I see tourists everyday on Hollywood Blvd when I walk to work. They’re all looking at the famous hand and foot prints at Mann’s Chinese theater, the Kodak theater, and all the other attractions on that part of the “walk of fame.” They’re really annoying with their slow walking and picture taking. The worst part about them is they always have their heads down because they’re looking at the stars on the sidewalk. Sometimes it’s funny though. I saw two old ladies taking a picture on Billy Graham’s star (why does he even have one?) and I saw a very delicate looking teenage male taking a picture on Destiny’s Child star with an excited yet awkwardly uncomfortable smile on his face.
Then, there are all the cheesy characters that stand in front of Mann’s. I saw one who was supposed to be Marilyn Monroe… if Marilyn Monroe was fat and sloppy and not that attractive. What tourists would be dumb enough to take a picture with someone who looks nothing like her? Oh, right. All of them!
All these strange random characters stroll the boulevard; like these two guys dressed as Samuel Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, in the black suits. What year did that movie come out? 1994? Hello? Why not dress up like a Transformer or something else that
I wouldn’t recognize. Another time I saw two guys dressed as Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Why didn’t one of them go home? (FYI, my brother was a stunt man on the Pirates 2 and 3 movies. Isn’t that cool? And he gets residual checks that I’m jealous of.) But the tourists that are on the open bus tours are the best. They’re all sitting there facing the street and instead of looking happy and excited to be in Hollywood, the world’s entertainment capital, they look sweaty, unhappy and disappointed.
But let’s face it, Hollywood is kinda disappointing and learning the ropes wasn’t easy. I used to think that people were being honest with me. I had no idea of the amount of bullshit people sling at you. It’s like everyone is a professional liar in this city. Granted, I can admire a strong lying technique but the problem is that you don’t believe anything anyone says after awhile. And everyone is always “working on something.” Everyone in Hollywood always has to report on their most recent success (which is always exaggerated), their latest project or whatever they’re working on.
It’s a daily struggle. But that’s what the 99cents store is for. LA has great 99cent stores and there are always great novelty items like baseball hats that say “Welcome to Korea 2002.” I’m impressed that there are still hats circulating with that message almost 10 years later. (I saw this recently because I still shop there sometimes, don’t judge)
I used to do a bit in my stand-up act about the 99cent store and how I thought it was funny that there was a security guard working there (true) because you would have to steal a whole cart full of stuff to even make it a worthwhile crime. I went on to say something like the security guard aims his gun and says “Drop the Ding Dongs or I’ll shoot”, or something like that. I don’t remember exactly because I stopped using it after a well-known comic stole it. I know he stole it because it was during my first two years of doing stand-up and I entered a contest in the Valley, and he was a judge. I was really nervous and had a bad set but that doesn’t mean my material sucked, I did. It was kind of shocking when I saw my bit on his Comedy Central special, but I have to admit that part of me felt a little bit good knowing that my stuff was worth stealing and TV worthy. I won’t name him because it doesn’t matter, and he probably doesn’t even shop at the 99cent store! He probably doesn’t even know about the Korean hats…
I saw him last year at a gig in Valencia and was so tempted to say “I’m such a big fan of yours. I love your bit on the 99cent store. It’s the best bit I’ve ever heard in my life. What inspired you?” It would have been fun to create an awkward moment, especially since inspiration for any bit about the 99cents store is really just poverty.
By the way, all of these characters work for tips only. They are not hired by anyone, which is clearly why there are no requirements on how close they have to look to the real characters. And they get mad if you try and take their picture without tipping them. “Chucky” the doll tried to turn away from me when I was taking the picture…but I turned away like I was taking a picture of someone else, then quickly turned back. Luckily he didn’t stab me with his fake knife.