Evidently it’s Batman Day, which is a great name for a holiday. Also, not something that means you can put a black plastic bag on your head with two holes in it and punch someone doing crimes. Also also, how does one FIND such people? They’re always so rife in the comics and movies, and it makes no sense.
"Some guys in black sweaters and matching stocking caps are robbing a bank in midtown with machine guns!"
"REALLY? Are they fucking crazy?! How do they expect to get away?? It takes an hour to get six blocks over there!"
Anyway, I have a great memory. A Batman memory. The first couple of years I lived in Los Angeles, I was a PA (lunch fetcher, furniture mover, dreamer) for a production company in Hollywood. Part of my job was delivering things around town. On one such trip, I dropped off a script (I think?) to a producer. He invited me into his office while he checked something on his computer while I sat in a chair in front of his desk. Then he said, “I want to show you something.”
He took out a painting from behind his desk. From one perspective you could call it “outsider art.” Mildly abstract, but obviously done by someone attempting to paint realism and failing. On the other, you could say it was a horrible painting. It was of Batman. Sitting in the Batmobile. I loved it.
"You know who gave this to me, who painted this?" said the producer.
"No," I said, "who?"
Listen, homeboy. I’m in motherfuckin’ LA for the next four out of six weeks. So I’ll be here for two weeks starting today. Irvine-ish. [clears throat] Two weeks starting mid-August ‘til the end of the shit. Let’s fuckin’ kick it with it, homey.
[to a bartender] Thank you very much, man.
Uhhhhhh, I have no fuckin’ idea where to go, what I’m doing. I’ve hooked up with a couple ladies somehow tonight. Havin’ dinner with ‘em and shit. LA is badass. I like the view. I like to fuckin’ hang out, drink beers, smoke weed, whatever.
[gives number, hangs up]
I’ve been lucky in my career, and unlucky too. Really, really unlucky. Did I ever tell you about how I once lost out on the opportun—oh, wait, that’s not where I was going with this. Where was I? Lucky. Lucky why—right. Singing!
Last night I did a show called “The Goddamn Comedy Jam” at the Lyric theater in Hollywood. My friend Josh Adam Meyers, who has a voice like if a chain-smoking cottonmouth snake could talk, put it together. Basically, comedians go up, do a set, then sing a song with a band. Joining me were Josh, Jay Larson, Ryan Sickler, and Bill Burr. Bill was dressed and done up like the lead singer of Three Dog Night, though he said he was going for John Bonham. It was fun joking around backstage, as Bill couldn’t smile for fear of his glued-on mustache coming off.
My plan was to do a show in Echo Park first, then head to the show in Hollywood. First show was 8:30, GCJ was at 9. “I’ll make it,” I thought to myself, an idiot. See, comedy shows NEVER start on time. They just don’t. At least not in LA. Maybe they do in Germany, like the trains, but not here. Whether it’s waiting for more crowd to show up, someone listing the show as a 7:00 when it’s actually an 8:00, or just a “Meh” attitude, there’s no on-time departure. So naturally when I stuck my head in at 8:45, it was nowhere near started. “How late does the show go?” I asked the host. “Probably 10:30.” “Cool.” I was gone, barreling across town to do my song.
My song, “Skulls,” is a fun little ditty by The Misfits about how they want your skulls. In fact, they NEED your skulls. I listened to it about five times on the way over. I’d listened to it several times over the weekend, but I’d never done it with a band. Or in karaoke. Is there a karaoke place that has “Skulls” in the book? If so, good on you, Williamsburg or East Portland! I pulled up, ran in, and promptly waited around a half hour to go on. During that time, I paced, did vocal exercises (Thanks, Grant High School Royal Blues!), and absentmindedly thought about what bits I would do for my set.
It went great. My worries about my weekend (booze)-ravaged throat were unfounded. Didn’t crack, didn’t strain. There’s a funny thing about a microphone with me. Stuff I could yell or sing that would hurt my throat and chest say, walking on the street, is easy with a mic. It’s like after all these years of barking into them, my chest and diaphragm relax like they teach you in voice classes and singing school. Ah, singing school. Memories. Same thing happened when I did “Night of 1,000 Segers.” Bob Seger sings with a throat and lungs made of steel, and imitating him (at least without a mic) hurts like a bitch. When I did “Night Moves,” though, I hit the “Waiting on the Thunder!” note, no problem.
So now I’ve done “Skulls,” “Night Moves,” and last summer at Greg Behrendt’s “Bring the Rock” at Outside Lands, “Bad Luck” by Social D. All because I’m a comedian. Being in musicals and doing choir in high school (sorry, SINGING school), I never saw this coming. It’s good to have a plan in life (something I’m still just learning, kinda sadly), but it’s nice to welcome the silly and random things that come along. Like singing with a band like a rock man.
Oh, and I made the Echo Park show too. Without singing. Just wacky bits, skits, and hoo-hahs.
Comedian Hari Kondabolu (harikondabolu) humorously points out an inconvenient fact about Superman. (Not that you should start rooting for Lex Luthor.)
YouTube comments indicate that a lot of anti-immigrant folks don’t like this. Neither do some nerds. I, however, am still proud of this piece.