Friday, November 23, 2007

dalaS hctiB

Oy, muggles... I'm such an asshole... it's been WELL over a week...

And WHAT a week. Sorry I've been so MIA... in that I've been Missing In Action, not MIA as-in I'm an Indian female rap star (which I kind of am, so...)

As you may have gleamed, this past Tuesday saw the third installment of Bitch Salad bow. And what a bow! Does that even make sense? I'm just saying "WHAT a ____" emphatically for the sake of it. God, I'm such an asshole!... And what an asshole! ... I'll stop.

So I fully intended to make some sort of blog advertising that I had nude pictures of some actor or something as I normally do the day-of a Salad, but I didn't even have enough time to do THAT. It was intense.

Anyway - brief breakdown of the Bitches, a picture of them and I and what I said about them...

Firstly, Yerxa - who runs Front of House and introduces me before I go on (because if Bitch Salad is one thing, it's a family affair) - introduced me this evening as "Miss Golden Globes 2008"... which is funny, but a lot of people didn't get beyond it just sounding weird... the singular reason why it's funny is because that Miss Golden Globes 2008 has just been announced as being the unspeakably hideous Bruce Willis/Demi Moore collaboration, their eldest daughter Rumer Willis. Anyway...

Up first of the evening was Michelle Shaughnessy - whom I've known for like ever... well, not forever, but it kind of seems that way at this point... Anyway, it's kind of a habit (not a bad habit, per se, but not a good one either) of mine to talk about how long I've known friends of mine 'in the business' like I'm this 80-year-old former showgirl when in fact I've been 'in the business' for less than 2 years.

But I must subconsciously get off on doing that shit. It's actually nuts. So I pushed it full throttle and pretended to suck back a Viscount Mild (an old-lady cigarette, is my understanding) and was like "me and this gal go back to when we was both hoofers in the chorus back in the depression... turns out we share an ex-husband... OR 5... but alls well that ends well - one day we was sittin' next to each other at the slot machines and we just picked up where we left off..." - I was only sort-of kidding. I actually can't wait until I can say things like that for real. And I know that that's exactly what WILL happen to Michelle and I, specifically. See ya at the slots, Mich!

After Michelle's killer (albeit lengthy) set, I relayed an anecdote that Michelle had told me recently... a 'road story' of sorts that really illustrates the double-standard that women face in comedy... Michelle - whose act is very well-written and deals frankly with a whole whack of sexual topics - was on a gig recently with a headliner who's humour is renowned for ranging from demented to downright distasteful, and after the show, they're told "yeah... the girl was too dirty". A common gripe that female comics hear, when in fact they've been considerably tamer than their male counterparts. That actually gets me angry... and also fascinates me... You could say it angrinates me... much like the Fred Phelps' Army of Christians, but that's another blog for another time (hint: Next week! Yay!)...

Up next was Second City main stage mainstay, most recently seen on CTV's "Comedy Inc.", Aurora Browne.

Love, love, love, LOVE, love this girl. Met her pretty much exactly one year ago when she co-hosted the 'Cream of Comedy' gala and hit it off immediately. So comfortable were we, that - despite specific instructions by the producer's not to go into either her or other host Gavin Crawford's dressing rooms - I full-tilt used her bathroom. BUT SHE DIDN'T CARE BECAUSE WE'ZE JUST THAT FUCKING TIGHT, Y'ALL.

Yeah, she totally didn't know... but anyway - when I booked Aurora, who's a prolific sketch comedian and brilliant improviser, I asked her to do whatever solo piece she wanted to... somehow assuming that every improviser/sketch comedian had such a piece to execute on whim. I was wrong. DEAD WRONG. Well, not dead wrong... turns out this particular night would mark Aurora's standup debut. Which is just crazy. CRAZY! Anyway - it went famously. With guitar in hand, she literally riffed on a story involving feces (bum rain, anyone?) and abortion that would have made Sarah Silverman blush, Joan Rivers faint and well, let's not even talk about what it would do to Phyllis Diller. Whoa.

Anyway - at one point during the show I had made some joke about how I always circulate a memo amongst the comics to exclude any 'menses material' (which totally isn't true... well, that is to say it 'wasn't' true... it's totally getting put in place after this particular evening...), however, despite this rule, or perhaps in spite of this rule, Aurora went there. THERE. And following an impromptu protest by me in the back, she said something to the effect that I was spewed out of my mother's vagina in some bloody cyclone myself or something... to which my mother, conveniently present at this show, bolted up and hollered at me "That's not true! You can tell her you were born by C-Section!"...

And I did. And the jokes on who? Aurora Browne, that's who.

Up third was poster girl for MILF's everywhere, the divine, hilarious Shelley Marshall. I always describe Shelley as "Roseanne" from Roseanne meets "Karen Walker" from Will & Grace... and it's so true.

I entered Shelley to Li'l Mama's "Lip Gloss" - y'know, thinking she was really sassy and peppy and fierce and that song was also really sassy and peppy and fierce and ohhhh it was just a perfect combination. The first thing out of Shelley's mouth as soon as she gets on stage: "What the FUCK is this music? I don't know that fucking song!" Anyway... that showed me...

Shelley powered through an unbelievably tight set, as per usual and earned the invisible trophy of being my momz' favourite act of the night, as a matter of fact. Which speaks well on both of them... I think.

The next act of the night is one of my favourite comics-nay-PEOPLE in the universe... Miss Sara Hennessey...

Sara is the only "Sara" I know who doesn't spell her name with an "H" at the end, I think. They're very hard to come by. Like flying squirrels, or white tigers, or certainly white flying squirrels with stripes reminiscent of a tiger.

I remember Sara first came to my attention - and I can't even believe I remember/saw this, but I do/did - when she was profiled alongside two other 'up & coming' comedians as part of CTV's documentary/news magazine show called W5.

The story was on Humber Comedy School and a young, plucktacular Sara Hennessey was in her first semester, first year.

The show followed these three around - witnessing their pitfalls and getting a lot of definitive, serious quotes like "I know I'm gonna make it... this is my destiny" and shit.

I can't remember too much about her besides that I thought she was very interesting... and they also showed her at the Rivoli one night bombing and seeking counsel backstage from Jason Rouse. And then he pooped on her head or something like that crazy, foxy fellow Rouse would do.

Anyballs, Sara has reeeeally blossomed in the past couple of years. I just adore her style. Anyone who's seen her can tell you - it's conversational, and absurd, yet not crazy. She's very in control but not at all theatrical. It's really hard to describe but I absolutely love her style and her humour and can't think of anyone else I've ever seen like her. ANYBALLS - she killed it! KILLED it! Fucking fantastic and just a delight for me to see ---

Next up we had our running character piece c/o Kirsten Gallagher. This time around: Twiggy. Yes. Coming to dish on the finals of America's Next Top Model, Cycle 9, currently down to it's final 4 (but final 6 at this time last week). And MY OH MY wasn't that fucking timely, what with Twiggy announcing her departure from the show and all... to be replaced by Paulina Poriskova-a.k.a.-WHOTHEFUCK? Yeah. Anyway...

Final act of the night was one of my most favourite human beings in the history of molecules - LAURIE ELLIOTT!!!

God DAMN I love this woman. You'd be very hard-pressed to find someone in comedy that doesn't. She's one of the foremost comedians in Canada - she's won virtually every award given to comics in this country, a mainstay on every television show that features comics in this country and just an incredible, adorable, innovative live act that everyone should see.

Beyond that - she's also one of the nicest people you'll ever meet in your life... I oft - YES, OFT - relay this anecdote about her: Ages ago, back in the bad ol' days when I used to bus up from Kingston (when I was at Queens) to Toronto to do the odd open-mic gig, I did this room called "The Pirate Video Cabaret", which was at Clintons. I think this might have been like my third time on stage in Toronto or something... anyway, Laurie was hosting this particular night, so it was my first time meeting her, natch. I'm sure I talked her ear off and was my typical overeager-nay-insufferable self with zeal shooting out of every known hole in/on my body, but she was just effortlessly patient and nice to me. I was on first - I had never been on first before - and after she did her requisite MC preamble, she introduced me... I'll never forget it: "Our first guest of the evening, I've never seen him before, but I get a really good vibe off of him... please welcome Andrew Johnston!"... I came on, bursting with energy (that was my thing), doing the same 7 minutes that I'd done to reasonably warm reception at every previous open-mic I'd done... and bombed. BOMBED. Wow. My Lai stylez. It was nuts. It was 7 minutes of silence. To get a feel for what that's like, I implore you - tomorrow, corral 3 or so people around you, instruct them to remain entirely silent, set your watch, and go "Blah blah blah" for 7 minutes. Yeah. Anyway...

I slinked out of there feeling EXACTLY like Bridget Jones did from that Tarts 'N Vicor's party in the first cinematic installment of her adventures. [Editor's Note: I was also going to draw comparison to Elle Woods' similar scenario in "Legally Blonde", but she got to deliver a clever burn to Selma Blair's character before she left, thereby redeeming herself. There was no redemption in my case.] Anyway, as I was slinking away, Laurie grabbed me, told me 'good set' (LIES!!!!) and said it was good to meet me. She totally didn't need to do that - God knows I avert my gaze whenever I pass by someone who hasn't done well - but she did. And my little amateur comic self appreciated that immeasurably.

Anyway - that's partly why I love Laurie. Even though she did menses material... She reminisces about jumping up and down on her bed singing along to Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For The Money" (why I didn't enter her to this, I don't know) and then suddenly realizes she got her period for the first time... I let it slide...

Following the show, we went out for karaoke at Crews.

This was made especially special due to the company that accompanied us. [Editor's Note: Could I actually not think of adjectives and verbs that didn't contain fragments of themselves within themselves? My God. I'm going insane. I blame the exorbitant amount of sheep embryos I've been breakfasting on lately, but that's neither here nor there...]

Most especial of all? ASHLEIGH JEFFREY! To the small handful of you who know who she is that read this: YES! ASHLEIGH JEFFREY IS ALIVE! She's married, teaching high school drama in Barrie AND has a fucking KID! NUTS! Ashleigh played the Narrator in the production of "Rocky Horror" that I was in back when I was in first year at Queen's... so nigh on SEVEN years ago this spring. Fuck.

I had been trying to track her down for years, but 0.0 people had her contact info. It was actually terrifying. I thought I would have to hire a private detective whose services had been used by the likes of Montell Williams or something... but, thanks to the wonder and glory of Facebook, we reconnected. So good to see her. SO good. She's fucking brilliant - one of the funniest and most talented people I've ever met... and apparently could have used the night out - she was the life of the party at Crews! Let me tell ya...

Although the official life of the party award had a few people vying for it...

Among them, Dini D - who did me both the pleasure and the honour of singing a revisionist take on Barry Manilow's "Mandy" to me, entitled simply, "Andy"... it was one of the highlights of my year and I'm not even kidding...

Here's Dini D, Me and Kitty stealing the signature armpit pose right from under that filthy bastard Beyonce's nose... and arm pits... whatever...

Other karaoke selection highlights of the evening, if memory serves, came in the form of Heidi flavouring us with "Jimmy Ray" (who wants to know? Remember that song? It was awesome!), me recounting the parable of "McArthur Park" and of course, Ashleigh's rousing rendition of "Groove Is In The Heart".

I would be remiss, however, if I did not make mention of Michael Yerxa's tribute to the men and women of IATSE - the official union of Broadway stagehands - when he took to the stage and delivered a heart wrenching version of "Under The Sea" from The Little Mermaid to them and their cause.

It was magical.


That's about it.

I'm sorry I've dropped the ball about blogging of late.

I promise to not only pick up the ball, but squeeze it firmly and jostle it tenderly-yet-sensationally in my mouth for the yuletide season.

I'm working on some sort of "12 Blogs of Christmas" type-thing... it should be festive... and more importantly, exclusive to those of you who celebrate Christmas. SNAP!


Tomorrow: I saw "Enchanted" and "Sweeney Todd" (the live musical, currently on at the Princess of Whales... not the movie... which I certainly won't be seeing after seeing the live show... but that's precisely what I'll be talking about tomorrow...)

Only 4 Models Remain,

--- Aj