comedyWombFlyer_finalOn Tuesday night I helped to facilitate the first Comedy Womb workshop. I had to drop by to get the new posters, and flyers, from a print shop and ended up being late to the workshop. Which was incredibly unprofessional, but to be fair, I wasn’t being paid. Thanks goodness for comic-to-be Sadie Blake, who stepped up and took over the task of ice breaking with the two other workshop attendees. Yes, there were only three attendees so it was an incredibly focused workshop. We ran through their bits, and talked about the basic mechanics of an open mic, and doing a three minute set. Then the incredible Leah Mansfield showed up to share her experiences in comedy. It was quite the enlightening evening. I was in nodding mode, and I wish there could have been more comics at my level there. Everything Leah said struck home with me. It is all about working on your material on stage. Tighening it up. Cutting out the fat. Getting to the laughs. She also had some behind the scenes perspective as well. I feel fortunate that I am starting in Seattle. The scene is incredibly supportive. I am just hoping to be a productive part, and get funnier.

Leah is going to send some notes, which I will post, once they arrive in my email box.

Right now I am working on a bit about an experience I had last Friday where I witnessed a car accident through the window at Denny’s. It was intense. I was transfixed while trying to maintain calm. There was nothing I could do that wasn’t already being done by someone outside. Then after about a minute and a half of watching, the guy at the table next to me says, “Bored now.” and returned to his electronic device. Outloud. Like it was just a tv show. The driver of the car that had been hit hadn’t even emerged from the car. I couldn’t believe that he said that. My bit is about what other sorts of things bore the “Bored Now” guy. Then I moved into how I hope my children don’t turn into “Bored Now” people. How Youtube and technology is affecting our brains. I wish I had recorded my set the first time I did it. I have to admit that I have not being writing them out. I have been memorizing them by practicing them orally. When I write things out they get huge, and cumbersome, and I tend to memorize verbatim instead of leaving room for the audience to influence the outcome. I am not sure if this is a good thing, or a bad thing. I am still learning, but I find I get more laughs if I pay attention to the audience, instead of relying on a completely honed script. I am sure my bits will become more honed as I continue to do them. I am also asking other comics to watch and tear apart my performances. It is hard, but good. I want to get better at this. I don’t want to quit because I reached a certain level of mediocrity. I am going out to open mics three nights a week. I don’t think I am making waves, but I am starting to see a difference in my performances. The first week of April is going to be crazy for me. I have the first Comedy Womb, a ten minute set for a fundraiser, and then my first comedy competition at Comedy on Trial. I have to put together something tight and awesome for that. Maybe it is my slam background, but I like the feeling of being challenged. We will see how I feel after the fact. It is all stage time, and right now that is what I need.

Check out the new Comedy Womb website: Comedy Womb

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I have felt a lot of guilt related to getting on the open mic lately. Also for the showcase, and another show that I have asked to be on. I travel in a cohort with some very funny men. Guys who do this three and four times a week sometimes. I try to get out two times a week. I am as dedicated as I can be. When I get up every time I go to the Underground, I think, this is definitely a woman thing. I started the Comedy Womb to even up the ratios, but I can’t imagine what it must be like to just be another dude. How do you rise above all that. How do you set yourself apart from all the dick jokes, and the observations any guy could make? I do have a different perspective. One that is supplied by the fact that I am not a man. Though I did spend most of my life hanging out with guys. It is where I feel most comfortable. Maybe that is why I am not intimidated by hanging out in the back with all the other comics. I don’t feel…apart. I feel a part of it. Sure I get treated a little differently due to my divergent tackle (read: vagina), but in the end I care about comedy just as much as they do, and they see that. I am there to be funny. To get the laughs. To write, and to learn, and to practice. I want to be getting up because I am good, not because I am a woman. It is hard for me to reconcile this. The Comedy Womb has reserved spots for women. I am not going to be putting people up just because they are female, but I am trying to start a movement where a diversity of voices are respresented. Dick jokes are comedy, and I do love them, but they are not everything. I don’t know what is going to come of the Comedy Womb. I am hella excited to find out.

In the last week I have done my first showcase, done my first guest spot on the same show as headliner Kristin Key, stayed so late I saw the comics get nutty and weird, and some of them awesome at the Underground on Monday, and then yesterday I went up at CC Attles, a bear bar, with an open mic run by Emmett Montgomery. It was a tough room. I was terrified. There wasn’t a dedicated audience, but I went on stage and I captured the attention of some of the bar crowd. I got off stage feeling exhilirated. That is how I know I love this. I just keep trying.

Next week the Comedy Womb workshops start. The ball starts rolling, and hopefully it doesn’t crush me, or block any important exits…

Last night I took part in my first comedy showcase at the Wild Rose. When I first saw my picture on the poster I was sure it was a mistake. No one had asked me. I sent off an awkward message asking if I was on the show. They responded by tagging my picture on the Facebook group, and then I started freaking out. I had to fill some time. I didn’t know how much, and didn’t want to ask, for fear that they would realized they hadn’t actually asked me, and decide that I wasn’t ready. I didn’t feel ready. I have been doing comedy since October 3rd. That is five months. I don’t know where the time went. I love it. I love being surrounded by people who look at the world a little differently. Who are always trying to find the humour in the day to day. Who tell jokes. Who self deprecate. Who are weird, and wonderful. I don’t know how many times I have been on the mic. An average of once or twice a week, maybe. So maybe sixteen times. It was time to move up to doing more. I didn’t know it. I spent all yesterday working out my set in my head. Flipping around the bits, trying to build segues for the stories. Trying to connect the dots. I ended up talking about:

-The wisdom of this hair cut: which involves talking about how my husband told me I looked like a man, just before we were about to have sex, just after I said this thing, “With the new hair, and the new glasses, isn’t it like having sex with another woman?” Hilarious in retrospect. At the time it definitely made me cry.

This led into my Corey Feldman bit

-My son always finds pictures of his father, and points to them and says Daddy, but there isn’t a picture in the house of me looking like I do now. So when he found my copy of the 80’s classic, Stand By Me, on DVD and brought it to me (I brought the DVD on stage and they were laughing before I even got to the punch line) and pointed at a young Corey Feldman, and said, “Mommy”, I said, yep, that’s mommy, because frankly, a young Corey Feldman is prettier than me.

Then I cut to talking about how I hate telemarketers

-I can’t not answer the phone. So I have had to give the State Troopers 15 dollars twice. I joked that that is like extortion, because they have guns, and by this logic they should be offering me protection right, from deportation if I speed? I talked about how sometimes I pretend to be a child on the phone to get them to hang up on me, because I can’t hang up on someone.

then I moved into the Xfinity bit

-A woman comes to the door of my house, asks me if my parents are in, and then proceeds to insult me multiple times. I finally shut the door on her (which is worse than hanging up on someone) when she said, “Well it looks like your husband is in charge here.”

-My closer is about how I just started going to therapy. How I was terrified I was going to suck at it. How my therapist told me I wasn’t on stage, but that there was only one slot left. So it was more like an audition. I am addicted to therapy. Then I went to how my friend’s girlfriend has a 900 dollar pair of shoes. If I had 900 dollars of disposable income, what would I do? More therapy. For eight hours straight, so I could learn how to not pick up the phone when the State Troopers call. It would save money in the end.

The rest of the show was populated by incredible people. Anita Goodman, Kay Redden, Kayla Ruth, Dwayne Paul Cullen, with feature, Peggy Platt, and host Billy Anderson. It was amazing to share the stage with them. The crowd was great, and very responsive to most everyone. I really love doing comedy. I want to be good at it. I want to keep working.

I also had a talk with Seattle’s Emmett Montgomery who wanted to hash out some of the concerns he has with my Comedy Womb show. He was very helpful, and helped me realized that making the open mic comics pay to play was a bad idea. Now all I have to do is find comics for the open mic, and an audience. Back to work now.

Things have been going fairly well on and off the mic this week in my comedy adventure. I got up and did the pope/valentine’s day joke at the Underground on Monday, and I was the only one two address either topic. I got some laughs, and a compliment from a new to Seattle comic from Washington, DC. Guess he was impressed by the fact that I was being topical. Which I very rarely am. I am terrified of not quite comprehending the political climate here. I know in Seattle that it is similar to moderate Canada, but I don’t want to do something and have them misunderstand me, or not understand at all. I do mention that I am Canadian quite often in my bits. Usually in reference to something polite, or apologetic that I’ve done. Last night I went up at Scratch Deli after a semi strip tease by Linnas Phillips which was hilarious, but also unintentionally penis-show-y. I went up and immediately dealt with the fact that I did not have a penis to show them, apologized, and said that I did not have penis envy, though, but Linnas (pronounced linnus) envy. It got a big laugh, but it went fairly downhill from there. I talked about the way I get rid of telemarketers by using a child’s voice, and how that shouldn’t work at the front door, because on Wednesday a solicitor from Xfinity came to my door, and when I answered (after the three minute prerequesite wait just in case in was a package) and there was still someone standing there, and then she said, “Are your parents home?” Well that needed telling. I still have to figure out where the funny is in it, and I think I will try it again on Tuesday at an open mic I haven’t had a chance to go up on.

After booking Jen Seaman for my first show in April, she sent me an invite on Facebook to a Lady Comedy Brunch for the Northwest Pacific area. I am pretty excited about it. Nervous. Will I be able to hold my own in a room full of intelligent and humourous women. I hope so. Mostly I am excited because I will get to ask them what they think about the Comedy Womb, and what I can do to make it work. I love being a part of this community. Last night I had the chance to hang out with my comedy cohort, Randy Wood, Isaac Novak, and Brian Haigh. They started just a bit before me, but have been so incredibly welcoming. Isaac is designing the logo for the Comedy Womb (for laughter and beer money), Randy is talking up the womb at the college he works at, and Brian bought the rights to comedywomb.com for five years. That boggles my mind. The belief in this project, in my ability to get it started and keep it going, makes it a lot easier to believe in it myself. There are so many wonderful shows going on in Seattle, and I am hoping that mine will be a compliment to what is already out there. A place to gather female comics and get them comfortable and then send them out to the other open mics.

This week I will be doing comedy Tuesday, and also talking to another organizer in town, and then on Thursday I will be going to this party, (https://www.facebook.com/events/506441852728389/?sid=0.021437925519421697b)pitching the Comedy Womb idea in order to get a micro-grant from the Awesome Foundation. All of the money will be going straight into the project. I am not allowed to make money, or accept money due to my immigrant status, and so Brian is going to be handling all that as well. Mind boggling. I can’t wait until the ball really starts rolling.

While I was getting ready this morning I was listening to NPR. I have been wanting to do some current, and perhaps more political comedy, of late. My life has not exactly been providing me with comedy gold in the last week. Thus I am trying to find the frame that makes what I heard this morning, funny. Pope Benedict is leaving the papacy. What I have for that.

“Who here thinks that the Pope leaving the papacy just before April is kind of like breaking up with your significant other just before Valentine’s Day? A really good idea.”

I am hoping that this is funny. Mostly because everyone expects a married woman to be into Valentine’s Day. I mean what’s not to like, right? You get appreciated, and loved…for a day. I have never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Too much pressure. I would rather be surprised with a Twix bar on some random day (I don’t actually like Twix bars, but it’s what I thought of first) that shows me that you were thinking of me, than having you remember that you love me on a day that is pre-written. Or even worse…you forget, and then have to apologize profusely. Nope. Not into it. I am going to look up the rate of reported break ups just before Valentine’s Day, and maybe riff on that for a bit. I imagine that, being topical, most comedians will be doing something about either event, but hopefully not connecting the two. Being original is difficult in comedy. I am always terrified that I am going to steal someone’s joke. I try to research anything that might have been thought of before. Which is why I like personal stories. How many people have been pregnant and then hit a pregnant deer with their car? Not a lot I bet. I have…and while it was NOT funny at the time. In retrospect, the series of actions that I took post that event were comical. I am planning to tell that story on the mic around Mother’s Day, because that is when that happened, and it has finally been long enough that I feel comfortable telling it with a humourous twinge. I really like Marc Maron’s insistence that traumatic events “have to be funny”…otherwise how do we get through it all.

I also saw Todd Glass on Saturday night. The funniest thing about that show was Ian Carmel. A comic out of Portland. That and our accidental seat mates. Watching comedy with strangers can be awkward, and since Todd Glass was sold out we were sat with another couple. I forced an introduction A 21 year old woman(fine arts student), and her 30 year old boyfriend(nice guy, works at a power plant)…of three months. He was in Tacoma looking for work so they could move out, together. The optimism of that really overwhelmed me. I am hoping to talk about that tonight as well. Three minutes isn’t a lot of time, but I want to fill it with at least one interesting anecdote.

In Comedy Womb news: I booked the whole first show. I have an awesome host, Aisha Farhoud. Well she hasn’t hosted before, but that is what I love about this thing. Challenging people to do new things. Jen Seaman is going to feature. (She also invited me to a lady comedy brunch, which makes me giddy with excitement. I cannot wait to hang out with the funny women of the Pacific Northwest…and have muffins and mimosas). I have three 5 minute sets on the show as well, for which I have booked to hilarious young comics, Erin McSmith and Evangeline Spracklin and a member of my comedy cohort, Randy Wood. Now all I have to do is get at least ten new female comics out on the open mic portion and I will have achieved my goals for that night. Small achievable goals. Right.

Yesterday I got a call back from the Rendezvous, and they are putting the Comedy Womb downstairs in The Grotto starting on April 2nd. Once it starts I have four weeks to prove myself. To get new female comics out and on the mic, to build an audience, to cultivate a space where people want to come to try new things. First I have to put together the workshop series for March, and get some fresh comics for the open mic. Today I am having a load of doubts. Of course. Shit just got real, yo. Thank Carlin I have this outpouring of support from people who believe that I can do this. I just need to refocus. Get my head back in the game.

I have been going to open mics pretty religiously for the last little while. Hitting up both Mondays at the Comedy Underground, and Fridays at Scratch Deli. They both have such different vibes. I do love both of them. At the Comedy Underground I feel like a comic, and I often hang out the back and listen to the others talk, and the list master even knows my name. If I am going to make a name for myself it is likely to be there. Scratch Deli (formerly PROK) has been packed every week, and standing room only. You can see the audience and look them in the eye. I feel braver there. I do things I wouldn’t normally do. It was there I debuted my super mom bit, my stand by me bit, and my pregnancy test bit. Once I have worked something out at Scratch Deli I might bring it over to the Comedy Underground.

Yesterday I got a call back from a venue that I am very excited about. I had written up a real proposal and sent it, with fingers crossed, and they got back to me in one day. The venue manager said she was “very excited” about my idea of a female focused, weekly comedy open mic. Right now I am waiting to call her back to talk logistics. I was shaking I was so excited yesterday. Once I secure a venue this becomes real. I can start booking comics, promoting the workshops, and get a logo designed. I want to light a fire under the media too, and get some attention for the open mic, and the Seattle comedy scene in general. I want to be a complement to the open mic scene and not a scene stealer. I am going to have to figure out how to find that balance.

Last night I got a chance to hang out with one of my favourite open mic comics, and she, yes she, was incredibly awesome, even off the stage. We talked about some of the pitfalls and benefits of being a woman in comedy. She has been doing it since 2011, and I won’t mention her name because comedy is her secret. I tell everyone I am doing stand up because it is so much easier to explain than being a spoken word artist who slammed, was. I say “I’m trying stand up”, and I get, “Wow, that’s cool!” or “Aren’t you terrified?” No one has asked me to tell them a joke yet. I couldn’t anyway. I don’t do jokes. I am straight up observational comedy. Still I might try it. I’ve been watching a few of the comics getting out of their comfort zone. Last night I watched Erik Lundquist, a very young comic, come up with a whole new set because he offended someone at the last Jai Thai open mic with a bit about wanting to be a woman. It was brilliant, and I think a good example of  what audience feedback does. I love his bit about wanting to be a woman, and I wish I could have been there to temper whatever it was that happened, but I wasn’t, and I think he is going to come out on the other side of this a more evolved and aware comic. I am terrified of being heckled. I am not sure I would know what to do. I am not mean by nature. Or maybe I have that in me, and it would come out, and I wouldn’t be able to put it back in. I am not certain. I don’t want to find out anytime soon.

I am really lucky to have some staunch supporters in the Comedy Womb’s corner. Now all I have to do is make the call. Secure a venue. Then get this baby started.