Thank You

June 19, 2015


I would like to sincerely thank you for allowing time in your schedule to be at our birthday party yesterday, and for reducing your fee to make it within our reach. I realize you did us a favor, and it is appreciated. This morning I asked Bobby if he enjoyed his party, and he told me he had a great time.  He also said you were his favorite part of it.

Rob and Lisa Earle

Quit Yer Whinin’

June 12, 2015


Jerry Seinfeld, the stand-up comedy superstar and much-loved celebrity of television, went on the radio last week to complain about political correctness.

pic for June 12 blogHe was a guest on “In The Herd,” a talk show hosted by ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, and how the subject of the P.C. zeitgeist came up, I don’t know or care.

Only that it must have been a slow day in sports – even with the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup finals, pro baseball, pro and college football spring prognostications, men’s and women’s tennis and pro golf all happening on the very same day. But who am I to judge what passes for “sports talk” in 2015?

Jerry is very upset about the way that young people view the world. He’s unhappy his 14-year-old daughter thinks going into Manhattan just to meet boys is “sexist.” (Which is what her mother proposed to her, causing the daughter to voice her opinion, which in turn has made Mr. Seinfeld angry.)

He has pledged not play colleges the way his fellow comic buddies Chris Rock and Larry The Cable Guy have done in the past couple of years. These young people today, they just don’t get it. AND TURN THAT MUSIC DOWN!

As a comedy outsider, someone who cheerfully shuns celebrity and its many forms of hubris, I would say this to Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Larry TCG, and all other “stars” in the world of showbiz: I play colleges pretty regularly (I played a handful this past spring, I have more on the docket starting in August when the school year starts up again for 2015-16).

I have found those crowds to be exceptionally attentive, responsive and engaged. PC? Probably. Maybe. But mostly I find that the way to have a successful program at a college is to kind of “tailor” (sorry, I love that pun) my act to them. I don’t expect 19-year-olds to laugh at mortgage jokes. I don’t race-bait. I’m not profane and I use political comedy sparingly – I was 19 once. I had a lot on my mind, and foreign diplomacy made the top 100 in my thought process, but was way out of the top 20.

So go ahead and complain all you want. I don’t wanna hear it, Jerry. There is a difference between those of us who work and make people laugh even if audiences don’t “know” us. I know you’re a “craftsman” and a “wordsmith” and you can juxtapose thoughts and brilliantly execute humor in a concise, efficient manner, getting laughs from the mundanity of life even as you use your superior ability to communicate through well-executed, perfectly-timed punch lines.
I’m just working, and getting more bookings and I’m thrilled to have an audience. Note to college activities directors: I’m happy to come and rock your students! I’ll do a great show and I cost about 1/100th of those superstars fees. I want to play your school, and I have a modus operandi for my act and the people who come to see it – it’s called respect. It trumps my personal opinions.

Wanna Play Piano?

May 28, 2015


Pop Quiz: What do a Neuroscientist, Sound Wellness Expert, Comedian, Artist, Motivational Expert, and Music Composer all have in common?

They can all teach you how to put joy into your piano playing.

And they all want to teach you how to tickle those ivories… completely, and totally free!

Here’s the deal:

I’ve just been invited to speak as a guest panelist at the 2015 The Joy Of Playing Piano: Relax & Release Your Inner Piano Player In 5 Minutes A Day Summit. It’s a summit of the world’s leading piano playing, motivational and success “experts” that takes place over 11 jam-packed days of interviews, speakers and more.

This matters to you because…

As a loyal follower and friend of mine, you get to attend this event 100% free of charge.

Here’s what some of the other speakers are going to be covering over the 11 days:

  • Why neuroscientists can’t keep their hands off of the piano… and why you might want to reconsider giving up those piano lessons if you want to keep your brain sharp… or decide to start lessons, traditional or non-traditional!
  • The #1 tip to overcoming the dreaded “practice-block”… if you still struggle to sit down and construct a consistent ‘practice‘ then you are gonna LOVE the tips shared in this series.
  • What this comedian and piano superstar knows about turning that passion of music into an irresistible game of laughter and fun… (if you have kids who give you the blank stare when you ask them to practice more, then you need to hear what these experts have to say about choosing their own music & game-type methods!)
  • And much, much more!

If you play piano, or want to play piano, or know someone who wants to play the piano… then this 11 day seminar might just be the transformational experience you’ve been waiting for.

Here’s the link to reserve your spot 100% free (no catch).

I can’t wait to ‘see’ you there!

To your piano playing success,
Taylor

Nell’s

May 26, 2015


Nell's RestaurantThe restaurant is officially named “The Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company,” and it’s often called “The Clam Bar,” because that’s what it says on the sign. But we – the people who frequent the establishment – call it “Nell’s.”

Nell, the woman who controls the place, is synonymous with the quirky nature of seating protocols, the exemplary service and the food. And the food is excellent, whether you want their freshly-made clam chowder, the grilled mahi mahi, or just an order of definitive French fries.

The food is why the place exists; it’s both priceless and affordable, a combination rarely found anyplace, but completely null and void on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. In the land of the millionaire, your dining choices are pre-set: prepare to pay (unless you’re looking for a burger or a hot dog, and there are great places for that, too).

Nell’s is tucked away on Centre Street, Beach Haven, a short bike ride from our humble hippie shack, where you have to either know what you’re looking for, or you stumble upon it while doing something else. Which is how my wife, Marsia, and youngest son, Rett, happened upon the building, modestly sitting between residential homes and just a block from a boat yard on Little Egg Harbor Bay.

They went in, the way any normal customer would, and sat down on stools in a window seat. The main floor is small: a half-circle wooden bar extends from one side of the room toward the front door, and curves back to the other side of the room. The inner part of the half-circle is where clams are shucked, drinks are poured, chowder is made and kept hot, and all the dinnerware exists. There is seating for about 25-30, depending, with a couple of additional stools in the windows. Meals are served on that wooden bar, and it’s comfortably cramped, as if someone turned the living room of their two-story colonial into a seafood restaurant.

They sat there waiting for a few minutes before Marsia finally spoke up and said to a passing waitress, “Can we place an order?”

There were people in all the 20-odd seats around the semi-circle table, eating dinner, and, as people of hive minds do, their heads turned as one to see what would happen next. Nobody said a word. Total silence.

The woman kept working, busing some of the dinnerware between customers, and she didn’t turn to face Marsia when she loudly responded, “I’ll get to you when I can! Can’t you see I’m busy!”

Marsia was shocked. She said to Rett, “Let’s just go.” Rett, being our offspring, said the same thing I would have said, “No. We’re staying. You can’t let her treat you that way.”

It turns out my wife and son had ignored the rules, set by the woman they had just met, which are unwritten-but-etched-in-sand: SIGN YOUR NAME ON THE WHITEBOARD NEXT TO THE DOOR, AND WAIT OUTSIDE UNTIL YOU ARE CALLED UPON.

Thus began our now five-year relationship with Nell, the matriarch of what I believe is the best seafood in this beach-side community, where seafood restaurants are legion and legendary. She oversees everything, examining the food as it comes out of the kitchen, taking orders from customers who include regulars (like us) who call her by name, and over the phone for takeout. She shucks the clams. She pours the drinks. She hobnobs with her long-time clientele who bring friends and family from all over the country to see her in action. And it’s a scene out of a sitcom, only a hundred times better because it’s live, in person and almost as good as the food.

After that first meeting, Marsia called her “The Clam Nazi,” so-named for the famous “Soup Nazi” on Seinfeld. (Marsia used to eat at that real-life place, too, long before Jerry had made it famous, but that’s another blog.)

Ignoring the protocol can land you in real trouble with Nell. She doesn’t want people standing around the doorway, clogging the already-cramped space, so she lets them know. If you give her any backtalk, saying something like, “there are three empty seats right there!” She’ll respond in kind, “Well, there are people waiting outside who get those seats. Put your name on the board and I’ll call you when it’s your turn!” At this point the regulars around the table look at each other with knowing glances, understanding the order and procedure Nell has put in place, laughing to themselves because they probably had a similar experience sometime in the past.

She doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Ignoring the regimen she has put in place will get you reprimanded the way a 3rd-grader might be scolded for speaking out of turn in class. Which makes sense, because in the off-season, Nell works in the local school system. To her we’re all kind of like her students for the meal, and she treats us with the firm, disciplined-but-sincere way an elementary educator might treat her class.

Weekend evenings are jam-packed, as you might imagine, with people coming for the great food and ready to enjoy the floor show that might take place. Often there are as many people waiting outside on the plastic furniture, standing on the sidewalk, milling about as we hope our name gets called soon. As newbies walk up and look around, some of us will explain the situation: “You have to go in, put your name on the board, and come back out. She’ll call you when it’s your turn.” It’s either that or allow people to get chided and see how they react. When things are really hopping and they’re doing 30 meals-per-hour, that’s when it gets dicey. I hate to admit it, but sometimes we look forward to the fireworks.

We were there this past Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Nell was in a great mood. It was early, around 5:30 p.m., and the place was busy-but-not-swamped. Nell was in a gregarious mood, talking with the customers, breaking clams, and she personally served our dinners (quintessentially perfect, by the way). I mentioned that we had seen a “FOR SALE” sign out front this past spring. She denied it. “No way we were for sale.” Nell’s – er, the Harvey Seafood Shellfish Company/Clam Bar – was open for business and rocked the summer after Sandy, and they’re ready for another successful summer this year. Her co-workers are gracious and we always enjoy seeing them and talking when we go in for dinner.

Marsia is jealous. I have forged a relationship of sorts with Nell. She answers my questions and I’ve even seen pictures of her dog. Nell rarely acknowledges my wife. I keep telling Marsia, “She’s an icon. You have to know how to handle a star.”

We’ll be there a couple of times a month this summer. Hope to see you!

If not, come join me at The Comedy Cabaret, Doylestown, PA on June 5 and 6! It’s gonna be a blast!

 

Taylor’s Time Travel

May 20, 2015


I use two algorithms for keeping time. The traditional clock as set by “Greenwich Mean Time” (Isn’t time ALWAYS mean, in some way? It’s certainly unforgiving!), and my own time, which is really nothing more than a “countdown” clock of sorts.

I travel for a living, and my personal clock starts the moment I walk out the door in our garage in New Jersey, open one of the bays and drive off. I click the starter button in my head and the countdown begins: “I will be home in 107 hours.”

I’m following the instructions of real time, of course. My flight departs at 6:10 a.m. I’m on a plane, I land somewhere, I get on another plane, I land somewhere, I get off the plane and I’m headed to a gig. This one starts in Grand Cayman.

 

Boats anchored off the coast of Grand Cayman
Boats anchored off the coast of Grand Cayman

I get on a ferry – a small boat shuttling people to and from a Disney Cruise ship – and I check in.

101 HOURS TO GO.

I perform twice that night, the hours ticking by in my mind.

A day later I’m in Jamaica.

77 HOURS TO GO

 

Me, pre-workout, Jamaica in the background
Me, pre-workout, Jamaica in the background

It’s now a day later, and I am flying to the other end of Mexico, landing in Cabo San Lucas to meet another Disney Cruise Line ship.

54 HOURS TO GO

 

My taxi driver Jorge and partner in Cabo

My taxi driver Jorge and partner in Cabo

The following day I am in San Diego, where the 5th sign of the Apocalypse is taking place (it’s only 60 degrees and pouring rain!) where I catch a flight back to the east coast.

27 HOURS LEFT

 

It’s raining in southern California - people are converting to religion throughout the region
It’s raining in southern California – people are converting to religion throughout the region

I fly all day back to the east coast landing in Philadelphia.

FINAL 2 HOURS TIL I’M HOME

 

Philadelphia by night from 6000 feet

Philadelphia by night from 6000 feet

 

Once home, I drive to the ocean in New Jersey, in time to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic.

 

Sunrise over Long Beach Island, New Jersey

Sunrise over Long Beach Island, New Jersey

No Place to Hide

May 11, 2015


Hello Mr. Mason!

My family and I just got home from our Disney Magic cruise a few hours ago. This was actually our third time seeing you on a Disney ship (the other times were on the Dream) and your shows were hilarious as always!

Last night during the first goodbye show, you and Romeo happened upon my older brother, Brian. We were sitting in the front row. My brother was very uneasy sitting up front to begin with, because he was afraid you would pick him out. My mother and I assured him that would never happen, so of course it happened. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!

He was the fellow who said he lived in Orlando and worked for Publix grocery. In reality he works for WDW, and was far too shy to say so. In fact he hardly ever reveals that he is a cast member when we go on our Disney cruises. He did work for Publix once, so it wasn’t a total fib. More like a fiblet. But I don’t think I will ever be able to go grocery shopping again without thinking of Romeo telling him that cantaloupes don’t talk. Needless to say, we sat in the back of Fathoms for your performance later that evening.

We aren’t your typical Disney cruisers. It’s just us three, our Mom and her two grown kids. Dad passed away in 2011 so we like to go on vacations together. We feel like he would have really liked that we spend time together. So we do.

This became way too long, so I apologize for that, and I will end this message here. This was just my long-winded way of saying thank you again for the laughs. :)

Sincerely,
~melissa~