Like a lot of Bay Areans, when I'm traveling, I tell people I'm from San Francisco. I say this despite the fact that I was born and raised in a lovely old house in Alameda. My sweet mom gave birth in a goddamned house, with some combination of midwives, acupuncturists, psychics, artisans, and paralegals around. She gave birth in the house and then we just kept living there, like that wasn't totally gross.
I don't claim S.F. just for convenience — to give people I meet on airplanes a general idea of why I'm not wearing deodorant. It's useful for that, but I also really do feel as if the city is where I'm from. Alameda is close enough and boring enough to always be in San Francisco's shadow. I spent most of high school dreaming of how cool my life would be once I finally lived in the city. I'd have such cool clothes and a cool apartment and my hair would just get better somehow and I would definitely know how to talk to boys and not be a virgin.
One out of five ain't bad! I found that out when I finally moved to San Francisco after college and lived here for three years, pursuing my dream of getting paid to be crude and tactless. Like a true sucker, I moved to New York in 2011 (boo!) and now I live in L.A. (double boo!), but I'll be back as soon as they build that bullet train so I can commute to Hollywood.
I'm excited to return to San Francisco to perform at Sketchfest this year, and I thought in anticipation I'd recap for you my most San Francisco-y moments from my time here. Here it is.
I was hosting a show at the Punchline and Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple!) showed up. He was nice/bored enough to stick around afterward to chat people up and hand out his insanely cool, metal business cards. I still have mine. Google them to see what they look like. Is that treachery? To Google something about Steve Wozniak? Is there another, more Woz-y search engine you should use? Google that, too.
Honey's Not Vegan, Actually
I was devastated to find out that my favorite restaurant in San Francisco closed sometime since I left. Golden Era was one of many delicious vegan Vietnamese spots run by disciples of the "Supreme Master" Ching Hai. You could eat your tasty fake chicken while reading one of their pamphlets about immediate enlightenment or watching her 24-hour "good news" channel. One day I was having dinner and working out some jokes with the very funny Dave Thomason. Toward the end of our meal, an earthy woman in Tevas, on her way out of the restaurant, knocked on our table with her fist, looked me in the eye and said, "Get over yourself, honey." She was gone before I could sputter, "But I'm perfect!" I still have no idea what I said that got to her. I was workshopping my Frasier material. Maybe she's a Cheers girl?
McKinley Elementary holds my favorite fundraiser every spring: Dog Fest. Everyone in the neighborhood brings their crazy-looking dog to the park to watch other dogs compete for things like best bark, best jump, and best costume. The last year I went was 2011, and it happened to be the year that Heklina performed a number dressed as Cruella deVille while a bunch of elementary school kids ran around her dressed as dalmatians. After the song ended ("Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and the Machine) I said aloud, for the first time ever, "Only in San Francisco."
Emily Heller does stand-up, and then sits down as a writer for Fox's Surviving Jack. She performs Feb. 7-8. sfsketchfest.com/x/performers/emily-heller