Way Up Nort’

Saturday July 18th, 2009 – Manitowish Waters, WI

I was born and raised in Wisconsin and I thought I’d at least heard of every city or town or village or backwoods barnyard boil on the buttocks of the state map if not have worked a show there but tonight I played a locale even I never knew existed. Quite the fluke it is.

I’ve inhaled the pungent aroma of fresh Guernsey dung in my home state from Oshkosh to Crivitz to Dickeyville to Wabeno to good old Embarrass. Those are all very real places and I’ve been there in the flesh in all of them at one point in an as of yet not so illustrious career as a traveling minstrel of mirth and merriment. I’ve played places maps don‘t list.

Tonight I added Manitowish Waters to that quasi-illustrious chronicle and that’s not to be confused with plain old Manitowish. Manitowish Waters is a bustling suburb growing out of the overflow of the fives of people who chose Manitowish as their dream hangout.

This gig was tacked on to the casino I’m doing tomorrow night in Harris, MI which is a few miles outside of Escanaba. I’ve been there before and I thought that one was way out in the sticks but this one makes that one look like Ceasars Palace in Vegas. I rode up with my friend Steve Purcell and I’m glad I did. I might have gotten lost if I’d gone by myself.

Steve lives in Stoughton, WI which is right outside of Madison. He took my class a few years ago and has stayed with comedy since. I’m glad he did because he’s a very nice guy and all the other comics like him too. Working with guys like that makes runs like this as bearable as they can be. Long hours in a car are hard enough, but with a knob it’s hellish.

Steve is laid back and easygoing and we had a nice conversation about many things as it got later in the day. We drove up U.S. Highway 51 until we were almost out of Wisconsin and stopped at the pizza joint where we were to perform. We swallowed hard and went in to tell whomever we needed to that we were in town and ready to do whatever it is we do.

The actual gig was outdoors on a patio. There were about 40 people sitting everywhere but near the stage area, which was a wooden structure with a roof that reminded me of an extra wide outhouse that was cut in half. There was a single amp and a wireless mike and two red garden lights on the ceiling of the stage area that didn’t really help light anything.

This was about as unprofessional as it gets but what were the options? Do a show or go home. We were so far north there weren’t any Motel 6s within about 200 miles. Steve did his best and more importantly his time and I went up and had to do even more. I used up a lifetime of experience in pulling off a show but I did and it could have been much worse.

It doesn’t do any good to complain because I can’t see this gig lasting long. It was a few bucks I can really use right now and the people running the gig were super nice. They fed us a delicious pizza after the show and put us up in a huge $600,000 house on a lake right in the middle of nowhere. I sure wouldn’t have put comedians there if I owned it but they did and we didn‘t trash anything. This wasn’t the best gig ever but it did come with perks.

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