Monthly Archives: August 2006

A Mysterious Experiment

I sometimes get obsessed with songs and listen to them over and over again. One song that this happened to was a little electronica ditty called “Seventeen” by Ladytron. I got a copy of the song, and listened to it over and over. This is much more repetitive than it seems at first, because the song only has two lines, repeated over and over. It’s almost hypnotic in its catchiness.

While listening, I noticed that the pauses between the alternating lines were long enough for me to get out a short sentence. Somehow, the idea of doing a speech set to music came to me, and after a few trial runs in the car, I put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard) and came up with a script.

I thought it would be an interesting experiment, and decided the best place to do it would be the Ron’s Farmhouse one year anniversary show, since I figured there would be a lot of comics there, and they were really the ones I was trying to reach.

It did not go quite as I expected… I don’t think the audience had much idea what was going on (and honestly, I can’t blame them). It was less comedy, more performance art. Justin McClure, the host that night, seemed flummoxed… they almost pulled me off after four minutes, as they panned down the music and I had to beg them to let me finish. The audience started being annoyed by my sometimes outrageous statements… I distinctly remember a woman shaking her head at me after a particularly controversial line.

I recorded the show. I just listened to it for the first time. It’s painful… but not as bad as I thought. If there’s enough demand, I’ll post it.

Here’s the script:

—————————————————-

For years, angry feminists have complained bitterly about the modeling industry. They say that models all look the same: they’re young, and unrealistically tall and skinny. And women who don’t meet these unrealistic standards are dismissed as inferior by men brainwashed by fashion models supposed perfection.

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

Sure, models often begin their career at a young age.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

Sure, they tend to be skinny, tall, symmetric.

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

Like meteors, they burn bright, and burn out fast.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

And yeah, men seem to like looking at them.

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

So what’s with the lack of variety in body types?

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

And are men really being brainwashed?

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

No. The feminists have it reversed.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

People don’t control what attracts them. Humans are just a vessel for DNA. Evolution rules the reptilian brain, and that’s the part that controls sex appeal. Folks who die childless are dead ends for their genes. So genes have to become uncannily capable at driving their owners to propagate.

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

Models are desirable because they are fertile.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

Thinness implies fertility.

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

Symmetry correlates to health.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

An old cooz is a barren cooz.

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

Ovulating? Hey. That’s hot.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

Study after study proves it.

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

Men find nothin’ sexier than fresh eggs.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

The primary difference between the sexes is the time required to make a baby: a woman is stuck for nine months, but a man can be out knocking up someone else within a few minutes. Nearly all differences can be traced back to this vast time disparity, and how it affects the best strategy for successful propagation.

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

This explains why men crave variety.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

There is a simple strategy for male DNA.

(They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.)

Spead your jizz around like a sprinkler.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

Evolution encourages women to take on reproductive strategies too. Women have to be much more careful as to who fathers their children. If a gal has sex with any idiot, her five-year-old is liable to walk off a cliff. So she must screen men carefully. Two different strategies: healthy but macho man, liable to love her and leave her; or, less aggressive, nice guy who is more likely to help raise junior. Unfortunately for idealists, the optimum strategy seems to be a combination: get knocked up by macho man, then marry the nice guy. In other words, the home is a cuckold’s nest.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

So neither side is all that pure.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

DNA don’t care about people — just itself.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.)

One last note for anti-model feminists.

(They take a Polaroid and let you go…)

Don’t shoot the messenger.

A Serious Face

Apparently, my problem is that I’m so serious.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by other comics how funny I am — except when it really counts. There are several variations.

“You are so much funnier in person than you are on stage.”

“Just keep doing shows and your real relaxed personality will show through.”

“You need to talk to the audience more.”

“You are one of the best riffers I have seen. Why don’t you do more of that?”

I have all these ideas for witty, semi-spontaneous things to say before I go up. When I go up on stage, I clam up. I freeze. My IQ drops 40 points. I turn into an Al Gore robot version of Richard. I need to be taken seriously!

The Sunnyvale Sun writes “But in Silicon Valley, jokes about computer software fly like subway jokes in New York City, and one Sunnyvale venue is harnessing that slightly awkward energy into a monthly event.” I can’t help but feel that this is directed at me. (See http://www.community-newspapers.com/archives/sunnyvalesun/20060726/cover1.shtml for quote in context.)

Now consider comedian Dan Wilson. There is something about him that inspires me… his carefree attitude, his willingness to laugh at the absurd, his dirtiness… I don’t know. He is a muse to me… showing up at Ron’s on Friday and seeing him waiting in the back (I like to think he is waiting for me) is one of my favourite things about that venue. I start talking to him, and for some reason, it just comes out.

Here’s a video he took of me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbGip0D72g8

You can see a little combination of the frozen deer-in-the-headlights Richard along with the spontaneous, scrambling, super-spaz Richard that just seems to come out of nowhere. My favourite part is at the very end, you get a few frames, a foreshadowing really, of me going back to completely serious. If you needed brakes to get from silly-to-serious, I would be changing my brake pads waaaaay too often (and getting some serious thrashings from the g forces).

It’s not quite Kubrick cinema, but it does provide some insight into my problem.

How do I reproducibly get — and stay — in that “special place”, where the free association and improv can come out and stay out?

Or, would it be best for me to admit that I am awkward — and to embrace it?

Are these even related?

Do I need to hire Dan to be in my straight man? My muse? Or just be in my entourage?

Comments welcome.

Who’s Got Talent?! YOU do!

I did a show on a cruise ship this weekend.

On the last day of a seven day cruise from New York to Bermuda, there was a “Star Seeker”-type talent show. I entered, along with five others. Two of them were under 18s (a brother and sister pair). Besides me, everyone else was musical, either singing or playing the piano, or both.

I asked if I could go last, and my wish was granted. I was supposed to do three minutes, but I’m sure it was a good 7-10 minute set when all was said and done. It started slow as my first joke fell flat, and I forgot my set list half-way through, but I did a good combination of proven material along with some venue-specific stuff that seemed pretty likely to be relatable (if you’ve ever taken a cruise, you know that the ship’s toilets beg for observation — and by day seven, it’s a pretty safe bet that everyone in the audience has used the toilet).

I had been a bit discouraged watching the professional comics on the ship — the older fellow had good stage presence and was obviously a pro, but his material was not challenging or enlightening. He knows his audience and he gets laughs, but what he does is something I know I could never do. I think I would like to do comedy on a cruise ship on some point, so seeing the audience go bananas for that style of comedy left me worried that my stuff would be too hard to follow or boring to them. I’ve never really done a show to middle America, and I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t get me.

But they did. It was a good show, the audience laughed and laughed, and I had many many people come up to me afterward telling me they enjoyed it or that I was funny or that I did well or something along those lines. Some of them were people that I had met on the cruise prior and others were complete strangers.

I didn’t win the contest, but I did lose to a fellow who was pretty much flawless in his performance of a Bon Jovi song (he played piano and sang). I was later told that I lost by just one point (out of 100, I believe). This guy was so good at what he did that I took the relatively minor disparity as a major compliment.

One of the judges called me over after I came off stage and encourage me to continue being a comic, finding an agent, and tried hard to sell me on the idea of working a cruise ship, Norwegian in particular. Hey, sounds good to me. I just need to figure out how to do so.

Anyway, the cruise was great, and I think it may have been my largest audience yet. Thank you, Norwegian Crown.