LA Story #1

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pie photos by tommy kha

Him: It’s so nice to finally meet you. I hope you don’t think I was Twitter stalking you.

Me: Oh, thanks. Thank you! You too. No, I asked to meet up with readers on the West Coast.

Him: I’m not a stalker.

Me: Yep. Nope. You’re all good. Thanks for meeting with me.

Him: How are you loving L.A.?

Me: It’s okay. I was handled for a few days, when I first got here. That felt weird.

Him: What do you mean?

Me: I had to go to quite a few meetings with people that asked me a lot of questions about myself.

Him: Oh that’s right. How did that go?

Me: I can’t say. I signed an NDA.

Him: Ah. A non-disclosure agreement. You can’t talk about specifics.

Me: Right. But I still don’t have a job, for sure.

Him: That’s standard.

Me: Right.

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Him: But, are you getting along okay?

Me: Yes. I’m having fun and it’s nice to see familiar faces from the old days at UCB. It’s strange though, in a different context – you know?

Him: How so?

Me: I associate all these faces with camaraderie and the days when I was getting good at comedy and it really felt like it was just fun with my friends.

Him: But, that’s a good thing, right?

Me: Yeah, it is. But, there’s also this… underlying… LA-ness… that seems to permeate everything here.

Him: What do you mean?

Me: Well, I was talking to a very beautiful young woman at a party, and we were discussing the progressive movement. She was very well read, and very articulate. She was telling me though, that people in LA aren’t as progressive as they seem on the outside – which didn’t surprise me. The same is true of New York in different ways. Sometimes I have to share the comedy stage with comics that won’t even say the word ‘gay.’

Him: I don’t believe that!

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Me: They usually say ‘you guys.’ Some guys won’t play women onstage, even in an improv scene.

Him: That doesn’t sound very progressive!

Me: Neither is the world!

Him: Michael. Sure it is!

Me: I’m excited that Obama mentioned us in the inaugural address. That’s something. But we’ll see if that’s just lip-service. No other president has ever done something like that.

Him: Is that true?

Me: I don’t know; I’m just making that up. But it sounds true.

Him:  Haha. Okay but you have to admit, this town is more progressive than New York.

Me: I’m not sure I agree with you.

Him: How so?

Me: Well take this pink hoodie I’m wearing for example? My lucky sweatshirt.

Him: Okay.

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Me: I can wear this hoodie anywhere in NYC I want to go. It has never given me a problem in East New York, or Bed Stuy, or Spanish Harlem. It works in Chelsea just the same as the South Street Seaport.

Him: So?

Me: So, every audition and meeting I wear  this sweatshirt to in LA, people urge me to take it off before I go into the room. They seem almost mortified for me to be wearing it. Not only that but a casting director told me that he was looking for ‘gay, but not that gay.’

Him: That’s just typing. They’re looking for a specific type.

Me: I get that. But, I also think that this is the type of town where it’s totally fine to be gay, as long as you don’t hold hands with a guy in the wrong neighborhood. That’s weird to me.

Him: Is it? That sounds naive.

Me: Well then maybe I’m naive.

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Him: Michael, you’re an actor. Do you really want to look gay?

Me: Yes. I’m a comic first. I like doing comedy because I can be and do whatever I want. I can say whatever  I want as long as it’s funny. And on my blog I don’t even have to be funny.

Him: Maybe not in this town?

Me: Maybe not? I’m just getting the lay of the land. I always thought comics and musicians have a certain privilege. If the song is good; if the joke is good – you can say whatever you want.

Him: I’m not sure.

Me: Neither am I. I’ve only been doing comedy for 17 years. That’s nothing.

Him: Are you being sarcastic?

Me: Sincere. Thanks for Twitter stalking me. What about that song “All the little kids with the pumped up kicks?”

Him: I like that song.

Me: It’s about a school shooting.

Him: Yikes! Michael, I’m really glad you’re here.

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Me: Oh, sorry. I’m glad to be here. 95% of my interactions here have been really nice. I just like to focus on the awful stuff. It’s a real problem. I like you. You’re a nice guy. You have beautiful eyes, and you’ve shown me kindness. I don’t care if people are nice to me, but kindness is something I really dig on.

Him: I think if you give it a chance, you’ll find that LA is a lot more progressive than you think.

Me: Really?

Him: Yeah. Really.

Me: Thanks, buddy.

Him: Sure.

(pause. a carload of west coast d-bags drive by…)

West Coast D-Bags: FAGGOTS!!

(pause)

Us: B’wahahahahahahahahaha!

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7 thoughts on “LA Story #1

  1. Los Angeles has a lot of worlds all layered like in the film Blue Velvet. What you experience kind of depends on which world you are traveling in. Homophobic and progressive and everything inbetween. Just depends on who you hang with and whose opinions you value.

    I’m naive, but I still believe that success has much to do with being increasingly yourself- but there are a lot of folks who believe in quotas and should’s and shouldn’t’s and creativity by committee. But, I’d rather see a unique soul than a vanilla made to order actor any day (with apologies to vanilla… I like vanilla… esp. french vanilla) I’d say the biggest differences between New York and LA is the directness of communication. In LA the accepted style is to dance around a difficult topic for fear of hurting feelings, and in NY communication is much more direct. Rip that band aid off. I like that directness.

    A lighting designer once laughed and said in New York they say “kill the lights” when you want them off, in CA they say “save the lights.” Semantics or reality? But I do like the directness of New Yorkers. Best of wishes with the casting adventures. Los Angeles has much that is good. You just have to get past the distracting surfaces. Past the artiface.

  2. I’m studying to be a writer at UCSC… I grew up near enough to LA to say I’ve been there multiple times, but I know absolutely nothing about the city. I love your work, which isn’t saying much, since you hear it all the time, but I do. And now that I realize that you have a twitter account, I do want to follow you on it.

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