Squeaky Clean Comedy


Saturday March 10th, 2012 – Libertyville, IL

I had a small show tonight at the Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. That’s a friendly but tiny space where in all likelihood I’ll never be able to turn a living wage, even though I do enjoy working there. The capacity is 50 or 60 tops, but when it’s full it’s really fun.

Tonight was both full and fun, and the lack of money took a back seat as it usually does when I’m enjoying an experience. It’s a smaller room, and that’s fine. David Stuart is the person who owns it and he wasn’t aiming to create a giant venue. It’s a training space for improvisers and actors and a solid one at that. It’s intimate, comfortable and easy to like.

We’ve tried two or three standup only shows in the space and so far haven’t been able to draw flies. It’s difficult to promote shows from total scratch and expect people to show up for something or someone they’re not familiar with. This venue isn’t known for standup.

As disheartening as it might be, I’m not taking it personally that we haven’t been able to put fannies in seats as of yet. I’m used to not being a draw, so I didn’t take it personally as I might in another situation. This room will have to be built slowly, and that’s a hard fact.

David asked me if I wanted to close a show of long form improvisation. I wish I had an exact definition of exactly what that is, but it was a two man act and they were both quite entertaining. Just because I don’t do something doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate how hard it is to do well. Improv done well isn’t easy, just like standup or acting or any other craft.

It’s a challenge for me to go up and close the show in a situation that’s not what I might be used to in a comedy club. I’ve been around the block a few times, and can handle most every kind of on stage situation imaginable because I’ve faced it numerous times before.

Adding to the challenge tonight was the age range, which was about 7 to 70. Having the dynamic of kids in an audience does change the vibe, as does older people. Tonight’s mix featured both, and that makes it about as difficult as it gets. I didn’t mind, I was prepared.

Working the cruise ship circuit was excellent training, as was living in Utah before that. I had to make major adjustments when I lived in Salt Lake City, and at first I found it very intimidating to have kids in an audience. I had never seen that before, but I got used to it.

Cruise ships were the same way. I hated them at first, but I came around eventually and it made me grow as an entertainer. Now I actually like having kids in the audience, as I’m forced to pay more attention to the moment. It causes me to maintain a complete focus for the whole time I’m on stage, whether I want to or not. That’s good practice, and I need it.

I worked squeaky clean tonight, not even one damn or hell. It’s good business to be able to pull that off, and far too few comedians can do it. If my name is known as one who can pull it off, my money will go up significantly. I could use a brand new solid 45 minutes to one hour, but that’s harder than it sounds. I did do about 35 tonight. That’s a healthy start.

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