Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 104: The Marathon

Hello again faithful friends!

Another Friday, another episode of Femoir the Podcast. This time we’re running with the theme of a marathon, inspired by the LA Marathon (ALL PUNS INTENDED).

I discuss auditions for a comedy show I’m part of, talk about general marathon training (mostly metaphorically), and when we face rejection we have to try, try again.

It’s a short and sweet episode, as these show notes reflect.

Subscribing and rating the show helps, but listening keeps me inspired to keep a’going so thank you!

Enjoy!

Advertisements

The “Just Kidding” Weapon

When I was growing up, we had one particular rule I remember my parents implemented right about when I was a tween that irked me at first. I later realized this tiny tweak made a huge difference on not only on the type of humor I like and create, but also the type of person I’ve become.

What, say you, was this small but significant rule?

My brother and I were not allowed to say something mean then follow it up with “I’m just kidding.”

mean faceWe had to implement this rule because we were doing just that. We were yelling at each other (usually I did the yelling… my brother was more precise and cutting with his words and I just yelled loudly and incoherently most of the time), and we’d say something like “You’re stupid!” then follow it up with “I’m just kidding!”. We’d then act like somehow by saying we were kidding it made it ok and the other person was overreacting or had a bad sense of humor.

When really we were not kidding. We meant to insult the other one.

I found my parent’s rule to be worthless at first. I found it to be limiting and started convincing myself they, too, had bad senses of humor. But they were relentless in their enforcement of it and it didn’t take too long before I just stopped the insults because I knew they were meant to be insulting. I had to get more creative if I wanted something to actually be funny. I realized that by pretending something was “funny” when it was really just mean, I was being lazy and I was being vicious. I never want to be either of those things, so I just stopped.

Years later, as I attempt to make a professional career out of “just kidding,” I make a solid point to make sure my humor (hopefully) reflects positivity and happiness. I want it to only be used as a “weapon” for situations where tensions are high and people need to be disarmed and remember we have more in common with each other than we tend to remember. I made a concerted effort and a specific choice to back off more polarizing careers and interests of mine in order to focus on humor partially because I love using it as a means to bring people together.

Plus I’m a lot better at selling a joke than I am at selling an argument.

I still hear people do it. I hear people say cruel things then, often passive aggressively, blame the very person they were insulting for “not getting it” because they were “just joking.” I call bullshit. You weren’t joking. You were being mean. So if you don’t want to be mean, don’t say mean things. Don’t try and protect yourself with the lazy shroud of pretending you have a sense of humor and the other person doesn’t.

I have a great sense of humor. I enjoy a good roast and will be the first to make joke’s at my own expense. But if I feel like the intentions behind your “insult” aren’t actually for the purposes of being funny but because you’re being mean, I’ll be the first one to turn on you.

So don’t be lazy. And don’t be mean. Just… be cool. Dawwwwwg.

Ice Ice Vengeance

Alright stop. Collaborate and listen.

Or read.

Whatever you get the point.

Long before I was an aspiring young hip hop artist and freestyle rapper, I was but a mere high school student in speech class attending a private Jesuit school in Indianapolis. I used to do speeches I thought were hilarious. I showed how to properly paint nails by asking the notoriously mean assistant dean to let me paint his nails pink. I wrote silly skits with friends and pretended my mic was going in and out of speeches during really important parts. I did shit I thought was hilarious.Rap singer Vanilla Ice in 1991. (AP Photo)

One of the attempts I made at hilarity was when I tried to have all of the lyrics of “Ice Ice Baby” memorized to deliver as an extemporaneous dramatic monologue reading to the class. This is before my years of improv and my years onstage. I was nervous. I wanted to be funny. I was 16 and really invested in this being hilarious. I listened to the song on repeat for hours. I looked up the lyrics and went out of my way to memorize it. I remember putting specific verses on repeat while driving on spring break in order to get it down.

And the day of my speech, I brought up a cheat sheet in case I forgot.

And I failed.

Miserably.

I memorized parts of the song, sure, but I was so nervous I didn’t trust myself and looked down so much I screwed up a lot and lost my place. It was uncomfortable and far from funny for everybody. I remember looking at a note a person who shall remain unnamed wrote to someone else. It said simply “What do Briana and unfunny have in common? Everything.”

To be fair, that was the meanest things got in my school. And I bet if I had confronted him about it, he would have apologized. I went to a really nice school and had, for the most part, really nice classmates. Yeah we were all teenage assholes, but we weren’t terrifying bullies.

But still, because I was so invested in making that performance where I failed and I was so convinced deep down in me that me rapping that was hilarious, I didn’t give up. Shortly after the speech I put my memorization in to hyperdrive and had that song down within the week. I didn’t get the chance to redo my speech, but I began making it my go-to karaoke song. And I began to let my inner entertainer loose and go crazy with the performance because I knew it so well. My senior year, I showed off my skills in the Black Student Union talent show, enlisted a friend to do the background vocals and performed the hell out of the song in front of a huge audience wearing a colorful dress with shoulder pads that I found at a local thrift store. I got a screaming standing ovation.

By the time I got to college, I would bring tiny podunk karaoke bars in Cincinnati  to a halt after performing the song. I go nuts whenever it’s played. I did it once at a beer festival in St. Louis and was immediately bought three drinks. I did it in a bar in Toronto and was given a shot and hugs by a gaggle of strangers. I did it a couple months ago in Santa Monica at a wine bar and had a man beg me to leave my boyfriend to be with him afterwards. (Spoiler alert: Didn’t work.)

What I’m saying is… I annihilate this song now.

And I’ll be honest, every time I do it, I still think of that epic fail in speech class when I was 16 years old and that passive aggressive note I saw on that guy’s desk afterwards. And every time, there is an angsty teenager inside me going “Take that, [insert guy’s name here]. Ya dick.”

Sometimes it’s ok to fail. In fact, often it’s ok to fail. Let the failure be a teacher and your frustration fuel you to new levels.

And once you stop giving so much of a shit, you too can become a local karaoke comedy rock star.

Yo man let’s get outta here. Word to your mother.

Femoir: The Podcast – Charisma (Show Notes)

khartIn this latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast (available for free on iTunes! Rating and comments help!), I mention my middle school, my high school, and the book The Charisma Myth.

I also talk about Kevin Hart. A lot. A lot a lot. And I have no regrets about that.

I discuss listening to more stuff on audible.com, reading other interesting books like Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s biography, Mother Teresa, and the value of good listening. I actually recently did a podcast with an excellent listener, Jamarr Johnson, if you wanna check it out.

To round it out, I talk about The Reckoning, tease an upcoming podcast (November 10) all about Listening, and talk more about how charismatic Kevin Hart is.

Bringer Culture

Not long ago I did a late night show on a late weekend night. I don’t want to get too specific because, although elements of this story are directly aimed at specific people, I’ve always found being more general in your frustrations is more effective for understanding  how they can affect your own life and happiness rather than simply blaming others for being dicks.

Anyway, not long ago, I did a show on a late weekend night for a some total dicks.

I booked the show through an outside source, talked to the main guy who was running it about expectations, and then actually ran into him the week before the show at a comedy rap battle (where I annihilated onstage and he did so poorly he and his opponent were both deemed losers and their spot was given to someone actually worthy of moving on).

The show was a hard sell. It was a holiday weekend. It was in the valley. It was at 10:30 pm and it was $15 cash at the door. For a comedy show.

scam-artistThe only person I was able to “sell” that to was the man I date and that’s only because he’s like in love with me so he likes to support me even during B.S. shows. Everyone else I invited was out of town or got (understandably) too drunk to want to come to the valley at that hour and spend $15. Even my guy was pretty shocked at the price. He doesn’t mind paying to support me but I wasn’t seeing a dime of that money and I don’t like him paying more than $5 or $10 for anything. It was, after all, a no guarantee’s comedy show. For $20 we could have gone to one of the major comedy venues in town and seen some of the best comics in the world drop in.

But nevertheless, he paid it and I apologized to the booker (because I’m midwestern) for not having more people out there. He was rude and ignored me and acted like I was really being unreasonable.

There were only 4 comics including the host who showed up to perform. One was the man who booked the show, one was another guy I guess was also running the show who I’ve seen around town, another woman, then the host. That’s it. So you’d think, if we’re going to do an hour or so show, it would be pretty evenly spaced out on how much time we get.

I should note- I almost thought about not going. I didn’t want to leave my place on the westside super late to go to this because I was afraid it was going to be yet another shitty experience. I had a gut feeling these guys were dicks and wouldn’t respect me or my time at all. But I thought better of it, put down the delicious wine I was drinking, and gave up an episode of Game of Thrones to go do this show in the hopes it would be a really positive experience.

I got 4 minutes.

Four. Minutes.

I was told I’d get the light at 3 minutes and I had to get off after that.

I accidentally ran the light and did a whopping 5 minutes. But I had them laughing the whole time, so whatever.

The guy who actually booked the show went up after me. He did 20 minutes. He did not have 20 minutes worth of good material, but he stood onstage and talked for over 20 minutes. Then the next comic, the other girl, went up. She got a whopping 5 minutes, too, even though she was also really funny.

And then the last guy got up. And he talked. And talked. And talked. And talked. And eventually, after talking for a really really long time, he asked how long he’d been onstage. The host told him 38 minutes. He laughed and kept talking for at least 5 more minutes. My guy and I were tired and wanted to leave. It was way past midnight, we’d been up since 6 am working and doing lots of different stuff. So we did the “faux pas” of not “supporting the show” and left while he was still talking and the show was still technically going on. I tried to keep my face calm as I looked at the guy who booked me. I smiled and said thank you. He made eye contact yet still managed to ignore me.

I was shaking with anger as I walked to my car.

Here’s the thing. I get it. So called “bringer” shows, where you book 30 comics most of whom have never done comedy shows so they’re able to bring everyone they know who will sit through 3 hours of shitty comics interspersed with decent ones who are friends with the host while they pay exorbitant prices for tickets that their friends don’t see a dime of… suck. They suck. Also too many free shows in LA suck. A comic I’ve seen in the scene wrote a great piece about it. The best show I did recently was a tiny theater down the street from the shit one for a friend of mine who’s young and wants to book good comics and puts up shows every couple months. He brings a great, really supportive crowd who are happy to pay a little money and they divvy up the money at the end and split it amongst the comics (who all have about the same amount of time… about 8-10 minutes). That’s a great motherf***ing show. I make like $10 and feel like a king. Or a queen, depending on how much you care about royalty political correctness.

My point is this- stand up show culture in LA is weird. I don’t know exactly what the answer is. But I do know that there is a gross underlying culture perpetuated by a bunch of dicks who act like your job as an up and comer is to pay your dues to them, the so-called gatekeepers. And I also know it’s only a matter of time before we all see that these dicks won’t make it. Not because they outright lack talent, but because they’re dicks and nobody wants to work with a dick.

I certainly don’t. And as angry as I was, I’m also grateful. It was a reminder that I don’t want to waste my time with people like that in any capacity. I would have much preferred to stay at home and watch an episode of Game of Thrones with my boo while drinking cheap wine and passing out. That would have relaxed and recharged me. And I could have been more creative and happier the next day, not pissed off and tired and writing two new additions to my “NEVER WORK WITH AGAIN” list.

My friend Natasha and I have been working a lot together recently on a number of different projects. Her work ethic is part of what draws me to her. One of the things we talk about is how we only really want to create cool stuff with people we like to be around. Because that’s what it’s all about.

I did the show with dicks party because I felt obligated. I felt like the more I get onstage the better I’ll become. The more people I meet the better network I’ll have to “make it.” The more dues I pay, the more people will respect me. But I learned that night that most of that isn’t true or isn’t necessary. Everyone trajectory is different. Of course, more stage time will make you better, but sometimes you reach a point of diminishing returns. If you’re not respected as a comic (or even as a person) it won’t matter who well you do in this scenario. You’re nothing more than a person who didn’t “bring” enough people for the bookers to talk at for 45 minutes and take money from.

You don’t have to do everything. You just have to do what you love and what brings you to life. For me, that often means staying at home to write and hang out with the imaginary friends in my head. Or spending a day blogging and catching up on the events in my life. Or reading. Or getting tipsy off red wine and watching Game of Thrones on the couch with my man. These are all things that fill my well of creativity.

Feeling guilty for not providing enough audience for a bunch of dicks… does not.

So thanks, you dicks, for reminding me of what I love to do and what I no longer want to waste my time on.

Lesson here: Every dick can be a teacher.

Femoir: The Podcast – Fear (Show Notes)

ITaylor_Swift_-_Fearlessn this latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast we be discussin’ the FEAR, friends.

As you can see in this picture, I discuss Taylor Swift (not pictured: Hating myself for it), my confidence podcast, doing stand up comedy, and my bestest friend in the world who happens to also be a Top Gun style jet pilot.

And for those of you who listen and may be worried, I am no longer sick and am feelin a-ok these days. Not like the sick (but awesome) voice you hear on the podcast.

Be sure and give it a listen then give it a ranking and comment if you can!

Don’t Blame The Joker, baby…

pimp…blame the game.

Comedians take a lot of heat. We take risks constantly and perform in all sorts of environments- hostile and friendly.

But what we risk more than anything is often being honest. Which can translate to “being edgy.” But I’m not talking about edgy in the overplayed “let me cuss a lot and offend everyone here possible” way. I’m talking about in the way that we say something that people really want to laugh at because it rings so true to them, but they don’t want to laugh out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings.

Let me start with saying I’m not a fan of any comedy that hurts feelings. I am, to a fault, a comedy person who likes to bring people along and not hurt feelings. I say  “to a fault” because it sometimes means I won’t be the most memorable comic of the night. I won’t be the person who pissed you off or who shocked you. I’m learning how to make my style of stand up comedy really sharp so I can be that… but it’s a process. And I refuse to become something I’m not just for the sake of being “memorable.”

But I digress. What I was saying was that sometimes, people say things that ring true to them that bring out some issue or problem that they can’t address directly. And oftentimes, they cloak it in a joke.

Now, I could get into a deep philosophical discussion about comedy as a means to an end and as a constant and necessary way of human expression. I would start there and delve further into the nature of political comedy and why comedians, no matter what their intention or actual political leanings, tend to get viewed as more liberal. I could even delve further from there into my own journey with comedy- with my roots and interest in politics and how and why it changed throughout the years.

But I ain’t got time for any of that right now. So I’ll get to the point.

And my point is this: If you don’t like the type of humor somebody spouts, don’t support stuff they do. But don’t demonize them into something or someone they’re not. They’re a person with an opinion. And odds are, they’re testing to see if material will even work and people will be receptive to them. And as long as they’re getting audiences to listen to their opinion, they’re going to keep saying and exploring it further. If they don’t have an audience, they would eventually stop saying it. But as long as they can find support, they’re going to continue saying whatever they want.

And they’re allowed to. A comedians job is to find their voice and to connect with audiences. It’s also part of the description to be an exaggeration of who you really are and what you really believe. The exaggeration is where comedy comes in. It’s the difference between the seasoned pro who spends his set yelling while making the audience scream with laughter and the terrifying amateur who scares everybody in the room and comes across as a crazy person. They’re job is to hone in that persona and that exaggeration. Their job is to sell a style. And your responsibility is to support it or ignore it. They’ll become louder or eventually shut up depending on what you decide.

But it’s not your job to get mad at them for saying things. It’s not your job- or anyone’s- to demand apologies for having opinions. All people have opinions. Just because comedians cultivate an audience to listen to them doesn’t mean they have any more or less responsibility to agree with you. They only have a responsibility to their own voice and to their art. If you don’t like what they say, stop listening. But don’t demand us to stop having opinions.

It’s especially difficult for comedians in a world where everything can be taken out of context and twisted. Context for comedy is everything. And if you take time to pause and think about what was said, why it was said, and how it was said… you’ll be able to have a more honest understanding of the situation.

I think sometimes when something controversial is said or brought up that hits a nerve in society, we should examine why we are bothered by that nerve rather than get upset that we have nerves. It’s an opportunity to define who we are and what we are, not an opportunity to shame someone for expressing themselves.

So don’t hate the playa’s baby. In face, don’t hate anyone or anything at all. Hate is harmful. Love is power. Love them playas and know why they playin’ the game so you, too, can love dat game doe.

Tampon

tamponListen. I’m not gonna call myself a Saint.

But… I’m basically a Saint.

I mean, I changed someone’s life significantly for the better. I made a difference. I showed a major act of kindness without any expectation of reciprocation.

If that doesn’t qualify me, I don’t know what will.

Probably writing about it so everyone can congratulate me on my good deed. Fine then. I guess I’ll continue.

The burden of my new Sainthood is already weighing so heavily on me.

This is what happened. It was a normal day at the gym in the locker room. I had just finished a really Saintly workout, when I went down to grab my things and go feed starving children in 3rd world countries without bragging about how great I am. A woman was next to me in the locker room. I considered giving her a hug just because that’s basically what people naturally want to do with me since I’m such a warm, good person and shit. But instead, I kept my head down and gathered my stuff while praying for world peace.

Then she spoke to me. Beckoned me, really. Because that’s what you do with a Saint.

She asked if I had a tampon.

I hesitated. Only because, as a near-Mother Teresa, I didn’t want to lie to her. I wanted to be honest like my Saintly peers. But I told her I thought so. And then I looked. And I did.

I had an extra tampon.

She had asked everyone else in the locker room for one. But they were all mere mortals. None of them were Saints who plan ahead for something like this. She was actually almost ready to go home and not workout (how easily we lose faith, my loyal followers). But then she asked me. A Saint. And I’m glad she did.

I gave her that dry wad of cotton to stick in her unmentionables to keep her from embarrassing herself and ruining a good pair of underwear. And then I smiled, allowed the halo around my head to glow a little brighter, and floated to my car.

When I got home, I replaced the tampon I gave away in order to prepare for the next woman who may need an incredibly life-changing and generous gesture.

You’re welcome, world.

Love,

Saint Briana of Tampons

Changing Times

dali clockThese times, friends, they are a’changin’.

You may have already noticed, I’m not always able to post as frequently to this blog and my beloved Ms. In the Biz.

Some of that is because I’m a lazy chick and I’ve realized that there are times I’d rather watch another killer episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia while I chill out after work and not think about anything but being entertained. It’s not the laziest, but as a super-productive person, I would prefer to think I could use every precious moment of my free time to create and continue to work on the projects that I’m the most passionate about, rather than sit and enjoy some Netflix while watching people do exactly what I want to do.

 

But some of it is because I’m a lucky chick and have had some awesome projects pick up steam.  These projects are cutting into my precious time and are forcing me to find places to make cutbacks. I’ve had to refocus some of my (still precious) free time to work on these projects. It’s a good thing that I’m very excited about, but that has forced me to refocus and reschedule some of the time I normally keep free for freeform writing.

So I decided I didn’t need to write a blog every day of the week, so I aim to put somewhere between 1-3 blogs up now every week, depending on what I’ve got available to give. I truly enjoy sharing some of my adventures and thoughts with everyone. And I’d love to pretend like I’m continuing to write these blogs based on completely altruistic motivations. But the truth is, these little blurbs are as much for me as they are for you. I think of things I want to share with the world, and this forum gives me the ability to express myself freely without any judgment or consequence. I mean, obviously there are consequences for what I’m saying here, but it’s not like someone is forcing me to do it. I get to just do it for the love of writing, creating, and sharing.

I’m taking time to pause and tell you this so that you know, if in the upcoming months my blog posts are less frequent, it’s not you. It’s me. And my schedule. And it’s only because I’m (hopefully) spending my time working on other creative projects that I’ll be able to share with the world shortly. But they just take a little more time to get going than these blogs. So you’ll have to be patient with me. And I’ll be patient with me, too as I slowly start to go crazy and kick myself for not being uber-productive.

Because productivity doesn’t always mean creating immediate content. Sometimes, you gotta pull back, take a breather, regroup, and slowly but surely create something bigger and better.

 

Femoir: The Podcast – Confidence! Show Notes

confidenceThe latest Femoir: The Podcast episode is up on iTunes for free! Check it and subscribe, yo!

This episode, we discuss confidence. And to the left, you’ll find a picture of a little kid posing confidently. I don’t know this kid. I just found his pic on the internet. Because that’s the type of in-depth reporting you can expect from a comedians passion project.

In this episode, I discuss my vlogs (which you can find on my YouTube page), my Kurt Vonnegut poster, the US Naval Academy and F22s, a young Reggie Miller and an awesome Amy Cuddy Ted Talk.