Posts Tagged ‘U.P.’

Staying Humble

March 12, 2013

Saturday March 9th, 2013 – Menomonee, MI

   Every time I think I’ve almost figured out this whole ‘comedy thing’, a rough show comes out of the blue to jolt me right back into reality. No matter how long anyone is in this game, there are going to be glitches and unavoidable rough patches. The smart thing to do is shut up and let it go.

I had a brutal show tonight in Menomonee, MI which is right over the border of Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’ve had a lot of shows in the U.P. lately, and that’s always the smart thing to schedule in winter. As if comedy isn’t hard enough, let’s add horrific weather too!

Unfortunately, that’s just where the bookings happened to have been this time around. I’m sure I’ll get some nice work in the heart of Texas in July, and then I’ll be pining for snow drifts above the roof of my car as I slowly bake in my own juices when it’s 99 at night with 99% humidity.

Until then, I have to deal with Old Man Winter and all of his treachery. It was clear sailing for most of the drive north, but of course it started sleeting toward the end as I got nearer to the town and that always cranks up the old stress-o-meter farther than it needs to go on a drive that I don’t want to make in the first place. When peeing in Green Bay is a highlight, it isn’t a pleasure trip.

I had no idea what to expect for this particular show, as it was booked by an agent out of North Carolina that doesn’t normally book shows in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I get along fine with the booker, but he’s more known for his college bookings of which I’ve never been a player even when I was that age. Certain acts play better in certain venues, and colleges aren’t my forte.

I took the gig a couple of months ago, as I had nothing on the books to speak of. Since then it’s been a very good year so far, with a lot of last minute bookings coming my way. I didn’t know it when this came calling, so I took it as a safety measure to insure I wouldn’t have to sell plasma.

Halfway through my set I was figuring in my head how much I would have been able to get for the plasma. Maybe they would have taken a kidney and/or some sperm too in a package deal. My tolerance for rough gigs is getting lower as I get older but a professional sucks it up and shuts up.

The time to bitch in these situations isn’t at the gig itself, it’s at booking time. I accepted a gig in Menomonee, MI in March that was labeled ‘corporate’ that paid a lot less than any ‘corporate’ booking I’ve ever done or seen anyone else do. It was my own fault, and I could have turned the job down when it was offered. It was between starvation and this, so I choose this. It’s all on me.

The people themselves weren’t bad at all. This was a Christmas party for some auto workers in the U.A.W. and they were not mean or vicious. There were a lot of them that felt a need to speak incessantly through the entire show, and it made it rough to keep those listening fully engaged.

There was a bad sound system and poor lighting arrangement too. It wasn’t my place to whine about it to anyone, and I did my very best with what I had to work with. Nobody complained, but this wasn’t what I want to be doing this far into the game. Sometimes it’s better to just say no.

What Did I Expect?

February 24, 2013

Friday February 22nd 2013 – Sault Ste. Marie, MI/Fox Lake, IL

   Well, I asked for it. Anyone who dares to drive to Sault Ste. Marie, MI in February is tempting the fates. I have no idea how or why anything of or close to having human DNA would consider living that far north, but they do. Massive snow is part of their lives so they better get used to it.

I knew I had lucked out big time on the drive yesterday, as there was not one flake of snow on the roads the entire 500 mile trip. Today I paid for it and then some with white out conditions the whole way through the Upper Peninsula, but I didn’t complain as I knew what I was getting into.

I volunteered for this run, and this kind of hazard goes with the territory. It’s not like it’s a new thing, I’ve been a road warrior for decades. On the way up the ladder newbies get their bookings when and where they can and that often means doing Duluth in December and Austin in August.

I’m fine with all of it, as it’s part of paying one’s dues. All most of us ask for as comedians is a fair chance to eventually move up the ladder but too often it never comes. I can think of a booker who used to rule the Midwest for years who was notorious for making people drive though brutal conditions – often on extremely short notice – but never ever returning any favors down the road.

Countless aspiring comedians over those years risked life and limb taking treacherous trips like I took today hoping for a chance for advancement that never came. Then that wank wonders why most comedians view him as a slave driver and bad guy, but this is nothing like that. I feel great.

I’m a short timer on this list. I’ve paid dues upon dues upon interest on those dues. I’ve learned my craft and am rapidly improving my business skills too. I sense a payoff around the corner and it’s very exciting. I’m going to enjoy every minute and focus on all the good I can do for others.

I was able to save the day for two people I like and respect, and if driving through the snow for an afternoon will accomplish that I’d do it 1000 times out of 1000. Nobody died, and I’m back to civilization to continue working on fun stuff. Yes it cost me a day, but I’m so far behind as it is it doesn’t really matter. I am making lots of progress, and after further review this was still correct.

Joe San Felippo of Bonkerz Comedy Clubs has thrown me work over the years and I’m sure he will do it again. He helped me get the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show booked into the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino for April, so this was not an issue. There’s reciprocation involved.

The headliner for this run is a comedy magician from Las Vegas named Kyle Marlett. I picked him up in Milwaukee and we drove up and back. He’s only 21, but has appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’ and has his own show in Las Vegas. He’s very talented, but I don’t think he was ready for the brutal conditions of what being a road act is all about. He has dues to pay like everyone else.

I’m glad I agreed to do this, as now it’s over and I can move on. I did my good deed, and hope it might put a few coins in my karma bank so when I need a favor there will be someone who can step in on my behalf and save the day. There are no guarantees of that, but it sure would be nice.