Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Three O'Clock Call

In the 90's, if you were a stand-up comic in San Francisco, this is how you got on the much coveted Monday night showcase at Cobb's. At 3PM, where ever you were and whatever you were doing, you stopped, got to a phone and dialed the number to Cobb's comedy club. Almost instantly you would hear a busy signal. You knew that all over town, every one of your friends who was a comic was doing the same thing. If you had a day job and worked in a office, you took advantage of the numerous lines you could dial out on at once. If you had roommates who were comics and there was a house phone you all shared, you flipped a coin to see who would go first. If it was close to 3 and you saw a phone booth, you got to it, dialed popcorn to make sure you weren't dialing too soon, and then waited with your quarters to start dialing. I left the end of movies early to make the call. I got into fights with girlfriends over stopping everything, and I mean everything, to make the call. I got in trouble at day jobs, yelled at by strangers who wanted the phone booth and looked at me like I was mad if I was at someone else's house and asked to you the phone. This was right before cellphones started showing up in everyones hand, too. The ideal situation was to use a land line while you were using your cellphone as one of your friends also dialed on their phone. Everyone, and I mean everyone who was anyone in San Francisco comedy at the time, did this.

You would dial, get a busy signal, hang up and repeat the process till you got through. If you did get through, you would get Tom. He didn't so much answer the phone as much as he spit the name of the club into your ear, "Cobb's!" Then you would say something like, "Hi Tom. It's Joe Klocek. Can I get on tonight?" 
Thats when you heard the familiar sentence, "Try me next week." That was that until next Monday.

By 3:03 it was all over. The 12 spots had been filled. My class, the group of friends and comics I came up with, checked in with each other after the call. Around 3:05, Tony Dijamco's phone would start ringing. "Did you get on tonight?" He would breathlessly answer the phone.
"Nope. You?" went the usual refrain.
Tony became the clearinghouse for information about who got on and who didn't for that night. But we also discussed what Tom had said. Ok, sure, he told most everyone the same thing, try me next week, but how did he say it to you? Was there a lengthy pause where he seemed like he thought about putting you on? There were countless discussions about the way Tom turned you down the way conspiracy nuts debate the merits of the single bullet theory in the JFK assassination. 
"But when he said it, how did he say it?" was a pretty common question over the phone at 3:05 in San Francisco back then. 
Tony would field everyone calling in with the same question "Who got on?" If One of us had, Tony would tell. "Rodney and Dan got sets! Thats my other line. See you down there?"

And then, one day, for no particular reason Tom might say, "OK." and you were on! That got you on the showcase but one set does not get anyone in. Once you got on, you still called every week and hoped to get back on. Once you were getting on regularly, you hoped to move up the list. The other part of this is the list. It created status. It worked like this. If you were a new comic, you got 5 minutes in the first hour of the show, maybe a 7 minute set. The second hour of the show was made up of more experienced comics getting 10 to maybe 15 min sets and then the last hour of this three hour showcase would be heavy hitters, maybe two people splitting the hour among themselves with the headliner being the comic Tom thought had something special. If you were on that night, you would show up and the list would be taped to the podium by the door. You would find your name, look at the time you were suppose to go up at and how much time you had. The numbers were all printed clearly by your name; your order and amount of time, so no one could say they didn't know and if you went over your time, heaven save you from Toms wrath! 

Everyone noticed where everyone was on the list and how much time you were given. If one week you were ahead of someone and the next week that person was now before you, it could mean you were moving up or, it meant Tom was fucking with both of your heads. There was as much discussion about where you were on that list as there was about what Tom said when you called. You knew someone was in if they were getting 15 mins somewhere in the last half of the show. There was also a clear way of moving up. Every once in a while Tom would pull one of the comics out of the whole thing and make them the house M.C. That meant they got to host one week a month for six months and at the end of that you were bounced up to feature status. For a local stand-up, the next big goal after you get in at a club is to move up from opener to feature. To be told you would be the next house M.C. at Cobb's meant you would be featuring at both clubs in town by the end of a year. I can't emphasize enough how big a deal this is for a comic.

Everyone wanted on at Cobb's because the thing it had going for it was Tom. There are as many opinions about Tom as there are stories. I can only tell you this. Tom insisted you push yourself to be creative. Tom demanded you do more than just make a room full of people laugh. Its not a revelation to realize there is more to comedy than making a room full of people laugh, but it was a revelation to find a club owner who was willing to risk profit so we could find our voices. If you were good at crowd work, he made you work on your material. If you were playing the hits constantly he would make you do your "b" stuff so you could find a way to be stronger with it. If you were a comic who was generic and didn't push the envelope in anyway, you didn't last. These were paid crowds, too. Not some random open mic in the back of a bar with a shitty sound system, this was a beautiful looking, pro comedy club down in the Wharf. They got lots of tourists just walking in and some of the biggest names in comedy worked that small room based on the reputation of it. Tom grew his regular audience as much as he pushed the comics. You could come any weekend not knowing who was working and be blown away. If the Punch Line was considered going to comedy high school, back then, Cobbs was comedy college and if you wanted in you made that 3PM call till you didn't have to anymore. 

Once I got on and then in at Cobb's, the 3PM call got easier. I would call, say hey Tom and he would say, you're on. Then, I would use my phone to help get a friend on. I was getting up at the Punch Line on Sunday nights and even opening at both clubs when one night, everything changed.

My best friend in comedy, Dan and I, were down at Cobbs. Tom was in a peculiar mood and was pulling comics aside after their sets and handing out the benefit of his knowledge. The only more terrifying than fearing this man didn't know you existed as a comic was enduring his advice as a comic. Word spread fast and one by one people went up knowing Tom was paying attention to everyone that night. Standing outside the showroom, Dan and I were talking about a joke, a girl in my life or are dreams of world dominion based on our comedy. You know, the usual stuff. Tom walked up to Dan and said, "Follow me to my office."
As soon as Tom said it, he was already moving toward the office door rapidly as Dan and I traded looks. Just a few moments later Dan emerged without Tom in sight and told me, "Tom made me the house MC!"

I was happy for my friend but I felt the first of many poison twinges of resentment for getting something I wanted. Thats when Tom "appeared" at my side, turned to me and said, "Follow me to my office." Just like with Dan, he took off almost as soon as he said the words to me and just like before Dan and I looked at each other with anxious eyes. Toms office was tiny. It had a desk with a computer, no window and a calendar with the names of the headliners written on each week. Tom pointed to a week on calendar "Are you available this week?" He asked. "Yes" I answered without really knowing. "OK. Thats your feature week. You're a feature. You're ready."

And just like that I went from one of the funny guys in town to the guy people watched. It was the start of a three year period in my life where I was at the top of the local comedy food chain. I loved it. I truly truly did. When I look back now I see all the reasons I peaked when I did and all the reasons I am still here writing this. it was my season of magic and the happiest I have ever been as an adult. I was broke, had bad teeth and owned two pairs of jeans but I've never been happier or felt more creative in my life. 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Bleeding out loud, louder...

Originally posted on Facebook 

Bleeding out loud, louder...
This has been my luck for the past year. When my battery died a friend offered to drive over and jump it for me. When she arrived she thought I had jumper cables. Nope. So we went to the local auto supply place. It was about a fifteen minute trip from home to purchase and back to my car. When we returned, my car had a boot on it. Its one of the last Scarlet Letter sort of public shamings we still allow. People see a bright yellow "kick stand of shame" attached to your car and they know you're broke, irresponsible, down on your luck or some varying combination of all three. The point is my battery died and in the time it took to spend more money to take care of the problem of being able to get to paying gigs, San Francisco put my car into the poverty stocks making a big problem bigger and more embarrassing. I just imagined people in smart cars driving by after going to an organic farmers market and saying "ha ha" in the most condescending accent you can think of.
I wonder what percentage of people who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge had SF parking ticket woes?
The friend I was with finally understood what I meant when I said, I'm having a bad luck year, because her face went blank and she uttered a barely audible "oh my god" when she saw the boot.
So THAT has been my luck this year.
The flip side of all this has been the amount of support both financial and emotional friends have given. Another friend arrived and with her triple a card took care of the battery situation. It was incredibly sweet but the car was still stuck to that spot till I maxed out a credit card to take care of the boot. Being able to connect with people over the phone or via the internet has saved me more than once during all this change.

As I write this now I am sitting inside my car with my laptop on my lap top. Its finally fulfilling its intended purpose I guess. I am writing because its a comfort and at this point its all I can do. You see, Saint Vincent DePaul is scheduled to pick up some of my furniture today between 11 and 1. They will call when they're close by. Problem is my phone, the replacement phone I finally got from Verizon, isn't working. Yup. And its not one of the old familiar problems the phone use to have where I could still get calls and sort of make out what was texted to me through the cracked screen, nope. Its completely new issues that render it a paperweight. All it says is the modem did not turn on and then it gives some cryptic number and letter combination that I am sure would tell me something about the problem if I was R2D2 or could go on line but I've already saved money by cutting the internet to my place and by the time anyone read this perhaps I will have had a chance to sit at a cafe and reflect on how stressful but how nicely everything worked out in the end. Yeah, fuck that. Do I wait here for 1 to come and go and hope the truck comes even though they are getting god knows what sort of message from my phone at their end? Do I drive to a cafe and attempt to get on line and contact them some how? If I don't get this stuff out of here I'm going to be in real trouble. At this point plan b is just to drag it out to the beach after midnight. Didn't Burning Man originally start down at Ocean Beach? I think the guy wanted to make his brake up with his lady permanent enough in his mind that he could cleanly move on. I don't know the exact story but he ended up hauling all her stuff out to the beach and invited a bunch of friends to watch him burn it. It was such a success they reenacted it again the following year. Eventually San Francisco stepped in and said, we see way too much spiritual healing & expression here and something unique to the culture we like to tell ourselves we have so it has to go! And out it went into the desert to become whatever it has become in your view.

I turned the phone off for a while and turned it back on. Thats what we've become as a generation of tech users whose first instinct is to just turn something off and then turn it back on; we apply it to other places in our world where it doesn't work. Why do you think the Republicans keep talking about shutting down the government? They somehow think it will reboot to 2000 or something. I also love the word reboot. You're turning it off and then on. You do that all the time. Only when something doesn't work do we use the overly grand and wishful sounding, reboot. Anyway, the reboot hasn't changed anything. It does feel warm. I think its a problem with the Droid x model. The Phone company wouldn't upgrade it even though the operator said my model is so outdated that in most cases the phone company just sends an updated model. Not in my case. In my case someone made the extra effort to search the warehouse for what really is not just a piece of shit but a firmly established frayed cord to my life line because you see I have to be moved out by Tuesday afternoon and this is putting a huge fucking blast of anxiety into my calm!

All it says is, starting RSD protocol support. Great. I'd like to start some support at this moment too, phone!
Someone once told me that you can directly measure a persons mental healthy by the number of objects they yell at in a day and how they yell at them. I won't lie. I've been very verbally abusive to my phone and our relationship is to the point where I yell at her in public all the time now. "You worthless piece of shit! I need you to do one thing right for me today and when the time comes you can't even fucking do that could you?"

Right now, just now, in this moment typing away to keep an anxiety attack from full on forming in the center of my chest, I realize how cut off you can feel in this world when your smartphone goes belly up. In an instant I feel like a refuge from my own life and no one can reach me. Not because I don't want to be reached but because my fucking piece of shit communication tool has failed during some of the most trying times in my adult life. Here is a serious idea. Why don't we pass a law telling the phone companies they can only release a new model phone every 5 years? Its not like this whole cellphone concept has even been fully worked out yet. We all wanted it to work because we were all poisoned by how cool the idea would be from sic-fi movies. Its marketing that told us these things are great not experience. And marketing continues to tell us how amazing these things are despite how many times they utterly let us down. You know, when the phone was a large plastic brick that was forever tethered to the wall by a braided cord that always tangled no matter what you tried, calls didn't "drop."
I understand we are now bouncing signals off of towers and satellites 22 miles up in space so we can send naked photos of ourselves to interested and uninterested parties and that is a miracle of science indeed but what is it about the DNA of cellphones that makes them work everywhere but in your own damn home? I once complained to customer service about this. The guy went through a check list of things that might be blocking my signal. I told him I live on the top floor and the second I walk out my front door into the hall I get a signal but the second I walk inside my place, I loose all bars on the phone. He actually asked me if I knew the lead content in my roof. Dude, I'm not renting from Lex Luther. Who they hell would build a lead roof in San Francisco? I don't know what his answer was because you know what? The call dropped.

Just now when I touched the phone it felt as if it was about to explode. For some reason the battery heats up sometimes. Nothing is running on the phone. No updates are coming through and I'm not on a call. I just suddenly feel a pleasant warm sensation in my pocket. The first time it happened I thought I was having a stroke. I was driving and had left the phone in my pant pocket. Cruising down 80 from a gig in Sacramento I felt something warm against my leg. I wondered if I had peed for a second there. As it got warmer an arm tingled for a second. I think that was the hand in warm water pee response happening but I interpreted as a stroke. I pulled over and as the heat turned from mild to, did I shove a nuclear rod into my pocket at that gig and not realize it, I remembered my phone was in my pocket. I took it out. Very hot to the touch, I tuned it off. When I, "rebooted" it later and called Verizon there response was that this was a known problem of the model and I should be cautious with its use. WTF? Its a known problem? I should be cautious? See here is the problem, America. Citizens have rights. Consumers have help lines.
If a battery warming up to such a temp that caution must be exercised when using the device, maybe the device shouldn't be out on the market yet? But this is how America works now. The blame and responsibility gets shifted to us, not the manufactures or companies that bill us. It happens everywhere and for some reason we let it. Take flying for instance. If you have a seat in the emergency exit row, you know the speech you get from the flight attendant, right? They ask you if you are willing to help with the door in the event of an evacuation and if you don't think you are up for the task, you are free to be moved to another seat. So let me get this straight, OK? A multi billion dollar screening and security system put in place after Americas worst terrorist attack in history in which some of our civil liberties have been taken away to prevent future disasters could fail and if it does fail on this plane at this moment the entire system comes down to me being deputized to man the emergency exit door because I bought my ticket late on Priceline and thats where they always stick you?
Bull fucking shit!

Basically all these companies are selling us this marketing dream that communication is fun and easy when in reality nobody has really worked any of this shit out yet. Thats why every year they release a new iPhone; to work out the shit that didn't work and take the stuff from competitors that did work and charge us more for what they have the nerve to call new. Its not new. You just did a recall to fix the problem only we've all been trained so well as consumers that the recall part never happens. We just line up to buy the better version of the thing that still doesn't exactly worked as promised. Hell, Taco Bell took shitty late night cheap Taco's, wrapped it in even worse junk food and sells it to late night drunks and stoners at a record profit. We are now literally eating marketing.

Its 1240. They said they would be here between 11 and 1. How long do I wait after 1 for a truck that might not come? How soon before I can get back to the communal campfire of Facebook and bleed out loud a little more? I've taken the battery out of the phone and laid it on my front seat out of direct sunlight. I wonder how many pony express messages didn't make it? It wasn't like you could message customer service and then rage at them because an indian tribe killed the messenger trespassing on their lands.

A giant truck just went by me. For a second I thought this might be it but no such luck.

I've got emails out to people. A few pretty important messages I'm waiting to hear back on and travel plans I need to hear back on. Instead, I am sitting in my car writing my way out of an anxiety attack hoping a truck arrives shortly to remove a desk and bed that is going to be on fire in the avenues if it doesn't work out and all of this would be so much easier to deal with if my phone functioned liked it was suppose to function properly on the days I am in crisis mode. And it sounds ridiculous to my ear. I feel like the guy who always has an excuse for why something doesn't work out. Only, there real excuses! My phone will not turn on because its dual cores are arguing with each other is whats happening. I'm a digital refuge camped outside my own place sitting in my car like a private eye.

Water cooler van went by. People still use those in residential areas?

I'm considering putting the battery back in. Im considering going to a cafe now and rethink this over more coffee and something melted. Thats where the anxious mans appetite seems to go to naturally, anything warm and melty otherwise, I really haven't ate much lately and unfairly this has had no impact on my mid section.

Its now 1:01. If they have called I wouldn't know. If they drove by me it wasn't a large truck with the words St. Vincent DePaul on the side. If this is a test I fucking want to climb into a ball and "reboot" the fuck out of this day.

Its 1:20.

Eventually I decide to go to the Verizon store at the mall. Once there the guy makes all the same facial expressions I made. He tries everything he can think of and then suggests a factory reset. Its a word guys in slacks who work in Kiosks use instead of reboot because it seems smarter. Fine, I say. Do it. Oh, but you will lose your contacts, he tells me. Its better to be able to get in contact than to have them I figure so go ahead. After 10 anxious moments, that doesn't work. THIS IS THE REPLACEMENT PHONE I JUST GOT! So now I am waiting to have another new phone delivered to my address tomorrow only I won't be there because, wait for it, I have a funeral to attend. The guy tells me sorry and then says, its OK because the warehouse is open till Midnight! Awesome. So after not being able to deal with my furniture today, contact anyone for help in the moment or get support from my shitty shitty phone company, I will drive to a warehouse outside San Francisco tomorrow night after a funeral and pick up another model of phone that has let me down again and again and again?
The poor guy. He's been nice. My breath has to be shit for all the coffee I've been drinking and he's been patient with all my questions but now the guy blinks a few times in rapid succession looking for the customer training tool to deal with this moment. I can almost see his hard drive sputter behind his eyes. He smiles, sighs and in a human moment just tells me if he could give me his phone he would but that wouldn't really help me. True enough. So here I am a little after 2 and my breakdown, as it turns out, will occur in a mall once again.

Forgive me if I bleed out loud a little to loud...

I originally posted this on Facebook. 

Forgive me if I bleed out loud a little to loud...
My Landlord did me a great kindness. Many months ago when he saw I was still struggling with the theft of my bank accounts he came to me and actually said, "I think there is more I can do to help." He is a friend and has been my Landlord for 5 years. To lower my rent but to stay by the sea, he asked if I wanted to move into the adorable in-law behind the garage that he was using as a gym. Yes, I said! The energy felt right, too. Even though I had already lived up stairs and made it my own, it wasn't until four months went by that I decided it was finally time to put things on the walls.

I have intimacy issues like you wouldn't believe compounded with some abandonment shit. What it means is I don't want to signal that some place is my home by putting a nail in a wall and hanging a poster up because that would mean I live there and if I live there then it could be taken away from me. Its a mess. Some of it stems from being adopted. Apparently its all too common for adults who were adopted children to have trouble forming lasting bonds with people. It could be that or it could be the years my mom dragged my little brother and I all over California looking for "out new home." Or maybe it is this lifestyle I lead where I see the country at ground level getting from shitty point a to shitty point b. All I know is, I decided it was time to claim my creative energy space, man cave by the sea, guitar haven as mine. I put posters up. I unpacked my lovely Star Wars vehicles and ships collection to set them up. I gave into San Francisco's sweet tacky charm and bought 2 strings of white Christmas lights to run around the length of my room. I had a friend come over and help clean it up with me. This was my space! I was going to have guitar jams, comedy writing sessions and awesome sex with long legged skinny girls!

Two days later my Landlord and friend let me know that he was giving me notice. I cannot imagine ever wanting to put a fucking picture on the wall ever again. And the thing is, its not evil. Its not against the law. He gave me notice because thats what a good Landlord friend does. What he didn't know is that I had to fly out of town and start my month long tour ending in China on the 15th. Yup, it gets better and better, doesn't it? As soon as gay marriage became legal in California his boy friend popped the question. You see? You see what happened? They promised us that gay marriage wouldn't effect straight people and now I am the first causality of gay marriage. I kid because I hurt.

Now I have to face the box. The box is a small card board thing that has moved with me on every move I've made over the last 15 years. It has black & white photos from my childhood in it. Comedy Clubs calendars with my name on it, girlfriends photos, old set lists and objects of every sort capable of fitting into a small box. All of them have some memory connecting them to someone or someplace. Its part time capsule, part ark of joe and part poor mans idea of a emotional hard drive.
You can't reach in and pull at any just one thing. Each are connected to others so pulling on one string of memory brings on a spiders webs worth of connections.

At times in my life that simple box has been to painful to open. It sat in the back of a closet till the next move forced me to contemplate its contents. And this is how it goes. On average I must confront my little traveling tomb about once a year. The last few years I didn't really touch it, just out it on a shelf and forgot about it. Then, there it is today. And this time when I opened it, i started throwing away some of "her" stuff. I can't tell you her name because if you know it she will be soooo angry with me. But so what? Its done. Its been done for awhile, really. The problem is I am holding Tibetan prayer flags she gave me fully prepared to toss them into the first world death that a black plastic garbage bag is when I start to wonder about the karmic implications of doing such a thing. In the end I simply bunch it up and scrunch it down in-between newspaper clippings and the remains of what once was a whoopee cushion commissioned specially for the Punch Line San Francisco's 25th anniversary.
That stays but I throw out the comedy central hat we all got when I taped Live at Gotham. Fuck it. and fuck that channel, too. You know they once sent me a check for doing the show again in the form of royalties check only, I wasn't suppose to get it. Two months later they asked for it back and I said, I am willing to work it off but I can't honestly give you a few grand back. So, any royalty I get from Last Comic Standing or the episode I was on of, Live at Gotham goes straight to them. That means I get a statement from Comedy Central every once in a while letting me know how much my pitful royalties have paid off their accounting mistake. It hasn't made a dent. I keep them as a reminder of the business I so wanted to break into for so long.
There is a long slim rock from Zion national park that a woman purchased for me so I would remember our time there together. At one time there was a small wooden box with a tiny gold ring in it that was to be Samantha's engagement ring. After holding onto that for more than 7 years I finally only sold that last year.

I don't want to move again.
I don't know what to do with the contents of the box.
I don't know if holding most of the items is doing some sort of penance for some real or imagined sin or I simply cannot let go.
I don't know if just throwing it away means I've let go or I've thrown shit that only matter to me from a tattered old box into the street.
There is a real sadness that hits me hard when I think about just throwing it away. Why am I holding on to "stuff?" that mostly just hurts anyway?
Here is what the answer is and I think it is hopeful. Someday, I want to look through it with smiles and friends recalling adventures, broken hearts and triumphs reached. Someday. Someday turns out to be an impossible place to reach unless your willing to make someplace a home.
Wish me luck 

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Usual

Bookers love to complain about the flaky nature of the stand ups they book. It is a reputation most comics need to realize we earned. Well, at some point some comic did something really stupid and now bookers judge all of comics based on this. Again, its a reputation that is usually well earned by comics. But what about the bookers? What about when they mess up? Most of the time no one wants to say it at a public level because they want to be booked again by this person. Why? Why do we bend over backwards to be polite when the gig they are offering us really isn't worth worrying about either finical or artistically? Before I go farther with this rant let me say that the bookers I deal with regularly are bookers who are pro's. I wish all comedy bookers were like this.

I just had a situation play out over the week that I know all comics will identify with. I got a call from an agency I've never dealt with. The assistant asked for my email. They were under the impression I had received their emails. I would of too if the email they thought was mine was mine. I guess spelling Joe with an "e" at the end of it never occurred to them. I don't know who standupjo is but she's got some mail of mine. 

I suppose they could of Googled my name, gone to my website or asked anyone how to spell the name Joe, but why bother? The assistant asks me how I spell my name. "Really? OK, J-O-E." She seems genuinely surprised this is how it is spelled. Whatever. They get my email and a few days later I call back because I haven't heard anything. "Oh,"  the assistant says, "Didn't he send you an email?"
Here we go again.
"can you tell me the pay and what position I would be on in the show?" I ask.
"You should of been emailed that information already?" she replies.
This is where I want to reach through the phone and smack her but before I say anything she seems to realize the problem. Why can't you simply speak that information out loud into the phone?

A another day goes by. I send am email asking again for the info. No reply.
Today I sent an email explaining that I have no confirmation for the gig, I have no idea what the pay is and after checking my spam folder I cannot find a single email close to what this guys name is or the name of the agency. For once I get a quick reply and the reply via email is, "…June is now booked. We can try again for a later date and here is the guys email. Please send a photo and bio for future gigs…" Wow. So if I am reading this entire situation correctly I lost out on a gig because someone can't spell my name?

I am drawing the line here. Being in this business means paying your dues and swallowing a lot of shit when you know you're right. We all put up with it. But when an agency contacts me for gigs and then can't even spell my name correctly enough to get my email right and I am punished for it by losing a much needed well paying gig, its them. Not me.

Ah yes, indignation! I hope it pays the rent!
Joe K.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

And now for something a little different…

Sometime in the mid 90's I was inside the Ben & Jerry's on Haight St. There was a stunningly beautiful girl in line a head of me that everyone was looking at. She could of been a model for mid-90's waif angst. I'm sure that was a blog at the time. In the style of the day she had on low rise jeans and a T-shirt two sizes too small for her. When she turned around everyone in the store looked at her. She looked right at me. My eyes instantly dropped to just above her waist. There, rising from beneath her impossibly tight jeans, was a vivid tattoo of an eagle. She gave me a tentative smile that went flat when she noticed my eyes in the vicinity of her "eagle" and then another guy behind me said, "Cool tat!" That inspired me to ask, "Is it a bald eagle?"

Why do I tell you this embarrassing story? Because almost a decade latter I was contacted by this girl who is now a 35 year old woman who saw me perform recently and suddenly realized where she knew me from. She works with high risk girls and told me that the day I first saw her was the first day she showed her tattoo off. She told me she felt so uncomfortable the way all men looked at her that she never wore low rise jeans again. I asked her if my comment made her feel awful. She said that it was the funniest comment anyone made that day but it was still creepy. Ugh.

There is a story here about the pressure society puts on young women and girls to dress in a provocative way  but its not mine to tell. Sadly, my part was to be the creepy guy whose comment lingered on years later her head. You never know what affect you will have on another person. You never really understand what we leave with them in our chance encounters. Today I got a rare experience. Today I was shown exactly how I impacted someone else. Its a cool thing to see that and even a more cool thing to feel like there has been growth since then.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Hello friends, fans and possible stalkers,
For better or worse the Internet has become our new town square. As a stand-up comic who likes to think he dabbles in social commentary there is no better way to get my message out there than with memes. Yes, memes. They are all over the web. Sometimes annoying, sometimes cute, sometimes unfunny more and more stand-ups are using them. Turns out that some of what I say on stage works better when read. Weird, eh?
Anyway, I am posting the latest bunch of memes I've come up with. Please, spread them across the Interwebs, email them to family members to start a fight early or just collect and trade them all!
Joe K.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Dear everyone who donated money to me via PayPal this week,
Thank you! I am immensely grateful for your donation. I put a request out on my blog and Facebook for cash after my bank account was hacked and drained. People came through. I thought I might get a couple hundred dollars that would help get me through till the bank restored my previous balance before the fraud. Instead my two day requested earned me a total of just over $2,000. People gave in the hundreds of dollars! People gave fifty bucks who I know are broke! A guy gave me $25 from Germany! People helped out. I feel a little like George in, Its a Wonderful Life. After I pay back all the loans to people, settle up on rent, credit card bills and stock up on groceries, I will actually survive this finical crisis with a renewed faith in humanity. That would not have been possible without everyones generosity. 
This whole adventure has been extremely strange. One second I am walking into a 7-11 and the next I am standing in the parking lot calling my bank after my debt card was declined only to find that my balance for all the moment I've managed to save in the world is gone. Then starts the red tape, investigations, evening anxiety attacks, everyone telling me I have rights and the money will be returned but also everyone saying it may take time. Somewhere during all of this the San Francisco weather was incredible! Yesterday I strolled around Golden Gate Park in the sunny afternoon and found a little peace with it all. 
As of today my funds have been restored. Everyones donations has given me the hoped for breathing room to not get stuck in a circle of borrowing and repaying people. Gigs are booked and my mood is better. Again, thank you to everyone who gave something. Please know you made a difference in my life. I have one last favor to ask; how should I pay this forward? People were extraordinary. I want to be able to pay my "Karmic debt" so to speak. if you have any ideas please post them.
Thank You
Joe K.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Little Help?

A quick recap of whats been going on:
Two weeks ago when I went to use my ATM card at a local 7-11 it was declined. Long story short, standing there in the 7-11 parking lot squinting at my phones screen was the first I realized I had zero balance in my checking or savings. What is scary to learn now is how common this problem is. There is also the surreal anxiety of suddenly being stranded in the middle of a society that is run on how much money you have with nothing. I am not exaggerating
here. I mean zero balance.
Here is whats happening today. I am told that my bank account will be returned in full at the end of this week. That is good news. Wait, that is great news! Here is my problem. To cover living expenses, credit cards and bills I borrowed money from people. Also, January turned out to be one of those months comics dread. A lucrative private gig rescheduled for March and I got bumped from a profitable week at a club. Ugh! Now I am in a situation where it looks like I won't be able to catch my "financial" breath. Long story short; I'm in a bit of trouble here, folks.
So here is what I am asking. I have a PayPal account you can donate whatever amount of cash you can. Honestly, anything will help. If you have used PayPal you know that all you need is my email to send funds.
Here it is-
I feel weird about doing this but if I can make it out of this I swear I will find a Karmic way to pay it forward. So please, share this post or pass it on to anyone you think might be generous to take a second and help a dude out whose only goal for the last 20 years has been to make people laugh. Too much? OK. You got the point.
Thank You.
Joe K.
Trust me. When this is all over and I am "out of the woods" there will be a long blog about this strange adventure.