We’re putting on a Very Special Valentine’s Day version of the And I Am Not Lying variety show at UCB East at midnight (11:59 PM on 2/14) on Valentine’s day, featuring the all-female mariachi band Flor De Toloache, an aerial Lucha Libre burlesque act, and standup by NPR’s Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg.
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be able to share this video of this story. I told it at The Moth’s “Love Hurts” show on February 13th of this year.
I’ve been working it over and over for a few years – it’s a significant revision of a piece about the depression that comes after cancer surgery, and also all of the stupid shit that people say to you when they hear you’ve had cancer. Just a hint: Yoga can’t actually cure cancer, but getting high and watching ‘Pootie Tang’ will help you to feel better.
I put a lot of jokes into it that I’ve written over the last year, and it feels right. This is also the first time I’ve been able to adequately communicate in public just how much my fiance means to me without using any cliches, and why I can’t imagine living life without her.
Think what you want of Lance Armstrong – the doping scandals, the lying, the bullying, whatever. I didn’t follow cycling or that story that closely, so I’m shielded by a thick cushion of ignorance on that one. But the thing that helped me the most through this whole process of having testicular cancer was being able to talk about it openly, on stage and in the street.
People get a little weird about it now, but they used to get a LOT more weird about it, and it was something that wasn’t discussed at all. We used to say that people were testicular cancer victims, and now they’re cancer survivors. It’s a major cultural shift, and it’s come through the hard work of the LiveStrong foundation.
It’s OK to feel however you want to feel about the man, but let’s please recognize that the foundation has done – and continues to do – really, really important work. I benefited from it directly and indirectly, and a lot of other people have, too.
He makes beautiful, funny typographic additions to found oil paintings, he designed sets and puppets for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, he art-directed the Smashing Pumpkins’ gorgeous, Georges Méliès-inspired “Tonight, Tonight” video, and he generally embodies the kind of artist that I want to be.
And now Wayne White is the subject of a documentary entitled “Beauty is Embarrassing”, which is premiering at SXSW 2012. Here’s the trailer:
I want to watch this film with all of my heart and soul. (And also my eyeballs.)
One of the latest viral videos is of happy gorillas in the jungles of Uganda taking in a tourist as one of their own. Now this is an amazing video, so sweet, so heart-warming, and it got me cruising YouTube for gorilla videos – and there are plenty. That being said, I am personally not going to be hanging with the Wild Mountain Gorillas.
I am not saying you shouldn’t hang with wild gorillas – if you want to. Go ahead, it looks like fun.
It is just that they are both intelligent and they are wild animals, plus they have ideas on how things should go.
*Note to self – do not take your pet baby orphan gorilla into the jungle.
Personally I think I understand gorilla culture and etiquette, as it looks a bit like the culture and etiquette in my family. But as my husband knows, I avoid hanging with my family because they behave like mountain gorillas. They are cute and cuddly until you challenge them. You never quite know what you said that got them all riled up, all you know is that they are suddenly screaming and somehow its your fault …
I know that someone reading this might be thinking, “but - but – but….have you seen Koko the talking Gorilla who speaks sign language? Bill Shatner has!”
And I say to the imaginary Koko loving person in my head, “Oh yeah but what about the story of the Petronella Yvonne de Horde, she loved gorillas! She was convinced that the Gorilla named Bokito, who lived at the local zoo in Rotterdam was her friend…and so she went to visit him almost every day. She would make kissy faces at him and he would make what she thought was kissy faces back….
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:
Creaghead and Company is pretty much Caroline Creaghead. And Caroline Creaghead is pretty much awesome. She helps to book and produce the And I Am Not Lying Live show, in addition to a bunch of others. One of the other shows in Caroline’s stable is “Heart Of Darkness” with Greg Barris. According to Flavorpill, Heart of Darkness (with the live band the Forgiveness) is a
psychedelic stand‐up show … a visceral experience from the downtown comedy underground. Accomplished thinkers, authors, poets, and artists join Barris and his band to become one seamless, improvised comedy freak show.”
I caught the sold-out show at Union Hall last Saturday. What I could see of it was really, really awesome, when I could see around a pillar. Everything sounded great, though.
Reggie Watts dropped in at the last minute and did a hilarious set, improvising all kinds of hilarious music and completely surreal standup that made perfect sense and told right-on truths as long as you didn’t listen too closely. If you did, you’d realize he was riffing on the kind of played-out onstage cliches you hear from most hip-hop and rock ‘n roll stage banter.
Here’s a pretty sweet clip. In it, Reggie Watts covers Maroon 5′s “Moves Like Jagger,” freestyles and improvises, and raps like the lead singer of a Cookie Monster death metal band:
I got off at the wrong subway stop last night on the way back from telling a story about Rick James at Luca Lounge. But as it turns out, it was so the right stop. These guys were just blowing out some serious funk underground, after midnight, for the entire world. The whole experience felt exactly like the mental image I had of New York in the decades before I moved here. And naturally, I requested that they play some Rick James.
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.
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.
My friend Brandon Bloch is a videographer here in Brooklyn. We kinda know each other two different ways. In one way, we know each other because he made a really awesome video promoting D.Billy’s artwork a while back. And we also know each other because as it turns out, his wife is a good friend of mine and a consultant that I work with very closely at my day job. Small world.
Brandon and his wife and me and my girlfriend hang out together and do couple stuff together. One of these days, we’re going to get D.Billy and his lady involved and have the biggest, brunchiest, triple-couple bouge-a-thon that Brooklyn has ever seen.
I was having lunch with Brandon and his wife the other day, and he told me what he’d been working on. “It’s pretty fun, man,” he said. “It’s a video piece that we’re going to call ‘Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street.’”
I was a little surprised. He didn’t really strike me as that kind of a dude, to be honest. “Just watch it,” he said. I did, and now I totally get it.
Now, I present to you: “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street,” by Steven Greenstreet and Brandon Bloch:
Not exactly what it sounded like when you read the title, was it? That’s kind of the point. As Brandon told me, “We noticed that all the coverage coming out of the Occupy Wall Street movement was either of freaks or young, unusually good-looking people. So we decided to both be honest about our motivations and make fun of media’s tendency to seek out pretty people, and we ended up with an inspiring, moving story. We just kept the title because we knew it would get some attention and hey, look — the kind of person that searches for and watches a video called ‘Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street’ is probably the kind of person that actually needs to hear this message pretty badly.”
He’s right. If they’d called it “A Sober and Respectful Look at the Underrepresented Womyn’s Voices at Occupy Wall Street”, would anyone have watched it?
Unsurprisingly, the Internet had decided to lose its collective mind over this. The response is both shocking, and not surprising at all. There is a particular type of person that is happiest when they are riled up and offended about something. This sort of person is found both on the right and the left of the political spectrum, and they just LOVE to write a blog post about their manufactured outrage. Read the rest of this entry »