Laughing Skull Comedy Festival RECAP 3: Broken Leo, Bad Salad, Bulldog

Hi!  I'm Jake!

I just re-read the previous entry,, and I realized in the rush to put these blog episodes out, I forgot to highlight some extremely positive aspects of doing this festival. Man, it almost seems as if I was complaining.  I really didn't mean to come across that way.  I had a blast down there.  I hope to do it again next year.


I hung out with some fantastic people.
Here is a list of amazing people I hung out with.  If your name isn't here, it's because I didn't get a business card from you or I am just forgetful. It doesn't mean we aren't friends:  

Todd Johnson, Collin Moultin, Ari Shaffir, Valarie Storm, Lee Paul, Justin Morgan, Laura Lewis, Sam Morril, Mike Baldwin, Vincent Holiday, Jon Pfendler, Andy Fiori (coolest business card, by the way), Mike Shiner, Jessica Brodkin, Dave Williamson, Matt Knudsen, Nick Hart, Cleveland Jackson, Leo (Broken Leo) Goodman, Leo (Black Leo) Flowers, Tommy Sinbazo, Kristen Becker, Sarah Blodgett, Harrison Greenbaum, Shaun Bedgood, Troy Walker, Mike Storck, David Jelenko, Michael Yoder, Eric Yoder, Jamison Yoder, Mark Craycraft, Tyler Boeh, Bob Wood, Danny Kallas, Trey Toler, Alex Gardener, Celeste Echols, and friends...

I put the "and friends" part at the end so nobody can complain I didn't list them.  Are you my friend?  Then I listed you.

The headliners for the competition were amazing!
When I watched the Thursday 8pm Quarterfinal, I was super-impressed by the talent level.  Ari Shaffir crushed it.  Jon Pfendler was killing me!  Bowers had me rolling.  I don't even remember who all moved on, but I had a blast.  Then, they brought out Margaret Cho.  Holy crap!  Turns out she lives there.  I got to meet her in person and everything.  Nice.  I know Gary Gulman did a couple shows.  Steve Hofstetter did some shows.  It was really cool.  I didn't see his set, but he is good at kickball.

I know I can think of plenty of things that rocked.  Give me a second.  In the meantime, though, I have  a few more stories.

My act now has a new direction
I got an e-mail from a festival coordinator who read my blog and said he wasn't thrilled about me bluffing my way onto that political show.  He made a good point: if I am going to bluff, maybe I shouldn't blog about it.  True. Busted. Showed my cards. Honestly, anything you put in print can come back to bite you. Case in point: I had a girlfriend a long time ago who cheated on me with a bunch of dudes and then blogged about that. I wasn't too thrilled about that either.

However, this is slightly different. As I told this booker, "writing for that political show was the best thing that happened to my act in years. The set I did for that show is now my new showcase set. It's also the new direction for my act. For the first time since I started stand-up, I am super-passionate about what I am talking about. I'm telling you I put more effort into those 6-7 minutes than I ever have into a showcase set.

I built that set from the ground up. I canceled work to do that set because I know how important it is for me. As a comic, I have never been political. As a person, though, I have serious convictions about my libertarianism, so serious I was never able to turn them into a set- till now.

Also, I am kind of Jewish. Lol. My Jewish ancestry is just way-way-way back. Sorry about that."

Oh, yeah: I did fudge the truth about being Jewish.  Ever hear of Ariel Sharon?  My name is Jacob Sharon.  We're practically cousins 53 times removed!  Probably shouldn't have tried to be Jewish.  I really like Jews, though.  They have awesome food!

I know what you're thinking: comedians are all super athletic Übermensch. We get into comedy because we are strong, confident, successful business-people who refuse to live with their parents after 40 and things are generally going well for us. It's all true. We are perfect people.  We even have health care. Comedy comes from easy days and success, not pain and weakness.  False.

On Saturday, April 9th, 2011, a crapload of the wimpiest, palest*, least coordinated, most hungover people to walk the earth, walked to Atlanta's Piedmont Park to play the annual North vs. South Laughing Skull kickball game.  *the black guys were not pale.

Anyway, most of us were exhausted.  If you read my previous entry, you know that my buddies and I were out at Waffle House till 6:00 a.m. Holy crap.  I didn't feel so magnificent now!

As we traversed the park in Atlanta's Mid-Town/ gay district, a few of the comedians spotted an unusual behavior: 1 man was face deep in another man's output. In broad daylight, in a park full of families, kids, and now comedians, he was eating another man's Asslanta!  You've got to be kidding me!  It was Saturday!  Moms are like "Go outside and play kids! TV is bad for your eyes."  So was the cake-eating contest!  Come on guys!  I thought Cheesman Park in Denver was bad!  They at least find a bush to rustle.

Steve Hofstetter, festival coordinator explained to us that we'd pick the teams by the state we were from, North vs. South, just like the Civil War.  Colorado wasn't even around during the Civil War, so I got to choose. Remember in my previous blog how I said it's good to meet bookers in person to see how their mind works? Well, this was another excellent opportunity to do that.  Steve books a bunch of stuff so I picked the North.  That decision made all the difference for me.

Since each team had so many players, Steve had a system of subbing everybody out. We all got a turn.  Cool. I played the outfield, right field for 3 minutes.  I watched people who were able to catch the ball.  They made their arms into a basket.  That's what I did.  As soon as I got out there, I put my arms in basket mode and just left them hanging there.  Suddenly a pop fly came my general direction.  No problem. I was in basket mode. Unfortunately, the ball went about 4 feet above me and I completely missed it.  I wasn't even close. Had I backed up a half-mile, I might have caught it.  I could see the problem clearly;  I was just in the wrong place.  While I scrambled to get the ball that evaded me, I think the other team had 3 runs.  Whoops.

Now, if I was playing with the Comedy Works staff, like I did a few weeks ago, everybody would have just had a laugh.  That wouldn't have been close to the biggest error in that game.  In fact, the Comedy Works crew had a rule that everybody who played had to have a beverage in their hand while playing.  They all had beers in their hands.  Imagine the athletic prowess highlighted in that game! I don't drink, so that day, I single-fisted a water bottle (which still makes it hard to catch even without the intoxication).

The Comedy Works game and the Skull Fest game were 2 very different games.  Steve took my gross error seriously.  I got subbed out.  I actually got subbed out. What I am saying is he sent in Sam Morril to take my place.  I actually got subbed out! No way!  Are you serious?  My kickball skills are so bad I got replaced? That killed me.  So funny. Who takes a stand-up comedian's attempt at athleticism seriously? Steve did.  I was booted.  If I had missed a catch at the Comedy Works game, to be honest, I don't think anybody would have noticed- unless I also spilled my beverage.

My buddy Troy Walker told me "You didn't even try!"  A couple comics ratified that sentiment. I thought I did try.  Pre-emptive basket arms are my version of trying.

Anyway, this was a good opportunity to see how Steve's mind works. I'm not sure exactly what lesson I can derive from this, but I can tell you if he takes kickball this seriously, I am not going to horse around when it comes to comedy business.  He is a serious man! I feel I am usually fairly professional with bookers, but I will make sure to handle Steve's business to the tee.  I will not just make an arm basket and assume I'm set. :)  

Yeah, I put an emoticon in my blog.  It's my blog.  I can do whatever I want.  Shut up.

Fun fact: I did get a chance to redeem myself.  When Steve wasn't looking, my teammates let me kick and I got a base hit.  Then, I got a run.  So, Jake's defense= crap.  Jake's offense= fantastic.  After that run, I stopped playing and got some snacks. I quit while I was ahead.

We all took one moment somewhat seriously.  Leo Goodman was playing 1st base.  He actually caught the ball, but somehow, dislocated his shoulder.  Most of us comics do not have medical expertise. Some of the comics were trying to get him to fix it by running into a tree. He did not do that.  I think I saw someone trying to stand on his arm or something.

Fortunately, a random couple who happened to be at the park drove Leo to the hospital.  Also fortunate, he is one of the rare comedians who has health insurance.  Sweet.

There is 1 more bright side.  The festival had 2 Leos, Leo Goodman and Leo Flowers.  Since Leo Goodman is white and Leo Flowers is black,  I'd been calling them White Leo and Black Leo.  Now, I could just call Leo Goodman, Broken Leo, and Leo Flowers- well, he was still Black Leo.  Black Leo found out about this. "You mean I was Black Leo this whole time?!?!"  Yep.  Yes you were.

Oh yeah, there is yet another bright side.  Broken Leo turned out okay.  He told the hospital he had a show in a few hours and they got him out in time.  He was on the Storytelling show with me.  Now, he had another good story.  Sweet!

I didn't think I was a barbecue snob, but it turns out I am.  I have had some amazing Texas barbecue and now, nothing compares.  The Denver barbecue places all charge more and give you less than Rudy's (A Texas chain that has spread to OK, NM, and Colorado Springs) or Hard Eight (Coppell, TX).  We went to 5th St Ribs n Blues.  It wasn't horrible, but it was just okay.  Their pork sandwich was dry and not nearly as flavorful as Rudy's or Hard Eight.  Also, they didn't have brisket.  How can you not have brisket?  They did do 1 thing really right, though: their wings were fantastic.  They need to use whatever sauce they put on that and put it on everything!

After over-eating, I should have gone back to my room and slept.  I was exhausted from the night before and from my 5 minutes playing in the kickball game.

However, I had been procrastinating submitting to the Asheville Festival.  I hear it's a cool town.  I really want to go. I needed to get that done. April 10th was the last day to submit.  Part of the reason I had been dragging my heels is I wanted to make sure to send the right set, the smartest set I currently possess. I brought 10 tapes with me to review in my hotel room.  I should have taken care of this long ago, but I had been getting ready for this festival.  I put a lot of time into the political set I generated.

I was really happy with the set I submitted.  I recorded it at Comedy Works the night before the festival.  We had a small crowd, but they were really responsive.  Thanks, crowd!

Anyway, I didn't get a nap.  I just had more tea.  Caffeine is just like a nap, yeah?

I was dragging über ass before the show.  The drive to Buford took awhile. Driving, even riding in a van can drain you a bit.  If you are already drained, forget it.  Good news: Erika was on the show.  I was looking forward to seeing her set. My buddy Collin Moultin was emceeing the show.  Man, that guy is good!  Harrison Greenbaum was on the show.  I really enjoyed his Quarterfinal set. Broken Leo was on the show.  Butch Wesley was on the show.  He's from Cincinnati. We had swapped Troy Baxley stories.

Okay, so I am going to go take a lunch break now.  I can't just type all day!  Yesterday, I made corned beef in my crock pot.  I also made pickles. I put cucumbers in the corned beef sauce and it turned into pickles.  I like you.

Okay, I'm back now. I'm full. Now, just like I wanted to eat some food before finishing this blog, on April 9th, I wanted to make sure I had enough energy for my storytelling set. As soon as we got to the club, we went up satirs to the balcony.  That's where they had us hang before our sets.  We could see the show, see the audience, and still be separated form the audience.  I did a bit of yoga up there.  It felt weird doing it in front of my peers so I looked for solitude.  I used the floor of the men's restroom.  Yep. That's gross, but I needed to loosen up.  I was feeling extra tight.  Also, I needed energy.  Opening up your lungs really helps with that.  Breathing gives you energy.  Who knew?

One cool thing is I listened to the audio of my storytelling set (which I tested 2 nights before back in Denver).  I am really glad Andrew Orvedahl had me on The Narrators, his storytelling show. Cool.  That helped a lot.  Thanks, Andrew!

I told the story about the time I got cuffed while working campus security at Hastings College.  Turns out it is a lot of fun to tell that story.  All 3 times I told it on stage I had a blast! I'd like to hone it a bit and put it in my act.

On the ride back, I didn't take the shuttle.  I rode with Collin Moultin. We talked about economic determinism.  That was cool.  Then I had to pee real bad.  All that tea kicked my butt.

They had another party at the Vortex. I said about 10 goodbyes then took off. I wanted to say goodbye to everybody, but  I had an early travel day the next day.  I had to get up by 9. That's so early!

The flight back was okay, but kind of boring. No in-flight entertainment. One thing was cool, though, Andy Erickson, Tommy Thompson and I took the train together. Then I got to hang out with Erika Wasser and Harrison Greenbaum at the airport.  Sweet!

I had a quick layover at DFW.  I watched the rest of "Torn Curtain," 1 of my favorite Hitchcock movies.  I had it on my laptop.

After I got back into Denver, I had to take the bus home.  I could have gotten a ride, but I would have probably thrown whomever $20 for picking me up. Instead, I took the bus for $10. See?  Maybe I am Jewish.  Kidding! The bus took forever! It took 4 transfers to get home.  1 of my transfers left me on Colfax for 15 minutes.  It's always a good idea to carry a laptop, ipod, droid phone, cash and the big red flag, your luggage when you are hanging out on East Colfax.  There's no way you'll get stabbed out there!

At some point in my blog, I feel like I needed to mention the Bulldog, the militant gay bar across the street.  These guys aren't the prancy kind of gays.  These are the "yeah I been  to prison," beat you up kind of gays. According to Collin, a couple weeks ago he saw a butch security guard lady yell at some dudes in the alley. "Y'all can't be f##king in the alley!"  They zipped up- till she left.  Then she came back.  "I told you, y'all can't be  f##king in the alley!"

Well, would I go back to Skull Fest again?  Absolutely.  It was a blast. I met tons of cool people.  I got some direction for my act.

Am I going to cancel work to do the festival?  Good question. Maybe? If I know I will be seen by industry, I'll definitely do it.  If not, then I might be gigging.  Cause it's bros befo hos and cash before other stuff.

Bye!  I'm Jake!