Sunday, October 31, 2010

Recipe for Disaster (Part 1)

Everyone has one friend that is extreme. Last minute they’ll drive to Atlantic City and gamble all night. They’ll start a new business in a week. They’re in love. They’re in hate. Life is a constant adventure. My friends say that I can be that person, but I also have that person. I became friends with my twin-lost-at-birth extremist when I moved to NY.

We met at one of my sales jobs and became fast friends. Whenever we went out, she was always looking for us to have the time of our lives. Always. We had fun, but after a review of the night, she’d ask, “Time of our Lives?” It’s hard to claim that you’ve had the time of you life. It’s an elusive thing. We had outrageous night after outrageous night, but still we never felt as though we had reached the pinnacle, the top, the ultimate. Time of Our Lives would look at me at the end of the night and say, “Almost, but not quite.”

I lost touch with Time of Our Lives, once I left that sales job. She had moved out of the city, and we saw each other less and less until it had been a few

years. Another co-worker from that job, who I also hadn’t kept in touch with, was getting married, and I got an invite to her bridal shower. I hate bridal showers. Talk about a waste of a day. It’s Saturday. I’ve worked all week. And now I have to sit at lunch somewhere and “Oh” and “Ah” over toasters and silverware. Please. I remember I had been planning on sending my RSVP back with a “no” since we barely kept in touch, but then I ran into the bride-to-be. She’s a nice girl, but a little conservative. Today, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was part of the Tea Bagger movement. That’s what I mean when I say she was conservative. We were never great friends, but we all worked together. Tea Bagger asked me as soon as I saw her if I was coming to her shower. Surprised that she’d put me on the spot like that, I couldn’t think of a lie. Nothing. I had no choice, but to say I’d see her there. Damn my mind for not working faster!

Tea Bagger was having her bridal shower at the Four Seasons in Manhattan. Seriously, where the hell was the wedding going to be? I was hung over from the night before and could barely raise my hand to hail a cab to get to there. I was dressed in black. I had really been dreading this shower.

But then I walked in and saw Time of Our Lives, it was great to get back in touch. I guess this shower would be good for something. There was this long table with about 50 women and me and Time of Our Lives. It was a lucky thing that we were both there because all of the other guests were 65 plus. Did Tea Bagger’s mom have her when she was 100 because she looked old too? She had on a thick pearl necklace, and she was even more uptight than Tea Bagger. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Where were the

other bridesmaids? Friends? Anyone in their 20s? This was nuts.

Apparently Tea Bagger’s friends must’ve been better at lying than me. The waiter came to take our drink order so we started early. It’s the best thing for a hangover, or a brutally, boring bridal shower. He was cute too. Eye candy never hurts.

Time of Our Lives and I started having fun by drinking too much when Tea Bagger started putting us to work. Tea Bagger’s Mom told us to help her with opening the gifts. I usually drink and go to the bathroom during that hour but not this time. This time I was writing who gave her what. Time of Our Lives was handing her gifts and opening them. We were both making some dumb hat out of bows. A dress out of toilet paper. It would’ve been a nightmare if we weren’t getting drunk. It was as if we were the hired help. WTF?


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Disgruntled Worker's Dream (Part 3)

The only way you moved up is if you kissed IRA's ass. So Single Forty-Something must’ve sucked at ass kissing because it took her years to move up. I might’ve liked her back when she wasn’t pandering to IRA. But then she must’ve got good at it because now here she was in NY. And I’m sure now that she’d done all that ass kissing, she wasn’t going to let it go to waste.

I realized she wanted to please IRA and what a pain in the ass that was, but there were other managers in the company that were able to walk that fine line. The line of making IRA like them without being a Pitt Bull. But for Single Forty-Something it wasn’t possible. She was a control freak by nature. She had no choice. And I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t happy with her. Most people were looking for new jobs. They hated working for Single Forty-Something. Now it was months later, and people were wishing for Drunkie Boss to come back. Oh, how the tides had changed!

After I was honest with Single Forty Something about not loving how she managed me, she found out I was pursuing comedy. She freaked. Literally. I had a car and lived in Manhattan, and so did she. She’d stalk my garage and ask the guys what time I left. She’d call my clients to see when I had last been by and what we talked about. If I called out sick, she’d drop by. She questioned everything I did. Watched my every move.

I kept hoping things would get better. Despite all of this, I was one of the top sales reps in the company. I thought she might ease up, but no such luck. She made my life hell, and then she did the unthinkable. She stole work that had taken me six months to complete and presented it as her own at a meeting to IRA. I finally had enough.

The end was here, and now that I was a comedian, I had a plan. I invited her and my team to a comedy show, and I wrote some jokes just for her. About her. The disgruntled workers’ dream. My bits were all about my job and my boss. The dumb products. Corporate America. Micro-managers. Stolen work. Everything that had transpired in

the last two years working for this chick. Strangers laughed hysterically. It felt good.

I walked off stage and the rest of the show took place. I had been looking at my team and Single Forty-Something before and after my set and there was a marked difference. I had killed that night. I felt free. She came up to me and said, “You’re very talented.” Holding a piece of paper, I said, “Thanks. Here’s my resignation.” And I walked out of the club and never looked back. The beginning had been good. The middle had sucked. But it was all worth it in the end.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Disgruntled Worker's Dream (Part 2)

Our new boss was female, over forty, single, and miserable. She gave us each a packet of her expectations of us. Expectations? I think Drunkie Boss just expected us to show up. She then read the list out loud. It was a very long list. Not a good sign.

She had been working at the company for years and seemed to worship the job. Bad combo! We all know the type. Single Forty-Something felt like if she wasn’t going to have a life then you shouldn’t either and the absence of us having a life was outlined in that packet. Packets at work equals nightmare situation. Talk about a buzz kill.

But I decided to put my best foot forward and try to get along with Single Forty-Something. It worked in the beginning. I’ve never not been able to get along

with someone in the beginning. The beginning is the best part. Love the beginning. But then the middle started happening and that seems to be where I usually tend to fuck up.

During the middle I tend to be honest instead of just saying what they want to hear. How long can you say the things that people want to hear? I felt like she was micro-managing me. She’d correct words I said in front of the customers. She had this problem with saying the word “just,” so if I said it, she made a point to correct me. We had expense accounts and were supposed to use them at our discretion, but she controlled every purchase. She yelled at me all the time for wearing short skirts and for flirting with clients. Degrading me in front of the clients. No money. No shirt skirts. How the hell did she expect me to sell the crap products I was pushing?

If things went on like this, I knew I’d never do well. I only do well when the boss leaves me alone. So I decided to talk to her. I specifically told her what she did that made me uncomfortable. Big mistake! Apparently control freaks don’t like honesty. At all. From that day on, things only got worse, and I knew I was leaving the middle and getting towards the end. Another job was going down in the dust fast!

It’s not fun jumping from job to job. I tried to appease and rationalize why Single Forty-Something felt the need to be so controlling. I didn’t want to enter the end phase of this job. But the middle was sucking, and it was impossible to go back to the beginning.

The company was a boy’s club. Big time. I’ve yet to work at a company that’s a girl’s club. The president of sales was a short, red-nosed, drunk, Irish guy who thought he was a comedian. So if he thought he was a comedian, then you better laugh at almost everything he said. Only you had to know what was supposedly funny and what was serious. He was worse than the IRA.

At sales meetings he’d tell these canned stories of when he was in sales and how he saved the day. Everyone was forced to act interested and laugh. Pathetic. IRA’s ego was huge. When you interviewed for the position, he made

you wait at least an hour for him. Was this guy kidding?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Disgruntled Worker's Dream (Part 1)

I’d been working at a sales job right out of college, and even though I thought sales wasn’t for me, I went right into another sales job. Sound familiar? Let’s see, I hate this job so let me get another job I hate. The American way really, but while working in sales I thought I could figure out what I truly wanted to do. After some serious soul searching (beer & pot), I knew I wanted to be a stand up comic, so I started being a comedian on the side.

There I was, at another sales job again, but the bright side was that my boss was great. He was older and drank too much. Sometimes it’s good when you have a boss who has problems. They can be so wrapped up in their own shit that they don’t notice what the hell you’re up to. I like that. I’ve always been an autonomous person. I don’t need direction. I don’t want somebody telling me what to do or when to do it. My job is to increase sales. Okay, that’s what I’m going to do. But why would I want someone to spell that shit out for me every day? When your boss has problems they don’t have to time to spell.

This was a big reason I took the job. The boss left you alone. Perfect. But after a few months of working for Drunkie Boss, he was demoted. They put him back in sales. Isn’t it usually the other way around? Usually when you’re a problem, they promote you. I was hoping he’d at least become my boss’ boss. Giving me some protection. Someone on the inside. But poor Drunkie Boss must’ve pissed someone off at the top, because he had to go back to sales. I knew I was going to miss him. He was always late. Only wanted to meet in dark places. And I could bullshit him forever. Great boss.

Now my fellow team mates and I were going to get a new manager, and I was the only one who was upset about this changing of the guards. The

chances of us getting someone as disorganized and unpredictable as an alcoholic were slim at best. Late. Unprofessional. A dream really. Long shot we’d get another one like that.

The major gripe of the other members on my team was that he yelled. My job before this one was working at a place selling some shit where almost all of the sales managers, including mine, did Coke. Working with a drunk guy seemed like a relief. He was tired and late. A Coke head is up and angry. Coke heads throw things.

Drunkie Boss only yelled at me once. I yelled back, and told him to cut the shit. We never had another problem. I should’ve trained the others on how to deal with dysfunctional bosses, but hadn’t thought of that. We met our new boss at a meeting, and as you can imagine, it was bad news.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

3 Shows, 2 Hecklers, & 1 Bottle of Vodka (Part 3)

I got to my last show for the night. Another cab. Another 15 bucks. This night cost me more than I made, between the cabs and the booze binge that was about to happen. This was one bullshit night. I walked into the club to see my BFF sitting in the audience with eight other people. Doing a show for an audience of nine might be worse than doing a show for kids. The best part of the night was getting bumped. Where was my depression bed when I needed it?

The show was just starting and the MC was getting the shit heckled out of her. There were two guys in the front, and they wouldn’t shut up. It’s the usual stuff. She’s giving it back to them, but with only nine people in the audience, it’s all falling dead. The MC went around and asked everyone their name, and I paid attention. She brought up the first comic. He pretty much struck out. The room was dead. The energy was dead. I needed a drink. But I have this annoying rule about being professional, and I never drink before a show. It’s ridiculous, but it’s what I do. The next comic asked someone in the audience her name, and the woman got pissed that she had to say her name again. Not only was the comic getting heckled by the hecklers, but now some bitch was giving him flack.

Next comic. Same thing. Annoying hecklers. Angry audience. What a night. I felt myself not wanting to go up. I thought about what a shitty day it was, and how much I didn’t want to work at that new sales job. I thought about how low my bank account was, and how much I wanted to move out of my apartment. I thought about the guy. I thought about my life. And then it was my turn to perform, and I was called up to go on stage.

But this time, I wasn't myself. I wasn't going to do my set. I wasn’t in the mood for the hecklers. The audience. The night. I went up and said, “I want everyone to just calm the fuck down. It’s too rowdy in here. Calm down.” It was nice to curse again. And then, “I know everyone’s name, so I want everyone to relax.” I looked at each audience member as I said their name, and then to the two hecklers I said, “And your name is Shut the Fuck Up and your name is Fucking Annoying.”

All my anger about my old job, new job, ex-boyfriend, day of depression, shitty apartment - everything came out. I had them from when I knew all their names and renamed the hecklers. I heckled the hecklers. I heckled the lady who was a bitch to the comic who couldn’t remember her name. I heckled my BFF. I heckled myself. Making fun of myself for getting so mad. Everyone laughed. Especially the hecklers. They loved it. It was great. A release. I only performed for nine, but it felt like nine hundred.

I walked off stage and grabbed my BFF. We were laughing about the whole thing when Shut the Fuck Up and Fucking Annoying came over to us. I was a little worried. I’ve never wanted to make anyone feel bad during a show. They were looking at me, and they were unsure if they should approach, so I said, “Hi.” The one guy said, “Thanks so much. We had the best time.” The other guy said, “We really needed that laugh. One of our best friends just died.” People say all sorts of things to you after a comedy show. This was a new one. My day might’ve sucked, but it was nothing compared to what they were going through. I was angry. They were angry. All that anger somehow put on a great show. You never know what kind of pain another person carries or what might lift that pain. It felt good, and it put all of my stuff in perspective. I told them I had needed it too, and thanked them for being good sports. They wished me all the success in the world and left. And then I was lucky enough to leave with my best friend, and we went and got wasted.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

3 Shows, 2 Hecklers, & 1 Bottle of Vodka (Part 2)

I dragged my ass out of bed and ran across town. At the first club, the regular MC was out, and the comic that was filling in for her was someone I knew. A really good comic, but she didn’t know how to run a show. Next thing you know, I’m bumped. In other words, I’m not performing. In other words, I could’ve continued to lay in my depression longer. And this was just the beginning of the night. When I found out I was bumped, I didn’t even care. I actually felt bad for the host because she was so apologetic. I always feel bad when someone else feels bad. I started apologizing for her not being able to run a show and for bumping me. Normally, most comics would be pissed if they got bumped. At least disappointed. I felt like saying, “Seriously, can you help me get bumped from the rest of my night? Week? Life?” Break-up/Hell Job depression can do this to you.

Now I had to drag ass downtown. The first two shows were really close together in time, but far in distance. I hopped a cab, sat in traffic and hoped to get bumped from the next show. No such luck. I got there in time and waited to perform, only to see that there was a full audience which made things easier. Things were looking up.

But then right before I went on, I was told that I needed to keep it clean. Things were looking down. As I looked out into the audience, my face turned into a question mark. There were kids. I was booked on some kind of hell gig with kids. There is nothing worse in life than doing comedy for children. I’m no Soupy Sales. No Captain Kangaroo. No Fucking Big Bird. Who the hell thought it’d be a good idea to do comedy shows for kids? I couldn’t curse. I couldn’t talk about sex, drugs, or anything inappropriate. What was left?

I racked my brain to think of my kid friendliest material and was able to make it through my entire set, but it was a struggle. It wasn’t fun. And it made me even more depressed. Am I so foul mouthed and jaded that I can’t get through a set without cursing and talking about sex? The answer was, I could do it but it was with great difficulty, which was disturbing. After the show, I called my BFF (Best Friend Forever) and told her what happened. She was having a bout of depression herself and decided to meet me at my last show. We figured as soon as I was done with my set, we’d go get wasted. Alcohol solves most problems.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

3 Shows, 2 Hecklers, & 1 Bottle of Vodka (Part 1)

It was late. It was the third show of the night, and I was exhausted. As a general rule, a comedian does better when there’s a full crowd. More people means more potential laughers. There’s energy in the room which gives the comic energy to put on a good show. Everyone wins. But when there’s not many people there? And you’re already tired? You can imagine how tough it can be. But you still have to get it together. That’s your job.

This one night I was having a hard time getting it together. Being a comedian is like being in sales: nobody really gives a shit about your personal life. When you’re in sales, you have to put on a smile and play nicey-nice with the customers. When you’re a comic and your personal life is falling apart, you have to play laughy-laugh with the audience. You better take that shit in your life and make it funny or else nobody is going to like you. Except for the circus, nobody wants to watch a sad clown.

That day I had barely been able to get out of bed. I had broken up with another guy and was having a “why can’t I stay in a relationship” moment, when I got fired from my sales job only to be hired at a new sales job all in the same day. Only the sales job that had hired me, was the worst job ever. I didn’t really want the job at all. I interviewed, because I knew I was getting fired. I was getting fired, because I was a comic. I needed a sales job because I was a comic, and comics make no money. And the circle goes round and round. So there I was: no boyfriend, fired and hired in the same day, and sick of all of this shit. I had talked to a good friend about what to do regarding the job, and she told me to grow up. What the fuck?

Somebody once said, you can lay in bed all day as long as you get up and get on with it the next day; so that’s what I did. I laid in bed all day. Only I had to get up and get on with it that night. They never told me what a bitch it would be if you actually had to get up and get on with it the same night. Apparently there’s a real momentum to the day and after laying in bed, you don’t want to get up and get on with it. You want to continue to lay. Now it’s different if you’d been nursing a hangover or having sex all day. Hangover recovery or sex day - easy to get up. Laying in depression - hard to get up. I wish someone would’ve told me that.