Browsing Tag

Erik Marino

Featured, Shameless Self Promotion!, True Lies, Uncategorized

Keep-It-Moving

March 26, 2018
Outside the Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd. Photo by Troy Conrad

“So Al, what have you been up to?”, asks an old Houston Comedy Frenemy. 

“You first, because it’s going to sound like I’m bragging.” I then stretch out both my arms back and point to the poster on the back door of the Comedy Store, “I’m hosting a show at the Belly Room.” They then walk away from me.

“But wait! There’s more!”, I declare as I hear them speedwalk halfway past Bill Hick’s name on the wall.

Filling in for Kyle Ray

“The toilet paper had a baby on it and it winked at me.”

Jay Light

“And that’s how I found out I’m not made for cage fighting”

Glenn Bolton

“The music is bumpin’ so loud, she won’t smell this.”

Rasheed Stephens

“I got an inflatable Dick costume, $65.95!”

Becky Robinson

“They were normal till they found the bodies in the basement.”

Amanda Cohen

“By the time we got home, there were 15 people protesting with us.”

Rich Slaton

“So I meet the guy with the lie detector at the Arby’s on Sunset.”

Josh Nasar

“Sometimes after a vasectomy, it fixes itself.”

Porcia Bartholomae

“That dude got the devil in his eyes. You got you into this mess. I’m sorry, but I got to go.”Nia DeBose

Top to Bottom left to right, see quotes below.

Top to Bottom left to right, see quotes above to match comic.

Kyle Ray’s Bedtime Stories at the World Famous Comedy Store: Real Life Real Funny. If you’re interested in storytelling Kyle Ray even wrote a pretty solid guide here. Kyle’s in Vegas right now, I’ll be hosting. For tickets click here…

"The Yoga Incident" Now On Funny Or Die!

Nia DeBose runs sound Pamela Walt and Steven Garza Isak Allen’s “The Yoga Incident” Now On Funny Or Die!

“So Joey (Gaynor) what side were you on during the comics’ strike?*”

“The right side.”

“And that side is?” asks “I Am Sam Kinison” director Adrian Buitenhuis. 

Top Photo by Jerry D Photography

Top Photo by Jerry D Photography Bottom right to left Q&A Panel line up, Lue Deck’s POV behind the scenes of his part of the documentary.

 

* (For more information on the strike, you can read more about it in William Knoedelseder’s book “I’m Dying Up Here”! Season 2 Premieres on Sunday, May 6 at 10 pm ET/PT. It’s Jim Carrey’s baby, starring Melissa Leo and Ari Graynor, Al Madrigal, Erik Griffin, Rick Overton, Andrew Santino, Earl Skakel and more!**

**Not a Spoiler TV show wise, names, histories, legends have been fudged enough to make your own speculations. That’s half the fun. Season 2 of Showtime Series produced by Jim Carrey gets released in May!)

Enter Ron Jeremy

Left to right Me, Joey Gaynor behind Corey Feldman, Adrian Buitenhuis, Dan Barton, Felicia Michaels, Judy Tenuda, Bill Kinison & Ron Jeremy Photo by Jerry D Photography 2017.

Some folks get to represent Houston, with an Astros jersey. Me, I get to moderate a panel at the Comedy Store’s Main Room for “I Am Sam Kinison”, a documentary about Houston’s greatest comic.

“Houston has a comedy scene?”

Every time I hear that from a fellow comic, I honestly want to vomit blood on their shoes. That goes double if they’re from Houston.

Yeah, Houston has a comedy scene.

In fact, Houston was where Bob Newhart was given his chance at recording “The Unbuttoned Mind” when Chicago wouldn’t take a chance on him. Houston also extended the chance for Mitch Hedberg, Doug Stanhope, and Louis CK and many more to record their albums at the old Laff Stop on West Gray. Houston was also the city that gave a former Pentecostal preacher named Sam Kinison a second wind as a stand-up legend.

What Snoop Dogg is to rap in Long Beach Sam Kinison is to comedy in Houston. From Bill Hick to Ralphie Maye to Carl LaBove to Rob Mungle to Slim Bloodworth to Olivia Arrington to Danny Rios to Caroline Picard to Reverend Bart to Warren Wright to many many more names who I got to tell Bill Kinison himself.

“Many more of them burn out self-destruct, goddamn do they burn brightly.” I shake Bill’s hand and he laughs.

Even though he’s been dead for more than twenty years, you can hear that primal scream in Joe Rogan, Joey Diaz, Bill Burr, Doug Stanhope, Erik Marino and so many countless others who were influenced by the man. Each comic took that intense wave of dark energy and rode it off into their own direction. And it gets bigger if you include the number of comics influenced by those he’s impacted.

To do a proper Sam Kinison doc you’d need an unlimited budget and the running length of a Ken Burns documentary series to even barely scratch the surface.The filmmakers did the best with what they had time and budget to allow.

Did you know it costs 20,000.00 to license Sam’s “Wild Thing” music video?

Ultimately the hope is that the documentary is watched by a new generation of fans and comics who decide to dig deeper. Everyone has their own Sam Story and as far I’m concerned they’ve all been toned down to be believed.

Other things of note regarding the documentary. There’s Houston Comedy Workshop Annex footage that has been hanging around in a garage for thirty plus years. I also found myself starstruck by Judy Tenuda. There’s just something about a woman with an accordion. If you’re the smartest and funniest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. I’ve never been so glad to be in the right room.

Podcast Grid

“Have you thought about doing a podcast?” Mike Schmidt asks me.

“Eh, I only listen to a few.”

“Al, as a comic, you need to expand your horizons. You work hard and I’m offering you an opportunity to expand.”

“I don’t know? What it would be about? It’s gotta say something.”

“Exactly. Think about it and pitch me something.”

I peek through the Comedy Store Original Room and catch a snippet of Argus Hamilton as he shoots out a new one political one-liner. Knod my head and wave to various comics as I duck and dodge my way to pick up drink buckets for comics to slip their names in.

Goat Vs Fish Meets Erik Marino

Goat Vs Fish meets comic and former SNL screenwriter Erik Marino

Later that night, Sarah Kenny picks a name out of the bucket.

Let’s give it up for Goat Vs Fish!

In the beginning, there was goat and fish! The Goat-Fish! And the goat versus the fish! And the fish Versus the goat! All is goat versus fish! There is no alpha or omega! No good or evil! No black or white! There is only goat versus fish! Only one question, “Are you a goat or are you a fish?” This one who calls himself, Joshua Meyrowitz, are you goat of fish! , He then points at Joshua Meyerowitz.

I don’t know!

Answer me!

I knew you were going to ask me that question.

I now produce The Goat Vs Fish Podcast every week at the World Famous Comedy Store. It’s about 20 plus episodes in and quite honestly like FLCL, I don’t get it but I enjoy the hell out of it. You can download an episode from iTunes and wherever fine podcasts are found.

And I also help produce “Andrea Loves Everybody” at Comedy Pop Up Studios with Andrea Guzzetta and Paul Anthony Verdugo. Every episode Andrea explores emotional minefields with an inquisitive mind, a sharp wit, and an open heart. Also available on iTunes and wherever fine podcasts are found.

So I’m producing podcasts I want to listen to now.

Current FOMO

Newer Asylum

And I’ve been showing up on tv shows, but that’s another set of hijinks. More to come! What and where I honestly don’t know.

Featured, Shameless Self Promotion!, Uncategorized

Looking Back Moving Forward..

June 10, 2017
Calm before the upcoming comedy storm. Little things like tape over the pens deters communal pen theft & tickets instead of slips of paper in one bucket add to the room.

Sunday night/Monday morning The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip.

I stagger out the door, sweaty, voice ragged from cat herding, half tired and still visibly shaking from the after effects 3 cans of yerba mate too many.

“So how was your night?” asks Comedy Store door guy Deric Poston.

I laugh maniacally.

“So, it was that good?”

I start laughing maniacally again. I wouldn’t spend my Sunday night any other way.

Photo Jun 06, 10 38 29 AM

And if we do our job right, folks won’t be sure if we did anything at all.

Please stand or take a respectful Colin Kaepernick knee!

It all starts with a song, “The Official Unofficial National Anthem”. It’s not the actual national anthem. Comics with musical skills like Jeanne Whitney, Kelsey Lane, Sean Hart, Caesar Lizardo, Anna Valenzuela and more kick off the show with any song of their choice. 

For the most part, the rotating musical guests really bring up the audience in a roar. And right before the song reaches its peak, you can feel the energy level of that little Belly Room raise to levels of untold intensity.

Erik Marino and starts, continues and repeats his spiel as more comics, new hopefuls and surprise audience start to arrive throughout the night.

Photo Jun 09, 5 44 02 PM

“And that’s how we start a show! With Talent! The bar has been set high! Who can follow that! Who can follow that! Don’t ruin my show! Who can follow this right now! Who can start my show! Any takers? 

(Awkard Silence.)

Just remember when you go to sleep tonight when you have a dark night of the soul and have a crisis of conscience. Remember this moment. Remember where you had the chance and you didn’t take the chance. 

I want you to be funny! 

Welcome to Show Up Go Up LA, the most misunderstood show in comedy. And if you stay at the end of the night everyone gets a chance to work on one piece of material. I created an open mic that was fun to watch. Some people don’t like it and they’re wrong!

And if you can’t survive me on a Sunday night then you can’t survive Hollywood! We have many ways to go on stage. We have guests, we got segments. You can even create your own segments. There are so many ways you can go up. 

This is the Bucket of Destiny feel free to sign a ticket and put your name in the bucket. One time only! And this is the bucket of bar tabs buy as many drinks or non-alcoholic items, a drink, chicken fingers, a Comedy Store t-shirt. It has to be a Comedy Store Receipt from today! Not a Toys R Us, 99 Cent Store receipt from God knows when! 

Buy five beers get five chances. It doesn’t even have to be alcohol. We have joke challenges where you can compete and the funniest joke gets the next 3 minutes of stage time. We have open mic bingo. We’re going to bring out and old segment I think is a mistake. I’m going to give out my cell phone number. The best text will get 3 minutes later in the show.”

— Erik Marino

Photo Jun 09, 5 51 26 PM

Take the sensationalism of PT Barnum, mix in 2 parts Eddie Wilson from “Eddie and the Cruisers” add multiple shots of Sam Kinison, Hunter S. Thompson and whiskey you end up with an Erik Marino. Erik’s written for television shows like ‘Ellen’ and ‘Weeds’. He was even at the Olympics in Rio with Leslie Jones. Marino was also a Groundling and even was quoted in ‘The New Yorker’ too.

Say what you want about the man, he puts in his time and keeps the open mic slaughter house floor as entertaining as possible. It would be easier to just run the average mutual admiration showcase of funny friends on what excluding holidays is one of the historically slower late nights of the week in the smallest room of the Comedy Store. It would much easier, but it wouldn’t be as fun. 

In addition to Erik Marino, Sarah Kenny and Mark Stevens on sound also keep the show on track. There’s a lot of cat herding and adult daycare involved in keeping on track. With about on average about 400 viewers on Periscope, the behind the scenes of Show Up Go Up LA at the Comedy Store has a live 1950’s television show vibe to it. There’s running to make sure performers are ready, telling folks that they’re getting bumped, setting up the room, tearing the room down, putting out ego fires, maintaining social media accounts, helping with the clean up of the room, tracking down comics again and all sorts of other fun to happen.

Little things like Sarah Kenny using tickets instead of slips of paper, sign up pens with really bright tape attached to it to help remind folks not to lift the pen make a big difference. There’s a lot that goes wrong and a lot that goes right despite our best and worse efforts.

 So yeah, I went from hanging out at an open mic at the Comedy Store to Co-producing it.

So how’d you get that?

It wasn’t something that was given to me. I saw an opportunity to pitch in and I pitched in and I kept showing up, pitching in more and things organically worked that way.

And if the current team of myself, Erik Marino, Sarah Kenny and Mark Stevens on sound makes it to late July/August, it’ll be a full year we all came together and rolled up our sleeves and kept the show running on the rails. That one night in July it was like the Avengers coming together with Erik Marino as both Captain America and Loki rolled into one.

Show Up Go Up LA returns to The World Famous Comedy Store June 18th, 2017 10:30pm!

Katrina Davis

And I busted my lip while doing a good deed.

While helping a lady change her tire at the gas station, I busted my lip in the same spot I had stitches.  They forgot their tire iron, I wasn’t in a hurry and so I decided to give my tire iron a try and it worked. Well except for that last lug nut.

So I did the logical thing. I stepped on my tire iron with one leg and use my body weight to push it down. Nope, no movement, none at all. It supported my full weight.  So I did the next logical thing and stood on it with both legs, still no movement. So logically I started jumping with both feet on the tire iron. 123.. Nope. 123.. Nope.. 1..2. And bam! I ended up busting up my lip. The tire got changed. She paid for my gas before I could slide my card in the machine. Not a bad way to start a day.

Note to self, be more careful and try not to get myself killed again. How I am still alive and not missing any(more) body parts is beyond my comprehension.

Oh, if I make it to my next birthday I’ll be back in Houston 8 pm Thursday, August 17th, 2017! Woooo! I’m surprised I still have a lower lip and the use of my right foot. That’s a more brutal story. It’s “Chicken Soup For the Soulless!”

New Rudz Flyer

It’s good to be back at Rudyard’s  to reconnect with some good friends like Slim Bloodworth and Warren Wright.

August 17th, 2017 

Tickets are $7

2 for $10!

Rudyard’s

2010 Waugh

Houston, Texas 77006

Slim Bloodworth killing it at the last guest spot at the last night of the Houston Laff Stop. Warren Wright on a road trip to Cap City and the LBJ museum in Austin Texas while passing a fire at fireworks factory near the fourth of July.

Slim Bloodworth killing it at the last guest spot at the last night of the Houston Laff Stop. Warren Wright on a road trip to Cap City and the LBJ Museum in Austin Texas while passing a fire at a fireworks factory near the fourth of July.

 A bonafide “Dyke of Hazard”, Slim can out-drink, out-fight, out-cuss and out-joke any comic twice her size. She even came back from the dead after flatlining while on a gig in Ottawa, Canada.  And she’s been a part of many more crazy times.

Warren Wright is a frantic force of nervous energy balled up exploding onto insane laughs on stage and he’s also one of the hardest working characters off stage too. Not since Matthew Broussard starting his first year in stand up have I seen a comic rise so skillfully quick on stage by leaps and bounds. All around good people and phenomenal comics, what more can you ask for? Other than a Rudz burger and maybe a Shiner Bock or two.

Rudz

I have a history with Rudyard’s. It was the first room that I saw local Houston comics’ like Niki Key and Melissa Nichols take control of their careers and produce their own full comedy shows outside a club structure of any kind. People do it all the time, for me that blew my mind. Since then there have been so many moments at that Rudyard’s stage good, bad and in between. I cut my teeth on that stage, even learned how to co-book a show and promote one too. Even made the Houston Press’ Best Place For Local Comedy 2007.  

After the Laff Stop closed and before the current rise of local scene like The Secret Group it seemed like clubs were closing one after another and the Houston comedy felt kinda post-apocalyptic. Lots of talent either moving on, dropping out or just staying on the road and holding onto what little they had left. Eventually, Kevin Farren resurrected comedy at Rudyard’s after Sherlock’s Pub on West Gray closed its doors in and inner loop Houston lost another local comedy hub after the Laff Stop closed its doors in ’09. Local comic, Dusti Rhodes currently runs one of the best mics on Monday night at Rudyard’s and for more that a couple of years it’s currently still one of the best stages for music and comedy in Houston on any night. If you’re in Houston on a Monday night, Rudyard’s Comedy Mic is definitely worth checking out. 

In other news, I designed a book cover!

It's weird looking something you whipped up in physical form. Second Edition available on www.m3publishers.com!

It’s weird looking something you whipped up in physical form. Second Edition available on www.m3publishers.com!

Right now I’m heading off to perform The Great Untamed in Laramie, WY with Jose Trevizo, Spencer Kalendar & Keenan Kusnierczyk!KOTH

I’m a lucky man to make it this far. In the long run, it isn’t much to pile a hill of beans on but it’s my molehill and I had help. For starters, I get trusted to run other shows and not burn down the place when the regular host is out.

I am thankful to those who keep me running around in multiple directions and keep building up things in different directions.  I survive daily in part to friends, family, exes of days past and folks who find me not so bad a person to pass the time with. If I were to list them all would be a blog post in itself, still, thank you.

Better to be in purgatory with good company than lonely in heaven.

To still be here so far still feels like an achievement, even though at times it doesn’t feel so much.

Featured, True Lies

And Breathe..

November 26, 2015
Photo by Troy Conrad http://www.rationalentertainment.com

Disclaimer:  

If you’re looking for journalistic integrity, politics or a moral at the end, go somewhere else.  

October 14th, 2015, 12:40ish am 

The World Famous Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip, Los Angeles, California

To say things were crazy is a bit of an understatement. Roast Battles at the Comedy Store by nature are intense experiences. Yet the verbal slugfest of Jay Light vs Kim Congdon ended up being just the cherry on top of a wild and crazy night. Somewhere in the beginning of the Roast Battle Jamar Neighbors and the Wave had just switched sides and antics with “The Haters” Earl Skakel, Omid Singh and Keith Carey. Then Roast Master General Jeff Ross had arrived with Anthony Jeselnik adding to the on and off color commentary of Joshua MeyrowitzBrian MosesJustin Martindale and Tiffany HaddishI also lost my first Roast Battle to Madison Wisconsin’s Funniest 2011 and newly christened Comedy Store door guy, Mike Schmidt. A couple of moments later that becomes the furthest thing from my mind.

Erik Myers was performing in the Original Room to fellow comics like Don Barris and David Taylor and the audience inside. The audience from the Laff Mob Show were hanging out at the Comedy Store’s front patio with the other comics like Brandt ToblerOlivia Grace, and Josh Nasar. Young 23-year-old Richard “Rick” James was standing at the Comedy Store’s front doors as an unidentified man wearing a grey hoodie and gloves walks towards him. Meanwhile fellow Houston comics Nia DeBoseMark Hurtado and I take a step towards the patio entrance of the Comedy Store.

“Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!”

“Firecrackers?” I say to myself as I keep stumbling into the chaos as Nia, Mark and various people with more sense than me start to run off into their own different directions. I see broken glass from dropped drinks, comics, patrons and staff huddled in the corners of the bar hiding for cover. Then from the corner of my eye I spot a guy in a grey hoodie pulling sideways trigger after the clip had been emptied. He turns around and sprints into Sunset Blvd down Olive St.

“Breathe in. Breathe out! Breathe.. Breathe in. Breathe out. Stay with us! You’re going to make it. You’re going to be alright.”  Josh Nasar calmly tries to console Rick as he starts to shiver and gurgle in his arms. When most folks were thinking about survival, Josh Nasar leapt in and tried help out young Rick. “Anyone have towels?!” Josh exclaims. Rose the bartender rushes towards the back to get towels as I sheepishly hand Josh stolen napkins from my linty pocket. 911 is called and it ends as quickly as it began. Rose arrives with towels and tries to stop the bleeding. Rick shivers and gurgles his last breath while in both their arms. Not all heroes wear capes, some just happened to be on “Sons of Anarchy” and work the bar at the Comedy Store. To quote another Josh“Much respect Josh. Much respect Rose”.

Police and an ambulance arrive within minutes. Comics in the Belly Room like Izzy SalhaniAnna Valenzuela, and Rasheed Stephens start to realize something is up when they see a tearful Rose running into the Belly Room followed by Don Barris. Rumors and speculation start to percolate from the back of the Belly Room. Kim Congdon delivers a savage zinger and confirmed word arrives in the form of Mike Schmidt pausing the show “I need to make an announcement.” “Oh what, someone got shot?” jokes the Roastmaster General.

The show goes on and everyone is corralled into the parking lot. It’s a tense moment. People check in on one another and ask each other “Where were you?”.  Some take photos while most start searching for a zinger that just won’t come. Maybe there might such a thing as too soon? What’s the point? Are we safe? Are less comics going to go to the Store? Or are more comics going to show up because they hear less comics are there? Will the audience still be there? Earl Skakel throws out a couple of one liners and the folks around him in the parking lot erupt in laughter.

People are only permitted to leave 5 at a time after they answer a series of questions.

“What was the suspect’s ethnicity? Did he have a beard? What color clothes was he wearing?”

Even fresh memories are weird and bendable things. Some said the shooter had a beard, while others claim he was wearing a bandana over his face. Some saw gloves and identified the firearm as a Glock. Off record everyone has their own theories. Maybe it was a hit? Gang related? I don’t know. So much went wrong, yet so much went right. Nobody else was hurt. The show went on. Ironically that cramped and sweaty Comedy Store Belly Room was the safest room in the building.

Everything around me started to mute itself and go down a couple of notches. The trek up King’s Rd with Nate Hurd and Josh Meyrowitz didn’t bother me as much as it usually did. So much uncertainty and neurotic thoughts entered and danced around in my head.

The following Thursday the Comedy Store reopened its doors. I figure I might as well show up. Once there I realize my neurotic fears were just neurotic fears. Both comics and audience were back in full force. There were hugs, fist bumps, drinks, snark and bittersweet laughs. For a moment I found myself staring at the entrance a little too long. Yeah, I’m still showing up.

So much happens at the Store at any given night. At times it can be a fantastic wonderland where celebrities, headliners, hopefuls, and unsavory characters of questionable moral fiber mingle freely. Other times the Comedy Store is a dark place where insecurities are amped up and preyed upon by those who need the pain of others to warm their cold dead hearts. Opportunities are made and dreams are crushed by the minute. What’s there not to like?

It’s still a Reece’s Peanut butter cup of crisis and opportunity coming together in a tasty bittersweet imperfect mix of silliness and madness. An open mic segment at Erik Marino‘s Show Up Go Up could easily morph into a podcast or an event of it’s own which can spread across the nation like wild fire. The Roast Battle Show is proof of that. The shows that seem to fill up the room are usually the result of comics coming together organically to make something happen. Comics see something work and someone pitches in here, someone else pitches in there and cool things happen. Cool things like Roast Battle with Brian Moses and Coach Tea, Kill Tony with Tony HinchcliffeUntil I Lose Interest by David TaylorThe Comedy Store Podcast with Rick Ingraham and The Ding Dong Show with Don Barris are proof of that. It’s still a petri dish of creative anarchy. What most folks would call a festival in Houston, Texas is what I call just another night at the Comedy Store. Changes are made and the show goes on.

Weeks later, outside the Belly Room where the roof meets the stairs I overhear Josh Nasar reveal to Melissa Eslinger what was going on in his head at the time. “You do what you do because it’s survival instinct. You can’t torture yourself with the what ifs, could of beens. You don’t think about these types of things, you just react. You do your best, move on and react to the moment.” And just like that my anxiety goes down a couple of notches. I find myself gazing at the stars and enjoying the moment.

Then Mike Schmidt taps me on the shoulder to tell me to stop sitting on the roof.

 

*Photo by Troy Conrad