Social Adventures – A Night at the Comedy Store

After the success of my Typical Tuesday adventure, I decided to press my luck in continuing to be social with another adventure out on the town.  This time, Justin Martindale (yes, he will be a recurring character in these stories as he’s about the only I friend I have who no matter how ridiculous my suggestion is, he will say “sure!” and off we go) was performing at The Comedy Store on the sunset strip as a part of an event called “The Naughty Bathhouse Show.”  What’s not to love about that!

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The night began with a plan to meet at the Store around 8 p.m. There was a red carpet, of sorts, for Justin to make an appearance at and I would meet him after.  I parked rather far away – as we’ve discussed, free parking is worth the stroll, and parking on Sunset requires a great deal of cash, a semen sample and vague promises to lease your firstborn child.  If I manage to afford the pricetag for a Build-A-Baby someday, I’d rather not have to share it four months a year with a Sunset Boulevard valet company.  So I walked.

En route, I passed one of the omnipresent Los Angeles homeless camped rather permanently at a bus stop.  After denying his request for money with a terse head nod, he yelled at the back of my head, “You could at least be happy about it.”  I thought, he’s right, so I turned back and gave him my million dollar smile.  But no dollar.

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I arrived at The Comedy Store, or as it is always referred to, “The World Famous Comedy Store,” – sidebar bit of trivia, the club was founded by Pauly Shore’s parents, and it’s possible that I danced late into the night with my naked ass entirely to close to Pauly’s face once – but that’s another story.

The red carpet backdrop was by Grindr, as gay a red carpet as there ever was.  I found Justin, and we made our way through the back hallways of the Store into the Main Room where the show was to be and backstage to the green room for the performers, where we found the hostess with the mostess, Shawn Pelofsky.

The easiest way to describe Shawn is that if Barbra Streisand had a shorter, hotter, ridiculously hilarious and much younger sister – that would be Shawn.  We met several years ago on a cruise in the Mediterranean and I have been in love with her ever since.  Despite the incessant mockery about my weight, or lack thereof.Image

(Photo with Shawn from the White Party on the cruise, during my “I want to be confused for a blatino” phase.)

Shawn was running frantically around backstage in a stunning little black dress.  She has a thing for the latin boys, and with that hot little number I assume she found at least one to take home after the show.  I can barely fathom the challenges of producing and hosting a comedy show featuring comics, drag queens, dancers and porn stars, and she was doing it all with her usual flair – and a bit of frazzle around the edges.

Justin and I moved quickly toward the green room, I was firmly planted in the “I probably should not be back here, I just came to see a show” feeling, and tried to just stay out of the way.  We entered the green room, filled with comics waiting for the show, some groupies we never quite figured out who they were there with as a drag queen swept into the room asking “does anyone have eyelash glue?”  This is gay comedy folks.

It was mere moments after our entrance that representatives of an apparently thriving small business called “Speed Weed” offered classy marijuana cigarettes around, like you do, and the hotboxing began. Justin and I decided to make a fruit loop (that’s a lap around the bar/club/establishment in gay speak).  As we made our lap, I noticed that every table in the Main Room had a centerpiece – Martha Stewart would likely not have approved.

ImageYes. A dildo. On every table.  It was that kind of night ladies and gentlemen.

Backstage again, nearing showtime, the energy was buzzing.  An employee of the Store, or the show, I could tell because she had a clipboard, and that’s always how you figure out who might actually have any idea what is going on at these crazy one night events, came barreling through and announced that “Sarah just pulled in.”

Pull out jokes aside, “Sarah who?” I asked Justin.  He made a rather bitchy “you’re stupid” face.  Oh, right, Silverman, as she was the special guest and big get for the show.  Got it.

We were sitting in the green room, surrounded by comics, two half-naked dancers, a seven-foot drag queen, the Speed Weed employees and a copious amount of weed now exhaled into the air.  A low key night, I’m told, compared to the history of the Comedy Store.  In walked Sarah Silverman.  She flopped down onto the couch where I had tucked myself away from the busy thoroughfare trying to avoid the “you’re not supposed to be back here” moment.  Shawn likes me well enough and all, but we’re not besties, and having produced several of this kind of event, I was impressed by how well she was keeping it together, but did not want to press my luck and get evicted.

I was perched on the couch next to the main event, and watched as various comics and employees said hello and made obvious attempts to ingratiate themselves to her.  Since I’m not a comic and have no need to move myself up the Comedy Store hierarchy, I just sat back and enjoyed the show.  I wish I’d had some popcorn, because it was uber-entertaining.

Not a minute after Sarah sat down, the CEO (I don’t know, I’m assuming) of Speed Wagon came over and presented her with a clearly pre-planned non-descript bag of weed and edible goodies.  Sarah was appropriately thankful, but confessed she should probably wait till after her set to get high.  Ever the professional.

Shawn and her co-host Sam got up and gave a rousing “here we are, let’s do this” speech and thanked everyone for being there and the show started.  Now, I honestly just came for the evening wanting to see the show.  Shawn is hilarious, I’ve seen the Bathhouse show several times, and I really just wanted a chair in the audience (that I didn’t have to pay for) and a good view of the shenanigans.  Now I’m backstage, and resigned to getting a behind-the-scenes view instead.  So Justin and I struck up a conversation with Sarah, since the rest of the room seemed a little unwilling or unable to just chat with her.  Justin has met her before, and I can talk to a brick wall.  Off we go.

We learned that she’s been shooting all day and has a fitting shortly after this show.  She’s trying to decide whether to do solid material or try out some new stuff, so she asked how much the tickets were.  I found this a little hilarious.  “Fifteen dollars,” I said, “so try out new stuff.  Once the gays love you, it’s hard to lose them.”  Besides, there’s something awesome in getting to watch truly great comics work out and work on new material, because they are just as funny when it doesn’t work as when it does.

Like an actual human being, Sarah asks about me, what I do, I tell her about Sissies, about how Justin and I met.  She asks if we went to Emerson, haha, not the first time I’ve heard that one.

Justin has to go be part of the show, I keep forgetting that’s why we’re there.  His first job is to help Shawn’s mother on and off the stage.  Yes, at the big gay bathhouse comedy show, Shawn is so awesome that her mother is part of the show.

While Justin is gone, Sarah is presented with a vibrator, yes seriously, from one of the sponsors of the show.  It is described during the presentation ceremony as “the Cadillac of vibrators.”  I don’t know, I guess because it was huge?  Sarah admitted she doesn’t really use them.  Shawn agreed.  Women are weird.  It was fancy and pink with an AC adapter, no plain old batteries for the high-end vibrator.

It was then Sarah’s turn to go onstage.  She turned to me and asked, rather nicely, in reference to her backpack, “will you watch this?”  “Of course.”  She turned back, “guard it with your life.”  So, rather than getting to go stand backstage and hear her set, I was now the backpack guard.  It was a very I-carried-a-watermelon moment.  I’m sure her set was great, but I don’t actually have any idea.

Sarah’s set ended, and she returned to the green room clearly annoyed because her mic cut out during the final line of her set.  There was a flurry of activity as the word spread that Sarah was upset.  I’m just relieved that nothing happened to the backpack.  I mean, that would have been squarely on me.  With a front row seat for the action, it was clear that Sarah was annoyed, not really upset, but it still caused a ruckus.  She pulled out one of the joints, courteously provided by Speed Weed, and announced, “I’ll be over it in four seconds.”  Being the borderline asshole that I am, as she lit the joint I counted the four seconds out loud.

Someone entered the dressing room and Sarah asked a little heatedly about her mic being cut out, so I naturally interjected, helpfully of course, “it’s been more than four seconds.”  She smiled a little and everyone calmed down.  It was eventually discovered that it was just a short in the mic, obviously no one at this show would have cut her mic off, everyone was thrilled she was there.

So we chatted a bit longer, my new bestie Sarah and me, and then she prepared to leave.  She looked at me and asked, “What was your name again…right, Emerson.”  Which was actually kind of nice, knowing she meets people continuously, and I was just a random guy in the green room for half an hour.

Confession time.  I’m actually a huge fan of Sarah Silverman.  She and Eddie Izzard are sort of the top of the comedy world for me.  I appreciate the extreme intelligence that is underneath her particular brand of in your face offensive humor.  I think she’s brilliant.  Since the rape joke in The Aristocrats.  (Now is not the time for you to interject your “rape is never funny” agenda into my story.)  So I had a problem.  I had actually managed a rather normal conversation with her up to this point, and it was truly not possible to ask for a photo without switching back to being a fan.  She would have said yes, she was clearly generous, but I came up with a better way to do it.

Sarah: (packing her bag and preparing to stand and exit)

Me: Sarah, will you do me a huge favor before you leave?

Sarah: (receptive, but slightly wary) Yes?

Me: Will you take a picture of me with your backpack before you leave?  Since I put my life on the line to guard it all evening?

Sarah: (big grin) That’s hilarious. Absolutely.

Big win.  I posed with the backpack, Sarah took the photo with my phone.  She stood to exit, and suddenly the gates opened.  As if out of nowhere, a line of people appeared who wanted photos before she left, doing that I’m-sorry-not-sorry thing as they asked for the photo op.  Sarah said she was truly running late for a fitting, snapped a few quickly and then bolted out the door.  Ms. Silverman had left the building.  I, however, have proof of our evening together.  So this is the photo of me, holding Sarah Silverman’s backpack, which definitely contained a bag of Speed Weed and the Cadillac of vibrators, taken by Sarah Silverman herself.

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I tweeted the photo with this headline “See, I have proof that I met Sarah Silverman and she asked me to guard her backpack.  This is the backpack and Sarah is taking this photo to prove it…I may have done this wrong.”

I found it hilarious.  Since it is always the photo with the celebrity that serves as some kind of proof or cool cache.  I’m easily amused. Shut up.

The night wasn’t actually over.  I strolled backstage to hear the rest of the show, free of my backpack duty and not-so-stealth attempt to spend quality time with a comic I think is genius.  Onstage the comedy was bringing down the house.  Shawn and company were putting on a brilliant show.  Justin was awaiting his final segment to read a porn star fan letter.  Typical comedy show bit.  I sat on a stool just behind the curtain, having turned down Speed Weed’s tenth offer for a toke, they are taking this branding opportunity very seriously.

Onstage the porn star fan letters started.  They were genuinely hilarious, roasting a porn star whose name I do not remember.  I find the whole knowing-porn-stars-names thing fascinating. That’s a serious commitment to porn if you don’t actually work in it.

Justin went onstage to read his letter, the audience ate him up, as they always do.  About the time he got to the “flicking my bean” clitoris reference, a half naked man passed me backstage, dropped his pants, and proceeded to flop his sock-covered penis at Shawn Pelofsky’s shoulder to get her attention.  Where. The Hell. Am I?

All in all, it was a great show, good times were had by all.  Justin and I sashayed to the outdoor bar, you know, to be in the right place for fans to fawn over him as they exited.  As the show ended, they did.  Mixing and mingling, another comic I know strolled up and we proceeded to judge the audience as they left.  Well, mainly just the probably porn star/maybe model/gogo dancer in a racer back tank top and shorts on a January evening.  It’s not really cold, and yes your body is amazing, but it just makes you look stupid.  Or at the very least like you can’t afford a whole shirt.

Our attention shifted to porcelain doll looking women in a long camel coat who looked as much like a Russian ballerina as anything.  We spent entirely too long coming up with likely Russian names for her.  Then a few moments later, the ballerina approached me and said she saw Southern Baptist Sissies and that is was wonderful and thanked me.  So, now I’m an asshole, again, and her name was actually Antonia.  Not Nadya, Natasha or Boris.

It was late-ish enough, Justin had another set to perform, so I French exited and started the hike back to my car thrilled with the random turns of the evening.  As I passed the Chateau Marmont, a girl who looked like Taylor from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, if she were a decade younger and had known when to say “when” on the lip fillers, cat called at me.  “Hey sexy!”  She was actually genuinely attractive, so I smiled but didn’t stop.  “Show my your asshole.”  There it is.  I kept walking.  “Hey Brad,” she yelled at the six-foot four-ish fratman walking toward me in her direction, apparently to meet up with her and her posse, “Stop him!  I want to kiss his asshole.  He’s hot.”  Apparently my Antonia karma had not reached me yet, because Brad did not actually understand what not-Taylor was saying and I manage to slip by him in the confusion.  Mom, I met someone.  I really think you’ll like her.  Well, at least she’s a her, right?

In summary, the Aesop’s Fable moral of tonight’s story is dildos can be centerpieces, somewhere Sarah Silverman has a backpack full of weed and a vibrator and sometimes, yes, sometimes – a pretty girl just really wants to lick your asshole.

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