Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Stick a fork where?

Hiroshima. Nagasaki. And now Carmel. Perhaps you felt the tremors last night, yourself. That was me bombing at Open Mic Night at Morty's Comedy Joint, an explosion of silence that shall be remembered for decades to come.

I had to bite the bullet last night in front of a crowd that the greatest comedian would deem unfavorable at best. By biting the bullet, I mean that I went up first. The audience was small, and no one sat in the front seats. There was a moat of empty tables and chairs between the stage and The audience consisted of comedians, the family of a 14-yr-old comic, and a group of some other people that I should be careful about describing in the wake of the recent Michael Richards incident. Let's just say that they did not relate to my material or appreciate my point of view. They didn't heckle me, though. At one point, I was talking about tattoos on girls and I thought I heard one of them agreeing with me. I turned to him for support and realized he was just talking on his cell phone. This was one show where I wish I was heckled. At least then I could have gotten the audience more involved.

Dan asked what I thought about what happened at the Laugh Factory a couple nights ago, Kramer vs The Evolution of Society. I don't think he stepped over the line with those comments. Oh, no. Instead he backed up thirty feet, got a running start, and lunged headfirst over the line. I liked George Lopez's comments about the situation the best when he said that Michael Richards is not a stand-up comic. He's an actor who's show was canceled and now he's essentially been thrown onto the stand-up stage.

It's a different world on that stage. It can be very lonely up there when the crowd turns on you, and when you get heckled it's very easy to take it personally. Here's what I think happened. Michael Richards was very successful once, and now he's not on television and instead is doing stand-up which is not his regular medium. He was not getting the response he desired and additionally, a group of people were being disrespectful during his act by talking, which can be extremely distracting and unnerving. His pride mixed with his inexperience and quickly turned to anger, and when you want to hurt someone verbally you often say whatever you think will upset them the most. He's not an active racist. He just felt like he was being attacked and lost his mind. That's probably why it happened, but it doesn't excuse it. When you get heckled, you have to keep your cool and remember that you have one huge advantage over them. You have a microphone. They don't. Use the power to be heard over them to convey your wit in handling the situation. The audience wants to be on your side. In my experience, I've found that bare-faced insults (racist or otherwise) directed towards hecklers only make you look like a jerk.

Kramer's probably going to have a tough time getting TV work after this. However, I think Carlos Mencia should offer him a gig on his show. On that show, racism is funny! ...apparently.

I thought it was interesting how Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory, said that Michael Richards won't be allowed to perform at the club anymore...although he did allow him to do a show there the very next night. Apparently, things changed once the media storm hit.

I'll tell you who enjoyed Richards' act the most. That would be Paul Rodriguez. He got a ton of face time because of this, even more than when his son skateboards in the X Games. His life sounds like a sitcom premise, a stand-up past his prime who has a son that's a successful extreme sports star and his pride for him battling the envy of his fame. I should pitch it with him.

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At Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 1:57:00 PM EST, Blogger TimQ said...

I think that’s a pretty good assessment except I have to wonder if he is a card carrying racist with some of his comments. The comment that makes me think there is probably something more is the "forty years ago we would have had you strung up in a tree with a fork up your ass" comment. Who thinks of a line like that?

At Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 3:09:00 PM EST, Blogger Joel Lugar said...

Technically, he said FIFTY years ago... But yes, that's a little extreme. I would suggest that people who were alive fifty years ago have a higher level of racism built in than us young folk do to begin with, percentage-wise. He may very well have a card in his wallet that says American League of Racists. I can't really say for sure.

One of the guys he was yelling at shouted back that he was a "Cracker Ass". Does that make him equally racist as well? Or is this comment warranted because of the situation?

At Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 11:39:00 AM EST, Blogger TimQ said...

I think there is a huge double standard. Who determines the "are you a racist" rules? Not Cracker Asses like myself! Oh so you know, I can use that phrase because I'm white.

At Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey joel, i didnt know u were back in carmel. u just visiting? u gotta let me know when u do another gig......

At Friday, November 24, 2006 at 8:42:00 AM EST, Blogger Joel Lugar said...

I can't say that I'm just visiting. However, I can't say that I'm just staying either.


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