Posts Tagged ‘Justin Bieber’

A man like Annie Lennox

February 10, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew wrote about half of the following post yesterday afternoon, intending to come back and finish it when he had a break from the babies. It never happened.

On the standup comedy front, last night was my first trip to another Central Illinois club, Mason City Limits, in Mason City. From what I was able to ascertain, Mason City consists of about four blocks, three bars and a Dollar General. I’m a little jealous. Where I’m from, we have a Subway and a Christian youth center that looks like a bar from the outside.

I rode up from Springfield in the passenger seat of local C-list celebrity Buddah Eskew*, and immediately, we were arguing about car music. Buddah was like, “We’re listening to Justin Bieber,” and I was like, “Screw that. Justin Bieber sucks. Justin Bieber’s not real music. We’re listening to Miley Cyrus.” Back and forth it went: Bieber, Cyrus, Bieber, Cyrus.

We finally turned on the radio and found shared solace in the song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Hearing that song only further cements my feeling that Annie Lennox is one of the great underappreciated male vocalists of our time.

In the back seat were Saad Ahmed, a razor-sharp comedian with an inimitable dry delivery and timing, and Rich Mansfield, the one guy in our peer group that really seems to have the stage performance aspect down and isn’t mostly just up there reciting jokes. Mansfield wanted to talk about comedians the entire time. He told us about a Marc Maron podcast interview with Gallagher that went awry, and he name-checked just about every famous ’80s comedian who was given a sitcom after making it big on “The Tonight Show,” along with other comedians who were no doubt just given a crappy pilot that never got picked up by a network.

The open mic is normally on the first Wednesday of the month at Mason City, but last week’s diabolical snowstorm postponed the event to this Wednesday. I want to blame scheduling changes for the lack of turnout, but there was still a foot of snow on the ground, and the temperature was hovering around 4 degrees Fahrenheit, so that also may have had something to do with everyone’s decision to stay home.

With the exception one of the comics’ mother and girlfriend (two separate people, FYI), the audience was made up entirely of open-mic comedians. Meaning, like fifteen people total, including the club owner and bartender. In a situation like this, you should have a pretty good stockpile of bits you want to try out just in front of your peers. You should just get up there, be conversational, leave out most of your tried-and-true set list and have fun with it.

I didn’t have a lot of fun with it, unfortunately. I had to go up first, which meant no time to relax and laugh a little and try to get together a few shared reference points to call back from earlier in the show. I got some good scattered laughs, but mood-wise, I wasn’t feeling social, I wasn’t feeling bold, I wasn’t really feeling “on.” An Andrew with a different mindset would’ve welcomed the opportunity to have a looser, more friendly structure onstage, to chat up a new club owner, to banter with the other comics. This Andrew mostly kept quiet.

I have another open mic at my home club this Wednesday. Five days to get myself back into Showoff Smartass Mode.

* Buddah writes regularly for our humor site, We’re Not Funny, and is a very friendly, amusing dude. I like editing his stuff because the end result is always a good blend of lines that are funny written as is, other lines I can make funnier with a little judicious tweaking and still other lines I completely rewrite based on his premises.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

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Got ’til midnight

January 2, 2011

Andrew Hicks

The Post-Dispatch article on me ran in the Sunday paper today on the front page of the Community section. Well, I think you have to jump to Page 2 before you get to me, but they did run a super-tightly cropped headshot of me and a couple funny old diary quotes from me that I’d forgotten about. It’s great when Ghost of Andrew Past makes Ghost of Andrew Present crack up.

I don’t know if says more about article placement or the declining influence of print journalism or the hugeness of the Internet, but when the 1996 contest article ran, my website got more than a thousand visitors that day. The 2011 follow-up piece has driven exactly nine StlToday.com readers to check out my blog so far. There’s a doctored picture of Justin Bieber’s head on top of a kneeling girl in a pink bikini that gets more views than that every 30 seconds. I should know, I look at that thing twice a minute.

Maybe my pageviews will spike before midnight. Thanks to comedy buddy Chris Trader, I changed the time zone settings on my blog to Chicago from Wrexham, Wales. The time stamp on my posts will be from when I actually posted them, not six hours later. I have until midnight to write and post every day. I have until Jimmy Fallon‘s first guest comes out. So I will post every day. I might just not have a lot to say every day.

(Insert 3 more entertaining short paragraphs here. The paragraphs that really make the piece come full circle and leave the reader satisfied. You have until midnight.)

Oh, what does everyone think about the bold words here and there approach? This is my second time trying it in writing. I’m pretty sure I like it. For Internet writing, anyway. I don’t think I’d try it in print.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Baby's first Christmas: Tiffany holds Silas.

Shaving grace

October 22, 2010

Andrew Hicks

In the immediate aftermath of Ankle Break 2010, while I was under heavy, medically supervised sedation at the hospital, I decided to grow a beard. A friend compared it to an NHL athlete’s playoff beard, but I thought of it more as a strike beard.

I identified with Conan and Letterman, who returned to work with faces unshaved to show solidarity while their writers were on strike. These late-night hosts knew they’d be good in the long run, but a major element of their success was fundamentally missing. For them, it was the word-crafters. For me, it was the ability to walk and work.

The wildly growing hair on my face — an unruly swatch-melange of black, brown, red and gray — was there to state boldly, “This is the amount of time it’s been since I was normal.”

The beard came off last Saturday, in a mundane moment of anticlimax. I decided it was time to look semi-presentable again, and I was tired of my new, annoying habit of pinching and tugging at the tuft of beard right under my ear, where jaw meets neck. I found myself executing the pinch-and-tug move several times per minute. Inexplicably, I’d start to move at double speed whenever Nancy Grace* showed up on the TV.

I never got a picture of my bearded self, and I wish I would have. The odds of me going all wooly bully again are zero unless an Asian prison sentence is involved. Which would be all-around bad for more reasons far more profound than loss of shaving privileges. Note to self: No more felonies in The Phillipines or misdemeanors in Malaysia.

(Also, no more arson in Ankara, assault in Armenia, battery in Bahrain, blackmail in Bhutan, burglary in Bangladesh, embezzlement in India, extortion in Iran, jaywalking in Jakarta, kidnapping in Kazahkstan, larceny in Laos, manslaughter in Myanmar, mayhem in Mongolia, murder in Moscow, perjury in Pyongyang, robbery in Riyadh or vehicular homicide in Vietnam**. I don’t know what I’m going to do for fun anymore. I guess shave. Lots of shaving.)

In a half-assed marriage of odd and tacky, I took my battery-powered trimmer outside with me and did most of the heavy face-hair removal there. Instead of a bathroom sink and floor full of beard particles of varying length, the wind blew it out into the grass, like the personal grooming equivalent of scattering urn-ash.In a matter of minutes, I went from being enshrouded in facial tresses to being completely cleanshaven. It was the first time I was sans goatee since I was Meat Loaf for Halloween in 2006***.

Baby Sarah was confused for a minute, like she had a new big brother. Tiffany, my wife, was seeing me without any form of facial hair for the first time. She basically said what everyone else tells me when I shave off my goatee: You’d better grow that thing back ASAP.

Tiffany was nicer about it than everyone who’s not in love with me has ever been. She marveled over how young and innocent I looked. And she said I could groom myself however I wanted to and she’d still think I was hot. But there was noticeable, instant relief when I told her the facial hair would be coming back. What can I say? I’ve got a freaky chin. And this beautiful grown adult woman likes me better when I don’t look like I’m 12.

*Several years ago, I was involved in a tawdry, one-way Love To Hate relationship with Ms. Grace. I haven’t gotten around to seeing Nancy’s new daytime courtroom show, but I imagine she got the idea from watching Judge Judy and thinking, That woman is way too nice and not nearly condescending enough to her plaintiffs and defendants.

**Hopefully, I cannot be prosecuted for run-on sentences in Russia or killing a joke beyond recognition in the Koreas. I think I’m done now.

***Pretty much all my notable Halloween costumes have required the full shave: Meat Loaf, Elwood Blues, Mama Cass (complete with partially eaten ham sandwich), Sam Kinison, Miss Cleo and this year’s upcoming persona, Big Old Justin Bieber.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Baby Silas and his beautiful mommy.