Sunday December 9th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI/Harris, MI
Today was the day to pay the piper for all the weather breaks I caught on this week’s run to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I knew when I accepted the booking that the wrath of winter could end up with a starring role as the week unfolded, and that’s exactly what happened. I can’t bitch.
I left a day early on Wednesday to hedge my bet, and I’m glad I did. It eliminated a lot of stress or at least postponed it until today. I had smooth sailing from home to Sault Ste. Marie, and from Sault Ste. Marie to Negaunee. It snowed a bit from Negaunee to Milwaukee, but not a whole lot.
I crossed my fingers and toes before going to sleep after last night’s shows I’d be able to dodge the bullet one more day, but that doesn’t happen to Mr. Lucky. It started snowing about half way to my friend Russ Martin’s house who lives on the south side of Milwaukee. He wanted to come along for the ride and do a guest set at the Island Casino in Harris, MI, and I was happy to oblige.
The scheduled opening act was Steve Purcell, who lives near Madison, WI. He was also on the bill in Milwaukee, but drove home after the shows as comedians tend to do whenever possible. It isn’t a thrill to stay in a hotel past the first few times doing it, and I totally get it. He has a family.
It started snowing about halfway between Russ’s house and Madison, and didn’t let up all day. It got wetter and sloppier, and it was the kind of snow that made lane changes almost impossible and required both hands on the wheel to keep the car on the road. My knuckles were lily white as I kept both hands on the wheel at all times and my eyes glued to the road. This was road combat.
It got even harder as we crossed the border from Marinette, WI to Menomonie, MI with about a 50 mile home stretch to the Island Casino in Harris. It’s all two lane highway on US 41 which merges with US 2, and conditions worsened by the mile. We made it within just a few minutes.
Showtime at this gig is 7pm Eastern Time, which is 6pm Central Time. That’s a lot earlier than most show times, and it’s good and bad. It makes it more difficult to get there on time, especially after doing two shows in Milwaukee the night before, but it also ends early to give us a head start on the drive home. Steve had to get home for work in the morning, and we all knew it going in.
There was a surprisingly large audience waiting for us when we got there, and the show ended up being a lot of fun. There’s a radio personality named Bo Reynolds who hosts the show, and he used to work in Chicago. He’s a great guy and very hip, and sets the tone for a really fun show.
Russ, Steve and I had a blast on stage as is per usual at this gig. It’s a long drive, but the people really enjoy the shows and we love doing them. What none of us loved was the journey home. It kept snowing while we were on stage, and we crawled back to Menominee at 25 miles an hour.
To make it worse, we hit Packer traffic on I-43 from Green Bay to Milwaukee and that slowed us down further. By the time I got home I was ready for a massage or a sedative – or both. I love to perform, but getting there and back can be pure stress. I should be a piper. They get paid well.