Sunday, February 26, 2006

Combat Comedy

What a show!

If you ever wanted to see a fiery crash, you should have been in Spokane Thursday February 23, 2006 at the Brickwall Comedy Club. You would have witnessed one of the worst shows I ever had.

I have a little recipe I'd like to share with you ...


What is "Combat Comedy" you ask? Well that is when yours truly has to go up in front of a group of drunken stupid people and try to entertain them. In short it is a train wreck waiting to happen.

Now I need to set up a few things first.

I flew in from Jacksonville Wednesday (the night before). I had only 4 hours sleep because I had to get up at 6:30am Florida time to get to the airport to catch my plane home. It left at 10:45 with a 1-hour layover in Atlanta. I got to Denver at 3:30pm and was lucky enough to have "Mr. Stress" pick me up on his way to the club. I got to the club (where my car was) and was on the road to Spokane Washington by 6:30pm.

I drove through the night and arrived in Spokane at 12:30pm Pacific time. That's 18 hours of driving. It would have been shorter except I took two half hour naps in Montana on I-90 and did two 360s 75 miles south of Billings Montana on I-25 when I hit a patch of ice at 1:30 in the morning. It was lucky for me that I hit no signs and the median was wide and shallow with 2" of snow on it. Otherwise I could have very easily flipped my car several times and been seriously injured or killed.

Once I got into Spokane I was only able to get 2 more hours of sleep. By show time I'd been up 41 hours and had 3 hours of sleep. To say I was tired was an understatement.

So back to Combat Comedy.

Tonight we are going to add and additional ingredient for a little extra spice ...

20 attractive young women.

First, I don't want anyone to get the idea I dislike women. I do not, I hold them in high regard and am very respectful of women. I will also say that the most positive experience I've ever had in my life came from a woman. And no it wasn't anything sexual.

So here is what happened.

The Brickwall Comedy Club is a converted bar located in the basement of a Travellodge Hotel. It is owned and operated by my fellow comedian Chris Warren. It seats about 120 people and on this night we had somewhere around 60 in the show room. Unfortunately 20 of them were a group of attractive women, most between the ages of 21 & 25. And these young women knew they were good looking, that makes them very dangerous indeed. They are used to having their way and being the center of attention. Very bad when you mix in alcohol and put them in the front row. Making them center of attention it is like throwing gasoline on a small fire at the edge of the woods. It doesn't take long for that little fire to burn the whole place down. That is what happened last night.

Add to that the 2 comedians before me that either didn't care about the show, were too inexperienced to understand what they were doing, or wanted to get laid. As if they would have had a chance with any of those women.

The opener went up and for 15 minutes and was chatting with them on and off. This was followed by 25 more minutes of the feature act doing the same. He was supposed to do 30 but he bailed early because he was stinking up the joint and the reason why was simple. He was only playing to 1/3 of the room, the 20 girls in the front row.

So by the time I got up there they were not only drunk, they had been a part of the show since the beginning and totally expected to be a part of the show until the end. I was not having any part of that; there were 40 other people in that room that were not enjoying themselves. They deserved a show and I was planning on giving them one.

So I went on stage and started my set. About 5 minutes in they started talking. Once they figured out I was not going to make them a part of my show they decided they were finished with the whole thing. But why leave? They could still get alcohol and talk amongst themselves. My little show was only a minor distraction.

So I continue for 35 minutes until it just got unbearable and that is when I made it worse. You must understand that even though I may look tough I really will do just about anything I can to avoid conflict. I've never liked it but I am not afraid of it. But I will also not allow you to push me too far and that's what these women did. They managed to disrupt my entire show and not only make the situation bad for me but they ruined a perfectly good evening out for everyone else in the room. People that paid with their hard earned income to come out and have a good time.

So I stopped my show and engaged them. At first they were happy about that. It was as if they were thinking Finally! He recognizes us and now we are going to get the attention we deserve! Well, they got just that but it wasn't what they expected.

Let me just say that by the time I was finished not one of them was happy and the rest of the crowd had seen justice administered. I also doubt I will be on any of those girls Christmas card lists.

After the show I received good feedback from people that were in the audience. They felt I did well and couldn't believe how long I held my temper. Then one of the girls stopped by and told me something that just floored me.

She was actually an employee of the club! She will be working over the weekend as wait staff. I was astounded! Then she dropped the rest of the bomb on me; there were a total of 3 waitresses in that group. There was absolutely no reason for that whole situation to have happened. They know what makes a good comedy show and should have leaned over to their friends and told them to be quiet, that it was inappropriate for them to interrupt the show. But they didn't. Unbelievable!

So once again these girls have proved that there is no limit to some peoples ignorance.

Unfortunately I didn't need to be reminded.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I'm Out!

I didn't make the finals of the Carnival Cruise Challenge, but I'm not surprised.

It's not that I think I didn't do well (meaning I performed my material well) but for some reason or another I just felt out of place at that contest and it probably showed. Like I said before, contests have never been good to me, so I expect the worst. That's probably why I received it.

Contests are very difficult anyway. I did 3 minutes in front of the judges and 50 comics with absolutely no laughter and I have to admit that even after all these years of doing comedy it is pretty unsettling. I can't remember ever doing 3 minutes to no laughter. I'm sure that showed through in my performance.

I think the judges could sense my uneasiness and that is (and should be) the reason I didn't make it. Or I could just be a crappy comic. But if that were true I wouldn't be working at all.

It's tough on the ego but all a part of growing as a comic. The good news is that I got a day off and met a couple fellow club owners. I'm not sure how much I should like them as they were the ones where were judging the contest. I saw a couple of good acts that I may get to book in the club some day.

The truth is even though I spent the money and lost the time it was worth it. It's one of the funny things about the comedy business. You do a lot of work for nothing in hopes that some day it will all pay off.

It's actually a great metaphor for life. Sometimes things don't work out the way you would like. But you never know how that effort will be returned to you in the future. All I know is that if you don't put in some effort into your life, you will never have one.

I hope your efforts are paying off for you. I'm sure mine will, if not I'm sure going to be pissed.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Shut Your Hole

What is it about being around airplane that makes you people want to talk? Shut up already!

As I write this I'm waiting my for my baggage in Jacksonville Florida. I'm in Jacksonville to compete in a contest. I hate contests, but more about that later.

First I need to do some complaining ...

I'm going to say I'm already not in a good mood. I only got 3 hours and 45 minutes worth of sleep last night. I had to get up at 2:45am to catch the RTD bus to DIA (that's Denver International Airport) to make my 7:00am flight. Now the bus was great, it was full of TSA (Transportation Security Authority) employees on their way to work. They don't want to talk about anything. Look forward and shut your hole seems to be their motto. I couldn't have been happier.

It started as soon as I got inside the building. I couldn't even get any peace and quiet waiting in line. I was stuck in line with a lady that was going to Jacksonville to! (Holy Christ!) And some kid that claimed he was roady for Megadeth (Really?). I wanted to slit my wrists with a dull knife when the woman (who is close to 60) told the kid "I know who Megadeth is! I don't listen to them a lot but [insert droning conversation here]".

Then they started in on me. What do you do? Why are you going to Jacksonville? Do you fly Air Trans much? The answers in order are:

None of your business

None of your business

and ...

None of your business

I don't want to sound anti-social (and maybe I am) but I never tell anyone what I do. If I tell them I'm a comic I always get, "Oh! That must me so fun! Could you tell us a joke?" No I can't. Do I ask you to perform your job when you aren't working? If I tell them I work with computers I either hear about how much they hate them or end up having to give them advice or tech support. If I tell them I own a video store then I end up talking about movies I've not nor never want to see.

Truthfully unless I'm traveling with you, I don't want to talk to you. I just want to get through my trip in silence.

So this time I was a professional ground pool digger going to Jacksonville to look for work. They never seem to be able to talk about that for very long.

Now back to our regularly scheduled griping already in progress.

I get on the plane and am seated on the isle, by now it's nearly 6:30 and all I want to sleep. The guy next to me seems to have other plans. He spends the next 45 minutes trying to talk to me (I actually had my eyes closed the entire time) and jamming his elbow into my side. I finally had to ask him to quit talking to me. To his credit he did quit talking to me, but then turned the other way and spent the rest of the trip hitting on the girl sitting in the window seat. The way he was talking he'd been to every major city in the world. I can't believe anyone would believe the crap he was shoveling out.

Fortunately I was able to get about an hours worth of sleep. And thankfully on the connecting flight out of Atlanta the guy next to me didn't say a word. He just slept.

Now about contests ...

I'm not saying that they are all fixed because that would not be true, but many are. Like that TV show that shows all the comedians standing in line to get a chance to audition for a chance to compete. Did you know that just about every one of the comedians that made it to the finals already had management? Did you know that most of the finalists didn't have to stand in line to audition? That they actually had appointments to go in and do their audition? I can't watch that show without yelling at the TV.

I've only been in one other contest. It was many years ago and when I went to the finals I had the highest score from the preliminaries. I had the highest score in the finals. Did I win you ask? Nope, I had a deduction from my score for going over my time, which by the way I didn't do. But it was the only way the club could push the right person into the winning spot. And would you like to know who that was? It was a TV weatherman that brought his cameras with him to record his participation in the contest and air it on his broadcast. It was a great way to get the club advertised and in the process give me a bad attitude.

That was nearly 10 years ago and I haven't entered one since, until now.

I'm going to be competing in the Carnival Cruise Challenge. From everything I've heard it is on the up and up. I'm one of 50 or so people competing for a week of work on a Carnival Cruise ship. Now I have no idea if I'll win but I'm actually in this contest for the exposure. The judges for this contest are some of the best bookers in the business. I'm hoping I can make a good impression and get some work out of it.

The results will be in my next blog entry.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I Need A New Car

My trusty 1994 Honda has 420,000 miles on it at the time of this writing. I bought it new in August of 1995. My plan is to buy a new car in August of this year.

By the time I get a new car I will have driven my Honda for the same length of time I was married to the mother of my children. Which by the way is the longest I was ever in a relationship and only one year longer than I have been single.

Then I got to thinking, I need a girlfriend to.

I also realized the reason why I've been single and driving the same car for so long. Buying a new car and finding the right woman to be in a relationship with are very similar.

The process of finding one is nerve-wracking.

If money is no object you can have whatever you want.

If you get one because you can you don't appreciate what you have.

When you first start looking, appearance is everything.

Appearance shouldn't be everything.

You have to consider what its going to take to maintain this thing.

If you had to work hard for it you appreciate it more.

If you take care of it properly, you can keep it forever.

Even when you have a nice one, sometimes you think theres something else out there you might want.

Its not a good idea to compare what you have to the newer models.

Most people wait too long before doing the required maintenance.

If you wait too long to do the maintenance its going to fall apart.

The best way to get into a collision is to not pay attention.

If you've been in a major collision sometimes its never right again.

You can total the thing and lose your entire investment with one bad decision.

So all I'm saying is I just want something that looks pretty good, will last forever and won't let me down.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Good Friends Are Hard To Find

It's good to have friends and for me they are hard to find ...

Before I go on I want to make a distinction between friends and acquaintances.

To me an acquaintance is someone that I know and can have some casual conversation with me. They may know things about my life and family but that is where their knowledge of me ends. They don't have any idea how I feel about things and what the issues in my life are. They just know me from coming into my video store, when I work on their computer or maybe when I work with them on the road when I do comedy. They see my public persona. It's not an act, I'm just not willing to let them too far in.

That's what friends are for. My friends (and have very few) are the people I trust. They know what's going on in my life. I trust them enough to share it with them.

My problem is that sometimes I let my life get in the way of my relationships with my friends. That's what happened with Greg and Lisa.

Greg is the Assistance Principle at a large middle school and Lisa works for the department of social services. Not only are they great people, they are a great couple. I have to admit at times I am a little envious of them. You only have to be around them for a few minutes to see that not only do they love each very much they have a great relationship. I hope that someday I can be in a relationship like theirs.

It's funny how I became friends with them. It all started 10 years ago when I was picking up my kids from school. Greg was the principle of the middle school and he always made it a point to be outside when the kids were getting out of school. He would stand in front of the main doors no matter what the weather and talk to the kids and the parents as they were coming and going.

For years I would just say hello and make small talk while I picked up my kids. Of course I was looking forward to seeing my kids but I also used to look forward to my little chats with him. I would also chat with him at the home basketball and volleyball games. My girls played in middle school and he used to make it a point to come and watch the games. I never knew it would go any farther than that. I figured once my kids left middle school that would be it.

But high school changed all that.

My girls played basketball and volleyball and so did his daughter. All 3 of my kids are in band and so was his son. So I would see him and his wife Lisa at the events and pretty soon I started sitting with them. I started to look forward to seeing them as much as I looked forward to watching my kids participate in sports or band.

Then they started inviting me to their parties. I usually pass on things like that as I'm a little shy, but I went to theirs because they made me feel wanted. I have always had a good time at their parties and that usually never happens. I've had them over to my place and made them dinner.

Just when things were getting good they moved to Colorado Springs. Greg got a better position and it was great move for him. They were gone by August of 2005 and I had only spoken with them a couple of times since then and I missed them a lot.

But you know how life is. You get busy and pretty soon you start letting things slip. I didn't see them at all, I just talked to them on the phone every once and a while.

Lucky for me I worked at the club in Colorado Springs last week. When I told them I was going to be there they insisted that I stay with them. I took them up on the offer and had a great weekend with them.

It reminded me of important they are to me and how much I missed them. I'm not going to lose touch with them again.

I was reminded that good friends are hard to find and I need to keep those relationships strong.

I hope you will do the same.