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.