So Imma write a blog. This will, as usual when I do this sort of Dear Diary crap, be a jumble of not-necessarily-in-order snippets. The idea is for you to soak in the flavour of friends hanging out, of comedy clubs, of Sunset Blvd at 1 AM, of Pat Benatar & Rod Stewart on the IHOP PA. This is, like, our Electric Kool Aid Acid Test except without Kool Aid or acid or Thom Wolfe or Neil Cassidy or a bus or really anything having to do with that book or era whatsoever.
Michael O’Connell is a guy I knew from Twitter & met at ComicCon 2010. How we met up at ComicCon is an extremely funny, longish story I can probably never tell. What I can share is that we ended up spending the Saturday of ComicCon 2010 next to the Death Star window smoking with his friend Tim & my friend Christi. We also met his friend Tony, whom I initially mistook for Wil Wheaton. I was like, “Whoa, this wheelchair comic dude knows Wil Wheaton in addition to several other SciFi Icons.” But it was actually Tony, who is cooler than Wil Wheaton, least of all because he never played Wesley Crusher.
Anyhow, as of that day, Michael & I were friends. He’s managed to score several gigs at fantastic LA venues (Flappers, The Laugh Factory, Jon Lovitz’ Comedy Club, & as of tonight, the Hollywood Improv). I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him perform 3 of these times, & once also in San Diego, where he was one of several thousand comics during a show spanning what seemed like 8 weeks of urinal jokes. Michael’s act was unique in that it featured no urinal jokes, not merely because he’s in a chair. Also his was one of three acts that night that made me, Bar, & Norm laugh. But I digress.
This evening began with me finding free parking, which is serendipitous on Melrose at any time, & going into the world famous Improv to see The Crippled Kings of Comedy show. Proceeds went to Special Olympics, which is hella my jam, y’all. So bonus points!
The Improv doesn’t allow cell action, so I felt a little naked not being able to Yelp my location to whomever the hell cared. This discomfort was soon replaced by a slew of pretty funny guys, many of whom were in wheel chairs, a couple of whom were blind, & some who were in that “WTF does that guy have?” category. I learned/confirmed a couple of things tonight:
1. Nearly every comedian ever has been in “My Name Is Earl”.
2. Molestation jokes are never funny, & don’t even get pity laughs when the comic is unmistakably disabled.
3. As I first encountered volunteering at the Special Olympics as a kid, disabled people have the best cripple jokes.
It was kind of a weird crowd. You could tell some people weren’t sure if they should laugh at people with MD or spinal injuries. There were a couple of freakin’ adorable Downs peeps in the audience who were clearly unused to swearing, but, just like my brother, got super excited whenever a comic did something very animated or loud. Downs people can be imitative, so I’m relieved nobody felt the need to act out anything obscene. The crowd also seemed fine with identifying as spiritual, but not religious. I still don’t find weed jokes funny, & thankfully Michael doesn’t have any drug related or obscene material. This makes him stand out, pardon the pun.
I have zero problem with obscene material, by the way. It’s just so normal these days that people who can be funny without it (i.e. not me) are more memorable.
Anyhow, despite the funniness of the funny, the funniest times for me are always the chit chat after the show. As Michael smokes a cigar & waits for a group photo that never manages to materialize, I get to hear him & other comics simply talk. My own signature ability in the presence of comics is to mess up jokes & say the exact absolute wrong thing at the wrong time. You may have noticed this on Twitter, too, where I’m nevertheless more smooth. Luckily my own idiocy is a material dispenser for those who are funny for a living, & I laugh easily, so I seem to not screw up too badly.
As one comic’s transpo arrived, he & his (you can’t make this up, people) amputee groupies emerged from the club. When he drove off, these stunningly pretty gals hung out with us & were so genuinely warm & nice that I was on the verge of Real Housewives-style inviting them on a girls’ vaycay where we’d no doubt degenerate into screaming matches on a yacht in Morocco. As it was, we all exchanged cards & they went on their way. I took an arty photo of Michael in front of the Improv, & we went to my car for to travel to IHOP.
I am happy to say I appear to have finally mastered the art of wheelchair folding & unfolding, though I’m terrified that the errant sunshade on my passenger side front seat threatens to decapitate Michael at any sudden stop. I can also fit a wheelchair in my trunk, which is handy to know if I ever want to abduct anyone in a wheelchair.
My phone died mid-direction, so luckily Michael was able to send me thither, which is shameful as I live here. No matter; we made it to the IHOP across from his hotel. I was provided with a pot of coffee & an omelet with 6 strips of bacon & a plethora of cheeses.
We then recalled the songs we wrote in high school & college (his had clever lyrics, mine had this one really grating industrial sound I invented on my synth), the show Millennium, Cameron Crowe films, the career of David Caruso.
Of the last, I described as best as I can (& if you know me, that ain’t saying much) 3:55 to 7:45 of this hilarious footage of Rob Zombie discussing the plight of directing David Caruso on CSI: Miami during an appearance on Red Eye. It is epic, & led Michael to say, “Oh my God, Rob Zombie has Post Caruso Stress Syndrome.” This is now my favourite sentence uttered by a human ever in this century.
We discussed a number of other things, but it was soon time to go. I used the lady’s loo before leaving, wherein I encountered that stereotype of Sunset Blvd, the meth addled hooker. She sang to herself while redrawing her eyebrows over & over again, apologizing to me for existing & for not getting the line right. I then wheeled Michael across the street, hugged him, & drove home via Laurel Canyon, which is an utter pleasure at 1AM.
The next time Michael O’Connell plays LA, come out! Not just for the comedy, but for the X-Files analysis. Believe.