Just Waiting for this Moment to Arrive
Last Time on Highway 101 My trip to California had to be cut short because reality doesn’t wait. I had some financial business to attend that couldn’t wait. However my last week in California didn’t go to waste. I spent most of my time sleeping and watching T.V.
My Aunt kept trying to convince me to stay and find work there and I was very tempted. Over there I have my privacy, life is a lot slower, and the weather is paradise but alas I didn’t feel it would work out for me. I need the hustle and bustle of New York and I’m not ready to give up my dreams so easily. It was sad to leave Santa Maria again; just the scent in the air reminds me of happier times.
The day I left I woke up early and drove to L.A. a 3 hour trip. One more time I took in the mountains and the ocean along highway 101. I even saw a black bird flying beside me and one more time I thought about the words to that Beatles song by the same name. Before I dropped off the car I decided to pay a visit to Freddie Prinze Sr. at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Burbank. This was the biggest cemetery I’ve ever been too. I pulled up to the front gate where I was greeted by a security guard who gave me a map and instructed me where to go. Not really knowing where Freddie was located I just went in hoping to drive in the right direction. I parked the car next to a curb and just began walking around. I almost took my camera with me but then I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate, no it wouldn’t. This moment was supposed to be private. I couldn’t believe how many grave plates and stones and plaques covered the grass. I walked through an outside corridor and by chance just ended up standing in front of Freddie’s grave. It was located on a wall in a section called the Sanctuary of Light. I noticed that he had fresh flowers already placed on his tomb and so did his Father Karl who was located right beside him. I clumsily made some room for some white flowers I had bought for him and just sat there with Freddie for a while. Someone had hung a little angel trinket over his name and I wondered who had come to visit him. It was surreal to be there, in front of him. He passed away the same year I was born and now here I was standing in this cemetery 3000 miles from home, visiting a person I never met. Even so, I do feel I know him, not as a comedian or T.V. star but as a person, I do know that.
I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in an airport coffee shop thinking about what an adventure this past month has been and how I would miss it.
Meeting Joe Franklin I wasn’t back in New York long before I started doing comedy again. A good friend of mine started to host a show at the New York Comedy Club and he invited me down. It felt good to hang out with some comics on a cold NY night and do a set in front of a crowd.
A few days later I caught up with my producer friend, El Gordo and we met with a production company to talk about the future of our show. On our way back to Port Authority he asked me if I wanted to come with him to see Joe Franklin. I agreed and we ventured up into the offices of the Laugh Factory in Times Square. I didn’t know much about whom I was about to meet other than his office has a reputation for being cluttery, to say the least. When we walked in I could barely see the little man amongst all the boxes and papers riddling the room. Newspapers, Magazines, Books, and Novelties stacked up as far as the eye could see. His desk was an enigma of paperwork and the only spare room he had was carved out around his chair so he could sit and swivel. Two vintage phones sat on his desk with his assistant constantly answering one of them while Joe conducted business on the other.
I immediately recognized his face and thought back to all the times I’d seen him on T.V. He gave us a big smile and gestured for us to sit down. I thought it rude to interrupt him while he is in the middle of business but it quickly dawned on me that his office was never empty and this was business as usual.
In between phones calls he would give us a word or two of small talk and then the phone would ring again, but I never got the feeling we weren’t welcome there, in fact it was quite the opposite. Before we left he graced us with a joke, he loves jokes:
One man complains to his friend that he can never get laid so his friend tells him to lie and pretend he’s someone important like a doctor or a lawyer. Sure enough the man meets a pretty lady and tells her he’s a lawyer. Later on they end up in bed together and the man thinks to himself; “Wow it’s only been half an hour since I’ve been a lawyer and I’m already fucking someone.”
Back on Spanish Television Telemundo invited us back to tape a few more comedy sketches for their morning show. Again with barely any notice I came up with a few quick skits we could pull off. It’s difficult work to say the least because the odds are against me. I have to improvise on national television with no props, sound effects, or post production. It has to be done on a bare set with two cameras on a very tight schedule. Needless to say I think we once again pulled through and gave them what they wanted but I bumped heads with the producer about allowing me creative freedoms. We’ve been fighting a lot lately about the content of the show but the way I see it is if I wrote it I should have final say over it. Maybe I’m to over protective of my work.
Grand Opening of a Comedy Club
The king of nostalgia, Joe Franklin whom I had met earlier in this blog just opened a brand new comedy club in the heart of Manhattan. I was invited to perform a set on the opening weekend of the club which was very nice of Joe. It was a Saturday night and as I approached the front entrance I spotted the producer I work with along with another fellow posting up headshots. I remember enjoying the atmosphere in the air. Spring finally arrived and as the sun set the city became alive with movement. I stood outside for a bit and chit chatted, then I walked inside.
I met a few new comics I’ve never seen before. In particular, this little Russian man who wore a loud shirt and was partially bald. He reminded me of Robin Williams in the Fisher King. He told me he was a calculus teacher when he wasn’t doing comedy or commercials. He mentioned how he lives in the projects in Newark and only pays $642 dollars a month while the people with houses across the street pay a lot more. He regarded it as a great deal and it never dawned on him that living in such a place was bad. He thought they called it the projects because they haven’t finished it yet. This conversation made me realize that life is simply what you perceive it to be. That one man’s nightmare is another man’s paradise.
The show went well although we all wished the audience was a tad more….alive. No worries, that was the first show and everyone was well received. The second show turned out to be decent with a birthday party that came in and they were very lively. When I finished my set I asked Joe if he would do me the honor of signing the copy of his book, which his associate was kind enough to give me. I was impressed that Joe remembered my name even though we had only been introduced once.
Joe Franklin’s Comedy Club is located on 50th Street & 7th Ave, next to Fridays.
Nuyorican Poets Cafe My good friend Victor invited me to be in his music video for his DVD, the Victor Cruz Show. It’s nice to work with friends because that underlying pressure doesn’t exist on the shoot. We had a lot of laughs standing in some playground on the upper west side. A week later I got to see the finished product on the big screen. I headed down to the Nuyorican Poets Café downtown for the premiere. This place has plenty of history to it. It was started in 1973 by poet and writer Miguel Algarin who was also a college professor at Rutgers University. I had the pleasure of meeting him face to face and we chatted a bit about art and theatre. Copies of his book were neatly on display on top of his bar and he perched beside them. The entire scene was already surreal and so I dove in and purchased a copy of this book in which he signed. The rest of the night was just as interesting with performances from comics to an audience mainly consisting of comics.
Victor’s little brother Geo went up and did a comedy set. The kid’s got natural talent and is obviously following in his brothers footsteps.
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