POV: You're my most supportive friend
An ode to mediocre tape
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Hello Sternal Journalists,
You actually are all tied for my most supportive friend—or let’s say variously tied for first, second, and third. You’re all on the podium for sure.
Last week, I briefly shared with you a new rewrite of my old joke about OCD. And I told you about a show where I would be working on said joke, among other things.
This week, I thought—why now show you how it went?
You see, as a comedian—especially one who is in the process of flourishing such as myself—footage of your performances are a tricky thing.
Everyone is always chasing “good tape,” aka clean footage of you performing a recent successful set in front of a hopefully large-ish audience. This can then be used to submit to festivals and shows and bookers.
And in some ways, the tough thing about good tape is that “recent” part. It doesn’t need to be from last week or even last month, but once you start creeping towards and/or past six months, one starts to worry that maybe there was a topical bit you didn’t realize was so topical, or maybe you look way different than you did, or (hopefully!) you’ve gotten better in the past six months and you want to be able to showcase that!
Post-pandemic comedy makes it especially hard. Some shows are still outside, and even when they aren’t, more people than used to are trying to sit away from others or are wearing masks, which makes for terrible acoustics and audience-feel. All the things that make venues safe unfortunately make comedy—and therefore tape—bad.
But still the tape is necessary, and so I’ve been lugging my tripod around to shows and even mics sometimes just in case.
But one of the flip sides of being a diligent tape-hunter is that sometimes you walk into a venue holding a tripod, and you just immediately know this is not the night you will get that tape. Maybe there’s a TV blasting sports you didn’t know would be there, maybe there are only seven people present, maybe there’s no microphone1.
Yet you’re still holding a tripod! So the other comics give you eyes that are like “Mmm, you really excited to get this tape?” Or if they’re polite, they’ll crack a joke about it.
And then you have the choice: do you sheepishly put the tripod down and acknowledge that it’s not worth recording, or do you say “This won’t be my homerun tape, but maybe I’ll still learn something from it?:
Sternal Journalists, I think you know what I did.
I had a wonderful show on Friday. It’s a show I’ve done a dozen times—sometimes, it’s packed; sometimes, it’s not. This week, they were definitely suffering from people leaving town for the holidays—plus it’s “cold” in LA, so people don’t like to go out.
But when I rocked in and there were seven or eight people there, I didn’t sweat it! I just said loud enough for everyone to hear “This is gonna be some hot tape,” and we all laughed, and I set up my damn tripod.
It’s mediocre tape, but I had a decent set. My pacing is still erratic (I generally have to learn my jokes fast and then intentionally slow them down because I naturally talk as if I am trapped in an infomercial), I missed a couple punchlines, and one bit that always kills went dead silent,
BUT I ALSO put together some new bits in a way I never have before, got some good laughs from the meager-but-mighty audience, and most importantly, we all had a hell of a time.
So I thought I’d share the ten minute set with you (link←!), because even though it’s not the best tape in the world and a lot of it is still rough around the edges, I had fun and would have been proud for you to have joined me in the front row.
If it so pleases you, give it a watch on your phone, computer, stream it to your Roku, or do what I call a Poor Man’s Metaverse: hold the video up reallllllllllllllllllllllllllllly close to your face while pooping! One more chance! Click on that picture below!
But if you insist on seeing the real thing, come out to Clean Comedy at Local Coin Laundry January 7th at 7pm (more deets closer to the show).
(And of course, many thanks to Max Mielecki for putting together this wonderful show, FURTHUR, in Echo Park every month. My tape was mediocre, but the time was amazing.)
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Album. I don’t think I had listened to or watched this since it came out in 2008. Joss, Jed, and Zack Whedon wrote it during the 2007-2008 WGA strike, and I think it’s always cool when something whimsical comes out of a tough time. I got one of the songs stuck in my head this week and wound up listening to the whole thing.
Mentally Al. Documentary. I’ve said this seven times now, but since the last time I told you, the damn New York Times called it the best comedy documentary of the year. Scooped ya’ again, Sulzberger!
Spencer. Film. Watched this Princess Di movie a couple weeks ago, and all I will say is I was worried it would be The Crown: The Movie, but it very much is not in the weirdest and best ways possible.
Fictional. Song. Drakeo The Ruler, 28-year-old West Coast rapper on the rise, was tragically killed this weekend. I was no expert on his music, but loved this song off of his album Thank You For Using GTL, which was recorded entirely over the eponymous prison phone service provider. I also learned a lot from this article about the album and his intentionality behind pulling GTL into the limelight. RIP Drakeo.
And with that, Sternal Journalists, I bid you goodnight (or morning!). Sending thoughts of love, safety, and the confidence to know that the real good tape is the tape you had fun taping.
Jim Jefferies says something along the lines of (surely in a funnier way, but I can’t find it right now), the only difference between stand-up and a crazy person yelling at you is the microphone.