Tag Archives: stuff about me

I know kung-fu…

24 Oct

punch stuff until it blows upYou guys, here is how to make friends and it works at any age (even when your 29 and it’s freaking hard): speak unabashedly and enthusiastically about things that interest and excite you and create a safe place for people to do the same. And start doing it early in the conversation– like almost inappropriately early.

Who cares about where they work or what their name is.

Figure out what really excites them as quickly as possible and then proceed to enjoy your totally awesome conversation with your new best friend.

Make a connection!

You can figure out their name later.

That’s how I found MY new best friend (I think his name is Matt).

We bonded over kung-fu and punching (as long as it is for a righteous cause).

Later, he sent me THE BEST email in the history of life which began thusly:

“Heyo! Your set tonight was unreal, and you are the best person. Here are some movies in which people express their emotions via punching.”

BOOM! THIS IS HOW FRIENDSHIPS ARE FORGED, PEOPLE!

What followed was a list of movies introducing me to the wonderful world of “emotional punching”: Ong- Bak 1 &2ChocolateThe ProtectorShaolin Soccer

If you look at the movie summaries, they are all kind of similar. They all share many of the same key words and phrases: “dutiful son”, “betrayal”, “left for dead”, “corrupt official”, “crime syndicate”, and “to avenge his father’s death.”

I had a kung-fu marathon shortly after– and I quickly realized, kung-fu is freaking awesome.

So are muay thai and boxing.

You know what else is awesome?

Gingerly leaping from tree branch to tree branch in order to chase down (and eventually beat down) the crime lord who killed your parents.

And after a week of watching movies like Ong-Bak and Chocolate, I don’t know if I can go back to watching movies where a child DOESN’T fight (and kill) a crocodile in the first 10 minutes of the movie.

(NOTE: I should clarify: in real life, fighting does not interest me and guns terrify me. In movies, however, the hero needs to be punching people with his righteous fists and carrying the biggest gun possible. HE’S FIGHTING EVIL! It’s irresponsible for him to do anything less.)

After my marathon, I definitely learned some things:

  1. If you say, “I am a GOD” and you are not a god, you will definitely be killed. Probably by a God.
  2. Anyone who beats up on someone’s mom is going to die by the end of the film. Hard.
  3. Wire-work/CGI is for losers. Do backflips across a river of lava using your muscles and willpower– OR DON’T DO IT AT ALL!
  4. Do a bunch of parkour on a herd of stampeding elephants. Not only will those around you recognize your oneness with nature, you are now the elephant king!
  5. You are a fool if you think autism would prevent you from being a muay thai master. A FOOL!
  6. Children who kill crocodiles with their bare hands will grow up to break up slavery rings and fight corrupt kings.

So, yeah– I like kung-fu and Matt is my friend now.

And it all happened because I asked someone I just met, “What are your thoughts on violence?”

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Winter: A Pointless Regional Survey (aka: Go home, winter!)

5 Mar

Recently, I moved from Greensboro, NC to Boston.

By “recently”, I mean that my lease started in January- which meant I moved just in time to experience Boston’s first cold snap (and the fourteen other subsequent cold snaps).

With all the insane winter storms Massachusetts has been hit with, I’ve gotten a number of texts from people outside of Boston telling me to, “Stay safe!” and that they “hope I’m okay!” which makes me think all of my friends picture me wandering outside in the winter snow, lost and confused.

I’m FINE! I have access to shelter, you guys!

(Also, I live within walking distance of a crepe shop. Life is pretty good.)

It’s different though. Having spent the last eight years in North Carolina, this weather is confusing and disorienting.

Once I came home, and there was a pillar of ice 8″ thick on the ground in front of my door. I naively wondered where it came from until I realized- IT CAME FROM THE SKY. Above me were icicles hanging off the roof the size of me. People in Boston don’t immediately understand why I’m half hysterical when I tell this story. It’s insane because in Greensboro, when there WERE icicles– THEY WERE ADORABLE! They accented the house. It was as if someone bought a string of them at K-Mart. Also, they weren’t able to kill me.

Bostonians are completely blasé about snow. There has been a “snow emergency” at least once a week for the past four weeks- but there seems to be absolutely no sense of urgency attached to the announcement. Other than the schools closing, it’s really just to let everyone know that they have to move their car.01 move asshole

01 everything is on fire

I’ve watched North Carolina deal with this winter from afar and the result hasn’t been surprising. North Carolina is the only place where it can snow and suddenly EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE. When it snowed in Greensboro, it was a cause for celebration. An inch of snow could bring the city to grinding halt. Kids would get school off and you would get an excuse to miss work (and the bars would remain open and be within walking distance).

Meanwhile, Boston has been under a perpetual foot of snow and everything has been fine. We have had some “warm” days, so it’s starting to melt (which basically means everything is either ice or a deep puddle of freezing sludge. Nothing in between).

This weather has been intense. While the Bostonians I have met are unfazed by everything happening around them, they are instantly apologetic once they hear I just moved here.

This is a conversation I’ve had several times:

ME: I’m from North Carolina, so this weather is… different.

THEM: Yeah, I’m sorry- it isn’t usually this bad.

ME: I forgive you.

“I mean, really”

2 Dec

There is a little app floating out there called “What Would I Say?” It sifts through everything you have ever posted on Facebook and generates a post that sounds like something you would say.

It’s not just a bot, it’s a YOU bot.

Admittedly, when I began, I was skeptical (“No bot can imitate ME! I am special! Maybe the specialest!! No bot can recreate the uniqueness of ME!”). I granted the bot access to my Facebook page and planned to bask in the glory of being right.

But, I was alarmed at how accurate most of the posts were…

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 12.14.35 AM

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.58.47 PM

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 12.13.58 AMThese are all totally legit things that I would post.

  1. This is a type of low-level burn I could definitely see myself using.
  2. I don’t listen to Lil’ Wayne’s music- so I was surprised at how concerned I was when he had a seizure. This might have been EXACTLY what I posted.
  3. My weekend revolves around brunch. An invitation to brunch is basically an invitation to be my friend.

I wasn’t entirely surprised that the posts seemed like something I would say. The app was using my words.

What surprised me was the tone of the posts.

I deliberately organize my posts to be funny and attention-grabing. My posts aren’t brilliant- but there is some thought that goes behind it. I’m not just hemorrhaging a bunch of funny words (which is what I assumed this app was going to do).

But the app (which we will now refer to as JennyBot) was generating responses that legitimately sounded like me.

After doing a minimal amount of research, I learned that the bot doesn’t just regurgitate the words from past posts– it mimics the language and style of the posts. My style is apparently ridiculous and grandiose. So even when the sentences didn’t make sense– THE POSTS STILL SOUNDED LIKE ME!

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 12.13.27 AM

Despite the fact that this sentence makes no real sense structurally, I had no problem understanding what JennyBot meant. It is not too far off base to say that if I were feeling down and unsuccessful, that I would describe my emotional state as “depressing death + Christmas Pterodactyls*.

(*but I like to think that Tina Fey’s New York includes Christmas Pterodactyls.)

Ultimately, JennyBot painted a fairly accurate portrait of actual Jenny:

  • JennyBot is well-meaning but impractical:

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 12.19.27 AM

I enjoyed this one. It sounds like something I casually wrote on my to-do list: buy paper towels, take clothes out of the dryer, take care of problems. While I’m at it, I should just include “achieve enlightenment” underneath.

(FUN FACT: I have never finished a to-do list in my life).

  • JennyBot is emotional:

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 12.18.24 AMI like to think that my posts are bizarre and curiously emotional while I, myself, am stoic and cold. If I’m honest, though, I DO get a little moved by the people around me. I can’t help it. I surround myself with awesome people. The compliments you hear from me are the kinds you you usually only hear from super drunk people (“No, seriously! You are AMAZING.”).

  • JennyBot is oddly inspirational:

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 6.04.11 PMMotivational posters and songs always seem to think that ASCENDING a mountain is the ultimate achievement. But there ain’t no shame in descending a mountain! There are plenty of non-mountain related activities you can do– and now you don’t have that mountain to deal with!

So, basically, through the magic of JennyBot, I learned that I am emotional, less of a misanthrope than I thought, pro-brunch, and overly invested in the life of rapper Lil’ Wayne (also, I like to talk about Sasquatch, ninjas, gay stuff, and the Russian Embassy).

Learning that a bot absolutely could imitate the specialness of me wasn’t actually such a terrible blow to the ego.

It was thrilling to realize I could finally delegate my tweets to someone else (that shit is tedious, yo!).

Let the robot takeover begin!

In closing:

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 6.04.50 PMThanks, JennyBot. I will be.

“Remember that time Chris Tucker opened for Jenny?”

1 May

Last week, I went to Georgia and it was pretty awesome. I met a person named Dorito, saw a post office that doubled as a jail, and performed on the same stage as Chris Tucker.

Yes. The that Chris Tucker.

The famous one.

Blayr and I were in Atlanta to perform at the Laughing Skull. Laughing Skull is a pretty sweet comedy club in downtown Atlanta. They have some pretty prestigious comics perform there. We were performing at the open mic (and even then there is a long list to get a spot).

Laughing Skull also really pushes the skeleton motif to the limit. There are skeletons everywhere.

skeleton over stage

Have a great show… also– I’m going to haunt your dreams for the next month or so. Break a leg!

There is even a terrifying demon skeleton with laser eyes that crouches right above the stage. It is just hovering over you the entire time you are performing.

Three comics into the show, Blayr said we could go backstage. I don’t know how she managed that, because there weren’t any other comics hanging out behind stage (I guess she’s just cool like that…?). Whatever. I don’t question her mad skills anymore.

Behind stage, there was a small lounge/greenroom where the four of us basically sat in a tense silence.

I endeared myself to the host by asking where we were in the line-up every seven minutes (hosts LOVE THAT).

He looked like he was nearing the end of his patience around the 24th time, so I went out behind the stage and did some stretches.

2013-04-17_21-14-41_809

Famous Comedian Lenny Bruce and Almost-Famous Comedian Blayr Nias.

I stretch before shows because one of my teachers told us a story about a student who was so nervous during a presentation, she locked her legs and passed out midway through. Which sounds horrifying. As someone who lip-sycnced through all of my school recitals to further minimize my contribution, the idea of my body completely betraying me and thrusting me into the spotlight is my number one nightmare come to life.

So I stretch.

Anyway, right before I’m supposed to go on, a guy in a baseball cap came backstage flanked by two other dudes. The guy wearing a baseball cap was smiling and just radiating confidence. I couldn’t see who it was but he shook my hand and in that moment, I knew that he was going on stage next.

He knew it too.

I didn’t know who he was- but he had a posse, for chrissake. Of course he was going on stage next.

If you don’t know Chris Tucker, he is an incredibly energetic fella– like a tiger on cocaine.

I am not incredibly energetic.

There is absolutely no reason I need to stretch before my set. There is little to no movement involved when I am on stage. If they could, small birds would roost on my shoulder.

Chris Tucker did about 20 minutes of material. Judging from the gales of laughter I heard from the greenroom, I think he did well (I did not hear any of it because I was having a chat with the host and trying to make a good impression so he wouldn’t remember me as the moron who kept bothering him).

So, after Chris Tucker was finished with his set, I waited to go on stage (for reals this time). While the host was introducing me, someone in the audience called out, “I would hate to go on after Chris Tucker.”

Thanks, sir (read: asshat). That thought hadn’t crossed my mind.

To their credit, my three friends in the back started chanting “Jenny! Jenny! Jenny!

They get 8,492 karma points for being awesome (enjoy your next life as a dragon, you guys!).

My set went pretty well– and not just well considering I had to follow a celebrity. It went pretty well. I’m pretty sure that even the guy who thought I would suck was laughing (Haha! In your face, you doubting douchebag!).

So, yeah. From now on, I’m just going to say Chris Tucker opened for me.

I think he’ll be okay with that.

And even if he isn’t, it’s okay because he doesn’t know who the fuck I am.

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I’m Chris Tucker!

Nikki & Sara Live… for real!

13 Apr

You guys! I got to meet Sara Schaefer and Nikki Glaser and it was awesome!

They performed at UNC last week along with Lewis Black and J.R. Havlin.

Lewis Black performs stand-up all over the US, but most people know him from The Daily ShowJ.R. Havlin is a writer for The Daily Show and Sara Schaefer and Nikki Glaser host their own show on MTV (Nikki & Sara Live). It was a pretty impressive line-up.

nikki and sara 05

When my mom heard that I met successful comedians who have jobs and get paid, (something I’m not sure she believes actually exists) she was thrilled. “That’s great! These things are a great networking opportunity.”

Yes, mom …in theory.

My friend, who knows me better, had a better grasp of the situation and just laughed in my face. “Was it a catastrophe?” she asked, already knowing full well that it was.

For any other person, meeting these two comics would have been a great networking opportunity. When they say to “make a memorable impression”, however, I am pretty sure they don’t mean “make that person fear for their life.”

Friend: It probably wasn’t as bad as you think.

Me: At one point, I told Sara Schaefer that I stalked her on the Internet.

Friend: Yikes.

I am mega-awkward, you guys.

People throw the word “awkward” around a lot. Everyone claims that they are soooo awkward, but in the end they rarely have the stories to back it up.

Allow me to explain the difference:

awkward versus normal

And it’s cool. I make it work. While I don’t flourish in social situations, usually I can pass for a normal human person. If I maintain a stoic front, no one knows that inside, my internal dialogue consists only of a sustained scream.

But when I’m around people I like or respect, it all goes to shit.

To help you better understand, I made another chart:

meeting someone I like or respect

So, basically, I’m not at my best around people I look up to.

During their time at UNC, Nikki and Sara did a panel discussion in the afternoon… to which I arrived late. I tried to get there on time, but  parking in Chapel Hill is a hellish nightmare and I had to park on the side of a mountain which was forever away from the main campus . And because we are experiencing such BEAUTIFUL sunny weather, I looked like a bedraggled swamp monster by the time I got there. I spent most of the panel trying to bring my body temperature down to an acceptable level (i.e. whatever level that would allow me to stop sweating like a maniac).

Afterwards, Sara and Nikki stuck around a little bit to talk to people. They were both incredibly gracious and thanked us all for coming, and we all went our separate ways.

Except en route to my car, I realized Nikki and Sara were also walking toward Franklin St. and I was

Remember: When meeting new people- it is important to respect their boundaries.

Remember: When meeting new people- it is important to respect their boundaries.

inadvertently shadowing them (like a stalker).

In an effort to appear like less of a creeper, I attempted to make small-talk with Sara Schaefer.

It was a disaster.

At this point, I wasn’t just battling innate bashfulness, I was coping with a colossal caffeine high. My three cups of coffee had finally decided to kick in.

I wasn’t just making awkward small-talk—I was doing it at the speed of light!

I cannot stress how nice she was. She answered all my questions and talked with me the whole way to Franklin St. She deserves a medal because I don’t even think I was speaking words at one point.

My favorite part was when she asked what college I went to.

Me: Oh– uh, Guilford Greensboro.

Don’t bother googling that college.

It doesn’t exist.

Friend: You couldn’t remember what college you went to?

Me: I mean… I remembered. I was just having trouble …speaking words.

Friend: Wow. She probably thought she was talking to a stroke victim.

The next day, when Brittany (my awesome UNC friend who hooked me up with tickets to everything) invited me to talk with the comedians after the show, I declined. I was grateful for my previous encounter with the two comics and I knew I hadn’t gotten any better at being an adult within the past 24 hours.

Not only did I successfully steal this poster, they both signed it. Victory!

Not only did I successfully steal this poster, they both signed it. Victory!

Instead, I went upstairs to steal a poster so I would have a souvenir of the performance. As I was busy working poster off the wall, the door beside me opened and all the comics who performed came filing through.

In an effort to stave off a panic attack, I chose to throw all my focus behind stealing this poster–which is a brilliant plan: “Don’t mind me, I’m just stealing things...”

Recognizing me from yesterday, Nikki Glaser came over and offered to sign the poster– because she is a super nice person.

I honestly have no idea what I said– or if I said anything, but I do know that I flattened myself against the wall like a scared injured bird.

Me: [head in hands] I shouldn’t be allowed around people. It’s always a disaster.

Friend: Well, surely being able to talk to people in your field won’t be a skill you need in the future.

Me: I hate you.

Yes, I am a graceless idiot and this might sound like a tragic mis-adventure, but that weekend was totally a win.

In my life, awesome things are just inextricably entwined with awkwardness. That is just how it is.

Ultimately, I got to meet and talk to two ladies I like and respect.

I’m not only a huge fan, I’m incredibly indebted to them.

They helped me get better at comedy.

When I’m in a creative slump, it helps me to look to people who are doing what I want to do. If it’s trouble with writing, I turn to writers for advice. When I am struggling with comedy, I turn to comedians. Nikki and Sara are part of that creative crew that I turn to when I’m feeling discouraged.

I’ve watched Glaser in A Day in the Life of a Female Comedian about twenty times, read Schaefer’s Advice to a Young Comedian (& Myself), watched their stand-up clips, and listened to them on podcasts talking about their own struggles with comedy. It’s been incredibly helpful and made whatever problem I was facing seem much more manageable.

It is also encouraging to see them succeed.

They have turned writing and being funny into a career. I basically want to be them when I grow up (which, I know, is a weird statement to hear from a 28 year old… and it is possible that Nikki Glaser might actually be younger than me… but, whatever, NEVER MIND THAT!).

The point is, meeting them was awesome.

I’ll never forget it.

(Although, I fervently pray that they have no recollection of me whatsoever.)

carpe diem bitches

Hey, remember January?

19 Mar

January was a pretty great month.

My calendar looked like this:

2013-02-01_02-44-18_587

(The circles are shows. There are a lot. Which is awesome and makes me want to do awesome air kicks all day.)

I also got invited to do my first podcast.

Why haven’t I posted about the podcast until now?

Because I am hilariously bad at self-promotion!

Anyway, in January, I sat down with Michelle Maclay and John Sideris to be interviewed for their podcast, “Small Town Funny.” It was mega-fun and made me feel like a professional comedian.

Michelle and John are two local NC comedians that I have performed with and have often (graciously) included me in some of the shows they run. “Small Town Funny” is a pretty cool little podcast that interviews comedians and asks them about their writing/creative process and how they come up with jokes.

The discussion, of course, wanders to other topics.

My episode talks about Armenians, my strange academic career, what goes into producing a show, and the virtues of Greek people. Everyone is hilarious on the episode and merriment is had by all.

We recorded the episode at Michelle’s- but “Small Town Funny” is moving into an actual recording studio. WCOM 103.5 will start broadcasting “Small Town Funny” in the coming weeks (because this podcast is legit and cannot be stopped!).

Anyhoo- listen to my episode. You can go to the site and check it out (or download it on iTunes).

Afterwards, you should leave a comment.

Just know, that it will be hard to top the first comment:

Picture 1Thank you, Sir Walter Raleigh. You are doing everything right.

Holy smokes, you guys! Awesome news!

2 Feb

April-Richardson

This is April Richardson.

She is a writer/performer on Chelsea Lately.

She is also one of the featured comics of the 2013 North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival.

Picture 2

Every time she is on Chelsea Lately, she is hilarious. Her stand-up is wonderful and she has shared the stage with some pretty amazing comics.

Basically, everyone should be super psyched she is in this year’s festival.

But, WAIT! IT GETS SO MUCH BETTER!

I’ve also been lucky enough to be performing in this year’s festival. After one of my shows, I was approached and asked if I wanted to open for April Richardson.

At first, I just thought I had misheard and I was just experiencing some sort of wonderful/euphoric fever dream.

It turns out- that conversation actually happened!

whaaaaa

Here is proof!

So now, I am one of the comics opening for April Richardson.

I am mega-pumped! (Seriously! I have never used so many exclamation points in my life!)

If you are in/around Chapel Hill/Carrboro tonight, you should come out and see some awesome comedy.

It will be a blinding brilliant light of awesome.

hoorayJENNY CHALIKIAN, MATT D, APRIL RICHARDSON

9pm @ DSI (200 N Greensboro St./Carrboro, NC 27510)

Tickets are $14 ($10 for students)

(order tickets online)