Florida Fundraiser

Last week I got an e-mail from Flappers asking for Floridian comics to do a fundraiser for those affected by hurricane Irma. Being a native Floridian, I replied that I would be available if they needed me.

On Friday, I got the e-mail saying they did want me. 6 minutes. Sunday early evening. I put up a few posts about it. The time of the show was smack during two football games and the Emmy awards. So I was pretty pleased that we got as many people; it was about 20 people. Still, it was a fun show – all the comedians were great and great to work with.

I did a few Florida specific bits. I had planned to do a longer Disneyland set and the Mim S&M piece, but since everyone else on the show had TV & movie credits, I decided at the last minute to do my IMDB bit. I guess it’s a good sign that I’ve got enough material that I can swap some in/out at the last minute.

It’s probably going to be a little quiet on the comedy front for a while. I am going to Sacramento this week for business (my software job), and next weekend we have a friend visiting from San Diego, so those will occupy my time. But I’ll make time if you want to book me.

 

The Best of the Worst

This summer I was back at Burning Man for the first time since 2013, and it was a busy week.

Monday I made my Center Camp Cafe debut. Ok it was on the spoken word stage, and I was between a guy talking about the “message” science fiction film he just finished and a woman talking about her transition from IBM executive to ‘clairvoyant business consultant’. So, maybe it wasn’t the best lineup for a comedy set. Still, I got to try a few new bits and found out that several others don’t work in the context of Burning Man. If you’re not learning you’re not growing, right?

I had a small (but spread out over a large area) art installation in Black Rock City. I haven’t received any e-mails about it, so I don’t know if anyone actually saw it.  Sometimes you do art because you need to get it out there and it doesn’t matter what the reaction (or lack of reaction) is.  Besides, it was at least as good as the disco goat someone else did.

Some of our San Diego friends put up a major art project – ‘The Journey’. It was spectacular. We helped with the breakdown & load into the truck for home part.

Our camp was mostly fire dancers. We were in the circle for the actual Burn. That was pretty amazing, especially during the explosions. Someday I may try to add fire dancing to my skills, but I -am- a klutz so it may be a while.

Then there was the self-proclaimed “Worst Comedy Show on the Playa”. Should I be happy or sad that I was the ‘headliner’ for this?  Because it was billed as the “worst comedy show”, I had to start with a light bulb joke; it was a Burning Man light bulb joke, but still…. Very little of my set overlapped my non-playa material; it was actually kind of cool to be able to do some Burning Man specific bits for an “in the know” crowd.It was a great set even though I was doing some of the material for the first time. Headliner at the “worst” show – I guess that makes me the ‘Best of the Worst’.  Until the next burn.

Beautiful Downtown Burbank

This week was the Burbank Comedy Festival, so I was up there three times this week – once to pick up my badge and twice for shows. I would have loved to have spent some afternoons going to the panel discussions and classes, but I was working. This is a good thing.

I was on two shows on Thursday night – “Senior Sillies” and “Unrepped” – and one on Friday – “LGBTQ and beyond”; all sets are five minutes at the festival. I made a point of doing three different sets. I used a variation on my standard closer on all three and duplicated a few lines, but basically I was able to do this.

So I have spent enough time in beautiful downtown Burbank for a while. My next set is in Center Camp at Burning Man. Oh, did I mention I leave in 7 days and I haven’t started to pack yet? So that’s enough for this post.

A not so long, strange trip

A utopian community where bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation, arts and intellectual conversation flourish in every corner, and Average Joes mingle with big name celebrities. Not Burning Man, but rather Chautauqua, NY. Strange.

The theme of the week at Chautauqua was “Comedy and the Human Condition”. Originally it was timed to coordinate with the opening of the National Comedy Center, but the latter is way behind schedule. Still, I got to hear Lewis Black, the Capitol Steps, and few others. I can’t say I have any new material, but I have some things to think about.  Strange.

I went with my friend Jim Peck, a UCC minister from Chico, CA, and a Chautauqua veteran. We each flew to Buffalo, rented a car, and spent the week in the UCC house next to the historic amphitheater. On one hand, I felt young because most of the people in the house were older than me; on the other hand, I felt outclassed because most of them had multiple college degrees. Strange.

I also took a day to go to the Jell-O museum; Jim & I took a day to go to the Lucy museum. Yeah, I’m strange.

We stopped at a Frank Lloyd Wright house on our way back to Buffalo, where we met a friend who I hadn’t seen in several years. He took us on a tour of Buffalo. It’s a much more interesting place than I thought. Strange.

Jim & I took the train together to Chicago, then he boarded the California Zephyr bound for his northern CA home and I boarded the Southwest Chief bound for LA. “Wait – you took the train across the country? That’s strange”.

The train was a lot of fun. Met some very interesting people, Who rides the train? Retirees, Hikers, Teachers on summer break, South Asian immigrants, people who live off grid, and adventurous couples from Flagstaff.  Sleeping was tough (I was in coach), but the scenery was great.

10 days, not long. Very strange. I love it. That’s me.

 

Just slightly overbooked?

I’m writing this from a hotel in Buffalo, on my way to Chautauqua tomorrow for the “Comedy and the Human Condition” week. No, it’s not a ‘how to do comedy’ thing, but more of a ‘why do we laugh’ thing. Then again,  Lewis Black is one of the speakers, so you never know.

On the two flights to get across the continent, I found myself making notes for stories I want to write, one of which might be suitable to turn into a Fringe show. Nothing solid – I’m purposely not committing to anything yet. It felt good to just sit and write for a few hours.

Between my last post and tonight, I did get on stage twice – once for the Comedy Heights Pride show in San Diego and once for a show on Melrose in Los Angeles. Great audience at Comedy Heights (I could say “as usual”) and I tried a few new bits that seemed to work pretty well. The LA show audience was mostly other comedians (it was a Monday, after all) and I struggled a bit in comparison, especially on the new stuff. Still, it is important to introduce new material regularly, so I’m glad I did it.

We got confirmation that we will be going to Burning Man this year, so after I get back from Chautauqua, preparations for that trip will pretty much mean that I won’t be on stage the rest of August. Oh, and I’m doing an art project for Burning Man. 

As usually, I’m just slightly overbooked. But as Leonard Bernstein said “To achieve great things, two things are needed – a plan and not quite enough time”. Maybe something great will come out of all this.

Fringe Final

Between the show at San Diego Fringe and some standup + MC + sketch commitments with the IAGSDC Square Dance convention in Palm Springs, I put about 600 miles on the car over July 4 weekend. I guess that’s what real road comics feel like.

Most of my Fringe shows went well. I got some of the script severely out of order on one, so it became a real exercise in improvisation. I had one show with literally two paying audience members (hey it was 10PM on a Wednesday – who wants to see a drama then?). Overall, though, it went reasonably well.

There are times when you just need to see an idea through. I started writing the Fringe show with an idea I wanted to explore. Three major (as in “throw out the old script and re-start”) iterations later – a short play festival submission (didn’t get selected), Tucson Fringe, and San Diego Fringe – I think I’ve worked it through to a place that I can move on to other projects.

So, it’s back to stand up…. Two shows in July and the Burbank Comedy Festival in August.

Crunch Time

Despite some (very) minor glitches, things worked out fairly well for our move. I’m sitting in the “new” place, albeit without much furniture (it’s still being used to stage the place we’re selling). I had a tech rehearsal for my show tonight (It’s really easy – one music and light cue to bring me on stage, one music and light cue to take me offstage)

But now is where it starts to get interesting – next weekend is the first show and I’m starting to panic. And I still need to write some material for the July 4 weekend events. Just determining which nights over the next two weeks I will be in San Diego, Long Beach and Palm Springs has been a challenge.

I’ll come up to breathe July 4. Have a great two weeks…. and come see a show.

Summer Un-vacation

The summer ramped up fast –

We’ll be down in San Diego a few weekends this month to move to a new weekend place and help a new roommate get settled, then suddenly it’s time for my show at the San Diego Fringe Festival, and (overlapping one weekend) the LGBT square dance convention, and before you know it, it’s San Diego Pride (complete with a comedy show and a powerlifting meet for me). Later in July, I’m going to spend a week at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York for their “Comedy and the Human Condition” series.  Then it’s time to get ready for Burning Man (we don’t have tickets yet, but we’re still looking – if you know of any leads…..). Somewhere in the middle of all that, I go back to work and I expect at least one trip to Sacramento to meet with my co-workers there.

I think I’ll need a summer vacation after all that.

The reality is they’re all things I love (well maybe not the moving thing), so it will be fine. If you want to try to catch up with me, check the Upcoming Events page. And forgive me if I don’t post much between now and Labor Day.

 

Feeling Lucky

Driving home this evening, I realized that this week I get to do three things I love – Tonight was the last meeting of the playwriting class I’ve been taking. Tomorrow night is the next of the voice acting class. Wednesday is a comedy show.

I had a reading of part of my play for Fringe in the playwriting class. While the overall response was positive, most of my final sequence jokes didn’t get the response I was expecting, so I will have to revisit those. There was also some feedback around the character’s backstory that I need to clarify. I’m both excited and scared. It’s reading better each time, but I also realize that I will be doing it, live, onstage, in a month. Still, you never grow unless you challenge yourself.

I started the voice acting class late because of previous Tuesday night commitments, including the Las Vegas trip and the class didn’t meet last week, so tomorrow will only be class #2 for me while my classmates are on #4. I don’t need to worry about it now, but I will be going into the last class, a meeting with a casting director, less prepared than my classmates. Still, I’m enjoying doing it.

For the comedy show on Wednesday, I only get three minutes, and for some reason I’m having difficulty deciding which three minutes to do. I hate to be the guy that always does the same material, but with only three minutes, I want to stick with pieces that I know will hit. Still, it’s good to have a plethora of choices.

So it’s a busy week. I feel lucky to have it.

Vegging in Vegas (not)

I’m writing this post from a timeshare in Las Vegas. This time I’m here mostly to be entertained – we have tickets to shows on both Friday and Saturday nights, so I won’t be doing the Saturday Sapphire show like the last time I was here. I will be doing an open mic on Thursday, so if you’re in town, drop me a line – steve@steveheyl.com.

Since I’m on this “unpaid sabbatical”, I came up to Vegas a few days before John. This will give me some time to work on my show (well the promotion materials for my show) at the San Diego Fringe. I’ve had some of the script read in my playwriting class and I’m getting positive feedback, but of course I’m still tweaking it.

I’m also in the Pride Comedy Festival later this month. This is a short set, but it should be fun. Buy tickets here. for a 10% discount.

So I’m not quite vegging after all.