Thursday, December 31, 2009

We're Saying Shine To 2009.

You Might Be Ready For A New Year...
(With Much Respect to Jeff Foxworthy)

If your left eye has been twitching since late March... might be ready for a new year.

If your definition of "comfort food" has expanded
to include anything that doesn't bite you back... might be ready for a new year.

If the most recent comment you heard
at the
grocery store was "Nice bathrobe,"... might be ready for a new year.

If your typical Saturday night has become
"Who's The Boss?" reruns and a good cry... might be ready for a new year.

If you were recently ejected from

your place of worship for heckling... might be ready for a new year.

If putting on your "brave face"
does nothing but spook your dogs... might be ready for a new year.

If you've take to watching "The Shining"

because it helps you relax... might be ready for a new year.

Here's to a new year that nurtures,
protects and inspires us all.

Cheers, Everyone!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Your Holiday Newsletter: I Have A Few Notes

Let's Start With That Font

Don't get me wrong - I'm all about whimsy. Just ask my dog who's sitting next to me right now in his favorite velvet waistcoat and bow tie.

I get it.

I'm afraid I must draw the line, however, at an entire legal-sized newsletter written in a font designed to look like miniature bell pepper shards sizzling in a fajita pan.

As for the 8-point type size you've chosen, I'm of two minds: while it renders your text almost illegible to average citizens, it no doubt adds an unexpected level of difficulty that would be welcomed by any CIA code breakers on your mailing list.

Color Me Passed Out

I have to give you credit - yours is the only newsletter I received printed on pale yellow paper. Way to stand out!

It was also the only one printed in cream-colored ink.

If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'm going to go pour myself a good, stiff egg nog and wait for my eyeballs to stop vibrating. In the meantime, please tell me you didn't send this to your aunt with the seizure disorder.

The Art Of Lying

Can we let our hair down for a moment? We all know holiday newsletters are a big steaming pantload subtle instruments of spin. Let's face it - the real holiday miracle here is that you managed to snap a photo during the millisecond your oldest wasn't trying to pierce your youngest's eardrum with a Slurpee straw.

But come on. How much do you really expect us to go along with here? The unwritten social contract holds that we all smile and nod while we read about each others' overstated kitchen remodels, whitewashed vacations and soft-focus family milestones.

If we upset this delicate balance by asking readers to suspend their disbelief beyond the human breaking point (Your son's moving into his own place soon? Really? The same son who threw up on the store manager during his interview at Blockbuster?), the whole system breaks down.

Do we want to live in a world where people are completely honest in their holiday newsletters? I sure don't...with one important exception:

More Medical Details, Please!

Industrial accident? Tell us all about it.

Raging psoriasis? Bleeding ulcer? Missing fingernail? Let's discuss.

You blew valuable photo space on your niece's christening when you could have given us a close-up of Bernard's mysterious toe lump? Dude.

How long has it been throbbing/itching/oozing/engorged? Do you have the sweats...or the chills? Dry mouth? Swollen ankles? Weepy ducts? Rashy kneecaps?

Better yet, why not attach the patient's chart so we can take a peek under the hood for ourselves?

Photo Sensitive

It's hard to go wrong when it comes to holiday newsletter photos.

I take that back.

There are many ways to go wrong, including:
  • Flagrant disregard of the 4-to-1 head-to-hair bow ratio.
  • 3-D/interactive sweaters.
  • Scene-stealing plaid furniture.
  • Anyone over the age of 8 in a swimsuit.
  • Pets in hats. (Wait, scratch that. I love those shots.)
  • "Where's Waldo?" group photos with microscopic faces.
  • Photos that bear evidence of imminent zombie attack, including individuals with slack jaws, bright red eyes, pasty complexion, disturbing clothing and/or awkward, aggressive demeanor.
I'm not suggesting you committed any of these violations in your newsletter. I'm just, um, including them for general purposes.

Yeah...that's it. General purposes.

Yule Be Receiving My Newsletter Any Day Now

And when you do, please note that my minuscule font, sketchy and inappropriate photos and outright lies alluding to an upcoming Vanity Fair cover are ironic, okay? Intentional. A totally different situation. (You have to admit, though, those little animal photos are darn cute, yes?)

Oh, and about that photo of Uncle Claude...we had him checked and he is not a zombie.

He just really likes those pants.

I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you for visiting and reading my posts throughout the year. You all make my day again and again and I'm truly honored that you take time from your busy lives to read my work. I can't describe how special you make me feel - it's just priceless. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Gift of Fear

I'm Sorry, But This:

Scares The Crap Out Of Me.

Upon opening this gift, several thoughts would go through my mind:
  • The North Pole syndicate has whacked Mrs. Claus and I may be next.
  • I'm going to have to chase this thing down and kill it to get a cookie.
  • Oh, great. Now Tim Burton will be expecting a gift from me.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like my inanimate objects to be non-ambulatory. I'm just not comfortable in a world where the piano sits on skis or the microwave looks poised to make a break for it the minute I turn my back.

Are we a restless people? Do we yearn for the thrill of the open road, escaping the everyday humdrum of it all to feel the wind ruffling our bangs as we race toward an endless, seductive horizon?


All I'm saying is: Why transfer that wanderlust onto our tabletop accessories?

I mean, why turn a perfectly good cake stand into a flight risk when we could instead add arms to things and perhaps score the occasional shoulder rub?

Of course, I guess even a good idea can go horribly wrong:

Oh, great. Here come the nightmares again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You've Got Mail!

An Email
to the Principal of
Quark Horizon Elementary

Mrs. Roberta Ogilthorvin
Quark Horizon Elementary
Santa Monica, California

Dear Mrs. Ogilthorvin,

Thank you for the opportunity to explain the unfortunate exchanges that transpired in your absence at last week’s PTA meeting and to rebut the inflammatory complaints lodged against me by a number of parents and staff in attendance. I know you are eager to resolve this fracas, particularly in light of the fact that Quark Horizon will be making a third run at accreditation next week and the last thing we need is more picketers. (As an aside, I want you to know that you have my full support in this endeavor. I have a feeling this will be our year!)

In the meantime, allow me to address the accusations directly, as the individuals listed below have been copied on this email:

Mrs. Van Hoogan: I am not, as you charged, a “bairn of Lucifer.” I think, when the dust settles, you will agree that arranging the Halloween carnival booths in the shape of a pentagram on the soccer field both reinforces our seasonal theme and provides for ideal party flow. I am, however, willing to shelve my idea for a “Communicate with the Dead” class booth (although, I’m telling you, we would make bank).

Coach Derbin: It’s only the faculty parking lot on weekdays, chief. On the weekends it’s the ideal spot for hosing down my motor home and doing a little light carpentry.

Mrs. Schwab-Wong: You, madam, are a hack and should be relieved of your Auction Chair epaulets and lockable cash box. It’s a dark day indeed in the café-nasi-torium when leadership entertains played ideas like “Pirates” and “Disco” while ignoring the clearly superior concept: a Smokey and the Bandit-themed fundraiser. It’s hardly a surprise that you were struck in the hindquarters by a powdered doughnut hole. Which I did not throw.

Mr. and Mrs. DeVille and others in rows 4 through 6: It’s called braunschweiger and it’s a legitimate luncheon spread. If you’re going to hold these meetings at five o’clock, then I’m obliged to bring my dinner. Furthermore, I can’t believe none of you would loan me a bottle opener after I passed around my bag of pesto pork rinds for sharing.

Monsieur Le McEnroe: I have always had a deep appreciation for the arts, particularly those Christmas angels the kids make from folding up old copies of Reader’s Digest. On the subject of mime, however, I’ll admit I am not what you would call an enthusiast. That being said, there was no personal condemnation implied when I transferred my boy Tarquin from your “Imagine the Imaginary Wind” workshop into Senor Machada’s Jai Lai intensive. I believe true artistes have thicker skins than you have demonstrated. I also believe they wear something other than boxers under their leotards. Something to think about.

Snuffy, School Custodian: Dude, we had a deal. I can’t believe you cheesed me. You’ll never play ocarina in this school district again, I don’t care if your mom is the mayor.

Well, Mrs. Ogilthorvin, I believe that covers it. I know I feel better and I hope you do, too. See you at next month’s meeting and if you find yourself without a bottle opener, hit me up. (I’m going to pitch one in my cooler right now while the idea’s fresh.)


Maude “Pepper” Briscoe

P.S. Did you get a flier on your car for my garage sale this weekend? You can tell Mr. O I’m holding a sweet Buster Poindexter album aside for him – Japanese import!

Thank you to Sherrie Petersen of Write About Now for this lovely award! Her blog is fantastic, BTW...

And thank you to everyone who clicked through to my humor essay on! I really appreciate the comments and support!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Scream, You Scream...

We All Scream For MyPheme(.com)!

I'm excited to say that a piece I wrote called "Hair: The Non-Musical" has just debuted as a Featured Essay on

What's MyPheme, you ask? I will tell you now.

[ahem] is a brand new and very cool humor site whose mission is to
tell it like it is. They also have a sassy broad in their banner. Both of these facts appeal mightily to me.

I hope you'll take a moment to slide over there and read the essay. I can't make specific promises, but it's highly likely that doing so will increase your personal chi, give you six-pack abs and elevate you to president of your condo association.

If you need further enticement, I will say this: it's not very long.

Thanks, as always, for your support!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Just Adore A Penthouse View

She's Still ZsaZsa From The Block.

We've finally succeeded in convincing my mom to move from the suburbs [insert crickets here] into the throbbing, mind-blowingly exciting metropolis of three blocks from us. I know. It'll be great to have ZsaZsa (not my mom's real name) right around a couple of corners after decades of living almost an hour away.

Naturally, I helped her find a new pad - specifically, an apartment. Which is how I learned:

Lesson #1: Looking for an apartment for your mom is very different than looking for one for yourself.

Corollary to Lesson #1: I have lived in many a dunghole in my day.

I foolishly counted up the number of times I've moved since returning to Los Angeles after college. [Please savor the complimentary Muzak as I put my pom-pom socks and Mary Janes back on.]

As you can see on the tote board, my current home is the [hork] twelfth place I've lived since the ol' undergrad years. Each of these domiciles was rigorously vetted and had to meet a crushing set of criteria before I would even consider living in any of them.

Namely, I required that each of my residences be - and this was non-negotiable -

I know. I told you I was picky.

Some of the "bonus features" of my old apartments have included:
  • The convenience of an independent pharmaceuticals distribution hub right next door (open 24 hours).
  • A kitchen carpeted in wall-to-wall shag.
  • A demonic toilet.
  • Locked out? No problem! These here windows lift right out of the wall!
  • "The Eliminator" elevator.
  • The restful quiet that can only come from not having to listen to the pesky hum of an air conditioner.
Believe it or not, these attributes held surprisingly little appeal for ZsaZsa (although I think she'll come around on the kitchen shag once she's rolled on the floor while eating a moon pie - no one can resist that). And, when I thought about it, I realized I had a different standard for my mom's pad, too.

Lesson #2: My mom's new pad needs to be safe and (relatively) freak-free.

Which Is Why I'm Surveilling Her Building.

Oh, sure, the apartment is nice. But we all know that it's really all about the people in the building, yes? Right.

Allow me to share my findings to date with you:

Apt. 307 - Shadowed portly male occupant from elevator by carrying potted shrub against my chest and making little hops. Subject emitted unnatural creaking noise with each step. Is likely listed on a national registry of some sort.

Apt. 110 - Suspected sweatshop that appears to be churning out substantial quantities of macaroni art. Wait, scratch that. They just have a lot of children. Never mind.

Apt. 202 - Arbonne Cosmetics representative. [Note to self: avoid second floor altogether or risk another forcible exfoliation.]

Apt. 314 - Portal to the early 70s. Glimpse through open door revealed variegated shag carpet, smoked-mirror wet bar and metal wall sculpture of pointy sailboat cluster. Possible Tiki epicenter.

Apt. 105 - RED ALERT. The people living in #105 are all [gasp] professional mimes.

Aw, hell. And things were shaping up so nicely. Why couldn't it have been something a meth lab?

My friend Leigh Cunningham has just published the first in a series of children's books entitled THE GLASS TABLE. Congrats, Leigh!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Always Home and Unbowed

I am proud to be among the 98 bloggers teaming up with our friend Kevin at Always Home and Uncool for a simultaneous posting to help raise awareness in the blogosphere of juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disease his daughter was diagnosed with on this day seven years ago. The day also happens to be his wife's birthday.

I hope you'll take a moment to read Kevin's story in his own words below. Thank you.

Our pediatrician admitted it early on.

The rash on our 2-year-old daughter's cheeks, joints and legs was something he'd never seen before.

The next doctor wouldn't admit to not knowing.

He rattled off the names of several skin conditions - none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner - then quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.

The third doctor admitted she didn't know much.

The biopsy of the chunk of skin she removed from our daughter's knee showed signs of an "allergic reaction" even though we had ruled out every allergy source - obvious and otherwise - that we could.

The fourth doctor had barely closed the door behind her when, looking at the limp blond cherub in my lap, she admitted she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.

She brought in a gaggle of med students. She pointed out each of the physical symptoms in our daughter:
  • The rash across her face and temples resembling the silhouette of a butterfly.
  • The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.
  • The reddish alligator-like skin, known as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.
  • The onset of crippling muscle weakness in her legs and upper body.
She then had an assistant bring in a handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to my wife, whose birthday it happened to be that day.

That was her gift - a diagnosis for her little girl.

That was seven years ago - Oct. 2, 2002 - the day our daughter was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.

Our daughter's first year with the disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn't tip over, as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.

Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9, remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All that remain are her scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes twice a day to keep the disease at bay.

What would have happened if it took us more than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece all the symptoms together? I don't know.

I do know that the fourth doctor, the one who brought in others to see our daughter's condition so they could easily recognize it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.

That, too, is my purpose today.

It is also a birthday gift to my wife, My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for all.

To read more about children and families affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit Cure JM Foundation at

To make a tax-deductible donation toward JM research, go to: kevinmckeever


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Son Gomez: Jedi d'Amour

Fourth Grade Ladies: You've Been Warned.

More forceful than a Gungan energy ball...

More alluring than a Clawdite shape-shifter...

More savage than a Wookiee with low blood sugar...

And yet...

Romantic as Endor's emerald moonshine...

Playful as an RV full of Ewoks...

Smooth as Lando Calrissian's mustache...

Because babe-magnet is your destiny...

Smell The Force.

Go see what the hilarious Jessica Bern is doing to promote ovarian cancer awareness. After you've blown Mountain Dew out your nose at her priceless impersonation of "Aunt Flo," take a moment to go here and register with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. It just takes a couple of clicks, and for every registrant, Seventh Generation will donate $1 to this important cause. Thank you!

Thank you to Melissa at
The Betty and Boo Chronicles for including "The Cold 100" in her best-of-the-week roundup!

Thank you
to This, That and the Other for linking up to my mammogram post. I really appreciate that - glad it made you laugh!

A shout-out to my friend Ocean (from Starbucks in Kauai)! Stay safe...

Monday, August 17, 2009

What's That In The Air?

It's [sniff sniff] The Smell Of Summer Slacking

It's deep summer and we are marinated in the gravy of laziness, adrift in a sea of chores ignored, projects abandoned and rental movies unreturned (late fees pending).

Who am I to jam a broom handle in the spokes of Mother Nature's ten-speed?

No, the season of slack must be observed.

And so, in honor of the Great Machine and its dictates, I hereby phone in this post with minimal effort and share with you a standup set that I performed a while back at The Hollywood Improv.

I completely understand if you're too lazy to hit the play button.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Cold 100

No, It's Not A Siberian Bike Race

I was in the checkout line at my local Albertson's a little while ago when a customer leaned over to the checker (who happened to be a manager) and sheepishly confessed to dropping a jar of pickles on the floor in the deli department.

"No problem," said the manager and the customer went on her way.

A few moments later, when the box boy arrived and began bagging my groceries (Wait, are they still called box boys? Did I just totally date myself by busting out a relic of a term like davenport? Should I retire my spats?), here's what the manager said to him:

"Hey, Skeeter, we've got a cold 100 in the deli."

I froze in mid-ATM-card swipe, electrified by the insider lingo to which I was privy.

"A cold 100."

Stealing a glance at Mr. Flinscheinderglen and his faithful sidekick Skeeter, I punched in my ATM PIN and silently mouthed my new phrase. Cold 100. Man, it felt good.

As Skeeter high-tailed it toward the back of the store in his fluorescent orange vest to do battle with the pickle juice, a question leaped to mind:

What [gulp] was a Hot 100?

A Buffalo-wings slick near the rotisserie case?
A customer altercation by the Tabasco pyramid?
Flaming lava?

I love lingo.

I always have. I have the enduring suspicion that in a former life I was either a Navy Seal or a long-haul trucker. Now, those guys have some lingo.

For instance, we (okay, I) get pulled over by smokeys, not police officers. And when we go on a road trip, we don't eat at a restaurant [scoff] we stop at the choke-and-puke.

I happen to think every occupation can benefit from a generous smattering of lingo, including parenting, if only because lingo makes everything, well, cooler.

Coming up short on parenting lingo at your house?
No problem! Use some of ours!

Suggested Parenting Lingo

Charlie Manson - A playdate that goes horribly awry, usually ending in real property loss if not bloodshed. Example:

Jon Bon Jovi: What's with all the Tylenol? And why is the sofa smoldering?
Anna: Today's playdate was a total Charlie Manson. Never again!

SB - Short for "Sonic Boom." Using sound waves to quell escalating sibling arguments. Also known as turning up the volume on a Molly Hatchet song in the car so loud that the arguing children have no choice but to abandon their bickering.

Booger Ranch - preschool and/or daycare facility. Example: As soon as I drop Sigfried and Roy, Jr. off at the booger ranch, I'll do the grocery shopping.

Hovercraft - changing a diaper in a filthy public restroom while preventing the child from coming in contact with a single surface. Example: "Ugh, that gas station bathroom was so funky, I had to execute a hovercraft."

Banana - delicious and nutritious natural snack that arrives in an ingenious yellow zippered tube. Sold in bunches. (Some lingo is pretty straightforward.)

Eraser - A wipee. Example: "Young Tarquin has dribbled on his onesie. Pass me an eraser so I can clean him up, will you?"

Of course, sometimes it works the other way and I learn lingo from my children. Yesterday, I overheard Gomez as he took a break from playing Legos with Morticia.

"I'll be right back," he said, making haste in the direction of the bathroom. "I have to drop the kids off at the pool."

Perhaps I should check on that one, just to make sure it means what I think it does.

Thank you to the folks at YouSayToo for naming us a Top Blog!

Monday, August 3, 2009

No More Mrs. Nice Guy.

That's Right, You Heard Me.

(Is the black too much? I knew I should have gone with the lavender.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thank you, Chicago! Good Night!

A Brief BlogHer '09 Roundup

The view from my room.

I represent.

Good times with my Robert Osborne bobble-head.
(Hard-earned swag from the Swiffer party.
Talk about a cat-fight at the loot table - mrowr!)

Oh, Bob. You animal.

My new dream car.

The humor panel (L-R): Wendi Aarons, Kelcey from Mamabirddiaries,
Jessica Bern, Moi, Deb on the Rocks (standing),
and holding the mic is Jenny
The Bloggess. (A brief musical interlude
during which she sang "Yo
u Light Up My Life.")
Photo credit: AmazingGreis @ Flickr.

The room (which probably could have been
a little bigger),15 minutes before we started.
Photo credit: Sara Llama @ Flickr.

How I roll. So long, Chicago!

THANK YOU, amazing fellow humor panelists!
THANK YOU, everyone who came to our session!

So many wonderful new friends...
(I know - sappy - but true.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

So That's What A Maxidress Is.

Dear Ann,

Thank you so much for having me over to Ann's Rants for Free Association Friday! I had a blast and I hope you like the definitions I wrote.

You are one of my very favorite bloggers, and I'm not just saying that because I think I left my wallet in your laundry room. Really.

On a more serious note, please allow me to apologize once again for the damage to your aquarium. (And carpet. And loveseat.) Who knew a little game of badminton could cause so much trouble, huh? I guess that's why it's traditionally played with a plastic shuttlecock instead of a golf ball like I we used. Still, who would have thought it could drill through an inch of plexiglass? Go figure. (FYI, you might want to have guests play outdoors from now on. Just a suggestion.)

Anyway, I'm sure when the water-damage people arrived, they were just as impressed as I was with the alluring Jello-O mold you made. It looked like Barbie really was riding that Jet-Ski! Amazing!

Thank you for a lovely time, Ann.

, I almost forgot - you still haven't given me your cell number so we can make arrangements to hang out together all weekend at BlogHer. (Remember when I reminded you a few days ago and you said you couldn't remember the area code? That was funny...) You know how tough it'll be for me to find you without your number, so make sure and get it to me, okay? I just know we'll be inseparable...

Can't wait to see you and thanks again!



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Anna & Erica's Not So Excellent Adventure

What You're About To Read Is True.

I'm doing my Rod Serling impression here in my office and I can feel my dogs judging me. (Hey, if you two can do better I'd love to hear it.)


I have been urged by a bunch of people (okay, one person) to share the story of auditioning for "Last Comic Standing." I'll tell you right now - this story has an anticlimactic ending. If you happen to own a t-shirt that reads "Life Is A Journey...Not A Destination," this would be the ideal time to slip it on, because that's how this story works.

For me, however, it was an unforgettable experience - in much the same way that eating bad clams on our family vacation to Cape Cod back in the 70s and ending up in the emergency room was an unforgettable experience for my dad.

It also helps to keep in mind as you're reading that I'm a total jackass who often drags perfectly nice friends into ridiculous situations.

So. This was a couple of years ago and I had just done my first standup show. Ever. A few weeks down the road, I'd be lucky enough to get booked at the Hollywood Improv and The Comedy Store, but none of that had happened yet. I had one show under my belt, along with my comedy bud Erica. (Her name is not really Erica but she's very funny nevertheless, plus I know she'd appreciate the glamorous nighttime-soap name. Feel free to imagine her with loads of eyeliner and epic shoulder pads.)

A few days after this first gig, I see on the Web (never a good start) that they're holding open auditions for "Last Comic Standing" at the Hollywood Improv on a Monday morning at 9:00. Having watched "The Secret" way too many times, I wonder this the Universe tapping me on the shoulder with yet another opportunity? (When, oh, when will I learn to turn the other shoulder?)

I call partner in comedy crime Erica and start pumping her up. "We'll have two minutes before the judges, so polish your best bits and iron your jeans or whatever."

There is much discussion as to when to arrive for the auditions. It seems like a good idea to get there early...say, 8:00-ish? It's a little inconvenient, I say, but okay. I get another call from her an hour later. She's been talking to some of her Hollywood-adjacent friends and has learned that people get to this audition REALLY early. Like the night before early.

What?? I'm not sleeping out on Melrose Avenue for this thing. They aren't giving out Peter Frampton tickets, after all.

We go back and forth and finally decide that I'll pick her up at 3:00 am, which should put us at the club at about 3:30. At this point Jon Bon Jovi (not my husband's real name) chimes in to say that we're crazy and he's washing his hands of the whole affair. (Well!)

Sunday evening - I pack. Never one to travel light (don't get Jon Bon Jovi started on this), I assemble a hatchback full of supplies that rivals a Red Cross airlift into Bangladesh: bottled waters, folding chairs, power bars, comfy socks, a bunch of bananas, wipees, hand sanitizer, my stage clothes and on and on. Once the car's loaded I go to sleep.

For five minutes.

2:00 am - I'm showering, dressing and running through my two-minute set over and over in my head. I pull up in front of Erica's apartment, which is in the middle of the one pocket of LA in which I have no cell reception. She's also mentioned that the front-door buzzer on her building doesn't work. An intriguing and challenging pickup situation indeed. Eventually, she looks out and sees me idling on the street and we're off.

[Side note: If you need to drive anywhere in Los Angeles, I highly recommend doing so at 3:20 in the morning.]

3:40 am - We get to Melrose and slow down as we approach the club. There's the front door...and there's a row of tents and sleeping bags that's a block long...make it two blocks...nope, three blocks of campers who have been living on the sidewalk for four days, protecting their places in line. The line of bodies snakes around the corner onto Crescent Heights and dribbles onto the sidewalk along a row of houses.

Stunned silence in the car. Okay, maybe a few expletives. "So are we doing this?" "Crap. We're here. I guess so."

4:00 am - We park and walk to the end of the line with our mounds of supplies and settle into our spot in the dark.

The previous season's winner on the show had been Josh Blue - a very gifted comedian who happens to suffer from cerebral palsy and has built a very successful act around his disability and others' reactions to it. It quickly becomes apparent that the woman in line on our left intends to capitalize on this fact, which she sees as the beginning of a trend.

On the sidewalk in front of her, she has erected a shrine of sorts to her son, whom she describes as a "yellow-bus kid." Included in the display is his 8x10 high school graduation portrait in a shiny gold frame, surrounded by clusters of other photos in smaller, assorted frames. At first we're afraid her son has passed away (
hence the shrine), but she explains:

"That boy who won last season - Josh Blue - he was a yellow-bus kid like my boy. They like that on this show. I'm taking these pictures in with me so they know I have a yellow-bus kid."

It's important to note that this woman is wearing a pair of frilly pink panties. On her head. With no trace of irony.

Erica and I shift uncomfortably in our folding chairs, clearly out-strategized by Ms. Panty-Head.

Directly to our right, next to Erica, is a young man in fatigues who says nothing through the entire ordeal but does a lot of twitching and gives off a VERY strong Mark David Chapman/John Wayne Gacy vibe. Right. And we'll be scooting THIS way toward our good friend Ms. Panty-Head and putting the purses over HERE.

4:30 am - Lots of buzz in the line, rumors flying everywhere, a "sign-up sheet" (notebook paper) being passed down the line. Everyone's sizing each other up. "Dude doesn't look funny at all."

It's still dark.

7:30 am - The commuters are whizzing through the neighborhood, coffee in hand, giving us some (deserved) curious looks. The sun is now up. I'm desperate for coffee, but there are no bathroom facilities and stores with public bathrooms won't be open for ages so it's too risky.

Erica and I joke around but make sure not to waste our comedy mojo on the street. A man who calls himself "Caneman" videotapes people in line. He's wearing a coat that looks to be made from the pelts of a dozen bright yellow Muppets.

Ms. Panty-Head sniffs the air like a bloodhound, then reaches into her bag and changes the panties on her head from pink to white. Erica and I exchange looks. Is this conceptual humor? Are we just not sharp enough to decode it? We must observe this one closely.

I look around and take in the raucous, bleary sidewalk scene and it occurs to me that, in a single caper, I have brought about my mother's doomsday scenario: her daughter has spent the night on the curb in a sketchy part of town with a bunch of drunk people, one of whom is wearing underwear on her head, AND there are no clean bathroom facilities.

8:30 am - I have to go to the bathroom. The line doesn't seem to be moving so I leave Erica to guard our camp and I trot down to a service station at Melrose and Fairfax. When I return, the street is empty. Everything from our outpost is gone.

8:45 am - I find everybody. In the moment I'm in the bathroom (of course), someone in charge comes along and redirects the line up the street so it now curves around the corner of the club and way down a different side street. Poor Erica manages to haul all our stuff two blocks over. Erica is widely regarded in our part of the line as a stud.

11:45 am - Nothing has changed except our moods. Everyone is twitchy now and misinformation flows like sweat. The street is filled with profanity, loud music, cackles of laughter and two uptight white girls in folding chairs staring bitterly into their power bars.

1:00 pm - Erica walks all the way to the front door of the club to get a status report straight from the source. I guard the campsite from the unruly bands of prop comics who are scrounging for Fritos and cigarettes. She returns with those within a 50-yard radius crowd around to hear her tell us that the people from the show haven't even arrived yet.

Auditions have not yet begun.

The doors are still locked.

Everyone is outraged. Violence is contemplated, particularly against one comic who has been bugging the crap out of all of us for the last [gulp] NINE HOURS.

1:15 - 1:29 - Stony, exhausted silence.

1:30 - Gut-check time. I confabulate with Erica as to just how much bleepin' bleep-bleep we're going to bleepin' put up with from that bunch of bleep-holes. I mean, who the bleep do they think they are? Bleepers. Don't they know we bleepin' killed at our bleepin' first show? What the bleep? (Did I mention we both went to very reputable institutions of higher learning?)

Bottom line: If we leave right then, we can have Thai food for lunch before I drop her off and go pick up Morticia and Gomez at school.

3:00 pm - I walk up the alley at my kids' school, picking lemongrass from my teeth and wearing some very large, very dark glasses. I run into a dad friend - a TV producer/director who's been sweetly supportive of my comedy aspirations.

I tell him my tale of "Last Comic Standing" woe. He replies that his friend is the producer on the show. "You should have called me - I could have gotten you in for a private audition."


Epilogue: The following week, I hear through back channels that much later in the day, when the folks from the show finally made an appearance at the club, they let the first 20 people inside to audition...and sent the rest of the line home.

It's a tough town. Bring a folding chair.