New York

4 Aug

As of this past Sunday night I became a resident of Brooklyn, New York. As of yesterday, I became a resident of Brooklyn, New York with an internet connection in his apartment, which is why this blog post has not gone up earlier.

Moving definitely sucks, there’s no way around it. You basically have to choose between packing up all of the different items that make your life comfortable into boxes and spending a shitload of money to ship or store them, renting a Uhaul and spending shitload of time driving, being the chauffeur for your own shit, or just forgetting it and buying all new stuff at your new place. I am just a lucky SOB for having a girlfriend who’s dad is actually willing to make a trip from Albany, NY to Hanover, NH and then to Brooklyn just so we can move the stuff we put in storage after I graduated for only about $200 bucks instead of the $800 bucks it would cost to have it shipped.

Is there any efficient way to make sure your first night in a new apartment is comfortable? I’ve had bad luck with that. When the girlfriend and I moved to Boston last summer, I was a big idiot and forgot to check to see if the apartment was furnished at all BEFORE we moved in, and it was too late in the day to go buy a bed, so the first night we slept on the floor. I still periodically apologize to my girlfriend for having to put her through that, so much so it annoys her now.

The first night in this Brooklyn apartment was slightly better, since the previous tenant decided to leave her bed behind, but it’s the middle of summer and we have no air conditioning, so I found it pretty impossible to sleep. I kept getting up to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water, and apparently the creaking of the floor late at night caused the tenant downstairs to complain to the landlord. Good start, no?

Since then, though, we’ve gotten a window fan, so now we’re sleeping okay. Just waiting on the stuff from Hanover to completely turn this house into a home.

The area of Brooklyn we’re living in is pretty nice. Our landlord is Asian, but the predominant ethnic group in this neighborhood seems to be Russians and Jews. Every pharmacy has a sign that says “APTEKA” below it, and many stores also advertise in large letters that they sell “RUSKIY MAGAZIN!”

(Tangential fact about myself: I don’t speak Russian, but sometimes I like to learn how to read non-Latin alphabets for the hell of it, so I can sound out words in Greek, Russian, and Korean without having a single idea what they mean)

Also, when I say Jews, I don’t mean “yeah I had my bar mitzvah and I don’t eat pork when grandma visits” kind of Jews, I’m talking super hardcore, “I am daring you to laugh at my oversize, furry, puck-shaped hat and my curly forelocks that make my head look like a giant furry hamburger with Arby’s curly fries” kind of Jews. Possibly relatedly, I read reports saying this neighborhood has one of the lowest crime rates in Brooklyn. Make your own conclusions.

Another good thing about my apartment is it’s close to two stops on the Q train, which goes right into Manhattan, so I can make trips into the city proper without any complicated transfer routine. I am trying to make sure I experience all the things that a New York resident SHOULD experience, and of course, that includes homeless people.

I’ve encountered one particular homeless person twice in the last couple of days on the Q train. He gets on the subway car and loudly announces to everyone: “Good afternoon, my name is Lamont. I just got out of prison, I’m homeless, and I have the HIV virus. Any help you could give me would be appreciated.” Like you’d expect any New Yorker to do, everyone in the car ignored him. Tragic, yes, but that’s life in the city.

Frankly, I think he could have gotten everyone’s attention a lot better if he just changed his marketing technique a little bit:

“Good afternoon, my name is Lamont. I just got out of prison, I’m homeless, I have the HIV virus, and I have a box cutter pointed at my own forehead. If you are the kind of person who believes HIV should not be a shared group experience, I suggest you give me some spare change.”

Yes, I know they’re warming up a special seat in Hell for me right next to Troquemada and Caligula right now.

I have about a month before my grad school classes start, so that gives me some time to get myself firmly established. I’m in the process of getting myself a part-time job teaching Chinese and Spanish to young kids, so at the very least I can say I am using some of the skills I’ve learned in college while pursuing this whole comedy nonsense.

For comedy’s sake, since I have learned to swallow my pride faster than a suburban middle schooler swallows adderall,  I got another part time job that starts this coming Monday selling tickets for the Broadway Comedy club in Times Square. The guy who governs the ticket selling to seemed to like me, because even though it’s not the usual policy, he talked to his boss and said he can get me stage time at OTHER comedy clubs this guy manages at least once a week. If everything works out, that will make things a lot easier than having to pay $5 or buy a drink several times week to get stage time at most of the open mikes in the city.

That seems to be the biggest difference between the Boston and New York comedy scene I’ve noticed so far. While there are a lot of open mics, the majority of them require you to pay for stage time or buy something from the bar. To be fair, I can usually take care of that with a $2 Diet Coke, so it’s not THAT expensive, and having to just pay some money is easier than, say, gathering up 10 people, but it’s still a bit irksome when the whole point is that I’m trying to get stage time so I can get exposed and start making money.

I’ve gone to one open mic in Brooklyn so far, and it was okay. Most of the people who showed up were comedians, so people really didn’t laugh at my jokes, but I’m used to that. My one problem, and this happened in Albany, too, is that after I did my set, the next person on stage asked me if this was my first time doing stand-up. Now, he probably meant nothing by it, just asking since I’m new to the area, but I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for about two years. I know I’m nothing special, but I’d like to think the quality of my joke writing is above someone who’s just started out, and it just seemed doubly irritating to ask that when other people on that same open mic went up and told jokes lacking any punchlines. I have played clubs and made people laugh, so I know I don’t sound like a first-timer. I guess I’m just not a “comedian’s comedian” yet.

I suppose that’s my main struggle from here on out. I’m a little fish in a biiiiiig pond, and I have to get out there and get my writing up to a quality where I prove to the audiences and other comedians I’m not just some schlub who think’s he’s funny because his friends told him so.

My funnybone is now against the grindstone.


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