On to the recap of my recent comedy exploits… Buckle up. This’ll be a long one. But it’s got some pretty pictures…
THURSDAY– I packed up the Liberty and headed west to my first destination of Mansfield, Ohio. When you’re on a long drive, with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company, you notice things that might you not normally. I spotted a sign on a church that said, in big bold letters, “CHRIST IS THE ANSWER”. Who’s the pastor at this church, Alex Trebek? I’ve got no problem with religion, it’s just the marketing campaigns that get to me. Maybe they should try listening to the question, before claiming to have an answer. For me, the only question Christ is the answer to is, “Who is Jim Caviezel?”
Getting back to the trip, after six hours and change, I rolled up to JOE’Z CAFE. It was a bar just off Rte. 30 that was attached to the Mansfield Inn. The place looked sketchier than an SNL rough draft. Any qualms I had about my evening were allayed when I met Joe, the owner, and his wife Maggie. Very cool people who are committed to bringing a quality comedy show to Mansfield… receptive audience be damned. Just before the show started, I met up with the headliner I’d be working with on this run, Al Katz. Al is a 28-year comedy vet. He’s the triple threat you rarely find on the road: funny, nice, and not an irretrievable hack.
Before I go into the evening’s show, I’d like to share a nugget of wisdom with the DC comedy scene. Don’t EVER take the DC audiences for granted. They are, more often than not, educated, receptive, and capable of abstract thought. Cherish that. They’re a far cry from the coarse, narrow-minded, and obtuse folk that were warming the seats in Mansfield. I mean that in the nicest way, of course. They were hard working small towners who were out to have a hootin’ and/or hollerin’ good time. The quality of the show depended largely on the equilibrium I was able to maintain by doing my material and handling the unsolicited input from Tweedledrunk and Tweedledrunker.
This was the first show in a couple years that I was sent drinks on stage. Mid-punchline, a waitress alerted me to a shot of tequila that someone bought for me. Unless there’s a genuine health risk involved, it’s generally bad form to refuse a shot. It makes you look weak…this type of crowd respects strength. Tequila isn’t my usual choice but, fearing a mutiny, I took the shot. Feeling my oats, I jokingly asked, “Anyone got a worm?”, then moved on to my next bit. What does the waitress bring, not 2 minutes later? Another shot of tequila…with a fucking worm in it. Not wanting to embark on a vision quest, I drew a line in the sand and said that there was no way I’d be drinking a worm. Luckily, a guy came out of the crowd to show this city mouse how it’s done in Mansfield. The rest of my set went ok…one or two dead spots, but my dick joke closer got me off stage on a decent laugh…when in Rome…
After the show, Al and I set up our CD flea market in the hopes of recouping some gas money. While we were hawking our wares, I was approached by a guy named Jacob. He owned up to being the guy who sent me the first tequila shot. He thought I seemed a little tense on stage and I needed to loosen up. Like I said, at heart, these are good people. Jacob imparted this notion to me, “You should use the fuck word more.” This statement intrigued me. I replied, “Y’mean fuck?” As a comedian, economy of speech is an important part of the on-stage product. Shakespeare once wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” What I’m trying to say is, the fuck word is fuck. Nitpickery aside, my new friend made a good point. It was as if the entire town of Mansfield had been mass hypnotized, and “fuck” was their trigger word.
FRIDAY– You might think that Mansfield, Ohio has no cultural value whatsoever. I’ll be honest, so did I. But that all changed when I ventured two exits west on Rte. 30 and visited the Richland Correctional Facility. Most of you have seen this place. It was where they filmed one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. Unfortunately, it doesn’t open for tours until May, but I was able to get a good long look at the prison’s impressive exterior. The only thing that would’ve made it more impressive would be if Morgan Freeman were narrating my thoughts. Sadly, he only pipes up when he’s commanding me to kill… I didn’t have a camera on me, but I found these pix online:
That last one isn’t from the prison…it was my hotel room. Moving on…
From Mansfield, it was off to the Wit’s End Lounge at the Ramada Inn in wild and wonderful Morgantown, WV. When it comes to mapping out my comedy treks, I use MapQuest. Alot of people don’t like MapQuest…here’s an example of why. Part of my trip to Morgantown included going from Rte 30 East to 1-77 South. Here’s how MapQuest wanted me to go:
Merge onto US-30 E. 27.5 miles
Take the OH-302/MADISON AVE exit. 0.1 miles
Turn LEFT onto MADISON AVE/OH-302. Continue to follow MADISON AVE. 0.8 miles
Stay STRAIGHT to go onto DOVER RD/OH-83N. Continue to follow DOVER RD. 4.6 miles
DOVER RD becomes US-250. 15.6 miles
Keep RIGHT at the fork to continue on US-250. 5.8 miles
Merge onto I-77S
For those of you keeping track, that’s 5 steps in between US-30 and I-77. After finding out the MADISON AVE/OH-302 exit was closed, driving around Ohio Amish country in circles for half an hour, here’s what I found out: US-30 HITS I-77. Hey MapQuest, I’m looking for the interstate, not One-Eyed Willy’s fucking buried treasure… Howabout keeping it simple for the Jew with the sense of direction of a dreidel, eh?
Once I righted the ship, it was a quick shot to Morgantown.
The show that night was on par with the show in Mansfield. Once again, I was advised to “use the fuck word.” Nice people, but their knowledge of audience etiquette was pretty slim. One young lady, who seemed confused for most of the evening, kept saying out loud, “That’s not right!” Another woman, sitting in the front row, while I was doing my bit about which diseases Sesame Street can tackle, I shit you not, shouted out, “Tourettes!” (yes, I’m sure the irony was lost on her) For the remainder of my set, I referred to her as my suggestion box (think that one over).
If there was one thing I would change about Morgantown, it’d be the dental plan. These people had Halloween teeth…lots of candy corn…lots of jack o’lanterns. They made Leon Spinks look like Carol Channing.
SATURDAY– The final leg of the trip was the Lafayette Riverboat Hotel in Marietta, Ohio. This blog is getting long, so I’ll just say that this was the most fun night of the weekend. The crowd was receptive, polite (mostly), and quick on the uptake.
All in all, it was a fun trip. I finally got my hands on a digital camera, so I’ll be able to snap some pix from the next exotic location I get to emanate from…Erie, PA… Oh, the glamour.
In the meantime, you can check me out at the Baltimore Comedy Festival on April 1st. I’ll be doing a showcase at the Mobtown Theater with local superstars Mike Storck, Jim Meyer, and Justin Schlegel. CHECK IT OUT!!
To be continued…