Blue Eyes On The Bay: How an ill-fated live comedy show led to love

By | February 26, 2014 at 11:04 am | 17 comments | feature slider, Features, Opinion | Tags: ,

Last year a group of Sacramento-based comics and I drove to San Francisco to hit some open mics and pizza shops. I’ve been to plenty of open mics, so I was more excited about the pizza. Not just because I’m a glutton, but because pizza places don’t usually stink of awkward desperation. Although desperation and pizza had little to do with my interest in this odyssey, it wasn’t a place I wanted to go; it was a person I wanted to see.

Eight of us squeezed into a scuffed-up white van to make the trek to the great City on the Bay. Among the group of comics was a girl who stopped the beating of my heart. Her name was Claire and she intrigued me beyond logic and reason. Her eyes were blazing blue, and she effortlessly captivated me with them. When she spoke, I was deaf to the mindless chatter which filled the vehicle; her sweet voice penetrated the cacophony. My infatuation was instant.

Upon arriving in the city, we grabbed a slice, and then hit our first open mic. The room was shaped like a coffin, which made sense because the comics were dying. A long bar shot down the room where customers ignored the amateur comedians babbling to themselves onstage. The host, a “pencil musician,” brought comic after comic up to their death. My interest in their doom was painfully lacking; I just wanted to stand next to the blue-eyed babe with the alluring voice.

The next magical open mic was held in some filthy dive. The patrons were sloppy drunk and management even let a dog roam around unattended. The host was more intoxicated than the customers. In complete disregard of how long we traveled or the fact that we signed up hours ahead of time, the drunken host kept pushing our names back further and further on the list. His friends showed up unannounced and were shoved to the front– an insipid cavalcade of halfwits giggling smugly over half formed rape premises. The crowd dwindled with each unbearable 10-minute set the comics attempted. Even the dog cringed.

Aggravated, I stepped outside to smoke. Adjacent from me were a group of “comics” chuckling idiotically at something. Claire walked over to me and said, “I think this group of guys behind me are having fun at my expense.” At that exact moment, one of the men broke away from the group and tapped on her shoulder. The balding and overweight man, caked in sweat, said, “Can I blow a load on your chest?” Claire’s bright blue eyes filled with distress as my eyes filled with red. A rage bubbled up out of my guts, foaming out past my tongue and teeth. I vomited hatred. “Hey fat fuck, I’m remembering your fat fuck face right now so I can masturbate to it later. There’s nothing you can do about it. How do you like being forcefully sexualized and degraded? Dick.” Nobody blinked, it was as if these imbecilic bovine were too tanked to catch my drift…I thought I was being blunt.

Around one in the morning, I was finally called up to the stage. Claire sat in a chair by the bar as I took my spot, waiting to be introduced to the few remaining audience members. The host, even more drunk than when we arrived, stopped my introduction to look at my love and say, “God, I want to fuck that girl.” Visibly uncomfortable, she shifted in her chair and meekly replied, “What? What did he say?” The idiot host opened his mouth to say something else but I cut him off by screaming, “He said he wants to fuck you! Can you bring me up now?” The crowd laughed but I no longer had any interest in entertainment. I wanted blood.

I stepped up to the microphone and began, “It’s a pleasure to be here, in the same way that cutting my dick off with a hatchet would be pleasurable. Which I’ve been contemplating to dull the pain of listening to you people.”

Claire Blue Eyes on the BayClaire was after me and the last one up. Before she could get to her first punch line the sweaty fat man from outside shouted, “Show us your tits.” Outwardly I bit my tongue because I had to respect Claire as a comedian; she had to handle it on her own. On the inside, I fantasized about gutting him like Leather Face. With a mixture of adrenaline and jealousy coursing through my veins, my inner psychopath was pleading with me to break a bottle over the man’s cheek bone but civility won the day… sort of.

Claire got off stage, and the remaining comics drained out of the bar. Again I confronted the heckler. This time I was decidedly more aggressive, “I think you’re an asshole and I wish murder were legal so I could skull fuck you to death.” He looked puzzled, “Me? You wanna skull fuck me?” He placed his hand on my shoulder in an alpha male maneuver. I swatted it off, “Don’t touch me.” Again he was perplexed, “Me?” It was absolutely pointless to yell at him. To my left I spotted the obnoxious host who wanted to “fuck that girl so bad.” Someone needed to comprehend my fury, and I was going to make sure that someone did. I informed the drunk idiot host that the only way I’d return to his open mic was with gasoline and a match. He also looked confused. Nobody was quite grasping the level of violence I was keeping at bay. At bay, ha! Get it? Cause San Francisco? Nevermind.

I’d like to say that I grabbed his drunk idiot face and ran it through a cactus patch but that’s not what happened. Instead of sating my inner psychopath’s blood lust I simply walked away. Claire and I sat next to one another on the ride home. She fell asleep on my shoulder, but I only fell in love. The anger melted off of me and all I felt was an inviting warmth. Walking away was the best decision I could have made because one year later, Claire and I are dating and I still get to look into those blazing blue eyes.

One day in San Francisco I discovered something radiant; an uncontaminated passion. It was the same day I watched amateur comedians try to smother it. It all happened in a dive bar hijacked by school yard bullies spewing sexist taunts. Comedy isn’t a boys club; it’s the great equalizer of the arts. Comics aren’t the bullies, they’re the underdogs; we are the have-nots, the downtrodden, the harlequin philosophers; we think. Orientation, race or sex have nothing to do with talent or drive, and just respecting someone on a human level. Women are more than tits and perfume; sometimes they have things to say and stuff…For example, Kathy Griffin remarked, “There is a huge amount of sexism in stand-up comedy…the best way to fight it is to just be as funny as you can.” I still prefer my method: gasoline and a match.

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About the Author

Andrew Oullette

Andrew Ouellette is the subversive embodiment of underground comedy; this trailer-raised 9th grade drop out dances on the line of hilarious and twisted. By the age of twenty-eight Ouellette had toured all 50 states; producing an independent tour of 50 shows/50 states/50 days. By the age of twenty-nine he did it again with an official Guinness World Record attempt for Fastest US Comedy Tour: 50 shows/50 states/48 days. Ouellette is at his best when it comes to the high-energy irreverence of his notorious live performances. Andrew crawls into the spotlight, reaches down his throat with shaking, ink-stained hands and pulls out his soul for your simple amusement. See more at andrewouellette.com.

  • guest

    My favorite part of this article is when it ended

  • Michael

    I liked this article a lot. While I would like to hear Claire’s side of the story. We are overlooking a clear thing, the author doesn’t speak for her. He is telling his side of the story. As far as objectification, he describes what he liked about her, while I would have liked a little more about WHO she is, it is a good side of a story.
    Now as far as lumping in San Francisco comics as misogynistic, it’s clearly an isolated incident. Obviously he isn’t speaking about every San Francisco comic.

  • Billy

    I spent two months on tour in a car with Andrew and I can safely say that all “white knighting” aside, this is legitimately just how he is. Love it or hate it, at least he is being genuine.

  • Stephonknee Skunz Kunz

    What a GREAT read!!

    I can honestly say I’ve never met Claire, and I’ve only met Andrew once. Reading
    this and the comments on here, only makes me wonder if the commentaries truly
    know the word definition for dogmatist. The reason I question this is because of
    what he wrote. All of us have thought the same at one point or another. We’ve
    all wished bad upon someone whether it’s while we’re behind the wheel of our
    car, and someone cuts us off. Or, witnessing an outlandish unnecessary as
    Andrew did this night. You patronize a guy for sticking up for wrong, yet had
    something happened to Claire, you would have scrutinized him with scold for
    doing nothing in that moment. Pick a fucking team people.

    This is probably one of the most romantic things I’ve read in a very long time. The
    fact that he did do something in the moment, in a dick to hatchet pleasurable
    kind of way with a drunken debauchery, only just proves what kind of person he
    truly is. And if any of you after reading this, say, that you would have done
    things different, put their fucking shoes on, on that stage, with the “God, I
    want to fuck her” guy, and let’s see how you write about it.

    Claire,
    you’re really pretty!

  • comicjsb

    So wait…he is being vilified for defending a victim and writing an article filled with admiration for said victim? Because he happened to pepper it with language that explained that males typically have a temper that results in unnecessary violence (true fact) that he pushed down and didn’t act on? Really? Here is what people sound like when they are against this.

    “Hey, fuck you for defending her! She should be able to stand up for herself! But wait, she was the victim…that sounded like victim blaming…but still, fuck you for writing a true account of your hatred towards bully comics and defending a woman that would have to fight off multiple men! Wait…fuck…she’s the victim, I keep forgetting. My fauxminist mind is blocking logic. Sorry…what was I doing again? Oh yeah, being a hypocrite.”

  • Phillip Frields

    As a fellow man with a bit of an inner psychopath… it has come to my attention that the insipid troglodytes didn’t know what they had done wrong. Not because they were drunk, no. They clearly just didn’t know better.

    Drunken delinquency aside, there is a fair point to be made here. Comedy shouldn’t be sexist. There isn’t a whole hell of a lot we can do about it but change ourselves.

  • Adam lee

    I’ve seen him work before; he is the exact definition of a modern male feminist.

  • Adam lee

    Andrew is a gentleman and a prolific comic! If anyone has a problem with the emotions he’s exhibited, they need to take a
    deep look at their own conscious.

  • Dana Deluxe

    I personally know both Andrew and Claire. Andrew lived with me for a few months last year. He is a gentleman who does not tolerate disrespect to women. He is also one of the kindest men I know. His humor, intellect, and respect for women is amazing. Remember to separate art from reality. Art is an outlet for the most intelligent of us.

  • http://allison-mick.tumblr.com/ Allison Mick

    Nothing excuses the heckler’s behavior or any of the objectification that Claire faced BUT I don’t think the author deserves a pat on the back for not “sating [his] inner psychopath’s blood lust.” He also doesn’t deserve Claire. Him threatening physical violence should’ve been a warning sign for everyone that this dude is seriously unhinged. As a female comic, it’s hard enough to stave off the awkward pervy advances of male comics and audience members. We shouldn’t have to worry about the ulterior motives of the guys who are trying to “save” us. Would the author have stepped to Claire’s defense if he hadn’t been “infatuated” with her? Maybe, maybe not.

    This article is basically saying “my objectification is better than theirs because I got the girl in the end” and is definitely not worthy of Laughspin.

    • Kollin Holtz

      I read this, and ended up wanting to see what women had to say. As someone lumped in with the ‘misogynists’ on the SF open mic scene, I finished the article not seeing a single word from a woman thinking “I knew it!” But after reading your comment, I guess women really do “have things to say and stuff…”

    • Carla Conrad

      Uuummm, hello? I know both these people; Claire more than Andrew. So, I’ll talk about Claire. She’s a beautiful, young, intelligent FEMINIST woman. Other women should run their prospective boyfriends past Claire before they get involved with them cuz her shit detector is very finely tuned.
      What did her shit detector tell her about Andrew? It told her that like all of us he sees red occasionally. UNlike a lot of men, he sees red when women are objectified. He thinks about what he might like to do to men who objectify women, and is not afraid to call those impulses what they are: fantasy. Fantasies are things mature people think about but don’t act on.
      Another thing mature people don’t do? They don’t decide the OBJECTive, *fantasy*,individual they’ve been talking to in their head is the only boyfriend suitable for others. Sometimes, they even read a beautiful love story and learn a little bit about their own humanity..

    • http://comedianlaurynpitheypetrie.wordpress.com/ Lauryn Petrie

      Hi Allison.

      My name is Lauryn Petrie. I am also fellow female comic. I know Claire and Andrew personally, and have worked with them both on numerous occasions. Being a former battered woman myself, I sincerely appreciate the concern you show for Claire’s well being. I’d like to take some time to answer one of your questions and quell any concerns you may have for Claire’s safety.

      1) You asked: “Would the author have stepped to Claire’s defense if he hadn’t been “infatuated” with her?”

      The answer is yes.

      If Andrew witnesses anyone being mistreated, he is not the kind of guy to sit back and watch a situation unfold, while taking notes for his blog (that he can post later at a much safer distance while stating his altruistic views.) Instead, Andrew would intervene. And not just on behalf of a woman. He would intervene on behalf of anyone being mistreated. Race, class, or gender be damned. Andrew is not only a feminist, he is a humanist.

      2) You stated: “As a female comic, it’s hard enough to stave off the awkward pervy advances of male comics and audience members. We shouldn’t have to worry about the ulterior motives of the guys who are trying to “save” us.”

      What do you think Andrew’s “ulterior” motives were? To enter into a loving long term relationship with her? Heavens no! Not that! Haven’t you ever swept a guy off his feet with nuanced calculation on your part? I spent many a college class seducing targets and getting them to do my bidding. Ulterior motives aren’t mutually exclusive from gender or morality.

      We have obviously had different experiences in comedy. Honestly, I’ve never had any awkward pervy advances from males or audience members that made me uncomfortable. I get hit on. Nine times out of ten, it’s in a very tasteful way, and it’s a great ice breaker to get whoever is hitting on me to buy my merch. If I’m uncomfortable, I look them straight in the eye and tell them to either fuck off, or to go fetch me a drink. If someone else’s behavior ruins your night, you’re not living up to your feministic rhetoric. Stand up for yourself, grow a spine, and confront a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.

      3) You said: “I don’t think the author deserves a pat on the back for not “sating [his] inner psychopath’s blood lust.” He also doesn’t deserve Claire. Him threatening physical violence should’ve been a warning sign for everyone that this dude is seriously unhinged.”

      I’m a pretty girl. I’m not built like a Russian woman named Helga who slaughters elk with her bare hands. Not me. I have, on the other hand, punched a guys teeth out when he threatened my and my boyfriends safety. I didn’t do this compulsively. It took a certain amount of vitriol to gestate inside me before I bloodied my knuckles. I too have felt a feeling akin to “blood lust.”

      I did this, and am not seriously unhinged. I’ve overcome my substance abuse problems, and now live an extremely healthy life. I volunteer, pay my taxes in a timely and organized fashion, and on occasion rescue animals. I am also capable of knocking your teeth through your face.

      Just because you have never personally experienced legitimate hand to hand combat in your life, doesn’t mean that those of us who have are “seriously unhinged.”

      Furthermore, after I beat the shit out of this guy, I was applauded and celebrated in my circle of friends. My girlfriends high fived me, my male friends seemed proud of me for standing up for myself. In a larger context, if this event had made the local news, there is no doubt that woman all over town would have been posting catchphrases such as “girl power” and “you go girl” all over my Facebook wall.

      So why is it that when a man even thinks about defending someone who he cares about, you get scared of his violent potential? What if it had been me threatening to knock out some axe drenched douche canoe into next week? Would you still look down on me with equal condescension and judgement? Or would you admire what a strong female I am? I know I do.

  • Chip

    I this article brings up a lot of important questions.

    Like how the hell did this even get published on this otherwise great site.

    • dylan

      Gee, Chip. I think people enjoyed it– especially the nearly 800 readers who shared it.

      • Spencer

        Not that sharing isn’t a measure of popularity of an article, but it does not necessarily translate to a positive reception of the article. After all, there are only 2 comments other than mine on this article and one of them is inherently critical of the content.

    • Bryant Tarpley

      How did this comment get posted on the otherwise great article?

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