Monthly Archives: January 2012

Stand-Up Comedy Night at Margarita Grill

When you think of stand-up comedy, a few archetypical images come to mind.  A spotlight highlighting the comic from the audience (years ago, literally a light created from heating up lime, hence a lime-light), a microphone and a sea of darkness that makes up the cavernous groupthink that is the audience.  Its perfection is the comedy club.  Locally, this can be seen at either Cozzy’s Comedy Club, or The Virginia Beach Funny Bone. The comedy club is the comedy equivalent of a lab setting.  Literally all distractions are minimized.  All focus is centered toward the stage.  All a comedian need do is not mess up the jokes he’s crafted.  Because chances are, if you’re on stage at a major room like the Funny Bone or Cozzy’s, you’ve put a huge amount of work into finding out which of your silly thoughts will make an audience erupt with laughter and which ones will just make people uncomfortable.

All of this work takes place at open mics/workshop nights.  These are shows that, the crowd is not  going to be exactly the same as an “A-room” crowd.  The audience usually doesn’t pay, very often the venue isn’t necessarily a business that has comedy other nights of the week.  If a comedy club is the perfect laboratory of comedy, workshop nights are the field study.  The result is that the comics work even harder.  While a comic can pick through his quiver of arrows to draw from when he’s doing a showcase show, he must experiment at an open mic.  They must engage the crowd even more.  The fruits of this labor are much like the work of Babe Ruth… you might have a lot of strike-outs.  But in the end this is how you become a home-run king… of comedy.

The root of all comedy is creating tension and relieving it.  Why did the chicken cross the road… (you’re dying to know)… to get to the other side (relief!).  At an open mic there is an omnipresent subconscious tension, so when a joke is funny (which really is more often than not), you will never laugh as hard in your life.  Additionally, when a joke works, there is nothing like the first time it’s ever told.  If you have ever enjoyed comedy, this is a sneak peak into the creative process that you might not have ever known about.  Louis CK, probably the best comic working right now, begins every one hour special he records with a few open mic appearances.  From there these jokes develop into theatre shows, and later into one new hour of material.  In short, if a comic ever wants to make anything of him or her self, they need the perfection that only workshop nights can create.

With that in mind, I’d like to invite everyone to come out to the workshop night at Margarita Grill this Wednesday Night.  Margarita Grill is located at the intersection of Virginia Beach Boulevard and Great Neck Road, just around the corner from Pollard’s Chicken.  For the GPS-ers and GoogleMaps people, it’s located at 2340 Virginia Beach blvd.

The show starts at 9pm, runs Wednesdays and is absolutely free.  I’ll be hosting.  See you then!

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Filed under Check this out, Comedy

Selling Plasma

Not one of the TVs. The stuff that keeps the ol’ red blood cells, leukocytes and platelets from congealing together in my veins. I got paid on Thursday, but I was so backed up on bills that I thought it would be good to have one or two extra dollars in my pocket. I’d looked into selling plasma in the past and it seemed okay… a plasma center put a video online in which they had people sell it as “a nice way to relax for an hour or so” or “good time to catch up on reading.”

So, one day, I called up, it sounded like it was a slow day there, and a nice lady told me on the phone that I could be signed up and out the door in about 90 minutes or so. She told me that their hours were from 7am-7pm and that they even accepted people as late as 6pm for donations. At around 3 today, I figured it would be a good time to go check it out. I drove out there, and parked my car. The first open parking spot I saw was a convertible…

…with the back window all busted up, the ragtop all torn apart. As I walked to the car, I had a flashback to watching Harry Potter movies, and Harry’s first experiences with dementors… “it was as though all the happiness and hope in the world were suddenly gone.” There was a woman standing outside the building with a general countenance that made me feel as though she were likely to propose a fellatio for cash endeavor, a more common panhandling, a robbery, or some combination of the former in which I am serviced and then flees the scene without receiving money from me.

People sort of rushed past me to get in. The people who rushed past me, though we were in Virginia Beach, felt very Portsmouth. It’s odd. When you’re in the ghetto, everyone has this sense about them that, some might call swagger, some might call a war face… It’s this aura you sense that though things are ugly all around us, they have some sort of plan and attitude that’ll get them through this.

The plasma donation center is the exact opposite of this. When you’re in a plasma place, you can see the same emotion on every single person’s face… “I’m stuck in this room with your broke, tired hungry masses.” And the room was packed. I mean, it’s incredibly naive of me to go into a plasma business, on a Friday afternoon and think “oh gee, it’s not like I’ll be the only one who’d need money before a Friday night.” It was one of the saddest god damned sights I’ve ever seen in my life. Imagine the DMV, but every single person in the room is having such a hard time in their lives that they’ve decided they need to sell a part of their body just to make ends meet. And the room was crowded. They’d run out of chairs for people to sit on, and so there were people sitting on the floor. And people were still one-by-one coming in behind me.

It was so packed in there, that I didn’t even get a chance to sign up.


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Filed under Rants, Stories

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale

As winter’s black coldness further soaks into our souls, we seek recourse. Some may just layer clothing. Some turn up the thermostat. For drinkers like me, we find warmth in drink. Some nights, a dram of Laphroaig’s smokey goodness will lift your soul, as it did mine on New Year’s Eve.

Tonight, as the Arctic currents dip down from Canada once more, I decided to try Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale. Winter Warmers are a long-standing tradition from England. Typically, they’re a bigger, more malty and alcoholic beer giving you a little more substance and flavor, and with that higher alcohol content, dilated blood vessels and a great feeling of warmth. Samuel Smith describes their Winter Welcome Ale as having a :luxurious malt character, which will appeal to a broad range of drinkers… with nuances and complexities that should be contemplated before an open fire.” Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is a benchmark of what the style should be, and so it’s with much curiosity that I choose this.

Open fire aside, I’m ready to tear into this bottle. I pour it into my Samuel Smith Pint Glass, and it’s a caramelly brown with a great head that slowly dissolves into a light lacing.

Caramelly roasted malts with esters, and hints of a late addition of the Fuggles and Golding hops also written about on the back of the bottle.

Malts. Malty as hell, but in a way different from a German lager.Pale malts mostly, with enough biscuit and crystal malts to offer some complexity. The hops are balanced perfectly. At only 6.0% alcohol, it’s a little on the light side. But with the maltiness at hand, it offers a rich mouthfeel.

Overall, I imagine my winter beers to be a bit bigger like Troeg Brewery’s Mad Elf.  However, for the drinker who wants a winter beer with a bit more sessionality (the ability to be consumed without turning into a sloppy drunk) this is a great beer.

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Filed under Beer