The Flip Side


Friday May 3rd, 2013 – Marion, OH

   One thing a life in standup comedy isn’t is boring. Stressful? Maddening? Insane? There’s a bit of all those ingredients and many others, but one thing comedy surely isn’t is the same old thing. One night it’s a hot show for a packed house, but we sleep on a couch. The next night it’s a four star hotel, but we’re performing for twelve people at a VFW Hall with horrific sound and lights.  

   The next night after that we’re off, and the night after that we’ve got two shows – one is a blast but the other is a train wreck. Sometimes we fly to a gig, most times we drive. Sometimes there’s an opening act, other times there’s not. There are limitless possibilities, and we as comedians can never fully predict what a situation will be like until we’re in it. Adaptability is a necessary trait.   

   Last night I was in Danville, IL in front of a receptive crowd. I stayed in a Fairfield Inn, and it was a pleasant experience all around onstage and off. I sold a pile of CDs and DVDs that almost matched the amount I earned for the evening, but my pay for this gig was low in the first place.

   I took last night’s booking because it was within reasonable distance of tonight – a completely different scenario. Tonight’s show was in an entertainment complex in a strip mall that is trying standup comedy in a space they usually book bands. Comedy is still new, and final count was 14 in a space that could seat 150ish. And there was no opening act tonight, it was just little old me.

   I had the option of bringing an opener, but I chose to do the time myself and keep the cash for my trouble. There was also more pay, but there was no room provided like last night. We usually get accommodations of some sort, but this particular gig came without and I knew that going in.  

   To make it even harder, the 14 who did show up were scattered all over the room and wouldn’t move even after I asked them politely on three different occasions. The only people sitting in the front row were a couple who were making out the whole time. They were all over each other and it was distracting to everyone else who didn’t stop staring. I chose to ignore it and do my show.

   There was a party of four who insisted on sitting in the very last row and refused to budge from that position no matter how pleasantly I asked and eventually how much I rode them about it. It’s difficult enough to do comedy successfully under ideal conditions, but this made it impossibility.

   On top of all that, before the show I had an experience I can’t ever remember having – and I’ve had a lot. As I got out of my car to fill my tank for the ride home, I somehow managed to tear my pants right up the crotch. I laughed out loud when it happened, but I was without a backup plan.

   It was ten minutes before show time, and no clothing stores were open in Marion, OH. I wasn’t packed for a long trip and all I could do was keep my legs closed and hope nobody would notice. It’s a good thing there were only 14 people, and the people in front weren’t concerned about me.

   This was one of those nights when all one can do is suck it up and get it over with. I suspected it might be difficult when I took the gig, but I had no idea it would be like this. I slowed my pace and did my time despite the conditions, and I earned every penny of my pay which I gladly took.

   I got in my car with my split pants, and headed for home. I need to be up early to host an event at Harper College in the morning and then a charity auction in Milwaukee at night. This schedule is a bit ridiculous even for me, but sometimes it works that way. The road life is not an easy one.

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