Monday, July 21, 2008

Funny Things in Las Vegas

Hello my name is Cathe, and I'm a comedian. (Hi Cathe). I've played around the country, and I've specifically played the western half of the US over the last 24 years. Some people see me and think, "OH yeah, I know you!" probably because I've dated most of the men in five of those western states, and odd parts of Canada. But, for the last nine years or so, I've lived in Las Vegas- Sin City- the land that the IRS won't forget. My show, "Women in Comedy" ran here for about four years, and featured some of the smartest, quickest acts in the world, including Tanyalee Davis, and Gulden... each will be household names, just you mark my words.

I write comedy. I breathe comedy. I have been on terrible television, and I've been on memorable television. The one seriously consistent thing I do as a stand-up is to assist others in accomplishing that dream. The Las Vegas life isn't friendly to women on stage, unless a pole is in front of you, perky breasts are paid for, or you happen to be Frank Marino. We're expected to talk about our private parts, our sexual exploits- and lack there of- and we're expected to be a size 3 hip with a size Playboy chest. It's very hard to walk that without some recommended stilletos, which are also required and often physician prescribed.

One way I try to push people towards that microphone is by attending just about any comedy show in town at least once- and perform in them if there is a small chance that I can do so. You see, before I moved to town, I was VERY able bodied. I could be that size 3, whom all women hate, and I could get dinner, lunch, breakfast and sometimes cars bought for me, simply because I was on stage. Just before arriving here, my body decided "That's no way to live", and promptly fell into disrepair, like the car you bought the day after the warranty expires. It's not Lupus, but it's like that. It's not arthritis, but it's like that. It's not really anything extraordinary, although most women in Cirque shows have profited greatly from this. My bones simply twist in multidirections, lock, and sometimes pop out of joint. Some people call this a gift in town, but there are only so many times when I am on stage, saying "I've fallen and I can't get up" that it really is funny. As a result, the act I had, which predominantly gave me the appearance of Gilda Radner on speed, had to die a painful death. I had to become a non-physical comic- and that means, I have to write everything I see all the time in a manner that recreates a stage personna and builds an audience, too.

Last night, for sake of description, I joined Tanyalee Davis, (, and some friends to see Rob Little at a fairly new club in the Fremont Street area, of the Fitzgerald Casino. When I first met Rob, he was newly moved to Los Angeles from Detroit. He had done a few open mic nights, in the hope that somehow someone would see him as funny. The guy has more energy in his eyebrow hair than I have after five cappuccinos and a jolt cola. His writing is clean- which means he uses maybe three "dirty words" per set. This is rare on comedy stages at the moment, and I blame the game, Grand Theft Auto entirely for dumbing down our language, and Texting for making it unusable. U no wat I mene?

You'll see Rob on TV, and think, uhm, there's a large weird kid who can't sit down, up there. He's similar to Chris Farley that way. But you'll hear an almost "Is he from San Francisco?" sweetness to his voice because he is a throwback to the little kid in school who always had either a goo-goo-cluster on his chin, or some snot running just under his nose. He comes across as innocent, and nearly Cowardly Lion-like on stage. Over the last fifteen years, his writing has developed well, maturing from just doing jokes about mom, to doing life-long routines. And, he makes everyone laugh- hard. Yet, the only sexual references he makes come from the chat about caring for Seniors, or reliving a song by Carrie Underwood. Just doesn't make that his focus, which makes him so much better than most who attempt Vegas stages.

I will post more about what comedy is, how it works, and why people write well or not-so -great. You'll have new names to check into at your local clubs or colleges, and perhaps if all goes well, you may even see your friendly gimpy gal from Las Vegas waddle on up to do a set. I'll finish with a true story about George Carlin who died just days after I saw his show here. I don't think the two events are related, and George said as much in his act that night.

He show goes: "Two guys met each other in the street and one says, 'Joe died.' And the part that pisses me off, and the part that makes me crazy is hearing the other guy say, 'Joe died? But I just saw him yesterday!' Well, I guess it didn't help then, did it. {pause} Just saw him yesterday? That's the most useless description ever."

That writing and timing was so perfect when I learned of his death not 72 hours later. All I could think was "I guess it didn't help then, did it?" The line of the is the line of his life. See the comedy you can now. Because tomorrow, there may not be that chance. Be the comedian you want to be now because tomorrow, if someone says you died, wouldn't it be better to do it at an open mic than in reality? More on Vegas comedians and stages soon!

Cathe Jones is the author of "I'm Just As Screwed Up as You Are- the Anti-Dr. Phil book", and "Godless Grief". She was a regular at Los Angeles Second City, the Comedy Store, and currently drives from Vegas to LA to perform, while her husband, jazz pianist Mike Jones, opens and is musical director for the Penn & Teller show. They reside in Las Vegas with their 50 rats, 5 chinchillas and 3 cats. Kids not included.

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