Friday, May 13, 2016

8 Minutes

This is me in August 2009.

Shorter hair, earrings, and a little more hope in my eyes. But maybe that's just because I was wearing make up. It's a shot of me on stage during my "Live at Gotham" Comedy Central taping. My first TV appearance and probably my career highlight so far. You never want to admit something is going to be your career highlight when you're doing it though. When the star high school quarterback is being carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates after scoring the touchdown that won the State Championship, he never yells "I feel like maybe I'm peaking right now!" Everything you do in comedy is supposed to lead to something bigger. Every success is supposed to be a stepping stone, and for some of the comedians who were on Live at Gotham that year it was; they've gone on to great success. For me, it was more like a stepping stone that got me from a few feet from the shore to the middle of the stream and I've just hung out there. I've doing fine. I've done a handful of TV spots, and I perform all over North America, and I have a good life. I'm grateful. No fuck you, I am. But when a kid (ok 35 year old) from Olympia is performing in NYC for the first time and he's wearing a Comedy Central laminate around his neck he's not thinking. "This is great night that's really going to help me have a good life and continue to provide for my family while still pursuing my dream and passion." No, on a night like that he's letting those tiny thoughts in the back of his brain that he's embarrassed to even admit are there come out. He's letting insecurity and realism take the night off, and he's gonna let ego and optimism run shit for awhile and see how that feels. You know what? People better start running away from this building in slow motion, because Gabriel about to blow the fuck up. Which is what makes what happened at the Comedy Central after party so much funnier. Here's the audio of the story from my award eligible podcast I do with my wife called The Rutledges

This is why you don't get to be in charge ego and optimism.
"Insecurity and realism? Are you guys still here? Have you seen humility? C'mon, please come back."
I follow Rachel HBO on Twitter and for some reason yesterday I decided to reach out to her.

It's a really weird thing to tweet at someone, but happily she responded.
 A little closure on an event that didn't even really need closure I guess. This also shows why I'm still hanging out in the middle of the comedy career stream by the way. I should have responded to her text 7 years ago when it happened and said "So weird this happened I just taped "Live at Gotham" and I was at the Comedy Central after party and I thought my night was getting better than it already was." Maybe an LOL even. Or a :) Pretty sure my flip phone didn't have Emoji's. Then she thinks, "Oh that guy I met at the HBO Comedy Festival a few years ago, just taped a Comedy Central thing, good for him" and then when she's producing something she thinks of my name and then...well probably nothing. But that's what you're supposed to do if you're a comedian or a human even. "I don't want to be a bother" isn't a very good career motto, but it's been barely working for me so far so I guess I'll stick with it. I wanted to ask her if she remembered who she was trying to text. I always wondered if it was Gabriel Iglesias. Maybe I'll ask her in 2023.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Angry Viewer

The reason comedians are so sensitive to criticism is because we agree with you. You're right, we do suck. That's one of the reasons we do comedy, so we can tell you how we suck before you get a chance to. One of the benefits of the fame free journeyman type comedy career I've carved out for myself (I'm going to pretend it was my choice) is most of the feedback I receive is positive. That's not just because I'm extremely talented and humble, but also because people usually don't go out of their way to say "Fuck this guy" when they've never heard of you. Even if I have a bad show, at least the rejection is only in the room while it's happening. Of course I'll carry the bad show shame around with me for awhile (I have a bad show shame backpack), but at least I won't hear about it later on Twitter, or have terrible things written about me online. You can not be a famous comedian and still piss people off of course, but my act is pretty safe. It's just jokes and stories. You can laugh or not laugh, but I'm not challenging anyone's belief system. As a comedian I'm hard to disagree with. I think in my whole comedy life I've had two complaint emails after people have seen my show. One was someone upset I used the Lord's name in vain and the other was disappointed I had misused God's word by making a joke about a bible verse. The verse was "It is better for a man to cast his seed in the belly of a whore than spill it on the ground" and it's actually not even in the bible.  I only know that because I Googled it after I wrote the joke. I happily passed that information on to the lady who emailed me, but she didn't respond. The Lord and Google work in mysterious ways.  Even my negative YouTube comments are more amusing than hurtful.


Even after my TV appearances I haven't really had any negative feedback. I haven't had much positive feedback either. Maybe it's because a lot of my TV appearances are on after that juicer infomercial at 3am.  I guess I was due, because I recently taped a TV show called The 206 that airs in Seattle and I really managed to upset at least one viewer. Here's the controversial 3 minute set that started the trouble.

And here's the several comments the viewer left on the The 206 Facebook page. Sorry they are so long. Anger makes people wordy.

Wow. Anger also apparently affects spelling. Misspellings and vague threats aside, I must admit this clearly unstable son of a bitch got to me a little bit. Say I'm not funny, say I'm fat, say my hair is an obvious midlife crisis, say I'm going to hell, say I dress like Marc Maron shops at Walmart, I can handle all that. But, he kicked me right in my Achilles penis and called me a bad father. Goddammit (sorry to use the Lord's name in vain, please send your emails to gabriel @ I didn't see that coming. I already have more than enough comedy dad guilt from having to travel so much. I know I'm a good comedian and I know I'm a good father, just never at the same time. And while I don't think any of my jokes are "mocking" my kids or will "humiliate" them, I also know my kids aren't going to love everything I've said and written about them when they're older. In defense of this particular bit, my son knows he was terrible at soccer. He knows I do a joke about how he tried to shoot the ball with his imaginary laser, and he thinks it's funny. Has he ever seen the bit? No, I don't think he has. Is it because I told him he's not allowed to watch it? No, it's because he just turned 13 and he doesn't give a shit about what dad does for a living. He's more interested in watching videos of people playing video games. I'm just a comedian, it's not a cool job like working for Nintendo. When I was his age I probably wouldn't have watched a video of my dad maintaining the HVAC systems at the hospital he worked at either. Does my daughter know I tell a joke about how she wanted to dance naked at ballet and that I'm worried she has stripper tendencies? No, because she's 7 and she thinks I do knock knock jokes. That's actually the part of angry viewers rant I found to be the most puzzling "and it got worse when he talked about his other children." It's a joke dude. Based on truth yes, but it's a joke. You know like a comedian would do. I didn't really name my daughter Sapphire. I'm not really worried she's going to be a stripper. In fact if as an adult she manages to overcome the obstacles of her family genetics and wants to be a dancer of any kind, good for her, I'm fine with that.  I'm going to wildly speculate and say that I think the angry viewer probably had a rough childhood and now as an adult wishes he could protect all children from harm. So maybe he's at least trying to come from a good place. I am also going to speculate that he's a humorless asshole. I guess he would have preferred I did some hilarious material about how much I love and value my children. That's why my next album is going in a more positive direction.
It's called  "My Wife Is The Best And I Love My Kids So Much!!" 
Track 1. Take My Wife Please...No, Seriously Take Her Somewhere Nice She Deserves It! 
Track 2. I Can't Believe All My Kids Made The All Star Team Again!
Track 3. Hug Pile on Daddy!
Track 4. I Remembered To Buy Cat Food!
Track 5. Never Go To Bed Angry!
Track 6. Two Beers Is Plenty!
Track 7. Are We Out Of Coffee Creamer? No! There It Is In The Back!
Track 8. Everything Is Working Out!
Track 9. So You All Just Cleaned Your Rooms For Fun!?
Track 10. Can You Bring My Wife Back Now?
Track 11. #Blessed
I don't have any jokes about how much I love my children,  but I tell them and show them that I do everyday, and I think that's going to mean more to them than what I say on stage when all is said and done. Hopefully. If it doesn't I'll probably write a joke about it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hope You Make It

Well since Season 9 of Last Comic Standing has officially been put on hiatus I guess I can talk about it.  Actually I could talk about it before. People kept asking me "Did you get picked for Last Comic Standing? Are you not allowed to talk about it?" No, I'm allowed to talk about whatever I want because they didn't pick me. No one makes you sign a non-disclosure agreement when there is nothing to disclose. Just to recap in case you don't live in my house; I did audition for Last Comic Standing in Seattle. It went well and I was flown to L.A. for the next level of auditions. Unlike the Seattle audition the L.A. one was not in front of a comedy club audience, but in front of maybe 8 or 9 NBC executive types. It went OK, but not great. Two things I will never forget about that day. First, in the green room as we were waiting to be ushered on stage for our audition, there was a sign on the wall that said "Life is like a dry hand job." Poignant. Really helped me get focused. The last thing I thought before I got on stage was "Be the lubricant you wish your hand job had." Maybe I should have been thinking about my jokes in hindsight. My audition was a blur. It was was like a 3 1/2 minute dry hand job I guess. I was a little hurt, a little aroused, and a little confused when it was over. (You know like life is.) Right after I performed I was ushered offstage and out the back door where I ended up right in front of the second thing I will never forget about that day; Mario Lopez. I went from reading a hand job sign, to telling jokes in front of NBC producers, to being face to face with A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell in about 6 minutes. My brain couldn't really handle it. I felt like I'd been deep underwater and came up to the surface to fast. The very handsome in person Mario Lopez was there because my audition was at the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club in Universal Studios, which is where the TV show "Extra" tapes. "Extra" is hosted by Mario Lopez, who was also the voice of "Social Smurf" in Smurfs 2 starring Neil Patrick Harris, who was also in a movie called Beyond All Boundaries that also starred.... Kevin Bacon. The day after my audition the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club closed. I should have taken the hand job sign. Hopefully it now hangs in a place of prominence in Jon Lovitz' home to remind him that things don't always work out. I guess he could just hang up one of his movie posters to remind him of that too.
I didn't have a great feeling about my audition and I guess I have good instincts because I never got the call for the next level, which would have been the televised part. Maybe I don't have good instincts, maybe I just assume things won't work out and when I'm right I like to call it intuition. Even a negative clock is right twice a day. I should put that on a sign. Actually like most comedy/showbizzy things no one from LCS told me "No." They just never called me, and the rejection puzzle was put together one rumor and poorly kept secret at a time, as I heard about comics that had been called.  I actually think it would have been harder to be told I had been picked and then learn the show wasn't happening than to never be picked in the first place. You know the old question "If a tree rejects me in the forest, but then the tree goes away, did it happen?" I do feel bad for those comedians that were told they were going to be a part of the show and had that taken away, or at least postponed, or who knows what. I was genuinely happy for the few I knew that had been selected. I was of course disappointed I didn't get a call, but I get it. After my set at the audition one of the questions they asked me was "What percentage of your material would you say is about your wife and kids?" I guessed 70%. When I told that to my friend Eric he said "Oh, you low balled it huh?" One of the things I pride myself on is that my wife and kids material does well in front of a single, non breeder audience too, but I could still almost feel myself getting older when they asked me that question. Of course it would have been great to be on Last Comic Standing, but I'll be fine. I've grown accustomed to the Briar Patch comedy career I have. (If you got that reference you're at least as old as I am.) If I'm honest the thing I enjoyed most about the whole experience was having people excited for me. Having people talk about me isn't a feeling I've had in awhile. By the time this year is over I will have done 201 shows in 71 different cities, taped  2 TV shows ( Comics Unleashed and Laughs on Fox), released a book, put out an album, and done a Comedy Festival,  but nothing generated the buzz that being sort of close to being on Last Comic Standing did. Being a road comic doesn't generate buzz, it just pays the bills. (Usually not all of them at once.) Again, of course I would have loved (or would love in the future) to be on it, but the truth is a lot of the people that have LCS as a credit are hanging around the same rung of the comedy ladder that I am. Certainly a lot of the comics that have been on it during the 8 seasons have gone on to have much better careers than they had before appearing on the show, but most of them are not big names. In fact some of them have gone on to open for me on occasion. (The comic who has appeared on Nickelodeon's NickMom Night Out usually headlines, it's an unspoken showbiz rule.) One of the things that would have been great about being on LCS is I could say "Yes" when people asked me if I'd ever done it. It's been 5 years since I was on Comedy Central, but at least I get to say "Yes" for the rest of my life when strangers ask. The general public holds stand up comics to a pretty high bar. Anything less then famous is considered unsuccessful. At least a few times a week someone says "Good luck" to me after a show. Or even the occasional "Hope you make it."  I like to respond with something like "Well I'm headlining *Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids Iowa right now, so obviously I have made it." Then we all have a laugh. What they don't know is I'm not really kidding. I guess what I'm saying is even if I won Last Comic Standing I would still work at Penguins, just for more money. Which would be awesome, but it wouldn't make the shows any better.
A few people have asked me if Last Comic Standing wasn't being canceled/put on hiatus/ being retooled is it possible they still would have put me on it? It didn't seem likely, but yeah I suppose it was possible. Is it possible Last Comic Standing is being retooled and renamed "The Last Biggest Gabriel Loser Comic Standing" and Gabriel Iglesias and I will compete in a reality show featuring comedy competitions at night and weight loss competitions during the day? I'd love to tell you that, but I've been told I can't talk about it.

*I will be appearing at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids Iowa December 19-20. They have me listed as Gabriel Ruthledge on the website, but trust me, it's me. If "making it" means they spell your name right, then I would very much like that.