Maybe It’s You

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Brand new sketch comedy show premiering in Madrid. Co-written and co-starring myself alongside the talented Tricia Audette.
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The original sketch idea for he poster. The female praying mantis eats the head of the male after sex. It seemed like the most logical choice for our mascot.
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The info poster card we handed out at our comedy shows.
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The poster as it appears at the theater and the theater’s website.

From the creators of Stand Up Yours. One time only. Teatro del Arte in Lavapiés in Madrid. 10:30pm showtime (show runs approx. 1 hour) on January 21, 2017. In premise, it’s like a vaguely more family friendly Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask (1972 Woody Allen film).

For ticket info: http://teatrodelarte.org/maybeitsyou/

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/884708291672342/

If you’re in Madrid and looking for some fresh, funny entertainment (in English) check out the show and have a laugh.

And if you can’t wait for laughter, check out the comedy show I’m hosting tomorrow night!

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The Technology Conference

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My weird co-teacher, Jay, invited me to what he described as a “technology conference” in Seoul. Having zero idea what that actually meant and it only being my first week in Korea, I acquiesced.

Jay picked me up at 7am sharp. There was an old woman riding shotgun. He would not introduce us, insisting she didn’t like foreigners, which was fine by me. She didn’t exactly strike me as a barrel full of monkeys.

The soundtrack of our trek was peppered with lurid descriptions of club-bound sexy twenty-somethings disrobing each other with their teeth. I doubt the old woman understood the lyrics, but she seemed to enjoy the beats.

The conference center was huge. A weird, beige device on a pedestal was being ogled by people in suits. I was woefully under-dressed. Before I got a chance to see the doohickey, we were escorted into a mammoth auditorium complete with jumbotrons and pyrotechnics. It must have seated thousands. It all felt vaguely cultish. Throw on a couple cloaks and mutter some Gregorian chants and you wouldn’t be surprised to glance to your left and spy a virgin girl being sacrificed to an ocelot-faced god with plesiosaur flippers on a throne made of spinal columns.

Jay tried to explain to me what was going on. Apparently we were about to hear from some American spokespeople. They would announce their future plans, present current financial holdings, award top sellers, and initiate new members. Jay told me that if I joined “his company” and worked for him I could make a profit if I hired sellers beneath me.

“So it’s a pyramid scheme,” I said flatly.

“What?” Jay was visibly disturbed. “No, no, no. See, we all work together to make a profit. You broaden your sales network so you move higher up and make more money.”

“That’s what a pyramid scheme is, Jay.”

“But isn’t that a negative term?” I realized I was meant to be his “in” into the American market and Jay was distraught at the prospect of losing me.

“Look, Jay, I’m not a salesman and it’s my first week at a new job in a new country.”

Jay went on about making money for a secure future and took me down to the front where I shook hands with a man who claimed to have been an ambassador to Israel before he started selling salesmen. “Right, pal,” I think I said, perhaps too audibly. All of the American speakers were like caricatures of sleazy businessmen from bad 80s movies. Yet the throng of eager followers filling the hall was completely taken in. The old lady from the car? She ate it all up. Miss Personality herself. I tried to imagine her sour puss calling her grandkids trying to peddle whatever techo-hokum this snake oil factory was barfing up.

“You know, Donald Trump used to own part of this company,” Jay said, still trying to entice me.

“I don’t really like Donald Trump.” I said.

“But…he is very rich. And he has a TV show. He is very famous. I don’t understand you, Jonny.” He called me Jonny. Jay hung his head, the dollar bill signs in his eyes fading, trying to decide if he was more confused or frustrated. He determined it was the latter.

The conference went on for—I shit you not—over eight hours. After the thirty-second sales award was bestowed to a dumpy middle-aged woman brought out on a palanquin covered in balloons paraded through a gauntlet of indoor fireworks, I left the hall and wandered the facility by myself. Jay was defeated. I found the pedestal that had been admired earlier. All this brouhaha over what looked like the world’s clunkiest answering machine.

“It’s a video caller,” a smartly dressed woman said.

“This is what they’re talking about in there?”

“Yes,” she smiled. “If you have this device you can see your friends when they call you.”

“So it’s like Skype?” Or Kakao or Facetime or any other of the hundreds of video chat apps already in use.

She began fidgeting. “In the future everyone will have one. This screen let’s you see your friends or family.”

The screen looked like a pixelated 1990 computer monitor compressed to about 3-inches. I eyed the hefty price-tag attached to the antiquated gimmick box.

“You do know this is 2012, right?”

Originally published for 10 Magazine August 2015 issue.

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Maganda

10 in-bed

“Guwapo,” she texted.

“Maganda,” I replied.

I’m a socially needy person. I know this. When I think about my years abroad, the happiest moments are the ones full of friends and laughter. Living far from all things familiar, however, can be peppered with loneliness too.

It was Christmas morning. I was in bed. Most of my friends had skipped town for the holiday. There would be no potluck parties that year. I half-expected to get some work done. It had been a quiet Christmas Eve the night before. I had walked Gangnam drinking a beer after some piping hot dakgalbi. The pavement was wet and maybe there were flurries. I took the elevator up to my apartment. I called my parents and we talked for a bit. Then I watched a certain yuletide flick containing Muppets on my laptop before drifting off to the land of the sugar plums.

Daylight came in the window. I laid in bed, unsure of what to do with myself. It would be a lonely holiday, I thought. Several intense minutes of loneliness spurred me to do what all men do in these situations. I texted a woman.

A year or so prior, a good friend and I had drunkenly haunted the streets of Daegu after a comedy show. We eventually found ourselves spending the entire night and following morning with a dwindling group of Filipino ladies. It was a fun night of dancing, late night Korean food, and noraebanging. All the hallmarks.

I’ve given up pretending to know what normal, functional human relationships look like, but I never pretended the girl from that night and I were anything more than a one-time nocturnal excursion with the occasional squirrelly Kakao message exchanged afterwards. Every so often after that night, either she or I would initiate a cyber conversation that would ultimately go nowhere. And that was fine.

Now, alone on Christmas day, I found myself thinking of her and wondering what she might be doing. Perhaps not in any romantic sense. Perhaps a twinge. I sent a Christmas tree emoji accompanied with a brief message conveying tidings of comfort and joy.

She replied.

It was not a markedly different conversation from any of our previous chats. She had already known I was an ESL teacher and I had already known she worked in a factory. She didn’t really like Korea and she missed her daughter and mother in the Philippines. She was a cool person. I quite liked her and I felt bad and guilty and all sorts of emotions when she told me about her troubles.

We talked about wishing we could be in our own countries and see our families. We talked about the cold weather in Seoul and Daegu. We talked about going dancing again one day and she would call me the Filipino word for handsome (guwapo) and I would call her the Filipino word for beautiful (maganda). And emoji after fruity emoji volleyed.

I still don’t really know if one of us was leading the other on. We often talked but we never saw each other again. I think we both knew we were just two silly people in a strange place that wanted someone to listen to us and say pretty things.

Whatever our motives, for a little while on a cold Korean Christmas morning, cities apart, we were humans sharing the warmth of a weird friendship…which, in my experience, are the only sort of friendships you ever really remember.

Originally published for 10 Magazine December, 2015.