These boards link to lights, infrared sensors, magnetic locks & other hidden mechanisms, connected by a massive tangle of wires, thousands of feet worth of cat-5, speaker wire, & bell wire. I have written 5,000 lines of code, running around 300 I/O pins. “I keep coding, & adding more stuff,” I tell the bookie. The room contains about 40 incandescent bulbs, & a few LEDs, hidden to maintain the historic atmosphere of the Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd. There isn’t a lot of hardware designed for creating these auto-“magical” devices, most of the equipment is built from scratch, retrofitting things to serve the comic’s purpose.

For example: One of my jokes is designed around air — it involves using that bellows to play a note. It’s a mechanical process, & I experiment with several different ways to measure the inputs — pitch & airflow, for starters. Ultimately, I install small microphones in the tubing to register the air flowing past.

The pulsing brain of the room is a bank of eight Arduino Mega microcontroller boards mounted on a plywood shelf. From the control room — a cramped closet tucks behind one of the room’s walls.

Some people just look better with sunglasses. Eisoptrophobia (“Ice optro phobia”). Just off the top of your head, does anyone know what this is? Well, I do, & I suffer from it. Every day. For 34 years now.

Eisoptrophobia is a fear of seeing one’s own reflection. Now, take a good look at my picture, & you will understand my problem. Not just my visage, but my hair as well. Everyone who has ever tried to style my hair has committed barbicide.

I think that when I was little, I must have performed the trick of standing in front of a mirror, turning the lights off, saying “Bloody Mary” three times, then switching the lights back on. What transpired, what hell was wrought there, has been a lifelong terrifying encounter with mirrors; some reflective surfaces are worse than others. To spare myself, I look the other way when passing by store windows. I also hang crepe in front of the mirror in dressing rooms. I don’t need any more stress than I already have.

When my wife – then my fiancée – introduced me to her best friend – I was in the hallway when I heard the best friend whisper shakily, “Why?” Now, it wasn’t “For God’s sake, why?” or “What were/are you thinking?” Or even “What the f* are you thinking?” It could have been worse. (I could tell you that on the day of our wedding, she actually sat out in his car with the motor running, her foot hovering over the gas pedal, as she contemplated life with me.) Why? Why indeed. But I get castigated whenever I mention this little scene. My wife, years later, still defends her friend.

Eisoptrophobia – the body fears itself. Well, with good reason. I avoid mirrors like most people avoid the dark, or checking under the bed at night, or the dreadful black mamba. And the situation has only exacerbated with age.

I feel sorry for anyone trying to take a photograph of me. It’s so sad; they try, they’ll say, “Let me take one more,” & after about three attempts, they forlornly give up, seemingly blaming themselves. To spare them this humiliation, sometimes I demonstrate how clever I am & look away really fast, just as they’re taking the picture. Oh, it’s blurry again! Well, you tried! F-ing camera/phone! Absolution all around then. It is what it is. I am ugly.

As technology prevails, we lack the financial acumen to back up our high-octane creativity. Exude exuberance. You have that down pat. Hash-tag Swaggart. CONTROVERSIAL CHARACTER Some have a dark effect on others but still admirable. A few reach to the extreme of a villain. Mostly grey character who stand as an important negative challenge in the plot. My antithesis works a lot! When it comes to comedy, no one listens to each other anymore, & no one ever wants to admit they’re wrong for entering a career with colleagues you cannot trust, zero incentives even after you establish yourself as a headliner, plus zero overhead despite your vehicle. What is funny? If you have a funny personality you are able to tickle audiences with laughter. Connecting with an audience is really a simple matter of success approximation & linear interpolation. It takes nothing to join the masses. It takes all of your minerals to hoof it alone. To go rogue.   Bottom line, when we make a group of strangers laugh when we didn’t think they would laugh, we are fulfilled.

Why turn a deaf ear to local standup comedy? The comedian of our generation, Louis CK, has the formula in the bag: ad-lib & anecdotal. Pun unintended.

No comic admits they are betwixt a rock & a hard place. We didn’t become comics for others to put words in our mouths.

Is it wrong to enter an unstable industry with no incentives until you befriend a bookie? That’s zero overhead despite your commute! When it comes down to it, anti-humor is comedy bonafide; veritable. If someone says, “You’re funny,” then you are. Humor is the fun-loving infant making themselves known in protestation of conformity.

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