NEWS! Cafe d'Automatique to be published in "Best Short Plays Of 2015" Anthology

Smith & Kraus publishing has requested permission to publish my short play Cafe d'Automatique for their "Best Short Plays of 2015" Anthology. This will be the second time Cafe d'Automatique will be published. It is already slated for the second annual C10 Short Play Festival Anthology, due out December 2014. 

http://smithandkraus.com/sk/

http://www.thecollective-ny.org

 

7 Days In Vegas: Day 3

Day 3 Saint Patrick's Day:

This morning I woke late. Like around eleven. I crawled out of bed and performed a sad hotel room work out I learned from a commercial starring Michael Strahan. After which I hopped over to the Buffet for another round of free food. The lunch was okay. A big part of it was corned beef and spinach in honor of Saint Patrick. So there I was, wearing green, eating corned beef and spinach while reading a book about the Irish Mob. Not a bad way to start the day.

I left the Buffet and headed back to my room to work on my taxes. There is no free internet at the Riviera. You have to pay for it. In your room its $9.99 per day. It's pretty shitty when a resort hotel can't supply the basic amenities of an Embassy Suites. With a hot tip from the girl friend, I learned that there was a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf located in the Palazzo. In most Coffee Beans they supply free internet. I decided to check it out. Backpack loaded with my computer and chords I set out to the sunny side of Las Vegas Boulevard, the south end where hope and free internet exist. I got confused with the height of the Palazzo and the entrance to the Wynn. I wandered for an hour before I realized I was in the wrong place. The layout is genius as it always guides you back to the casino floor. Eventually, if you're drunk enough, you'll just give up and surrender yourself to a table to lose your money. You can walk for hours and never really find the exit. That's what I did. I was in the wrong place but was so turned around I couldn't figure out where I had come in from. Genetic male pride refused to ask directions and eventually, trusting the masculine compass in my nose, I wondered out by the Valet. I crept down the driveway to find that I was facing a whole new street I had never heard of. Ah, but in front of me, rising majestically above the street, the imported palm trees and the flashy cars were the Palazzo'stan towers. I had found it! I made my way across the street via the pedestrian bridges that connect the nicer hotels and resorts. At this end ofLas Vegas the delicate feet of rich folk cannot abide crossing the street like the common peasants to the north. They walk above the street, like the gentle angels that they are. I entered the Palazzo.

It's beauty is breathtaking. At least for someone who is used to riding in black marble elevators lined with brass and smeared with some kind of grease streak. The casino floor is wide and far with high ceilings. It is connected to the Venetian Resort by the Grand Canal, a stretch of man made river filled with boat rides, singers and shops. I wandered in wonder as happy people shopped for expensive things. It was here that I noticed my phone stopped working. The screen went blank. It shown bright white but nothing could be seen on it. It was as if the glory of this place could not bear to have me take pictures of it. I found the Coffee Bean but it was only a stand instead of acafé. A panic took me. I wanted to write a new blog and work on a few things but now my phone had stopped working and I needed to plug it in and see if I could locate a sprint store. I had just gotten this new phone, a Black Berry, and it was already broken! I must find a place. Any place. Like a Starbucks maybe? I have an app on my phone that tells me where all the Starbucks are in my surrounding area…but my phone isn't working! Damn my dependency on technology! What did they do before the micro chip?! Probably just asked someone...that's not an option. Maybe if I just go outside and look around…STARBUCKS!

Across the street at the Fashion Show Mall was a Starbucks Café. I crossed the bridge, like a rich person, and made my way to le café. Plugged my computer in, paid the $3.99 for internet service and checked my phone. Nothing. Damn thing was still busted. I emailed my manager to say I was out of commission except by email for now. Turns out he had been trying to call me. It turns out some producers at the Spike network wanted to see me the next day in LA for a showcase. Of course they did. During this wonderful week is when they want to see me. There is no way I can go to LA for that time and then get back to Las Vegas for the show that I'm contracted to do. Not to mention I'm completely out of touch since my brand new phone decided that once it saw the splendor of the Venetian life at the Riviera was not worth living and committed suicide! But on the way out, as I shut down my computer and finished my Venti Mocha Frappachino (Shut up. It's hot out and that is a very refreshing drink), I accidently unclipped the back panel to the phone and the battery popped out. I put it back in. BAM! A Las Vegas miracle. My phone came back to life! And I shall nameth him Lazarus! And he shall beith my phoneth forever and ever, amen!

I got back to my hotel. My manager called me to tell me not to worry about the showcase. The Spike people wanted to see me another day. I didn't need to buy an emergency round trip flight out of Vegas. I could finish my week in peace and get back to business when I got home in LA on Monday. Things were looking up.

I hadn't talked much about Saint Patrick's day. A year ago I was in Los Angeles at a fantastic Irish bar in Culver City called Irish Times. They had a great band playing Irish music and in the middle of the show a local bag piper came in and jammed with the band. The beer was good and the company better. Las Vegas is different. Here are five things I noticed:

  1. Some people wore so much green it was offensive
  2. I don't know what St. Paddy's day beads are for? Is St. Patrick also the patron saint of girls who flash their boobs?
  3. The beer at the Riviera is green but not because its St. Patrick's Day
  4. I saw a fat lady riding in a green rascal.
  5. One girl was wearing so much "Irish" green and shamrocks it looked like she had been gang raped by leprechauns.

Everyone was celebrating. But of course it was a subdued celebration as nothing could beat back the hopeless pallor of the Riviera. I went up to do my show.

I decided, since I was hosting and my set doesn't really matter all that much, I would tell my jokes with an Irish accent in celebration of Saint Patrick's day. Boy was that a mistake. First off there were maybe twenty people there. Mostly elderly, a few middle aged with families. The lady who runs the place was there this time. She sort of said hello to me but not really. A friend of hers had dropped in to do a guest set. Ken Rogerson, a Boston comic, was nice and a fun guy to talk with. He was really buddy buddy with the lady. Combined with the small conservative crowd everything about this night said anything risky would be a mistake. But I thought, fuck it. Don't bail. Take a risk, see what happens. Well what happened was no one laughed. I stuck it out, doing the accent with full commitment and never letting up. The crowd found nothing about it funny. Nothing other than the fact that I kept doing it which amounted to three laughs and seven awkward coughs. As I walked off stage the Lady told me I need to nod when they give me the light to let them know I saw it.

"At :38 you have two minutes. We had to flash the light you to get you off." She said.

"Well, I didn't see the light. Not until you flashed it. That's why I didn't nod." I explained.

"At :38 you have until :40 to get off." She repeated.

"Yeah, I get that part. But I don't have a watch up there. And if I don't see the light, you know, if I don't nod at you saying 'I see the light', then you need to flash it until it gets my attention."

"Well, you need to acknowledge it."

And in my head I shouted, "Yeah, I know how this works Lady. I do this for a living. You know what a living is, right? That's that thing you scrape out night after night dressed in your fake tuxedo watching shit comedy in a shit club in a shit casino. Stop bragging about the one time this club was cool in '95. Also your fat and your life makes me happy I'm not you." *

I didn't say that. Instead I internalized it deep down so someday this despair will come out in spurts of rage at my future son when he disappoints me by losing the big game in high school. The next awesome thing I did was screw up the new comics name. He was fine with it but the Lady was not. I got up there (accent dropped) and got all his credits right (Rescue Me, over seas entertaining the troops) and then I said Ken Richardson…didn't know it until I got off the stage and the Lady laughed at me.

"Richardson. His name is Rogerson! Who the hell is Richardson?!"

I don't know. Probably just a mistake I made and not a real person. The second show was better. Way bigger crowd, loose and ready to laugh.

WHAT I FIND ODD ABOUT VEGAS: A new segment by Dave Hanson
What I find odd about Las Vegas is the amount of conservatives. If you're an up tight conservative why would you come to Las Vegas? The whole city is vice and tits. Even at the dump I'm performing at its all about gambling and looking at boobs. The comedy club is next to a topless review. All the waitresses wear uniforms to show off their aged cleavage. Outside it's all advertising for hookers and strip clubs. What about this place makes you think it's for you, uptight conservative?

The sales man says, "Are you an uptight conservative who denies finding anything funny or amusing about sex, homosexuals, girl on girl action and habitual drug abuse? Well, come on down to Las Vegas and pay top dollar getting upset and offended at everything you see! Let hypocrisy wash right over you as you shell out dollar after retirement fund dollar to pay for shows, performances and dances you publicly denounce but secretly want to enjoy. And as an excuse so you don't have to face the dilemma of possibly coming to terms with your personal demons and desires, we'll offer the excuse of family clean shows celebrating a by gone era in which the stars of those days spent their free time sleeping with women and doing drugs."

During the 2008 campaign a major criticism of liberals and Barack Obama was the accusation that they were elitists, intellectual liberal snobs…as if that was a bad thing. Yeah, you know what, Hayseed? I'll take it. I'm okay with that description. I would rather be an arrogant liberal idealist than a person who prefers a fanny pack and can't laugh at the reality that strippers are sad.

I didn't go out again. Walking up to the happy end of Las Vegas seemed self abusive as I would just have walk back to the reality existence later anyway. I opted for my room and TV.

*The Lady at the club is actually very nice. We just had a disagreement right after I bombed on stage. What can I say, I'm a comic.

7 Days In Vegas: Day 2

Day Two or Where The Fanny Packs Are:

I woke up early. Too early. Apparently McNuggets + McFlurry = processed food alarm clock. So I was awake and I figured I'd check out the Buffet, maybe go to the fitness center and start my day off right. A week ago I hurt my arm playing football and had opted out of doing any workouts resulting in me feeling sloppy and out of shape. That is until I stood in line for the buffet. I felt fine about myself after that. I saw fanny packs buried in folds of back fat and love handles.

Inside the World Buffet (They serve food from all across the globe!) the employee section is off to the right. Typical in hotels, keep the help out of site from the guests. This is where I sit since I am an entertainer. The lady at the comedy club gave me a little ID tag that says ENT #5. I have to show this to woman charging the entrance fee to all the guests. The food is…well the powdered eggs and French toast was pretty good and considering it was free I thought it tasted delicious. I didn't make any friends but I had a book to read and sat by myself sipping my coffee while trying to make sure my ID tag was in a visible place at all times in case the natives got restless. Everyone who works at this hotel looks like they've been living rough. I finished up and wandered back to my room. Here are five things I noticed:
 

  1. The Pool is still closed
  2. Asians travel in huge groups
  3. Even when you win at the Riviera, you're still a loser
  4. The night shift waitresses look like the older sisters of the day shift waitresses
  5. An empty glass has been sitting in the hallway between the door to my room and the door next to me. It's been there for over 24 hours. I'm wondering if it's a mafia signal of some kind hit.

Time to explore my surroundings and find out what people do during the day time in Las Vegas! I stepped out the front of the casino and had a choice to make; north or south. To the north I could see the mighty stratosphere rising high above the other buildings. I decided to head north. I was walking along the side walk. It's sort of hot. I can't imagine being here during the summer. In front of me is a short homeless man wrapped in a large camouflage jacket, wearing jeans with the ass torn off them. The jacket hung down so all you could see was back of his naked thighs which made it seem like he was wearing ass-less chaps. It was uncomfortable to watch. Unfortunately the sidewalk was narrow. Normally I could move past him with my longer stride but he had shifted into crack speed gear which allowed him to walk at the same speed I was walking and I couldn't make a move without it looking like I was trying to avoid waking behind a homeless crack addict in ass-less chaps. I saw my break. The Sahara Casino appeared to my right and I made a quick duck inside.

The Sahara is pretty nice. Obviously the theme is Middle Eastern but the inside looks the same as any other casino. The illusion really goes away quickly once you get inside these places. Inside there is still the din of winning slot machines, the people are still over weight and fanny packed and the staff all look like refugees dressed in clothes donated from the Rat Pack fifty years ago. Wandering the vast casino floor I spotted something funny. I saw several girls playing one slot machine over and over again. The slot machine was a "Sex in the City" slot machine. When you win or lose you got a recorded sound clip from one of the characters. Something about shoes or cosmos followed by a sassy sexual reference.

I left the Sahara and continued north on Las Vegas Blvd when I came across what clearly had to be the main attraction at the north end of Vegas:
WORLD'S LARGEST GIFT SHOP

 

That's a bold assertion to make without displaying any proof. How do I know this is the largest gift shop in the world? Where is the documentation? Are you listed by Guinness in of their books? I suspect a tourist scam. I've noticed everything in Las Vegas is "worlds largest" or "America's Best" or "Las Vegas' top rated comedy club"…I'm not bitter. My favorite part is the advertised "Live Cactus" on the sign! Unfortunately I could not find any living (or dead) cacti inside the store. I did however find a lot of other things you could waste their money on. Everything is Las Vegas themed from the famous sign to Elvis to wall after wall of hilarious naughty t-shirts! FBI: Female Body Inspector! I'm a Lesbian Trapped in a Man's Body! MR. Right…Mr. Right Now! I could go on but I might throw up. All were in the XL to XXXL range. Here are some other things I saw:

A collection of douche girl hats!

No cacti but LOADS of artifacts from ancient Egypt…or the Luxor Casino…not sure which.

I left the worlds largest gift shop empty handed except for a finger nail clipper. Just a regular $1.19 finger nail clipper. I needed one. I headed back towards my hotel. It was getting late in the afternoon, I was hot and sweaty from being pale and outside. I had had all I could handle of the north end of Las Vegas Boulevard. So far Las Vegas seemed to be filled with lame shops, awful casinos and terribly fat and boring people who don't find me all that funny. I walked back behind three young guys carrying tall plastic cups filled with a fruity alcoholic beverage. They were aggressively talking about having to take on the Stratosphere, sticking there hand up someone's ass followed by a round of fist bumping and the phrase "Let's do this". Don't know if these things are all connected but I do know it made me and the family with the three young children very uncomfortable.

I got back to my hotel, took a quick shower and got ready for the second night of shows. I wasn't looking forward to it really. I had already been told my set was "too dirty" and frankly if the crowds think I'm too dirty odds are they're not going to laugh at the stuff that isn't "dirty". So I drudged up to the club expecting to get an earful from the comedy expert lady who runs the show. But she wasn't there. A short haired older lady was running things and she looked like she could care less. I said hello and waited for the audience to arrive. The other two comics came in about five minutes before show time. The crowd was small for the first show, just like the other night. This might be a theme. So I went up, set went fine. Cut out the "dirty" stuff and tried to talk with the audience a little more, make some casino references.

The second show filled up nicely. About 150 people came out. And they were a pretty good audience. The shows ended smoothly. I decided I would head out and see what the night was like. This time I would go south!

SOUTH:

As I stepped out into the night a girl and her mom waved at me and told me they thought I was the best comic of the night. That was very nice of them to say that. The girl said my vampire joke was her favorite. Mine too.

South is a walk. A long walk to get to anything that's worth getting to. But once you do, I discovered, a whole new Las Vegas opens up to you. As I marched down Las Vegas Boulevard the tall towers of the Wynn, the Palazzo, the Encore and the Venetian rise mightily above the strip. From the street they appear much closer than they actually are and it wasn't for another half mile did I finally come to the entrance of the Wynn. The inside of the Wynn looks as if a tan and red Fez cap threw up on itself and then exploded. I walked past the expensive shops selling designer jewelry and purses and wandered right out onto the casino floor…something was strange. The people…the people were smiling. The people were wearing clothes that fit. The people were young, successful. The people were good looking. Holy shit! Not a fanny pack in sight! It's as if the casino has some sort of standing rule against them. Oh my God I just saw a hot waitress! Her face is soft and full. It's not weighed down by make up and sadness. Her breasts! Oh her beautiful breasts seemed to be full light, happiness and expensive saline! Where as at the Riviera all the tits seemed filled with cigarette smoke and regret. At the Wynn the dealers are all wearing nice suits. Really, really nice suits with really nice ties. They look like a GQ ad for bankers. The bars were filled with happy people smoking nice cigars and sipping on expensive drinks. Everyone was smiling. Everyone had all their teeth. Except for one guy but no one was talking to him.

I headed back home to the north end. I felt depressed as I walked back leaving behind the Las Vegas I've always heard tell of. I past construction sites and open trenches along the darkened sidewalk. A scary man asked if I wanted to go to a strip club outside the saddest Denny's in the word. I walked past the entrance to the Riviera food court…a food court. The Wynn doesn't have a food court. They have fine dining. In the Wynn you take your winnings to the cashier. At my place it's called The Cage. At the Wynn people shouted with joy as they won at craps. At my hotel people only win at the Penny Town Slot Machine. I felt like an abused child who got to see what a happy family in a nice home is like for a few short hours and now must return to the trailer park with the alcoholic father and pain killer addicted mother that is the Riviera Hotel and Casino.

MAN DIAGNOSED WITH ALS AFTER "ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE" MISHAP

 

Don Gibson of Yelm, Washington, received the bad news yesterday that he was diagnosed with advanced ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) after suffering multiple concussions from attempting to performing the ALS Challenge, the online fad of dumping ice water on your head to raise awareness of the disease Gibson now suffers from.

Gibson, 28, was standing on his back patio in only swim trunks and no head protection, when his girlfriend of three years, Laura Caldwell, who lacked any and all form of upper body strength, dropped a six gallon metal bucket, filled with ice and water, onto his head from a second story deck. The impact concussed Gibson, but before he could pass out, his best friend, Jared Simons, rushed in on cue to throw another gallon of ice water at his face. Unfortunately, Simons lost his grip on the heavy copper pot he was using to hold the water, sending the seven pound metal cooking utensil into the forehead of Mr. Gibson. Losing his footing, Gibson slipped and fell, smacking and bouncing his head on the wet concrete patio floor. After laughing for ten minutes at the hilarious circumstances, Ms. Caldwell immediately called 911 and Mr. Gibson was air lifted to Seattle University Hospital.

Neurologist Dr. Michael Underhill, spoke with reporters, saying, “Mr. Gibson has advanced ALS. His brain looks like it played in the NFL for ten years without a helmet. This is incredible. But mostly it’s just ironic.”

Gibson, now restricted to a wheel chair and communicating via computerized talking aid, said that he had no idea what ALS was before he accepted the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’.  “I just wanted to make a cool video like everyone else and get a lot of ‘likes’ on my Facebook page from hot chicks I knew in high school. Now I sound like that Stephan fucking Hawkins guy. This sucks.”   

Dance Fight!

I found myself at a swanky Hollywood club one night. My commercial agent had decided to throw a party for one reason or another. My commercial agency was actually a modeling agency that had a commercial department. Most of their clients were good looking people, working models who earned a living posing for pictures in designer clothes or no clothes at all. The commercial department was made up mostly of goofy comedic actors. Let’s just say it was pretty easy to tell who the commercial actors were at this gathering.

This was the kind of club that’s filled with uncomfortably modern furniture and the only beer they serve is Heineken. One of those places that have a guest list, velvet ropes and you can only sit down if you buy an overpriced bottle of Vodka. A whole bottle. Every time I tried to sit down, a massive bouncer in black would come by waving a flashlight in my face, motioning for me to get up and leave. He never spoke a word to me. He would just flash his light in some bouncer morse code telling me to move along.  

The DJ, which apparently is hipster for guy in skinny jeans with a bad haircut playing the shuffle option on his iTunes, stood in a booth above the bar. The dance floor was filled with beautiful, bouncing women while guys who looked like second cousins of the Kardashians, sporting vests over v-neck t-shirts, five o’clock shadows and fedoras, stood by ready to pelvic thrust onto the dance floor. I stood amongst a cluster of my goofy comedic commercial actor brethren, too nervous to talk with anyone outside our department. It was like a grown up version of a junior high dance, nerds in the corner watching the pretty people move to the music. Suddenly, on the dance floor a space opened up before me and there I saw a sight I had only heard tale of in bad coming of age movies set in the inner city. Two men …dance fighting!

I’m not sure what their sexual preference was, but by relying solely on stereotypes I concluded that the designer jeans these men were wearing were too tight for the most effeminate of straight men and/or European. And by the bedazzled denim jackets they both wore I deduced that these boys were at this club just to dance.

The horrific scene played out almost in slow motion. Each “combatant” took turns dancing for anywhere from ten to thirty seconds, completing elaborate twists, spins and flips to the music. Each move was served in the other fighter’s face, much to the delight of the crowd of dancing models. The first dancer spun and twisted, light glittering off his one diamond earring. He finished with a pelvic thrust directed at his opponent, while lying sprawled upon the dance floor. The other dancer paced back and forth, shaking his hands at his opponent as if to say, “Nah, man. That ain’t cool.”

He leaped over the head of his opponent landing on his hands, pushing himself up from the floor into a handstand, all to the rhythm of the techno house music blasting from DJ Silverlake’s iMac. He pushed himself up and down, up and down and suddenly shifted to his shoulders spinning out of the handstand and finishing in a model’s pose with his left hand under his head, his elbow propping up his body in a leisurely fashion. Even the commercial actors were cheering, awkwardly bouncing out of sync with the music.

Dancer One didn’t waste a beat and danced a two step until he found the right time in the music to jump back into the fight. He went classic 80’s break-dance starting with a robot freeze, a hand glide, two knee-spins, a back flip into a moon walk and ending with a crab walk pelvic thrust at the other fighter as if to say, “you just got served” “In yo face” and  “Yo Momma’s so fat” with each push of his groin.

And with that the dance fight was over. Just as the victor claimed his win, and the loser conceded defeat by congratulatory bro hugging Dancer One, silent bouncers with flashlights broke up the crowd and the combatants. The music changed to another mindless techno beat and the beautiful people went back to dancing, the fight forgettable as the last song played. But not to me. I walked away with the knowledge that not only was dance fighting real, but that it’s also incredibly gay.

7 Days In Vegas

Day 1:

The drive out was easy. Usually not the case when one drives from Los Angeles to sin city. But only comedians, entertainers and old folk travel to Vegas on a Monday. My drive was made easier with the help of my favorite podcasts playing off my iPod. My current podcast suggestions are as follows:

1.    WTF w/ Marc Maron

2.    The Bugle w/ Jon Oliver

3.    Monday Morning Podcast w/ Bill Burr

4.    Comedy and Everything Else w/ Jimmy Dore

5.    David Feldman Comedy Podcast w/ David Feldman

6.    NPR’s Fresh Air

Marc Maron’s WTF has quickly taken over as my favorite podcast. That guy is just really good at talking. Highly recommended for road trips, work commutes and mental escapes from the hellish reality that is your life.

 

As my drive continued there really wasn’t much to do other than not crash your car. I-15 is pretty boring stretch of interstate freeway. On either side is desolation or the occasional neighborhood of identical suburban houses. What they are a suburb of I couldn’t tell you as I drove further and further away from civilization.  Around 1pm I needed some lunch and pulled off in Baker, California. Baker is the “Gateway to Death Valley”. It says so at the bottom of a giant thermometer that you can see from the freeway. I had a choice of several restaurants and decided on Bob’s Big Boy. I thought this was just a well known burger joint like In-n-Out or Fat Burger. But this one was a sit down restaurant. It was terrible. As a rule you should never go into a diner style restaurant and try to order fancy. I went with the thinly sliced turkey on Chibatta bread. It’s a burger joint. I should have listened to my gut, both before and after the meal. I should have gotten a burger.

I got back on the road and after a quick two hours I was driving into Las Vegas. During the dark ages practitioners of black magic were feared and killed on sight. In Las Vegas they get a theatre, a suite and miles of I-15 advertising space. That’s when you realize you are close to Vegas. Giant billboards of creepy magicians and forgotten country stars pop out of the desert terrain like wild cacti. Then, on the horizon, you see a gathering of buildings that history and geography tell you should never go together. A pyramid, the Eifel Tower, the New York Skyline and a castle have no business sharing the same horizon but in Vegas it’s business that they all share. But I drove past these newer luxury novelties for my destination was at the far, forgotten end of Las Vegas Boulevard.

 

The Riviera is an old resort casino. Back in the hay day of Vegas it was a premiere destination. But the glory days have faded much like the multi colored carpet of the hotel lobby. Designed in a bygone era when the standard of luxury was defined by how much brass, fake black marble and low ceilings you could cram into a building, the Riviera made me sad.  I pulled into the drive, not sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect to drive below ground into a garage lit by red neon lights. I stopped in the valet line expecting a quick footed valet to open my door and welcome me. What I got was a two minute wait as a man with a moustache hobbled over from his corner hang out to hand me a ticket.

“Just leave the keys in. I’ll get it later” He said. Then he hobbled back to his corner. I grabbed my two pieces of luggage and moved towards the entrance. The entrance is actually below the lobby. What greets you are a set of elevator doors (brass) and two heavyset men dressed as bellmen who try hard not to acknowledge you exist.

“Hi fellah’s,” I said. One looked at me, frightened, the other mumbled hello while staring at the ground. It was as if both realized at the same time that neither possessed the power of invisibility. I checked in and made my way up to my room in the South Tower. My view over looks the roof of the casino and beyond it you can see Circus Circus across the street. Its building is shaped like a massive big top tent and a gigantic clown rises above the casino, pointing demonically at the entrance while in the other hand it grasps a massive lollypop. I’m not sure what the subtext is telling me.

It was nearly six thirty by the time I got settled so I did a quick walk around the resort. I noted the following:

1.    The Pool is closed.

2.    The toilet in my room looks like it was stolen from a dive bar in Bakersfield.

3.    Everyone looks terrible under the lights of the Casino.

4.    There should be a cut off age for outfits cocktail waitresses wear.

5.    Fat girls love to dance.

 

THE SHOW: Night One

I was pretty excited to perform in Las Vegas. This is a step forward in my comedy career. I don’t do the road all that much because I’m based in LA. The industry is there and since I’m also a writer and actor, going on the road never really appealed to me all that much. But getting a gig in Vegas is a kind of a big deal. It’s not that far away and the pay is usually really good for the amount of work you are doing.

The Comedy Club at the Riviera is much like the rest of the hotel. It’s seen its hay day and boasts that it was the #1 Comedy Club in Las Vegas six years in a row. On the website there is a promo video that plays. In the back ground late eighties generic pop music plays and the comics they showcase, with the exception of Dom Ierra, haven’t been on the scene in a long time if they ever were. When I arrived at the club I realized why. This club was #1 about twelve years ago. You can tell because none of the framed headshots of the featured acts are in color. On the billboard outside the club are photos of this weeks act. Aside from my own picture, the other two comics still have black and white headshots. That means they’re done. They may be on the road, performing all year but they aren’t trying to move their careers any further. This is as far as they’re getting. The crowd started showing up. One of the things I found odd about the club (and Vegas as a whole) is the attempt to dress the place up. All the employees wear outfits and uniforms that harken back to Sinatra’s Vegas. To the early 1960’s when Vegas was a destination for Americans and mobsters to escape to. At the club the doormen and floor manager wear all black tuxedo style suites. The hotel staff is dressed similarly. But the crowd coming in wear baggy Midwestern sweatshirts and horrible mom jeans, topped with fanny packs. It looks odd, these tuxedo dressed doormen taking tickets from people who look like they spent the day at the Mall of America. The promo for the club advertises “Extreme Comedy Performances: Hypnotist, Magicians and Shock Comedians”. None of this would turn out to be true.

The first show was slow. About thirty people, most of them grey haired and bent. I came up and did my ten minutes. I ran through one version of my set just to get a feel for the crowds. They would laugh at strange things. When a premise was introduced you would hear gasps or laughs as if that were the punch line. I got through it. Not all of my material went over great but I got them laughing, which as the host, is the most important thing. I got off for the first comic. The headliner shook my hand and said, “The bar has been set.” I took this to mean that he would have to work hard to out do me. A nice compliment. I won’t comment on the other comedians performances. Who the hell am I and not being familiar with the Las Vegas circuit I am hardly a good judge. That said, when you listen to (not watch) the promo and hear how the club describes its performers and then go see the show, nothing could be further from the truth. The 8:30 show finished up. I wondered over to the bartender and got a beer. He was an interesting guy who had clearly been there for years. He had small grey eyes behind large round glasses that sat above an ‘80’s moustache. Like the club and the casino he had seen his hay days too.  He asked me how I liked performing here. I gave him my automatic smile and polite answer, “It’s great. I’m really excited to be here.”

“How many shows you doing?” He asked looking over his glasses.

“Two a night for seven days.” I said.

“Thirteen more to go. We’ll see how you feel at the end of the week.” He laughed as he walked away. “Enjoy the buffet!”

“Anything in there I should stay away from?”

“Yeah, all things creamy.” He disappeared down the hallway. Foreboding crept over me. This week may be harder than I thought.

The 10pm show was looking good, the crowd promising to be even busier with 90 people. Not bad for a Monday I was told. So I go up and do my act. Cut out a few things and spent a little more time talking with the audience. It went well, I got them excited and laughing. I got off stage and was told by the floor manager that my act was too dirty. This struck me as odd since I’m not dirty at all. Subject matter may be sexual but it has a point to it and I don’t curse that much. Also we’re next door to a world famous nude review. I mean this crowd basically didn’t get tickets to the titty show going on one door down. Not to mention the club advertises as “Extreme Comedy” with “Shock Comedians”! So a few fanny packs got upset, the rest of the audience laughed. This is Sin City right?

Anyway, my confidence took a gut punch. I was feeling okay but lousy at the same time. The show finished. The other two comics split. They were over the whole “Lets hang out and grab a drink” thing. So I was left to my own devices. I was tired and annoyed at the sounds of slot machines and the smell of cigarettes. And this was night one! I’m so screwed. I hadn’t eaten and everything at the hotel was closed that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. So I wondered down Las Vegas Boulevard and settled on McDonalds. Across the street is a huge McDonalds with four jumbo screens on its front advertising its burgers. Seems unnecessary for McDonalds to need four jumbo-trons to advertise their burgers when you consider it’s the most popular fast food restaurant in the world. That said I got a McNugget meal and a McFlurry. Everything is okay after you’ve had a McFlurry.