Category Archives: Life is Fun!

Thoughts on returning to standup comedy, 25 years after quitting – Part 2

Finally, at the Tempe Improv, June 20, 2018

I’m assuming you’ve read Part 1, so I’m going to plow forward with the story…

The final open mic the Monday before the Improv date was brutal. It was at one of our favorite venues, one that Jeff and I will reminisce about in our old age – a grungy tavern close to home, with great beer prices – but my energy was off.

I was very aware that my ‘audience’ had heard what I was about to say far too many times, even though I had updated it frequently and, in fact, had a couple of new lines I wanted to test before Wednesday at the Improv.

I felt like I had to apologize, in advance, and say, “I know you’re as tired of hearing this as I am of saying it, but after the Improv show, I’ll come back with new material.”

But I didn’t apologize. They knew what I was doing, and it wasn’t worth using up any of my five minutes to explain myself. So I did the material exactly as I planned to deliver it in two days, at the Improv.

They were tired of me, and I was tired of me. I didn’t get any laughs, but I knew that, if nothing else, I had my delivery down – both the words and the gestures – and that it was a solid five minutes of material.

Jeff – who had a pretty good set that night – suggested that, before we leave, we should do a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey. We drank to the Improv … may we both kick some ass.

Wednesday finally arrived and we were both insanely ready. (I’ll let Jeff tell his own story of what happened that night, in his own way.) It had been so many years since I had been on a real stage, in front of a real crowd.

In fact, the last time I performed standup comedy was at a showcase at the Improv on Santa Monica Boulevard, in Santa Monica, California. Jeff and I had moved to LA about a year before then, to give Hollywood a try. I had a great set that night and, if my personal life wasn’t getting really intense, I would have tracked down the club’s manager to ask about getting a booking. But it was not to be. Life was getting complicated, and I needed to focus on that, so I dropped out of showbiz and rarely looked back.

What an interesting set of bookends: my last time doing standup was at an Improv and now my first time back was also at an Improv.

I love that jacket.

So, now here I was at the Tempe Improv wearing a to-die-for jacket that I had bought months before, when I began to get the first inklings that the Big U was serious about pushing me on stage again. I saw it at Free People and knew I had to own it, and that it would be “stage clothes”. Honestly, I have nowhere else to wear something like that, but it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I either had to commit to getting on stage, or let it stay in the store, unpurchased.

I was second on the bill. The show-runner corralled all the comics and showed us where to go and what to do, i.e.: watch for “the light” at five minutes, and if you don’t start wrapping it up within 15 seconds of receiving the light we’ll cut the mic and turn on the music.

He showed us to the green room, and said to be sure to be there waiting within three comics of our turn. Since I was second, I was in the first batch of comics to wait there as the show began.

The first guy on stage had a pretty good set. I could hear the crowd’s warm laughter, but not what he was saying. I was too busy concentrating on not forgetting my opening line. Once I was on stage, though, it all came flowing back – the material I had practiced over the past weeks, the memories of what a big-time spotlight and mic feel like and how great it feels to receive the laughter of a huge crowd – I was in heaven.

My five minutes went fast … too fast … I had not allowed enough extra time for laughter when I was timing my set in the no-laugh-zone open mic shows. Before I knew it, I saw the light, so I wrapped it up without finishing my final bit. Better to cut off the closer, which had the biggest punchline, than to be chased off stage by a dead mic and loud music.

Here are a couple of videos of my set. I have to give a bit of a disclaimer, though, before you choose which recording to watch.

I have two recordings:

  1. This video has the audience slightly over-miked (you can hear a little too much table chatter … i.e. people ordering drinks, etc.) and sometimes it drowns out my voice, but the laughs/applause are good and loud;
  2. This one has me perfectly miked, so my sound is clear and crisp, but you can’t hear the audience as well.

The dilemma is that, with comedy, you really need the laughs as a part of the show, otherwise it’s agonizing to watch, sort of like that video of Mick Jagger and David Bowie singing “Dancing in the Streets” with the music removed. (Here’s a link to that painfully hysterical video, in case you’ve never seen it: https://youtu.be/BHkhIjG0DKc)

So, with that said, here is the link to the video with the laughs good and loud, with my voice occasionally too quiet:

And here is the link to a tweaked video, where the sound has been balanced so my voice is loud and clear, and the table chatter has been reduced, but the audience is a little too quiet for my comfort (they really were laughing harder than you’ll hear, here):

Choose whichever you’d prefer. I’m torn between the two. That’s why I’m posting both of them.

I’ll tell you what’s next in my upcoming blog, Part 3 of Thoughts on returning to standup comedy, 25 years after quitting.

And before we go, here’s you a dog who’s not sure how he feels about being in front of a microphone:


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. Its sequel, Shaman-a My House, is in the works.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

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Thoughts on returning to standup comedy, 25 years after quitting – Part 1

My headshot from the old days in comedy in Chicago, circa 1990. This photo may still be hanging in a comedy club near you.


If you read my previous blog, Apparently I’m performing standup comedy again…, you already know that I used to be a professional comedian. If you haven’t read it, go ahead and do that now. I’ll wait, and here is some hold music …

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Since I wrote that blog, my husband Jeff (who has a similar story) and I have performed/rehearsed to develop five minutes of polished material at numerous “open mic” nights, which culminated in a taped showcase at the Tempe Improv (an A room). It’s been … interesting.

Back in the old days (yes, I said that in a ‘granny’ voice), in the 80s and 90s, when I was learning comedy in Fort Wayne, Indiana and then in Chicago, it was a different world with a totally different vibe. There was a camaraderie and friendship with the other comics. I’m not finding that to be the case, for the most part, this time around.

By the way, I’m not complaining about any of this, just making note of what I’m experiencing. It’s just … not what I expected it to be like.

Maybe it’s because I’m married now and decades older than the people I’m meeting. Or, perhaps it’s because I have years of experience under my belt already (I’m obviously not a newbie) and seemingly appeared from out of the blue. Either way, I’m finding it hard to assimilate.

I’ll admit that I haven’t enjoyed the open mic process very much, because of this. It’s difficult to keep going night after night, to practice an evolving set of basically the same five minutes of material, in front of the same group of very young (mostly) dudes.

Performing at an open mic in Mesa, AZ.

Have I mentioned that part yet? Most open mics are a gathering of the same group of people who go from place to place, wherever there’s an available microphone, practicing their material on one another, with perhaps a couple of civilians thrown in. It’s easy enough to get a few laughs when no one has heard your material before, but after the umpteenth time, even sympathy laughs are rather thin on the ground.

This, by the way, is the true driving force behind writing new material and sharpening up the stuff that’s worth keeping: the humiliation of standing in front of the same people who are no longer laughing at what they’ve heard you say a thousand times before is a big motivator.

Aside from a couple of nice rooms that are actually set up for comedy, many open mics take place in random taverns, not places that are designed for shows. One that I know of (which I haven’t done and most likely won’t) takes place on the outdoor patio of a bar, overlooking a busy street.

Performing in a mostly empty room at one of the nicer open mics, improvMANIA in Chandler, AZ.

They always have a microphone, but sometimes they don’t have a stage or even a spotlight. They often have large screen TVs scattered around the bar, which they may or may not turn off during the open mic.

There is either no crowd other than comics, or a handful of people who are just there to drink at the bar and yack with their friends while a “show” goes on behind them. Or, by the time you get to the stage (the lists of comics who sign up to perform are usually very long) the crowd has gotten tired and gone home.

Dig if you will the verbal picture I’m painting. This is what you call a tough gig.

So, that’s what we did for about a month. The showcase at the Improv couldn’t come soon enough, IMHO. For one thing, I could finally blow out those five honed minutes and move on to new material. But mostly, the Improv gets huge crowds and it’s a real comedy club. The excitement and anxiety about getting back on stage in front of a genuine comedy audience was building to peak levels.

I’ll tell you that story in my next blog, Part 2 of Thoughts on returning to standup comedy, 25 years after quitting.

And, of course, here’s you a dog … Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. Its sequel, Shaman-a My House, is in the works.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

 

Apparently I’m performing standup comedy again …

The same night this photo was taken (Sioux City, circa 1990), I accidentally hit a patron in the head with my shoe, which flew off when I got a little overzealous acting out a bit.

Back in the previous century, I made my living as a standup comic. I had risen to the level of featuring at “A” rooms like the Funny Bone, Punchline, Catch a Rising Star, et al, and headlining “B” rooms and one-nighters. To the uninitiated, this means that I had enough experience to be taken seriously, so to speak.

However, the Universe had other ideas and threw an endless series of obstacles in my path. Rather than battle with an unstoppable force, I eventually cried “Uncle” and quit the biz.

Now, over 25 years later (goddess, has it been that long???) the Big U is nudging me back on stage. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why. I’m not interested in getting involved in showbiz again. I detested the ‘biz’ end of it. It’s just as bad as you’ve heard … possibly worse. One of these days, I’ll tell you some stories.

Plus, after all this time, I’ve carved out a comfortable niche as a published author and program host for the Shift Network. I’m obsessively working on a new novel, while I’m also focusing on getting a series of metaphysical comedy novels published.

The grueling process of succeeding at standup comedy doesn’t fit into my current plans. It takes a tremendous amount of deliberate effort to do it right.  Truly, comedy is not pretty.

But, if I’ve learned nothing else in this lifetime, I’ve learned that the only way to survive the Big U’s nudges is to not fight them. Go with the flow. And the flow is pushing me back on stage … at least once in a while, for five minutes at a time. (Five minutes is the standard amount of time given at most open mic and showcase shows … you only do more time if you’re part of a standard show, with three comics: opening act, feature act and headliner.)

This means a lot of things. First, what am I going to say? Five minutes may not seem like a long time, but you try standing on a stage, with a microphone in your hand and a spotlight in your eyes, in front of a room full of possibly hostile strangers and make them laugh, consistently, for five whole minutes.

So, I decided to cheat and dust off some of my old act. I watched my ancient recordings and chose some material that translates well to modern times. I threw in a few new jokes, and put together a solid five minutes.

Now, I have to rehearse. That means tracking down local open mic shows to polish my skills after getting so rusty, in preparation for a showcase I have already booked at the Tempe Improv, in a few weeks. I’ve already done two open mics and am heading out again tonight.

I’ll keep you posted!

Meantime, here’s you a dog, with a microphone:


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. Its sequel, Patterns in the Chaos, is in the works.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

The etiquette of a properly worded wish

Etiquette gone wrong — Image Source

Who knew the etiquette of requesting wishes, pre-granted by a Faery Godmother, would be so complicated?! I’ve already wrestled with the questions ‘Is wishing for more wishes allowed?’ and ‘Must a wish be kept secret?’. Now I’m faced with another: “What is the proper way to word a wish?”

I’ve seen my fair share of movies and books about fairy tales and fantasies, of all sorts. I’ve witnessed lots of fictional wish-making, and there is always a downward plot twist if the wish isn’t worded properly.

I’ve also been a New Ager (for lack of a better term) for decades, so I’ve had lots of experience with the confusing rules of  affirmations, the Law of Attraction, and “positive thinking”.

For example: focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want (without using the word “want”); state your affirmations in the present tense, even if they feel false; if you don’t get what you asked for, you’re doing it wrong.

This can all be summed up by the following statement: karma is a bitch.

I’ve had my ass kicked aplenty by karma, so I’m going to be really careful with how I approach her.

My research shows conflicting reports, so I’m going to put together a mashup of the rules that make the most sense to me, and hope I don’t get any karmic blow-back.

Basically, it boils down to common sense: be careful what you wish for.

On a related note, we’re told to set a deadline or the Universe doesn’t know when we need it by. I have to wonder, though. Is the Universe that dense? Doesn’t it know, by the vibe of the scenario, when relief is needed? And, if I’m making a wish, doesn’t that imply the need is now?

The standard response is, “Trust in divine timing. You’ll get what you need, not what you want,” to which I reply, “Then what is the point of wishes?”

After spending so much time on making sure I have my wish perfectly polished before I ‘say my right words’, I find myself asking, “Am I over-analyzing?”

Am I beating this into the ground, or is all of this second guessing helpful because it forces me to focus on what I really want? Abraham says to hold a thought for 17 seconds and the Law of Attraction kicks in. Well, I have certainly done at least that.

Image Source

The Oracle did say “Think about what you ask for”. Perhaps this is what it meant. Perhaps it’s telling me to give it some deep, deep thought so I not only word the wish correctly, I also start its manifestation rolling.

Here’s my first wish of 10, after a great deal of thought about the wording, according to the rules that makes sense for quality wish-making (as I mentioned in a previous blog, I’m going to keep my wish secret for the time being, so I’ll be obscuring any spoilers):

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Wish #1 of 10

I wish for SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER, free and clear, no harm/no foul, to be delivered by the end of July 2017, in a joyful and generous way that harms none and helps all.

Thank you.

Here’s you a well-mannered dog.

 

 

 

If a wish is revealed, is it null and void?

Another wishing-protocol question has come up, this time about keeping your wish a secret. We’ve all heard that you’re not supposed to tell anyone what you wish for — when blowing out birthday candles or wishing on a shooting star — because then it won’t come true. But, is this up for debate?

According to this site, when wishing on a star, you’re not supposed to tell anyone. On the other hand, this site doesn’t say a word about secrecy, so we can assume that they don’t believe keeping your wish to yourself is a big deal.

If it’s true that you’re not supposed to tell, then I’ve already blown it because I told that my first wish is for ten more wishes.

However, I never felt any intuitive nudges that my Faery Godmother minded either that I was talking about this, or that I told my first wish. And, believe me, I know from experience that if there’s something I’m not supposed to be doing — especially after I make a point of asking for guidance — I will be prevented from making that mistake, either because my computer will continually crash — keeping me from blogging — or I will be distracted in some other equally laborious way.

Now that it’s time to start wishing, in earnest, I’m feeling some trepidation about sharing what those wishes might be.

The problem I’m facing is that I’m not sure if it’s early-years birthday-cake training, or if my intuitive guidance is telling me to tick a lock.

There’s another angle to this, which has nothing to do with the rules of wish-making. Part of me is afraid to reveal what my first of the ten wishes is, just in case it doesn’t come true.

Maybe I was okay with sharing Wish #1 because there was no way to prove whether it was granted or not.

There, I said it. What if, after all this talk about being granted a wish by a Faery Godmother, and all the folderol over whether I’m allowed to ask for more wishes … what if my first provable wish doesn’t come true? I’m gonna look rather foolish, you know?

I asked the Oracle about this, and here’s the response I received:

This could be interpreted a couple of different ways:

  1. Because I’ve already more or less decided what Wish #2 will be, this card could be telling me to give it more thought before speaking it aloud to my Faery Godmother. Perhaps it could be tweaked a little further.
  2. Or, it could be advising me to not tell what my wish is, to only “think” about it.

It could be both, or neither. However, both of the above feel true, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep the details of Wish #2 to myself, for now.

I’ll reveal my wish if … (that’s not very good Law of Attraction wording, is it?) … I’ll reveal it when it comes true.

You’ll just have to take my word for it that what I end up with is what I wished for. I’d rather keep everyone else in the dark and risk being annoying, than to risk not getting my wish because I felt unspoken peer pressure to spill my guts.

I’ll keep you posted. Meantime, here’s you a dog with a secret.

P.S. Before I posted this blog, live, I just happened to be directed to see this on Facebook. Tell me that’s not a sign!


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. Its sequel, Patterns in the Chaos, is in the works.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

Wish #1: Ten more wishes

I exercised due diligence to see if there was an official rule against using a pre-granted wish for more wishes and found none. I’ve made my decision to go for it.

Here’s my reasoning, because I’m almost blown out of my chair by the force of so many readers hollering at their screens, “You’re not allowed to wish for more wishes!”

I know, I know. I think the same thought. I’ve seen the same movies and read the same books as you. It does seem as if there is a rule or, at least, a group-think understanding against it.

But is there an actual rule that says ‘No’?

Faeries, as I understand them, feel a hardy distaste for greed. I’m not  big fan of it myself. So I wanted to be extremely careful and respectful in my demeanor toward this gift. If multiple wishes aren’t allowed, I ain’t gonna ask for ’em.

That’s why I bothered to do some research. One doesn’t receive a genuine offer to make a wish by a Faery Godmother without giving that wish serious thought.

I tried to find out if this rule has been officially put down in writing somewhere, aside from fiction and fairy tales. But where on Earth (or beyond) would that be?

Because I can’t pose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ queries to the Oracle who first granted this wish, I couldn’t just ask, “Is this allowed?” I had to find that answer another way.

So, I mentally asked the Faery Godmother to answer my question in another way: show me a sign. I even surfed the internet as an active participant in the search — I’m not just lazily asking to be proven wrong.

I saw nothing. I found nothing.

While waiting for my sign, I spent a few days trying to figure out what I would wish for, in case it turned out that I was only allowed the one.

I also spent that time becoming aware of how often, in everyday life, I would mindlessly begin sentences with the words “I wish …”.

I meant nothing by the phrase. It was just a dramatic way to begin a stream of words pouring through my noggin.

I had to catch myself numerous times. For example, while ridiculously blocked in a grocery store aisle, I caught myself about to mutter, “I wish these people would get out of my way!”.

If I wasn’t more careful, I realized, this could have been granted as my Big Wish, and I would have wasted it on something boring, petulant and completely inconsequential.

I couldn’t believe how often I thought things like that! It was almost constant, as if — because I didn’t normally believe that wishes can come true — there’s no harm in wishing for whatever I wanted, including the vaporizing of random Trader Joe’s shoppers, who were blocking my access to the goat cheese.

Catching myself yammering these childish complaints was like tap-dancing through a landmine, becoming — by necessity — ever more mindful to tiptoe carefully through my unconscious thoughts while I pondered what my one wish would be.

On one such occasion, I was pissing and moaning about not being able to find a parking spot in front of my house, and expressing angry words about what I’d like to see happen to neighbors who got there before me.

With my eyes opened, at long last, I stopped bitching and said, aloud, to the ever-listening Faery Godmother, “I didn’t mean that! That wasn’t my wish!”

Finally — since any careless complaining could be misunderstood as The Wish — I said to her, “When I make my actual wish, it will be out loud and deliberate, okay? Please don’t grant anything that is not in a complete sentence, and spoken aloud, to you.”

And now, because I had asked to be shown if there was a definitive rule against wishing for more wishes and was shown nothing, I’m taking that as my sign.

I feel like the window for wishing that wish is beginning to close. When I look at the picture of the Oracle telling me, “Make a wish”, the magical energy that I originally felt isn’t as strong. It’s beginning to fade, and I’m hearing her gentle instruction: “Say your right words.”

So, I’m going to go ahead and do it.

Wish #1:

I wish for ten more wishes, please.

Thank you.

And, of course, here’s you a dog, dressed as a genie.


lisa author shotLisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. Its sequel, Patterns in the Chaos, is in the works.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

What should I wish for?

If you read my most recent blog, you know that I have been granted a wish by my Faery Godmother. You also know that my first order of business is to determine whether or not I am allowed to wish for more wishes.

It’s the first thing many of us would ask for, if given the chance, but is it allowed? A Facebook poll of my friends shows that many believe that it’s not. But has anyone ever seen an official rule-book that says we can’t, or is the fabled limit just poetic license to make fairy tales more interesting?

The answer to these questions determine my future, so I’m not using my wish just yet. I don’t want to squander a unique opportunity. While I search for a definitive answer, those questions invite more to come forth, like:

  1. If I can wish for more, how many should I ask for? Unlimited wishes might be a bit much. Not only would it feel greedy, unlimited wishes might dilute the adventure of life on planet Earth.
  2. Would 10 be enough? I think it would because — if carefully worded — the first three ought to be enough to set me up for life, especially at my age. I only have a few decades left (I don’t think I’d wish to be immortal, but that’s a topic for another blog). The extra seven could be used as gifts or in case of emergency.
  3. If I am allowed 10 wishes, what would they be — especially those first three?
  4. If I can’t wish for more, what will my one wish be?
  5. Is it true that one should use a single wish for someone else, that the most blessed course of action is to give away something so priceless?

So, you see, there’s a lot to think about while I search for the answer to the primary question: am I allowed to wish for more wishes?

Meantime, here’s you a Fairy God Dog:


lisa author shotLisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. Its sequel, Patterns in the Chaos, is in the works.

http://www.lisabonnice.com