Wednesday April 9th, 2014 – Columbia City, IN
I have said it often, and I will continue to repeat it indefinitely whenever necessary – one of the greatest benefits of being an entertainer in general is being able to cross paths with quality people and kindred spirits I never would have met had I not taken the plunge to pursue my life’s dreams.
There are always leakers added to the mix, but they’re usually in management. I’d have to say for the most part my peers have been unbelievably solid people that I am proud to call more than just acquaintances. If they’re not friends – and most are – they’re brothers and sisters in struggle.
My radio experience is a perfect example. Every radio station I have ever worked for has been a bittersweet experience. I’ve always gotten along fabulously with the others on the air staff, and there isn’t a station I ever worked at that I don’t still maintain contact with someone to this day.
Management is a different story. I didn’t always clash with everyone, but at every station there has been someone that rubbed me the wrong way at some point. There’s a different mindset there so I guess I should expect it, but locking horns with non creative imbeciles grows old in a hurry.
My standup comedy experience has been similar. I know literally hundreds of other comedians I have crossed paths with in my time, and other than a very scant few I think very highly of them all. It takes a certain breed to last for any length of time in this circus of a business and I have the utmost respect for all that manage to hang in there. There’s a high level of guts required to do it.
I have crossed paths with performers of all levels from coast to coast, and I don’t think there is any halfway decent sized city in America I couldn’t find a couch to sleep on if I needed it within an hour of town if I were passing through. As a rule, comedians help each other often because we know how difficult it all is to survive in this game. There’s a lot more to it than just telling jokes.
There is a spirit of adventure that a true comedian has burning brightly inside, and it’s typically fueled by a need to be on stage. It’s nothing short of a drug, and I admit I was addicted for years. We all are, and that’s what keeps us plowing through the insane conditions we often have to face on a daily basis. Migrant workers often have better working conditions than us, but we still do it.
I’m finding myself as I get older really growing tired of the insanity and the grind. Those long drives are getting less and less desirable, and my disdain for the destructive debauchery of many of the bookers is at an all time high. Never all, but far too many are just blood sucking parasites.
Too few realize that we are out in the trenches humping it just to survive every single week of every single year, and every $50 really helps keep it all together. It’s another tank of gas – barely if at all these days – or another bill that gets paid. Our very existence can depend on their whims.
That’s why it can be so maddening to deal with the pettiness and unprofessionalism that often goes along with being an entertainer. Only those that do it for a living truly get how complicated it really is - and that’s one of the main reasons I write about it. Someone needs to bring it to light.
Tonight I had a booking in Columbia City, IN at a place called “The Vault”. It was booked by a comedian named Troy Davis out of Indianapolis who I’ve known for years. He has a daughter named CoLee that is starting out in comedy, and she was the one that asked me to do the show.
CoLee is a dented can, and I couldn’t say no even though by the time I drove all the way there and back I barely broke even at best. I know Troy is a good guy and CoLee said she’d love it if I could make it. I know what it’s like to start out, and this was a big deal to her. I had to show up.
Another reason I came was to meet up in person with a comedian I first worked with years ago named Kevin Barber aka “Squishy Man”. Squish is one of those kindred spirit types I mentioned, and I think the world and then some of the guy. Few if any put in more solid effort, and there are two words that can sum him up – intelligence and passion. He’s absolutely LOADED with both.
Unfortunately, we both share the same trait of having a big mouth and saying what we think to people that we really shouldn’t. Squishy has had some of his own run ins with some of the same people I have, and I totally get where he’s coming from. He can be a little too real for the masses and I know from experience that can be certain death. It’s like we were cut from the same cloth.
Squishy has an even more dramatic story than I do, and not many can say that. He’s originally from Topeka, KS and he’s multiracial. His father is black and his mother is not only white – she was from a family that were members of the Ku Klux Klan. His mother married a black man out of spite, and had a large family of which Squishy is the youngest. How’s that for a dented can?
On top of that, Squishy dropped out of high school and became an alcoholic and a crack addict. Then, he got his G.E.D. and went on to become a licensed psychotherapist. WOW! His life story makes mine look tame, and that’s why I have a mountain of respect for him. He’s a unique man.
Unfortunately, that’s not always good for the comedy business. Many times on the way up the ladder, bookers are afraid to deal with anyone that tends to rattle cages. Squishy tends to be more than just a guy that tells tame jokes about bad hotels and chicken McNuggets. There’s some meat to his act, and he has a lot he wants to say. Not many bookers can grasp that, or even care to try.
As a result…he often gets thrown into the ‘flaming kook’ or ‘hard to deal with’ pile along with others like say…ME. I get what he’s going through, and that’s why I wanted to make it a point to drive out and meet up with him in person. We hadn’t crossed paths in a while, and I thought that I needed to show him the respect he so deserves and if nothing else offer some heartfelt support.
His girlfriend of two years Angie came with him, and I’m glad she did. She sent me one of the sweetest emails I’ve ever received a few weeks ago telling me how much she and Squishy think of my blog, and thanked me for having the guts to write it. That kind of stuff goes beyond words.
Not only that, Squishy went out of his way to bring me a device that accepts credit cards so I’ll be able to sell more merchandise after shows. How thoughtful is that? I’m telling you, this guy is a gem, and more people should know of him. I’m a big fan. Find him at www.squishyman.com.
|Comedian Kevin Barber aka 'Squishy Man' can be described in just two words - 'intelligence' and 'passion'. He is LOADED with both and I have never seen anyone put forth more effort. Find him at www.squishyman.com.|