Monday December 7th, 2009 - Chicago, IL/Bayside, WI
I had the honor tonight of performing at the Milwaukee Admirals’ holiday party. I have known team president Jon Greenberg twenty years or so from when he worked PR for the Milwaukee Brewers and he has always been great to me. Any time I needed tickets he had my back door and when I was doing morning radio he always made sure I had interviews.
Harris Turer is the team owner and he sent me an email asking if I was available to do a show tonight. I knew Mondays were busy but any time I can do a favor for someone I like I really try to squeeze it in. I rearranged my schedule and cancelled my Zanies show so I’d be able to attend the party tonight. The fact that they asked me to do it was very flattering.
Harris and Greenie and the whole staff couldn’t have been any nicer. This wasn’t a very easy scenario though. The degree of difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10 was about a 27. There were players who were mostly Canadian, with other places thrown in like West Germany, Finland and Russia. That makes it extra difficult, as I don’t have any foreign references.
On top of that, there were front office staff in attendance and most of them were locals from Wisconsin. If I did all local material, then the players wouldn’t get it. Plus, most of the guys had wives or girlfriends and that tightens things up significantly. When it’s guys only, anything goes. When the women come along, it’s much more constrained. It just is.
There were even a few kids in the audience too, and they sat right up front. As soon as I took the stage I saw the kids to my left, Jon Greenberg and his wife at the table directly in front of me and some players to my right who were looking at me like I was a puck boy.
These guys are hockey players in their twenties, hoping to get their shot at the big time in the NHL. I must have looked like their nerdy high school teacher and I wondered what I could pull out of my past repertoire to entertain any or all of them. It was a challenge.
I’m very persnickety when it comes to situations like this. I’m rarely satisfied, as I really want to give the customer more than they paid for. Comedy clubs are supposed to offer an atmosphere that promotes laughter and in theory shows are supposed to build from opener to feature and then the headliner is supposed to come out and take no prisoners. In theory.
Just going up cold puts a whole different dynamic on it and the last thing that made it as difficult as it was is that the Packers were playing on Monday Night Football. A lot of the audience had zero interest in the game but many others did and I could sense it as I did all I could think of to please everyone, at least a little. There was a very mixed crowd there.
One thing I did do was my time. I was asked to do 45 minutes and I did that on the dot. I didn’t want to let Harris or Greenie down. They put their trust in me and I wanted to nail a killer show for their party and make it worth everyone’s while. In my mind it seemed as if they were a little quiet, but afterward a lot of people came up and said they loved it. I’m always pretty hard on myself, but I really wanted this one to be good. I owe those guys.