jamie kilstein

I might just make it to SF Comedy Eagle Scout after all.

So there are 13 things that need to happen in order to be fully vetted/made as a San Francisco comic... as opposed to a comic who does and/or did comedy in San Francisco.

I am proud to say I think I have just been blessed with one of the most key elements.

First, here’s the list of things that you need to accomplish if you want to be considered a San Francisco comic. (And yes, I made this list up, but I stand by it, although feel free to suggest other things.)

In NO particular order...

1. Open for Will Durst. (check)

2. Drive yourself --- or get driven... thanks to Jim Short. --- all over the hinterlands of California (and/or Nevada and/or Oregon) doing the San Francisco International (but not Intentional) Comedy Competition. (Sadly check. Cotati?)

3. See your name on the back of the Punch Line t-shirt several times. (check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check...)

4. Get bumped from a show that you were booked in advance to be on at Cobb’s. (check, check, check, and yes check! I even got bumped from a show on fucking New Year’s Eve. My wife is still mad at you, Joe Rogan.) When Cobb’s was a smaller club, number 4 used to be “Be House MC at Cobb’s but those days are goooooooooone.

5. Bomb at The Brainwash. / Have Tony Sparks tell you that he loves you. (check on both counts more times than I could ever remember.)

6. Perform at a benefit at The Punch Line. Bonus points if it is Troy’s YMCA benefit. You lose points if it is the REDACTED benefit or the REDACTED benefit. Both of them suck. They suck and the people who come out to support them suck. And that sucks, because you think I’d like to perform in front of REDACTED people.

7. Hear about how great the old days were from a comic who came before you. (At this point the old days could be the Holy City Zoo, Cobb’s in The Marina, The Walnut Creek Punch Line, The One World Cafe, or even (YIKES!) The Comedy College. (check. Doug Ferrari is good for this one if you need to get this one done soon. Actually, I’m getting pretty good at this one, too.)

8. Hear YOURSELF talk about how Comedy Day in The Park used to be a much bigger deal. (check)

9. Play whatever is the current hell gig of the time while you are still on your way up in the local scene. During my time it was Modesto. It probably still is. Let’s just say that you know a gig is bad when Vanilla Ice is playing the same place as you the week AFTER you are there.

10. Open for Dave Chappelle at The Punch Line. It sounds like an honor, until you see the rabid audience look at you like the parsley on top of the steak. (You can also get credit for this if you open for him at The New Parish in Oakland.)


12A. Be in a city other than SF, and have a comic in that city give you some measure of respect when they find out that you are from San Francisco.

12B. Also, know that our audiences aren’t as smart as people outside of SF, think they are.

13. And finally, lucky 13, I just got it recently. One of the most important pieces of the San Francisco comic puzzle was found last week. See, last week, I performed on an AWESOME benefit for Glide Memorial Church (not that...) and I was on a show with Johnny Steele (not that... although he is apt to tell you about the old days.) and Selene Luna (not that...) and also on the show was Robin Williams (not even that... at least not quite...) The "IT" is that Robin watched my set ANNNNNND thought I was funny. And he shared some thoughts about me that he is allowing me to share with YOU!

"W. Kamau Bell is ferociously funny.” - Robin Williams

Yup, he said that about me. Pretty cool. Actually VERY cool. I have definitely seen him give the nod to other SF comedians: Jim Short, Colin Mahan... And certainly non SF comedians who have spent time in SF: Eddie Izzard and recently Jamie Kilstein.

But I feel like I have finally completed my fair share of the SF comedy scene Merit Badges. I’ve been bona fide funny by Mr. San Francisco Comedy, himself: Robin Williams. And yes, there are certainly more SF Comedy Scene Merit Badges than these out there. Hell, fifteen alone deal with weed, and 11 of those involve N’Gaio Bealum --- who people still confuse me with, but nothing is perfect. But this feels like a pretty good place to be at. Now, I got to nail down some LA and NYC Comedy Scene Merit Badges.

New Citizen Radio: Alan Grayson, Marcy Wheeler, & W. Kamau Bell

Listen to the interviews here.

Citizen Radio interviews Congressman Alan Grayson about standing up to Republicans (including describing the GOP healthcare plan as “Don’t get sick, and if you do, die quickly,”) Wall Street, party opposition – even from his fellow Democrats, and what makes him happy.

Next, blogger Marcy Wheeler AKA Emptywheel talks about the role of bloggers, and her groundbreaking article on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that forced the establishment press to acknowledge the important roles bloggers can play in journalism.

Marcy, along with many other excellent bloggers, writes at Firedoglake, so check out that site.

W. Kamau Bell returns with his segment “I’m Sorry, Black People” in which he highlights yet another injustice inflicted upon black people. This week’s subject is Shirley Sherrod.

Citizen Radio airs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on Breakthru Radio. Subscribe to the show’s FREE podcast at wearecitizenradio.com. Join us on Facebook.

Citizen Radio LIVE in NYC w/ ME! TONITE May 24th 8pm $5!

The acclaimed grassroots political comedy show Citizen Radio brings it's filthy outrage to the UCB Theater.

Guests this month include: Chris Hayes - Editor of The Nation and fill in for Rachel Maddow Joe Randazzo - Editor of The Onion W. Kamau Bell - "Will be a legend in his own lifetime like Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce. Think Bill Hicks but slightly taller.” — Margaret Cho, comedian Musical guest Anthony da Costa and Emilyn Brodsky (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkVkfECKlIo)

And big surprise guests!

And your hosts: Allison Kilkenny - Writer for Huffington Post, The Nation, and True/Slant

Jamie Kilstein - The BBC, contributor to The Onion, famous in every country except America

More Guests TBA

“Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny have created an important political radio show that balances humor and unreported news. At a time when media conglomerates dominate the airwaves, independent media like Citizen Radio is vital to national discourse ” - Noam Chomsky

“Jamie reminds me of why I got into comedy. It’s like watching a combination of George Carlin and Bill Hicks” - Janeane Garofalo

“Allison Kilkenny's writing makes me want to vomit” - G. Gordon Liddy, Convicted Watergate criminal

Allison Kilkenny of Citizen Radio wrote this piece on Aiyana Jones

This came out of a conversation Allison, Jamie Kilstein, and myself had on Citizen Radio today. I'll let you know when it runs, but read this NOW. Also, I'm performing on Citizen Radio Live on May 24 in NYC.

Detroit and Missouri: a tale of two police raids

The mother and father of Aiyana Jones gather for a candle light vigil for seven-year-old daughter Aiyana Jones.

Aiyana Jones is the 7-year-old girl who was recently killed during a raid on her home. Allegedly, the police launched a flashbang grenade through the window of the apartment where Jones was sleeping, and the device set Jones on fire. Her grandmother, quite understandably, got into an altercation with the armed men who stormed into their home, and during the struggle, the police claim an officer’s gun discharged accidentally, killing Jones.

This official narrative is being disputed by the family’s attorney, who claims video footage shows the police fired into the home at least once after lobbing the grenade through a window – before grandma and the officer ever had their interaction.

This terrible tragedy follows an incident that received considerably more (especially on-line) media attention — a Missouri SWAT raid.

First, a disclaimer: I don’t write this as a way to cast blame. After all, I covered the Missouri incident extensively. The Missouri raid is something that should attract a significant amount of media coverage. And there are several important differences between the story that might explain why one incident went viral, while the other remains in danger of being buried by the Next Big Thing to come along.

Unlike Detroit, the Missouri raid was videotaped, forever capturing the terrible drama of the event, while Jones’s last, awful moments will only be memorialized in the testimony of cops and her family. Additionally, the Missouri raid demonstrated the overzealous, destructive police response to the unwinnable War on Drugs, which 40 years after its implementation, has cost over $1 trillion, failed to meet any of its goals, while “drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.” Most Americans believe the War on Drugs is failing, so video proof of the militaristic behavior of the police during drug raids reinforces widely held, negative views about drug criminalization. Simply: people like to watch what they already know.

The Detroit raid is much more complex, and reveals a more sinister reality. A little poor, black girl dying during a police raid in Detroit is considered as a somewhat normal event in America. It’s terrible, yes. It’s something that makes Americans tisk and shake their heads over, but many view Detroit as a kind of third world country in which terrible things happen. The ghetto is a poor, dilapidated place under constant siege by the police so as to keep the undesirables in order.

To reject the idea that the ghetto should be a bad place entails rethinking much larger American issues: race, class, poverty, wealth disparity, social hierarchy, the two-tier justice system. It’s much easier to accept that bad things happen in the ghetto and move on.

Meanwhile, much of America has moved on, and left behind Detroit. The city is experiencing a mass exodus. The auto industry is extinct, and around two million people have fled the city. Unemployment is around 30 percent (nearly three times the national average,) and 55 percent of the children in Detroit live in poverty. The former industrial interior (what Time calls “the remains of Detroit“) – and the fields of abandoned homes — look like corpses in a war zone.

The Jones family are just more unfortunates left behind in the wasteland.

According to her family, the homicide suspect the police were looking for was arrested in the apartment opposite where Jones was shot, and at the moment, it doesn’t seem like the suspect had taken a hostage. This raises the question: who are the police protecting? If the Detroit police are indeed protectors of the citizens of Detroit, then they are as responsible for the safety of the Jones family, and all the tenants of the apartment building, as they are for the wealthier and more connected members of society. As my co-host, Jamie Kilstein, asked today on our show, “If police are going to negotiate situations like this, why don’t they just bomb banks that are being robbed?”

These larger questions concerning the militaristic behavior of the police, and how much authority they should be invested with by citizens and the government, never come up — especially when victims are poor minorities. Perhaps, in a deeply subconscious way, middle class (even liberal) Americans write off such events as things that inevitably happen in the ghetto. Sure, it’s not the kid’s fault she got killed, but bad things happen in those places, and maybe if her parents hadn’t been so damn lazy, they could have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, and [insert Rush Limbaugh closer here].

Now, imagine if the Detroit raid went down in a wealthy, white suburb. If police set fire to, and then shot, a flaxen JonBenét Ramsey while she slept, I’m sure Fox News would run the story on a loop until the end of time. But since the story occurred in Detroit, we’ll get a few weeks of “Isn’t that a shame?” before the media moves on.

To me, the most striking difference between Missouri and Detroit is the cost of the raids. In Missouri, the police shot a dog. In Detroit, the police shot and killed a 7-year-old child. Yet, the media’s reactions don’t match the different degrees of the crimes. A wounded animal is a terrible thing, but a dead child should be a national outrage.

This was best summarized by our most recent guest, W. Kamau Bell. While we were discussing the Detroit raid, Bell asked, “What is the value of a black life?” If we were to gauge it based on media reaction, the answer would have to be: as much as — but no more than — the value of a dog’s life.

"We're Sorry, Black People!" #1 - The Return of White Supremacy

This is the 1st edition of my new segment on Allison Kilkenny's & Jamie Kilstein's Citizen Radio podcast. You can read it here 1st before you hear it on Saturday HERE. Enjoy...

Just like dramatic celebrity weight loss and frozen yogurt, white supremacy has made a comeback. And this time is coming to YOUR town.

On Saturday, April 17th, a white supremacist organization held a protest in Los Angeles. Let me say that again... A WHITE SUPREMACY RALLY WAS HELD IN 2010. Not 1810! Not 1910! Not 2009! 2010!!! And it was in Los Angeles? Not like they usually do it in places like southern Indiana where there aren’t even enough black people to have an all black doubles tennis match... let alone a good race war.

The white supremacy organization in question is named The National Socialist Movement and they were protesting. I don’t know. I think it was immigrant’s rights, goodness, joy, candy.

I’m also not exactly sure how their brand of socialism mixes with the brand of socialism that Obama is allegedly selling, but I do know that somebody on that side of the aisle needs a dictionary STAT.

Apparently these white supremacists were from Detroit. And look, if you are from Detroit, I can understand you being angry, but your anger is certainly not the fault of the mud races. It is the fault of General Motors. & GM is run by white people who’s failure effectively disproves the myth of white supremacy.

Now although the white supremacists had a permit for 150, sadly for them only about 40 of their members showed up for the protest. But we all know how that goes. You set up the Facebook invite. You invite 1000 white supremacists. 150 white supremacists SAY that they’re coming, but only 40 show up. And none of the maybes show at all. Which is hard because you bought white sheets, chip, and dip for 150.

They mostly spent their time walking around shirtless, exposing pot bellies and poorly done swastika tattoos, drunkenly screaming “Seig Heil!” and waving Nazi flags. I just want to pull these dudes aside and tell them, “When Hitler was talking about the Aryan race he wasn’t talking about YOU.”

But it is still a dangerous sign.

Because the last thing we need is White Supremacists feeling safe to go to our major cities. Because the more safe white supremacists feel, the more they will take up space in society, and the more space they take up, the more mainstream they become. And the more mainstream they become the closer we are to white hipsters in Brooklyn wearing Ku Klux Klan robes “ironically.”

The last thing I want is some 105 pound, skinny jeans & horned rimmed GLASSES wearing --- white dude looking at me like I’m crazy because I’m looking at him like HE’S crazy because his T-shirt reads, “My parents went to Tennessee and all I got was lousy white hood and a burning cross.”

This is all completely the fault of the Tea Party & the extreme right. The Tea Partiers and the Rush O’Reilly’s of the world are so crazy that the white supremacists feel like, “Hey! our brand of crazy isn’t so crazy anymore!” And they feel safe to come out to the major cities instead of staying put in the hinterlands and parent’s basements of America.

Overall this return of white supremacy is just an embarrassment. An embarrassment to good white people, an embarrassment to the counter protestors who far outnumbered the white supremacists, and an embarrassment to the LAPD.

I bet they were like, “HEY! We don’t need white supremacists making trouble. It is our job to oppress the minorities of Los Angeles! And we’re doing a good job. Google us!”

My favorite part of the news story is that when the rally ended at 2:30pm, the police escorted the white supremacists to their vehicles, but one car failed to start.

Let’s keep it that way. Let’s keep the car of white supremacy stalled.

So here’s what I’m proposing. Good white people, it is specifically your job to make the Tea Partiers and extreme conservatives feel ostracized and weird. And then they will return to making the white supremacists feel ostracized and weird. And then the white supremacists will return to their parents basements.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! Kamau to contribute weekly to Citizen Radio podcast.

Citizen Radio Hey All,

So this is pretty cool... OK, I'm just being coy... It's REALLY COOL! I'll be contributing weekly rants/reports centered around race and racism (Surprise SURPRISE!) on the very highly rated and highly followed podcast Citizen Radio! It is co-hosted by Jamie Kilstein, who has quickly become a stand-up comedic force for good (Janeane Garofalo said “Watching Jamie reminds me of why I got into comedy. It is like watching a combination of George Carlin and Bill Hicks”) , and Allison Kilkenny, who is a political blogger everywhere that smart people read political blogs (Huffington Post, Alternet.org, The Nation, True/Slant). They've had Noam Chomsky, Melissa Harris Lacewell, the late Howard Zinn, Janeane Garofalo, and now they want me (?). It is a brilliant show whether I'm on it or not.

I was on their show earlier this year, and they have decided that they want more regular doses of Kamau. Sp far the segment is called, "We're sorry, black people!" The first one will be start airing this Friday, April 30th, I believe. And as a special preshow bonus, I'll be posting the text of them here on my website so you can get sneak peak before you hear my voice exploding out of your speakers.

I'll post the first one later today.

The podcast can be found...



And of course you can subscribe on iTunes!

Kamau interviewed on Citizen Radio podcast!

Citizen Radio w/ Jamie Kilstein & Allison KilkennyThis is very cool. I was interviewed on Citizen Radio, a very popular political discussion podcast. It is run by Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny. Jamie is a brilliant, young, political comedian, and Allison is just plain regular old brilliant. They've had many major people on their podcast such as Noam Chomsky, Janeane Garofalo, the late Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader, Tariq Ali, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, and many, many, many more. I'm not sure why or how I managed to squeeze onto this but I think it's cuz Jamie and Allison both seem to think I'm funny. Whew! Click the link below to check it out.

Citizen Radio w/ W. Kamau Bell