Sunday, March 31, 2019

But then again - too few to mention.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

story from new book

Will be reading from my upcoming book at Zog's in Chapel Hill Tuesday and Lucky Tree in Raleigh Wednesday. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Zog's tonight.

Can't resort to the same game show props as last week (too many will know the answers). May have to do straight up comedy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A triumphant episode of Stirred Word in Chapel Hill last night. Taking the same clues to Raleigh tonight.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The stirred word.

Hoot Brooks will be doing five minutes of his new game show THE STIRRED WORD tonight at Zog's in Chapel Hill.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

This Title is Six Words Long.

So far this week:
I've written a little bit on a new project called Dead Presidents. I shared some of it with a writer's group Wednesday night.* I covered an historic piece of cheese. That and a personal story which suggests that Andrew Jackson was born in my mom's backyard.

I left the writer's group early and did stand up at an open mic in downtown Raleigh. I did my best tight five minutes, which is a bit called Gay Black Caveman. It has twenty-four punch lines and most of them land. I've been performing that same piece a lot lately lately - I am concentrating on presentation more than writing as far my stand up stuff goes right now.

Thursday I received materials to build a replica of a Star Wars DL-44 blaster.  (Han Solo's pistol). If I can make a convincing one, I want to turn out other replica weapons for sale.

Friday I picked up an idea from the Self Publishing Podcast (
that one should be able to describe what one does in six words. 


 ...I think that's almost it.

May the force be with you.

* The writer's group I mentioned: Open Mic Series at So & So Books

Saturday, 9/23/2017


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Things Learned in Bars : Open Strong

This is how I learned to write in drinking establishments.

I started speaking in public under the name Hoot Brooks about three years ago.  The first thing I learned was that a joke based on 1960s TV - one that  friends and family thought was funny - would get blank stares from a young audience at Goodnight's Comedy Club on a Tuesday night.

Thursdays and Saturdays in other venues didn't go so hot either.

Young audience is a relative term.  Let's just say the under-fifty crowd is not going to have the familiarity or nostalgia to fully appreciate my impression of Andy Griffith if he were the captain on Star Trek.  Beam me up, Goober.

Before long I learned that comedy was not my thing. Humor, maybe - but not comedy. So at the open mics I started trying to share short bits of science and history - kind of abbreviated Malcolm Gladwell lectures. My goal was not to get laughs, but to hold the audience's attention for the five minutes.

My most popular bit (so far) is a short biography of an eccentric character from the Civil War. At a writer's open mic, or maybe at a venue packed with students, I could open my talk with the phrase "In the mid eighteen hundreds--"

But in your average beer joint I couldn't even complete that sentence before the audience started to evaporate. Half the patrons would suddenly head for the bathrooms, or the bar, or maybe step outside for an important cigarette.

So I began to open the story with I'm going to tell you a true story about a crazy man...

And that worked.  The next few sentences would also have a hint of mystery and a bit of urgency. It was like I was firing a few short machine gun bursts to get their attention. 

As matter of style one might want to open more gently sometimes, but the strong opening is a good tool to grab an audience you don't already have.

And now I just need a tag to close this with and put a button on it.

Beam me up, Goober.