Posts Tagged ‘Joe Lowers’

Shoot Me Now

June 9, 2013

Saturday June 8th, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

   Shoot me now. Please. Anyone who has a few spare bullets lying around, could you please go find your gun and pump a few rounds in the back of my head while I’m sleeping? Sell whatever organs you can on Ebay, and keep the money. I’m on the wrong planet, and I want to go home.

   My every fear and more about comedy contests came true tonight, and I’m feeling about as low and useless as a poodle’s pecker in a kennel full of pit bulls. Tonight was the finals of the World Series of Comedy at Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL, and it couldn’t have gone any worse.

   It feels like I got hit in the cup with a blazing fastball – only I wasn’t wearing a cup. This stings to the bone, and makes me question my entire existence. Just yesterday I was in the winner’s seat and feeling fantastic. Less than 24 hours later, I’m on the toilet seat and the bowl is overflowing.

   Absolutely everything went wrong tonight. First, the Chicago Blackhawks game was televised and the whole town is going nuts over it. This reminds me of how it was when the Bulls were on top in the Michael Jordan era. When the playoffs came around, nobody came to comedy clubs or theatres or restaurants or anywhere not a sports bar. It was great for the city, bad for businesses.

   Tonight’s crowd was about a dozen away from being sparse. On top of that, there was a big old bachelorette party in the house – the death knell of comedy shows. They’re usually drunk beyond belief, and rarely shut up during the show. Also there were some twenty somethings right in front that had their arms crossed and were bound and determined not to laugh at anything anyone said.

   We all had eleven minutes tonight vs. seven minutes last night. There were six of us on the bill, and I drew number two. That’s about what it felt like, as they were completely dead. The emcee had a rough time getting them going, and he brought up the first act to piercing silence. He got a bit of response, but his style didn’t prepare them for what I do. I tried to adjust, but I was done.

   These people were flat out DUMB. That happens in a country of more than 350 million people. Once in a while a clump of dimwits gets together, and tonight was it. I pulled out every trick that I could think of, and I finally started to get them about nine minutes in. I had to get off at eleven, so all that did was set them up for the next guy. In a headline set I could have got them over time.

   But this wasn’t a headline set. It was a contest, and all that matters is if someone can get laughs for the time allotted. It doesn’t matter that that’s all the time they have, and past performance has nothing to do with the current situation. That’s what’s so brutal and cruel about contests, and I’ve never liked them. How many times have I ‘lost’ to someone who can’t even do a 30 minute set?

   The truth is, nobody gives half an aardvark’s ass, or the ants he ate for lunch. None of the dolts in this crowd tonight saw the years of hard labor it took to get the chance to try and impress a panel of judges for ten minutes. Had I made the final three, I’d have gone on to the late show and had a 25 minute set with two other finalists. I like my chances a lot in that scenario – but I won’t get it.

   Am I pissed off? Royally beyond belief, but not at Joe Lowers or The World Series of Comedy or Cyndi from Zanies who suggested I sign up. I’m more pissed at myself for making the choices I made that put me in a position to even sign up for this contest in the first place. I should be out there headlining all these clubs, and working any time I want. I know I have the ability, but those people tonight just weren’t my audience. I don’t want them as my audience, but I had no choice.

   This is all part of the cruel randomness of the entertainment grind. Everyone dreams of being a famous singer or actor or comedian, but that dream can turn on and off with ease and it’s located safely inside one’s imagination where the real world doesn’t operate. In life, it’s much harder.

   When it goes like it went tonight, there’s no turning it off. All the way home in my car burning $4.50 a gallon gas, all I could think of were the years of struggle and paying dues that placed me in the position to go up in front of less than half a room full of people who stared blankly at me.

   I felt like a goldfish who was somehow taken out of the bowl and all I could do was look up at the people staring at me, hoping someone would have the presence of mind to throw me back in so I could breathe. Nobody did, and that was it. The feeling of crushing disappointment is about as bad as I’ve ever felt it, and I truly wish I’d never been born. What the hell am I doing here?

   Nobody came over to tell me I did a good job or encourage me like I did last night to every one of the other contestants. I’m not blaming those guys, they were all very funny. The lineup was as solid as I’ve ever seen one for a comedy contest, and the fact that I have more experience than all the rest of them means absolutely nothing. That’s not what was being judged. It was just tonight.

   It was total luck of the draw, and I drew a rotten poker hand tonight. I did the best I could with what I had to work with, but it wasn’t enough to crack the top three I needed to move to the next level for the late show and do 25 minutes. I would have had a huge advantage in that situation, as 25 minutes is like a night off for me. I can do three times that amount of time, and be consistent.

   I doubt if any of those other guys could have matched me over a longer period of time, but that won’t be an issue. It’s over, and only because of dumb luck. It’s like a sports team that wins by a last second fluke play of some sort in a championship game. Nine times out of ten the other team would have won, but in the one time out of ten it was the big game so the underdogs are champs.

   I wish all the winners nothing but the best, and I’m not holding any grudges against anybody or anything like that. I entered the contest of my own free will, and I knew full well anything could happen both good and bad. I took a chance, rolled the dice and got wet mud kicked in my face.

   I don’t know if I can put into words how rotten I feel right now. This one really hurt, but unless one has been a performer and experienced this pain firsthand I’m just wasting keystrokes on my computer. It would be like a woman trying to tell me about childbirth. I will never feel that pain.

   If there is someone reading this that has experienced what I’m talking about, he or she can feel every bit of what I went through tonight. It’s a deep bitter disappointment that takes one’s whole spirit away. It’s like finding out that there’s not only no Santa, but that I owe the fat bastard who has been wearing the suit all these years back pay, suit rental and interest on the toys he brought.

   I’m really beginning to lose faith in just about everything. I wish I could have some optimism, but I just don’t see it. Is that a normal part of growing older, or did something just snap inside of me after taking all these years of all these direct hits? After a while even the nicest puppy bites if someone keeps poking him with a broom stick. I feel like I have been getting poked since birth.

   I wish I had an upbeat thought to end on, but I totally don’t. Not only did I lose out on my shot to get a paid trip to Las Vegas, I also didn’t get paid this week. I spent money on gas getting to a contest I got my ass handed to in. This is not what I pictured life to be. Shoot me now. Please.

Comedy Competition

June 9, 2013

Friday June 7th, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

   If the universe isn’t going to give me a break, I have to go out and make my own. I don’t know why life has gotten to be so difficult right now, but it is. I need to rustle up some work, and that’s one of many cold realities of self employment. Had I opted to suckle the civil service teat like the majority of my family, I’d be able to coast through life collecting  a check. I chose another route.

   While that route may be much more scenic and interesting, there are also a lot more potholes to dodge. Being in business for one’s self is a severe test of endurance, and several skill sets have to be polished to make it all work. Each and every penny any entrepreneur makes is well deserved.

   It’s no secret that right about now I could use a steady stream of income. Four or five would be better, but I’ll settle for a solid trickle for now. I’m willing to work for it, and in fact I’d prefer an opportunity to just practice my craft and make an honest living. That’s been rather tough of late.

   Trying to make lemons out of lemonade, I signed up for the World Series of Comedy contest at Zanies in Rosemont, IL this weekend. I absolutely abhor comedy contests as a rule, and there are many legitimate reasons for it. They can be demeaning, degrading, dysfunctional, humiliating to the bone and almost always the only one who isn’t thoroughly pissed off afterward is the winner.

   Still, I need to get in front of some bookers and that’s what this contest is about. A guy named Joe Lowers out of Pittsburgh moved to Las Vegas and started it from scratch. I give Joe a double thumbs up and all the credit in the world for putting something this big together , and it has been growing every year since he started a few years back. He’s worked like a maniac and it shows.

   I have no qualms with Joe or anyone else at the World Series of Comedy. The grand prize is an opportunity to work about 50 weeks as a feature in several clubs across the country. I’m a strong headliner, but if I get in front of the bookers they’d see I’ve got the chops. I just want the chance.

   Since I was off this week, Zanies manager Cyndi Nelson suggested I enter the contest. She said they had an extra slot, and if I wanted it it was mine. I thought long and hard about it due to all of the horrific experiences I’ve had in the past, but I decided to give it a run. A chance is a chance.

   On this particular show, I drew slot number 7 out of 8 contestants. The others weren’t bad acts, but they weren’t headliners either. No offense to any of them, but I’ve got more road experience than probably all of them put together. I know how to read an audience and how to bring a show to the next level. I have a passing gear those guys don’t have, but it didn’t come without a price.

   I sacrificed everything to acquire that skill, so I absolutely expected to win the contest. I had an excellent spot, and the audience was with me the whole time. I took it up a notch, and since I had seven minutes I packed as much as I could into it and closed on a big pop. I knew I threw heat.

   At the end of the show they announce the winners, and I took first place tonight. I could see the looks of disappointment on the others’ faces, and I’ve been there myself. I went over to each one and complimented them on their act, and meant every word. I’ve been in their position too often.

   This is not a time to gloat or brag. I am very flattered I won tonight, but I should have won. I’m far more experienced than all of these guys, and I’ve earned it. All I want is to get some attention from bookers so I can get back out and earn my living. Tonight went great, but it’s not over yet.