Thursday, February 10, 2005

Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO - Day 2

It's Thursday, February 10, 2005 (at least you can pretend it is if you're one of those people who have an imagination and live in a fairy world and have no sense of reality and only focus on the past. I can say with utmost confidence that you are NOT reading this on February 10, 2005 as I'm actually writing it on March 19, 2005. It's a little trick called adjustable date syndrome - like when you let some air out of your inflatable girlfriend for a softer ride (let out too much air and you may as well be dating a Hefty bag - take it from someone who knows)).

Anyway, pretending it's Day 2 of the Aspen Comedy Festival, Erica and I got up when the notion took us and got ready for a day of laughter. "Hee hee hee," I warmed up my laughing chords. "Ha ha ha," she practiced (I hope) as I walked by in the nude. Once giggling warm-ups and dressing and primping were complete, we took ourselves to Aspen (from Snowmass) in hopes of securing one more ticket for tonight's Eddie Izzard show. If you don't know why we were one ticket shy, please take the time to skim the prior posts and get up to speed. It's the least you can do (and isn't that what we all strive to do, the least possible?).

"Hey, you got tickets? Tickets? Tickets? Who's got tickets? Give me tickets. I want tickets." I asked. I said.

"No." "Get bent." "Sorry, butthole." "I'm looking too." "Good luck, jerk." "I do, but not for you." These are replies, real and imagined. No ticket for me to be had, not for tonight's Izzard show at least. Not yet, at least.

Time for our day's programming to begin. It began with Shorts Program 3. Back to the Isis Theater. I like Shorts. They aren't long, so if they're bad, they'll be over soon. These weren't bad, so it was pleasant to have them entertain us briefly. During the final short, and because our next movie was to start within minutes, we got up to leave. Once outside the theater, we saw the lobby was jam packed full of assholes clamoring to get in to where we had just departed. That's because it was where our next screening was being held, so we slunk back in and found our seats again. We could just stay there for the next show, so no bother getting up (though it was too late for that).

Once the shorts ended and the seats were being cleared of all people who wouldn't be staying to see the next show, I agreed to go out into the lobby to get Erica some popcorn and a drink. My sinister alternative reason was because I, myself, wanted to see if there were any possible portroid subjects to be portroided (new verb, I guess). Guess what? Outside, talking to some tall guy I had seen around a lot was Patton Oswalt (whose show we laughed at last night. Not "laughed at" like you do when a retarded kid stumbles over a drunken bum on the sidewalk and then starts punching the drunk in that way retarded kids love to punch people, but "laughed at" like you do when you are tickled inside by something you relate to in an unexpected way). Man, it would be awesome to get Patton Oswalt's portroid, but he keeps on talking to this guy who I don't know. Ah, fiddlesticks! Maybe later.

The next screening was a film called "Tennis, Anyone?" directed and starring Donal Logue, who you may remember from such things as talking on his phone in front of the St. Regis, and walking around chatting to some dude in the St. Regis, and sitting in the lobby socializing in the St. Regis. Same guy. Also in this film is, hey, it's that tall guy I've been seeing around, the one who was unintentionally hording Patton's attention when I wanted to go up and awkwardly ask if I could take his picture. His name is Kirk Fox. He turns out to be a pretty decent actor and so I forgive him for my not knowing him before. I'm pretty magnanimous.

The movie was an independent film striving hard to be independent (and I don't say that with condescension or derision or mocking tones - it's just that they specifically said they wanted it to be independent and to have the feel of independence). It was strongly autobiographical in that "this is what I know, so this is what I write" kind of way, similar to how novels by prolific novelists tend to have a protagonist who just so happens to be a novelist. This movie didn't have the "based on a true story" tagline, but from the Q&A afterwards, it seemed to be. This is neither positive nor negative, just something to write about the movie. I enjoyed it. That's also something to write about the movie. Something else to write would be to say it had it's obligatory share of quiet drawn-out moments where the character is "feeling" something, the staple of independent films, the silence of reflection that adds boredom to the interesting parts and separates it from those bastard mainstream "Hollywood" popcorn pictures. Because without the scene of the main character breaking his own heart with self-pitying self-realization, how the fuck are we supposed to know this art means something? We're not that smart.

After the movie, which I feel I need to reiterate I enjoyed, we were all invited to a champagne mid-day afterparty across the street to mingle with the filmmakers and ask poingnant questions. This would be my chance to get that longed-for Donal Logue portroid, but I wanted to go to McDonal's instead and get a two cheeseburger meal. Super Size Me wasn't playing this year (that was last year's hit), so I didn't have the associated guilt of killing myself with bad-for-me food. Ah, the delights of forced ignorance. Erica had a case of feeling barfy from the popcorn and wanted to get some "real food" in her in a hurry. She also lost her hat in the Isis Theater. That place eats winter wear.

After our late lunch, it was time again to go to the St. Regis to check the Exchange Table for last minute Eddie Izzard trade-ins. Time was running short and panic was starting to creep into my normally cool facade. No luck. No one had any and those who did weren't budging. I still had hope.

Upstairs in the lobby we saw Tom Green. You might remember him as the guy who lived on the boat in Charlie's Angels (maybe he didn't actually live on the boat - you're the expert - you tell me.). If you only remember him from that film, you must see some pretty crappy movies and you must not have watched MTV or Canadian Public Access Television (CPAT) from like 1994 (start CPAT) to the Year 2000 (end MTV) and/or you didn't see any of the other crappy movies he was in. I like Tom Green, but he was in a rush out the door, so I didn't get his picture (so don't go looking for it - because I'll tell you now for the last time, I never got his picture).

The next picture we saw was 'Bob The Butler' starring Tom Green. He was there and introduced the film (and no I didn't get his picture. I said it before, and I hate repeating myself, I DID NOT take Tom Green's portroid on this trip. Not at all. Not even once. Quit pestering me with the same old questions). In the audience with us was Christopher Lloyd. He had a big bushy mustache and an Aztec-ish print fleece jacket. He fit right in in Aspen. Kind of half-cowboy, half-hippie. After the movie, I saw both Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Green in the lobby. I was going to take a picture of each of them, but decided not to. I don't know why. The timing was oh so right. I just didn't feel like it, OK?

Oh, and I found Erica's hat.

While waiting for the next show (The Chippertons) to start, we checked one last time the Exchange Desk, only to be mocked and scoffed at as if our our own increasing desperation for the elusive Eddie Izzard ticket wasn't demeaning enough. There's nothing sexier than desperation, but couple that with the embarrassment of public rejection and damn that's hot!

We killed the remaining time watching Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder broadcast live their Majority Report radio program on Air America from the St. Regis Lobby. While we waited, Stephen Tobolowsky passed through. He had on a coonskin cap. No picture. No proof. I could be lying. I could say he was wearing a Sherlock-Holmsian Deerstalker and you wouldn't know if it was true (unless you were there). Maybe he wasn't wearing a hat at all. Maybe he wasn't even there! Maybe I wasn't there! I was, though, and he was, and he was wearing a coonskin cap. You've got to believe that. You've just got to.

The Chippertons - it was over in 45 minutes, but seemed like a full hour. The tediousness reminded me of riding 'it's a small world' twice in a row. I know that doesn't sound all that tedious, but try it. You'll drown yourself in the ankle-deep waters before you hit Mexico on that second go. I think the monotonous happiness was supposed to play into the satire, but it was too annoyingly real to work effectively. The fake commercials were funny though, and given another subject, I can see how the "troupe" could make comedy work.

Taking the long way 'round, I've finally come to what I've been yammering about for three days. The Eddie Izzard Show. 8:30 PM at the Wheeler Opera House. We got there at 7:15. There were five people in the ticket holders line (Erica joined them), and one person waiting in the ticket buyer line. I was going to join the ticket buyer line, but was told by staff that because I had a Black Diamond Pass, I could wait in a new line all my own which gave me first priority for an extra seat after ticket holders had been satisfied. I would've been better served in the ticket buyer line.

As showtime grew nearer, the ticket buyer line grew, the ticket holder line grew faster, and my middle of the road line grew intermediately. We got moved to the far edge of the sidewalk as the sidewalk became more and more crowded. Behind me in line was my friend Al who I had met the day before. He was also seeking tickets to Izzard. He was also without luck. The ticket holder line stretched for blocks down the block. Erica helped by asking people in line if they were willing to sell a ticket. They weren't. I noticed, though, that some of the people from the ticket buyer line had moved over into the ticket holder line. It seems some ticket holders had given away their seats to what they thought were the first awaiters. Curse my across the sidewalk line! We were missing all the opportunities.

I waved goodbye to Erica as she and her front-of-the-line friends went into the theater. "Don't worry, I'll get in," I said, trying most to convince myself. A British guy in line behind me and behind Al and behind Al's wife made the astute comment that America was indeed not a classless society. This was punctuated by a special breed of new arrivals - the VIPs. VIPs get ushered in through the backdoor in hordes. The theater only seats 400-some people, but these swarms of More-Important-Than-Me-ers weren't worried because they held the golden ticket - knowing someone who knew someone who is someone. I knew no one. So, now it was VIPs, then ticket holders, then me and my ilk, then ticket buyers for priority entrance. Things were looking grim.

Oh, and take into account that we had now been standing outside for an hour and it was cold as a warlock's cock in a brass jock.

The ticket holder line never seemed to get any shorter, no matter the number of people allowed ingress. It was like a clown car in reverse. Until they hit capacity.

They filled a backflow room where some of the remaining ticket holders could watch the show on monitors, but it was standing room, and once that room filled, that was it. About 150 actual ticket holders still waited outside waiting to get in. We, in the standby line were told to no longer stand by. In the independent movie of my life, this was the moment where the close-up of my face revealed the inner destruction of all my hope, the self-pitying moment that spoke quietly the inner torment of my failure. I held this pose for as long as it took to bore anyone watching, and then I left. "This means something," I wanted them to think.


Nefarious Purposes

I would like to interrupt this long-delayed telling of our recent Aspen Comedy Festival experience in order to plug various neglected portions of the portroids website.

It seems our good friends at Google haven't roboted our site since May 2004, therefore all hits as a result of "Googling" someone are heavily weighted toward older material. We have plenty of new pictures up. Also, the aforementioned "we" is really just "I".

Here, since this blog is on a more regular robo-rotation, are some poignant links for all your Googling needs. I would like to point out that I find "Googling someone" to be "creepy" and "rude" and "fun", akin to using binoculars to spy through your neighbor's window (fun, yes, but how likely really are you to see them naked? Not very. Believe me, I know). But since "Googling" is what brings my hit count up, I cherish it. Oh boy, do I cherish it. - this page gets more hits than a bong at Chong's house - this page is the html equivalent of all the pictures I've taken in Portroids Year 2, and is grossly neglected by search engines - this page is where I link some STELLA comedy portroids and tales - this, of course, is the "main page". It's like when you say someone is your "main man", when really they're just a way for you to get an "in" with the cooler kids (e.g. "Main Page" is to "Portroids' Flash Site" as "My Main Man Kevin Bacon" is to ... ______?)

I've got more links, but I don't want to post them. I want to see if the robot can find them. I like to play with robots. Especially robots that dance. We could have a dance-off. Damn, that's cool.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO - Day 1

During one of my calls to the Festival Box Office, I was told my best chance to get tickets to the Eddie Izzard show would be to get to Aspen early (they opened at 10 - "they" not being the actual City of Aspen, but "they" being the aforementioned box office) on the first day (February 9), to pick up our ticket packages, and to "beat feet toot sweet" (not actually a quote) to the Exchange Table. Though it caused grumbling from the likes of Me Old Lady, I set the alarm for "early". Thanks to this unfront planning, we were up, washed (please pronounce this "warshed"), and on the road by 6 A.M. You heard that right, 6 A.M.

Four to five hours later (not to gloss over our travel on treacherous icy mountain roads, listening to the LOTR:ROTK cast commentary to kill time, and the near-destruction of my transmission trying to go 4x4 on the fly - which isn't something it is designed to do), we found a residential parking spot a few blocks from the St. Regis Hotel (US Comedy Arts Festival Party Central Headquarters- or USCAFPCHQ for short).

I strapped on my handy Polaroid Spectra 1200FF (which in all truth, isn't that "handy". Though it's clunky size is one of the things I love about it; for when the world starts getting smaller, I choose to go large). Portroids await!!

Our first celebrity sighting came not five minutes later when who should we spy at the entrance of the St. Regis? None other than Donal Logue!!!! I know what you're thinking, but no it's not "Donald" with a "D" (at the end), it's just "Donal" (without the D (at the end)) like the Irish way of speaking and spelling. Be thankful it's not more James Joyceian, or it'd likely be Donl Flibbitygibbet Logee. (side note: I don't get James Joyce. Is he a genius or just a spastic with a typewriter? I don't want to be scoffed at by the "intellectuals", so I'll just nod and plaster on a static smile, pretending I understand even one paragraph from Finnegan's Wake.) Donal shows up from time to time on VH1 loving different things about different decades. That aside, I didn't take Donal's picture just then because he was on his cell phone. I may be many things, but one thing I am not is an interupter of Donal Logue on a cell phone. That I am not!

While I picked up our ticket package, I sent Erica to the Exchange Desk to check the vibe. The vibe, I found out upon her return, was that no Eddie Izzard tickets had been turned in for exchange and likely would not be turned in for exchange. Turds!

Donal Logue (he plays 'Chuck' on ER) walked by talking to someone. I didn't interupt him to get a picture. I may be many things, but one thing I am not is an interupter of Donal Logue when he walks by talking to someone. That I couldn't stand to be!

I had other tickets to exchange, so I waited in the 'Exhange' line hopelessly. Erica probed the crowd asking if they had Izzard tickets to sell or trade. One guy contemplated a swap for 'Waiting For Guffman', but made a phone call and evaporated into mist. And then a miracle happened. The couple behind us in line had one, count them, one ticket to the show. They were willing to trade, but only for certain things that weren't in our trading deck. The tension was high. We discussed making a three way trade with the Desk, but the Desk suggested we deal amongst ourselves (which made me think the desk was maybe hording tickets for "VIP"s). The couple told me to wait aside and that they still may be able to help me out if they got what they wanted elsewhere.

I waited aside.

After waiting what seemed like minutes, they approached and handed me the single ticket. I offered money. They refused to take it. They GAVE me the ticket. Now, that's nice. Then they gave me four other tickets that they weren't going to use and told me I could use them to sweeten the deal to any would-be traders. I didn't even get their names. That's because I'm a bastard.

Now we had one ticket. We only needed a second and all would be well. We doubled our efforts, asking everyone, sometimes asking the same people twice or three times (you know, in case they changed their minds). I checked the Exchange Desk more times than was polite. Still no luck.

I asked Eugene Mirman. He's on my Friendster list, though we'd never met. He didn't have a ticket. I told him we were going to see his show. "Midnight tonight?" he asked. "I think another night," I replied. He agreed that midnight was probably too late. He said he might skip it. Erica suggested that comedy is usually best around 4 in the afternoon and he concurred. I didn't take his picture. I'd see him around and get one later.

As this story grows longer, you are probably wondering if we got that second Eddie Izzard ticket. No. We didn't. Not this day, the day before the show. We asked a lot of folks and got turned down by them all (sounds like prom). By the end of the day, we still had hope. I told Erica she could use the one ticket we did get, so at least one of us could have some fun.

Um, the rest of the day was great. I didn't get any pictures. Not a one.

Here are the highlights (since I wasted so much time writing opening fluff, I've become bored with myself):

Went to a Shorts program at the Isis Theater. Enjoyed it. Erica lost a glove.

Erica bought new gloves.

We saw Donal Logue (he was on that show 'Grounded For Life') in the St Regis lobby sitting on a chair chatting with some guys. I did not take his picture (as you may have guessed from the statement above stating that I didn't take any pictures on this day). I also didn't want to be the guy who interrupts D. Logue whilst he chatted. It's not my thing.

We watched and listened as Sam Seder and Janeane Garofalo broadcast their Air America radio program live from the St Regis lobby.

We skipped the opening night film because it was kung-fu and we aren't that into kung-fu, at least not openly.

At 7, we went to a stand up show. I wasn't impressed. Well, I liked Simon Evans. He was funny. Each of the other acts had a few jokes I liked, but overall it wasn't that impressive (to me - but who am I?). Sheryl Underwood spent her set essentially begging the industry people to give her her own TV show. Now that's comedy!

The last thing we did Wednesday night was to go see Patton Oswalt and Greg Behrendt. Patton Oswalt is seriously one of the funniest guys out there. I loved his whole act. I can't accurately describe how funny this man is, so I'll not say anything more. Greg Behrendt was also really entertaining and funny. I laughed so hard, I peed someone else's pants. This, of the three shows we'd seen so far, was by far the best!! I wish I had stuck around and taken some pictures of these guys, but I didn't.

We went home because someone was grouchy. It wasn't me. We skipped two shows: Steven Cragg, and a midnight stand-up (the one featuring Eugene Mirman). Turns out that was the one we had tickets for. I was really looking forward to seeing that show, especially because the testimonial I wrote on Eugene's Friendster page claimed that I was his Number 1 Fan. It seems more like I'm a Number 2 fan. Oh well. Maybe we could catch another show during the next four days. Maybe.

If you keep checking back, maybe you'll find out just what happened on the rest of this trip for the rest of the Festival. Do we get in to see the Eddie Izzard show? Do I ever take any pictures? Will anyone actually read it if I write about all four days?

Until again,

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

HBO's US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO - Preamble

Rambling Preamble

First, let me set the stage ... we attended the festival for one day in 2004 and loved it. This year we hoped to go for the full five-day event. We invited some friends to join us and they acted interested (bordering on excited) to partake. Before you get your hopes up, just know that they all flaked and backed out. Flakes.

It would just be me and Erica.

Ticket packages for the Aspen Comedy Festival went on sale in June of 2004 for the February of 2005 show. No events were yet announced, so I waited. Gradually, events were announced. Gradually, I grew more and more interested in attending, but wasn't sure how large a package I wanted (though all SPAM-brand e-mails tell me the larger the package the better). Finally around November I decided to get the Black Diamond Pass, the largest package imaginable (the ladies were going to love me and the guys would all resent me). I delayed purchase though, as most of my available cash was being used for Christmas gifts and travel and other things that money is accustomed to buying. January 3, a month plus a week before the show, I ordered the tickets: a Black Diamond Pass for me and one for "the wife" (I don't know why "the wife" is in "quotes" because she is actually my "wife". Oh well). I booked four nights in a nearby hotel (The Stonebridge Inn in Snowmass) and everything was looking cheery.

About a week later they sent an e-mail announcing the time had come to choose the shows we wanted to attend. I scurried online. I scrolled through the choices, mentally preparing a list of the must-sees and mentally undressing a list of the must-misses (you know, to make them feel self-concious and unabashedly ashamed). Scrolling the 'I's, my heart stopped and my pulse quickened (is that even physically possible? (I'm no doctor, but I play one in the bedroom)).

One night only ... previously unannounced ... EDDIE IZZARD!!!

We have been life-long fans of Eddie Izzard (who's name sounds like it was interpreted by Snoop D-izz-ogg, or any white person four years after Snoop implemented his -izz-es) since November 2003 when Nancy Williams introduced us to his transvestite brand of comedy via the wonders to Digital Video Disc (henceforth referred to as DVD). We were insatiable. We bought all two of his US-released stand-up shows, but that wasn't enough. No, it wasn't. We had to have the UK releases as well. We bought a region-free DVD player (it wasn't region-free until we "converted" it - using high pressure threats of Hell-fire and damnation) and over time ordered his four remaining DVDs (see above if you don't know that DVD stands for Digital Video Disc). Three of these discs have since been released to US markets, but damn if we aren't ahead of the pack on that fourth disc. We rock as Izzard fans! We rock hard!

There were four shows at the Festival that we were most excited to see. They were (in order of excitement quotient) 1) Eddie Izzard, 2) Waiting For Guffman reunion, 3) Arrested Development Live (I had quickly become a fan of the show after hearing they would be in attendance - I picked up the 1st season DVD (don't make me tell you again!) and watched it with loving attention), and 4) Jim Carrey winning the AFI Star Award (being presented by Conan O'Brien).

I chose these shows (and others) for our packages and waited to hear which of them (and others) we would get. I would like to say I waited patiently, but that would be a lie, and I don't want to lie to you (although I say "I don't want to lie to you", sometimes it's necessary for me to lie to you - for your own good - but just know that I don't want to lie to you). I was antsy, like as if I had ants crawling on and, even worse, in my skin. Weeks passed. I called HBO's box office (that's a little redundant, eh?) once and/or twice a week to check the status. "No update" was the status quo. See, there was a chance that we wouldn't get the tickets we wanted, even though we bought the most expensive package. We bought late and it was first come, first serve.

On January 28th, it was announced that Arrested Development Live had been cancelled due to key cast members' scheduling conflicts (which seems to be Jason Bateman's need to host Saturday Night Live that same weekend). I wanted to swear. I wanted to say words like "fuck" or "shit" or "dang" to express my disappointment, but I never swear (this could be construed as one of those times when I lie to you for your protection - it's in your best interest to believe me good-hearted and pure). The show was replaced by American Dad Live - a new cartoon by the creator of The Family Guy. Not a show I plan to watch. The sadness I felt was overwhelmed by my still lingering hope that we would get to see the other three important shows on our list. Oh hope, my old friend, don't let me down, don't be like those friends who said they wanted to go with us to the festival and then ... didn't.

About a week before February 9 - the first day of the Festival - I received an e-mail listing the tickets we got from the choices we made: AFI Star Award - awesome! Waiting For Guffman Reunion - kick ass! American Dad Live - um, I didn't really choose that! Sarah Silverman - what? I didn't pick Sarah Silverman (not that I have anything against her - I've seen her before so it wasn't a priority). No Eddie Izzard! Sarah Silverman replaced Eddie Izzard. We didn't get the one show we looked forward to most ! Hope was dashed upon the rocks like so many urine-filled beer bottles. Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!

And this was where we are before we leave for the festival. We still hold out that we can exchange tickets at the Exchange Desk (as I was told by box office officers) if we get there early enough on Wednesday, February 9, 2005. Chances are slim (like the pants on a cowboy).

Stay tuned,