Tuesday, July 09, 2013

New York Jets coach, Rex Ryan, participated in Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls; or as the bulls call it: Goring of the Drunken Idiots. There was a huge, crazed animal destroying everything in its path, and besides Rex Ryan, there was a bull.

The murder investigations of former New England Patriot tight end, Aaron Hernandez, is not looking good for Hernandez; even OJ Simpson doesn’t think they can find a jury dumb enough to set him free.  

One of these days:

When I get some spare bucks and time, I am going to open a restaurant that only serves locally grown, organic, biodynamic, seasonable and sustainable produce and prepare it using only modern cooking techniques, i.e. molecular gastronomy like liquid nitrogen, powders and alginates, and it will cater to Vegans, French expatriates, poets, eco-warriors, jazz musicians, website designers, I.T. specialists and their life partners and I will call it:

Chez Douche Bags and Thumb Rings

The varying levels of "success" by comedians will never cease to amaze me. 

When I worked on Wall Street, success seem to come at two basic levels: people living in nice places but getting by paycheck to paycheck, and then people cashing in seven figure bonuses. Nobody was just making $20,000 or even less and almost nobody was making hundreds of millions. 

Look at Larry David. Prior to getting on the staff of "Saturday Night Live" he was living in an assisted living facilities and driving a cab in his late thirties. 

Now he is closing in on one billion.

Jay Leno was arrested for vagrancy on virtually the same spot he was later given a Hollywood star. 

Many, many talented comedians make no money. Literally, they do not get paid. They work for free.  They have day jobs and live with many other people in bad areas. They perform at comedy clubs on Wednesdays and Thursdays but not on the days that pay, Friday and Saturday. 

Getting hired as the doorman or bartender at a comedy club is a huge step up and that is at minimum wage. 

Like musicians and actors, the first big step in a comedians success is when they can get by just by what they make doing comedy. 

When the comedy club you perform at starts to send you to local paying gigs, that is another huge step. That happened to me in my stand up career. Not because I was the most talented, but because my act was the cleanest and played well at corporate functions. 

The next step is getting out-of-town gigs. This I did once. Sort of. Did a club in Santa Barbara. Most comedy clubs have a deal with an apartment or hotel where the comedian can stay for free. They get anywhere from $100 to $500 for a weekend. They spend most of that money traveling to the gig. And eating and drinking. Or drugs.

Some fairly famous comedians never bust out of this level. Does the name Argus Hamilton mean anything to you? No. But he has been a top performer at the Comedy Store in L.A. for decades. In the 70's he was way ahead of Leno and Letterman and Steve Martin and Michael Keaton and Robin Williams. 

There are some alleged comedians who achieve break-out success who have little or no comedic talent, but they are few and far between. Saw Michael Richards' act at the Comedy Store before his racist rant, and it was every bit as painful without the N-words. 

Jim Belushi comes to mind. People who have worked with Jim Belushi not only describe him as humorless, but mean-spirited and crude. 

Then there are the comedians who are wildly talented, bust out big-time to become legends, but then their egos become so huge, they take themselves so seriously, and they become so humorless and difficult, they almost cannot be hired. Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase are good examples.

The hand-to-mouth-touring career is considered very successful for comedians. Comedians like Zach Galifianakis and Patton Oswalt were at this stage for many, many years until they exploded with "The Hangover" and "Ratatouille" respectively. 

Touring as a comedian itself exists at two levels. There are the medium town clubs and then the big city clubs.  

There is a success level well above the hand-to-mouth existence of touring medium-sized town comedy clubs. These are the comedians you see in national commercials and on "Funny or Die" videos. Very funny folks, but virtually nobody but other comedians know their name. Have you heard of Lang Parker? No, but you will.  Sarah Silverman was like that until she exploded on "The Larry Sanders Show."

Have you heard of Maria Bamford? Probably not, but she is wildly talented comedian and has a Target commercial. Amy Schumer was like that but has since busted out. But the comedians on her show are talented but not well-known. 

Look at Chelsea Handler and Whitney Cummings. Nothing to every single job and several TV shows between them. 

Virtually every comedian alive knows and respects Steve Agee. Bet you've never heard of him. 

When I was at the Comedy Store in La Jolla, there were a few local comedians I knew were going to make it and did. Bobby Lee and Claude Shires are two that come to mind. 

TV shows come and vanish propping up and then making invisible incredibly talented actors and comedians. "Happy Endings." "Perfect Couples." "The League." For every "New Girl" there are ten of these shows that pop up and disappear. 

We have all heard of Olivia Munn. And we should. Gorgeous, sexy, funny as hell. Talented. But have you heard of Christine Wood or David Walton? They were equally amazing on "Perfect Couples." 

"30 Rock" with the other-worldy talented Tina Fey came within a Lorne Michaels argument with NBC suits from being cancelled. Now it is syndicated. It is huge. The stars are rich. 

Hell, a great show filled with amazing talent almost bit the dust in "Parks and Recreation." 

It is amazing to me how a hugely gifted comedian can explode inside the comedy world, and the general public outside the entertainment world has no idea who they are. Tig Nitaro. Natasha Leggero. Louis C.K. was like that. Mark Maron is like that. Dennis Miller is and was like that. 

Then there is the mind-boggling success of Letterman, Leno, Tim Allen, Steve Martin, O'Brien, Cosby, Larry David, Seinfeld. 

Gives me somes of that right there . . .