Tuesday July 2nd, 2013 – Chicago, IL
With gas prices through the roof, I have to really plan my trips of late. I was asked to perform a few minutes at a comedy showcase in downtown Chicago, and even though I really wasn’t up for it I said yes. I’ve been very lax at keeping an eye on the local Chicago scene, and that’s not good.
There is a whole generation of comedians that I’ve never met, and to them I’m a total dinosaur. I do get to meet a few of them when I host the Rising Star Showcase nights at Zanies, but that’s a tip of the iceberg of all those that out there. There’s a sea of newbies swimming around blindly.
Most of them think they already know everything and want no part of my generation, and they are making a big mistake. When I was coming up the ranks, I would live to pick the brains of any and all veteran comedians I could hoping to learn the craft of standup comedy. I respected them, and couldn’t wait to hear what they had to say. I don’t sense that hunger from most of this group.
That being said, there are still some bright ones coming up and I should know who they are and what they’re doing. Comedy has trends just like music or any other form of entertainment, and it behooves anyone who claims to be in the business to know what those are. I should be familiar.
There are all kinds of clubs and stages in Chicago that have opened in recent years that I’ve not even set foot in. Part of that is because I’ve been working, and part of it is lack of desire. The last thing I want to do on a night off is hang out at a comedy club – or worse yet an open mic – but to stay current that’s exactly what needs to be done. I’ve been bad at this, so tonight I ventured out.
There were maybe a dozen people tops at the place I was at, and I won’t embarrass anybody by naming names. It’s not easy to get people in a room for anything, much less a free comedy show on a Tuesday night. The room itself was not bad, but it was empty. I feel bad for the people who produced the show. They’re comics starting out, and I have been in their shoes countless times.
It cost me $16 to park my car, and that’s another hassle of big city life. I have a train that goes to the city from where I live, but that’s about a $15 round trip so I don’t really save much. It’s an expense either way, and without a payoff it’s not one I can afford to make regularly at this time.
I was flattered to be asked, and I went with the attitude of trying to show support for the young comics coming up the ranks. I know how much it meant when I heard a kind word from someone who was working professionally as I was starting out, so I wanted to return the favor if I could.
I’m not sure if it was productive or not. I was out the $16 to park not to mention the gas I used, and I ended up doing about ten minutes to a dozen people who stared at me like I was a narc. I’m all for supporting the cause, but this felt like a waste of time and money. Still, I made the effort.
I did get to hang out with my radio friend Byrd who I hadn’t seen in a while. We were at ‘The Loop’ together in 2004, and he’s now at ‘The Drive’. The guy is a big time talent and has a voice people dream of, but he also works his ass off and I respect him greatly. He doesn’t phone it in.
The guy eats, sleeps and breathes radio, and that’s what it takes these days to stay in it. There’s a big change in that whole business, and I don’t love it that much quite frankly. I was a comedian on the radio more than a ‘radio guy’, and there’s a difference. Byrd is a radio guy, and that’s not an insult. We had a delicious meal and talked about radio, and that’s what made my trip worth it.