26 May, 2013

Existential Laffs and Terror

Walking east on Sunset Blvd, I found myself having a low-grade panic attack for no clear reason. I think most of it had to do with leaving the house at night.

I mean part of it was that I wasn't sure whether or not I was in okay to park without paying the meter. LA, as it stands, works like a place built by feral cats and bad substitute teachers. As far as parking and moving around goes, it makes little sense and when it does it either comes off as either carelessly lax or pointlessly malicious and I couldn't tell if this was one or the other.

The other half, the bigger half, was that I was going to a comedy show hosted by Vice magazine.

Vice represents something that scares me as a writer. In high school and college Vice was a magazine that you could only get through the cool people that worked at your local coffee shop or your coke-addled artsy friends. The fact that you couldn't buy Vice made it even more of a sought out item, like they were some sort of mass produced bootleg only really cool people could hunt down.

While that excitement tended to fade, it remains a point of frustration and fear because it was a magazine seemingly made up of people who only wrote what they wanted. They performed the writer's ultimate magic trick, which is get somebody to pay you for the shit that you were going to do anyways. Oh, and people like your work. That's a good one to have, too.

Another part of the panic is that I've had friends and classmates and guys I'm pretty sure I hated at first sight write for Vice and here I am making a lackluster podcast and writing semi-coherent piece of graphic design in this one comic book. It's not exactly what I hoped this writing thing would pan out like.

It scares me because I forgot how to write opinion pieces just off of the top of my head and utterly terrifies me that I never quite learned how to write op eds that people actually want to read. At one point writing articles of that fashion were my main thing and somewhere along the line I failed to develop that skill. The kinds of articles that wind up at Vice seem like the things I was writing three or four years ago, but at a much higher level. So many of them seem to be straight-forward and stupid and yet I can't figure out how to do something simple and stupid again because fuck me in my stupid face.

And then the panic kind of subsided because I realized that once I got in I could start drinking.

Once inside I noticed that the crowd basically ran in three different breeds: Scruffy and waify dudes, tubby gents with beards, and cool chicks with bangs that were brought there by their boyfriend. There was also a Wes Anderson-looking, WASP motherfucker in the crowd, but as it turned out he was one of the comics (and he was pretty good right up until he decided that his penultimate joke was going to be about the Holocaust. Protip: Nope.) For the record, I am of the first group.

The first comic landed about as well as first comics usually do. What I liked, though, was that he never hesitated or paused or seemed to ever worry about not getting a big enough laugh. He just moved on in a fashion that was both breathless and effortless. I guess there's a lesson in here, which is that if you seem like you're enjoying yourself enough, maybe you'll convince the audience that they're missing out on something.

The second comic was Megan Koester and that is a pretty funny name. And she was pretty funny too, as it turns out. I'm following her now on Twitter, so don't just take my word for it! Note that in the future I will be dropping some of her jokes into casual conversation (but not necessarily claiming them as my own). So look forward to that.

Then, the Fantastic Mr. Funny came on and he did his thing, which was "Hi, here are the joke, I guess." I can admire anyone that actually gets on stage with the express purpose of making jokes (that are funny, no less) and I have to admire someone even more who decides to do it dressed like a guy who got kicked off of the row team for going too far and is now out for revenge.

(By the way he his handle consisted of three names, one of them being "William" because of course it did.)

My other take away was when Neil Hamburger took the stage. I wasn't looking forward to him performing. Considering his association with Tom Green and the only other thing I know about him is that he's supposed to be an insufferable asshole, the image I had made up in my head was of a Tony Clifton tailor-made for hipster, the kind of person someone would use the term "anti-comedy" around and feel good about it (i.e: a cunt).

I didn't figure that he'd be quite so funny.

There's this ridiculous, affected guy standing on stage, taking fake sips from his glass making Britney Spears jokes and tearing the whole place apart. This shouldn't be working. Yet it does and besides being funny, which is hard enough, he's putting on a weird act on top of it. That should be commended. . . Not copied, though, because I think if I saw someone else trying to pull this act I'd try to throw a brick through their fucking head.

After Neil Hambuger left on I decided that it was time to move my car, because I'm a nervous wreck and this is what I think about when I'm trying to laugh. Another comic came on, but they aren't worth mentioning other than to say that I literally missed everything they said including their name.
When I came back Kyle Kinane was already on stage and, from all outward tells, pretty drunk. And good for him! It wasn't long into his set that I had my second realization, which is that this man might be a genius.I think I might also be late to the party on this opinion.

It didn't feel like he was doing his normal act while drunk or that his act revolved around his drinking (like Neil Hamburger's act does, which isn't a slight since his whole act is a put on). Instead it seemed like, hey, here was a guy who just showed up. He was the complete opposite of Neil Hamburger, right down to the fact that Kinane wasn't taking stage sips off of his beer.

I guess the closest version of it is Kyle Kinane's act sounded like the guy you think you are when you're completely hammered. The man ended his set on a bit about his pillows and it tickled me. It tickled everyone. We should all be grateful for being so tickled and  we should all be paying attention to a person who can do that kind of a thing and make it seem like he's just goofing around.

I guess there's a third revelation that just hit me now, which is that Los Globos is way less of a shithole on the inside than it appears to be on the outside.

Besides the laughs and the reasonable bar tab and the empty joy that comes from not having your car towed, last Wednesday night was a learning experience.

Anyways, who wants to go with me next week? Maybe we can get another blonde person in the audience.