Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Man Knows All About Slavery!

Here's a bonus clip from the taping of my (imaginary) Jewboo Nick Kroll's upcoming Comedy Central stand-up special that I simply had to share. Watch it all the way through and you'll know why:

If you want to see more hilarity, holla at Comedy Central's site, or watch the special tonight at 10pm on Comedy Central!

Or, you know, if you like to run the streets like Bobby Bottleservice, just DVR it.

No, I did not intend to sound like a tacky publicist.


Friday, January 28, 2011

These Are the Breaks!

Happy Friday, y’all!

What a week it’s been. Highs, lows, heavy days, light days. Today’s a light day. I coul even ride a bike.

I’m still reeling from the inception, creation, and blow-uption that is Black Swanson. Me and KWalsh were just doing what we do every day from our respective cubicles: joking around about portmanteaus, discussing our favorite bears, and toolin’ around with photoshop. Next thing you know, we’ve got a wacky image that's reblogged more than 400 times, re-tweeted more than…anything Kanye West ever says, deemed “so relevant it hurts,” and reblogged on That’s, like, a real website, y’all.

Wednesday night I had a show at Comix Comedy Club—nothing fancy, a regular bringer. What made this show stress inducing was the fact that my MOM was going to be in attendance. This would be her first time seeing me do stand-up. Ever. She’s seen me in plays in college, but to hear me on stage telling my TRUTH….well, let’s just say I was freaking out backstage. My mind was racing with such thoughts as “Should I keep it clean and not discuss WINTERcourse?” and “Definitely don’t do the joke about Ps in the V without a C—that’ll lead to a talk you’re not ready to have. “

When I got in I went backstage and tried to avoid the crowd. I had to duck out to meet Jewboo, and when I did I not only saw my mother, but two of her homegirls from work, whom I’ve known all my life.
Mom threw me for a loop. She turned my show into a straight-up Waiting to Exhale type of night!
My mom is definitely Angela Bassett.

The show went really well, and not only did my mother think I was funny (and get really tipsy off of two white-wine spritzers—damn you, drink minimum) but the show’s booker came up to me afterwards and said, “You’re really good. I’m gonna put you on an industry show,” meaning the special shows clubs host where they invite talent to perform for agents, producers, etc. Holla!!!

Thursday witnessed the unveiling of the blacktress's second piece on TheHairpin, in which I discuss my adolescent indecent exposure in front of Double Dare host Marc Summers.

Unfortunately, due to the insanity that is the northeast winter, my agent meeting set for yesterday was canceled. I’m okay with that, seeing as I didn’t know how I could possibly dress to impress when 10 inches of snow and slush were on the ground (at best, she would have put me in a Home Depot commercial). We’re scheduled for this coming Tuesday, which gives me plenty of time to lose 12 pounds and get my hair did.

I’m actually not that nervous for the meeting, because, really, it’s all about filling a slot. I learned in my commercial class that my "breakdown" is 'a black female, age 25-35 (in acting years), with a fresh, accessible look'. I’m signed up for a few different websites that list casting notices, and you can put in your information (age range, height, ethnicity, photo, etc) and receive personalized e-mails with casting calls that fit your type. I get two emails a day, which might have you thinking there are tons of roles for a blacktress. Unfortunately, I’m not quite right for any of these parts. Here are a couple of the recent breakdowns I’ve received (all from various film and television projects):

Tina: Early 30s, beautiful, strong, ambitious but extremely vengeful.

Stacy: 26-30. Cute and curvy, Stacy is the more na├»ve of the two. A Jr. marketing associate, she’s bored of her unchallenging job so she goes after excitement (i.e. drama) in her personal life.
[Um, wait a minute. Those first two sound a lot like me.]

Apparently, one website thought this character breakdown was so fitting, they sent it to my inbox with a “red alert”:

Pam: 40s, A very obese woman, waitress. She's busy but friendly.

Dina: His beautiful wife. Passionate, dangerous, immoral. 35-40.

Role: First Slave.
Breakdown: 30-45, tawny-skinned Moor captured and sold in the marketplace

John's junkie girlfriend. Chic in a six-months-to-live kind of way.

Oh yeah, that way. Apparently, things aren’t so post-racial that a blacktress can be fit for a part playing someone young, gifted, and of a healthy weight and size. I mean, I shouldn't be surprised now that the they want to put the goodness of brown in white!

Have a good weekend, y’all!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Black Swanson (h/t KWalsh)

I love Ron Swanson. My girl KWalsh and I put together our heads and created the father of all portmanteaus:

What's your favorite block of the pyramid? I'm partial to "stillness: don't waste energy moving unless necessary" and "Friends: One to three is sufficient."

You know you love it.

No Country for Hot Babies

Penelope and Javier just welcomed their bundle of joy, y'all!!
I haven't even bothered finding out the name or gender, but I'm already counting down to its 18th birthday. Does that make me creepy? It's the hottest child in the history of the world!


When you try to search "hottest baby ever" in Google, there are no infant photos that can meet the criteria!!! You'll just have to use your brainholes!

Honey, do ju think we should name de bebe 'El Sexo Cruz-Bardem???"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

(A Vain Attempt at) Radio Silence

Hello Gentle Readers,

You may have noticed a lack of bloggery over the last week. This wasn't a hiatus as much as a crisis of faith (in blogging, that is). I'll admit that I've definitely brought new meaning to the acronym TMI with my posts, but with tags like "funny," "not funny," and "awkward," I assumed my goal of entertaining would get me off the hook (while at the same time allowing me to exorcise my demons). Alas, no. To top it off, I recently discovered that a Google search of my full name (my real one, obvs) will lead you to not only some wonderful (i.e. NSFW) youtube clips of me discussing Ps in Vs without Cs but also my blog! I, Sojourner, can’t handle my own truth!

This has led to me feel intensely self-conscious, and almost wondering if I should continue with the bloggery. Of course, this is the Internet and my posts aren’t under wraps, but they are also something for which someone actively has to search. If that’s the case, should I not write what I feel, or should people I have IRL relationships with not use my blog as a means of gaining access? Or maybe I should do me and they should do them, and just let the computer chips fall where they may? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Bottom line is: It’s called “Diary of a Mad Blacktress,” not “Diary of a Diplomatic Blacktress”--there should be little surprise if it gets darker than it would in person. I’m not saying people shouldn’t get angry when I express my truths, or that I'm a victim—we all know my feelings on HBCUs has inspired to all sorts of venomous comments—but if you choose to view this page, you must be prepared for my truth, my whole truth, and nothing but my truth! After all, my thoughts don’t make it law, and since when has a diary been filled with rainbows and kittens?
I mean, besides Justin Bieber’s.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, I do want to let you guys know that things have been a hot mess--and I swear, no humans will be emotionally harmed in the creation of this post.

On Friday I had a 7 ½-hour job interview with seven different interviewers, during which I was asked all types of math and logic problems. Considering I was applying for a position that would mostly entail some copyediting and light Excel-spreadsheet-creating, I was definitely ill equipped for such stumpers as “How can we go about determining the number of teachers in North America?” for which I had to divide 300,000,000 by 175,000 BY HAND.

I haven’t done long division by hand since before 9/11, y'all. The climate’s changed, and I can’t cope!

I left the interview feeling stupider than I’ve felt in a long time. Not like I’m a girl genius, but I’ve never been in a job interview where I’ve felt the failure taking place. I watched interviewers 6 and 7 try to keep straight faces as I botched very basic things (like, you know, saying that the population of North America was 65 million). I won’t go into anymore, since Big Brother’s likely watching, but let’s just say Friday night involved a lot of cupcakes.

Yesterday featured a 2 ½-hour doctor’s appointment in which it was determined that I am developing glaucoma. After waiting for ridiculous amounts of time and pressing my face against what I’m sure were less-than-sanitary chin rests, the doctor deemed me a “glaucoma suspect”. Um, why did she have to make it sound sketchy? Was she profiling me? Did I commit an ocular crime against myself?
I’m sorry if I sound like “conspiracy brother,” but ever since I saw the new Uncle Ben’s rice commercial, I’ve been on the alert for other attempts at eradicating the brown.

The goodness of brown, now in WHITE???? Why can’t the rice just be brown?! How many folks are looking at their plates going, “this rice tastes good, but it’s brown coloring just makes me sick.” I can’t handle this RICism!

After all the test, my vision returned to normal this morning—just in time for me to check my e-mail and read that I was rejected from the Women in Comedy Festival. Apparently, a show titled “The Blacktress Goes Inside Caucasia” isn’t appealing to the comedic women of Boston (I may have to call up Henry Louis Gates Jr. and see if he can get me and the ladies on a porch with some beers). I know rejection’s a part of the biz, but I’m just a squirrel trying to get a nut, y’all! And by “nut” I mean “seven minutes of stage time.” Is that so wrong?

Okay, I don’t want to leave you as depressed as I am, so here’s some potentially good news: I have a meeting with an agent on Thursday!

Unfortunately, it’s not one of the ones who came to my commercial class last week. I say it’s unfortunate because one of them was a hilarious nerdy gay man who referenced both Battlestar Galactica and Truth in Comedy, the improviser’s bible. If there’s anyone who should be representing a blacktress, it’s him.

I was put in touch with the woman I’m meeting on Thursday through one of the teachers of the class. After sending a thank-you e-mail to her, I followed up with:

Do you know if there are agents that specialize in/look primarily for comedians? I feel as though there's a lack of funny Af-Am females who aren't acting ghetto and aren't over 40, and there has to be an agent that wants to fill the void. In other words: I need to be playing Michelle Obama on SNL. Let me know your thoughts if you get a chance.


I was mostly being silly, but since she had complimented me several times on my sense of humor, I figured I could get her attention with some outlandish statements. She didn’t reply for a little while, so I started to get nervous (you know, just like I do after I tell a guy I have a crush on him). Just before I flipped out, I got an e-mail back from her titled “meet and greet,” addressed to be and some aol address. It only read:

C_____- meet Sojourner. She thinks she should play Michelle Obama on a miniseries.

Two minutes later I had an interview scheduled for 1pm!!!

Oh, and while I’m on an upswing, let me bring your attention to this wonderful video posted by the elite gay visionary Michael Martin. Re-post and spread widely!

*With a title espousing TRUTH, it's no wonder I love this book.

Monday, January 17, 2011

When Will I Be Free?

Happy MLK Day, y'all!!!

I am able to blog because I AM AT WORK TODAY.

Yes, y'all. No one seems to be able to believe it, and Scribe was most alarmed.
Scribe: you have to work today?!
me: YES
Scribe: that is ridiculous!
the post office is closed!
is your office more important than the post office?
you work in Arizona
we have to get you outta there.

Ain't that the gospel truth? I know I need to keep on steppin', but I feel like I'm just wading in the water. My job seems to think that a nationally recognized, legal holiday isn't real. My boss is basically standing over Martin's grave, screaming, "WHERE'S THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE???"
Or maybe he's just real close with the governor of Maine. Either way, I am sitting here, toiling and resentful, and it shouldn't even be legal.

Luckily, because everyone else has a holiday there are no calls and very few emails. I've got writing to do and can really get into it. I am a bit distracted, though, because tomorrow is the last commercial class, and two agents come in to watch us read our copy! I have several friends who took the class and got agents from it, so it could be a big night, y'all! Of course, it all depends on who the agents are and whether they're looking to add a blacktress to their roster. One agency reps a lot of famous child actors, but our teachers said they're looking to grow their "adult client base," so maybe they're lack means there's a void I can fill. Although precocious children scare/disgust me, I would certainly love to join an agency that includes such high-profile talent as "The Asian girl who plays Charlotte's daughter in the Sex and the City movies" and the lead blacktor from "Everybody Hates Chris." Cross your fingers (for me) and your legs (for Jesus)!

Okay, let me get back to the fields, y'all. I leave you with Public Enemy:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011: The Year to Keep on Steppin'!

Hey y'all.

I feel like I haven't blogged in ages, when it's really been a couple days. That could be because the sinus pain and dizziness has made time stand still (yes, even as the room is spinning). Or it could be because I'm cramming mad stuff into each day, making it so that, by the time I got to my desk this morning I had already shoveled snow, paid my electric bill, and called my grandmother. G-unit was in top form, and she gave me a new phrase I will have to use. When I told her that I was shoveling the snow, she asked me why I didn't pay the neighbor boy to do it for me. When I said I could manage, she replied, "Oh, I know you can, but you got to be acting. You can't get all sweaty and hunched over. You need to pay someone to do it and keep on steppin!"

Okay, maybe it's not particularly funny because you can't hear her 94-year-old Mississippi southern accent, but trust me--it was brillz. So great, in fact, that I am making it my new philosophy. As 2009 was The Year of the Hot Ass Mess, and 2010 was the year I chose to save the drama for Obama, 2011 is the year I will keep on steppin'!

"Um, what does 'keep on steppin' mean, Blacktress? Is your grandmother really into the movie You Got Served?"

No, people! G-unit doesn't want me to join a step team or stomp the yard. When she says "keep on steppin'" she basically means "do you." You've gotta get the basics done, and then handle your business--in my case, that's writing and blackting.

I think I'm getting there, even though it's causing me to burn the candle at both ends. I had an interview for another job on Monday, and I think I'm highly qualified and have everything they're looking for. They also said they welcome people with "outside interests," and the interviewer referenced going on auditions and flexibility more than once. Although I haven't heard back yet, I'm hoping that they're just playing it cool, and I'll get a follow-up soon.

So, despite the random illness--and the inability to shake the sensation of swallowing, like, egg yolks or something gross--I'm doing well. Especially because last night I had commercial class number 2, and guys, I DIDN'T SUCK!!
I was, dare I say it, pretty darn good!

I went into the class with high energy, and vowed to get out of my own way (the blacktress's mind is like a bad neighborhood--you don't want to go there alone). I wore my glasses and comfortable (yet slimming!) black jeans. We were given a page with four pieces of copy, and almost all were comedic, and they made sense to me right away. I was excited, and instantly knew how to play with it. I went up second, and read a spot for Doritos. We were asked to improvise and play a character. The first take I did a shy, nervous, awkward girl, and it went well. Then, the two teachers went to give me direction at the same time, then fought over what kind of character I should play next.

“You totally look like you could kick my ass,” one of them said. (She totally reminds me on a real housewife of New Jersey.) “Just for fun, play a gym teacher.”

“Really? You want me to go all out?” She nodded.

So I did. I imagined Sue Sylvester, but without the snark and hatefulness. I introduced myself as Pat, and even improvised the copy a bit, so that it ended on: “Like any normal person, I ate the whole bag, I enjoyed it and then I dropped and gave myself 20.

I got a huge laugh; it killed! I felt great from then on. Don't worry; it wasn't like it was smooth sailing from then on—but I didn’t feel like I didn’t deserve to be there, you know? For instance, I was able to laugh at myself and not freak out when I had to play ‘Georgina, a cousin from Italy,’ and the other actor I was filming with flubbed the intro line ("this is my cousin georgina, from italy. word has it she loves...") and said “word has it, she’s from Italy”.

My response: I’m from the African part.

I talked to the agents after class, had them critique my headshots (alas, I’ll need to pay for new ones, since the current ones “don’t pop.”), and even made friends with a WHactress. I learned that comedy commercials might be my thing, and being an improviser actually gave me a leg up over the Meisner-trained, NYU and Yale School of Drama M.F.A. kids.

I will admit that I lost some of my steam an hour into it when I left to use the bathroom and hit myself in the face with the heavy glass door, leading me to spend the rest of class concerned that my brow bone and nose were swelling (you can take the blacktress away from the crazy, but you can't take the awkwardness out of the blacktress).

But even with my potential facial fractures and fears of looking like a hot mess, I got up and read the other sides. I was, as G-unit would say, able to keep on steppin’! Holla!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I Am a Hot Mess

No, really. I'm sweating profusely and apparently have been running around with a fever of 101 for over 24 hours. I swear, I'm ridiculous. I don't know how I make it through this world. I'm so cracked out, it's a wonder that walls don't catch me off guard. I imagine this is what Snooki must feel like whenever she looks at her picture in a magazine.

"Um, what are you talking about, Blacktress?" you may asking yourself. Let me explain:

I started feeling a bit rundown on Friday, but chalked it up to a "vacation" spent in the D, and a hard-core work week. Saturday night I was feeling so rough that I stayed in the house. At the time, I was watching a marathon session of "Private Practice" online, so naturally, my first guess was a brain tumor. After all, that would explain why I was both dizzy and crying profusely. Jewboo came over really late that night, and even at 2am, I was still unable to sleep, as no amount of Advil or Sudafed would take away the pain and confusion.

Sunday was a fog, but I met with my comedy gals and met up with Jewboo at a friend's birthday party. As we grabbed dinner, I found myself oddly full after eating a turkey burger and fries. Gentle readers, my stomach is often a bottomless pit, and this was no NYC-diner-sized burger. The fact that I was stuffed should have been my first sign--well, the third, after the searing pain and dizziness.

When we got to the karaoke party, I was feeling less than fabulous, and within minutes I was totally sweating like Whitney Houston.

Whitney needs to change the lyrics to "IIIII-EEEE-IIIIIIII will always love A COOL TOWEL....."

Guys, it's a blustery 19 degrees with a wind chill in NYC, and this Sunday night karaoke party wasn't exactly packed to the rafters. There was no need for me to be sweatin' like a ho in church.

When I wasn't able to sleep last night and the pain still hadn't subsided, I decided to call up a professional. I got an appointment for 6pm tonight, and it went something like this:

Dr. Enghart: What brings you here today?
Me: Well, it really went off and poppin' on Saturday night. It started out as pain--
Dr. E: What do you mean, "popping"?
Me: Oh, sorry. I mean, it all started on Saturday night. So, I started by feeling pain in my neck, but what was weird was that when my head would pound, I'd feel it in the back of my skull and my brow bone. Is that strange? Am I making sense.
Dr. E (typing intently as I speak, staring at his computer): Yes, yes. Have you had a fever?
Me: No, I don't think so.
Dr. E: How's your appetite?
Me: I ate a really small burger yesterday, which was worrisome.
[A beat. Dr. E doesn't say anything for a few moments.]
Dr. E: Okay, why don't you get up on the bench and let's take a look.
[He pokes the mini flashlight-thing in my ears, nose, and throat. Uncomfortable with the silence, and feeling as though I need to prove my right to pay him $30 to tell me I have a sinus infection, I start babbling.]
Me: I know it hasn't been many days, but I'm not really a headache person. I also don't get dizziness, and I don't have winter allergies, and it's so much pressure, I figure it must be a sinus thing.
Dr. E: And you said you didn't have a fever?
Me: No
[He sticks a thermometer in my ear. It beeps in 30 seconds]
Dr. E: 101.3
[He looks at me, unsure of how a grown-ass woman such as myself could not only not know she had a fever, but could be standing and blabbing with such a high temperature.]
Me: I guess I have the vapors!
[He doesn't laugh]
Me: Actually, I did notice I had been sweating a lot.

He does not respond.

So, does that mean I shouldn't do my Jillian Michaels twenty-six-minute metabolism-boosting workout for the next few days?
Dr. E: No, you shouldn't.

I get off the exam table and he proceeds to write out several prescriptions, most of which are for OTC products from Whole Paycheck--I mean, Whole Foods. Homey had me get a neti pot and some spicy nasal spray, and I looked at the paper like Nicholas Cage in Knowing, and he wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic (I sweat just like Whitney, and also share her preference for a medicinal cure). With a high-dose pill waiting to be picked up, I felt a lot more confident in his skills.

So, now I'm at home, beginning my evening cocktail of pills: antibiotic, sinus spray, homeopathic sinus pills, advil PM, and then my evening antidepressant--you know, just for good measure.

I'm gonna rest up so that I'm somewhat fresh before tomorrow night's commercial class. How fitting that, after 2 hours of trying to sell the relief of sinus pain and pressure, I'd suffer from my own sinus oppression. Irony.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The New Serenity Prayer

Of course, this was brought to my attention by my life partner and avatar, KWalsh. I believe her exact words were: "Thought you'd appreciate this," followed by "I think I need to frame this."

My blog is my bedroom wall, and I have hung it for you all to see.

Jesus, take the wheel!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When Sinus Pressure Hits....I don't know what to do.

Guys, I'm feeling a bit low after last night's commercial class. I thought I'd be great, and was told the casting directors would "just eat you up; they'd love a blacktress on their roster." Instead, I was directed to "not be so stiff," and after three tries was directed to sit down with a "better. that's better."
Like my mom says, "better isn't good enough."
She also says, "I didn't work so hard for this to be your life," and then it gets awkward.

Anyhoozle, the class was just two hours, and there were 12 people--all white as the freshly driven snow, and even the boys were as thin as Justin Bieber's left thigh (they lacked Biebs' swoopy bangs, though). I went in with energy, but just couldn't shake the nerves and discomfort. We were on camera, but couldn't see our own face. Instead, two HUGE flat-screen tvs faced outward, giving all of the class access to every pore. "Dont' think about yourself here," one of the teachers said, voguing around her head to indicate a television screen. "We don't show you your tape because the point is to not think about how you look."

I just couldn't help it, though! I'm much more at home on a stage, with an audience I can't see because I'm blinded by bright lights--not a handful of folks that are looking at my face at 10x its normal size. I know that we were all there to learn, but there were some students who just "nailed it. great read." They had moved to NYC just for a moment like this, and knew how to bring the right amount of confidence and relief to a discussion about sinus pain and pressure. I will always be a type-A brown-noser (as evidenced by the immediate unearthing of a pen and notepad once we sat down), and blackting is what I love--I simply must be perfect!

I feel just like Bette Davis in Now, Voyager.

I know, I know--I need to stop worrying about what the gossip girls are doing and handle my own scandal. I just wish I hadn't had all that Upper East Side private schooling--I might have high self-esteem in situations like this. We're told not to practice, but I think I may have to have someone point a camera at me long enough that I cease to be nervous. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Hey gang. It’s 9:34 am, and I’ve already been on the plantation for 90 minutes. Hell, I’ve already been up for over THREE HOURS. And in that time I’ve exercised (and I don’t mean my demons!), showered, ate oatmeal and watched my morning progrums, AND read all the work emails sent over the holiday break. 2011’s gonna be my year, I tell ya!

Ugh, okay, I can’t keep this energy up. Let’s be real: Yes, I did all of the aforementioned things, but only because I was dreading coming to work. I was walking down the subway platform like it was the green mile, and got in an hour before everyone just so I could get acclimated before all of the "How was your vacation?!" talk started. The three unplanned days in Detroit (and sharing a bed with mom) put a real damper on things, and the hullabaloo of New Year’s left little sleeping opportunities this weekend.

Despite my fatigue and job bitterness, however, I am ready to make 2011 the Year of the Blacktress (I’ve got the Chinese government on line 1, hoping it’s not too late to make the change). I started off NYE with a piece on The Hairpin, which is the beginning of my crossover success (leave a comment to help kickstart the blacktress whisper campaign!). The article put me in touch with another strong black woman who has a Jewboo, and now we’re internet besties.

I found a $100 bill on the ground in the early hours of 2011, and then kicked off the second day of the new year with a meeting with three ladies to start writing a sketch show! They are young, gifted, and white, and I think we’ve really got the start of something good. We all have assignments for the week, we’re meeting on the regular, and we’re ready to kick ass and take names. Tonight is the first of four on-camera commercial acting classes, where I hope to learn how to land a national ad campaign and never have to work in this craphole again! I'm kinda nervous--I haven't been around actor-y actors in a while, and hope I’m not the only one without a BFA. I'm also imagining the two teachers as aged, gravelly voiced, take-no-prisoners Hollywood types, who gesture with their cigarettes, tapping ash on you when you fail. They’ll say things like, "You're gayer than Rock Hudson on a telephone! Now sell me that face cream and MAKE ME WANT IT!!!”

I’ve got my hair did, contacts ready, and having been practicing my soothing, news-anchor voice while saying things like, “side effects may include constipation, explosive diarrhea, low self-esteem, and dry mouth.” We’ll see how it goes—I’ll definitely give you an update.