So, I have been going to the El Cid Restaurant’s open mic every Monday night for the past four weeks. It’s in a neighborhood where some of my favorite people live and the first night I went I just immediately loved the vibe. It’s a variety show of mostly stand-up comics and solo musicians, but sometimes you get a duo (like the adorable Quote Unquote, a teenaged boy/girl duo, who will likely have to change their name because there’s already a QU that’s a band, which I discovered upon googling for a link to show you. Oh well, these things happen), and there was a band as the featured performer last week. (Feature starts at 8pm and does 5 songs. This is my immediate goal with this open mic and my regular attendance). (I’ll keep you posted).
Sunday my phone pinged with a text from my pal & Stand Up! Records labelmate, very funny man Adam Quesnell! He was in Carlsbad without certain amenities or friends and so I decided to be a hero: drive and deliver. But hey, he should come to the El Cid open mic! So around 1pm on Monday afternoon, I started the trek down to Carlsbad from the Los Feliz area, where I’m currently housesitting my newly divorced friend’s sexy bachelorette pad (but I’m not putting my Tinder on discovery mode just yet). A few hours later after some errands and cliff-sitting above the ocean (because it’s fucking Carlsbad. You gotta. It’s free, nature-provided amazingness), Adam was ready for the U-turn and drive right back up to the neighborhood of Los Angeles in which I’m housesitting to get on stage at El Cid.
We settle into the booth in the back, house left. That’s the booth in which I’ve been sitting for now the past 4 weeks. I am moving in to this place, people. I mean, take a look at this stage:
Okay, maybe that’s not the greatest photo ever, and obviously I’m like the last person to discover how great this place is. The Monday night server has been and is again this night Mark, a lickable man in his late twenties or early thirties, with whom I’ve created a nice rapport. And even the host of the open mic, whose name is a mystery to me because I don’t think he’s ever said it (I secretly hope he’s someone famous and that I have no clue who he is because sometimes I feel like *not* knowing who somebody is makes you cooler, like you have bigger fish to fry), even the host seems to have taken a liking to me. A few of my narcissistic exes I’m sure would say it’s because I’m a pretty young thing, but I like to think it’s because I’m funny and fun to have around. And pretty.
In front of our booth is a table which is situated a little too close to the booth for comfort, and there sits a middle-aged (handsome) man by himself. Adam and I settle in, I order a sangria because it’s delish. And middle-aged handsome man turns around and starts to talk to us because, as we find out right away, he’s a brand new stand-up comic, only a month into his journey. I invite him to our table because I can tell he wants to come sit with us and because I’m a sucker for a lost little boy who needs a mother. What? Edit that out later, McClean. Anyway, for protection of the innocent, let’s call this dude Dennis.
And from there, the night got loosely wacky. Mark spilled twice at our table. The first time, it was the salsa for our chips that came sliding off his tray. Salsa sprayed Dennis and spotted his suit lapel. Oh, did I not mention he was wearing a suit? The second time, Mark spilled water right in Adam’s lap. Both these spills happened before the show started. Mark was clearly and genuinely shaken and angry with himself for spilling – twice, no less – and didn’t make us pay for our chips & guac and my two sangrias.
I went up third (see? Told you the host likes me), so I was the first of me, Adam, and Dennis to go on stage. I debuted a brand new song called, for now, “If You Ain’t Gonna Tap It.” I stumbled on some lyrics; I really need to wait on the sangria before I go up unless it’s a song I know backwards and forwards. But Host gave me props for doing new stuff, so, that’s cool. By the time it was my turn to perform, a comedian friend of Adam’s had stopped by to see him, and they were not at the booth when I came back, so it was just me and Dennis.
Eventually Dennis got called to the stage and Adam, who I had visually located almost immediately after losing him, returned to the booth while his pal got a drink or something. And we watched Dennis’ set. In which he started talking about how he looks good in his suit. His salsa-stained suit. (Unfortunately, the suit was actually too big for him, especially in the shoulders). Then he nervously, but with a subconscious earnestness, laid on us a series of one-liner jokes about suicide and how his life is the worst. “I’ll tell you, gang…” He kept calling the audience “gang.”
Dennis returned to the booth and I gave him a sideways smile as I pretended to be really into the show. Sigh… I couldn’t blame Adam for keeping away from the table (and not that that’s what he was doing; he did have a long-lost pal there), but I invited this guy to sit with us because he looked like a normal guy (so do serial killers tho) and he ends up being a guy who simply doesn’t have enough awareness (yet) to be funny. I asked him if he thought about suicide; if what he joked about was real. He was like, “no, it’s the routine.” I said, “truth in comedy, bro. Write what you know. You were bumming us all out up there.” He seemed to take it well, and I hope so; I meant it to be helpful. Not everyone’s receptive to my unsolicited constructive criticism, but I guess I give it because I secretly want it myself. It’s not a secret. Please criticize me constructively.
And then dude starts sitting closer and closer to me through the next comic or two, with his arm closest to me resting up on the back of the booth, so the closer he gets, the more “cradled” I can be. But, of course, I’m me, so I just move the fuck down. I moved down twice (because he moved closer after the first time). Ugh.
Finally, Adam goes up and screams at the room to break up the stale energy that had been created via some too-chill music acts (didgeridoo was there, friends, I’m not kidding), and he got it flowing again. Then we took off after his set and a short back-and-forth between us about leaving the tip. Adam had planned to pay for the meal with his business credit card, but since Mark comped our meal for the spills, he wanted to instead take care of the tip, but couldn’t put another $10 on top of my $10, I mean, we only had chips and salsa and two sangrias. Anyway, I left the tip and we said goodbye to Adam’s friend (who I think was named Josh), and we were on our way back to Carlsbad.
I’ve driven the 5 freeway from the 55 so many times in my life, since I grew up in Orange County and went to college in San Diego, it goes by really quickly for me. So, we were already almost all the way to Carlsbad when Adam realized he left his credit card at El Cid. And we had medicated ourselves enough that he looked at me like I would seriously drive him back to Los Angeles, another 3 hours round trip, and I seriously considered it for a moment because it seemed we had no other choice. Luckily, I’m no spring chicken: “uh, can you look into a train first?”
Adam called El Cid and they were closing in 20 minutes, so we wouldn’t have made it back in time, even if driving back was a real consideration (it was for a second). So, after he panicked for a few minutes and we talked about taking the train up tomorrow, or should I just pick it up and drive it down to him tomorrow (I was not excited about that option), or can he cancel it and get a new card — YES! That *of course* is the answer, in this age of instant gratification, instant communication, instant consumerism!! And that’s what he did.
So, unfortunately the night ended with a bit of a sour cherry on top, but whatever. I had a great time hanging with Adam again and watching him on stage too. If you get a chance, do check out his whip-smart, irreverent and droll album “Can We Afford This Much Despair?” (which is a reference to blood diamonds. It’s not a spoiler, shut up).
More soon about last night’s show at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank!