The last three days I have spent locked in a house with four other comics being filmed 24 hours a day and it may have been the most needed vacation I’ve had (save for Costa Rica). The project is a reality show for NBC called Comic House, basically Big Brother with all comedians and a spoof slant. This was just a presentation pilot, meaning that it still has to be picked up. If it does, we go back in for a month and that’d be fine by me. I’ve been on the road nearly straight since February and it has officially sucked the life out of me.
The slow drain came to a head last week at the final night of the Chicago Comedy Festival when I closed the Murderers Row show by telling the crowd to fuck off and get out, which they gladly did.
I had been booked outside of Chicago at a new room called The Comedy Spot in Schaumberg at the same time as the festival and it was worked out so that I could stay in the city and be shuttled down to Shaumberg and then back for late shows in the fest.
I am tired of traveling.
I am tired of hearing myself talk.
People are tired of hearing me talk.
Four months on the road and now for the third night in a row I am sitting in horrible Chicago traffic getting between shows, my wife sick and in pain beside me and I can’t remember ever being funny or why I even wanted to.
We get to Zanie’s and the place is jammed. The line-up is one of the best I have seen at any festival and they are killing. People are coming up to me and telling me that they can’t wait to see my set, that they’ve heard a lot about me or have brought people just to see me and each time someone tells me that I get the fear even deeper. I can’t think of one fucking bit I can stomach doing right now. All the tried and true stuff I assume they are as tired of as me and all the new stuff is either not ready or too angry for the scene and I am too beaten at the core to muster the anger necessary to make it funny.
Sometimes the beer helps but tonite it’s just sealing the deadness and by the time I get up to close the show I just wished I could have slipped out the back door, into a cab and off to some remote coastline. I should have done at least the first two.
In the front row are a group of four middle age drunk women, one wearing a paper dunce cap that has some stupid shit scrawled on it with magic marker. I don’t know if it was a birthday party or a bachelorette party or just dumb office douche bags who failed an origami class but they are chatty and stupid and every reason that the road has left me broken like this and I let them know.
The week before I’d worked a club that bills itself as “The Home of the Ultimate Bachelorette Party” and every night I had to deal with groups of these tittering holes with veils of plastic penises in their hair expecting you to be some Chuck E Cheese act, telling her how her husband is probably at a tittie bar right now or teasing her about the huge mistake she’s making. You want a clown for your party, get one to come to your house, you fuck. I’m don’t care about you and I have a hard enough time getting thru my act without breaking to make fun of the dildo you have been forced to wear on your forehead. I’ll give you directions to TGI Friday’s where they make it a point to pretend to like your company.
All this bitterness came out on stage at Zanie’s and all without the pretense of comedy. I made attempts to get into bits (the only bits that came to mind, of course, were the ones that were the least appropriate) but I’d become distracted at the silence that had now become new to the room and at these chattering tits below me who were simply waiting for me to shut up so that they could leave. I took the woman’s dunce cap and wore it myself. I told them that they could leave now - no sense waiting since I was the last guy. Three of the four did, the last waiting so she could get her hat back. Other people started yelling out.
Get off the stage.
Have another beer, you drunk.
Nothing extremely clever but with plenty of animosity. A lot left and a few just stayed cuz they enjoyed yelling. Either way, I was numb to it all and closed to silence and the awkward stares of my peers and the leftover audience. Nobody talked to me, save for the woman from the front following far behind me and whining to get her hat back.
Fat chance, fatty.
I wore the hat back to the wrap party where still nobody would make eye contact save for Marc Ryan and Ron White, who had hosted the show and was familiar with the demons I had going on. It didn’t matter as now I found it physically impossible to hear anything except doubt and resignation, cut only by the sheer beauty of my wife telling me - straight faced and starry-eyed - that it was a really funny set. Isn‘t she adorable. Love is knowing when to blow sunshine up your ass.
Coming home to spend three days with cameras staring at you may not seem all that relaxing but it was perfect. Sit by the pool and bullshit. No phones or computers, no planes to catch, bills to pay, tickets to buy or sets to put together ( We actually did do a set at the Laugh Factory during the filming and it wasn‘t much more prepared than Chicago but at least I was happy).
Now I have a clear head and a weekend off with my wife home at the beach with no plans but the Tyson fight and some movies before heading out to Cincinatti, St Louis and Portland to start it all over again.
Maybe it’s time to write a few happy dick jokes again, just for the sake of the soul.