Comics Unleashed

Tomorrow I am taping two episodes of Comics Unleashed w/ Byron Allen!

You can check out the trailer for the show right here – comicsunleashed.com

New episodes begin airing October 1st!!!

 

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Upcoming Shows

Aug 31st – Greenwich Village Comedy Club 8 & 10pm

Sept 1st – Greenwich Village Comedy Club 10pm

Sept 3rd – Dangerfield’s Comedy Club 9pm

Sept 11th – Hilton Head Comedy & Magic Club, Hilton Head, SC

Sept 16th – COMICS UNLEASHED TAPING, Los Angeles, CA

Sept 18th – Hall & Oates Baltimore, MD (Just Watching)

Sept 20th – Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton, PA

Sept 27th – Davis & Elkins College Homecoming, WV

 

 

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OBX Comedy Shows Start Tonight & Instagram

J Lalonde and I will begin our comedy shows at The Comedy Club OBX  tonight at 9pm. We’re here till Friday so if you have time come on down and check us out!

Also I just signed up for Instagram. Yup. I JUST did. Again actually. Sort of did it once before and never used it but now we’re golden. Instagram ready! If you’d like to follow me and check out some of my pics then please click here.

– Matt

 

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Are you on Pandora? So am I.

In case you’re a fan of Pandora, and I’d say most of us are, you may be down for a little more laughter in your life. So the next time you’re building a new playlist why not take a minute to check out my station and then om-ba-pa-dow we’re cruising together like Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow. 

 

 

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THIS WEEK: OBX Comedy Club & More Upcoming Shows

8/19-8/22 OBX Comedy Club, Outer Banks, NC  http://www.comedyclubobx.com/

8/24 ITZ Comedy Club Fayetteville, NC  http://itzentertainmentcity.com/comedy-zone/

9/3 Dangerfields New York, NY

9/11 Hilton Head Comedy Club, Hilton Head, SC

9/20 Wilkes Barre, PA

9/28 Dangerfields New York, NY

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“O’ Captain, My Captain” – My memory of Robin Williams

Mill Valley, CA 2008

I had a chance to perform at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, CA a few years ago. Mark Pitta runs a Tuesday night show there that, if you’re ever in the area, I HIGHLY recommend you attend. I can’t emphasize that enough. Typically, on any given Tuesday, you’ll see whichever headliners are appearing in San Francisco over the weekend getting a little extra stage time.

This alone would provide for some truly quality comedy not to mention the regulars from the neighborhood that would drop by. Regulars like Robin Williams.

I’m not sure what it’s like for people in other careers. Like when a young astronaut meets Buzz Aldrin.  I guess thats the feeling. One minute you’re sort of questioning why you drove 30minutes north of San Francisco to some town you’ve never heard of to tell jokes and the next you’re standing “backstage” or outside the backstage door as the case was that night talking to someone who you grew up worshipping.

Since that night and in particular the last few days I’ve thought about the things I wish I had said to him that night.

I wish I had told him how whenever I watch “Good Morning Vietnam” I can hear my dad laughing at the, “What does three up and three down mean to you Airman?”End of an inning?” line.

I wish I had told him that when Mrs. Doubtfire was released on VHS I never bothered renting it, I just bought it.

I wish I had asked him what a comedian, who wasn’t born with seemingly so much god given talent, should do if they don’t feel unique?

I wish I had taken a picture with him.

I wish I had asked him if I could open for him on the road sometime.

I wish I had told him that other than Rudy and Field of Dreams there was only one other movie scene that genuinely made me tear up every time I see it.

“O’ Captain, My Captain.”

The truth is I didn’t do any of those things and I’m glad I didn’t say any of those things. The truth is I shook his hand and tried to act as if I was at any open mic. Just a couple of comics standing outside talking about comedy, the room, the crowd that night, the occasional story from the road. I do remember him asking me where I was from,

“Baltimore,” I said bracing myself for his retort.

“Dear God, well, thats what you have to do. Go everywhere.”

He only said one thing but he basically summed up what it takes to be a great comic in one simple statement.

I’m not sure what he was going through the last few days and I don’t know this for sure, but I don’t think people fully understand just how much and to what degree some people and in this case, some artists, rip themselves open. How much they dig and analyze and over analyze situations and people and themselves in front of us, until someone says, “You’re good enough” and then, “You’re a star” and then later “What happened to you?” The high and low is as devastatingly awesome and sad as anything on this earth.

 

 

 

 

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Upcoming Shows

8/11 Greenwich Village Comedy Club

8/15-8/16 Williamsburg Comedy Club, VA  http://comedyclubwilliamsburg.com/

8/19-8/22 OBX Comedy Club, Outer Banks, NC  http://www.comedyclubobx.com/

8/24 ITZ Comedy Club Fayetteville, NC  http://itzentertainmentcity.com/comedy-zone/

9/3 Dangerfields New York, NY

9/11 Hilton Head Comedy Club, Hilton Head, SC

9/26 Dangerfields New York, NY

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Sweep

“Sweep.” We never enjoyed sweeping. It wasn’t like that was the worst chore in the world but there’s something about it. You know it’s not the most important chore. Anyone can do it and it’s sometimes indicative of a lack of other things to do. And that’s exactly why Amos would say it to us. “Sweep.” You would have thought we would have wanted to sweep. The broom wasn’t just your average, house-hold, Wicked Witch broom. The warehouse broom was one of those wide rectangular, gray, always dirty but always room for more industrial brooms with a long handle. It never left the ground it just moved, advanced slowly forward like a perfectly organized army pushing the enemy back, leaving no trace of a scuffle behind. If it had any weakness it was that it was too large unable to get in every nook and cranny. Perhaps with sheer force you could try and drive and slam it into a corner to get that last bit of dust but usually something was left behind. That broom was patient. It new eventually any dustball would accumulate, growing larger and more vulnerable until one day it had no choice but to come and fight. It was perfect for lining up flush against the bottom of the metal shelves that lined the warehouse aisles. Those aisles were as long as football fields. Eight feet high on either side and then product on the top that would extend for a few more feet. It took years of learning that we don’t remember. Like learning a language we just eventually learned that Keith Clark calendars were in the first aisle closest to the doors that led into the office. Sanford Sharpies and Expresso markers were in the second to last aisle from the opposite wall. That was the aisle that stopped short like a street at a subway track that continued on the other side. But every aisle had the same concrete floor. The same perfect surface for that broom to slide steadily forward. The warehouse was so large in fact that within one aisle you could go from listening to smooth jazz to golden oldies and depending on which aisle you turned to return to the front you might be listening to R&B at the end of one lap.

Amos always listened to jazz. It was the first time I realized you could hook a radio up to an outlet that was controlled by a light switch. Every morning as soon as the light switch was flipped the sounds of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Herbie Hancock and various members of the Marsalis family would fill the warehouse. It wasn’t until Dwight or JC came in a little while later that the other radios would be turned on. For awhile our father had a white guy named Bob who worked there. Bob loved Country music and he was alone in that love. Some of the liveliest debates my brother and I ever heard consisted of why Country music was better or worse than R&B and hip hop. To us the words in both sounded similar. Just a different beat. People singing about love, their momma, their daddy, the woman, the “other” woman, their man,  the “other” man, the “other” man’s woman and occasionally a tractor, pickup or prison.

During the summer the warehouse was infiltrated by a whole different influence. Teachers and nuns. Word spread at our grade school that there was good part time work to be had at my father’s warehouse and so one by one a whole handful of our teachers decided they would make an extra buck by pulling orders at Fountain Pen Supply. You might think this didn’t sit well with my brother and I but we were the second generation of kids from our family who were taught by Ms. Moonis, Ms. Daugherty, Sr. Anne and Sr. Joan.  From the time we could walk we were seeing these ladies at the warehouse in the summer. Working side by side with Amos, Dwight, JC, Henry and for awhile Country Bob. By the time we were old enough to call Ms. Moonis our homeroom teacher we had already worked with her.

During those days we might be assigned any number of tasks and sweeping was just one of them, although we didn’t do it much. Some summer days we would come in and the order pile would be so high we just knew we’d never get to the end of it. I never realized back then what that pile signified. That high stack of papers was the thing that kept the lights on. It was the thing that kept us, and everyone else who worked there, fed. The orders were usually at least a page long if not several. We would dread the size of that pile. They would come out of this large printer that sat near Amos’ desk. The orders themselves came from inside the office. The sales department would input the orders and send them to the warehouse to be pulled. Then Amos would rip them from the printer, tear off the perforated fringes and place them on the pile. It was just a step in the process. Some summer days we would have 10 people in that warehouse pulling orders. We would bring them to the front where Dwight and JC would pack them up and place them on a palate to be shipped out. Every afternoon the outside door to the warehouse would open and the truck drivers would come in and say hey to Dwight, JC and Amos. We loved how animated they were with each other. Like they were seeing a friend they hadn’t seen in years when in reality it had just been 24hrs. They would discuss sports, music and especially women. The first scantily clad picture we ever saw was on the wall of the warehouse bathroom. Some big haired, large breasted tribute to fire fighting if memory serves.

We grew up there. We spent summer days there. Winter snow days playing on the shelves or in the box pile so our parents could be close by and not worry about leaving us at home. We would watch March Madness in that warehouse, everyone checking their brackets and trying to concentrate on work while some Thursday afternoon 15 seed upset a 2 seed.

For awhile the pile was large and we never had time to sweep until every so often we would come in and the pile was smaller and my father seemed more stressed. Then somedays we would come in and there wasn’t a pile. Just a piece of cardboard that would sit at the bottom of the stack and act as a placeholder.

Things were changing then and for better or worse and for whatever reason those days were over. It was those days that we would come in and ask Amos how we could help and he would just say, “Sweep.”

We helped our dad empty that warehouse after he sold everything; the stock, the shelves, the printer, the radios. We helped him sweep it one last time before he shut the lights off.

I’m often reminded of it. Every time I watch.”The Office” I’m reminded of it.

It’s funny I’m not sure how to end this. Guess it just felt like something nice to put out there.

 

 

 

 

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Still waiting…

prospect perkIt was a normal morning a few days ago when we arrived at Prospect Perk. Artie elected to remain outside while I went in for a coffee and a bagel, toasted with cream cheese, and a bowl of water.

When I returned I noticed that Artie had been joined by two young ladies who quickly notified us that one of them was about to go on a date. Apparently any moment a gentlemen, who we’ll call Andrew, would arrive to squire the larger, curly haired girl, who we’ll call Sara, about town. Rarely do we have this much excitement during our morning walks so we quickly joined up as part of the welcoming committee. We learned a great deal about our new friends in the moments leading up to Andrew’s arrival. Andrew worked at the nearby, Wing Wagon on Flatbush just a few short blocks from where we sat. Andrew worked in sales. He was point of sale to use a technical term that I hope won’t alienate any of you. He handled customer service and financial transactions. He answered frequently asked questions like, “What flavor wings do you have?,” and “Can you make an Arnold Palmer?,” as well as, “Do you cater bar mitzvahs?”

Sara was joined by her friend whom we’ll refer to as, Meo Yin. Sara and Meo Yin had just finished spring term at their Connecticut boarding school and Sara was visiting Meo at Meo’s parent’s Park Slope brownstone for an extended weekend. We learned that Sara and Meo had been walking down Flatbush the previous afternoon when they noticed Andrew tidying up a section of the Wing Wagon showroom. Sara then expressed at great length how visually appealing she found Andrew to be.

We asked when realizing that Sara would soon be off with Andrew what Meo had planned for her morning/afternoon? She had after all opened up her home to her boarding school pal who was about to head off for an afternoon of high adventure with Andrew. Meo assured us that she had plenty to busy herself with remarking with a laugh that her “textbooks won’t unpack and organize themselves!” We all agreed they wouldn’t.

A quick clock check revealed that it was now getting on 10:30am and there was an air of slight concern that Andrew was now exactly thirty minutes late. Not exactly indicative of the type of service patrons of the Wing Wagon have come to know and love. The ladies asked if we felt that was a bit odd. We agreed odd wasn’t the word we were thinking of. We then inquired where Andrew lived and the ladies indicated that Andrew lived not far from our neighborhood of Flatbush. Which was an exciting development because now Sara and Meo had some more information to consider. For example, we were able to explain how walking from Flatbush to Park Slope took roughly forty five minutes to an hour. We revealed that by train it took roughly 10 minutes. Although Artie and I were happy to share what knowledge we had of the surrounding territory it seemed only to discourage Sara who realized that it wasn’t that far.

The decision was made that one of us should go down to the Wing Wagon in case Andrew had somehow misunderstood the plan. Meo Yin was elected for several reasons. First of all she was not Sara and her going would seem less pushy. If there was one thing Sara was sure of it was that men didn’t like pushy women. Furthermore, Meo Yin while perhaps not as fleet of foot as Artie or I she possessed the knowledge of what Andrew looked like which was key. As Meo Yin went in search of news, Artie and I began eating the second half of our bagel while Sara explained that Andrew hadn’t thought to text either. She knew this because she was checking her phone regularly, about once every 15 seconds Artie and I later agreed. Apparently, Andrew hadn’t been returning the texts of either young lady and this was cause for further concern.

Meo returned shortly thereafter with little to report.  Apparently the Wing Wagon wasn’t scheduled to open until 11am. It was now 10:45a and Artie and I began to worry that we may be forced to quit the gang. We tried to keep this news to ourselves. We could tell Meo was beginning to think her textbooks would remain disorganized forever. Over the next twenty minutes we filled the time with further texts and discussions of what could have possibly happened to Andrew? Was he harmed? Should we contact the authorities? The MTA?

It wasn’t until 11:15a that someone suggested, I forget who but I think it may have been Artie, that perhaps Andrew wasn’t in danger at all. Perhaps he wasn’t coming. Perhaps he wasn’t interested in Sara. This clearly upset Sara very much. She though it was rude of Artie to insinuate such a thing and became quiet. Meo tried to break the silence with an optimistic comment about how much fun they might have even if Andrew didn’t show but the rift between Artie and Sara was already there and deepening. Her cold shoulder was met by Artie’s silence.

Not wanting to make an uncomfortable situation worse I explained how we really had to be going. Meo was pleasant but Sara struggled to make eye contact with Artie as we stepped off the wooden porch at Prospect Perk. We never did meet Andrew but we made a vow as we left never to frequent Wing Wagon again. Artie doesn’t understand what the big deal is.

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The Formula Scam

We live off the B/Q. Church Avenue is really the closest subway stop but if we ever need to hit Duane Reade or a better grocery store we usually hop out one stop early at Parkside.

I mention this because there is something territorial about your “stop” and I really had no idea how famous my stop was until a recent evening when I was on my way home from work. I had exited the subway at Parkside when I was approached by a gentlemen who needed some help. He explained that his baby was hungry and also had AIDS.

I think it’s important I mention those things in that order because if nothing else it’s just an interesting way of listing your baby’s issues.

1) Hunger

2) AIDS

He didn’t want money. He just needed me to buy a can of baby formula. “That’s it!?” I thought. I can’t tell you how quickly I went from “Get a Job”  mode to “I am saving this child’s life mode.” My skepticism turned into pride so fast I didn’t even notice I missed my stop at Sucker St.

We marched into the bodega where I arrogantly demanded a can of the best baby formula they had. None of that Food Town crap! Don’t you have something made by Godiva back there?!

Apparently, baby formula isn’t cheap. $19 later the man got down on one knee and thanked me as I simultaneously waved him off and looked for strangers to notice my good-deeding.

I skipped home and announced to my wife that there was cause for celebration! I had cured AIDS, fed a baby and remained modest.

It was in the retelling of my samaritan tale that I began to realize how picture perfect  it all had been. Maybe a little too perfect.

I decided to google “baby formula scam” in much the same way I googled Roy Scheider during a recent viewing of, ‘The French Connection’ to figure out if he had done that before or after, ‘Jaws’ and ‘Marathon Man.’

(FYI: ‘The French Connection’ was released in 1971. ‘Jaws’ and ‘Marathon Man’ followed in ’75 and ’76 respectively.)

But unlike Roy Scheider, googling, ‘baby formula scam’ revealed more than I ever imagined. The first listing that came up was:

http://theqatparkside.blogspot.com/2011/02/scam-sandwich.html

That’s correct. The VERY FIRST LISTING was a blog about my train stop being ground zero of the U.S. baby formula trade.

Now I’m quite aware that between Apple, Google and the rest of the internet my location, interests, and frequent searches are all used to prioritize search results.

But still, it was as if the internet was saying,

“So you want to know the definition of sucker?”

Sucker =
IMG_1099
 

Apparently, because baby formula is so expensive there are numerous ways a person, such as the gentlemen I encountered, can acquire a can of Enfamil for $19 and then resell it on the street for say $10 and then retire with a nice chunk of rock candy.

And for anyone else who grew up in a bubble, if you’re like me it took you awhile to grasp that people aren’t getting high off of baby formula.

Also, I’m pretty sure his baby doesn’t have AIDS.

 

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