On the road again to the final hotel of the tour. I have stayed there before. I arranged for the club to get the hotel at a special rate years ago. It was an upgrade from the previous hotel the comics stayed at. This hotel blows. We walk in and the giant gum ball machine in the lobby is still chained to the wall. The glass is still bullet proof. The pool is still a puddle in the parking lot. My soul is still crushed every time I come here. Comics really are low maintenance as far as entertainers go. At least on my level. A decent hotel is one thing I want. It shows you care. This place shows we are as loved as much as a rabid pitbull.
My bill is more then it is suppose to be by a few dollars. It is sad that a few dollars means so much but it does. Gas is $4 a gallon all of the sudden. It has gone up 30 cents in just a few days. This is going to cost more then I thought. This string of gigs I actually have to shell out some money for the hotel. That is rare. I email the booker and she says she will take care of it. I believe she will try. She is a nice lady. I don’t know if it will be resolved in my favor.
Joe asks for an iron. My rule is if the club can’t put me in a hotel with an iron in it then I can’t be bothered to iron my clothes for your audience. It is a solid way to justify my laziness and indifference. Joe on the other hand does not want to hit the stage with a wrinkly bowling shirt. When he asks at the front desk they seemed shocked by this request. They slide him an ironing board through the bullet proof glass window. There is no pad for the board. Apparently you can trade that for crack in these parts. The lady is wondering why we are still there. Joe has to ask separately for the iron. Joe is a pain in the ass like that.
After a week of radio silence I hear from my girlfriend in Africa. It is always nice to hear from somebody that loves me as much as the club I am working for this weekend. In both cases I push down my contempt and smile and play nice. One for the radio and one for the pay check. In both cases it goes against my urge to tell them exactly what I am thinking. It occurs to me just now that as truthful as I am the more and more I am really just a player in the game of charades.
We head on over to 1470 AM to do an interview to promote our Sunday comedy show. It is with Tom Sumner. I did a phone in interview with him over a year ago. They do not have an internet stream which strikes me as very odd. Anyway, Tom is great. He knows how to interview a comic properly. We are not running bits…although Joe inadvertently gets set up for one. I see the look in his eye and step aside and let him do his bit. I tag it and to the radio fan it all comes across very organic. The hour and a half flies by. That is good radio when that happens. We discuss doing a cross promotion between our two shows. That would be cool. Tom is an old radio vet but he still gets it. I want that for me someday.
We get to the club. We are greeted with excitement of a herpetic outbreak. I like the club. I hate the apathy. The crowd fills in nicely. It is an older crowd. I see a man wearing a purple shirt with a camoflouge hat. Later I will point him out and say that he is a man that is on both sides of the Chick-fil-A issue. It gets a huge laugh. I find out we are doing a second show. I am pleased because it means we get paid for it. The manager is not. She wants to go home. She complains about Groupon and coupons. I told her we promoted the show. She said our promotion did nothing. She has no idea what exactly our promotion did. It will remain that way.
The microphone is hanging from the ceiling like you are about to announce a prize fight. There is not enough chord to move. They spend thousands on Christmas lights to decorate the inside but a decent mic chord is too much. Sigh. Joe tries to move with the mic and the chord becomes unhooked. He will get a talking to for that error later. Joe is rolling and gets several applause breaks. They are digging his angry rah, rah stuff. They should because this is the demo it is written for. On these types of shows Joe is a very powerful act.
I hit the stage and they are a very pc group, Not my type of audience but I am the headliner and it is my job to figure it out. I push them, cajole, them, and prod them. I will not come to them. They will come to me. They do come to me. By the end they are right on board. It is more work then I cared for but by all accounts the audience loved the show. This will not translate into sales of merchandise. It has been a brutal tour for merch but times are tough.
In between shows Joe is a bit more pleased then he expected with his meal. But Joe is very displeased about the mic chord and the indifference. He thinks this is terrible and out of the ordinary. As for me, I am use to caring much more about the product then the people who run the place so it is just another day at the office. I know at this point comics are expected to create a magical memory for the audience while everybody else can’t be bothered to strive for average. My meal is good so I have that going for me.
We are told that this show is to be only an hour long because the owner does not want to pay the manager another hour for her hourly wage. I don’t know how feel about that. Once I am at the gig I like performing. I feel every audience deserves a full show but I get that he doesn’t want to lose money on this. Whatever, like the Germans I will just follow orders.
It is a crowd of 14, younger, and not married. Joe is thrown. He is flustered by everything and it is showing. He is not use to the grind that the road is. He is not use to the apathy. He is not use to the variety. I grew up on the road so this is just Friday late show to me. Another audience, another job to do. He knows not to do the marriage set. He has enough other material where he does not have to do the marriage stuff. He stubbornly does a lot of marriage stuff and getting older even though this crowd is full of youngsters. I have done the same thing on many occasion myself. Ignore the brain and plow ahead. I laugh when one of his signature bits gets nothing from the crowd. There is nothing better then seeing one of your buddies struggle on stage. Joe is getting mad and yells at me. I yell back at him and get a laugh. I can tell Joe has had enough of this audience and this place for one night.
I hit the stage and mess around with the audience a bit. I goof on the fact that because of the mic chord I can’t cover the whole very small stage. The audience laughs. I have made a point. I am sure either the manager does not care or will complain to the booker about me. I know the drill. Increasingly I am a meteor crashing to earth. The flame is hot, the speed is fast but eventually it will end in a crash. That is my comedy career right now. I no longer have a filter or a desire to filter.
Joe is in no mood and yells something about a cop joke I have being stock. He does it as he is walking out. I proceed to eviscerate his stock joke about in our day parents let us play with dangerous things. I get much more laughs mocking that joke then Joe did with it on this show. I do not do the cop joke on this show. I am just riffing and I mention that this club never has any black clientle. Later I mention the ghost that resides here. An audience member says that the black people are afraid of ghosts. I say that is because they are called spooks. Gets a huge laugh. Joe walks back in and all the sudden the crowd goes quiet. It takes a few minutes but I get them back. Joe & I yell at each other during the show. The crowd digs it. Joe is laughing his ass off. I catch the manager yawning and call her on it.
The small little crowd is having a great time but they have called last call and the audience is not pleased about this. They know they are not getting a full show. This I can’t control. I do my I will survive bit where I sing. The song is getting a great reaction. Inexplicably I decide to McClintonize the song half way through it. Joe is losing his shit in a good way in the back. The audience is laughing. They laugh more when I explain why I am doing it. I liked this show. I liked this group.
The manager tells me I am her second least favorite comic. Her least favorite has been banned. I am not sure if she is kidding. I know the audience has enjoyed me both shows but I also know that means nothing in this business. I tell the manager I look forward to the email from the booker asking me what the hell did I do.
Joe is in no mood at all. We go next door to the bar we went to last year. I buy Joe a beer. Things are looking up. The five he has lusted after for over a year no longer works there. Joe has had a bad day. Fortunately for Joe I know there will be other shows where he will kill and there will be other fives that will bring him a beer so it will be ok for my pal.
As for me, well two hours of sleep and I am awake. Joe is reliving his days as a lumberjack and cutting wood in his bed. Now my night sucks. I fight the urge to smother him with a pillow. There are still some tanks of gas to fill up so he is still of use to me. His wife will have to wait to collect the insurance for a few more days.