Chili Dogs, Martinis & Famous Comics in Ha-Ha Land


Hooray for Hollywood, the salt and saturated; Hollywood, the land of In-N-Out Burgers with fries served animal style and tortas sold at "authentic" AM-PM's .


Chili Dogs, Martinis & Famous Comics in Ha-Ha Land

  • Chili Dogs, Martinis & Famous Comics in Ha-Ha Land

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    Hooray for Hollywood, the salt and saturated; Hollywood, the land of In-N-Out Burgers with fries served animal style and tortas sold at "authentic" AM-PM's. My current life goal has been to eat healthy and lose weight while on the road doing stand-up comedy. This week, the comedy was successful but the diet suffered terribly as I made a trip to Hollywood to continue along my path to stand-up stardom. While there, I splurged hardcore with ice cream, chili dogs, and free cotton candy! It was just too hard to say no. When you're around gorgeous people who are fit and trim, you start believing you are also one of the beautiful people... until you pass a plate glass window.

    Nick Thune, Jen Seaman and Gene Pompa in front of the improv.
    My journey to Ha-Ha land was that of business. I attended the Louie Anderson & Kyle Cease Stand-Up Boot Camp at the world-famous Comedy Store. The Comedy Store is where comic legends such as Andy Kaufman, Richard Pryor, George Carlin hashed out their material on stage. It's where diehard comics come to cut their teeth and launch their careers.

    Blocks away from the Comedy Store, in a bright yellow train car situated on Sunset Boulevard , is an amazing little restaurant cknown as Carney's. The name Carney's inspires images of Tod Browning's cult film Freaks, but in reality, this only described people walking around Hollywood, not necessarily the theme herein.

    Carney's could be any small town's local diner. Walking up the stairs you'll smell the delicious chili and dogs on the grill. It's positively evil for anyone who is attempting to count calories. On my first visit to Carney's I enjoyed their signature Carney's Hot Dog, a dog smothered in rich meaty chili, mustard, tomatoes and onions. I never knew I could inhale food so quickly out of pure enjoyment! Eating a Carney's dog is a race against the clock, as every moment that passes causes the bun to become increasingly soggier from the toppings.

    On my second visit I noticed a woman eating her hamburger in an iceburg lettuce wrap instead of the traditional bun. My fear was that the lettuce would be too watery, but it was more crunch than mess. I ordered a turkey burger in a lettuce wrap, which cut down on carbs, but delivered a crisp texture throughout the sandwich. The best part is the meat really stars in the meal instead of being muted by the carb-dense bun. Who knew you could have healthy alternative at a restaurant whose name inspires images of the county fair and small hands?

    Carney's Carney dog mere seconds from being inhaled whole.
    The six-day trip featired an endless array of stars, including Kevin Nealon, Russell Peters, Dane Cook and hanging out with lformer Seattle comic Nick Thune in front of the Improv. My favorite moment was listening to Bob Zmuda, Andy Kaufman's writing partner, discuss Kaufman's legacy and his own job as an assistant to legendary screenwriter and the over-the-top eccentric, Norman Wexler. Wexler would later become the inspiration for Kaufman / Zmuda's crazed lounge singer character, Tony Clifton.

    Like a Norman Rockwell painting, Musso & Frank's halibut with potatoes and peas.

    I had one night off from performing and decided to visit the iconic Musso & Frank's in Hollywood, the dining room of the stars from the 20s to present. Musso & Frank's boasts stories of Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino racing on horseback to grab a bite and Charlie Chaplin & John Barrymore, who dined here so frequently that they were given their own booths. As we walked in we were greeted by one of the owners, who was acting as a host that evening.

    The strongest martinis in town are at Musso & Frank's!

    I ordered the halibut which was served with an Italian-style tomato sauce, with green onions, mushrooms and peas with two boiled potatoes. It was absolutely delicious, the halibut was perfect. However, the star of the show was the atmosphere and giddiness of the table across the room dressed in 20's garb and the martinis! Musso & Frank's not only serves nostalgia they also serve some of the strongest martinis in the world, because you get to make them yourself. Each martini comes with close to a shot and half of alcohol, a martini glass filed with a mixed martini, a small container of olive juice in case you desire to be a dirty girl, and a cup of olives. Each martini at Musso & Frank's should come with a voucher for a cab ride home. Our waiter warned us that a little alcohol could go a long way.

    Classic dessert, ice cream sundae and Danish cookies.
    We ended the evening with a chocolate sundae, which came with two Danish cookies which I crumbled as a crunchy topping. Something about chocolate sundaes puts me in the mindset of a small child kicking and swaying my feet back and forth (thank goodness for long tablecloths).

    The next day was the showcase at The Comedy Store. We had 30 comics perform on a Sunday night, with comedians Kyle Cease and Louie Anderson hosting. I was fairly nervous prior to the show as the Comedy Store is where many of my heroes have performed and made their careers. I was near the middle of the showcase.

    Live at The Comedy Store

    My goal was to be completely present and full of energy throughout my set. My set started out with long salutations to each person in the front row, creating an awkwardly uncomfortable and sometimes tense vibe that was released through laughter. As I got off stage, I found my body shaking a little from the excitement and the shock that I had performed at the Comedy Store. I ran back to Louie, who was sitting along the side of the room covered by the shadow of separating curtains, "You crushed!" he said. It was one of my finest moments as a comic.

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