The How I Learned Series features writers, storytellers, comedians, and other raconteurs holding forth on a different theme. It all happens every last Wednesday of the month, and sometimes more than that, which basically means you will have the best night of your life on those nights, repeatedly.



Eyes of The Tigers

Thursday, October 6th, 2011


So, we closed out September -- MY BIRTHDAY MONTH -- with stories about surviving. I think it was the first time at How I Learned that some people were brought to tears. And not from laughing. Although there was plenty of that too. Thank you to everyone who came out for the show and to the dream team lineup of the century.

Lots of things coming up on the horizon. I'll have you know I'm very excited. We have a show on October 26th with another dream team lineup of the century. (I know. Can you believe there's more than one?) Plus, not one, but TWO SHOWS in November. And one of them is in Brooklyn! And there's even more stuff to be announced after that!

So, more details on all of that starting tomorrow. Or maybe Monday. Not sure. It depends on how my life is going. But watch this space. Stay right here. Don't move. While you wait, here are photos by Mr. Jesse Chan-Norris and a post-show wrap-up from last month:

I love MELANIE HAMLETT. She is a nomadic storytelling superstar. This was her second time at How I Learned. (Her first was How I Learned to Live on The Road: Travels, Travails, Wanderlust + Out-of-Town Hijinks...) Her story was about how she survived her first date -- at the age of 33 -- and about realizing she has been the emotionally unavailable "guy" in all of her relationships. Also, one of the things that we learned from Melanie is that you can pack an overnight bag for a one-night-stand.  Try and keep up with her, if you can, at melaniehamlett.com. As of this writing, I think she is in Portland right now occupying the shit out of it.

Photo: Jesse Chan-Norris
What can I say about ALEXANDER CHEE without going on and on? His story, I, Reader, for the beloved Morning News was just chosen as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2011, he is the author of Edinburgh and the highly anticipated forthcoming novel The Queen of The Night, and he has a great interview here in L Magazine about this g.d. economy and being a starving artist. For How I Learned, Alex read an excerpt from his personal essay, The Querentand gave a trivia-question-winning audience member a 3-card Tarot reading at the bar after the show. He is highly quotable, I got drunk with him over a delicious Korean-themed dinner this summer, AND I spend a lot of time trying to hold back on "liking" his status updates. If I did not hold back, it would be a real problem. It is still kind of a problem. Did I go on and on?

Photo: Jesse Chan-Norris / Illustration: Lauren Nassef

I was so happy to have JOANNE SOLOMON back at HIL. She is a master storyteller, a Moth slam champion, and she has performed all over the city and beyond in shows like The Liar Show, Speakeasy, Steamboat and many, many others. She is also a professional aerialist, having performed for six years in De La Guarda. So it's not hard to believe that an aerialist has a Burning Man story to tell. Joanne told us how she learned to survive one year at Burning Man with her anti-social, non-English speaking Argentinian boyfriend. Alejandro: "It's too much. So much sand. Everyone is gay. I want to go home." Joanne: "Okay, I'm sorry. Let's go home. After the Tit Parade." Joanne also shared with us that she recently turned 40 and then almost immediately suffered a bike accident in which she broke her face. SURVIVING!

Photo: Jesse Chan-Norris

L.A.'s own JILLIAN LAUREN, author of the memoir Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, flew in to How I Learned in the middle of the tour for her novel Pretty, regaled us with her story about surviving her first night working at a strip club, which involved "an incorrectly pinned-on wig, a borrowed g-string and a thousand other humiliations," and then flew right back out leaving behind some Pretty swag, a memorable image of those shoes she was wearing (loved them), and the hope that she will come back again on her next book tour!

Photo: Jesse Chan-Norris

ED GAVAGAN. He had us in tears. Both kinds. The holy-shit-that's-funny kind and the no-no-no-I'm-fine-I-just-have-something-in-my-eye kind. I'd been wanting him to do How I Learned for quite some time so I was ecstatic. Also, as a trivia-giveaway-prize thing, Ed offered one lucky winner a free boxing lesson. Not sure how I'm going to top that next month. I have a stack of old magazines if anyone wants them.

Photo: Jesse Chan-Norris

Okay! That's all until tomorrow. Or maybe Monday. Monday, probably. Monday-ish. Thank you for your support, for coming to How I Learned, and for your obviously exquisite taste in culture and entertainment and hard-working, underpaid creator/producer/hostesses who just had a birthday. 

See you soon!
xoxo Blaise