My thoughts after seeing Martin Lawrence live and reading David Spade’s memoir

Between last night and tonight, I saw Martin Lawrence live, and finished reading David Spade’s memoir, Almost Interesting, so I thought I’d blog a little about my experiences with both.

Martin Lawrence was performing at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. The surprise of the night was that he was being supported by Melanie Comarcho, who I had coincidentally watched a stand-up special on Netflix sometime late last year (I recognised her not from her name, but the opening of her set, and I wasn’t sure if it was because she was the person who supported Wanda Sykes, or if I’d seen her on Netflix, but I looked it up on Netflix to confirm that’s where I saw her before). I enjoyed her more live than I did watching her on Netflix.

But this isn’t about her. Now, the thing about watching stand-up comedians who you’re familiar with from the nineties is you’re soon reminded just how long ago that was, and how old you are. I was still a kid/teen in the nineties, but these guys weren’t, so when they let you know they’re fifty now, it’s like… OMG, that is nowhere near close to how old you were when I remember watching you when I was young. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it does affect the content of the show. So, much like Wanda Sykes did when I saw her last year, Martin Lawrence talked a lot about how old his body is now, and how it’s failing him with incontinence and such. Considering the show was called “Doin’ Time in Hollywood,” I was surprised by how little he talked about his work in Hollywood (all I recall about it is a reference to needing to shoot Bad Boys 3 soon before he gets even older — Chris Tucker talked a whole lot more about his experiences with fame in Hollywood when I saw his stand-up live at the same venue around 16 months ago). I think I might’ve been a bit tired because I found my mind drifting too often during the show.

And, unfortunately, even if I had been able to remember more of the show, it all got wiped away at the end when there was a stampede out of the theatre, with people freaking out about the possibility of a shooting. Now, more than 24 hours later, I still have no explanation as to what happened, just a couple of Tweets and a question on reddit with speculation about a possible shooting. I would’ve thought if there had been one, there would’ve been a news story about it. Of course, even if that was borne out of something that didn’t happen, the fear that I was potentially caught up in a mass shooting was there. My first thoughts were about what would happen if I was shot, because my husband was overseas and my kids were being watched by our housemate. How would that be handled, and how would she know or find out what happened? But once I managed to dart to BART and Tweeted about it myself, I couldn’t help but think it would’ve been an easy place for some asshole racist white dude on a suicide mission to come kill a bunch of African Americans. The signs on the doors for the theatre say no weapons, but I had a large handbag and it wasn’t searched. A gun could’ve easily been brought in. With how frequent mass shootings happen in the US, I think it was a pretty understandable fear that that’s what was going on, so I feel pretty lucky that, after the fact, it seems to have been an incorrect assumption. Perhaps I’ll one day find a need to channel that real life fear into my acting, the way I’ve used my other negative emotional experiences as places I can go in scenes.

Thank goodness reading a memoir doesn’t bring in the same life-or-death fears. I wrote in an earlier blog post that I picked up David Spade’s memoir when he was performing in San Francisco in November last year. I didn’t want to pass up my second opportunity to see him live (I’d only just been lucky enough to see him in Vegas in April, too, because he happened to be there the same time I was). What I hadn’t known was that he’d just released this book, so there I was thinking this might mean he’d sign copies after the show, so I bought it and started reading while I waited for the show to start. (Side note: I waited a while but he didn’t come out to sign copies after the show — disappointing considering Rob Schneider, another comedian part of the same crowd and gets several mentions in the book, was totally cool with meeting fans and taking pictures with them).

I took a break from reading for a couple of months, but I got through the rest pretty quickly. I think if you’re already a fan of Spade’s humour, you’d probably enjoy the book. I had several laugh out loud moments. One of the things that really struck me was how much he got caught up in social media. Here I am thinking, this guy is like twenty years older than me, and yet he’s more active on Twitter than I am, and fawning over people there more than I do (though I confess I was giddy when I tweeted about reading his book again and he favourited the tweet… but now that I’ve read the book and I actually know how much he uses Twitter and Instagram, I don’t think I can Tweet at him again).

Aside from Spade’s humour, which I clearly enjoy even all the while he’s confessing how much he cheats on women (honestly, why can’t guys like that just be with women who embrace open relationships? Or has he not even considered that’s an option?), what I got out of it the most was how challenging his growth to fame was. He spent several years on the stand-up circuit performing most nights of the week before he ended up on Saturday Night Live, and even when he was there he was worried about job security. But it was lovely to read about that, and how his friendships with various people formed over that period. For me, as someone who is finally being more serious in her pursuit of similar things (not SNL, but acting on camera), it was a good reminder of just how long it can take, and how much you have to work hard and sacrifice to get there. Also, how important it is to meet the right people who will grow and develop ideas with you… and just how far insecurities can eat at you.

It would’ve been nice to learn more about how he got in with Just Shoot Me, and developing his Joe Dirt & Dickie Roberts films (I haven’t followed him so closely after those, so I don’t mind missing him talk about that), but given how long it already was, I think that was fine. Maybe he’ll write another memoir. Some of the content in the earlier chapters were pretty much stories he uses in his live stand-up, too, but most of the rest of the book wasn’t in the shows I saw last year. If you haven’t seen his stand-up, then at least you can get a sense for some of what it’s like when you read that. He also puts into writing answers to a lot of questions he is apparently asked often, so that’s nice, too.

All in all, I found it a quick and engaging read, with a good amount of humour. But if you’re not a David Spade fan already, you’re probably not as likely to get much out of the book.

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