October 23rd, 2009
Above, you’ll see your friend Kristina having one of many scripted/un-scripted onstage nervous breakdowns as part of the five part APACUNT panels.
Three cities in one week. This is how we do it. I got back to LA on Wednesday afternoon, only to do another show here last night for the Breaking the Bow Festival. Tonight I head to San Francisco for my cousin’s wedding and a talk a college class in Oakland on Tuesday. Somewhere between all this, I’m vowing to edit my short film for the Tavis Smiley blog, write some new stuff to perform at the LA Storytelling Festival next month, rework this old script for me and D’Lo to perform in November, write a City of LA grant, and maybe a few more if I can get my hands on them and not get sick… will that even be possible?
Well, one thing’s for sure! Staying busy sure does stave off the existential crisis shit.
In NYC I must say that my personal hygiene hit an all time low. I’d wake up each morning in my friend’s basement in total darkness (it was the bottom floor of her loft), hungover from the show and drinking the night before and each morning had to decide in a flurry: “Shower or eat?” The eating usually won. My gums would not stop bleeding every time I brushed my teeth. Pretty much everyone at the Festival and East Village knows what I look like without make-up… and I’m talking raccoon eyes, walk of shame at 4am– that kind of no-makeup. I ran out of underwear a few days before leaving and had to get creative (I won’t tell you how). By the end of my stay little fruit flies would float over my head (I forgot I had bought bananas the week before that had gone bad) in my friend’s loft. So I ate six bananas in two days (don’t ask what that does to one’s digestive track). All this, moving at a furiously paced New York minute, yanking pounds and pounds of crap around the East Village and back to Brooklyn at all hours of the night.
I began to feel my organs disintegrating into the rest of my body by the second day of performance. At our last show I was so exhausted, I almost passed out onstage but then channeled it into an amazing (or so I think) onstage nervous breakdown that wasn’t in our script. I hosted the Kong Magazine roll-out party in Brooklyn before I left town. I almost fell asleep in the corner of the bar by the end of the night and yet, we were done at 9pm.
My flight back to LA was in two legs. The first too cold, I shivered and held my own body in my arms for warmth, my muscles straining to heat themselves even inside my jacket. The second leg of the flight was too hot. I was sweating, arching my face towards that fan thing above your seat.
I had a few minutes this morning to reflect and rest and was struck in my inactivity with a strong sense of under-accomplishment. What is it about working so hard that all I can think about is how nice it would be to rest. And that when I get rest, I feel so unaccomplished that I need to work more? And harder?
Goddamn you Chinese genetics.
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Category: artist life., magic powers, new york city, not angry anymore. just tense., oh my god, stand up
March 12th, 2007
What a crazy ass ass ass weekend! I can’t believe I’m rolling into Monday with barely any rest. My BECAUSE, women of color workshop did their showing Saturday. They were absolutely amazing. It was a lot of work but now it’s over and the memories in the can. But before that showing on Saturday, I was doing production stills for “Ping Pong Playah,” a new feature being directed by Jessica Yu (yes, the Oscar Award winner!). My friend Jimmy who co-wrote the script asked me if I was down to dress as Miss Chinatown and shoot some stills that would appear in the movie. It was so fun! They “toned down” Fannie Wong but they made me all 80s cheese in the face.
And yesterday, Sunday, I did my stand-up debut at the Improv on Melrose. I spent most of the day pacing around the house and lying on my couch saying my set to myself. I didn’t really tell too many people that I have been taking a stand up class. It was quite an ass kicker and I’m really glad I did it. One of my reviews for “Free?” way back when said I was like a performance artist stand up. And a lot of my colleagues in the performance art world echo the same sentiment: “You are like the stand up comedian of performance art.”
I’ve hardly been home the last few years, so when a 2 month window opened up that I would be in one place, I decided that I needed to take a class for myself, instead of teaching them all the time. I wish I took a stand up class earlier. I wanted to take the class three years ago but had NO MONEY whatsoever. It’s not cheap. But what’s nuts is how many people in our class miss class and drop out. It seems so expensive to drop out of.
It was interesting and eye opening to realize that I had very little in common with the working world. Between being a political performance artist, being an Asian person whose folks DON’t have accents,and freelance writing for a porn mag– there’s very little the world has to relate to me with. And it was a real challenge to scrape together a set that the average white drunk person could relate and laugh at.
Anyway, they put me at the end of the night because my friend said she might be able to come later in the night. But she didn’t. (wah!) Only my friends Mike and Nancy came for me. They are so supportive! I thought I did ok. I ended up improv-ing all this material about shooting ping pong balls out of my cooch and how the white people in the front row seemed so stunned to see that I could talk. But I of course got off the stage wanting to do a “re-do” and I thought of all these other things I could have made up in the moment.
After the show, this older white dude comes up to me and tells me how I should throw in an Asian accent into my set. He also said, “Your problem is you are too smart! Those people are drunk! It’s going over their heads.”
But after Mike and Nancy bought me beer while I grimaced that I didn’t kill the audience up and down the block (like I killed the audience at the Public when I did my show in New York last June). But they assured me I did great.
So anyway, I was sitting there at the bar at the Improv thinking this could be my new life. Hanging out at the bar at comedy clubs. Drinking myself into a stupor. Rewriting my set in my head, again and again. Trying to figure out how to keep drunk white people entranced and entertained.
I’m kinda excited now that I have a little 5 minute stand up set. It’s so portable and easier to execute. The performance art stuff I do, I barely get to put into practice because there’s some much crap to schlep. So this will be a good thing to just keep me performing. I’ll probably be practicing it up and down town.
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Category: BECAUSE, drunk white people, jessica yu, ping pong playah, stand up