Posts Tagged ‘Latitude 39’

Heckling Isn’t Helping

February 16, 2014

Saturday February 15th, 2014 – Indianapolis, IN

The good karma boat has been docking at my port quite often of late, and I’m not complaining. Today I received a call to do a last minute fill in gig in Indianapolis at a place called Latitude 39. It’s a huge entertainment complex with a bowling center, video arcade, restaurants and nightclub.

They book bands in the nightclub space, and have comedy shows on weekends. I worked there last summer, and it was a lot more fun than I expected. I was probably about due for a rebooking anyway, but the call came today because someone wasn’t able to get a flight from the east coast.

Fine by me. I had a super show last night that paid well so my week’s nut was already covered. This was found money, and who these days couldn’t use some of that? Indy is an easy drive, and I was able to get Dan Morris as the opener. It happened to be his birthday, and he wasn’t booked.

I really like Dan, onstage and off. He is very intelligent, even for a comedian. Believe it or not, that’s one trait that is virtually universal in comedians. Some of us may play an idiot character on stage, but very few if any successful comedians are dumb in real life. We might do dumb things – and I’ve tiptoed through those tulips many times – but we’re not dumb people. It can’t happen.

To perform comedy successfully, one must not only grasp a given concept or topic but also put a comedic twist at the end to get the laugh. That requires above average intelligence, even though the public would probably think otherwise. Believe it or not, it takes a smart whip to play stupid.

Dan is a college graduate, and reads a lot of books. He has a good relationship with his parents, and has worked in the corporate world for nonprofit organizations for years. He understands how marketing works, and works hard at it. Those just aren’t the ingredients of the typical comedian.

He started a little late, but he’s only in his 30s and has been doing it five years. He’s funny, but like all of us needs steady work to polish his persona. He’s still finding himself on stage, and that can be a painful process at times. Some nights it just doesn’t go well, and there’s no avoiding it.

Tonight wasn’t Dan’s best night, and I felt bad for him. I know he was giving them everything he had, but they just weren’t buying it. They didn’t hate him, but I don’t think they got anything he was trying to do. He struggled through like a trooper, and I’ve been there many times myself.

I’ve got a lot more experience, so I knew what buttons to push with these people. I was able to get them going up front, as I have a much higher energy level than most openers. That’s just how I work, and nights like tonight it really helps. I was able to take them to a higher level in a hurry.

What Dan didn’t have to deal with was a loud heckler who would NOT shut up. Why he had to wait until I got on is a mystery, but he kept yelling one word things like “CHEESEHEAD!” and “PACKERS!” for no discernible reason. After about twelve interruptions, it got to be a bit much.

I sliced him to shreds without being mean, and that shows how much I’ve grown. At one time I would have gone for the throat, but I knew it wasn’t worth it. This was free money, and I took it. And of course the halfwit had to come up afterward to say how much he’d “helped” me. Thanks!

Latitude 39 is a spectacular entertainment complex with locations in several cities. I happened to be in Indianapolis tonight, and it's a gorgeous facility. www.latitude360.com.

Latitude 39 is a spectacular entertainment complex with locations in several cities. I happened to be in Indianapolis tonight, and it’s a gorgeous facility. http://www.latitude360.com.

Dan Morris is an up and coming Chicago comedian. He does very intelligent humor, and is a super nice guy. Watch for him! www.danmorriscomedy.com.

Dan Morris is an up and coming Chicago comedian. He does very intelligent humor, and is a super nice guy. Watch for him! http://www.danmorriscomedy.com.

If you ever go see live standup comedy, no matter what the beers you've consumed tell you - talking back to the comedian is NOT helping. Can it.

If you ever go see live standup comedy, no matter what the beers you’ve consumed tell you – talking back to the comedian is NOT helping. Can it, or suffer the consequences.

Indy Excellence

July 8, 2013

Saturday July 6th, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN 

   I can’t say enough good things about the booking I have this weekend. Everything is absolutely outstanding, and I want to give credit where credit is due. These people are making an effort that I have rarely seen, and I hope they get paid off handsomely for their investment. They deserve it.

   Somebody stuck a LOT of money into this business. They have other locations in Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and soon to be in the western Chicago suburbs from what I hear. I’m not sure if that’s all the locations they plan to open and it’s none of my business, but they’ve put out a lot of cash.

   They’re promoting a concept of a one stop entertainment center, and it’s totally top shelf. They have an amazing variety of video games, a first rate bowling center, a sports bar with a delicious food menu and world class video system, and a live theatre setup where the comedy shows are.

   They also have live bands, and an excellent one was playing as we left the venue tonight. They recently booked Kelly Clarkson in the comedy room, and she drew extremely well from what the G.M. told us. This is no rinky dink setup, and I respect those who took the risk. It’s very gutsy.

   They’re doing it right, and it shows. They’re getting some very solid comedy acts such as Carl LaBove who was best friends with Sam Kinison. I love Carl both as a person and performer, and I see he’ll be here in a couple of weeks. I’m flattered to be booked at a venue of this high caliber.

   This doesn’t seem to be the time to launch a mega venture like this, but then again maybe it’s a perfect time for it. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a clueless pinhead as far as business acumen goes, so if I can’t see an idea clearly it probably means it will be a big time success. I hope this one is.

   Everyone to a person that we dealt with this weekend treated us like big stars from the General Manager Michael Curatolo down to the bus boys in the restaurant where they provided meals for us each night. The entire staff couldn’t have been nicer, and that made it a treat to perform here.

   Brian Hicks is an easygoing laid back chap just as I try to be, and together I can’t think of two more low maintenance comedians anywhere. Still, it felt great to be treated like this and we were not about to abuse it. We went out of our way to say thank you and leave tips when appropriate.

   Indianapolis has always been one of my favorite places to perform, but I haven’t been here in a long time. There has been a bumper crop of excellent comedy venues here since I started, and the town as a whole has been supportive of them all. I’m grateful to get an opportunity to come back, and I hope it’s not the last time. A booking like this makes being a comedian the best job around.

   What isn’t so great is trying to string them together and flesh out a whole year. If it worked like this every week, life would be peachy. It did for a long time, but not anymore. I wish I could find a way to clone gigs like this one, the Zanies clubs in Chicago and Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase. 

   This week and last week in Ann Arbor really helped to bail out my summer, and I hope to keep the momentum going and hit the ground running into fall. Two weeks in a row is a nice little run, and having them in quality places like this makes life fun again. This is how it should always be.

   Because it isn’t, I’m going to be extra thankful for all the perks this week from the luxury hotel to the delicious meals to the state of the art sound and light system. www.latitude39indy.com.