January 1, 2021 marked my tenth year of doing standup comedy, but it wasn't until 2020 that I found a home in comedy, in Los Angeles, of all places.
The Litter Box was born out of necessity. Comedy was no longer possible under LA's ethically-sourced fair trade lockdown, but that did not stop comics from gathering in flagrant violation of government edicts, in order to keep from killing ourselves and to be free to have fun.
I met Nichole briefly before the lockdowns when she hosted the Tuesday 4pm mic at the Hollywood Improv. I live about a mile from the Improv, but I could not bring myself to hang out there or frequent any of their mics except Nichole's. For one thing it was short, which was a godsend compared to the three hour circlejerk that was the Sunday night mic. The other thing was the tone set by Nichole, I remember she told the crowd of open micers that she found her dad dead on Easter when she was a kid, and even though she was laughing while she said it, the comics were such pussies that they got all sad. Not a single one made a "He is risen!" joke!?!? I was absolutely disgusted at such behavior from people claiming to be comics.
It reminded me of my Kill Tony appearance where the whole crowd (of LA open micers, again) got all sad while I was telling them about how I didn't have a mom, and it took Tony Hinchcliffe, Tim Dillon, and me to reassure the big dumb babies that I was fine.
Post-lockdown, we ran into eachother at an outdoor mic. I refused to do open mics outside, and finally succumbed to one when the shakes from my comedy withdrawals got too bad. Nichole invited me to her place for a private mic she started. I began by going once in a while, then once a week, then three times a week. Now back down to two, but only because there are only two Boxes a week now. We just did our 135th Box and onto the 136th this week.
The Box did not arrive fully formed. It had a totally lame name before I showed up, there were Shakespearean power struggles in order to defend its purity, all the bad words of every conceivable letter were not only said, but had to be chanted gleefully. Through it all, we kept each other sharp and sane as a tribe of comics. The Box is a place for comedy, without the pretense of taking bad words, or wrongthink subjects seriously, because, again, The Box is a place for comedy. Much of comedy in LA is treated as a stepping stone to acting or writing work, in other words, they're just using it to get a foot in the door of the industry like some whore. They tell comedy, it's problematic, racist, punching down, toxic, all manner of negging to fool her into thinkng she should be serious, robbing her of her power out of jealousy and insecurity. The entertainment industry has trapped comedy in an abusive relationship, and once in a while a random middle-aged Asian guy comes and rips the wool off of your eyes.
In this episode, Nichole and I talk about The Litter Box's start, how my dad gaslighting me as a kid gave me the tools to cast a goblin out from our midst, and comedy in Los Angeles in the 21st century.