HOME   BACK to the Columnist INDEX JULY/AUGUST 2002 ISSUE

"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."
The Big Move



TOMMY JAMES made the Big Move to Los Angeles.

#4 IN A SERIES . . . . . NEW BIG MOVE EVERY MONTH! Thank God the Lakers won. Not that I was rooting for them, I just wanted the NBA Finals to end as quickly as possible so that we could all go back to getting on with our lives. Being from New Jersey, and having worked for the Nets in í93-94, I was rooting for my hometown team, but after watching them in Game One as they disintegrated quicker than Kabul on October 7, I soon realized it would be best for everyone if the Lakers ended it in four as they did.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, in LA stops what they are doing when the Lakers have a playoff game. The transvestite hookers vacate their Santa Monica Boulevard haunts to witness Kobiís magic. The police take a break from thrashing innocent civilians so they can pick up some pointers by watching Shaq rough up overmatched mortals. Even Audrey and Judy Landers stop panhandling for a few hours so they can see what real celebrities such as Jack Nicholson do in their spare time. (Do you think the Landers gals resent Mary Kate and Ashley? The two Olsen girls are worth a billion, yes billion with a B, dollars. The Landers twins' only source of income is an occasional $3 residual check when their episodes of "The Love Boat" air on Nick at Night.)

But the worst consequence of the Lakersí popularity is that no one goes to comedy shows, including my audition to be a regular at the Improv. Yes, that statement may make me sound egocentric, but this is LA, where being self-absorbed is no more a negative trait than being a pot-head in Boulder, Colorado. 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. Too bad they love those fuckiní Lakers though. I could have used some more people at my audition.

Iíve done some big sets in my time. Auditions here and there, even a couple of TV spots. But the fact remains, I got very worked up preparing for my "New Faces" showcase scheduled for June 5. This is The Improv, where bumping into agents, producers, and casting directors occurs on a daily basis. Iíd say that on any given Thursday there are more movers and shakers at The Hollywood Improv than there are boils on a truck driverís ass. So as the date approached, I started to put pressure on myself. Like all comics, I aspired to be "passed" so I can showcase in front of industry and advance my career, but I think I was stressed more so because I wanted to stop paying tourist prices for drinks. Networking at the front bar can be pricey at $8 a round and I hear the regulars get quite a price break.

A week before my "New Faces" set, I started going through my comedy notebooks. What material would I do? Should I do my favorite stuff or is that too political? Should I do the stuff that gets the best reaction on the road, or is that not smart enough? I beat myself up over this for several days. My good friend Peter Grumbine was on the same showcase and all week he and I discussed our material over and over. I was really glad to have someone else to discuss the set with, but in the end, I over analyzed way too much. I should have had more confidence in my abilities and not agonized over my set list. Iím funny. I know Iím funny, but self-doubt can be a bitch if you let her in your head.

Wednesday, June 5 rolled around pretty quickly. I had an acting class that afternoon and then went to Baja Fresh with Grumbine so we could trade ideas once more. What a paranoid wuss I was. At 7 PM I freaked out. My wife was late from work. Here I am stressed out as if this showcase could make or break my career, which in retrospect it couldnít, and my wife is still in Westwood twenty minutes away. I call her on her cell and tell her to meet me at the club.

I arrived at 7:30 PM as required. Guess what? I am the only person there, well, besides Eddie the bartender, who is starting to recognize me, by the way. I looked up to the TV and immediately realized why the club is desolate. No, there wasnít another car chase on Fox News. The God Damn Lakers were playing the Nets in the NBA Finals. No wonder there was no traffic on Melrose. No wonder there was nobody in the club.

I stressed out over my set for a week and there were all of seven people in the showroom. Seven people! And yes, that figure includes my wife and Grumbineís girlfriend. Peterís and my acting coach came the show, but he was 45 minutes late. I have no idea how anyone could be late to anything when the Lakerís are on? You certainly canít use traffic as an excuse. He walked in as I was finishing up, but at least he made the effort.

It turns out I did pretty well. After all that worrying, I should have just trusted my abilities. When I called to follow up, I learned that I "passed" and could start calling in for spots, but then was told, "Remember we have over 100 comics calling each week so there are no guarantees." I told him I understood, thanked him for the opportunity and then hung up. "Oh shit," I thought to myself, "I forgot to ask if this means I can start drinking at comicís prices." HOME Back to the Top