Saturday, March 15, 2014

Comedy has Sprung!

Spring begins next week, and I am thrilled about Indiana Comedy! There are a lot of budding rooms and special events in your regular favorites.Check it out!

20 MAR: First Day of Spring

21 Mar: Absurd Third Thursdays at White Rabbit Cabaret with Paul Strickland, Indianapolis, IN

24 Mar: Otto’s Funhouse Open Mic (Nomination Night for the Hoosier Comedy Awards), Indianapolis, IN

26 Mar: Rocketship Comedy Tour at End of the Line Bar in Fountain Square, Indianapolis, IN

26 Mar: Underwear Comedy Party with Joe Pettis in Muncie, IN

26 Mar: Vault Lounge in Columbus City, IN

28 Mar: Comedy Circus Open Mic at City Market, Indianapolis, IN

28 Mar: Open Mic at Bokeh Lounge, Evansville, IN

01 Apr: Open Mic Returns to Gaslight Inn, Indianapolis, IN

02 Apr: Jazz and Jokes on Mass Ave, Indianapolis, IN

21 Apr: Otto’s Funhouse 12 Anniversary Celebration and Hoosier Comedy Awards, Indianapolis, IN

Keep up to date by popping onto the Hoosier Comedy Calendar!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

State of Hoosier Comedy 2014

Stand-up comedy in Indiana is a constantly shifting terrain. This article is meant to highlight some of the changes and news in our community.

Absurd Third Thursdays Celebrates Third Birthday
Isaac Landfert as George Burns.
Happy Third Birthday to Absurd Third Thursdays! This monthly room serves up a classic comedy club style show (opener, feature, headliner) in the swank White Rabbit Cabaret in Fountain Square. Isaac Landfert had been dutifully at the helm of this successful show as well as co-creator of the successful Dead Comics Party which is held annually in October. February will be a special event for Absurd Third Thursdays as local powerhouse Dee Dangler bids adieu to Indianapolis in a move to Las Angeles. This appearance will be his last appearance in Indianapolis before the move.

Sinking Ship is out; Sabbatical is in
One of the biggest upsets in the comedy community was the loss of Sunday night comedy at the Sinking Ship (recently branded RocketshipComedy). After two and a half years and despite continued success, the Sinking Ship decided to discontinue comedy at their venue. The Sinking Ship’s success was primarily due to the combination of regional feature and headlining comedians who were often in town at the tail end of club gigs with local comedians. It became a real staple of the Broad Ripple area, and will be sorely missed. In fact a documentary of its run (June 2011-December 2013) is in the works. However, Rocketship Comedy is looking forward has moved the successful Sunday night format to Sabbatical. Best of luck to O’Connor and Rocketship Comedy in their new home!

Limestone Comedy Festival Taking Submissions
Bloomington’s Limestone Comedy Festival is taking submissions for its second year. The submission window is open through March 21. Submit by Feb 28 for the reduced fee of $25 ($40 if submitted in March). The festival runs from May 29-31.

Southside Indianapolis has Dearth of Comedy
Long gone are the days of the strong south side rooms such as The Gas Light and The Goldmine whose longtime rooms were dropped and temporary revivals have long fizzled out. 2013 had a handful of attempts to bring comedy to the southern part of the city including a brief run at Mucky Ducks on Southport. The most promising attempt at a south side presence was the Wednesday night show at Rehab Bar and Grill/Mikeys. The show, although well-liked by management, was shut down due to the more profitable darts competitions. I am hopeful that more shows will be attempted on the south side of Indianapolis because there is less saturation of comedy in the southern half of the city.

Comedy in Crawfordsville Expands Brand with The Play-InContest
Comedy in Crawfordsville has taken off as a brand in West Central Indiana with regular shows in Crawfordsville, IN and its “Invasion” Shows hitting small neighboring towns. Started in Aug of 2012 by local comedian Neil Snyder, the brand stays strong with pre-booked open mics and shows in the centrally located shows and then pre-booked shows for the invasion circuit. 2013 saw the expansion of the brand into The Play-In Contest where comedians vie for a paid feature spot in the Comedy in Crawfordsville series. Season Two of the Play-In just began running this month. 

Muncie Show Rebrands Successfully 
After The Comedy Moshpit's relationship soured with Be Here Now in spring of 2013, the show was re-branded as Laughterhouse Five at Valhalla and launched its new incarnation by the end of the summer. The show is a combination of pre-booked open mic and special event shows. The room has even hosted big names like Doug Stanhope as well as quirky special events with wrestlers.

Evansville Open Mic Well Received
Evansville, IN is home to Joke Factory Comedy Club and a handful of open mics. Local comic, Dustin Matteson, decided there should be more stage options for the local talent. The open mic debut was well received at The Bokeh Lounge despite sub-zero temperatures. The Bokeh Lounge is picking up the open mic as a regular event and the next one will likely be in February.

Otto’s Funhouse—the last bastion of truly open mic comedy?
I’ve been maintaining the Hoosier Comedy Calendar since 2011, and one of the changes I’ve seen in the homegrown shows is the gradual replacement of open mic rooms to pre-booked open mic or purely pre-booked rooms. The change is not terribly surprising as pure open mic rooms often leave the booker at the mercy of whoever decides to show up on that particular night to perform. It can create problems filling the allotted time or providing the audience with enough value to the show to maintain it. Another issue is that over time there will be a pack of comedians frequenting the same room over and over which can exhaust an audience to hear the same jokes over and over. Bookers have sought to aid this issue by pre-booking the room with at least one featured performer to provide value to the show and then hand picking the ‘open micers’ based on reliability, professionalism and value of their performance. This increases the odds of the room’s survival, but can make it harder for noobs to get their stage time and develop as a performer. They need a place to practice (and suck). Thankfully, Indianapolis still has Otto’s Funhouse to rely on for a pure open stage. Anyone who shows up gets 10 minutes or three songs depending on what their act is. Monday night is often the deadest night for bars and restaurants which is why they often put open mics on those nights in an attempt to draw more people during that slow time. I could fill a book with the number of Monday night open mics that have come and gone in the last five years. Otto’s has outlasted them all going on its 12th year this spring. The main reason is due to the owner (Dave) genuinely supports local performers. Another highlight is the absolute freedom of the room to really do and say whatever you want. The room is often frequented by comedians, but also has bands, singer-songwriters and poets take the stage as well.The show is the third Monday of the month.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Resurrected! For One Night Only!

Have you ever seen a line-up like this?
The Dead Comics Show at the White Rabbit Cabaret is quickly becoming one of the most exciting and anticipated annual shows in Indianapolis. It debuted last October to rave reviews with a line-up that included the likes of Mitch Hedburg (Dee Jay Dangler), Andy Kaufman (Issac Landfert), George Carlin (Cam O’Connor), Redd Foxx (Vinny Landfert), Johnny Carson (Ryan Mast), and Mae West (Janette Pérez). This year’s star-studded resurrection is sure to please with all repeat risers being played by new comedians.

White Rabbit Cabaret (Fountain Square area)
·         October 17, 2013
·         Doors: 8pm
·         Comedy: 9pm
·         Admission: $3
·         $3 Craft Beer Specials, $2 PBR & High Life
·         21+ w/ID. Seating is first come, first served.
2013 Line-up (subject to change): George Burns, Mitch Hedberg, Brother Theodore, Peter Sellers, Andy Kaufman, Richard Prior, Gilda Radner, Bernie Mac, Bill Hicks, Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin, Jonathan Winters, Richard Jeni, Jerry Clower, Red Buttons, Chris Farley, Flip Wilson, Jean Carroll, Hank McGill, Sam Kinison, Ryan Dunn
I will be taking donations for the John Fox Memorial Fund. Donations below $10 can receive a Ron Shock bumper sticker and all donations $10 or above will receive a Ron Shock t-shirt (while supplies last!) John Fox and Ron Shock were both lost to cancer in May of 2012. I have been asked by Ron’s widow to sell remaining shirts from his fundraiser and donate in Ron’s name to the John Fox Memorial Fund. Organizers of the Dead Comics Show have graciously given me permission to complete my promise to the Shock family at their event. This will be your last chance to get Ron Shock merchandise.

2012 Dead Comics Cast

2012 Retrospective
The 2012 debut Dead Comics Show was an event to remember. Each comedian brought his/her own touch to the performance. Some comedians performed a dead-on impersonation of the comedian doing a word-for-word set. Isaac Landfert did Andy Kaufman’s Mighty Mouse routine with spot-on fidelity. Lindsay Boling similarly performed Gilda Radner’s Judy Miller sketch with a high level of detail from lines to costuming and props. Mike Cody’s Rodney Dangerfield voice was SO spot-on that from backstage it sounded like Dangerfield himself had taken the stage.

Other comedians performed a routine in the style of the comedians they were honoring. Ryan Mast delivered a Carson monologue using the other comics as inspiration. Raanan Hershberg performed a Greg Giraldo style roasting to all the previous comics which really captured Giraldo’s signature Friar’s Club cadence and wit.

Vincent Holiday decided to present an ancient person, Philogelos, the writer of the first known joke book. His costume consisted of a toga which was made out of a FITTED sheet.
Not all the comedians bore a physical resemblance to the dead comic they were presenting. Some, like Vinny Landfert, chose to use prosthetics and make-up to transform himself into Redd Foxx. Others just stuck to the material and attitude of the comedian. 
As for myself, I got to portray the lovely Mae West, and I went nuts with it. To capture her style I read her biography, watched her movies, played her records, studied make-up, hair and clothes of the thirties down to the popular colors of the time. I wrote a routine made up entirely of her quotes which came from various movies, interviews and quoted text from her biography. I even attempted to sing. But as a comedian who has been used to delivering my own material for years, I found myself shaking like a leaf during the whole performance which lasted a whole four minutes.
Watching the show was an incredible treat. Everyone put a LOT of work into their presentation, and you could tell that each one was done with a lot of love. I was familiar with the material and sketches of many of the comedians presented, and to hear the old jokes with new laughs made me a little teary-eyed. It was as if the comedians really had come back to life to make us laugh again.
I hope you will join us for the 2013 Dead Comics Show.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Quick Book Reviews

Here are a handful of mini book reviews to satisfy any palate.

Jokes My Father Never Taught Me by Rain Pryor
   The raw story of the private lives of Rain and Richard Pryor. The book shows the tumultuous world behind one of comedy’s most revered icons through the eyes of his loving and long suffering daughter. Born biracial in 1969 to a Jewish, dancer mother and a Black, comedian father (who left shortly after), Rain grew up in a world where she never fit in anywhere. Not Jewish enough, not black enough, and passed between living with her mother, grandparents and later Pryor (whom she did not meet until she was four years old). Meeting her dad introduces her to a world of entourages, drug use, wives, girlfriends, prostitutes, physical abuse and neglect. She struggles to feel loved between her narcissistic parents; one extremely successful and the other not. Her own acting career begins to bud and grow as Pryor declines from multiple sclerosis.
   Book is a quick read. Very hard to read at times due to the abuse and language. Highly recommend for Pryor fans.

Rubber Balls and Liquor by Gilbert Gottfried
   Gottfried says in the opening of his book that he wanted his book to be like a slice of pizza and a grape drink—nothing fancy or of substance, but satisfying. I think he did a good job delivering. The book is part autobiography, part BS and part shtick. The “Clip ‘n Save” jokes between chapters were obscene, but mildly amusing. It’s a fun little book if you can handle reading with Gottfried’s voice in your head. (Also, if you keep the book at your bedside, take the book jacket off so he’s not staring at you while you have sex and your boyfriend won’t think you’re turned on by Gilbert Gottfried—I heard it from a friend). A great read for stand-up comedians and perverts.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
   If Gottfried’s book is a slice of pizza and a grape drink, then Fey’s book is wine and half a pizza (a little classier and a lot more filling). Tina is purely improv in her training which is different from a lot of well-known comedians who often start (or at least dabble) in stand-up before going into improv. Her book is autobiographical without being too revealing by sharing small stories that act as snapshots into her life. Fey makes all of the stories light and funny. With stories, humor, advice, improv rules and even a prayer, Feys book is insightful and entertaining. My favorite quote: “Talent is not sexually transmittable.”
Bossypants is a great read for fans of Second City, SNL lore, 30 Rock or Tina Fey stalkers.

I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan
   This book deserves its own entire post, but I want to give the rundown. A much more serious book than you would expect from a comedian. Tracy Morgan is awesome. He’s the real deal. Son of a Vietnam vet and a single mom. He grew up in the Bronx and saw crack cocaine and heroin destroy his community and lost friends to drugs, violence and AIDS. He was a small-time drug dealer who used humor to keep from getting shot. He made it out, is grateful and has a lot to say. His style is pretty amusing, especially when he ‘breaks the fourth wall’ of the book and addresses people directly as though the whole reading audience were sitting in the same room with him. He gives a good picture of stand-up comedy and there are some important truths on that in here. What is the New Black?
The new black is something that our American society need at every level, because the new black isn’t about race, it’s about trying. In theis era of the new black, you have to try because there are no more excuses. We’ve got to take responsibility. We’ve got to raise our children. And people! This book is going to take your excuses from you. If I could get to where I am from where I came from, so can you. Being the new black means you can get there if you try. No more excuses. If your life is hard, you gotta start laughing so you don’t cry, and you’ve gotta try or you’ll get nothing. We can make a change if we put in the work.  (I am the New Black, Pg xviii )
This one is a real page turner. Fans of Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock, SNL, stand-up comics, and pretty much everyone else should read this book.

Here We Go Again by Betty White
   When my boyfriend decided to buy me some books one year (just because—suck it bitches), he decided to get anything related to the Golden Girls, a favorite sitcom. He had a hard time choosing a Betty White book because her career has gone on so damn long she keeps having to publish supplements! Hasn’t Betty ever heard: it ain’t over, til it’s over? This book provided a good overview of her life and career. When Betty, was a high school student, she was on screen test to demo televisions in a department store. She was on television before people even had televisions! And she STILL has a career in it! The book was very enlightening. She was the only Golden Girl that did not have children—and the others are all dead, what does that mean?! Well, what it mainly means is that Betty White is a talented woman that LOVES acting; so much so that it ended one of her marriages when her desires clashed with her husband’s for a tradition life. She loves acting and animals and has made them both her life’s work. A great read for television historians, Golden Girls fanatics and grandma chasers.

Girl Walks into a Bar… by Rachel Dratch
Rachel Dratch, like Tina Fey, is a Second City and SNL alum who known for her ‘where’s Waldo’ cameos in 30 Rock. This pleasant autobiography is humorous and fun to read. It’s like chatting with a nice friend. The book covers the typecasting she deals with, her improv upbringing, dating in New York and her surprise child (at 43!). This book has one of the most detailed accounts of the SNL audition process that I’ve read (for any aspiring improv wannabes). Her accounts of dating in New York definitely very Sex in the City—minus the sex as it’s real life here. A great read for SNL fans (or wannabes).

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nominees for the 2013 Hoosier Comedy Awards

Note: Nominees are listed in no particular order. Nominations were submitted at the April Otto's Funhouse show by other local comics.

Seedling Award
Dwight Simmons
Roy McMahon
Austin Reel
Jimmy Roberson
Mark Robert
Garhett Foust
Ryan Shipley
Jason Smotherman
Steven Vincent Giles

Gratitude Award
Cam O’Connor
Eddie Brown
Mark Robert
Gerry Gobel
Janette Pérez
Rick Garrett
Courtney Kay Meyers

Happenin’ Host Award
Jeffrey Lewis
Tim McLaughlin
Antonio Edmunds
Cam O’Connor
Otto the Comic
Eddie Brown

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White

   Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White covers the lives of Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen who were a comedy team in the late sixties and early seventies. Reid and Dreesen originally teamed up in 1968 to take part in a drug prevention campaign in Chicago schools. At the suggestion of a student, they became a comedy team. Reid was black and Dreesen was white; this made their stand-up act different from any before or since. The book outlines how their great friendship created opportunities for material no one else could do, but their comedy team had many unique challenges.
   Chicago in 1968, like much of the US, was volatile because of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. That year Chicago was host to two riots. The first riot followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, and the second occurred outside the Democratic National Convention. Tensions were high. According to Reid, “There wasn’t a day that what was happening in Chicago, and what was happening in America, didn’t affect how audiences saw us.” (89) According to Reid and Dreesen, audiences had different expectations. The black audiences expected them to be funny while white audiences expected some kind of message in the show. Tim and Tom were on trial from the moment they hit the stage; Dreesen said, “…one of the things I learned in sales is true in comedy, too: when people don’t know you, you only have a minute or two to make a favorable impression. So if people have negative feelings about you going in, you don’t have much time to turn them around.”(88) They had only a precious minute to diffuse those concerns and get the audience on their side; despite this challenge, they were able to rise to the occasion and get audiences laughing.
   A larger frustration was when they found bookers, clubs, agents and talk show producers reluctant to book them.  The entertainment industry considered an integrated act ‘hard to sell’ due to the highly segregated nature of night clubs and programming. Reid commented on the reluctance of the industry to accept them:
They were analyzing the business part of it… And I think the bookers were worried that we might bring a black clientele to their clubs…I thought for sure somebody would see the potential in what we were doing, would see that race is something we’re going to be talking about in this country for a long time and would want to develop us. But even when the audiences showed they were willing to accept us, the industry wasn’t. That was hard to get used to. (90-91)
   The comedy team broke up after five years due to frustration with the industry and the divergent creative goals of Reid and Dreesen. Reid was interested in acting, and Dreesen was a pure stand-up comedian. So while “Tim and Tom was his [Dreesen’s] twenty-four-hour obsession,” Reid became more frustrated and dissatisfied with their lack of progress. (120) Reid captured the motivation behind of their break-up in this statement:
“It was getting to the point where I couldn’t take the disappointments anymore,” Reid says. “I kept thinking this was not the way it was supposed to be, that it should have happened by now. I didn’t have the passion for standup that Tom did—I was always more interested in acting—and I didn’t like nightclubs. I didn’t like going into a room full of people drinking and smoking cigarettes and sitting there saying, ‘Make me laugh.” (118)
After the break-up, both went on to success in their respective fields. Tim Reid became a successful actor, writer, and producer while Tom Dreesen flourished in stand-up comedy during the waning decades of Rat Pack Vegas.
   Tim and Tom is a good read for stand-up comedians and scholars of: television, civil rights or stand-up comedy history.  The majority of the book alternates between narratives of Dreesen’s and Reid’s careers. The second and third chapters, devoted to their family and upbringing, show the rough neighborhoods Reid and Dreesen started out in which created the foundation for their humor and the understanding that made them friends. These chapters were the most concise of the book. Later chapters, particularly after Tim and Tom split up, appear choppier in terms of timeline and focus. As the chapters are based on live interviews, this isn’t completely unexpected, but it does give the feeling of two incomplete biographies as opposed to a book about the Tim and Tom years.
   Overall, Tim and Tom is a quality book about a comedy act that did not make it which is just as valuable (if not more so) than the ones who achieved great success. In addition, it chronicles the challenges faced by performers in that pre-comedy boom era as well as challenges of traveling in a racially charged and divided nation. It showed resilience of performers truly struggling to make ends meet. The book also demonstrates the destructive nature of comedy on personal relationships. There are many lessons to be gleaned from the experiences of Reid and Dreesen. Below are eight important lessons that comedians can learn from Tim and Tom.

Lesson #1: The challenges of comedy teams
   Comedians seldom work as teams anymore. The primary driving force behind the solo stand-up is a financial one. It’s challenging for stand-up acts to get paid at all, let alone a decent wage, and cutting that amount in half would make success as a full time act nearly impossible. With that said, a team act like Tim and Tom had unique advantages over other acts because it could portray two viewpoints; certain jokes were acceptable from a black man that could never work from a white man and vice versa. Plus, there was extra manpower to work on bits, ideas, self-promotion, booking and making contacts. One of the best advantages was that Reid and Dreesen had different strengths; Reid had access to two cars, and Dreesen was great with people.
  Another advantage to having a partner is being able to share the experience with someone else and motivate one another through the failures and successes.  Many well known comedians such as Reid, Dreesen, George Carlin, George Burns, and Elaine May started out in a comedy duo before striking out solo which means it may have some value for new comics. Even though they did not continue as a duo, Reid and Dreeson clearly gained valuable skills from working with one another.
   On the other hand, being in a duo has its negative points. Motivation can determine whether an act succeeds or fails. And if the motivation between partners differs, then the act is in danger. There came a point where Reid wasn’t interested in the act anymore; he wasn’t as passionate as Dreesen and he “no longer believed in [their] dream.” (140) He lacked the optimism, drive and ambition for stand-up, as his true interest and goal was to be an actor. Reid’s change in focus (with the addition of him meeting Della Reese who basically Yoko Ono’d the team), broke up the act, leaving Dreesen to start from scratch as a solo act. Therefore, with a second person involved, the act is in danger of being unusable if your partner dies, becomes ill, flakes out, changes careers, etc. The pros and cons of working as a team must be carefully weighed out.

Lesson #2: Importance of practicing
   Reid and Dreeson learned the value of practice from Vince Sanders, who made them rehearse ad nauseum (that’s fancy talk for – until you wanna puke) until they knew their act well enough to try it before a live audience. According to Dreesen, “He was tough on us. He talked about our dress, our material, our timing. He became the third eye we needed.”(82) Their experience with Sanders was a collaboration that some comedians do with writing partners where they bounce material off of another comic or creative mind. Having a good partner can enhance your comedy act without detracting from your personal voice.

 Lesson#3: Quantity Stage Time
   From their experience at Playboy clubs, which put on five to six shows a night, they learned the value of quantity stage-time. Reid said it was, “almost like getting paid to rehearse.” (97) In other books like Born Standing Up (Steve Martin), Bossypants (Tina Fey) and One More Time (Carol Burnett), I’ve seen a pattern where the entertainer gets an opportunity to perform constantly as they develop. Each biography is consistent with the “10,000 hours rule” from the book Outliers which has found that it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. (Hence, Lewis Black’s advice to me.) Nothing is going to improve your stand-up comedy more than stage time; we’re talking quantity here!

Lesson #4: Learn to read the audience
   From being booked in small rough towns with different racial divides, Reid and Dreesen learned how to read an audience. “When Reid and Dreesen began performing, it never occurred to them that their success on any given night might depend on the racial makeup of the audience.”(87) They learned quickly that different audiences had different expectations of them. Learning to read people is important for the show and sometimes for the safety of the performers. Stand-up comedians should take note of this and determine if they’re doing enough to learn about the audience by observing them before the show, observing how they react to other comics, and how they react to specific jokes as a guide for how to proceed.

Lesson #5: Networking
   Reid learned from Dreesen the importance of talking to the people around you because you never know who could give you a lead, a hand, a connection or put in a good word for you. This came in handy for their act and for Dreesen personally multiple times. This is a skill that all comedians must learn in order to make the connections to get work. According to Reid,
Tom could walk into a room full of strangers and twenty minutes later he’d be introducing them to someone like he’d known them for a year and a half. I could be in a room full of strangers for four days and walk out not having spoken to one of them. ..I regret it. There are people I’ve met in show business I would have liked to know better. (119-120)
Dreeson more than made up for Reid’s introversion and “became the act’s manager/ agent/ publicist/ promoter.” (120) He made it a point to talk to everyone because all people are potential bookers.

Lesson #6: Comedy is addictive and it can have negative consequences on your relationships
   It is important to understand the upheaval stand-up comedy can have on your life. Comedy ended up destroying the marriages of both Reid and Dreesen. Dreesen’s wife was against comedy from the start, and despite Reid’s financially and emotionally supportive wife, they did not survive the transition either. Comedy has an addictive quality that is hard to describe to non-performers which is why family, friends and spouses can have a hard time understanding why someone would leave a good steady job to a very unstable and uncertain future. According to Dreesen, “The only thing I could say was that I had the bug…The first time I wrote professional entertainer on my income tax form it hit me. This is what I wanted to do, what I had to do.” (119) It is a difficult road to be a comedian, and not all partners are supportive enough to come along. (See Last Words and Rickle’s Book for stories about comedians who had long marriages).
   The lack of support from close friends and family can be why there are relatively fewer comedians than other artists as well as a lack of females in comedy (e.g. imagine the guilt someone would put on a young mom who decided to go out every night to open mics—enough said). Dreesen was once a caddie at a Jewish country club where he observed the cultural difference that made him understand the prevalence of Jewish comedians. He saw Jewish adults encouraging the children to tell jokes and be funny for family and friends. On the other hand, where Dreesen grew up, children were to be seen and not heard. “…Irish and Italian and Polish families…they didn’t encourage that kind of behavior. You start telling jokes in Catholic school and they’d take a ruler to your ass.” (49) Having a supportive community to back you up can make the hard road of comedy a lot smoother.
   If you are getting into comedy, you must decide where your priorities lie; especially if you’re married. Make sure that you have supportive people around you, and tend to those relationships as much as you tend to your career.

Lesson #7: Optimism and perseverance
   Another lesson to be gleaned from Tim and Tom is the importance of optimism and perseverance. Tom Dreesen adopted an optimistic attitude that “at times seemed to border on the delusional”; his personal mantra was: if it is to be, it’s up to me.”  Dick Owings, a writing partner for Tim and Tom, said, “…Tom would change every defeat into a victory…It was one of the things that kept him going.” (118) Despite the odds, setbacks, being dumped by his partner, and being homeless, Dreesen kept going and did not take no for an answer. Although I wouldn’t classify Reid as a full on pessimist, he did not recover from rejections as easily as Dreesen.  Reid himself confesses, “I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have…I didn’t always allow myself to appreciate the good times. I spent too much time anguishing over the failures. We really did have fun—I see that now—but at the time I was too caught up in the frustrations. It makes me angry at myself.” (122) Eventually, Dreesen was able to break through and have a successful career in stand-up comedy because of his perseverance.

Lesson #8: Do what you love
   Reid, on the other hand, did not continue in stand-up comedy. He made the wise choice to break off from Tim and Tom in order to pursue acting which was what he really wanted to do. This was not an easy choice for Reid, but in pursuing acting, his true passion, he was able to become successful as well. Making the final and most important lesson from Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White: do what you love.