I stumbled across something amazing the other day. It was a reminder of the exact reason I loved the stand-up world. It was the patio of the Comedy Store on a summer afternoon, when Bruce Mikelson would be smoking and taking about taking a ride up to las Vegas to do a set at a strip show. (I don't mean a show on the Las Vegas Strip,- I mean a show at a club where girls dance around a metal pole. ) It was the stair case, just outside the annex by the Ice House in Pasadena, where Steve Pearl and Jeni would be talking about some event in Florida regarding a palm, a coconut, and someone named Luigi who couldn't spell Budweiser, but refused to use the word "Bud" as it was "vulgar and pedestrian". It was the diner, somewhere on the 40, near Kentucky, or New Mexico, with Blake Clark, or maybe it was Anthony Clark, or Lenny Clarke, or even Clark Anthony, or someone named Clark who was explaining the reason why he carries his own sheets when he hears "we have a small condo near the club, but I can't guarantee the condition because Jackson Perdue will be in the night before you."
The place is called iJoke.tv, and it exists online. I found it through another place, called the Kvetch forums, which is very much the same feel-- except more like the Chatanooga space, or Cobbs, or someplace more homey and intimate and regional. Kvetch is based out of the Rich Jenkins world at TheComedyStudio.com/forum. I know I'm going to bump into people I worked with in both places, and I know that I'm going to find people who have the exact life experiences at iJoke.tv because it's run by people who started when I did, and who have worked all the clubs I have, when I have, and who have been burnt by the same flames. And, the people in both forums have the same kind hearted, "Aren't you sick of being screwed over?" mentality that I admire. There is an underlying sentiment of "We just want to survive, thrive, and stay alive." And, I think it's wonderful.
One thing I noticed is there is unbelievable support. Here I was just snooping to see if I could possibly get a tiny bit of support for a benefit, and I assumed I'd get the Hollywood, "Oh yeah, sure. uh, sorry, but have fun with it." Instead, it's been undying, and nonstop. I feel as if I have the most support in my entire career. It's as if the family said, "You never asked us for anything, so of course, we're here to help." And, I feel as if the support is a bit of acknowledgment for the years I've tried to help other people. after years of mentoring young comics, or putting road warriors on the radio shows, or hours spent emailing and blogging about writing, road trips, or clubs, or college touring. It's the pay back of having my door open to the folks who were looking for places to crash while they were gigging for their first time at the club up the road, or when I had people come in and do a set when I had a room, and they wanted to get stage time before a major gig in a big city.
The people at iJoke.tv are the same people who were on my floor, or in my studio. They are the same people sitting on the stoops outside of those clubs. They are the same people who came to the Wired for Laughs shows from the alt.comedy.standup reunions we'd have at the Improv in Los Angeles. They are the same people because they are Budd's people. You can find Marc Price there, and Budd, and a there's that gal who used to show up at the open mike with the note book who used to forget your name, but who used to tell you that she saw you in San Francisco at the Above Brainwash show, when you were trying out the material about your ex-husband, the trumpet player. The same fan who sent you a picture of yourself during your set at the Comedy Store from 1991 is there. These are real fans, of real comedy. These are real comedians, and real road warriors, and it's just like sitting in the bar at the Improv, in 1996, talking to Marmel, and Todd Glass, and Dave Little, and Rob Little, and Joannie Coyote, and wondering what you've ever done to stop playing in Los Angeles in the last years. It's the same voices and names, and same memories, and people. It's home.
And home is why I feel so supported here. I'm working on the benefit for my Aunt Jeannie back in Boston, at the Comedy Connection, the club that started the whole idea that some French-Italian-Irish kid, who went to art school, and was in the Navy, and wrote a book on Atheist Grief, could end up being a comedian, and for 20-something years made people laugh while living a strange and weird life-- it's this same woman, who found this online forum so she could talk about this benefit for her Aunt Jeannie-- who discovered she was always welcomed home, online, at iJoke.tv, by her crazy uncle Budd, and her long lost family-- the other comics, and her friends there. And, the best part? They are all just as eager to help Aunt Jeannie, and be part of the Benefit, and The Comedy Connection, and to make the future memories of this event, something to talk about for years to come.
That's pretty powerful stuff.