…OR DO. CALL IT A comeback.
After several months off, I — Mike Critelli — will resume updates of CritelliComedy.com. To purchase a domain name and tell everyone about it only to abruptly stop using it — forever — seemed ridiculous. Two and a half months off, however, made perfect sense.
Immediately after taking the site down, I took a job with a commission-based, business-to-business sales company with a two-week training program. Before the two weeks was up, I got word that a screenplay I’d written had reached an independent writer/director who was interested in developing it and wanted me to work with him. That’s what I’ve been doing, from a small office in Burbank — and briefly from a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee — for the past eight weeks.
In the process, I’ve read a handful of books on screenwriting to nail down the craft and a handful of other books to supplement my knowledge of “good writing.” I keep going back to Charles Bukowski, whose books read like good screenplays — almost all action and dialogue; crude, simple, and blunt. I keep saying I’ll lend people copies but I’m afraid to lose them. If you’re reading this now and you’re one of those people, be aware you’d be better off buying a copy yourself. Post Office and Factotum are great tales of mindless jobs; Ham on Rye and Women are stories of a young man and an old man, respectively, discovering and rediscovering women. All feature descriptions of sex, drinking, and gambling too sordid and vivid not to have been lived.
And they are. Somewhat. All of Bukowski’s best stuff was semi-autobiographical. As is the work of Bill Bryson. I just finished The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, a memoir of his boyhood in 1950s Iowa. It’s not Bukowski but I still won’t be lending it out. It’s very, very good.
I got to thinking about how too much comedy these days, and always — including my old standup and website — takes the form of a string of made-up jokes based on a comic “persona,” an identity fabricated for an audience to “get” the comedian and his or her jokes.
It’s funny, but it’d be better if it were honest. And it’s not.
But Bukowski is honest. Bill Bryson is honest. Both are hilarious. Louis CK — who I’ve become a huge fan of lately — is brutally honest, and consistently the funniest of them all — though nothing tops a sequence in Factotum where a disgusting hooker breaks into Bukowski’s narrator’s hotel room and forces herself on him, filling him with shame throughout when he discovers he’s enjoying it.
I keep going back to a quote — from Louis CK, I believe — about how comedians should get better when they gets older and have life experience. They actually have something real to talk about that people can connect with.
So, if you hate honesty, you’re not going to like the new direction this site’s about to take.
Some of the most popular posts on the “old” CritelliComedy.com were true stories, narrated to the best of my recollection — perhaps too faithfully; most of the names remained unchanged, protecting neither the innocent nor anyone else.
The bulk of the website, however, was devoted to “bits,” created for a persona that resembled the actual me but seemed amoral or insane. I deliberately chose not to differentiate between myself and my comic creation, and it got to the point where my own mother read it and literally wept, thinking I’d become unhinged from too much L.A. sunshine. And that’s what ultimately led to me take down the site. When my comedy made people cry.
But now the prodigal son has returned. Call it a comeback. Please. For the love of God.
I plan to update frequently — not daily, but often — and honestly. What little life experience I have will be here for the sake of entertainment. It’s tough to expose oneself that way, with honesty, but thankfully the site’s been down so long that I doubt anyone’s watching.
But if you are, check back often. I’ll spin a few yarns, as they say. I can’t guarantee you’ll love them all, but I promise you won’t cry this time.