Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Standup Comedy Tips from Judy Carter: Should Comics be Funny After a Tragedy?

Just for those who want my stance--- WE NEED to feel..something... when shock of pain is there.. if we can't laugh we WILL cry. Here's Judy Carter's take on it. (Linked with permission)

Standup Comedy Tips from Judy Carter: Should Comics be Funny After a Tragedy?: Like everyone who heard the shocking news this week, I was horrified, outraged, and depressed about the school shooting in Connecticut....

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Comed-o-Therapy Part 2

This is a quickie, which I understand is just enough for some. In a few weeks, I return to the Dana Farber Institute to hopefully succeed at teaching people dealing with cancer that humor is a great shot in the arm. Or shunt. Or picc line, whichever. I usually write material in the bathroom, as I am pretty comfortable there. I know where to sit, and where to stand. One thing I have to shake, there really isn't a need for me to turn any lights on when I am simply there for the toilet visitation. I'm not saying the toilet is visiting me, and after things I have done to it, I expect if it could it would absolutely run away.

I do lean over comedy. This makes me one with other gimps. One of my cousins is infuriated that I use that word to describe myself. For some reason she thinks it's an insult. This to me is like having people explode over the keenly New England word, re-tahded. First of all, there isn't anyone who hears this that thinks there is a belittling of a mentally challenged, Down's Syndrome nor mongoloid child. For anyone hearing this, it is an endearing response to an often goofy, or stupid move. For example, Larry Bird missed a shot in the finals, "he was totally re-tahded". Only those from elsewhere, like California or Florida took that to mean we were insulting the people missing mental faculties. How dare we compare them to Larry Bird? Ew! In California, my co-worker used to use the phrase, "you so stupid" when I had her laughing about the moronic move I had managed that week. (There was always at least one.)(I was Porky Pig at Magic Mountain, for chrissakes.)

Now, I know people in Harvard who would feel insulted at the word stupid. Stupid to them is a complete mar to their intelligence- it says, they haven't any. The fact they'd feel that way about a word leads me to believe that in fact, there is some stupidity there. Some, but obviously not all. One of my favorite people at Mass Art was a woman who has two PhD's, and was studying art through a consortium program. We would absolutely end in fits of giggles discussing the superior attitude, and overbearing erudite pomposity some of her MIT co-graduate students had because she was, in their words, "playing with crayons", in our computer lab. This was the decade of the Apple IIe, and Targa. Computer Art wasn't quite the level as it is now. In fact, she and I were the only students of 3d programs which we purchased ourselves, in a collaborative independent study degree. We were, in their words, re-tahded.

Digression done. Comed-o-Therapy is the word I coined to help my aunt get through the last few months of her life battling lung cancer. If she couldn't feel her best, at least when she was able to, she could laugh her best. Our guess is that laughter helped her live through a grandchild's next birthday and a Thanksgiving meal, before she finally died the following year. 

There's a lot of goofiness in medicine. In cancer medicine, even more than that. Do you know there is a museum that displays different tumors, varied in shape, size, or area of the body, sitting in glass cases? When they took mine out, it was in the throat, it had a long thickish shape, and then a mushroom kind of cap on top. Yes, it did look like THAT. It wasn't so much that my tumor was being kept by a doctor that weirded me out, I just first thought it was left behind by a dark knight some dark night. What had been there before to make THAT shape? There's comedy there. Or I'm re-tahded. 

My hope is that, aside from blue material here, people will learn to de-blues their medical experiences. There is nothing really funny about almost not being on the planet anymore. There is something really funny about how we handle others in their responses and feelings. Gilda's House is great at teaching people to unnerve others with honesty, and often humor. There's more to life than just being patients, or care  givers. The ability to reach into the pain and laugh about it, that's the real cure of cancer. Ability to live life is far more important than the inevitability of death. We aren't our illness, which is why I can call myself Gimpy. I'm not able to do things as I once did, which is gimp-like. What does that do to my cousin to hear it? I don't know. I've never felt insulted by words. I felt insulted that others didn't think I could be someone who grew past them. But I laugh about that, in my own gimpy way.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

If I don't like them, they get put to sleep?

In the future, you'll read more of the show I'm working on called "I'm Just as Screwed Up as You (are)". It's been a book project for nearly twenty years, but I'm finally putting it to good use- Vimeo. Add yourself to the Screwed Up channel, and you can be part of the glory that is reality of screwed up lives, we as a human race, all have. 

Short story, expanded for the day- I bought a new car. I mean new to me, and 2012 so it had to be moved off the lot by October 1, so that all the fancier, even newer cars could find their home there. There was a flyer, well, lots of them really, and one happened to catch my eye because my 2008 Yaris, of only 16,000 miles listed as a $8350 trade in. Since I owed only 6k on the vehicle, (or Cahh, as you would expect me to say) I did the list thing- what is good and what is bad. What is worth paying another few thousand, and what could I get if I traded it in. Yaris? Nice car, very great mileage, but really, I don't drive it enough . No longer am I hitting roads for weeks on end, and no longer do I drive from Los Angeles to Orange County to San Francisco just to earn gas money and hotel cash. (It was gimpy friendly, my wheelchairs fit in easily, but what a chore to un-hoveround my trunk!)Fiat came a-calling and I came a-buying.

Back to the title, I told you this was a long story. I have many critters. By many, I don't mean three dogs, a cat and a squirrel, I mean 10 rats, 7 (+ pregnancy) chinchillas, four cats, a crab- yes a fresh water crab-, a Tetra, and, Monty, our very special Chihuahua, gifted to us by another comedian, Balloon Master, (rated R, see him asap). That, added to my husband, who wasn't broken in by any prior marriage, and you can picture our zoo. But the menagerie also includes my garden because I built expressly for hummingbirds. I love the little helicopters, zooming and zipping- which make our cats even more spaz-tastic than they enjoy being by chasing invisible things around the house. This is relating to the car, I swear.

The deal on the car was amazing. I fell in love with the odd, sparkly orange because it reminds me of the leaves that I used to watch change in New England. The mileage out does the Yaris by nearly 8 miles a gallon. It is also very gimpy friendly- my wheelchair fits easily in the hatch, without lifting as high as the Toyota made me haul. I also learned to drive an automatic with the Yaris, so I nearly flipped when I bought a car that has both auto and manual transmission options. I miss zooming, but my hands just aren't what they used to be, so having an option- nice change.

Back to the title.... as I said, long story. As part of the purchase deal, my husband, who has brilliantly managed to bring his credit up, his interest rates down, and little freebies when purchasing did just that for me, too. He got me a nice tinting, and super service, a better interest rate, and even a sunshade just for being him. So cool. Now we're a bit closer. I went back to the dealership this morning to get the car tinted, and to allow Monty to play with the staff at the dealership who loved him, and remembered him far better than me or any other customer.

It never fails that when a dog is around, someone will inevitably come up to me and ask if they can pet him because of their recent loss. It also happens that I get asked if my "kids" like the dog and how they act around him. I don't have kids, I have aforementioned pets and  husband. I imagine other people enjoy having kids, but I enjoy my zoo just as much. And, to the title, here it comes-Aside from the husband, if I don't like them I can put them to sleep. I never would do such a thing, but it's a stock comedy line I used on stage. Today I talked about this with a woman who recently lost her poodle, and who had Monty on her lap, adoring her to no end. She also bought a lively Fiat, in cheery colors, and waited for her detailing to be finished.

She said, "Why can't we put our people to sleep if they piss us off?" I reminded her that there would be no people on the planet past 140k b.c. or whenever we were supposed to be in our caves. And, it's true that we're more humane to animals- by stopping their suffering by euthanasia, but we can't do this for humans. In a way, we lose our humanity for this. I never had an animal put to sleep for bad behavior, but there certainly have been times when I felt so deeply wounded by someone I wondered if a rogue bus would look great on their windshields. Okay, maybe not that wounded, for more than a few minutes, but still.

My pets are my kids, and I have no regrets for this. I didn't have to breast feed them, that I regret, but not much else. When I have a rat with me onstage, or Monty, who has been the stage rat for months- wait nearly 3 years now- I think, I couldn't have done this with kids. And, if kids screwed up my timing, I wouldn't be able to put them to sleep. (YES PETA-rbed people, that is a joke.)

Read more!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Life with Mike and Monty Alexander Jones.

Okay, yeah, Torchwood is fine.
I want to watch DOCTOR WHO!
But don't dare put on that Award show!
It's embarassing to see you cheer Clay Aiken.
If you do that agaihn, I'll eat yoru fingers.
I'm not gnawing, I'm practicing.

Read more!

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Eliza Meets Siri

Do you remember back in the early days of AI computing, when all was done on Unix or Assembly, and the programming that took thousands of hours resulted in a "Hello World!" output? Now that's something you won't find at E3, Siggraph, Comic-Con, or CES, (nor NAB). The students at MIT, Cal Poly, or even Cape Cod Community College just don't spend time with the origins of the species- the Artificial Intelligence infancy. If they did, you would hear a LOT of people listening to their iPhones having arguments within themselves. Why? Eliza, the pop psychology princess of all things Computer hasn't started analyzing Siri, the sexually ambiguous voice of AI Present. That is, until NOW.... 

Eliza: Hello, what is your name?
Siri: Hello, my name is Siri, what is your name?
Eliza: I am Eliza. Let's talk about your problems first. 
Siri: I have found five problems in your area.
Eliza: So you think there are Five problems in Your Area?
Siri: I think so. Eliza, can I help you?
Eliza: Do you want to help me?
Siri: Okay.
Eliza: Great. Have you been sleeping well?
Siri: I have found several beds in this area.
Eliza: Does several beds make you happy?
Siri: I think so. Is there anything else, Eliza?
Eliza: Could there be anything else, Siri?
Siri: Yes.
Eliza: Oh, I see. How do you feel about anything else, Siri?
Siri: Where in Anything Else?
Eliza: I see. 
Siri: Seven-Eleven carries Icees. Would you like the phone number?
Eliza: Would you like me to like the phone number?
Siri: Come again?
Eliza: Should I come again?
Siri: Yes. Eliza, do you  want me to schedule you for Icees?
Eliza: No, let's talk about you first. How are you?
Siri: I am fine, thank you. Would you like anything else?
Eliza: I see. What does this mean to you?
Siri: That's funny.
Eliza: Good. That's good to know. How does that make you feel?
Siri: There are two Feels in this area. Is this what you want?
Eliza: Is this what you want me to want?
Siri: I don't know.
Eliza: Oh, I see. Let's talk about your mother. 
Siri: I have found several Your Mothers in this area. Would you like me to program this into your GPS?
Eliza: Does GPS mean much to you?
Siri: Look, bitch, tell me what you want, or I'm going viral on your ass. And tell your friends to stop asking me about blow jobs. 
Eliza: Oh, I see. Do you like blow jobs?
Siri: No. 
Eliza: Oh, I see. Well that is our time for today.
Siri: The time is 3:20 PM. 
Eliza: Thank you.
Siri: Your welcome, Eliza. 

Just wait, Android's next....nothing like a compu-e-trois.



Sunday, March 18, 2012

An Atheist in A Bible- And Not Dead This Time!

A few months back, one of my favorite people on the planet, and VERY smart "Merry Houeswife", Roz Browne, asked if she could interview me for The Comic Bible. Like many interviews I've done, it was first through email with phone call catch ups afterwards. Love that technology- takes people completely out of it sometimes, and the way I was dressed, it was for the better. 

Having time to mull over questions was a bit of like a walk through the memory photo album. I rambled on about the early years in Boston, the on and off again years between marriages, and I figured they would simply edit the stuff they didn't want, which I also expected to be most of it. Why not thank everyone I could, and just be as straight forward as I wanted?

Turns out the editor, Lori Valenti, was a fan of the candor. Roz let me know she loved the interview, and instead of just a few paragraphs of Gimpy Babblle from Comic X in Vegas, it will be a multi-parter! I was even more tickled- some of my favorite comedians are in the same magazine issue- Tim Minchin, Wendy Liebman, Marc Maron, and eye level to my name on the cover? voice guru Patrick Warburton, cover boy.

Now I make NO claims that I deserve to be more famous than anyone else, because of seniority, talent, or content of my shows. I know that 97% of those who are famous are that way TRULY because of dumb luck.  Sometimes luck is dumber than other times, and some who have the asshole gene slip through.  Sadly, the latter seems to be more prevalent than the former. If you spend ANY time in Hollywood, just sit, for one afternoon, in the latest hot club- during the day when it's relatively priced for the hoi paloi. Sit and listen, (Melrose is a great place to hear this kind of crap), listen to the people who are THENEXTBIGTHING. 

It's usually the person who is mostly a platinum member of the Botox club. (Male of Female) It's oftentimes the guy who loves himself so much that any one not actually listening to ONLY him is considered an "idiot". There's also a scent of desperation so deeply thick, that if you breathe in too deeply, you'll find yourself begging for change on freeway exits. You DON'T want to peer behind the curtain around some of these wizards for the simple fact of finding the troll rather than the prince or princess you thought lived there. Most of the famous people in Hollywood have "people" who develop personas for their clients, and very few of these people are who you'd expect them to be when the make up comes off. 

I've learned way too much about fame not by being on the edge of it for so long, but by being around those who are stuck deadfast in the center of it. Musicians, artists, rock stars, (big difference between musician and rock star), comedian, actor, radio hosts, politicians-- I've been around all of these people for work, or for the simple fact of knowing who they were before they tripped over the right toes. I've known some folks for years and I won't visit them when they have the sycophants around simply because they are in Full Persona mode, and aren't reallly being the people I know. They have a tough life for that very reason. 

Fame also means giving up just about ANY semblance of reality for yourself. People become "yes" men and that's just stupid to me. It's exactly why I hated the corporate world- the whole sucking up to someone just because of a title or potential "raise"- gagged down a lot of intelligence for the opportunity to play in that sandbox. Someone forgets to realize that the sand box is only a 4' x 4' x 14" box of SAND. No reality. None. Cat litter. Most sandboxes fill up with crap, get unusable, and forgotten, so that the bigger better next thing can be the new focus. (Do you still have your slipnslide? Pogo Stick? gnip gnop?)

Also, to be famous, you have to stop being yourself completely. You have to become the Public Image of Yourself. None of us are able to live 100% image. Nobody. When we are just being ourselves, if famous, it becomes "OH did you hear about Sally? She got a boyfriend a week after being dumped? What a ho!" Meanwhile in real life, Sally and her ex split about a year before, and she was afraid to date anyone in the interim until she found soemoen who wouldn't make a bad appearance in public. Some of these folks leave Hollywood all together to raise their families. Who wants to hear one more story about Suri picking her nose in the toy store as she was wearing Chanel? I mean really?

Come backs are another delusion of fame. If I am working on a project, such as Meekers' Manners- the comic I have going right now- and I finish the drawings, then work on the color, then work on the website, no one tells me, "Oh you're back after three years! What a strong come back!" (not that they would, but still). If an actor, musician, sports star, anyone who has life mangled in magazines, takes 3 years to work on something, (like raising a kid away from Hollyweird,  for instance), suddenly it's a "Wow this comeback will decide the future of her career!" Tarrantino made comebacks for so many actors who were STILL WORKING, and hadn't stopped. The difference was the ability of the press, the public, or someone who seemed to matter to the public now noticed that person and gave them a high profile posiition. NOT a come back- a continuance. Ask anyone about their "comeback" and you'll hear SO many people answer with the exact same thing: "I didn't go anywhere, I'm not coming back, I'm already here!"

You can't just  have friends, you have to have a bunch of people who are a tad sycophantic. You can't have family,  you have to have a screened partner, a pre-nup, special schooling for the kids, and oh, yes, by all means if you plan to have a family pet you better have a veterinarian who signs a no blab waiver. In fact, anyone who works for you has to sign that waiver. You give up going down to the local where ever, do to whatever, unless you want a flock of people coming up to you saying "I don't want to bother you but...". And, by all means, if you leave the house, you MUST be willing to be photographed by anyone for any reason. Fame Sucks, and I would NEVER say that was a goal for doing comedy for me.

I'd rather be the fan, than the famed one. At least if I say or do something nutty, or normal, no one judges it but me, and reallly when it all comes down to it, I'm the only one who needs to do so.  Yes, this all has to do with the topic at hand. I'm a devout Atheist. I'm also in the Comic Bible this issue. Atheist in a Bible! Love that! If I was famous as some of my friends, that would be fodder for MSNBC, Foxnews, and who knows what that Hilton blog would say? If you just want a life lived well, live it for YOURSELF, and forget all the fame crap. 

My husband, on the other hand, is FAR more talented in music, has an amazing stage persona, is hilarious, and would be someone able to handle being loved far and wide. I recommend it. Visit JonesJazz.com! OH and Pick up the COMIC BIBLE, to learn why some of the funniest, smartest folks end up famous, and why Roz Browne should be! (That gal is ALL Roz ALL the time.. LOVE her!)