Lots of ups and downs since last report. I think I had my best show so far, of all places, at a golf resort in Belding, Michigan. I drove up there to do a short set, having the usual "what am I doing?" internal monologue the whole way (six hours of driving, no hotel, ten minutes of stage time). But it was more than worth it -- packed room, great people, applause breaks seemingly after every joke. It was exhausting, it went so well. I got to meet Jerry Donovan, a headliner with an amazing handle on crowd work - he had them falling out of their chairs. We were all rock stars that night, posing for pictures, shaking hands, and then (in my case, at least) climbing back in the car and driving back home in the dead of the two-lane Michigan night.
Got to do some time in Youngstown, for a small and subdued audience at a pizza place - great guy running it, Rick Cribley, and some good comics to share the stage with, but kind of an off night. From there, it was off to Alabama the next day, to see family, and do some time at two different events in Tuscaloosa. Small audiences but very receptive, and great to get to tell my dick jokes for some longtime friends and some family members.
Didn't get to headline the Wise-Ass Wednesdays showcase in Toledo two weeks ago, because the show got called due to a low turnout. It happened again the following week, while I was out of town, and I had zero expectations for this last week being any better. Luckily, we had a great little crowd roll in, and Milton Wyley got to headline, doing an awesome job - that's one funny SOB. I started the room out with a quick five, and everyone had a lot of energy and turned in great sets. They needed the show to go on longer, so after Milton's set, they asked me to go back up and tell more jokes - I ended up doing another 15 and the crowd was cool, despite rustling around to pay checks and getting a little restless.
Left there, went over to Sukit Hookah to give that room one more try - I feel bad, because a year ago I was there every week and it was a great workshop to get started in, but it seems like every time I go there now, people aren't that into the show. It's not just me, either. I gave it my best shot, though, and after that was done, three of us went over to Rocky's for some drinks - only to be asked if we wanted to get up and do some material there, too. Three sets in one night (four if you count the two separate times up at Connxtions)? Don't mind if I do.
I'm on the schedules of the Toledo and Lansing Connxtions to MC some weekends this summer, which I hope will be a foot in the door for getting some entry-level work at the clubs once the busier fall season hits. Got a few other paid gigs on the horizon, making new contacts around the area, and generally sorting out how I'm going to get things to the proverbial next level. It probably seems really tedious and hopeless to anyone who's not in the game - driving hours to do short sets in front of what might be an apathetic crowd, endlessly reworking jokes, chasing down contacts and stage time. Like my friend Dustin Meadows says about it, "I did this to myself."
But I find myself in love with the process, even the parts that make no practical sense whatsoever, or seem like shooting myself in the foot over and over again. A night of driving to an open mic for the fourth time to see if anyone's gonna finally show up to it is still better than a night watching TV. Active beats passive. Creativity can hit you in the weirdest, least likely places, and you can meet amazing people when there's almost no one in a place. And once in a while, a show like the Belding gig cracks the door open and lets some light shine in, and gives you a glimpse of an amazing future that could possibly be around the next bend.
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.