free statistics

Archives Posts

Doin’ It All For A Baby That Can’t Love Me Back

March 29th, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

gavin
(I see a lot of traffic coming in to read this post – in the event that some of you are interested in seeing the performing that I’m talking about, you can see that this Wednesday in NYC, just click the link.)

Five of my friends have had babies in the last two weeks. The birth of a baby is supposed to be a happy thing, but it can also be a funeral for a friendship.

It’s great that everyone I know is immediately, rapturously in love with their child, and I wouldn’t wish anything else for them. I see the joy and happiness that my sister and her husband feel now that my nephew is here, and I genuinely want everyone I care about to feel that, too. But it’s not like I stopped needing someone to hang out with, talk to, commiserate with about the crushing grind that is art and performance in NYC, get super baked on pot cookies and watch sci-fi flicks together.

I’m not suggesting that the emotional needs of a 36 year old man should never come ahead of a baby’s, either. If any of my friends kept hanging out like everything was exactly the same, that would be even worse. I’d hate to find out that a close friend was so into our friendship that he was willing to become a deadbeat dad just to keep our train on the tracks.

I think a lot more kids are accidents than people let on. After a certain age, people just go to a different doctor when they find out they’re pregnant than they did in their twenties. I think so, anyway. But after my run-in with testicular cancer a few years back, I’m not going to be surprising anybody.

So while I grieve for my lost – or suddenly, drastically changed – friendships, I’m also jealous. Not like, snatch-a-baby jealous, but with the option of sudden, natural conception behind me, it makes me a lot more conscious of my choices. And I don’t feel like my life is in a place where I could drop everything and support a new life.

I’m really, obsessively focused on writing and performing now. It takes up almost every waking hour, and it pretty much has to until further notice. It’s crushing and exhausting, but sometimes it works out.

For example, I was honored to be the only white guy in a tribute to Richard Pryor at BAM last month. I grew up listening to Richard Pryor records in my room, mimicking his cadence and timing and trying to learn how he could conjure so many characters in a story. Not imitating them, but just becoming them. I’m a storyteller, Pryor was too. And I’ve got a story about a guy who pretty much is the living embodiment of his “Mudbone” character. It was a perfect lock, and such a thrill to be there.

The room was packed, standing room only, maybe 300 people or so. I went on second, after a guy who just crushed it. He’s brash and sharp, grew up incredibly poor in Washington, D.C., and the crowd loved him. Then I went on, and things changed.

They weren’t trying to hear anything from a huge white dude that looks like most people’s boss, dressed in a cowboy shirt. Especially not if the story was a complex story about a friendship with a schizophrenic black man. A large Caribbean woman sat right in front of me, frowning a hole in my skull with arms crossed in front of her like two giant pythons guarding a gateway to laughter on the far, opposite side of an echoing room. I saw dates look at one another and mutually decide to wrap it up early and claim they had an early meeting the next day.

Some people laughed here and there, but I knew in 30 seconds that it was going to be a fight. Comics can go to backup material, but when you’re telling a story and it’s going bad, you’ve got to land that burning airline no matter what happens.

Phones were coming out and lighting up all over the place, and I could hear the audience start to chatter. I swear I heard someone say, “it’s cool, we can talk over this guy.” I zeroed in on a friend’s face and just started talking to her, just to get through it.

And then, also in the front row, I saw this:

A haggard, middle-aged woman pulled a sharpie out of her pocket, and drew a mustache onto her face with a very practiced motion. Then she reached into her coat and took her shirt off completely, unfurling her boobs like faded, trusty flags she’d flown a million times before.
Read the rest of this entry »

Archives Posts

I’m Doing a **BUNCH** of Shows February 5th – 10th

February 1st, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

I just checked my calendar and realized that I’m doing a blur of shows next week, lined up like a long row of shots. The process is likely to be equal amounts of fun and exhausting, enough to leave me whimpering on the floor – just like a long row of shots. But if you’ve been reading this thing wondering when you can see me perform, consider yourself told.

There’s some really exciting stuff in here – an appearance with Michael Showalter, the monthly installment of And I Am Not Lying, and I’m the only white dude in a tribute to Richard Pryor at BAM. Check out these listings, and if you come to any of these, come up and say ‘hi’ afterwards!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 8:00 PM (doors at 7:30) – I’ll be appearing on Kerri Doherty’s “Geeking Out,” with headliner Michael Showalter
at Union Hall, Brooklyn, NY. I’ll be joined by my friend Juliet Hope Wayne and Carolyn Castiglia
Get tickets here

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 9:30 PM (doors at 9) – will be the monthly installment of And I Am Not Lying with Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman, burlesque by Magdalena Fox, comedy from Sasheer Zamata and sideshow by Abigoliah Schamaun.

The show will be at UNDER Saint Marks’ Theater, 94 Saint Marks’ Place (between 1st and A). Click here for tickets (then click the blue 6 in ‘February), and check out the fun poster below:

FEB_2013_FLYER_web

Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 9:00 PM – I’ll be telling a story in Caroline Creaghead‘s ‘Get It Out There’, a monthly comedy series at BAM, sponsored by IFC. This month’s show is a tribute to Richard Pryor.

Let me just bear down on this a little here: I am the only white dude in a Richard Pryor tribute show at BAM. This is a colossal honor, and a little intimidating as I’ll be sharing the stage with Jeffrey Joseph, Jermaine Fowler, and Hari Kondabolu – all incredibly gifted, hardworking and funny comics. Jeff and Hari both appeared at ‘And I Am Not Lying’ when we were at Union Hall, too.

The show is free, in the BAMCafe – doors at 8PM.

Friday, February 8th, 2013 at 8:00 PM – I’ll be telling a story in “Sharkbite Sideshow,” a bimonthly sideshow featuring some of the finest storytellers, burlesque performers, sideshow artists and pole dancers in New York City. The show will also feature performances from Cherry Brown, Ember Flame, Kryssy Kocktail, Lucille Ti Amore, Moxie Sazerac and fire dancing from Sasha the Fire Gypsy.

Get tickets for Sharkbite Sideshow here.

Sunday, February 10th at 5:00 PM - I’ll be telling two stories in Miz Stefani’s House, Live. This streams live, over the Web – so click this link at 5PM on Sunday if you happen to be ignoring the Super Bowl.

Archives Posts

Ophira Eisenberg’s Live Standup Set From ‘And I Am Not Lying’

January 15th, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

Storyteller Ophira Eisenberg

Ophira Eisenberg is known pretty widely as the host of NPR’s ‘Ask Me Another,’ but she is also an excellent standup comic and storyteller. And she happens to be a friend as well as someone whose work I look up to and love. She regularly hosts Moth slams here in New York, and we met through that and a million other smaller storytelling shows that we’ve done together.

I’ve been trying to merge standup with my storytelling over the last few months, and Ophira is one of the people who made me think it was worth doing. I found out very soon, the very, very hard way, that it’s actually hard as hell and Ophira just makes it look easy.

She did an excellent standup set at my show (And I Am Not Lying, named for this blog, now at Under Saint Marks’ Theater) at Union Hall last February, and I’m really excited to be able to share this recording from the sound board.

If you only know Ophira from the radio, this is very different than what you might hear on NPR. For starters, there’s a lot of swearing in it. If that’s something that bothers you, you may want to avoid this.

If copious swearing and a few grownup jokes are something that bothers you and you listen anyway, please admit that you get a prissy little thrill from being offended and just keep any complaints to yourself.

Archives Posts

Found on the NYC Subway: Level-Headed Relationship Advice from A Little Girl

January 9th, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

I found this adorable piece of pragmatic relationship advice from a child on the floor of my subway stop this morning:

child_advice
Read the rest of this entry »

Archives Posts

Social Media Is Depressing as Hell

August 2nd, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

I saw this at the Lafayette stop on the C train heading into Brooklyn last night — just chalk on a black painted rectangle. It’s true, too:

social_media_done

For Google, e-readers: the text reads “Social media is depressing as hell.”

Archives Posts

And I Am Not Lying at Union Hall on 5/1: With Mat Fraser, Julie Atlas Muz, and Hari Kondabolu

April 18th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

The last few weeks have been a blur of shows for me, Brad and Cyndi. All this performing is like training for a fight: you hit that bag hard for a month so you can bring it HARD when the bell rings for real.

All this is to say that it’s time once again to leave a pair of smoking rubber tracks on stage at Union Hall with the And I Am Not Lying LIVE show, cock-rocking the NPR crowd with the best comedy, storytelling and burlesque in NYC.

If that tiny bit of promo copy that I half-assed during a conference call was enough to make you want to get tickets already, you can do that here: And I Am Not Lying LIVE at Union Hall on May 1.

Here’s a poster, more on the performers after the jump:

And I Am Not Lying at Union Hall, 5.1.2012

Read the rest of this entry »

Archives Posts

A Crash Course In ‘And I Am Not Lying, Live’

April 5th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

If you’re coming here via Jason Zinoman’s piece “Telling Tales With a Tear and a Smile” in this morning’s New York Times, stick around.

If you’re reading this as a long-time follower of this blog, none of this material is going to be new to you. I’m re-flogging some older stuff, so maybe this is a good time to push away from the computer and go enjoy a nice spring day outside.

I want to shamelessly take full advantage of the mention to show off what the And I Am Not Lying show is all about here. Because frankly, not only am I proud of the work that we do and thrilled to see the storytelling world getting a little credit … I want to put asses in seats on the first Tuesday of every month at Union Hall.

Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman and I put on a monthly show featuring storytelling, comedy, burlesque and sideshow — and I want to share some of the stories that we’ve done there. We’ve only had a residency there since February, so we’re still building up some steam. But all of us do a TON of other shows around town, too.

Consider this a primer, dive deeper if you want. Today is functionally a Friday anyway, so go ahead and watch all of these at work.

Al Sharpton vs. Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band

These are two stories by Brad Lawrence:

Gift From A Chimp In Saint Louis

Sometimes Cyndi ties her burlesque acts to her stories, and the end result is bigger than either piece seperately. So here’s a story by Cyndi Freeman, with a pretty direct tie into the burlesque act immediately following:

Here’s the aforementioned burlesque act from our show, featuring Cyndi Freeman, Brad Lawrence and Apathy Angel:

We have comedy guests, storytellers, and sideshow performers, too – including a bullwhip/lasso expert and a sword swallower.

You can follow us here, on Twitter @andiamnotlying or on our Facebook page. And I hope we see you soon.

Archives Posts

Storytelling Validated in the Times: A Guide to Shows and Open Mics in New York City

April 4th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

Street View from 768 Delancey

The New York Times gave me a tiny shout-out this evening in a piece about the storytelling scene in New York City. I am referred to as “imposing,” which is confusing, but I’ll take it as a compliment. I strongly encourage that you run right out and read the whole thing. Cyndi Freeman gets a mention in there, too, as well as a bunch of other folks that I am honored to consider peers. The mighty Adam Wade gets some serious ink, too.

Here’s an excerpt that I think is the core of the piece, referring to my friend Ophira Eisenberg:

She explores the taboo, but without the persistent relief provided by consistent punch lines. In doing that, she shows how a story can use humor but not be shackled to it, how it can be emotional without pandering, and how difficult ideas can be articulated entertainingly.
What she demonstrates is that storytelling can give a certain kind of comedy a chance to grow.

Storytelling has grown a lot beyond regular Moth slams. The Moth was the Big Bang that coalesced into the sun for this whole thing, but now a bunch of other planets are cooling and growing their own life forms. The following is a list of storytelling shows that I’d recommend checking out in the city. I’ve been in most of these, and am friends with folks that run all of them.

A lot of these shows don’t have a lot in the way of a Web presence. I hate linking to Facebook pages, but that’s the world we live in — crafting stories and running shows takes a lot of energy, and so does running a website. At this point in my life I’d rather have “writer/performer” etched on my tombstone than “blogger”. Anyway, here they go:

Liar Show
Real Characters
Told!
BTK Band
Nights of Our Lives
The Story Collider
Ask Me
How I Learned
The Soundtrack Series
Adam Wade has a BUNCH:

I can also see how Moth story slams would be intimidating to people that are new to this. They’re huge, with lines around the block and they sell out pretty much every time. There’s also no guarantee that you’ll even get picked. And if you do get picked, you’re pretty much screwed out of a decent score unless you get picked fifth through tenth. By the fifth storyteller the booze kicks in, scores start to loosen up and judges figure out what the hell they’re even doing.

Frankly, these things should be a little intimidating to first-time performers. Anyone who just thinks “what the hell, I’ll just jump on stage for the first time in front of 400 people and be awesome like I always am, every day of my life” is missing a critical component to their personality and is likely going to embarrass everyone in the room except themselves. I’ve seen this happen. A lot.

You should get on stage and do it anyway, but a little fear is a good thing. It means you’re taking it seriously.

None of the following open mics were around when I started going to the Moth. If they had been, I’d have definitely tried my stories out at these first. I’m not saying that there’s a right or wrong way to do any of this stuff. Any door you find is one you can walk through.

But if you happen to want to workshop a story yourself or test it out in a lower-stakes environment — hell, sometimes the crowd is barely even paying attention — you could do a lot worse than to check these out. In order to win a fight you’ve got to spend a lot of time doing pushups and hitting the bag to get ready for five intense minutes. It’s the same principle here.

The following places are where I go to practice:

Phoning it In – Lukas Kaiser runs this open mic Monday-Thursday in somebody else’s apartment in Tribeca. It’s a warm room, supportive, and sometimes a woman walks straight through with a baby in a stroller and disappears in the back.

Kambri Crews’ “What’s Your Story” held monthly at Luca Lounge. You pretty much have to find this on Facebook or go to Luca Lounge and check it out first.

I Like You, Maude

Oh, Hey Guys at UCB East

Like anything else, there’s an etiquette. If you’re brand new to any of this, I’d recommend showing up and checking a show out first, then introducing yourself afterwards. Get to know folks, connect online. Pretty soon the whole thing will blossom and you’ll be tired of all the emails, updates, and Facebook events. And eventually, your brain will hurt from all of it and you’ll have nightmares abut your own show.

Congratulations: you’ve arrived.

Archives Posts

And I Am Not Lying – Live at Union Hall on Tuesday, April 3rd

March 29th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon
And I Am Not Lying Live 4.3.2012

In all of this SXSW and engagement excitement, I almost forgot to mention:

It’s time once again to cock-rock the NPR crowd with New York’s first, only, and best comedy storytelling burlesque sideshow at Union Hall on Tuesday, April 3rd.

Show’s at 8, tickets are $10, available here: And I Am Not Lying LIVE at Union Hall

AS always, here’s a fun trailer for the thing:

We’re a “Critic’s Pick” in Time Out NY this week, which is pretty exciting! I don’t know if that’s an endorsement or just a button somebody clicked, but we’ll take it.

This month’s show features:

Comedy by
Andy Ross (Real Characters, The Onion)

Burlesque by
Dangrr Doll (Gotham Burlesque, D20 Burlesque)

Belly Dance by
Madame X (a complete mystery)

As well as storytelling by

Brad Lawrence
Cyndi Freeman
Jeff Simmermon (me)

Hope you guys can join us!

Archives Posts

For As Long As We Want And At Our Own Pace: I Got Engaged

March 29th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

I got engaged a little over a month ago – February 1st, to be exact. It was Maggie’s birthday.

We specifically didn’t mention it online for a while. It’s nice to think that something can be real without the Internet validating it — and without having to turn it into a story for instant mass consumption.

But still, I wanted to share this with you guys. It’s actually really hard to write about. Every time I try to write down what it means the words look so small and dumb, and there’s so much wonderful stuff that gets left out. That’s because there’s so much wonderful stuff here, in this experience, and in this particular woman, that I don’t think I could write it all down if I tried every day for the rest of my life.

Maggie and the Ring

Read the rest of this entry »

« Previous Entries