Future Girlfriend

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“And I’ll tell ya, things aren’t quite the same.” – Lou Reed

There were people coming in and out of the Yippie, which felt unusual and good, but then comedians began to appear one by one. The first to show his face was Savoy. I had been seeing him a lot this week and that was wonderful, because we had known each other for years. Savoy had been hosting a version of his show Drunken Focus Group at Limerick House, a venue I affectionately call The Lime, for close to five years. Since I’d known him he’d probably as many different phone sales jobs during the day. He’d been present and active during Occupy Wall Street and was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge which prompted him to get a tattoo that says 99%.

“I know those same clothes from yesterday,” he said slapping his hand on my shoulder.
“This hoodie is my trademark,” I replied. I had packed a Jansport backpack stuffed with clothing for my ten day trip as well as wore a red flannel hoodie and a green vest. Pockets are practical. I got in town on Friday and had brunch with my sister, Aly, on Sunday. She gave me a spare key and I’ve been sleeping on her futon in Harlem all week. Aly got me the hoodie one Chanukah and the vest was given to me by my old boss when he was cleaning out his closet. Savoy and I sat at the high table discussing The Yippie Museum and how much the renovations changed the vibe of the environment. A lot of that had to do with Murdock.

“You know he’s living upstairs now?” Savoy asked. I did not know that. At that moment I was never more jealous of a New Yorker’s apartment.

Figuring I should eat something before the drugs take serious effect and make me go hungry I decided to venture out west on Bleecker Street to find dinner. I was thinking of how good the Two Boots pizza was a week ago Friday. I’d headlined Karma Lounge which was one block west of the Two Boots next to the new UCBeast. The Two Boots closest to The Yippie Museum was over two full blocks away though and probably a long wait. I wanted no part of that nonsense as I thought I would be enjoying my own personal entertainment any minute now. In the village market that is Bleecker by the Broadway/Lafayette 6 train entrance I saw my the old stand-by, the halal cart. I ordered a gyro and pronounced it the correct way to a vendor for the first time in my life. The cart was on the northwest corner of Bleecker and Lafayette and it was now actually dark out. Not all the way, but on this beautiful New York City evening we were already considering it to be night out. The feelings of fun were beginning to poke through my system as I waited and I looked down Lafayette towards Houston and REI’s headquarters. It was a nice night out in the middle of a nice week. We were all agreed.
I brought the halal food back to The Yippie Museum eating slices with the fork on the walk back down Bleecker. Once I got inside I had nowhere to leak my gyro juice and it wound up spilling all over my pants. These pants were hand-me-downs from Jose, a co-worker at the warehouse in Sunnyside, Queens. The crotch had been ripping out, but earlier today I had sewn them up at Aly’s and took them out for a spin. Apparently they would be one and done. I’ll do the laundry at my sister, Robin’s, on Friday or Saturday.
“Oh, Grubie,” mocked Savoy. I wiped at the grease with the napkins that came with the gyro and had stored in my pocket for just such an occasion. It dried up the drink, but the stain would remain. A simple gyro stain was not going to affect my night. I gave no fucks. “See, this is why we can’t take you anywhere,” was his next rib.

My old pal Cordova was the next comic I noticed enter. He was booked on the show Future Girlfriend that was going to be held downstairs in the black box basement. He looked all over the venue and I could tell he was impressed by the difference from when he was coming to my open mic night, Venzday Alex.

“Woah, it’s so different,” Cordova noted. “I haven’t been here since your open mic.”ORION 0.62
CREATIVE DONATIONS

Since Cordova was a booked comedian on Future Girlfriend Savoy and I decided to follow him downstairs to see if the show’s hosts had started setting things up.
The three of us went into the basement and sat on the couch perpendicular to the unused bar. More comics came in; Zaret, Vatterott, Bergstrom, Furback, and the show’s producers Seigel and Blotnick. The mushrooms were really taking effect and I would often say things like “oh man,” or “this is it” while we chatted conversationally on the couch. Siegel and Blotnick’s audience arrived and sat in the thirty chairs provided. Sipping my team and feeling funny with my secret I kept asking Zaret, Savoy and Cordova on the couch if they wanted some tea in a creepy voice. None of them took me up on it. Apparently Cordova doesn’t even drink tea. What a weirdo.

They started the show and I stood up so more audience members could sit down. Blotnick hosted and the first comedian up was Bergstrom. He left halfway through the show and I asked who the girl was he’d been talking to.

“She’s writing an article about me, but she got here after the set,” he said, a little bummed or annoyed. I couldn’t tell. Savoy and Furback left after awhile to go to other shows. Furback and I had a long, serious, helpful conversation the night before at The Creek and The Cave, but we didn’t speak while at The Yippie Museum tonight. Comics were doing great and the crowd was having fun. Blotnick’s friend was DJing with an iPod which had a pleasant appeal in such an odd venue. Gondelman was running late from another show and while Cordoba was on stage it became apparent I may end up doing a guest spot. I had never met Blotnick, but both her and Siegel were aware I used to host an open mic night at The Yippie Museum and Siegel saw me host The Dean’s List the day before at The Creek and The Cave. I wrote down a set list of jokes structured mostly of a set I was preparing for a stand-up comedy competition. After Keifer, but before Vatterott, I was thrown up on stage for six minutes. Before it begins, on needles and pins, I tied my hoodie around my waist and rolled up the sleeves of my red Life is Good shirt. I was feeling loose. “Hello! Dani, you’re doing great. That’s what you’re doing. I love music! My favorite band is probably the Velvet Underground. Yeah, I think they’re gonna make it. Velvet Underground wrote the perfect Sunday song: ‘Sunday Morning.’ They also wrote the perfect Monday song: ‘Heroin.’ It’s a good tune. You got it?”

“No,” answered Dani.

“No?”

“Sorry!” she said being cute.

“You know you’re in The Yippie Museum, right? He slept in this room – he probably did more than that. Eee! People call me a hippy all the time. I don’t think I’m a hippy. I don’t even think we should be labeling people, man. I hate getting called a hippy, because I know it’s not a compliment. I know everyone is just telling me to get my shit together, but there are plenty of hippies that got it together: Ben, Jerry, Trader Joe, uh, Al Gore, the Muppets, um, Jimi Hendrix’s estate, Cheech and Lewis Black. Cause Tommy Chong went to jail. Did you guys know that? Tommy Chong went to jail in 2004 for selling drug paraphernalia to children. Yeah, who knew that children were buying the Cheech & Chong movies. Good God. Lock him away for life, I say. And they got Tommy Chong because of the Patriot Act. That’s also true. They tapped his son’s business, because his father’s Tommy Chong and he’s obviously a criminal. That’s why they got him in 2004, not 1974. I always hated the Patriot Act, because of the rhetoric they would spout out about it. ‘Oh, if you’re not doing anything wrong then you’ve got nothing to worry about.’ Hey, I’m not doing anything wrong, but I am doing things that are illegal. Like I have seen every episode of Boardwalk Empire and I do not have HBO. Mmm, January 14th. Was that even the right day? I think it was the 18th. Whatever. You guys don’t even, you are like, ‘what are you talking about?’ I wish they would legalize marijuana, because I suck at rolling joints and it would be so nice to be able to buy a pack. It sucks that every time I want joints rolled I have to listen to some dude rant about how everything is gonna work out for him once he starts his Thundercats hotel. Terrible idea for a hotel. I smoke pot with my dad. Does anyone else do that? You know my dad? He rolls a good J, but he is always talking about this hotel he wants to build. Super annoying. You guys are probably like, ‘address the backpack.’ Okay. I actually live in Philadelphia right now where the streets are paved with shattered High Life bottles! I used to live here in New York City – in The Yippie Museum. I hosted an open mic upstairs. I don’t know if you guys know what open mics are, but an open mic is kind of like a talent show only in the kitchen of a burrito bar. And, uh, I live in Philly now, because I go to college there. I go to Temple University. Uh, which is cool. I dropped out – did you, when did you drop out?”

“1984.”

“IQ84. That’s the only time that’ll get a laugh. I say it every show, don’t get me wrong. He’s a plant, this guy. You remember how he said he smoked pot with my dad? Anyway. I’m actually an English major at Temple University and I’ve always been that kind of student. Like I’m so bad at math. I remember going to math classes when I was a really little kid in Massachusetts public schools and, uh, my teacher would give me like word problems and I wouldn’t even understand they were math. I would just read them like they were stories. ‘Oh. Alice has five apples! Alice gives two apples to Bobby. How many apples does Alice have now?’ And I would be like, ‘How many apples do any of us have? What do apples represent? I bet it’s love.’ That’s what I think. I think they’ve got it upstairs. Do you guys get me! You want me to tell it again? All right, now. Does anybody know any closers? All right, guys. Do you want something dirty or cute?”

“Dirty!”

“All right, okay. You can never do that, because everyone’s always going to yell out dirty. Let me tell you about the first job I ever had. I consider this a job, by the way. Being a comedian is like being self-unemployed. It is- it can be rough. First job I ever had was at a place called American Video, so American that it went out of business. If you’ve never worked at a video store before, you never will. That is a lost trade. That is like being an alchemist or something. It’s too bad too, because that was the best job in the world. There was only one rule: do not laugh in anyone’s face when they rent a porno. Hardest rule in the world to follow. I laughed so hard I will never forget the first porno I ever rented to somebody. It was Booty Duty 3. If I wrote that movie the first scene would’ve been a police chief leaning on a desk yelling at a detective, ‘Johnson, you’re on booty duty. Now don’t let what happened the last two times happen again!’ So many good titles at American Video: Face Jam, Santorum gets Sandusky Laid Off. Yeah, you’re going to want to google it for later. My favorite title had to be Crack Attack. Oh come on guys! Crack attack is what happens when there’s no one on booty duty. Thank you guys very much. I’m Alex Grubard.”

As I was walking off I saw Gondelmon had made it in time and he went up right after me. After the set I felt amazing and probably thanked Siegel and Blotnick 2,000 times each for putting me on stage. “Yeah, no problem,” said Blotnick. She even assured me, “I mean, I had never seen you before, but you killed.” Vatterott closed the show strong with his original brand of bits. He had been in Boston the weekend before taping a set for Comedy Central’s The Half Hour. Living in Philly now I don’t get to see as many cool, rising stars prepare for a TV show as I used to while living in Brooklyn. Not to mention more of my friends are taping things this year and last year than ever before. Just a side-effect of knowing the amazing young comics and other people starting to take notice of them also.

On top of Hannigan’s rooftop I remember her saying in a conversation about America standing out in the rest of the world, “We are lucky to be born here.” Our country is too responsible for the globe, figuratively and blamed.

Back upstairs after the show people started to file up and stand awkwardly by the bathroom door as Occupational Hazards had already began and people couldn’t exit without walking right in front of the performers. Murdock had repositioned the stage from where I had always known it to be, by the stairs heading to the basement, to right next to the coffee counter. It made a lot of sense to put the stage there as now the venue was wider than it is deep as opposed to deep and long. While audience members from Future Girlfriend all waited for a proper time to walk past the upstairs stage and leave to go somewhere with more yuppies than yippies.

A young man who must have been a friend of Blotnick’s asked me, “Was that American Video in Concord, Massachusetts?”

“Yeah,” I screamed enthusiastically. “I’m Alex.”

He chuckled and said, “I knew there couldn’t be many of those.” Then he walked away.

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Central Park

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“Eyes align.” – Jim Morrison

In the morning I texted Brianna, “Still good to meet at 2?”

I had met this beautiful young woman at The Creek and The Cave on Sunday after I performed on the weekly show Froduce. Immediately after an old man who lived in New York, but had lived in Philly suggested that more comedians should make their joke telling into a story. My friends Sean, Jess and Lily from Temple came out to watch me and afterwards they had burritos and quesadillas. I hung out with them and we talked about our Spring Break weekend and different highlights of the show. I walked with them to the G train and as they were buying Metrocards I realized I had left my tab open at The Creek. I ran back in and went downstairs to the bar so I could close it. Just after I signed it an attractive actress with full dirty blonde hair began complimenting my set and talking to me about Philadelphia. We hit it off quickly and exchanged half sheets of paper with our phone numbers, email addresses and full names. We talked about the entertainment industry and being in the professional business of show until about midnight and Tuesday morning I made a date with her to get coffee at Mud on 9th Street. She texted back to my follow up on Thursday with, “This day is crazy. How about 3?”
I got to Mud just after 2:30. There were two women sitting down on the bench, one in a skirt and blouse with a dog and a socialite with a large black hat wearing a lovely blue summer dress. Neither looked like the friendly Ithaca actress and improviser I had met at The Creek and The Cave so I went inside. I was about to order a coffee when Brianna called out, “Alex!” I had gone right past her. She wore sunglasses, a hat and that impressive vintage blue sundress.

We walked west on 9th and made a right on 2nd. After a block or two we decided to go to Tompkins Square Park. She seemed never to go to this particular park and we sat close to the mural of Saint Joe Strummer. We spoke briefly about what commitments we had for the night and the weekend being sparkling young entertainers. She had to go to MacDougal Street to rehearse for a reading on Sunday. I had a show later on at 116 MacDougal Street. Brianna got very excited by this performance. “Alex, “ she said. “You’re on at the Comedy Cellar.”

“No, I couldn’t be.” I was amazed she knew the esteem of the Comedy Cellar, but of course little old me would not be performing there on a Thursday night.

“I’m on MacDougal Street all the time at 115 MacDougal,” she said. “It’s right next to the Comedy Cellar. Your show is at the Comedy Cellar.”

“It’s a lovely dream, but I assure you I’m not playing the Comedy Cellar tonight,” I retorted, trying not to be condescending. “If I were I would know it.” If I were I would be a much more impressive date.

We made jokes about nature and Springtime. Then we wandered off West up Broadway into Astor Place. There were many people crowded around a man his boots and his underwear dancing to a friend playing a snare drum. People were filming them with their cell phones. We watched for awhile, but didn’t record and after a full streetlight rotation we went West again. Brianna was taking texts throughout the three hours, but I tried to not to be disappointed by it. There seemed to be a gravitational pull towards MacDougal Street so that is where we wound up. Once I saw the banner above the Players Theatre is when it dawned on me this girl was starring in Alice in Wonderland in a New York play. I had already been planning on spending all my free time with Brianna, but it seemed our date would be coming to an end before it even got dark out. Our last moments on our date were spent searching for 116 MacDougal Street once we confirmed it was not the address of the Comedy Cellar. 116 MacDougal Street was across the street and a half block South of the Cellar.

She ended up meeting a friend who had just come back into town from France and we hugged good bye. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to see her again. She was everything I could want in a partner; beautiful, free, intelligent, successful, fun. I may not attract many women, but I attract the right ones.

Free Healthcare

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The show at 116 MacDougal, run by Conner, was called Free Healthcare.
Talking to Taylor Ketchum about why I moved to Philadelphia, what college was like for him. “I was on unemployment for almost a year so I took a month, sublet my room and came up with the plan to go back to college. I’d been thinking of it because I read a blog post somewhere that Emerson College would have a comedy major. I wouldn’t have gotten into Emerson either, my option was to go back to the college I dropped out of and get my grades up. So I moved to Philly, it’s close to New York, it’s a big city, cheap as fuck. Great comedy scene. I love it.”

Whiskey and coke.

“Are you on drugs?” Ray asked me while Ryan was up.

SET”This guy is hilarious. He’s in town from Philadelphia. Please welcome Alex Grubard.”

“He brought a backpack on stage.”

“It’s a prop! Hello! Thank you literally two people. How are you guys doing this evening? Glad you’re here, I hope the rest of you got laid off today. That’s a weird term; getting laid off. Getting laid is great. Getting off is also awesome. Getting laid off at work should be funtastic. But it just means you can’t go there anymore. Just ask Jerry Sandusky. Hey, all I’ll say about Jerry Sandusky is that now I know where Santorum comes from. If you didn’t get that you’re gonna wanna google it for later. Exactly. I actually, yeah, I live in Pennsylvania right now. I live in North Philadelphia where the streets are paved with shattered high life bottles. Super nice over there. I live there, because I go to Temple University.”

“Yeah!”

“Owls!”

“Cosby!”

“Dude. When did you guys drop out? I dropped out 2004 and now I’m back to finally get my superiorty complex. That’s what I’m there for. I dropped out, you can’t blame me for dropping out, see. I have a learning disability. I just never learned what it is. What’s the learning disability where you always want to fight cops? I call it free will. Yeah, man. Don’t worry, I’m a good role model though. Kids come up to me all the time and say, ‘Alex, you are clearly well over 21. Would you buy me beer?’ And I always say, ‘No. Let me teach you how to distill gin.’ Cause remember, if you give a kid a beer he’s going to be drunk for an hour, but if you teach a kid how to distill gin he’ll be dead by 8 am. And that’s what I want. Because I’m a murderer. I murder people. Children in fact. So look Amber Alert, I guess. I don’t know. That’s how that joke ends right now. Um. Are you guys drinking? I have a terrible drinking problem myself. I think about quitting drinking every time I’m sober, and I think about quitting being sober every time I’m drunk. That’s where I’m at. You guys know the phrase an Irish Goodbye? It’s where you’ll be at a party and you’ll get really drunk and then you leave without saying good bye. I don’t do that. I do what I call the Jewish Goodbye which is where I’ll be at a party and I’ll get really drunk and I’ll say good bye to every single person at the party and then I stay. I’ll ride that two applause to the bitter end. You want me to tell it again? All right. My favorite alcohol – I just had a Jack and – Jack and Coke, I always just say it, but I mean well whiskey. I love whiskey! I love it. I say Jack too, but I love those Jameson ads that are out right now. They’re not even like ads, they’re like Irish folk limericks. They’re beautiful. You know the ones: ‘In fourteen-ninety-two John Jameson beat up an Octopus and that’s why we have whiskey.’ Those are so cool. But Ireland is the only country of origin you can do that with. You could never do that kind of ad here in the States. In America that advertisement is, ‘This one time Buddy Weiser was getting shit faced so he was pissing in a bottle. But Buddy ran outta brews, but he straight up drank that bottle down, smashed in on the ground and declared I just invented Bud Light. Then he shat in a bottle and was like Bud Lime.’ Ugh, I hate that stuff. Light beer. You guys know that Light Beer is an American thing? I get asked by tourists sometimes, like at shows – I got asked by a German guy this one time. He was like, “Vat is lite bier!’ I was like, ‘Oh here in America we water down the beer sometimes so it has less calories and is therefore less alcoholic. It was humiliating. I might as well have been putting on lipstick. And that German guy looked at me and was like, ‘Oh yah, we have light beer in Germany. It’s what we give to children.’ And I was like, ‘Have you ever thought about teaching them how to distill gin?’ Guys! Goodbye. Good bye. Good bye. Good bye, good bye, good bye. Good bye. I’ll say it to everyone.

“Alex Grubard. Oh man. He’s actually doing it. He’s doing the shakes.

“Good bye. Good bye.”

“When he started the joke, when he was said, Israeli Good Bye, I was like this is an occupation joke. But then he’s just saying bye. I was like, maybe not. It was. Very funny though. Another round of applause for Alex Grubard. And his backpack.”

“Mind if I tell one more?”

“Yeah, haha, yeah.”

“I was in a park today eating a sandwich, this old lady came up to me and was like, ‘you better put that sandwich away otherwise the squirrels are gonna come up and bother you,’ and I was like, ‘are you a squirrel?'”

I left and ran down the street feeling like a genius and a bandit. I whipped my phone out. I had to text Conner that I was sorry for not telling him about the last bit, but that it was a burst of inspiration that I had never thought of before. It was perfect for the moment and exactly the type of bit I knew was out there. I had to apologize, but I didn’t have his phone number so I never did.

Thank You Goodnight @ Cake Shop

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“If I’m unable to dance, I will crawl.” – Grateful Dead

When I walked into the basement of Cake Shop Evan was on stage. Joel, Koshin, Rachel Coleman, Nick (grapefruit) Jared Reed, Constantine, Joel, Bryson Turner, Stephen Bianchi.

CAKE SHOP SET

At one in the morning I texted Kaufman “I’m tripping balls, having the time of my life and just off stage at Cake Shop.” He texted back, “Ahaha yes! I hope they stopped playing the smiths by now.” Are they still playing The Smiths?” “Metal Rules!” As I “Nassau Colliseum” by Lifter Puller then “Stay Positive” by The Hold Steady.

Just as the song was ending and fading out the feedback of the last chord I received a text from Kaufman: “FUCKING TED NUGENT!” I sniped out the song “Stay Positive” by The Hold Steady and felt powerful all the way to the northeast corner of 2nd and 4th when I realized I didn’t have my notebook on me. I looked through my backpack on the corner, but found nothing. It must be back at Cake Shop because I had it back there. I had written the words Cake Shop and no set list. Since I was only a block away from Kabin I decided to just venture over, enjoy myself for several more moments and then pick up the notebook before heading home. The bar would be open real late tonight and I couldn’t get it in the morning, because I had to make a train to Connecticut to visit my sister, brother-in-law, dad, nephew and niece. You know, those guys.

There were few people left at Kabin when I got back. No one was even at the door checking IDs. Jared, Adam, Mark and Chesley were all there. I gravitated towards the conversation at the back of the countertop by the big TV.

“Did you take a bunch of speed like me?”

“I’ve been nibbling at mushrooms for twelve hours,” I told him. I told Chesley how great my night had been so far. How I’m still high, not even really coming down yet, but probably about to begin that descent. How when I got to Kabin the first time I was peaking and how hearing him ask, “Where were you thirty minutes ago?” got me even higher. He seemed excited by the idea of doing four sets on shrooms and disappointed we lost the opportunity to have the moment on Comedy As a Second Language.
Mark chimed in at some point.

“I’m not a big acid guy.”

“You’ve never done acid,” said Chesley.

“No, I’ve done it, but not in a long time. No, I love a good shroom.”

Che and Fried came into the bar from what looked like a light shower dressed in vests and baseball hats. They had just done a show somewhere else in the East Village. Eventually our conversation came to The Final Four comedy competition at Caroline’s on Broadway. Both Che and Normand were still competing. Apparently Phil Hanley had the set of the night one of the days, but still lost out to Chris because of Chris’s manager being a judge.

“I’m so glad I didn’t sign up for that. It just reaffirms everything I believe about comedy competitions,” announced Chesley. He’s right. I ate a banana while talking to Chesley about comedy competitions and didn’t know what to do with the banana peel when I finished. For awhile I just held it in my hands, but eventually I put in the bar where hopefully no one would slip on it.

“Can I tell you a pitch I have for a show?”

“Lay it on me.”

“Did you ever watch pro wrestling as a kid?”

“There’s a picture of me somewhere next to Hulk Hogan, yeah. There was a time where I was really into it.”

“Okay. So it’s an annual show in Philadelphia that’s a comedy competition. But instead of having a panel of judges or audience vote, applause-o-meter, whatever. It’s a card of matches. With guest referees and gimmick matches and everything. It’s all stand-up, no wrestling, just formatted like a wrestling card. And it’s scripted, like angled. If I was going up against you and Patton was the guest referee we’d figure out the funniest way for us to utilize our time on stage competing comedically. And here’s the best part. Since it’s Philly it’s called Extreme Comedy Underground Union or EC-double-U.”
“I love it. Sign me up.”

The music turned off and the bartender yelled out, “If no one puts any money in the jukebox I’m going to take it over and you’re going to regret it.” Sort of a last call only instead of time her weapon is music.

Lengthy monologue from Che. Eastville. Scotch, weed. “When you’re funny you get pussy.”

“Yeah.”

Ah ha ha!

Before leaving I told Mark about my creative breakthrough I had while at Free Healthcare.

On the way back to Cake Shop I listened to the four Grateful Dead songs I had on my iPod starting with “Box of Rain.” It seemed fitting walking South on the wet 2nd Avenue sidewalk after a light shower. As I turned the corner on 1st Street it switched to “Friend of the Devil” and once I was wading through the aftermath of a Lower East Side night I heard the first minute of “Uncle John’s Band,” but I paused it as I walked back into Cake Shop.

The door downstairs was closed with a sign on it that said, “Show’s Over! Employees Only!” I clearly looked like I wanted to go downstairs and a very tall, young man in flannel, glasses and a skull cap came up to me to reiterate what I’d read on the sign.
“The bar is closed downstairs.”

“Oh. I was just here for an open mic, but I left my notebook here. Do you think I could go downstairs to look for it? Is Nick still down there?”

Throwing the owner’s name around threw him off. “Uh, yeah. Here, I’ll take you downstairs to look.”

While we were on the stairs I introduced myself as Alex. “I’m Matthew,” he said.
We got downstairs and three people, including Nick, were cleaning up. Nick saw it was me and I quickly informed him why I was back. “I think I left my notebook somewhere. Maybe even on stage.” I walked to the front of the room and sure enough my jokebook was right there on the corner by the amplifier. I snagged it up and waved it around to show everyone the crisis was averted.

“Good timing. We might have thrown it away eventually,” Nick said. “Glad you got it.”
I shook his hand and thanked him again. “Great seeing you, Nick. Thanks again for the grapefruit juice.”

Matthew walked me back upstairs. “If no one stole it I guess the jokes must not be very good,” he joked. Ah ha ha! I loved it.

“You’re absolutely right, Matthew.”

Corby Haas

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“Long live Wisconsin.” – Anonymous

I walked East on West 3rd and made a left on MacDougal Street, but before I got far I walked back to the subway entrance to hop onto the E train to go to The Creek and The Cave. There would be an open mic run by Hess and on my last big night in town it would be the best way to see the most people.

On the E train I listened to _____ and on the 7 train I listened to “Musta Got Lost” by J. Geils Band.

When I got out of the subway I texted Brianna the message, “I like you.”
Public Domain Protest Song. Feeling amazing, like 2012 is the next great global year, with my buds in my ears I walked up to The Creek and The Cave. The only person standing outside The Creek and The Cave was Broussard. He now lives in the apartment by Maria Hernandez Park I used to live in. The two of us and Sims also co-produced a weekly Saturday stand-up show for a year and a half called Going Steady. Sims as well as Knefel were my roommates by Maria Hernandez. When I moved out Solomon moved in and Knefel moved out soon after to be replaced by Broussard.

“What song were you listening to?” asked Broussard.

“Public Domain Protest Song. A group released an EP of about three protest songs with different versions like instrumentals so people could play with them and use them.”

Corby Haas and had crushed mushrooms in mole sauce with homemade tortilla chips. Joel Walkowski and Eli Sairs both bought a little bit.

“Hello! Thank you literally one person. How are you doing this evening?”

“Awesome.”

“Glad to hear it. I hope the rest of you got laid off today. That’s a weird term: getting laid off. Getting laid is great! Getting off is also awesome. Getting laid off while you’re at work should be funtastic. It just means you can’t go there anymore. Just ask Jerry Sandusky. All I’ll say about Jerry Sandusky and Penn State University is now I know where Santorum comes from. If you didn’t get that you’re going to want to google it for later. I go to a state college in Pennsylvania, but not that Pennsylvania State University. All right. I go to Temple University right now and people keep asking me. I’m on spring break on through to the other side right now by the way. People keep asking me, ‘Alex, how much longer do you have?’ And I’m always like, ‘Oh you think I’m gonna finish? I’m just riding out this job crisis until the minimum wage is raised.’ I go to Temple and, uh, uh, I don’t know if you guys know this, but Bob Saget graduated from Temple University. Yeah, right, exactly. And I live in, uh, uh – people keep asking me if I’ll move back to New York and it’s like, I don’t know, probably, I mean I know that I’ll die here. Here’s the thing, I might not leave Philly because my rent starts with a 2. And my rent, my lease is coming up, all my roommates are moving out, I’m going to have a bunch of comedians move in. I live across the street from a DIY punk venue called Maggothouse; it’s a lovely area. Here’s what we’re going to do, bunch of comics that go to Temple are going to move in and we’re going to call the comedy house Sagethouse. Now I know what you guys are wondering, ‘why wouldn’t we just call it Full House?’ Because I love puns. I love ‘em.”

Then I had to hug Gonzalo Cordova, because that is what you do at this open mic. Later on Cody hugged Bryson Turner for awhile while everyone applauded and giggled and it brought my high to a whole other level.

Comedy As a Second Language

Standard

“Cause most kids give me credit for being down with it when it was back in the day, back when things were way different.” – The Hold Steady

When I got to Kabin the first comedian I saw was Recine. He was off smoking a cigarette, but smiled when he noticed me. “Hi, Al,” he said as we shook hands. We chatted for a second, but I needed to know, “Is the show still going on?” “Yeah,” he replied and I left him to finish his fag. Young came up to me with that look of, there-you-are that he does. “Mr. Alex Grubard. What’s it? Give me your phone.” Young played with it for awhile then handed it to me. “Do it. You’ll thank me later.” I looked at the screen and it was asking me to plug in my iTunes password. I did and put the phone away. “It’s a great game.”

“I’m going to go watch the show,” I said. I walked into the backroom and there were people everywhere. In the crook by the door I greeted Cantrell. Amongst the mass of crowd standing I spotted Laker and Rebecca. I watched Ketchum close his set then made my way to the front of people standing in a bunch. Calloway was against the back wall under the mirror. He left the spot to introduce Rob and didn’t head back to it immediately once he got off stage so I took it.

“We’ve got two comics left for you. Please welcome to the stage, he is a writer for High Times magazine, Rob Cantrell,” Calloway informed us all.

I watched Rob and played with my backpack. Mostly I wanted to have my water in my hand, but I also pulled out the plastic baggy. I through the baggy in my Newbury Comics bottle and swirled it around.

Calloway walked back over and we bro-hugged. He whispered, “Where were you thirty minutes ago?” It was the best feeling to be asked that.

“Castlebraid,” I told him.

Watkins followed me under the mirror.

“Is that just water?” Watkins asked. “No,” I answered. We shared the water and then I scrambled through my backpack, crumpling plastic bags inside the backpack, feeling for Baskin Robbins hard candies. I found two and offered one to Watkins which she took. I sucked on mine through the rest of the show.

Cantrell killed me. Watching a stoner comic annhiliate a room while you yourself are peaking on mushrooms is pretty fun.

Though it would rarely come up in conversation it was a night we would never forget. The feeling at Kabin was magical and not only because I was peaking on the last of my shrooms. The weather was unbelievable and all us young New York comics were together. At one point I saw a short-haired redhead surrounded by standing guys yell out, “We’re all hipsters!” Conan played on the two raised flat screens above the bar and the open street window, but people paid little attention as we were only watching for the very last segment. Everyone focused on their drinking, although I had none. Then O’Brien introduced the night’s stand-up comic.

“My next guest is a talented comedian who co-hosts the Nerd of Mouth podcast on CaveComedyRadio.com and he’s making his late night debut with us right here tonight. Please welcome the very funny, Mike Lawrence.” When Conan said the name of the podcast I couldn’t help but lean into the girl next to me and whisper, “I came up with that title.” No one cares, but I needed to say it aloud to know it and feel it.

Lawrence stepped out and crushed on Conan. We all watched the TV like it was a shooting star shining into our living room. The bar was quiet for the set-ups and laughed heartily at the punchlines. They never cut away from him and people were talking afterwards about all the jokes we’d never heard before. Everyone felt good. Everyone felt cool. All night people drank and laughed and smoked cigarettes. As comedians we loved spending good times with each other and we loved making fun of one another.

“I mean this as your friend,” Young told me, his coat on and ready to leave. “Take some showers. Take a few showers. All of the showers.”

“I Smell?” The Castlebar t-shirt had been on me all day and I think I had even slept in it one of the days this week.

“A little bit, yeah.”

I couldn’t help but think it was hilarious. I started smelling my pits and laughing alone. Young leaned in and smelled once for schtick and I’m pretty sure someone else too. I got the idea to change my shirt though. In my backpack I had the shirt I was given New Year’s Eve at The Comedy Studio. I closed out the show and Rick gave me an XL t-shirt as a Christmas present. I headed back inside to change, but began talking with a crowd that had gathered around a pretty girl who now was somewhere else. Gordon, Rob, Wayne and Smith started drunkenly ribbing me about leaving.

“You’re not leaving, are you?” asked Wayne.

“I’m going to do that open mic at Cake Shop, but then I’ll be back.”

“You should have told us you were in town. We would have had you on the show this past Saturday,” he said.

This was awkward, although Smith and I had already talked about it. Smith and Wayne run a show at The Creek and The Cave called See You In Hell. Smith had booked me for the March show, but the date got moved from March 20th to March 3rd and he forgot I was on it and never told me.

“Yeah, I know. I should have. I was booked for the show before the date got moved.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry,” Smith apologized. “That was my fault. I had booked you and forgot.”
“It’s okay, guys. I’m not that far away.”

“Yeah, but you’re right here,” said Wayne.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I have to go change.”

“What?” asked Gordon.

“I have to go change. Someone told me I smell.”

“You smell?” laughed Gordon. And then he really laughed. Gordon thought it was as hilarious as I did.
Rob smelled me, then Doug. Then I smelled Doug and George just laughed.

“I feel like a pack of dogs,” I joked as I went to the bathroom.

The bathroom had taken a serious beating. There were soaking strips of toilet paper all over the rim of the toilet. Not the seat of the toilet, the rim. Kabin’s bathroom has no seat. I changed shirts while touching the ground as little as possible and walked out. I ran by everyone thinking I’d never get to Cake Shop if I never left Kabin. I hastily said bye to George, Rob, Doug and Matt and ask I went by them I’m almost positive I heard Matt yell to me, “You’re a living legend.”

Castlebraid

Standard

“Begging mercy for their sins, Satan, laughing, spreads his wings.” – Black Sabbath

Castle Braid is an artist apartment complex on Troutman Street. It’s across from where Molly and Joe used to live. When I got to the door there were three people talking with the security guard. I walked right in without speaking to any of them. The lobby is a big, brightly lit, open room. Walking down steps to a floor with a grand piano there was a door to a thin courtyard. JF Harris and Robert Dean came to the door, but couldn’t go any farther with cigarettes in their hands. James said, “Taylor wants you to go first.”

“What?” I asked incredulously. Even though I’m late?”

“Yeah.”

I walked to the door to high five Harris. Dean was deeper in the courtyard now.

“Hey buddy,” Dean said.

“Hey buddy,” I replied.

I started back towards the steps. “Where’s the game room? I’ve never been to this show before.”

Just as I got to the top Taylor Clark poked his head out of a doorway on the right. I went after him into a dark room with a billiard table and then a left into the game room.

“You’re good to go on first?” he asked.

“Yeah, sure,”I replied.

I walked into the doorway Taylor had come from and entered a dark room with a pool table. I took a left through another doorway into the game room. It would be a fun show. I walked all the way to the back and dropped my backpack on a metal stool amidst three empty metal stools. Taylor was on the other side of the room by a small kitchen set-up. I walked over and saw there were lots of Rolling Rocks in ice in the sink.

“How much time?” I asked.

“Eight to ten?”

“Great! Could you give me a two-minute light?”

“Sure.”

“I’m going to do something kind of weird.”

“Dude, have fun,” and then he handed me a Rolling Rock.

I walked back to my corner and saw Robert and James were both in the room. Taylor instantly started the show up and I walked back to my stool to rifle through my bag. Since I was about to finish a set within a half an hour I decided it would be a perfect time to eat the rest of the stems I had on me. That way I would have a half hour for them to pick me up and by then I would be on a subway heading back to Manhattan. I wouldn’t have to perform or nothing. Going through the bag I tried to be subtle, but felt like a fumbling magician that everyone wanted to ignore, but could not. Those damned pot brownies smelled so strong and were all wrapped up in noisy plastic bags. I downed the stems all sloppily, but then crazily popped a chocolate mint from the bottom of my backpack. I zipped it up quick and cracked open the Rolling Rock. As I sat down and took a sip I noticed that the stool next to mine had sticker for the podcast Nerd of Mouth stuck to the seat.

The last five minutes of Taylor’s act that had my full attention was pleasing. He sang a song about Mrs. Pacman accompanied by an original score on the toy piano on stage. It was a silly, but comforting way for a young man with a big, fluffy moustache to start a comedy show.

“I’ve been meaning to have him on this show for six years since I created that song. And we’re excited to have him, guys. Please, big round of applause for Alex Grubard. Let’s hear it.”

“Grubard!”

“Hello! Thank you, two people. How are you guys doing this evening?”

“Doing very well, thank you.”

“I am happy to hear it; I hope the rest of you got laid off today. That is a weird term; getting laid off. Getting laid is great. Getting off is also awesome. Getting laid off while you’re at work should be funtastic. But it just means you can’t go there anymore. Just ask Jerry Sandusky. All I’ll say about Jerry Sandusky and Penn State University is now I know where Santorum comes from. If you did not get that joke you’re going to want to google it for later. I go to a state university in Pennsylvania right now, but not that Pennsylvania State University. I go to Temple University in the city of Philadelphia. It’s nice. Oh. Did somebody – when did you drop out?”

“No – I didn’t -”

“I dropped out 2004 and now I am back to finally get my superiority complex. That’s why I’m going and I live in North Philadelphia where the streets are paved with shattered High-Life bottles. Super nice over there. I don’t have any MONEY. I’ve been paying the rent using multi-colored rubber band balls. I don’t have any MONEY. I work over by UPenn serving coffee to ivy leaguers. And I noticed something about ivy leaguers. You know what every ivy leaguer gets with their coffee? Spit. I spit in their coffee. Not every time, just exactly 99% of the time. It is nice, it’s weird going back to school. You know, kids come up to me all the time going, ‘Alex, you are clearly well over twenty-one. Would you buy me beer?’ And I always say, ‘no, I am not going to buy you beer. Let me teach you how to distill gin.’ Cause remember, if you give a kid a beer he’s going to be drunk for an hour, but if you teach a kid how to distill gin he’ll be dead by 8 am. And that’s what I want, because I’m a murderer. I murder people. Children in fact so look out for me on Amber alert, I guess. I don’t know. That’s how that joke ends right now. I have my own personal demons. I have my own drinking problem, you know. I think about quitting drinking every time I’m sober and I think about quitting being sober every time I’m drunk. That’s where I’m at. You guys know, uh, my favorite, uh, uh, kind of liquor is probably whiskey. Yeah, right. I love whiskey. Yeah, I think it’s going to make it. I love those Jameson ads that are out right now. You know the ones that are like, ‘in 1492 John Jameson beat up an octopus and that’s why we have whiskey.’ They’re just so cool. They’re not even like advertisements. They’re like Irish folk limericks. They’re beautiful. But like Ireland is the only country of origin you can do that with. You can never do that kind of advertisement in America. In America that advertisement is: ‘Yeah this one time Buddy Weiser was getting shitfaced so he was pissing in a bottle. But then he ran out of brews, but Buddy, he straight up drank that bottle down, smashed it on the ground and declared, “I think I just invented Bud Light.” Then he shat in a bottle and was like, “Bud Lime.’’’ You guys know that, uh, light beer that’s like an American thing, you know that? You buy that shit it’s always local. I get asked by foreign tourists every now and again. I got asked by this German guy. He goes, ‘Vat is lite bier?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, here in America we water down the beer so it has less calories and therefore less alcoholic.’ It was humiliating. It was like I was putting on lipstick. And he said, ‘Oh, we have lite bier in Germany. It’s what we give to children.’ And I said, ‘Have you ever thought about teaching them how to distill gin?’ I have a drinking problem, you know. I’m a rude drunk. You guys know the phrase an Irish Goodbye? It’s where you’ll be at a party and you get really drunk and then you leave without saying good bye. I don’t do that. I do what I call the Jewish Goodbye which is where I’ll be at a party and I’ll get really drunk and then I’ll say good bye to every single person at the party. And then I stay. That’s the rudest thing you can do to anybody. Hey, I do not want to be here with you people, but I have nowhere to go. I don’t have any MONEY. I’ve been paying for dark beer using light beer. I don’t have any MONEY. That’s not even my drug really. Actually. Like I am a, I wish they would legalize marijuana. You know. Yeah. You know if they legalized marijuana it would realeae half a million, uh, you know, people from prison. I think that would be great. Also I suck at rolling joints. And it would be so nice to be able to buy a pack. It sucks that every time I want to get joints rolled I have to listen to some dude rant about everything is going to work out for him once he starts his Thundercats hotel. People call me a hippy all the time. I don’t think I’m a hippy. I don’t even think we should be labeling people, man. Do you want me to tell it again? I don’t love getting called a hippy, ‘cause I know it’s not a compliment. I know everyone’s just telling me to get my shit together. But there are plenty of hippies that got it together: Ben, Jerry, Trader Joe, Al Gore, Muppets, Jimi Hendrix’s estate, uh, Cheech and Lewis Black. ;Cause Tommy Chong went to jail. Did you guys know that? Yeah, man. Tommy Chong went to jail in 2004 for selling drug paraphenalia to children. Yeah, who knew children were buying the Cheech and Chong movies? Lock him away for life I say. And they got Tommy Chong with the Patriot Act. That’s also true. They tapped his son’s business, because his father was Tommy Chong and he’s obviously a criminal. Right? That’s why they got him in 2004 and not 1974. I always hated the rhetoric about the Patriot Act. ‘Oh, if you’re not doing anything wrong then you’ve got nothing to worry about.’ Hey, I am not doing anything wrong, but I am doing things that are illegal. Like I have seen every episode of Boardwalk Empire, and I do not have HBO. Do you guys GET me? Eh, man. Uh, I smoke pot with my dad. Does anyone else do that? You know my dad? He rolls a good J, but he is always talking about this hotel he wants to build. I don’t have any MONEY. I’ve been paying for weed using out-of-date sound quipment. I don’t have any MONEY. Did anybody have a birthday within the past year? Everyone else is off-the-grid I guess. Me too, man. I have the same birthday as my mom, different year. That’s true. I was born on my mom’s birthday and growing up my mom would always tell me, ‘Oh, Alex, you were the best birthday present I ever got.’ So now I never get her anything. What am I gonna get her, a Beatles album? It’s not a son. Frankly, I can’t afford either. I don’t have any MONEY. I’ve been paying my taxes with my used up freedoms. I don’t have any MONEY. I’m only in town for the week. I’m on Spring Break on through to the other side. It’s wonderful. Been trying to have sex a lot this week, y’know. So I’ve been carrying around condoms, right? I don’t even like the word condoms. Cause CON is like a negative. I like to call ‘em Freedoms. That guy gets me. I also don’t like the word Abortion. I think we need to start calling it The War on Teenage Pregnancy. Oh, man, guys, thanks so much. Good bye. Good bye. Good bye. Good bye. Good. Bye. Good bye. James, you’re the best. Good bye. Good bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Robert, I’ll see you at Kabin. Good bye. Good bye. Good bye. You guys were the best. Oh my God. You guys mind if I tell one more? I was in the park today eating a sandwich. This old lady came up to me and was like, ‘You better put that sandwich away otherwise the squirrels are going to come up and bother you.’ I was like, ‘are you a squirrel?’”

Up on the train platform waiting for the M I got a text message from my best friend Ilan’s brother Alex, the other half of the nickname Name. He texted, “I just gave pretty much an entire bar a jewish good bye.” I wrote back, “Me too.” Then Name said, “I’ve been working on a new one called the irish playdate. Its when you call up a friend to come over to hang out and you drink a fifth before they come over.” So when they show up you’re black out and they have to take care of you. I get it. I was so happy to hear all this and so happy to be thinking of my friend Alex who I’ve known since he was three and so enthralled in Bad Religion to type anything back.