Friday August 30th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL
If for only one time in my life I’d love to know what it’s like to be in the right place at the right time. I certainly know all too well from a pantsload of personal experience what it feels like to be off the radar and nowhere close to the center of what’s happening - and of that I have had my fill.
Happening my way into standup comedy in the ‘80s just as the boom years were about to begin has been about the closest I have come to date to hitting a home run, but even that wasn’t a grand slam. Had I possessed the rock solid headliner act I have now, I’d have been a multi millionaire.
Instead, I clawed my way up the ranks and earned my stripes over decades of paying dues. I’m fine with paying my dues – everyone has to - but it would be nice to get paid back in money. As of now, I’ll be very much upside down on the dues to payoff scale if it ends tomorrow, and I feel like I got cheated. I’d hate to think I came all this way only to get skunked in the end. How cruel.
The entertainment fad of the week seems to be storytelling. There are groups popping up with names like ‘The Moth’ and ‘Ex Fabula’, and I’m hearing they’re selling shows out in New York and it’s heading west. There are groups in Chicago and Milwaukee, and I hear it’s catching on.
I don’t know why it’s catching on, but apparently it is. My long time friend Dave Hendrickson in Milwaukee has been part of the scene there for a while, and even ran his own events at a place called The Safe House. He asked me to participate, and I said yes. If there’s one thing I’m loaded with in life it’s stories. I don’t have to make anything up, and could fill up a whole show myself.
Another friend Bill Gorgo in Chicago has done some storytelling events there, and has enjoyed the experience. Dave suggested we try a night of storytelling somewhere, so I suggested we do it at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. They have a nice performance space there, and it’s small enough where the risk wouldn’t be huge if nobody showed up. I’m always up for rolling the dice.
I didn’t want it be a sausage fest, so I asked a former student named Cathy Rubino to be part of the mix so we’d have at least a little diversity on the bill. Cathy is loaded with creative talent and was excited when I asked her to join us. If nothing else, it would be a refreshing change of pace.
Tonight was our first show, and it came off very well. We didn’t sell out, but we did manage to rustle up enough to have a show. On a holiday weekend, I’ll consider that a victory. It’s difficult to get butts in seats for any reason, and this was no different. We did our best to get the word out.
Dave has a couple of nice video cameras, so we were able to do a two camera shoot. Hopefully that can be cut up into a demo of some sort and we can get some paid bookings if indeed this is a viable product. I’m personally not that impressed with it as a genre, but what the hell do I know?
I wasn’t impressed with rap either but that sells to the masses big time. I still think it stinks, but someone is getting paid a lot more than me. If storytelling is what’s selling, I am locked, stocked and ready to rock. Standup comedy is WAY harder, but if this is the flavor of the month I’m set.