Working it Out in San Francisco

Hello! If you have any friends in London and Scotland here is where I’ll be. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern July 29(9pm) and 31(6:30pm) and then Edinburgh August 6 through August 31 everynight at 9 at the Zoo Southside.

I live a charmed life and make more $$ than a person should earn if they aren’t sitting at a sewing machine, standing on their feet for eight hours,teaching kids, waiting tables,or digging a ditch. As Sarah Palin said on her twitter ‘I have gratefullness for that.’ (The correct word is gratitude Sarah.) Some nights I get a big check. But when I’m home in San Francisco on a Monday or Tuesday I might play for free or like tonight -for just enough cash to buy a six pack of fake beer, a six pack of lo-cal vanilla ice cream sandwiches, a bottle of fancy orange juice, and a four pack of extra soft Charmin and a cab ride home. Buying groceries with the cash from these gigs is a bonus. We really just do these gigs for stage time.We try the new material or polish the same stuff we’ve been doing. And we encourage and are encouraged by the other comics.

The last two nights I was gifted some long sets at Club Deluxe in Haight Asbury and Harvey’s on Castro Street and I took away some lessons.The people I was following at The Deluxe Monday, were so good I started psyching myself out. But when I got on stage I kept amping it up and I saw the guys in the back of the bar give me all their attention. Usually I’ve seen their backs cuz the guys at the bar are usually there to talk to each other. It was a turning point for me at this club where I always settled on getting half the room. Tonight I was reaching to the back wall. Was it the fact that my delivery was tight or that I was closing with an extended riff on oral sex. You can’t overanylize magic. All my self-doubt melted away. It’s crazy that I still go through it but maybe Monday cured me. You just need bravado sometimes. After my set I got and gave lots of hugs especially to my comic pals Caitlin Gil and Big Al who run the night. The good vibes stayed with me tonight at ‘Harvey’s Funny Tuesday’s’, a showcase near and dear to me.  At one time, I was it’s producer along with Nick Leonard and Ronn Vigh (who runs the show himself very nicely now.) Harvey’s Funny Tuesday’s thrives with a mix of Castro Tourists, random partiers, needing to coat their bellies with a burger and finding themselves  trapped in a comedy vortex, and the regulars. I love the regulars.They’ll chat with me on the street.  They bring friends. They know the comics.  They rate the shows.

Tonight was my last SF spot before I leave for London. As I got to the club there were two very smelly white kids with dreads caterwauling on guitars right by the open window to the stage. I was going to ask them to move when a lesbian cop showed and said they had to move a few feet because they almost wacked a tourist with their guitar. I jumped in and persuaded the cop to move them farther away so we could have our show without their twanging and bo. It was very Cagney and Lacey.

I went on last. The host was this hysterical young glamazon Marcella Arguello, one of my favorite straight chicks in the scene. She got the audience to makes some noise sometimes by threatening them and they loved it.  I was excited to try some new bits just written to see if they’d work in London. There’s a bit about baby cannibals and one about how I’m going to take down the band Gomez for culturally appropriating my LATIN name for their white boy rythmless crap and taking my google hits. I was going to record my set and study it later but I got caught up in enjoying the other comics and forgot to bring my recorder to the stage .Two minutes in  I  realized my error. I wanted to stop and get my bag but that would have been obnoxious. So as I laid down my baby jokes to another great crowd I decided to enjoy the damn moment and forget about results. The revolution will not be digitized. This would be for the sweet people who went to this bar in the Castro to take a chance on enjoying someone’s art. Yeah I called comedy art. But not high art ; )

And  I had a very tender exchange with a young latino guy who said “I hope it’s okay to tell you this but when I saw you on LOGO you looked and sound just like my boyfriend’s brother.” The brother had died a couple years before. He had a gap between his teeth. And I sad. “He musta been cute” I didn’t mind the gender bending resemblance.  They had just wandered into Harvey’s tonight and didn’t even know I’d be performing. He said everything happens for a reason. I love that expression but I think everything’s a coincidence

Oh it’s very late and I have to wrap up this rambler. I wanted to mention a couple other of my stand-up haunts so you’ll know where to have fun on weeknights. Every other Monday -I think, Lisa Geduldig of Kung Pao Comedy is running a new and popular showcase at El Rio on Mission near Cesar Chavez.. The shows start at 7:30 and those tickets are sliding scale. I played there 10 days ago and had another Boffo night. Also on Tuesdays these good folks at  present Speakeasy open mike at Annie’s Social Club. Wed and Thurs bring your laundry to Brainwash at 7th and Folsom and see a comedy show. Caitlin runs the Wed open mic and Tony Sparks, the Godfather and mentor to many of us here in San Francisco hosts Thursday. If you have any inkling to try stand-up play Ton’s night and experience a lot of love. It’s what he incites the audience to do when somebody new goes on stage. It’s over the top cheering like a jerry springer crowd married def jam and went to American Idol. And it’s all for you, once. After that you work for every laugh in the laundromat,  I played there last Wed. I feel like I bomb there more than kill. There’s a dyke who works at the food counter who never treats me special like other dykes do.  I feel she can see through to my needy fat comedy baggage. I play that laundromat just so she might say ‘That was funny. Have a free cup of tea” Maybe when I come back from Scotland with a brogue and my anecdotes she’ll give it up.
Also on Wed, the Purple Onion in North Beach presents some big names and soon to be big names in comedy . Not an open mike but a pro quality show run by, folks with the brains to include women comics in the line-up . In fact since I’m too tired to give you links to any of these shows go to to get more details on everything I’ve been talking about. There are big comedy clubs run by corporations. I’m hardly ever at those places. But I can’t go wrong spending an off night in one of the rooms run by the comic producers of San Francisco and the dedicated comics of every level who work on their acts and the adventurous souls who show up to laugh themselves silly or witness a train wreck or do both. There are more of these rooms in town. These are just the ones that I can get to quickest by bus — If I can get a ride to Marin I love to do a set in Mill Valley’s Mark Pitta and Friends at the Throckmorton Theater. That is the plushest  most star studded Tues night set around and they give you flatbread pizza in the dressing room. Mark Pitta and I have the same haircut.

9 responses to “Working it Out in San Francisco

  1. It’s really cool to read your comments about the local scene and venues. Have a great time in Scotland!!

  2. Dee Dee Russell

    Hi Marga! Long time no see, like about ** years, heh. Linked over from Tony Sparks Facebook updates.

    I enjoyed reading your blog very much your perspective is refreshing – a celeb (which you are, my dear) who tells it like it is with a dash of vulnerablity.

    Tony Sparks rocks and that lesbian coffee girl at BW is just trying to be cool in the face of greatness.

    Keep being good!

  3. Thanks Marga! Great write-up- good luck in London and Scotland!

  4. It was the extended riff on oral sex that gave you the big send off at Club Deluxe…

    (I, of course loved every word of your entire set.)

  5. You’re rockin’ SF & beyond! Much love.

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