Gën’s Bootie Earthquake Show @ The Pack Theatre, Hollywood; October 4, 2019

Alternate characters have been in vogue ever since Groucho Marx slapped on a greasepaint mustache as his dancing eyebrows read the lines given to him by S.J. Perelman and George S. Kaufman. 

Mainly a male dominated comedy genre, the explorers of slightly altered reality comedy stem from Charlie Chaplin to Pee Wee Herman to Borat. Way beyond “doing a sketch”, these are actors who happen to be comedians, and who bring to life their Frankenstein-esque characters, and who then completely inhabit the character, to the point where one actually forgets which direction comedy gravity is initially coming from.  Few woman comedy performers even attempt the genre of character bending, perhaps dating back to when they were first warned off during the Shakespeare era as even the female characters were then played by male actors. Lily Tomlin, famous for her bevvy of disparate comedic characters, from little girl Edith Ann to one-ringy-dingy telephone operator Ernestine, always let us know she knew where the stage exit was.  And in this era of doing a character “based on yourself” (i.e., your so-called “real life”), such as Amy Schumer in Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck, as well as Maria Bamford’s on-stage stand-up character, self-deprecation for women by way of self-satire has come to mean empowerment for women performers; now more than ever.  

Samantha Jane, an Uta Hagen and UCB Improv in New York trained actress and improv artist, in her new alt-Euro-trash-disco-queen character, Gën, takes us underground into a basement club smack in the middle of the worst part of Berlin.  And, yet, all I had to do was find parking on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood to experience it, which by the way, was only slightly easier than climbing over the Berlin Wall circa 1962.

I realized I was witnessing nothing short of a sample of a comedic cultural phenomenon, set against the politically apocalyptic times we live in. 

At the packed house at The Pack Theatre in The Complex, the show opens with european disco power pop, led down the rabbit hole by a dude base player and a keyboard guy, as “played by” Brandon Beck and Michael Chap Resnik.  Sam as “Gën” enters and is speaking with an Eastern European accent so thick, you might think you accidentally walked into Sam’s Hofbrau. Her character tells us the most important information up front: where the bathrooms are. She’s from Slovenia and in fact, references our main and perhaps only modern day Slovanian reference point.  

“The first lady of entire country usa is from Slovenia.  I am here to become first lady of pop music.” 

She reminds us how she only just learned about an American tradition they don’t have in her country.  Halloween. Which is interesting because the entire show we’re about to experience is one big spookily weird candy to the audience party; and to point out, to my astonishment, the audience present absolutely ate it up like they were enthusiastic terminally ill diabetics.  Many costume changes for Gën between the guest acts and that becomes a big part of the expectation.  What’s she gonna wear next. She and her backup dancers/singers (Elisa Ellis and Catherine Durickas) wear costumes entirely consumed and made up from the most profane illicit illegal iconic materials: plastic straws.   The backup chicks wearing stupid sparkle cat ears, alternating pink top/black top/black shorts/pink shorts. They sing a song with the chorus “If You Are Fast”.

A “Fishnet accident”

There’s lots of dancing and disco lights and interesting guest acts.  J. Elija Cho who sings a song about “booty earthquakes”, a “song about Adam Levine, in the style of Adam Levine, about Adam Levine.” Song’s chorus is a list of places where he had sex in the apartment. “You don’t want to be my roommate cause I’ll have sex on everything in the apartment”; everyone clapped to chorus.  Gën returns, costume change, wearing a Halloween skull around her waist “trick or treat skirt…mostly trick”; then sends her pretty minions like flying monkeys out into the audience to feed us with sweet snacks.  (My delight of awkwardly trying to pull off a candy attached to one of their skirts was the closest I’ve come to sexual intercourse since the iPhone 7 was launched.)  Next act was introduced as “Group of ladies and yet still funny”  The Baegency (not a typo), who were three actresses doing a sketch about being home-bound, where they awkwardly go into a rap about being “a subscriber”, meaning they/she orders all kinds of stuff that gets delivered, so they never have to leave the house.  Very awkward comedy timing in this particularly seemingly unrehearsed sketch as if they weren’t sure of their lines or stage cues. However. The “Gënius” of It’s Gën’s Bootie Earthquake Show is that just for the briefest moments, you do think maybe this is all part of a put on, so who am I to make audience judgements.  Besides, I was still internally basking in the fact that I found a decent parking space. 

We get a “message” from backstage than Gën was caught up in a “fishnet accident”, so she’s gonna intro the next act.  “The Good Boy of Comedy”, Comedian Eric Jennifer (Hal Rudnick). “Good job, what’s your name” is his repeated over and over again until your eyes bleed catchphrase.  Asks if there are any licensed drivers in the audience. “Make some noise if you are over 40 and still live at home” “Make some noise if you have to clip your mom’s toenails.”  This guy is incredibly annoying and it wasn’t until I remembered what show I was watching that I started to enjoy myself as an audience member again, catching up with the rest of the crowd roaring with knowing inside laughter. 

It’s Gën’s Bootie Earthquake Show is for the Informed Insider!  Don’t dismay!  We’re all stupid at first!  

But my favorite part of the show was sheer theatrical brilliance.  Gën on video herself, supposedly from backstage, but we all know secretly prerecorded, who tells us two important things.  One, “there’s a scary man from ISIS” AND then introduces “El Hefe” which is a double act of her and Aaron Abeyta, harmonizing a very touching and funny duet with throwaway reveal lines:  “You’re the only one in my life that’s a bigger mess than me.” and “Everyone would see how much I suck were it not for you.

Gën and girls come back.  Now the girls are wearing see through tops.  Brings out DJ Pigeon head, a guy in a giant pigeon head.  Now song about earthquakes, like when the earth is haunted. Heavy house beat. Bootie Earthquake. 

Like dining in a bad restaurant that doubles as an S&M club, Everything’s a gag.

Overall, with the handful of squeaky noises coming from clear live mistakes, Gën’s Bootie Earthquake Show is a real trip down pastiche lane, genre bending, sexually provocative, and mostly amusing piss-take on not just an arcane branch of European entertainment tradition, but in fact an unwitting satire on American culture, because after all, it is we who get the inside joke and what frightens us the most is the premise may be born outta Samantha Jane’s imaginative head, but the punchline is ultimately, us.

Marcelina Chavira made the costumes, Ben Kuershner helped produce and this guy did set decoration: Jeremy Wojchihosky.

I got a chance to catch up with theatrically trained creator of Gën, Samantha Jane, and threw her a few questions: 

LARF: What and/or who is the inspiration for the Gën character? 

SAMANTHA: Gën was born after I went wig shopping with my friend Meaghan in Florida around 2009. I tried on that same black asymmetrical wig (yes it is very old and starting to go bald now) and she said “you look like one of those trendy Slavic girls” and I instantly did the voice. On the way home I was pestering my mother in the car by doing endless bits in character, which I’ve done my whole life, and I came up with the song title “if you want to dance dance, and if you want to don’t don’t. Because it’s like America freedom you know?” When I got back to nyc, my wheels began turning and she began to have a life of her own. She was also partly based on these two gay polish boys I worked with at the now defunct Williamsburg Cafe in Brooklyn. They wore a ton of neon and one day showed me a million blurry photos of Britney Spears bc they saw her somewhere and were the most excited to barely see person in a crowd that I have ever seen two people be. Their infectiously happy energy and love for New York City and America was a big inspiration.

LARF: How much of the character is a deep reflection of yourself and how much is opposite of you? 

SAMANTHA: I sometimes say that Gën is like Borat, except I don’t hate people. I never want to make anyone else uncomfortable or make anyone else the butt of my jokes, it’s always me. She’s always Gënuinely happy, like the part of me that would dress up in glitter and dance around like a pop star when I was a little girl – no ego, no complicated sex stuff, just pure fun. I’m much more jaded, bitter and sarcastic in my real life, but she’s the  deep inner child inside me that’s still endlessly hopefully and just wants to play. Beyoncé has her onstage alter ego Sasha Fierce, and Gën is like my Sasha Farts. When I put her on, the most pure and funny parts of me come out to play.

LARF: Is the show a straight pastiche of the “Eurovision” Gënre or a satire of it?

SAMANTHA: I definitely watched a bunch of Slovenia’s best-of in Eurovision as inspiration for the show. Also Aqua. I showed my collaborators as well, but then we took the idea and ran with it and made it our own. It’s more of an inspiration point than something we’re trying to satire in a real way.

LARF: How does Gën and her backup dancer/singers’ costumes and “Playboy bunny/1960’s airline stewardess” free sexuality square with the #MeToo Movement? 

Samantha Jane takes a break from the Gen character to be herself.

SAMANTHA: Not totally sure exactly what this is asking? But, one thing I talked about with someone is that Gën wearing ‘Bootie shorts’ and talking about booties all the time is like 10 year old girls grinding to Miley Cyrus- it’s about the fun of it, not about sex or “the male gaze.” Sometimes girls want to wear tight pink sexy things because it’s fun. We used to blame girls for being sexy “Lolitas” but hopefully now we are woke enough to realize that Nabokov was just a very eloquent pedophile. Little girls aren’t being sexy to attract actually sexual attention, it’s because sexy clothes and bodies can be fun. It’s playing dress up. Drag queens have always understood this, and more men are finally getting it now that Gënderbending/Gënderqueer stuff is becoming more normalized. Wearing sexy things isn’t always about “sex.” Are we supposed to wear full nun habits or burkas to make sure men aren’t tempted by our bodies?? I hope as a culture we’re moving past shaming women for “dressing like they’re asking for it” and towards holding men accountable for their thoughts and actions.

LARF: How much of what the audience sees a purposeful “bad” or awkward performance (including the acts) and how much is straightforward pure entertainment? You know what I mean? By “bad” I mean antiquated, out of place within (or actually without) the “times” we live in. Nothing related to talent or executions. 

SAMANTHA: There’s definitely a bit of “bad on purpose” in my show. Gën is an amateur, poor pop star doing what she can on a shoestring budget with no help. I also embrace a lot of improv in my shows, so having it be ‘imperfect’ aesthetically can help that blend in seamlessly.  A lot of my bits with my dancers are written backstage. But some things, like not being able to hear my DJ’s lines through the pigeon mask he chose to wear and we never rehearsed in, are completely unplanned bits of chaos that become beautiful gifts if you can roll with them. One person told me that was their favorite “bit” of the show, which is amazing because it was absolutely not written or planned but they couldn’t even tell. I often try to look at Comedy though the philosophy of wabi sabi, where they gild the cracks in pottery: sometimes the imperfections are what make something even more beautiful and unique. If you can fully integrate “mistakes” into what you do, then do you ever really make them? I’m cheating the system hahaha.

Gën’s Bootie Earthquake Show has its own built in audience of weirdos and know it alls and sitting in the back of the theatre, typing notes and remembering observations, I realized I was witnessing nothing short of a sample of a comedic cultural phenomenon, set against the politically apocalyptic times we live in. 

For Larf Magazine, 

This is Steven Alan Green, Oct. 21, 2019

 

The talent of full on participation and simultaneous keen observation is what makes a true artist and Jack Zullo is the best of the best.

Theatre Preview:In Jack Zullo’s reprogramed original piece “With a Little Help…It’s John Belushi!” a very important question is asked of us the audience.  Why does the world tend to remember great artists more for how they died than what they accomplished and how they actually lived?

Whether it’s Vincent Van Gogh or Chuck Berry, of course we forever see those glorious swirling countrysides or still tap our feet to the impenetrable sounds of primitive 1950’s Rock n Roll.  But for certain artists in the entertainment field, whether it’s Marylyn Monroe or Kurt Cobain, there always has to be a tinge of their demise, an afterlife aftertaste which lingers forever on the tongues of our memories, which cannot help but remind us that life and creation itself is still yet a temporary mortal achievement.  And therefore (as the theory goes) they may be gone, but they become immortal by living through their enduring art.

John Belushi was America’s last true comedy meteor.  Sure, there have been comics who took us on a dangerous joyride of their lives and we all slurped up every bit until when they’re suddenly taken from us, we then mourn their passing like a great childhood memory gone forever; accidentally finding out Santa Claus isn’t real by walking into our parents’ plotting conversation.  Chris Farely, Gilda Radner, and Phil Hartman are just 3 of the 11 SNL cast members gone onto the exclusive club of The Not Ready for Dead Time Players. And all of them are missed and indeed still loved and cherished to this day. However, one SNL alumnus remains the king of all originals who have passed on and that man is and was and still is the late John Belushi.  And yet, he has become somewhat of a sacred comedy cow and his death still overshadows his life, like those frozen in lava stone victims of Pompeii revealing nothing of the great dead city in which they thrived.

 Jack Zullo grew up not just watching, studying and loving John Belushi, but indeed actually being John.  

His college days were filled with party-on philosophy and action and yet, Zullo maintained a keen observational overview that allowed him to study very carefully what in fact made the late John Belushi so beloved to begin with. John’s unabashed never quenched thirst for life.  And by life, we’re talking partying and making comedy. Of equal value. Sure, many other comedians have had their party days, but Belushi was equally as defined by his drinking and drugging as he was by his comedy. And that’s what made him even more compelling to watch. Because you just never knew when it was his final performance. The talent of full on participation and simultaneous keen observation is what makes a true artist and Jack Zullo is the best of the best.  With his newly revised show review, “With a Little Help…It’s John Belushi!” (a critical 2016 Hollywood Fringe success originally branded “Live From the Grave…It’s John Belushi!”), Jack brings back, in intense and accurate detail, exactly who John was at and on each stage of his early career and therefore what he was as a performer at and on each stage throughout his life.

As we follow the storyline of the little big man from the suburbs of Chicago go from bit player to the biggest comedy star on the planet, we are given a keen insight into precisely what it took and indeed how much Belushi believed in himself and his talents before anyone ever did.  In as much as anyone in showbiz must endure and overcome obstacles to make it, as portrayed, John Belushi walked a very fine line of pissing off his allies and colleagues, which only a true chaotic comedy genius not just could, but would. Like The Marx Brothers showing up at Louie B. Mayer’s MGM offices completely naked to protest censorship or even just for the fun. John Belushi was so confident in himself and his talents, to an almost but not quite, arrogant degree. And even when he was unabashedly arrogant, his charm was always there to rescue and recuse him out of any awkward situation, whether it was convincing his girlfriend Judy with a kiss or displacing friend and life partner Dan Aykroyd’s frustration by simply picking up a harmonica and blowing the shit out of it.  To step on or over anybody to get there, but to not be stepped on himself, as demonstrated when he confronted National Lampoon head Matty Simmons or defied an early Lorne Michaels’ cold indifference, which was bolstered by a tagging along GIlda Radner, by simple persistence. As far as a comedian advocate, John Belushi was the unintentional original. And the comedian he advocated for the most was of course himself.

Jack Zullo takes the mic with all the unabashed authority of the actual late great John Belushi.

The show opens with a raucous top-notch world-class blues band, helmed by Robin Russell and the Crazy Tomes Band, which tells us the audience immediately, this is gonna be a very fun night and indeed it was.  What the show is basically is a switchback template between narrator Zullo/Belushi telling us the audience what was next for him, then cutting to vignette and scene and then back to the center mic for a roaring version of Rubber Biscuit with sideman Dan. The idea here is actually quite unique, and this writer has never seen it anywhere. Jack starts the story at when John discovers his love for comedy and ends it at the height of his career, leaving out the nasty unfortunate stain of John’s tragic and way too soon Hollywood death.

What makes this show fun is that we’re taken along the journey to success from minute detail to minute step up.  From John first going to see Second City and asking his friend Dan to get him an audition, to John making up on his feet he’s part of an improv troupe called The West Compass Players.  He practices his Joe Cocker at home to the behest of Judy who wants him to come to bed.  Joyce Sloan from Second City admonishes him not to steal from their touring show. John is warned not to do “even a whisper of Second City material.”  So there is tension and set up for the underlying drama and when we see John forging ahead no matter what, it’s nothing less than inspirational. Rounding out the cast are a bevvy of wonderful young actors, as well as a few seasoned ones.  I’m not gonna pick and choose who I liked in particular, but if you imagine the creatives behind the scenes such as Tony Hendra, Lorne Michaels, as well as National Lampoon’s Matty Simmons, you get the idea that we’re also on an educational journey that informs the audience, that genius cannot exist with one man alone.  And indeed the show itself is exactly the same.

“I really liked what you did.  you really captured the spirit of the time.  I was there for that…I loved how aggressive you made John on stage.” – Jim Belushi 2016

Context is everything in art and John’s first television appearance is him getting hit with tear gas at the ‘68 Chicago Democratic convention.  CUT TO: Belushi and cohorts doing one of their classic Second City sketches mocking police intimidation. John walked the walk in life, then talked the talk on stage.  That alone is the textbook definition of journalistic comedy and it should be memorialized, and Zullo does just that. John Belushi was no Bluto. He was a very smart political satirist who actually put his life at risk in real life and dealt with things through his comedy art.

My only criticism is that the performance I saw was somewhat on the fly in the sense you got the feeling not all had enough rehearsal.  There were moments when the stage was a frozen tableau, the actors looking at one another like WTF! Very briefly, then broken by the missed offstage line or actor entrance or lighting cue.  Having said that, that’s when Jack the man behind it all demonstrated leadership and whipped them snow doggies back into action.  In fact, I have inside info they are working those creases out by the second and final preview.

The legendary Guitar Shorty joins the post show jam!

“With a Little Help…It’s John Belushi!” lands smack in the middle of Hollywood history, as it prepares its ultimate journey to the Belushi Valhalla known as Theatre 80 in New York City this December, where it will be directed by Levy Lee Simon with a mainly new cast.  This show remembers the great John Belushi for his lust for life, not his playing with the devil which ultimately lead to his early death. And that alone makes “With a Little Help…It’s John Belushi!” as entertaining and daring as the man himself.

Only one more LA preview!  October 2 @ The Whitefire Theatre

LA Cast members include: Jack Zullo as Belushi, Keith Saltojanes as Danny, Stephanie LeHane as Gilda, Joya Mia Italiano as Eugenie, Samantha Jane as Billie, Christopher DeMaci as Tino and Del Close, Carly Hatter as Judy, Kennan McCarthy as Lorne, Steve Whittle as Brian, Riley Schuett as Harold, Louie Mandrapilias as Bernie, Chad Little as Matty, Mark Towns as Dan Payne and Tony, Adam Lau as Steve and Christopher, Bryce David Harrison as Phil and Chevy, Chrisi Talyn Saje as Joyce, Ray Chao as Joe, Jeremiah Benjamin as Jim Fisher.

LA staging, documentor and director Eric Michael Kochmer, Lindsay Castillo-Dilyou Stage Manager, Rehearsal Tech and Show, Rachael Stein Stage Manager, Tech and Show.

For tickets and more info on the LA previews and the New York December run at Theatre 80.

For Larf Magazine, this is Steven Alan Green 9/27/19

 

 

 

 

 

Framing Steven Briggs’ Web Comedies

If you follow comedians on social media like I do, it’s always a pleasant surprise when you feel like you’ve discovered someone new. 

That’s part of the fun, isn’t it?  Not just clicking on the latest 5 minute clip from Anthony Jeselnik.  But in fact finding someone new.  Award winning comedian Steven Briggs is “new”, though he’s been at it for a short while and is making incredible strides.  I, for one, am a fan.

His short-form videos are non-consecutive, non-linier, and non-unfunny.  Very well structured stories which always have a satisfying payoff, Briggs brings his own terribly unique outlook and embodies sort of a random universal element to all his, for lack of a better term: short comedy films.

Larf Magazine caught up with Briggs on the set of his latest film venture:

LARF: What inspired you to put so much craft and effort into what essentially is an episodic web-series?

BRIGGS: I wouldn’t call it a episodic web series because most of them don’t connect with each other. I would call it sketch comedy. I started out writing short sketches and then accumulated a bunch to where I wanted to see them made. I didn’t know how to get them made so I invested in a camera, editing software and taught myself how to make them. The goal was to eventually get them to come out the way I saw them in my imagination.

“John leguizamo is one of my biggest influences.”

LARF: Are you tracking the numbers? How are they?

BRIGGS: Yes, it’s weird. Some that I think will do nothing end up doing the biggest numbers.

LARF: How many episodes have you produced and how many more are you planning?

BRIGGS: I’ve lost count now but it’s over 100 sketches. I plan to keep on doing them because for me it’s a very satisfying creative freedom. Also it’s a great excuse to get together with friends and play around.

LARF: How long does it take from concept to finished product?

BRIGGS: That really depends. For example I wrote a sketch that required a horse and buggy. That took me months to find.

LARF: What kind of team do you have?

BRIGGS: At first it was just me. As the sketches started getting better I got some really talented people that wanted to help.

LARF: Where are you originally from and what brought you out to Hollywood?

BRIGGS: Originally born in New York. Landed in Hollywood on accident.

LARF: You recently won some kind of stand-up award?

BRIGGS: The presidential comedy festival. That was a incredible experience. Ryan Schendzielos put together an amazing festival and I would recommend it to anyone.

LARF: What do you ultimately want to get out of the videos? For example, would you like to direct a feature film one day? Or are you “selling” you as a comedy actor?

BRIGGS: I love writing. Currently I am working on finishing up my 5th pilot. Through making these videos though I have had to work every position on a film set and directing is a lot of fun as well and would like to do that for a feature some day.

LARF: How would you describe your character in the films? He seems to be hapless and yet likeable.

BRIGGS: A lot of my characters are like that. I like to find problems and work my way through them with the character in a unconventional way.

LARF: Who are your filmmaking and comedy influences?

BRIGGS: John leguizamo is one of my biggest influences. I grew watching John and have seen all of his one man shows and read his books. I love how he created something for himself and still continues to do it.

LARF: How are you finding being a stand-up on the LA circuit?

BRIGGS: I like it a lot. It’s very diverse and constantly keeps me motivated.

LARF: What’s next for you?

BRIGGS: I am going to continue producing the sketches but am also going to start producing some bigger projects. I am already in pre-production for one that I am very excited about.

For more info on comedian/filmmaker Steven Briggs, as well as performance dates, visit his website.

SAG 6/26/19

 

 

Miss America’s Ugly Daughter – Bess Myerson & Me – A LARF MAGAZINE THEATRE REVIEW

If there’s one truth in this town, it’s that nearly everyone lives in a bubble.   The ones that don’t, always pay a high price of admission.

Barra Grant is the daughter of the late Bess Myerson, who rose to fame in 1945 as Miss America, the first Jewish American to do so. She then led a glamorous life in the spotlight as a regular panelist on the all important game shows of the time, including I’ve Got a Secret and served as a presidential advisor and even ran a failed senatorial campaign. Miss America 1945 (maybe not so coincidentally The Allies defeated Nazi Germany same year) was definitely big stuff back then, who eventually would be arrested for petty shoplifting, permanently disgracing her perfect Americana image, leading her to chase after men with money and forever live in a bubble even and especially to and over her only daughter. It is the daughter, Barra, the star of this show, who tells the tale of having to grow up under such Crawford-like dictatorship, and I don’t mean, Broderick or Cindy. Let’s put it this way. According to the daughter, Bess Myerson is to motherhood what Charles Manson is to social etiquette. And, Barra, the lonely daughter, was her ottoman for her to rest her tired stinky famous feet.

The wonderful Monica Piper plays “Mom” Bess Myerson via a backstage mic, “calling on the phone”.

The show is set in Barra’s apartment in L.A. The lights come up and we see a royal throne center stage with a king or queen’s robe casually laying over it. It’s never addressed until the end when our star sits in it, wrapping up her final thoughts; the rest of the time it’s oddly out of place in a young girl’s apartment. Barra, “the daughter” begins telling us her tale of growing up in the 60’s, accompanied by the requisite video playing in the middle of the set to set the mood of the times. The phone rings. It’s Bess. The mother. Needing to talk with her daughter. To annoy her about something or other or she can’t sleep or she wants to come to LA or she hates the way she looks. It’s all placed on Barra’s shoulders. And to her credit, as a daughter, Barra is amazing. As a daughter. There for her mother at every single random whim. Catering to her. Solving her problems. Calming her nerves. Reassuring her.

Norma Desmond but without the dead monkey.

Besides being the daughter of Bess Myerson, who is Barra? That’s her journey to find out, as she tries the acting thing, which doesn’t work out and finally meets a man and they marry but then he dies. I’m oversimplifying it, but you get the idea. The show is neatly packed, adroitly directed, and commanded by the one and only Bess Myerson’s Ugly Daughter. And by the way. I did kinda feel ripped off. Barra ain’t ugly. Far from it. As if a silent movie star gliding effortlessly through her sorted past, ever seeking light at the end of a tunnel promise of a better future. Cause, after all, that’s what we all really want, isn’t it? To know, that whatever is making our current lives miserable, that there is hope simply because there is tomorrow.

One-person shows put on by children of famous people has become its own genre. I’ve even sort of dabbled with my infamous one-man show I Eat People Like You for Breakfast! – about me and Jerry Lewis, even though Jerry wasn’t my father; it did have a father/son aspect. The template is usually one of two. It’s either the child who just couldn’t live up to their parents’ stellar public image or connect with them in any real meaningful way, or the you may know them as a great artist and entertainer, but they were horrible people in private life. This show is both.   Berra is the little lost child who survived to tell the tale of how she climbed out of the deepest hole in the world created by one of the biggest showbiz beasts of all time, eventually carving out a decent life for herself.

The “phone calls from mother” segments are Neil Simon quality.

This is the classic case of poor little rich girl, and that would’ve worked fine, were it not for the fact that as far as I could see, the central character (the daughter, Barra) couldn’t even exist without the existence of the mother, Bess Myerson. In other words, Bess Myerson’s Ugly Daughter has the propensity to bring us, the viewing observing non-participating audience, directly into the loop created by the daughter, the daughter created by the mother, the end result is, unfortunately, the audience is indirectly abused by Bess Myerson. There is no filter of hope or creativity to shield us from Barra’s extreme long term downgrading of her self-esteem.

More to the point, this show wasn’t contextualized within today’s social standards, specifically the #MeToo Movement, as well as independence from rich needy mom. Barra’s recount of Bess’s into the breach willingness to be abused and used by powerful men, seems to be color blind to the facts of the last 18 months vis a vi the blatant abuse of hard working serious professional actresses by powerful fat and lazy men. Yes, Barra’s story starts in the early/mid-Sixties when she was a budding teenager and yet, she’s telling us the story now. And therefore, unless I missed something, it would be incumbent upon the producers of the show to make sure our trusted on stage narrator (and star), at least squeezes that in. But to my recollection, that’s just not the case. This story is told within a bubble of time, encasing the bubble of Barra’s upbringing.

Ultimately, It’s a Story of Class Dominance

In these hard times for most, it’s hard to care about the princess stuck in the tower. And, even if we did, we need to like the princess first, and that’s where the show lost me. It’s not that I didn’t like Barra or her performance; it’s that it was so real, there was no performance per se and therefore I was detached. It was the story of an actual victim of a terribly abusive famous mother, who flittered from one rich guy to the next, leaving everything in her wake, including and especially her own daughter.

What she lacks in slick presentation, she makes up in authenticity. One has to keep reminding themselves that this is a real story and the person who experienced it is the one standing in front of us telling us the story. That is lost on us because the story itself if so unpredictably bizarre. The humor between the cracks of pain were there, I just didn’t think everyone in the audience that night could contextualize them.   Basically, when a survivor makes funny while they tell you their very painful story, they are signaling that they’re okay and indeed they want you, the audience, to be okay too. I thought many times the show was much funnier than it even knew and certainly funnier than the audience of oldie but goodies did that night. That’s right. I also review the audience I’m surrounded by. 499 people can be wrong. I’ve seen it multiple times in my day.

Barra Grant was not made to be a story-teller. She was cast as the story.

Where the show would’ve been enhanced 10 fold to my liking is if Barra had connected to the audience much more directly and earlier on. In my opinion only, Barra should’ve broken the 4th wall and maybe even done a teeny bit of audience work. It’s adds that extra third dimension we as an audience need to subconsciously know that we’re gonna be okay. That the world is gonna be okay. It’s nothing less than that. Otherwise, a show like this can easily fall into very ugly self-parody. And that nearly happened twice, during the one or two soliloquies, when Barra went downstage, lone spotlight, and sad music playing on cue. I don’t know how to fix that and maybe it’s fine. It’s just this particular night I saw the show, it seemed one inch too close to self-mockery. Like a very bad Star Trek segment.

Leading us on in an entire set piece where the mother (so brilliantly played by Monica Piper via backstage) is the omnipresent dominating force, to the point, where I felt domineered myself and I was just in the audience. “Bess” calls and tells Barra she’s coming out to LA and can she pick her up at the airport. There’s an entire section about this and the next thing I knew, the mother never came to LA. Did I miss something? Maybe. But it was weird.   Bess calls again and again and each time Barra assures us she’s got the trick solution, but it never works. The “phone calls from mother” segments are Neil Simon quality.

#MeToo Be or Not to Be

Barra’s value is authenticity, being the actual daughter of the super famous abusive person. But authenticity isn’t always entertainment. You’ve got to contextualize the times the action took place, and bring it into the present. There’s no question Bess Myerson was nuts. Mentally ill. And Monica Piper’s insistent phone calls as the mother to the daughter was the one basic comedy gag we can all relate to. I can’t relate to growing up under the shadow of a famous parent; I know not many who could, save for my late friend Francesca Hilton, and Kelly Carlin’s, who’s show A Carlin Home Companion I reviewed for this Journal a few years back. What made Kelly’s show work in particular is that her show was all about finding the perfect balance between understanding her father and getting the love from both parents any young teenage girl deserves.   With Bess Myerson’s Ugly Daughter, there is no balance because it’s ostensivevly one-sided and closure to the lifelong ordeal is uncertain. There was never any question as to why her mother was like that and only at the very end, did Barra, finally sitting on the royal throne, have any epiphany whatsoever and by then, for my money it was almost too late.

TMZ Meets Queen Lear

What this show does have in spades are inside flashes to the weird cloistered world of fame and its affects on the family. What I find profoundly absurd is that it seemed as though we were being told a story from start to finish with no creamy filling. There were absolutely no good times to talk about. And the story which was told was, by nature, only one side of that story. The subject of the one person show was not its star Barra, it was Barra’s star, her mother Bess. As told to us by the daughter. What was missing was objective introspection. Not sympathy for the bad guy, but deep clear introspection from the victim

Because, at the end of the day, whether we grow up under a famous parent or not, to be fully human means living a life with the perfect balance of enlightenment and mystery.   Which is almost the textbook definition of charisma.

Sag, March 1, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Comedy Nite Premiers at legendary Hollywood & Cat & Fiddle Pub

This February 25 Los Angeles will see the grande premier of its first official British comedy night, well if you don’t count the losers’ dressing room of The BAFTA’s.  

They say there’s nothing new under the sun.  Well, that’s fine, because there’s almost always something new under the moon when it comes to Los Angeles nite-time entertainment.  Whether it’s a new vegan Aboriginal food truck craze or an app that hooks you up with 27 year old’s who know how to find the coolest hippest yurt raves, LA has always been beyond cutting edge.

Whilst there’s always a new young comedy specimen or a hundred, randomly blowing into town from the mysterious Santa Ana’s, there are always new comedy theme nights popping up to accommodate.  Comedy shows in coffee houses, dive bars, bookstores, laundromats, bus stations, emergency rooms.  Every year, thousands upon thousands of young big dreamy-eye’d comic upstarts, give up the sensible life in Smalltown, USA, say goodbye to Mom and Dad, drive out west, hole up on a couch, grow their beards, tatt up their arms, and work during the day slinging cappuccino for a living so at night, they can refine their unique angst millennial who gives a shit point of view, all in a vague effort to reach for the stars and settle into a comfy life of money, touring and epic film and television careers.  And those are just the lady comics.

So, when someone is trying to do something unique, different, I always wish them well, then place a one-way bus ticket outta town in their breast pocket, and start humming Midnight Train to Georgia.   However, this time, a particular new show caught my eye, which is gonna be at one of the finest eateries and bars in LA, the legendary Cat & Fiddle Pub. In its new location on Highland Avenue, just above Melrose. I’ve got the man behind Bangers & Laughs, here tonight to tell you all about it.  Larf Magazine is very excited to bring him to you. So, it is with great drunken prejudice, that I want to introduce to you an old institution, a comedy legend of sorts, an old geezer for damn sure…

Please welcome, all the way from Putney, Souf London, Nigel Arrisson!

LM:  How are you sir?

NA:  I’m lovely, and you?

LM: Well, frankly you should know how I feel without asking me.

NA: Why’s that then.

LM: Because, in case you’ve forgotten, you are a fictional creation of mine.

NA:  Oh, yes; that’s correct.  So, how can I help?

LM: No, it’s just that I want to help you promote your new comedy night.

NA: Well, I must say, I’m very excited about it frankly.  I’m excited for Steven, first of all.  He’s not been in London in 10 years and he’s missing it so.  He loved it there and they seemed to love him as well.

LM: And, how did you come about?

NA: Well, you see, Steven created me.  A simple canard brought forth by Steven’s impatience with Angelinos.

LM: How do  you mean?

I, Nigel Arrisson from Putney, am the compere, the host if you will. Steven will not be there Monday. I will be.

NA: Well, you must understand; that although Steven was born in New York and grew up in Beverly Hills and Phoenix, and raised and trained as a comedian here in lovely L.A., he didn’t really completely flower as a comic until he went to England.  He stayed there (on and off) for nearly 20 years.  That’s quite amazing when you think about it.  Anyway, while living and working over there, Steven became, how should I put this, he became more than Anglified.  More than just a fan of British culture.  He became part of it and in turn British culture infused in his brain and refused to leave.  That’s how I was born.

LM: Wait a minute.

NA: Take your time.

LM: You’re saying.  No. When I say “you’re”, I mean, you Steven are saying, that…

NA: Let me stop you right there.  For all intents and purposes, Steven Alan Green doesn’t exist.  Nigel Arrisson exists.  In fact, from my particular point of view, Steven Alan Green is a fictional creation of my mind.  True, “Steven” is producing Bangers & Laughs at The Cat & Fiddle Pub in Hollywood, a night of great British and American comedy, set in a British pub and done in full British tradition, but I, Nigel Arrisson from Putney, am the compere, the host if you will. Steven will not be there Monday. I will be.

LM: Well, either way, you have a great line-up.  Matt Kirshen, Cole Parker, JJ Whitehead, Jim Coughlin, and the great Barry Sobel!

NA:  Yes, and we expect to have a dedicated heckler, just to heckle me, mind you, none of the other acts.

LM: Of course.

NA: Plus there will be a joke telling contest.  For a free pint!  It’s only $15 minimum purchase to see the show and with our special $15 Pie and Pint special, you get into the comedy show for free!

LM: What time?  Where?

NA: Monday, this Monday February 25th @ 8:30pm.  The Cat & Fiddle Pub @ 724 North Highland Avenue.  Above Melrose on the east side of Highland.

Cat & Fiddle Pub

Bangers & Laughs Facebook

The Jew’s Leader Admits False Flag Conspiracy Funded by Neo-Nazi’s in Synagogue Shooting

https://goo.gl/images/seix1kNEO-NAZI’S AND JEWS AND THEIR DEEP STATE PARTNERSHIP

Commenting on the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, where 11 people were killed and numerous others severely injured by a mad gunman, Hyrum Moskowitz, the head of the International Jewish Church and Devil Worshiping Fellowship, admitted that it was in fact the Jews who planned  the attack on themselves as a false flag and it was all funded by Nazi money.

We’ve got a problem,a very solemn Moskowitz expounded. “We can talk all we want about our past suffering by Nazi Germany and before that by the Pharaohs of Egypt, but with social media these days, ya really need something special to spark things up every once in a while.”

He went on to explain that the only way to keep Jewish suffering alive is for Jews to suffer and in order for that to be “holy in the eyes of G-D”, there has to be – and I quote: “Social media bloodshed”.     Moskowitz went on to explain about the victims.

Not “real Jews”

“The actual deaths today at the Synagogue were not – how should I put this to be gentle….. They were not ‘real Jews’.”

Immediately pressing him for a clear explanation, he clarified.

“These were worshipers, but they were not devout. Not devout enough.   What a lot of people don’t realize is that the Jewish people keep score on who’s a Jew and how much of a Jew they are. These were so-called ‘Liberal Jews’ who had already offended G-D for not showing up at temple and not keeping a Kosher household. They were expendable.”

Moskowitz further explained that the entire operation was indeed a false flag which was funded by Neo-Nazi groups and with full knowledge and approval of Trump.   The Nazi’s – apparently – fund all sorts of events at the Synagogue, including its annual Purim carnival as well as its “Passover for Pacifists” annual Seder.

Says Moskowitz:

“The Nazi’s are our friends.   Without them we wouldn’t exist and vice versa. We’re one big worldwide community and the Van Nuys Off-Ramps look forward to beating the Glendale Jackboots in the upcoming amateur league baseball tourney.”

 I, for one, will sit that contest out.

For Larf Magazine, this has been Steven Alan Green. Oct. 27, 2018

This article is pure satire meant to highlight the hypoCRAZY of the powers that be and is protected under The First Amendment. 

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America Plans Epic Escape from Earth

https://goo.gl/images/rvNEjfIt has been revealed that President Trump has informed The First Family that the reason for all his multi-billion dollar deals with foreign countries is that he has very inside information that an alien race is offering a few very rich Earthlings safe travel before the impending intergalactic apocalypse in one of their space pods.  Price per ticket?  One trillion dollars.

With one wife and 5 children, that’s a whopping 7 trillion Dollars, if he includes himself.   Assuming he wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about his in-laws, it may be safe to guess Trump would spoil a trill on one or all of his 9 grandchildren.  Either that, or the aliens in question – the Dioximotos of Andromeda – are of the eating children genus; then it could turn out to be another Saudi deal for the great negotiator. Said Trump to our imbedded Larf investigative reporter:

“Look.  The fake news will portray this as me using the world and copping out of my responsibility.  One liberal fake news organization compared my plan to save my family to ‘just another Stormy Daniels’.  The nerve.  I’m gonna outlaw satire.  If I ever get back to Earth; which I won’t, I guarantee you, because it will be destroyed by then.   The Democrats.  They destroyed the Earth.”

For years there were high level rumors that the Secret Government  has been communicating with an alien race who’ve been supplying us with both scientific and what one top brain at MIT called “beyond science devices” which have allowed very successful secret experiments in the massive fields of time travel, sub-nuclear energy, as well as bitching up the food supply with vegan goldfish; the idea being that though they are in fact fish, they are genetically restructured and classified as vegan.

A Real Space Force

https://goo.gl/images/rvNEjf
Canning Mortinger-inger-Clyde-sub-bracket-whoop-whoop!

High Priest & President of the Almighty Dioximotos Union of States Canning Mortinger-inger-Clyde-Sub-Bracket-Whoop-Whoop! said today:

“We come in peace.  But we basically had to Uber to get here and there’s only so much room.”

When asked why an alien would even want Earth-bound currency, which is supposedly useless on other planets, Canning was, well, uncanny:

What we do is once we get the cash, we transfer it to our interstellar accounts and they do the conversion into Cheese Bits, our national currency.  It’s not the same thing .  Cheese.  Cheese means ‘energy’ in Dioximotosian.”

When I pressed further about the nature of the impending world apocalypse, President Mortinger-Inger-Clyde-Sub-Bracket-Whoop-Whoop! said:

“I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you.  It will happen so fast and from my understanding, most Earthlings are religious, especially these days.”

I thanked the alien president.

“My pleasure.  Oh, and, by the way?”

Yes?

“Your president is a moron.”

From the home front, this is Steven Alan Green reporting. 10/23/18

 

Tales from the Traveler – Larf Magazine Interview: Scott Schultz, Creator of BUSted

Scott Schultz is one Bostonian transplant who won’t take sitting in traffic for an answer.

When you think about it, even Paul Revere was a one-horse commuter.  There’s something about Bostonians that’s all about getting shit done no matter who’s helping or not.  243 years ago the alarm was “The British are coming!”; today, it’s “We will not be ruled by the automobile!” In the land of fantasy, the “Dream Factory,” as it’s veritbly known, the one issue all Los Angeles inmates suffer is gettin’ round.  If yer rich?  Limo.  Average?  Car.  Poor?  The bus.  What Scott Schultz does is nothing less than reminding us Angelinos to free ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles of status, the car, by enthusing us in the downright relish of celebrating the autonomy of public transportation.  I’ve said it all along.  The average American interacts with government only twice in their lifetime.  The postman and the cop who gives you a speeding ticket. Scott Schultz’s “BUSted” story-telling shows break that social barrier in two, shattering it before our very eyes, revealing to us the utter joys, as well as the frustrating dysfunction, of public transportation in Los Angeles.  I sat down with Scott recently on top of the first “L” in the Hollywood Sign for a cursory interview…

LM: What makes a good public transportation story?

SS: A good public transportation story is a good story, but it must take place on public transit. Otherwise, it is just a good story. If it involves a bomb on a bus that requires the bs to travel 55 mph or the bus will explode, then it is great public transit story.

LM: Who are your story-tellers?

SS: My storytellers are made up of comedians, storytellers and other creatives round Los Angeles who don’t drive or are muti-modal. We also book ordinary Los Angelenos who don’t drive but have true stories to share.

LM: Who is your audience?

SS: Our audience ranges depending on which location we bring our show. I’d say at least half of the audience are non-motorists. The other half are people who enjoy live storytelling, or find me handsome enough to follow around.

LM: Is there a class thing between public transportation people and car drivers?

SS: Of course, there is. And BMW drivers are assholes. (a Tanya White ‘joke’, according to Scott.)

LM: How long you’ve been producing BUSted?

Scott Schultz mesmerizing them at Stories bookstore in Silverlake.

SS: I have been producing BUSted for nearly five years.

LM: What was your inspiration to start BUSted?

SS: I wanted to bring a storytelling show to Los Angeles, when I returned from Boston in 2013. I chose the name BUSted, because the name had multiple definitions. I chose the non-motorist hook for the first show’s theme, and I realized quickly that there was an audience for this type of show, so I stuck with the theme. After a few shows, I realized that the show filled a void, and after 6 months. I realized that the theme had legs to last a decade.

LM: Have you produced BUSted in cities other than Los Angeles and if not, are there plans to?

SS: I have yet to bring the show beyond LA County borders, but I would like to tour the show eventually. Any city with public transit can appreciate these stories.

LM: What is the most often heard theme in the stories?

SS: I describe the stories in categories of shocking, dramatic and the mundane (slice of life.) I would say the mundane stories tend to be the most frequent of the three, especially when it comes to frequent storytellers. The shocking stories are always the first ones to come to mind, but it’s the simple stories that keep people returning. The ordinary slice of life stories happen every day, so they tend to be the lifeblood of my opening monologues.

LM: What percentage of stories are happy vs harrowing?

SS: I’d say it’s close to an even split. Some shows follow a theme that wasn’t planned out ahead of time. One story leads to a similar story. Suddenly a conversation breaks out between myself as host and the audience, because I like to keep a hot topic going. By the time the audience members step up to the mic for audience anecdotes, we could have five or six stories on the same theme, within the theme of getting around LA without driving.

LM: Do story-tellers generally like depending on public transportation or are they somehow/sometimes bitter or angry?

SS: There is a love/have relationship between the storytellers and LA publc transit, but for the most part, we (the non-motorists) tend to wear it like a badge of honor. Very little bitterness.

LM: It seems BUSted brings people together in discussing a shared experience.  Elaborate?

SS: LA has a well earned reputation for having a massive car culture built into it’s fabric. For many years, the thought among people was that “Only a nobody walks in LA,” as the Missing Persons sang. It turns out that we were not freaks or losers, but just ahead of the curve, or at least riding a different path. The community element comes from the way we all recognize each other’s stories as part of our own personal stories. We recognize incidents and characters, and in tat our shared experience can become extremely meta. Being iLos angeles where there are so many colorful characters, only makes the excitement and randomness of a shared commute experience more extreme. Even the craziest stories often have people in the audience nodding their heads and simply responding, “Yup!”

LM: If the LA transportation system was better, let’s say as good as San Francisco, London, or New York, would there still be good stories?

SS: Yes. LA’s system is already better than NYC and San Francisco. I’ve never been to London, but I did get drunk on free party booze and interrupt a conversation with the London minister of Transportation. Nice guy.

LM: You have a former RTD driver as a regular.  Have you gotten support or condemnation from the city?

SS: We actually have a lot of former and current drivers from both RTD and LA metro sharing stories at our shows. We even had a senior planner from LA Metro. I’m not so sure the city knows we exist, at least on the City hall level. The heads of he public transit agencies are familiar with me. Some are fans, others hope we’ll go away. True stories tend to cut both ways. I’d say at this time that it is mostly positive.

LM: Have the stories changed with the advent of Uber?

SS: Ubers sometimes enter the community of BUSted stories, but I try to keep them separate. Sometimes if the Uber is incorporated into the commute, or if they are long time storytellers who I know are taking Uber specifically because they don’t drive. I tend to think public transit is more interesting. Uber vehicles are too antiseptic.

LM: There seems to be a bit of spirituality to the shows.  Care to elaborate

SS: Sometimes the spirituality depends on my mood on any given day. I think it comes from my Boston storytelling background. Boston’s storytelling scene tends to be a bit more populist than the Big 3 storytelling cities (NYC/Chicago/Los Angeles) which tend to come from the improv comedy circuit. As a host I tend to harp on recurring topics like being a good “bus ambassador,” which is spiritual talk for “Don’t be a douchebag.” We are also pro immigrant and tend to have a lot of humanity in our stories. Our subject matter tends skews lower income, and lower income people tend to be better people in general.

LM: You’re one of the most supportive producer/hosts around.  Tell Larf Magazine how you do it.

SS: Thanks, but I don’t share company secrets. (joking) I think that it is a combination of my background coming out of the storytelling rooms in Boston and Cambridge that go back decades, and also my show is built on community. We literally run on people power. I genuinely enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. When people are new to storytelling, I like to encourage them to participate by keeping it casual. I am fortunate to have a really supportive venue that allows me to pass the supportive buck down to my guests on the mic and in the audience. Legal weed keeps me mellow.

LM: From what you’ve heard and personally experienced, what’s the one thing you would do if you were all powerful mayor to improve public transportation?

SS: If I could only do one thing, I would make myself a lifetime pass for all publc transit, non-rescindable. That way, I’d always be able to get places. I’d do a few things. I’d ticket the hell out of motorists! Those crosswalks would be efficient enough for a baby to crawl across. I would also create more dedicated lanes for rapid line busses, running on an electrical grid, like they do in the San Fernando Valley. I’d remove extra charges for Silver Line and freeway accessing busses. I would make the subways run 24 hours, and I would have track maintenance done between 11pm – 5am. I would begin making preparation for Boring hyper-tunnels, like the one suggested by Elon Musk, and I would also begin preparing legislation for aerial vehicles now, since they will arrive sooner, rather than later.

LM: Do you find the vast expanse of Los Angeles helps in its diversity of transportation stories?

SS: Yes. I love how LA has so many different types of areas and ethnic pockets as well. LA is half the size of Massachusetts, it has mountains, deserts and beaches. I wish it had more bathrooms.

LM: Where do you see BUSted a year from now?

SS: At our home terminal in Echo Park, Stories Books & Café! Also, hopefully, we will be producing Spanish language shows. I would like to bring the show to a point where we can produce weekly shows and cove the entire county more completely.

LM: Have you ever thought of taking BUSted to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

SS: I don’t know enough about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I don’t know how they would react to stories about Los Angeles, and even more specifically about Los Angeles non-motorist culture.

LM: Could you ever envision a television show or movie based on the BUSted stories?

SS: Absolutely. Huell Howser is one of my heroes. I think that it could be a way to show different parts of the city, the state and the country. I think that would be really neat. You don’ have to fly to the opposite side of the word to find adventure and interesting people. Hit a random US city, and ride the bus for a few days. Yesterday, I rode around on busses and trains with a news crew for an upcoming news feature on the show. During the rides, I spoke with a Rose Bowl security guard who wants the world to know that Kobe Bryant swipes VIP seats for concerts, a man who was a walking audio book for Hollywood Babylon Volume One and a man who got shot 14 times in his leg! I have had people propose a few movie ideas to me based on my stories. At some point, I will likely write a script, but that is a very different style of writing for me.

And, just at that propitious moment, a police helicopter shown its light on us Hollywood sign perchers.  Guess it’s time to move on; grab the bus…

Sag

Scott Schultz was born in Boston, MA. I grew up in Marblehead, MA. He moved to CA when he was 18 via Greyhound Bus. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue standup comedy in the 1990’s. Scott has worked as a sports editor and in advertising. He began storytelling in Boston in 2012. In 2013, Scott Schultz won the Massmouth grandslam (The Big Mouthoff) and shortly thereafter moved to Los Angeles. He began BUSted five years ago. Scott is a huge fan of the Boston Celtics, and he has two feral yard cats named Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving.

NEXT BUSted Show

BUSted website

For Larf Magazine, this is Steven Alan Green.

9/27/18

 

The Myth Council Handbook – A novel by Steven Alan Green / Chapter Three: A Zombie Christmas

Meanwhile, somewhere on the North Pole, an event is about to occur which will have eternal worldwide consequences of epic proportion; no exaggeration, even though I wrote this book: Trust me.  It’s big…

The barren snow bound terrain is spotted with a small cottage; a glow of a fire and smoke from the chimney tells us there’s potentially happy life inside. Looking up towards the sparkling black sky, we see a small object, getting closer and closer to us. It’s Santa Claus in his sleigh. We hear the faint chanting of “Ho-Ho-Ho!” as the sleigh pulls into the driveway in front of the house. Santa gets out and grabs a shopping bag full of pretzels and beer. He sings to himself, The Killer’s hit, “Human,” as he searches for the keys to the front door.

…are we human…or are we dancers…

He has trouble holding the shopping bag as he tries to find his key. He knocks. Nobody answers, he peers through the steamed up window and sees Mrs. Claus losing it (once again) with an elf. He presses his ear up against the window.

“I thought I said a thousand times, if I found one more elf condom in the trash, I was going to have a stroke! These damn tiny things go in the toilet! Besides, don’t you little guys ever get enough?!”

The elf tries to defend himsELF; doesn’t matter, she’s not buying it.

“That wasn’t mine! I told you, I’m the gay elf. I use a blue condom and that one’s red!”

“Well, whatever, twinkle-toes…whoever left this in the trash, their dick is gonna be black and blue when I get through with them!”

Santa slowly turns and tiptoes back to the sleigh just when the front door opens. An elf comes running after him.

Hey! Wait up!

Santa keeps going. “She’s in one of her…” (making sarcastic quote gesture) ‘moods’ again. I’m sorry. I’m feeling too jolly for this shit…I’m outta here!” Santa gets back in his sleigh, grabbing the reigns. “Rise, rise in flight of magic, Donner and Blitzen and bring us to the magical airs of the clouds….”

The sleigh begins to wobble, as if it’s about to take off, when off in the near distance, a woman’s stern cold voice calls from behind him.

“Well, if it ain’t Mr. Presents and Fucking Joy!  And, where the fuckity fuck do you think you’re going!”

Santa freezes (even more) and turns. The sleigh stops moving. All the reindeer look around. Mrs. Claus is standing in the doorway, holding an elf by the scruff of the neck, a kitchen knife to his balls.

“Get your big jolly red ass back in here immediately or the midget freak gets a non-elective vasectomy!”

“Do what the bee-atch says!” pleads the elf, barely able to squeeze out each syllable.

The inside of the Claus home is something right out of the 1959 Sears and Roebuck catalog.  Pine furniture, but with all the hallmarks of having a dozen friggin’ elves living and partying there for over a century.  Santa paces in front of the fireplace, as Mrs. Claus knits a pot-holder in the shape of a gun.  He tries to find the right words; the right moment.

“Look…what the hell do you want from me?  This is my job. My chosen profession. I work one day a year.”

“But it’s one a hellova shift,” whispers one elf to another before they giggle.

Santa looks around, annoyed to find all the elves eavesdropping behind the cracked-open doorway.  But, Mrs. Claus ain’t done with him just yet.

“Ha! You are a relic. What with the Internet, people can buy their own Christmas gifts without ever getting up off their fat American asses! You’re kidding yourself. You are obsolete and the sooner you face it, the sooner we can pack up this so-called ‘business’ and go down to live with my sister in Florida.”  She knits one; pearls two around the trigger.

“I’m not living with that Jew-hating sister of yours,” says a now I’m pissed Santa.

“Why? You’re not Jewish!  You’re not even Christian!  You’re in fact a mythical figure created by the English back in the 16th century during the reign of Mr. Chop off Their Heads Because Rome Wouldn’t Sanction Divorce Henry the VIII, 4 centuries before the Coca Cola Company commercialized yo ass to sell more of their cocaine infused black drink of death in 1931.”

“I don’t like your sister. She smells of cat pee. Besides, I have my life’s work up here.”

Handing him a letter, “That’s what you think, mistletoe breath!”

What’s this?” and Santa reads aloud, incredulous and crumbling…

“Dear Mr. Santa H. Claus, North Pole…Further to our very painful reassessment…”

The Myth Council Chief Accountant –now wearing an off-color ill-fitting toupee (apparently made of ostrich feathers) — dictates into his vocal tube as Miss Williams picks up Beavis’s smoldering clothing remains and tosses them into the trash.

“…the Myth Council has had to make some very harsh cuts this year, and unfortunately, we regret to inform you that we cannot afford your annual worldwide effort to bring presents…”

The Ostrich grabs the Accountant’s feather toupee.  Back at the North Pole, Santa is in shock as he continues to read the letter.

“…and joy to all the innocent children of the world. We wish you luck and should you seek either other employment or benefits, please contact the relevant departments. That is all. Signed: PJ Walsingham, Head Accountant Myth Council Services PS: Happy Chanukah.”

Santa looking up from the letter is in tears.

“What about all the little children?” he asks the heavens.

Mrs. Claus takes the lit cigarette out of her mouth .

“Listen to me, you naive pedophile lookin’ waste of fat and flesh, I told you nearly a half century ago, those unappreciative little dust mites aren’t worth the beard you dribble on….” 

Crushing out the cigarette, crushing it out into the image of Santa’s face on a doily  as if she enjoys extinguishing any life, she continues her assault on her husband of over a century.

“If I were you, I’d count your blessings and look for some other kind of work. I have my needs ya, know. I can’t keep living on that…” (makes sarcastic quote gestures) ‘overstocked return last year’s fashion’ shit you keep bringing me. And, by the way, Mr. Friggen Sleigh Bells, corduroy is out!” (to herself as she knits) “I shoulda married the Headless Horseman when I had the chance. At least he never talked back!”

As she carries on complaining, Santa, in shock, makes his way out of the room, grabs a gift bottle of whiskey and passes all the elves, who have been eavesdropping.

“We’re fucked,” blurts one elf.  “Not if I can help it,” counters another as they  watch Santa open the font door and stagger outside. Santa, drinking heavily out of a fifth of Jack Daniels, heads for his sleigh. Two elves sneak around and load up Santa’s Christmas big red gift bag into the back of the sleigh, as Santa gets his fat ass in the driver’s seat, straps himself in and cracks the reigns.

“Elves! Reindeer! Come join me on one final ride!” Santa belches. “Oh, excuse me, ” as all the rest of the elves rush up to him.

“Santa! Don’t do this! Come back and chill out! It’s okay!” several elves say in conversational harmony.

Elf One arrives at the sleigh, as Santa picks up the reins.

“Santa! What the fuck are you doing!”

What is it, Aloysius?,” belches the old man, as a second elf joins the debate.

“Please don’t do this. Stick around, let’s come up with a solution…together!” squeaks the little voice.  Santa grabs the little man by his collar, lifting him up to his nasty drunken breath; the elf’s feet dangling in air.

“I never liked you Elves. You’re all too…” (belching in the Elf’s face) “…short! 

Santa drops him in the snow and snaps the whip. The reindeer take off, pulling the sleigh into the heavens, Santa barely heard as he disappears into the snowy horizon, drunk singing in liberation.

“Kiss my ass, kiss my ass, kiss it all the way, suck my…”

We stare at the blank black night sky, until, until, something begins to appear on the black horizon.  It’s getting bigger and closer and we hear the faint hollering of a very drunk old man. And suddenly zooming right in front of us is Santa in full escape mode.

“Merrrry Christmas!!!”

Santa is beyond drunk. The nearly empty fifth of Jack D. in one hand and the reign in the other, Santa yells at his flight crew, as he flies over the countryside.

“Dommer! Blichin! Rudolf, you mother fucker! Move your ass!” (to himself)
“Obsolete. Useless! Internet! Inter- schmett!”

He takes another swig of whiskey.

“I’ll show them, with their budgets and projections! Useless jobs- worth cocksuckers…”

Santa lets go of the reign and holds the bottle upside down over his mouth, hoping a last drop will drip. It doesn’t. The town of Belleview begins to come into view below the horizon.

“Oh, fuck it,” as he tosses the bottle, drops the reigns, turns around, reaches in the backseat of the sleigh, which begins to violently wobble out of control. “Now, there’s always a bottle in one of these damn gifts.”

Santa riffles through his gift bag, finds a present that feels heavy and looks like it might be liquor. He opens it. It’s a bowling pin.  A row of high and thick trees are now clearly in his flight-path.

“I hate Scrabble!”

He looks where he’s headed. “Fffffuuuuucccccckkkkk!!!!”

He covers his face with his arms. The sleigh flies over the trees, taking some branches with it. “Ouch!” Then, it’s gone. Then, a faint crash. Santa has landed.

The crash site. The sleigh is totaled way past its deductible. Santa and the reindeer all lie in eerie motionlessness.  Our mind’s camera holds on this eerie tableau.  And just as we don’t know what to think, the spirits of the dead reindeer all float out and up like purposeful mist.  They reaches an apex, congealing into one while amorphous cloud in the shape of one reindeer ghost, which turns round, purposely making its way down the chimney.  As our mind’s eye moves down the building we read a sign and it all begins to make sense now.  Belleview Mortuary.

Our floor level view, accompanied by the sound of footsteps, enters the dark Victorian foyer.  A man hums Rudolf, the Rednose Reindeer until it suddenly doesn’t.  The night watchman turns his head to check an alarm, as the spirits of the dead reindeer sweep past his feet and disappear round the corner.  The footsteps pick up again, making their routinely way through the back hallway, past the chapel and into the back where the “works” reside.  The inventory.  The corpses.

We stare at a double metal door, with one little glass and chicken-wire round window. We pull closer until we are now peering through the glass, but it’s too dark to see inside, where the reindeer spirits routinely climb and envelop first one corpse, then all of one dozen of them.  The round little wire mesh glass window on the door to the corpse room fogs up.   The night watchman in his usual tedium and frustration.

“Goddamn rats!” The night watchman, a man a few paychecks past his retirement, closes the inner door behind him and locks it, all the while whistling “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” He passes a sign: “ASK ABOUT OUR PAY-AS-YOU-GO PLAN”

One by one, each corpse unzips itself from its body-bag like reveille call at a dead army barracks. The first zombie to free himself, yawns and stretches his arms as if waking up from a long sleep. He turns his head to the reader and growls.

Outside the building, the night watchman closes and locks the main gate. He walks to his car and opens the door. His cell phone rings.

“Now, where did I put that goddamn thing?  When I was young, we left our phones at home….And our wives…” He finds his phone.

“Have you been naughty or nice?” asks the weird gravelly voice on the other end.

“Who the hell is this? Is that you, Morty? Always the joker…”

The phone clicks off.

“Hello?…Hello?” He hangs up. “Pranksters! Punks! Teenagers!”

“Are you unhappy? Hi! My name’s Arlene.”

https://goo.gl/images/RLJTDqThe Night-watchman swings around and sees Arlene. She is fat. She’s a zombie.  She’s Arlene, the fat zombie.  She approaches him.

“Would you like to be friends? I just wanna be friends.”

Squirming her to a comfortable distance, “Lady, I’ve had a long day. You are obviously very lost.”

“Lost? Why no! I’m just very lonely. Would you like to be friends? I could really use a friend right now.  And what I mean by friends…”

Arlene puts her cold gray dead fat hand on his arm.

“Listen, you just get your weird fat goth-like hooker ass outta here. Besides…I’m a family man!”

“Okay! If that is your request, I just want to make you happy!”  Arlene “Zombie-Walks” (sleepwalking with open eyes) away. The Night-Watchman gets in his car and starts the engine. He puts on his seat belt and adjusts the rear-view mirror. He thinks he sees something. It’s nothing. He’s very agitated.

“I gotta start drinking again.” 

The night watchman drives, singing along to the bouncy music of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” on the radio. He passes Arlene the Fat Zombie, Zombie-Walking down the road.

“Rudolf the Red nosed Reindeer…Had a very shiny… I could use a friend!… HA!…Spooky-lookin’ fat broad!”

Flashing police lights behind him and in his rear view. He looks. Then a siren.

“Shit! Can’t an American workingman just get home on Christmas Eve?!”

He pulls his car off to the side and turns off the engine. The patrol car pulls up behind him, bathing his car in red flashing lights.  A man in uniform gets out and slowly walks up to the night watchman’s car.

The night watchman waits as we hear slow deliberate footsteps on the gravel approach. The cop walks up to the car window, but we can’t see his face. We can only see his uniform from the neck down. He shines a very bright flashlight in the night watchman’s eyes. His voice sounds gravelly and unreal.

“May I see your license and registration please, sir?”

“Yeah, ah sure, officer. I assure you everything is up to date.”

He hands both to the patrolman, who briefly holds them, then hands them back, never actually looking at them.

Whatever the problem is officer, can’t we just forget it? After all it is Christmas Eve!

The Cop doesn’t answer, just stands there, face out of view.

I mean, you work hard, I work hard, we all work hard, and besides, Peace on Earth…and…

Frighteningly and suddenly, the cop lowers his head and places his face in the car window.  What we see is shocking.  In a police uniform and hat is a living corpse.  His face that of a skull with half the skin missing, the eyeballs black and blood pouring from his mouth.  Which then says in a horrible voice…

“Bad will towards men!”

The horrible crunching sounds and screams go on and on for 30 seconds.  Followed by the continuous car horn, indicating the night watchman’s dead.  The zombie policeman calmly walks to his car, humming Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer, gets in and takes off down the road.

Slightly up the road the other way, the real dead policeman lies face down in nothing but a tee-shirt and underwear and missing his head.  So face down is really just an expression at this point.

Up the road slightly further, Santa in his sleigh, and all the reindeer all laying motionless on the mortuary roof.

END CHAPTER THREE….

Image result for copyright symbol2018 Steven Alan Green for Larf Magazine

Chapter One of The Myth Council Handbook

Chapter Two of The Myth Council Handbook