Thursday, February 25, 2010

Luna's Cafe, Comedy, My Sex Appeal and Remote &*%$-Blocking

Not long after I got started with the comedy thing, my friend RQ (not to be confused with my friend "AT" that I talk about so much.  Totally different letters, people) said that I ought to check out the comedy night at Luna's Cafe right down by her place...which is the midtown area of Sacramento.  I gave them a call, and the owner (Art Luna) helpfully told me that local comedy godfather Keith Lowell Jensen (he didn't actually use the godfather part in our conversation) runs their comedy night (Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM), and gave me Keith's number.  I called Keith (who was very friendly and forthcoming despite the fact I was calling him in the middle of his day job.  I haven't had one in so long I tend to forget others still do), who let me know the deal.

The deal is, it's not a traditional open mic night kind of thing at Luna's.  And this is a good thing, for the crowd.  While there's a great appeal (and sometimes darkly sick enjoyment) to seeing someone getting on stage for the first time, it's also nice to know that when you go to a comedy show, you're going to get actual seasoned, practiced comics.  He invited me to come on down and check the place out, and how they do things, and we'd talk about it.  Cool.

So my comedy buddy Vladimir (a.k.a. Fist Officer Vladimir.  That's not a typo) and I went down a couple Wednesdays back and scoped the place.  What a great room!  It's a really small, intimate environment, with a small stage surrounded by tables.  I noted right away that it's going to be a logistical challenge to get me and my chair up on that stage, but it's perfectly doable if we just show up a little early and set things up right.  Turns out that particular Wednesday Keith was out of town, so Vlado and I just kicked back and enjoyed the show.  And enjoyed it a lot!  Got to see some comedians I'd already either seen before or been on stage with before (like Chazz Hawkins, Steve Ferris and John Ross), and got to see some awesome new folks that I became instant fans of.

I decided I'd head back down the following Wednesday, since I was going to be downtown anyway doing my first photo shoot with the amazing Cynthia E. Jones and her magic lens.  So I had my first time as a model (I immediately started demanding things and throwing my cell phone at people), and then we went out for some dinner and drinks.  Time went too fast, and soon I had to rush over to make it by 8:00 PM at Luna's, because 1) it's a small place that I can't wheel around in too well, so I wanted to be able to get an accessible table before they filled up, and 2) I had people meeting me there.  I'd told RQ I was going to be there, and since she's in the neighborhood, she wanted to drop by and hang...both to see me and to see Keith, whom it turns out she used to work with.  Also, I had told AT (not to be confused with RQ, because his initials have a vowel in them) I'd be there, and he wanted to check it out as well...and called during the day to let me know he'd be bringing our pal Chris with him.  So I didn't just need a little space for me...I needed a table for four.

I got there and got lucky enough to find an open table just inside the door.  Keith was there, came over and introduced himself, and we talked a little about what places I'd performed at, etc, and he went ahead set me up with seven minutes on stage in a couple of weeks (that'll be next Wednesday, the 3rd).  Very cool.

Things were getting started, and my peeps were nowhere in sight.  I was starting to get a little edgy.  A text from RQ let me know she was on the way, so no problem there, but what about AT and Chris?  Just as I was sitting there thinking about this, a female voice behind me asked, just over my shoulder, if the seat next to me was taken.  On instinct, I apologetically said that yes, I was expecting a couple of people.  And then I saw her.  Blonde.  Very cute.  Ever have one of those moments when after so many moments of suspecting you might be a moron, you realize that you actually ARE one?  Yeah.  It was like that.  So she went ahead and moved on, and asked another guy a couple of tables away if HIS extra seat was open.  This guy was not a moron.  And proved it.

Forgive the indelicacy, but you know how you know that you've been friends with a couple of guys for a really, really long time?  When they can cock-block you without even being in the same BUILDING.

So, yes, I was ready to be VERY resentful if they didn't bother showing up after I'd turned down one of those "Oh, how did we first meet?  It was so funny...I couldn't find a place to sit so I just asked him if the seat next to him was taken, and now we have four children and a beautiful split-level home in Folsom!" moments that just NEVER happen to me.  My luck on Southwest flights is enough to prove that never happens to me.  I don't think I've ever had anyone sit down next to me who wasn't either 375 pounds (and a dude) or older than Betty White.  And yet, that had just happened.  Why was today different, I wondered?

Right at that moment, there was a guy walking past, heading for the counter at the other end of the cafe.  I happened to look up as he happened to look back.  Our eyes met, and he gave me a look, and he smiled.  I was confused a bit.  Did I know him?  Was he a comedian I'd met at another place and just wasn't recognizing?  Because it was kind of a long look, which seemed odd if we'd never met each other...

A couple of minutes later, I saw him sit down with his friend.  Oh, my apologies...I forgot to put "friend" in quotes.  I have always had really, really crappy gaydar.

So, woah, woah...  Not only had I just had a really attractive young blonde try to join me at my table, but then I immediately got a flirty look from this guy?  Not only did I inspire the gay hit-on, but did so with a guy who was there with his significant other?  I was the catalyst for potential gay infidelity?!  Dude, was I on my game that night or WHAT?  Where did this mysterious sex appeal suddenly emerge from?  What triggered this amazing new power in me?  I can only assume it was the photo shoot.  Apparently, posing for photos and sexying it up for the camera really stokes up a "check me" vibe in you.  Who'da thought?

Eventually AT and Chris did show up (and it's a good thing, too, you tardy bastards), as did RQ, and we all reclined at our completely unromantic table and had an amazing time.  Awesome locals (like the hilarious Mikhail Chernyavsky), and a double-header headliner of San Francisco's Candy Churilla and PAINfully funny George Lopez staff writer Kelly Pryce.  Kelly was working with the audience big-time.  One of the ones she talked to was the blonde.  Who, I found out through Kelly's questioning, was completely single.  Rrrrrrrr.  I actually considered abusing my new-found magnetic powers and catching her outside, apologizing for the turn-away and handing her a ticket to my March 1st performance at Tommy T's, but as the show ended, I found myself blocked in by exiting folks, and she was outside and gone before I left.  Fair enough.  I wouldn't have felt right taking my mac daddy gifts for granted like that, anyway.  They're here to serve and benefit humanity, not my own personal whims.

So tonight I was back out again, solo this time, to enjoy the Luna's room.  Another great night.  Chazz Hawkins was back, Steve Ferris was back, an awesome dude named Khulani Malone that I just did Po' Boyz with on Monday night showed, Nick Pettigrew (who I saw and loved on my first night at Luna's) did his bit and shared a table with me, and I got to see some great new folks, like David Shuber (sp?), Marcella Arguello, and the night's headliner, the VERY up-and-coming, all-over-Cali Sammy Obeid.  And Keith even got up and did a set.  Good stuff!  And I feel bad because I'm TOTALLY blanking on the name of the guy who hosted, who I've not only talked to twice but have now seen on stage twice.  He was awesome tonight.  Great guy.  Clearly could use a more memorable name, but...

Oh, and of course, the blonde showed up again.  This time with a date.  I went outside after the show was over to talk with folks, and I lit up a mini-stogie, trying to position myself where the wind was blowing the smoke AWAY instead of RIGHT AT people, because not everyone likes the smell of cigar smoke.

Guess who DOES like it?

The blonde walked out the door, immediately stepped up to me, smiled, and said, "Mmmm, I LOVE the smell of cigars."

(Insert drawn-out, grumbled expletive and head-shake from me here).

I had time to say, "You have no idea how much I love hearing those words from a woman..." before her date stepped up behind her and said, "Okay, let's go."  And they did.

I sense this story's not over.  Mark my words.

The moral of this whole drawn-out story is this - if you haven't checked out Comedy Night at Luna's, you're denying yourself a fantastic comedic experience.  Keith and all his special friends are there every Wednesday night at 8:00 PM, and after three visits, I can confidently guarantee you a great time.  And if you decide to try it out next Wednesday, 3/3, I have it on pretty good authority that there's going to be a guy in a wheelchair there.  On stage.  Telling jokes.  About wheelchairs.

But if you do show up?  Please...don't hit on me.  Frankly, it's just getting kind of old...


  1. Mike, great stories as always. Sounds like "How I Met Your Mother" going on with the blonde. ;)

  2. Geez, Mike, you always have such great stories...

  3. I'm so there. Good luck with Blondie. Who can resist a funny man?

  4. Oh, and the name-blank I did was the amazing Derek Byrne! Sorry about that, Derek. I was still learning some names back then. Now Derek and I are totally tight. He'll be godfather to my first child if I get around to one.