Last Thursday I was doing Jimmy Failla’s radio show and at the end he asked me if I was performing anywhere this weekend and out of instinct I said, “nope.” But then I quickly realized, “Wait, yes I am!” At this point, bookings feel more like Christmas miracles, so I hope it is understandable that I forgot. This gig was particularly interesting since it was for a show in my girlfriend’s hometown (Wintersville, the town next to Steubenville, the town made famous for its high school football rape case/tweets earlier this year, which of course made Wintersville’s new welcome sign of “The Small Town that Doesn’t Rape” quite sensible). I was featuring for her, but given our respective heights and levels of cheeriness, I went Drago before my set and told her “I must break you.”
Before the show I went to my girlfriend’s childhood home and given that the tallest person in her family is about 5’11”, it was not surprising that I was bumping my shoulder on some of the light fixtures (lesser men might bump their head, but as a member of the Mensa-esque division of the overactive pituitary club I can sometimes bump my shoulder into low hanging lights. Basically, I looked like Gandalf visiting Bilbo Baggins.
Side note – the Keystone train of Amtrak does not have a snack car. We took the train from NYC to Harrisburg, PA and then drove from Harrisburg to Wintersville and I was very disappointed that the Keystone has no snack car. I assume it was Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station that lobbied for this. There is a 20 minute stop in Philly before moving on to the rest of Pennsylvania so it turns all the passengers on the train into post-Apocalypse scavengers looking to build up supplies for the journey into Tea Party regions of Pennsylvania.
OK – back to the show. When we arrived at the restaurant that has weekly (I think it’s weekly, maybe monthly, I have no idea) comedy I saw that the average color was bleach, the average age was life support and the average political leaning felt like “Ted Cruz is a liberal traitor.” And yet, to quote the sports cliché, this is why you play the game. They turned out to be a great comedy crowd. Laughed a lot, minimal crowd input unless explicitly asked or spoken too, and just a pleasure to perform for. Gigs like this make me feel good as a comedian, because even four years ago I could have easily bombed in front of a crowd like this. Just proves that the more you write and the more experience you gain performing for and learning from different crowds, the fewer crowds you cannot win over. I am now certain that my skills and volume of material put me in position to win over any crowd in America, other than television executives and NYC club bookers.
One of the highlights of the show was an audience member, “John,” who looked like Barry Melrose, if he was raised in Texas instead of Canada. This guy was a phenomenal audience member, a good sport and an anthropologist/archaeologist (hence my nickname of Indiana Melrose for him). What fascinated me (pardon me if this sounds too much like a sheltered Yankee) was that he was a gun carrier, but did not seem like an unreasonable nut job (I am exaggerating for effect). We did not have time to discuss gun rights, though it was sort of a novel feeling to meet a guy who liked carrying a gun, but who did not scare me for wanting to carry a gun. I would have liked to ask him if he was for more background checks, etc., but he was an interesting contradiction of assumptions – a gun toting academic from a small town who looked like a young villainous Gary Oldman.
This may have seemed like all superfluous information, but when people wonder why I hate not getting more road work it I because I love everything about the road. I like travelling (reading time not distracted by TV, games, etc), I like hotels (except for the blood stained sheets at the New Haven La Quinta Inn) and I have enjoyed travelling to different cities in America and seeing stereotypes confirmed and refuted. Maybe one day I will run for political office and be able to say:
“A lot of politicians say they understand you, but a comedian can honestly make that claim. I have travelled to cities all over this country by plane, train, bus and car. I have been to your stores, your malls, your tourist attractions, your Churches, your strip clubs and your comedy clubs. I know our differences, but also our similarities. I have had a lot of money and I have also struggled. All this has been made possible by my career in stand up comedy. And I would have not understood and experienced financial struggles and dream crushing frustrations without one group of American heroes. God Bless the comedy club bookers!”
But seriously, I was a former ADA (“tough on crime, just ask Craig’s List prostitutes”), worked in the private sector (“may not have understood all the he did, but did understand how to bill clients”) and charismatic on the stump “engaging and funny on stage, sort of hard to believe clubs never paid him”. This is a great combination of experience and skills for political office. Cauvin 2028 – get those bumper stickers ready! I am already thinking a good slogan will be “Cauvin – Do Not Be Offended By His Old Tweets Please.”
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