The [Now Written] Unwritten Rules of a Comedy Open-Mic

In the past, I’ve hosted comedy open mic nights and found myself getting incredibly frustrated about similar habits a lot of shitty new comics had.  When a venue contacted me a few years ago to run their comedy open mic night, I put together a list of rules for my show that I actually codified into paper and made every comic read before letting them on my show.  Some of them ignored these rules and were not welcomed back, though most comics took these rules to heart if they needed to be told so at all.  Below are the rules that I feel every comic should follow when attending a comedy workshop.

-Do not disrespect the house.  They have been nice to us to let us perform here, recognize that, don’t say anything dumb that will make the venue reconsider giving people a mic and PA system to talk into.
 
-Don’t harass people in the audience.  Consider the fine line that does exist between crowd work and being an asshole with a microphone in your hand.  They’re there to laugh, not to be abused.  Also, as this show is a work in progress.  As such, a lot of people in the crowd might not even know a comedy show was planned.  Unless they’re really asking for attention, leave them alone.

-When you are given the light, your time has come to a close.  Go ahead and rap that shit up, B.  While you don’t have to stop talking and flee the spotlight, don’t go on to a new subject.  Finish your thought and dismount.
 
-You can curse; however, do not use foul language for the mere sake of using foul language.  Have a point to it.  Saying “motherfucker” and “god damn” between every word and at the end of every sentence expedites the aforementioned illumination (See above statement).
 
-Don’t hack.  If you want to say some other comedian’s jokes, save that for when you’re sitting around the water cooler at work.  This will also cause you to go into the light.  The point of going to an open mic is to make you a better comic.  You’ll never be better telling someone else’s jokes.
 
-Before and after you go on, show the performer on stage the respect and attention you would want while on stage.  Keep your personal conversations to a minimum, and if you are going to talk, do it in a way that’s not distracting to the show.  You want everyone’s attention while you’re on stage.  Don’t fuck it up for the next guy.
 
-This is a show.  While open mics are a great opportunity to hone new material, bear in mind people have to watch it.  Be funny.  Don’t try to shock people or do jokes that only you would ever find funny.  A groan is not as good as a laugh, and a “what the hell was that?” is pointless.

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Samichlaus Classic

I’ve written on this blog before about Winter Warmer beers (Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome and Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale), but in my heart no other beer celebrates the category as Samichlaus Classic.  At one point it was the strongest beer in the world at 14% alcohol, and on it’s label it brags that it’s the “World’s Most Extraordinary Beverage.”  With swagger like that, you almost wonder if they were drunk on the stuff when they wrote its description.  All this, combined with its slack and silver label tell you : this is not a Bud light.  This is something big, but not in a childish way.  There’s no childish Four Loko technicolor camouflage strewn across it here.  No, the outisde of the bottle seems to both warn and entice.  It says to you “there’s something good in here, but if you’re not man enough, it will dominate you.”  I consider myself a Cesar Milan of booze.  I shall now try to calmly assert myself.

When you take the cap off the bottle, its siren song commences, as waves of malty goodness begin to emit from its orifice.  I smell the bottle and smell a layered maltiness, as if the brewers took the most flavorful malt and somehow distilled its essence into a beer.  As I smell it in the glass, I am taken back.  As a lapsed and lazy homebrewer, boiling wort (beer before its fermented) is a smell that’s both familiarly enjoyable and almost synonymous with an exhausting night of checking temperatures and waiting, lifting gallons of water around and hoping nothing is broken.  The smell itself is, from a practical standpoint, the smell of caramelized malts now in solution in the wort becoming further caramelized during the boil, and volatile hop aromas evaporating into the air.  Samichlaus screams these notes to me.  Moaning even.

Seriously, in the time it’s taken me to type this, my mouth has been watering looking at this auburn glass, watching little CO2 bubbles rise to the top.  The first sip is like a kiss from a lover who I’ve not been able to hold because of circumstances beyond our control.  Malty sweetness, roasted caramel, dark raisiny fruit and a cognac like alcoholic presence.  This is a beverage superior to what the idea of beer is in most people’s minds.  This is a monster of the best kind.  Power and potency combine with a certain eloquence.  Samichlaus is like a bull in a China shop, but a bull who speaks five languages.

Samichlaus is not a beer for every day.  Even in its native Austria (Samichlaus is Swiss German for Santa Claus), it’s brewed once a year and then aged 10 months.  But it’s Christmas Eve.  It’s cold outside, and the only way to fight sometimes is with a good strong drink.  Merry Christmas, and I hope one Christmas in your future, Samichlaus visits you too.  Merry Christmas!

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Where you been, BK?

At the beginning of my blog, I posted a weird sort of word sketch about the kinds of things I think about, and then I realized, a year later, I’d not written anything else.  So I dabbled for a while and had a blast, but I realized I’ve gotten busy with other things and neglected this a bit.  So what’s been going on?  Well, I’m working about 40 hours a week now, which, unfortunately, really does cut into my blogging time.  All those empty moments where I was previously just job hunting and checking to see if the internet still offered pornography is actually occupied with lifting heavy objects and dealing with customers.

Also, if you’ve followed this blog faithfully (perhaps as someone with very little to do might), you might notice I do a podcast.  If you haven’t noticed, it’s called What’s a Podcast.  It’s me and my buddy CB Wilkins and whoever we decide would be a good interview/guest, which has mostly been local comedians though there’s been a few other “civilians” who we’ve had on.  It’s great, because I really hate talking to boring to listen to people so I’ve made a point of only having guests I find engaging on.  I’ve gotten lazy about posting links on this site, but you can find us on iTunes and Stitcher Internet Radio, so if you want to listen we’ve actually got 40 episodes of talking for you to listen to.  We’ve actually reached the point that if you were to try to listen to all the content back to back, it would almost take two days.  Again, I imagine you have more to do over the weekend, but if you’ve never checked it out, it’s worth investigating.

Really the only other thing of interest I’ve been doing is thinking about is fitness sort of stuff, which justifies its own blog post in and of itself.  I’m still alive.  Look out for more blog posts to come.

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Alba Scots Pine Ale

I like to think of myself as a fairly well-versed traveler in the universe of beer flavors.  Typically, you think of three variables that can make a beer have flavor: malt, hops and yeast.  The degree to which a beer’s malt is kilned and then the temperatures that said malt is mashed can impart a wide array of flavors from grainy to caramel to chocolatey roasted coffee flavors.  Hops can make a beer just a little bitter or full of volatile oil terpenoid compounds that can make the beer citrusy, lemony, piny, floral, or any other flavors.  Beers like Dogfishead’s minute series impart the wonderful combinations of bitterness and flavor that can be released.  And then the yeasts, the workhorse of the beer-making process can impart flavors of its own.  In a lager, it is decidedly absent, a paradoxical lack of proof that makes its existence clear.  What one typically seeks in a lager yeast (cold, bottom-fermenting) is a clean malty profile.  In an ale, you usually get a wide variety of fruity ester flavors or phenolics, clove-like spicy flavors.

And then there are the beers that break the rules.  Usually, I reserve this category for lambics, the crazy bastards of the brewing world.

However, much of our knowledge of beer as we know it is tainted, with the addition of hops being more of a recent modification to the idea of beer as we know it.  Before this, people would make beers with spices and other herbs besides hops.  I admit, up until this day, up until this moment, every beer I’ve had has been hopped.

Now, I find myself with a beer in my house begging to blow all of my pre-conceived notions.  Alba Scots Pine Ale.  Consisting solely of malt, Scots Pine and Spruce Sprigs, according to “ancient Viking recipe.”  As if this wasn’t tantalizing enough, the beer claims to be best consumed at room temperature in a wine goblet, inspiring notions of a Viking feast hall after battle, drunk warriors, comiserating after the defeat of some unknown lesser foe.  Before even opening the bottle, I find myself both intrigued and scared.

Time to open the fucking bottle already.  The smell is an earthy alcoholic, malty caramelly, somewhat ferrel odor.  Ferrel in a good way, like you don’t know what’s going to happen.  The flavor is… surprisingly plain.  There’s a certain resinous quality about it.  Growing up in New York in the foothills of the Adirondecks, there was a tree near our house that while fun to play around, would constantly leak sap that always seeemed to make it on our clothes, hair and every now and then our eyes, if we were creative with our stupidity.  There’s hints of that behind a massive malt backbone and a well-muscled alcohol content of 7.5%.  The pine flavor becomes more apparent with each sip.  Where there would be more hop bitterness, there is a calm essence of pine hiding in the background.  What’s fine, is, it’s not completely out of place; many hops, Simcoe comes to mind, can get very piney… this seems to just cut out the middle man and deliver true coniferous resins without any pretext.

Overall… neither amazing nor prosaic. While it makes you stop and think a minute, it doesn’t make you reconsider everything you’ve ever thought about beer. It’s just okay… but different.

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What’s a Podcast: Episode 10: Travis Jones

This week, me and CB had CB’s long-time collaborator in indie films, writer, actor and storyteller, Travis Jones on the show. Not only did we talk about everything, like we do every week, but Travis told some amazing stories about his life, including failed romances that while humiliating are all too familiar and relatable.  Even more exciting is the fact that this is our TENTH podcast, meaning that if two assholes sit down and b.s. with each other long enough, someone WILL listen.

Click here to listen.

Also, in the future we hope to have some really exciting guys on the podcast.  including James Paulk, Chris Dembitz and the great, recently roasted Dan Ellison, the educated redneck (his term, not mine).

Lastly, there’s a Twitter account for the Podcast now @whatsapodcast, so that if you have any ideas you want talked about or general criticism to give me and CB, there’s an easily focused target for your outrage.  Or if you want to show some love, it’s a good place to do so as well.

See ya soon!

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What’s a Podcast: Episode 9

This time we had Jim Seward on.  Jim Seward is a member of Plan B Improv, a Stand-up Comedian, Actor and 20 year veteran of the Air Force.  It was a great podcast, we talked about Iraq, AK-47s, and stand-up comedy.  And we all say mean things about each other.

Check it out!

Just click here!

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What’s a Podcast : Episode 6

This week we had Laura Watkins, @OneHelluvaDame, on the podcast.  Laura is a blogger for AltDaily.com, a local alternative news blog.  This podcast is all over the place, it’s a little explicit, but it’s one of the funniest hours of audio you’ll ever listen to.

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2 Gigs in the Northern VA/DC Region!

Thursday night, March 29th,  I’m appearing at the next iteration of the Virginia Tech Hokie Alumni Comedy Show at the Arlington Drafthouse. This night is a congregation of quality comics who have gotten their education and life experiences in good old Blacksburg, VA at Virginia Tech.  It’s great because not only do we get to talk about the fun of our being alumni of Virginia Tech, but we talk about where our lives have taken us since Blacksburg.

The very next night, March 30th, I’ll be at Liberty Laughs, in Fredericksburg, VA, taking part in a contest.  Come on out!

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What’s a Podcast: Episode 5

Me and CB had another local up and coming comic, John Small as a guest on our show. It’s awesome. We talk about flint-knapping, public urination, archaeology, ancient Latin, cuckolding, stand-up comedy, and the most amazing tale about internet dating you’ve ever heard in your life.

Click Here to Download Episode 5!

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What’s a Podcast: Episode 4: Pt. 2

We continue our conversation with Sam Zayvan. It’s good stuff:

Click here to listen!

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