A Night In Wilkes-Barre
This weekend I featured on a one night show at Wisecrackers in Wilkes-Barre, PA which felt like Old Detroit in Robocop, but with fewer people. It was a typical weekend of luxury in the life of a comedian: Martz Trailways round trip bus, fully equipped with stainless steel toilet (unless you count brown streak marks as “stains,” a night in a double bed at a Best Western (No HBO – but who the fu*k do I think I am anyway) and a show in front of 30 people with a 2×1 sign on stage saying Wisecrackers (broken into two words because the sign was too small to accommodate the name of the club.
I arrived at the Wilkes Barre bus terminal at 620 pm, in plenty of time for the 9pm show. Conveniently, the hotel was one block from the bus terminal so I did not have to walk far. The town had the look of an old west town that had been abandoned because of lack of water or the criminals were running the show. It may have just been because I was in the municipal part of the town and being that it was Saturday everything was shut down except for the Rite Aid and McDonald’s (and the hotel “bar/nightclub,” which would also be where the continental breakfast would be served so you could get your date rape and french toast all within the same 500 square feet.
So for dinner, given the choice between Rite Aid and McDonald’s I opted for McDonald’s, where my height was greeted by bewildered children and adults alike. I felt like Indiana Jones arriving in that impoverished town in India in Temple of Doom. So after answering the question “How tall are you?” three times with the word “very,” I made my way back to the Best Western I noticed a fight at the Salvation Army next door. I was intrigued because there appeared to be about 65 people getting out of some meeting of some kind and the few people yelling seemed like they were going to come to blows. It was a white chick being held back by a black chick, while yelling at a black dude (sort of like an uglied up scene from Hustle and Flow). Here is the conversation I heard:
White Woman: Oh yeah, oh yeah, then why did you fu*k me when you was fu*king her?
Black guy: What? When did I fu*k you? When did I fu*k you? When? I never fu*ked you!
White Woman: You telling me you never fu*ked me!
Just then a woman with a 2 year old in a stroller walked by and we looked at each other smiling and I said, “Put the earmuffs on.” At the time I assumed it would be the funniest thing I would say in Wilkes-Barre.
Conversation continued and all I heard as I turned the corner was,
Black Guy: Man, you lucky they here…
So having had the full tour of downtown Wilkes-Barre I was ready for the show. Turns out that Wilkes-Barre was not ready for the show. Only about 30 people showed up (which on the plus side was about half capacity for the tiny room). But they turned out to be a really good crowd. They laughed, they bought a few CDs and no one threw anything at me so it was a good time. The only two disturbing things to happen at the club were only comedian related.
The first thing was that the emcee introduced me as having been “on Bill Maher” (which either means I was on Real Time or that I was doing drastic things to make it in comedy), but it was the headliner who had “opened for Bill Maher” (and since she was a woman I guess the same thing could be said for her). The second thing was that while I was on stage the headliner got into a quiet argument with a young comedian, who was doing a guest spot, who was taking notes during my set. He claimed to her that he was just working on his own set, and I have no reason to think otherwise, but if I ever hear one of my jokes coming out of Pennsylvania there will be Clint Eastwood-Unforgiven level style of hell to pay. But for your enjoyment here is one of the new bits I was working on Saturday night.