Monday, June 23, 2008

A Standup Life

One of the first comedy shows I ever saw was George Carlin at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village in 1972. That show has stayed with me ever since, and surely helped steer me towards a career as a standup comedian. That night was transformational for Carlin as well, since he had recently changed his persona from suit and tie Vegas comic to a bearded T shirt clad counterculture satirist. For two hours, we were in the presence of genius, and the genesis of a comedy revolution.

He was outrageously funny, but what I admired most about Carlin was how prolific he was. 14 HBO specials and hard at work on the next one, he had a work ethic most comedians like myself are unfamiliar with. And his comedy didn't stop evolving in 1972. He kept changing, just as his life changed, just as all good comedians should continue to change. Because Carlin knew, better than anyone, that standup comedy is a work in progress. At 71, most people are either retired or rest on their laurels. Carlin did neither. He was going strong, with a performance schedule comedians like myself envy.

I met Carlin twice. A few years ago, I was opening for Robert Klein at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York. Right before I went on, I was told George Carlin was in the audience, but not to mention it since Robert Klein rightfully wanted to tell the crowd first. As much as I would have loved to tell the crowd and Carlin how highly I regarded him, I obeyed. Of course, the next comic got up and immediately announced, "Hey George Carlin is here!"

The greatest joy and highlight of my career has been the many times I've worked with my comedy idol Robert Klein. And that night was even more special. Jerry Seinfeld, who was the MC at The Comic Strip when I passed auditions there, dropped in to do a set. After the show,standing next to Seinfeld, Klein and Carlin, I turned to Gotham's owner Chris Mazzilli and said, "Wow, can you believe I'm here tonight?"

I told Carlin what a fan I was and his lady friend said how funny she thought I was. I would have loved to hear him say that as well, but that didn't spoil the moment for me. Although I do obsess about it from time to time.

The first time I met Carlin was about two years after that Bitter End performance, at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. I somehow managed to wrangle my way backstage and told Carlin how much I loved his show. He thanked me and said, "Have a nice life".

George Carlin is one of the reasons why I have a standup life.

I don't know if Carlin believed in heaven, but wherever he is right now, I'm sure he's hard at work on a new hour of afterlife material.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mission Accomplished

The New York Times reported that Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company, before Sadaam Hussein nationalized the oil industry, — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.

So this war wasn't about oil? Yeah, right.

Bush and McCain Tank the Environment.
President Bush and John McCain called for an end to the 26 year moratorium on off shore oil drilling. If you destroy our oceans, our fish, and our wildlife, off shore and in the Arctic, no one is going to want to drive there anymore anyway. Not to be outdone, Dick Cheney announced he was in favor of drilling for oil in Guantanemo detainees.

McCain Against The Freedom He Says We're Fighting For In Iraq.
John McCain called the recent Supreme Court decision defending the right of Guantanemo detaines to a fair trial the worst decision ever made in the US. McCain thinks The Bill of Rights was the second worst.

You wouldn't think a guy who was a prisoner of war and a victim of torture, would be against protecting the rights of prisoners of war, and recently voted in favor of the use of torture. And McCain keeps insisting we will win this war. Unfortunately, as others have noted, the war he seems intent on winning is the Vietnam War. McCain thinks The Surge should include sending troops to Saigon.

McCain derides Obama for wanting to talk to our enemies. As if talking is some wimpy, weak form of behavior. This from a guy who answered a question about whether he would bomb Iran, by singing in his worst Beach Boys impression, "Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran."

McCain's twisted version of that song is topping the charts in Israel right now. The Israel military conducted exercises that supposedly are preparations for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Which is a frighteningly stupid idea to everyone except Presidential candidates who sing, "Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran".

Fire Bush, not Willie Randolph.
The mainstream media, and most Democrats,viewed Dennis Kucinich's impeachment resolution as the work of some crackpot not to be taken seriously, instead of the utterly rational, reasonable proposal it is. The shabbily handled firing of Mets manager Willie Randolph got front page coverage, while the issue of firing a President and a war criminal got hardly any coverage at all. Democrats said that now was not the time to impeach Bush. When is a good time? When he's out of office?