Lots of cool stuff happened in December. I got to do my shows in front of my family members (see previous post) and both of them went great. I headlined the Wise-Ass Wednesdays showcase at Connxtions Toledo, did 20 minutes on the nose, and the whole set was strong. Held my own the week after doing a guest set on a show with Kevin Bozeman, Joe Zimmerman and Jake Zamonski, and got to show off for my sister and brother-in-law, which was also cool.
(This was after two straight nights of my brother-in-law, Ham Bagby, rolling in to some music open mikes and throwing down in legendary fashion. He blew the freakin' doors off some places, and made some fans for life up here in the not-so-frozen north. The night I saw was like a movie or somethin' - he walked in, no one knew who he was, no one much cared if he got on stage or not, and then he started playing and the place lit up like a fire on Christmas Eve. It was sick, man. Dude can play, he can sing, and he can put a crowd in the palm of his hand before they even know they're smiling. Unbelievable.)
Capped it off on New Year's Day with a harrowing drive up to Grand Rapids to participate in my first Sunday Night Funnies show. They have it every Sunday in the bar of a Radisson Hotel, and they'll give you a free room if you come in from out of town to do it. I decided to take my 10-year-old son with me, so we could hit the town the following morning (he's into Ben Franklin, and there's a cool exhibit about the man at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum).
The last hour of the drive was through a big snowstorm; we did 35 the whole way to GR and passed a few big wrecks. Finally made it to the hotel, got some bar food, and got him settled into the room with some chicken tenders and a movie. The show was awesome - despite the blizzard on the day after New Year's Eve, there was still a pretty decent crowd, and they were really responsive. I'm told it's wall-to-wall people on regular nights, so I can't wait to go back.
Some post-show beers and bullshitting with Stu McCallister, Adam Degi, Steve Pierce, and a few other comedy people, and it was time to hit the room. We got up and checked out the next morning after some buffet breakfast downstairs, and made our way downtown to the museum. Neat exhibit, with lots of original artifacts (how the hell has Ben Franklin's wallet survived until 2012?). Hell, we even learned a lot about Gerald Ford in the process.
Drove home (the weather was much more cooperative), stopping for awesome diner lunch at a Coney Island in Lansing. We took some pictures of a "DADS INN" (the sign obviously a Days Inn until someone took duct tape to it) and then headed back to Toledo, tired but ready for more traveling. The boy is a trouper - he makes a great road dog.
Two nights ago, I capped off the whole recent slew of activity with a last-minute MC'ing gig for the most recent Wise-Ass Wednesday, with my friend Jake Dickey headlining. I had a lot of fun hosting the show, getting some jokes in here and there, and roasting Jake a little before bringing him up for his 20-minute set. The momentum stopped cold, though, when I went over to the open mic held afterwards.
I dunno if I've changed in the last year or so since I first hit this open mic, if the crowds have just gotten shittier, or if I just had nothing to compare to when I started out, but it's gotten to where this room and I just don't seem to click any more. I hadn't gone in weeks, and I went up this Wednesday and promptly got one of the worst, most hostile responses to my set I've ever had. Not overtly booing, but dead silence, even when the host came back up. I had a few minor laughs, mostly from the fellow comics, and then I launched into my last bit and it seemed to actually piss people off. I'd had a few beers, which didn't help my ability to deal with the situation, but I didn't go off or anything, I just powered through the bit and then went home.
Not a big deal by any measurement. But there's that nagging feeling that THAT was the last time I was on stage. Sure, it was 48 hours ago, and less than 48 hours from now, I'll be hitting a new open mic up in Taylor, Michigan, and I can rinse the dust of that last debacle out of my mouth. But if I'd been done after the MC'ing gig at Connxtions, I'd be coming off a high note, and that would feel better. It's stupid and petty, but it's there.
Everything else is going fantastic, though - better than I have any right to hope. Got a couple paid gigs in February, hitting some new rooms, and hopefully doing a few audition-type guest sets that will lead to more new rooms and paid work. If you called me right now and said you needed me to do 30 minutes on short notice, I'd actually have the material to cover it - good stuff that I'm happy about - with a little bit of old shit in the reserve tank after that if I desperately needed it. I'm getting more and more comfortable in my own skin onstage, and it's working more often than not - people I don't know are laughing, newbies I've just met at open mikes are mistaking me for a working comic. I know I still have a long way to go, but I can see and feel the progress being made, and that's a great feeling.
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.