The lovely folks over at Stellar Underground wrote me up last year and I didn't even know! Another comic passed this article on. It's nice.
Take a read here (click image)
The lovely folks over at Stellar Underground wrote me up last year and I didn't even know! Another comic passed this article on. It's nice.
Take a read here (click image)
COMEDY BY: Adam Conover, Jo Ann Firestone, Aparna Nancherla, Sam Jay, Marcella Arguello, Rae Sanni & Music by Free The Mind!
ANIMATION BY: Bryan Brinkman, Dan Pinto, Jason Chatfield, Victoria Elena Montes, Ray Alma & Irene Morales!
HOSTED BY: Ian Fidance!
This year I'll be drawing for Adam Conover from TBS's Adam Ruins Everything.
SUNDAY 11/12 9:45p Doors, 10p Show $8 online, $10 at the door
at Union Hall, 702 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Event Detail http://www.unionhallny.com/event/1563001
PICTURE THIS! is a new show from Brandie Posey & Sam Varela: two girls who want to push the boundaries of what a comedy show can be. Picture This! is a live comedy show with stand-ups performing while they are drawn live by some of the best animators, cartoonists, and other artists in Hollywood, CA, SF, NYC and Portland. Picture This! has also debuted in Toronto, New Zealand and Australia! The comedians don’t know what the animators are drawing and the animators don’t know how the comedians will react.
It may be weird
It may different.
But it will be FUNNY!
I got an email from my Agent telling me this last weekend I was to be heading back to Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey to host 4 shows at Bananas Comedy Club. It's a well-run club but it's a little out of the way. Not to worry. It's a good thing I like buses. and people from New Jersey...
That Friday, I had lunch with my friend Tom Gammill before we went into Esquire Magazine to pitch to the new Cartoon & Humour Editor, Bob Mankoff. It was an odd meeting, but then nothing Tom and I end up doing together isn't odd. We had one last wine at Columbus Circle to plan our pitching strategy going forward before we both lurched forth into the cool breeze and parted ways.
I was headed to the home of infinite joy and wondrous smells (The Port Authority Bus Terminal) when fellow comic, Anthony LeDonne texted to say he was within beer distance so I stopped in at the Smith on the Upper West Side to brace myself for the onslaught, before jogging downtown through peak hour sidewalk-dawdlers to board the happiest vessel on Earth: The #163 to Hasbrouck Heights.
I was the last to board, so I was squeezed snuggly between a tattooed gentleman in a tank top and a septuagenarian with a scorching case of halitosis.
The trip lasted about an hour longer than anticipated on account of a car accident on the highway. Everyone seemed to have a cold of some kind, so it was like a symphony of sneezes and snorts the whole way there. Bless.
Upon arrival, I checked in with the booker and got my meal voucher before trying out the new seasonal "Pumpkin Martini". A warning: Never ever do that. Ever. It was repulsive. I would have rather eaten a soggy clump of Autumn leaves.
I met the feature, Sean Morton, at the bar. A hilarious comic who will be headlining the Borgata for all of Thanksgiving week. He had to change his shirt after each of the 4 shows as the lights on the stage were so blisteringly hot he sweated out my entire body weight in water.
The headliner, SNL's newest cast member, Chris Redd was insanely funny. Out of Chicago, he had a Second City improv background, which really showed when he went to crowd work. Masterful stuff. He even managed to dig himself out of an anti-Trump chunk in a crowd of vocal Donald Devotées. Quite the sight to behold.
I snuck back into New York on Saturday for a cheeky lunch with le wife before galloping back to the Heights for the final 2 shows on Saturday night. It was great fun hosting -this time I was way more successful than last time, so I came away with my head held high, instead of slumped like a schlub with a herniated disk.
Before jumping on the bus Sunday morning I stopped in at my least favourite diner in America -Fisher's Restaurant for a dose of good old American cholesterol. i got the American Flag pancakes, which were topped with Strawberries (Red), Cream (white) and Blueberries (Blue.) Doesn't get more patriotic than that...
On the F-train home, I looked up and saw a guy who was on my train on Friday. he reminded me of the guy in Half-life who walks around mysteriouslyfor the whole game. He creeped me out.
That's right, this week I decided that instead of recuperating from the severe sleep-deprivation incurred by the most intense 4 days of non-stop insanity at New York Comic Con, I’d immediately fly to the UK for an even more intense 4-days at an international comic art festival.
Long-time subscribers will remember earlier in the year when I popped across the pond to Manchester to lend a hand planning parts of this festival. It was a long 48-hours, during which time I slept a total of 4 hours.
You’ll remember my flight over on that occasion was with the infamous Thomas Cook airlines; a company that provide little more than a seat and a fart-filled fuselage. I sat next to a screaming baby that entire trip.
This time was no different.
On Wednesday afternoon, I got a haircut, pulled on my crappy suit jacket and (over)-packed my bags for another Thomas Cook flight to the motherland, and sat right in front of — you guessed it — another fucking inconsolable baby.
I swear it was the same one. This baby has been following me around the world. It screamed the entire flight. Don’t believe me? Click here.
Already sleep-deprived, I desperately tried to get a wink of rest on the 5-hour flight… to no avail. Screaming baby was having none of it. By the time I landed in Manchester, I was greeted by the lovely Karen, a gardener from Kendal, who waited patiently while I ingested a year’s worth of caffeine to reanimate my lifeless, zombified body. It was 9:55am.
You see, I was to go straight from the plane and be driven 2 hours directly to Kendall College to teach a full theatre of engrossed students a slew of invaluable tips on using a Wacom tablet to create your art. I struggled to put two sentences together, but managed to cover the most important advice.
The lovely Karen patiently drove me through the centuries-old town of Kendal, educating me on the local wool industry and many lakes* of the Lakes District. *There’s one lake. I was so tired I barely retained any information but enjoyed hearing all about the history of Cumbria.
I had now been awake for 24 hours and desperately needed sleep, so she dropped me to my lodgings for the duration… Stonecross Manor Inn. Or as the locals call it “Fawlty Towers”, or "Flowery Twats"... or something.
This place was built in the Cretaceous period. The creaky walls burbled with sounds of boilers and snoring septuagenarians. The power sockets buzzed and cracked whenever anything was plugged in, and the Wifi was only available if you sat on the bottom of the staircase and held your laptop up at waist-height— Oh, and did I mention it was haunted?
Yeah. It was once an infamous girls orphanage.
Because of course it was.
This hotel was not the festival’s first choice for guests. The main hotel in town usually housing the VIPs was being used for a wedding this weekend, so we were relegated to the edge of town in this haunted old boiler-factory. I checked the guestbook to see who had previously stayed here.
After a brief nap, which was interrupted by a screaming baby in the next room (yes, actually) I spent a good hour trying to figure out how to use the shower. Like most hotels, they appear to have come up with their own wacky twist on ‘tap that turns on and water comes out.’ I had to solve a riddle and answer three questions to a troll before I could get a slow stream of warm, off-brown water to bathe in.
I ambled downstairs to be welcomed by my fellow National Cartoonists Society compatriots; Steve, Luke, Joe and Deb McGarry, Tom and Anna Richmond, and the inimitable, legendary Sergio Aragones. We stood around waiting for the shuttle bus to the Mayor’s welcome party, sharing horror stories of our first encounters with Fawlty Towers. We’d all been invited to the VIP opening night dinner and were to be received by the Mayor — a man of few words.
After a couple of complimentary sparking rosés, we were ready to mingle with the rest of the Festival guests and sit down to a welcome dinner in the aforementioned theatre.
I did fanboy out when I met Manchester-based New Yorker illustrator Stanley Chow. If you’ve ever seen my social media avatar (above), you’ll know what a huge fan I am of his style.
You’d have seen it at the top of every single online New Yorker article next to the writer’s name. he somehow manages to defy the conventions of asymmetry in caricature and create these perfectly symbolic illustrations, perfectly encapsulating the person and their entire aura in the process. He’s a wizard. With a Manc accent.
I found my place at a table with Graham Dury from VIZ (UK’s equivalent of MAD), along with Stan Sakai (Ninja Turtles / Usagi Yojimbo) and Sergio Aragones (Living God.)
After mains, there was a 26-question quiz for each table to compete in. The questions were projected up on to the giant screen right behind my head. At one point there was a question about me. Every other table got it wrong.
Because of course they did.
At the conclusion of the quiz, we filtered out into the night and down the streets of Kendal, to a local pub at which we’d be spending a lot of time this weekend by the name of Ruskins Bar. There, we sang karaoke and drank locally brewed ales until the wee hours, because body clocks be damned. I sang Drops of Jupiter by Train. I reckon they liked it.
After a lengthy wait in the rain, we were shuttled back to our haunted lodgings in seemingly the only cab in town for a nightcap and a spooky few hours of sporadic shut-eye.
The next morning after a quick English breakfast of baked beans on toast with sausages, we were whisked away to the Mayor’s Parlour at the Town Hall, to be taught all about Kendall’s history and its rare, priceless artifacts.
We sipped our cups of tea in fine china while a tall gentleman by the name of Simon hovered about the parlor, nervously holding centuries-old relics with his white cotton gloves. At the conclusion of his session, he offered for us to don our own pair of gloves and hold the various shiny things as Simon told us fun facts about them.
From there, we walked through the rain, across the bridge to the local tap house for some local ales and ham sandwiches. They loved their beer very much in this town and had even specifically brewed a number of beers for the festival itself. For dessert, we had chocolate cake. Made from beer.
Another nap was in order before the big live drawing event in the Festival Hub: The Brewery Arts Centre (I told you they liked their beer.)
Steve McGarry and I co-hosted a night of live-drawing with two artists hooked-up to giant screens, working on Wacom Cintiqs, while Sergio Aragones drew by hand, with a live camera feed from overhead lit up the stage with his drawings.
The theatre was completely full, and the demand so high for viewing that they ended up simulcasting the event to an adjoining venue for more people to pile in and watch.
Seeing Sergio draw live is like seeing all seven wonders of the world at once. I would implore you to look it up on YouTube. The man is as prolific as he is hilarious — and the most generous, charming person you’ll ever meet. That night we awarded the inaugural Sergio Aragones Award for Excellence in Comic Art to Dave McKean. You can see his work here.
We also officially announced the UK chapter of the NCS and inducted our first batch of new, British members. This has been in the works for years, so it was nice to be there when it finally came to fruition.
The rest of the weekend was a blur. I attended events, moderated a talk with Canadian cartoonist, ex-NCS President, and Pulitzer prize nominee Lynn Johnston on her comic strip For Better or For Worse. I demonstrated on the Wacom tablets at the ‘Wacom café’ and met a tonne of insanely talented comic artists that all made me feel welcome, and at the same time like a hobbyist, dabbling in the scribbling arts.
I was booked to do a ‘cartoon-a-room’ event to teach kids how to draw, not realising of course that I was following the famed comic artist for The Walking Dead, Charlie Adlard. Lovely guy. Tough act to follow!
The biggest highlight of the weekend for me was getting to sit and do signings next to Sergio. I only sold about 5 cartoons, but I was spending most of my time leaning over watching him draw and sign all his collections of books and prints. We chatted about cartoons — and about the fact that in spite of his appearances, he is 80 this year.
He said he liked my Wacom video which made me smily like a goofball for the rest of the day. I didn’t get to see him for the rest of the weekend. I’m glad I got to spend that time with him.
One big event that I’d been looking forward to was the so-called “Knockabout Cabaret” event on Saturday night — a variety show of music, comedy and humorous slides from all corners of the globe. I was asked to do a 15-minute comedy set, about which I’d been quietly nervous all day.
I re-jigged my set to tailor the jokes to a UK audience but got the sense as I saw the MC “warm-up the crowd” that no amount of re-jigging would help. It was futile. I was walking onto a beach of gattling gunfire with no weapon.
I did my 15 minutes to varied response… they liked the Smiley bit, but I lost them when I started ragging on the queen. (Bad move). I think by the end of the set they couldn’t have been more nonplussed by my lack of local references and verbose stories in jaunty dialects.
I left the stage dejected and sunk my sorrows into a couple of local brews, sinking into the shadows to avoid the glares of Her Majesty’s subjects, as the following, baffling act took the stage.
The MC called him onto the stage but alas, the act was nowhere to be seen… he was out the back of the room somewhere. As the MC figured out where he was, the enormous gentleman ascended from the shadows to reveal he was wearing a skin-tight unitard, a mask, goggles and was holding an electric guitar.
The audience clapped once again as he slowly took the stage, plugged in his guitar and leaned into the mic. What happened next was 30 minutes of jaw-dropping bewilderment and a stony silence from the audience that rivaled even my performance.
The performer screamed mercilessly into the mic while violently strumming his Fender until the strings broke, and he had to stand on stage to re-tune it. He asked the audience to take a beer break while he tuned his fractured axe. It didn’t end well for him.
The final night’s farewell party at old Ruskin's Bar consisted of a comedian by the name of Gavin, who unfortunately shared my comedic fate from the night before. After the Bohemian Rhapsodies and the Britney Spears medleys of the karaoke encore, the show came to a close as we cabbed it back one more time to trusty old Stonecross Manor Towers Gaol Institute for the Daft for one last nightcap.
We were treated to some old English folk songs from old English folks until eventually, we turned in around 3:30 in the morning.
I got 3 hours sleep before stumbling down the stairs with my suitcase only to find my ride to the airport had gone to the wrong hotel. Not to worry… it was only a swift 2.5 hours to Manchester at 6:30am in peak-hour traffic. At this point, my brain had gone into suicide mode and was thinking of quick and convenient methods of ending it all. After arriving at the airport and taking 1 solid hour to get through security, it made me wish gone through with it.
By the time I got to the plane I was an exhausted husk of a human, collapsing into my chair and passing out before we left the tarmac. Not even the screams of the baby in the next row could keep me from my coma.
And yes, I’m pretty sure it was the same baby.
The better half has a new gig playing piano and singing at a sterling New York establishment called Lexington Bar & Books, starting this Friday night. (She has a spiffy mailing list of her own, by the way.)
I sometimes go and listen to her play while sitting at the bar, watching the local characters and swilling gin martinis and drawing their exploits. I've posted a small gallery of them below, for your merriment and mirth. I'll keep adding to it here as I go.
The drawings on this occasion were from one particular Friday night at The now-closed Royal Munkey- an establishment also owned by the owner of Lexington Bar & Books.
(Click images to enlarge)
I couldn't think of a better pairing than yours truly and the incredible Matteo Lane and Sean Patton for this Saturday night's Picture This! at the FINAL Eugene Mirman Comedy Fest!
Also featuring: Reggie Watts, Sean Patton, Clare O'Kane, Mehran Khaghani & Dulcé Sloan with animation by Bryan Brinkman, Dan Pinto & Rachel Gitlevich!
SATURDAY 9/16 4:30pm Doors, 5pm Show
$15 online at https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1531141
at Union Hall, 702 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Event Detail http://www.unionhallny.com/event/1531141
I awake daily with excruciating plantar fasciitis because I was born an old man and my body hates me.
So I went to my unusually funny podiatrist who took one look at my foot, said "Oof." then wrapped my entire right foot in gauze and athletic tape. She said "Keep that on for four days," then she narrowed her eyes and growled, "and whatever you do... do not get it wet."
That night I attempted to shower.
It was a nightmare.
I don't have the core strength, nor the flexibility to hang my foot out of the shower and balance on my other foot while trying to bathe. I danced around on my soapy toes like a drunken chimp until I slipped over and bruised my arm. Water dripped down my leg and onto the floor, flooding the bathroom and saturating my bandages.
Shakespeare wrote, in King Henry IV, Part 1: "Before the game is afoot, thou still let'st slip"
I don't know what it means, but I'm pretty sure he's making fun o' me.
Bruised and battered, but not defeated, I gave up on showering. For the rest of the week, every day was...
I'm making it a thing. Get on board.
San Diego Comic Con International is a relentless 4-day cavalcade of Cosplay, comic fans and crazy critters. I always take as many photos as I can and sketch from them after the fact. I was drawing people all 4 days at the NCS booth, caricaturing people as their favourite comic characters and superheroes.
Here are a few snippets at the insanity...
Wednesday, 5th July 2017
I woke up today with a headache. No, I wasn't hungover (and stop judging me, Diary) it was because my hair had grown so long that when I rolled out of bed every morning all my hair had bunched up on top of my head to make me look like Marge Simpson. I was in desperate need of a haircut.
I ambled down to my local snippity-snipper a block from my apartment. I popped my head in the door and a tall bespectacled gentleman looked up from the foils he was intensely applying. "Yaes what?" He asked. "Can I make an appointment?" I replied, as if it were an imposition. He replied in his thick, Eastern European accent, "Go. Next door. He halp you."
I walked out the door, turned left and found another glass door with an identical logo on it. I peered into the window to see another tall gentleman, but this one was far different.
For starters he had very little hair. It had all receded to a small, elite squadron of scalp-pubes at the very back of his head. He wore a tight black t-shirt that didn't completely cover his belly. His y-fronts poked up from his skinny jeans which he'd rolled up to make makeshift three-quarter length stylish leggings, showing off his bony ankles and Amazon-bought 'leather' loafers. (Ok, I also bought these loafers.)
He spun around from twiddling with his iPod nano, spotted me peering through the window and gestured for me to come inside. I froze... I wanted to run, but he'd seen me. I gingerly pushed on the glass door, causing a small bell to ring above my head.
"My nem Serge. Yes, You look for me?"
I said "Hi, Serge. I was looking to get a haircut, but if you're busy I'll come back another time."
He scoffed, "Beesy! Who is beesy, not me, thassfersher!" Then he let out a huge belly laugh. "Seet. I cut you hair."
I sat. (So he could cut me hair.)
Right off the bat I was very skeptical. He ran a comb through my unwashed, product-filled mane, pulling hairs out by the roots as he went. He held the comb like he was a baby learning how to get purchase on an object for the first time. It wasn't allaying my very real fear that this man was not a real barber.
"What you want do? Yes you want short?"
I said "Just... ow... just a trim. A shorter -OW! Fuck. -shorter version of this please."
With that, he whipped out his buzzing trimmer which looked like it was made in 1940's Russia. It had bits of bronze, corroded aluminium and a power cable that needed an adaptor to plug into the US outlet.
Seconds before he put chainsaw to scalp, I stopped him and said, "Wait!"
He paused, confused.
I said, "Just one thing... please don't touch the sideburns."
He said, "Oh, you don't want sideburns do you?"
I said, "Yes. That's why I have sideburns."
"But if you shave off you look like me, yes? Look! I no haev sideburns!"
I said, "I'm ok with sideburns. Please don't touch my sideburns."
He then shaved off my sideburns.
My face went a shade of bright red. "What the F... what the.. "
I couldn't even muster the word Fuck, I was so angry.
"Why did you do that?" I asked, calmly.
"Do waet?" he quizzically enquired, continuing to shave the sides of my head like I was about to ship off to my second tour of Afghanistan.
"You shaved off my sideburns." I said, incredulous.
"I no shave off, I just treem." he shrugged.
I sat in a puddle of seething rage as he proceeded to completely transform my hairstyle into that of a backup singer for a Polish boy band. He didn't shampoo it, let alone spray any water on it before taking giant chunks from my now oblong-shaped noggin.
"Can you please not trim it so close? Is that a number three?"
"Yeas, is three. Ver good." he nodded with his eyes closed.
"I don't want that... I just wanted a trim. Can you use scissors on the side?"
"I only just begin. You wait to see what look like in end."
I could not wait for this haircut to in end.
His Russian EDM played on his iPod as I sat in a silent rage for the rest of the haircut. I don't know why I stayed. I should have got up the moment he shaved off my sideburns. I shouldn't have even pushed open that glass door, but I did. That tiny bell ringing was the beginning of the end of me going outdoors without a hat.
Eventually, Serge piped up again, "Life ees bewteeeful."
He paused. "Tras me. I know."
Life, at this point for me, was not beautiful. Life had transformed into a living hell. I could imagine myself going into an audition, handing the casting agent my headshot and them looking at me going, "Whose headshot is this? -And what the fuck is wrong with your head?"
My eyes darted over the blue liquid sitting by the window sill. You know, the stuff they keep the combs in? I figured I could end it quickly with a few quick gulps of that without causing too much of a mess.
"This is Frank Sinatra!" Serge Boomed, as he paused in tableaux to listen intently to his iPod.
It was not Frank Sinatra.
It was Wham. The only song I recognised in a playlist of noises that sounded like a CD skipping in a Sony Discman. He stood still for a full minute as he listened, gestured to me and nodded, saying "No? Yes? Yes? Sinatra?"
I nodded. Eyes wide, staring straight ahead. Every minute felt like an eon. I just wanted to get up, pay this mook and get the hell out of this glass chamber of murder. My fingers dug into the plastic chair as looked in the mirror and noticed a band-aid on his left calf. The cut underneath was bleeding pretty profusely, dribbling down into his cheap loafers as he danced around me, hacking wildly at whatever was left atop my skull.
I should have never trusted a man with no hair to cut my hair. Now I have no hair.
Just as I thought he was done, he took one last snip with the scissors and said, "Peorfect."
"Okay." I said. "All done?"
He said, "You pay next door. This is where the art happen. Money happen there."
I brushed away the hair he'd neglected to remove from around my face and ears, stood up and walked out the door and into the next room where the money happen.
I walked in and said "Is this where I pay for what happened to me?"
The only person now in this room was a young blonde woman wearing a tight-fitting crop top and jean shorts nodding at me, smiling.
She took my card and put it into a square reader that blinked red to indicate it hadn't paired with the bluetooth on her iPad.
A year went by and eventually she figured out how to pair the reader to the tablet and process my payment, complete with Serge pricing.
Needless to say, Diary. It's lucky it's baseball season, because I'm wearing my Yankees hat everywhere. Including the shower. And bed.
PS. I'm pretty proud of Serge Pricing.
Today I flew to LA to decompress before pushing forth to my third San Diego Comic Con. Upon landing I was met by Gary Leli, a fellow New York comedian who is relocating to California. Gary is as classy as they come— he picked me up in a car that looked like it was straight out of a Bond film. We put the top down, donned our sunglasses and zipped through LA traffic listening to Billy Joel before arriving at his beautiful Hollywood home. Dinner and drinks were in order. Lots of Drinks. (My flight had been diverted to New Mexico because there wasn't enough fuel in the plane to get us from New York to Los Angeles. Because of course there wasn't.)
Copious cocktails were bookended with a nightcap cigar on the deck in the warm open air: We were at the zenith of our chillaxitude.
The next morning we decided we’d hit the historic Beverly Hills hotel for some libations and merriment. His fiancée, the lovely Lindsay, ordered us an Uber. The phone bleeped to tell us he’d be here in 4 minutes, and that his name was Getty.
In his profile photo he looked like Buddha (if Buddha always wore a cap he made himself and drove a Toyota Sienna).
As the car pulled up, the doors flung open to reveal a veritable treasure trove of snacks, water, apple juice, fresh bananas, soft drinks and wonderment. Our driver was wearing a cap that said "Dr. Food Man Chew" and by golly did we take heed.
I grabbed a banana and a water and went to town as we hummed towards the Hills of Beverly. Getty had a story -and dammit, he was going to tell it whether we liked it or not.
Apropos of nothing, he held up a sign that he'd kept on his dash that read "Dream Big." It was at that point he told us about his life as a Chinese chef at his restaurant Food Man Chew, and about his son who -of course- was a stand-up comic.
He rattled of his spiel as he'd almost certainly done a million times prior, and in doing so missed about a dozen turns on the GPS, ensuring the length of the trip matched the length of his story.
At one point he said, "I changed my name to Getty because I read a book about a man named Getty. Very interesting fellow. So I change my name to Getty."
"It used to be George" he said.
He then went on to tell Gary that he could teach him to make hot and sour soup in two hours, and that we were all going to win the lottery. At which point he reached into his sunglasses compartment and grabbed a lottery ticket for tonight's draw and handed it back to Lindsay.
If we win, we're going to track him down and split it with him, so he can re-open his restaurant and make Gary some soup.
Thanks for the ride, Getty.
This week will be my 3rd San Diego Comic Con. I'll be doing signings, drawing caricatures, doing Wacom Demos and drinking to forget. Come by and see me descend into pure madness at the following times:
I'll be drawing for the very funny Noah Gardenswartz (Comedy Central, Conan) this Sunday at Picture This! @ Union Hall, 7:30pm
See you there...
This weekend was Sophie's big 30th birthday celebration. I decided to make it a full-scale festival, complete with fancy restaurant lunches, impromptu boat-rides, and one-too-many dive bars.
Friday afternoon, we dodged the summer rain storm and tucked into some grub at The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park, overlooking the lake. You never know what you're going to find lurking in these New York lakes...
After a couple of martinis, le wife felt confident it was in our best interest to jump into one of the rickety old boats and row our way through the duck-poop to kick the weekend off with a sweaty, humid bang.
I paid the gentleman the $15 boat fare, along with a $20 deposit. When I asked "Why the deposit? Are you afraid we'll sink the boat?" He glared at me and said, "You'd be amazed how often..." then trailed off to a severe mumble.
We clambered aboard the rusty old dinghy and attempted not to capsize. Within 2 minutes, a mutiny had upended my role as 'rower', and I was told to sit quietly and enjoy the view as le wife rowed us erratically through the reeds and roots of Central Park Lake.
We passed an old man sitting on the shore who looked thoroughly disgusted that I, an able-bodied man was the only one not rowing out of the cluster of romantic dinghy dates surrounding us.
Upon noticing his gaze, Sophie leaned over and yelled "THIS IS WHAT FEMINISM LOOKS LIKE, SIR!" and angrily started flapped the oars around, leading us directly towards an embankment she couldn't see on account of her facing the other way.
We passed a small island of water birds, one of which looked remarkably familiar. Weird.
By some miracle, we returned to dry land without sinking and tapped the office window to get our $20 deposit back. The man handed it back, somewhat disappointed. I think he was hoping we'd have perished.
The day continued to Act 2 as we stomped through the grass and across the road toward the Carlyle hotel: a New York institution. We perched ourselves at Bemelman's Bar, surrounded by the artwork the bar's namesake created in return for nothing more than a few nights' stay at the hotel. Bemelman famously drew for The New Yorker, Esquire and of course created the children's character, Madeline.
We made fast friends with Sharif, the bartender while Sophie tapped away on her laptop answering work emails before enjoying the sights and sounds of happy hour. A singer+pianist began playing the baby grand in the middle of the room as bodies flooded in. We were lucky to have arrived just before the rush, as the scene soon resembled the regular Monday nights when Woody Allen plays clarinet here with his band.
We clocked off and wandered across the road to Bar & Books on Lexington for a sneaky cigar, whiskey and a long chat about the wonders of 30, and bidding a fond farewell to the frivolities of one's twenties. After nearly setting fire to my entire face, I decided it was time to move on to Act 3.
We flagged a cab and zipped down to Columbus Circle to wander into Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Jazz @ Lincoln Center to see the incredible Kurt Elling sing his lungs out with his quartet. Le wife nearly had a conniption as it was the first time she'd ever seen him perform live.
After the show, she approached him and said something to him in her Australian accent, which both baffled and charmed him. He shook her hand and smiled.
To take the edge off the adrenaline rush, we knocked over a couple of whiskeys at the Irish bar around the corner and capped off the evening.
Not a bad effort for Day 1.
Saturday morning we decided it was a wise move to start the day in the gym to pretend to work off Friday's indulgences. We arrived at the gym to find it was closed, inexplicably. Oh well... TO BRUNCH!
We spent the morning people watching at Lexington Brass, diving straight back into the booze pool with a couple of Bloody Maries and a Grapefruit Negroni. Who knew you could ruin a perfectly good drink so easily? The food, however, was incredible. Le wife did get one surprise in her eggs benedict that she hadn't ordered, but she didn't want to make a fuss.
We closed out and wandered around the corner to Le wife's surprise spa treatment. I didn't realise, but there was a huge street festival all the way down Lexington Ave that day, so it took a sweaty hour and a half to get home.
By the time I'd walked in the door, she was done. Two disco naps later, we were up and about, Ubering to the wondrous Upland restaurant for more boozing and dinner. The place was packed, on account of its wondrous menu and incredible cocktails.
I was served a glass of champagne with what I thought was an olive in it, but on closer inspection found it was something far more sinister.
It was time to leave and Facetime the family back in Australia, so we wandered down Park Avenue talking to our nephew, Harry as he dressed up and ran around in his Superman costume. Finally a better Superman than anything DC has made.
Moments later we found ourselves in a bar called Turnmill, which we had all to our very own! Well... almost:
We took full advantage, before heading around the corner to The Jazz Standard to see Azar Lawrence in his quartet see us late into the late night.
We concluded with a whiskey nightcap at Old Town Bar on 18th and Park. I ordered a familiar looking tap beer before collapsing at home, ready for Day 3...
After a lengthy sleep-in, I surprised Sophie with the final day's events for the #FestivalOfSophie... a stay at the Surrey Hotel on the Upper East Side: A gift from my family.
The uber driver we had on the way was telling us all about his custody disputes with 3 of his 13 children. Fun.
We checked in, and upon entering the elevator were presented with a giant, terrifying face on the wall. What a start.
I found the room, entered the key card and flung open the door saying "Surprise!!" only to see Sophie's confused face...
Turns out the surprise I'd organised was conspicuously absent.
Not to worry... at least we can get a drink at the bar!
We peered around the empty lobby bar to realise it was not open... When we brought this to the attention of the receptionist, she said we'd just entered through the wrong door.
She showed us the same door we'd just walked through, and was as surprised as us to find the bar completely deserted- not a single bartender to be seen.
She called out for someone, but to no avail. Eventually someone resembling a staff member arrived. We ordered a couple of bloody marys and I went off to investigate as to the whereabouts of the aforementioned 'surprise'.
Our dear friends, Anthony and Lauren arrived bearing grins and gifts to lift the day. We knocked back a couple of drinks and proceeded up to the room to find the 'surprise' had magically appeared, hours after I'd arranged for it to be there. Perfect.
Champagne was drunk, gifts were opened, rooftop mirth and merriment ensued.
I won't go into the specifics of it, but due to the fact that the hotel had been split up and sold off, it was impossible for us to order drinks on the rooftop bar, or food, or.. well, anything really, so we once again descended to the now staffed lobby bar for some food.
Eventually, the time came for us to pile into a Gett and drive deep into the wilds of Astoria to watch Le Wife sing and perform on the piano at The Astor Room. More cocktails and dinner were had as still more friends joined us in celebrating the #FestivalOfSophie. A great big book of New York Jazz -a gift from Heather and Ed- was passed around for people to sign before they became to paralytic to write.
We closed out the Astor Room and had the generous Gary Leli drive Le Wife, Ethan Hall and myself back across the bridge for a nightcap on the rooftop of The Surrey... sadly, both the downstairs bar AND the rooftop were all closed off... I'm not entirely sure why, or how, but it was a bit silly... We decided to relocate.
I asked the receptionist if she wouldn't mind having Sophie's gift sent up to our room so we didn't have to carry it around. She said, "But I can't until the morning, it will wake up the guest!"
I said "...What guest?"
She said, "The guest in room 410."
"But... Wait, you mean me? I'm right here. I'm the guest in 410."
"You won't be waking me... I'm standing in front of you." I said.
We stared at each other for a moment before I walked out shaking my head and trying to process the gross idiocy I'd just been part of.
As I walked away I heard the penny drop "Oh... " she said.
We wandered across the road to the Carlyle for some cocktails and enjoyed the jazz, capping off the weekend how it started at Bemelman's Bar. We wandered through Central Park, scaring ducks and nearly getting arrested before returning to the least-hospitable hotel in New York to retire for the evening.
The room service birthday cake I'd ordered ahead of time to have ready in the room had mysteriously not arrived, but I wasn't in the least bit surprised. A less than perfect way to cap off the #FestivalOfSophie.
Dave Attell, March 2017
Tattoo Girl, March 2017
This girl kept interrupting my conversation with my pal one night at the MacDougal Ale House. She's just got a tattoo after attending an Anti-Trump rally that afternoon.
One-Legged Gull Boy, April 2017
Seagull on the jetty waiting for the Staten Island Ferry.
Friday, 10th June 2017
This morning I awoke with a throbbing frontal lobe, the after-effects of an extended evening of copious imbibement at The Boathouse with my pal, Anthony. I cursed the glorious sunshine streaming through the windows as I limped to the bathroom. My right heel is still riddled with plantar fasciitis, so I now resemble my 97 year-old grandfather when I first wake.
I had to shower, badly, but not before re-recording a voice audition for a TV commercial for Paul McCartney's Australian tour. I sounded a bit scratchy, but they asked for 'a bit more gravely' so I think I pulled it off -and in my pyjamas no less!
Post-ablution, I wandered down to Remedy Diner where my dear pal Ethan Hall was sitting in a booth, scrawling madly in his journal (No doubt about how late I was to our weekly 12pm Friday coffee date we've held for the last 2 years and counting.) I had texted him while I was walking, asking if he could order my usual, but with a side of sausages.
He texted back, "What's your usual, Sweet Yoghurt?"
I replied, "I told you not to call me that."
I'm the funniest guy.
I sat to find he'd ordered precisely what I usually get, but with a side of sausages. If I could marry this man, I would. But sadly, I'm already taken. And I'm sure same-sex marriage will be outlawed by Thursday if Trump/Putin has his/her way.
We discussed mostly politics, as is our usual agenda. I'd met the head of PR for the Hilary 2016 Campaign the night before and had some fun stories to regale him with. We both admitted we'd been listening to Sam Harris' The Path To Impeachment episode of Waking Up, for comfort.
The Comey hearings had held the nation captive the day before, and we'd both watched in anticipation of some definitive articles of impeachment. No dice.
Speaking of dicey, I ate all of my sausages. Immediate regret consumed me, and my digestive tract.
We meandered back towards our neighbouring apartments on 3rd street, taking in the sun and the accompanying smell of ripe dogshit. Summer in New York is a wild symphony of stenches.
I realised I'd left little time to do anything else but panic, as I was running late to head to the depths of Brooklyn to record the Let's Talk About Sets podcast with Jeff McBride and Harrison Tweed.
I drew their podcast artwork.
At the conclusion of the 1.5 hour recording, Jeff hit the 'save' button only to be met with a frozen laptop screen. His face mimicked the screen, frozen in an expression I can only describe as sheer terror, as he waited for the progress bar to move past 4%...
After what felt like the length of an entire Comey hearing, the progress bar kicked back into gear and saved the episode. Jeff, however, had shaved years off his life from stress. The giant vein on his temple was still throbbing, adding an extra 2 inches to the circumference of his skull.
With the poor fella now 1 part relieved, 2 parts pure cortisol, we shared a car back across the bridge to Manhattan while I learned my sides for a commercial audition.
We hit traffic on the FDR, leading to me now taking over as the stressed-out, vein throbbing sweat gland with a face. The audition was in the Financial District, but this car was headed up to the East Village, and Lyft being Lyft, I wasn't able to change the final destination.
Jeff jumped out at my apartment and started walking the wrong way down 3rd street. He reappeared moments later with a gunshot wound to his leg, realising he had ventured towards Avenue D instead of Avenue C. It happens.
I asked my Lyft driver if I could request a job and see if he could accept it, with me standing right by the car. He said he didn't think so.
(Isn't technology marvelous.)
So I just flagged down a passing cab and hurtled South back down the FDR towards Wall street.
I checked in for the audition and filled out my particulars. A small Asian woman pulled me aside, pushed me against a wall and took my photo with the flash less than 10cm from my face. Now permanently blind, I wandered into the audition room.
The director was reclined on the couch. He'd had a day, and I was between him and happy hour. Perfect conditions for success.
"Just be yourself." he said. "But, you know, be the character we wrote."
"Oh... yeah, of course. Totally." I nodded, not understanding what the hell that meant.
"I mean, don't Act, but when we say action, act out the things we wrote."
"Got it." I said, confidently.
"And... Whenever you're ready."
"Sorry." I stopped. "I just - one thing before I.."
"Yeah." He said, annoyed.
"I'm Australian. Do you want me to do it as me, or me as an American?"
"You." He said.
"Okay. So, okay. Good."
He paused. Sighed deeply then said, "Aaaand... whenever you're ready."
I took my time reading the sides, attempting to memorise them on the fly.
I stared down the barrel and said,"Hi." being careful not to act.
"I'm Guy, and I... hate soda."
"Okay, stop." The director interjected.
"That was a little too "Big". You know?"
"Oh, yeah. Totally." I said. Not knowing what the fuck he meant.
"Just, do it again, but not so "Big."
"Aaand... whenever you're ready."
I took a breath. Sat down and looked at the camera, then at the cup sitting next to me. Then back at the camera.
"Hi." I said, less Big, "I'm Guy, and I hate Soda."
"Okay, we're good. Thank you for coming in."
"We're done?" I asked. "I can do it differently if you want?"
"No, we're good. Thank you." he said, anxiously wringing his wiry grey beard and adjusting his transitions lenses. "Have a nice night."
I walked out, realising I'd blown $14.13 on a cab to come and look like a gormless moron in front of a frustrated director who certainly didn't envision his career directing soda commercials. I needed a drink.
Luckily for me, my trusty companion, Sophie, was just finishing work and also in need of some refreshment.
Almost immediately, she texted back, "See you at the Ludlow Hotel. 30 minutes."
I zipped up to the Ludlow on the packed, terminally delayed subway and arrived 45 minutes later. Sophie still hadn't appeared, so I ordered a Negroni and a Gin, betting both ways on what she'd want.
She arrived and ordered a gin martini.
After a couple of rounds, I said it was probably time I went home and showered before running out to do my 8:30pm spot at Dangerfields. I was wearing a hat, you see, and had chronic hat hair. I looked like I'd stuck my head in a food processor.
We closed out our tab and made our way toward home. On the way, I mentioned I needed a coffee to perk me up before my 8:30pm show at Dangerfields Comedy Club. We were just passing Yerba Buena on Avenue A when Sophie said, "Oh! We can just go in here. They have coffee."
We walked through the door to find a bar full of gentleman who had enjoyed a few too many happy hour lemonades, waxing lyrical about the wonders of green energy and the evils of high fructose corn syrup. Between our ordering two espressos and receiving them, the German man at the end of the bar had begun a TED Talk-style lecture on American organic food and how the FDA is the devil.
The stress of the situation led us to exit the building and immediately push the door open to 2A; the bar next door, to wash away the crazy with a whiskey.
As we sat, swilling the devils drink, a lanky old man sat behind us at the window, listening intently to his walkman and downing copious amounts of booze. He looked like he was made of wind and sinew.
At this point, time was creeping up on me and I didn't think I'd have time to get home, shower and get back out to head up to 61st street for my Dangerfields spot. Sophie said, "Why don't you just use the bathroom here to wet your hair, dry it, and style it using the product that's already in there!"
"Genius!" said the whiskey.
I jumped up and headed to the bathroom as Sophie ordered us another round.
I turned on the moldy old tap and shoved my birds-nest of a head under the water to soak it, before turning on the hand-dryer and attempting to find an angle where I could get my head under it without breaking my neck. I cupped my hands to redirect the hot air towards my hair, like some kind of Macgyver pro hairdresser.
I styled it with my hands and strolled out of the bathroom feeling like I'd gamed the system.
I knocked back one more whiskey before whistling for a cab and zooming North towards the club.
I walked in to the club with 10 minutes to spare, fist bumped the owner and was immediately asked by Chario, the waiter who'd been working there for 47 years (not making that up), to come and help him carry a bunch of bottles of piña colada mix from up the block back to the club.
We went searching up and down the Manhattan streets for a liquor store that would stock piña colada mix, but to no avail. Chario grumbled about how much the neighbourhood had changed, and finally settled on buying one bottle from a random store before marching back in to the club, plopping the bottle on the bar and saying "There. Thassit. Thass all they got!"
I then put down my bag and walked on stage to do a 20 minute set to the Friday crowd that consisted mainly of people who had got lost coming in from Jersey. I did fine, but then Patty Rosborough arrived and showed us all how it was done. A masterful set to watch at the oldest comedy club in the world.
It was then that I was informed by one of the waiters that the entire time I'd been on stage, I'd been sporting a gigantic birds nest on the back of my head, courtesy the blowdryer at 2A.
'til next time,
"You British?" the man at the table in front shouted. "You limey fuck!" he added, as the audience erupted in rapturous applause.
I looked down, still gripping the mic like a police baton, and tried to think of something clean, witty and funny to come back with. I snorted, then opened my mouth to respond, but all that came out was a small puff of dust.
This was going to be a long weekend...
A lot of people ask me, they say "Jason. You do so many things. You're a cartoonist. You're a comedian. You're an unlicensed veterinarian. What is your day even like?"
Well, rather than write it up like some kind of typewriter monkey, I thought I'd just show you in video form! This is what a regular old Wednesday looks like for old pal Chatfield.