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Guy next to me on this hotel shuttle, “cops don’t pull people over for their phone use.” Me,”cop pulled me over, he was so mad I thought he was going to kill me… ” St. Louis gaffes. It’s gonna be a long night. This hotel shuttle just got super tense shuttle.


"I don’t like him very much. My husband likes him. But he kisses his ass. I’d like him better if he kissed my ass. But I like most people that kiss my ass." Hell of an admission to make about oneself. Heh. Me too, sad to say, me too.

Lay-over-thinking it

I’ve gotten most of my decent life-lessons from fiction. It’s not that I wasn’t being raised by people doing the best they could, but they were very busy. When I think about how busy they were I get tired. Even now.

The lessons I learned from my mother, stepmother, father and five siblings were survival techniques and the expectation that I would be fine. Especially if I didn’t just sit there. Heh.

I think that it’s no secret that I read a variety of, let’s put it politely, genres.

In grade school I read Dan Frontier books, The Three Investigators and a pile of books about dogs and horses owned and ridden by decent folk. That’s how I met many of the decent folk in my life.

In Junior High I read historical war novels, Louis L’amour westerns, and started reading romance novels. I also read the assigned dark, middle school fare of the day: The Outsiders, Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ethan Frome. God. Ethan Frome. I should re-read that to see what the hell it meant. Catcher in the Rye. Man. Allow me to review the classics in two sentences. Catcher in the Rye irritated me for the same reason Ferris Bueller’s Day Off bugged me. Only rich white kids get to throw their lives away and expect everything to work out anyway.

I also started reading romance novels. Harlequin romances. I liked the Harlequins that took place in…well..anywhere that wasn’t a small town in Wisconsin. But I didn’t read those very often and not for long. Barbara Cartland novels were historical romance but not fun for me. I love Georgette Heyer much more. She does people better. Barbara Cartland does clothes and decor. She’s like reading Zane Grey (who does scenery better than people) to Heyer’s Louis L’amour.

But I was reading them in parallel. So, the lessons I’d learn in one… Louis L’amour’s heroes and heroines were sane, desperate, violence as a last resort kind of people were measured against Harlequin romances. In the 70’s harlequins tended to be … Rapey. Like Luke and Laura rapey. He rapes her. She hates him. They fall in love. They marry and it’s all better. In General Hospital their marriage even got boring. Crazy attacker boredom!

I just read this: “Manipulating others to get what you want, capitalizing on their ignorance, even if what you cause them to do brings no harm to them or anyone else, is still wrong.

"If you want something, it’s perfectly acceptable, even laudable, to make it your goal. To doggedly pursue it, even I the face of all opposition- as long as you do that openly,without guile or deception. As long as you own your aims. If you stick to that path, then when you get what you want, you won’t be left feeling like a thief-feeling that while attaining your goal should have felt so wonderful, the victory is somehow tarnished, and your achievement is no longer an unalloyed joy."
-Stephanie Laurens

I don’t know how to seriously quote a romance novel I just picked up. But it made think about real life. So there’s that defense. And, that’s what fiction does for me a lot. Have you read Ursula leGuin’s (sp) Earthsea series? So good. So smart. I do love a coming of age story. Possibly because you can always start over and “come of age.” Heh.

The romance novel. Stephanie Laurens is a good storyteller and does great work with sex scenes and is an okay writer. I hope she never reads that summation. Except that we all become better writers and being a good storyteller and the sex scene stuff will always get her work. There is, by default usually, a formula to romance novels. One of the things that should fascinate people about them is the socio-political agenda that is layered into a, supremely, basic novel of “sexual chemistry.” Heh. They can, and do, sell conservative agendas, liberal agendas, religion, morality.. animal rights. Anything and everything is laced into this stuff.

So many lessons in life. So many different sources to get the information on how to live a life. A lot of people do the self help books, many people follow the teaching of some talking head on television or radio. Some people actually read their chosen religious texts, listen to the boss of their congregation, or go to some homeopathic guru to hear the word on what constitutes a decent person and how to manifest that in daily living. Some people do 12 step programs and others, weirdly, get it from their mom or dad.

I barely know anyone who has, genuine, life skills they learned from parents. I’ve seen people (raised by active, attentive, caring adults) who are surprised to learn that you have to be a friend to have friends, you have to put out love and kindness and tolerance and patience to receive any of those. And these are people that were surrounded by support.

There’s an argument that those people were given too much so just expect it for nothing. I’ve felt that reasoning to be accurate but I might just be jealous. I got most of my approval from occasional teachers and a couple local firemen. I can’t recommend trying to deprive your children of support to try and “teach them empathy.”

I don’t think it was an advantage for me, being brought up by inattentive, scrambling messes of human beings. Because I was also surprised when I began to really learn life lessons. If we, who were raised like this, have any talent to tap it’s that we’re more like toddlers with new tech. We don’t know how to do anything so we button mash til something happens. (Old people think they know everything and hate iPads).

I spend a good portion of my time forcing a willingness to not be surprised when I don’t know things. Like I didn’t know that, for example, to be with a partner who is polite and respectful I have BOTH, be polite and respectful to him AND expect it from him and tell him when I’m not feeling it. Heh. Two reasons you might want to mention it to yer partner? 1. S/He’s human and makes mistakes 2. S/He’s not psychic.

Also a learned thing? When someone isn’t right to, with, or for you. Recognizing that and letting it go. Gotta learn it to act on it.

When I was fifteen I was struck by an example of parenting I read in a Louis L’amour novel. Tell me if you read this one… A lone guy rides into town and helps some people?

A guy picks up a kid he finds next to some smoking wreck of a wagon train. The story is told in flashbacks, from the kid, now grown up. He’s a gunfighter. OF COURSE HE IS. But it’s flashbacks of him riding with the guy that found him. The impression of the man, from the child’s perspective, is of a guy who doesn’t want to talk but does. The grown up kid’s realization, in hindsight, is that the quiet man was teaching him the only way he knew how… Telling stories and passing on information about the land, the people and how to do things by forcing himself to talk.

It gave me my first glimpse into how my father MIGHT have been parenting us. We all had dinner together and he would tell stories. By no stretch is my father “quiet.” But he’s not a play-catch/build something in a workshop kind of father.

You know how you’re told to love your family? Whether they are polite to you, mean to you and..certainly…whether you have ANYTHING in common with them?

More on manipulation later…

Solving the world’s problems on a plane

I read “all intelligent acts should be driven by love” in some romance novel. I know! Crazy deep for craptastic soft core porn novel. I immediately thought how it should be applied to prisons and punishment for crimes. I like to solve the big issues in a couple paragraphs. Strap in.

For me, “all intelligent acts should be driven by love” mean that laws should be applied with a dose of compassion and common sense. Punishment should be dedicated to teaching different behavior not just destruction of the ego and humiliation.

Teaching myself to surrender my own ego is ongoing. For me, once I began to recognize my ego in my reactions… I can be humiliated by my own recognition. I don’t need a stockade.

Then… punishment can be about reparations. I don’t see how prisons do anything to correct any societal problem.

Sometimes I hear about law and punishment being enforced with compassion and common sense. But then I notice that the defendant is a member of a certain income bracket. And I sigh. Because the law must, as Hammurabi taught us, apply to everyone. You remember Hammurabi, right?

I’m sure my father in-law didn’t say it first, but I heard it from him first, “Moderation in all things. Even moderation.”


I just came from the grocery store. It’s a pretty time of day… all golden hourish. I saw a guy pull out of the handicapped spot after the manager of the store alerted said driver that his car didn’t have a handicapped placard and the driver seemed about 27 years old.

Many years ago I lived in Minneapolis and I would walk to the grocery store after work. It was a Rainbow Foods (off East Lake). There was a dive bar in the stripmall next to the Rainbow. The bar was a “cop” bar. A lot of cops went there after their shift and would hang around outside the bar, with their beers, smoking. Because they’re cops. Who’s gonna bust them?

So, this day. It’s looked like today… about 6pm on a weeknight. It’s Indian Summer in Minneapolis, a warm wind but the leaves are changing. And I walk out of the Rainbow to go home and there’s cops drinking and leaning outside the bar. 

All of a sudden, one of them stands up and yells “YOU HANDICAPPED?” to a guy who just got out of a car parked in a handicapped spot. The guy looks confused… the drinking guy yells again, “YOU HANDICAPPED?” The car guy stops and stares at him. The drinking guy yells, “YOU WANT TO BE?” Pause. “MOVE YOUR CAR.” 

Ha! That was some funny jackassery. And now you guys were there too. 

I dreamt I was in an action movie. I’m in the kitchen, a baby out of frame (bc even I typecast me) in a high chair. We hear a woosh, and, using a dishtowel, I grab an arrow out of the air. An assassin peeks through a window, “who the fuck are you?” I say, “YOUR MOTHER. Who raised you to shoot arrows in the house?” Pause. He says, “I’m from the future. That kid turns out worse than Hitler.” Pause. Me, “okay.” And I hand him the baby. 

Will someone animate this or shoot it. Funny or Die never DOES ask me to dance. 


Q: So, you want to start a record label?

A: YES, because I hate my money and want to do something that’ll be fun. 

In 2007, my friends Ryan McManemin and Matt “sasquatch” Belknap started a comedy record label. Jen Kirkman and I were the first two releases. I had only been doing comedy for a handful of years and wasn’t anywhere close to thinking I was allowed to put out any sort of “comedy album” (although Jen’s “Self Help” is a classic and needed to be released). But, having been a part of Scott Aukerman and BJ Porters “Mbar/Comedy Death Ray” scene I had become friends with Ryan, as we were both punk rock kids that were now at comedy shows all the time. I had always thought it would be neat to treat my comedy as if it were a band. By making buttons, stickers, and of course, putting out a 7” record. The 7” record is usually a punk/indie bands first release, and I never got to a point with any of my bands to do it. So, when Ryan asked me if I was interested in doing exactly that, I couldn’t say no.

Patton Oswalt, who I describe as the current comedy scene’s combined Fugazi/Sonic Youth/Black Flag (not only that he helped pave a way, but paved it with the added intent on helping those around him), brought up the notion that people will start to follow comics like they follow musicians. In the way that you’ll get a bands early single, and then see them develop and become better musicians/songwriters. He even, with Chunklet’s Henry Owings, put out a split with The Melvins. 

So if that then what? Well, I was tired of saying “Somebody should…” or “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”

So, with AST RECORDS I am now starting my own imprint label:


I am gonna put out the stuff I like in the hopes that other people will too. Also, to maybe shed some light on some comics and bands that I really dig that people may not know about. This is a comedy label, this is a music label, this is probably some weird vanity project. Fuck it, though. 

What’s in store for releases? 

  • -The first LP from the legendary MATT DWYER

And this is the fun one, a split 7” series with a comic on one side and band they are friends with on the other called:


Releases in this continuing series to include…

  • Sean O’connor / Upset
  • Matt Mira / Jenny Owen Youngs
  • Alex Hooper / FARTBARF
  • Wil Wheaton / Nerf Herder
  • Kyle Clark / Chris Ferren (from Fake Problems)
  • Jonah Ray (that’s me!) / Mikal Cronin
  • Powerviolence / Powerviolence
  • Rhea Butcher / G.S. Schray

And more as we go a long, but l don’t want to get too ahead of myself.

All this will be done under the guidance of Ryan and Matt from AST RECORDS as well as be distributed by them. 

I don’t know if this will be good, I DO know that it will be fun.

This is neat. Jim Woster. Mike Ruekberg?

Dear @ATTCustomerCare

Seven months ago we “unbundled” our home phone, DSL and mobile devices… They were to be “unified” in a brave new world. Every month since then I’ve had to call and find out why you thought I wasn’t paying my bill.

In July, I was so, politely, upset that you credited my acct $200.. Probably to prevent the sobbing. Last month I had to stop talking to you and my husband took over.

He spent two and a half hours on the line and we found out, that, in the unbundling and sepaaration… Our wireless devices had been given an recycled account number that had never been correctly closed. So, “sarah” has a credit of over $500 to her old, defunct uverse acct.

Andy and three employees figured it out. We were told that our wireless devices would be turned back on and an “investigation ticket number” was generated and my money would be appled to the right acct and our accounts would be unified and all would be well in the world.

I woke up this morning to my cell being disconnected. My iPad without service til I found a coffeeshop. I borrowed a phone to call my home number, which, hilariously, still works. He’s talking to you now.

I’m tempted that this be a suicide note. It’s been a fucked up week that promises to be weirder and weirder as it goes on and now my communication toys are not going to work. I use them as more than toys. All work calls are on that toy. My iPad is integral to the whole thing.

Fuck this. Every month. I’ve been polite. I’ve been patient. I’ve been furious. I’ve been, slightly, hysterical. I hate change but I want to be fucked up the ass by a different tele giant now. I’m in despair.

I know blogging won’t help. But it has the same fucking chance as my husband talking to you on the phone for the next three hours. So why not.

And no. I don’t want uverse tv. Jesus.


Happy National Voter Registration Day, Tumblr.

The number one way of celebrating it? Registering to vote.

Every year, millions of eligible Americans neglect to register, which means that millions of important voices are utterly silent on Election Day. Don’t be one of them. There’s basically a 100% chance that something you care about is on the ballot, something you don’t want to be quiet about.

So be one of the loud ones. Register already. It’s an easy form that you already know all the answers to. No excuses.

Figure out if you’re allowed to vote in your state!

High School Kid just interviewed me

Here’s my answers. Don’t take them as gospel. I’m tired.

I can only give you my experience, for many of these are sweeping questions that will vary greatly comic to comic.

Sent from my iPad, typed out in the wild. Spelling errors blamed on apple’s autocorrect. and

On Sep 23, 2014, at 9:44 AM, Imani Cartwright <——> wrote:

What is a “Typical day” in the life of a comedian?
Wake up at about 9am and check emails and do social media stuff. Probably like regular people but I’m often posting for shows, podcast and that kind of work.
Breakfast. Look for someone to write with and, not finding anyone, think about stuff to write about and then write about it.
Show days… Bathe and nap around 3pm til about 530pm
6ish, get ready for shows, listen to music or watch tv and then get dinner.
Shows are usually 8pm, 9pm, or 10pm in ny and la and on the road 8&1030pm.
Asleep about 130-2am

What are your responsibilities?
Aside from Food, shelter and clothing,keeping in touch with parents, siblings and friends? Writing material, Finding places to do standup. Updating website, schedule, and finding paying work. Extraneous work can be and has been, write longer pieces: stories for books, tv, movies and articles for non fiction publications. Acting classes and voice over work.

What are a few aspects of being a comedian that you don’t “like”?
Excessive travel without rest. People being annoying or mean (also occurs in Every Job I’ve ever had). Perhaps more likely in jobs that involve people getting drunk.

What are some of the challenges you have faced being a female stand up comedian?
Sigh. Being a human female on this planet has it’s own set of challenges in all fields. Comedy is hard if you’re a straight, white male. Your lot in life is not easy, in any field, if you’re a handicapped, lesbian African American. So, the further you are from being a hetero white guy, making people pay you fair, or regard you as something to value, is difficult. Like all women alive, you have to know that you can’t lose your temper in public. You can’t walk around late at night alone, naked, with money taped to your ass wondering, “what’s going to happen”? You’re not sposed to do that as a white guy either, but if you do as a woman, you are usually more likely to get yelled at as a shrill idiot. And you don’t get any sympathy when you’re called names and mugged. But maybe white guys don’t either.

What is Road life actually like?
Depends on the gig. Travel, a lot of great audiences, amazing chances to see the earth, the people and eat a lot of really shitty food. For a while, til you get bored with the immortality of it, it’s a great place to get drunk, high and laid.

What were a few of your most memorable shows?
Shitty one nighters where I had to be walked to my car, past hecklers I told to shut up. Performing for 35 army guys in a forward operating base in Iraq who had just built the mess hall we performed at. A beautiful old theater in kalgoorlie (sp) Australia, filled to the gills with gold miners and the employees thereof… Desperate to be entertained. Performing for a pile of $300 haircuts in San Francisco … Bunch of drunk bro-grammers who laughed against their will at my jokes.

What did you first do when starting out?
I did hacky jokes about sex, drugs, drinking… Trying to get ANY reaction from the audience. Just like all people who start comedy. There’s no genius right out the gate that isn’t either, boring, shock jocky or derivative. All art, hell, jobs, take time to learn how to do them.

When was the moment that you felt that this was the right thing?
First time. Comedy is, as I imagine, heroin is for people who like heroin. Addicted. Done. First time up.

Who are some of your favorite comedians to work with and why?
Maria Bamford, Dana Gould, Greg Proops, erin foley, aparna nancherla, Brian Regan, Patton oswalt, Paul f. Tompkins…erin Jackson. Same reasons… For all of them… They are really really smart, silly, funny and true to themselves. They tell stories from a perspective that is humane, smart and empathetic. Rory Scovel, Sean Patton, Emily Heller, Laura House, Karen Kilgariff are some more. We’re in a golden age of standup comedy right now.

what are some reasons why you won’t work a venue?
I’ll work almost anywhere if they pay me enough. Or I can’t get up somewhere else :) it’s the nature of the addiction. But, red flags are - If the staff is unhappy. That’s the best sign that the owners are gross. If they don’t pay fair, yet the owners have, seriously, fancy cars and season nfl tickets. If the club owner pays you with a hilarious gun pointed at you…lying on the desk. If the club owner starts kissing you after you tell him to stop. I try not to return to that club. OR… I don’t get around that guy when he’s drunk.

Do you feel you have had to make sacrifices to pursue this?
No regrets if that’s what you’re looking for. But my life is different from other people. I didn’t get a boyfriend, then husband, til I was almost 40. Guys can do standup, have kids and just keep going. If I had had kids I probably would have curtailed my career to raise the kids. That’s what I’ve mostly seen women do. But I never met a guy who’s kids I wanted to have til I was forty. And by then, I was done having kids. But I never wanted them. So, it’d be a sacrifice if I wanted them, but, by the time I met a dude I was willing to have kids with… Too late. But there’s no way I would have met and loved him earlier so I can’t say I sacrificed that.

What are some goals you had when you started out?
Heh. No goals. No business plan. Openly mocked by my family that standup doesn’t have goals. Beyond getting people to laugh out loud when I talk.

What are some goals you have now?
Get to do standup til I die. I’m pretty tired so I’m willing to die anytime.

What are 3 things you would change and 3 things wouldn’t?
Everything you change makes what you have change. So… Change nothing. If I changed something, I might end up smaller, less me, and less where I am. Which is an amazing place

LA Shows

Sunday, Sept 21st TONIGHT: Uncaberet First and Hope 8pm 

Monday, Sept 22nd Public 739 N Vermont Ave 10pm 90027House

then off to MPLS to visit family, Chicago ZANIES (rosemont on Th and downtown on Fri/Sat/Sun) then MILW to visit family. 

Sunday, Oct 5th IO WEST 8pm
Monday, Oct 6th Lyric Hyperion 8pm?
Tuesday, Oct 7th, Downtown Independent  930pm?

then off for an expo thing in Montana Oct 10th… then back in time to play DnD with friends. 

then off to St. Louis and Chicago with Maria Bamford. Check her website (hint: it’s her NAME) for where and when. 

Sunday, Oct 19th El Cid 830pm 
Thursday, Oct 23rd El Ray 8pm Benefit
Tuesday, Oct 28th Pleasure Chest 8pm

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