Stand Up Kind Of Girl

July 26 1995. The first time I got up on stage and performed Stand Up Comedy.

I was terrified. I was just new to Vancouver, making a fresh start. I had gone down with a friend to watched amateur night at a few clubs, to see what it was all about. After the second night she asked me, “Well? What are you waiting for”?

What indeed. I had just started working at a locksmith in one of the Bentall towers (Yes, of the Barney Bentall fame, for those of you in the know) and I just picked up the phone and signed up for a spot on the Wednesday Night amateur show. It was all women, so it might have seemed a little less intimidating, I’m not too sure. It’s a bit of a blur.

It was a funky little club in Gastown, Vancouver. It was on Water Street. I liked that. The night of the show, I arrived about two hours before the club even opened. I paced and paced and paced in the parking lot next door for so long that someone came out of the restaurant, then The Old Spaghetti Factory, and asked me what I thought I might be up to, I guess they thought I was casing the joint. I was talking to myself, a lot. I was rehearsing and rehearsing and trying not to to throw up or crap in my pants.

Once the club opened I went backstage and practiced walking out, fiddling with the mic, freaked out I would trip, or not know how to adjust the mic or that something horrid would come flying out of my nose. Someone finally asked, again, what the hell I thought I might be doing and the young lad who booked the show said “She’s cool”. Thanks. But I was anything but cool.

As the room started to fill in and the other comics arrived I swear I nearly begged off about a bazzilion  times. The only thing that stopped me was that I would have to go through it again, albeit, in a new city. I would have to move. The show was about ten minutes from starting and someone came back to tell us that there was a group of fifty and another group of thirty. They were all men. The larger of the group were in Vancouver  for some car race. I wondered why would someone feel the need to tell me this. It did not help.

The woman who was emceeing went out and did pretty well. She was a lovely young thing with a year or so under her belt and made me feel pretty comfortable. I was to go out first, they do that to you when you are new. When she introduced me, I walked out in a dream. I was actually doing it! Being present in the moment of realising a life-long dream is such an incredible experience.

I remember ad-libbing a joke right off the start, making reference to the young woman  emcee and then made a joke about it being my first time. I think most people do, as I went on to see many comics have their first time. Many of those their last, as well. You usually get five minutes, which may not seem like a long time, in particular if you equate it to a lunch break or sex but to stand on stage alone and tell jokes you wrote to a roomful of people can seem an eternity.

But the first two ad-lib jokes got laughs, and I continued on. And the most miraculous thing happened. People laughed. Some times they laughed really hard. It was the most amazing thing to me, it was so emotional and so wonderful I could have just burst. I wrapped up my five minutes, which I rehearsed and timed another million times, and said thank you and walked off to applause. I was so relieved and so excited I wanted to weep. I actually may have. Another of the comics waiting to go on said, wow, you did really well for your first time and I hugged her so hard I may have cracked a few ribs.

I came down to the audience to join my friend there but barely remember much. I floated all night night and the next day. I was so happy.  I  continued to sign up for the open mic nights and it wasn’t until about the forth or fifth time on stage that I tanked so hard my teeth hurt. It was devastating. For about an hour. I am certain had I bombed the first night I would have had a hard time going back. As it was, with at least four good sets under my belt I couldn’t believe I didn’t have my own sitcom.

I continued to perform Stand Up for many years after. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction, heartache, joy but mostly just pure pleasure. I met some wonderful people, some who moved on to bigger and better, some who are still close friends and some who vanished into thin air. A few names I could drop, but I’m not that kind of girl.

It was one of the few things I ever did that gave me so much. I grew as a person and I enjoyed the challenge of it every single time. I wouldn’t change it for anything, even the shows where you wanted the stage to open up and suck you through to oblivion. I actually think the shitty nights are what keep a comic going. Anyone can kill. It takes a real pro to fail and get up again.

One of the greatest compliments I ever received was, after being told I had been a Stand Up Comic, he said, “Well. Here’s someone who’s not afraid to fail”



Triple Play, Not Played

Several days ago I had a marvellous idea for my newest blah blah blah. Oh, it was clever, I was pleased! Then I drew a blank on most of it, remembered some, not all. Woke up this morning and Bango-Presto! There it was! Woot! Woot! … and gone.

My second choice was scratched on one of my notepads. Scratched and undecipherable. It looked like it was written by someone who had been drinking. Drunk, even.

Third choice, and only third because it’s bigger than just a blah blah blah here, is my new cat! I got a new cat! When I moved here from Toronto, I brought my beloved Jango with me. About six weeks ago we got a new roommate. We met like many do, on line. Through Facebook. Like that!

A few months back my friend was having a little rant on her wall and almost as an afterthought she added that to top off the already crappy day, someone had just brought her cat who had been attacked by a drunk with a machete. My friends have several foster dogs and several more of their own. People in their barrio take their wounded or sick animals to them because they think they will help. The people of the barrio are not wrong.

I tried really hard to put it all out of my mind and did so until they posted a picture of him coming home from the vet. There he was. As soon as I saw that tiny, scared, curious, wonderful pointy little bastard face it just poked a hole right through my heart. I fought it but I knew resistance was futile. I was a goner.

He had to have his back left leg removed. After a few days at the vet my friends took him home, but he ended up with an infection and had to return to the vets for an extended stay. I saw a picture of him in this tiny concrete cage and started to mentally prepare myself for the new family member. Can you ever? Not really.

He came in like a hurricane, tasmanian devil, whirling and running and wrecking stuff. He had some pretty hardcore but understandably severe food issues. I started giving my Jango wet food in the morning. It was our little bit of dinner theatre. More theatre than dinner, mind. Jango liked the show more than the food. I get the bowl down, do a bit of a dance, few good strokes down the back, some cooing and oohing and then we’re all set. He eats about half, maybe, then has a 45 minute bath and off to snooze.

The new one, once he understood what was happening, would lose it. Crying, attacking my feet and legs, (kitten-style) and then wolf the whole thing back without breathing. I was worried about the whole pecking order thing, but not to worry. This worked itself out, thanks to my dear heart Jango. He saw the desperation in him and just sat back, knock yourself out, dude.

It’s much better now. He only dances with a few plaintive mews and after a few gulps, can walk away. Jango sits out until it’s his turn, so he gets his own bowl and a new flavour, cuz that’s how we roll here, yeah we do. Jango made me so proud, while he waits, I love the bejabbers out of him.

When he was in foster care he was called Tripod, but we call him Chance. He lost his leg taking a chance trying to find food. We took a chance on bring him home. That’s a chance that was win-win!


Chance 3.jpg
His first day with us!

Smell You!

Last time we met I was happily whinging about the noises here. How it was almost impossible to tell the difference from a yelping dog, whining baby or a cat in heat.

Well, speaking of heat, things do get a bit ripe once it starts to heat up. People, yes, but the garbage stank is almost unbearable some days. Most days. When the heat index has climbed up to 40 and more, it’s enough to try and keep you and your pets cool. The first few days of real heat I took my boys to the bedroom and turned on the air conditioner.

I’m more acclimatised now, and although it’s still a sweaty affair, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the horrendous reek of the festering garbage. Everything goes in the trash. No recycling or composting here. Our garbage barrels are in the sidewalk, meaning they are sunk down with the top at sidewalk or street level. I guess it only takes about one or two sting winds to figure that out.

Unfortunately, not everyone can be bothered to lift the lid and just drop their trash on top or beside the bins. Or, it gets filled quickly and they just over flows. What ever the case the exposed bags sit un the tremendous heat and humidity and turn to festering putrid  stank. As if that’s not enough, it attacks the various animals in the neighbourhood. Dogs, cats and birds love nothing more that to tear the bags open and have a good dig through our left over lives.

Even when the trucks comes to collect, and let’s take a moment to try and understand what a horrendously awful job that would be, the stench of the underlying sludge can be detected for blocks.

Some times, more often than I would like, the stench is filling my nostrils as I try to sleep. Let’s not even mention the bugs and other vermin attracted.

But not all is stinky here in the Dominican. far from it. Flowers flowers everywhere are intoxicating and plentiful throughout the year. Many cleaning products are scented with floral or fruity types of scents. I assume that’s what I’m smelling. Not having used any myself.

My friend Brad, when visiting me from Toronto commented that the toilet paper was scented. Yes, I said, I believe it all is. There is a big problem with plumbing and toilets in general. When I lived in Sosua almost every pub or restaurant to visited had a big sign pleading for you to NOT FLUSH PAPER!

It does seem a sad state of affairs when a toilet chokes on a few single-ply squares of paper, but being good Canadians, we comply. So, you use it and drop it in the waste basket. I’m guessing it happens here, as I see not so many sighs here but the toilet paper is in the basket rather than flushed. I guess it’s just a thing.

So add a basketful of pissy, shitty wadded up paper to the garbage being tossed around by bird and wind and there’s your summer accent. That’s the one you were going for.

As my friend Tony likes to say, “Enough to gag a maggot”