8am and I am woken up by the phone: TIMMY!!! Be still my beating New Yorked up heart. The dulcet tones of his masculinity (hehe, that’s for you honey) distract me from the fact that every muscle in my body is aching like crazy. I hang up, feel the pain, soak in the bath-tub and head downstairs for my first New York breakfast.
I choose the New York diner downstairs which finally helps me understand what the lovely Rachel Hills meant when she told me America was scary cos it’s “just so American.” I am serviced by a cheery middle-aged Latino waiter (now there’s a sentence you don’t want to take out of context) who calls me “sweetie”, though for some reason that doesn’t bother me. He’s not sleazy, just friendly…and I later, realise, no doubt wanting a good tip! Five minutes later and I’m greeted by an OJ, coffee (which despite being warned was terrible here, I decided to throw caution to the caffeinated wind in the name of experience) and an omelette to end all omelettes.
Which brings me to my next discovery: I am yet to actually finish a meal here. Everything is enormous: the cars, the buildings, the food…at the risk of sounding cheeky, I suspect America may be trying to compensate for something.
After a moment’s dilemma of wondering how to pay (do I say ‘bill’ or ‘cheque’? I may be a comedian, but I don’t always want to be laughed at), I head up to my room to go through all my comedy material in preparation for my solo coaching session that awaits me in Boston. En route to my room I overhear a very animated conversation between three Latino house-keepers in the cleaning room – I have no idea what they’re saying, but it sounds cool, especially when one of them casually drops an English ‘that’s their problem’ into the midst of the Spanish rant.
I decide it’s time to hit the streets to break in my new baby: my video camera. I leave my luggage with the bell-man.
Him: “Okay, what you’re gonna do is pay one fifty now and one fifty when you come back.”
Me: “Oh. Okay.”
See? That’s the thing here – they don’t ask you how it is, they TELL you.
I walk up towards the Empire State Buliding and start filming stuff – the shots are cool, but it strikes me that they’re no different to anything anyone else could shoot. Dare I try to shoot myself hosting a little Comic Mummy tour? I feel like a bit of a twat. But the deep-seated knowledge that I’ll regret it if I don’t do it (and the thought that there may never be another chance) I swallow my pride – which by the way, tastes better than I thought – I start. Inside the Empire State Building, no less. And you know what? Nobody bats an eyelid. That’s New York for you baby. Not only is filming part of hte back-drop, but anything goes!
I keep filming just random stuff I come across with bits of commentary I think could be kinda funny (or ramblings of a jet-lagged madwoman); it’s great that I’ve at least tackled the first hurdle of getting started! The rest, I’m sure, will improve as I go on. I pick up my luggage:
Bellguy 2: “Can I call you a taxi, ma’am?”
Me: “No thanks. I’m cool.”
Bellguy 2: “That’s what I like to hear. ‘I’m cool’.”
Me: “Which way’s Penn State Station?”
Bellguy 2: “Just out the door, right and across the street.”
Me: “Wicked. Thanks.”
Bellguy 2: (smiling) “Wicked.”
Me: “You can take that one with you.”
That’s me, folks. Spreading the Aussie love around.
I queue up for my ticket, when suddenly a mildly overweight fifty-something police offer calls out to all of us “Does this yellow bag here belong to someone?” No one responds. “Obviously not. Right.” He radios someone presumably important, then: “We’re gonna have to shut this down.”
It’s not clear if he’s referring to the ticketing window behind said bag, or to the entire check-in area. The Venus Williams look-alike next to me in the queue looks mega cheesed off, huffing and “oh what?” ing, much like I’d imagine Venus might do on a bad ball call. As the drama unfolds, I find myself undecided as to what I’d be more afraid of going off – her or a bomb. As they wait to bring the big guys down to suss out the bag, I think the same thing I’m sure everyone else in the queue does: “Damn I hope that’s not really a bomb. But if it is…I just hope they don’t close the counter before I get my ticket.”
I’ll never know how the yellow bag thing ended – I grabbed my ticket, hawled my butt onto the Amtrak train (which is heaps nicer than I expected…until I make it to the bathroom – I’ll spare you the details but suffice to say that a rocking train and urination apparently need some serious relationship counselling) and enjoy a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline on the way out, followed by cute scenery on the way up to Boston, only made better by the cheery train announcer who felt compelled to introduce particular check-points with things like “It’s wild! It’s wacky! It’s WESTERLEY!!! Westerley Station everybody!!!!”
I am greeted at the station by Nancy and Henry, friends of Liz, my sister-in-law, who I’ll be staying with for the next week. Liz has raved to me about how these two are just about her favourite people in the entire world – and after three minutes in the car with them, I can see why. They are ADORABLY hospitable, cheerful and friendly – but wait, it gets better. Their house is SOOO cute it makes me want to cry, they lead me upstairs to my very own attic (not the cobwebs and haunted trunks kind, just the extremely cool pyramid ceiling at the top of the house kind) complete with TV, lounge and my own bathroom. I almost squeal in excitement. Dinner, topped off with that all-American treat – home-made brownies. Can I get an AAAAA-men!
I’m faced with a dilemma – do I get an early night and wake up refreshed in the morning to start my coaching with Daena? Or do I make the effort to hit the ground running and go check out a late-night comedy show I’ve seen advertised? Those of you who know me will need no guessing which option I took.
It turns out the late show was actually free – a late-night comedy duo called The Walsh Brothers, who basically spend most of their stage-time telling shared stories, just as you’d expect from brothers. Their rapport with each other was good (as one would hope!) – they actually reminded me somewhat of my buddies Styles/Power, not in terms of material, but in terms of the whole duo dynamic. I was struck immediately by:
a) the fact that there is an actual space dedicated to improv running 5 nights a week; b) the variety of improv-based shows that run there (don’t worry, I’m planning on checking at least a couple more out!); c) how generous the audience was; and d) how the material was so much more story-oriented, rambling and less punch-liney than what I’ve been used to of late. Obviously whether that’s a Boston thing or a show-specific thing I will only be able to tell upon seeing more shows.
I’ve noticed Gilbert Gottfried is in town, so I’m thinking of checking out his show tomorrow night. For now: I’m off to shower, dress (if I remember), have a third cup of coffee and then head off for Training Day number 1!