the end of days

well, the end of these days:
you know that day. that endless repeating day that begins at around 10 am. the roommates yelling "you have no love in your heart!" and the sun creeping through your eyelids. you think your way out of breakfast and back into sleep. that day that actually begins at 11:40. the checking of email and bags under eyes. the tired-from-too-much-sleep. the imagining one is self-employed, when in fact, one is simply un-employed. the power walk to the post office and the bank and finally to the cafe for a day of writing, interrupted by that cell phone call from back east.

the bar of sweet gooey walnut confectionary crap and the guy with glasses typing on his mac, telling you about all the other people he talks to who sit on the very couch where you're sitting, asking the very same questions you're asking yourself, that people all over san francisco have asked of themselves for decades… "who am i?" "what do i really want to do?" and "should i get a laptop?" the brief flash of the idea for the greatest reality show ever. the fantasy of selling the idea and making too much money. finding a personal trainer. really never eating sugar again. dating in hollywood. one-on-one time with deepak chopra and/or ellen. renouncing your interest in fame and fortune. adopting the baby from bolivia and the concert with 'death cab' that finally ends landmine casualties forever.

an international peace treaty that dissolves armies in every corner of the earth and sends the money instead to schools and diplomacy and mediation. and art. that day that now turns colder and wetter and windier and darker sooner and begs a nap. more checking of email as the day melts away and you make it out the show, the meeting, the class, the video store. those days are coming to an end.
it seems like only a year ago when i was getting ready for new year's eve 2004. and it began with a bang.. the year of the circus.

the first paid gig at the punchline. 10 minute sets at cobb's. kostume karaoke at the odeon. fighting the landlord for rent-control (and letting him win). four stars from film threat magazine. the pre-cancerous (and now fully eradicated) freckle. the magic bus trip. the buddhist acting class. the new job in Television. the innovation of polyamory, and the ensuing disillusion therof. the myriad stunning self-revelations.
and this new year, spiraling upward, hurddling toward a stillness, triumphantly and humbly making new and better mistakes.

writing that book? taking the class in rhetoric? the summer in brooklyn? the one-woman show? moving to la? positive cash-flow? finishing that damn screenplay? a new and wildly resolute committment to making an utter fool of oneself on stage? or better yet, some heretofore unimaginable version of the future thrusting itself into reality?
PORN-E-OKIE, ODEON BAR, NEW YEAR'S EVE, 2004. five bucks.
so if you find yourself wandering the misty streets of san francisco this new year's eve, you'll fit right in with the misfits of the odeon. join us.

we'll be singing all the karaoke favorites but shockingly all the background video is porn. and it all matches up with alarming serendipity. i'll be hosting the show with chicken, jascha at the door, flash and phoenix at the bar. you'll find us in top form, in heels and bunny ears, in nurse outfits and jail jumpsuits, in boas and bibs, in to celebrate the triumphs and mourn the losses of the passing annum, squeezing as many sins as can be squozen into the last hours of the old year, all agreeing that some particular moment that evening when the hands of the clock are aligned (though many will shout erroneous numbers as we try to count down to midnight), will be the most important moment of transformation, empty of expectation, brimming with excitement.

and that next moment, the one after, smelling the sticky floor of the bar, our hands collectively braced against the peeling paint of the black and red walls, dizzy from too much of something or not enough of another, at once alive with open, delicate hearts in the face of our own future, and frozen, our hearts already breaking in anticipation of the first disappointment of the new year. but not yet. no. make this big new year give you a big fat smooch on the cheek–and then turn your head real quick so she hits you smack dab square on the lips.

the latest show on earth!

the culmination of months of work comes to a head this friday at 8:30 at the odeon…
you heard the talk. the bull-shitting. the fence-sitting. the high-stepping. everyone says it… "hey, i'm-running-away-and-starting-a-circus!" well i finally did it. and i'm still talking to my circus partner ben.
we really toured the country. we read the odyssey. we slept on the floors of anarchists. we gave autographs (twice). we punched a girl in the mouth for fifty cents. we perfected the witty banter. we ate grits. we gained 10 pounds. we drove 6,100 miles. we listened to the postal service cd for three contiguous states. we roped complete strangers into compromising acrobatic positions on stage. we marched in the halloween parade in new york. we deconstructed foucault in chicago. we mourned the election in cambridge.
we inflicted ourselves on the rest of the country to make the best show for you. and now we're back.

be the first to be the last to see the show!
the latest show on earth
at the Self-Taming Lion-Man!
at the World's Tallest Dwarf and the Earth's Smallest Giant!
The Emotional Escape Artist, who can writhe from an iron-clad marriage
The Anorexic Fire-Eater!
at the hilarious gags of Puke-O the Clown!
* PLUS! our Sideshow Obscuro of Post-Modern Curiosities and panoply of
wonders including: The Machina Destina! A mechanical "wish-catapult contraption"
found in an attic from 1907! Massive Al, the largest curd of cottage cheese EVER!
And the Bad Idea Bubble Gum Machine–a terrible idea especially for you inside
every gumball!

We're sure you'll find it the stupidest and most entertaining show on the road today!
Heading up this interactive novelty circus is Dattner, San Francisco underground standup comedian and award-winning filmmaker-turned-ringmaster . this luscious and loquacious verbal acrobat sublimates her exhibitionistic tendencies and exploits her audience in a spontaneous, multimedia extravaganza.
Throw in some original big top tunes, a few old-time movieolas, and a
menagerie of human animals, and you end up with the Latest Show on Earth: a
variety show of infinite array, a panorama of pageantry!

your own personal guide to 21st-century life

monsters. menches. villains. cokeheads. gamers. slumlords. i've seen it all in my short time on this roundish rock. the following are simply some guidelines: 1) disregard some guidelines and go straight to the show listings 2) always keep a flashlight and a pocket knife handy 3) know rhymes about snakes plants liquor and sea-weather
4) discover whether you are "mono" or "poly" (this covers gods and sex as well as glycerides and esters)
5) do at least one thing too much
6) jump
7) duck (now!)
8) attend live performance early and often…
(and go ahead, visit

[i just returned from new york where i had a great set at HA! COMEDY CLUB (featured in the New Yorker, la ti da). my film (with all new audio remastering by lars hidde) is screening sunday in the SANTA CRUZ FILM FEST. it just won BEST COMEDY SHORT in the bare bones international film fest.

fall circus plans persist. book a show ("The Latest Show on Earth") anywhere in the country with sibley meyer…]

double header! this thursday i'll be hosting comedy & chaos at the blue danube and then i dash over to the ODEON where i, the illustrious dattner, host KOSTUME KARAOKE! we provide the costumes, you provide the stupidity. very cheap beer. very much fun. see me in a whole new light (i. e. the dark). you've heard of hit-or-miss. this is hit-and-miss. this is a must. a don't-miss. an every-week-i-am-in-attendance. trust me.

How to Write a Great Press Kit.

Comedian Alicia Dattner's playfully subversive press kits keep audiences rolling in the proverbial aisles. You are as likely to see her typing on a laptop at a comedy club as you are at a local café with a typewriter. Not surprisingly, she plies her trade from the capitol of unconventionality, San Francisco.

"It's a good starter city. Like a training bra," she notes.
Alicia Dattner has been promoting herself almost as long as she has been performing. Preceding her first comedy show at the tender age of 9, she designed a poster with fabricated quotes from top publications like The New York Times and Variety. She's been writing biographies and assembling press kits for herself ever since. Her sophomoric attempts at public relations were edgy and amusing. She once sent a signed photograph of herself to the Queen of England offering advice on a more jaunty way to tilt her crown. Response was tepid.

In college, Dattner became a whiz at Photoshop. She began experimenting with desktop publishing, but found the best results using self-serve print shops. "A very loyal and fastidious costumer" says Kinko's. "She always wants the edges just right. And she won't hesitate to make you print it again, even if it's almost closing time," Office Max raves.
When she's not updating her website or writing to fans on her mailing list, Dattner is hard at work with the thesaurus. She enjoys performing, but prefers expressing herself through the subtle nuances of a well-written blurb to the hype of live show.

Dattner often employs words to describe herself like, "clever", "unique", "irreverent", and "downright silly".
Dattner has thought of and written down funny things to say for The Tonight Show's Jay Leno, The Late Show's David Letterman, and (very funny things to say for) The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. Dattner's future looks bright.

One tell-tale sign of her ascent: in late 2003, Dattner's best press kit, her smile, broke onto the cover of J Magazine with verve and style. Her publicity photographs often win compliments from colleagues who have headlined at San Francisco's Punchline and Hollywood's Laugh Factory. "You don't look fat at all. You look normal." declares Joe Klocek. "Wow, that sweater is sheer." exclaims Robert Hawkins. She's sent her most persuasive press kits, including biographies, resumes, 8 x 10 headshots, business cards, and postcards, all the way to Hollywood's Improv, Caroline's, and Catch a Rising Star.

When booked at one of these venues, she plans to use these credentials in her resume to get more bookings. Her upcoming animated TV show, a cross between Meet the Press and Crank Yankers, is in development with Yumfactory Licensing.
Alicia Dattner may be available for your next press event.

“rough and ready”

i was on the radio yesterday morning. they called at 7 am to promote a gig i played tonight in santa rosa. the guy producing the comedy show was like "have you done radio before?" i'm like "yeah" meaning "no". "it's a hip hop show. we got a 'rough & ready' crowd. you rough & ready?" me: "yeah" meaning "what the fuck does that mean?"

judging by crowd reaction (luckily, there was no vegetable stand next door) apparently i was a little too "smooth and unprepared" for them. i started doing some bits, got a few laughs*, and mainly got blank stares. people were seated all over the room, including behind me, and my spotlight flooded onto these people, so like a substitute teacher, i'm sure i was being mocked upstage in any number of visual ways. it sucks when the people laughing hardest are watching your ass.

you never realize how joke-y your act is until your punchline has been capped with the "wah wah wah" of a black guy sitting behind you. would less people show up if it were more appropriately named "comedy in the round" instead of "comedy jam"? or "do you want fries with that shake"? you haven't really lived until you've had a bar brimming with "rough & ready" ready to rough you up. think blues brother's without the chicken wire, but instead of actual beer bottles they just threw a lot of amateur alcoholic animosity.

the marine recruiter contingent fueled the fire.
it was about ten minutes into my set. i was trying to do bits. but certain crowds don't actually want to hear jokes. they want you to fart into the microphone or talk about how bitches be havin fat asses, and while i appreciate the subtle variegation from one dudes-don't-compliment-other-guys'-balls-like-chicks-compliment-other-girls'-breasts bouquet to the next, i find a similar joy in that ethereal feeling that accompanies the onset of a feverish influenza.

but so i'm in the middle of my set, and am suddenly (sic) struck with an epiphany. i don't have to hide how i'm feeling.** "this is not going well! i am fucking frustrated!" (the crowd whoops). my wireless mic cuts out. "stupid fucking mic!" (woo!@) i brake from my bits, and jump into the audience, roving. they like this.*** the room is dark, and outside the spotlight you can't really see, so now my disembodied voice is all i've got to hold their rittlin-head attention spans. and i let go. "fuck you for heckling me!" "have sex with me!" (to a woman i pretended to hit on earlier) "where's the marine recruiter?" "show me the guy told me to get off the stage!" for about three minutes i had no clue where i was going, i was having fun just being fucking angry.

this is why i do what i do. so but then i thought we were all having such a good fucking time i'd get back on stage, close with my best bits, and leave triumphantly. "g'night!" but as i return to the spotlight and start to say i'm going to take off in a minute, they cheer as loudly as they did when i was in the crowd. by now it's really loud. i'm hollering into the mic to throw down my last bits. they get quiet only when i get quiet. by now they're yelling "get off so we can go home!" but i'm only the first comic in the lineup. i close, and the host retakes the stage. the applause is thundering, but for a differnt reason than usual.

i try to take off after my set, but i have to stick around to get paid. yes, paid. with my sense of self-worth, i'm struggling to affirm i did something worthy of payment. other comics would think "i earned that shit. i should get paid more." not me. [insert jasper joke here]
why do people fuck with you when you're on stage after they've paid to come see you talk, and then afterward come up to you and try to be shakin your hand? "i'm sorry my friends heckled you" and shit. like eight guys from the crowd come up after to apologize for their "friends" who heckled me, pointing at their friends, who then say "who, me?". they were drunk or are in the marines or don't "appreciate your kind of humor, but i did." the other comics are telling me i did a good job, and keep it up, and don't let it get to you, and the booker says he has some more gigs for me, that dudes were impressed i stayed on as long as i did. like i'm riding a mechanical bull. which reminds me, i haven't done that bit in a while.

it's a fine line between expressing yourself and "snapping on the crowd", between commanding the stage and hogging it. i'm not sure which side of that tightrope i leaned toward, but the fall to the cement floor below is only a couple feet.
*but afterward they'd check to make sure no one noticed them chuckling..
**plus, i never have to see these people again.
***they still don't like me, but they like this. 

Standup at the Mock Cafe, Tony Clifton style

A wacky show last week at the Mock, I just have to say, 'wow'. For those of you who weren't there, it was quite an event. First of all, this 'Tony Clifton' guy walks up to the Mock, and is the 11th person there, makes a very big stink because there are only ten open mic spots available, complains how all his friends are here to see him1, and eventually he gets on the list. Before the show starts, all the comics are hanging out in the back, and I sneeze.  Like four people say, "Bless you."  Colin Mahan says, "That must feel like a big group hug." It does.  I love comedy.

So but then 9 pm arrives and about eight drunk (and drinking, and booze-offering) frat friends of his arrive, sit in the back, obviously not interested in comedy, per se, except for this guy's straight-from-the-movie ("I'm Andy Kaufman" I think) recitation of the Tony Clifton monologue (he can't even write his own insults?), which he supposedly first did at a Halloween frat party, and everyone thought it was so clever (and who wouldn't when they're all pissed off their asses) that he absolutely had to make his professional debut as the Lounge Lizard the very night that actual people were also scheduled to be in the same room. 

I won't speak for the other people who went up, but I followed Dan Rothenberg2 (who I'm kind of in love with, but whatever) so but now the crowd is really riled up, and totally blitzed. Some chick in the front is asking me about 'that thing on your lip', which is my lip ring. And she won't leave me alone, so I get her up on stage, and she's taking pictures of me with her own personal instamatic disposable camera, and she's clad in hip-hugging stretchy pants and a revealing blouse, very suggestive, and so Clifton yells something about pussy. And the whole crowd cheers at his dyke reference, so I just start flirting with the chick, which gets more laughter, send her back to her seat, and lead into my bit about how stupid it is that people just assume you're a lesbian when they see you sticking your tongue down a girl's throat. More heckling from the Instigator and his 'friends'… (i. e. more lines from Man on the Moon–I think he brought the script because he talked like he was reading.) 

I don't believe I've been heckled as much at any other show3, which is fine, because I like a challenge, and now I've got motivation to write some nifty comebacks. Oh, and by the way, I think a brawl started during Hoogie's set while I was standing outside. 

1 So but then where are they? 

2 Who, I might add, had decided to take the triumphant spirit of Tony Clifton to the full extent and meaning of why the character was invented in the first place*. At the end of his set, Rothenberg, in a pre-approved move, just started to question what Clifton was doing there, and shouting 'Fuck you!' a few times to the guy, whose mustache was beginning to peel off in one corner. The dork didn't recognize Dan's confrontation as a reference to the 'real' Tony Clifton act, i. e. how his whole act was about confrontation, aggression toward the audience, and the unsureness of whether the performer is really seriously trying to pick a fight, or is it comedy? So Clifton responds with a 'yeah, whatever'-type gesture, and the show goes on. 

3 With the exception of, like, the Odeon, which is more like a "show" than a show, and also a whole other can of worms all together… * If Andy Kaufman was a student of Artaud's Theater of Cruelty, then this guy was the kid in the back of the class pulling on girls' ponytails.

Standup at the Brainwash, circa 2001

     Ok so but then like three civilians filled the Brainwash out last night. Ghost cafe. I hit the open mic after 13 hours at work and also a corporate-sponsored Java One/Sun (TM) Event in which the B-52's played and flexible circus performers patiently ogled lubed up techies ('That's Code Warrior, to you, woman!') uninhibitedly suited in oxford shirts with their own personal company logos (who, i submit, are the real freaks?).

     But so, contextually, you can see I'm in a bit of a Mood when I hit the 'Wash… Tony puts me up just as my fish and 'chips' come off the grill. And I'm going to do the old shit. What have I prepared1 but a half-assed bit wrapped up in a 'yo mama' grape leaf.2 Then I do my bit about giving up asking for advice, and then ask the audience, 'what do you guys think?'. Some people actually answer, and I ad lib… 'some guys are so dumb, they answer rhetorical questions.' So I'm out there, I'm aggressive, I'm throwin' shit down, doin' it the way I should be every time. I'm a little punchy. And it helps that all three people in the audience and that one comic in the corner seem to be entertained. I get off the stage, the Comedy Syringe still hanging in my arm… The wind in my hair, the open road…

     And the next guy on stage leads with '…Alicia: the cutest thing you'd ever want to stuff into a trash compactor.' I choke on my fish & chips. As if 'cute' isn't enough of an insult? And where does this trash compactor even come from? And what's his problem with me even? So but then I'm getting some more ketchup, and I can't quite hear what he's saying, it's garbled, but it sounds like '…Alicia's proportions are like my ex-girlfriend…' and listing measurements like a football hike I think. I'm too giddy to be pissed off; it's just that I'm surprised. So I start heckling him and asking everybody if he said what I think I heard, exchanging looks with Leslie C. and Bobert. He gets off stage, and in a move unexpected by me, Leslie C. springs into action! I don't hear what she says, but seconds later, he's offering apologies and explanations and now I even feel bad for him. Apparently, he thought I was heckling him during my own personal set!

    You see, he was one of those who answered my rhetorical question in the 'what do you guys think?' bit. So it's not funny enough for everyone to get it. So it goes over (or more like under) some people's heads. So it's aggressive and manipulative to trick the audience.3 Maybe I shouldn't do it anymore. What do you guys think? 1 ('rehearsal cuts into my tv time' -s. neilsen) 2 a) 'met this guy who's so dumb, he thinks reproductive rights is when women are allowed to use the copier at work…' b) 'he's so dumb, he thinks analogy is the study of assholes.' 3 But people love magicians.* * Or do they?

Standup… in a “theatre”

     So I'm doing a show at this small venue in San Francisco. It's a special gig because I've been asked to feature with two other performers in a non-comedy show. It's great. I get to include a head shot and a bio I've written for the program. And I get to come in and work up a list of lighting cues, so the stage goes red, for example, when I talk about my sex life. Or I talk about a dream I had and there is a soft window-looking light over my shoulder to suggest the moon… I get to say if I want the curtains drawn or half-drawn, or not drawn at all. I get to pick the music I'll walk in with that's going to get the crowd "in the mood". And I get to pick the music I'll exit with.

     The music that says, "wow, what a show!" or "funny and hip!" For my intro, I choose something from Beck's Midnight Vultures1, and my outro is a classic Pixies song like "Here Comes Your Man". I get to decide if the music starts and then I am introduced and the lights go down, and I walk out and the music stops when I start talking, or if I am introduced and then the lights go down and then the music starts and then I come out and start and then the music stops. I get to decide everything except the one thing I have asked for three weeks in advance. One of the most important components a comedian works with. I don't get to have a microphone.

     I ask the technical director if the mic and the mic stand will be set up later, because maybe she forgot… She looks like she'd hoped I'd forgotten. She's not in charge anyway. Go ask the director/manager/fundraiser/president of the theatre if she remembered your mic and mic stand. Ok. I walk up the stairs and hello… yes, friends are coming. I've already had two weeks of acting class, so I know how these theatre people operate.

     You've gotta grease them up. "This is going to be a great show! No, I understand you can't give any comps. Half price on refreshments? Well, I'll have to try one of those brownies! So, I don't see the mic on stage… Actually, I still would like to use one. Oh. Excuse me? No, it's not a "security blanket".3 It's a prop. I realize it's a small house, but it helps to create the effect of a comedy show. The artifice… well how bad would it sound? I see." We don't speak for a long time. "Ok. I guess you can skip it." The show goes on. No mic. I am a "professional." I do fine. But damn. You don't make it easy. 1 I was only recently informed this album is supposed to be Prince-y. No wonder I like it. 2 I mean butter I guess. 3 Chutzpah!