Turns out I’m an idiot who doesn’t know shit about the “quaintest metropolis.” There’s plenty of stuff in downtown Minneapolis but it’s all tucked away inside of the giant office buildings and other various tall buildings which are connected by a series of skyways so that you don’t have to walk around outside freezing your face off like some sort of goddamned jackass. Once I realized that I passed several Starbucks, a Walgreens, two Potbelly’s sandwich shops, and I was no longer wandering around like a frozen dip shit.
Let’s back up though, Saturday after the show at Comedy Corner Underground I walked with a couple of young comics, Zach and Abby, over to a house party/show run by the campus humor magazine. Zach got me a spot on the lineup. I took it because I have no business at a college party with my drunkle-uncle gray-temples looking ass, and because I’ll take anything weird just for the story. This "gig" did not disappoint.
As far as a college party goes it was pretty standard, but as far as comedy goes it was a real shit show. The stage was in the corner of a basement that looked straight out of The Blair Witch project but decorated with the kind of tacky paper junk you’d find at a dollar store or on the walls of a Chinese Buffet in Wisconsin. A few rows of kids sat on wooden planks resting on top of overturned Home Depot paint buckets, and the noise of a hundred or so people having a good time drinking some red concoction of vodka and juice out of a giant rubbermaid container drowned out the comedians.
When I was in Minneapolis for 10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival back in October I was invited to this show and went over there with another comedian, Natalie Holt from Seattle. We got a ride over to the house only to find that the party had ended early due to some sort of incident. When we got there a guy with half of his left arm missing was yelling at some spazzy long haired kid who had apparently pissed on his car. The spazzy kid was sticking his fingers in his ears and going, “la la la la la I can’t hear you!” like a fucking four year old. Neither Natalie or I finished college and at that point I don’t think either of us has ever felt better about that decision. Except maybe when hearing about how much some other marginally employed comedian owes on their student loans for the degree they have no plans of using. Suckers.
Somehow, despite my age or maybe because of it, I won over the little group of kids paying attention. It wasn’t going to be a home run of a set by any means but it was no longer looking like the death sentence I had thought it'd be. Which would have been fine; bombing or killing in the basement of a college party when you’re thirty-four is pretty much the same either way. But about two minutes into my time the one armed man jumps on stage with a large styrofoam carton of eggs in the crook of his remaining appendage. He grabs the microphone and angrily announces that the party is over because, “People have been putting eggs on top of the ceiling fan blades so that when the fans get turned on the eggs will fall. So everyone has to get out now and there won’t be anymore parties here in the future.”
What a prank! How could you even be mad at something so brilliant? It doesn’t even damage the drywall. You can still get your security deposit back after a prank like that. Must have been an engineering student. There was some light protest to let me finish whatever hair-brained thing I was saying. Probably just espousing the idea of violence as a political solution. Zach, and a few of the college kids, apologized profusely for the interruption. I told them I didn’t mind and it wasn’t their fault anyway. More importantly, being interrupted in that particular way was much better than whatever I was going to do. If it weren’t for that I’d have already forgotten the whole thing. Ah, memories.
Sunday I did Zach and his friend Tommy’s show in the back storage room of a comic book store. Comic book stores have become more popular than bars for standup shows lately. I don’t mind them but I am more interested in what is sold in bars. The show was fun and it didn’t get cancelled by eggs. The room did look a lot like that basement though. Minus all the cheap paper decorations.
I spent Monday wandering around the skyways and shops that I had recently discovered downtown. Mainly trying to kill time before a show in the basement of some bar. I love playing basements and Minneapolis did not disappoint. I still ended up at the bar an hour and a half early so I sat down and took full advantage of happy hour with a few Miller Lites. Drinking alone and peering into my phone, creeping everyone else out. I know I was creeping them out because after the show the bartender told me, "I thought you were a serial killer when you came in and just sat there not talking to anyone but then you got onstage and you were so funny. You've really got it. Keep going” The compliment on my performance was nice but what really won me over was the serial killer part. Apparently Minnesotans are so damned friendly that when you keep to yourself you put out a serial killer vibe. Noted.
That place was the most fun I’ve had in awhile. The local comics were all my cup o’ tea, which is not often the case when I’m sitting through a heavily booked lineup. For awhile I thought maybe I just don’t like comedy anymore. Nope, turns out I’m just sick of the self-involved, preening, minutia I see on a regular basis in Los Angeles. I’d consider it narcissism but narcissist are usually at least entertaining. The Minneapolis comics pretty much all had a point of view and something funny to say about something people probably actually care about, or if you didn’t care about it they’d find a way to make you care for at least a few minutes. Even the less polished acts had character and life experience behind them. The kind of thing you find in ready supply somewhere that people have to work a shitty day job and deal with fucking winter.