Only Jerks like Supper Clubs

I always sit in Chuy’s section, granted he could spell it Chewy, but I’ve never asked. I ordered chili sides the first few times I went and got trapped in that being my usual order because there is something tangibly awkward when someone asks you “the usual?” and you say “no”

Then the bowling alley diner became the opposite of awkward and I would go at least once a week with a book or friend and drink way too much caffeine at 6pm because I was just out of college and invincible. I was also in a new neighborhood where I didn’t know many people and on my first bout with being relatively self-sufficient (i.e. poor). I could get a good cooked meal for $10 with tax and tip and sit next to a row of old men and a strange and talkative younger doctor at the counter, who were friendly faces and largely the same faces (night after night, not same faces as each other). Oh, also, and a lot of overweight friendly cops sitting with sides of ranch dressing.

I feel like this whole thing would be amiss without mentioning the one-armed long-haired chain-smoking league bowler I would pass on the way in.

As someone who largely prefers books to conversations with strangers, I kept to myself and my waiter friends and I loved it. Over time I got busier with comedy, hanging out with my cat and losing my college 20, so my visits had largely slowed down. Last week I drove by and there were 100 people protesting the eviction and as a Berkeley grad I was hoping for some important societal change. Turns out the local AMF is effectively evicting them at the end of the month and replacing it with a supper club that I hope no one in my neighborhood ever gives his or her patronage.

Comedy Devil

There is one thing about comedy that makes my skin itch. Neutrality. Like khaki pants and dry turkey sandwiches, I just gotta ask why.

This could be my Berkeley brainwash, but I think the mass rewards of formula and structure lead to a lot of mass boring (i.e. almost every buddy cop comedy, except for the one with Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah because what). I would say that all the people who have had the largest impact on me as a writer and performer are very unapologetic about the lens in which they view the world. I find that so refreshing, inspiring and captivating. Hubert Selby Jr., Lucille Ball, a scientologist wanting to give me a stress test. All fascinating. May we never settle!

Things Learned from Reality Singing Competitions

  • What people from other states look like
  • How bad my sense of geography really is — I think this is a general Californian problem, or a specific Los Angeles Unified School District Problem.
  • If your parents are priests, you are going to blow my mind
  • No one on The X-Factor is even vaguely cool, but everyone on The Voice is way cooler than me. Is there a singing show for averagely cool people? What about averagely cool people that can only kind of sing?
  • You can come back 10 years later and be on a reality show about losing weight (Ruben Studdard)
  • I know how to spell Ruben Studdard without looking it up
  • America, we have seemingly infinite talent, but also seemingly infinite distalent
  • If your child/roommate/love interest/ potential love interest (PLI) can’t sing, PLEASE TELL THEM BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
  • I love judging people, even though I pretty much can’t sing well at all

Not on Writing, but on Being a Writer

Self-identity nouns should be given great weight. Like more weight than those things our grandparents used to keep papers from flying away on a desk of whichever mid-century school of design was their preference.

One of my generation’s most gratuitous self-identity nouns is “foodie.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the following Twitter bios:

Writer, Dog-Lover, Foodie

Packers Fan, Aspiring Cellist, Foodie

Stripper, Pop Star, Foodie

Died last Tuesday, Foodie

You know that really intense almost physical reaction you have to seeing a cute kitten or puppy? The opposite of that

I feel like one needs to reach a certain level of commitment and experience to something before using it as a self-identity word. I’m not saying you need to publish a best-selling novel or land an internship at an easy beach-read mag like The Economist, but if writing is what your soul breathes, you are a writer.

I read this article that introverts are more likely than extroverts to only identify as one thing. So this could be my personality dictating my opinion (OMG BRAIN, FREE WILL), but I think in order to be brilliant at anything you have to be pretty aggressive about it, leaving little time for being considerably above average at anything else. This means that maybe we can only truly have one self-identity noun that is skill-based at a time. That means that maybe we shouldn’t waste it on “foodie” unless your soul craves good food above all else.

As a side note, I appreciate good food. It’s just not my word.

Standing Up for Khloe Kardashian, Unlikely Underdog

Let’s be honest, if you have an online journal, or like, if you have a pulse and breathe occasionally, you’ve probably been bullied. There have been some great anti-bully campaigns in the past few years, but like we still have a cross country trip where Titanic plays on repeat to make it feel like an even longer journey than it already is.

As someone who possibly takes comedy too seriously, I take offense to the term “making fun” because a joke with cruel intentions is hardly worth the breath it took to deliver it. I say possibly too seriously because it’s probably true, but also to point out that I, too, have flaws.

Basically, this is a blog post about how astonishingly cruel people are to Khloe Kardashian. In the context of celebreality she is arguably the best person. Just because she is rich and famous, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have feelings. No matter what a person’s socioeconomic status or background doesn’t mean anyone has the right to be actively cruel to anyone else. And don’t even get me started on people who pick on the mentally unstable a la Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes. Maybe I am a sucker and a bleeding heart, but I find empathy to be perhaps the greatest super power other than flying.

The First Time

You just discovered music a few years ago and you’re trying to figure out your type before you make any regrettable decisions. Which band is special enough? Will it be memorable? I hope I don’t walk out with PBR on my brand new white Adidas. There is something pure about your first concert and the associated questions you ask yourself before making a decision.

The summer between 7th and 8th grade, I went with my best friend and her family to drop off her older sister off at art camp. Her older sister was super cool (spoiler alert: she now dates a bald politician). She had a purple room when I had to beg my parents for years to paint mine light yellow. She had magazines I had never heard of haphazardly tossed onto shelves that were not necessary straight or symmetrical. My room had American Girl books on a fancy wood shelf/desk combo that matched my sleigh bed and my nightstands. She drove a used car named Manuel because everything in it was manual. I would carefully plot what three songs I would listen to on my Zune during the morning carpool.

But above all, she played the cello. Twelve year-old me thought that was rad, college graduate me is decidedly less sure about that opinion. When your sibling isn’t necessarily the coolest, sometimes you gotta live vicariously through your best friend’s sibling.

On the ride there, my best friend and I were talking about how excited we were to see Weezer the following month and how cool and experienced we would sound when we got to high school. Concerts? Yeah, we got to them all the time. Maybe we would even be able to give advice about them.

We arrived at the camp and looked around in awe and jealousy. There was a family dinner after everyone settled in to thank the parents for their help and to serve as a goodbye. The dinner consisted mostly of the art campers trying their hardest  to avoid eating dinner with their families, like most solid goodbyes.

The evening culminated with a surprise concert of a mediocre four piece jazz band. I spent the whole time thinking, noooooooo — does this count? I never expected my first time to be at art camp. Is having Kool-Aid on my shoes somehow worse than cheap beer? Will I be rewarded for sitting through this with dessert?

I am still not sure if that first time counted, but at minimum it was memorable

Crushing It: Learning to Love The Grind

Crushing It: Learning to Love The Grind

I am two months shy of two years pursuing being an actor and all I got was this lousy picture of me crushing Jim Rash’s head at the coffee shop by my apartment. Strangely enough, he is sitting at the exact table where, in a moment of absolute grace, my computer received an Americano to the keys. I’ve come a long way since then — I now use a desktop that I cannot take to coffee shops and drop and/or spill things on. You guys, prevention.

This past month since I graduated iO (Formerly known as Improv Olympic), has been intense, and weird and a total beginning of another act in my journey. I had this clarity moment the morning of house team auditions where I ended up at the farmer’s market by my house, which I never go to, and I saw someone with a delicious looking burger, which I never eat. It was one of those places that gives you a sheet and you check off what toppings (condiments? what’s the right word for burger accessories? Burgessories, let’s go with that) and the very Venice, very hippie guy interrupted his conversation with someone about how purple potatoes are the only non-genetically modified potatoes to tell me that they also had Strawberry BBQ Sauce.

My immediate response was “I’ll make my own box, why spend life living in other people’s boxes?”

I got a lol and a right on, but all I was thinking about was how auditioning for a house team was auditioning to be in someone else’s, albeit a great, beautiful and tasty, box. iO is like the caramelized onions of burgessories and I think I am more of the quirky and maybe a little less universally pleasing Strawberry BBQ sauce. I also have red hair, so …

I am sort of in that “what next?” period of my comedic life. I moved out here wanting to be a writer and a performer, like IDK, Jim Rash. Or Mindy Kaling or Lena Dunham. I’d also like to be like Peter O’Toole. Peter O’Toole meets Mindy Kaling. Peter O’Toole meets Mindy Kaling in Venice Beach, CA and they decide to take up contemporary jazz dancing together — the buddy comedy. I’d like to write/act on/for TV, because sitcoms are the short stories of the silver screen.

Eventually, I would like a stranger to take a picture of themselves crushing my head, if only because one of the main points of being an artist is trying to tell as many people as you possibly can that you’re weird. And if I am going to expose my weird in a big way, I want to do it in my own box. It’s uncomfortable to write about wanting big things, but I work really hard, and that’s the best that I can do to get there. My goal for the next year is to finish my 100ish-page work and get more experience with scripted acting in addition to keeping up the auditions. Push forward in an effort to be propelled up.

Show Girl

Or at least I am one, technically. 

See me tonight at iO West in The Loft at 8pm with my baller 3-(wo)men team, The Heathers. If you’re busy tonight, that’s OK because my very talented and quirky improv team, Richard’s Kittens has a show tomorrow night (Sunday 5/26) in the DCT at iO West.

Let’s do some make’m’ups and make’m’lol. 

Also, just full confession, I have never seen the movie, The Heathers, but I was totally OK with the name because that was the name of Raja’s power clique in RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’ve seen a lot of movies, but I have notable holes in my movie education. See also: The Godfather. But, at least I’ve seen just about everything Peter O’Toole has ever done <3 <3 <3

To those of you not in the LA area, I love you and I am sending over some magic to make your BBQ taste extra good on Monday.

Anybody doing anything cool this weekend? I miss you guys, I will be coming back with a real post before the weekend is done.

Hugs///

AJ