Summer Subsiding

Jumping back into regular posting after a little summer hiatus. But first, another quick pause to refill my coffee and set a timer so this entry doesn’t ramble…

…okay, I’m back.

Summer is almost over for most of the country, but here in the Bay Area, it’s really more like the middle. Things tend to get hotter here in mid July through October. A lot of people don’t realize that San Francisco’s hottest month is October.

Fortunately we’ve been spared the misery that rest of the country has been going through with heat waves. It’s even hot up in the Pacific Northwest.

Enough about the weather.

Nerd Alert

I haven’t been up to much this summer. I have been writing journal entrees, but just keeping them private, totally out of laziness, no one is missing anything good. I did finally make the switch from Evernote to Apple Notes. This was a move I tried to make a little while back with horrible results. I tried importing ~13,000 entries from Evernote into Apple notes and everything shit the bed. Notes choked. I think it had to do with synching.

I finally gave up on Evernote because their iPad app was losing notes and too slow. Also, Apple Notes works with Siri (kind of) and finally supports hashtags. Apple Note’s tagging works inline so you can add them whenever you want. Evernote, you had to go to a field etc. So I never used it.

Next Comedy Show Coming Up…

In other news, I have a show coming up next week with Laurie Kilmartin headlining.

It’ll be a great show. Laurie is absolutely one of the best standup comedians out there. Also, my friend Eugene Robinson will be dong a 10 minute set. I’ve never seen him do comedy. He’s mostly known for his journalism and being the lead singer of Oxbow and Whipping Boy. He and I used to work together at Apple in the 90s. Eugene is one of the funniest and most interesting friends I have. I’m fascinated by him.

Other Comedy Stuff

As much as I hate open mics, something I can get into later, I went for the practice for the upcoming show I mentioned above. Lucky for me, there’s a dive bar in town that’s hosting one, and I have gone over the last two weeks.

I went online to look for open mics and it was just depressing. There are so many now in the Bay Area, and the lists fill up fast. Right now, there’s a glut of standup comedy. The problem is there wasn’t a shortage or pent-up demand. More and more people are trying to do standup comedy at this point in time.

It reminds me experience with Second City. In the early 90s. For years, the theater offered improv classes for a fee. A actress friend of mine had a connection there and got me into a couple for free. I love performing, but hated being in that class.

I decided to sign up for the one writing class they offered instead. It was about $150 and we met once a week for about 6 weeks. It was unorganized and sloppy. We never had a dedicated meeting time or space. For one class we met in John Belushi’s old apartment and just smoked and talked about Seinfeld. In the course of several weeks, I had a lot of fun pretending to be a comedy writer, but produced very little actual material.

In the early 2000s, I returned to Second City to find they had really leaned into the business of teaching. They expanded their improv writing offerings, and built out a whole school to accommodate all the new business. The writing program had expanded significantly and so did the number of people taking it.

My first reaction was, “damn there’s a lot of competition for comedy writing now.” But after the first two classes, I realized that wasn’t the case. There is a heightened interest, but I wouldn’t call it competition. It was surprising to see how many people quit or just stopped showing up after 2 or 3 classes.

I managed to stick with it and completed their entire 6 course program, and stuck around there for about two years. I auditioned, as a writer, for a couple stage reviews and got selected for all of them.

The overall vibe I felt was disappointment. I saw a lot of people that wanted to be comedians and actors, but few wanted to do the work.

I went into the classes hoping to collaborate and bounce ideas off other people. I pictured a room fool of zany people riffing on ideas. Instead, it was mostly people reading their incomplete scripts and too much positive feedback for just putting in the effort.

The experience was worth it for me personally. I developed a lot of discipline for writing, cranking out 2-3 finished sketches a week and generating tons of ideas all the time.

Today, I see the same thing in standup. I’m making concerted effort to do it, after thinking about doing it for 30 years. Now, everyone else is trying it. While I’m not worried about competition, I do find myself reluctant to openly admit I’m doing it, because I think standup as a thing is wearing out its welcome really fast.