HOME   BACK to the Columnist INDEX APRIL-MAY 2004 ISSUE

"You see, when a city is low on funds, the quickest way to make money is to write tickets - lot's of tickets."
The Big Move














TOMMY JAMES made the Big Move to Los Angeles.

#15 IN A SERIES . . . . . NEW BIG MOVE EVERY MONTH! I may have just gotten a ticket. Literally 45 minutes ago.

I donít know and I wonít know for three weeks and thatís the part that sucks. I was driving East on Olympic Boulevard this afternoon, not speeding and definitely not being reckless. But then some asshole cut me off and I stopped short. This left me in the intersection as the light turned red, thus leaving me high and dry when the flash went off.

Was my picture taken? I donít know. Maybe I was far enough through. Now I donít know if Iíll actually get a ticket. Maybe the camera was shooting the jackass next to me. Maybe it flashes every time the light turns red. Nah, Iím pretty sure Iím getting a ticket.

If a cop was on hand, clearly I wouldnít have been ticketed. As a matter of fact, the moron in the Escalade that cut me off would have been cited. But since we live in a world where Big Brother is watching in place of humans, Iím going to get the ticket because as you know, Big Brother isnít rational.

I was on Olympic because I was dropping off a writing package at Power Entertainment, the management company that represents Steve Marmel-- standup comedian as well as creator and executive producer of the new Spike TV animated series, This Just In.

This Just In (or TJI for short) centers around Brian Newport, an outspoken, opinionated fellow always willing to crack inappropriate joke-- my kind of guy. One thing to note is, according to the website, ( ) Newport is unabashedly politically conservative. OK, thatís where we differ a little. But a writing gig is a writing gig and Iíd love to write for a show thatís so up-to-the-minute with regard to social issues and political events.

(Howís my brown nose looking right now?)

Time will tell if I get the job, much like Iím going to wait and see whether or not I got ticketed today.

One of the things I had to do for my "TJI" submission was write topical jokes on news stories that broke over the last few days. The problem was that this has been the worst news week for joke writers ever.

Not that there havenít been a lot of stories, but for comics concerned with being unique, this week theyíre outta luck. The comedian hack alert was raised to level red this week with the top stories being in no particular order; Martha Stewartís conviction, Obesity in America and Gay Weddings.

Yes, a gold mine of material exists there, but every hack in America did a version of Denis Learyís classic joke about suing heavy metal bands (See "No Cure for Cancer"). Trust me, if you were at an open mic this week, you heard some lazy "comic" say something along the lines of, "If people can sue McDonalds for making them fat, I guess I can take legal action against Super Cuts for making me ugly," or any other of a million lame, but similar analogies.

In all honesty, the worst part of this Martha Stewart case is that with her sentencing being in June, for the next three months Jay Lenoís monologues will be that much more predictable. And donít even bother listening to morning radio. Every horrible "morning zoo" DJ loser has told the same fat jokes for the last week.

Tonight I have a showcase at the Improv. Iíll be performing for Danny Robinson of APA as well as the talent coordinator of the Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn. My manager, Chris DiPetta, set this up and to be honest, Iím thinking about it a little too much. Iíve done the material 100 times before and really want to just treat this like any other set, but with two sets of eyes there to see me in particular, I canít help but think about it. Given the choice, Iíd rather land an agent right now, so if youíre wondering, Iím going to try not to drop an "F" bomb, but if I do, Iím not going to stress over it.

For those keeping score at home, hereís my set list for tonight:

1. Pretty Girls

2. Unhappy

3. Robbed

4. Luggage

5. Baseball Game

6. Rats

7. Pandas

8. Whales

9. Education

10. Teen Violence

There you have it-- my jokes for this evening. Some are brand new (rats, pandas, whales, education) and others are two years old (teen violence, pretty girls)

Wonder why the set list is vague? I always make it vague because if I do lose it-- and Iím always losing things-- it wonít mean anything to anyone but me. Iím not what youíd call "organized." The worst example of my haphazard record keeping is that when I get peopleís phone numbers I tend to write down their number, but not their name. Thus, I have an entire drawer full of napkins, post it notes, and receipts with various ten-digit numbers and no one to associate them with. One day I hope to call some of them up and learn who they are.

"Hello, do you know Tommy James?"

"Oh, you say he owes you $200 from back in í98?"

"No, Iím not Tommy James. Iím just calling you to let you know heís... um... he died last week."

The showcase tonight has come at a nice time. In the last eight weeks, Iíve dropped almost 30 pounds (Thank you Dr. Atkins) and was hoping to start meeting with people in an attempt to get agency representation. I couldnít meet with agents last year after the stroke. Even after I had begun to feel better and my strength returned, I was 30 pounds heavier (Thank you steroids) and had zero self-confidence. Now, back to my original weight, Iím ready to go. And if I donít score with APA tonight, Iím certain Iíll land an agent in the near future. Iíve got a good feeling about this year.

In 2004 Iíve already had a TV spot. About six weeks ago I was on the Comcast Comedy Spotlight hosted by Bob Zany. I flew to Pittsburgh for an evening at the Improv where I performed ten minutes and made a few hundred bucks. Not too shabby for ten minutes work. My episode will also include David Crowe who is a hilarious comedian and one people should get familiar with. Also recorded that evening was a Kevin Meaney one-hour special. Kevin was his usual funny self and destroyed as he always does.

So one TV spot down and looking for #2. Kilborn? Maybe. Premium Blend? I hope so. I was told I was going to be on last year, but that whole "stroke thing" got in the way. Who knows what the next several months will lead to? It could provide a spot in Montreal and an appearance on a top network talk show. Or it could lead to a violation for running a red light. Stay tuned... HOME Back to the Top