These are the instructions on love that I have been told to give you: Love yourself. Love something bigger than yourself. Love something smaller than yourself. Love something the same sized as yourself. Love as a verb not a noun. Not a thing, an action.
Love whoever comes into your path and seek out those for whom your love is abiding. Love without resentment something you both love and resent. Love without anger someone you both love and are angry with. Love your anger and resentment if this is not possible. Love what might be without knowing what it is. For today think of possibility not uncertainty.
Love the absence of trouble in whatever areas your life is trouble free. Love your troubles as they are agents of change. Love the part of you that you love easily with the part of you that you love less so. Love a part of you that is hard to love with a part of you that you love easily.
Love someone older than you. Love someone younger than you. Love someone your own age.
If you are in an elevator send love to each person though the way they are chewing gum is so annoying. Love the person that cut you off in traffic but don’t forget to love the one who let you in. Love your species as a whole. Love a creature from another species. Love someone of your gender. Love someone of another gender. Love a sound and make a sound that others can love. Love a color and put it next to another color that makes it even more lovable. Love something that needs fixing, a cuff or a dent or a dripping faucet. Love an unfinished project. Love your machines. Love your unguents.
When you wonder where to go, go where the love is. When you wonder who to be, be the one who loves. When you wonder why, consider the possibility that the answer is love. When you ask when, know that love does not work in human time. Love is not man-ufactured. Love is an element. Love the earth. Earth and heart are anagrams of each other. Love our earth with your heart. Love with every nano particle of yourself. Love knowing that love begets love. Love in ways you do not understand knowing that loving is your task, understanding is icing on the cake. Very pleasurable. Not as necessary as love. These are the instructions for today, for now. Love now. Love all. Love.Learn More
Beth Lapides Presents: Say the Word: The New America (Skirball Center)
Let me be upfront about this: I am no girl racer. I’m used to people asking if I got lost on the way over. Friends refuse to take road trips with me unless they drive – the whole way. I cruise through this great semi-tropolis to the tinkling soundtrack of honking horns. But driving down Sepulveda to the Skirball on a rainy Los Angeles evening was a hazard taken in the line of comedy duty which I prayed didn’t deliver a cream-pie medal in the ER later. Scattered raindrops smeared my dust-encrusted windscreen, as I battled through the mysterious, ever-transforming roadworks, and displayed my yellow belly to every entitled Westside driver who sailed by in their entirely redundant off-road leisure vehicle, while, ever the multi-tasker, I cursed comedy down to the last fiber of my public-transport-loving being. As the Skirball finally appeared on my left, a suburban mall fever-dream of a high art fortress, I slunk into the underground parking spot near the elevators with that chill cascade of relief you got as a kid when your sister cracked an imaginary egg on your head. Maybe that’s how 007 felt, as he entered Dr. No’s secret lair. Because I, too, was on a mission: to observe some of the best minds in TV and film comedy, live and face to face.
Beth Lapides’ Uncabaret has long established itself on the LA scene as a haven for comedy hipsters in the know. In the Cotsen Auditorium, designed with a deco-burlesque-palace-meets-Star-Wars-intergalactic-mothership-with-a-cousin-in-corporate-events theme, the mostly over-30 crowd forsook the bar, shuffling back to their faux-candle lit tables with good strong coffee and chunky low-fat sandwiches in time to the 80s pre-show music. Ms. Lapides, ever the good host as a self-identified “silver lining girl”, squeezed her multi-layered, evocative story of personal despair in the shadow of “Hollywood double-speak” and “DWC’s” (Driving While Crying’s), into the “New America” theme, discounting that fantasy of a perfect life where we “only choose rainbows” in favor of one in which we view happiness, and the experience of life, as a continuous spectrum. Watching her, one is reminded that good writing is gender blind.
Kevin Rooney, veteran of Politically Incorrect, My Wife and Kids, and Til Death, to name a few, makes it look so effortless. As he masterfully guided us through his potted whistle-stop tour of American history, his dazzling ability to conjure startling, crystalline images prevailed. His coolly sardonic demeanor belies the fury of the talent beneath: his images of Republican “heads so full of holes” they whistle “Onward Christian Soldiers” when accelerating; or the image of a fat kid “like a pond in a pair of sweatpants” inventing the internet, are observations which will shift your perception forever, and force your frontal cortex to work a little while you smile. Moshe Kasher was a welcome revelation to me, but not to the multitude who have seen him on Conan, Chelsea Lately, Jimmy Fallon,or, in short, own a TV screen. His surreal story about a white “Aunt Tom”, an Occupy Oakland protester known as the “Camp Creeper”, with Malcolm X tracts caught in her dreadlocked hair, culminated in a sweetly salacious finale, which critiqued the American pursuit of self-invention succinctly, and not without a little venom beneath the boyish grin. Unmissable. Cindy Chupack’s (Modern Family) straight-from-the-uterus story about re-defining motherhood offered us a poignant picture of true relatedness, while giving us some uncanny impersonations of too-old-to-party eggs and sperm (“You kids go on”) and their Hollywood agents.
Crowd favorite Taylor Negron(Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Last Boyscout, Call Me Claus), recent New York transplant and self-proclaimed “Che Guevara of vegetables”, fresh from the hurricane-torn East Coast, didn’t disappoint with his election year story about generational identity politics, in which he fantasizes about “slave angels who park and sometimes even vote” for him. His charisma and personal connection with the audience are as matchless, as his advice: “If America’s going to survive, America must make a sex tape. If America does not make a sex tape, the terrorists have won!”. Brian Finklestein, (UCB, The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Moth) served up arguably the most ambitious piece of writing of the evening, a dual-world comparison of his life as a “revolting” young man juxtaposed with that of a Tiananmen Square revolutionary. Somehow or other we end up in Tijuana watching donkey sex. How? We don’t know, and we don’t care. We’re just enjoying the ride. Compelling, thought-provoking, and twisted. What more could you ask for?
So, listen up, young comedy hipsters. Those over-30s may be on to something – after all, only smart people survive long enough to achieve oldster status. Don’t let them keep this venue their personal secret. Go to the UnCabaret at the Skirball in February for their next star-studded line-up. You’ll get great cheap coffee, a nice healthy sandwich, and you will definitely learn something about unparalleled comedic writing in all its styles and manifestations. Just get your granny to drive. And check uncabaret.com weekly for show schedule at Uncab’s regular weekly downtown venue.
I give Uncab at The Skirball 8 out of 8 menorahs!
The Pentagon just announced it’s lifting the ban on woman going to the front lines and engaging in hand-to-hand combat. I know this is something that’s supposedly good for women, and something that women in the military want, but it’s something I have such mixed feeling about. Oddly, one of those feelings is gratitude. Because it reminds me why, after 25 years, I’m still so committed to hosting and producing UnCabaret.
The news sent me back to when, years ago, the issue of allowing women on the front lines first came up. I was just beginning comedy career and was performing in what, at the time, was a fashion-forward choice: men’s suits. Partly, I loved the suits for the pockets. Partly, I loved them for the power they bestowed. Partly, I enjoyed the focus on my work which the ease of a uniform provided — much like combat gear.
And then, the issue of women being allowed to fight on the front lines came up. And I started to wonder: Is this where the women’s movement has gotten us? Fighting for the right to fight? I felt like yes, women should be allowed to do everything men do, and I was living proof that, to some degree, things had changed for the better in that department. But I also felt, and still feel, that the women’s movement should have moved us away from war, not towards women being allowed to fight like men. And I saw myself wearing the men’s suits, practicing an art form defined by men, and I thought maybe it’s time to don a dress. That was the actual odd phrase I had in my mind: don a dress.
Then things didn’t happen the way they would in the movie. There was no frenzied montage over the Pet Shop Boys “Shopping.” Instead, I mulled the idea of wearing dresses, flipped through magazines, agonized. Then one night, I followed Andrew Dice Clay at The Comedy Store. I was waiting to go on, watching his women-hating act, hating him, hating the audience for laughing at him, hating myself for hating and thinking, there has to be another way. A better way. I wanted to create a venue where I felt challenged as a comedian but not scared as a human. Where my friends could be as funny as they were on the phone with me. Where I wasn’t lulled to sleep by the rat-a-tat-tat of the gun fire comedy rhythm, where when you did do well, you didn’t kill. When you did less well, you didn’t die. I longed for a venue where instead of a “tight ten,” a locked-in, combat ready set, you could actually play, explore, communicate, experiment, discover, refine. All the things that I knew went into the practice of any art form. All the things I knew were part of the roots of the great stand-ups I so loved.
And so I created UnCabaret. A show where skirted, dressed and even midriff-baring, tight jeans wearing comedians of the female variety were more than welcome to do it slightly differently. Where they weren’t just tolerated, they were celebrated. UnCabaret was very essentially about women. We always loved our boys too. Gay ones, and even straight ones. But UnCabaret is not UnCabaret without women comedians. The show is not the show without the loopier rhythms, the more story based structure, the particular stories, the personal revelation and the fine balance between brashness and vulnerability that every successful woman practicing the art of stand up has mastered. Or should I say mistressed. UnCabaret is not UnCabaret without the particular parade of lovely liveliness that is women in stand-up.Learn More