After I returned from London I had a little time off to prepare for my next venture out on to the road. I had managed to book four consecutive weeks together in the midwest in June and July. Lately I’ve been flying to most of my weeks, but the proximity of all these clubs in such a short time span
R.I.P. The Maroon Dragoon 1994-2008
rendered that option unworkable. So that meant a month-long road trip, much like the kind I used to do all the time back when I was featuring. Most of those miles were put on my old 1994 Geo Prism, which I traded in last year with 271,000 on the odometer. Now it was time to hit the road old school yet again, but this time with the Silver Machine.
Right before I headed out, I got invited to perform at the Montreal “Just for Laughs” Festival. For those of you who might not know, this is a pretty big affair in the stand-up world. Once a year, the biggest (and smallest, and many in between) names in comedy – along with agents, managers, producers, and talent coordinators from all over the industry — converge in Montreal to do shows, hobnob, shmooze, and get discovered. I’d been auditioning for their “New Faces of Comedy Show” since November of 2000 and had just about given up on ever going. But it turned out that 2009 was my year — although they agreed that I was hardly a ‘new face’ anymore and subsequently had to put me on a different showcase.
Luckily, I had four weeks of club work ahead of me in which to work out my set.
My first stop was St. Louis. My home town, and one of my favorite clubs: the Westport Funny Bone. This was my first time headlining my home club, so that was a bit of a watershed week for me. And it ain’t the easiest club to headline, especially some of those late shows. I think I made it out all right.
Then up to the Skyline Comedy Cafe in Appleton, Wisconsin. Great club run by great people. I was working with my buddy Ryan Singer who managed to get us locked out of the condo at midnight, and both of us sans shoes, wallets, keys, or cell phones. At least it was summer.
After that I had a few days off and was able to spend the 4th of July in Chicago with some friends and then drove up to Michigan to see my folks for a few days. This was a relaxing break before doing “Bob & Tom” on Wednesday morning at 6:30 am. We comics keep forgetting that this is now also a TV show on WGN America, so we still show up sporting baseball hats and tired, mopey expressions which radio doesn’t usually convey. It makes me laugh to see the show sometimes for that very reason. Some clips of my appearance made it on YouTube.
After a stop-off in Terre Haute, I did my first week at the Bloomington,
Brad to the Bone
Indiana Funny Bone. Bear’s Place was once the premiere comedy spot in that metropolis, but the new Bone, run by two avid comedy fans, seems to have taken over that honor. Exhibit A: the defection of Brad Wilhelm, Bears’ erstwhile jolly emcee, to the Bone side.
My last week was at the Louisville Improv with Greg Hahn, whom half of the audience seemed to think was Greg Warren before they saw the show (both are big on “B&T”, but their acts are nothing alike). And some of them still might have thought so even after seeing the show. Such is the anonymity of syndicated radio fame.
I left Louisville Sunday night, got back to Austin Monday night, and had two days to prepare for Montreal before my flight early Thursday morning. And by “prepare”, I mean buy a new blazer and doubt myself and my abilities.
To avoid blog redundancy, here is a link to the Montreal rundown I wrote for Last Gas Comedy, a great website that deals primarily, but not exclusively, with the Austin comic arts scene.
But suffice it to say that I was placed on the “Masters Showcase“, a title that I (and others) found rather discomfiting. Also on this show were Christian Finnegan and Kevin Brennan, both of whom I’ve known for awhile, and some other comics who were wondering who the hell I was and what I was doing there. The Masters shows were actually a lot of fun, and at about 9:30 on Saturday morning I got a phone call in my hotel room and was informed that I was added to that evening’s “Gala” show. This is actually a pretty big honor. I’ve done t.v. tapings before, but this was the first time that I found out about it the morning of. Glad I brought a suit.
The show, hosted by Martin Short, went well and will air on the CBC. Hopefully I’ll eventually be able to get a clip of my performance and post it up here. Also at Montreal this year were my buddies from Austin, Andy Ritchie and Eric Krug, who were on the “New Faces” showcase. On the left is a picture of Andy and me at some god-awful dance club for some after-party thing.
Overall it was a great experience, and although nothing direct or immediate has come of it yet (I already have management, and they don’t quite sling the development deals the way they used to), I’ve learned over the years that seeds get sown and the big pay-offs can come further down the road. At least that’s how I’m looking at it.
After I had been home for a few days I got contacted by my manager and was informed that an old project that I had been a part of a few months before had resurfaced. Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to say anything about it right now, but eventually I’ll be able to — and I’m glad, because its an amusing story in an of itself.
But I can say it involved a free trip to California and a visit to Pixar Studios. At least I think I can.
You should see the desk...
If not, oh well. I doubt that they read this.