First off, here is the last NBC blog. I know, I was as tired of reminding you to read it every month as you were of not reading it! (KEEDING, but of course. *exaggerated bow*)
So I've been gone for awhile because...all of last week, I was in LA having my butt alternately patted and handed to me, doing comedy in and around the fine city.
If this epic-length (seriously, don't read all of it, thanks. It's A LOT OF NAME DROPPINGS. I'm warning you...) entry reeks a bit of sour grapes, it's because my mother gave me some for lunch recently. Literally. She affectionately gave me a napkin full of washed rotten grapes a few mornings ago as I was leaving for work.
There's nothing that says, "I've missed you. It's nice to have you back" like fermented fruit globes. I'm not sure what the underlying message was, but I'm pretty sure it might have been, "Do whine over spoiled grapes because they already smell like wine (minus the refined aging process *titter*)." Oh, and yes, I tried drinking them but they spat tartness at me.
Also FYI, I took zero pictures when I was in LA though I had my digital camera on me at all times (and no, not my cellphone camera! A real, live digital camera with a nylon tail). That's called good preparation, poor execution. That could sum up half my life. The other half would be poor preparation, mediocre execution. Can you tell I'm on an ego roll today? Anyway, on with the recap.
What a sprawling city! Seriously, look at all that sprawl.
photo courtesy of Flickr and kla4067
Comic boyfie and I land in the City of Dark Angels after a relatively long but slumber-filled plane ride in which he sat (one row behind me) next to someone smelly and I sat next to this girl who wouldn't let boyfie change places with her because she had to have the aisle seat. Then she spent most of the flight looking at photos of her boyfriend on her cellphone. I wanted to say, "MUST BE NICE HAVING HIS FACE VIRTUALLY SO CLOSE TO YOURS!!!" But I try to keep up appearances of good breeding, so I instead seethed and hissed under my breath.
After we got in our rental car, we attempted to utilize the skillz of the GPS device my dad packed for us, but it kept calculating us as still being in Virginia. Problemo. Then we realized the little antenna wasn't up, and we were dumb. After that, smooth sailing! But for a few minutes, it was madness and sheer, sexy tourist terror (think Hostel but less blood).
GPS, you are a route-calculating fiend!
photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Anyway, so after some settling in at the hotel and whatnot, we went to a vegan Thai lunch! *twirl* We got fake meat in our curries, which made the stomachs give little contented sighs (not farts) and high-five each other. The waitress was this button-cute old lady who I mention because she plays a role later in the story.
That night we went to see a Groundlings show called Voyage to the Bottom of the Sunday, which was excellent. How excellent? Well, well-written, well-performed, well-crafted, and well-executed. How do you like them Snapples? Some of my favorite sketches included a parody of The Hills, these bagel bite sample servers at a Costco/Sam's Club, these two awkward girl twins (Masha & Dasha), and this spontaneous tipsy dancing guy. Between every four or five sketches, two players would do an improv set. All the players were young, hip, hilarious, and fun. Then we went to IO West to try and catch a late-night lottery open mike but it was canceled so we sat in on an improv hodgepodge show for a bit instead. Then, to bed!
LA Factoid #1: It's not always that warm in LA. The entire week we were there it was actually in the low 60s (Fahrenheit and balanced). That's jacket weather! And not just fashion jacket...practical body sack-et!
Monday started out nice and slow. We woke up respectably early enough to use our complimentary breakfast voucher, and, in what would become a pattern for the rest of the trip, we ate our morning meal exactly as Live with Regis & Kelly was ending and The View was starting. They had these little baby omelettes, which I hoarded, as well as an interesting assortment of cereals which I enjoyed mixing past recognition.
Then later, we met up with my good comedian/actress friend Hari for some delicious Mexican food and catch-ups, and then that night, after a superb Italian meal complete with a cheeky waiter, boyfie had his first comedy moment in LA at this bar called Cuba Libre for a show called What's Up, Tiger Lily? A bunch of people came into the venue shortly before showtime specifically for the show. Regular comedy fans? Shocking!
The audience was kind enough and so were the comics, and boyfie received plenty of huzzahs and hurrahs all around despite having to go up first right after the MC, a personably witty gent named Ed Salazar. Yay boyfie! Most of the comics had ties to areas outside LA, and some had ties to VA and DC, so they threw some knowing winks in our direction. T.J. Miller was also on the show and lots of other funny folk such as Melinda Hill, Ron Babcock, Matt Peters, and Duncan Trussell. We would also learn there were hardcore comedy fans who we would see at repeat shows throughout the week. What's a comedy scene without scenesters?
LA Factoid #2: Rather than wasting time waiting behind cars in LA traffic, motorcyle riders shimmy right up next to them and weaving around and through both the dawdling and speedy autos all willy-nilly. I guess they like to live dangerously though, to be fair, they all wear helmets. Phew!
Tuesday started out proper enough. After our morning with The View divas and trying out the hotel gym, we took off for Santa Monica to have lunch with my friend Adam, who works at a production company. He took us to this vegan/organic food restaurant where everything was healthier and wealthier than thou. I had to go to a meeting after that, but boyfie and I got stuck in such horrible traffic (a chaotic staple of LA society) that I had to reschedule the meeting and beat my chest in anguish.
Here is a view of the beach in Santa Monica, which we did not see, but it was geographically near us when we had lunch with Adam, so there.
photo courtesy of Flickr and Spoon Monkey
Later that night, after disturbingly good sushi (I keep namedropping meals so you get a sense of the variety of cuisine we sampled. This is for no reason except to be annoying), boyfie had to go do a show at the LA Improv while I went to go watch the Comedy Death Ray show at UCB theater. Hari got me in as a guest and I even got to meet the show organizers (B.J. and Scott), which was nothing short of fabulous.
The show was exquisite and was hosted by R.O. Manse (an '80s British music pop icon character played by Chip Pope), Kyle Kinane (who I have never seen before but he's AMAZING), Paul Rust as this observational comic named Matthew von Rieberg who has a mental breakdown (completely BRILLO), Bob Odenkirk, Janeane Garofalo, and Matt Besser as this Russian character comic.
Boyfie and I were then on the show directly following CDR, which is called See You Next Tuesday. I just found out the show officially ended this week, so we were on the second to last one ever! It was somewhat intimidating as Aziz Ansari was on the line-up, as well as other nuggets of goodness like Melinda Hill and Andrew Donnelly (who did some marvelous crowdwork with an audience crazy). Boyfie did great, but the crowd was just not that into me, plus I think I had a bit of a mental chokefest. It was somewhat traumatizing to do bad at a place that is iconic in front of hardcore comedy fans, but it was also somewhat liberating (just not at the time). I was a bit cold-souled after that, and boyfie had to give me some shoulder rubs so I could feel my sense of humor again. But there were lots of people who said nice things to me after the show including Eddie Pepitone!! *eye twinkle*
LA Factoid #3: It's not always sunny in LA. One day we got sprinkles and other days, there was definite cloudage.
We visited the bookshop where my friend Hari worked today. It was the cutest little bookstore you could ever imagine. We also slept through breakfast. I am already out of order. I went to my rescheduled meeting, and it was all fancy, official, and professional.
After getting stuck in traffic for two hours and getting lost, I discovered a park behind Hari's bookstore with a fountain and a scenic bridge and everything. I made boyfie walk in it with me.
I found photo documentation of the park!
photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Then boyfie and I went to Pasadena for an evening show at the Ice House as part of a taping for this company called Comedy Time. First, we had Indian food though. All the other comics on the line up were pros who had been doing it a lot longer than we had such as Larry Omaha. I was so super nervous for the show as my Tuesday show had been significantly short of smooth and comfortable. But first, we had to tell some short jokes in front of the camera before the audience got there, and that kind of loosened us up a little. Then the actual show wasn't bad at all! The audience was super nice, all the comics were civil, and even though most of them were killing and thrilling, boyfie and I both did just fine!
LA Factoid #4: There is occasionally a drug bust in LA; we witnessed the beginning of one.
On the day before Friday, we met up with my friend Cissy, who I know from improv back in DC, for a Thai lunch (it's never a bad Thai-me). She is the funnest and the funniest. Also she is a professional nanny so she takes care of a baby all day, so the baby came to lunch with us! The baby wore tiny glasses and laughed more than any other baby I've ever met, and that's a fact. She even laughed at jokes that weren't funny. What a charmer!
That night, Hari and her friend Susan (collectively known as The Country Club) were putting on a stand up show at the bookstore where she works, and boyfie and I were both on it. The show was fan-flipping-tasty-tic. It was one of the best shows I did in LA. The line up was intimate and fun, including Jonah Ray, Dave Ciaccio, Emily Maya Mills (I just discovered her! She's a genius!), Hugh Moore, boyfie, and I, plus a sketch occurring in between bits by Hari, Susan, Randy Liedtke, and Davey Johnson (two hysterical doodes). This show was a great time, and the audience was wonderful, and wine and cheese was served, and all was just lovely.
Afterward, Hari, B.J. (who watched the whole show!), boyfie, and I, plus Hari's director friend Ben went over to her place to play Taboo, which is a highly underrated game. Boyfie and I lost soundly to Hari and B.J. I was bringing down the team. Also Taco Bell leaves something to be desired when there is no Fire Sauce involved.
LA Factoid #5: There are lots of independent businesses in LA, many of which are donut shops. I still haven't tried an LA donut. Woe is me. I do recommend the thrift stores. Delicious threads!
Here's what I was missing out on...nom nom nom!
photo courtesy of Flickr and jslander
Friday, already Friday, you scalloped potatoes! Boyfie and I woke up early because we were going to shoot an episode of a web series that Hari and Susan do together called Send More Money starring celebutantes Katia Goldblum and Rachella Scorsese, shot and edited by Benjamin Martin, and also sometimes, Dave Ciaccio. View past episodes here. So we shot an episode as special guest stars, and the wonderful Emily Maya Mills (from the bookstore show!) stopped by as well. It was the most fun ever had, possibly ever. Then I had a taped meeting where I was supposed to just have fun, but I'm not sure if that happened or not. Vague instructions!
Later that night, boyfie and I went to a booked open mic that we thought started earlier than it actually did so we didn't get to actually go up (this is an example of poor preparation, poor execution actually), but then we went to a fun monthly show called Hub Bub at the Knitting Factory in downtown Hollywood. It is a show that is put on by the People's Republic of Komedy, which is a contingent of comedians originally started in Seattle, with branches now in Seattle, NY, and LA. It was cool because Cissy and her roommate Julia (also from improv in DC) came out to watch, as did my old college bud Fred who brought his buddies (some of them also from college).
The show was amazing, and Randy and this other guy, Tony Sam, hosted. They also did time in between people's sets, and lots of zany jokesters were on including Andy Peters, Erik Charles Nielsen, Pete Holmes, boyfie, and I. John Sanders was also one the of the show organizers, but he didn't go up that night due to work conflicts. He's great though. Boyfie did a lot better than me at this show too! He is good at getting those crowds. The crowd was somewhat noisy for me, but they were still nice enough. I should learn to yell more. Or swell. One or the other seems to get attention. If I could puff out my cheeks real big, that would get 'em, p-haps.
"So happy to be here, folks! No, really! Ignore my face."
photo courtesy of Hub Bub and Heather Landis
LA Factoid #6: There are many ethic subareas in LA including, among others, Thai Town, Koreatown, and Little Armenia.
Almost last day in LA! How time fries! Today was spent being a bit mopey about the Hub Bub show with boyfie trying to make my self-esteem do pull-ups and push-ups mostly. But we did go back to vegan Thai dinner with old lady princess-muffin! I told you she'd reappear in this story. Not a lot of payoff, huh? I get that a lot!
Then at night, I had to go host the Improv, and guess who was on the line-up?! Iliza Shlesinger, winner of the most recent Last Comic Standing! Whoa whoa. She was quite nice in person. Her routine was also very polished and smooth. Other funny folk on the bill were Mo Mandel, Matt Fulchiron, and the headliner, Elon Gold. They were all kind enough as was the Improv manager. Too bad I bombed seriously as the MC. Blank stares on the house. Leave your career at the door. Tip your hat and go! It was scarily bad. I think the earlier parts of the week were just a teaser for the #1 bad show of the week! Whooooo! (And the crowd goes wild...ly silent).
Then I went to go pick boyfie up at this show called Comedy Meltdown he was watching at this comic book store. It was still going in full force when I showed up eating a bowl of sad pudding. The host Blaine Capatch was a swell guy who I met the last time I was in LA, and he remembered me! Tout sweet! And some of the kids I caught onstage were real dream machines: Matt Braunger, Chris Hardwick (of the duo Hard 'N Phirm), Jonah Ray, and Natasha Leggero (who is teacup-sized). I sadly missed one of my favorites, Jen Kirkman, who boyfie caught earlier in the night.
Then we went off to my last show of LA, The Tomorrow Show, which is a midnight variety show (with a focus on comedy) at the Steve Allen Theater, and I also did it the last time I was in LA (February). The comedy was non-stop in this town, plus a lot of people from the comic book store also showed up at this show!
This show was a real fun time. The theater was packed out. It was my favorite show after the bookstore. I was smitten with pretty much every act. Ron Lynch, the show organizer who I had met before, and Laura Kightlinger hosted, laidback and comfy. The acts were amazing. First, a band called J.P. Cregan (faboo), then Charlyne Yi (and Michael Cera, her bf, was there to see her, eek!), then Ron Babcock (fooonny), then me (who had fun finally!), Kate Micucci (an adorable songbird and pianist), Ed Hoffman (did this crazy amazing comedy character act), Jay London (LOVEEEEEEEE), Randy L. and Davey J. did a sketch, Melinda Hill (three times in one week, I'm not worthy!), and T.J. Miller capped it out! It was great fun and a perfect way to end the week. Afterward, Davey's car was having coolant problems so boyfie and I drove him, Randy, and Susan to the gas station to get coolant, riffing along the way. Fun buns. Then we bade farewellz.
LA Factoid #7: There is so much traffic in LA, at so many different times of the day and in so many areas, that it deserves its own fact.
I told you there was traffic, but you wouldn't listen!
photo courtesy of Flickr and respres
Today boyfie and I went home to DC after saying goodbye to Hari and eating bad fast-foo's Mex in the LAX airport! I checked out, checked in, took off my shoes, put them back on, slept, drooled, did a crossword, and watched part of Wall-E without sound, not necessarily in that order, but probably so. The end.
LA Factoid #8: There are people in LA who will not talk to you if you do not look famous or cool enough. There are also plenty of nice people.