February 2008 Archives

Before we get into the Oscar Rodeo for 2008, it's time for some good old-fashioned self-promotion.

First up is a showcase at a brand-new venue for comedy with a brand-new name. The former Woody Zips is now known as The Boardroom, and their former entertainment calendar of Taco Tequila Trivia Tuesdays now includes a comedy showcase on the first and third Thursdays of the month. The first one happens today, February 21st, at 8 PM. Admission is five bucks, but that also gets you a beer or a well drink. Think of it as a free show with a one-drink minimum.

The premiere lineup is, well, a premier lineup. Caitlin Gill (of "Six Feet or Taller" fame) hosts a showcase featuring local luminaries Jason Wheeler (regular at the Punchline and Cobb's; the voice of "Get It?"), Julian Vance (Dave Chappelle opener; hates African people), "Big Al" Gonzales (Club Deluxe host; no relation to Weird Al), Chris Burns (social worker; her name is a complete sentence), and Yours Truly (yours truly). The Boardroom is at 1609 Powell Street (@ Green) in the heart of North Beach.

On Friday, I'll be taking a cue from Ernie Banks and declaring, "It's a beautiful night for comedy. Let's play two!" First off is an 8 PM show at St. Mary's College with the incomparable Brent Weinbach and the only slightly more comparable Mark Silverman. Mark does musical comedy and Brent does indescribably hilarious comedy. I'm not sure what it costs to get in, but Mr. Weinbach is always worth the price of admission. Members of the Wood family take note: Mr. Silverman has been featured on the Dr. Demento Show. Expect Gael-force comedy, and no additional crappy puns about mascots like the one I just made.

After having fun with the Christian Brothers, I'm heading back across the Bay for the Chris Garcia Comedy Explosion at the Dark Room (Mission St. @ 19th), along with the funniest kids in town: Greg Edwards, Ali Wong, Alex Koll, Kevin Camia, host Kris Tinkle, and the man himself, Chris Garcia. Tickets are $10, and you can buy them here.

It's the hottest show in the Bay Area, and possibly even the hottest in Tijuana.

Don't miss it, or some male prostitutes are going to be really disappointed in you.

Also, enjoy this promotional video in which I wear a purple warmup suit:

Looking further ahead, Ebony & Irony returns on Thursday, March 6th, at Julie's Supper Club (1123 Folsom Street @ 7th). Two of my favorite comics run this show, and I've been lucky enough to be a part of it twice before. As usual, it's a solid lineup. First, there's the founders. Joe Tobin is simply one of the best comedy writers in the City, and has the best joke involving Scottie Pippen I've ever heard. Kevin Munroe is a UC Santa Barbara alum, an accomplished swing dancer, and though he's 6'6", he prefers not to date your Sasquatch friends.

In addition, the show features Reggie Steele, who has headlined nearly everywhere in the Bay Area in the past few months, including The Six Feet Or Taller Show. Brendan Lynch was also a part of the Six Feet excitement, and has recently become a Sunday favorite at the Punchline. Finally, there's Jeff Cleary, who runs the City's best open mic every Tuesday: the Comedy Speakeasy at Annie's Supper Club (along with SFStandup.com's Chad Lehrman). Jeff is a die-hard Boston sports fan, so please refrain from chanting "18-and-1!" until after his set is over.

Admission is $7 in advance and $10 at the door. Show starts at 8 PM, and the laughter begins at 8:01. It's racially harmonious and comically hilarious. Check it out.


In a tradition that dates back to last year, Zembla brings you Uncomfortable Conversation Hearts (with an assist from the ACME Heart Maker). Because Valentine's Day isn't always about love and romance. Sometimes it's about misery, passive-aggressiveness, and undiagnosed pancreatic ailments.






this little piggy went to market

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My friend and occasional companion Emalie went under the knife yesterday. She had bunion surgery, which is a lot more serious than you might think. I myself assumed it was a procedure that involved an office visit, a local anaesthetic, and maybe a laser, like something you'd do for a wart. In fact, bunion surgery involves sedatives, invasive surgery, and the removal of pieces of bone.

"Why did I think bunion surgery was so minor?", I asked Emalie.
"Because it sounds like 'Funyuns'", she said.


Though she's hobbled like a Song Dynasty princess, Emalie is doing fine. Still, I'm not going to mention toes, Doritos, playing footsie, Dr. Demento, ballet en pointe, piggies, going to market, staying home, having roast beef, not having roast beef, or going, "wee wee wee!" all the way home. Or Funyuns, because those are gross.

[Note: How messed up is it that the middle piggie in that rhyme is eating roast beef? Aside from the risk of Mad Cow Disease, I imagine a cow looking at the little piggie, shaking his head, and muttering, "Dude. Same team."]

on being sick and being fat

I had the stomach flu this week, and it was pretty gross. I was pretty nauseous, and not just from looking at the kitchen sink. I also missed a few days of work.

I learned that when you have stomach problems, people recommend the BRAT diet, which, I was disappointed to learn, does not involve eating lots of bratwurst. Rather, it means your staple foods should be Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. Alternative diets also add in tea (BRATT) or yogurt (BRATY). I feel like I was informally following the BRATTY diet, which involves whining, pouting, and refusing to eat anything.

When I returned to the office after missing a few days, people were happy to see me, but concerned about my health. The office manager asked how my flu was, and learned I hadn't eaten much in the past four days. "Wow, I would have expected you to look more gaunt," she said, glancing down at my waistline.

"Fuck you too", I only thought, and went back to filing documents, sipping Gatorade, and choking back both metaphorical and actual bile.

Big show tonight in Berkeley, albeit a show that has been decimated by illness. Original headliner Joe Klocek has been sidelined by pneumonia, but we've been fortunate enough to get the legendary W. Kamau Bell to fill in. Kamau is one half of the movie reviewing duo Siskel and Negro (who also do an excellent podcast). Kamau also has a one-man show at the Shelton Theater, where he is an artist in residence, called The W. Kamau Bell Curve, and an entertaining blog of the same name. He's extremely funny, and more importantly, not teetering on the brink of death. As an added bonus, he once referred to Shia LeBeouf as "the Spin Doctors of modern movies."

Incidentally, original headliner Joe Klocek has a joke in his set about how he's too poor for health insurance, so if he gets really sick, financially, his only option is to die. I hope that that is just a joke.

I'm pretty sick myself, but that's not going to stop me from hosting this sumbitch, especially not when we've got great performers like Matt Morales, actor-comedian Greg Edwards, Brendan Lynch, Maggie Newcomb, and Zembla interview subject Amir Malekpour. Plus, a special surprise guest! My God, what a show!

It all happens at 8:30 PM at Blake's on Telegraph in Berkeley. Tickets are $8 at the door. Blake's has just been remodeled, and as part of their re-launch, they're offering some sweet deals: $1 fries, and $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR: the beer that makes you feel like a winner. And, aspiring SF and East Bay comics take note: an open mic will follow the show at 10:30. The official promo is after the jump (or right here, if you follow Zembla via RSS feed):

ciudad de los kiddies

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My life was once full of interactions with children. Now that I work in an office instead of at a pool, I see children very sporadically. My off hours are spent in comedy clubs and bars, where children are not allowed, because they would get too depressed about growing up.


The children I do encounter fall into two categories: Babies, and children in large groups. The babies are pretty harmless, and, let's be honest, none too bright.


Children are a different story. It may be that city children are tougher, or it may be that most adults see them only sporadically, but whatever the reason, groups of children are horribly intimidating. They're far more powerful in groups than they would be individually, their numbers and the urban environment giving them courage and defiance not seen in suburban children. Like wild animals, they are more feared than understood, and people don't like to make eye contact.

I was on MUNI on Tuesday, and a large group of fifth-graders entered, en route to a play. Instantly, the mood of the train changed. Hipsters clutched their messenger bags closer. Adults looked at one one another and nodded, as if to say, I've got your back if anything happens.

One Asian kid pawed at my book and demanded, "What are you reading?"

I stammered, "Um, it's called, How Soccer Explains the World." I braced myself for a followup question, but he was distracted by a tiny scowling white girl lurching into the back of my seat. When the fifth-graders exited at Civic Center, you could hear the entire train exhale in relief.

Perhaps in San Francisco, we fear the unknown, these pint-sized invaders of our fair city. Or perhaps I am unable to deal with children when I'm not allowed to pick them up and throw them into swimming pools. All I know is that San Francisco children make me nervous, MUNI is for grown-ups, and I don't even want to think about packs of teenagers or else I'm going to break out in a cold sweat. Parents, keep that stuff in Cow Hollow where it belongs.


"Blah! Blah! Blah! (A Talk Show)" (which returns to the Dark Room Theater Saturday night, 2/2/08, at 10 pm) is a deceptively simple event. Creator and host Kevin O'Shea opens the show with a 10-12 minute monologue, and then he welcomes his guests, all comedians in the SF Bay Area. What happens after that is basically controlled chaos. It's like Iron Comic in that preparation goes out the window, and it's all about thinking on your feet and being funny in the moment.

When Blah! Blah! Blah! first started, I think we all had a vague idea that we could simply do our material the same way, only while seated. However, we quickly learned that doing scripted material in that format was quite awkward. The rhythm is off, the audience can tell it's planned, and the BYOB nature of the Dark Rom seems to put performers and audience alike more in the mood for improvisation. The result is that every show is unique. Even if you've seen a certain comic many times, he's pretty much guaranteed to bring out something new for the talk show.

At the last show I performed at, Matt Morales and Jason Downs discussed the awkwardness of Matt living with Jason's mother, Mary Van Note talked about working for a professional ultimate fighter, and I busted out my Nicolas Cage impression (normally reserved for private gatherings and movie theaters advertising National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets). The most recent Blah! Blah! Blah! featured members of the sketch group Boomtime! (one of whom, Alex Koll, returns Saturday night.) and somehow led to a moment of pantslessness where we learned that Moshe Kasher and Mr. O'Shea wear the same style of briefs.

This year, Blah! Blah! Blah! is getting more elaborate with the addition of a sketch duo (Substandard Comix) and critical commentary from comedy coach Kurt Weitzmann. Add those to the already-formidable lineup of Kevin Camia, Chris Garcia, Sean Keane, and the aforementioned Alex Koll, and what you've got is a hootenanny waiting to happen, especially if you grew up in the rural South and never adjusted your slang. There have been rumors of mariachi bands at future shows, which will be held on the first Saturday of each month this spring.

Tickets are $7, BYOB. The Dark Room is on Mission Street at 19th, across the street from >Cancun Taqueria, the traditional home of the Blah! Blah! Blah! burrito afterparty. Bear in mind, the show does occur on Groundhog Day, so until we do the show perfectly, we might be trapped in an infinite loop of blah, blah, and blah. Just a head's up.

new links to explore

A few of my friends have started websites recently, and they've been added to the sidebar, along with various local comics. The first such site is for , who has an archive of his artwork and music on his site. I really like his artwork and hope to see him gain larger fame and fortune, and not simply because I have a whole stack of Scott Greenwalt original drawings, ready for them to skyrocket in value. Mr. Greenwalt will also be part of The Animal Show tonight at the Contraband Gallery in SF. After tonight, you can see the exhibition by appointment.


Here's how Mr. Greenwalt describes his own work:

My current work explores the visceral, corporeal existence of man as an organism. The imagery references anatomical academia; specifically, muscle tissue, hair growth and the vascular and nervous systems. Forms are mutated through an organic (d)evolution as dictated by the intuitive course of painting. An obsession with the grotesque and the macabre pervade the sensibility of the work, but beyond that is some hint at the sweeping phenomena of being part of a larger whole in the universe.

Since there's been discussions about hair on Zembla this week, I present one of my favorite Greenwalt pieces from the site. This is called "Wig", from 2005.


Next, my associate Davey Cee has debuted Excess & Defect, a collection of his unpublished writings. My favorite so far is A Day in the Life of ALF, an amusing and profoundly sad poem about what it's like to be an alien from Melmac, trapped in the suburbs of America. Davey Cee earns bonus points for remembering ALF's first name ("Gordon"). Here's an excerpt from the poem.

I will never be a Tanner.
Even the cat's got a better chance at surnames around here.
But, no matter what Willie says,
I won't ever be a part of that particular tribe.
Somebody sings, "I've got my books and my poetry to protect me."
I've just got this orange fur probably made of felt.
I miss Melmac.
Its verdurous skies overhead like a dense canopy of overgrown foliage,
Summers out on the blue grass
Playing bouillabaisseball under a sun of wild vermilion,
Or just buccaneering ad libitum around its lower east side in my youth.
Somebody calls out
And I remember,
Without remembering,
The name Shumway and its lost significance here
In this place of skyskraping glabrous bipeds and thousands of cats that you can't eat.

Powerful stuff.

Finally, former roommate and baseball co-bloggerMike B has made his acting debut with his new employer, ProTrade. His appearance is brief, but extremely memorable. Longtime Sean Keane associates might recognize Cal alum Mark Kamal administering a beatdown.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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