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  1. Small Victories

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015

    By Friday, I felt so exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home after work, pour myself some wine, and just be. I loved my plans to have no plans. I needed the freedom to fall asleep if my eyes started closing. I was not up for dealing with one more thing.

    I work in a program housed on a college campus. So I pretty much spend the day in an environment largely free of sexual harassment. I can actually go through a day there without thinking about my gender except for which bathroom I use. Time like that is good for the soul.

    I was about two blocks from home and the small two-way street was further narrowed by some construction going on. Additionally, a car was double-parked, cars behind were honking, and I was expecting one to come shooting into the wrong-way lane to get out of there.

    I stepped as far back as possible and was against the construction blockades, giving the cars all the room possible. Another pedestrian was near, and, without paying attention to the traffic, he offered for me to pass him by. My eyes opened wide at the car behind him that did shoot out into the wrong-way lane, and I shook my head no. His attention was still on me and not the traffic. Then he said something about my eyes, and I actually felt a real sense of disappointment as I felt my status go from person to something decorative.  I passed him by, and he made more attempts to get my attention in that way. He originally had my attention when I tried to alert him to the traffic, but he wanted a different kind of attention. He pursued, “God bless them” (referring to my eyes), and “Did you hear me? Did you hear me?” He originally was going in the direction I was coming from, but now his voice sounded like he decided to follow me. 

    It is my neighborhood, I work two jobs to survive, I am tired, and I don’t want to feel intimidated on my way home from work. In a very real tone of voice, and without turning around, I said, “Please don’t talk to me like you know me.” To my great surprise, he said, “I’m sorry.” I nodded and, to keep the peace, said, “Thank you.” He couldn’t leave it like that.

    “I’d like to know you.”

    “Thank you.”

    I walked home without the feeling that he was still around. However, when I arrived to the front of my building, I turned around and looked before unlocking the lobby door.

    Maybe he heard my age in my voice and realized I’m older than he may have originally thought. Maybe he heard my sick and tiredness of it all – of being objectified, infantilized, belittled, reduced. Maybe I really have guardian angels and am cloaked with a special kind of protection. Whatever it was, it felt empowering to have words, to be able to just express what I had to say without yelling or using rude language, and for it to be respected (as much as was possible for him).


  2. A Week In A Virgin By Rhonda Hansome

    Saturday, November 21, 2015

    A Week In A Virgin!

    An audition for heart failure medicine, a talk with TV mogul Shonda Rhimes, an HB Studios reading of an original play I may soon direct, and a family funeral were all eclipsed by the Yonkers Comedy Festival.

    Months earlier in conversation, Jocelyn Chia and Pauline Herveau mentioned a festival North of Manhattan. Eventually I surfed the Comedy Soapbox Festival Page and noticed an open submission deadline. But do I really want to register?

    I'm a Bronx resident, proximity is a plus. 
    The NoMa Comedy social media buzz is exciting. 
    It's a lottery-I don't gamble. 
    It's a contest-I'm not competitive. 
    Today's comedy scene doesn't give AF for my "old school" TV credits:
    Caroline's Comedy Hour, Arsenio Hall Show, Stand-Up Spotlight, Joan Rivers Show, Evening At The Impov and Showtime At The Apollo. I had clocked HOURS of network talk show spots while Comedy Central was still called Ha! 

    To break up my current string of sporadic late-night comedy club spots, dismal open mics, and non-paying benefits for victims of feline aids, I registered. A few weeks later I got an email that began exactly like 3 previous festival rejections: 

    Thank you so much for your submission to the first ever Yonkers Comedy Festival!

    We had more submissions than we imagined and were overwhelmed with the amount of enthusiasm for the festival. After extensive reviews of our submissions, 
    So here comes the big kiss off...
    we have decided to accept you into the festival. Say what???
    We would like to offer you our congratulations and welcome you to a very exciting event!

    Whoohoo! Yonkers Comedy Festival, Here I come!

    The kick-off at Rory Dolans was an appetizer laden 
    schmooze-athon / photo opp,


    preceding a record breaking event: the most comics telling one joke each during a 90 minute period. A room full of comics can go either way, this night was an occupational pleasure. 

    Maryelle Turner MC'd our comedy cavalcade. I followed Hector Louis and Mike Celona to do my bit for the record setting challenge. I left the stage and bumped into my long time pal, Jeffrey Gurian. Fun with friends AND free appetizers too? 
    Not bad for a 1st time Festival!  

    The next night I walked into La Lanterna, where the narrow bar area is jammed with a dozen comics waiting for the contest to begin. I explored the venue and found a well placed portable stage and sturdy looking microphone ready for the comedy competition to ensue. I was buoyed by the crowd enjoying dinner in the cozy dining room. I returned to the bar area and waited. 

    When will the competition begin?

    By the time our lovely and affable MC

    stepped on stage tables were being cleared. To my experienced eye, this festival contest was in the check spot, industry talk for a legendary black hole on stage.

    Forget having the spotlight or the mic. 

    Nothing can compete with the action in the house, as servers criss-cross a room dropping the bill on each table. Chrissie did everything short of hurling herself across the stage (which she actually did the night before!) to wrangle the attention of the post dinner audience examining their receipts like they were at an IRS audit. 

    Ken Perlstein was first up and worked his set like a pro. What's worse than having the opening set in a cold room?  Being called back on stage so judges can rip you a new asshole in front of the audience voting for you. Ken took it like a man, but every comic in the room knew the jab of comedy's fickle finger of fate.

    I was 4th in the line-up and decided nothing, including the dwindling audience, would keep me from having a good time on stage. Hot damn, my Jedi mind trick worked. The audience was with me and laughed in all the right places through my set. After all the applause, a voice from the dark balcony on my right declared,

    "Your energy is too high."

    WTF?? This is why I need Al Sharpton on speed dial. Not content with solidly landing his right punch, the judge went for a knock-out"Are you like that in real life?"  "Uh huh", I nodded in stunned assent. The complimentary comments from 2 other judges and acclaim from fellow contestants barely registered as I replayed the 1st judge's deft dismissal of my set.

    I couldn't possibly win the contest thanks to judge #1, but the audience was instructed to vote for 3 comics; since they had enjoyed my set, I had a chance at the bottom 2. 

    Not so fast, Missy! Didn't anyone tell you it's "Winner Take All"?
    $100.00 cash 
    spot at Comedy at Stonewall 
    An audition spot at the Comic Strip 
    2 guest spots at Stand Up NY

    All go to 1 person
    The Very Funny Dan Lamorte

    One winner, no show, no place; I wasn't even an also ran. Back to the drawing board with one more show to go.

    A week before friends who'd received my festival promos, said they would NOT come to see me in a "Heckler Show." I was so excited about being accepted in the festival I hadn't even thought about the format; until the morning of the show. Driving from Bronx to Staten Island for a family funeral gave me plenty of time to think.

    What is the concept of a "Heckler Show"? I'd cut my teeth in the original rooms of Catch A Rising Star, Improv and Stand Up NY, where the show was on the stage. Hecklers need not even try. They were dealt with swiftly from the stage, or politely escorted out. Now the audience is urged to disparage comics' hard work?

    At the funeral I offered comfort to cousin Steven's mourning wife and children. I felt guilty not attending the repast but I had to do a "Heckler Show" in the Yonkers Comedy Festival.

    I climbed the stairs at Dou's Lounge and was greeted with, "Mandatory paid coat check." I ignored her request and was pleased to see Debbie Bazza at the door until she asked me if I was there to see the show or if I was on it. I lost it. And Debbie got the brunt of my frustration. 

    "Why am I here? Did I ignore my mourning family to be insulted by drunks?" 
    I was almost off the rails when the MC  
    calmed me down and helped me feel like a human being.
    In spite of their multi-tasks abounding, both JC and  (festival co-producer) Frank Pellegrino were understanding and solicitous of my issues. I was grateful.

    So I watched the"Heckler Show" from the sideline. Even though I actually laughed a couple of times, I'm too old school to sanction audience abuse of my comrades.

    Driving home after my week in a virgin comedy festival, a cliche rang all too true.

    "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

    Kudos and thanks to the Yonkers Comedy Festival sponsors, producers, organizers and all my fellow comics for an extraordinary and strengthening experience.

    Rhonda Hansome is a writer, actress, director who does storytelling and stand up.

    Hello Tuesday Readers,
    I didn't finish my latest blog in time, so I thought it could be fun to go back to the first one from August 2012 when comedian Joanne Filan asked me to guest blog while she was on vacation.
    "My Penis-Free Era" turned out to be part one of three.


  4. #TBT Nov. 2015 By Rhonda Hansome

    Thursday, November 12, 2015

    I was paragraphs deep when I realized I was writing a Throw Back Thursday (#TBT) blog in reply to a face book question.

    My gorgeous pal, actress/comedian/producer,  

                                 Nicky Sunshine

    asked, "Have you ever been so late to work you think, Hmmm, maybe I should just go home"?

    Why, yes, I thought. And here is what I wrote...

    One afternoon I went to pick up my new car from the dealer.
     I had to open for Tony Orlando at Westbury Music Fair later that night. 
    At the dealership they sent me from one office to another, from one pile of papers to sign to another. "No, I don't want 'invisible ' under-siding!" All the time the clock ticking away. 
    Hours later I drove my new car right into NYC rush hour traffic.

    With my 7 year old son in tow in that pre-cell phone / pre-GPS era. I got lost. Had to stop for directions twice & wished I had never decided to pick up my car on the same day I had a major gig. 

    When I finally got to Westbury late & sweaty with my kid, I couldn't find the artists' back stage entrance. It was past showtime when I finally got to the correct door, but they wouldn't let me in. 
    My 7 year old son started crying & demanding I be allowed to do my comedy. 

    When my son had to pee, we were finally led to my dressing room, where I made calls to my agent, manager & God Almighty. At some point way past showtime, a PA advised me that Tony Orlando was going to explain to the crowd why I was late.

    He did & gave me a fabulous introduction. I've loved him forever for not only allowing me to go on and have a great set on that fantastic stage, but he was MY OPENING ACT. I hate being late!

    Rhonda Hansome is an actress, director & storyteller who does stand-up. See her calendar here!
    Please Note, tonight's (Thursday Nov. 12, 2015) Funny Over 40 show at Broadway Comedy Club, was canceled until further notice after the holidays.

  5. Newsworthy?!

    Tuesday, November 10, 2015

         I woke up Monday morning to a world where starvation occurs, where so many are a fire away from homelessness and others are already there, where babies are not safe even with some parents, where corporations poison our soil and water and want laws making it illegal to let us know what’s in our food, where females are sold into sexual slavery daily, but the news being spoken of is how a coffee shop hates Jesus, according to some Christians, because they didn’t decorate their paper cups with Christmas trees. They made the cups red but no candy canes or any such symbols. It was called a war on Christmas. This is truly insane. I believe even Jesus would find it hard to have patience with such assholery. Maybe he'd be able to still love the asshole but not the assholery.
    There are moments I want to scream (to show them how they act) and insist that there’s been a war on Hanukkah and Eid for so long (even my computer doesn’t recognize Eid and has underlined it in red), therefore, those in power must hate Abraham and Moses and Allah.
    The problem with that is so many would not recognize their own behavior. They would only see what’s wrong with mine. It would be missing the connection, the Golden Rule. If it isn’t right for me to carry on like that, then it isn’t right for anyone to carry on that way. I can’t get over that this makes television news.
    Religious freedom* means you can practice or not practice your religion (or even change your religion), and you are not supposed to be jailed or murdered for that. It does NOT mean you should try to make everyone practice your religion. That is not freedom. That is not the United States of America, land of the free. That is not the aim of the country my grandfather served.
    If I wish you a nice and safe holiday, it doesn’t mean I want you to have an un-merry Christmas or anything at all negative. I don’t think when people tell me “Merry Christmas” that they are killing Hanukkah or Three Kings Day or Eid. I just think they haven’t yet stretched their minds to imagine that not everyone lives as they do.
    From whatever I’ve learned about the man we call Jesus, I really think he’d be so much more concerned with how many aren’t being fed than with the people in the USA buying and drinking overpriced coffee out of cups without Santas on them.








    *Freedom of religion or freedom of belief is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any religion.[1] The freedom to leave or discontinue membership in a religion or religious group—in religious terms called "apostasy"—is also a fundamental part of religious freedom, covered by Article 18 of United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[2]  Freedom of religion is considered by many people and nations to be a fundamental human right.[3][4] In a country with a state religion, freedom of religion is generally considered to mean that the government permits religious practices of other sects besides the state religion, and does not persecute believers in other faiths.




  6. Yonkers Comedy Festival By Rhonda Hansome

    Thursday, November 5, 2015

    This time last year, my social media news feed overflowed with (fill in the blank) Comedy Festival announcements from colleagues, associates and total strangers.  

    After countless submissions, 
    numerous ($$$$$) registration payments 
    and multiple rejections... 
    I'm in a brand new festival.

     So this month I've been clogging the broadband with notice of the Yonkers Comedy Festival!
                  So what's the problem?

    My beautiful multi-talented long time friend Rashmi, had to admonish me during our way over-due lunch last week. 

    The night before instead of parking 3 blocks from my building in the lot I pay for monthly I parked my car Queenie, in the rare available spot on my street - the easier to get several grocery bags and laundry to my door. The next morning my excitement about driving to meet Rashmi was crushed when I had to clean excrement off Queenie's roof, door and tail. 

    Every time I come to a grudge filled acceptance of my gentrification forced move to the South Bronx, something reminds me why I'd like to leave ASAP. 

                    (Did I mention I'm a highly emotional Cancer zodiac sign?)

    On the verge of tears, I made use of paper towels and Windex in my trunk and drove poor traumatized Queenie to 125th St. 

    I was so upset I knew I needed some real down home comfort food, so we headed to Harlem's historic restaurant.
     Half way through my delicious soul soothing chittlin's - Don't you dare judge me for eating pig's intestines at my own pity party - Rashmi chided me for my skill of putting a beautiful picture in a shitty frame, literally.

    I actually had great stuff going on and good news like: 

    Getting An Agent!!! 

    2 Fabulous Halloween Storytelling Cabaret Gigs!! 
    Getting In The Yonkers Comedy Festival!

    But I had to make Queenie's crappy violation the lead and tone of my conversation with Rashmi.

    I'm so glad she helped me halt my unabashed wallowing in negativity. She shifted my shitty frame out of the way.

    I then had to take a good look and revel in my sweet life, good health and professional achievements; one of which is being in the Yonkers Comedy Festival.

    So come out, come out where ever you are, to Yonkers for yuks!

    Rhonda Hansome is a storyteller, actress, director and stand-up comic and a great big cry-baby. Her calendar is right here.

  7. Exhaling...

    Tuesday, November 3, 2015






    Last week, I shared the audition experience. What I hadn’t mentioned was that the day after, a person on Facebook requested my FB friendship, we have some mutual people, so I accepted. Then I received this:

    “Salutations! Spirit of Great Depth/Mindy Matijasevic: Incredible, incredible! (I refer to that body of photos on facebook). You live, and, are a Lady who has lived. Great depth of spirit is apparent in your persona. I salute you! I wish you continued good fortune in your works and aspirations!”

    In the midst of worrying about medical things, that message made me smile.

    As of yesterday, I hadn’t heard back from those auditioning people, so I figured I was considered but not called in. Well today, I got an email from them asking me to come in again, but this time I’d be reading for the role of a cop. (See where the Bronx accent takes me?)

    I agreed to be there. That’s a week from tomorrow. It’s nice to feel wanted.

    Later today, I got some encouraging medical test results. Wow. My body had been so tense. What a relief for now. (I still must break up totally with Mr. Cigarettes. Addiction, like any bad relationship, is so enslaving.)

    But with the news of the test results, I can much more look forward to the callback audition and everything else. I am so grateful that I have more time to try to make certain important things better (providing I don’t get hit by a truck, randomly shot, or anything like that).

    I just have to say once again, my readers, that I am so fuckin’ relieved!!! And yes, it is time for HAPPY!