Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday night and I'm at a Days Inn, that makes me...

A hooker. Yey!

Alright sorry for the cheap joke, but it does say a lot about the comedian lifestyle that instead of going out and partying like I might have in college I instead drive over to Glendale so I could do an open mic. It went alright I guess, I tried some new stuff and some worked and some didn't. The room was actually pretty nice so I'm gonna try to go back a few more times.

Frankly for the past two days my whole life has been absorbed with living through my awful sunburns. I managed to sit for an hour in the LA sun on Wednesday and my upper arms are just waiting to bubble over and explode. Like I said on Wednesday, I will definitely not be making that mistake again. It's hard to sleep, it's hard to wear a shirt, and a shower is torture. I feel like sunburns are one of the few instances where your body works extra hard to make sure you feel how bad something is for you. If you eat a lot of salt it could be years until you have a heart attack but for all that time you won't even think anything is wrong. A sunburn is immediate punishment for giving yourself skin cancer.

Anyway, today I got a call from Mitch (the kid I drove out with) and he will be coming to stay with me next week. Mitch got a call from Kyle Ceese who he opened for a few years back about a comedy seminar next week and invited Mitch to come. Lucky for Mitch he knows someone (me) who lives in the area. I'd love to go myself but unfortunately I have my classes during the day and I just can't afford it. But I'm sure Mitch will do well there, and hopefully get some connections going here in the city.

This weekend won't be too exciting, I've got my show again this Sunday, and hopefully a free comedy show tomorrow night. Today is the one month mark of getting here and aside from not having a job I've really enjoyed myself. I like having opportunities wherever I go and it's exciting. I really hope I can find a job in the next couple weeks because that would mean that I could stick around here. I really want to be able to give myself as long as possible to make it work. I feel like 3 months just isn't enough for LA.

Anyway, Happy Trails!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's a sweep!

Today was the furthest south I've ever been in my life. I drove down to Orange to meet my friend Mike to go to the Angels-Red Sox game and happened to be the closest to the equator I have ever been. So that was a cool part of the hour long drive to get down to Orange County. Another cool thing? Realizing that I live in the nice part of LA. I've been spending most of my time in Hollywood and the Valley and hadn't really seen any of the rough parts of LA. Well the moment you pass downtown LA going south it goes ugly really quickly.

The game itself was very fun. We managed to get pretty good seats on the 3rd base line on the upper deck, but there really aren't any bad seats in the entire stadium. Anyone who says that we need to keep Fenway exactly as is really should see a game at another newer stadium. It's just so cool to come in the gate and immediately see the field through the concourse. There were lots of bathrooms and places to eat and you had plenty of room to walk around. Also, the Angels sell hard liquor drinks. Yep, if I had felt the urge, I could have sipped Scotch while I sat and watched afternoon baseball. Why? I don't know, but I'm glad I had the option.

Mike and I did have a teachable moment today though. We were walking from my car and I say, "Should we put on some sunscreen?" We say, nah we'll be fine. Our seats did happen to be in the sun, but only for about an hour and then we had shade, which made it so comfortable to sit in short sleeves. Well I'll be paying for my laziness for the next couple days since I have an awful sunburn on my arms and my nose. Stupid southern sun.

Anyway after the game Mike gave me a tour of the beautiful college he went to near where he lived and then I headed home. Today was the first day I got the worst of the LA traffic. It's not exactly a short drive from Orange County to Studio City in the first place, but it can be horrible at rush hour. I decided to avoid I-5, since coming down it was already backed up and at points it was only 3 lanes wide (3!?). So I went the longer route and took I-405. This worked out well until I passed LAX and the whole thing grinded to a halt. Mind you, this is at 7pm. Anyway, it took me about a half hour longer than it should have to get home, but consider if I had left at 5 and not hung around after the game. Hey LA, build some subways!

Red Sox Tomorrow!

Today is an exciting day, because tomorrow is a good day. The Red Sox make a western road trip twice a year and I am taking advantage of this fact tomorrow. I am meeting my friend Mike who I went to high school with at his apartment down in Orange County and we are going to have a relaxing afternoon at the game in Anaheim.

Truth be told I'm just looking forward to wasting a whole day and not worrying about finding a job. It's been nearly a month and I haven't even had so much as an interview yet. It's incredibly stressful because I'm trying to make good financial decisions but it seems like all my decisions have been made for me. I have no money coming in so any money I spend is irreplaceable. I have so many applications out right now that I don't really know where else I could be turning. In the next few days I'm going to see if any supermarkets are hiring, try to get a stocker job or something. The problem is, I've committed to comedy so much that to make enough money to support myself with a supermarket type job it would need to be full-time. And even then I would barely make enough to cover rent, never mind school loans and improv classes.

I think the hardest part about all this is trying to stay positive. Early on it was easy because I had only just arrived, but at this point, with less than an interview to look at as a success it gets harder and harder. I have to keep reminding myself that I am having some success with my comedy, the competition, the showcase, hopefully success will build on success. I'm also getting some headshots taken this week by a guy who seems like a real stand-up. He was referred to me by a classmate in the Groundlings and he's giving me a deal and including touch-up work with digital copies to go along with a few different looks and outfits. And if worst comes to worst and I can't find an agent or something, at least I'll have some boss Christmas card photos.

Happy Trails!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I survive!

So tonight was the first night of the "X-ecution" the improv competition that I auditioned for last week. It was actually pretty stressful. There were 10 contestants there and we each only got 2 scenes and then the audience voted. My first scene was admittedly not very good but I thought the second was pretty good. Then the audience votes to save most of the contestants but send 3 people into the elimination round. Of course, I wind up in the elimination round and I think 90% of that was due to me only having one person there for me in the audience. Anyway the host then makes us pick a number between 2 and 5, so I of course pick 5. Then he says that we need to do one scene with as many characters as the number we picked, so I had to do a scene with 5 characters. Ugh. But here's the thing, I frigin killed. The crowd loved me after my scene and I had little doubt that I would not be getting eliminated. This suggests to me one thing, I need to start bringing friends to the shows (finding some friends would be a better start). The people in the audience obviously liked me, but they weren't going to waste their vote on some guy they don't know over their friend. Which means I need to bring at least as many friends next time. That or hope that the same people keep coming and continue to like me.

So anyway this means I go back same time next week for the competition where they will apparently be eliminating two people. Great. One semi-funny thing though; the host gave us all nicknames and the one he gave me was "The Vulture". So that's cool I guess.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

X-ecution here I come!

So remember how a few posts ago I was really distraught about the audition I had? Remember how I was bitter and thought it was a waste of my time? Ya I take it back. I still didn't really like the experience but that won't really matter since I got accepted to be a part of the 16 week competition. Well that's potentially 16 weeks anyway, every week they apparently vote out a competitor so there's no telling how long you'll be there. If you win you get a few hundred bucks and a meeting with the casting agents of all the major networks. The problem with the whole voting system is the fact that the audience is open to anyone. In this case that means whoever can bring the most friends gets the most votes. Unfortunately that puts me at a disadvantage since I don't have a very big pool of friends to draw from that could come. I sent out e-mails to all the people in the Groundlings classes and then everyone else I could think of. Still not as many as the other contestants probably can but it's the best I can do.

Other than that today was a bit empty. Applied to a few jobs, went down to the Sunset Grill to do an open mic. The Sunset Grill put in a new policy tonight where they require you to buy one item to perform. I hate this kind of policy since it forces you to add another criteria to choosing where you go for the night. Instead of deciding whether you like the room or not, now you have to check your wallet too. Just makes it that much harder.

Anyway, tonight I'm just recruiting people to come to the show tomorrow and I'm applying to some jobs my mom sent me over e-mail. Tomorrow is the first night and hopefully I'll back in time to check in and let you know how I did. Until then, Happy Trails!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bust, sort of

Yesterday was another day where I tried to stay busy. First I had Groundlings in the morning. I left a little earlier than I normally do so I got there with 45 minutes before class started. So I went down the block to Fratelli's and had a coffee while I checked e-mail and relaxed. Class was fun but it's still much harder than I expected it to be. I suppose that's a good thing in a way because it doesn't let me mail it in, I do feel like I'm getting better at this point. My one complaint is that we don't usually do very many exercises where we act out entire scenes. A lot of what we're practicing seems very practical, but we only use the skills in very directed exercises and don't really get to combine them. We are however only halfway done with the class and perhaps in the second half we will refocus the effort onto putting what we're learning into practice. We'll see.

Thursday night I went again to the Sunset Grill to do an open mic which actually went very well, and I even got it on film. The Sunset Grill is really too small of a place to be holding open mics because not everyone can fit in the room and usually everyone just hangs around outside. This is good and bad, bad because you don't get as big of an audience as you could. Particularly when the guy who goes before you cleans out the room with his awful jokes (I'm looking at you, guy who went before me). What makes the Sunset Grill cool is after my good set I went outside and hung out with some of the comics who couldn't fit in the room. Comics are different from hanging out with other people because whenever you're at an open mic you always talk "business." What jokes you liked, who is performing where, the location of other open mics, promoting shows. It's all usually on the same couple topics and you can usually tell the people who will make it and do fairly well, they are generally much nicer and more laid back about their comedy. Almost everyone tries to help everyone else because everyone knows they're in the same boat, it's a cool scene.

Today I did another open mic here in Studio City, I thought I did well, but then again I was last to go and there were only 3 people watching. I'm gonna just be grateful I got some mic time and be happy with that. Tonight I'm searching job sites for a few more jobs and I found a website specific to radio jobs. Quick question for anyone who may know; how do I go about editing an mp3 track that I own so I can cut it down to 5 MB? I'm thinking there has to be a program I can use to chop it up, but I don't want to pay money to do it.

Anyway, I don't have any plans for the weekend, I guess finding ways to stay busy. Happy Trails!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wasting my time

Today I had one big thing planned and it wound up being something I regretted.

First the background. I had heard about this improv competition from a friend of mine, it's set up a bit like American Idol in that there's weekly eliminations and the winners get a cash prize and a meeting with some casting directors. I figured what the hell, I'd give it a shot and if I didn't make it at least I wouldn't be wondering about it for ever. So tonight I went down to Westwood near the campus of UCLA and signed up. First thing I notice; another cadre of struggling actors with headshots. I'm feeling good. So we go inside, we meet the guy running the audition and he gets us warmed up. First thing he does, tells me to talk slower, says it looks like I'm just barely keeping up with my brain and it looks like I had no idea what to say. Um no. Anyone who has ever talked to me in person knows that I just talk really really fast, and really really loud, I always have. But it's an audition so I try to adjust. I'll cut to the chase, every single scene I'm in, he focuses all his criticism on me and how I'm talking. Not the characters I'm choosing, not the conflict I'm creating, not the relationships I'm building, how I'm talking. I was with a couple other guys who were making scenes about washing cars and he says nothing, I go up, have fun and build a scene with another guy who's having fun, and he comes down on me after every single scene. He says it looks like I'm panicking and I'm not prepared for the scene. NO! I just talk really frigin fast! Get over yourself if you enjoy your scenes developing at the pace of seeping tar. At the end he's talking about developing the art form of improv and I knew I wouldn't make it past the auditions. Improv is hard, it's a skill, and not many people can do it, but that doesn't make me an artist. It's comedy, it's for enjoyment and I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy making people laugh. Art exists in a vacuum, I could show Van Gogh's Starry Night to someone in Vietnam and they would still appreciate it. I can perform for 100 people and I guarantee you that if I was to somehow recreate every scene from Lawrence of Arabia the audience would still hate it. You know why? Because it's meant to be funny! Stop inflating a hobby to something that we need to worship at the feet of. Improv is great because it's accessible and relate-able, I don't do it to show off. I accept that I may talk too fast in some scenes and that I may be better if I just slow down and enunciate better. But I don't talk fast because I have no idea what the hell I'm doing on stage and frankly I'm insulted he thought so. I don't mind if I don't make the competition, I'm more annoyed that I wasted my time at an audition where I was the focus of criticism solely because the guy didn't like the way I perform on stage.

And oh by the way, some of the other people at the audition taking 5 seconds before responding in a scene? THEY were the ones who had no idea what they were doing or what to say. They weren't contemplating their next movement of their artistic expression, they just sucked.

Forgive me if I appear a little ticked off, but I drove through traffic to be at this audition and there was literally nothing I could do to ever get picked. Not only that, but I missed the chance to do any stand up so I could get my speaking patterns critiqued by an "artist". Bad improv comes from three places: people who just aren't able to create a good scene for whatever reason, people who try too hard to be funny, and people who know they're not being funny and just don't give a shit because they think the audience just doesn't get it. And if you think that third instance doesn't exist, go to an improv showcase and watch the group that's in suits and ties, they're the ones taking themselves too seriously.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This is some good coffee...

Hey all! Pretty good day here in sunny, and newly cool LA. Groundlings this morning which I'm still finding very difficult. For some reason I can't get all the many details of the teachings and the scene down at one time. Maybe it's because the way I "used" to do improv is just a bad habit that is harder to shake. We've also been digesting a lot at once here in the early classes, so hopefully it will get easier. Every time I step on to the stage I'm trying to keep everything straight but it's easier said than done. I'm still working on it.

While I was at class however I received some hopeful news. A few days ago, tired of sending out semi-anonymous applications via e-mail and the internet I directly called a few radio stations and left some messages on answering machines. Well today I got a call back from one station saying that they had two positions open at a local AM station, one running the board and the other being a promotions assistant. Now I have a lot of experience running a board but not a lot doing promotions. Whatevs, I applied to both. Actually I applied to both of those jobs last Friday, but that doesn't mean I didn't call up the station today to make sure they got them. I left about 3 messages today, and I'll do the same tomorrow if I don't hear back from the HR department. Working in radio would be a dream job for me. Some of the most fun I had at UNH was doing my weekly radio show and it's a skill that I would love to use for the rest of my life. My fingers are crossed.

Tonight I went back to the open mic at the Amsterdam, the place where I thought I had a really good set last week, but tonight I remembered to bring my camera. You can probably guess what's coming next; I stunk that place up. I did absolutely dreadful. I didn't get more than a chuckle on any of my jokes. I don't really mind necessarily because I've had bad nights before followed by a good one, but it does bother me. At least I got it on film so I can humble myself when I get a fat head.

In more fun news, I bought some tickets tonight to see my Red Sox when they come to town and play the Angels next week. My friend Mike who has lived out here since high school will be going with me. I'm looking forward to going, since I'm sure like most places, there will be more Red Sox fans than local fans and I won't stick out like a sore thumb. Big props to my Dad who reminded me that the Red Sox would be in town and gave me the idea to go. Even if I don't have money going in I think it's worth the ticket price. I have no idea if I'll be living out here next season so I should go while I have the chance. By the way, if any employee of Ticketmaster happens to read my blog; go kill yourself. Seriously, don't give me your 15 dollars of hidden fees and expect me to be a happy customer. I know I'm strapped for cash, but aside from porn, I can't think of any career I'm less likely to go for than working for ticket master.

Incidentally, I had one small cup of coffee at the Amsterdam and that stuff has gotten me wired all night. Well done Amsterdam.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cool wave!

Sorry for the absence everyone, but I figured that I'd rather not write anything than make something up. Some days life is just less exciting than others, even in LA. That's not to say I did nothing this weekend, I had some fun and got to see a show, which was great. On Saturday I met up with Kia, the woman that Mitch knew here in LA and we went to a show at the Hollywood Improv. Kia had a friend named Chris Gerht who organized a showcase show in the Improv comedy studio, which is a smaller "annex" to the main stage. The show wound up selling out and people started sneaking in and sitting in the back and on the floor, which is a great thing to see when you get out on stage I'm sure. I'd say the night was a success and the next day I ran into Chris again at the Sunset Grill. After I complimented him on the show he mentioned that he would love to try to make it a running gig. I told him that if he was ever looking for acts that I would be more than happy to help him out. Sure he's probably got his own friends and people in mind, but I had to at least put my name in the hat. We'll see.

Anyway on Sunday, after another sure to be fruitless day of job hunting I went out to try and get on stage to do some open mics. First I tried the Comedy Store which was yet again a bust. Then I drove down the street to the Sunset Grill. Now normally you can show up to the Sunset Grill 3 minutes before the show starts and be the 5th person on stage. Apparently on Sunday however the Sunset Grill was the hip happening place to be and I couldn't get on stage there either. Knowing a sign when I saw one I decided to drive back to the Valley. All was not lost however, my friend Kim from home earlier had mentioned that I really needed to try In n Out burger so I did on my way home. In n Out is like a healthier Dairy Queen, you can see people through the windows peeling potatoes, making fries, and washing lettuce. It was delicious, full credit goes to Kim for the suggestion.

Today was another first for me, I got to be in a movie in Hollywood. Now before you start getting the wrong idea, it was unpaid work for some Groundlings Alum, but I did have a speaking role, and I will get to brag about it on an acting resume if I ever make one. Not bad for my second week.

I want to take a few sentences to give a shout out to my Dad who is turning 50 tomorrow. Through this whole experience my Dad has been more than awesome, he is supportive and level headed about the whole affair and puts no pressure on me to succeed out here on the West Coast. I am incredibly lucky to have parents who let me do something as stupid as move cross-country with no job or any real plan. Thanks Dad.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Heat wave!

I think the sun is hotter here. Seriously. We've been in the high 90's for the past 4-5 days and it's definitely not nearly as humid as it was back in NH. But when you go outside and walk around for a few minutes you realize that the energy is just getting sucked out of you. When I get in my car, the gear shift is literally too hot to touch so I must point the air conditioner down to cool it off. Of course, the rest of LA doesn't seem to care and still has their sprinklers watering the lawns that I never see anyone use.

Tonight I went back to the club on Ventura that's close enough to walk to. I tend to really have a good time there, the host is really nice. It's a little tough finding a club that doesn't take itself to seriously like one of the bigger ones, but is still legit enough so you're not just standing on top of some poor guy trying to drink a coffee.

I went and dropped off some applications today and again filled out some more online. I've decided that I'm gonna start putting my efforts into more personal job applications where I can at least meet the manager I'm applying for. I feel like I'll at least get a feel for what my chances are and I'll feel like I'm not wasting my time applying for jobs I'll never hear from. I'm also gonna start calling some AM stations and see if anyone's looking for someone to fill the night-time slot.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm meeting my friend Mike who went to school out here and I went to high school with. He's living in Orange County now but tomorrow he'll be up in the city looking at apartments for August. Later I'll be meeting Kia (Mitch's friend) and going to see a show at the Hollywood Improv. I'm really looking forward to it since it will represent comedy that has an audience and a comic who is actually doing well for themselves. Should be educational if nothing else.

One thing I noticed that has absolutely nothing to do with anything, is it just me, or are daily contact lenses a scam? I realize their cheap to begin with, but do people realize that by just spending a little more upfront that they could get monthly or even bi-annual lenses that are just as good? I feel like the optometrist lobby has done a pretty good job of convincing people that their eyes will turn into pits of lava if they don't change out their contacts once a day.

-Happy Trails!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Getting annoyed...

The days can get pretty boring when you're not working and you don't have Groundlings classes to look forward to. It's not exactly unique nowadays for a college grad to be unemployed and I know I moved to just about the worst city I could to job search, but damn. You know what bothers me about the whole process? Not even hearing "no". I understand that there are often more qualified people applying for a job than just me, but do you think it would be that hard for companies to send out an e-mail that just says "Yo, we got your resume, we're gonna read it and if you hear from us again it means we want you to come in." Literally every other part of applying for a job is automated online, would that be so hard to program? It's a BS proposition in the first place. Every corporation wants you to pretend to be excited to "join their team" but at every step of the process they treat you like crap. Then should you happen to get hired you are then subject to getting paid the smallest amount they can get away with and being nothing more to them than a number (literally, my number at Ruby Tuesday was 510, Cole Haan was 105125). Is it any wonder that the New York Times reported last month that employee-employer loyalty was at an all time low? Hint: Ask yourself why it's called "human resources" and not "personnel" anymore. So I still wait. Today I at least got a letter from the car dealership that I applied to last week saying that they weren't interested. I was just happy they went out of their way to let me know. Still waiting on the cupcake company. I really do hope I can start supporting myself, at least somewhat, because I really do like living here. Every day is exciting, it's absolutely beautiful, and I'm always finding ways to laugh. I just hope I can stay and that finances aren't the limiter to fulfilling my dreams.

After my daily job search I decided to head down to Hollywood to do an open mic. Suffice it to say that I will not be going back to the Cafe Muse to do stand up anytime soon. The coffee shop seemed cool and actually had some real customers, but the stage is pretty dumpy and it's just too far away to make it worth it. My strategy is to find the clubs that I really like and then I'm gonna try to go there exclusively. One of the recurring bits of advice I keep getting is that if you feel comfortable at a venue then your comedy gets better. You stop doubting yourself and start having fun and it's just easier. If nothing else trying out a new club every night is at least getting me out of the house and letting me explore the city a little bit. Next week I might even be going all the way out to Malibu to do a show, maybe I'll chill on the beach a bit first, make a day of it since I'm sure I won't have a job yet.

Anyway, tomorrow is Groundlings and another open mic. Hopefully I'll be hearing back from a couple jobs and staying cool. It has gotten really sunny and hot here lately and it's usually a good 10 degrees hotter here in the valley than it is in the city, price I pay for cheaper rent I suppose.

-Happy Trails!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A good day

Today was a good day. I got to go do some improv this morning and anytime you can start with that it's a good day. I feel like the classes are going really well so far, of course I'm only three deep at this point, but I think it's been a good investment so far and I have no regret. Here's the thing though, people keep missing the classes! Today some ding dong waltzed in after missing the first week and he absolutely stunk in the first place! We had another guy miss today, and last week some girl missed the second class! These classes are not cheap so why did you pay for them? Frigin starving actors; I can understand why they don't want to try going out for a normal job because no one would hire someone who's so flakey.

After the class I had decided I would be going to the open mic at the Improv which is right down the road from the Groundlings so I decided to spend my time at a coffee shop down the road. This place is a locally owned coffee shop called Fratelli's and it is awesome. They give you free refills of coffee and let me sit around for a couple hours job searching, they've even got wifi out on the patio! I had a little more luck job searching today, actually had some e-mail responds looking to organize interviews. I'm also getting the disappointing responds offering positions that would require me to drive up and down California as a salesman. I'm not sure who takes those jobs, but I'm not so desperate yet. Maybe in a month or two.

But here's the thing that kind of ruined my afternoon, the open mic was canceled! Of course there's no way I would have known that without showing up and seeing the flier on the door. I didn't necessarily mind missing the open mic, what ticked me off was that I fooled around until 4 pm and that meant that my favorite road in LA, Laural Canyon, was backed up all the way to Sunset. That doesn't mean a lot to most people, but trust me, it's a terrible sight. A drive that could take you 3 minutes in rush hour takes 25, and half of it is uphill. Miserable.

Anyway the great thing about this town is that there are always more open mics and tonight I tried one out that was in North Hollywood, which is in the Valley and about 5 minutes away. The place is the the Cafe Amsterdam or... the Amsterdam Cafe, I'm not sure what the order is. But the place is awesome. The comics there were all really supportive and there was even a musical act or two. I went on pretty late but, and I'm being completely humble, it was my best set since I've been out here. All of my jokes hit and I had other comics laughing, I only wish I had filmed it. Won't make that mistake again. There were even two girls there who were taking notes for some comedy class or something and I stepped out right before I was up to quickly go over my set. This was about 2 hours into the open mic mind you so we had all been there for a while, a lot of the previous acts having already left. These two girls come out and say, "We were waiting for you because we figured you would be funny, but we need to get going." I was like, "No! Finally a real audience who wants to see me and they're leaving!" I begged the girls to stay and sure enough they walk back in. I think I did well for their sake. I wish I had filmed it.

Tomorrow I've got a voice audition for a company that makes radio ads. Other than that it's another day of job searching. Hopefully things go well and I'd at least have the possibility of contract work. We'll see. Congrats to my friend Marissa back in NH for getting her job at a Massachusetts law firm, at least one of us will be working.

-Happy Trails!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Have you ever...

Today was one of those days that surprises you. It started boring enough, I stayed in my room sending out resumes and applications (again) and hearing nothing back (again). I decided that I wouldn't completely waste the day and I would go out and try to do some stand up. I foolishly decided that I would try to get onstage at the Comedy Store. A word on the Comedy Store, they have 15 spots to go up and 25 people show up. This is the second time I've signed up and the second time I didn't get up. In talking with another comic Tommy who was trying to get in he divulged that the reason must sign-ups don't get up is because the guys who work at the Comedy Store always put their friends on the list, even if they didn't sign up. So in reality there winds up being about 8 slots rather than 15, which seems pretty shitty to me but I guess I don't work there. Guess I need to start kissing up.

Anyway, Tommy also told me about this little club for comics called easily enough, the Openmic. It was a little hard to find but I'm glad I did. It's owned by a guy named Marty who asks for 5 dollars and wants you to get comfortable and have fun. Everyone there was working on new stuff so there's no pressure and comfy chairs to watch. Marty takes those 5 dollars and grills up hot dogs and hamburgers and makes some coffee for everyone. Marty even said it's because a lot of people there are having to choose between eating and paying bills and he wants to do his part to help out some up and coming comics. Now I don't know where Marty got his money to open such a club or why he's so nice, but it sure is a nice change from the overly competitive open-mic crowd I normally run into when I try to do get on stage.

This place even had my favorite feature of open mics on proud display, the crazy people who see a microphone and see opportunity. I learned tonight that in 2012 the enlightened people with the right wavelength of love will transcend to the 5th dimension (screw the 4th!) and won't need to poop anymore. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

One more thing that made this place awesome. Do you ever pass someone in the mall or something and think to yourself, "Hey, that guy looks like someone who's famous?" Well tonight some guy came in and I said, that looks like Marlon Wayans (think Scary Movie) and lo and behold, it was indeed Marlon Wayans who closed the show with some stuff that he was working on. Oh ya, I shook his hand. What a city.

-Happy Trails!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Slow day

As you could probably guess from my title today was a slow day here in LA. I slept late because last night I was waking up every hour feeling sick. I blame the nachos I had last night at Eric's b-day. Anyway I stayed in bed until the World Cup final came on which was a good game I guess. Frankly it looked like the Dutch never expected to win the game outright and decided to intimidate the Spanish into making a mistake. But everyone knows you never get between a Spaniard and gold, just ask South American natives.

Later I went to an open mic at the Sunset Grill, which I think has a song written about it. At least that's what I was humming on the drive which was exciting itself, I got to see two women go for the same parking spot and hit each other. A very public screaming match ensued. The open mic went alright but it seems like everywhere I go the other comics feel like they need to give me advice once they learn I've only been here a few days. This is a little annoying when it becomes apparent that sometimes these other comics really stink and don't appreciate that I'm not some bumpkin who woke up one day and decided to start doing stand up.

Anyway tomorrow is another job searching day. Hopefully I hear back from a few leads and start organizing an interview or two. Fingers crossed!

-Happy Trails!

The Beach!

Today was a relaxing day. I traveled down to Venice to visit a family friend named Gena who lives literally 30 seconds from the beach. Ok, a word on LA. I can't think of anywhere else in the world where 30 minutes in one direction is gangs shooting each other, 30 minutes in another is the most expensive housing development on the planet, in another 30 minutes is the global center of entertainment, and 30 in another is the beach. It is a bizarre world I live in.

Anyway, this friend's house is very cool, not very big but perfect for someone who's single who doesn't mind giving up space for living on the frigin beach. Gena's apartment has this little outdoor area where we sat and had a beer to catch up and inside it feels like any summer house on Lake Winnipesaukee. We then took our short stroll to the beach and I got to put my feet in the Pacific Ocean, checking off one of those life goals, even if the water was a good deal colder than you would think for Southern California. We then took a walk down to see muscle beach and all the fun things there is to do on the more touristy bits of Venice Beach. It's sort of like Miami except in Miami's case the city was being built with an eye toward making it look pretty, since it was meant to be a tourist destination from the get go. Venice on the other hand used to be a crack haven and thus there a tons of weird little shops and vendors everywhere and lots of basketball courts, bike paths and the like. I will say that the city of LA has done a good job of making sure there's really something for everyone. Gena was then kind enough to treat me to lunch where we promptly took a pic of palm trees to send to my mom to make her jealous (this was Gena's idea and not mine). All in all, it was a nice diversion from the normal job search and it was nice to see a friendly face. I was also very proud coming back because the 405 was jammed all the way to Santa Monica and I've been here long enough that I knew I could get off at Santa Monica Blvd and drive to Beverly Hills where I could take Coldwater Canyon. That doesn't mean anything to most everyone, but I gave myself a little pat on the back.

Anyway, I was home for about an hour before I went out again to Hollywood to catch Eric of was having a birthday improv show and celebration. The show itself was interesting for me, as it was longform and was only a two person show, two things I have very little experience with. Afterward we went to Gillians "pub" on Hollywood Blvd which is an odd place. All the waitresses are dressed like it's Hooters and all the beers are 3 dollars. $3! I had a beer and met some of Eric's other classmates and improv buddies, all of whom were very friendly and very interested to hear about classes at the Groundlings. The longer I'm here the more I'm realizing that the Groundlings has a bit of a rivalry with the other improv theaters in town and has a bit of a reputation for being an overly competitive SNL factory. Which I guess is good and bad. I mean, usually when your competitors dislike you it means you're doing something right, but on the other hand all the troupes have their own systems that work for them. I happen to be drawn to the Groundlings' more short-form and character based improv, while others might prefer long form. It's really a matter of personal preference. Anyway, I had fun tonight and met some new faces, always a good sign.

-Go Oranje!

Friday, July 9, 2010

I know I've been here a while because it's my milk's expiration date

Today was a very mixed bag. First off I heard back from the audition I had yesterday. They apparently really liked me, the guy telling me that they only took 20 from a field of about 95. He's telling me that they want me to come in to start working on an acting resume, giving me the numbers of a few headshot photographers, you know, Hollywood stuff. But then the more I read about it, the more I realized that this was probably a little too good to be true. You know how I know? The casting agency didn't have a website. Now I know this is a company for extras, but it's Hollywood, get a frigin website. If I can't look you up it makes me think you have something to hide. As my Dad put it, the cynical New Englander in me was stirred and I am gonna call them back and tell them I'm not interested.

This is a little disappointing to do because I would have really liked the money. That said, I have taken the contacts given by Lacey ( and hopefully they both lead to jobs and income. Anything is better than nothing and the two contacts seem like really cool jobs. I'm hopeful.

In that vein tomorrow I'm heading over to another game show "audition". It's for a new show called 101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow, which sounds cool but is created by the same people who made Wipeout. However, unlike that obstacle course show it's more quiz based and only physical if you lose, in which case you demonstrate one of the 101 ways you can leave the show. Basically it's money and a trip to Argentina if they pick me. The trip alone seems like it may be worth it. I was a little hesitant to even go because the guy was telling me to come as a caricature of myself (actual words) which I'm not gonna do. I think I'm a likable enough guy as I am and if you can't make a TV show that doesn't make an ass out of its contestants than maybe your show just stinks.

Also tomorrow I'll be meeting with one of Mom's friends from home who I haven't seen in 10 years, which should be fun. She's awesome and very friendly and I think she might even be planning to buy me lunch. Also, she lives right next to the beach, and since I haven't even seen the Pacific yet I have that going for me, which is nice.

And in case you were wondering, yes that is Nikola Tesla.

-Happy Trails!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LA: city of angels and dreamers

Today was a busy day! First, was the second improv class at the Groundlings. Today we took a few notes and we went over all the things we would need to master or at least be comfortable with before the instructor will move us on to the next level of classes. Honestly this is the hardest improv has been for a long time. I've performed for years using a system that has worked for me and worked for UNH's Improv Anonymous. Now I have to reprogram myself to practice the method of improv that the Groundlings uses and has worked for their school for years. I'm not bitter about this, but it does make things a bit more difficult than I expected.

Then I had some good fortune. Lacey from who I met at a graduation party this summer was reading my blog and noticed that I was having some trouble looking for a job. Being from LA herself she made a few phone calls to some family members. Long story short I now have two leads for jobs! This is a nice change from sending in dozens of resumes and applications and hearing nothing back at all. Lacey is an amazing nice person and you should all give her blog a read.

After I spoke to the first of Lacey's leads I headed to Hollywood to a casting call for extras for a new movie or TV show. Honestly I don't really know what it was for, all I know is that there was a casting call and I had nothing else to do this afternoon so there I was. There must have been 20 people there and given how quickly people were coming and going and the fact that they had been going since 1 I can only imagine the sheer numbers that they had coming in and out. They were taking people in one at a time for a 5 minute mini-interview and a reading of a short monologue. I think I did really well, I only think this because the woman gave me a card and told me to call back tomorrow; something I don't think they would do if they didn't want you. But who knows. It was certainly an experience. It also was a good highlight of how many starving artists there are in LA. There were so many people there trying to be all cool and hip in clothes they probably couldn't afford, dropping headshots like they were on fire, and acting like they were all big shots. This was a casting call for extras mind you. I guess it just made me glad that I wasn't moving out west to be a movie star, because that is a long and lonely road paved with broken dreams. But then again, someone needs to be famous and you'll never know unless you try. Here I was thinking I was taking the risk, but these people must have a lot of confidence, good for them, even if they don't get famous. If worst comes to worst at least they can enjoy the beautiful weather.

I did learn something from the audition though. I think that these classes at the Groundlings might wind up being more of an investment than anything else. When I introduced myself to the woman at the casting call and she asked what brought me to LA I told her I was taking classes with the Groundlings. She commented how impressive this was and that they had a great program. The more people I talk to the more I realize that the Groundlings if nothing else provides some great training. There are a lot of people who have taken improv classes all over LA and aren't on SNL, but they are on writing staffs and working in comedy. If that's the best I can do, using the training I'm getting to help get another job in comedy then that's perfectly fine with me.

A note on the pic: those farm animals were photographed from our motel in Clinton, Oklahoma. That's right, they built an Econologe on a ranch. God bless America.

-Happy Trails!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First day of school

This morning was the earliest I've woken up since the road trip. I won't say the time because it's a bit embarrassing but it was still tough. The reason I had to wake up early was to go to my first class at the Groundlings, which I was incredibly excited about. I decided to take classes twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 1:30. Unfortunately I auditioned a little late and would have preferred to take classes at the night sessions offered. Those being full I decided to go twice weekly to get finished sooner and the morning classes would still let me work at nights and weekends, assuming of course that I could find a job.

So I loaded up my Ghostbusters lunch box and left very early, just in case I couldn't find a parking spot or something. It was a good thing I did too because today was also the first day I got to experience true traffic on a LA freeway. Honestly it wasn't too bad, it was at least moving fairly regularly, but this was 9 in the morning. I shudder to think what traffic would be like at 7. One more reason why working nights and evenings would be terrific.

The class itself was very interesting. It's definitely a new way to do improv then what I'm used to, more character driven and much more emphasis placed on working with the person you're performing with. The people taking the class was also a little surprising. Most were probably around my age, but there were 3 people there who actually had kids. Almost everyone in the class is not originally from California, though I am the furthest from home, no other New Hampshireites, but there was one guy from Massachusetts. A lot of the other students are by craft actors/directors and seemed much more in tune with acting philosophy and that kind of thing. I take it as a matter of pride that I have no formal training but probably more on stage experience than anyone else. Most of all I had fun and I'm looking forward to the next class on Thursday.

A special word on job searching. I could not have picked a worse time to graduate college. Job searching is absolutely soul crushing. I'm even finding jobs that my two degrees qualify me for and I'm hearing nothing back. I realize that it's tough because this whole region is transplants looking for work and it's also tougher because there's a glut of college graduates looking for work as well. Today I've probably sent out 12 or so applications and resumes, I expect to hear back from zero of them. Even Starbucks isn't hiring! And anytime a company says, "We're not hiring but just drop off your resume and we'll keep it on file." they're lying. They take a 5 second look at your resume to make sure you're not related to a Senator and then they dump that resume in the trash. I don't know what I'm gonna do. I think it's a good sign that I'm constantly stressed out about looking for a job but improv is such a relaxant.

On that note, last night I met Eric of theimprovstudent at a show at the iOwest theater which was excellent. Eric is a nice guy and has been very supportive of my insane decision to move out here. He's already invited me to his birthday this Saturday which is great because it means I'll get to meet some new people as well, which is always good at this point.

Happy Trails!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Got in!

Well today I got some good news, I made it past the auditions and I'm officially taking classes at the Groundlings theater! It couldn't have come at a better time either as the next set of classes start tomorrow. I did a rush registration and tomorrow at 10 I'm heading down to Hollywood to have some fun. This seems like a great start because now I've got my improv taken care of, stand-up is ongoing, and now all that's left is finding a job. Poop.

Anyway, today I met Eric of who's taking classes at iO West. We met at the iO and caught their weekly show Armando which was excellent. I wish money was no object and I could take classes at as many places as I wanted. Eric mentioned that iO had an internship program where you could work for them in return for taking some classes. I'll give that a shot. The club seemed very chill, they had a great bar where people would go to hang out and Eric introduced me to some very friendly people, even someone from New Hampshire!

Anyway, tomorrow is classes and then perhaps an open mic, we shall see. Hope everyone had a happy and safe fourth.

Happy Trails!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Busy day!

Alright, today was the big audition to get into the professional classes at the Groundlings school. There are probably 4-5 improv schools worth joining here in LA and to me the Groundlings seem to be the best fit. They more than the others focus on short-form character driven comedy, which is an easy fit for me based on my experience with Improv Anonymous at UNH. They are incredibly cutthroat and difficult to be successful, but no one said this would be easy.

Anyway the audition only had about 9 people attend and I don't want to come off sounding like a prick, but I would say I was at least in the top 2. Everyone else wasn't terrible but it was clear that I had more experience doing improv than most of the other people there. It's also funny to see how many "professional" actors show up with their headshots and everything else. I don't begrudge them the opportunity to work on a new school to add to their repertoire, but improv is much different than normal acting roles. Too often I get the feeling that people are trying out for Groundlings or Second City to just become famous and then they can move on to "real" roles. Not to sound preachy, but for me, improv is it. This is what I drove out west to do and I want to learn and perform with the best. I would love at one point to make money doing what I love, but at some point you need to put the delusions of grandeur aside and enjoy the scene. I will say that I enjoy that at every major troupe they do have classes that are not audition based, so if you are looking to work on skills you do not need to beat out competition or any of that, you can simply pay and sit down for a few lessons, in fact I think Groundlings is one of the few that has auditions mandatory. It's telling however that the Groundlings brochure specifically states that there is no correlation between success there and being called up to do SNL or anything else, like most things it takes a mix of talent and hard work.

Sorry for the diatribe. Anywho, I think I did about as well as I could in the audition, I just have to wait until Monday or Tuesday to find out if I've been accepted into their professional classes. A good sign was that as I was leaving the audition instructor asked where I'd taken improv classes from. Of course I haven't taken any classes, I'm lucky enough to have years of onstage experience actually doing improv which is a huge plus considering you can work for years in some troupes just to get onstage. Then the instructor and I went to a nearby comic book store and perused some comics, so that was cool too.

Then I drove to Pasadena to perform at an open mic held once a month at the Ice House, a fairly well-known comedy club that has the unfortunate distinction of being located outside the city of Los Angeles. The open mic is actually sort of a try-out to get put on stage with a bunch of other comics in a showcase, you can actually get paid and get about a 10 minute set. My set was not very good, the lights were really bright, I lost track of my jokes, I forgot the sequences, it just wasn't good. Well anyway the guy brings me up afterwards and tells me as much but says that he was impressed by how confident I was on stage, so he wanted me to come back for the showcase on the 15 of August. Woo! Which explains why frat guys get laid all the time; it doesn't matter if you're a terrific jerk, as long as you own that fact and don't apologize for it, people will be impressed.

Happy Fourth!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Big Audition...

Tomorrow is the first true audition I'll have out here, which I guess makes me a true LA resident. I'll be auditioning to enter into the first level of classes at the Groundlings improv troupe. I've heard differing things about the experience being in the troupe, but I'm hopeful that my years of experience in my college troupe will make me look confident and comfortable on stage. You can be sure I'll let you know.

Today I also did an open mic at a reasonable local club on Ventura Blvd. I thought I did fairly well, but it's always hard to tell with the amount of people who show up at an open mic. The organizer actually wanted to book me to do a spotlight show but the show would be self-promoting and since I don't know anyone in the city I would be pretty much out of luck. So I took his card and promised to call him when I have friends.

Tomorrow if I can make it, there's also another audition at the Pasadena Ice Box to get put on the main stage for a 10 minute set. It's sort of an open mic with feedback, so it should be a good experience even if I don't get selected.

This is a bit of a short entry so hopefully the photo of the Grand Canyon at sunset at the top will tide everyone over.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Job search and car fixes

I realize that it gets pretty old hearing about "firsts" all the time in this blog but I have to keep track of time somehow when I'm here. That said, today was my first day all alone in LA, and I managed to keep it pretty busy. This morning I went to the casting call for the game show Minute to Win it. Now I'm not sure what I expected, but it certainly wasn't what I experienced. They took about 40 of us into a room and split us into 3 groups where they watched us stack solo cups into pyramids and take them down in one minute. Meanwhile the casting director walked around and just watched us, occasionally pulling us away one at a time to talk to us for an average of about 30 seconds. Meanwhile everyone cheers the others on in the fakest way you can imagine. It was actually pretty funny if it wasn't so sad.

Then I found this really great local and cheap car garage to get the car fixed and then went to buy some groceries so I could survive.

The issue I'm running into at this point is how difficult it is to find a well-paying part-time job that is flexible around improv and stand-up. I didn't drive all this way so I could work a 9-5 job that doesn't understand I need to usually be able to get out at 4. I honestly wouldn't mind working midnight shifts but I just don't know where to begin. Hopefully the longer I'm here and the longer I've got my ears open I'll start noticing more and more opportunities.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll be doing an open mic at the Spotlight comedy club on Ventura blvd and then on Saturday is the big audition with the Groundlings. Big weekend coming up!

Also, any friends expecting photos of the road trip on Facebook will have to wait a long time it seems. Every time I try to upload some photos the entire internet seizes up and I have to quit out. So until I can find some other way, no pictures.

Anyway, Happy Trails!

Day one

Once again LA surprised me by just how quickly I got myself tired out. Today Mitch and I met a friend of his father at her place off of Sunset Blvd. First of all, forget what you know about the romance of the classic movie and the thousands of songs written about the place, Sunset Blvd is a nightmare. For some god-foresaken reason the city decided to schedule construction on the road during the summer, and also don't seem to care enough to synchronize the traffic light changes to maximize traffic flow, it took us 40 minutes to travel half a mile.

Anyway, the woman we were meeting Kia has been living in LA most of her life and works as an actress and a screenwriter/editor. She took us to Mel's diner on Sunset and let us grill her with questions about getting work in LA, the path to being on stage, and general knowledge about how to survive out here knowing no one. She was nice enough to get me in touch with a few of her friends who are into improv that I can meet up with. I'm sure I'll be in touch with Kia off and on whenever I have a question about an upcoming audition or interview, frankly it's just nice to know someone in this town. One funny story though: Kia took us down to the West Hollywood drag to get some awesome frozen yogurt and as we were leaving a homeless man tried to make fire by snapping several times, he was unsuccessful.

I then drove Mitch to Burbank airport where we split ways and he went up to Portland to live with his father and work a comedy club gig for a few weeks before he then either comes back to LA or moves out to Chicago. I'm sure I'll be seeing him again but at this point I am now completely on my own.

That is of course except for my landlady/roommate Dara. Dara is incredibly nice and genuinely helpful about making me comfortable as soon as possible. She has been directing me to all the local places I need to know about and even pointed me in the direction of this cool coffee shop down the road that did a sort of story reading tonight. In NH the term would be "hipster" but in LA it was nice to just see people being themselves and to not feel like I was underdressed.

Tomorrow I have an "interview" to be on Minute to Win It, you know that game show where they do all those weird mundane tasks for money. I'm not getting my hopes up to actually get on the taped show, but it is nice to do something that I wouldn't have the opportunity to do in New Hampshire. I've also moved my audition for the Groundlings to Saturday, which actually I feel pretty good about. I think it would do me good to have a few days to feel a little more comfortable here and get my mind about me to get in the mood to do more improv.

Anyway, that's the first full day in LA. Please keep in touch everyone! Happy Trails!