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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

The Myth Council Handbook – A novel by Steven Alan Green / Chapter Two: “Mary and The Myth Council”

Belleview was just like any small town in America. Born at the end of World War I and burnished to a pristine finish in the 1950’s, it was everything America represented, not just to the world, but to itself.

Somehow, Belleview withstood the onslaught of franchise culture; nary a Starbucks or Walmart to be found. It existed in its own little bubble, seemingly insulated, indeed shielded from the goings on of Hollywood to the west and Washington D.C. to its east. Belleview’s history and indeed its existence, was something of a mystery. Nobody outside Belleview ever heard of the small hamlet and in fact, not even Belleviewians could determine which state of the union they were actually in. And, yet, in spite of these unanswerable simple questions, Belleview was just like any other small town this side of the Mississippi or any other side for that matter.

Belleview High was your classic mid-century to modern American high school. With one major exception. Sure, it had its cheerleaders and football team and class president, but one thing it didn’t have was fear of school shootings. And, that wasn’t because they had a top notch security team on 24/7 guard, it was because, like everything else in Belleview, it wasn’t connected to the outside world. Its residents didn’t watch the news and the Internet they interacted with was one of complete kindness and civility. Everything about Belleview High School was planned and designed right out of the American fantasy handbook.

Shutting the door behind her of a post-Colonial mansion, Mary Spensor – 16 years old, picks up a nearby watering can and feeds the daisies lining the drive the precious water they desire and deserve. She has a dancing lilt to https://goo.gl/images/pAi93Hher manner, as if she’s listening to secret music in her head. The school bus arrives down the road and, with her school books in tow, runs to catch it. Finding herself in a plume of black smoke, the bus takes off once again and one gets the feeling this is her daily ritual. She quickly snaps out of it and skips and walks down the street towards school.

Hundreds of Belleview High School students funnel into the main entrance, like so many fire ants trying to get back into their hole on time. Just above that entrancehttps://goo.gl/images/UwtQK1 reads a banner: “BELLEVIEW HIGH SCHOOL CHRISTMAS HOOPLA & BLOOD DRIVE!” Mary runs up to the school, not able to squeeze into and through the mass of grey sweatered seniors, sophomores and freshmen, finally reaching the double doors as they seem to purposely shut in her face.

In front of a full classroom of rapt attentive teenage students, the teacher writes: “Edgar Allen Poe” on the blackboard, and turns around to face his legions as Mary sneaks in from the back door. Mr. Braithwaite makes a personal note of that and carries on, punctuating his feigned indifference with a direct inward push of his nose glasses.

Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ was an allegory for which personal emotion that we all share?”

Two dozen hands reach to the heavens with coordinated enthusiasm, but “Mr. B” zeroes in on one student, whose book happens to be held upside down. Sensing a disturbance on the horizon, the entire class shifts their focus on one girl.

Mary? Perhaps you’d like to answer the question.”

Mary, startled from a daydream, stands up, straightens her dress, cups her hands together like they were protecting a mouse.

Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ is about guilt. Inner guilt. The beating heart is a metaphor for our conscience to always do the right thing.”

The entire class breaks out into vicious laughter, pointing at Mary like she https://goo.gl/images/8tKMfuwas some circus freak. All but Johnny Turnbridge, a bookish student, whose innate good looks are twisted by his enormous prescription goggles and black waxy hair. Henry T. Braithwaite looks at the rest of the class with scorn until they do what’s good for them as they take in his authoritative gaze and immediately go silent, their heads down in prayer-like obedience.

Very good, Mary. That’s right!”

The school bell rings and as everyone jumps up to get the hell outta there; the teacher reminds them of their homework.

Don’t forget, Odysseus next week! And, I want to see your papers on The Glass Menagerie as well!”

The army of the grey sweatered student body makes their human wave out the school doors like they were escaping torturous boredom. When they’re clear, Mary appears once again, alone. Jumping back into her positive mood, she skips and walks down the tree-lined quiet suburban Belleview streets towards home.

Hiding behind an oak tree is Johnny Turnbridge who suddenly jumps in front of Mary, stopping her progress with a giant: “BOO!” Bemused but not befuddled, Mary wags her finger at him in admonishment.

Johnny Turnbridge! I should’ve known! Don’t you know it’s bad taste to sneak up behind a girl and scare the bejeebus outta her? I’m surprised Mrs. Larson let’s you on her gothic choir practice.”

 “Ah gee, Mary! I was only trying to get your attention and ask you if you wanted to go to the Belleview Blood Drive with me this Saturday night! I’ll pick you up in my dad’s new super-dooper roadster. It’ll be so cool!”

 Mary stops walking and so does Johnny. She looks at him like she’s gonna punch him. Instead she swings her books to his chest, followed by another finger-pointing session.

You behave yourself, Johnny Turnbridge and maybe you’ll get your wish! I’m not stupid the way everyone in this town seems to think I am.”

They start walking again. All the while, a black raven with an eye-patch trails behind them, jumping from tree to tree, keeping a close eye. One close eye. Obviously.

 

A Yortsite candle brightly burns, illuminating framed and faded black and https://goo.gl/images/Xt8UFNwhite photographs of a wedding, children and grandchildren. Moishe Rosenbaum, mid-fifties New York Jew, places a framed picture of his wife Sadie next to the candle, kneels and prays in Hebrew, reciting the Jewish Prayer for the Dead.

B’olmo dee’vro chir’usay v’yamlich malchu’say, b’chayaychon uv’yomay’chon uv’chayay d’chol bais Yisroel, ba’agolo u’viz’man koriv; v’imru Omein.”

He gets up and moves to the window of his drab one-room apartment. He lights a cigarette, looks out at the hustle-bustle of the busy small town, and blows smoke like a disapproving dragon.

Oye. How the hell did I ever wind up in Goyim Heaven?

The smoke permutes into an ellipse which winds its way down the cobblestone main street towards the Gothic Bookshop, where inside, Johnny Turnbridge tries to explain the value of his inventory to a very old customer.

“I’m afraid that’s the closest you’re going to come in finding a first edition Poe anywhere near that price, Mrs. Pendegast.”

https://goo.gl/images/u7Q4JbThe Belleview Gothic Bookshop’s vivid green exterior belies the collection of antiquities displayed therein. The small dusty corner shop boasts “Rare Editions” and “Hard to Find Classics” through its big picture window, facing the Belleview Butchers and Belleview Five and Dime and thereby reflecting their craven imagery of cow carcass and support hose, which superimpose against the bookshop’s eerie presence. From the inside, the bookshop looks more like a disorganized dorm room than a book store. Johnny helps a seventy-five-year old woman.

Can probably knock off ten bucks for ya’, Mrs. P”; he leans in, whispering his secret. “Whadda-ya say, Ellen? Everyone knows the Gothic horror books are all haunted by their characters, but Poe”… (looking left to right) …haunts his own books!”

Mrs. Pendegast smiles and leans in. “You know, Sonny…I just read them for the intimate descriptions of naked bodies.” She suggestively winks, making Johnny visibly uncomfortable. She exits the shop, carrying a book size brown paper bag under her arm as if were porn, steps over a homeless man and walks down the street and waving hello to the florist and the butcher before disappearing around the corner.

The Belleview Five and Dime is a local institution which was built by the founder of Belleview, Horrace “Two R’s” J. Porter, of which there is a statue of him directly across from the shop, in the center roundabout.

STATUE OF HORRACE J. PORTER

https://goo.gl/images/sEfH4nThe tarnished bronze statue stands over 20 feet high. Porter is portrayed as a Founding Father should. Standing next to stack of Christmas gifts, holding an American flag in his hand, his stern face showing no ounce of mercy. He proudly looks up towards the sky, and vaguely in the direction of Soldiers Mound, the highest peak visible from Belleview, and a popular make-out spot for the teens. Christmas shoppers go in and out in a hurried pace through the doors as carolers sing Joy to the World.

A chorus of three men and three women joyfully sing to their lord and savior and suddenly stop. They look around and huddle. Nodding in agreement, they resume in perfect harmonious silk.

“Merry Christmas, Mary….”

They hold the last note, and look towards the front door of the 5 & Dime. After a moment, they look at each other and sing again.

Merry Christmas, Mary….

Still nothing.

That girl would be late to her own funeral!” spouts one of the carolers.

Yeah…fuck her!” concurs another.

All share a look of acknowledgement and resignation and open their song books to another page.

Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen, When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even. Brightly shown the moon that night, though the frost was cruel, when a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel.”

Mary exits the shop, dressed like a snow fairy, holding too many shopping bags brimming with Christmas gifts. And like the vision of Christ’s Mary, she stops for an extreme close-up, revealing she has “virgin-for-life” written all over her mug.

You wouldn’t believe the bargains!” she proudly proclaims to everyone’s scorn and indifference. “Merry Christmas everybody?” she asks sheepishly.

As if choreographed and rehearsed, all the citizens on Main Street, mothers walking their prams, shop owners in the middle of business, even the horse from the milk truck join in, singing her theme tune.

“Merry Christmas, Mary. Merry Christmas, you. You’re our little fairy, We, the Citizens Belleview. We are the butchers, Mary. Undertakers too. We’ve watched you grow up scary, A frightened lamb in the zoo.

And we want you to know, Mary. Even though you’re quite thick, That even the freshest dairy, Can make one quite sick.

Merry Christmas, Mary. Merry Christmas, you. You’ve suffered unnecessary, Even though you’re not a Jew.

Oh, quite contrary, There’s a cross around your heart, You’re the all American girl, And we don’t give a fart.

Merry Christmas, Mary. Merry Christmas you. You’re the coal mine canary, In a shaft out of view. And we want you to know, Mary. Even though you’re not dead, You’re the oyster, not the pearl, And you haven’t yet bled. This is what we just said. Merry Christmas, Mary. Merry Christmas, you!”

“Merry Christmas, Mary!”

Everyone cheers and then goes about their business as usual. Moishe, lost in thought, takes one final puff of his cigarette and tosses it out the window to the street, muttering to himself: “Goyim Heaven…” He closes his window, just as a filthy hand reaches into the beggar’s cup, pulling out the cigarette, to the awaiting mouth of the homeless man. A smile of relief overtakes his face. Looking up towards God: “Thank you!” Suddenly, he is awoke to the reality of the situation: All his paper money in his cup is now on fire.

Moishe goes to the closet. Inside are dozens of silk Chinese blazers. He pulls out one and puts it on, then looks a himself in the mirror, adjusting his Yalmulke. He picks up an already opened envelope, pulls out the letter and reads. After a beat or two, he takes a deep sigh, puts the letter back in the envelope, looks at himself once more in the mirror.

Vat am I…some sort of montsah?”

He tosses the envelope on his bed, grabs his coat and hat and exits the room.

The envelope is addressed to:

Moishe Rosenbaum

6151 Little Main Street

Belleview, No State, No Zip Applicable

And from:

The Eternal Revenue Service

69-71 Rivington Street

Shordich, London

EC2A

United Kingdom

The roar of a million typewriters increases and increases…

https://goo.gl/images/QvoqwQThe nondescript office building sits between two pubs on Rivington Street in Shoreditch, London, England. North London precisely. The building is unlike any other Georgian or Edwardian leftover so littered throughout ancient turned modern London. With the one exception that this particular building is quite tall. In fact, if one were to stand across the street and follow the building upwards, they’d hardly notice it is so tall, so many floors, they go up and into and beyond the clouds. But, everyone’s too busy looking down on their phones these days to even notice.

Inside is the grand reception. A ginormous front reception area, comparable only to Grand Central Station.   Hundreds of workers mill about, going from one point to another, most with serious looks on their face. At the center is a switchboard phone bank, as the phone absolutely rings off the hook. A receptionist with a bee-hive wig and half-glasses answers a flurry of calls.

Myth Council of Earth; please hold. Myth Council of Earth; please hold. Myth Council of Earth; please hold. Myth Council of Earth; please hold. Myth Council of Earth; How can I help?”

A drunk man answers on the other end of the line.

“Yes….(hick-UP!)…Me and me mates are in a bit of a verbal punch-up down the pub…(HICK!)”

The switchboard continues to ring, to which the receptionist tells the man…

“Could you please hold….”

“But, it’s my round and…”

Sorry sir,” she puts him on hold. “Myth Council of Earth, please hold,” she switches back to the man. “Yes, sir. Sorry to keep you waiting. How can I help?”

“Yes, as I was saying; it’s my round if I can’t name the Seven Dwarves. And, I say there is a Dwarf named ‘Stinky,’, but Ben (HICK!) there claims there is no dwarf named Stinky, but there is one named “Jehoshaphat.” I think that’s wrong…”

“I understand, sir,” says the receptionist, cutting him off. “Please hold one more time. Sorry.” She puts the man on hold, turns and rolls her chair at great comical speed to her co-worker (another woman in a bee-hive wig and half-glasses) at the other end of the very long reception desk. She confers with the other receptionist.

“Sorry. Remind me please where I send inquiries for man-made myths? Was it the Department for Fictional Reconciliation?”

“Well, it all depends,” answers her co-worker. “If it’s of an adult nature, such as Cupid or Venus, then you want to route them to the Department for Romantic Interlude. If it’s more at the family level, such as Pinocchio, Harry Potter and all that Hollywood crap, then the call goes to the Department of Childhood.”

“It’s a drunk calling from a pub.”

Oh, one of those, eh?” The co-receptionist nods her head in the direction where the first receptionist started and they both roll back together at great comical speed. The co-worker reaches over and disconnects the caller. “Trust me…The Myth Council is no match for the fantastical imaginings born of alcohol. No sympathy for the human race! That’s our credo!”

The phone still ringing like mad; the receptionist tends to business again. “
Myth Council of Earth, please hold…Myth Council of Earth, please hold…”

 

On the 711th&1/2 floor, a woman’s ass sways back and forth timed perfectly with a stopwatch’s tick tock, as she makes her way down the 711th&1/2 floor hallway. Mannered like a 1960’s airline stewardess, and carrying a black portfolio, Miss Abigail Williams, Chief Assistant to the Myth Council’s Main Dude, makes her way to a very important looking office door, with a brass plaque reading: “DECISIONS”; she knocks as she goes inside.

The office is way too big and fancy (in a stark way) for one man. The accountant, dressed in a pale black suit, white shirt & thin tie, sits at his very messy desk, dictating into a vocal tube, which is connected to an ancient dictating machine. On the desk is a large red button with the word: “RETIREMENT” written on the side. Oh, and there’s an ostrich wandering around the office for no apparent reason. The secretary walks in. The Ostrich peers out the window.

Have a seat, Miss Williams, give me a minute. Thank you.”

Miss Williams puts the portfolio on the desk and has a seat. The Accountant continues his dictation into the tube.

And…where was I….Oh, yes…further to our conversation, your honorable sir, it is with deep regret that due to recent unexpected budgetary considerations, we are unfortunately not in the position at this time to fund your idea for a Job Fairy. We look forward to your next idea, blah, blah, blah, thanks for thinking of us, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera….(pausing to think)….And, give my best to Michelle, Sasha and Melia.” He puts down the tube and turns to Miss Williams.https://goo.gl/images/jShx7e

Okay, Miss Williams. What’s on the agenda today?”

Abigail Williams hands Fenster T. Turnworthy the portfolio, he scans it over, shaking his head in disbelief.

No, no, no, no…no, no, no, no…”

Miss Williams tries to interrupt. “Sir…”

Turnworthy closes it and looks eye to eye with Miss Williams for the briefest of moments; he then stands up as if a dignitary randomly entered the room.

“They can’t do this! They can’t do this I tell you!”

“But, sir…”

“I have been with the firm now for nearly twenty years. And in all that time, sure, myths were cut due to various reasons. Everything from Elton John being straight to OJ being framed, to Iraq secretly harboring Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Simon Cowell being a music expert, to those damn…Birthers! But, this…this is just reprehensible!”

“But, sir. The cost v profit analysis of this perennial myth is simply off the charts in terms of annual projected loss. In fact, every year, the deficit on this particular myth is growing and growing and growing…EXPONENTIALLY!!!”

The Accountant swings around, getting right in her face.

“But, kill Santa Claus? No way. It’s just not going to happen!”

Shoving his executive chair backwards, he frightens the ostrich and stands up. “The myth of Santa Claus has existed on Earth for nearly…” Extending his hand to the side; snapping his fingers.

“128 years, 8 months, 3 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes and….17 seconds.”

Thank you, Beavis.”

Beavis “Rooster” Maximumium is a very very very old man. Perhaps 500, 600 years old; we don’t know. He stacks old and dusty books into impossible and pointless Jenga-like stacks.

Not at all, sir. It’s my job. And it’s now 24 seconds.”

 “Sorry?” inquires the accountant. Beavis continues.

The myth of Santa Claus is classified as a Perpetual Myth, and therefore continues its run into Eternity. 31 seconds.

The accountant checks his pocket watch.

“Yes, you’re quite right….Tell me, Beavis. And, how long have you been with the firm?”

 “Well, according to my estimations…I would say: 119 years, 3 months, 1 day, six hours, 12 minutes and…” (checks his pocket-watch) “precisely 4.24 seconds.”

The accountant is clearly annoyed. “That’s my Beavis. Always there with the facts….” (back to business at hand) “Be that as it may, if we close down the Santa Claus program, then who are all the….” (carefully choosing his words) children of Earth going to fantasize about?” Miss Williams and Bevis in harmonious unison…

 “Well, there is Katie Perry, sir.”

The accountant smashes his fist on his desk.

Little children! For Godsakes!”

The Ostrich turns its neck and SQUAWKS; the accountant continues.

https://goo.gl/images/BwdfXA“For over a century, the myth of Old Saint Nick has endured because both parents and children bonded over a unique third-party myth which unites them in a sort of shared childhood and reassures them that there’s still hope left in the world….” (a trivial aside) “And on a guaranteed annual calendar based on the twelve phases of the moon.”

“Twelve and a half.”

“Sorry?” protests the accountant. “There are twelve and a half phases of the moon?!”

This is Beavis’s big moment. For nearly a century, he has been trying to work his way back to Chief Myth Investigator. He fell on hard times after it was revealed he wasn’t actually an Earthling and was demoted to the position of “Unimportant Myth Archivist”.   And, now was his chance. A chance to win the hearts and minds of the powers that be, by impressing them with his incredible knowledge of how the universe actually works.

“No, sir. Sorry. It just hit 119 years, 3 months, 1 days, 6 hours, 12 1/2 minutes and 17 seconds mark.”

What has?” asks the accountant.

Beavis answers proudly. “Why, my time with the firm, sir!”

“You’re quite right!” then the accountant SMASHES HIS FIST on the big red “Retirement” button on his desk. Beavis instantly evaporates in a large puff of smoke, leaving nothing more than his clothes and a book, of which the pages are now on fire. The Accountant solemnly bows his head as Miss Williams instantly darts to the fire and frantically tries to stomp it out.

“Another dedicated worker. I’m very touched.” (back to business) But, mostly, the myth of Santa Claus reassures ordinary hardworking folk that there still is some magic left in the world.”

“I hate to be a spoil-sport…” Miss Williams, furiously stomping to put out the fire, peers over her half-glasses. “And you know how I love the little fellow…He’s so cute and sexy in his red and white frilly outfit.” Her shoes catch on fire, making her involuntarily dance. “But to be clear….” She’s now trying to put out her shoe by scraping it on a rug. The rug catches fire. Meanwhile, the ostrich has come over and started to peck at her ass, which makes her jump up and down like a maniac. “TO BE CLEAR…!”

 “Yes, Miss Williams? Get to the point, will you?” the accountant completely oblivious.Ignoring the ostrich, Miss Williams frantically looks around for something. She fixes on her boss and her hand starts heading for his head.

“Miss Williams! What on earth are you doing?!”

 She grabs his toupee right off his head and slings it onto the fire. It instantly goes out. “Sorry sir.” She sits back down at the guest side of the accountant’s desk and continues with business.

“A recent accountancy report has estimated — quite conservatively I might add — that Jolly Ole Nick has simply become not just a joke, but in fact an overly commercialized corporate symbol, which benefits nobody but shareholders of every major and minor retailer in the English speaking world…” (as an afterthought) “And, who the hell are they….” (sympathetically) “The fact is, we simply do not have the budget for him anymore.”

“What do you mean, we don’t have the budget for Santa!” begs the accountant who is now bald. “He is paramountly important! He is Saint Nick! He is…”

Miss Johnson reaches over and turns the page, firmly planting her finger at the bottom line.

“He is losing us money. A tremendous amount of money. If we continue funding, it will the biggest waste of funding since…since… (snapping her fingers then pointing) The Myth of Y2K!”

The accountant takes it all in.https://goo.gl/images/exAGNK

“And it would most certainly knock out other tenuous myth programs like Cupid and even the Devil himself. And you don’t want to go down that road again. Remember the last time we tried something like that?”

“Yes, I certainly do. Satan nearly had my job,” he says in total resignation.

“You bet your sweet burning ass,” Miss Williams replies.

The accountant sits back down with a look of resignation. “Where do I sign?”

She points to the bottom of the executive order; Fenster T. Turnworthy signs the document, then dips his seal into sealing wax which he then officially stamps the transaction official. “Uh…Beavis…Tell me, if you would…” He slowly swings around his chair and where Beavis once stood, is merely the smoldering remains of his clothing. “Oh, sorry…”

The Ostrich creeps up behind him and pecks at the accountant’s bald head.

END CHAPTER TWO….

Image result for copyright symbol2018 Steven Alan Green for Larf Magazine

Chapter One of The Myth Council Handbook

Chapter Three of The Myth Council Handbook

Write a Lot, Cut a Lot: My Comedy Writing Process – by Dana A. Snow

The comedian and gag writer for the likes of the Oscars; Dana A. Snow lays out the guts of his joke creation process.

Like the sharp wits of the Algonquin round table many moons before him, Dana A. Snow’s cutting humor is intricate and funny, no matter how you slice it. Photo by David Billingsley

Writing, but Seldom New Ideas

I don’t know if I have time to write this article.  If you are reading it, I did.
I write  a  lot.  I am a one-man joke machine, so if you ever want a jokes only one man will laugh at, call me.  That one man is John Russell of Boulder, Colorado.

I have a lot of material.https://goo.gl/images/QUpCTn

If  I  was  performing the whole thing in a show, it would  be at least 2 hours long.   I select 5  to 20 minutes from that repertoire for the show at hand, based in part on whether a set should be clean or dirty, “edgy”  or  “family friendly.”   (As an outline, it runs 2 to 7 pages.) I  give myself  writing assignments.  Anything  that  fills a  page with short conversational sentences that might be funny.  Mostly I add jokes to topics already in my outline.  I  have a stripper routine (that started with a joke I offered to another comic but they didn’t accept it) where I try many jokes every year and tend to keep one new one a year.  I  have a  slapstick routine that also has had one joke added a  year.  That one started as an  ad-lib and I kept adding to it.   In both cases, what started as 5 tight seconds, became 5 tight minutes over the course of a year or more.  When  I  rehearse a  routine, I sometimes  ad-lib  additional jokes and transitions that  try to make  things  clearer or take  the  existing attitude further.

I  seldom add new premises or topics.   Recently, I  added two, one being my “advice on love” section with a list of things you shouldn’t say on a first date.  As a writing exercise, it’s like a Letterman Top Ten List or a Mock The Week (A British game show available on YouTube) closing competition.

When  you  first  go  to   a  therapist,  you  shouldn’t   answer  all  their  questions with: “None’a   your  damn business!”

https://goo.gl/images/9SdvSf
Anything can be comedy inspiration. Including a taco.

I let anything and everything inspire new jokes.  I made up an egg joke after seeing an egg reference on the menu at Taco Bell.  I’ve written jokes in response to things posted on Facebook and some deserved reposting as my status and some of those seem worth trying in my act.  For example, someone quoted a great politician of the past and I came up with a paraphrase as if Trump had started to say the same thing and then detoured:

“Ask  not   what  your  country   can  do   for  you,
’cause  you’re  not   gonna  get  it  anyway!’

I  give myself  writing assignments.  Anything  that  fills a  page with short conversational sentences that might be funny.

A  lot of it is role-playing.

I write  gags as if being said by other comedians (like Tom Lehrer and  Red Skelton), comic actors/characters, like  Art Carney as Norton on “The Honeymooners”  or Tom  Baker  of “Doctor  Who” years  ago.  I’ve written jokes imagining what friends would say.  One neighbor dabbled in standup  and his real self seemed like  Archie Bunker, so I used that attitude to write jokes about my list of subjects.

Imagining what another comic might say:

IN MY PARENTS SECTION – MOTHER’S DAY CARD

“When  we’ve  got   some  time  t’  kill,
We’re  gonna  cut  you  outta  the  will!”

I explore some  philosophical  themes that are important  to me, such as:

“We are lazy and  want rewards without doing the work required.”

Example of a joke from the theme of “we are lazy & want rewards without doing the required work”:

I went on a job interview; the first thing I said was
“Is  it   too  soon  to  ask  for a raise?”
He said  “Yes!   It  is too  soon!”   I  said
“Oh.  Then, uh,  remind  me  later!”

I imagine super-idiots’ responses to my topics.

https://goo.gl/images/7XzN5aA  lot of comics just tell true  stories.  I  prefer  jokey satire like The Mad Tea Party part  of “Alice in Wonderland.”  I imagine super-idiots’ responses to my topics. Captain Peter “Wrong-way” Peachfuzz from  Bullwinkle cartoons, The Bizarro World in 1960s DC Comics, Mortimer Snerd on 1940s Edgar Bergen radio shows, The 3 Stooges.  Sometimes Steve Martin and Martin Short have used this style. (Martin Short’s Jiminy Glick is hilariously wrong all the time!)  Characters  who  are reliably wrong about everything, such as:

In   romance,  you  shouldn’t  say
“I   am  your  slave!    All  the  money   I  have   in  the  bank  is  yours!  You’re  PERFECT!  Just  being   in  your  presence  is  enough   for  me!   Um.  What’s  your  name?”

https://goo.gl/images/rcLPtw
Welcome Back Kotter’s Gabe Kaplan

Sometimes I try to write things to improve my act’s marketability.   Who would I play in a sitcom?   How could the character I play in my act be adapted to be a main character on a sitcom?   This was done with Roseanne Barr, Tim Allen, Gabe Kaplan (“Welcome Back Kotter”), Seinfeld
In my case, would I play a teacher?   A married  pretentious idiot?  A  newscaster?  I  have many jokes about teaching (which I have done in real life) and teachers are often main characters in a sitcom whether the main character is a kid or a fellow teacher or if it’s about a family where one of them is still in school.

I attempted to write jokes plugging upcoming shows I hope to have, such as: “I’m  gonna  be   in  a  movie   called  “Sequel  2:  The  Sequel!”

I keep trying to come up for titles if I do my standup in a theater.   I have  two old titles that I used years ago and I  have two new ones.  They could be used in ads for the show, but also on T-shirts and business cards.  When I get one I like, it sometimes inspires a few new gags for within the show.  I used the title “The Sensuous Nerd” for quite a while and it lasted longer than I expected, despite the title it parodied be long gone. Those are just methods  I’ve  used recently.

Earliest Tryouts on Friends

https://goo.gl/images/nnf6HXI  wrote about 20 jokes, told ’em to  friends & trimmed it down to 10 and then 7.  It averages about one out of 20 gags I create are actual keepers.   It’s the editing that cuts it all down to gags as strong as Rodney Dangerfield & certain other favorites.   It’s not that I’m brilliant; I’m just ruthless in cutting or changing what doesn’t work.  I have 4 friends who hear the 30 new minutes each week; some in-person and some on the phone because they live out-of-state.    When I tell jokes to them, they’re not kept in the act or cut from it based on whether they each friend laughed or not.  If  I get a laugh but feel embarrassed by the joke (finding it corny after the excitement of making up the joke wore off), I will cut it.   If they  don’t respond, but I feel

https://goo.gl/images/nNBQdM
W.C. Fields

an average audience would laugh, I keep it in to try it again.    I  have  certain friends  I  regularly use  to  try  jokes.  Some  are  easy  laughers and some difficult.  One friend doesn’t laugh often but makes useful  suggestions  on  rephrasing.   Some friends  respond  better when I read my jokes imitating comedians  from  the  past  like  W. C. Fields.   Some are even more “politically correct” than me and I want to hear those opinions  too.    Knowing they’re listening and reaction patterns helps me  judge their responses.

I hope this article gives any new comics or writers of stand-up material an idea of my joke writing process.  I wish you luck.   Do good work!

For Larf Magazine, this is Dana A. Snow, 7-27-18
Comedian and comedy writer Dana A. Snow with comedy cohorts at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California. Dana is center, pinkish red jacket, purple tie, and youthful look.

Author’s custom disclaimer: Copyright 2018 Dana Snow. All rights reserved. These are my jokes! Mine mine mine!! Quotation of these jokes is not allowed in joke books, speeches, other people’s stand-up or on radio or T.V.  shows or any other media when not performed by the author. I had to write lots of jokes to find ones that worked and fit my character, so bug off. If it’s worth stealing, it’s worth telling people to see my shows and hire me & pay me!    The exception is that I give permission to Steven Alan Green in LARF MagazineImage result for copyright symbol and when publicizing LarfImage result for copyright symbol.