Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 204 - You Feed My Soul. Yeah You

February 28th, 2010

I single-handedly kept the Pinot noir industry in business last night.

I celebrated my birthday with my favorite people at Jake Walk and my friends are givers. Of alcohol. So much red wine was coming my way that there were times that I was double fisting. I was adorable.

Although my memory of the specific events are a bit fuzzy, I have credible proof that I had a great time. My mouth hurts from smiling.

They say that the smile releases serotonin and cortisol in our brains giving the gift of stress reduction, lower blood pressure and an immune system boost. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…never underestimate the wisdom of They.

They also say that smiling is like eating 2000 candy bars.

Oh They. You’re incorrigible

I’ve been smiling a lot lately. I’m very grateful for solid relationships in my life, interesting work opportunities coming my way and that I had a good hair night at my birthday party.

Last night, I was reminded that people are like candy to me. Truly, this is how my soul is fed. This feeling took me back to day Day 21 when I wrote an entry called, “Hi, I’m Jax and I’ll be Your Cruise Director.” In the infancy stages of this 365 day blog challenge, I basically came to the conclusion that being a lover of people is in my DNA. Here’s a blurb from that entry:

I truly enjoy (and if dare say, have a l’il natural ability for) hosting, Mc’ing and warming up audiences. Looking back, I think this is a skill that has been ingrained in me for quite some time.

Growing up in the south, children inevitably learn the ins and outs of the fine art of southern hospitality. Warmly welcoming visitors into our homes was an essential fabric to our upbringing. Plus OUR house had a swimming pool (although kind of not in tip top condition) and a giant basement (equipped with foosball table, dartboard and bar.) What went "down" in the downstairs included the following; turning the space into a comedy club for my dad’s 40th birthday (a little foreshadowing perhaps?), having innocent pre-teen “rites of passage” moments and on the day of Super Bowl Sunday 1986 (while watching “Space Camp” on Beta Max) witnessing my older brother tackle Danny Silvers (resulting in a few stitches on Danny’s head. ) So yes, come to the Kabat’s basement. If you’re lucky, “There Will be Blood.”

My love for hosting continued into high school and to this day friends from my teenage years still shower me with accolades. “I don’t know what it was..but your parties were just the best.” One of my gathering’s success can be credited to throwing the party right after our school’s annual blood drive. Get it? Blood alcohol level works in the favor of getting wasted. Just wanted to be sure. I'm a giver. Memories include people hiking to my house during the snowstorm of 1993 to get to the good times, the stoners introducing marijuana to our yellow lab Honey and some drunk poor soul nibbling on cat food (Tender Fiddles.) The only negative recollection was when someone maliciously got hold of my mom’s CD’s and the horrific sound of Michael Bolton belting “Time, Love and Tenderness” made the party come to an awkward stand still. I think I had one of those slow motion cinema moments where I ran through the house(gracefully leaping over coffee tables and people hooking up) to turn off the music all while screaming that slow mo low muffled “Nooooooo.”

Similar successful parties followed in college and when I moved to New York. Sometime it’s fun to answer the door smiling wearing an oven mitt even when there are no baked goods to offer. It’s just a nice visual. My New York parties (that I threw at my Upper West Side apartment in my early years and later at venues for my annual Halloween Gilda’s Club Halloween party fundraiser) just seem to work. I think it comes down to having a random mix of friends who are all decent individuals. Good people get along with other good people. I get off on seeing my corporate lawyer friend hitting it off with my heavy metal friend. If I can set the tone of making them feel comfortable…the bonding and good times seem to take care of itself.

What’s interesting is “making people look and feel good” is the essential rule to comedy improvisation (and in my opinion, it is also crucial to stand up and Mc’ing.) When I perform, host and teach, it kind of feels like my party. But it really isn’t about me. It’s about my audience and my students and making them feel like they are as comfortable as a Yankee in Dixie. Perhaps I should start handing out Mint Juleps. So it seems helping people have some fun while also providing some degree of comfort is in my genes. Most recently, this knack took me to the Good Morning America Studios. Here is 2 ½ minute clip of when I MC'd for a marketing campaign for eBay. At the ABC studios, I warmed up 15 audiences for a live game show called "LET'S MAKE A DAILY DEAL" that was hosted by Mario Cantone and Monty Hall.

As much as I struggle to praise Miss Oprah Winfrey, she did (at some point pre-Tom Cruise destroying a perfectly good couch incident) say something rather astute.

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

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