I should probably wait until after tomorrow's trip to Flushing, Michigan, up near Flint, before I write about my weeklong juggernaut of comedy feet-in-the-door, but it's 3am and I'm wide awake and listening to Motorhead, and I don't wanna go to bed, so there you go. I just got back from a frankly dreadful night in Pontiac, where a nice room and a solid lineup of comics got decimated by roving packs of disinterested, loud-talking drunk douchenozzles who drowned out the whole thing.
Don't get me wrong, I had a good time. I generally always do, these days, doing the standup trips. An hour and a half in the car, alone, rocking out, drinking coffee and going over set notes, is great meditation time for me. I love hurtling through the Michigan night, along desolate stretches of 75 and 94 and 696 and whatever, through blasted and potholed dumps and glittery stretches of franchised, strip-malled brick. I'm even - call me sick - getting to like driving in unfamiliar towns, hoping my GPS isn't full of shit, looking for free parking and wandering down new streets to get to my destination.
And while a room full of loud shmucks is a bit off-putting, that's a good experience as well. I didn't handle it as suavely as I wish I had -- I let them get under my skin, and I made snarky comments, instead of just doing my set for the people who sat right up front and could maybe hear some of it. But I got in my time, did some jokes, drank too much Black Label, strained to hear the other comedians over the rude hordes and the bass from the Peter Murphy show next door, and then I split for a quiet ride home.
A quick stop at Denny's for some lousy food (seriously, do they make their sausage links out of sawdust and oatmeal, or what?) put things in perspective. I got fought over by crabby, tired waitresses who kept accusing each other of taking tables out of turn, as they scrapped over the meager tips to be had at this dead-end highway exit. Pontiac, and the tastefully-appointed bare brick walls of the room where a dozen comics met their flaming kamikaze demise, might as well have been another planet. Who gives a shit? Eat your food, fill your travel mug, give a nod to the drunken Tapout shitheads at the next table as you leave, and get on to the next mission.
I gotta mention the awesomeness that transpired on Wednesday. I went down to Connxtions for the "Wise Ass Wednesdays" local showcase, and did an early 10-minute set that got tons of laughs. It was a great ride - steady all the way through, lots of great response and no lulls from the crowd. I walked out of there on a high, and raced down to Bowling Green to emcee the "Live and Local" music night for the first time. I'd discussed it with Jessie, the booker, but had no idea how it was going to really work, or if anyone would give a shit about standup there. I wound up doing about 20 minutes up front, then bringing up each of the three open-mic musicians, and I killed! It started out as a very light room, but people kept wandering over from the other side and getting into it, so that by the end I had a good crowd hanging on every joke.
It was such a great night, I came home feeling ten feet tall. That put a little reserve in the confidence tank to help get through events like tonight, and spur me on to new adventures. Like I said, tomorrow I'm driving up to Flushing to do a showcase with Tom E. Thompson, who MC'd at Connxtions a few weeks ago when I did guest sets. We're all like pinballs, all of us doing this, bouncing off each other as we zigzag around, burning up fossil fuels, taking on losses and eating shitty home fries while we grab hold of those precious minutes on a stage in front of people. When you go down in flames like I did tonight, and all you can think about is the next time you get a shot at it, it's safe to say that the drive to do it is in your blood and not going anywhere.
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.