My five regular readers (hey, let’s do poker soon!) may have noticed the lack of posts for the past couple weeks. Or not. Be honest, I can take it. This time of year always gets busy with end-of-school-year events and activities. It’s easy to volunteer my time to projects when asked in January, when it’s freezing outside and the four walls are closing in, but another thing to balance writing, work and play in early May. That being said, I’ll also say that I really enjoy doing the projects I’ve volunteered for, regardless of me bitching about my schedule.
Last Friday night was the sixth annual Queen of Angels Comedy Night, a benefit to help the Technology Committee buy new computer equipment so my son can try not to look at inappropriate websites when he’s in the lab. Last year I helped out with a comedy sketch, which showed how Harry Caray would’ve called a baseball game if all performance enhancers were legalized (poorly, it turns out). It was fun, but the evening went on almost four hours, as the directors (there’s your first mistake, plural “directors”) tried to cram every type of act–parishioner talent, five pro stand-ups, and the house band–into the show. This year we streamlined things, kept a tight rein on the length of acts, and had the band play at the opening and closing instead of between every act. This elementary lesson in show pacing paid off well. Everyone has said it was the best show ever.
Our host was Leo Ford, an affable man about town, actor, and former improviser (Blue Velveeta, anyone?), who delivered a monologue about growing up Catholic in Janesville, WI, and described a nun who reminded him of Harry Dean Stanton. In the first half, Will Casey and his wife Catherine performed a droll little skit I wrote called “Robo-Nun 3000,” and to pad things out, I read one of my PC Bedtime Stories.
The professional talent we scouted and booked were nothing short of sensational. Nick Paul is a very funny man who mixes magic with a deadpan that was just killer. He also showed himself to be a big professional when we asked him to do a second act after intermission when one of our standups called to say “Friday??? I thought it was Monday!” Check out his website Magic of Nick for clips and other information.
Our standup for the evening was Sean Flannery, who absolutely killed in his 20-plus minutes. He could’ve lost the room because of some of the drunks in the back who think that any performance is a free-for-all, or that standups are really looking for a conversation when they say, “Anybody here from out of town?” He had the crowd up and down with him the whole time, and had hilarious material. We found him emceeing at Chicago Underground Comedy, and booked him immediately. Check out his stuff at WorldsDumbestMan.com.
But the biggest hit was probably $$The Money Kids$$, two young ladies who will do basically anything to make themselves laugh. These two are definitely going places. Their skits included a slumber party where the girls are making out with their stuffed animals, a couple of power-walking yuppies trying to work through bouts of narcolepsy, dancing to the “Doogie Howser MD” theme song, and a “Sex in the City” blackout that broke the “dildo right up inside you” barrier in the parish. (Thankfully, they were so funny, and the line went by so fast, that the people who might’ve been upset probably missed it.) Check out their stash at MoneyKids.net.
The shining moment for the in-house parish talent was our video. I had wanted to do a “Check, Please” take-off for our currently trendy neighborhood, highlighting some of the grungier places that generally should be avoided. The first draft of the script came out so well that 95% made it into the final product. But the script is just one step in the process. The video came out so much better than we had any right for it to, because of Dominic D’Ambrosia, who shot it and edited everything. Judge for yourself by checking out the YouTube link for “Beyond the Sausage in Lincoln Square.” (The embed was disabled by request. Apparently Dom is shy. Or is afraid of getting fired.)
Seriously, go check out the video. Then realize we did maybe two takes for every shot. The ghost of Ernie Kovacs was smiling on us that day.
After the show, we had to break everything down, fix the lock on the parish center so no one could walk in, and then close out over beers at the Sunnyside Tap (a fleeting shot of the tap is in the video). I haven’t been so exhausted over a weekend in a long time. Part of it was the beer at 2 AM, but only a small part. I think I just forgot how damn exhausting it is to put on a show. If I didn’t have my buddies to help get it up, I’d’ve been even more wiped out. And the show would’ve sucked. As it was, I was glad for the chance to perform and write some fun stuff with fun people.