Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Pro at Work.

When you think about it, 40 dollars for 15 minutes of work is pretty darn good. I took some time this past week to do the math and discovered that works out to 160 dollars per hour. Now only if they’d let me do an 8-hour set.

Alas, they only needed me for 15 minutes at The Spectator’s in New Rochelle. I could have (forgive me) gone on and on.

So that’s 110 unpaid days in New York City for a 40-dollar pay-check on day 111. It took exactly 112 days to get paid for joke-telling in Boston last year. So I’m one day ahead of schedule. The big test however, will be how long it takes to get to payday number 2. Last year it took a mere 14 days. Not going to happen in New York City.

Still, no reason to complain. I’ve had a rather fantastic couple of days. Yesterday, New York was buried in unyielding snow, and there was no sense in going door-to-door office-supply selling. So I got myself an unexpected three-day weekend. I took my second drunken walk through Prospect Park in the snow early in the day (there is nothing quite like having a good buzz on while watching The Price is Right) and it was far more successful, as I was accompanied by my also-drunk roommates.

Where the hell was I?

Oh yes, The Spectator’s. My first paying gig in New York. It wasn’t in New York City, but to the north in the City of New Rochelle. New Rochelle is the seventh largest city in New York, and the home of Dick Van Dyke.

I was offered the show a month ago by friend and fellow comic Amy, who long-time readers of this blog will remember as AC, the host of the See You Next Tuesday mic. She grew up in New Rochelle and still lives there, in the very apartment she lived as a child, indeed the very room in which she was born. AC was born without medical assistance in her mother’s bed. As she puts it: “my mom thought she had to take a shit and instead I started coming out.” This no-nonsense, get-out-of-my-way attitude AC displayed during her birth is still evident today.

Once I got a look at AC’s apartment, I realized why no one would want to leave. The place is a veritable palace; it makes my already ragged apartment in Brooklyn look like a Confederate prison. I guess that’s the benefit of living outside the five boroughs.

AC lived only a few blocks from The Spectator’s, a fairly typical sports bar with the exception of its size. It’s gigantic. Perhaps my judgment was warped by the always-cramped quarters of New York City, but I couldn’t get over the cavernous interior at the Specs. There was a large square bar in the front center, surrounded on all sides by booths for sit-down dining. In the back was a stage at least 6 feet off the ground, making it first set I’ve done with a legitimate chance I would fall to my death before getting to my closer.

The Specs was hoping, but the majority of the clientele were loitering around the square bar, seemingly hundreds of yards from the stage. I did a little barking before the show, trying to convince people to move closer without letting them know I was actually performing. I’m not sure this actually convinced anyone. I opened the show and did a solid 15. I love doing 15 minutes, just enough time to roll out all my “hits.” The comic after me entered stage to sci-fi music and smoke machines dressed up in a Snuggie and Elton John sunglasses. I forgot the name of this character. The crowd seemed befuddled, but I appreciated it. I’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of comics with the same old schtick; (myself certainly included) it’s refreshing to see someone in a dollar-store costume claiming to be from space and talking about interplanetary intercourse. And stand-up comedy is just about the only profession in the world where you can claim that. It’s what makes it so great.

I thought I did all right. Wasn’t among my best, but I didn’t seem overwhelmed. It was odd to do a show so high up, I was literally staring down at people in the front row. I had a maddening impulse to check my fly the entire set.

Afterwards, I drank free beer at the Spectator’s behest. AC sat across from me at the booth and with subtle, drug-dealer precision, handed me a sweaty wad of ten dollars bills. Four of them to be exact. And with that, I became a professional New York Comedian. I may never again get another dime to tell a joke in this city, but that will always be true.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must visit the Automatic Teller and withdraw enough money to pay for admittance to the afternoon open mics this week. But I’ll hit the stage with a little more confidence this time. Step back junior, a pro is going to work.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hear, Hear Roger.

You may have noticed the paucity of blog posts lately. Sorry about that. Let’s Recap:

- Lost my temp job. Complained about it all weekend.
- Had my second show at the Creek and the Cave in Long Island City
- Got a new job selling office supplies.
- Had my first paid NYC comedy show.
- Shaved my beard.
- Started new job. Complained about it all weekend.
- Got Very Drunk, danced around bar in brand new suit. Spilled hot sauce all over jacket.
- Hung-over all day. Drank again. Passed out on 4 train.
- Had my best New York City afternoon on Sunday, complained about Monday all Sunday Night.
- Went back to work, spilled Vegetarian Chili on my crotch.

So I’ve been busy. Not that the schedule justifies writing less. I was busy last month, when I kept up a steady 2 post-per-week routine. (Also please note: blogs are forthcoming concerning the shows at the Creek and the Cave, and my paid gig in New Rochelle.) I’m just having a hard time keeping things in perspective.

What’s the expression? I can’t see the forest through the trees? That’s it. I still want nothing but to be a successful comedian, but I’m preoccupied dealing with other problems, such as how I’ve been uninsured since October or how I’ve mercilessly plowed through 75% of my savings in 4 months. I obsess over these things. I scour Craigslist job-postings rather than writing jokes. I shop for business-professional interview clothes rather than updating the blog. I go to bed early to rest up for the job rather than staying up late and hitting the mics.

I realize these are all part of a process. I have to do these things. If I don’t maintain a steady influx of cash, I can’t afford to live in New York and I can’t pursue stand-up comedy. This is very simple stuff here- I knew this was part of the deal. Still, I complain so much. I’m awful. I whine like a child on Christmas who opens a Sega Genesis when he wanted a Super Nintendo (reference courtesy of 1993.) And I fully expect everyone to sympathize; to realize my life is so hard because I have to hold down a day job like every other day-dreamer.

I bitched about blowing auditions, about losing a job that was clearly a temporary position, about getting a new one so quickly. All the self-pity made me lethargic and my ambition wallowed. Then I didn’t write. Not jokes, not blogs, not letters. It’s only been about 10 days but it feels like a fucking eternity. It really does.

Then yesterday night, hours after I should have been asleep, I stumbled upon an article online. It was from Esquire Magazine and it was about movie critic Roger Ebert. Do yourself a favor and check out this link:

Literally, do a favor for yourself. Read this.

Roger Ebert has always been one of my favorite writers. He managed – and still does – to walk the precarious line between serious film critic and populist champion; he found a way to be regarded by snobbish film purists and appreciated by the casual movie buff. In any artform, that’s impressive. I loved the way his reviews so often rambled off the deep end, like a lecture by that teacher in high school you could oh-so-easily get off track. He loved throwing in an anecdote, or a philosophical ramble, or a simple “this movie sucks!” Ebert always says “it’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it’s about it.” He says it over and over, sometimes qualifying it with “I often like to say…” but often just saying.

As it turns out, how Roger Ebert is about his life is with steadfast optimism. He has been battling cancer and its harrowing treatment since 2002. He’s been in an out of hospitals virtually ever since. In June 2006, he underwent surgery to remove cancerous tissue in his jaw, which resulted in part of his jaw being removed. Since that surgery, Roger hasn't a thing to eat, a thing to drink, or spoken a word. Almost four years, now. Doctors have taken parts of his shoulder and his legs, trying to reconstruct his jaw, but each attempt has failed. These surgeries have left the rest of his body physically ravaged, and he has trouble just sitting up long enough to watch a movie.

For a man who made his name talking about his opinions, there seems to be not one instance in writing of him complaining. Nothing. He became famous telling people their movies sucked, but has never used such a word to describe what has happened to him. I know I’m prone to hyperbole, but that it’s truly amazing.

And he never stopped writing. He never stopped doing what he loved. Roger Ebert still reviews movies daily. He habitually updates his blog. He’s followed by thousands of people on Twitter, which he also updates obsessively. And take it from a lifetime Ebert Reader, his reviews are just as good as ever. Better maybe. Here is a man with remarkable perspective.

Makes me feel lazy, guilty. It’s an age-old trick to use other people’s misfortune to feel better, and I guess that’s what I’m doing. It’s wrong, but it always seems to work. I really need to stop complaining and just do.

In the photo for the Esquire Magazine, Roger Ebert is smiling. He doesn’t have a jaw, but look at that picture. He’s smiling. There’s more to a smile then just the teeth and the lips and the jaw. A smile is in your eyes, in the wrinkles on your forehead. It’s all over your face. Look at that picture. His smile is conscious decision.

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting.

- Roger Ebert

Hear, Hear.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Some New York Tales.

I’ve heard lately that if I can make it here, apparently I can make it anywhere. Not so sure about that. I’ve been here three months. Certainly not long enough to qualify as making it here, but long enough to give me reason to believe that I will eventually make it here. And when that does happen, I don’t believe I will subsequently be able to make it anywhere. For example, I don’t believe I’d ever make it in China. What, without Google? Forget about it. I don’t have the slightest idea how I researched anything pre-Google. Plus I’ve never really liked Chinese food, even on New Years.

For such a big city, it’s the little things that continuously make me not hate it here. For example, there is perhaps no greater New York pleasure then unexpectedly grabbing an express train after you’ve already resigned yourself to a local train. It goes like this: let’s say you can take either the 4/5 express train, or the 2 /3 local train to your quaint abode in Crown Heights. The 2 comes first so you figure, “screw it; I’ll just take the 2 so I don’t have to wait any longer.” Then, a few stops down the line, your train pulls into the station and there across the landing is the 4 train. You gallop on board, instantly shaving ten minutes off your trip. Wonderful. No matter what was happening on that 2 train, you get on that 4 train. It doesn’t matter if you have just met your long-lost brother.

“Wait… so if your father is George Quinn, and my father is George Quinn, that means, we’re - Oh my god, AN EXPRESS TRAIN!” And off you go.

Of course sometimes you get on the train one evening and wonder why there is no one else in that particular car despite the packed subway station. It’s only after the doors close do you notice the belligerent homeless man sprawled on the floor or the car. If you’re as lucky as yours truly, sometimes that man will proceed to stand up, scream at you, and then chuck half-eaten chicken bones at your skull.

As disturbing as that incident was while it was happening, I instantly thought about how it would make a wonderful anecdote for this blog. Just goes to show how much you mean to me, readers.

I’ve been the weirdo on the train before. Why just last week I was running to catch the 6 train, and thanks to my exaggerated arm waving, I nailed a jutting pole with the back of my hand. Desperate to catch the train, I didn’t bother to look to see if I was hurt. I made it on the 6 and I noticed everyone backing away from me, forming a circle. Wondering what the hell was wrong with them, I looked down to see my hand gushing blood. Like a geyser. Because I’m a child, my initial reaction was to grab my wrist screaming, “my hand” while I tried to think of a plan. Eventually I just stuck my hand in my jacket pocket and let it bleed out. It’s a wonder I don’t have serious medical problems.

Moving on.

I’ve had some interesting shows in the past few weeks. One was a show I did at a “venue” in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I put venue in quotation marks because I’m not sure the joint actually qualified as such. It was more like a hollowed-out storage closet. There was no bar, no kitchen, no wait-staff. There was no one to stop anyone from bringing in outside booze or smoking butts or hitin’ reefer.

(Just to placate any concerned relatives, I must mention that I did not partake in the last activity. Chiefly because I didn’t want to, but also because I’m not sure I would have been able to locate the microphone –let alone tell jokes – if I had.)

Williamsburg is the hip section of Brooklyn. What the Haight-Ashbury was to hippies is what Williamsburg is to hipsters. I suppose. I’ve never actually lived in either. Anyway, there are a lot of flannel-clad, unnecessary-eyeglasses-wearing cool cats in Williamsburg. I fit in with them no better then with the Caribbeans and Hassidics who reside in Crown Heights. It seems, unfortunately, that the only place dweeby suburbanites fit in is in the suburbs. But my beard helps; I look Jewish in the Hassidic neighborhoods and hip in Williamsburg.

The show was almost an afterthought to the tempered debauchery. I don’t even smoke, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to puff a cigarette on stage while I sipped from my smuggled beer. I started with new stuff like I usually do at open mics, but then abandoned them in favor of my raunchiest jokes. It just felt right.

A comic passed around a flask of whisky. I sort-of smoked another cigarette. Mostly I just stuck the cig in my month and blew into it, like a party favor. As much as I outwardly disdain the hipster culture, I still want them to think I am cool and like me.

I took the train home and it took forever. I woke up the next day and went to work hung-over, the awful, guilt-inducing cigarette taste lingering in my mouth.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Two Down.

I don’t want to sound like too much of a downer, but I think I may soon be 0 for 2. I’m currently batting a 2009 David Ortiz-esque 0.00 when it comes to comedy auditions, and unless 75 other amateur comedians have been stricken dead since I left Caroline’s a few hours ago, my average isn’t going up anytime soon.

(And in case you were wondering, if there were some sort of comedy performance enhancing drug, I would shoot up like a rocket ship. I have absolutely no problem seeing this sentence in newspapers one day: Gregory Quinn. 2010 New York Comedy Champion* )

Today, there was an audition at Caroline’s on Broadway. It was my second in the past two weeks, and both took place smack in the middle of a workday, working on the (fairly accurate) assumption that most comics are unemployed. I arrived three hours before the audition started and was the 17th comic on the list. One young man was curled up in a sleeping bag, and even he wasn’t number one. (Some character by the name of Skim Milk had that distinction.)

The first audition was at Comix on W 14th Street. I couldn’t manage to get the morning off and had to run to Comix during my lunch break. I arrived 2 hours after it started and was number 206.

Both of the auditions were for similar events: a March Madness-style comedy competition. The auditions were to narrow the field down to 64 contestants who will compete against each other in a series of shows until there are four finalists. The ultimate winner gets a weekend of booked shows at the respective clubs and a shit-load more Facebook friends.

They were whirlwind auditions. The Comix audition gave the comics one minute to deliver their best material in front of a panel of judges. We went in groups of twenty and each watched as 19 other comedians tried desperately to cram as many punch lines as possible into sixty seconds. A single bell went off to start your minute and then went off again, incessantly, after the minute was up. Trying to finish a joke after this bell went off was maddeningly impossible, like a substitute teacher trying to continue a lecture after the fire alarm goes off.

I barely made the cut-off at Comix. They stopped taking people after the 215th comic, only minutes after I arrived. I sat on a bench in the lobby, talking with another comedian for three hours while my nerves boiled inside of me. I timed my bit over and over again, each run through coming in around 48 seconds. I figured I had it down.

I didn’t.

That infernal bell went off seconds – seconds! – before I got the big finish, the line that usually gets a nice pop. I soldiered on, and delivered the punch line to a shuddering silence. I walked off the stage while number 207 walked on.

A nebbish man with round spectacles and curly hair showed our group out the theatre, telling us that the selected comedians would receive an email and a link to a video clip, where our friends could vote for us. I was not emailed.

There was another audition at Caroline’s this morning, for an event nearly identical to the Comic contest. From what I’ve picked up ‘round the comedian circles, the Comix contest was started by a group of friends a few years back. Eventually there was a falling out, and a few off the comedians broke off from the group to start a similar contest at Carolines. I’m not sure of the accuracy of this story, but I do believe you can read all about it in the late Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the Untied Sates.

At Carolines, we each got a scrumptious two minutes of stage time. I stuck with the bit I used at Comix, as well as adding two shorter jokes to bookend. I sat in the corner of the bar, going over my bits in my notebook trying to eliminate every unnecessary letter. I talked briefly with other comedians, all of them looking so calm, so confident, so at peace with whatever the result of the audition would be. Perhaps they just hid it well. But I did not; I was clearly a wreck all morning. I would take sporadic walks back and forth around the bar, “shaking out” my arms and rubbing my neck. I threw back cup after cup of coffee.

The audition process at Carolines was not as disciplined as Comix and didn’t run as smoothly. They called each comic in one by one to perform for the judges, exactly how it’s done on American Idol. It was a laborious process. I stood outside the theatre door and waited anxiously until my number was called. The judges were very friendly.

“Next up…Gregory Quinn. Any relation to Colin Quinn?”

I smiled and gave some doofus scripted answer; something like “I get that all the time!” I immediately regretted not just saying, “Hell yeah! I love Uncle Colin!”

I got through my first two bits with a modicum of chuckles and bemused smiles before the middle judge told me that was enough. I was mortified; they couldn’t even stand two minutes of my material. I started to walk away before the same judge asked:

“So you’re from Boston?” (This was mentioned in a setup to one of my jokes.)

“Yes, sir,” I replied. I treat anyone of even the slightest authority like they are an Army Sergeant.

“Well, I think I am going to be seeing a lot of you.”

Then he said thanks and called for the next.

I can’t decide if what the judge said is a good thing. It sounded good initially, but I can’t help but think it’s one of those things they just say to every comic. I don’t know. It’s really hard to tell. I always perform the same at these shows. Not so bad that I can’t get over it for days, but never good enough to feel as if I’m going to move on.

My gut tells me I won’t be moving on this time. You can just kind of feel these things. And that would mean I went down hard at my first two chances of the New Year. That is going to be hard to swallow. I know it will not stop me from going on, but the failure will chip away a little more from my crumbling confidence. Which sucks. Sometimes, out there in this city, I feel like I never have enough.

There’s another audition in March. I’ll be there.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

On Interstate 35, Stuck.

I did storytelling at The Root Hill Café again last week. I enjoyed it. It’s nice to wonder if I did well rather than knowing I failed because nobody laughed. I think I may start to seek out more storytelling opportunities in the city. Much like I drink 40’s of Old English every Wednesday, I’m going to attempt to “double fist” stand-up and storytelling. Why the hell not?

I wrote this story at work the morning before the open mic. Not sure I like it. The opening image has been in my head forever, and I just continued on with the story from that line. The story is fictional, but the central event happened to me a few years ago. I’ll explain afterward, if you stick around.

(Also, please kindly don't bother to tell me that posting these stories is just a cheap way for me keep my posts consistent without having to do much work. I know this. It's like telling me I only have a blog because I am an egomaniac; these things are assumed.)

On Interstate 35, Stuck.

By Gregory Quinn.

The map sprawled across the hood of the car and began to melt, like butter on a skillet. The air around Dolly’s Rodsid Dier (the poor sign) was permeated with kicked-up dust and charred rubber.

Ryder was hesitant to stop, but he was hungry and he always had a thing for diners. He opened his trunk and tossed the poorly-folded map in among dirty laundry and discarded fast food. He patted the back of his jeans, one check for his wallet and another for his can. He inspected the can as he pulled it from his pocket and packed it expertly. The second the tingling, almost painful burn rushed through his lip he remembered why he started again. He spat his wad of tobacco-juice onto the like-colored dirt.

It was dead inside the Dier. There were only three people, all alone, all quiet. The heavy aroma of bacon grease and lingering coffee dripped on his skin. Ryder sat at a corner booth and checked his watch. 1:30. Plenty of time to get to Minneapolis by nightfall. Plenty of time to see Maggie before she leaves.

Ryder left from Austin yesterday afternoon as soon as he heard the news. He burned north through Oklahoma and into Kansas, rolled west past Wichita and straight through Missouri. He was making good time: 1000 miles in less than a day.

Despite the dearth of customers, service was slow. Ryder turned over his coffee mug and stuffed a handful of napkins into the chamber to collect his spit. The waitress must have noticed; she brought Ryder a fresh mug and without being cued, filled it with hour-old coffee. She didn’t say hello or ask what he might like for lunch. She just stood there, wagging a pen over a pad of paper to indicate she was ready when he was.

The booth was fake red leather, the sort ubiquitous at diners. The seat was split open; the fluffy innards spilled out like a crumbled muffin. Ryder leaned back and closed his eyes. He thought of what he would say when he saw Maggie, how he’ll try to tell her not to go, how he’ll try to tell her he’s sorry.

Ryder had no idea what he was doing here. Days ago he had been home, in Austin, waiting for her. His new job started in a few days, yet here he was in Iowa, 15 miles south of Des Moines, in a rundown roadside diner called Dolly’s Rodsid Dier. And it was all for her. Ryder unloaded his load of tobacco from his bottom lip and discharged it in his mug, remnants of snuff lodged in between his teeth and in his fingernails. The coffee was already cold, the food taking forever.

As Ryder left, he heard the television over the diner’s bar flick on. Some sort of breaking news.

He merged onto I35. Traffic was heavy for an early Saturday afternoon. Ryder reached over the passenger seat to roll down the window, the car’s air conditioning long of out service. Ahead to the north Ryder noticed a giant pall over the Principal Building, a looming grey cloud that stretched upwardly like a funnel. The traffic ahead of him was stopped. Ryder put his car in park and stared at the cloud, then at his watch.

No car was moving. Some sounded worthless horns; their beeps rose from the traffic and were abruptly ignored. Ryder rifled through the radio stations. All the broadcasts were interrupted for a local news bulletin: a building in downtown Des Moines has exploded.

Around noon, a small ink building on Grand Street erupted. No one was injured, save for some traumatized pedestrians below. It was a minor explosion, but there was enough smoke to limit visibility north of the city. I35 North was shut down for miles. Not far south, Ryder was stuck.

He dialed Maggie but she didn’t answer. She hadn’t taken his calls since the day before yesterday. He knew she wouldn’t wait for him. His eyes darted between the clock on the radio and his wristwatch, hoping for a discrepancy. But they agreed – ten past four. His car had been in park for an hour.

He was frantic. Gridlocked, Ryder gripped the sweat-soaked steering wheel and rubbed his neck. The radio advised commuters to keep their windows up, as the billowing smoke could be hazardous to your health. Ryder did as he was told, but any health benefits were negated by the simmering heat in the cab of his car. Each drop of sweat that dribbled down his forehead was laden with grease and nicotine. A sour, repugnant taste.

The sun had set over Des Moines when Ryder pulled off I35. He stopped at a gas station and dialed Maggie again. Nothing. Last he heard, traffic was moving north of the city again but by now it was too late. He was still 200 miles from Minneapolis. By the time he got there she would be gone. Her plane would be somewhere high above the Great Lakes, on its way to Boston.

Ryder was lost. He was stuck in Iowa. He sat on the hood of his car watching the lights flicker on the skyline ahead of him. 1000 miles in 18 hours wasted on an exploding ink building.

Ryder opened his trunk and found his map, and by the pitiful glow of his cell phone, plotted his way east.

The End.

As I said earlier, this story is made up. However, I was driving from Austin, TX to Minneapolis, MN a few years ago only to be stranded in Des Moines because an ink building exploded. And the line about authorities advising commuters to keep their window up because of the possibility of hazardous smoke is true. But I wasn’t on my way to meet a girl, I was visiting my father. I wasn’t dipping tobacco either. I just thought it sounded cool.

Have a nice afternoon, friends.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

He Cries Wolf.

I love the phrase “I’m not just saying this, but…”

Comics hear this all the time. As in: “I’m not just saying this, but you were my favorite comedian!”

I love it. I especially like the implication that every time this person made a declarative statement that didn’t begin with “I’m not just saying …” they were totally full of shit. They really were just saying.

I like that people need to qualify thier compliments in order to distinguish them from straight-up lies.

Mothers, of course, are the biggest culprits. They have their own variation of the expression just for them: “And I’m not just sayin’ that because I’m your mom.” Thousands of awkward, clearly unattractive children grew up hearing:

“Any girl would be thrilled to go the dance with you, honey. And I’m not just saying that because I’m your mom.”

If you were like me, you would instantly think: “That’s funny, because you’re the only one saying that. You would think if that were true, other moms would tell me the same thing. But they don’t. In fact, most of them tell me to stay away from their daughter. Odd.”

Some people make it clear when they are just saying. In this case, it’s usually used to soften the blow after bringing up a touchy subject. “Listen, Gregory, you really need to consider flossing more then twice a decade. You’re going to get gingivitis. I’m just saying.”

Sometimes, you gotta just say.

Most of the people who read this blog know me well, and those who know me well know I lie all the time. I don’t have any idea why I lie about most of the things I lie about, as typically my lies produce no discernable benefit. Classic example. I have never seen Braveheart. Not a second of it. Yet I cannot tell you how many times I have answered in the affirmative when asked if I have seen the Mel Gibson epic. Same thing goes for Blade Runner, Gladiator, the 2nd and 3rd Lord of the Rings, and Godfather, Part II. I haven’t seen a single one of those movies. Most of my friends think I have however, and it hasn’t improved my life in the slightest.

Often while I am performing or writing, I feel a little guilty if I’m saying something I know isn’t true. But there’s really no need. Stand-up comedy is a performance. Even if everything I was saying were true, it would still be an act. I’m a performer playing a character. The character may have the same name, may be dressed the same, may have virtually the same voice and mannerisms, but it’s not me up there. It’s Gregory Quinn, the amateur comedian. And that character does not say the same things I say, doesn’t believe the same things I believe, doesn’t do the same things I do. I haven’t eaten an ounce of meat in almost two years, yet one of my standard bits is all about how ridiculous being a vegetarian is. My reasoning for this is simple: GQ the person hasn’t the slightest interest in eating meat anymore; GQ the comedian thinks that’s retarded.

It can be a difficult balance however. You don’t want to separate yourself from the performer too much. I did the monthly Root Hill Café show in Park Slope on Monday. Afterward, I walked to the 7th avenue stop with the host and she had this to say about my comedy:

I remember the first time I saw your set. Your jokes were good and you seemed very prepared. You knew exactly what you were going to say. But it didn’t ring true.

Of course my initial reaction was, “Yeah well, your face doesn’t ring true!”

I’m kidding. But I was a little shocked. Not that she felt that way but that she noticed, which is particularly telling because it was the first time she saw me perform. It was the first time she had ever even met me. I guess I’m pretty obvious. It’s not that I don’t want to ring true; I’m just not exactly sure what that means. And if I ever find out, I’m not sure I could ring true and still be funny. Right now, I’m way too concerned with being funny. Other things will come in time. I hope.

Well, I have to run. But thanks for reading though. I’m not just saying this, but I really appreciate every one who does.