Friday, January 07, 2011


I've done OK for a comic who doesn't want to leave the Bay Area. A few years ago, I started getting lots of people asking me for advice on Riffing. It's the one thing I do better than most everyone else. It’s taken me some years to proudly and honestly state that, without following it up with some sarcastic, self-deprecating comment. The truth is I am a damn good comic, who has a great skill. I also believe that in a field where a lot of people charge a lot of money for something they aren't doing themselves, I charge a fair price for imparting my accumulated knowledge.

I started teaching classes on riffing, with the understanding that I couldn't make anyone funnier; I just gave them a basic understanding of what happens when a comic is flying without a net. Those went over really well. I also learned I’m a pretty good teacher. In fact, it’s something I’ve come to enjoy as much as performing. I can also say that with a degree of sincere humility, and mean it.

I think if you're going to learn to do anything - car repair, computer work, or comedy – you’ll learn more from someone who’s not only already working in that field, but thriving in it. If you want to lean the tools for riffing, I can explain them to you. I’m a working stand-up, who’s known for riffing. I can't think of a better sales pitch than that. If you want more proof, check out this video clip.

My riffing class is happening at Rooster T. Feathers on Saturday, January, 29th from 1-4PM.

It costs $80 per person. Click here for more details.

Doing anything for eighteen years not only means you pick up a lot of information, it also means that, like any relationship, you’ll go through periods where you’re just not feeling it. If I had to describe my comedy style, it would be storytelling. The bit that got me on Comedy Central’s, “Live at Gotham” was a story about a homeless man and a pigeon.

There are plenty of standups who crave more expression, and they usually go into solo performance, one-person shows. I still love standup, but I saw the limitations of what could be expressed on stage, in a comedy club. I wanted to tell the backstories of how jokes evolved and were formed. Early in my comedy career, when I was on the road constantly, I hit a cow in the Utah desert. It is, I think, an amazing story that’s become the central story of who I am as a comic. I told it on stage one night when I was feeling cocky, and wanted to impress a girl in the audience. It destroyed. That’s when I decided I had to try something that sounded simple: storytelling.

Somewhere between the plastic, used-car-salesman delivery of dick jokes, and the over-emotional, over-choreographed blocking of a solo performance, there’s the middle ground: Storytelling. Along with a friend, I created a show called “Previously Secret Information”. Right from the start, it did well. The next time we put up PSI, it also did well; and the time after that, and the time after that one, too. At this point, it’s safe to say this isn't a fluke. We’re onto something audiences are hungry for. It’s bare and raw, hilarious, and starkly poignant at times; simply great stories, told well, by people and performers who know how to tell a story. People started asking about classes. At first I thought, “I’m not qualified to teach something I’m relatively new at.” Once again, friends reminded me that I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I’ve been a comic. Not to mention, I started a new show, from scratch, in San Francisco – that’s succeeded more quickly than any show anyone’s seen in a long time. The press likes us, and each person who comes walks away wanting to help promote, create or contribute to it in some way. Another sign that we’re onto something!

Long story short, I’m starting a three-week class in the art and performance of storytelling. Let me be clear about what this isn't. There will be no writing exercises or endless improv games, or a lot of discussion about what your feelings really mean, man. A great story has all those components, and I can help people uncover those, but instead of working along the edges of something I want to jump right in and work to get all those things out of your story, with your story. It just makes sense. I’ve learned, and I think you will, too, that telling a great story is not telling it, but performing it. Memorizing words off a page doesn't make it come alive; it only makes you sound like you're reciting what may have been an amazing personal tale. My storytelling class is all about the mechanics of being on stage. You won't be telling your story. You’ll be performing it. That’s what a live audience wants, and that’s’ what you’ll learn to give them.

Here are the details on my storytelling class.

Saturday afternoons 12-3PM

March 19th, March 26th & April 2nd.

$300 Per Person

at StageWerx Theater

More details on the class? Click the link bellow.

January Gigs

1/10 Little Fox Theater

Redwood City, CA

1/12 Bawdy Storytelling Show

“Sex Wonk”

San Francisco

1/14 Sketchfest/ PorchLight

1/15 “Mahitopalooza”

Scholarship Fundraiser Show

1/16 Previously Secret Information

StageWerx, San Francisco

1/17 SF Sketchfest

1/24 Punch Line

San Francisco, CA


The Romane Event

San Francisco


1/28 Ukiah Comedy Show

Ukiah, CA

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

"The End 2.0"

Have you heard that the world will start to end on May 21? Yup. Some Christian with radio stations is letting people know that, after studying the Bible for most of his life, he’s found the exact date that Jesus will return, and the end will start. Awesome. Maybe now I’ll stop getting ads for those Christian dating sites. After all, if the end is only five months away, why get married?

Here’s the thing: he already said the end was coming, back in the 90's. And was wrong. Surprise, the world is still here. Can you imagine being in that room at the end of that day?

"Does that mean I have to pay for all the stuff I put on my credit cards, now?"

In a testament to how badly people need something to reach for in these difficult times, his radio empire of Christian messages has grown. That’s right, he set a date for the end of the world; was wrong; and now has five times the followers he had, since being wrong and looking stupid!

His excuse: “I must of gotten the math wrong.”

If you haven't read anything but the Bible for fifty years, you might want to pick up a book on math, I guess. Either that, or you're just wrong. What’s truly amazing are the people he’s inspired to drive around in motor homes, warning other people that the end is coming. I bet that’s a real joyride!

Instead of driving around helping people (like Jesus might have done) they’re letting people know the end is coming. Sort of the spiritual equivalent of throwing all your pants away, then just walking around in sweats. Why bother? Jesus is coming back. Screw the diet!

Two things come to mind right away when I hear this.

First, Jesus isn't coming. I’ll grant you, there most likely was a man born in the Middle East, who preached a message of love rather than a vengeful God’s wrath; and, he was likely put to death for rousing the local population. But that’s it. If you want me to believe Jesus was the actual son of God, then I still don't think he’s coming back. And here’s why: I'm still mad at my Dad for making me shovel the neighbors’ driveways during winter. Do you really think Jesus is over his issues with his Dad, after being sent to die on a cross? There must be some really awkward holiday dinner moments, in Heaven.

It’s funny to me that Christians put such a huge emphasis on the family, when Jesus comes from not just a broken home, but an abusive, messed-up, white-trash-sounding home. Where’s Mom in all of this? What kind of a control-freak Dad tells his only son that he has a special job for him - like being put to death for ALL the sins of mankind. All the sins? When I was growing up, we were told in Catholic school that even thinking about committing a sin, was a sin. You're telling me that three days was enough to cover the summer when I found those Playboy magazines in my friend’s backyard? I'm pretty sure those thoughts were blueprints for sins.

Anyway, the second reason the world isn't ending is that everyone who ever predicted the end of the world, has always been wrong. Always. We are, after all, still here. The latest craze was the Mayan calendar prediction. The Mayan prediction didn't even say it was an end, it just said, “Hey, this is when you start the calendar over.” But since we seem obsessed with the world coming to an end, people spread the message that the world is ending. It seems a little silly to give the Mayans that much power to predict the end of the entire world, when they couldn't see the end of their own culture coming.

Don't fall for yet another end-of-the-world story. I’m still going through bottled water and canned food from my Y2K emergency kit.

Of course, if the world DID come to end, like Hollywood and hippies have imagined, that would be totally cool, too! Giant earthquakes, tidal waves and UFO's: Awesome!

You could talk to people from all over time, in heaven. A caveman and a Roman soldier could tell you about their deaths, "I fell off the back of a woolly mammoth onto my spear." "I got drunk and picked a fight with someone." Then they ask you, “How did you die?"

"Oh me? Just The End."

You would be totally popular.

If this guy turns out to be wrong, I want a public apology, not another ”I guess I'm bad with math” bullshit excuse. They’re a Christian group, that’s spent a lot of money on billboards, to tell people “give up”, when they could be, oh I don't know, feeding the poor. I would say, “Take away their tax-exempt status!” But they aren't a church. They are a Christian broadcasting network, run for profit. Religion run for profit is not religion. It’s a business. And business is good, because too many of these people made these times bad, by running the government into the ground with Y1K thinking.

I’d like to see their contracts. I’m curious if they expire on May 21st.

If Jesus does show up to greet this loon’s followers, I hope it’s just to slap his face in front of them, remove the Bible from his hand, and replace it with something harmless like Dr. Seuss. Then, Jesus could turn to this guy’s audience and say "Really? You listen to people like this? I hope you kept your credit card payments current this time. P.S. - my Dad is a dick!"