Category Archives: Just For Laughs

Your Family Is Here… No Pressure!

My Godmother is here! (And Candace too!) Her daughter.

This is something I really can’t think about right now. I would love to pop out and greet them but I have to stay focused. Now my nerves are really shot. What if this show is like the last one?

I’m always a wreck when family or friends come to the show. If I do well, I don’t have to explain my career choice. If I don’t do well, there’s this long, awkward, conversation afterwards.

ME
Well, I’m afraid that wasn’t my best show.
I wish you guys had seen the first show.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Oh, I thought it was pretty good.
So who was that first guy?
He was really funny! You know him?

ME
Yeah, he’s the MC.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Do you guys travel around together?

ME
No, we’re all independent contractors.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
That one joke you did about the penguin
and the Viagara cracked me up.

ME
That wasn’t me, that was the first guy.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Oh yeah, he was fuuuunny!
You write all your own stuff?

ME
Yup.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
‘Cause I get all these jokes off the internet.
Gimme your e-mail, I’ll send ‘em over to you!
Some of them are pretty dirty though.

ME
Thanks, after tonight I could use the help.
(chuckle)

FAMILY OR FRIEND
(…)

FAMILY OR FRIEND (CONTD)
So, how’s your mother doing?

ME
Oh, she’s fine, fine.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
…and your father?

ME
Oh, he’s fine too.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
You doing anything else besides this
comedy business? Any TV or movies?

ME
Nope.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
A couple of times I was thinkin’ of writing
Jay Leno a letter and asking him to put
you on there. You’d be good on there.
How long you been doing this?

ME
Twenty years.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Twenty years? My God!
I thought you’d be famous by now!
(chuckle)

ME
(…)

FAMILY OR FRIEND
You ever work with anybody famous?

ME
Yeah, sure. Lewis Black?

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Who?

ME
Lewis Black, one of the hottest comedians out there right now.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Never heard of him.
Is he a black guy or a white guy?

ME
He’s Jewish.

FAMILY MEMBER
What about Chris Rock?

ME
I’ve met him. He’s a very nice guy.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Some of his stuff is a little dirty for my taste.
He’s funny but I don’t like it when he uses the ‘N’ word!
Who needs to listen to that crap, eh?

ME
I think he’s hysterical.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Next time you see him,
tell him to put you in one of his movies!

FAMILY OR FRIEND (CONTD)
What ever happened to all that
art you used to do? You still drawing?

ME
Nope.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Seems a bit of a waste.

ME
Not really. I enjoy what I’m doing…
except for tonight that is.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Must be hard, travelling around, town to town,
doing your little skits for all those drunk people, eh?

ME
It is my mission of mercy.
(chuckle)

FAMILY OR FRIEND
(…)

FAMILY OR FRIEND (CONTD)
I see you’ve put on a bit of weight.
(poking index finger into flabby midsection)

ME
Yeah, I’m afraid it’s all that junk food on the road.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Speaking of the road, how does your wife
like you being on the road all the time?

ME
She doesn’t.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Does she ever come with you?

ME
Vegas.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Oh, I don’t blame her. Smart woman!
(chuckle)

ME
(…)

ME (CONTD.)
Well, I should get going…

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Oh, you got another show?

ME
No, but I have radio tomorrow and
I’ve got to get up early. 7:00

FAMILY OR FRIEND
We were up at 5:30 this morning…
‘course we don’t have to be funny
like you do. Well c’mon hon’, we better
let the big star get his beauty sleep.

ME
Yeah, I gotta look good for the radio.
(Chuckle)

FAMILY OR FRIEND
(…)

FAMILY OR FRIEND (CONTD)
Say hello to your mum and dad.

ME
I will.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
And call us next time you’re in town.
We’ll come out and see you!

ME
That would be great.

FAMILY OR FRIEND
Especially if that first guy is with you.
That guy cracked me up. Heh, Heh.
Penguin and Viagara, I nearly wet myself.

Bubbling With Nerves

After finishing my set at Bourbon Street West, my manager and I head out to the front of the club where a Just for Laughs van awaits. All transportation for all of the acts has been co-ordinated by the festival. A monumental task when you consider the number of acts, venues, and staggered show times. You can certainly understand how the odd hiccup could occur.

I heard a rumour that William Shatner was upset that a van instead of a limo was sent to pick him up. Hey! He’s was the captain of the Starship Enterprise! Get him a freaking limo! You can’t boldly go anywhere in a van!

The awkward silence has prompted me to switch on like a chatty child seated at the back of a school bus. Probably due to my pent up nervous energy and displeasure with my set.
We head out to the next venue, Club Soda, for the Bubbling With Laughter Show.

The first two comics I spy are Mike MacDonalld and Tim Steves standing next to the backstage door.

Our reunion is briefly interrupted by a dealer selling pot. “Anybody wanna buy some pot? Pot anybody?” Mike cracks back, “What? No crack? No black tar heroine? We all chuckle and chime in with our extreme drug of choice to try and up the comedy ante.

I step into the green room and run into one of my favorite comics. Joe Matarese. We worked together recently at Gotham in New York. He intoduces me to another comic friend of his, but I forget his name as quickly as I hear it because I am focused on one thing and one thing only. Myself. I can’t possibly allow my ego to take another bashing.

The nervous energy in the green room is palpable. With little room for me to pace, I must restrict my movement to a few scarcely populated corridors outside the restrooms. If I did this anywhere else, I’d be considered a stalker.

I’ve got to get my head together. I need to be on top of my game. There’s no telling who could be in the audience. At that moment, I received a note from one of the staff.

Your Godmother is here.

Go West Young… Middle Aged Man

It’s Tuesday evening and my first set of the Festival was performed at Bourbon Street West.

Whenever I’m in Montreal, my first stop is always at Bourbon Street West. It’s one of my favorite rooms to play. The owners, Steve and Paul, always treat me well and they have the best bacon cheddar jalapeno soup I’ve ever tasted.

These preliminary sets are important. They provide a dry run through prior to the gala television show and they give the performers a chance to become acclimated. You have to remember, this is a different city and for many of the comedians, a different country. Even the audiences can vary from venue to venue.

Tim Nutt was hosting. We haven’t worked together in almost ten years and it was great to see him again. He’s an awesome storyteller and if you get a chance to see his full show or his Comedy Now TV Special, you won’t regret it.

After some brief reminising, Tim hit the stage at 8:10 to what felt like a very tight crowd. It felt too early for comedy. The summer sun was still out and the atmosphere was more conducive to an evening barbeque than a comedy show.

There were about five comics on the show and we each had 15 minutes to play with. Al Pitcher, Reno Collier, Robert Kelly, Tim Nutt, and myself. I was on third. My set went well but when I compared it to my last set at the Cincinatti Improv, I had reason for concern.

You’re only as good as your last set. As comics, that’s what we do. We always compare the set we’re having to our last set. You have to remember that the only set the audience knows is the set they’re watching.

Two weeks ago, it felt like my set was firing on all cylinders. Five applause breaks from a set that I had edited down to 13 minutes. With 2 minutes left to shave off, I felt very confident that I’d have a very tight 11 minute set for the gala. That is, until the stage manager dropped another bombshell on me during rehersal.

I only have 6 minutes for the gala show.

Just for Rehersal Pt. 2

gregfitzsimmons1.jpg

Pictured above, Greg Fitzsimmons backstage at the St. Denis Theatre.

Once we arrived, we were quickly escorted upstairs by the stage manager for a quick sound check and wardrobe consult. They picked the blue shirt.

The list and order of performers wasn’t quite finalized but we knew that Howie Mandel would be hosting the gala on Wednesday night. Sweet!

Just for Rehersal Pt. 1

Dress Rehersal and Sound Check: 5:30

Not much time. I start cursing myself. I’ve forgotten all of my trademark ties. My wife helps me pick out a few colored shirts to go with my suit. I leave all my wardrobe choices to my wife, or anyone who will give me free SWAG. I quickly shower, shave, dress myself and head for the lobby. 4:30 pick up. On the way down, on the elevator, I run into Kevin Hart, star of Soul Plane! Cool!

We have free transportation everywhere which is great because if it were left up to me, I’d be late for every gig, not to mention the higher insurance rates!

I spot Sean Cullen and his wife on their way into the hotel. We used to gig together when he was with Corky, and the Juice Pigs. The last time I saw him, he was starring in The Producers. I tell him he looks good. He tells me I look good. We both agree that we are good looking men and he wisks his wife off to safety.

Sean Meo, Tom Papa, Greg Fitzsimmons and myself are quickly carted off to the St. Denis Theatre, where our gala shows will take place. We’re already 15 to 20 minutes late.

Greg is on his cel phone the whole way, taking care of family business. Both his kids and his wife spent the day at the doctors office being deloused. This is the third time his kids have picked up lice at school. Greg tries to comfort me by telling me that it’s not as bad as tape worm. Apparently the little buggers are nocturnal and the only way you can see them is at night with a flash light up their rectum after they’ve gone to sleep. (The kids, not the tape worm.)

My head feels itchy.

Festival Week Part 1 SWAG FEST

swagbag1.jpg

Yesterday, my wife and I arrived in Montreal 2:30 and pretty much hit the ground running. We took VIA Rail, 1st class from Toronto to Montreal, hoping to alleviate as much stress as possible and let someone else do the driving.

This time, I’ve decided to take a different approach. My previous two times at the festival were stressful for me and I was bound and determined to just have a good time. I just want to let go and let God. Let the universe guide me and not the other way around.

We both hopped into a cab and the driver took us to the wrong hotel. So far, so good. My plan is working.

I started working on my 11 minute set at the Improv in Cleveland three months ago. I was wondering, how am I going to come up with 11 killer minutes of material? Ten weeks later, I’m wondering, how am I going to cut 8 minutes from my 19 minute set? Not a bad problem to have when you think about it.

When we checked into the Hyatt Regency, the first person I ran into was Richard Lanoie, from The Serious Comedy Site. Richard is a huge comedy fan and his whole site is dedicated to comedy. You check out his site at theseriouscomedysite.com

I remember meeting him at The Nest a year or two ago and I gave him a DVD. He told me he was a big fan and gave me a free t-shirt. Alright! SWAG!

Next, I ran into my manager, Tony Camacho who handed me my schedule and swag bag which contained an umbrella, walking wind up false teeth, a map of Montreal, an artist directory to help my failing short term memory and another t-shirt. Sweet! More SWAG! I’ve been here a matter of minutes and my wardrobe has already increased.