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By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
It was very, very, very hard. It was like trying to drive Optimus Prime. Making it even harder was the guy who hired me, sitting shotgun, yapping about Faith No More. “They’re a band for the ages, brah. They ain’t goin’ anywhere!” Normally I wouldn’t mind this, but when I’m trying to command a 30-foot vessel in rush-hour traffic on the 405, it’s a little distracting. Oh, and did I mention it was the first time I’d ever driven on the 405? I normally avoided freeways, because my ’72 Nova wasn’t the most dependable car when it came to major thoroughfares; however, I preferred the highway when it came to that giant truck.
Van Nuys Boulevard seems to have a stoplight every 10 feet, which is especially hard to deal with when your truck is longer than the distance between lights. After a white-knuckled eternity, I arrived at the studio, located in a busy strip mall next to a grocery store. I wish I could have waited all night for the parking lot to clear before I plowed through there, but unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. As I rounded a corner — very carefully, I might add — I heard a deafening scraping sound followed by the blare of a car alarm. Hoo, boy. I slammed on the brakes. Faith No More and I looked at each other in silent shock. A glance out the window revealed that I’d basically obliterated the front bumper of a shiny new red Miata, and the license-plate holder lay shattered on the ground. This was not going to be something I could talk my way out of — there’s no way to hit-and-run in a 30-foot flatbed.
As we surveyed the wreckage, an Armenian guy reminiscent of Danny DeVito ran over to the scene and cried out something I’d previously only heard in movies: “My new car!” I stood dumbfounded as he picked up the license-plate holder, which read, sadly enough, “Daddy’s Toy.” He began to sob uncontrollably and, in my head, I did too — for myself. An image of the staff of the American Film Institute and the Armenian store manager escorting me to the city limits popped into my head. My stoner “boss” and I attempted to placate him, to no avail. I saw how much he loved that car in his sorrow-filled eyes, and it made me feel like a world-class fool. That car could’ve been the only thing he ever really wanted — and in a weird way I shared his pain, because all I ever wanted was a paying job in show business.
I sat in the studio, awaiting my fate for what seemed like forever — but after a few calls, FNM guy smoothed out the situation. The production would cover the damages, and the Armenian guy’s car would be repaired. Before I could even explain myself to Tim Reid, Faithy blurted, “Jackass here destroyed a Miata.” It takes a lot to make a stoner turn on you. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be hired again by these folks anytime soon.
So what did I learn? For starters, don’t lie about your skills, no matter how desperately you need 50 bucks. Although I still do lie from time to time in Hollywood (“I’d love to write a show about real estate agents”), it always comes back to bite you in the ass. Also, always get insurance. For everything. And lastly, Faith No More are pretty good, but I haven’t heard them since ’93. What have they been up to?
TIMING ISN’T EVERYTHING
By Elayne Boosler
If you were an aspiring comic in 1977, there was only one road to success: You worked absolutely free seven nights a week at the local clubs for years, and then if you could pull the sword out of the stone, you got The Tonight Show. If you scored, the next day you were either: making five thousand a week as an opening act; or fast-tracked to a TV show based on your act; or drawing in Vegas. There were few TV channels and the business watched The Tonight Show like cardinals watched for white smoke at the Vatican. Cable, specials, comedy clubs and the Internet hadn’t boomed yet. There was only The Tonight Show, and that door was guarded by a white male fire-breathing hydra-headed hunchbacked soul-crushing cartel.
Comics worked on clean, five-minute sets for years, placed somewhere nightly in their acts. Then they worked on six five-minute, backup sets. After five years of free work, a car so unreliable my nickname was “Lucky,” and sleeping under one stolen American Airlines blanket (sorry, AA), my dream came true. I got an audition.
Optimum Audition Conditions: Straight, preferably Midwestern, white guy. Squeaky clean, nonthreatening, boyish. (We used to call them the “blonds and blands.”) Get an early Comedy Store audition spot, between 8 and 10:15, before all fuck breaks loose. Follow a clean act.
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