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  1. I Followed Wanda Sykes

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014


     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     


    I followed Wanda Sykes.  I performed a ten-minute set after this was shown to the audience.

     

    The audience was about 95% female and 100% feminist.  They were there for a film festival.  That night's films focused on the history of the women's movement (pre-Gloria Steinem).  I learned much.  The video of Wanda Sykes and my live performance were for comic relief.  It was also an acknowledgement and honoring of the permission we all received (consciously and unconsciously) from the women's movement to speak in our own authentic voice and from our own point of view (which, in comedy, allows for originality and hilarity).

    As a comic, it was a real learning experience on selecting material.  Often, I got the opposite reaction to bits that I get at comedy shows.  They laughed hard at things that get mild laughter at clubs, and less at bits that get a rowdier reaction typically.  Overall, they were very appreciative, and several people made a point of speaking to me later.  I feel so honored that Fran thought of me.  I think I'm still high from that. 

    After sharing in my blog last Tuesday about being asked to speak and perform at a screening of a film in October, I was then asked by Fran Luck, producer and host of WBAI's feminist radio show "Joy of Resistance," to perform in a feminist film festival that takes place on five Friday nights, and the Friday I was requested for was 9/26/14.  She had actually contacted me weeks earlier, but it was to an old email address and I hadn't seen the email.  Her boyfriend, who is a writer and poetry friend of mine, reconnected us.  I am grateful.

    The event continues with different themes for four more Fridays.  http://tinyurl.com/mmtn5vm  Definitely a nourishing evening.

    I find it interesting that in both cases where I was invited as a comic to be a part of these cultural events, it was by someone not in the comedy field.  One knows me through acting and writing; the other through the NYC poetry circle.

    Something that made me feel happy was there seemed to be much less of a divide between gay and straight women than there was in the 1970s.  The togetherness felt so good to me.  I don't like the pick-a-team mentality.  I need the togetherness in order for me to have a place to feel at home.
     

    "Feeling at Home" by Nzante Spee

    In this place that felt like a home of sorts, I was appreciated for what I feel, think, and say rather than tolerated.  It's a good feeling. 
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  2. Some Call My Ovaries "Balls"

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

     
     
    In the midst of a very busy existence, I am proud to say I was asked to perform some stand-up and speak on some of my experiences in the male-dominated stand-up comedy arena at a screening of a documentary on women in comedy.  It will take place on October 16th. 

    About a decade ago, I was cast along with several other women to perform in a skit.  We found the skit outdated and we rewrote it.  The producers loved what we did.  Unfortunately, the producers had a falling out with each other and the performance never happened.  However, one of the other actresses, Lucy, and I stayed in touch and occasionally saw each other at Bronx events and on the local news channel.  We are also Facebook connected.  She's now working in a creative position for the Parks Department.  Someone connected her with PBS where this is in the works.


    From the battlefield to the comedy club, MAKERS delves into the advances women have made in the last half-century.  One entire episode will be on women in comedy. 

    Lucy was asked to coordinate a screening of the Women in Comedy episode, and she thought of me when she wanted someone live to speak to her audience and do some stand-up.  She also read my blog http://www.shesofunny.org/2014/09/we-werent-referred-to-as-garden-tools.html about finally feeling good at a comedy open mic, and not just finding it tolerable.  She loved it.

    I think what makes me feel so good about this is Lucy thought of me based on who I really am, not based on some insincere idea of "being nice" and not complaining about the disrespect, which is the kind of stuffing it generally expected of female people.  When I first entered this world of stand-up, that was the message I received repeatedly.  Don't upset the guys.  It always reminded me of don't fight back and make the rapist angry.  As Lisa Sliwa (of the Guardian Angels) once said, "They already are.  Look at what they are doing." 
     
    ​In the same vein, people who use "bitch" as a synonym for "woman" are already upset.  Some female comics (the ones who join the patriarchal mindset and call other women whores, etc.) are afraid of being associated with me for fear we'll scare away the morons with our intelligence.  One woman's fear is another woman's paradise.  More and more I conclude that those who keep their distance, should, so there will be room for those who really should come close to take my hand.  We have the power to change the landscape if we dare acknowledge and embrace that power.  The least I can do on this journey is leave some of my footprints. 

     

    ​If I'm just stepping in those size 11 men's footprints, no one will even know I was here.


    It's ironic in a way because some of my biggest comedy fans are men.  They admire my ovaries, but they call them "balls."​
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  3. Bigger Wand Needed

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

     
     
     
     
     
    ATM receipts from 2009, typed comedy sets, a note from a woman who has since passed away asking me to read and write about her son's book in my blog (which I never completed but intend to), grant information from February, rent receipts from 2012, vote-for-me mail from candidates, a new birthday card I bought for my aunt Rosel's January birthday and never sent though I stamped the envelope, packets of salt, packets of pepper, two
     
     
    dollars in bills, a couple of dollars in change, post office receipt from 2012, Walgreen's receipt for a lipstick, three large binder clips, a Sweet Million lottery ticket from September 10, 2012 (I looked up the results on line just in case, but I only had one of the numbers), 4 pairs of earrings and one lone earring, reminder notes to myself, invoices from the vet from all different times, a used ziplock bag, my cousin's wife's email address, a friend's social security number, a program from a play I was in 3 years ago, jotted down joke-notes, ...
     
     
     
    while in my head I feel awful that my darling canine son probably doesn't have long for this world, and it is so hard to imagine life without my darling Luigi, I think about a recent conversation where I was told we unconsciously go for the romantic relationship with the one like our parent who we had the most problems with and with whom we have unfinished business,  I feel I am probably better off not in a romantic relationship at all, I feel so hopeful that my grandparents and mother and others who have passed can hear me and know my thoughts and my heart which is quite heavy with things I don't go into here, I laugh at my comedy notes and even found a bit I forgot I wrote which is about getting flowers from a man (the kind of flower-giving that comes with expectations) and it's one of those that I said to my best bud in conversation which cracked us up and then I wrote it down which for me are the funniest, I think about all the people who I never got back to -- cousins, childhood friends, it all feels so hard inside sometimes as it all comes with other stuff that attached to it for me and I feel bad that they probably think I have no feelings when the exact opposite is true, ...
     
    so I try to keep on decluttering, making a bit more room in the apartment and in me while the local news plays in the background.  four people's faces slashed at 4am Sunday in the Bronx by a man still at large.  it happened on North Street and Jerome Avenue and according to a resident of that area, crime has increased on North Street and they are not aware of any arrests being made so people feel very unsafe.  affordable modern apartments are being constructed at the hub for working families living on 30 to 50 thousand a year.  wonderful crafts fair over the weekend on City Island.  would love to be able to shop at such events, but I'm not in such a bracket.  Central American Independence Day Parade on Southern Boulevard.  "Walk for Mother Earth" ends with a concert in Riverdale.  Ellen Degeneres sent $50,000 and new instruments to P.S.48 in the Bronx that had been burglarized and had all their musical instruments stolen. Obama condemns barbaric murder.  American people feel threat of terrorism increasing.  In the 70s this week. 
     
     
    

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  4. We Weren't Referred to as Garden Tools

    Tuesday, September 9, 2014

     
     
     


     
     
    To be at a comedy open mic and not have my femininity and my spirit assaulted is such a breath of fresh air. 
     
    I was at an open mic and didn't

    hear how ugly vaginas are or what a bitch we all are for not fucking some asshole or what sluts we are for fucking someone.  I didn't hear about fat women, and I didn't hear fat women hating on thin women. 
     
     
     
     

     
    Not once were we referred to as garden tools. 
     
     
    I had a good time!  Those participating didn't use the comedy mic as an excuse to spew hatred of more than half the world at us. 
     
     
     
     
    I didn't feel like I was in a men's locker room or that I infiltrated some woman-hating and homophobic club.  I don't remember anyone finding humor in grinding the homeless further into the ground or anything else that turns my stomach.  I didn't have to work at keeping my chin up.  I think I found an open mic that works for me.  I, so far, have only had very good experiences there in terms of how I felt, how I was treated, and how my set went.  I do believe it is connected. 
     
    "How come I don't know you?" one woman asked me later.
     
    "I love hearing intelligent women do comedy," a host said to me. 
     
    How can I not love such appreciation?  Could it be that I actually found a comedy mic I enjoy attending and not just find more tolerable than many?  I felt courted.  It's been quite some time since I felt courted.  It felt nice.  Good-for-my-heart nice. 
     
     

     
    Unlike those who get theirs and leave, people tend to stay for the whole mic, so everyone has audience.  Afterwards, we mingle.  We actually talk to each other.  It is what I consider being with other humans. 
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  5. Just Stuff

    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

     
     
     
    Well, boo fuckin' hoo.  I didn't get selected to participate in the festival where I had submitted a video of me doing stand-up.  Almost sixty people were selected.  I am very curious about the quality of their work and how mine lacks.  In the past few days, I remembered that announcements would be made soon.  So I again watched the tape I had sent, and I realized that the first minute did not get enough laughs per minute if that's how it is judged.  I wondered if they'd watch the whole thing or if my first minute was it.  Oh well.   

    I have had some free time though quite broke.  My dog had vet needs which came when I'm the most broke.  That's the way it goes.  I know my free-ish time will be coming to an end, and though I was able to do many things, there are still many things I didn't get to.  I knew I'd feel somewhat uplifted if I did some cleaning of very neglected areas.  I already had the supplies, so no money was needed.  I finally put the thought and desire into action at 3am one night.  I felt better about myself turning something awful into its original white and shiny state.  Scents changed as a result, and I wondered for a quick second if I upset the mouse world.  The next day a mouse ran by and into my broom closet.  Ugh.  I have to work consciously to feel like it is my apartment and not the mouse's.  I am afraid of rodents and detest that they enter where I exist.  I stomped around to try to convince myself I am bigger and all the stuff people tell me.  My dog immediately knew what that meant, and he then seems afraid which is just awful.  Meanwhile, I am supposed to make sure he doesn't lie on the hard floor so his elbow can heal.  I feel I need to pad the whole place.  He has a bed, he uses the sofa, and I allow him on a chair, but still he lies on the floor also.  Maybe for the coolness.  But his elbow needs to heal.  I'm not supposed to let him lick it, so I put a cone on his head which he hates.  He's an old man, a darling old man, and I hate to make him miserable with the cone, but he has to heal.  He's on a second round of stronger antibiotics. 



    Soon, both jobs are going to blast me away.  That's how it feels.  I have to remember to breathe and how much better it will be to be able to pay my bills more easily again. 

    I just opened my bottle of wine.  Ten bucks, and I'm my Saturday night date.  I just need a big strong man who laughs in the face of a mouse.   




                                                                                                                                                                                   
    ​Other than that, I need a nonjudgmental cleaning and therapy team to help me.  It's not that I don't want to throw things out.  I am very happy when I've gone through clutter and fill a bag for garbage.  I appreciate the cubic inches of air space.  It feels hopeful.  What is so very difficult is going through and looking at each thing.  No one can do that for me.  I'm digging out, but the pace isn't fast enough.  It's like an archaeological dig.  I find things from eras ago.
     
    I have prepared a shopping bag of clothes to bring to the shelter in the neighborhood.  The more stuff I get out of my house, the better.  I am so overwhelmed.  I need to get this place back to where it once was when it looked like someone creative and healthy enough lived here on a low budget.  Now it looks like a baffling case study. 


    If you would like to come to a free comedy show this Thursday evening, I'll be in Johnny Zito's show at Goodbye Blue Monday, 1087 Broadway, Bushwick, Brooklyn.  (J train to Koskiuszko Street & walk a block.)  7:30pm, nice place, CBGB vibe, affordable drinks, and good food.  I hope to have the honor of entertaining you.  It is my last free Thursday night for some months.  Next week, my evening job will be in full swing.  I am thankful that Johnny fit me into this week's show, and I hope you come and have some laughs with me.  (Hosted by Greggory Daniels! Stand-up from Joe Newman, Robert Commiskey, Monica Taller, Gabe Zucker, Mindy Matijasevic, Rogin Kim, Momoh Pujeh, Mike Hernandez, Dee Marie, Caleb Barge, Yohei Kawamata and Johnny Zito.)
     
     

     

     
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  6. One Size Does Not Fit All

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014

     
     
     
     
    One day when I was on the fence fighting off the depression alligators (a not-terrible day when I can put up a good fight), I decided to go to a comedy open mic I'd never been to before.  I was hopeful about steering the rest of the day in a different direction.  The cost was $5 and a drink.  

    I showed the host my $20-bill and asked if I should buy my drink first.  He said yes.  After breaking the twenty, I handed him a $10-bill.

    "Is that better?" I asked.

    "It's smaller," he said.

    "Well, sometimes smaller is better," I blurted, unable to resist.  We both laughed. 

    "I never heard that from a woman before."

    "That's because you don't hear us."












    The open mic show was as much like an actual show as I've ever seen (though I've seen actual shows that were like an open mic).  No notes were allowed during one's set.  Both hosts practiced saying my last name before the mic began.  It was the second time I've ever seen a comedy open mic be attended equally by women and men.  From beginning to end, it was actually the first time.  That may or may not have been normal for this mic.

    My set was very well received which felt really wonderful and made me feel so glad I decided to do this.  Feeling welcomed like I was helps me do my best.  I've done okay in less friendly environments, but it's just less joyous an experience for me.

     A female comic got up there talking about how she and her friends share how big their boyfriends' dicks are.  Then she admitted that she prefers them medium-sized.  Reflexively, my head spun around and the host that I had that earlier conversation with was diagonally across the room.  He looked at me too, we both pointed to each other, and had to laugh.


    In one night, two women may have changed his world.  Yes, worlds change when women are heard. 


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  7. The summer so far has had some good stuff, some new things, and some odd happenings. 

    I was in two short plays written by teenage playwrights.  In one, I was the main character and had to play a Dominican woman in her late thirties.  It was a new challenge to play a different ethnicity and flattering to pass for late thirties.  I enjoyed the people I worked with.  A friend and co-worker at my regular job helped me with the two Spanish sentences that were in the script.  My character had an anger problem and kept getting fired from jobs and blamed it on being Hispanic (even when her boss was Hispanic).  The best part was the director loved all the faces I tend to make and didn't want anyone in the audience to not be able to see my expressions.  What I find remarkable is those are the same faces that typically have gotten me in trouble at jobs and in almost-fights with people since junior high school.  The acting world loves my expressions and doesn't want me to
    hold back.  In so many ways, it is truly where I belong (though not the only place).  The writer of the play, Kari Luna, came to both performances, and she loved it both times.  She was super happy with the results, and her joy seemed to compound my joy.  She is sixteen and already writing so well.  I have to say her play was very well cast and directed.  Yet another great part was a friend and co-worker who is also a playwright came to see the plays.  I didn't know he was in the audience until afterwards when he came over to me.  I was so thrilled and surprised to see him, I threw myself into a big strong hug.  Delish.  The cherry on the cake (or the hash sprinkled on the weed) was that each person who runs the theatre company came over to let me know what a great job I did as "Carmen." 

    I really want to be able to dedicate more of my time to that path, but in a few weeks, the jobs get demanding again and I will also be glad to receive the second job money again as I have some catching up to do with bills that I fell behind on as I do most summers. 

    I also have connected with a group of playwrights that meets weekly.  I attend as an actress and, along with others, do cold readings of their writing.  Some of the playwrights are quite professional and have had plays produced.  I felt very welcomed.  And that's another thing I will only be able to do when on breaks from the evening job.  Grrrrr. 

    A man I met and I were having a conversation that he interrupted to tell me I must've once been a real looker.  I said that I notice his emphasis on the past tense.  Then he said, "Even now you are a handsome woman."  I felt like twirling my mustache hairs, but I just adjusted my balls. 
     

    The poetry workshop I attend when I can keeps me writing poetry.  In recent times, my poems have gotten more laughs than my comedy.  It's a different scene.  Those listening do not expect funny.  So when it is funny, they are really laughing hard.  I have featured in a couple of poetry readings.  I have to say that doing stand-up makes everything else I do seem easier than how I used to experience it. 

    I managed to get to several open mics to work on my comedy, met some more comics I enjoyed hearing working on their stuff, and I was pleased with my performance in a show. 

    I have another photo shoot coming up (free!), and I'm hoping to make this one different than the previous ones.  More daring.

     
     
     
    I figured out a sexual orientation status for me for now:  I think I'm a celibate, virgin lesbian with an occasional taste for men.  I get flirted with by everyone, have sex with no one, and piss everyone off.  All in a day's work. 
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