Archive for the ‘Humor’ category

Don’t quit your night job

May 15, 2013

DGComedy2I walked in two hours early, just to get a feel for the stage and environment. It’s a preparation method I learned doing Toastmasters speech contests. I strolled past the framed pictures of famous comedians who have entertained at Tommy T’s over the years, and asked myself “Do I really belong here?”

Of course I do! Why not?

I’ve been an entertainer since kindergarten, when the teacher reported to my mom that I had a hard time staying within the time limit at show and tell. I had a hard time staying within my 10 minutes last night too, but I got more laughter than I predicted in practice. I had quite a few friendly faces in the crowd, and did my best to deliver the greatest hits from my two previous 20-minute performances.

Click here to watch the 13-minute set! (PG-13)

I had a dream as a kid of standing on a big stage making people laugh. I have no illusions about quitting my day job to try and make a living doing comedy on the road. It’s just a hobby, but it sure is fun! I can see that I have a lot to learn and an opportunity to improve my speaking skills. So why not?

This all started by me saying yes to enter a comedy competition. After saying yes, I pulled my act together. That thing you never thought you could really do may be possible after all. Go ahead and sign up, and then figure out how to pull it off.

Brushes with greatness

February 24, 2013

Academy_Pass_DavidIt was 1993: the 65th Annual Academy Awards. Billy Crystal was hosting for the 4th consecutive time and the theme was the “Year of the Woman.” Imagine my luck… not long after moving from Indiana to Los Angeles and I had a backstage pass to the Oscars! How did I get there?

I worked for the restaurant company that put on the big Governor’s Ball dinner party right outside the show in a huge white tent. My job was to produce a video documentary of our chefs behind the scenes. My cameraman Nick had a giant 1980’s video camera on his shoulder and I had the microphone. We were supposed to shoot only in the kitchen tent areas, but something caught my eye over by the entrance.

“Hey Nick, why is that area roped off over there?”

“Dude, that’s the red carpet.”

“You mean THE red carpet…where the limos arrive? C’mon, let’s go check it out!!”

It was still early in the afternoon and for some reason the security guard was not at his post.

Nick warned me,  “Dude… we are SO gonna get busted for this.”

“Hey relax! We have a camera and a mike… and we’re wearing tuxedos. We’ll blend!!”

We snuck through the entrance and squeezed into a spot on the press platform right between Entertainment Tonight and Telemundo, and waited for the fun to begin.

The parade of stars was a collision of colognes, Botox and breath mints, and they all passed less than 4 feet in front of us. There was Bob Hope. Yes, THE Bob Hope. Geena Davis, who is MUCH taller than she appears on screen. Sylvester Stallone… who was much SHORTER than he looked in Rambo.

And then there was Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller himself. I had stood there long enough to begin to believe I was a real reporter. I yelled out, “Matthew! Matthew!! What does the Year of the Woman mean to you?“ He just smiled and said “That has to be the DUMBEST question I’ve heard all day.”  And even though he was right, he could have used a little more tact.

I got to see this “great” procession of stars up close, and many of them seemed like genuinely nice people. But many others were just going through the motions with forced smiles, put-on personalities and pushy publicists. I began to feel like I was no longer in the presence of greatness. These “larger than life” figures were really just “life-sized.”

So what do you think? Many Hollywood stars may do some great things in their personal lives, but is celebrity the true measure of greatness? Just because everyone knows your name does it mean that you’re necessarily worth knowing?

Keepin’ it light

February 19, 2013

comedyI’ve given a few intentionally humorous speeches in my day, mostly in Toastmasters. I’ve given a few unintentionally humorous speeches in my job, mostly when asking for more budget. Last Friday night I attempted stand-up comedy for the first time. I took this challenge to stretch myself, get up in front of a crowd and laugh at my own absurdity and the crazy world we live in.

I salute MC Conrad, Ye Olde Dogs Steakhouse, and the other comedians who took the plunge in the amateur contest that night. I “expanded” my vocabulary from the regular “G” rating to “PG13” to help get more laughs, though it probably killed my chances of ever working for Disney. So if you don’t mind a little mild language and mature subject matter, check out my 24-minute comedy set here.

Note: The facts have been twisted, and in some cases completely fabricated, for the sake of humor. So please don’t take any offense if you feel you are a target of any of this commentary. It’s critical to maintain your sense of humor… at your age.

Based on crowd applause I was fortunate to win the $150 first prize, which I donated to MMRF. What I will really take with me from this experience is the liberating power of laughter, and the smiling faces of so many good friends who came to support me and just flat out have a good time on a Friday night. I was so grateful that we could come together and forget about the evening news for a while.

Keep it light… and you keep your sanity.

Top 10 things to know before you start cycling

May 23, 2012

I’m having an enormous amount of fun on my bicycle. It has provided great exercise for me over the last few months, and I love the Central Valley Velo bike club in Tracy, California. But even though cycling is a thrill a minute; let’s keep it real with a few important tips before you hit the open road this summer.

With a nod to David Letterman, please join me for today’s Top Ten Things You Should Know Before You Start Cycling:

  1. You’ll spend way more money on equipment than you promised your spouse you would.
  2. Learning how to unclip your shoe is more important than learning to clip it in.
  3. No matter how much padding you have in your shorts, your behind (and other body parts) will start to feel numb after 60 miles.
  4. Taking a one-handed photo with an iPhone is the most dangerous thing you can do.
  5. You’ll want to get your flat tires while climbing uphill, not flying down.
  6. Tight clothing is aerodynamic, but not necessarily flattering.
  7. Always take a perpendicular approach to railroad tracks.
  8. You have the same rights as cars on the road, but many drivers don’t know or appreciate that.
  9. Spraying water through an open car window is justifiable revenge for an insult to your manhood.
  10. Unless you are in the lead, you will always be staring at someone’s butt.

If you are a cyclist with an important tip for rookies, please share it in the comments below.  Happy riding!!

Top 10 ways to create tension in an elevator

May 2, 2012

  1. Balance a large bowl of salsa on the tops of your hands.
  2. Repeat lines from Silence of the Lambs in a creepy whisper.
  3. Turn and face the crowd instead of the door.
  4. Scratch your back like a grizzly bear on the button panel.
  5. Ask if anyone wants to hear your elevator pitch, then sing one long, high note.
  6. Remove only one shoe and hold it between your knees.
  7. Hum the Theme from Shaft until someone gets the irony.
  8. Pick up the emergency phone and just listen and nod nervously.
  9. Curl up in the fetal position and gently rock back and forth in the corner.
  10. Insist that there’s a 13th floor and you’re going to find it if it takes all day.

The point of this post is mainly to make you laugh. Though I must say that if you always do what everyone expects, life can get boring. Have a little fun today and see what happens.

Here’s mud in your eye

April 21, 2012

The Survivor Mud Run delivers exactly what it promises. You get to run (as well as crawl, swim, slide and trudge) through mud, and you pay money for the opportunity to do this to yourself. It was 3 miles with 22 obstacles that included walls, cargo nets and monkey bars. But it’s really all about getting down and dirty in the mud.

It felt a lot like I was reliving the opening mud scene from Raising Arizona and for my buddy Pete it was the Shawshank Redemption. I know…eww. I managed to run the whole thing even with my shoes full of mud and water, and the warrior kilt I wore operated like a mud flap on an eighteen wheeler. But I digress.

Something notable happened at one of the mud obstacles. We were trudging through waist high mud water in a long v-shaped ditch with dirt walls on either side. The footing was slippery and it was nearly impossible to maintain balance. I felt someone fall into me from behind and put her hand on my back.  “Oh sorry!” she said. “Oh I don’t care if it helps you out,” I offered in return. We were all suffering the same instability problem.

Then it dawned on me that if I put my hand on the back of the person in front of me I could be stabilized too. To help get past the taboo of touching total strangers, I shouted “Let’s all help each other!” Very quickly we had 7 people hanging onto each other’s arms, shoulders and backs, with the outside people pushing against the walls. We created a stable mud juggernaut that could not be toppled.

As we rose out of the muck and onto dry land I smiled. Even through my muddy eyes I could see the metaphor clearly: When you’re down in the ditch and the going is tough, don’t be afraid to ask for help. And with enough people to lean on, you can make it through any trial without falling.

Now I think I need to go take just one more shower…

Worst joke ever

April 1, 2012

We spent summers with my dad when I was in high school. It was a half work half play arrangement.  My dad owned apartment buildings in West Lafayette, Indiana, and my brothers and I would drive around mowing yards, moving furniture and painting apartments as our summer job.

He also hired a few college kids to help out, and one of them was Bruce Donoho, famous for once being a contestant on the Price is Right. I know… some brush with greatness, huh?  He had a decent sense of humor and we joked around pretty much all day while we worked.

One day we were driving across town to a work site in his black ’76 Trans Am, doing about 55 on Sagamore Parkway. I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but I reached up to grab the release handle on the passenger side T-Top. (For you youngsters, a T-Top is like a removable sun roof – a big heavy piece of glass and metal that you can manually take off and put in your trunk.)

I said, “Hey Bruce what does this thing do?” and I started to pull down slightly on the metal handle.  Just as he yelled out “Noooooooo…” the T-Top popped up about 3 inches and the wind caught underneath it.  It flew straight up, slamming my hand against the metal frame in the process.  I managed to catch a glimpse of it in the side rear-view mirror as it sailed through the air like Captain America’s shield and tumbled into the gravel shoulder next to the road.

Needless to say, Bruce did not laugh at my hilarious joke. And since I thought I broke my hand, I wasn’t laughing either. For 5 solid minutes he yelled out profanity like a jilted husband on the Jerry Springer show (without the bleeps.) We drove back to recover the T-Top, which was miraculously only scratched a little when it hit the soft gravel. It was a very quiet ride the rest of the way.

It was the worst joke ever and I felt like an idiot.  I think the lesson here is obvious. You should always think twice before you to try to pull something.