Life from the Perspective of a Security Guard

Aside


guard

While I’m in between jobs, I got a gig as a security guard. I basically stand around all day and watch people come and go. At a recent post, at a grocery store, who’s name shall remain nameless but rhymes with Galbertson’s, I learned a few things:

  1. The reason kids leave the store empty handed is because, as their moms put it, “You see what happens when you don’t behave?”
  2. Wearing pajamas to the store will never be in the “In” thing to do. No shirt, no shirts, No DIGNITY.
  3. You’d better take a cart or a basket in with you. If you don’t, you’ll eventually stumble back to the front of the store with your arms full of groceries you didn’t intend to pick up but now need a cart or basket to carry.
  4. You can’t tell which employee is the manager? It’s typically the one with the tight pants and brightly colored shirt, carrying a walkie talkie, which nobody else apparently carries; not even the security guard carries one!
  5. No, that donut display is not fresh. Those donuts have been sitting there the last 3 days I’ve stood here. But they’re on sale, so you can’t beat that!
  6. No, I don’t care that you’ve worked as a security guard before. Judging by the grocery cart full of food, I can tell you’re doing much better for yourself now. Why are you even talking to me? Can’t I just enjoy my miserable job in peace?
  7. There are more men than women that buy a bouquet of flowers. Most of the men buying these bouquets always have a guilty look on their faces. Sorry to break this to you man, if you think apologizing with flowers is gonna get you out of the dog house, you might as well give ME the $6.99 you’re going to spend on flowers that your lady will throw away the instant you give them to her.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

Yoga pants are not for everyone. I know it should be obvious, but some things just are not. Yoga pants should come with an obvious label much like a bottle of bleach that warns you: “Don’t ingest bleach”. It should be something along the lines of: “Objects in these pants may be stranger than they appear.”

Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There!


Image

If you have been going to stand up comedy shows or performed on them often enough, eventually, you will see and hear things that make your butt cheeks tighten up and make you wanna say, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!” Well, allow me to share a few of the moments I have been privileged to witness. Disclosure: Once you start reading, you can’t look away. Okay, here we go:

1. At an open mic, I witnessed a young man take the stage and proceeded to freeze. Nothing came out of his mouth. He literally took the mic and looked out at the audience and said nothing. I don’t know if it was stage fright or if this was his “bit”, but this “bit” lasted almost 10 minutes! He just stood there… I think maybe he uttered a word or two, but they certainly weren’t memorable. The audience felt tense for the guy. We all waited for him to say something. Anything! But, nope, it didn’t happen. His 10 minutes were up, he said “Thank you” and got off the stage. I’ve never seen the poor kid up on stage since…

2. At a regularly booked show, a comedian’s set wasn’t going particularly well and he was beginning to get heckled by a couple that took issue with one of his jokes. In an attempt to “riff” (engage the audience in a monologue), the comic dug himself a deeper hole. As the minutes wore on, the couple got louder and the jokes were no longer jokes. The comic tried his hardest to win them over but it didn’t help that the comic just got more insulting and less funny. At the end of his set, the comic tried to make amends with the couple and was completely ignored. That was tough to watch…

3. During another paid gig, a comic took the stage and started off well. Within about 15 minutes, the wheels started to fall off. All of a sudden, the material went a little “blue” (a term used to describe toilet or sexual type humor). The audience was no longer digging the material and the laughs suddenly stopped. Feeling the tension, the comic proceeded to scold the audience for not laughing, (not a good way to win an audience over). The comic ended his set 10 minutes shorter than what he was scheduled for. I watched, staring at the floor hoping I would become invisible…

4. A few years ago, during a weekend show at a comedy club in Arizona, the headliner took to the stage after the first two comics tore the room up! The comic had a “low key” style of delivery and, for the most part, had good material, but on this night, the audience was already used to the high energy of the first two comics. Well, that didn’t result well for him. The comedian started out well enough, but within about 20 minutes, the room started to slowly clear out. People were leaving. That has been the hardest thing to watch. The comedian made up for it the next night and performed an amazing set! But, what a price to pay…

Stand up comedy is like that. It’s not pretty. Each of the four incidents I described above will happen to every comic. If you’re in stand up comedy, and some of these things haven’t happened to you yet, well, you just haven’t been in the business long enough. If you are in denial about the reality of stand up, quit now.

Humility With a Name Like “Iggy”


I don’t consider myself a professional stand up comic yet. I’ve been in the business for 7 years now, and in that time have earned well over…six hundred bucks. I know a little more than the comic who has done it for a less amount of time but I have a TON more to learn.

Comics are self centered. Some comics won’t even take advice from others and certainly not from comedians who haven’t been in the game too long. Sure, we would all like to get advice from people like Louie CK or Jerry Seinfeld or Ralphie May, but those opportunities may never present themselves. There have been times where another comic will ask me for advice and I’m only happy to share it. I may not know a lot about stand up but what I do know, it is my pleasure to share.

Two years ago, I saw a guy perform  at an open mic. The guy killed and had great jokes! None of them were hack and I could tell that the guy knew how to actually write material. He not only got the laughs, he did it in front of a bar audience. There is no tougher crowd than that! After the show, I went up to the new comic and asked him how long he had been doing stand up. He responded with, “This was my first time.” That floored me. I had to give credit where credit was due. I told him, “If you can do that at a bar, (make them laugh) you will kill them at a comedy club.”

Since then, I have been working with him at other bar shows and events around town. In that time, he has never thought that he was more than he was. He has remained humble and committed to the stand up craft. He will often times ask me for advice and I share things with him that seem mundane but are such an intricate part of the business. The best thing a fellow comic can do is help pave the way for those that are treading on ground that they’ve already walked on. I’m not “Headlining” material yet, but I have Emcee’d shows and I have Featured at comedy clubs, and the things I’ve learned are things that others have taught me. In this profession, everyone wants to stand out above the rest with little to no help, while others realize that to stand up above the rest can only happen when you help others to do so as well. That is quite a contrarian way of thinking, but it has it’s purpose.

This week, the comic I’ve been writing about will Emcee for his very first time at The El Paso Comic Strip. This will be his first professional gig. He has been working his set at all the local open mics, at bars, at school gymnasiums, at restaurants, at private parties, at charity events, at coffee houses, you name it! He has earned this opportunity not just by being funny, but by humbling himself to the advice of others.

He refers to me as his “mentor”, but he has been my mentor as much as he considers me his. I’ve learned from him just as much as he’s learned from me. Ask for his advice and he will be quick to invite you over to his house for beer and a joke writing session. I’ll be there on his first opening night and I will be there for his first Feature appearance and I will be front and center at his first Headlining spot.

Congratulations, Iggy! Kill em’!

How Many People Do You Need to Have a Good Stand Up Comedy Show?


Image

The answer to the title of this blog is, six. Yup, that’s all you need. At least, that’s all I needed.  Last night was my Headlining debut at a local El Paso, Texas bar called Coconuts. The promoter has run that show for over 3 years now, every week on Tuesdays. For the most part, the place is typically full of people on Tuesday’s Comedy Nights. On this night particular night, however, the NBA playoffs were going on and a well known rock group was in town to perform at another venue. The bar had at least half the size that we had grown accustomed to. As the NBA games were finishing and as showtime approached, the place got a little emptier. The show, however, must still go on.

Our host for the evening took to the stage and did his best to set the mood. He immediately had to deal with a drunk heckler who was relentless in shouting out what she thought of the show so far. Our host dealt with the distraction well enough to move on. By the time he introduced the first comic, more people were beginning to leave. Our first comic did his thing and plugged along despite very little reaction from a crowd that seemed distant and unamused. Like the professional that he is, he earned his laughs and never wavered from doing what he has been perfecting for so long. The comic ended his set with a smile on his face and left a few smiles in his wake. The seats, however got a little more empty.

Our feature and promoter then took to the stage and took complete control, as he has always been able to do. This was his room. He had tamed this room every Tuesday night, every week, for 3 years and has perfected the task. On this night, considering that the crowd had now dwindled down to six people, he finished his set quicker than usual and got off the stage leaving a good vibe in the room. Now, it was the Headliner’s turn…me.

By the time my slot came up, there was absolutely no one sitting in the tables in front of the stage. Several other local comics had shown up and occupied the stools at the end of bar and were doing their own thing. I never count them as audience members anyway. After all, they’ve only heard my jokes over a 100 times. Along the front of the bar were six people; two couples and a pair of buddies who had been there for the entire show. Before I was introduced by the host, I grabbed the mic stand off the stage and placed it right in front of the bar in the area where all the empty seats were. If the front of the stage was to be empty, I was going to move the stage to an area of the bar that wasn’t. I had no opening joke. There was no need for one. I simply started out by saying, “I’m performing for you six people today. Ignore the guys at the end of the bar. They are all comics and don’t give a crap about what I’m going to say so, let’s see who we’ve got left? We’ve got a couple here at the end. Are you all a couple or just touching pee pee’s? Oh, hooking up? So, you found each other on Craigslist or Mocospace? Cool. How about this other couple? Oh, married five years? Wait, your husband just got out of prison after two years, so you’ve technically been married for three years? Were you married to some dude in prison or was your lady here really patient? And here we have our third couple. I see that you are sitting next to each other with a “buffer” stool in between, so you’re not gay, right? You know, this place only has one urinal and no “buffer” urinal? It made it very awkward when I went in there and peed at the same urinal with another dude that was in there. I think he left?”

None of these lines were comedy gold by any means, and most of it was hack, but we were all having a conversation and, rather than heckle, they were all having a conversation right back with me. Every now and then, they would mention something that led me right in to one of my prepared jokes and the whole thing seemed like I was thinking it up right on the spot! It took a few minutes, but before you knew it, all six of them were laughing hysterically! After about fifteen minutes I said, “I think this would be a good time to end the show.” They didn’t let me. They actually said, “No, no! Keep going, keep going!” So, I kept going… for the first time in my seven years of doing stand up comedy, I had reached my audience on a personal level. One of the six had just gotten out of prison, one claimed to have been a stripper, one was unemployed, one was there just to “hook up”, one was there as the patient prison wife and the other was a computer programmer enjoying the laughs. I had gotten to know each of these individuals in the way a comic usually doesn’t get a chance to. That night, I was their friend and they were mine. And they let me talk. They let me perform. They let me entertain them.

They did more for me than I could have ever done for them. They laughed with me…

Omar’s Patreon Site. Pledge your support!

I’m a Horrible Blogger


Image

I haven’t kept up with this blog as often as I wanted to. As a comic, the wheels in my head do turn on a regular basis but often times, they only turn is small spurts. Unfortunately for me, they never turn when I want them to! My head is constantly filled with joke ideas and premises, but unless a punch line suddenly comes to mind, those ideas and premises are soon just gone. Here are some of those thoughts. Keep in mind, these are just thoughts, no punchlines have been even remotely explored:

1. Most movies could have ended within the first 5 minutes. (Now I just need to think of some movies that could have easily ended that quickly. Like The Karate Kid. That movie could have ended when Daniel’s mother tells him they’re moving to California, then Daniel announces, “Mom, my girlfriend is pregnant.” Boom! They never move and he never gets picked on and never learns karate.)

2. Press conferences in sports are boring because they use the same old repeated answers. I’m trying to come up with a different situation where press conferences, using those same responses they use in sports, may be funny. This is what I have so far:

Press conferences in sports are boring. They always say things like: “We have to come together as a team.” I thing it would be more interesting if those same answers could be used in a press conference after sex: “You were a little premature today and that cost you. Any thoughts on that?”….”Well, I now realize that as a team, we have to come together.”

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you’re reading this, I would LOVE your feedback and suggestions!

It’s Over…


Image

I am seriously considering leaving Facebook. I’m slowly starting to realize that, far from being a promotional tool to get the word out on my stand up comedy journey, Facebook is nothing more than a public stage open to anyone and everyone. How in the world is someone supposed to get noticed that way! I’m trying to do something that very few people can do, and that’s stand up on a stage, where 100% of the audience’s attention is on me and no one else. Their ears hanging on every word that proceeds out of my mouth. I’m alone up there and my voice is the only one that can be heard creating all the laughter in the room. No one there is laughing at anything else. When I’m up there, it’s all about me, me me!

Let’s face it, that is exactly what Facebook is. We login and read the Newsfeed, which is filled with countless of posts begging us to “Like”, “Share” and “Comment”. There is also a barrage of posts including funny quotes or lines that are often times not original. I think that’s what annoys me the most. Try this, next time you see a post with a funny joke or quote, which the person seems to be taking all the credit for, cut and paste the entire line to your Internet browser and watch how often it is duplicated as a search result will discover several sites containing the same line! What’s even more frustrating is that when other people comment on those posts, the person posting it continues to take all of the credit! Comments such as, “Oh Paul, you always make my day with your hilarious posts! How do you come up with them so often?” Then Paul will reply, “It’s not easy but you’re very welcome!” UGH!!!!!! Cutting and pasting IS VERY EASY!!! I hate to sound like an attention whore, but honestly, at least for me, if I am trying to stand out and represent myself and what I do as a stand up comic, then I need to think of original ways of doing so. I can’t rely on a social network where originality is thrown out of the window. Succumbing to the temptation of visiting my Facebook makes me no different than everybody else. I can’t keep doing that if I hope to one day create a following that admires me for what I do and how I do it. Yes, I’m looking for that admiration but even more so, I’m looking to STAND OUT in a day and age where everyone else already does….

Signed,

The Underdog Comic

Rape Jokes…Do the Two Words Really Fit Together?


Image

ImageThis past week, comedian Daniel Tosh was blasted for using material having to do with rape. A member of the audience interrupted Daniel’s set to say, “Rape is not funny!” Daniel Tosh then began his rebuttal of the heckler. He went on to say something to the effect of, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this lady got ganged raped right now? Like, right now?”

Upon reading that, you may feel the Daniel went too far. I personally don’t. He attempted to deal with a distraction that he had not planned for while doing his set. As a comic, you do the very best you can to control the situation only to ‘smoothly’ transition back to your act. The art form that is stand up comedy is supposed to be as uncensored as possible while maintaining an air of quality and talent. There is no denying that Daniel Tosh is a hilarious and great comic, but even a great comic can fall prey to having a joke completely backfire. This is the curse of all stand up comics. We try new material on a regular basis and sometimes push the envelope to touch on issues that no one dares speak publicly about. Yet, somehow, a good comic can take even those sensitive issues and share the lighter side of things. Sometimes, we fail and a joke goes terribly, and when you add a scum of the earth heckler to the mix, it can turn ugly!

If you go to a stand up comedy show, be prepared to hear the worst. Be prepared to see the comics on stage bring out the ugliness that makes us do what we do. Be prepared to either relate, identify, sympathize or empathize with us. Be prepared to hate a few jokes, like a few joke and LOVE a few jokes. Be prepared to be taken on a ride that you would not otherwise be taking if you weren’t at the show. Above all, be prepared to sit down, SHUT UP and be entertained! Remember, NO ONE IS KEEPING YOU IN THAT SEAT THAT YOU PAID FOR! Get up and leave if you don’t like the performer or the content. A comedy show is NOT you’re opportunity to be heard! The performer has earned the right to be heard because of all of the blood, sweat and tears they have had to endure to be able to grace that stage! It did not come at a small price!

Look back at any stand up comic’s controversy that you’ve seen on the news and you will find that, inevitability, there is ALWAYS a HECKLER at the root of the problem!

Remember Michael Richards, (who played Kramer on Seinfeld), and the whole racist tirade he went on a few years ago? He did what he thought he could do to deal with a heckler, but it went horribly! He should NOT have had to deal with that distraction! He is a performer that people paid big money to see. Why would anyone want to ruin it for everyone else in the room? That’s exactly what that heckler did. Why are those pieces of scum not made to face the same retribution from the public? They are more to blame than anything that was said on stage! Just once, I’d like to see one of those maggots sued by audiences for ruining what was supposed to be a night of entertainment and laughter. Just once!!

Look At Me!!


me

When a comic gets asked, “Why did you want to do stand up comedy?” The majority of the answers you’ll read will be, “I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh.” And to that, I’ve gotta say “B.S.!” Although that is a nice “pie in the sky” answer, it comes no where near the real reason. I will admit, my answer to that question cannot be meant to apply to EVERY comic, but I believe my answer is perhaps the most honest approach to that question. As a comic, who tries to share real life experiences with complete honesty, I would think you would expect nothing less from me. So, why have I chosen to do stand up comedy? Here it goes…

I do it for the attention. I do it because I enjoy when all eyes and ears are on me. I don’t seek this attention in any other setting. At the workplace, or at a party, you’ll swear I’m the most quiet individual. I allow others to get the spotlight. I don’t try to stand out anyplace else. But, if I am to be recognized for anything, I want it to be for something that no one else, or very few people can do. Yes, I appreciate the laughter but more so, I enjoy making a room full of complete strangers take notice of me. I enjoy them identifying with the words that I’m saying and I enjoy watching the affect I have on them with the orchestrated way I have put my words together. Knowing that I have planned out my set in a strategic way and watching the resulting laughter is exactly why I do this. The crowd watches me hit the stage and I know they’re thinking, “I dare you to make me laugh!” Then, within a few words, BAM! They’re mine! They’ll hang on each word until I tell them I’m done. You will never understand the rush that comes from that until you’ve done it. It’s not only on the comedy stage that you can accomplish that. Do it in everything you do that no one else can claim to do better and you’ll understand exactly why it is that I have chosen to do what I do. I’m seeking the admiration of the audience, the respect of other comics and more significantly, the satisfaction of my own selfish nature. I’ll go days giving others the spotlight they seek, but when it’s my turn, when the spotlight is on me, when the words from the PA system say, “Please welcome to the stage, Omar Tarango!”, that is MY moment and I’ll be taking you on a ride you’ll be glad you got on. And when I’m done, all I want is to be remembered as the comic who deserved and earned your attention…

Hacks, Stealing Material and Carlos Mencia


Image

What is a hack comic? Simply put, it is a comic who chooses to use the “same old” topics that have been used over and over again by other comics in hopes of getting an easy laugh. All comics fall prey to this. It is the comic that recognizes the hack premises and immediately dumps them, that will eventually grow and succeed. It’s all part of the learning process. So, although it may be really easy to pick on the Kardashians, it is simply too overdone to continue doing it!

Many famous comics have been accused of stealing other comics’ material, and while I completely detest the practice, I have got to play the devil’s advocate on this. It used to really upset me when I heard, as most stand up comedy fans may have heard, that Carlos Mencia regularly steals jokes. The problem is, some of the jokes he was accused of stealing were jokes that were really easy for anybody to come up with! Does this mean he’s not a talented and funny comic? As a comic, I dissect the methods and strategies used by comics. For me, it is the comic that completely pulls me in unexpected directions, that I really admire and try to be like. I feel that’s the case for every audience when they have chosen to follow any comic of their liking.

Let’s get back to Mencia. As a comic, I recognize that Mencia has been performing for many years. He has performed in front of bar audiences, quiet and subdued audiences in charity events, audiences that were less than friendly, audiences that were more interested in drinking than to listen to the guy on stage with the mic, audiences that preferred to watch the sporting event on the bar’s TVs than to deal with the talking distraction in the spotlight, and other audiences too various to mention. He has endured the horrible experience of completely bombing on stage. He has had to endure the unrelenting heckling that can throw any comic off their game. He has offended people that did not understand his humor and those people have let him know about it. He has had to endure the negative comments of people around him that try to hold him back. He has even had to hear those same negative comments from those people he considered to be friends. He has put up with having to pay a fee to get himself on stage. He’s had to pay for his travel and finance his hotels before anyone knew or cared who he was.

Yet through all of this, audiences took notice. They liked him. They appreciated his humor. They wanted to hear more from him. He was THEIR comic! Do you think he did that by stealing jokes? Do you think he got there by being unoriginal and a hack? No. He didn’t. He put in the work and can now enjoy the fruits of his labor. To every comic that has reached that successful point in their stand up career, I salute them. They did it. Audiences are not stupid. They recognize original talent and they reward it with their undivided attention…

The Long and Winding Road


Image

In the world of Stand up Comedy, you can literally write tons of new material and maybe only a few of those jokes survive! I recently wrote 10 minutes of material and only 25 seconds of it made the final cut! It’s a long road, but the laughs are worth it!

I personally like to write down some of my material as a Facebook status update. Depending on the responses I get, I can gauge whether or not I want to keep working on them. The following are just a few of some of those status updates. Some of them have made it to my act and others are still sitting on the back burner. What I really enjoy about this process is that some of these bits will actually evolve into a great bit that only leads to other great bits. I hope you enjoy them! And remember, you can go to my Facebook fan page and ‘Like’ it to keep up with whatever I’m writing at the time….

 A new billboard sign in town reads, “You Text, You Drive, You Crash”. How about adding, “Reading Billboards Won’t Help Either.”

Found a condom wrapper in my teenage son’s backpack. I don’t know whether to be upset that he’s having sex at an early age or jealous that they’re Magnums.

“Why can’t I buy a car? Your commercial said you accept Bad Credit.”…”Yes sir, but you have crappy credit. You need to improve your score by 200 points to have Bad Credit.”

I have dreams of becoming famous. I also dream that a giant tomato eats me….

Big Brothers of America has canceled my participation. Apparently, my assigned little brother did not appreciate the teasing, wedgies or bullying.

Having a cold for longer than a few days can make a person so paranoid that they start thinking crazy stuff; “Crap, this is EXACTLY how Magic Johnson found out he was HIV positive…”

As a Christian, I know I’m not perfect. I believe in the rapture, but as a stupid teenager, I sure wish I hadn’t thought the things I did….(under my breath) “Please, please, please, don’t come for your people today. This girl thinks I’m YOU!”

I just now realized why the Flinstones were happily married for so long. Twin beds…