Monty Loved Comedy

by Jay Whitecotton Edited by Al Bahmani

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Monty wore a big, dumb straw hat lined with 420 buttons and positive affirmations. It was his comfort blanket, but as he gained confidence he began to take it off and hang it on the mic stand. His sets were exactly as he was off stage, filled with bouts of nervous laughter and catchphrases like “Where my Outlaws at?”and “If you don’t like my jokes I’ll smoke you out in the parking lot!” Always with a genuine sun baked smile.

Monty loved comedy.

In many ways it was the only thing keeping him together after the car wreck. Years before we met he had lost his wife in a crash. Though she survived in the most literal sense, she – from how I understood it – was frozen in time. A shell with no spirit. However, Monty refused to accept that. Knew she was still in there. He believed it and held on to her like you would your absolute closest and best friend. He saw light in her eyes, talked everyday about her and the day she’ll wake up to anyone who would listen. The magnitude of that kind of devotion overwhelms me too much to even try to write anything more about it.

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Monty had a lot of terrible ideas about starting comedy shows. Laundry mats, metro rails, his front porch, the restaurant near his house that he could just walk to… He would assemble anyone willing to join him on these terrible ideas and call everyone else who had the good sense to avoid that nightmare – cowards. In many ways he was right.

The “Where’s my Outlaws at?” was as silly as the straw hat, but it meant the world to him. The ‘Outlaw’ tag itself is an old stand up term from the early 1980’s that Houston Comics still can’t seem to shut up about. It included two of standup’s biggest legends – Bill Hicks and Sam Kinison – and was a tag Monty cherished greatly. One time after doing a gig in Houston, Monty got to meet one of the original Outlaws, Andy Huggins. For weeks he bragged how Andy gave him the blessing to carry on the name. It was a small gesture, but one that meant the world to Monty.

Everything he did successful or not he wore as badges, like the buttons that lined his big dumb straw hat.

Monty & Fam

However – nothing made him more proud than his kids and who they grew up to be. He loved them so openly, hailed their every accomplishment and looked upon them with happy wonder. Monty was very self aware of the kind of father he must’ve of appeared like so I think the fact that his kids grew up to be more normal than NORML came as an immense relief. Sometimes Monty would talk about them with a lost look in his eye, like a Captain slowly going down in the ship, sad, but also happy that they were at least safe in lifeboats paddling to shore. It always unnerved me.

Monty certainly had his dark days. Sets filled with anger and frustration. Occasionally creepy when you knew he needed to get some, but no one ever felt unsafe. He was a big goofy puppy and rarely held grudges for long.

Everyone that met him loved him, got annoyed by him, avoided him, put up with him, got excited to see him, and most definitely smoked out with him. It was genuine. We all worried about him, we all talked about his weight loss and occasional binges in moods, but none of us could’ve stopped this. That is also genuine. If you’re looking back trying to find a way you could’ve stopped this from happening, quit. He was his own self made Outlaw, fiercely set in his ways. All you can do now is say goodbye and try to carry on the best in him that he showed to us.

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It’s common to hear things like “this isn’t about you” or “you didn’t really know him that well to speak about this”. Don’t buy into that bullshit. The fact is – it really is about you and the people you are around. That’s how death works. Monty is gone so these questions aren’t his to worry about anymore. It doesn’t matter if you met him once or hung out every day, it’s ok to take the time to personally and openly reflect what this means to you.

How else do you really celebrate or honor the meaning of a life?

I don’t know.

Monty & Lesko

One time Monty let me try on his dumb straw hat. I was going to fuck around with him and do my best Montgomery Wayne Seitz impression, but the pins from all the buttons stabbed painfully into my skull. I realized quickly how that pain is what Monty felt every day he wore his favorite comedy hat. He didn’t have to wear it, often we’d make fun of it, but he wore that pain with a smile because it made him feel good trying to make everyone else happy.

I wish I appreciated that small sacrifice more when he was alive.

A GoFundMe Page has been made to help cover funeral expenses.

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Meeting Jon Lovitz

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Written by Aaron Aryanpur Edited by Al Bahmani

When I discovered SNL for myself, “my cast” included Dennis Miller, Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks and the power-duo of Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz. Growing up as a fan of the show and almost everything that that crew would go on to do – I was the kid who dragged his poor family to the theater to see ‘Mom and Dad Save the World’. I never thought I would ever get a chance to meet any of them.

I got my opportunity when Jon Lovitz headlined the Addison Improv five years ago this very week.*

When you start out, it’s enough just to get work at the club. You don’t get much say in who you work with. You don’t get much work, period. Sometimes the headliners bring their own supporting acts, but mostly the club matches up who they think would make a decent fit for a great show. As a newer comic, your job is to be the best version of you you can be while somehow also being as “decent a fit” with as many different comics possible (more flexibility gets you more stage time, and more stage time makes you a better comic which gets you more stage time and so on).

I didn’t campaign for many specific headliners (again, I just appreciated the booking), but I campaigned for Lovitz. You want to meet your heroes, and you hope that they’re not dicks.

I got the booking and was super-psyched. Without sounding too much like a fanboy, I was hoping for ANY kind of interaction (some headliners keep pretty guarded). I was also hoping I could get him to sign my NewsRadio caricature (already signed by Dave Foley and Stephen Root). It featured Phil prominently, and I thought he might appreciate it.

Mr. Lovitz was a bit aloof when I first met him, and I worried that he was going to keep his distance the whole weekend. I quietly introduced myself, told him that I was looking forward to the shows, and left the green room.

After my first set, I was surprised to see him waiting to talk to me in the back. While the host was making announcements on stage, he was excitedly whispering some heavy-duty compliments. Some headliners don’t even watch the show, and I took for granted that he wouldn’t have watched me. I nodded politely on the outside. On the inside, my inner-fifth grader was jumping up and down. Between shows the next few nights, we talked about comedy and art. I shared my caricature with him.

You know, Phil did both too.

“Yeah, I did.” and I almost cried.

It was a great weekend. When it’s gone well, there’s sometimes an awkward “end of the date moment” after the last show…something along the lines of, “Well, this was fun. We should do it again sometime.” The hope is that a headliner takes SUCH a liking to you, recognizes your comedic genius, and decides that you NEED to be their permanent opening act on the road.

The reality is usually a handshake. Maybe exchanging email addresses.

Jon Lovitz asked for my card.

Puzzled, he tried reading my name, “Aryanpur?”

After all of the shows and our conversations, I guess things like my name and my background didn’t quite sink in yet.

Yeah, my dad’s Persian.

Then he dismissively, Lovitz-ly handed my card back to me with a fake disgusted “Oh.

He was messing with me, and I played along. Out of mock-desperation, I protested, “But my MOM is Jewish.

And he just as quickly took the card back with a delighted “Oohhh” as if to say, “That’s better.

Then he clapped a little Lovitz clap and said, “Okay. I’m going to ask for your card, and you’re going to hand it to me, and I’m going to say, ‘Aryanpur?’…”

He was giving me direction for a conversation we JUST had.

“…and you’re going to say, ‘My dad’s Persian.’ And I’m going to give the card back and say,

‘Oh.’…”

There was no one else in the green room.

“…but then you’re going to say, ‘But my mom’s Jewish.’ And I’m going to say, ‘Oohh.’ Got it?”

So we replayed our conversation, and it was still funny. After the third time – just us in there, mind you – it was downright surreal.

I realized I was rehearsing and then performing a “sketch” with Jon Lovitz for no one but myself and Jon Lovitz.

There were some other remarkably wonderful and bizarre things about that weekend, but the business card exchange is what I’ll always remember about my time working with an SNL alum.

And maybe because he always seemed like a such a Simpsons/Critic cartoon of a personality to me anyway, I thought the story could use a visual.

You really need to hear the story in his voice, but the comic strip might help a bit.

Aaron

Funniest Comic in Texas 2012 Winner, Aaron Aryanpur was also recntly voted one of the Top 100 Creatives For the Dallas Observer, and just recently made his national TV debut on FOX’s Laughs. And he’s currently headling the Hard Rock Cafe this weekend August 28th & 29th with Houston’s own All D. Freeman. 

 

*Originally Posted July 17th, 2015

Aaron Aryanpur: Funniest Comic in Texas 2012

Aaron Aryanpur headshotBy: Steven Padilla

Aaron Aryanpur has opened up for the Axis of Evil Tour. He was also named Maxim Magazine/Bud Light “Real Men of Comedy.” From Dallas, he’s been gracing the comedy stage for over 10 years. Fresh off of winning the Funniest Comic in Texas contest, he gave of some of his time.

First of all, congratulations on winning Funniest Comic in Texas. How does is feel?

It feels pretty good. Really good. A lot of people gave me a lot of support. With that was added pressure. People were saying that they were counting on me. More and more each year I was in this contest.

How many years have you been in this contest?

Since it began. Five years now. It may be easier for me to say this now that I have won, but I don’t like contest at all.

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