Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Comedy, Robin Williams and Me

I didn't want to rush to write this post. I wanted to take my time. I needed to sit back and observe myself and acknowledge the confusing emotions and, overwhelming sadness when I heard Robin Williams passed away. I also don't want to confuse his suicide with his personal affect on me because his kindness was to me as a comedian. At the time yes, I knew he had in the past struggled with his mental health (AND WON A COUPLE OF TIMES), our mutual struggle with mental disease was not our connection. Comedy was our connection and I've never been more touched by any memory I will ever hold in my life.

Robin was kind enough to recognize, what we were creating at Wharf Room Comedy was exactly the type of environment where magic can happen. You cannot become a comedian without someone else willing to take the risk to create a stage. We created a stage, business owners took a chance on us, fought with us, fought against us but, we all fought for comedy. The amateur stages where it appears no one is laughing is where our comedy idols are born. No showcase, open-mic or indie producer is in this for money - there is no money in throwing comedy shows, there is very little prestige, there can be 20 people in your community at one point or another shitting on you, there are venue owners that are angry, bar servers throwing drinks because tips are shit and, comedy fans that aren't comedy fans at all destroying us on stage....all of this makes us as artists question our sanity; and rightly so.

No matter the difficulties - no matter the nervous breakdown - no matter the ruin; I wouldn't have changed one moment. 

It is exactly in these darkened often, hostile venues where the ultimate freedom necessary can be found for this complicated art form. In these rooms, demons are released into waves of uncomfortable laughter, discomfiting stories become ill-timed giggles. These places that pop up from month to month, all over cities, in back rooms are where all of your comedy idols started out as baby comics then become mediocre comics then they become stars. Those are just your 35 year career trajectory for your idols. My stage was created for those who were there for the love of being on stage, for that person who might never get to be a star, he or she will always pursue the next stage, he or she will always be hungry for the next crowd, comics don't ever stop being comics - good or bad. The stage like we created at Wharf Room Comedy. The stage that I was so proud to be a part of, so proud to watch as comics came down from roaring laughter - the type of laughter may have just heard for the first time in their careers. These stages are that special - these stages are for artists. And yes, these stages are disappearing.

But, I got to be a part of it. For a long time I stood in the shadows of this beautiful comedy magic and one day I took the stage. I was changed forever, I became invincible 15 minutes a night, 5 nights a week. I was super-woman. It was because of that magical place and that stage that over 1,000 other performers and comedians got a few minutes to be invincible. At least that's what I hoped they felt. I never intended to create any other show than a place for comedians to be better and to have an opportunity to grow as artists. Of all the mistakes we made, of all the fights we had, this always remained the mission of that stage.

I'm proud to have fought for that - I'm proud to have been a part of that magic.

What Robin Williams said to me validated every moment, every heart break, every lost friend, every venue owner that hated us, a failed relationship and every type of ruin I could experience as a human. One comic told me that I would be a real comedian when I've lost everything.

In the moments I met Robin, he spoke to me of my contribution when others barely knew of my devoted involvement in the production of Wharf Room Comedy. What everyone else doesn't know is that each and every comedian that came on my stage gave me the courage to step up there and find a voice I didn't know I had. I had experiences that most of the population will never get to experience.

Because of my battle with stress and anxiety I may never return to performing. But, I will always in my heart believe it was the most magical creation I ever had the opportunity to be part of. In the history of ever.

Robin Williams is a hero to the San Francisco comedy community - for each of us we will walk with heavy hearts for him and his family. But, we those of us who were inspired by his art, his kindness, his generous praise and time and, his galactic talent; we feel him, and we will feel him for a very very long time.

My battles I know will never fully be over but I know I'm going to live. I chose life, I fought for life - I also have a few back-up plans just in case those choices aren't doing the trick. I made a promise to someone that I would live, I promised that I wouldn't be the one ending my own life, I promised that the last thing I did before ever hurting myself was to pick up the phone and make a phone call to her. A promise to someone lifted the burden of not wanting to experience this world any longer. I now have to live, the choice is no longer my own.

I promised, I just made a fucking promise and I intend to keep it. No judgement - I just promised.

Things about Portland

From time to time I make my way over to Portland. I visit old haunts for a beer - I visit new cafes and try out their biscuits and gravy. I accidentally find a street fair. I wander as usual - right now I'm not taking too many photographs outside of my backyard and my long hikes. My walks to the city are purely for my senses. Sometimes but, rarely I do go meet with an old friend, or a new friend. Sometimes and rarely, I refresh my memory for my love of Portland dive bars. 

Portland Oregon - 2008 - Photo by Chantel Williams

I have new friends have moved to town and oh my god they're TWENTY-ONE-YEARS-OLD. I wasn't sure if I was up to the challenge of hanging with TWO TWENTY-ONE-YEAR-OLDs but, I took the challenge, like many other failed opportunities and set out with a few goals in mind. Dive bars, pool halls and cheap beer, (I'm on a budget). A few other goals included; no police involvement and no sex with strangers. 

Highlights include - a very adorable, barely legal girl who's sharp tongue matches my ability to turn any cuteness into vomiting rabbit hole of sarcasm. She also cheats at pool; she would be the only person who cheated at pool that I didn't try to murder. I then, beat her boyfriend as consolation - after which, I performed an amazingly gratuitous, hip grinding, victory dance ever witnessed in any McMenamins, I PROMISE I'M NOT EXAGGERATING. At all. 

I know many of you wouldn't consider a McMenamins a dive bar. But I got drunk on less than $20, played pool on a Saturday night and, had an unexpected couple who appeared to be dental students ask me out. McMenamins is the SHIT!  

My dearest friend is also the kind of TWENTY-ONE-OLD who asks bartenders to surprise her. This is where I always openly roll my eyes so far that we had to send a busboy out to grab them before my rolling eyeballs got a ticket for loitering. The bartender at the Low Brow slammed a Pabst Blue Ribbon in front of her face. I laughed my ass off, clinked pints of PBR and made plans to return for shots later. Thank god this did not actually occur; any woman who cheats at pool is surely to start a bar fight. While my health and unique form of energy is returning; I'm no where near fighting form. 

The Bartender at my favorite secret hide-out that serves my favorite late night sandwich (MUU MUU Burger) was extraordinarily generous and made her a giant Vodka drink called a Black Pearl; "SURPRISE ME"!AGAIN. I would have been more of an asshole but he was sweet. The winning part of this night is after two sips she proceeded to pour (dump-drop-spill) the Black Pearl directly into her vagina. As nights go though - she went - she partied - she was taking a vodka douche in the shorts the whole night and she hung without complaint. That's a fucking WOMAN!  (I do promise from this day I will teach her to drink like a proper North'westerner)

Any good night in Portland must end at a Pool Hall or a Karaoke Bar. I chose the best Karaoke and the best Portland Tiki bar. I've been to a few and I return, over and over. I rarely sing in public but the new family members are fiends for the karaoke as well as each other. Yes, they have become family members; when you take 16 ounces of vodka to the crotch and carry-on....you're family. 

Winston Churchill Muttonchops

Jewells Muttonchops

I would like you to know that no animals nor humans suffered due to adventures in Portland. Hangover's were cured with home-made bacon rosemary gravy over home-made butter biscuits. No police were involved, no bail was requested. Adventures in Pool Halls, Karaoke Bars, Gay Bars, Night Clubs soon to follow. I love theme nights.

I missed a lot about Portland while I was away, I'm glad to be renewing my love of her as well. It doesn't mean I'm ever going to be nice about it or, anything else and, the weather will continuously piss me off as long as it fucks up my hair and my shoes. 

Drink Count: 
1 Scurvy Sailor
1 Margarita
4 PBRs

Friday, August 08, 2014

I actually do leave the house from time to time

Oh how the days blend from one to the next when I actually have stuff going on in my life. I still haven't found a position as a professional muse but I am still exploring my options. When I job hunt I send out as many as 10 resumes a day. I am not doing that this time around - and its physically impossible. I also practice FOCUS; in order to develop the old discipline I used to apply to each and every task. Meaning that some things wait while other more important matters are attended.

Grandma & Grandpa round out this months leap-frogging through the hospital; this is where I spend most of my time. I'm actually really grateful that they are recovering and things are slowly getting back to normal. These facts don't reduce the gravity that Grandpa now requires more care than I am qualified to provide. I committed myself to a year - a year I focused solely on his diet. I cooked three meals a day - cooked - from scratch. He lost over 40 pounds. His pain medication was reduced but he relies on it heavily and still is unable to move from his bed or care for himself in the most basic of ways. My daily oratory against added death powder, fake food, unreal sugars, unnecessary sodium are greatly appreciated; I'm sure. The kale salads will not be missed - I know this as a fact - a cold hard fact.

This week I made home-made focaccia. It took - all day - ALL DAY - all day, to make THIS gorgeous focaccia. My family was so happy with the results that both of them were gone within 30 minutes and calendar dates were set for a re-run. Toppings; Salame, mozzarella, tomato sauce. Toppings #2: Carmelized Onion, Roasted Garlic, Bacon, Mozarella & Asiago. All Fucking Day!

I've also been out with friends, ordering open-flamed drinks. Flaming drinks are a step of danger if you have hair like mine. And when you can't really hold your liquor anymore and, you're broke; why not order drinks that cost "more money than you actually have in your bank account".  Yes that straw does look like it's coming right out of my nose. No, that is not a "freudian-photobomb".

I also accepted the offer to host the LadyBug Run in Portland Oregon for CDH Awareness. I stepped outside of my social anxiety and stage fright to do something nice for someone else. I spent the entire day talking into a microphone encouraging people to get across the finish line. 
Here are a few links if you want to find out more about this awesome event:

When I do leave the house, my dogs enlist my Son's girlfriend to send selfies trying to get me to come home. Its a dirty trick and it usually works. 

I know you're just as surprised as I am to see me out an about again but you must realize; it was bound to happen sometime. 

When did the high kick go out of style?

I've been watching Soul Train "The Best of" today. There is no possible way you can be unhappy, unproductive or any other type of "un" while watching Soul Train. Although, I do think its time I brought the "high kick" back in style. 

Any one want to go to a few clubs with me tonight?