Last week I toured some of the South with members of Comedians at Law. We never officially decided on a name for our Southern tour stops, but since we were visiting clubs in Nashville and Atlanta and Vanderbilt Law School I had thought that perhaps “Southern Places with Teeth Tour” would have been a solid choice. I was closing the show at Zanies in Nashville on Wednesday, going up first after the emcee in Atlanta on Thursday and middling at Vanderbilt Law School on Friday.
Wednesday, after the smoothest flight I have ever been on, the three of us went to see Mama. There were four of us in the theater. Three comedians and a random guy who came into the theater and sat 4 seats away from me. I know this pet peeve has been beaten into the ground, but seriously, why in a theater of 500+ seats would you have to sit within the top .5% seats away from me? The movie had a good premise, was scary for about an hour and twenty minutes and then fell apart in the last twenty. This is also known as JJ Abrams-ing something.
The show at Zanies was solid. The green room was stocked with lots of delicious candies, at least before I arrived. I ate so much candy my set list got diabetes. The crowd was medium sized, both in quantity of people and waist-line measurements. I had a very good set and sold a couple of CDs and a couple of “LiveANGRY” wristbands. And the night ended with me getting a bed to myself in a two bed-three comedian situation (this was the case for two of the three nights, but when traveling with two Jews who have a combined weight of less than one massive gentile, getting the bed to yourself is a perk).
It should be noted that with two Jews and a man of (some) color driving around the South I thought “Mississippi Burning” would have been a decent name for our Southern Tour, but the other guys thought it too offensive.
The next day we headed to Atlanta for our gig at The Punchline. We stopped in Chattanooga, TN for a late (1pm) breakfast and it was delicious. Chattanooga, TN, as we would surmise from our two trips through the town, is basically the Williamsburg, Brooklyn of the South (they hate black people ironically). In all seriousness it seems to be a growing town with a mix of Williamsburg and a generic college town. The only disappointing thing about the place where we stopped, the Bluegrass Grill, was that they were out of biscuits. We felt it was our obligation to eat some biscuits in the south and were denied. That is like walking into a NYC steakhouse and being told they are out of rich, fat white men.
The Show at the Punchline went well, as far as I could tell. But that is because I did my set, left to laughter and then went to IHOP on an immediate solo mission. I was starving and the other two guys had already made their IHOP hatred known, so I knew a post-show trip was unlikely. I sat down in IHOP and ordered my usual (milkshake, sausages, pancakes and an extra large casket). The food came and I ate happily until, towards the end of my meal, the waitress asked me something that only one other human had ever asked me:
“One of the guys wants to know if you are the guy from Subway?”
Sadly they did not mean Justin Tuck or Michael Phelps. This mystery person meant Jared. Fu*king Jared. One other person has ever come up with that comparison. There are certain factors that contribute to these rare instances:
- I have to be wearing my glasses.
- I have to have grown out my hair – no buzz cut
- The person who makes this observation is incredibly stupid.
- The person who makes this observation has nothing to live for.
So for only the second time in my life all four of these factors must have been satisfied. So after two good shows in the South (which is now my personal record for most good consecutive shows in the South) I was immediately put in check by IHOP. It is not enough that they kill me physically with a heart disease-diabetes 1-2 punch, but now they have brought the fight to my emotional doorstep.
But Atlanta was not quite done with their punishment. I sold a couple of wristbands after the show, no CDs, but got a piece of incredible advice from a patron:
Patron: That was a really great set. I mean really great.
Me: Thanks so much. Glad you Enjoyed.
Patron: But if I can suggest one thing…
Me (internally): Fu*k.
Patron: When you do the Lance Armstrong thing, say “He didn’t have the ball…” you know… because he has one testicle.
Me: Ohhh, hahaha, ok ok.
My eyes: I will fu*king end you.
He liked my set a lot, but thought I could have used a little bit more nuance with an original take on Lance Armstrong’s one testicle. Comedy rules!!!
The next day we left back for Nashville to perform at Vanderbilt Law School. We stopped back in Chattanooga for lunch and went to another web-recommended spot called Aretha Frankenstein’s. We were greeted by a short Indian woman in a knit hat and thick black glasses, a red-headed waitress with a short haircut and several neck tattoos and a cashier with a beard big enough to book him two Comedy Central specials. The food was delicious, the biscuits (we got them!) were large and tasty and the food only took 50 minutes to prepare. They literally took up our entire time difference in the Atlanta-Nashville time zone change with their hipster pancake tardiness.
The Vanderbilt Law show was awesome. I have destroyed in my life, but this may have been a top ten performance by me. And it was a good thing too, because just before the show I overheard a law student say (not recognizing me from my poster on campus), “This better be funny.” Right, because you are drinking a free beer at a comedy show that you have paid zero dollars for at your law school on a Friday evening, so if anyone is entitled to be demanding of excellence it is you. I started my set by reminding the students that I went to a higher ranked law school and I now tell jokes and wear $50 New Balance sneakers so they should not feel too hopeful. The show was really great though and I sold some more CDs afterwards.
And then I went back to the hotel to watch Bill Maher on HBO, to find out that that the La Quinta Inn we were staying at gets only Showtime. That is like walking into a restaurant to find out they only serve Hunt’s Ketchup. Other than sharing one hotel room with two other men, including one with IBS, this was the low point. But like any comedy trip, no matter how good it always ends badly. Either you are saying goodbye to a nice club, or being called a homely sandwich spokesman or someone is trying to insert hackery into your joke or you just sit on a bed watching Fox News for laughs because Bill Maher is not available. But we made money, we made people laugh and did not get murdered and that is what I call a successful trip through the South.