Road Stories – First Installment
Road Stories – first installment:
On one of my first big road trips doing comedy, I was able to book full week clubs and one night clubs (one nighters) that kept me busy for over 3 months. I started my trip from AZ (with stops throughout the country), East to Florida, (next North) up the East coast to New York, then across the Midwest before heading back to Phoenix. I was armed with only my AAA road maps and my Toyota 4-Runner, really seeing the country for the first time.
One night during this trip, I was performing a “one nighter” at a sports bar in New York.
(Different types of bars used to pick an “off night” to do comedy. It wasn’t uncommon for sports bars to pick a Tuesday or Wednesday night to put up a small stage, a few lights, and a Mic and offer comedy to their customers. Around the country “bookers” would contract with a number of bars and string together a week or more of one nighters.)
I show up at the sports bar and the first thing I noticed was a projection screen DIRECTLY BEHIND THE COMEDY STAGE. On the big TV screen, (in the New York sports bar that I was supposed to be doing a show) was the World Series baseball game currently being played. One of the teams playing – The New York Mets (vs. The Boston Red Sox)
My show was supposed to start in about a half an hour, but the game was only in the 3rd inning. The bar was packed and everyone was completely fixated on the game. At this point I wasn’t concerned because it was obvious that everyone was there to watch the game, the bar was full, people were happy, and the bar was making a ton of money on food and beverages. I went looking for the manager / owner to confirm the show was cancelled, or at the very least going to start after the game was over.
The conversation between me and the owner went something like this:
Me: Great night. I certainly understand if you cancel the show because of the game.
Owner: I’m not canceling the show. We do a show every week, no matter what.
Me: Oh ok, well I can wait as long as I need to, I’ve got no where else to go. So I’m happy to wait till the game is over.
Owner: We’re not waiting for the game to be over. I make it a point to start on time.
Me: The game is only in the 3rd inning.
Me: People are gonna be angry if you turn the game off.
Owner: Are you crazy? I’m not turning the game off!!! If I did that I’d have a riot on my hands.
Me: What do you mean? You’re a sports bar, we’re in New York, the Mets are playing a World Series game that everyone here is watching and wants to see. You want to start the show during the game, you want to leave the game on, the TV is behind the stage, and the second I’m on stage I’ll be blocking the game from the audience???!!!
Owner: I do comedy one night a week, every week, at the same time, no matter what. You’re getting on stage in 10 minutes, period.
And that was that……
On the hour, they turned the volume of the game down a little bit (not off), and introduced me. I got on stage and for the next 15 – 20 minutes I attempted to do a show while the entire bar yelled at me to get the F**k off the stage. I spent most of the time crouching down trying to do a show while staying out of the way of the tv. After about 20 minutes I gave up and walked off stage. I knew I wasn’t going to get paid, but what I didn’t expect was the tongue lashing I got from the owner. He yelled at me from almost the minute I got off stage till the time I walked out the door…