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LITTLE REID

LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #10

By Reid Faylor

Hey there, “reiders.”

Yes.

That is now how these actually begin.

I am indeed a little Reid, and this city is indeed big, but who knew such a big thing could fit in such a little thing’s heart? This is a very cute way of saying I’ve been enjoying New York a fuck-ton lately. The method just employed was the ruder adversary to the previous cuteness. But both ring true! New York has been a kind mistress –I navigate her salty streets with familiarity (5 months worth now!), shows have been going well and friendships are springing like soft fleshy flowers (fleshy because people are made of meat). The winter is fairly harsh here, but no more than what I’ve been used to from the Midwest; a good coat and some boots and a floppy-eared hat can go a long way.

My biggest goal with comedy the last few weeks has been what I call “professional apathy.” Though I feel like my material has mostly been going over well at the mics and occasional shows, I’ve still struggled with accepting worse shows. They hurt me, not physically, but mentally, like a bully who bullies through riddles. Professional apathy is my strived-for cure to this: professionalism towards the means, apathy towards the result. I can’t hang some kind of emotional significance on every show, I need to be hardened and accept I will simply suck at plenty, but I need to be professional enough to accept this and still put forward my best effort. Employing this has gone well, and oddly I’ve been having better shows, perhaps because of it. Of course there are exceptions –I ended one show by threatening to punch a woman (a heckler to be fair) “in the fucking face” outside the bar. This made things weird. I am currently debating whether or not this was professional –but I do believe it was fairly apathetic. Huzzah!

Beyond that my biggest efforts have been on ironing out and improving my feature set. I can easily meet the time requirement (20 to 30 minutes) with material I not only think works but also is something I feel represents me in the way I want to be seen. I’ve made a detailed list of the jokes that would fit in the set, and rated each on how much more polished they need to be, how clean they are (not that I want a wholly clean set, but it shouldn’t all be TV unfriendly), and how likely an audience would actually enjoy it. Some jokes are A –just about any audience would be able to laugh at them. Thankfully, few others are C –they need a hell of a lot of trust in order to be enjoyed. A lot are Bs, but I can work with Bs, and probably enjoy them personally a lot more: why should the audience be able to casually enjoy a show? They should be challenged to enjoy what they would more often think of as “odd” or perhaps “stupid.”

Of course, as I make some jokes better, the ones I thought were improved now seem frighteningly lacking, but I’m making good progress. I also tonight just got booked to perform at a local coffee shop/performance venue (The Waltz Astoria –a favorite writing spot of Ted Alexandro :O) to do a 25-minute set at a show in February. That much time is hard to come by for someone at my level in New York, so I’m looking forward to getting to try out my feature set in front of a real crowd at a real show. This paragraph will end the same as a previous one: Huzzah!

Next week: A peek into the methods I use to deal with unemployment: “A lot of people consider toothpaste a conspiracy –cut out unnecessary costs! Q: what’s cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables? A: not eating any fruits or vegetables.”

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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #9

By Reid Faylor

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written this, and as I again sit in an airport (for avid “reiders” (HA) this is the third I’ve written from such a place), I figured I would again open myself up to you, as if an open face sandwich, but no lunch meats here, instead: emotions.

That is the best opening line I have yet written.

Though plenty has happened in the last few weeks, I’ll keep it focused on a couple key events. In the second week of December, two comics from my home scene of Cincinnati came to visit –Alex Stone and Mike “Meat” Cronin. They’ve been filming a web series enticingly titled “Web Series” and came to visit in part to film a couple segments with Andrew Short and I. It was good to see them again, it felt like no time had passed, and pretty quickly we were cracking jokes and filling each other’s lives with smiles.

Alex and I talked fairly intensely after a show about the benefits of living in New York. He remarked that there are clearly plusses: stage time, opportunities, and multiple shows a night especially can help you refine your jokes. But the audience and the kinds of shows you perform at left him ambivalent. Do you really get a good reid (HA) on a joke? Does it only acclimate you to performing for comedians, leading you to craft material for only the back of the room? I argued with time you begin to get a feel for it. It depends largely on the kind of comedy you do – if it’s simpler in nature, it may not get a rise from hardened comedians; if it’s more challenging or strange, it may be easier to find common ground with other performers, inflating the laughs you would really get. Then again, some jokes that make comedians laugh are in reality just really good jokes. I tend to do material that’s more abstract in nature, so I’ve been working hard to distinguish what category I fall into. Of course my good shows fill me with confidence, but I’m also led to wonder whether the laughs they receive are genuine.

A week ago, when back for the holidays, I had a chance to test this. Performing a set at my roommate’s “Dave Waite and Friends” show at Go Bananas comedy club, I had eight minutes to really assess my new material in front of a real crowd. Through some Christmas miracle, the kind that devalues other, more significant miracles, the club was packed nearly to capacity. I went second on the bill, and felt great on stage –I was completely at ease, in control, could improvise and enjoy the set. My first two jokes worked perfectly, and my closer did well. The third joke though had some rough spots; people were on board at first, but at the turn to the absurd were lost. It finished out well, but the reactions after the show let me know what kind of joke it was. My girl friend (a “real person”) said subjectively that the joke lost her; another comic watching told me it was his favorite joke of my set. It was a joke that clearly fit into that second category –one meant for the back of the room.

Performing at my home club, I was reminded how important a good club and a real audience can be. After just one set, I had so much more certainty as to what was a good joke and what needed work, and moreover, how to fix the weaker material. This is definitely the advantage of a smaller scene for a newer comic –to learn definitively what works and what doesn’t. Yet, my performance was still marked by what I gained from New York City: better stage presence, increased confidence, more control.

There was one other advantage Alex proposed to doing comedy in New York I had never considered, a benefit to smaller shows, open mics and smaller audiences. He said that in some ways it’s good not to have a big crowd, a good club and an earlier opportunity to get paid for comedy; in an environment with those opportunities, you perform for the crowd, to please them. In a scene like New York, on the other hand, where the rewards are harder to come by, you perform to please yourself. I guess that’s actually pretty comforting –a benefit to dealing with failure. In some ways before it looked like an issue of quality versus quantity, but there obviously is some quality to the quantity you get in New York. And again, these are just the open mics –booked shows are something else. I’m starting to get booked on some, so I’ll have to see how the dynamic changes.

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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #8


by Reid Faylor

Hello everyone. I have a question for you: can you guess what is in my mouth? Some of you may be thinking, “It’s probably a swear; his mouth is full of swears, on account of bad feelings towards New York City.” You’re wrong. It’s ice cream. The flavor? Cookies and cream.

This is as good a sign as any of my optimism.

My last blog post was full of sailor-talk-laced motivations and rough realizations that I need to work harder. And I’m not sure what it was, but it started to work. I was ashamed prior of the four shows I did in a week, and the week of my realization, bumped, however slightly, the number up to six. After that week, I did eight. This past week, gladly interrupted by my visiting lady-friend, I did six shows in just three days. All together this does mark an improvement, but now even this seems like too little –I need more.

I’m really starting to appreciate doing multiple shows in a night; something that back in Cincinnati was a rare treat. At some venues here I can literally perform upstairs, finish, walk downstairs, and perform again for a mostly different audience. I feel myself getting more and more comfortable, and the jokes I’m doing are feeling stronger and stronger. I remember when I first started performing, I would sometimes stand in front of my mirror and deliver my jokes fully animated –natural, fun, exactly myself. But when I would get on stage, that delivery would diminish to something a little drier, less excited, restrained. Now it seems every show I am performing the way I would perform as if in front of my mirror –I’m unrestrained, improvising, fully utilizing my voice. I feel full of feel-goods.

On the advice of Nikki Glaser (via Robbie Collier), I’ve started off every morning with writing. Just about twenty minutes of free writing immediately after I wake, completely stream-of-consciousness, in an attempt to empty out my brain. I’ve done it for a couple weeks now, and it seems to be making a difference. I always get trapped in loops of comedy thoughts; this seems to clear it out. I wake up and can swiftly rid myself of “baby bottoms” and “dog dick”, or whatever words I am always impelled to write for reasons which confuse me. After that, my writing the rest of the day seems more focused and less meandering. I’ve even started getting into other writing projects! I finally started on a book I’ve been preparing to write for a few months now, and I am pairing up with a friend in LA to write some comedy shorts. I am feeling more motivated than I ever have to do comedy.

In summation: yeah!

Now, a guest sentence from Dave Waite (Rooftop Comedy Festival, fresh haircut): “If you want it … you better want it (laughter) … can I be the conductor of the fuck train? The engineer? Boom. Ah … I better shit … got to get going. How far is it to Chelsea?” And upon having it read back to him, “Yeah. That sounds good.”

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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #7


By Reid Faylor

So in the past week, things have not gone great, but I will say: damn good. My last blog post spoke of depression and “getting-super-down” on things, with the promise of a turn around. Indeed, that promise has been fulfilled.

Two weeks ago, I went through a period of extreme doubt in stand-up. But after my conversations with W. Kamau Bell, a few good shows, and some experimentation in the stand-up I do, I can fully say I am back and not only reinvigorated, but feeling a new-found love for stand-up. I’ve been feeling more comfortable at every open mic, doing new material, improvising, and hell, just having more fun on stage. I’ve even started getting onto some weekly booked shows, which has given me an escape from the tedium of open mic after open mic –I now have an audience to look forward to every once in a while.

I have had some realizations though. Namely: I’m not working hard enough. I’ve always felt this; I know the level of commitment I need to have. My girlfriend, for example, is an art major at Xavier University, and every week she has to pull all-nighters, spend at least one day of the weekend working every waking hour as well as most weekdays after class, and her professors still say this isn’t enough. I love comedy as much as she loves art I feel, but my drive can hardly match this, and it should. Last week, I performed four times. Granted, two nights were spent working on a treatment for a webseries, and some of the spots were longer, but I repeat: four times. Overhearing a conversation with James Harris, a wonderful and respect-deserving comic here, he mentioned that last week he did five spots. On Monday.

Yes. There is a hell of a lot more I should be doing.

I was writing as I heard this, waiting for a show to start, and struck by the moment, I wrote down exactly what I was thinking. Swears, at the time, seemed very necessary:

“Buckle down and fucking do this. How many did you do last week? 4. How many did James Harris do on MONDAY? 5. Buck the fuck up.”

If you noticed, I use the word buck when I feel serious. Also –I unintentionally rhyme. But the rhyming helps you remember all that shame and such. My youthful boy-body needs the tough talk, to get it motivated, to get me into it. My boy-body needs the harsh words. The sailor talk. Blue language.

So I’m doing more. I have to. This week I’ve already performed at more shows, plan to double the amount, I’ve started writing the moment I wake up every morning –I’m getting excited about it again. Whatever I went through two weeks ago was rough, but I’ve come out of it more dedicated than I was before. So I guess it was good. Yes. Sure.

Next week: back to despair! “Yeah, Reid, I missed you…” Yeah, I missed you, too, you consuming fire of sadness. I missed you real good.

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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #6

by Reid Faylor

Oh New York, you tricky trick. You goofy goof. You. To think last week I was angry with you, all upset and such. But now, now I have settled back into a deep and respectful “okay-ness” with you that feels warm and fulfilling.

Last week was essentially a shit week, as the last blog post may reveal –bad sets, tickets, a subconscious despair. But things can turn around so very quickly. Granted, I was in a bad mood about comedy in general; I severely doubted my abilities at it, stopped writing, and didn’t perform for a week. Which was stupid, and a little scary. Nothing specific had set it off, but a rolling wave of loneliness and what I call “grouchy” had washed over my dreams, making their clothes all wet and their aspirations damp. The week had pushed my dreams into the pool even though my dreams repeatedly said “no” and even told the week that its phone was in its pocket. But things can turn around so easily.

It was a process.

Despite my bad mood, I still loved comedy, I just doubted myself, so I couldn’t help but attend two live tapings of WTF (Marc Maron’s damned fine podcast). This was a good night. Saw good comedians talk and debate, met up with local guys, talked to some new people. Also, I got a call that night telling me I had gotten a job I hadn’t even interviewed for, one with a far easier commute than my last job in New Jersey. Things were looking all sorts up!

The next big piece in the Let’s-Make-Reid-Feel-Better puzzle was a surprise encounter with W. Kamau Bell. Kamau is a San Francisco comic and quite the hell of a guy. I met him during my time with the Rooftop Comedy Talent Institute, and he immediately in my mind became somewhat of a mentor –everything he said about comedy and writing rang true, and helped me develop a lot more into the performer I wanted to become. He was in town for his one-man show and happened to stop by the “Comedy as a Second Language” comedy show I was attending. It was great to see him again. We talked for a while, caught up, and one thing in particular stuck out from our conversation: he told me he was jealous. He was jealous that I got to move to New York, to go to a brand new place and start again. “You can be whatever you want to be,” he told me –it’s a great way to start from a clean slate and be the comedian you want to be. That struck me oddly true; I hadn’t realized the opportunity I had been given.

After a week of brooding and eating ice cream in the dark while playing Minecraft (a life destroying video game that I am building just the greatest sky garden in), on Sunday I performed again. I thought a lot about what Kamau said, and it put me in a better, more relaxed mood. Sure, in New York I am completely starting over, but I get to start over the exact way I want to. That night I performed at the Freak Show mic at the Ten Eleven bar, and for the first time in more than a year, I decided to just go on stage with no real plans and improvise. When I hit the stage, it felt good again, and I started talking –to the piano, myself, the audience a little. I started riffing about the Pop Tart store I had recently gone to, and improvised a joke suggesting that the Pop Tart sushi they served there was essentially “the idea of atheism made concentrate in food form.” I started spinning words, a whir of improvised phrases and analogies in an oddly poetic tone. It did pretty well. I then did a brand new joke I had worked on once, and had fun doing it. Leaving the stage, all the sudden I was excited again; I wanted to perform as soon as I could, improvise, write new weirdly meandering jokes, and get back into it. I had a good set, felt comfortable, and felt like I was doing exactly what I wanted to do on stage.

It was a peak, but with that definition comes the reality that it is a height surrounded by lower points and valleys (you see, like a mountain range! Metaphors –how fine!). I tried improvising at the next three shows I performed at, and they went fairly mediocre, none hitting the pace and feeling of the last show. But finding that freeness on stage and enjoying it again reset my opinion of comedy. I can do this, and when I do, it’s going to be done exactly the way I want it to.

NEXT WEEK: I peruse rugs online that I shouldn’t buy, and begin worrying more and more that the mosquito bites I keep getting may be bed bugs.

GUEST SENTENCE: My dreams (used to be about playing in the NHL, sometimes include myself, naked and vulnerable): “Don’t. Don’t do it, week. Goddammit, my phone’s in my pocket! I said I don’t want to go in the goddamn pool! My phone is in my goddamn pocket! Oh Jesus. You asshole. It’s a smart, phone!”

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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #5

by Reid Faylor

Before I begin, I’d like to respond to some of the comments I got on last week’s blog, as I felt they were very encouraging:

“Good job guys ..” -Mikey Mouse.

Whoa! Thanks Mikey! And your website, a certain “factspenisenlargement.com” was really something, too. Thanks for your interest!

“This is one of the best credit restoration companies used by many around the world.” –Johnny Carter.

Mr. Carter! Wow! Thanks for reading, and thank you even more for the credit restoration company info!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Amber Preston, a wonderful Minneapolis comedian, stopped by for a visit this week. She was in town for some NACA auditioning and visit-making, so she slept on our air mattress with its Batman sheets. The sheets used to be mine. In college. I went to Minneapolis over the summer to do some shows and visit friends, and it felt strange to look at the New York scene from a Minneapolis perspective.

I went to two shows with Amber, representing in my mind the best and worst of the New York comedy scene. One was “Hot Soup”, a booked show put on by Matt Ruby, David Cope and others, and despite a small attendance at first, every comedian that went up put on a great show –some of the best comedians I’ve seen in New York, all together, making all sorts of sillies. It’s the kind of show that in many ways is unique to New York –intimate setting, great rising comedians having fun and trying out material, relaxed. It’s a show you strive to be on.

The other show was an open mic, in the middle of a day on a Saturday -45 comedians, two minutes apiece, no audience, long. Amber seemed to do fine with it, but remembering my time in Minneapolis with it’s friendly comedians, great shows, and welcoming atmosphere, I felt almost ashamed waiting through this mic and it’s uninviting tone and tough crowd. Having a fairly bad set didn’t improve my mood about it either.

I started comparing New York to the other cities I’ve done comedy in –San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Cincinnati. There seem to be some bigger highs, but the lows feel lower and more punishing. It’s a harder place to stand out in, and it constantly makes you prove yourself. This definitely makes you better, but the total absence of comfort in the scene (at least for now) makes it a far more difficult task. I definitely started to miss my home scene in Cincinnati.

That was Saturday. On Sunday? Worked all day to replace my roommate’s car battery (out of town, going to get ticket unless we moved it), got an unknown object hurled at my car by an infuriated New York driver for unknown reasons, and received a $130 ticket for holding my phone in my hand (Note: Not talking, not dialing, just holding). Needless to say, by the end of the weekend, I had a fairly horrible opinion of being in New York.

But last night, talking with another comedian who moved here three months ago, her horror stories made me feel better. Car towed, four tickets, phone stolen, rough entry into the scene. She recounted her first two months as miserable and essentially God-awful. In month three though? Optimistic, happy –at ease. It all takes time. I know this will get better, but until it does –ice cream, unemployment, and a plant I bought in depression (Vivian) will soften my woes.
Next week: I probably get depressed and buy more plants.

Finally –guest sentence! This comes from Amber Preston (Aspen Comedy Festival, poor vision): “Reid, I didn’t send you my guest sentence after even requesting one and being reminded by you twice. Oh no!”

Poor form Amber. Poor form.

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Little Reid, Big City #4

by Reid Faylor


You know that one Beatles song? The one about how it, gradually, over time, continues to get better? I think it’s called “Back in the USSR.” Things have been like that song.

I came back last Monday from a trip to Fort Wayne (Indiana!), this time returning with possessions (yes!) and my parents in tow. We spent a day fixing up the apartment, building shelves, hanging window blinds and such, and decided to see the Punchline Magazine 5th anniversary show. While taking the subway out to Comix, my parents commented and how adapted I was already –I could use the metro card with ease, find my way around, ignore the homeless like they weren’t even people (well, I mean … ). I suppose I hadn’t really thought of it, but I do indeed feel comfortable here –it’s not foreign or alien, it’s normal.

Being away from the scene for even a week was strange. It took a bit to get back into the flow, to start getting to the mics on time and jump back into the schedule. When I saw some of the other comics, they had thought I had gone back permanently. After a week. Or maybe it was just one comic. Who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. But that gives you an idea of the commitment of the comedians here: even a week off is equivalent to disappearing.

I’ve been talking to a lot of comics who also recently made the Ohio-New York transition, and it keeps coming up: it’s strange performing for only comics. A lot of people question whether it’s even worth it, if progress can be made without an audience. On one hand, I haven’t really polished a lot of new material, mostly from the incapability to get a good “reid” (ha! That’s my name) on a joke, getting only worn and bitter comedian reactions. Yet, conversely, all the stage time has gotten me a lot more comfortable, and I’m beginning to find more and more how I like to interact on stage –my mannerisms, method of speaking, timing. Also, it takes going through shows like this to get to booked shows with real audience members, so it’s not all this way. It’s a process. It can definitely bruise the ego, but I feel like progress is being made, if nothing more than getting comfortable with the occasional silence.

Highlight of the week: performing at a youth hostel for drunk, vociferous, and belligerent Canadians, and informing one such Canuck with a lip-ful of Skoal and sunglasses that his real problem was that “your mother threw away the baby and raised the afterbirth.” It’s actually a compliment, as I explained, because if he were a person –he’d be a terrible person. But for a living sack of uterus blood and placenta –not too bad.

Ah. Truly, there are reasons to keep with this.

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Little Reid, Big City #3

by Reid Faylor

As I write this I am sitting in the La Guardia airport, waiting for a flight to return to Indiana, a place of soy and subdued racism from whence I was born. Considering I only came to New York with an air mattress and a suitcase, it is now time to go home and gather my worldly possessions, which I love and define me. I’m four weeks into the move –not a bad time to look back and evaluate.

Before the move, I had a lot of anxieties about coming out here. I didn’t know: anyone (kinda); where to perform; where to live; or how to get money. Now: I know people! I’ve gone so far as to recognize people on subways and street-walkin’, and there’s someone to talk to at every show. I know a couple venues to perform (mostly for free even) every night of the week, as well as some of the more popular booked shows to go and watch. I have an apartment, in a neighborhood with only the fewest of stabbings, and though my temp job is done, I actually earned money and have job prospects. Everything I worried about before coming out here resolved itself so simply it’s actually somewhat surprising –they were all pretty inconsequential, more intimidating than they should’ve been.

Not to say there aren’t problems being here. For example: a long-distance relationship! Contrary to what I previously thought, it turns out it’s not a cornucopia of pleasures and feel-goods. Rather, it’s more a wicker basket type structure, full of late-night phone calls, anxiety, and difficult emotions. It’s worth it, but by no means necessarily fun. Also: work! Aside from waking up early and being drained from a day of toil, the commute from New Jersey to New York has been so long at times (read: five hours) that it’s made me miss shows. Thankfully it only lasted for two weeks, and now I know what to consider in my new job search, ideally something with a better commute, more time to think.

A little girl in the airport is chasing a bird along the ground. You’re not going to catch it. You are a dumb little girl. Now your mom’s yelling at you and I hope you feel bad.

It’ll be interesting to get home and see what my perspective is –what will seem different, how it’ll feel being back in familiar terrain. Won’t really get a chance to do much comedy performing this week, though the time to write will be very welcome. I wonder how it’ll feel returning to New York in a week; it’s been good being there, but I wonder if in my mind I was still treating it as a long vacation. Yippee!

And now: guest sentences from my comedian roommates!

Andrew Short (performed with Mike Veccione, neatly trimmed nails): Reid, I’m not here. You’re alone in La Guardia. I’m not even here.

Seeing as Andrew went over his time, his guest sentence will not be returning next week. Dave Waite’s sentence will be up for another go though.

LITTLE REID, BIG CITY: 2

by Reid Faylor

I am now partway through my third week in New York! Summary: yeah!

I started working last week at a temporary job, which neatly reduces my day to work by day, comedy by night, not unlike a fledgling and largely selfish superhero. The hours have hurt my comedy time –waking up at six, getting back at five, leaving promptly for shows, not as much time to write. It is nice to have money though after so profusely hemorrhaging it the last few weeks. Also: good to have some motivation to work more on comedy. The sooner I improve my comedy, the sooner I can stop working, so now I know I need to really kick my comedy squarely in the taint.

I’m sorry for that last sentence.

Even just a couple weeks in, the shows have already gotten easier. I recognize at least a couple comics at every one (sometimes they recognize me!), no show has bombed and some have been –can it be? –good! Being out of my element has really shown me what I need to improve, and most of that is confidence on stage. I was amazed how nervous I was going up in front of comics, but in hindsight, in Cincinnati I knew every comic I was performing for, so this is kinda a new boundary to cross. Still rough dealing with crowds of mostly comics, but next week I’m on my first booked show, so hopefully a real audience will feel all nice-like.

Highlights of the week: seeing comedy performed by what I can best describe as “homeless Bill Cosby.” His facial expressions, delivery, and type of joke were definitely like Cosby. Unlike Cosby –the track marks on his arms. He never quite made his way to tell a joke, but upon casually putting on a Cosby sweater at the end of the show and falling asleep during the other comics, he definitely earned his spot as “highlight of the week.” Close runners up: Patrice O’Neal making fun of me, eating pierogies with Marc Maron.

I should have emphasized the last two.

Finally, I must admit: I am not entirely alone out here. By my side are two fellow Cincinnati comics who moved out to New York as well. Seeing as I was lucky enough to get this blog with Rooftop, I thought I’d give them each a guest sentence.

First, from Andrew Short (Aspen Comedy Festival, blond hair): Do we have to move our cars tomorrow for street cleaning, or is that tonight?

And finally, Dave Waite (Live at Gotham, glasses): I drove all the way to Target to buy a futon, but they didn’t have it. Back to the air mattress.

Dave Waite will not be returning next week as he went over his allotted time.

NEXT WEEK: Visiting home to move stuff, weekly goals, I’m not sure what else yet as it is next week, and I don’t know.