My last blog was a wistful travelogue of a 1,500-mile journey across a pretty substantial chunk of America in search of laughs. This past weekend, I was home from both of my shows and in pajama pants before 10:30.
Part of filling up a calendar with work is spackling holes in it. You might have a roadtrip planned, or a stretch of dates that you fly to, but there’ll always be an odd Friday or Saturday with nothing going on. Sometimes you block it out and leave yourself a weekend at home to get other work done or just catch up on some sleep and family time. Other times, shows will pop up that might not have fit into your schedule as you’d planned it… but nothing ever sticks to the plan.
Friday I headlined in Fostoria at a Knights of Columbus hall. I’d never been to one, and it’s basically an Elks or a Moose lodge, only Catholic. There was a forbidding bust of Christopher Columbus himself in the foyer, photos of Popes adorning the wall, and we performed along the back wall under a crucifix. They told us we couldn’t say fuck and had to work clean, but the other two comics went into blowjob and masturbation jokes so I kind of figured the floor was open.
It was an interesting set for me because it didn’t start out well. I wasn’t confident in my opening material choices and fumbled around a little bit trying to ad-lib and riff off the show so far. That’s not my strong suit and it wasn’t working. But what I AM good at is keeping that “we’re havin’ fun” energy up and not giving in when I feel the wheels start to slide off the road. I’d say by the 20-minute mark, we were on track, and it ended strong.
Saturday I was featuring, checking out a new show at a winery booked by Adam Minnick, a Cincinnati comic. It’s an open secret that the feature spot is the sweet spot on any three-person show, and if it wasn’t for the increase in pay, a lot of people would never move up to headliner. You’re in, you’re out, you do 20-30 minutes tops, the show’s overall tone isn’t your responsibility, you can eat dinner while the headliner’s on, you get the crowd before they have one too many drinks and get restless or have to calculate their checks… it’s a good time.
This show, like Friday’s, was full. An unexpected snow squall coming in had me on edge a little bit, but once I got there it was all good. Tyler Shafer, a newer local comic, warmed up the crowd and then I went up and did my abbreviated set before Adam closed it out. I had a couple local beers and hung out talking with a few folks, got back on the road, and got home at a decent hour.
Most of the time, when comedy is far away and the journey to get to it is all-consuming, it starts feeling more like an adventure or a crusade. Leaving the house at six and being back home five hours later, comedy feels like a day job. It’s not my normal to be making lunch or doing laundry at home mid-afternoon and thinking “hey, don’t forget you’re leaving for a gig in two hours.” It’s a different vibe. I’m sure I could get used to it, and it’s nice to be home in your own bed.
I think I need some of both, though – that sense of striking out into the world to conquer a new place, even if the extent of the epic saga is me eating slightly different fast food and waking up in an Econolodge. There’s an immersion in what you’re doing when you’re on the road, even for a short trip, and you’ve uprooted yourself for the cause.
But I’m grateful for all the gigs and each one of them is important to me. One of the benefits of staying in the Midwest is the sheer number of opportunities within a day’s drive, and the chance to ply your trade and still have some kind of home life. Thanks to Kim T for Fostoria, and Adam for Wauseon, and to the folks who made me feel welcome at both. I’ve got a couple more weeks of this kind of schedule, and some family vacation time, and then things get real road-trippy again in April and May.
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.