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The Rise of Rhino Comedy Club

A good performance space can mean the difference between a mediocre show and a memorable one. Not all comedy rooms are created equal. I once performed in a hallway, during the day, without a microphone, while a TV blared Days of Our Lives above me.

Every once in a while I come across the total opposite. A one of a kind room. A room with magic! The lighting is just right, the sound system strong, and the atmosphere electric with possibility. This year I was lucky enough to find such a room. Tucked away in the quiet town of Suffern, NY, a mere stones-throw from New York City, lies a very special comedy space. The Rhino Comedy Club. Its owner, Maria Vail Guevara opened earlier this year after months of preparation. There isn’t anything like it in the area and walking in, you can tell it’s a labor of love. Maria is also a talented college theatre professor at nearby Ramapo College. She is my former professor in fact!

Host Joseph Turner, Owner Maria Guevara, and Producer Laz Vic. 

Host Joseph Turner, Owner Maria Guevara, and Producer Laz Vic. 

I was lucky enough to be invited last summer to teach a comedy course and begin producing in the newly opened space. Within a few months I saw the Rhino transform into what it is today, a comedy and theatre venue where artists and audiences alike can come to enjoy art exhibitions, improv shows, musical acts, and of course an amazing live stand-up comedy show, showcasing some of the best untapped talent in the area.

Our first show, “Stand-Up Comedy Headliners,” opened in September and was a smash success. Followed up by the hilarious, “Ladies Night,” series. Audiences have been discovering what a fantastic space this is. This is a new home for comedy and I’m proud to call myself a Rhino. 

Saturday. November 11th is our next Stand-Up Headliners show. We have a great night of laughs planned. Will you join us?

Check out the website: www.rhinocomedy.com

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Laz Vic Wins Meadowlands Comedy Contest!

Hi-Ho folks. What an amazing weekend at the Meadowlands Comedy Club. I just want to say a big Thank You to everyone who came out to see the show. The audience was fantastic.  All the comedians that performed rocked the house and I just want to give a special shout-out to the runner up Mario Lucena who had them rolling. Shout out to Pete Rock who always Rocks. Nick, Craig, Rexon, George Jenkins Jr, and the ref Johnny MCcarthy! If I missed a name its because there was like 12 of you and my memory doesn't last that long! Big Thanks to Joe Loesner for putting together yet another great show!  meadowlands_contest3

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The Apple Geek's Creed

Apple Geek LazMy Macbook is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My Mac, without me, is useless. Without my Mac, I am useless. I must fire on my Mac true. I must type faster than my enemy who is trying to hack me. I must hack him before he hacks me. I will...

My Mac and I know that what counts in this cyberwar is not the ram we install, the noise of our fans, nor the websites we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will get hits...

My Mac is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its i-sights and its OSX. I will keep my Mac clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

Before God, I swear this creed. My Macbook and I are the defenders of my Wifi. We are the masters of our Network. We are the saviors of my life.

So be it, until victory is Apples's and there is no enemy, but peace!

Why I didn't take the Gig.

Hollywood as we know it, is going through a change. I call it the slowly dying a slow painful death phase. The war on cable is being waged and won by the so-called cable cutters who care little about paying for cable and instead opt for cheap, and in many cases, free on demand Internet TV. I am one of those people. Increasingly the entertainment found on the internet is better than real TV and Hollywood can't or won't keep up. With the saturation of reality shows, clip shows, and about 100 horrible TV channels that just air repeats of Cops; you have to wonder what has happened to our entertainment and how this has adversely affected the industry. TV shows used to be 25-28min in length, now with the amount of commercials jammed in, its more like 20min of actual show. Late at night I can't even enjoy watching Family Guy without a huge billboard advertisement blocking half my screen. Family Guy Ad

Last week my very aloof agent contacts me for a "major" audition. A national commercial for a beer company. The "Principal speaking" role paid a whopping $450 US dollars. So lets do the math:

They want me to go audition - Day 1 = $0 IF they like me they will have me back for a callback audition - Day 2 = $0 IF I then pass these two auditions and book the job - Day 3 =$450...maybe That translates to $150.00 per day IF and only IF I book the job.

I'm sorry fellow thespians but to me that is just unacceptable. A national commercial for a major brand used to pay an average of 30k for a year of use. Now they want to pay us bus fare to exploit us on TV, Internet, and publications. WTF?! Some of you may say, "Yea but you'll be on TV"... my answer to that is, BLEH! That is precisely the mentality that is eating up all the good and real entertainment to save a buck. Fake Fame is winning out over Real Talent.

Even though it was a principal speaking role to air nationally they still called it a non-union job. Your kidding right? I think the words, "Contract work" and "Non-Union roles" are now synonyms for Bullshit.

I don't even like beer!

For the first time in a long time I turned down the possibility of work. Call it blind integrity.

Your thoughts?

Last gig on the Mayan Calendar

Stranger than Gig A few weeks ago I get invited to this gig. Its a new show at a new place so I know nothing going in. In situations like this I like to bring someone with me, ya know so at least I don't have to get murdered alone. They tell me to show up at nine so I do. Show doesn't start until ten thirty in the pm. Thats ok, this is a common occurrence in the comedy world. I think I've been to a show that started on time only once...by accident. The producer's watch was fast. I knew there was something strange going on in this place but I couldn't quite put my finger on it yet. My friend the photographer also noted the oddness of the place. The place seemed really nice despite it's location and it seemed almost surreal. As if we were to step outside for a smoke we may not be able to step back into the same magical realty again. Free bud lights and Jello shots were handed to us. At one point the flirty older waitress who seemed overly attentive, walks over to us with a young lady in tow. She practically pushes this poor girl into our booth. As I'm being introduced the young girl smiles revealing her set of metallic braces. How old is this girl? Why is she being flung at is by the wait staff? Is this show ever going to start?

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Friday the 13th - The Blog!

4-Alarm Fire in North Bergen.http://youtu.be/44FJLk7gD2E Che..Che...Che...Blog!

What's up party people.  Its Friday the 13th and I'm just glad its Friday!  Lots of adventure this week.  On Wednesday I came home from work to a huge 4-alarm fire a couple of blocks away from my apartment.  It looked like a war zone with fire, police, helicopters, and what seemed like every news van on earth. They closed down my entire block and you could see the black smoke from a mile away.  Every time their is a fire in my town a large group of people gather like lemmings to witness it.  It's like a morbid block party.  The irony of it all is that my girlfriend just dropped off her expensive suit jacket to the cleaners in that building just a day before. Since they are Chinese she still holds out hope they'll clean it anyway.

I recognized one of the reporters from Pix 11 news and I was tempted to jump into one of the live broadcasts and yell "BABABOOEE!". I noticed after broadcasting these reporters would just stand around in the cold and wait until the next one. Some would pile into the tight news van with their crew and suddenly the reporter's job didn't seem so glamorous.

A lil common sense goes a looong way.

 It seems as though the past few years have seen a slew of comedians who passed away too soon. Patrice O'Neil, Greg Geraldo, and Mike DeStefano to name a few. While living in LA it seemed like every other week I'd hear about another young comic's demise and it was unsettling.  A heart attack, a drug overdose, or a car crash were just some of the many causes of death.  My Facebook page quickly began to look like the daily obituaries.  I wondered if the proliferation of the social networks made it seem like their were more deaths or was the business of comedy just reaching a dangerous new level.

According to Steve Martin's book "Born Standing Up", their were about 100 or so comedians traveling the country in the 70's. Today it seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry call themselves comedians. The competition is fierce and for the most part not based on talent at all. Rather its based on what I call the "What can you do for me" syndrome.

  Comedian: I'm interested in performing at your club.   Booker: How many people can you bring?

The fact is that comedians are getting the shit end of the stick.  Club owners and bookers are getting rich by promising exposure instead of real life dollars. Comics are nervous about pushing for compensation because another comic will just do it for free. The bottom line is we are working and  providing a specialized service that we should be compensated for.  I don't hire a painter and then tell him he should paint my house for the exposure.

I agree that new comics should be hungry for it and pay their dues but that's what open mics are for. While this isn't the only contributing factor to what's happening to these young comics it certainly is the big fat pink polka dotted elephant in the room. Until we demand our fair share we will never elevate ourselves in the field.  Maybe if these guys were making a better living they would have longer lives.

Congratulations are in order!

My good friend Mark Viera just landed a new sitcom on Fox. George Lopez is executive producer.  I wish him all the luck in the world.  It's nice to see truly funny artists making it!

Humor Mill Magazine Article

Beautiful Strange

Signs of LifeHa Ha Stage, LA 2007 was the toughest year of my life. I conquered many personal goals and lost someone very close to me. I over came adversity and tumbled into wonderland. I made new friends and lost old ones. I moved across the country and realized home is in the heart. I don’t know where these new travels will take me; what I do know is that this can all be just a dream.

Mad Visions

I recently wrapped a TV pilot called Extreme Reactions, a reality comedy series. It’s got a great cast including Zak Williams (Robin Williams’s son). Produced for Lion’s Gate Entertainment its like Candid Camera meets Kids in the Hall and we are hoping it gets off the ground soon. Anthony Maddox (Producer/Director) was great to work with; he knows what he wants but lets you find the way there. Check out their website: www.madvisionentertainment.com/

Jet Blue and only Jet Blue Jet Blue

Confession: I am a Jet Blue fanatic. If I have to fly for me there is no other way to go. The other airlines treat us like red headed step children compared to Jet Blue’s service. You not only get 36 channels of direct TV (umm hello) but they also serve (pause) Dunkin Donuts Coffee! The only thing better would be a Hooters Flight. www.JetBlue.com/

Anyway, the point is that I made the big move. I now and for the time being live in Los Angeles. I was pondering the thought of changing this blog to “A LA Comic”; however since I do come from the east coast I shall strike the last thought from the record.

When I first moved here I felt like a fish out of water, which was strange since I am not a fish nor reside in water. After a month or so it is starting to feel like home. I love the weather, and yes it does rain from time to time. I can’t watch the discovery channel anymore because they always have earth quake specials on but I can go outside in a t-shirt. Exploring around my neighborhood, I found a cool little coffee shop, a book store, and a movie theatre. Not to mention and most importantly, a 24hr 7-11.

LA Comedy Nights My first gig was in downtown Los Angeles, at this old hotel called The Alexandria. Opening in 1909 it was the meeting place for the early Hollywood elite. In its lobby it had a million dollar rug and tall marble columns, but no more. It was host to many swanky parties in its ball rooms with its huge stained glass ceilings, some of which are still there. Charlie Chaplin was a frequent guest and made the deals for the creation of United Artists there. It’s also one of the most haunted hotels in America, a fitting place for me to start. I was lucky enough to be introduced by Garrett Morris, one of the original cast members of SNL. It’s a great show check them out. www.downtowncomedyclub.com/

SiTV Laugh Festival SiTV Festival Stage 1I’ve been making the rounds to most of the local comedy clubs. I had a great experience at the Ice House. It was a rainy Wednesday night. On the way there I was certain the audience would be small if not minuet due to the weather. I don’t mind small audiences but that night they were taping the show for a website called Comedy Time. When I arrived the place was packed from wall to wall, not a seat in the house. The host was fantastic and I had so much fun with the audience. I’m looking forward to performing there again. Check out the video on my links. www.comedytime.tv/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To My Father Its hard saying goodbye to someone you’ve known your entire life. You can’t help but search your memories and hold on to them as tight as you can. Wishing I could tell time to stand still or walk back with me for a while. Only now can I write about this. Still the sadness is overwhelming and the pain at the surface. Death changed the way I live.

Thank you for being my father. For all the advice and wisdom you bestowed upon me. For teaching me strength and kindness. For always being there when I needed you. For treating me like a son. For sacrificing yourself for your family. For showing me that life is worth living, to be brave, bold and always face forward. To never apologize for being who I am. You will always be a part of me.

“Life is just a game of chess” PM 1944 - 2007 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Two Thousand & Eight It couldn’t be worse than 2007 because the Giants already won the Super bowl. Go BLUE!!! That was the most inspiring game I’ve ever seen. I nearly overdosed on pizza and hot wings. After the game we ran outside and people were yelling and screaming. Doing flips and hugging each other. I think I saw a dog dancing with a cat. Still today over two weeks later you can walk down the street and just say, “Go BLUE!” and you will get a “Go BLUE!” back.

I predict 2008 will be beautiful and strange.

Today my heart Swings

Inspirational Comedy SetComedy Set Gotham 2011 Sometimes through the most unlikely of circumstances you find inspiration. You’re having a bad day, week, month, year and just when you think it can’t get any worse, God throws you a life line. Yes I believe in God :)

I got this gig in a bar in Bergen County, NJ. This bar is unlike any bar I’ve ever been to. It sits by itself like an anomaly in the middle of a secluded residential area. Just houses all around, children playing and white picket fences. It doesn’t even have a sign, just Bar. So the show starts, I don’t even think these people are aware that a comedy show is taking place. Slowly some people mosey their was into the room and sit down. I’m sitting at a back table, sipping on my ice water, thinking about my broken frig and how I have to get rid of it and buy a new one. How much are refrigerators anyway? Why does it have to have such a long name? Long name means it’s expensive. Shit.

The host announces the next comedian and I notice that this comedian had a half shaven head. Like one side of his hair was missing. So he introduces himself and says: “I’ve recently had brain surgery, no this isn’t a fancy haircut, I had a fuckin tumor! You think I would wear my hair like this!?”

People bust out laughing, and he was funny. I realized everyone has got their problems, its how you deal with them that counts.

I've been encountering lots of interesting people lately. Once in a blue moon you meet someone who changes the way you think and you suddenly remember who you once where. You see what the world used to be like for you.

Engagement ala Sketch Last night I was a part of something I shall never forget. One of my dearest friends who is also a comedian calls me up and asked me to be part of a very special comedy sketch. I was to play a waiter named, “Jew”, yea I know. The other characters were named Mary and Will. In the sketch we all lined up revealing our t-shirts that said, Will Jew Mary……and my friend says ME. He proposed to his long time girlfriend on stage in front of a packed house. The crowd went wild and it was very emotional. I wish them both all the best in the world. They make a beautiful couple.

Needless to say I was the next comic on the show. How the hell am I going to follow a marriage proposal? I mean how do you top that? The crowd was amazing though, they really enjoyed my performance and it felt awesome.

Show Updates Don’t forget to check out my schedule on myspace for shows, events, and more. www.myspace.com/twice77

This Sunday I’m hosting America’s Got Stand-Up at the Laugh Factory in Times Sqaure.