Years ago when testing waters in the scary alien world of Los Angeles (I was a San Francisco comic), I came down and did a number of one-nighters to prove myself to L.A. bookers (for the future possibility of gainful employment). I met a few performers along the way.
Now, I was always a naïve kinda guy, (how I’ve survived to this age, in this business for so long a time, is a mystery to many) but I’d say “hello” to everyone, and chat with anyone. A few of the folks became friends, most became acquaintances, and while none were direct enemies, I put plenty in the “other” column.
After moving to Los Angeles and plying my trade on the road and around town for a double decade, I’d run into friends/acquaintances/others that I had met when I was trying Los Angeles on for size. As a working comedian, I loved reconnecting with the folks I met when I was just starting out years earlier. Even sweeter is making a new friend out of an old acquaintance—like Ty Fance. He’s my “entertainment pal of the month”
I met Ty 20 years ago and remember that he was funny and welcoming and had a big personality on stage and off. (I’m not sure which was bigger.) We chatted at bit, but didn’t exchange numbers. I didn’t see him again for a ton of years, but we reconnected when he dropped by a show I was in just to hang with our mutual friend Stan Sellers. A new chapter began.
We chatted and laughed and Ty filled me in on local open mic opportunities I didn’t know about. One of these open mics had a two-part format that sounded great. The comics would all do their sets, then everyone would hang around afterward and help each other workshop the bits that had just been performed.
But it turned out that not everyone was committed to that plan. In fact, the only peeps who wanted to review, rewrite, and refine our material were…me and Ty!
This turned out to be a good deal ‘cause the booth at Denny’s was a perfect size for two guys with papers. And a perfect place to gab and discuss and argue and even write some material. So many ideas are generated when you’re with someone interested in actually writing. I’ve still got ideas and bits in a notebook from those nights at Denny’s. I don’t know how many I will revisit or end up doing onstage but the process was the important thing. You just cannot beat that late-night, comic-creative, story-mind process.
I tried out new ideas that I hoped would work and he threw out premises that I couldn’t figure how to make into a joke, but that didn’t matter. We had a working method, a built-in sounding board, another voice to add to the choir. Ty had stopped doing stand-up full time, and was into real estate, but soon he was writing plays (he led the conspiracy behind The Father ‘Hood) and stories and found that he had not just talent, but interest in telling stories. There is nothing nicer than seeing a creative person invest the time in creating.
Ty did a few one-man shows, helped write a play or two, and performed stories galore (not sure how many that is, but it’s a lot). Many of those stories found their way into his book Off My Head and Over the Fence: Some Life Stories. The book is as entertaining as its author.
If you’re in the L.A.-area, I encourage you to attend his next show. I’m looking forward to hearing more tales from the creative mind of my buddy Ty Fance. Introduce yourself to Ty after the show—you’ll certainly make the acquaintance and you might even make a friend.
The Coffee Gallery Backstage
2029 N. Lake Ave.
(Joining Ty will be Steve Skrovan, Ruby Cooper, Jamie Gandola Bridgers and…me.)