Monday, March 31, 2008

Guess Who I Saw Today, My Dear?

© 2008 Leighann Lord

So I'm walking west on 19th Street when a police car glides by, lights blazing. Directly behind it is another police car, two black Suburban's and third police car bringing up the rear. Another big muckety muck dignitary being escorted around town; not unusual in New York City. No big deal until a casual glance to my left revealed who the muck was. Sitting in the rear passenger seat of the first Suburban was a Democratic Presidential Candidate, and I thought to myself, "Oh my god! That's the right side of Senator Barack Obama's head!"

I'm usually not the star struck type, but I'd be lying if I said a big old cheesy grin didn't instantly erupt on my face. It was then I recalled the morning news reports that Barack would be in town delivering a speech on economics at Cooper Union. There was some speculation that Mayor Michael Bloomberg might finally endorse him given how chummy they've been, but so far no.

The enthusiastic fan in me is responsible for what almost happened next. I was seized with urge to run up to the car window, and say, "Hi, Mr. Obama! I love your message! I think you're great! I've been meaning to Pay Pal you a couple of dollars, but money's been tight. Good luck!" No matter how well intentioned the sentiment, this action is unwise and would not have ended well.

Getting simultaneously gunned down by the New York City Police Department and the United States Secret Service is not how I want to get famous. So giving Mr. Obama an enthusiastic thumbs up, from a respectable, out of shooting range distance? "Yes we can."

But running up to his heavily guarded motorcade? No we can't.

For News About Leighann's TV Appearances and Upcoming Live Comedy Shows: Please Join The E-Mail List

Monday, March 24, 2008

Advice to Barack Obama's Pastor

Dude, You Can't Speak Your Mind
Where Do You Think You Are, America?

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Much ado has been made about the inflammatory comments of Barack Obama's former pastor. People have demanded that Barack denounce him, condemn his comments and distance himself lest he be tarred with the same anti-American brush. We must remember that in the post 9/11 world, much like the McCarthy era, any criticism of the United States is deemed inherently un-American. That's how we do in times of crisis. We circle the wagons and condemn anyone who mentions that the horses pulling said wagons are starving, the tires are busted and the contents are spoiling.

hat has most surprised me is the contingent that says if Barack was in the audience when his Pastor made these comments, he should have walked out. He should have said something right then and there. I've walked out on many things: a bad date, a college statistics class, and most notably the movie “Top Gun.”
Looking back, if I had the stones -- or in my case the tubes -- to walk out on a Tom Cruise film, I should have also run, not walked, out of “Cyborg.”

When someone asks, “What's the worst movie you've ever seen?” What they're really asking is, can you guess the worst movie they've ever seen. But I challenge you; whatever your worst cinematic experience, foreign or domestic, and I'll see that film and raise you “Cyborg.”

I concede that Jean-Claude Van Damme was one of the best pieces of testosterone filled eye candy the late 80s/early 90s had to offer. The eyes, the accent, the abs, but I will never get those 86 minutes of my life back. If I ever make it onto the Hollywood C-List and I meet Jean-Claude, I will tell him to his face that he owes me. He owes me big, but I'll settle for a lifetime subscription to Netflix.

All that to say one does not simply walk out of church mid sermon when the preacher says something you don't like or agree with. If we did the churches would be empty. That might not be a such a bad idea, but that's not my point. Hard core religious cynic that I am, I have never walked out of a church although Lord knows I've wanted to.

When I was 10 years old a well meaning neighbor took me and a friend to her Pentecostal Church to see a movie about The Rapture. People disappearing, the Earth descending into chaos. It was terrifying. Did I mention I was only 10 years old? I cried and had nightmares for weeks. My mother was furious.

And I thought Purgatory was chilling. I'll say one thing for modern Catholicism, the religion class lesson plan does not include scaring the crap out of little kids with The Book of Revelation. How I wish I would have been a slightly less obedient child and walked out of that church when I saw which way the apocalyptic winds were blowing.

In high school I became a church lector, or as they call in now, a minister of the word. My Mom constantly reminded me to familiarize myself with the passage I'd be reading ahead of time so I'd be prepared for Sunday. This was good advice so of course I ignored it. Any self respecting teenager would. I was a decent public speaker and could usually get away with winging it.

Such was not the case the Sunday I first encountered St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. I read the line, “Wives be submissive to your husbands” as a question. The congregation slipped into something other than a prayerful silence. My Mother was mortified. And quite frankly, so was I.

My particular parish was pretty progressive; one of the first to have altar girls, but I was beginning to see that the church at large was not exactly at the forefront of the women's liberation movement. I, of course, had been an ardent feminist since the age of 12. I didn't like the sound of “Wives be submissive to your husbands” at all. I wanted to stop reading and start debating but instead I finished the passage with an unconcealed tone of disappointment and skepticism.

I was confronted similar misogynistic messages when I attended a friend's wedding and the happy couple selected a passage from The Book of Sirach. A very progressive fellow, Sirach wrote, “A silent wife is a gift from the Lord, no price can be put on a well-trained character.” Really now. I was so angry I could barely sit still in my pew. I wanted to shout, “You can't be serious!” and stomp out in search of an incendiary device. But I didn't. I held my peace until the service was over, and then it was peace out. It's okay. I was leaving anyway.

Although not a formal member, I subscribe more to the Baha'i religious philosophy which teaches equality of the sexes.

“The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be."

Or as Rob Base so eloquently put it, “It takes two to make a thing go right.” This bizarre idea of equality vs subjugation is probably why there haven't been mass conversions to the Baha'i faith. Nice gardens though.

I guess I understand now more than ever why nobody wants to run for president. You and everybody around you is fair game. I just hope Barack's two young daughters don't say anything out of turn. One slip of the tongue at recess about not liking hot dogs or apple pie, and Barack's campaign may never recover.

For News About Leighann's TV Appearances and Upcoming Live Comedy Shows: Please Join The E-Mail List

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Wedding Was Great And Then The Mime Showed Up

© 2008 Leighann Lord

I've been to a lot of weddings, most traditional; some not. I've seen people jump the broom, step on stem ware and chicken dance. My cousin's wedding this weekend seemed pretty straight forward: beautiful ceremony, open bar reception, the pleasure of being with family, but then just after dinner The Mime showed up.

A woman dressed in black and white, wearing white face suddenly appeared at the reception hall. And by "appeared" I don't mean out of thin air, I mean she just showed up. And although she seemed terribly out of place she didn't act lost. My husband and I were alarmed, but everyone around us seemed pretty cool with it; like a mime at a wedding reception was as normal as having a preacher, a DJ and an argument.

I don't mean to brag, but my husband and I have the best arguments. At it's core it’s always the about same thing: our opposing approaches to life. I'm a planner. He's a winger. He's a last minute, leap without a net, it's all gonna work out type of guy. I'm a research, charts and graphs, map out all possible outcomes six months in advance type of girl. On the day of my cousin's wedding this conflict manifested itself as an argument over clothes.

Twenty minutes before we were supposed to leave the house my husband lazily began looking for something to wear. I, on the other hand, picked out my outfit the day I got the invitation. This last minute dash, which somehow usually works for him, would have been fine if he were a suit and tie kinda guy. He’s not. He cleans up well, but it’s a battle.

This is eerily reminiscent of our wedding. The romantic man who courted me with abandon, who moved mountains to win my hand, who would have changed the rotation of the earth if it suited my fancy, dragged his feet on securing his wedding tux. Months went by. With the big day perilously close, he still didn’t have a tuxedo and I had a melt down. In an apoplectic fit on Queens Boulevard – aptly named The Boulevard of Death – I screamed, "Whoever is standing at the altar with a tux on is the guy I'm gonna marry and if it's not you, so be it!"

Some would attribute this outburst to classic psycho bride behavior. But there's hope for a marriage if a couple can survive the wedding planning process. The average groom, however, may find this daunting. Thankfully my then groom, now husband, is not average. He loves me for me. And what he loves most about me is that I am not a mime.

"Baby, there's a mime. Why is there a mime?" he said clutching my hand.
"I don't know."

And truly I didn't. At first I thought he was just jealous. He's used to being the only white person at our family functions and now suddenly, it was him and The Mime. But I too was leery.

We stand-up comics and mimes don't have a happy history. On the entertainment totem pole, comics are one step above mimes. That one measly rung allows us to feel superior. We look down on mimes with contempt and scorn. We mock them at every opportunity; and yet we are secretly grateful, for they are the cushion that saves us from being on the absolute bottom.

It turns out, however, that we were grossly mistaken. This lady wasn't a mime. She was a praise dancer who performed an interpretive dance to gospel music in white face. I never thought I'd type those words together in the same sentence, but there they are. Read it again if you need to.

In the Catholic Church they're called liturgical dancers but the concept is the same. There's lots of gliding, spinning, big sweeping arm motions and praying hand poses. It's beautiful. I've just never seen it done at a wedding reception. To be honest, I'm still not sure why she did it in white face. I didn't know Jesus was that big in the mime community; then again I doubt they really talk about it.

I guess the moral is – and here my husband and I totally agree – beware the open bar.

For News About Leighann's TV Appearances and Upcoming Live Comedy Shows: Please Join The E-Mail List

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Former Governor Eliot Spitzer: Client Number Nine Takes a Powder

Former Governor Eliot Spitzer: Client Number Nine Takes a Powder
Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

© 2008 Leighann Lord

When Barack Obama called this "the political silly season," he wasn't kidding. The governor of New Jersey resigned for having a homosexual affair. The governor of New York has just resigned for hiring a prostitute. What's the governor of Connecticut going to do, join NAMBLA? That would complete the tri-state trifecta.

My congratulations to the media for at last reporting on a political sex scandal in a timely manner. After the John McCain/lobbyist late breaking story from nine years ago, I had my doubts. Scandal is best served fresh, hot and juicy.

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, also known as The Sheriff of Wall Street, has been caught with his pants down in a prostitution ring scandal. Many called for his resignation but some have suggested that his "indiscretion" is a private matter that has nothing to do with his job. I side with the former. If he'll lie to and cheat on his wife, he'll lie to and cheat on his constituents. We expect this from our politicians, all we ask is that we not catch them doing it. Wives, however, sign on with slightly higher expectations.

Which brings me to Silda Spitzer, or as she might prefer to be called at the moment, Silda Wall. I watched the Governor's brief press conference and wondered how she could stand there next to him at the podium. I admired her restraint and the fact that Mr. Spitzer didn't have a mark on him: no black eyes, no frying pan sized bruises, no split lip. I can only hope his shirt and tie covered up red strangulation marks around his neck.

But Mr. Spitzer doesn't just have his wife to answer to, he also has three teenage daughters. Give him hell, Ladies. His wife may some day forgive him, but not his daughters. If I were them I'd never let it go.

"Daddy, can you buy me a car. No? What do you mean no? If you had $80,000 for a Ho, I know you can afford a car." He’s gonna need to find another job quick because this is going to cost him.

This is a complicated (read: hypocritical) issue for me. I didn't have the same urge to call for Bill Clinton's ouster when his libidinous actions came to light. Why? Both men are guilty of adultery. Why isn't it the same? Well, there are differences.

First, Bill didn't break any laws. Second, he didn't pay. He pulled punani on personality. Bill Clinton is a likable guy who could charm the pants of Madeline Albright. (I'm not saying he did. I'm just using grand hyperbole here to prove the point that Bill's got major game.) Bill Clinton's smile lights up a room. Elliot Spitzer's smile gives you the chills and not in a good way.

In dating, politics and scandal, charisma counts. Given Mr. Spitzer's nasty attitude, and bully boy ways, at $5,000 she was underpaid.

For News About Leighann's TV Appearances and Upcoming Live Comedy Shows: Please Join The E-Mail List

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Call Back? Great! For What?

© 2008 Leighann Lord

My commercial agent told me I had a call back for an audition that I only vaguely remember doing. My memory is hazy because I was under the influence of Benadryl Cold medicine and Tylenol, desperately fighting a flu that was kicking my ass.

I must have been in bad shape because my husband announced he was driving me into the city, instead of dropping me off at the subway. That was probably best. New Yorkers are well known for their compassionate reaction when a fellow rider takes ill on the train. I’ve never heard of a sick passenger being physically attacked, but if looks really can kill, I shouldn’t risk it in a weakened condition.

I slept the whole ride in and had to be shaken awake when we arrived at the audition. Mechanically I signed in, and had my Polaroid taken at the front desk. Most casting agents don’t ask for headshots anymore. They take your picture on site and while Polaroids are convenient they’re also quite ghastly. They make Department of Motor Vehicle photos look like glamour shots. I smiled in the photo, but it didn’t help. Instead I looked sick and somewhat delirious.

As I sat staring at the copy, a fellow comic and friend came out from the audition room. She walked over to hug me, but I waved her off. "No, I’m sick," I said. I didn’t know what I had, but I certainly didn’t want to pass it on, at least not to someone I like. She seemed concerned but grateful that I kept her at arms length. A lot of comics, actors and artists are among the 40 million plus Americans with no health insurance. We don’t get sick time, sick leave or sick pay. Keeping your germs to yourself is more than just polite, it’s our version of managed health care.

My announcement that I was ill prompted a chorus of "me too’s" from other women sitting in the waiting area; each one in turn describing her symptoms as if we were in a flu support group meeting. From the stories, New York City seems to be ground zero for a Stephen King like virus hell bent on destroying the human race.

One poor woman said she’d been sick for three months and eventually had to be put on steroids. This will probably ruin her professional baseball career, but won’t matter much at auditions. There’s no random drug testing in the arts. If there was a lot of people would have to give back their Oscars, Emmy’s, Tony’s, Grammy’s, Golden Globes and Razzies.

In the midst of this conversation the casting director calls my name and asks if I’m ready. I consider asking for another minute, but the quicker I get this done, the faster I can go home and back to bed. I remember slating (saying my name) and delivering my lines to camera but everything seemed really foggy and far away. The medication made me feel like I was moving in slow motion and my face was on a time delay. We taped it twice and the second time felt better than the first but that’s not saying much. I left hoping I wouldn’t end up on the casting director’s "What Not To Do at An Audition" reel.

That’s why the call back stunned me.

"Really?" I said to my agent. "But I was so sick. I don’t remember what I did."

"Well it worked,"
she said. "They want you back."

In classic neurotic fashion I began to worry I’d gotten the call back because I was sick. Were they going for the ashen delirious look? Could I recapture that now that I was well? But my Ego stepped in and reminded me that I’m a "show-must-go-on" kinda girl. Sick or well I get the job done because I’m that good. Wow, thank you, Ego. Remind me to get you something nice at the mall.

I was way more lucid at the call back and even had fun. I don’t know if I’ll actually book the commercial though. (Stop grumbling, Ego. Let me finish.) No one at the audition looked like me. On most auditions the people they bring in all have a similar look: skinny, blue-eyed blonds; short, stocky brunettes, hunch backs with an astigmatism. It’s hard to stand out when everybody looks like you. Ego isn’t particularly fond of these auditions. When everyone looks different the client isn’t yet set on one type. You feel like you have more a chance; like they see you instead of just a sea of people who look like you.

Ultimately, I may not be chosen for this particular job, but "they" like me and will want to see me again for something else. That makes Ego very happy.

For News About Leighann's TV Appearances and Upcoming Live Comedy Shows: Please Join The E-Mail List

Monday, March 3, 2008

Leap Share: A Narcissist's Nightmare

Leap Share: A Nacissist's Nightmare

© 2008 Leighann Lord

A lady in New Jersey who was born on Leap Day, carried on the family tradition, giving birth to her own daughter this year on February 29. This event made the news as a sweet human interest story, but I was horrified.

Since the baby was born healthy – mother and child doing fine – I can afford to concentrate on the more deeply superficial aspects of this story. Sharing a birthday, even one as unique as Leap Day, sounds cute, what about the long term consequences? Somebody, most likely mom, is getting gypped on presents, not to mention a lifetime of joint birthday parties. When mom turns 30, her daughter will be two. In my experience these are slightly different mile stones with completely different party favors. Will they ever have the freedom to celebrate their birthdays separately without one or both feeling guilty?

Honestly, that mom can kiss her next 20 birthdays good bye. They’ll be all about the kid. Children are relentlessly self centered, clearly a quality I’ve managed to retain. Mom may not get her birthday back until the kid’s out of college, and by then she’ll be hitting the big Five Oh.

One of the reasons Christmas is so expensive and stressful is that everybody gets a gift. That’s why it’s so important to spread out gift giving events. I am flabbergasted by those couples who, in a misguided romantic frenzy, get married on Valentine’s Day. No! They’ve combined two separate gift giving occasions: Valentine’s Day and their wedding anniversary. Usually someone offers up the lame line, "At least he’ll never forget our anniversary." Tell him to man-up and by a date book!

I’ve never heard of anyone in real life forgetting their wedding anniversary. That only happens on TV. I can see forgetting what year you’re up to or buying an inappropriate gift, but completely forgetting? Not possible. Like all animals, we’re born with instincts of self preservation and survival. Forgetting one’s wedding anniversary is a life threatening event.

And if you marry a man who could forget your anniversary, he could just as easily forget Valentine’s Day too. And now because you’ve combined occasions he’s forgotten both with no hope of redeeming himself until next year.

I love my husband, but I’ve always been a bit vexed that his birthday is so close to mine. We’re one week apart. Even more irksome is that his comes before mine. My Mom thinks this is cute. My husband’s birthday was her original due date for me, but I was late. Had I been born when expected, we’d share the same birthday. That may have been too much for my birthday narcissism to bare. I doubt we would have married.

Unless you have 365 immediate family members (or in this case 366), birthdays should never have to fall on top of one another. Spread them out. That’s what good family planning is all about.

For News About Leighann's TV Appearances and Upcoming Live Comedy Shows: Please Join The E-Mail List