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Mike Schmidt

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

 

Featured, Shameless Self Promotion!, True Lies

If You’re Going To Get Your Balls Busted…

September 14, 2015
Green Room Hallway Life — with Erica Mills, Al Bahmani, Jeremiah Watkins, Ahamed Weinberg, Chance Royce, Brian Moses at The World Famous Comedy Store. Photo by Troy Conrad http://www.rationalentertainment.com

Late Night, Comedy Store I find myself pacing near the parking lot.

“You alright?” asks Kyle Henson.

“I’m not being antisocial, but it’s like a dragon’s claw is squeezing my gut. I’d rather be socially awkward than shit myself. Cause shitting myself would be even more awkward and…”

Kyle stops me mid-sentence, “Just breathe, inhale and exhale.”

I take in Kyle’s words, “inhale, exhale” and the grip in my stomach loosens.

“Inhale, exhale” anxiety leaves the pit of my stomach. “Inhale, exhale..”

Suddenly Tony Hinchcliffe stops, pauses and says to me, “Whatever you’re doing, it’s not working”.

Then my stomach makes an audible grumble and I feel a dragon claw tear at my insides.

Bastard.

I shake my fist at the sky as realize the podcast is called Kill Tony for a good reason.

Well, if you’re going to get your balls busted, get them busted by the best.

"I'm a Houston comic, I thought the nerdy Mexican was going to lose." -- Ralphie May Photo by Troy Conrad 2015 http://www.rationalentertainment.com/

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

Ralphie May, Steve Rannazzisi, Jeff Ross, Pete Holmes and Mike Lawrence get to bust my balls too!

Now on to the Roast Battle!

Austin Vs. Houston!

Al Bahmani Vs. Chance Royce!

"Let's Roast!" -- Brian Moses Photo by Troy Conrad 2015 http://www.rationalentertainment.com/

“Let’s Roast!” — Brian Moses Photo by Troy Conrad 2015 http://www.rationalentertainment.com/

Funniest Person in Austin finalist Chance Royce’s insults hit hard. He delivered each insult with the conviction of a snake handler mid rapture “Al’s had the same glasses for 10 years. The only thing he’s used longer…are his jokes.”

Yeah Chance hit hard., I just hit back harder with“ Chance Royce is an environmentally safe comic, he uses 75% recycled premises.” and won.

“I thought the nerdy Mexican was going to lose”

Ralphie May

For a full play by play check out the Roast Report. Thank you Brian Moses and everyone at the Comedy Store from the Haters to the Wave who’s name I’m still learning for creating one hell of an event. Listen the Podcast Here! Thanks again to Troy Conrad for the great photos! Much respect to Chance Royce for representing Austin and being a good sport. Also Congrats to Austin comic Michael Monsour for winning his first Roast Battle! He dedicated his win to memory the late Monty Seitz.

"The Alamo Wins Again" -- Brian Moses Photo by Troy Conrad http://www.rationalentertainment.com

“The Alamo Wins Again” — Brian Moses Photo by Troy Conrad 2015 http://www.rationalentertainment.com

So I’m 2-0 at Roast Battle!

It’s a great feeling that came to pass.

My next Roast Battle is October 13th, 2015 at the Comedy Store against Mike Schmidt!

No not the Phillies 3rd baseman from the 1970’s!

This Mike won the title of Madison’s Funniest Comic 2011!

So has anything changed?

Other than the comics at Show Up Go Up Variety Show singing me Happy Birthday and a beautiful woman walking up to the stage to kiss me. I normally don’t make grand events out of my birthday, damn that was awesome!

Thanks again Erik Marino and Kenny Lion for running a good show in a bomb proof room. In fact thank you Lahna Turner, Amber Lynn, Dinah Leffert, Tuesday Thomas, Brian Moses, Jose Trevizo, Frank Yi, Dick Williams, Clarke McMakin, Burt Teplitzky, Fielding Edlow and the gang at Canter’s Deli Kibitz Room and everyone else I forgot. Thank ya’ll for the opportunity to entertain folks and hone my voice at some fun at really interesting venues.

Follow @ShowUpGoUPShow on Twitter, Instagram & Periscope

#SHAMLESSPLUG

Off stage the next morning following a night of great comedy arrives with reality of a hangover. You wake up and are reminded of your place in the scheme of things.

I still park at up that hill when I head to The Comedy Store. I still put my name in a bucket for the chance to sharpen up old bits and work on new bits at the open mics I go to. I still stumble into Bellyroom and sweat to watch the Roast Battles from a reflection like most comics. I still get stuck in traffic. Progress is slow. I can do only so much in twenty four hours. I can only push myself for so long. Pace myself, put in some work and pay my dues. Write, rewrite, organize, edit, record myself, submit to festivals, make and take opportunities when I see them. I’m still one car wreck, sickness or broken smartphone away from real hard times.

Recently I delivered a six pack of beer to a gal who was crying, “I’m sorry I’m not usually not like this.” she says to me as she wipes her eyes and tries to surpress another sniffle.

That’s alright, this too shall come to pass.

She smiles and perks up wanting to hear more.

In fact there are three sayings that are true for all times.

And they are?

“What is is. This too shall come to pass. And because Fuck You! That’s why!”

She snorts, laughs and gives me a fist bump.

It’s a good feeling, I’ll enjoy it while I still can.