Dress Rehearsal


Friday January 6th, 2012 – St. Cloud, MN

Back on the road for the first time in a while, but at least I have a battle plan in place to make it more tolerable. The last few months I’ve been keeping it closer to home, maybe a 200 mile radius of Chicago. Today, it was 470 miles one way to St. Cloud, MN and that’s a significant difference. It’s a big time haul, and halfway there I questioned my decision.

In the old days, I made trips like this with little effort. In fact, anything under 500 miles was considered ‘close’. I would show up literally anywhere in the Continental U.S. where there was a microphone, a few dozen people and a payday – not necessarily in that order. I did it for the adventure of travel, the thrill of the stage and I needed the experience then.

I took this gig for other reasons. One, I like the booking agents and they can have a hard time getting people to drive this far on short notice. With gas prices the way they’ve been in the last few years, comedians have really suffered to the point of extinction. It’s a bitch.

The margin of being able to make a living depends on keeping expenses low, or at least manageable. That’s always been a challenge, even when gas was half of what it is now. In these times, finding people to make long drives for low money is getting to be impossible.

The pay scale for a gig like this is never going to change. It is what it is, and we all have the option to take it or leave it. The club has to make money or they can’t continue having comedy. The booker needs to make a buck too, and that doesn’t leave a lot for anybody.

This particular gig has been going for years, probably at least twenty or more. It’s a nice little Friday and Saturday in a college town, and the locals have been trained to see shows at this location. It’s a place called ‘Rum Runners‘, and they have a comedy room upstairs.

I’ve found the people here to be very polite as a whole, and they enjoy comedy. Once in a while there can be some drunken idiots, but that goes with the territory. More often than not, they come to see the show. I gambled that would be the case this week, as I wanted to nail down the set list order for my DVD recording next week. This was my practice run.

I was able to bring my own opener, so I chose Steve Purcell from Madison, WI. We like hanging out, and he’s a low maintenance to travel partner which is key. He enjoys getting out of the house once in a while, and he has a day job so it’s like a mini vacation to him.

We had some laughs in the car, and the weather was spectacular for January in the snow belt. It was sunny and in the mid 50s, and for two native cheese heads it was like taking a trip to Florida for Spring Break. Still, it was a marathon and I realize this isn’t my future.

The plan was to run through my set in order, and I did exactly that. The audience was as friendly as I remember, and it allowed me to have some leeway to experiment. I’m always looking to tweak or improve any joke, and sometimes I’ll ad lib something when the vibe is right like it was tonight. I feel very good about my set, and I’ll be ready for next week.

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