Page 19 - LA Weekly 101818
P. 19

it wasn’t too soon for UnCabaret. Because we weren’t doing jokes, and it’s never too soon to tell your story.
When the HBO Workspace closed, I closed the show again. But it was a time of expanding consciousness; the shift was hitting the fan. UnCabaret told me that in- stead of closing, we should move in two directions at once. Really? Yes, it said. Ex- panding consciousness required it. So at the same time we were periodically at both the classy Skirball Cultural Center and regularly at the divey Mbar, which Michael Patrick King, writer-director-producer of Sex and The City, once brilliantly described as the inside of Bob Guccione’s cufflink box. It was from these two very different vantage points and with a group that had expanded to include Larry Charles, Judd Apatow, John Riggi, Dan Harmon, Cindy Caponera, the Sklars, Jerry Stahl and Jill Soloway that we launched Uncabaret spinoffs Say the Word and The Other Network. It was an uncertain time; we were all in a state of becoming.
And then that state of becoming accel- erated for me. I needed to let my big story unfold without reporting in every week. I become interested in different un’s. The un- seen. Unknown dimensions. Unhappiness. And I let UnCabaret go. I didn’t close it, no announcement or fanfare. I just stopped talking to it.
During that time I wrote a new show: 100% Happy 88% of the Time. I told the story of getting evicted. And how it was part of our giant eviction from a kind of uncon- sciousness. The story involved signs and healing, and the big conversation I was hav- ing with God. I wanted to write it as a book as well, and worked with a fancy agent on a proposal. The feedback from editors was consistent: Love her writing but nothing bad enough happens in this book. It was then that I knew in my heart: Something “bad enough” was about to happen.
And it did. I became unmarried, un- homed, undrunk and uncertain. It was ironic. In the show I’d theorized that we can’t be 100 percent happy 100 percent of the time but we can be 100 percent happy 88 percent of the time if we’re willing to be 100 percent unhappy 12 percent of the time. Sometime during the run of that show I realized I’d been unwilling to do exactly that. How embarrassing.
While I was writing the show, I’d connected with Mitch Kaplan. Mitch is an extraor- dinary musician, a writer-producer and, among other things, the longtime musical director of comedian Sandra Bernhard. We started working together and adding music to the show. It helped. Singing is vowels. Comedy is consonants. Together they were the whole alphabet. You need the whole alphabet for a good conversation.
And then a friend of Mitch’s from group therapy suggested we come check out the venue where he worked. It was an unlikely
source for a good room. But we both needed gigs. It turned out to be a swanky jewel box of a room, with a cool speakeasy vibe. They wanted to hire us. Mitch suggested UnCab- aret. I said, “No, that show is dead to me.” “Let’s just do one,” he suggested. “For your birthday. I’ll do it with you. We’ll add music. It’ll be fun.” Maybe.
ThenonthewayoutIsawwewereonthe corner of First and Hope. I’d been carry- ing around a card with a picture of a street sign for Hope Street and a one-way traffic sign that a friend had given me in my worst days. “But I don’t believe in hope,” I told her. Hollywood had taught me it’s the hope that’ll kill you. The New Age insisted hope is about the future and we need to live in the now.ButaswelefttheclubIsawitwasac- tually called First and Hope, and was on the corner of First and Hope Streets. I thought of the card. Hello. Sometimes the signs are actually signs.
So we did one UnCabaret. Then 400 more. The music changed the show in a way that needed changing. The world had become more difficult. We worked to make it ex- plicitly uplifting. I wanted to be inspired and be inspiring. Adding music meant the comedians could go dark and we could still leave the crowd feeling hopeful, energized for Monday. And of course we expanded the group and now included Maria Bamford, Tig Notaro, Justin Sayre, Jen Kirkman, Kira Soltanovich, Erin Foley, Rory Scovel, James Adomian, Julie Goldman, Jackie Kashian, Alex Edelman, Eddie Pepitone, Rachel Bloom, Lauren Weedman, Alec Mapa, By- ron Bowers, Rebecca Corry, Baron Vaughn, Ali Wong, Jennifer Coolidge, Drew Droege and Sam Pancake, among others.
After seven years that showroom closed and we find ourselves at another crossroads. We’re on hiatus from Sundays and are fully focused on gathering together for our 25th anniversary on Nov. 18 at the beautiful Theatre at Ace Hotel. It was originally the United Artists Theatre. United. Artists. How perfect. Love that. I’m so excited to come together for this very big conversation. With our family of choice. Right before Thanks- giving. Under the auspices of the wonderful arts organization CAP/UCLA. Just blocks from the Women’s Building. It feels very full-circle. Or as I like to think of it, full spiral, because you arrive back home but at a new level.
And then? Sometimes I feel UnCabaret’s completed. But then I look at the Louis C.K./Bill Cosby/#metoo landscape. I see mostly men on lineups. And some of the biggest female comedians ghettoized/ liberated with vagina comedy. I wonder why Hannah Gadsby doesn’t know there is a comedy that goes past the joke, and there has been for years. I want her to come and feel free with us.
So I’m asking UnCabaret what’s next. And listening for answers. You know. Having the conversation.
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