round box with a girl with an umbrella, cooking oil was Wesson, pepper came ground in a box. Olive oil?

Now there are great sea salts and great fresh peppers and amazing olive oils and all manner of fresh herbs and spices. Once I had an eye-meltingly good hot dog made lovingly from Nathan’s all kosher beef dogs with a fresh bun from the bakery, the dogs lovingly grilled and smoked with sauteed onions and Bubbies out-of-this-world sweet pickles.

Another time I had prime rib I wouldn’t feed to my dogs. (Don’t try a Las Vegas All-You-can-eat $4.99 prime rib dinner, believe it or not, it is not worth it)

The moral of the story? It is not what you are cooking it is how you are cooking it. A homemade mac and cheese with three different kinds of cheeses and fresh pasta can kick an over-boiled lobster’s ass.