Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 3: Monday July 27th, 2009

San Diego to Los Angeles

Quote of the day: “I wonder if we’ll see any big celebrities.”
“Yeah, like Dom DeLuise.” [Yes, we know he’s dead.]

We got up fairly early and made the three hour drive to Los Angeles. On the way there some girls close to our age pulled up beside us and started dancing and making flirty eye contact. Sounds good to me! I’m still angry they eventually changed lanes and exited. We could’ve been something!

About an hour or two into our drive (and I should thank Vince for putting up with me blaring The Beach Boys), we stopped at Laguna Beach. Due to the show with the same name, I assumed this wouldn’t be a nice place, but it was actually very pretty and seemed like a cool town. We got several good photos there. We then continued up to Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, not stopping, but driving through. It seemed like a really nice area.

Around 1:00 we got to El Segundo, which is slightly outside Los Angeles, where we’d be staying with Meredith, a friend of Vince’s family. We talked to her for a little bit and then we were on our way to experience Los Angeles. This would be the only time we talked to her all trip, even though we were in Los Angeles until Wednesday, as she left for work before we woke up and we returned home past midnight both Monday and Tuesday.

First we drove to Amoeba Records, one of the most amazing music stores I’ve ever seen. They had everything! I’ve never seen a better collection. After browsing for half an hour, we walked back to my car. Wait a minute. Where’s my car. We parked right here. But it’s gone. There was plenty of money in the meter. We were within the lines. The sign said we could park here! Right!!?

I called the impounded number on the sign. After a long time they told me that my car had in fact been impounded. We’ve been in L.A. for three hours and my car has already been impounded! It both bothered me and I could laugh at it. What a story to tell my friends! I eagerly texted my friends, Aaron and Katlyn, informing them of my horrible luck.

We made the long walk to Hollywood Tow and picked up my car. In addition to the $243 impounding fee they had told me about on the phone, there was a ticket from the police for $150. Jeez! I showed a picture I took of the sign to the officer, and he gave me an appeal form. I was sure we had done nothing wrong. In fact, today (August 6th) I filled out some forms and mailed them in to contest the ticket, though further research tells me we did park where we shouldn’t have, so I don’t think I’ll be getting that money back. But heck, California is bankrupt. Consider it a donation, an effort towards good karma.

We then ventured down to Hollywood Boulevard, which contains the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and many other landmarks. The Michael Jackson star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame had a big crowd around it. It had been turned into sort of a memorial.

Despite what sounds like an awesome area, it was one of our least favorites of the whole trip. Every other store was a sleazy place selling Elvis license plates or Michael Jackson R.I.P. t-shirts. Plus it was hard to walk without someone hitting you up for money or handing you their hip-hop CD. And then there were all the people dressed as Spiderman or some other movie character who would take a picture with you . . . if you pay them. It’s definitely a tourist spot and though we were tourists ourselves, it just wasn’t our cup of tea. Perhaps it was the cup of tea that Vince spilled at Big Texan. Okay, lame metaphor.

But at least I did see the star for one of my favorite actors, James Cagney:

For dinner we went to the Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill. We went there mainly to see a weekly stand-up comedy show called “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” which is hosted by Maria Bamford, one of our favorite comedians. She’s done some Comedy Central specials, bit parts in movies and TV, and is a fairly successful voice actor (something I’d like to get into) and has appeared on shows like Hey Arnold! and Word Girl.

Unfortunately she obviously can’t host it when she’s out of town, which we knew she would be. I mean, come on, so you have a gig doing stand-up in Dublin, Ireland—you can skip it for one night, can’t you? Still, we were excited to see what comedians would be there. It’s a fairly random event. You don’t know who will show up, unless if you get on Twitter that day where some of the lineup is posted. It’s not something that draws big-name comedians at all, but if you’re in tune to the comedy world, you might see a face or two you recognize.

The crowd was very small, about 30 to 45, many of which were comedians. We stayed for about six, before we had to leave. Three weren’t too good, but the other three were, all of which either Vince or I recognized.

The first one we really liked was Matt Besser. I didn’t recognize his name, but immediately recognized his face. He was one of the founders of the popular sketch comedy group, Uprights Citizens Brigade (other founders included Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz from Saturday Night Live). He did characters that an audience member pulled from a pile of 3 x 5 cards. He was very funny, my favorite of the night. One of the guys where anything he says gets a laugh.

After this we were told the next comedian was going to be appearing on Conan the next night. It was Jimmy Carr from Great Britain. He was also very funny with mostly one-liners. I believe he’s been on Conan several times.

Later was another face I recognized, but didn’t know his name. It was Jordan Carlos. Another really funny guy. Looking up his credits I see he’s been a regular on The Colbert Report where he plays Alan, Stephen’s “black friend.”

After the sixth comedian we had to leave to get in line at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. On the walk there we talked about how excited we were we got to see some fairly successful comedians in a small, intimate setting.

The Upright Citizens Brigade opened a theatre and training center in New York and then one in Hollywood in 2005. They teach improv/comedy classes and put on nightly shows of sketches and other things. The theatre is very small, about 150 seats around a tiny stage, and tickets are just $5. The area the theatre is located in is a pretty hip part of Hollywood, much better than Hollywood Boulevard. It had a couple bars, cafes, and bookstores nearby.

The show we were going to see was called “Doug Benson Loves Interrupting Movies.” It’s a show done once a month hosted by, you guessed it, Doug Benson. The premise is Doug invites a few other comedians and they watch clips from movies (the theme for this night was “summer blockbusters”) and make fun of them.

I was not familiar with Doug beforehand, though quickly realized I had heard of him from his documentary called Super High Me, a spoof on Super Size Me. I have not seen this movie, but had heard of it for some reason. Doug makes no secret of his love for marijuana and was even named the 2006 Stoner of the Year by High Times Magazine.

Taking a seat, it was obvious right away that this was our type of crowd. Most of the people looked around our age and dressed similar and obviously were there for a lot of the same reasons we were – fans of comedy.

Doug came out and talked a little bit to the audience, promoting his new CD. Like Matt Besser from the stand-up thing, almost everything he said, whether intentional or not, got a laugh. He introduced his first guest, another guy I immediately recognized. It was Samm Levine who I know from one of my favorite dumb comedies, Club Dread. You can currently see him in a small part in the new Brad Pitt/Quentin Tarantino movie, Inglorious Basterds. He and Doug carried on a conversation for awhile just about movies and so on, and we learned several of Samm’s scenes in Inglorious Basterds had been cut. The movie they chose to make fun of was a scene in Speed, which received many laughs. Doug then picked Con-Air and they laughed at the ending from that, the ending which showed Las Vegas, where we’d be going in a few days.

Next was Scott Aukerman who I wasn’t familiar with, but I learned has written for some TV shows and has done some small acting roles. He too carried on a conversation with Doug and then they watched a scene from Jaws and The Dark Knight, getting laughs from both.

They also told the audience they were trying to get Zach Galifianakis (the big bearded guy in The Hangover among other movies) to come down for the show, but instead he was going to be at tomorrow night’s sketch show, which Vince and I were sad we’d miss. Zach, he’s a huge name! Very funny. Good stand-up comedian too.

Simply put, it was a great time. Vince and I were pretty energized after that. It was a hilarious time and in particular, a very intimate show. As audience members we felt a part of it.

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