The Other L.A.

Friday October 11th, 2013 – LaCrosse, WI

L. A. The left coast. La-la land. One has to come from Wisconsin to think of LaCrosse and not Los Angeles when those terms are mentioned, but I am. That’s where I performed tonight, and it was a rock solid show. Unfortunately, nobody with showbiz clout will see me here. I need to get to the other L.A. to raise my career status, but for tonight it felt good to be here. I like LaCrosse.

For one, it’s the most scenic city in Wisconsin. That might not say much, but there are hills and the Mississippi River and for cheeseheads it’s a pretty town. I thought it was really great as a kid, but then I started hitting the road and went west. Wisconsin can’t hold a candle to the mountains.

Second, it’s a college town and even though I traditionally haven’t done well for those types of audiences the ones that come out here are almost always good. I’ve played here many times over many years, and more often than not I have had pleasant experiences. Tonight was yet another.

A lot of things are good about this gig. It’s been going a long time, and locals know where it is. It’s in a Midway Motor Lodge on a main drag less than two minutes off the Interstate, and that’s great for everyone. There’s a good restaurant in the hotel so people can eat before the show, and there’s plenty of free parking. There’s also a radio station that interviews the comics on the air.

From a performer’s perspective, those things are all positives. Plus, we get to stay in the hotel which is also a perk. We can literally leave for work a minute before we’re scheduled to be there and make it on time. There’s also a nice pool in the hotel, and all in all it’s a pleasant experience.

There are several places like this around the country, and I’ll bet I’ve played more of them than I missed. Some comedy one nighters come and go, but the stalwart hotel gigs are prized jewels in the life of the road warrior. They’re the gift that keeps on giving, and I am grateful for them all.

These are the joints where careers are built. Wait, check that. These are the joints where a skill set is built. That skill set has to be showcased somewhere – usually New York or Los Angeles – and then a career can happen. The LaCrosses of the world are a very important piece of the pie.

On the way up, it’s a place to cut one’s performance teeth. I’ve done all kinds of shows on this very stage over many years. I started as an opener, and now I’m a solid headliner. I can feel how much I’ve grown, and it feels great. I no longer need the experience, but now the money is nice.

I won’t get rich from this show, but it will pay a bill or two and right about now I totally need every buck I can get. It wasn’t difficult other than having to drive all the way here but I wanted to visit my friend Jim Wiggins and he lives up this way anyway. I was able to make it a win/win, plus I also got to hang out with Bill Gorgo and talk shop the whole trip. It was quite productive.

Still, in the back of my brain I know I’m in the wrong L.A. LaCrosse is a friendly place and I do enjoy performing there but Los Angeles is where things happen and careers are made. There’s a lot going on in New York too, but even with the advent of the internet L.A. is where everybody needs to be known. I had my chance, but I left before I could establish roots. I always intended to go back, but so far circumstances haven’t dictated than I can. When they do, I will gladly return.

LaCrosse - Wisconsin's 'west coast'.

LaCrosse – Wisconsin’s ‘west coast’.

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