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Shrugs ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

March 30, 2022
Slipping off the Doc

“Can you please get me a new stool from the back.” asks a guy in a Hawaiian t-shirt who hands $20 bucks and a chair..

I don’t work here, I just happen to wear a tie. I mean this is “The Smoke House”, it’s a nice restaurant.*

I’m lying to you. Sure, I’d like to say, “I dress nice to impress”. Heck I’ve even been asked to dress down by one employer. I wear a shirt, coat and tie mostly out of insecurity.

I have moobs aka man boobs. Last time I wore just a t-shirt I was told to get a training bra. Mothers can be so cruel. Quite honestly, nothing hides my moobs better than a sports coat and tie. It worked for most folks great grandfathers. After dinner, I head to the grocery store and check out the day old jalapeño bread, I get a tap on shoulder.

“Sir. Do you work here?”

“No, I don’t work here. I just like putting on a tie when I buy day old jalapeño bread.” I take a deep breath and throw caution to the wind, “Ask me anyway. I’ll try to be helpful….”
Yeah it’s right over there or the store across the street.
Now there’s a line forming of people asking me questions. Anyways. Here’s a couple of minutes of me talking bout the cycle of outage and of course I crack a joke. Look, I’m not okay, neither are you, so lets have a laugh! More silliness and coolness to come!

*Thanks again Trevor Keveloh at Korrupted Comedy LA at Mrs. Robinson’s Irish for treating me and  James Betterton II to dinner at the Smoke House and trusting us to keep the joke machines going as months by.

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Good Words, Good Thoughts, Good Grief

March 21, 2022
I've Been Rumbled!

Next to having an unexpected fist striking your face, being close to flames will humble you. It’s around this time of year I find myself jumping over flames.

At first, there’s a feeling that grips the pit of your gut. You let that feeling passes over and turns into determination. That determination turns into a hell of a rush as you start hopping over multiple flames like a Mario Bros.

It’s After a while you find yourself moving forward towards the fear and get it over with. I’m just thankful my father started me early. No, it’s not some weird Texan St. Paddy’s Day Arson thing. I am aware folks do that in Texas and all over the world.

It’s part of the Persian New Year Nowruz (Pronounce “No Ruse”) New Day. It’s a Magi holiday ritual that goes back thousands of years. The Tuesday Wednesday before the holiday. The holiday predates Christianity and Islam*. There’s fire jumping which is an allegory of facing the new year over the flames of the old. There’s an offering table with a goldfish. You also get chocolate coins, new clothes, and you gotta clean your place, set up offerings, and visit family and friends. There’s a lady spirit that visits your place and curses you with bad luck if your place isn’t clean and offerings ain’t up to par. And right about now you’re looking at me like I’m on drugs.

Look the old school Zoroastrian holidays have to be seen to believed. You try to explain the Persian holidays to most folks and they look at you as a lunatic on drugs or just making up holidays. Because people don’t just makeup holidays.** It gets sandwiched in around the same time as the drinking holidays St. Paddy’s Day and Purim.

I mean obviously, Covid has put a halt to the yearly fire jumping. Ironically around this time of year, I found myself in Los Angeles. I still find myself leaping over stacks of little fires.

Anyway, folks, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Sure it’s from an oncoming train. It’s a toy train. However, there’s glass and legos on the floor. It’s still going to hurt. Still better than staying in the darkness.

What am I saying, folks? Life is like the Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping” without the cirrhosis of the liver. I showed up a documentary and there’s more on the horizon. It’s around this time of year I find myself jumping over flames.

*Notes

*Isn’t Iran Muslim? Even after most practicing Magi were kicked out, most Iranians still hold onto Magi names and the Farsi language thanks to the poet Ferdowsi that remixed history and legend into an old school OG Game of Thrones. Of course, there’s a cartoon version. Check it out!***

*Sarcasm Font

**It was pretty popular. Took him 30 years to complete it. However, he was upset when he was paid in silver after he was offered gold originally. After he complained to the king. That King sent out elephants stomp on him.   

Featured, Shameless Self Promotion!, True Lies

It’s Show Friends in Show Business

February 17, 2022
Calm Before The Weekly Storm, Comedy Store Belly Room. iPhone 6 Photography

It’s not often true friendship and show-business combine. No matter how hard you try, you really can’t like everyone. Everyone you like might like you less. What’s the old saying by used by jerks to justify the hack crappy behavior? “It’s show business not show friends!” Who needs 30 pieces of silver when you have a spot to perform at a pub that used to be a comedy club? Alliances and rivalries come and go at the drop of a hat. Despite all your cynicism, and self-doubt, you meet someone and you make a real friend.

No longer do you watch other comics with a sniper’s eye view, hoping and praying for them to trip up, bomb, and die a horrific death on stage which would hopefully lead to nothing short of a good old-fashioned whupping. You start to see this person’s artistic and professional advancement as a good thing and well deserved. You catch each other’s shows when in town and not do anything else. When the chips are down off the stage, you got each other’s back. Help each other move, crash on the couch, share rides to gigs, mics and just hang out. And then, the unexpected happens.

 Laff Stop, Houston, Texas late Saturday night, Outlaw comic, Carl LaBove has a restless sold-out crowd and my good friend Theodore M.E. Taylor is opening tonight. This is the third and final show of the night. Feeling claustrophobic, Theo heads to the green room and chills out. Minutes pass, the straggling drunks from the second show finally settle their tabs with the wait staff and get out. Seating begins and ends with military-like precision. I decide to get my stage right peanut gallery view of the stage.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WELCOME TO THE LAFF STOP! THE OLDEST COMEDY CLUB IN TEXAS, TONIGHT WE HAVE ONE OF THE ORIGINAL OUTLAWS OF COMEDY, JUST RECORDED A COMEDY SPECIAL SHOWTIME AND WILL BE SEEN ON BIOGRAPHY! GIVE IT UP FOR CARL LaBOVE!

The audience goes wild with applause.

ALSO, GIVE IT UP FOR YOUR FEATURE, HE’S A REGULAR ON BOB AND TOM GIVE IT UP FOR DWIGHT YORK!

The applause gets louder.

AND NOW GIVE IT UP FOR YOUR HOST AND EMCEE FOR TONIGHT! THEODORE M.E. TAYLOR!

Then, I realize Theo is still in the greenroom. 

THEODORE M.E. TAYLOR… THEODORE M.E. TAYLOR!

Applause turns to confusion.

WILL THEODORE M.E. TAYLOR PLEASE COME TO THE STAGE!

Split Second, I think to myself, Aw Screw it!

I think opportunity has knocked and I run-up to the stage.

I got this friend that wants to fuck a dwarf. 

A wave of laughter devours the stage.

Alright, it’s me. Hold on. Let me explain. I’m just in it for the story. Just about every hack comic has them I screwed a little person story. They’re all pretty much the usual I fucked one, please insert a small joke with a pun here. Doug Stanhope actually claimed to have hooked up with a little person and he doesn’t even have a story or joke for it. There have to be more variations on the genre of little person fucking? Is there a Jack Kerouac beat-inspired story popping with confusion, jazz, and Benzedrine? Where’s the young dwarf coming of age tale? The Anne Rice dwarf fucking story that spends 5 pages detailing the stitches of clothing on the dwarf’s dress. There has to be more to this sub-genre.

 Applause get louder. 

Well, at least for a split second inside my head.

Cause quite honestly I don’t do that set and never had because it sucks and you can’t polish a self indulgent turd. That sort of set would earn you multiple upper cuts between your legs by dwarf comic Lil’ Rob Armstrong.

As reality crashes in and I bolt to the green room, and shout, “THEO! GET YOUR ASS TO THE STAGE!”

 “I’m coming! I’m coming!”, Theo shouts as he runs to the showroom. 

Theo sprints to the stage and has an awesome show.

“What The?” I tell Theo after the show.

‘You know, Al if it were you late for the stage, I would of taken your spot.’ Theo tells me.

“In a New York minute?” I ask.

“In a New York Minute!”, Theo assures me.

Trust me the thought has entered my mind. Yet, I feel content. Something must be wrong with me. 

You know what’s not wrong with me? Catching me live on stage and having some laughs! Saturday I’m performing at a Pacific Plate Brewery with Eddie Pepitone and many more funny folks in “Punchline for Pangolins” All the money raised goes to Johannesburg Wild Life Vet and Global Conservation Force. You can get tickets here!

And I’ll be in Toluca Lake Monday opening for Martin Moreno, Felicia Michaels, Jill Kimmel, John DiResta and many more funny folks at Korrupted Comedy LA at Mrs. Robinson’s Irish Pub! You can get your tickets here!

Featured, Shameless Self Promotion!

Galentine’s Day Massacre

February 14, 2022
Happy Valentine's Or

I was once asked ’How do you do you heal a broken heart?

You don’t.

You let it fester inside until it causes physical pain and suffering. You cry in the shower like an adult as you feel the hope drain from your life. You create an armor of sarcasm and snark to protect your heart and shield yourself from all attempts at intimacy from others. Then your heart dies and you find joy in the pain and suffering of others because that’s the only way you can feel anything anymore. Or you can get a life.

Roses are Red,

Violets are blue,

You can’t save these hoes!

These hoes got to save themselves!

And by ho,

I mean the one in the mirror,

Looking right back at you!

Also I directed a “Special Valentine’s Day: Try Harder Sometimes”. It was fun to work with Alyssa Poteet, Olivia Hill the IX (on IMDB!), John Yabes and Kristen Lundberg! It’s cute send up of 90’s sitcoms and Wanda Vision. All of them funny comics and triple threats on and off stage in their own right.

In the meantime, you can catch me opening up for Jessimae Peluso’s Galentine’s Day Massacre tonight!

Featured, Shameless Self Promotion!

Big Night

February 7, 2022
Me & Mr. Tom Rhodes circa 2003

Sometimes I wonder how’d my life would of turn out, what if I had stuck to the straight and narrow? What if I stuck it with that psychology major and got that psychology degree? The one I had originally intended. Would I be happier? Would I be able to still have the ability to express myself? Would I still be resourceful? Knowing myself, I’d probably hang out with the same kind of people. They’d just be at a different income level. And I just got my booster shot.

Tonight 8:30 pm I’m performing with Tom Rhodes one of the biggest names and an influence on influences I started with. Tickets can be found here. It’s an honor and a big deal.

 

Featured, True Lies

“Well That Explains It”

January 16, 2022
9 shot of bears

“Kishi Kaisei, it’s a story of love, of hope of never giving up. And that story belongs to you and me and anyone fearless enough and anyone fearless enough to dream big..

Because the heart that beats in me is the heart that beats in you.

And the heart that beats as one is stronger than the two.” 

Regardless of who you are and where you’re from, 

It’s the unifying spirit that connects us as one.”

— Hiro the Rabbit

From 2015- 2016 while exploring the city and making deliveries, I started noticing stuffed animals hanging everywhere. There’s a teddy bear hanging from a power line. Oh and here’s another and another. And another and another and another… 

From Silverlake to WeHo to DTLA to Beverly Hills. I kept seeing them everywhere. I asked folks and got no answer. And by folks I mean other stand up comics. Most assumed it was some sort of drug thing. “Must be really good drugs” Some guessed “gang related”. What do they mean? A murder? Lynching of imaginary friends? Gang related? LA Death Museum had no answers. Neither did most folks. One comic proclaimed it’s an art project that says, “LA Kills Innocence!” This is Lost Angeles, “the Boulevard of Broken Dreams”.

So while making deliveries I just started taking photos and posting them & marking locations. Crescent & Fairfax, Crescent & Beverly Boulevard, El Centro & Fountain, Larrabee on Sunset, Melrose & Robertson, Oakwood & La Bre, Romaine & La Brea, Lexington & La Brea, Rodney & Franklin, Gower & Fountain, Martel & Melrose, Clinton & La Brea, Orlando on W. 3rd St., La Cienega & Rosewood, Waring between Alfred & La Cienega, Beverly and Orlando, Gardner & Beverly, Law Jolla & W. 3rd St. Everywhere I went there they were. And then some folks started accusing me of placing the bears around town. (I’m looking at you SNL writer Erik Marino!) It put me in a tizzy.

I was speaking with comic Or Mash who said “Hey Al, why don’t you google what the #HRKK Hashtag means?” So I googled it & found out. A few minutes later, it broke me. I laughed maniacally. I felt like Homer Simpson when he discovered Mr. Sparkle’s origin.

起死回生 Kishi Kaisei roughly translates to “Wake from death and return to life”

It also happens to be a single from the New Wave Electronica band Hearts Revolution “Ride of Die” album. During a 13 month period the band traveled with a dude in a track suit wearing a giant bunny head around Los Angeles in a magical Swarovski crystal ice cream truck. They met folks, danced with them and gave out ice cream. No murder or sinister Q Anon adjacent conspiracy. Sometimes the mind jumps into some dark spaces and we like to think the worst of things. It was just a poppy dance track that slaps hard, something the kids would call a “Bop”. The track slaps, I also recommend the tracks Choose Your Own Adventure and Kiss.

Sometimes it’s not an evil cult. Sometimes it’s a rock band traveling around the world doing crazy hippie stuff. And that’s why I don’t believe in most conspiracy theories.

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J. Fred Has Left the Building

September 30, 2021
Fred

To say J. Fred was intense would be like saying the Rolling Stones were just a garage band. If you met J. Fred, you had a J. Fred story. He was that memorable. Fred stood 6 ft 2 inches tall and larger than life. With an announcer’s inflection, Fred boomed instead of speaking and he played a mean six-string.

On stage J. Fred was high energy, subversive, and the perfect way to open a show. Fred crafted one-liners sharper than a mosquito’s pecker and played that guitar till he super glued his fingertips to prevent further bleeding. On stage, the song parodies blended seamlessly with one-liners into something that had to be seen to believe.

When I first met him, he was the only comic that left 2001’s Houston’s Funniest Person contest with an agent’s card. He opened for Lewis Black, Mitch Hedberg, Norm MacDonald, Louie Anderson, Lahna Turner, and Ralphie Maye. He was a fixture of both the Houston comedy and music scenes. You’d catch him everywhere from the Improv to the Laff Stop to Last Concert Cafe to Rudyards to Fitzgerald’s to the Mucky Duck to Avant Garden to wherever you could find a stage.

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He played the road, taught Comedy Defensive Driving, and also remembered what was it like before the Comedy Boom went bust in the early ’90s. He was one of the few comics that started at the Comedy Workshop Annex where Bill Hicks and Sam Kinison started.

He’s one of my oldest, nearest, and dearest friends I’ve made in stand-up. He was the Lenny to my George, the Rick Sanchez to my Bird Person, the Oscar to my Felix. Fred taught boundaries, mostly by stepping all over yours. Whether he was eating your food without asking, speaking so loud your right ear was getting deaf, or waving a spatula at my face angrily. You’d eventually learned to step up back at him when he stepped on you. Sometimes he’d back down, other times not so much. Eventually, things would come to a head and you’d have to have to take a break.

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He was far from perfect and would fall into moods and spiral into darker periods of self-destruction. Periods of going for shocks and awe instead of laughs. Playing songs on his head with a mallet. When Fred was in a dark place, he wanted to bring everyone down with him. The applause of the audience and playing his guitar and being with his German Shepherd dog Shephra soothed his soul. He still ruined the illusion of Flashdance for me.
Still, if you needed a helping hand, (or a helping kick or two.) Fred would roll up his sleeves and pitch in. It’s still hard to stay angry at someone with a good heart who heralded your name in song. He had songs for us all. When he played you couldn’t help but listen.

Occasionally he’d listen to what’s on your mind and give some seriously solid advice. He was a voice of wisdom and madness. I still find myself repeating sayings like “Don’t expect A work from a D student.” “Your emergency is not my fire drill.” “Haunted comics are comics who hear ghost laughs that aren’t there.” “Riot the time is now!” “Quack Quack!”

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He loved books and fishing. There were plenty of fish frys and Simpsons marathons. Up until his vision started deteriorating his bookshelf was filled with true crime, horror, and rock and roll biographies. He also tended to lose keys, cell phones, and bicycles. He loved Led Zepplin, Rodney James Dio, Rob Halford, Judas Priest, The first song he played was Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head. He’s one of the reasons I have a soft spot for musical comics.

He is survived by his brother Graham, his Methodist minister mom Sister Sarah and the many friends he made performing comedy and music inside and outside the Houston, Texas scene.

Featured, Shameless Self Promotion!, True Lies

Behind the curtain looking for my glasses,

January 8, 2020
Yes it is..

But this, this I type isn’t a dream. For the most part, I’m still surprised I’m still standing more or less.

Here are a few upcoming little victories this month.

Dirty Friday

Pepitone

Yes, Eddie Pepitone! If you want tickets get them here!

Jeff Garlin

Also you can curb your enthusiasm and catch me working with Jeff Garlin at Sycamore Tavern in Los Angeles. And get your tickets here!

That's me waaay in the back sticking my tongue out photo-bombing a Troy Conrad pic at the Comedy Store.

That’s me waaay in the back sticking my tongue out photo-bombing a Troy Conrad pic at the Comedy Store.

The current Hollywood Shuffle has been a zig-zag path of daily randomness of jumping from one thing to another. I get ‘hired’ for one thing and find myself doing more than I signed up for. Then again, I signed up for a lot. Still, I find myself replacing lights and mics. Lots of notes, rewordings, rewrites, reedits and remixes.

Here are some cool moments happen here a few of them I’m proud of.

Argus stage Lue Joey

Argus Hamilton prepping jokes for The Comedy Store Tonight with Argus Hamilton with fellow comics Lue Deck and Joey Gaynor on the Comedy Store Main Room a few hours before the club opens its doors.

With more than 40 years in the stand-up game “The Comedy Store Tonight with Argus Hamilton” breaks the late-night mold Johnny Carson perfected and gives it a Comedy Store twist.

And it all starts out off with a well-worn note pad. A news piece evolves into a premise here, a phrase there. From there Argus starts sandwiching them in between tried and true material on the Comedy Store stages. By the Sunday before Emma Leigh Rivera and I are recording promos. Argus’s already has 15 solid punch lines written out from premises from the week whittled down to five premises and hours before showtime he’s still working on it. He’ll change a word here, a phrase there or sometimes he flips a premise. And then Tuesday afternoon in the writers’ room he whittles it down some more. The man has had more than 42 years of international audiences of stage experience at the Comedy Store to adapt, sandwich in new jokes in between tried and true. Each week there a lot of folks running around, Starts and restarts, drop-outs and surprise drop-ins. It sincerely feels like it’s 1950’s live tv.

I’m glad to contribute to a show with the creative likes Brett Erickson, Josh Gibson, Dan Madonia, Mike Schmidt, Joey Gaynor, Sandro Ilocolano, Todd Walker, Lue Deck,  Petey C, and Emma Leigh Rivera. There’s a satisfaction seeing some really cool moments happen online and in that studio. And if I’m lucky Argus will use two tags I wrote.

Bill Burr Wide shot Use

I actually didn’t ring in 2020 at The Comedy Store. (Like 2019, 2018 was rung in on what turned out to be the last Show Up Go Up at the Comedy Store Belly Room. Or 2017 when I was hi-fived in the face by Melissa Eslinger or 2016 driving Uber.) There are are no photos because I was busy hosting my own show at Sycamore Tavern. You ain’t lived till you seen an entire room sing along with Glenn Bolton… That memory will be one of my favorites.. A perfect way to kick off a show and the new year. Thank you Trevor Keveloh for the opportunity.

NYE SC

LAst SUGU

LA is a constant cycle of going from zero to hero and then back to less than zero within 5 minutes. Moments of victory are fleeting and so are the moments of misery.

2018 I had gotten texts from family and friends congratulating me because they saw me on Orville. And right after sending thank yous, I continued to work the dish pit at Flappers. Feeling low, I ran into Sam Tripoli and thought, “Aw Crap! I’m going to get my balls busted.” Instead, Sam gave me a pep talk and offered me a spot on a show at Sycamore, Tavern. From there I stuck around, helped out, filled in for hosts and other responsibilities. And then the show ended. And then they decided to do an open mic. So I asked Erik Marino’s blessing to resurrect the Show Up Go Up LA. And We’re back!

SUGU The current roster of Show Up Go Up LA hosts, Mark Stevens, Victor Martinez Jr., Sarah Fatemi with guests Sean Hart and Bird Vs Bear. Currently missing Mia Mars.

That first night at the Dojo of Comedy with coproducers Sarah Kenny & Mark Stevens.

That first night at the Dojo of Comedy with coproducers Sarah Kenny & Mark Stevens.

Every Monday, I spend at Sycamore lying to myself that this open mike will be the last one. This is it this is the last show. It’s drop-ins, drop-outs, fit ins, making good on promises for folks that didn’t. Keeping the energy going between performers melting down, bombing on stage, killing and trying to get everyone up. Butt Luckily I got a good crew of coproducers/cohosts to back me up.

SUGU Woot

Solving a murder is the new American dream, that’s why true crime podcasts are so popular. Most folks are, “Why should I pursue social justice when I can get some real justice.”

I’m proud of my research on “Criiime with Rich Slaton and Jon Shefsky”. The research is extensive that went behind each episode is a series of rabbit holes in the darkness that is the human condition. I gotta hand it to Rich for maintaining the meticulous research for as long as he did. I’m surprised the stories don’t run as long as Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. But Slaton, Shefsky and guest just keep the stories and laughs going. It rude, crude and damn funny stuff.

Punching the Cow

The Hills Have Guys with Candice Thompson

Punching the Cow

Luke Short the Undertaker’s helper, The Pete Best of the Old West.

Bonnie and Cuck

Bonnie and Cuck: Cooneys Never Die! with Keith Carey and Tom Goss

When Criiime pays...

When Criiime pays..

How I just celebrated my first research writing gig. Half price pizza and half-price beer! Woot!

Rich had to take a hiatus from Criiime. You can catch him doing sport commentating for Clash Royale. He even showed up on TBS.

Fantasy House with Jon Shefsky is “HGTV on Acid”. Each week Jon “The Only Realtor in Southern California” Jon Shefsky is the blessed guest of some of the funniest people on earth Fantasy Homes. Quite honestly, these are modest homes in modest places. Modest places like in the clouds, a lighthouse on a volcano or the moon or Montana inside Jon Shefsky. There are ghost-butlers, attack chimps, miniature dinosaurs having business meetings, a room on trampolines, zip line, fighting pits and a puppy room. It’s silly and sometimes not safe for work fun and each episode makes you wonder “What if?” Lots of talented and funny folks all around.

And of course, I gotta plug Jon Shefsky. I spend a lot of time listening to Jon Shefsky. He’s funny imaginative and riffs in his sleep. I help out some behind the scenes duties.

fantasyhouse-cover-art

So what’s next? What’s the end game?

That Hill

I don’t know? That would imply the fun ride would end. I must be doing Hollywood wrong, because I’m enjoying this ride.

Featured, True Lies

TBT-Requiem For A Comedy Club

August 30, 2019
Don't Stop Sign

December 19th, 2009, the Houston Laff Stop closed its doors.

Here are some facts for those of ya’ll at home keeping score.

Last open mic night: December 9th, 2009

Last host and emcee: Barrett Goldsmith

Last feature act: Mike Vance

Last guest spot: Slim Bloodworth 

Last headliner: Carl Faulkenberry

Last club owner: Don Learned

Last general manager: Scott Garrett

Last doorman: Frank Garcia

Last bartender: Michael “Roach” Duran

Last winner of Houston’s Funniest Person Contest: John Gard

Marley2

Here’s a link to the Houston Chronicle’s Retrospective

http://www.chron.com/entertainment/photogallery/Laff_Stop_19812009.html

Here’s ace reporter Dusti Rhode’s account

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2009/12/laff_stop_houston_closed.php

0224453-R1-054-25A

I told a friend. His response, “The Laff Stop is closed? I thought it closed years ago.”

Others still have millions of questions.

“So what happened?”, they all ask.

Some people claimed to read the writing on the wall way earlier.  Some go as far back to ten years ago. One person said the first domino fell down the night management changed and Larry The Cable Guy was booked to a sold-out crowd.

Others point out allegations of embezzlement, a double shot of alleged managerial incompetence mixed with a bad economy.

Older faces quit, new faces appear with the consistency of a revolving door, lackluster crowds, perks disappear, new rules and times for open mics, goodwill gets lost on all sides of the club dynamic and locations changes, loss of local showcases, apathy to comics, apathy of comics, beer sold by the bucket, Gilbert Gottfried having trouble to fill the venue, comics feeling no longer welcome, comics moving forward in life, comics falling out of life, comics being banned from open mics, comics being forced to choose performance space. And that’s before the Laff Spot bought the Laff Stop.

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Yes, the copy, the Laff Spot bought the original, the Laff Stop. It’s weird and confusing. Like Coca Cola being bought out by Koko Coola.

During that time club owner, Don Learned was given a chance to buy the Laff Stop, he was already planning to move his club, ‘The Laff Spot’ from it’s Willowbrook location to it’s Louetta Road location.

Most likely that change of venue didn’t do as well as planned. With enough resources to run one comedy club at a time, Don Learned was forced to make a decision. Which club do I keep? Do I keep the one in my name? Or do I keep the one with the better reputation and location that’s not in my name? In the end, he chose to save the one in his name. Faced with the same set of circumstances’ Do I save my kid or the adopted kid?’ many people would do the same.

For many weeks the inner knitting circles of Houston comics were buzzing rumors.

“Did you hear about the Stop? Keep it a secret don’t tell anyone.” gets repeated over and over, leading to Friday, December 18th, 2009 comedian Scott White posts the Facebook status update which sends ripples across the internet.

Leading to Shecky Magazine.com posting Laff Stop closing in 14 Hours.

http://www.sheckymagazine.com/2009/12/houston-laff-stop-closing-in-about-14.html

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What I didn’t understand. Why the secret? Wouldn’t it make better sense for comics to know? Wouldn’t it make sense marketing-wise? The Chronicle and other media venues could have gotten involved. More people would have come, filled out the club and give it the send-off it deserved. For many folks their time at the Stop was magical. It should of ended with a bang, it ended on a whimper. It was a third show on a Saturday night with 50-60 people in the audience and a gathering of knitting circle comics who haven’t hit a stage in a long time, taking photos and snatching keepsakes when nobody was. It could have been grand, instead, it was meh.

“Feels more like an execution than a goodbye,” Staci Komp tells me as multiple comics take their keepsakes as a reminder of times past. Rob Mungle tells everyone about the impromptu Irish Wake at the original location which is now the Sherlocks on West Gray.

What did I get myself into?

What did I get myself into?

Here are some of the things overheard at the Eulogy.

I remember hosting an open mic and a headliner bumping someone off the list. So I said, ‘This next act calls himself an Entertainer. If you have to use the word Entertainer in your name, you’re probably not one. Give it up for Cedric the Entertainer.’

–Martin Walsh

Sarah Tollemache, Diane Cups and Kristin Lindner team up and rip on each other a new one. Billy D. Washington recounted his one side abusive love affair with the club. And reminded comics to look beyond the cliques. Rob Mungle thanked everyone in a speech that made even most hardened bastard get misty-eyed. It was a bittersweet night which ended with little baby getting on the mic.

Even got a souvenir too!

Even got a souvenir too!

Gone are the Wednesday night open mic lines that start at 3:30 pm. Gone are the nights hanging out comics, staff, and fans after a show. I remember seeing Mitch Hedberg rock the mic. Don Irrera giving advice. Doug Stanhope recording “Die Laughing” right after 9/11. Gabriel Iglesias, Felipe Esparza, and Armando Cosio giving me my first guest spot. Interviewing Dane Cook in the green room. Shooting sketches with the Boscos sketch comedy troupe. Watching the Brassy Broads and Black and Blue shows. Driving Daniel Tosh to his hotel room. Hanging out with Bryan Hurzie, Niki Key and the many talented cast of characters that populated the Houston scene. Witnessing Dave Attell doing a  sold-out show and living up to his reputation. Chuckling to myself knowing every show started with 2 video shorts Mark Babbitt had me shoot. I remember the Open Mic on 9/10/2001.  I remember taking a bus to sign up on a Monday night after my car died a painful death. Albert DeLeon and Larry Simon teaming up to disturb people. Monday nights were spent learning to make strangers laughs. So many characters, so many memories, joy and pain, it was a good time. I’m glad I made the most of it.

Later at the Comedy Showcase, Annual Christmas Party / Cajun Queen Birthday Bash. Caroline Picard makes proudly displays the chaffing dishes that go back from her old restaurant from way back.

“It’s just like the time before, back when the comedy boom of the 80’s went bust. Time to get off the pot or shit. A lot of ‘comics’ are either going to continue on or get a new hobby. Take a look at today’s big names. They’re the ones that kept on going.”

Ultimately that is all we can do.

HCF_4_093

*Montage photo of Houston Laff Stop Comedy Scene Regulars by Steve Ryan more can be found on www.Marley.net

Photo from 2006 Houston Comedy Festival by Marc Katz

Currently as of 2019 there are only 2 comedy clubs in the greater Houston area, The Secret Group & The Houston Improv.

Featured, True Lies, Uncategorized

Space City Madness

March 1, 2019
Houston Skyline

Houston, Texas, a long time ago….

“New beginnings are scary at first.”, Slim tells me as we sip coffee on the patio. I had just settled into my first apartment by myself in Montrose.

Suddenly, “Ahhhh! I cut myself because I was angry at him!” the 17 year-old girl next door bursts out of her apartment. She yelps as she drops her large blood-stained kitchen knife.

“Honey, why you crying?” Slim asks.

“It hurts!”

“Of course it’s going to hurt, it’s a knife that’s what they do when you use them on yourself. “ Slim has me spitting out my coffee.

I excuse myself, head to my apartment and grab a random shirt from the door. I wrap the shirt around her arm.

“You know what you did is stupid.” Slim continues to hit the hapless girl with savage one-liner after one-liner.

“Yeah, you’re right Slim, new beginnings are scary at first.

The ambulance arrives Slim and I finish our coffee. That’s when I knew I was home.

So Long Texas

I think of Slim’s words as I hug her wife Alex as I head out of Texas to California…