Behind Your Face

The answer is not in front of your face. It is behind it. Look within! You have all the answers inside of you. Our human capabilities are so magnificent it breaks my heart to see people afraid to tap into them. I get it. It's a confounding web of existential gunk. But that's where you exist. Inside of that web. Around it. Of it. About it. Within it. You ARE that web. It is you. The world wants to tell you to ignore that. "Pay it no heed, friend! Focus your efforts on buildings and elevators and sunglasses and banks! Production is the way to enlightenment!" screams the rotten whore-corpse of commerce. We all have a very common desire to find ourselves. We have an energy that drives that search. The energy is frantically rerouted to things that are of no importance. "Vote for THIS politician! He/She is the light!" "Buy THIS car! It will help you find the truth!" "You will die if you don't wear this visor and type these numbers! Save yourself!" No. All wrong. You need none of these things. You need to let go of these things. Let go of your worries and clear out all but yourself. Which you have, and have had all along. It's there. Everything you want. Right behind your stupid face. In front of your face, we are all waiting for you to join us.

ATHEISTS ARE WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING EXCEPT GOD

This is the first thing Facebook showed me when I logged on:

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Ugh.

In light of the recent bombings in Libya and Egypt, there has been a lot of blowback from the people of the West, using their most powerful weapon: super clever Internet memes! Most of these condemn the violence of religious fanatics while (mostly explicitly) lauding the peacefulness of atheists.

I am writing this to explain, as usual, why everyone is wrong.

First of all, atheism is not strictly defined. There are many subcategories of atheism: strong atheism (active belief in no god), weak atheism (no active belief in god without rejecting it as a possibility); these extend even to agnostics and, my personal alignment, ignostics (those who assign no logical value to the question “Do you believe in God?” since the word ‘God’ is so nebulously, if at all, defined — personally, I feel like whatever we do mean by “God,” we can’t mean the actual thing since it is by definition beyond human understanding so I find the whole discussion to be a waste of time as it is inherently unanswerable). Behind all of them, however, is the encouragement of independent thinking. But when atheists engage in this pseudo-evangelical march, it makes it extra hilarious to watch as if their specific brand of like-minded, self-congratulating mob mentality is so much more enlightened than that of their friends, “the believers.” The group-mindedness of atheists mitigates or otherwise completely eradicates their own credibility as autonomous thinkers, which, is the valued trait of atheism.

Atheists have taken to the Internet (their true god) to get across the message that religious fanaticism is directly to blame for specific incidents of violence and everyone should therefore join Team Atheism for a smooth ride to Utopia. The problem with this – besides how fucking petulant it is – is how it completely misses the point. People act as if organized religion is the only possibly case of mass propaganda or subconscious occupation, which could be used toward violent aims. And these people live in America, the advertising haven of the universe! Sure, organized religion is beyond stupid. No argument there. But not because of its tenets, but because of what drives the “believers.”

We can start with religion, since it is the obvious example of dogmatic belief. This is where atheists have it right. Religion is inherently irrational and divisive. I was never suggesting it wasn’t. The religious beliefs are, at least in part, driven by a fear of death. Death is a horrifying notion that we are unfortunately very aware of. We die. That’s frightening. Crippling. Paralyzing. I’ve lost sleep over it many nights and I’m sure I’m not the only one. So people flock to the Church, shuls, mosques, and other places that claim to have answers and solace, all having their own culturally specific uniqueness. But within this desire to escape a very human reality lies its own solution. I said it earlier: we die. Or, more specifically: we all die. Look at that! A commonality! Something true to all of us. How the fuck have we not let that bring us together? Why don’t we, instead of fearfully running from death and hiding in our own separate corners, embrace it as a unit? I worry that people think that notion is scary. Total unity is very intimate. And people seem to be too afraid to get that close. Yet I get labeled the cynical misanthrope. Hilarious.

But so what? You think religion is bullshit? Congratulations. You don’t believe in a 2000-year-old, physically impossible man. Bravo. What a genius you are! Now take that same “free-thinking” mind of yours and apply it to the things in which you soak yourself on a daily basis.

Modern politics. It’s total nonsense. If you can’t see that, then you are a “believer.” It’s been pounded into our heads since we were five-years-old. America this, America that. Heroes. Presidents. Democracy! The political system is holy. But it’s not. It’s a farce, like any other power-driven human institution. It’s not based on compassion or even intelligence. It’s sheer manipulation. Who can run the best campaign? Who can appeal to the most people? So, why not reject that too? Why are atheists so quick to reject this absurd notion of Jesus but they are ready and eager to participate in Hope and Change? How is that not blind faith?

Even in the comedy or entertainment world, so many “atheists” still subscribe to the arbitrary authority structure of television or corporate approval. If someone is “on TV,” even the most scrupulous of atheists will still submit a certain level of respect or even adulation toward this person, just on the sole basis of them being on television. This implies an embedded indoctrination in the idea that being on television means anything. (It doesn’t.) All it means is that a few corporate executives decided that that person would be the best person for a show which is designed to sell ad slots. It means nothing more than that. But we’ve been fooled. We’ve been taught, systematically, to buy into the system of television, the mind-control mechanism of the string-pullers. We buy into it and adopt it. We set our DVR’s to record ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘Game of Thrones’ the same way a Muslim drops to the floor five times a day. You onlythink it’s different.

You might say, “But watching ‘Game of Thrones’ never made me blow up a skyscraper!” True. While I argue that 9/11 was not explicitly religiously motivated, but rather politically motivated and perhaps, in part, used religion as the propaganda du jour, I will still take this at face value.

First, it’s very easy to show that religion is not necessary for unnecessary violence. What religious doctrine led to the bombing of Vietnam? How about the invasion of Iraq? Afghanistan? What god were Bush and Obama killing for? (If you’re thinking “Satan,” congratulations, you are so clever. I can’t wait to see your newest meme.) This is U.S.-led violence, and we are supposedly an enlightened society, remember? The catalyst there was not organized religion (unless, of course, you consider power and control of world commerce to be gods), but something else. No, all that violence is possible because we have a social structure which allows it, one which is nearly unanimously accepted, often ardently by atheists themselves.

So how does that violence happen? All of the things we do accept – politics, television, status quo, social mores, etc. – all have consequences. When we submit to the authority of television or buy into the horseshit left/right debate of politics, or do things just because we’re told to or say things just because our friends do, all of that adds up. What we get is a society subject to the whim of anyone brave enough to point us in whichever direction. When people watch Fox News or MSNBC and have discussions based on the questions they pose, we are adopting their parameters. That is what modern indoctrination is. This sort of indoctrination creates a social ethos that allows certain behaviors (political violence, eradication of freedom) to not only be tolerated but often defended. It’s somewhat Orwellian and it is almost completely faith-based. The only difference is that it seems like there is a valid, rational dialectic behind it. No, we aren’t consuming a cracker that we are told is superhuman flesh, but we are consuming the puerile mode of thought being spit at us from the ugly mouth of society. These sorts of “beliefs” are ubiquitous and not specific to religious people. It is this type of belief that is the most pervasive, the most troublesome precisely because it is the hardest to detect and therefore the most difficult to address. Where atheists fall short is nearly everywhere outside of organized religion. We need not just religious atheists, but non-believers of all facets to bring, at the very least, an intense level of honest skepticism to even the most taken-for-granted aspects of our society. And this has to be done outside of the established framework. Supporting some platitude that you read in the Huffington Post is (usually) a complete waste of time. We need to apply that same level of non-belief to the very cores of our society. In essence, we, together, need to take potent, sociopolitical DMT and clear our collective consciousness of the nonsense that pervades and mars what should be our temple of human freedom.

Some people, possibly atheists, might read this and think, “Well, you don’t know politics is like that. You don’t knowthat television is like that. That’s just your personal belief.” Yeah. Hm. I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before…

This will be continued. Somehow.

TWITTER USERNAME (@DREWMCOMEDY VS. @DREWMICHAEL)

My Twitter username is @drewmcomedy. I took this one because @DrewMichael was already in use. Not surprising. The domain www.drewmichael.com is currently being cyber-squatted (another blog on that later perhaps), so it’s to be expected that the Twitter username would be in use. Recently, I did some investigating and looked at @DrewMichael’s page. What I found was pretty awesome. It was about a year old, and there were only 12 tweets. (TWELVE!) 11 of them were tweeting at sports writers (like Chris Broussard and Buster Olney) about Boston sports. The other one seemed to be directed at a co-worker. (You can see the page here, however I suggest you read the blog first.) His picture is the default egg, for crying out loud! Here is a sample tweet from his page:

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So, in an effort to reach out to him, I started a friendly campaign:

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I was honestly surprised (and thrilled) at the response and assistance I got from my followers. Here are some of my favorites:

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Now, I’ll just post the exchange. It’s pretty easy to follow. At the time of this exchange, his name was appearing “Drew Denerstein,” but he has since switched it to “Drew Michael.” I’m guessing his full name is Drew Michael Denerstein, but who knows. (For bonus points, take note of the dates as I let a few days pass and he comes crawling back.)

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Oooh! He dropped $150 off the price! I ignored him for 2 days and then…

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Ignore for three days…

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$150? What happened to the $175?

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“Good luck with the comedy.” As if this username is the only obstacle preventing me from achieving greatness! Three days go by…

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Lawyer? What a Jew.

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I checked my inbox and I had received this email:

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Attached was a standard contract. I replied:

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I have not heard back from him (yet). Something about this guy reminds me of an ex girlfriend I had. He keeps coming back with less and less self-respect until I don’t even want what he has to offer anymore.

Don’t forget to FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER! (@drewmcomedy)

What's the worst that can happen?

Is honesty really the best policy? Well, it depends on what you mean by “best.” If you mean the most straightforward and true, then yes, honesty is the best policy. If you mean the way to get along with others and propagate this collective delusion of grandeur, then no, honesty might just be the worst policy.

Complaints

In light of the recent influx of complaints regarding (Chicago) comedy, I thought I would weigh in with some things that you can hopefully take with you. I have been doing stand-up in Chicago for the last four years so here are some thoughts I have at this stage as they pertain to some common qualms:

1. Comedy owes you nothing. I know this is harsh especially when a lot of us consider comedy to be the only significant other that could possibly “get us.” But even though you might pour your heart and soul to this oft-succubus of an art form, it CAN NOT make you happy and is under no obligation to provide you with any type of satisfaction. You make your own happiness in comedy and in life. Life, like stand-up, is a process. As much as people try to contrive them in life, there are no check points. In stand-up, no gig or accomplishment means anything other than what it is. In other words, the only satisfaction you will get out of “achieving” something is a mirror image of the work and focus you put into it. People get gigs they don’t deserve; people don’t get gigs they do deserve; etc. If you can enjoy the process then you’ve already won. No matter who you are, the adulation you may or may not receive is completely intangible. Louis CK can’t sleep next to his Twitter followers. Bill Cosby can’t call Himself on the phone. Likewise, the people who hate Dane Cook don’t live with him. These things only provide satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) insofar as the performer/artist/person enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) being a part of the process necessary to achieve them. The self-discovery, the vulnerability, the theatrical intimacy, whatever. So even if it’s having a good set at an open mic, having a bad set at a showcase, struggling to write a new bit, writing six great new bits in a row, any of that – it’s all part of the process. Everyone’s process is unique yet contains a very sacred thread of commonality. We are all doing the same thing yet we are all completely different. It’s special. It’s terrifying. It can be brutal. It can also be insanely rewarding in ways that few things on this planet are. Enjoy the process, with all its ugly points and highlights, otherwise you’re fucked.

2. (The North Side of) Chicago is not the only place where stand-up comedy happens. I know the Chicago comedy scene can be intimidating at first glance. A lot of people move from other towns and cities so just being in a giant urban area can be intimidating, much less walking into an open mic where everyone seems to know exactly what’s going on but you have no fucking idea. We’ve all been there. I also know that it seems like a huge deal to get bumped at Lottie’s on Tuesday night. (A really fun open mic, by the way. Check it out if you haven’t.) Chicago is an amazing place to start, but keep it in context. There are so many opportunities here as well as opportunities to make your own opportunities without risking any fatal errors. Chicago allows comedy to BREATHE (something horribly absent in industry cities) which is the reason so much great stand-up has originated here. But, the best way to utilize Chicago is to utilize everything about it. There are 3 full time comedy clubs in the city, 3 in the suburbs, a plethora of showcases and open mics in the city, a huge sketch/improv scene but there are also a plethora of cities within a few hours that have their own clubs and scenes. Go to them! When you feel you are ready, find them. Until then, don’t sweat the fact that Bert Haas won’t respond to your emails. All part of the process…

3. Work harder. There is a reason your parents freak out when you tell them you want to be a stand-up comic. It’s fucking hard. Impossibly hard. It is only achievable through thousands of hours of hard work and dedication. So, for example, if you’re not getting booked at a certain room or club or people bump you at an open mic, take the fucking lump and chalk it up to part of the difficulties of this field. The answer is always the same: work harder. Are any of you as good as Bill Hicks? No? Well, then fuck off. Work harder until you’re better than him. And when you’re better than him, work harder to be better than you were. It never ends. You should always be working. Write better bits, get on stage more, hit other open mics or rooms or clubs. Make your own room. Whatever you want to do, there are endless ways to do it if you’re willing to put in the work. The caveat is, however, if you have to be told to work hard, you probably won’t.

4. Comedy is a reflection of life, not life itself. The goal, more than any TV credit, should be to cultivate a perspective on life that is a) insightful and b) funny (in that order). Remember comedy’s place in the context of life and utilize it as a channel, not as a mask. Comedy is at its best not when the person is hiding from or avoiding the pain and hard parts of life, but when the person is acknowledging them head on with a slant that brings out the humor. Even with that, it’s still comedy. There are many other parts of life that are worth your time, effort and understanding. Explore.

5. There is no shame in being shitty. Most people are. Don’t let it cut so deep that you have to lie to yourself about it. This is one of the reasons you should never complain about not getting booked because, most likely, the people you are complaining to are thinking, “Yeah, you fucking suck. I wouldn’t book you either,” but instead they nod and go, “Yeah it’s fucking bullshit,” and walk away wishing you would just quit so they’d never have to hear your stupid cunty voice again. If you aren’t getting booked, it’s not a conspiracy. You probably suck. At least for now. It’s much easier if you can be honest with yourself. We have all accepted we won’t be professional athletes. There is no shame in that so why can’t we admit that we can’t do this?

6. Don’t be a faggot. This is pretty simple. There is no one way to get to where you want to get to, but in all of the blueprints laid thus far, no successful comic says, “Yeah, I used to bitch all the time about open mic lineups and I just did that for like 15 years then I was awesome.” (I should note that “success” is not defined by anything but what you consider to be success. This all goes back to enjoying the process. Are you enjoying it? Then you’re succeeding. Are you unhappy with it as a whole? Then you’re not succeeding.) Go get awesome, you faggots. Stop tricking yourself into thinking pathetic self hatred is a voice.

The Answer

People always ask, so here’s the answer:

I live for those moments – those tiny, transient moments – where everything makes sense, just in that instant: the moments where a riff or melody in a song just snaps the universe into place and you’re seeing it all at once like a Laplace Demon; moments of complete intimacy where you’re so open that communication can almost take place telepathically; moments of such intense emotion where crying almost seems like an insult to the reality of it; moments where everything rushes through your head like a montage; moments of ultimate humanity!

Yes, certainly, these moments are rare. (Increasingly so given the pace and direction of the world’s flux toward delusion and “spectacle.”) However, they contain within them the inverse of one’s (our) collective struggle. It’s basic Newton, you fucking weirdos.

Local Shows and General Fraudulence

Hey guys. Look, I don’t mean to be a stick in the mud, but what the fuck are we doing? I mean, seriously. Are people even thinking before they do things? Does one thought enter their brain before it makes their body perform destructive, useless actions? I seriously don’t know. Not to sound all over-arching and Glenn Beck-y but this has to stop.

First, the comedy part. As many of you know, I co-produce a weekly stand-up comedy showcase called Comedians You Should Know. It is, without a doubt, one of the most important things of which I am a part and it is something in which I take deep pride and satisfaction. In a nutshell, that show (and group) is the manifestation of comics’ hard work, determination, perseverance and talent. We have, collectively, poured our souls into that show, ripped each other’s throats out over that show, but ultimately created one of the best independent stand up shows in Chicago with our own unlovable hands and bipolar brains. That’s something. We should be proud.

I was recently made aware of a show called “Stand Up Chicago.” They run their showcase on Saturday nights at Ole Lounge around Lincoln and Diversey. (Now, I should note that I am aware that by even mentioning this show here I am giving it more publicity than it would ever receive anywhere else, but I hope that the content will negate any positive awareness this “plug” creates.) So, I checked out the website of this show: http://standupchi.webs.com/

I’m not sure if it will be changed by the time this blog is posted, but on their front page here is the “description” I found:

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Sounds like a show I might want to see. Descriptive, enticing, etc. Not bad, right?

Yeah, no shit. I fucking wrote it.

Here is the ticket link to our upcoming showcase on Wednesday, May 18th (my birthday, coincidentally):http://www.fanfueled.com/Event/Details/306-comedians-you-should-know-timothy-otooles-51811

(This link is not working. Here is the relevant snippet from our press materials:)

Comedians You Should Know, the premiere Chicago stand up comedy collective, is independently produced by a cast of six local comedians: Marty DeRosa, Danny Kallas, Joe Kilgallon, Mike Lebovitz, Drew Michael, and Michael Sanchez. Since 2008, the group has established a prominent presence in the local arts scene. Circumventing the tired, stale brand of comedy clubs, Comedians You Should Know delivers original, fresh, showcase-style stand up comedy every Wednesday at 9:00 PM in the back room of Timothy O’Toole’s (622 N. Fairbanks Ct.), a classy downtown bar in the Streeterville neighborhood. Their weekly show has garnered frequent sold-out crowds and a loyal local following.

Comedians You Should Know features a DIFFERENT LINEUP every single week and thus makes it a must-see event every Wednesday!

Notice anything? Yeah, they ripped us off word for word. This is the description we originally used on our website, the one we use on all our email blasts and press releases, etc. It’s blatant plagiarism, plain and simple.

I did some further investigating and apparently Stand Up Chicago offers college and corporate bookings! Wow. Well, I typed their “descriptions” into Google and found that they plagiarized those descriptions from this website:http://www.selectcomedy.com/

Now, I have no idea who comprises this “collective” called Stand Up Chicago, but they did have a contact name, Steve, and a phone number. (The name and number have since been removed from their website and replaced by an email address.) I called this man to inform him of his (website’s) blatant plagiarism. He played dumb, passed the buck, and said he would look into it. I told him, “There is nothing to look into. I know you ripped it off because I was one of the people who wrote it. Take it down immediately and stop promoting your show with my words.”

Look. Anyone who blatantly rips off the descriptions of his/her show is NOT going to be doing good work anywhere else. What is the long term plan here? Just rip off your way to the top? It’s a fraud’s mentality and someone looking to make a quick buck off of a broken, no-barrier-of-entry industry. I looked at his lineups and they are, predictably, atrocious. The “collective” is something like 35 of the most inexperienced comedians in Chicago. Nothing wrong with being green, but be honest about what it is. Also, I love how they offer college and corporate bookings seeing as all 35 of their comics have about 60 seconds of workable material COMBINED.

I then went on to explain the problem with doing things as he is. Not only is his show a complete sham and a fraud, he’s doing a DISSERVICE to Chicago stand up shows at large.

Around here is the point that he hung up on me.

However, this is an important and more general point I want to drive home to all comics and potential producers in Chicago (and anywhere, for that matter). When you tell people you are doing the best show in Chicago or you are the “premiere stand up comedy collective” in Chicago and people come to your low-rent, run down, under-produced, under-promoted, “comedy show” where the 8 people you do somehow convince into sitting through 90 minutes of the manifestation of your worthlessness while they stare awkwardly at their dates and contemplate pulling the fire alarm just to have an excuse to leave your godforsaken show, those people then equate that show with ALL Chicago stand up shows. And why wouldn’t they? You’re using the same lofty language as the shows that actually merit it.

We at Comedians You Should Know have worked our asses off for over three years, on and off stage, to make sure that our promotional description was not a lie. So why are we allowed to say those things? Why can we call our show awesome? Because it fucking is. There are a few shows before ours that helped lay the blueprint for our show and have earned that right as well. Chicago Underground Comedy is one. It’s been around for 6 years or something and it’s consistently great in an awesome venue. The Lincoln Lodge is another, which has been around for 11 years and has done countless numbers of phenomenal shows. I’ll even throw Entertaining Julia into that list even though I think they just promote with hipster lesbian aura. But it is, nonetheless, a show that executes exactly what its producers intend. Props to all those shows. (I don’t even want to mention The Red Bar Comedy Club because in a short year and a half it’s become a full-time weekend comedy club with such a high production value that to place it in the category of “independent showcases” would be insulting, even though most comics don’t even know where it is. It’s the same reason I don’t mention Zanies or Jokes and Notes in this discussion.)

So when you put either our literal description on your website or something similar and then people come into watch the tornado of nervous knees and might-as-well-be-stolen jack-off bits, you are diluting the legitimacy of the good shows and leaving the city with a bad taste in its mouth when it comes to stand up. That’s very bad considering how much quality improv and endless entertainment exists in this city. We already get our asses kicked by sports, summer festivals, Second City and Jager-fucking; we don’t need to be cannibalizing our own heads with our asses.

Now, I understand that not every show can feature the “best” comics in Chicago because then the newer comics won’t ever get good stage time and won’t improve. True. I will lay out the blueprints to deal with this issue:

First of all, brand new comics, go to every open mic! You are not better than any of them. Write your bits and try them out at every open mic. Go bomb. You have to get used to it because it never stops so you might as well do it a lot when the stakes are nonexistent. That much is a given. If you aren’t at every single open mic (or trying to run your own) then you don’t even deserve to be working on a show.

If you decide to run a show there are a few ways you can do it which I think are fair.

1. Run a straight up “New Faces” showcase. Tell the public, “Hey, these are brand new comics and we need your support in order to get better” or whatever. Some people might bite. Some people are legitimately supportive and kind in these types of scenarios. It’s not that sustainable because there are little to no redeeming qualities of a show like this other than the pseudo-charity of sitting and smiling at a nervous virtual virgin. But at least it’s honest.

2. Run a “best of” showcase. This is what ChUC and CYSK have done. For the most part, there are very few brand new comics doing time on either of these stages. It makes for a really good show, but it’s not very conducive to new comics’ growth as they won’t get any stage time. Which brings us to number 3…

3. Run a hybrid of 1 and 2. Book a show and stagger it. Say you have a host and 6 comics. Book a brand new comic to open with 5-6 minutes. Book one or two green but not BRAND new comics to do 8. Then book 3 really good comics to do 12-15. That way, each week you will get up 3 new comics to get time but you will also reward the audience by giving them 3 really good comics so the show as a whole is still enjoyable. That will provide you a sustainable show that can actually build a following as well as provide opportunities for both new comics AND good comics. It’s the best of both worlds. This is how CYSK started in 2008 where we were the new comics. RIOT Comedy started like this initially as well. I think this is the best compromise for newer comics looking to get stage time and wanting to strengthen the comedy scene.

The idea of a stand-up showcase itself is not original. I’m not claiming that CYSK was the first ever showcase or “collective” of its kind; it wasn’t. BLERDS existed and left before we ever existed. ChUC and The Lincoln Lodge predate us. The Elevated existed before those. Doug Stanhope posted a blog in 2007 that we essentially took and ran with. Your show doesn’t have to be revolutionary, just don’t be an idiot and steal other show’s descriptions. I have no problem with a carbon copy of a good show existing in a neighborhood that doesn’t already have comedy. But be good. Don’t book shitty comics. And, more importantly, if you can’t tell the difference between a shitty comic and a good one, don’t book a show. You’re not helping.

(Please remember: PROMOTE YOUR FUCKING SHOWS. The lineups do little to no good if there is no one there to see it. That’s another issue entirely and I don’t feel like getting into that now.)

So, I want to thank Stand Up Chicago for providing a perfect example of how to NOT run a stand up comedy show. You have exemplified, to a T, everything that is wrong with these types of shows. I honestly don’t think that I could have described a better example of the wrong way to do this. Steve, your show is a blessing to the community. If there were an infomercial for running a comedy show, your show would be the black and white “way” where the guy is hurting his back or the girl is frustrated and the big red X shows us how wrong it is. Well, now there is an easier way. It’s really simple: don’t be a moron.

Look, either we are a community or we are not. I like to believe that we are. One of the best parts of Chicago is that we can do these things and experiment and fail and learn and grow and help each other but you have to pull your weight. Be hard on yourself. Push yourself. Make things as good as you know they should be. Don’t settle. Work hard. Have fun. Be funny. Laugh. Make others laugh. Appreciate when someone writes a great bit. Appreciate when someone runs a great show. Learn from them. Write better. Promote better. Get better. Live. Be present. After all of that we can die like the faggots we are. We might as well crush it while we’re here.

Note: When I say “Chicago” I, like most white people, mean the north side of Chicago. Unless you’re black or have 150 drunk cousins, you rarely go south of Madison.

I am not ugly.

I am not ugly. So, I feel like when people meet me, their expectations are a tad high. We tend to judge people based on how they look. That’s our first line of defense as a member of this species. “Are they clean? Symmetrical? Groomed? Well-dressed? Slouching?” All these things affect how we perceive a person. So, when they see me, relatively handsome, relatively fit, good posture, clean skin, they probably feel more or less at ease. They let their guard down a bit. I’m clearly not some mutant freak. I don’t smell bad. I dress nicely enough. My pants fit. I shower. I don’t incite the urge to scream or run away or tell your friend about how it was hard not to stare. So, because I don’t look like some huge weirdo, people feel relieved because compared to what a person COULD look like, I’m probably a breath of fresh air. I could have a swastika on my eyelids and have those weird blotches of discolored skin where you spend the whole time looking at it trying to figure out what the fuck it is, or I could have one arm or, worse, one nostril; I could have my penis hanging out of my pants, I could smell like the inside of a colon, I could have weird twitches and tics and weird screams that make me look like a Holocaust survivor or something. The point is, I’m not any of those things. I’m me: a relatively decent looking human being. So, when people first see me, I feel like they open up a tad.

But then I talk. Oh, how silly they must feel to have been duped by the superficial inferences of appearance! To see a man in whom they entrusted such a fundamental component of their social confidence speak as if he has spent the last 20 years in a creepy lair with shrines to his mother or something equally creepy. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that until the age of 21, I heard the world at half-volume or if I’m naturally neurotic and overly analytical or what. But everything I say contradicts every moisturized pore on my face. My words are so completely asocial (and often anti-social) that they couldn’t possibly belong to a man who looks like he could be the stock male photo in a relatively thrifty picture frame. It must be so strange to watch a person who appears to be relatively fit for society: mock every single social convention; show absolutely no regard for tact, etiquette or other social mores that protect feelings et al; and create more awkward pauses than a teenager trying not to come too soon. I feel like I’ve let them down somehow. I haven’t lived up to the hype my face and body create. Not that I WANT to live up to the hype; I think the hype is just, well, hype. It’s over rated. Illusory. Nonetheless, I feel like a walking beer commercial where I seem to promise all sorts of wondrous things only to deliver a much more cancerous, albeit truthful experience.

I am not ugly. Sadly, however, I suffer from the saddest, most isolating disfigurement of all. While you are all galavanting about the party, hurling gallons of booze down your relatively pointless mouths, following the same biological instincts that allowed your father to consensually rape your mother, I have this thing in my head that is — against my good conscience — SKEPTICAL.

The skeptic is usually motivated by some catalyst of doubt. The world usually inflicts trauma on these people in one way or another which makes them question the world’s intentions. This could be a social trauma, physical trauma, emotional trauma or many other things. It’s not limited to one. This is why beautiful women (or people) are so often vapid. The world is handed to them so why would they question the world… unless they suffered something terrible. It’s a horribly twisted notion however it seems to hold up. This is what makes the rape or molestation victim so appealing. (Well, that and their lowered expectations: even if you don’t make them come, they’re just thankful you’re not their older brother on a dare.) Their paradigm can not be such that the world is to be trusted since that same world allowed them to suffer so horribly and inexplicably. My “trauma” was either the socially crippling hearing loss, instability at home followed by divorce, natural depression or something or a compounded combination of everything. That doubt, that benign level of misanthropy is key in a world so flooded with illusory notions, image-laden propaganda, misinformation and an overwhelming level of dishonesty. Only doubt can uncover the truth. But we run a risk. In a world of lies, the truth is insane. That’s the fucked up part: uncovering the truth inherently involved a violent suffering. Whether it be the initial impetus of doubt, or the feeling of being ripped from the comfort of traditional social ethos.

The message is very clear: don’t ask questions. It’s social fascism. We don’t even need a gun to our head. Just shoot a round of awkward eye rolls in our direction and we’ll be forced to either capitulate or face social exile. But I urge everyone to remain skeptical and to ask questions, social consequences be damned. Question EVERYTHING! If anything, it would make my life a hell of a lot easier as we will be less of a minority going forward.

WARNING! SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDE: not believing in god, not celebrating holidays, not coming to your house to catch the game, believing the death penalty should be reserved for people who wear “Save Darfur” t-shirts from Urban Outfitters, believing that .08 should be the blood alcohol content at which you are no longer legally allowed to talk to me, treating parties like revolution rallies only to be told you’re a drag by some dude holding a red cup, using sex as a means of revenge on girls from your past, and a lifelong “faggot” title at sports bars and dance clubs.

Mary Fakhoury is Fucking Insane

Let me set this up for you. I did a show on Monday, November 22nd at the Elbo Room, a great venue on Lincoln just north of Diversey. It was a really good lineup that included Jacob Williams, Prescott Tolk, Joe Kilgallon, Marty DeRosa, and me, in that order. The crowd was light, only about 15 people or so, but they were nonetheless engaged. There was a music show set to take place directly after the comedy show. During Joe’s set, a woman started wandering the room looking for... something. This is Mary Fakhoury, our hero. She was slated to sing after us. I’m not exactly sure what happened between this and my set, so I will try to summarize as objectively as possible.

Joe engaged Mary because she was being distracting, either by walking or by talking at an audible volume. (I’m half deaf so if I could hear her, EVERYONE could hear her.) Basically, Mary said she goes by “M” and that she could sing in three languages: Arabic, French, and Spanish. Joe made fun of her for not listing English.

During Marty’s set, it was more of the same. She kept talking and Marty, no slouch when it comes to crowd work, riffed some more on this weirdo. At some point she claimed to be “worldly” and “cultured.” Either way, a huge distraction to the show.

I went up last, after Marty. I don’t need to describe what happened because I have the audio here:

So yeah. Funny epilogue: after she left, she complained to her back-up band and the manager of the bar about what happened. She got even more infuriated when they took my side. So infuriated, in fact, that she left the venue and didn’t even perform her singing show! So then, the back up band which she hired to play, came up to me and shook my hand, thanking me for what I did. Apparently, she and her “manager” paid the back up band up front. The manager called later asking for half the money back and was promptly told to “screw.”

This is all hilarious to me, for obvious reasons. I thought it was over at that point. Unfortunately, when you assume sanity in another individual, you are often bitten in the ass by the fangs of fate...

I woke up the following morning and got this Facebook message from Mary Fakhoury on November 23 at 8:44 AM:

remember me the "KUNT" you should never be on stage your a talentless person and and the lowest was the "n" word wow! look up this cunt you have 700 views pathetic, I have 4 million look it up, and your so lucky my brother was not there, btw I also work for FOX news and they are so interested in the story, you can look up my news friends if you don't believe me: your career is going to be over, you opened up for tracy morgan who happens to be a black man and you have the audacity to use that word, what a story this will be your nothing but a low class peice of trash

So, at 2:38 PM, I responded:

Mary,

Holy shit, Fox News! I can't wait to get some press. Since Fox News always values the facts of a story more than the angle, let's get some facts straight:

1. I didn't use "the 'n' word," I used "nigger." I didn't call anyone a nigger, I said that you should be nice to me because, since you were going on after me, I could make everyone leave by saying "nigger" an absurd number of times.

2. I have never opened for Tracy Morgan. Even if I had, I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. I have opened up for my friend Hannibal Buress, who is also a black man. Does that help your nonsensical "argument?"

3. "Your" is possessive; "you're" is a contraction for "you are."

4. Nobody is interested in your story.

The only reason you are doing this is because you were acting like a cunt last night and you got called out on it. I, along with the other performers, popped the bubble of your delusional narrative in which you tell yourself you are a good, upstanding woman. That belief is in direct contradiction with reality.

By continuously talking, you treated the show, the performers, and the audience with such contemptuous disdain that the only valid explanation is that you are a cunt. I explained this to you in detail at the show. At first I thought, "Ah, she's probably drunk." But now that I see a lucid articulation of your inner monologue, it is obvious that you are a self-entitled, bone-stupid, cunty cunt. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but don't deny your identity! Be proud! The cunts have a very colorful history. Hell, a lot of U.S. Presidents were cunts. Maybe one day YOU could be President! Barry Bonds is a cunt and he has hit more home runs than anyone! (Well, anyone except Josh Gibson, another black man for whom I've never opened.)

You are just angry with yourself that you got stomped by a 25 year old dude. So, you have to be outraged now and act like someone else is to blame. It's childish. Look within yourself and figure out what it is that makes you so thoughtless and self-important. Maybe the (supposed) 4 million views have gone to your head. Maybe your pantsuit job at Fox News is inflating your ego. Or maybe you're just a cunt who needs to have her cunt fucked. If the latter is the case, send me your number and I'll give you plenty to be thankful for on Thursday...

Happy holidays!

Drew

She writes back:

your mentally ill and this will be posted everywhere, your a no talent peice of shit. period

And I write back:

Great! I will send you the audio from the show, a head shot, and my contact info so I can be rightfully credited. Let me know where this will be posted so I can send the link to my family and friends!

Thanks for helping me promote myself. You're a doll.

PS. See fact #3. You obviously missed it the first time.

At this point, she blocks me on Facebook. I then get a message from her brother, Hani Fakhoury:

hey mother fucker, can't wait for your next show, your going to be carried out in an ambulance promise you that

So I responded:

God damn it, didn't anyone teach your family how to use "you're," the proper contraction of "you are?"

Let me know which show you'd like to attend and I'll make sure to add you to the comp list!

He then told me to “keep it up.”

I then get word from someone that Mary has gone ape shit on Facebook/Twitter. I have a screen shot of what her Twitter account looked like:

[PICTURE REMOVED]

Last night I got a phone call from the manager of Timothy O’Toole’s, the bar where we put up Comedians You Should Know. Apparently Mary called and talked their ear off for 45 minutes about how I threatened to rape her and how she is going to continue to call every venue she knows that books me.

And that brings us to now. First of all, I admire your patience in reading this far. Secondly, what the fucking fuck? I mean, okay, look, I get it. She’s mad. She wants to assert herself in this world where she feels alone and without meaning. Okay, fine. I’ve done my share of stalky behavior. (Ironically, it has been fun watching someone stalk really badly because it makes me appreciate how good I actually am.) But we’re dealing with true insanity here. Impervious to reason, the whole thing. I don’t know WHERE she is getting this Tracy Morgan stuff, but apparently it’s the crux of her argument against me. I suppose my completely contextual, non-racist use of the word “nigger” is even more offensive to her because, in her mind and ONLY her mind, I have opened for Tracy Morgan, a black man. How does this indict me, exactly? Not only does she think I’m racist, but she thinks I’m doing it behind Tracy Morgan’s back! Like I work my way up the ladder to get the opportunity to perform in front of Tracy Morgan, but secretly whenever he turns his back I’m just spouting the n word to anyone who will listen. “Fuck that stupid nigger! He’s such a nigger that he doesn’t even know I hate him because he’s a nigger!” This is what she is claiming?!

I have no idea... I honestly can’t make heads or tails out of her thought process. I am trying to imagine her inner monologue, but I can’t even believe it’s a coherent string of words. I imagine it’s just the “Song that Never Ends” from Lamb Chop supplemented with imagery of midget rape. I honestly don’t even know how to combat this foray of insanity. Every possible idea I come up with is - and should very well be - illegal.

That is all... for now.