Editor’s Note: I know I haven’t blogged in a while, so let me get these apologias out of the way. There are only so many hours in the day and with the site growing and attracting the attention of more and more publicists it’s getting harder and harder for me to keep up – especially being mostly the one-man-show that I am. Thankfully, I’m bringing on some quality writers and I have a good feeling they’re going to stick like the two souls still hanging around.
I realize that a few of you are longtime readers from back in the day when Working Author was primarily a writer’s blog and most of you only read my site for the blog posts. Those of you who are my friends on Facebook and have been reading about my new screenplay are probably not buying the whole “too busy” to blog excuse. If you fall in that category, then I don’t know what to tell you. Everything I’ve done regarding the site – including blogging – has been for the primary purpose of breaking into the entertainment industry as a screenwriter. As such, I have my priorities and blogging comes second to screenwriting.
Nevertheless, I’m making it a point to blog tonight, so live it up while it lasts!
…on Being a Man
When it came to manhood, I’m not entirely sure about what I expected it to be like. I suppose I had a vague expectation that my thinking – as a whole – would change. I’d be focused on…I don’t know…real estate, stock prices, home improvement, child rearing. I didn’t think I’d still enjoy staying up until dawn, playing video games and watching porn. I guess as a guy you never outgrow that last one. And, if my father is an indicator, you can actually grow back into video gaming. He gave me so much grief as a child for wasting my life playing video games, but now he is the late night junkie who drags ass into work the next day and spends his time crawling the Internet for hints and walkthroughs. In any event, my point is that I think my thought progression stopped somewhere along the line and I am stuck with the mindset of a teenager. Sure, I think about “adult” things, like gas prices, taxes and weight-management, but only because they are obstacles in my daily life, not because I seek them out.
What’s more is that those adult thoughts are gender-neutral. What does an adult man think about? I have no idea. I can’t even really define what a man is within a social context beyond his sex. For most practical actions throughout any given day, I think women can handle them on their own. It’s only when situations arise related to physical features, like strength or height, that it makes sense for women to rely on men. That way of thinking helps me define men within society; however, in doing so, I only further define myself as not-a-man because I’m not much to speak of physically.
A while back I interviewed Tristan Couvares for ControlTV, which was an experimental Internet reality show in which he was filmed 24 hours a day for 6 weeks. I used to chat with him late at night and then in the morning watch him sleep until 9 a.m. while I was at work. I would only watch off and on, but one of the segments I caught was Tristan playing basketball with some of his friends. Tristan stands at 6’5” and his friends looked like they were of comparable height. I remember thinking to myself that if I were on the court with them – not that I would ever be since I don’t like sports – I would look like a child next to them. I think my size really plays a big factor in how I see myself as a man, especially if the only satisfying way I can define a man is by physical attributes.
I don’t even think I act like a man. A few months ago I interviewed stand-up comic Aaron Karo and he was impressed that I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t think he was impressed in a good way. Also, I do drink alcohol, but only when I can’t help it – like during champagne toasts at weddings or when I order a cocktail to make whomever I’m interviewing feel comfortable about drinking during the interview. Anyway, Aaron was curious to know what I did when I hung out with the “boys” if I didn’t drink alcohol.
I regard Aaron Karo as a man, even though he’s about my height and about my build, mainly because he drinks and is into sports. I know that that’s kind of a flimsy criteria, but that’s how I feel. The fact that he found my not drinking strange only further highlighted how far removed from manhood I am. I don’t even have “boys” to hang out with. I don’t even like to leave the apartment. On the other hand, I’m sure nights spent drinking is not reserved for men. So perhaps I’m being too specific in trying to define myself as a man. Perhaps I should begin by first trying to define myself as a human being.
Until I find the time to explore that thought, I suppose I’ll have to be content existing as a freak subset of humanity.
…on Stand-Up Comedy
I love interviewing stand-up comedians. I have enough of an understanding of the craft to ask poignant questions and comics are quick-witted enough to respond with something poignant if I throw them a curveball. When I first started interviewing stand-ups for my site, my friend Anthony D’Allesandro – who looks just like Nathan Lane – suggested that I get into doing stand-up comedy as well. His logic was that a lot of agents and managers like to catch shows at bars after work and it would be a good way to showcase my talent for them. I’ve always considered myself a pretty funny guy with decent stage presence, so I would have seriously considered his advice if he hadn’t given it to me right after we watched several horrible stand-up comics back to back.
I’m sure that right before they got on stage they were all thinking that they were funny as hell. It wasn’t until they had to slog through 10 – 12 minutes of silence, dying a little more with each joke that they had any doubts. By the end, I was exhausted from having done whole body cringes for the past 45 minutes. Yet they had my respect, because I don’t think I could handle bombing. It’s off-putting enough when I tell a hilarious story to my friends and they don’t laugh. Could I really stand another 11 minutes of that?
On the other hand, I’m starting to learn that there is perhaps an unspoken rule for the relationship between comedian and audience member. The proper etiquette seems to be that audiences are required to cut the comic some slack and just laugh even if they don’t find the joke funny. I’m sure that not every comedian feels that way, but it’s obvious that some do. My first experience with this phenomenon was when I was kid and there were still half-hour stand-up comedy shows on primetime network television. One comic was telling jokes about the differences in how his father and mother drove. After a couple bits that didn’t get a response, the comic told them that “this is the comedy you’re getting tonight so do what you gotta do to adjust your frequencies.” Then he pantomimed adjusting dials. People started laughing after that even though there was no noticeable difference in the quality of comedy. Even as a kid, at home, watching this previously recorded routine, I felt obligated to laugh as well.
More recently, Tess Rafferty invited me to watch her act at Malo in Silverlake. She was the best act of the night by far and had the most polish. She knew how to pause for laughter and knew how to move on quickly if a joke didn’t go over. While the other comedians ranged from good to bad, what disturbed me was when one of them essentially told people to laugh. “I know I’m not hilarious,” she said. Another guy felt that he wasn’t getting the crowd response he was looking for so he cut his set short with “I’m gonna end it with that. Fuck it.” When did comics become so entitled?
I’ve always felt that stand-up comics were the rock stars of stage performers – even beyond actual rock stars – simply because they are all alone on stage and are purified nightly by the binary verdict of being funny or not. To beg for laughs or jip audiences with a short set cheapens the craft.
…on Aaron Karo
Since this post was inspired by Aaron Karo, I figured it was only right to end it with a few more thoughts on him. We’re the same age and he essentially got his start by writing an email column that he sent to his friends. I also started out by writing an email column that I sent to my friends. After college, he was able to parlay his collection of emails into a manuscript that was later published. I, on the other hand, parlayed my emails into a manuscript that got rejected by every literary agent in town. Granted, his email column was full of bite size observations on college life while my email column was full of meandering screeds and longwinded introspection. So I guess it made sense that the cards fell where they did.
I just can’t help but feel like he’s living a portion of my life.
Also, I wish he would approve my friend request on Facebook.