The best club in the world with one of the best comics headlining, and me featuring. Kyle Kinane at The Comedy Attic in Bloomington, IN. In this little college town nestled in a state that is generally not too well thought of there is one hell of a comedy club. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's the best. That may be a matter of opinion but it's a solid and widely agreed upon opinion. For every club like Comedy Attic that gets it there are dozens that flat out do not. It usually comes down to two factors as far as I can tell; the owner and the audiences. 

Jared, who owns The Comedy Attic, knows what the fuck he's doing. He's opinionated and blunt and he does things the way he thinks they should be done and when you look at the results it's easy to see that he's right. Every little detail of the place, from the greenroom to the bathroom, adds up to a top tier club. To go from another mediocre weekend at what is supposed to sort of be my home club to one of the the best weekends I've had doing this had a definite roller coaster effect.

I've never felt comfortable or respected back in Appleton and as a result haven't made a huge sustained effort to change that. You can usually tell when you're fighting an uphill battle that you're not likely to win in regard to that. This last trip confirmed it for me and I don't think I'll be barking up that tree anymore. The Comedy Attic on the other hand has felt to me, welcoming and in tune with where comedy is currently at while fostering where it's going from the moment I first stepped foot in the place at Limestone Comedy Festival in 2017. 

The crowds are savvy and full of repeat customers because they're used to a consistently well curated line up of top shelf talent coming through. I wonder if that town knows how spoiled they are in terms of stand-up. It's ridiculous. As happy as I was to be performing on a run of sold out shows with Kyle, I was just as happy to get to see him do five sets over three nights in front of a room packed full of great crowds.  I felt good about every set and even great about a couple, but then Kinane would go on and do about an hours worth of material that made me want to make all my shit better. By the late show Saturday I'd made a few changes and renewed my enthusiasm for my material and performing in general. 

The only drawback from the weekend is that I've got a high water mark that I currently have no clear idea of how to top or even reach again in the near future. Kyle's fans were all really cool, at least the ones I met were. The staff at the club were all super cool. Jared was fun as hell to sit and bullshit about sports and music with in the green room. The host, David Britton, is cool and very funny. The local comedy scene figures are all fucking great. I stayed with my friend Bryce who was great to bounce around between bars with before and after some of the shows. I know it sounds like I'm gushing but if you consider the sheer amount of bitching and moaning I am readily capable of you'll know it must be for good reason.


The train from Milwaukee was nice and easy. After this trip I am decidedly in favor of trains and buses over airplanes. Except in the case of long distances where the train or bus is impractical due to time constraints. It's not a fear of flight issue, it's an annoyance with the entire airport and boarding process. What is it about an airplane that makes people so stupid and move so slow.

Long lines of jagaloons, half of them in their pajamas, all dragging the ridiculously oversized and overpacked roller bags. How much shit do people think they're going to need? Those bags hold more shit than most folks will deal with in a month at home so why does it suddenly become necessary for a week long trip? It then takes forever to board the plane because the overhead bin space is running out and there's always a few people struggling to lift their mammoth bag into the fucking thing. If you can't lift the bag you packed over your head then it needs to be checked. It's not a carry-on if you can't carry the damn thing.

I've found that sitting at the gate and working on my computer or reading while zones one through whatever sluggishly board the plane then getting on right at the last minute with just my backpack not only buys me more time to get something useful done but also cuts down on my seething rage for incompetent and selfish travelers. Of course once you're on the plane there's a whole new gauntlet of bullshit. People's bare stinky feet that they don't seem to mind putting all over everything; folks who cannot keep their limbs and items in their area; and if I ever end up next to an emotional support bird I'll flight 93 the plane into the dirt.

But the train to Chicago had none of that bullshit. I walked right on with a sane and savvy gaggle of people, tossed my bag on the empty seat next to me and got comfortable enough to take a quick nap on the way down. Also, smoother than the friendly skies on top of all that.

I only had one show in the Windy City, Chicago Underground Comedy at The Beat Kitchen. Friend and fellow comedic misanthrope, James Fritz, went out of his way to help hook that up. What a sweetie boy! I'd also met one of the producers at a little comedy festival in Toronto last year. Everyone else involved with the show was so nice that I could hardly believe it. 

The stand-up world has a funny way of bouncing you between cagey and guarded personalities rife with insecurities that they readily manifest into disdain or stand-offish behavior, and easy going folks who realize that the point is to have a good time and seem to operate on the idea that one good turn will in fact yield another. While I try to be like the later, I'll admit that I've been guilty of the former at times. 

The show was great. Good venue, well run, solid lineup and a sizable audience of at least moderate intelligence. Aside from one drunk woman who made a few interruptions before being removed and one set that seemed a little phoned in, it was a near perfect night of bullshitting into microphones.

L.A. has dozens of little shows like that in the backs of bars, or comic book shops, or outside of any business that will still tolerate the concept. Most of them are only attended by other comedians and maybe the occasional unwitting customer. Nobody ever brings anyone out to see them. Probably because they've got nobody to come see them. A lot of young comics don't have co-workers to invite out because they're either being financially supported by wealthy parents and don't have jobs or they work in the "app-based economy" and only ever deal with customers, their cars and their phone. So a show, outside of a comedy club, with any sort of audience is always a nice surprise. Outside of L.A. that is a little easier to take for granted. 

I never want to be caught phoning anything in, although I'm sure there have been times where my enthusiasm was clearly waning. Anytime someone with no ties to the entertainment world comes to a show as an audience member I feel compelled to make it worth their while. I won't pander but I'll give them the best version of what I do that I can muster. Not just for the audience but also for the other comedians on the show that night, for myself in the future should those people remember me, and for stand-up as a whole. Every time someone sits through a poorly produced, terribly performed night of comedy, free or not, they are less inclined to ever go out and see stand-up again and will probably let anyone they see the next day know how bad of an idea it is to go to one of these cheap or free comedy nights. All that makes me appreciate a well run night and the people responsible for it as much as I wish any half-assers would start caring or give it up.


I started comedy in Appleton, WI but it's still one of my least favorite places to perform. I don't know why that is. The crowds aren't terrible, depending on where you are. At the club there the always tend to be a little more lowbrow. Preferring anything about dicks, farts, pop culture and drinking to my usual helping of analytical bullshit. I still have good sets but usually feel like I'm dumbing myself down or have at least three people a week say something along the lines of, "Funny stuff. Kind of off the wall but you're pretty funny." It doesn't help that I ended up hosting. After years of what I thought was working my way to the feature spot at this place I got bumped down to host because the headliner brought his own feature act. Not an unusual occurrence. Though you usually get enough notice to adjust your plans and often times the club will still pay you what you were going to be making. In Appleton, neither of these is the case. You just suck it up and try to act professional.

Of the four shows, three were really good and one was a bit of a struggle through the entire night. Polite audience but didn't laugh loud or long for anything. All three of us just pulling teeth up there. Late show Friday can be like that anywhere and is regarded as such throughout the comedy world. I got off to a weird start that show on account of having not had to host in awhile. I also don't have the personality for it, as I've said before. Eventually the crowd was on board but just refused to build momentum all night long. It's weird when the exact same things that made people laugh just a few hours ago aren't working as well, or sometimes not at all, on another group of people. That's why comedians are insane. You literally do the same thing while getting different results. It's maddening.

During the week in Appleton I spent the days visiting with my grandparents and mom and step-dad. At around ninety years old, I'm not sure how many more visits to Grandma's house are in the cards. I just want to do a late night set before they go. I don't feel like I need it to feel vindicated and I'm doubt that they need to see it to feel like I'm really doing anything, but I know they'd enjoy it. They were the first people I watched late night talk shows with. I remember my grandfather explaining the difference between Leno and Letterman to me. Basically, according to him, Leno is a Republican that keeps making the same bland jokes after they're expired and Letterman is a Democrat who is kind of smart ass dick. He liked Dave more for his personal beliefs but always chose which to watch based on the guests.

Bouncing between my family, who more than I'd like to impress I'd like to be able to help support, and a comedy club that I can seem to make any headway with left me pretty tired by Sunday. I ride down to Milwaukee with the other comics, on their way to Chicago, while we bullshat about different comedy scenes and personalities among them.

I had no shows booked in Milwaukee and nowhere to be until Tuesday night in Chicago so I met up with some music friends there and took it easy with my friends Sugar and Kavi. Kavi had to fly back down to Austin not too long after I got in and then Sugar and I just hung around and attempted to get some work done a project of electronic Bruce Springsteen covers we've been threatening to finish. Mostly we listened to records and ate delivery foods.

Monday night I did go out to an open mic to meet up with some old comedy friends and ended up drinking over a gallon of beer. Not a wise decision but where else can you buy Miller Lite by the liter for five bucks. Twenty dollars later I was making friends with all the weirdos I could find from the music open mic that followed the comedy one. In between that I tried to drunkenly impart any words of advice to the young comics on the occasion they asked. Mostly all I had to say is, "Look I've seen just about everything work and not work for reasons I don't understand." 

Somehow I didn't pee my pants or the sofa and caught a train down to Chicago the next day.

Distracted by Clouds

  “Are we in a movie right now?” I’m interrupting. I’m always interrupting. Not something I particularly like about myself. I try to work on it then forget and lapse back into it. One of these days I’ll lose that last ten pounds and learn to shut the fuck up for the duration of a sentence. This time it’s Lisa I’m cutting off and to make fun of sensitive moment.