Sunday, June 15, 2008

Stand and Deliver: An Evening at The Cleveland Improv (Or ...How McFella Got His Groove Back)

So, yes, I realize I have been neglecting my blog for the last few weeks to be sure. But there is a reason for that: I've been in training. And now I'm back from Dagobah after a fun, intense, few weeks of studying with "the Master Yoda of comedy."

Regardless, I'm back in Gotham City now to turn my training into action. So, you see, I should probably explain that when I mentioned before that I was going "back to the drawing board" - that (once again) I meant an entirely brand new drawing board.

"Do or do not. There is no try."

So, yes, we did manage to "move the island" a sense. And now that "island" is securely located (complete with a solitary microphone) in the center square The Cleveland Improv (as part of an entire graduating class of comedians). "Gotta support the team!"

I have always (for the most part) been a "sort of" writer. But, for many years, I have wanted to attempt stand-up comedy. And, until now, I have been putting off the process of actually doing it. Sad to say, but I just wasn't ready before this point in the time and space continuum (mostly out of fear, I guess).

Regardless, I am not making any "grand declarations" here by any stretch of the imagination. Stand-up comedy is a tough business and it takes years of practice to perfect (as most established comedians will be glad to inform you ...and you are correct, sir). It's a spectacular skill that cannot be mastered in a few weeks, no doubt.

It may have taken "Ricky Roma" chasing me around the offices of "Consolidated Resorts and Properties" with a set of 3rd place steak knives. But, hey, like my "good friend" Tanya Roberts: I'll be there!

Nonetheless, I am going to attempt to translate my scattered words into something cohesive now. But, ultimately, I'll let the audience be the judge in the end. And, hopefully, I don't end up like Kenny Bania just because I think "anything that dissolves in milk is funny."

Jerry Seinfeld: "Why do they call it Ovaltine? The mug is round. The jar is round. They should call it Roundtine!"

Kenny Bania: "That's gold, Jerry! Gold!"

But like my professor in Communications back at Cleveland State always used to tell me: "Johnny Carson was terrified of going up on stage - he hated it. But, ultimately, he did it ...because he loved the world of comedy. And he wanted to be a part of it."

Well, obviously, I'm no Johnny Carson. Not even close, believe me. And my influences growing up were David Letterman and Steve Martin: I idolized those guys! But spending a scary amount of time lately studying some local comics in the Cleveland area, I realize that I have my work cut out for me to even come close to THAT (if I choose to pursue this on the next level ...and time will tell, I guess).

So, check out the local comedy scene in Cleveland to see what I'm talking about. You will not be disappointed!

In the meantime, I will be performing on Tuesday night (June 17th, 7:30 p.m.) at The legendary Cleveland Improv with a lot of other great guys and gals for our graduation show with Dave Schwensen. Tickets are $5.00, or mention my name at the ticket window for big, big savings. It should be a lot of fun!

Hecklers, drunkards throwing tomatoes, and serial killers are all welcome! Hey, we need to put asses in the seats, okay?

I look forward to seeing you there.

Marc Jaffe (who won an Emmy Award for his writing on "Seinfeld") will be hosting our event. I never got a chance to meet Marc Jaffe (unfortunately) when I was working with him at The Free Times.

But ...I guess my favorite quote from the show Lost: "The universe has a way of course-correcting."

And, sometimes, it just needs a little ...PUSH.

And then I am on vacation: Follow the map from Indiana Jones to Bowling Green (the "mecca" of Pop Culture) to South Bend, Indiana (the Notre Dame "mecca" of drunken Catholic Irish men) to Chicago (The Second City of comedy) destinations unknown.

So, it seems, I (sort of) have come a long way from putting on foul-mouthed puppet shows with our stuffed Muppets in the basement of my best friend growing up in Ohio. So much more to do!

"Goodnight, Mrs. B. ...wherever you are."

Friday, June 13, 2008

R.I.P. Tim Russert (1950 - 2008): The one guy who could actually tear me away from ESPN for politics!

We lost a great "voice" in the media today: Tim Russert.

Believe it or not, as shallow as I am at times, I always flipped away from sports on Any Given Sunday to watch this guy in action on "Meet The Press." He was one of the few men on the planet who could turn my head away from pop culture - for a moment - to focus on politics. And I want to truly thank him for that.

No, this time, Jon Stewart doesn't count. Tim Russert was "old school" and we loved him for that. In this "new" age of media where most of it's members are smug, insincere, self-serving asshats (Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Nancy Grace anyone?) more focused on American Idol than the actual events in the world, Tim Russert was a breath of fresh air (And, yes, people - I realize I am handcuffed to my own pop culture bullshit, as well - but there is so much more to life than that!).

In an era when (most of) the media falsely buckled to the Bush Administration, this was the one guy who was never afraid to speak his mind - and, more importantly, ask the tough questions that ultimately needed to be asked in a world gone mad. Never a mean man, yet - at the same time - he never faltered. Tim was truly a tough guy, with a teddy bear disposition, in the end.

But, as brilliant as Tim Russert was at times, he never forgot that he was a man of the people - he loved his sports teams to no end, and that's what always made this guy so damn accessible to almost every person on the planet.

Tim Russert was a hometown guy we could all believe in, to be sure.

So, yes, I am a sap. I admit, I got choked up today when I heard that he passed on to the next level of existence. But, for what it's worth, I honestly believe that this guy will sorely be missed here - now more than ever. Thanks for everything, Tim Russert.