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"Now that the Lakers won, people have started attending comedy clubs once again. I canít tell you how happy I am that the city is rather apathetic when it comes to the Dodgers, Angels, Clippers and Kings."
 
TOMMY JAMES made the Big Move to Los Angeles.




#1 IN A SERIES . . . . . NEW BIG MOVE EVERY MONTH! Hi, I'm Tommy James and I've been asked to detail my exploits as I move to Los Angeles in an effort to further my comedy career. This first column, though published in SHECKYmagazine.com's third anniversary edition on April 1, is being written in February so as to give you all some background on the move and the planning involved. Currently there's a lot more chaos than calm, but I hope to have everything in place by April 1-- when I make my Big Move debut.

Right now many of you are no doubt wondering why I'm doing The Big Move for SHECKYmagazine.com. The main reason is now that Mr. Big Shot, Tom Ryan, has a couple of TV credits such as Premium Blend and The Late Show under his belt, he can't be bothered with such petty tasks.

Actually that couldn't be further from the truth. Tom Ryan is one of the nicest guys you'll ever want to meet in this business and he's proven to be more than accommodating as I have embarked on this new project. Interestingly though, fellow SHECKYmagazine.com contributor Kid Dave Miller has been quite a nuisance of late. And if he keeps bragging that he can fly himself to his gigs, I swear I'm going to take a hostage.

Before we go any further, let me give you a little background on me. I grew up on Long Island, but my family moved when I was 15 and I went to high school in New Jersey. I consider New Jersey to be home-- mostly because my parents still live there and, let's face it, New Jersey is currently much cooler than Long Island. Jersey is home to The Sopranos, Bon Jovi, The Boss, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Kevin Spacey, Denzel Washington and Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. Sure I'm a front-runner, who isn't? When it's not cool to be from Jersey anymore, I'll go back to being from Long Island. But, in a conversation with a casting director or an agent, I'll be from whatever locale they like best.

I have a bachelor's degree in English from Syracuse University and am a HUGE Syracuse Orangemen fan. If there are any other 'Cuse fans in LA reading this, please contact me so we can watch some games next fall. In addition to my English degree, I also have an MBA, with a concentration in marketing, from Tulane University. That's right, I borrowed $50,000 to get a MBA so that now can I rant and rave for $200 and a free bar tab. Needless to say, this career decision confirms that I was the worst business student EVER.

After my stint at Tulane, I moved to Atlanta and took a sales position with the former telecom giant and Wall Street darling, Lucent Technologies. It was in Atlanta that I started doing standup at The Punchline. It was also at The Punchline where I met Brian and Traci, our fearless leaders, during a taping of Ed McMahon's Next Big Star. I ultimately got on the televised version of the show, but to this day I'm still not a big star-- what gives Ed?

So here I am moving to Los Angeles-- five years after my first attempts at comedy. If I've heard it once I've heard it a million times: to make it big, comedians have to be in LA or NY. I'm not 100per cent sure if this is true, but I'm starting to believe it. After having stellar sets in Boise, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Evansville, and Birmingham, not one agent, producer or casting director has handed me his business card. Not that I'm expecting this to happen upon my arrival in LA, but at least there's a chance, albeit a slim chance.

I don't even know what "making it big" is. Although, I'm sure that not having to grovel for $600 feature weeks is one of the perks. I'm also pretty certain that staying in something other than a run down condo or budget motel is a benefit to be expected. Not that all comedy condos suck, but there are a few out there that would disgust a crack whore.

Why Los Angeles? Well a couple of reasons really. Reason one is actually the most important. I got married to a beautiful woman last year and, prior to popping the question, one of my prerequisites was that my wife be hip to moving to either New York or Los Angeles in 2002. Interestingly, one of her conditions was that we not move to New York-- unless and until we had the kind of scratch it takes to live in a nice apartment and not a 400-square foot studio in the basement at the corner of 96th and Handjob.

The second motive for choosing Tinsel Town is simple: I know more people in the business in Los Angeles and have a few friends moving out there this year. I have worked with and befriended several L.A.-based comedians in the past few years and hope to maintain these relationships in the coming months.

I can't wait to get out there. I still have a ton of things to do prior to going through with this. First and foremost, I have to find an apartment. I also have to figure out if I'm moving my furniture cross-country or if I'm going to sell it in Atlanta and start over in LA. And I have to find a three-week period in my schedule where I can pack up, move my stuff and unpack it all. That chore is going to cause me to cancel some roadwork. (Jeez, this move is getting expensive already!)

As of this writing, my wife is trying to transfer with her current company and I'm going to look around LA next week. I'm going out there with fellow Atlanta comic Peter Grumbine who also wants to move out to The City of Angels. We've given ourselves a week to find places and if we have no luck, I won't know what to do as I don't have any more open weeks in my road schedule for a while. I'll give you an update in the next installment of The Big Move.



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