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Thursday
Jul242014

Getting Unstuck 

Heard a quote from a wise man. He was a pimp, but wise, nonetheless...

If things in your life are constantly going in circles, it's probably because you're cutting corners somewhere. 

Think about it. 

-Rone

Wednesday
Jul232014

Almost Got Killed The Other Day... These Are My Confessions

While at an open mic the other night, this ridiculously drunk dude showed up right before my set. He staggered in and immediately yelled “shut the fuck up” while some guy was doing a spoken word piece about how everyone in the world needs to treat each other right. 

The guy running the café counter heard enough and kicked the dude out. As he staggered out of the door, I saw the employee on the phone with the cops. The drunk dude staggered back and reached deep into his pants. I sat by the doorway and all I saw was the flash of steel. 

Oh, Lord. I’m about to get merked in a place that serves gluten free bagels, was the only thing that ran through my mind. 

As three or four dudes wrestled the steel from him, I realized it was a knife and breathed a sigh of relief. But after I did a decent set and hopped in my car, my mind zoned out as I put on Usher’s confessions. I sped up the 5 Freeway and let my brain cycle through all of the things I needed to get off of my chest, since that night could have been the end… 

I’ve never seen a Star Wars movie in my life. I don’t know how that happened, but it’s something I kind of secretly take pride in now. I know I’ll binge watch them all some day, but in the meantime I feel like I’m saving myself for something special. 

I swiped a piece of bubble gum from my granddad when I was five. He dropped me off at Kindergarten and the gum was just sitting there, taunting me. I thought to myself “Now’s my chance” and strategically scooped up the gum, but kept my hand there in a closed fist for the entire ride. 

I remember granddaddy looking down at my hand and at me like I was a weirdo, so I’m sure he knew I had the gum. But you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t a mastermind on a covert ops mission. Like a good kid, though, I waited until after school finished to enjoy the grape flavored Bubble Yum. You’re not allowed to chew gum in school. 

I have a weird phobia of becoming paralyzed. If we’re out and about, I won’t walk through the handicapped doorway. 

I’m developing a thing for pale white girls with colorful arm tattoos.

Leave that tanning bed alone, baby. Ink it up. In fact, I hope the no tan movement catches on just like black girls have stopped perming their hair.

I used to be into conspiracy theories but you mothereffers are jumping the shark by thinking everyone is in the illuminati. It’s not even fun to speculate about anymore.

Until the next time I almost get killed, these are my confessions.

 -Rone

Tuesday
Jul222014

Why My Children Will Be Smurf Children 

 

Keep your options open. No, keep your mind open. 

I say that, because a few weeks ago, my lady dyed her hair teal. Sometimes it looks more blue, sometimes it looks green. 

She had been talking about doing something crazy with her hair for a while, then just made an appointment and did it. 

Now, you know how you like dudes that are exactly 6-foot-2 with 6 percent body fat, a pHD at least, with a neck tattoo?

Or how your girl has to have shoulder length hair, an Xbox Live subscription and wear no less than a Double D?

Throw all of that out. Really, get rid of it. We evolve like crazy, so you never know what's going to make you tick tomorrow. Be fluid with it. 

Because that blueness has my head messed up.

I can't keep my smurfing hands off Mrs. G. So if I bow out of the no kids club, just know that it was meant to be. The gods so fit to bless me with a blue headed goddess and I yielded to the desires of the universe. 

If Jay-Z can name his kid Blue, so can I. Or maybe if he's a boy I'll name him Azul. That's "blue" in Spanish. Because I'm cultured. 

-Rone

Monday
Jul212014

Bring Some, To Get Some Revisited: Fight Weekend

The heat was raw on my skin and the sting of sweat in my eyes made me glad I skipped the contact lenses.

Graham men sweat a lot, but I was drenched for good reason this time. It was Hell 2.0 as the former reporter in me felt the need to go through what a fighter goes through, in order to get to the meat of the “story”.

The fighter was my friend, Justin “The Tactician” Patterson, who was two days away from his third professional mixed martial arts bout. Mrs. G and myself had just gotten off a plane to Dallas, TX, where Justin and his wife, who I had known since freshman year of college, lived.

Justin was cutting weight for his fight, so that he could get down to the 170 pound limit for the weigh in the next day. I was the only “civilian” in the sauna, as two other fighters in Justin’s camp piled in and more sweat got in my eyes.

The four of us made small talk, until I realized that these dudes were crazy and I had to go find some oxygen. You see, they did maybe eight different 10-minute intervals in the heat box. I tapped out after number three or four.

It dawned on me that I was happy with my 185-ish body, and if I stayed in there sweating it out with them, I was going to accidentally drop down to about 170 right along with Justin. Not wanting to lose weight just to watch a fight, I let them endure the wrath of the heat for a little bit longer and excused myself to hydrate back up.

I went to the mat to knock out some pushups and burpees, so that I wouldn’t completely feel like a hoe cake.

We kicked it the whole day and got up early the next morning to drive about 4 hours for the weigh in. Justin still had some pounds to shed, so this dude wore sweats on sweats on sweats, along with what looked like a trash bag and a hoodie, so that he could leave sweaty ass prints get down to his target weight.

Now I’m sitting beside him in the truck and am debating whether to say something or just let him cook. I decided to ask him once and leave it at that. I’m sure they know what’s normal and what’s not.

 “You good, man?” I asked.

“I’ll live,” Justin said.

I felt the need to say something, because to me, he looked like he was dying. He was sweating like a whore in church and it seemed like it was taxing for him to even speak, as he drifted in and out of naps.

When we got to the weigh in, he was off his target weight and had to forego food and water as he jumped from treadmill to bike, bike to treadmill, treadmill to shadowboxing to keep sweating … keep sweating … keep sweating. 

I played the background, helping when I could, as his coach told him to relax, but still encouraging him to sweat it out. I wanted to be a fly on the wall and let him do his thing, not wanting to be the bad luck charm coming in from out of town, ruining the rhythm (and his undefeated record).

We got to the weigh ins and as soon as he stepped off the scale, Justin downed a pedialyte and devoured some delicious smelling turkey based concoction.

I was staying in the hotel room with Justin for the weekend, and from the night before to the afternoon on the day of the fight, we probably watched five or six movies. The vibe was low key, a contrast to the warfare that we both knew was about to take place.

 “Do your thing, man,” I told him one last time as he drifted off into the nap. 

I went across the street for the amateur fights and felt nerves running through my body. It’s clear that it’s an athletic competition, but there really is no escaping the fact that your friend is about to put his life and health on the line--and when they close the cage, there’s one way in and one way out.

My nerves calmed when it came time for his fight.

Now let me preface this by saying that Justin is an all smiles, Japanese anime watching, wife cuddling, nice dude. Let me preface it further by saying that he freely uses the word “yummy” to describe food that tastes good.

But when I went to the tunnel for his entrance, saw him take a knee and bow his head for a few minutes and come up—I got chills. 

I didn’t see the mild mannered dude I cut up with in Vegas. I didn’t see the dude who was talking about Pokemon hours before the fight. I looked in his eyes and saw the son of Satan, ready to bring hell to the cage.

 

“Yes, sir! Yes, sir!” you might hear me yelling in the video above.

He had a gang of supporters at the entrance, but I could tell by the look in his face that Justin had left the building and he didn’t see any of us. As Lil Wayne’s “Drop The World” played, the lyrics hit home as he marched to the octagon, mind right, ready for war.

“I got ice in my veins …. Blood in my eyes … Hate in my heart … Love in my mind.”

The lyrics were fitting.

They spent the first round feeling each other out, but it was clear that his opponent didn’t want to trade. His opponent attempted a take down early, but after that, Justin was finding him with his jab with increased frequency.

Once the second round opened up, Justin was pretty much picking his spots whenever he wanted, until he caught him with a clean shot, forced him into the cage and smothered him with rights and lefts until the ref waved it off.

Second round knockout.

I haven’t played basketball in years, so I’m not sure if I can still dunk. But when I saw the ref’s hand wave, I got out of my seat and jumped what felt like 15 feet in the air, about ten times in a row. I lost my voice screaming. I grabbed Mrs. G and threw her into the air about 15 times.

Victory.

Now I only got to witness a very, very small portion of what Justin went through to pick up that W. Aside from wanting to see a friend do well, I gained a crazy amount of appreciation for what you have to do mentally and physically to prepare for such a task.

You gotta bring some ass to get some ass.

Those were the words I remember boxer Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver saying in a post fight interview. He had recently shocked the world with a second round knockout of the then invincible Roy Jones Jr., and was taking on all challengers.

Those words stuck with me as I relate them to Justin’s fight and to life in general.

I don’t live inside of Justin’s head, but I’m sure that when he goes to that dark place, he knows that in order to put himself in a position to live his dream, he has to go out there, man to man and TAKE something from his opponent.

They both want the same thing out of life and both of their roads to glory run through each other. It’s the rawest, most pure form of ambition that you’ll see.

But in order to get that glory and accomplishment, he has to be willing to stand in there, with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide and accept the fact that his opponent is trying to rattle his brain or choke him out, the same way that he’s trying to--on the road to getting what he wants out of life.

Before all of that, he had to be willing to kill himself in the gym, at the dinner table and on the track in order to even have a seat at the table. There were no guarantees and you’re only as good as your last fight.

Moreover, there are only so many slots in the UFC, so you gotta kill yourself just to be good, let alone great.

With no entitlement, no guarantees that your dream will come to fruition and a daily battle to outdo yourself and push your limitations, you have to be willing to bring some ass, in order to get some ass.

While most of us aren’t fighters, it doesn’t make that any less of a reality.

Every day that I’m not writing, every day that I’m not on stage, every day that I’m not pushing my limitations, there is someone out there trying to take my spot. Since I’m not staffed on a TV show and haven’t made a dime off of standup, I don’t even have a legitimate spot to take at this point.

But if I ever hope to have a spot, I have to do it blindly, with full faith, paying my tab with effort up front, so that I can see the fruits of my labor on the back end. In the midst of “bringing some ass” I lose time with friends, time with my wife and basically walk a lonely road that only my comrades in writing and comedy will ever truly understand.

We all walk that road.

While your repercussions for not showing up to the dance might not be getting knocked out, it might be getting replaced at work by someone who went the extra mile to learn some skills.

You might not be stepping into a cage, but maybe every day you don’t show up, your husband or wife realizes that they’re being taken for granted and that they could do better.

You might not be getting in shape for a fight, but perhaps every day you say no to moving your body and eating right, you’re letting the great opponent Diabetes get an edge, or are shaving off the limited amount of good physical years you have to play with your kids or travel comfortably.

My point is that when you strip away the distractions, life is ALWAYS about getting ready for the next storm that’s coming and preparing yourself to get through it, so that your tomorrow is brighter. The storm is coming one way or another, so we always have to be focused on getting a reward out of it.

Now unfortunately, God made me too pretty to fight for a living, so I’ll have to apply those principles to dreams of my own. But I know that if I want something, it’s on me to go after it, and there’s no reason not to attack every challenge with the heart of a fighter. 

Monday
Mar312014

Five Reasons Standup Comedy Sucks When it Sucks

In an incredibly helpful video posted by comedian Ari Shaffir last year, he dropped an asinine amount of valuable info at LA’s Comedy Store, to baby comics like myself.

He said a lot of great stuff, but one of the things that stood out to me the most is that, until you bomb countless times, you don’t know anything.

Now I’ve bombed my fair share, and even got booed off stage once, but it looks like I have a healthy amount of bombing left to do before I smarten up. Most of the time, when you bomb, it’s because of the WAY you’re presenting yourself, and not so much the joke itself. Of course, unfunny is unfunny, but I’ve had stuff kill one set, and then bomb another set.

Thankfully, standup comedy, as with life, has lessons with every failure. In my couple of years doing standup, I’ve noticed five definite things that myself and other comics do, or don’t do, that can make or break a set.

Speak Up!

When I first started doing comedy in Blacksburg, Va., this was my main issue. I’m a naturally laid back dude, but the host and my first comedy mentor, Anthony Quinn Robinson, told me that I needed to speak up. Matter of fact, he said I sounded like I was trying to be a midnight love radio DJ. I’ve gotten better at it and don’t think it’s my Achilles heel anymore, but no matter where I’m doing time, I still hear those words echo in my head sometimes before I go on.

Reason being?

You have to control the crowd. You don’t have to be a loudmouth, rah rah type comic, but you have to speak with authority, especially when you first go on. Even if you’re a lazy, stoner type, your voice is your instrument, so you have to draw the crowd in, especially if alcohol is flowing and waitresses are milling about taking orders.

Shut Up!

Not literally, of course, but new comics are too verbose. I cringe looking at old videos, because I’ll kill with a setup and punch line, but then ramble for a minute and a half before saying something funny or interesting. Writing is in my blood, so I learned a long time ago that most of the time, tight is right and less is more.

The same applies with comedy.

I’ve learned to trim the fat with my sets, cut out any words that aren’t actively helping the joke and not ramble when explaining things. This makes your jokes stronger, especially when, if telling a long joke, you GET THERE with jokes, rather than empty explaining.

Don’t Waste Time

The biggest thing I miss about doing comedy in Virginia is that I could do 15+ minutes whenever I went on. In Hollywood, you’re doing 5-minute spots mostly, and if they’re crunched for time, you might get cut to three minutes.

While I have the luxury of doing open mics 7 nights a week, multiple times per night, I don’t have a chance to do as much time, so I don’t have time to waste. I was at a club a couple weeks back, where a comic had a 5-minute spot, and pulled out, (I am NOT making this up) a sword, a stick of dynamite and other assorted items.

There was a lineup of 10 comics or more, along with some musical guests. For someone going on with limited time, you can’t waste a second.

Fear of Silence

This past weekend, I took Mrs. G out to Inside Jokes on Hollywood Boulevard to support a fellow comic, Julian Michael, I met a little while ago. He had a great set, but though the jokes alone were funny, he added so much to it by taking a little moment to let it breathe.

Having that little moment of silence draws the crowd in, so that they want to laugh, even before hearing what you’re about to say next. I practiced this more in Virginia, but in Los Angeles, find myself sinking into bad habits of fearing silence, based on a joke not hitting, or talking too fast after watching comics bomb before me.

Which brings me to…

Fuck ‘Em

There really is absolutely no other way to put it.

Offstage, I’m the most chill, friendly, people loving person you’ll meet, but before I grab the mic, I have to go up there with the mindset that I’m better than you, and even if you don’t love me, Jesus does.

The split second you find yourself holding back, acting out of character, trying too hard, fearing rejection, wanting too much to be liked or letting them judge you, you already lost. If I’m going to bomb or offend, I’m going to bomb or offend, but it’s going to be on my terms.

When I walk out with that kind of confidence, no matter what comes out of my mouth, it’s usually a pretty decent set. When I let those doubts creep in, I usually bomb, or have an awkward set.

Confidence is king in all aspects of life, so I try to walk with these tenants daily on and off stage.