Rising Star Return

Monday September 10th, 2012 – Chicago, IL

   After a few months of being away, I hosted the ‘Rising Star Showcase’ at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago this evening. There are routinely two each month, usually the first two Mondays. I’ve not done them in a while because it’s an issue getting back and forth since I moved to the sticks.

From where I live now, it’s about 50 miles one way from my driveway to Zanies. When I lived in Chicago it was less than 5 miles, and that’s a significant difference. I used to be able to hop on a city bus a block from home, and it dropped me off two blocks from Zanies – a bargain for $2.

Driving presents a whole other issue. In any big city it’s a pesky hassle at best, but the Chicago streets are Thunder Dome. Between potholes, maniac cab drivers and red light cameras that snap pictures of license plates in intersections, it’s a constant sensory overload to maneuver anywhere.

Finding legal and affordable parking spots is another nightmare. Bloodthirsty ticket writers are out en masse, always looking for their next victim. They prowl the street just waiting for a meter to expire, and no matter how much anyone complains they’ll finish the ticket anyway. Bastards.

There’s a valet parking option, but that gets expensive too. There’s a parking lot just two doors from Zanies that costs $12. When I first started out it was $6, and stayed that way for years. Then it kept going up and up and now it’s double the cost in just a few years. It reminds me of postage rates, and that’s maddening too. Prices are doubling everywhere, but what I get paid is the same.

Still, I love to work so I showed up anyway. There was a hole in the schedule tonight so I filled it. It never hurts to get on the Zanies stage, as every comedian in Chicago would love to be doing exactly what I’m doing. I don’t take it for granted, nor do I disrespect any of the acts performing.

All of the acts on the show are there to be seen by Bert Haas, who is the booker. He’s very rare in the fact that he actually watches the performers and gives them a belly to belly critique. That’s not at all how most other bookers do it, and I respect Bert greatly for putting in the effort. He has been giving up free Mondays for years to do this, and I can’t think of many others who’d do that.

I’ve had to do auditions for years, and know what it feels like to get treated poorly. I’ve had to drive hundreds of miles, and then show up and go onstage without a shower or chance to prepare or relax before the show. I’ve had bookers fail to show up, or be in the other room when I was on and miss my set. That’s unbelievably frustrating, especially after driving several hundred miles.

It’s all part of the process, and anyone who has lasted as long as I have has similar stories and a lot of them. It can be such an icy cold business, and I see no real reason for it other than the ones doing it know they can get away with it. Bert making a point to watch the acts is quite refreshing.

I feel I owe it to the acts to give them a stellar introduction, and I do my best to do exactly that. I know what it’s like to have my name mispronounced, or be announced as being from anywhere but where I’m really from. It was a solid show tonight, and I enjoyed getting back in the groove.


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