International Women’s Day and what it means for you (guys)

Today is International Women’s Day, and while we all share posts and like statuses, I feel like I should take part in talking to some fellow guys who may not understand why today is so important.

  1. First off, I’m a cis white man, if you are reading this for educational purposes I would highly encourage you to go read articles and visit the social media of female leaders, celebrities, and activists to get a true idea of what today is all about. But I would especially encourage you to reach out to women you know on social media as well. (I’ll explain why below.) If you can’t think of anyone, here are some amazing women who you should talk to or hear stories from; Natalie Cuevas, Christine Horvath, Amber Falter, Bianca Moore, Allexus Scott, Erin Bryden, Jessica Hindman, Hallie Gebel, Athena HoweAngie Healey, Becky Brown, Walta Yoseph, Brooke Cartus, Sommer Sterud, Betty LerouxDaidria Eckles, Stephenie Ewen, Tona Pearson, Dede Parker, Kaitlin McFee and Candice Connor, Kayla Merchant, Honey Merlot, Nickey Winkleman, Sarah J. Storer, Eva Starnes, A.J. Vanderelli, Emily Slye, Adra Barrel, and Autumn Ollom. Ask any of them what this day means to them and they’ll help broaden your perspective on what it is.
  2. Today is a day to remind ourselves, guys, that the women in our lives may seem okay on a day-to-day basis but are actually fighting an uphill battle. You may think I’m talking about the wage gap, but I’m also talking about the simple, easy things that we do every day can often be challenging for women. My friends get cat-called on the street, cornered by creepy guys, ignored or dismissed behind their backs, but often it’s to their faces. So remember that lifting women up today is good, but unfair treatment is a struggle for all women year-round, and that’s why you need to start today and every day after.
  3. If your thoughts are, Is it really that bad?  or I know my friends are okay. Stop. Stop. Stop. You can’t make either assumption because you don’t know what it’s like. And discounting the tales and stories of women who have been mistreated and thinking, Well that doesn’t happen everywhere. Isn’t the right way to respond because it shouldn’t happen at all. Dismissing these very real issues and stories is the same as dismissing all the women in your life. It may not be easy to accept, but our gender is typically complacent and too passive to really see this clearly on our own. Don’t think that not thinking about this is any solution. Once you accept that there’s a problem then you can make steps to fix it.
  4. If you want to help, if you want to see change, start small. Educate yourself by not only reading but by talking, it’s the easiest way to start understanding a women’s perspective in the world. And they’re are many different perspectives so talk to as many women as you can, not just your girlfriend, sister, or mom. As you learn more then start speaking up, but speak up with them, not for them. Remember that this is their struggle and the greatest support you can give isn’t speaking, it’s listening. If you’re worried or anxious still about how little voice you have on this issue, then you’re starting to understand a little of what it feels like for women every day.
  5. Talking and listening to more women will get you to appreciate them in your life more. I have many female friends, and therefore I get asked if I sleep with all of them. No. It’s possible to be just friends with women guys, and if you’re thinking, She’s too hot not to sleep with. Stop. Stop. Stop. Unless you’re 16 or under, you should be mature enough to appreciate women beyond their looks. If you think that’s BS then you have no idea just how amazing the women in your life are, and I feel bad for you.
  6. Immersing yourself in the world of women includes making donations, going to protests, and attending art shows. But it also involves a message, a text, a call. If you’re thinking about a friend in your life, tell her you love her and why. She wants to hear it, not because she’s a woman, but because she’s a person. I’m sure someone has made the effort to you to let you know why you’re important, do the same for her, for others.

Most of these were just tips to get you to relax and start opening up to a group of kickass ladies who just want our support. If you feel embarrassed or defensive, know that I’m not attacking you or trying to start a fight, I’m just trying to tell you the truth that so many incredible women have told me. Let’s give support to them not just today, but every day, and remember that things can change if we actually make the effort to start that change in our own lives. I hope my fellow man reading this will reconsider what he’s doing and make that change, and I hope to any woman reading this will feel that change in her life soon enough. And if you are 100% against everything I just said, then get the fuck out of my website. Love, Brian.

 

Published Poet!

After getting published at my school’s literary magazine ReCap I’ve decided to announce that I’ve been writing poetry for a while now. This has been a great surprise and I’m happy to have seen hard work in my writing pay off a little. For those who don’t want to buy the book which will be available here once it’s released, I’ve decided to release the three poems that were published in the magazine. Feel free to share or give feedback. I may release more in the future but for right now enjoy Ice WaterHand Me Down, and Washing Up.

Ice Water

Open Swim 10-6

half hour Ice Pop rest

wear orange floaties and

SPF 1-Scary-Fish

 

Flight by rope swing

fleeting as this summer

brace for impact and

watch for one Scary Fish

 

Ankle deep in Ice Water

wish your brain was as cold

as an Ice Pop and be a

treat for one Scary Fish

 

Wait for roses, Ice Melts

tadpoles suck your toes

grab a line and bait the hook

with one Scary Fish

Hand Me Down

Try it on

stuck with Cat hair

it was her winter cardigan

until she grew out of it

 

Try it on

got puked on once

it was her drinking jacket

until she grew out of it

 

Try it on

still very damp, but never worn

it was her wedding dress

until she grew out of it

 

Try it on

snip off the price tag

it’s your new comfort shoes

until you grow out of it

Washing Up

Hands need a washing!

Bug gut squished all over

tiny brains under tiny white

fingernails, a child asks to

learn how to wash off the Sticky Pain

 

Hands need a washing!

Feminine fluid all over

fingers more reckless than a beekeeper’s and

health class never taught to

wash off the Sticky Pain

 

Hands need a washing!

Shaking, blurring, and dripping red

gotta wash the paperclip so

it can hold up instead tear down

all this Sticky Pain

 

These hands need a washing!

Wiped too many tears

opened too many doors

cleanliness is next to Godliness

but Mom never knew how to wash off

   Sticky Pain

Hosting is a Job

Hosting is typically the first paid job a comedian gets when starting out. Wether one hosts comedy, burlesque, or music there are some typical guidelines that every host should keep in mind when running a show. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to host some open-mics, showcases, and even a festival and although there are still plenty of shows out there that I need to experience I feel like these tips should give anyone who wants to try hosting an idea of what the job is like and how to do it well. After all if you’re getting paid to host then you should do a good job so you actually earn that money’s worth.

It’s Not About You

The first time I hosted was at my weekly open-mic Comedy at the Mezz and after the first week I realized that I was only a small part, an important part mind you, but a small part. I was presenting other comedians not myself. It seems like such a basic concept to understand, because after all it’d be weird if the host of any show does more time than the actual acts or headliners. So keep in mind that people are there to see the acts and it’s your duty to present them in a timely and orderly fashion so that people can enjoy them easily. This means don’t do time in-between comedians, unless something bad happens and you need to bring everybody back in, or if there is a problem in the show that requires you to do more time. The transition between comedians should take about 30-60 seconds. If it takes longer than that then the audience and the comedians are going to sit there and wonder, “When will this guy be done?” If a comedian is pumped and ready to go on stage but has to wait and guess when you’ll actually be done then that can throw him off his groove. Do time at the beginning, give yourself up to ten minutes to warm up the crowd, and then for the rest of the show be brief but effective.

Time Is God

As a host you’ll find that one thing you’ll be thinking about constantly is time. How much time does each act get? At what time do I show the light? What time is it? For comedy, the show should ideally run between 90min and 2 hours because after the 2 hour mark people tend to lose their concentration and start getting tired. As I mentioned before, a host should take as little time as possible on the show, partly because you don’t know how many comedians will go over their time which makes the show longer. If a comedian is going more than two minutes over you should start being more aggressive to take the comedian off stage in order to keep the show fair for all the other acts. Other shows like music and burlesque have different kinds of time restrictions but it’s important to know them so that way you can make the show easier for the audience to enjoy. Going too long can also make the venue mad too, the host is like the coach of the show, he’s in charge of everything and needs to follow the rules for the venue and for the audience. If the show goes over it’s time and needs to be cut short of a couple of acts then that’s the hosts fault that those acts didn’t go on, because it’s the host’s job to make sure the show follows the rules.

The Audience Is Jesus

The audience is helping you and the other acts get paid. The audience is the reason why you can perform tonight. So why wouldn’t you put the audience first? As host you’re the bridge between comedians and audience because the audience will see you more times than any of the acts. You’re their friend who has to experience the whole show with them, making sure they’re comfortable and in a good mood for the next act is your responsibility to ensure that the next act has the best chance possible to have a good set. This can involve acknowledging bad sets or weird interruptions, even though I mentioned that it’s important to transition quickly, taking time to make sure the audience is in a good place is time well invested as opposed to just doing time and hogging the show from the other acts.

Your Next Comedian Is…?

One of the things that ticks me off the most about bad hosts is when they don’t do the work to know the comedian they’re bringing up. I try to know who the comedian is and ask if there is anything special he/she wants me to mention in their intro. However the bear minimum a host should know is how to pronounce the person’s name. I saw one host get on stage about to bring up a comedian and asked where he was from and how long did he do comedy, those are both things he could’ve done off stage but instead he made things awkward and ruined the flow of the show. If you don’t care enough to know the act’s name or get their intro right then why should the act or the audience care about you or the show? A host has no show without having happy comedians and a happy audience.

The Bridge

It’s your job as host to be diplomatic between the audience and the performers. Respect both and both will usually be good to you back. People appreciate a host who’s trying to put on a good show and have a good time. I’m not the best host ever but one thing that makes me a good one is from people telling me that I actually care about the show, which encourages others to be part of a good show. You’re what makes or breaks the show early on. You’re the one who needs to be in control and therefore if something screws up it’s typically your fault, but keeping a level and positive head can get you through almost any problem, or do whatever it is you do to make the audience like you and the show you’re hosting.

As you go forth to host, practice is the best way to get better, hosting is a skill like any other and as you figure out your hosting style just remember that the show is about you being selfless, respecting the time, respecting the audience, respect your performers, and be the bridge that brings them together with a good attitude and hard work. Another good idea is to think back at other hosts you’ve seen and figure out what you liked about them and what you didn’t like then apply that to yourself. Make your show good and fun, even if at the beginning it doesn’t look like it will be, it’s up to you to turn that around. No matter how the room looks when you walk in try to get up first with the idea: Let’s have some fun.

My Dead, Horrible, Funny Mom

My Dead, Horrible, Funny Mom

My Mom has been dead for over 8 years now. I’ve talked about her before in my stand-up and on my website before. I’ve explained how she became an alcoholic and a crack addict in the last couple of years I knew her. I’ve also been able to make jokes about how she abandoned me and my brother and also how she abused me by hitting me with a tennis racket. Being able to joke about it has been very helpful to me because it makes me feel like that despite how awful she was to me I can take that and make others laugh about it. For a moment it makes me feel like that I can forgive her for what she did, but then the show is over and I have to go back to the reality that she knew what she was doing and couldn’t stop herself from hurting the only people in her lives that truly loved her.

Some people have asked what’d I’d do if I saw my Mom again, what would I say to her? Honestly I’d have nothing to say to her, she would have to be the one to make the first move. Although sometimes I wonder about what she would say or think about who I’ve become and what I’ve been trying to do with my life. Before my Mom went off the rails I remember that she had a better sense of humor than my Dad, she would make jokes and play pranks on me, I remember how I liked some and others I would never even realized they were jokes which I think she thought was even funnier in some ways.

I would try to make her laugh too. I remember the first time I tried making her laugh was when I was seven and we were watching Nickelodeon. We saw a commercial for kids underwear where at the end of the commercial a kid is on screen with his underwear on the outside of his pants and he claims, “Underpants go under your pants.” I remember thinking how weird and silly that commercial was. I excused myself to go upstairs to grab another pair of underwear and slid them over my jeans. I went back downstairs, jumped in front of my Mom before the TV screen, and yelled, “Underpants go under your pants!” She chuckled and asked if those were a clean pair or what I was already wearing. I said they were clean and she smiled and said good.

I remember one other time when I was sick and my Mom asked if I wanted chicken noodle soup, I said yes and she went to get it for me while I watched Nickelodeon. She came back with a tray of soup, Ritz crackers, and water. I said thank you and without really looking I took the spoon that was already in the bowl, I pulled it up to my mouth and everything spilled out and fell all over me because there was a hole in the bottom of the spoon, I looked up at my Mom and she yelled out “April Fools!” I was laughing hysterically. To this day that was still the best April Fools day I’ve ever had.

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Those were two stories about my Mom that weren’t awful. Looking back I see that she helped raise me to have the sense of humor I have today and I’m grateful for that. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly forgive her for what she did but I am sad that she hasn’t seen me perform and isn’t going to see me continue on in my weird adventures of becoming a stand-up comedian. When I started writing this I didn’t think I was going to like it but I’m kind of glad I decided to participate in Mother’s Day for the first time in eight years. Here’s to digging deep and finding something funny and wonderful. Thank you Barbara Tower Doney.

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Stepping Down

Last week I announced officially that I will no longer be hosting Comedy at the Mezz.

One of the cool things about my birthday on Tuesday was hosting Comedy at the Mezz but one of the sad things is that it would be the last time I’d get to host Comedy at the Mezz. Due to my schedule next semester I won’t be able to keep it going but luckily someone else has interest in that weird funny show and doesn’t want it to end anytime soon. So today I’d like to announce that Ember Ollom will be the new host of Comedy at the Mezz starting in the fall of 2015. I think she’ll do a great job at making the show fun and inviting to anyone who wants to laugh and enjoy a Tuesday night. Honestly I can’t think of a better replacement and I wish her luck and give her all the support I can and you should too by coming out to her new show next fall!

I know to an outsider it may just seem like another Tuesday open-mic but let me bring you to my point of view so you can understand what was unique about this show and why you should check it out in the fall.

A week before I hosted the first Comedy at the Mezz I went to an open-mic at a Sushi restaurant and had the worst bomb ever, it was so bad that it may have had a hand in the restaurant closing down later. I felt shittier than I ever felt yet I was scheduled to start hosting an open-mic next week. I honestly only went through with it because I already committed myself to and because I was at a place where I felt like I had nothing else left to loose. That bomb shattered any illusion I had left that I was any good at comedy or that I could put on a good show so I felt that hosting this open-mic might be the way for me to try and learn how to be a good comedian.

The first few weeks only two-three comics showed up, partly because of my reputation I’m sure, but also partly because Capital is relatively out of the way from the other mics. I knew I had to change something because so far it wasn’t looking like to be a show if it was just me. Plus I wanted to give people stage time wether they were new or veterans I wanted to give people a stage to try out anything and be comfortable doing it. So I started asking people to show up, I called it ten minute headline spots which got comics to show but there was still a lack of paying attention issue with the crowd that has always been a struggle at the Mezz. I wanted comics and the crowd at the Mezz to interact and laugh together so I thought of the panel which would have the headline comedians answering random questions to the audience. The first night that I started doing that is when I met Ember Ollom. She and a few other students decided to sit down closer and watch and I could tell by the way they were laughing and how they engaged with the comedians that I found the right mix to call Comedy at the Mezz a show.

Of course I still experimented with other things such as free raffle prizes which I got from the generosity of local businesses, I gave extra tickets to people who sat closer to the stage, and it worked temporarily. I noticed that it brought people who only were paying attention to winning stuff and not the kind of audience members that the Mezz was already generating. Now were there ever any large crowds? No they were usually really small but I kept hoping that someone would try to do stand-up and then a domino effect of more and more students would come forth. I also thought that eventually the Mezz would gain bigger crowds and be respected as a show that should be watched or at least worthy enough to not talk over. However neither of those things happened.

Although over the course of two years I noticed a few special things about the Mezz. It did have a pull that made some students want to sit down and watch but for some reason it always had a bigger pull on comics to sit down and watch too instead of going outside to smoke and talk like at most open-mics. The Mezz was one of the few rooms where comedians tried really new and unique things, some stories or bits told at the Mezz I still haven’t seen anywhere else. It took me awhile to realize that although the Mezz was always kind of a dud on big crowds or attentive crowds it made comics feel closer and safer with each other. I don’t know why, I don’t know if it was because of me or if it is just the side effect from being in that room. Despite not being very successful at running a hot open-mic I did inspire a few students to push themselves and speak out about their lives, one of them is Dani Perkins who I’m still proud of and think is one of the funniest students I ever met on Capital. She’s made more people laugh on stage than most students get to make people laugh in their entire lives. I hope other students will follow her lead since she is more relatable and much more down to earth than I am.

I’ve known Ember the longest and perhaps better than anyone except for her boyfriend and I do know that all of her talents, enthusiasm, and love for the Mezz will make it grow larger than I ever could. Although I think the Mezz has helped me grow so much from hosting it every week for the past two years. Getting students to try stand-up for the first time on my stage, welcoming out of town comedians to perform, and seeing some of the most sensitive and neurotic comics want to come to the Mezz has made me feel like I accomplished what I first set out to do. To make people feel comfortable and welcome, which was during a time in Columbus where that was hard to find. Although now Columbus is at a great point where most open-mics are welcoming now so that purpose is there but it needs a new one to keep growing and to be honest I’m not sure what that purpose is or how to achieve it, but I know Ember does and that’s why I’m giving her the open-mic I started from scratch because I know it’s going to be awesome. So be sure to check her out at Comedy at the Mezz next Fall!

 

21 and Up

As I write this I’ve been 21 for over 72 hours and aside from the happiness and joy of everyone wishing me happy birthday and giving me gifts I don’t feel any different. The only thing I’ve done differently this week was eat cake and go to a 21 and over show, although that’s probably going to change tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’ll be having my birthday roast and there I will have my very first drink four days after my actual birthday. Some people have been stunned and a little frustrated by the fact that I’ve never tasted alcohol and that I didn’t have a drink on my 21st birthday, because that’s the holy ritual that comes with your 21st birthday: drinking in public. I didn’t for a number a reasons and I’d like to explain them to you.

My “First” Drink

I’ve had a few friends who went out and celebrated their 21st birthday so they could get their first drink even though they’ve already drank before, and those friends are a bunch of liars. You are a foolish or weak human being who is sapping the good will of your friends and taking advantage of a bar’s 21st birthday special. I actually waited (plus four days) until I was allowed to drink. I muddled through my awkward teenage years in high school and took shit from the world my early years of college without the help of booze. Think that’s lame? Think that I had a boring child hood? Well I waited and now I can drink and enjoy my birthday like a man should because I’ve actually deserved it. I know most of the population drinks before they’re 21 and I’m speaking as a minority, so I’m not going to ask you to stop celebrating your birthday, I’m just hoping you’ll look back on it or celebrate with the knowledge that you’re a pussy who couldn’t wait.

Fear

My upbringing got interrupted by an alcoholic asshole who missed my 11th birthday and also happened to be my Mom. My Mom had a lot of problems before she died but one of them was definitely drinking from wine boxes all the time. The main reason why I’ve never drank is because I promised I never wanted to be her, I used to be so convinced that alcohol ruins lives and hurts people but after all these years I’ve come to realize that I was exactly right. It does, in more ways than most people imagine, but what I have also come to understand is that it takes two to fuck up a childhood. Alcohol was the first dance partner and it made my Mom dirty dance against it’s tiny dick. So as I move forward I hope I can keep this conviction of drinking for fun and never hurt an innocent with it. Honestly I am a bit afraid of tomorrow, I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I do know that I’m surrounded by friends who care about me and have taught me that drinking doesn’t always end with a child crying it can end celebrating with your friends or with an adult crying (probably me.)

The Fryin’ of Brian (ME)

Believe it or not I wouldn’t be having this roast tomorrow if I had already drank. If I couldn’t take my first drink in front of all my friends at my favorite bar in the world then it wouldn’t be nearly as special. This roast is a way point between who I’ve always been and who I’m going to become. Maybe drinking won’t change me or maybe it will, either way I’ve made a lot of meaningful friendships with all these awesome people and I want them to be with me as I do this exciting/frightening thing.

It’s funny how I already have a home bar even though I’ve never drank, that just shows you how great Shrunken Head is and how funny the weirdos who go there are. It’s also funny how I’ve bartend on two separate occasions for five minutes while the real bartenders went out and took a smoke break. Also it’s funny how many shows I’ve gone to, how many things I’ve seen, how many things I’ve done without drinking, but now it’s time. Well actually it’ll be time Saturday April 4th at 9ish, but point is I’ve arrived to a point in my life where I can tilt my head back and take swig without having any regrets to enter a life that’s 21 and up and filled with lots of regrets.

Thank you Ember, Andreas, Adrian, Stephanie, Dave, Nick, Tyler B, Ian, Sommer, Erik, Danny,  Tyler M, Jameson, Chad, Natalie, Gilli, Becky, Doug, Chris, Tyler S, Shrunken Head, and everyone else. I’ll see you tomorrow.

My Valentine

D V-Day is tomorrow. Are you ready guys? Got the reservations? What about the card? You better write her a card you fuck face. Take the Hallmark card you bought and wipe your ass with it because if you can’t hand write her a two page letter then you truly don’t deserve whatever happiness and love you’ll be feeling tomorrow.

I imagine a lot of comedians or bloggers will be talking about tomorrow as well trying to talk it up or talk it down and quite honestly it’s disgusting to see how easily people are willing to bash it or make it the biggest deal in the world. Let’s take a breath and calm down before we start declaring war on Valentines day. Go ahead, take a breath, the paragraph below this one will wait.

Okay, so for all you couples out there who are really excited for tomorrow, I congratulate you on the fact that you have a successful relationship and are therefore “qualified” to enjoy the day. You may want to post about it on your Facebook tomorrow, as well you should, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about expressing that. Fuck the single people who can’t handle the fact that life is actually working out for you. However I will say that if you truly love the person you’ll spend less time on the social media and more time holding hands and running through a field of daisies. Keep the big status update as an after thought just so other people can know that you’re in a good place, seriously the day is about your happiness not about letting people know you’re happy.

Single people, you may be spending tomorrow brooding and/or getting drunk alone. If you plan to post statuses about that then you’re no better than the couples who post too much on Valentines day. You’re just looking for attention, which is understandable because you’re single on a day when somebody should be taking the time to love you more. Look if you’re truly depressed about tomorrow then I suggest doing something that’ll take up all your time like playing a video game, reading a book (non-romance, and I suggest reading the Thurber Carnival), do a Netflix marathon, or as they say on Parks & Recreation: “Treat yo self!” To some delicious food. Don’t think you have to punish yourself or the world because things didn’t work out this year. There’s someone out there who does love you, and I don’t mean your ex leave her/him alone, it’s your friends and your family those connections you have with them are just as valid as a married couple’s. Wish your friend’s who are in relationships a happy valentines day and tell them you love them instead of making a desperate cry for help on Facebook and play it off as a joke. If you’re truly sad and need to share it call someone and they’ll make you feel better because that’s what friends/family is for. Besides you don’t see people without parents bash other people on Mother’s or Father’s day, so take it easy.

This is the first time in a couple of years that I’m single on Valentines day. I wrote all of this above kind of for you guys, but really for me. I want tomorrow to be good and not make my friends feel bad for celebrating a day that they deserve to enjoy. Am I happy that I’m single? I’m okay with it. You should be too. Don’t cause any drama, let’s try to go through with this without incident and then before you know it it’ll be over

Have fun tomorrow everyone and be safe! Love, Brian.