Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life's a 'Pitch,' Then You Die

So I finally made it to the Lower East Side last night to see my pal Mark Allen's "Pitch!," a monthly show he hosts with Greg Walloch where an eclectic group of artists/comedians/storytellers of all types get up on stage and compete to pitch their idea to an appointed editor. Last night's line-up included comedian Mike Lawrence ("Nerd of Mouth"), Mother Flawless Sabrina (living legend), Billy Eichner ("Creation Nation") and Glenn Marla ("Pussy Faggot") and featured a twist in that they were selling their story to Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, so gossip was highly encouraged. Like anything comedic, you need to experience it firsthand to fully appreciate it. But here are a quick thoughts from last night's most enjoyable evening:

Greg and Mark are great hosts -- Greg working his disabled comedian routine (Geri WHO?) while Mark -- adorable as ever-- pokes fun at his youthful go-go boy days.

This included reminiscing about the first time he was mentioned in La Dolce Musto (that's the boys after Mark blew the dust off that Village Voice from 1984).


For his part, Musto arrived (on bike, no doubt) and was his usual self before the show started, which is to say on the low end of functioning on the Aspberger's scale. (Mark and I were chatting when Musto walked in and when Mark tried to introduce him to everyone in the area, Musto stared down at the floor and muttered something inaudible.) My guest -- birthday boy and book reviewer extraordinaire Christopher -- was shocked as he watched Musto quickly retreat, walking away and staring at the walls after Mark bought him a drink, but I cautioned Chris to just wait and see. Like clockwork, the minute he was put in the hot seat to play judge for the evening, Musto was quick, witty and ready to go. He feedback to the pitches seemed as genuine as it was useful. (Girl's either painfully shy or just a total bitch!)

One of the storytellers happened to be my pal Billy Eichner, whose work (Jen's Vlog) I was already a fan of when I was introduced to him by our mutual friend Scott. (It was funny, because not only is this event completely improvisational, from what I could hear before the show, it pretty much seemed like no one even really had a strong idea of what the concept was, yet everything seemed to fall into place from the second it began.) Billy went first and was pitching a memoir called "Clean Up In Aisle Me"(!). The gist of it was how he had turned seemingly negative events in his life into positives, like the time New York Times food critic Frank Bruni ate his ass after they met at a party where Billy got, um, shitfaced. When the story got picked up by PageSix -- and Billy's father saw it -- everyone thought he should be ashamed or embarrassed by it. After much soul-searching, however, Billy has since come to realize that having your ass eaten by the top-draw mouth of the most influential food critic in the world is, indeed, a compliment. (Musto approved.)

Sabrina went next, and offered a letter written to her by President Obama, who became aware of her from her work on the Hillary Clinton campaign. This political moment was a big shift in gears from Billy's bunch-munching banter, and ultimately it seemed to be a pitch about Obama's attempt to reach out to the "T" in our little LGBTQ world.

Mike Lawrence followed. I'm pretty sure Mark handpicked him for the show because he and I seem to share a similar sensibility and -- for better or worse -- we seemed to be the only ones laughing at most of the routine. (Christopher said he thought "the straight guy bombed" on the subway ride home.) He told one story about shitting his pants on the subway en route to a job interview, eventually having to use his only resume as toilet paper when the Starbucks didn't have any -- and how he tried to explain to his prospective employer that admitting that this was the reason he was 20 minutes late and resumeless was the kind of honesty and character they would be getting if they hired him. (He said he'd worked seven years at McDonald's, so the resume was already soiled.) The set culminated in a story about him getting punched in the face by a "hippie douche" audience member, an option he wanted us to know was available(!). (For the record, Musto liked him and thought he had CABLE television potential.)

Last came Glenn Marla, who was pitching two articles for the Voice about fat acceptance. The stories stemmed from Glenn's utter glee at discovering that Carnie Wilson -- in her big Wilson Phillips cameo at the end of "Bridesmaids" -- was, despite gastric bypass surgery -- fat again! She noted that every celebrity who has had weight-loss surgery has slowly started to gain weight again, and Glenn's theory is that some people are just meant to be fat and society should embrace it, because little fat kids need fat celebrity roles models. Her follow-up article would be about how now that all these performers who have had weight-loss-surgery are getting fat again, they want their parts back from every person who's ever donned a fat suit for a job. (We're looking at you, Gwyneth and Tyra!) Glenn's storytelling and delivery were pretty damn hilarious -- trust me, my recap is doing it little justice -- and I'd say for the purposes of the show, Glenn probably won.

Before the show -- and a little afterward -- we got to hang out with Mark a bit. (If you're not familiar with his work, go HERE.) Our friendship dates back to the dial-up America Online days, so it was great to finally spend some time together in the flesh. (He's a sweetie.)

The show's a lot of fun -- I'll definitely be back!

"Pitch!" takes place the fourth Wednesday of the month in the Lounge at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, 9:30 p.m. Tickets: $7. Showtime: about 90 minutes. For more information, go HERE.

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