Adventures In Obscurity

Saturday October 29th, 2011 – Manteno, IL/Watseka, IL

What a super size assortment of obscure out of the way places I’ve gotten to experience live and in person during my years on the road. I’ve seen small towns, burgs, and villages with my own eyes Mr. Rand and Mr. McNally have only heard about in a memo. I’ve had an amazing opportunity to see and taste the apple pie of real America, one bite at a time.

And not only seen, performed standup comedy – the most difficult performing art of all. It’s hard enough to wander into some off the interstate little out of the way pimple on the ass of some county seat without having to make the locals laugh and then wait to get paid.

It’s been an adventure to say the least, and I never would have experienced any of it had I chosen to work a civil service job like most of my immediate family. My father and my uncle both wasted their lives counting the days to their retirement, and when it came they never made an attempt to chase any dreams they may have had. At least I made an effort.

I’m not rich or famous yet, at least not in money. I have had a wealth of experience, and I think that should count for something. I’ve met some wonderful people and gotten to eat some delicious food and tried to make the world at least a tiny bit happier than I found it.

Tonight was another one for the archives. Tim Slagle inherited a booking opportunity at a theatre in Watseka, IL. I live in Illinois, and I never heard of Watseka before yesterday. I don’t have a clue how to tell you how to get there, but I know it‘s kind of near Kankakee.

The Watseka Theatre is a beautiful old structure that’s been renovated and is owned by a super nice couple who are now booking events. They’ve got bands and singers and want to do comedy shows too. I love working in theatres like that, there’s a lot of history there.

Tim Slagle and I rode together and once again it was fun to hang out with someone who knows what the road life is about. He’s been doing it longer than me, but once one gets to a certain point it doesn’t matter anymore. The road is the road, and it becomes a lifestyle.

We stopped on the way in Manteno, another small town, to have lunch with our mutual comedian friend Harry Hickstein. Harry is another comedy lifer, and one of the sweetest human beings I can think of. He’s called ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ because of his size, but it should be because of his heart. The guy is a constant giver, to the point of not having for himself.

Harry plays Santa every year for hospice patients, but it mostly cheers up their families who have had a lot of sadness dealing with death. He’s been doing it for years, and needs a new ‘elf’. He asked me to do it this year, and I had to say yes. It will be an experience.

People like Harry and Tim today and John Knight and Nick Gaza yesterday are part of a  group of people unknown by the public who have my perpetual respect. They’ve all given their lives to make others laugh, and aren’t recognized on a large scale. The people in the Watsekas of the world need people to entertain them, even if nobody knows their names.


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