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Fifteen months ago, Mitch Hedberg
pulled me aside in the green room at The Punchline
in Atlanta. He told me, in his
unique cadence, "You are wasting your
time working the road. You need to go to
LA and get representation." I didn’t believe
him back then, I thought he was just patronizing
me. I still don’t know if I should move here,
but at least Mitch believes in me. He reiterated
the same sentiments this past January when we
again worked together, this time in Birmingham.
So Mitch thinks I can be a success. Now I just
hope someone else sees what he does.
I landed at LAX on February 25 with the
intention of staying until I found an apartment.
My friend and fellow comedian Peter Grumbine
met me in LA and upon our arrival we checked into
the Ramada on Santa Monica Boulevard. After a quick
shower (not together - although I know two guys
sharing a hotel room in West Hollywood sounds fishy)
we called comedienne Tanya Lee Davis.
Tanya Lee suggested we go to Dublin’s on Sunset
as comedian Ralphie May was having a
We’ve been in LA for three hours and already
we’re going to parties-- I love this town.
The best thing about this party was that it was
also a roast of Ralphie. One of my favorite comics,
Jeffery Ross, was there and I couldn’t help
wondering if his attendance is required at each
and every roast, no matter how famous the person.
Evidently if someone is to be insulted by a
group of friends and cohorts, Jeff Ross must
be present. I hear he just roasted Dutch Boy
paint salesman of the year, Karl Darwin,
in San Jose three weeks ago. And he’ll be roasting
plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Resnick of Beverly
Hills, on May 11.
The highlight of Ralphie’s soirée, for me
at least, was when Doug Stanhope saved Peter Grumbine
and me $700. Doug and I have worked together on
the road a few times and I look forward to doing
so again this June (when I will definitely have to
buy him a few beers). He saw me at the bar,
walked over asked what I was doing in town.
When I told him Peter and I were in LA looking for
a place to live, he invited us to stay at
his apartment rather than pay $100 a night for
our hotel. Although he was going off to Aspen
in a few days, he said we could stay while he
was out of town and only asked that we
"pay it forward" and offer help to a
comic in need down the road. I vowed that I
would, just not for hacks.
The very next morning Peter and I checked
out of the Ramada and it was off to Stanhope’s pad,
which was not nearly as extravagant as I had
imagined. I pictured Heff’s place, scaled down a
bit, but instead was welcomed into a simple 1BR
apartment that offered no Jacuzzi, no
vertical brass pole, and no 24-hour naked Twister
sessions with barflies he’d met about town.
There weren’t even any sex toys lying around.
He must have cleaned up before we arrived.
Looking for an apartment was not easy.
If you are planning on moving to LA let me give
you a word of advice: Don’t waste your money by
paying for one of those online apartment finders.
The lists aren’t current and they’ll lead you on a
wild goose chase. I’ve made plenty of poor buying
decisions in my lifetime (like the time I bought
that Plymouth Duster) but rarely have I felt as
ripped off as this. The only other time I’ve been duped
this badly was when I paid for a ticket to see
"Turner and Hooch." If I ever meet Tom Hanks,
that guy owes me six bucks.
We learned that the best way to find an
apartment was to determine which neighborhood
we preferred and, after narrowing down
what streets we liked, drive around looking for
any "For Rent" signs. Locating
"For Rent" signs in LA is easier than
spotting white trash at a NASCAR event. After two
fruitless days of calling numbers from the $60 website
listings, Peter and I discovered that simply hitting
the streets and jotting down numbers was far more
productive, although not without some problems.
Driving in our rented Oldsmobile Alero, we drove
up and down the streets in Doug’s neighborhood and
called the phone numbers we saw posted outside buildings
with vacancies. I found out two things: Not
every landlord is so eager to rent his unoccupied
units that he’ll call you back, and those that do call
back rarely speak fluent English. I’d say that for every
ten calls I made, maybe three people responded.
I made dozens of calls and in the first
four days I only had the opportunity to inspect
nine apartments. Worse yet, everything in my
price range was either too small or was in worse
shape than the Evans' dwelling on
On the fifth day of searching I finally found
something that I liked and was sure my wife would love.
It was $75 a month more than my predetermined budget,
but I couldn’t let $75 get in the way, could I?
It had everything: plenty of closet space,
off-street parking, two full bathrooms, a dishwasher,
a fireplace, and a hot tub on the roof. Just don’t
tell Stanhope about the hot tub. I don’t want to
be evicted because he wants to run around my
building in the raw.
The next day, Peter signed a lease for a
huge studio in Hollywood up near the new Kodak
Theater and we had two nights to screw around and
relax before we returned home to gather our
belongings. Unfortunately, our final night in
town was anything but relaxing.
We planned on going to see the early show
at the Laugh Factory, but a horrible accident
ruined our plans and our evening.
For those of you who don't know, the Laugh Factory
asks that its patrons line up along the side
of the building, around the corner on Laurel.
With this being Saturday night, there was a
large crowd gathering with a line that extended
nearly 50 feet and was four or five people wide.
At about 8 PM, I made a call to my wife so
that I could arrange for her to pick me up at
the airport on Sunday. Tired from an earlier
strol that began at Stanhope's place, I leaned against
the building. Just as I was giving her my flight info
disaster struck. What looked to have been
an early 1980's burgundy Cadillac came screaming
southbound down Laurel, jumped the curb, and
plowed through the line of comedy fans waiting
to get into the Factory. I don't know
for sure, but it seemed as though at least 20 people
were struck. Bodies flew everywhere and the crowd
screamed in terror as they did whatever they could to
avoid this maniac. After
slamming through the crowd the driver continued
on to Sunset, hit a blue Honda and kept on
going Southbound on Laurel.
I've never been in such a surreal moment.
The car missed Peter and me by mere inches
and this only because I leaned up against the
wall to make that call. In retrospect, it appears
as if my being lazy finally paid off.
My heart pounded for upwards of
30 minutes thereafter. I couldn't breath.
Peter was speechless and people all around us
continued to cry and scream. LAPD arrived
very quickly, but not fast enough to apprehend
the driver. I don’t know if he was ever caught,
but I do know that at least one woman was very
seriously injured. She was bleeding from her
head and unconscious. Paramedics cut through
her clothes and began to work on her, and it
was at this point Peter and I decided it was
time to go...literally. We went back to get
our stuff and drove right to the airport
so that we could fly stand by. There was no
more fun to be had that night after surviving
such a scare. It was time to get home
and plan the move.
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