The act of telling personal stories about one’s own life takes a certain amount of a certain type of nerve — mostly the “who the hell do you think you are” variety. Seriously: why should anyone give a whoop about my feelings about my feelings?
That feeling gets even weirder when I’m using the Internet as a megaphone to get people to my shows. “Who the fuck do you think you are telling everyone to come see whoever the hell it is you think you are” is pretty much the refrain that runs through my head every time I bathe my face in the cool glow of one rectangle or another.
But screw all that, we’ve been busting our asses to pull together a HELL of a week of shows this week in Brooklyn and Austin, TX for SXSW and I want to pull ‘em all together in one place, then crop-dust the whole Internet with ‘em all damn week.
First: We’re cock-rocking the NPR crowd with And I Am Not Lying – Live, NYC’s only comedy storytelling burlesque sideshow on Tuesday, March 6th at Union Hall in Brooklyn. You’ll see stories by me, Brad Lawrence, and Cyndi Freeman as well as magic by Albert Cadabra, burlesque by Cherry Pitz and Little Brooklyn and comedy by Wil Sylvince.
We’ve been real sometimes-y about these And I Am Not Lying live shows over the past year – a show here and a show there, spattered around Brooklyn and lower Manhattan and DC and Philadelphia in a series of one-offs that are always exciting, but hardly consistent. Considering that the show’s based on a blog that is updated really infrequently, that kinda made sense.
Starting February 7th, we’ll be cock-rocking the NPR crowd with the And I Am Not Lying live show at Union Hall on the first Tuesday of every month. Doors are at 8, show’s at 8:30 and tickets ain’t but ten tiny dollars for the finest comedy, storytelling, burlesque sideshow you’re going to get anywhere.
Be honest with yourself: stuff like this is part of the reason you moved here. It’s worth a headache at work on Wednesday.
We pulled together this cool trailer about it, too. It may be NSFW, depending on your job:
I wanted to start this show for a very, very good reason. I’m doing this thing so that I don’t go completely numb, and I’m trying to bring as many people back to life as I can right along with us.
I spend a lot of time hunched over a glowing rectangle starting and mediating petty squabbles about nothing, breathing shallowly through my mouth and reading tweets about television. I’ve been doing it for years. When I’m not getting paid to do it I sit around my apartment in my underpants and do it for free, apparently.
Sometimes I think we’re all using computers to row this numbing boat towards a black wall of depressing distraction. I want to do my part to get as many people into one room and feeling something great together for a little while. And maybe if we get together often enough and pool our collective energies into something funny and weird, we can live a little outside of our bottomless pockets filled with lotus petals.
The entire purpose of life is to get as excited as possible. I’m so, so excited to have a reason to hose the town down with excitement once a month. So it’s like a Mobius strip of recursive excitement for me.
Sometimes storytelling shows can get a little sweater-vesty, comedy shows can be too bitter and detached, and burlesque too much, all in a go. This way we can cross-pollinate the best of the best and no matter what, if you’re not into what you’re seeing you can see something else really soon.
I want this thing to be a rock show without instruments, to just cram an entire aircraft carrier’s worth of fun into the basement of Union Hall. So far, we’ve been doing pretty okay on that front, I think.
D.Billy and I collaborated on this cool poster (I think it’s cool, anyway) to announce the residency:
Brad Lawrence is an excellent storyteller, and hosts the Moth pretty much every chance he gets. He’s also got a podcast called “The Standard Issues” where he broadcasts storytellers that appear in he and Cyndi’s live show of the same name. And, since this is relentless show-promo week, I am obliged to mention that he’s performing at And I Am Not Lying, Live in Philadelphia next Sunday, November 6th — and at the Black Cat in Washington, DC tomorrow night!
He told this story about the first and last pool party he’ll ever attend at Union Hall on October 5th, 2011.
I may be bugging out a little bit. I may be bugging out a lot, I don’t know. I’ve got absolutely no sort of benchmark for this tingle arcing from my brain to my gut along my skeleton. Maybe if your skull could have a couple fillings in it and then chew on a ball of tinfoil the size of your brain you’d feel this way all the time — it might feel like that.
All I know is that we’re bringing the And I Am Not Lying experience out to Philadelphia and Washington, DC next week and I’m both thrilled and terrified. What I’m terrified of, exactly, I have no idea. Maybe that nobody will come, or that EVERYBODY will come and my brain will restart onstage. It’s happened before.
But honestly, I don’t think it’s going to happen again. I’m so excited to be doing a mini-tour (or at least two out-of-town gigs) that it’s going to go fine as long as I only have two drinks ahead of time. Three drinks and my accent comes out so hard that grits fly out of my mouth while I immolate in a blinding white flame of AWESOME.
The show in Philadelphia is at L’etage on Sunday, November the 6th. Doors are at 7:30, show’s at 8. It’s $12 at the door.
Here’s a pretty cool trailer for the Philadelphia show:
If you’re new here, the show is this: storytelling by Brad Lawrence, Jeff Simmermon, Cyndi Freeman and in Philadelphia, the tiny legend that is ******. We’ll also have a few burlesque acts by Cyndi Freeman and Runaround Sue — and a comedy set by Philadelphia’s own Doogie Horner. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s a lot of talk about stopping childhood bullying online and on TV these days. Good, I say. I got bullied pretty badly when I was a kid, and I’m glad to hear that people want to put a stop to that kind of a thing. But on the other hand, you can’t stop rampant assholery. It’s a big brown glacier that just creeps across humanity, and it’s going to come out and express itself in some other weird way.
At least you’re allowed to punch a bully right in the face.
When my family lived in the DC suburbs in the early ’80s, it was pretty bad. I got beat up a lot and I was pretty scared to leave my house. My family was tremendously loving, and I had a dog that was my best friend in the world. But once I left the yard it was like a movie about Vietnam directed by Todd Solondz.
Nobody ever talks about this, though: a lot of times, the kids that are getting bullied get pretty mean, too. Being and underdog and a good guy are not the same thing.
I told this story at the And I Am Not Lying live show at Union Hall back on October 5th. It goes long, but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. I tried to compress it to a tight 5 minutes for a Moth Grand Slam last week and it was a stunning failure. I got more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life, skipped parts and just blacked out completely on my feet. It wasn’t booze-related, just flop-terror. I came to a few seconds later, literally standing in front of several hundred people who were looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to say something intelligible into a microphone.
A lot of people have that experience as a nightmare.
I hope you guys enjoy my telling of this story more than I did teliing it the other night, anyway.
I’d be lying if I said I knew Runaround Sue very well. I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t a huge fan. She’s a burlesque performer here in New York and all over the place, including Richmond, VA and a lot of other states and countries. She’s a mystery lady, a sweet enigma that sometimes lives with Cyndi and Brad and sometimes coalesces in the back of used bookstores in Manhattan.
That’s where I keep running into her.
When she performed at our show at Union Hall in Brooklyn, she brought a terrifying heat. She grunted and yelped and when she beat the floor with her breakaway dress and the kind of bra that can NEVER come off fast enough, she did it with an intensity that you just kinda recognize after a while. It’s one part Cramps and one part playground and one hundred percent the spirit of ROCK.
She’s going to be performing with us in Philadelphia and Washington, DC in the very beginning of November. Which is, sweet JESUS, next week!
And to get a taste of what kind of an act Runaround Sue has, watch the video below. Tassels and their contents do fly freely here, so it may not be safe for work:
Wasn’t that just wonderful? My family’s minister reads this blog. He’s pretty great that way, to be honest, and I’m glad to consider him a friend. I’m also glad that maybe Sue and I made him sweat a little much.
On Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, I am going to be performing along with my troupe of storytellers and burlesque performers at the Black Cat in Washington, DC.
It’s going to be me (Jeff Simmermon) as a storyteller, along with And I Am Not Lying members Cyndi Freeman and Brad Lawrence, along with additional burlesque by Runaround Sue and Cyndi Freeman as Cherry Pitz. Tickets are $12, show starts at 8PM.
This is a cool trailer that our generous, warm and talented friend Tracy Rowland cut together for us. If you happen to write a blog or want to shout it out loud on any sort of social platform that you fancy, do please go right ahead:
And I honestly cannot believe that I just standing here in my office, typing this like it’s the most normal thing in the world.
We used to sneak off to the Black Cat in high school and college all the time, to pretty much see everybody. It was the beacon on the hill, the magnet in the big city that produced Bad Brains, Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses and God knows how many other bands — many of which contained my friends that I secretly admired but never told because I was so jealous — and sucked me right up there. I hung out there all the time in the years that I lived in DC, and now I’m thrilled and terrified to be a tiny part of the continuum that made me.
Imagine if you ate at incredible potlucks for your entire life, full of incredible, nourishing delicious everything you could possibly imagine and then found all these new things you didn’t ever know existed but blew your mind apart all the same.
When it comes your turn to put a dish on the table, you just really hope it doesn’t make people barf on the walls, is all I’m saying.
I am nervous enough to barf on the walls right now. I started this blog in Washington, DC as well, and it’s going to be a pretty weird homecoming.
I made this fun little flyer to promote the show, too. Just go right ahead and post that on your social platforms as well:
I’m incredibly excited about the show that we’re putting on at Union Hall next weekend — for any number of reasons, really. But one of the most exciting things for me about this variety extravaganza is that we’re featuring what promises to be an incredibly strange burlesque act from Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz.
Here’s a little about Mat, from his Wikipedia page:
Fraser was born with phocomelia of both arms, due to his mother being prescribed thalidomide during her pregnancy. As a live artist he was a member of the performance art group The DHSS in the early 1990s. He was included in Manuel Vason’s book “Exposures” and has performed at numerous internationally renowned venues. He received considerable critical acclaim for his one-man show “Seal Boy”. In 1999 he worked with the Hydra Collective on an event known as “Wrong Bodies” at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. As an actor he has performed with the “Graeae Theatre Company”, Europe’s leading disabled theatre company. He is the creator and main performer in a new play called Thalidomide!! A Musical. He also co-hosts the BBC’s Ouch! Podcast.
Fraser has appeared on television both as a presenter and as an actor, in a number of productions including Metrosexuality and Every Time You Look at Me. He is also a martial artist having studied hapkido, taekwondo, Karate.
The following video is a trailer for his movie “Kung Fu Flid,” also known as “Unarmed and Dangerous.” Bear in mind that it’s incredibly gory and the language is likely not safe for work:
Hotsy Totsy Burlesque is back after a 4 month break! I love this show. It is an ongoing burlesque soap opera with returning characters and plot lines. We’ve been doing it for 4 years.
The basics are that Cherry Pitz and the girls live at The Home For Wayward Girls and Fallen Women, an all girls’ hotel that is always in need of cash so every month they run a show to raise funds. Of course, there are things that always seem to go wrong or weird behind the scenes. Think Muppet Show but instead of puppets you have naked girls…..(Which the Muppet Show kinda wanted to do.)
I would have mentioned this earlier, but I’ve been crippled with a bog monster infestation – a whole bunch of them set up shop in my sinus cavities and have been using my lungs as a fricking waterslide. I coughed so hard the other night that I think I gave myself a small hernia.
That’s got nothing to do with what I’m talking about here, though.
What I’m here to talk about is that we had us a show a few weeks back, and it went really well! I had a ton of fun, despite some really frustrating technical difficulties in the beginning.
The Kraine Theater is this dank, crumbling space in the East Village, the sort of place that feels like it’s haunted by a bunch of old men in long raincoats. It made a certain kind of sonic sense to hear someone kick over a beer bottle during the show, and when an old lady showed up in a sun hat with a Mike-Tyson face tattoo drawn on with eye liner, I wasn’t even surprised. OF COURSE we had one of those. It was that kind of show.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I still wanted to kick the wrinkles out of that old bat when she started heckling the comedian. I like weirdos in the audience and all, but I really prefer when they stay quiet.
Still, I had a ton of fun, and I’m pretty sure the crowd did, too.
I talked to the theater director about the show today, and I think we are going to start doing this quarterly.
One thing I know, though: we’re bringing this show up to Albany, NY in mid-August. We’ll be performing in Saint Joe’s Church, what appears to be this amazing crumbling cathedral in downtown Albany. I’d love to make a little tour out of it, maybe play in Boston, Providence, BUffalo, what have you. If any of you book shows in bars, clubs or theaters in that area and want some storytellers and burlesque people to come up, do please let me know.
And if you happened to be in the audience on Sunday, thank you so, so much for coming. It was a jam, for real.