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DAN FRENCH has an M.A. in Rhetoric, and a Ph.D. in Media Studies, but don't let that fool you. And he still hasn't mailed us an 8 X 10.

Vist Dan's site,!
Dan French

The original "What Works"
"Tom Kenney"

"Inside the Box, Pt. II"
TV Development

"Whose Line is it Anyway?"
French's gag in a Quote-A-Crostic!

"Inside the Box, Pt. I"
TV Programming

"Your Showcase Set"
How to craft an L.A.-ready set

"The Clogged Drain of Comedy"
Who belongs on the stage? Comedy in L.A.

Why move to L.A.?

"Good Side/Bad Side"
What does comedy mean to a culture, post-911?

What should a manager do?

"Standup on TV"
What does TV want?

"Cash for Words"
Writing for dollars

"Stoking the Joke Machine"
Writing for a living

"Screenwriting for Standup Comics"
Just what it says

"Random Realizations"
Wisdom born of experience

Casting Season in L.A.

"Ladies & Gentlemen: A Job"
Working at Best Damn Sports Show Period

"LA Freefall for All"
It happens to everyone: Freefall!

"Hollywood or Bust"
How to change to succeed in L.A.

"How Edgy"
Column #2

"How Hip"
Column #3

"Who Writes Your Stuff?"
Why don't comics ask for help?

"The Art of Standup"
What would we gain by "turning up the art"

"Christmas Wish List"
Holiday column

"Getting Exercised"
A writing exercise

"High Octane"
Road vs. L.A., Monologist vs. Performer

"Inside the Box, Pt. I"
Television Programmers

"Inside the Box, Pt. II"
Television Production and Development

"Castle Breached"
Working at Late Late Show, Network television gig!

"I Like LA"
The third of five columns on writing comedy for money

"Hollywod Carousel"
Between BDSSP and Late Late Show, what I learned


Random Realizations

Iíve been in LA just over two years now, and Iíve learned a few things about life in an entertainment-fueled metropolis. Like most of what we learn, it seems vital at the time, then absolutely useless in retrospect, but even so Iím not against using it in a column, especially when my time is limited by a one-month old child who is currently asleep on my bed and who will wake soon to remind me that things like work, accomplishment, and the adult world are, at best, fading ghosts outside my window.

So here we go, random realizations about Los Angeles, as relates to any one comic. I promise next month Iíll get back to useful information.

* * *

If you sit in one place for more than a few minutes in LA you become the audience. If youíre anywhere near a coffee shop, this means an open miker popping over to do his material for you while he waits to go up 43rd on "the list." And no matter how patronizingly you smile, no matter how much you think he would see that youíre a "real" comic (meaning youíve been paid) and not a "civilian," he wonít ever grow aware that you hate him. Or, if he does, he will then label you as the ubiquitous "asshole" because you didnít seem to appreciate his indescribably mediocre "thoughts on the world."

Even the homeless in LA seem to have writers. Their signs are more creative. I saw a guy with a sign: "I need a dollar for a beer. Or just give me beer." I got gang-begged the other day. Four homeless dudes traveling in a pack stopped me in the middle of a crosswalk on Vermont Avenue, and, like some bizarre drug-addicted barbershop quartet, each hit me with their best, "Hey, man, got any money?" I said, no, and made a mental note that begging is meant to be an individual sport. In LA, you canít tell the difference between the homeless and the artists. I gave a guy a buck, then watched him go into a bookstore to start his poetry reading. Hey, the bum has perfect iambic pentameter. And apparently he went to Yale. The bum is now deep into a metaphor that is way over my head. If you want the best answer on earth to any homeless request, use Lawrence Thomasís retort: "Yeah, I have money. But I donít want to give it to you."

There is no dress code that separates one world from another here. I had a guy in bondage-wear serve me a coffee. I like that his business doesnít impose a dress code, but his cock-shaped lip stud distracted me from my hearty beverage. And he now has taken more than his share of my long-term memory. That may be the last thing I think about as I die. "Oh, Iím going... no, not... cock lip..."

Bars are very expensive in LA. The same beer you get for about fifty cents at the grocery cost about $6 a bottle in a LA bar. Which is why I no longer buy beer in the grocery. It just gets irritating.

Some people in LA drive cars that donít fit them. A burly Latino guy with tattoos and a shaved head driving a minivan. The affordable vehicle for the growing gang. I just canít see the sliding doors and dome light scaring me off his turf. If youíre wearing your lap belt, how can you lean out of the window to get a good angle on a drive-by?

LA has more midgets than anywhere on earth, all vying for the same jobs in weird band videos or David Lynch movies. I stood in line at the grocery store behind one who was buying four 100 lb. bags of dog food. If I was a midget, I donít think Iíd have huge dogs around. There is no term for people who are between midget and regular person. I suggest hidget.

LA is a swarm city. Swarms of mediocre dreamers. Any quasi-opportunity that arises, they find it, in droves. Doing comedy in this town feels like youíre in the crowd at a Who concert. I could announce right here that I need a couple of twin amputees who can play bongos with their oversized tongues, tomorrow, my door would be beaten down.

If I make enough money I will open a bar in LA. The doorman will be a big fat guy in a dirty white t-shirt whose job would be to keep all the cool people out. If you canít name three Merle Haggard songs, youíre not getting in. If youíre smug about knowing three Merle Haggard songs, youíre not getting in.

People here need to realize that being thin is not high on the list of human accomplishments. Okay, hereís someone who has a family, a job, an education, and talent. Youíve been able to not eat. Hmm...

Edgy is not as easily available as many would like to think. That thrift store hat does not equate you with a Viet Nam Vet. Accessing the pain of a 19-year-oldís break up with his chick is harder than he thinks it might be. Oh, dude, that must have been tough. You were together for like almost a month. She pawned all the teddy bears you bought her. Damn. And doing drugs is not edgy. Almost everyone does them at one time or another. And guess what? Jack Daniels does the same thing as your stuff, and it tastes better.

Finally, standing in the background while famous people act doesnít mean you were "in the movie with them." It means you were a prop.

Iíll be back with moí better "information" next month. HOME Back to the Top