The Deadpan Drollery blog was essentially a place for me to publish and copyright© material™ (look ma, there’s actually IS a good use for the DMCA of 1998) previous to the inception of my podcast ‘Don’t Quit Your Daycast’ in December 2011. Moreover, it was a method to prove when material™ was created© before used during live performance onstage®©™. It was also basically a defensive tool, just in case anybody got ‘pissy’ when I went out to work on it in a club and we’d had a parallel thought.
I started Deadpan Drollery in June of 2008 as a writing exercise, the point being to learn to write comedy effectively. Many of the things I wrote were more of a long form style and if you go back to those older posts, which are in the Archive sections here as well, I think you’ll see my tendency to write in a ‘gonzo’ style if nothing else. Which can be traced to my love of pretty much everything Hunter S. Thompson as well as my tendency to eat my way through dry wall when I’m on a tear. I love the imagery, but it’s not good for stand up is what I quickly learned when I went to my first open mic night here in San Francisco. The economy of words is key in stand up, however this is a history so it’s going to get a little verbose.
I worked on it and kept cutting things down seeing and feeling little improvements along the way. I also started listening to comedy podcasts, reading books on writing comedy, watching old comedy specials on NetFlix and basically researching pretty much everything comedy related. I discovered several things while doing this the first being that I actually already knew a lot of this material. I have always been into this field and it’s something I’d really wanted to do since 1986 when I graduated from high school. But life “she is a cruel mistress” that doesn’t use birth control so I had to pay for said life & eventually others as well.
That first life and I’s mistress didn’t really get along well despite my joining the U.S. Army to support them and we separated within 6 months of marriage. Leaving me alone to the cruel vagaries of military service attached to a combat arms division with a high IQ and the knowledge that the brain washing during basic training didn’t take. This is not to say I wasn’t a good soldier, I did my duty and followed my orders. But I knew stupid when I saw it and at the time I’d never even heard of ‘Forrest Gump’, this was 1988 mind you. Then one day a miracle happened, a crane operator didn’t follow my hand signals as I was mounting a .50 gun mount on a deuce and a half, knocking me off the truck breaking my L4 vertebrae as well as crushing the disk between L4 and L3. None of which was diagnosed until 3 years after my discharge from service leaving me without a disability pension and a slowly festering spinal issue. It’s just not as fun as it sounds. The reason this was a miracle is it led to my discharge from the Army for medical reasons as I was unable to physically perform my duties, I was once again a civilian.
So I went back to Florida with the misconception that at least I’d be able to be near my daughter and see her. I got a job and started college trying to build a life. One of the things I did in college was a program that allowed me to DJ at the college radio station at USF on WBUL, an extremely low watt concern to say the least. I think our broadcast range was as far as the parking lot of the same building we worked from but it was fun. The only problem I had was the notes I kept getting from the ‘Managers’, who must have been business majors because they had no sense of humor. Most of my notes consisted of things like “You talk too much” and “Your not Howard Stern”, which made me laugh because at the time I’d never heard his show. It wasn’t syndicated locally so all I knew of him was what I’d heard in the press and none of that was good, I was obviously (in my mind) hilarious so how could I be ‘doing’ a Howard Stern impression? Needless to say my show from 12 to 3 am on Friday nights barely lasted a semester, but I am proud to report we received 4 count em FOUR live calls from listeners. Which I believe is still a record for a WBUL broadcast during any time period in a broadcast day, so suck it.
That radio experience also led to meeting the woman that would become my wife. I despise calling her my second wife because it’s not fair to lay my mistakes on her and I honestly believe she’s what the Jews would call my bashert which is Yiddish for soul mate or predestined ideal. The point is she was and is mine and we’ve been together for 22 years as of this writing. That first second I saw her walking into the Bennigan’s I knew, I wanted to be with her forever and I wanted fried mushrooms for the appetizer.
I have what has been called by some friends a ‘Charlie Brown Karma’, which means while great and incredible things do on occasion happen to me I am also just as equally likely to have some perverse miscarriage of justice thrust upon me by the universe. Or maybe it’s just that at times I make bad choices, either way ‘Charlie Brown Karma’ sounds better so I’m sticking with that.
Irony kicked in when my new wife decided to enlist in the U.S. Army after she finished college to pay off her tuition, I was to become an Army wife. It’s nothing like the show by the way. Though my wife is younger than I she had gone to college right after high school, due to my having gone in the Army first and then college I was not done. So I went with my wife intending to go to school at the next duty station and of course this is where that karma started having fun. During my wife’s enlistment she was stationed at 4 duty stations in 6 years, never moving at the end of a semester of course but right in the middle which led to my dropping classes. Every course I finished I got A’s and B’s but my college transcripts look like something from the London bombings, it’s a really big mess. Additionally, each state we moved to had different requirements regarding taking a state government and history course before I could get my Associates to transfer to a four year program. Needless to say I know more about the history and state constitutions of Indiana, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma than your average man.
The last duty station my wife had was Ft. Sill Oklahoma, which was also the post I was stationed at when I broke my back. Due to this I determined that obviously the US Government had a personal ax to grind with yours truly, there is really no other excuse for it. Ft. Sill sits on the wind swept plains of Southwestern Oklahoma outside of a little town named Lawton, which only came into existence when hookers parked there because they built a Fort during the Indian Wars. It’s still got a pretty high hooker population and an extremely corrupt local government so the American Dream lives on in the plains states.
I started to go to college full time because we’d both decided it was time to get it done for good as this would be her last duty station, I had the time and we both had the will. I decided to get my degree in something I loved tinkering with which was computers so I enrolled in a Computer Science B.S. program with a minor in Mathematics. I really loved it, I was a student & taking a 18 credit per semester course load. I maintained a 3.68 GPA and finished the requirements for my AA and began working to finish this thing and get on with my life.
Hello Charlie Brown. In 1996 my wife and I had our first son who was born with Down Syndrome, no one saw it coming. She’d been tested, we found out later there are two types of tests to determine before birth if a child will have DS and of those two the Army had (of course) used the cheaper and less accurate. But we were also both in our mid 20’s and with no real risk factor for this to happen technically. My wife was still active duty, I became Mr. Mom though with much less jack assery as portrayed by Michael Keaton. I handled all the medical appointments, check ups, therapies and researched for everything we could do. This is not to say that my wife didn’t or doesn’t help, she’s a wonderful woman and she does all these things too after she comes home as well. But ultimately college was now out of the picture, I had far more important things to do.
My wife’s enlistment ended in 1998 so we decided to go back to Florida as we both had family there, I went in advance to get a job and secure health insurance before she got out of the military. I did, she came, we lived, worked and eventually had another son in 2000. I tried to go to college again several times, I even at one point took two semesters of Sign Language to help my son with DS learn to speak and it worked. Kids with DS are extremely visually queued and as soon as you gave him a sign to associate a word with he was off to the races. We don’t even use them anymore but it is nice in a public setting to be able to yell at him from across the room with my hands, he knows he’s pushing it when he sees the sign for stop or sit down now.
I did eventually get into computer work by becoming a MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) and my wife decided to get another degree, a B.S. in Nursing which she’s always dreamed of doing. At one point I was invited to come to California and work in IT (Information Technology) so I took it, I was away from my family for several months in San Francisco and I was hooked. This was where we need to be is what my wife heard for the next 8 years, she was dubious. But eventually as I kept coming back out for other contract work she gave in and came to what I described as a workers paradise. Now you have to understand from whence we came, Florida is probably the most unfriendly work environment in this country. They have a transient population that thinks it’s paradise till they get there and realize it’s low wage hell filled with flying cockroaches, fried foods and racism.
We got to San Francisco, my wife loves her work here and both my kids love it. Up until this point in my life I had never lived in a place with a really active performing community. I’d always wanted to be a stand up comic so I jumped in and have been working on it since 2008 which is where we began this tale.
In listening to those comedy podcasts I mentioned earlier I concentrated on WTF with Marc Maron, who I found to just be an invaluable source and began understanding what I was getting into. It’s not that they go into things to analyze comedy, it’s just great conversations filled with reams of information. I also listened to The David Feldman Comedy Podcast a great deal and this one was different in that they had sketches and performance pieces, it was like some kind of funkadelic throwback to radio from the 40’s but on acid with a little ecstasy thrown in for good measure. I wrote some reviews about these shows on my Deadpan Drollery blog and was contacted by David Feldman, he thanked me for the nice review and encouraged me to keep writing. Now you pessimists out there will probably say he was just being nice, but hell that was a bell weather for me. Someone ‘famous’ had said he liked my work!
I was “in for good” that day I realize now, it just took me until recently to be able to admit it to everyone else. Since that day I’ve had some people that impress me encourage me on several other occasions. I won’t name drop but I’ll tell you this, people are in my Blogroll and have links on my site for a reason.
The only other thing I can think of to mention in this history is that at one point in 2010 I broke down and got a Twitter account. I learned how to use words more judiciously and really write a good joke, not every thing is a gem, I know that. But I’d say a good 10% of the time I write a joke in Twitter that I feel is really good and will continue to work on and form into a bit. So that’s what Twitter became for me, an all in one comedians notepad and free focus group. So that’s what social media has done for me, hopefully I’ve been able to give back to it by making my followers and friends laugh so they can get through their day.
I decided to start my own podcast because I was encouraged by a podcaster named Marc Hershon that I began to listen to on The Succotash Show, he’s essentially shown me a way to begin to develop my voice, allowed me to submit some of my little ideas to him for his show, let me call in some bits for air and been an all around nice guy. Now for a computer guy I can be obtuse about some things (it’s just not my first thought to google a guy when I meet him) and later I found out Marc was actually someone who has been deeply ingrained in the comedy community in San Francisco and California for almost 35 years. All I can really say is life is fucking beautiful with a Charlie Brown Karma.
Comedians I like who have consistently made me laugh & probably saved my life more times over than I can count:
Louis C K
Flight of the Conchords
All of the ‘Kids in the Hall’
Cheech and Chong
Penn and Teller
…. I know what your saying, “Is that all?” Actually probably not but you get the idea, I love this gig.