Perhaps this was because Friday had worked itself out so well.
Even though Friday I found out that I had food poisoning from a wrap I’d gotten nearby, the people at my work had been sympathetic, I’d gone home early and, best of all, I’d gotten to spend the night with Eva, lying in bed, ordering Chinese food and watching epsiodes of “The Walking Dead” and “Ugly Americans” we hadn’t seen.
The first show was one my friends had been raving about but neither Eva nor I had seen (it was fun).
The second was a show I felt Eva liked more than I did, a sort of hipster low-rent Futurama, which I was nonetheless drawn to, as it seemed wrapped up in this whole world of New York Comedy (from where it derives it writers/stars/setting) and thus a tome from which I could drawn some sort of wisdom/insight for whatever the fuck it was that I was doing with all these improv/sketch classes.
Friday night was nice.
Saturday I woke up to realize:
a. Perhaps I shouldn’t have eaten all of those water chestnuts out of my chinese food as I fucking hate the things, but felt like I was just giving them yet another chance, which is a bad idea when you might still be food-poisoned.
b. I had a sketch to write for my class.
My Saturday morning sketch writing class had been started on a whim, glimpsed on a website with a teacher whom I had seen around and who had been referred by many others. And though sketch is not my natural form (I’ve taken a class on it before at NYU), I felt that it couldn’t be far from all of these Improv skills I was supposedly learning and that the two went hand-in-hand.
To that end, my class was super-supportive. A mixed bag of people ranging from stand-up comedians to construction workers, to disgruntled Google employees, they tended to give people the benefit of the laugh out of their own insecurities or perhaps a general feeling of good humor, perpetuated by the teacher, who resembled (to me) a giant nesting owl.
My previous attempt to write a sketch the morning of the class had gone off fairly well, especially for how poorly I had felt about it and leaving last week, I felt that glow about me temporarily I felt in film school, the glow of feeling like you’re “getting it” like you’re “going somewhere”, like you “have promise”. It’s a hard thing to describe, but it’s bad, it makes you cocky.
But it gives you hope, where none should reasonably exist.
Anyway, I tried again this week, brought mine in, volunteered my sketch comfortably second and the crowd was dead.
My teacher, normally supportive, suggesting other jokes that could be added to the sketch, instead suggested other directions I could have gone off for the subject material.
I even asked the class if they’d seen the source material (it was a movie parody) in a mix of fear and indignation and they confusedly nodded.
It was sad and it’s sad looking back upon.
The rest of the sketches got laughs and when I left I felt shoddy.
Yes, I knew, I’d take this as a lesson. I hadn’t watched enough sketch comedy, hadn’t written enough sketches. It was a hard thing to learn that didn’t come naturally to many people. I would look back from this and learn and be glad I didn’t end up as the sort of self-satisfied writer that made the sort of mistakes I made in that sketch. I would grow.
But that means fuck-all when you’ve just had a bad weekend sketch class and the rest of your life is working at a movie theater.
Eva wasn’t around on Saturday.
So I spent the rest of the day eating and watching Mr. Show, as an attempt at ritual sketch-purification.
It would only be later that I would realize that eating heavily the day after you’ve been food-poisoned isn’t the best way to go.
I guess that was the other part of Saturday.
Sunday wasn’t much better, though I guess after Saturday, it could be forgiven.
I had a rare day shift at the theatre and helped trained a nice, new girl at the theater, at least in all of my pet-peeves and foibles.
I still felt bad (lit/fig) from Saturday, but at least down at the concession stand, on shift, I was nearby the bathroom.
By the time it was nearing the end of my shift, I had been lectured by a crotchety old lady on customer service and had at least one woman walk away in disgust at the price of a water bottle.
But I had also had an old Jewish-Catskills comedian, Van Harris, come up and talk to me and tell me his life story and tales of comedy, in a way that felt somewhat meaningful.
Other than the usual, “it’s not what you know but who”, he gave me that the most important thing in comedy “is that your mind work quick” and he told me about his grandson, a BU-FIlm grad who reviews movies in Las Vegas and does stand-up on the side.
“It’s a hard life for him, his late twenties.” He told me. “It’s working right now. But if he stays in it, who knows what he’ll do.”
I wondered if my grandmother feels the same about me.
In my on-going quest to gain some kind of come-uppance at my movie-theater place of business (which Eva described as “what are you going to do, force them to respect you at a minimum wage job?” and my father described as “who the fuck cares?”), I managed to express my frustration to the managers succinctly about not being trained as a projectionist when I had been led to believe otherwise and my request seemed to have some traction.
“Alright, come in tomorrow. We’ll get you started.” The manager told me. “Just go make sure it’s ok with the projectionist.”
Unexpected victory in hand, I marched out of the manager’s office, called out the projectionist’s name and then gamely tripped on a running 35-millimeter print of “Four Lions” that was playing, causing alarms in the booth, inches from the aforementioned manager and stopping it almost at once.
“Wheruohohrah.” The projector went.
And I went silent.
It was okay, I guess. The projectionist was right there. He fixed it quickly and no one complained. He told me sympathetically, that there had been worse first outings in the projection booth. I agreed toc ome back on Monday and see if I could “cause less harm”.
On Saturday, I’d sent my sketches over to John Beamer who had decamped from my apartment, first for a full-floor of a family friend’s Cobble Hill apartment, then back to Palo Alto for family time/Thanksgiving. John had been someone I’d always respected for his comedy chops and his bluntness and when he’d told me a web-episode I was having trouble with for the writing group “worked”, I went from stuck-and-abandoned to finished real fast. I’d sent him both the one the class liked and the one they didn’t, seeing if he would come to the same conclusions.
After I’d left work on Sunday, I resumed by hedonistic sketch-cleansing with an interlude dinner with “frequent blog-guest” Chadd Harbold, who was gamely there to chill after my shift and hear my stories.
Of course, all this stress and eating and stress-eating just reignited my food poisoning which woke me up at 2am last night, from what was supposed to be an early bedtime.
There on my phone, in the bathroom, was John’s reply.
He hated both of them, which I guess I should have expected, in a several-paragraph deconstructed email.
For some reason this comforted me, knowing I hadn’t gotten from “getting it” to not, but rather just from “terrible at sketch comedy” to “terrible, yet again.”
After the bathroom, I went back and got some sleep.
As I said, on Saturday, I made some poor decisions, gastro-intestinally for post-food-poisoned body.
This does not, however, extend to poor culinary decisions.
Because on Saturday, I ate well.
In my haste to erase my previous class, I fled from Midtown to the overcrowded streets of Broadway/SoHo, where Twitter had told me my love/hate the Mexicue truck was hanging out.
I had actually been there earlier in the morning before my class, in an attempt to gain some decent lunch before heading over to nigh-on Penn Station, but they’d done their usual tease, telling me they’d open at 11:15 and then not starting till after 11:40. By the time they were open I was gone and resentful.
But after a bad foray into the outside world, like a good abused spouse, I was back.
However, both times on my way to the truck, I was hijacked by another rival Mexican truck on the same block as Mexicue: the Tribeca Taco Truck.
I’d never heard of them and were amazed they were going up so brazenly against Mexicue, a truck known for their inciting of office-worker flash mobs in midtown over who’ll get the last short rib taco, but here they were.
And even though at first glance they looked like the sort of half-hearted breakfast/taco truck that haunts Christopher St. like a dull joke, a quick glance at the menu revealed unexpected items like “Tofu Chipotle” and “Nopales” or grilled cactus, which I couldn’t recall seeing other places at all.
The prices too were incredibly cheap, 2.50 taco (good) but 5 dollars (insane!) for a burrito with rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, guac, a meat of your choice and even their specialty sauces which ranged from the Calexico-known “Avocado Crema” to the outlandish such as “Barbequed Pineapple” and “Sweet Mango (Habanero)”, which burned my tongue when I dipped in my pinky to taste a small sampling of it.
I got the chicken taco both times I went there, in the morning and when I returned later with foodie-accomplice Emmeline Wilks-Dupoise, trying both the Peruvian-Style Salsa Verde and the Chipotle Crema. Both were excellent experiences, though as a semi-purist I preferred the Salsa Verde, which reminded me slightly (and anachronistically) of Caracas Arepa Bar. If the chicken was a little closer to street meat, than the supple pulled-smoked chicken of Mexicue sliders, it underscored the sheer plain-spoken-ness of the smiling semi-bearded truck-proprietor and his enthusiasm due his own food.
This was “real Mexican truck food, not Mexicali” as Emmeline reported to her own foodie-boyfriend over her smart-phone, walking down Prince St. Her Grilled Cactus taco was topped with pineapple salsa and some of my purloined spicy mango as well, which didn’t even make her blink.
“I eat spicy food all the time.” Emmeline said non-chalantly.
“You got hours?” I asked the truck-proprietor, in mid-taco.
“For you, I’ll be here every day!” He announced grandly.
And soon my taco was handed to me, complete.
TRIBECA TACO TRUCK
Pollo Asado Taco w/Salsa Verde (Peruvian Style)- $2.50
Broadway bet. Prince and Spring St (hours uncertain, try Zagat FoodTruck Tracker or ask a friend in-the-know)
R to Prince St, 6 to Spring St, BDFM to Bway-Laffayete Sts.