About seven or eight years ago, Dan Swartwout asked me to be a part of the “Great Debate”, a charity event put on by the Rotary Club of Hilliard. It’s a debate, in the form of a roast, where four people on each side represent Michigan or Ohio State, using wit and sarcasm to battle for points, as it primarily relates to the rivalry. It has really blossomed into a huge event with over 500 attendees and this year they were able to raise $55,000 for charity. Of course, the crowd is 99.7% Ohio State fans, so Ohio State has an undefeated record thus far in the debate. Shocking, I know!
I’m a lifelong Buckeye fan and started off on Ohio State, but for several years now, I’ve been “debating” for Michigan, I think primarily because a chunk of comics don’t know anything about sports and even fewer are willing to do it for the enemy. I’m used to being disliked, so why not? Hey-O! It’s actually fun and challenging, plus I know trying to burn Ohio State in Columbus when they have won five in a row is about as productive as pissing into a hurricane, so I usually roast or mention the other comedians. The worst part is people asking me what it’s like to root for Michigan and live in Columbus, because it happens about five times per debate. I imagine it’s like being someone who likes Miracle Whip more than mayo. I actually got some pics and the audio – safe for work, as in, if your job is cool with you listening to a roast during work hours.
More lessons from the road in comedy. I would be more articulate with my opening, but I am assuming you read part 1. If not, read that first or shut up.
Locals/townies are quite the grab bag. I did a show once, where I was told, “If they like you, they’ll send up shots during your set.” I asked if there was a cab service in town. “No, but there’s a good back way to the hotel and there’s only one cop working.” Well, sounds foolproof! Give me shots! I had another show in an even smaller town in Pennsylvania where a small, drunk, older man told me, “You should have done more ni**er jokes.” Well, by more, that means I did one to begin with. I started explaining that failure in logic to him and began to insult him overall when a woman ran up. “I’m so sorry, he is racist when he drinks.” No, he’s racist all the time, he just talks about it when he drinks.
You’re not in Kansas anymore – actually, maybe you are and it may not be cool. Add to that the fact you’re probably outnumbered badly wherever you go and they usually pay you in cash, so keep that in the back of your head. I was on vacation once in West Virginia on a rafting trip and the guide told us, “You guys seem cool so I’ll warn you, don’t accept any invites to go to a bar with local girls, you’ll get robbed.” In other words, try to keep your cash fairly hidden, but I would still rather have cash than a check. Not that there’s much money in comedy anyway. I’m talking about it like you’re getting $4000 a show. “Here’s $25 and a rib bib from our sister bar, Smackey’s BBQ. You be safe out there – good show!”
On that note, you deserve to be paid. One comic told me after a show I was running, “I didn’t have a good set, I don’t want any money.” Well learn from it, you’re getting the money. I told you I would pay you and you filled the time. Think of all the great sets you had where you didn’t get paid. Take the money. To put it in perspective, I’ll leave you all with this story. When I first started, I got booked on a show to emcee. Unbeknownst to me, he booked nine comics on the show and told them all to do 20 minutes. Most of the comics were brand new or not actually comics. I had to oversee this train wreck and do time between every comic to bring the show back. He brought crock pots and was trying to sell $4 hot dogs and even brought his own bouncers to this bar…which had signs up telling people not to do drugs in the bathroom. I was mentally exhausted after the show, which ended up being almost 4 hours long. He had tried to offer me free beer from the bar originally, but I insisted on at least $50 (I’m a cruel and savvy negotiator).
After the show, I asked him for my money and he asked we go outside to the patio. “Um, yeah, so here’s the thing. I didn’t get a great door tonight, and here’s the thing, I couldn’t even pay my bouncers. So the thing is, I lost money on the food and the flyers. Um, so the thing is, I can’t pay you.” Warm rage filled down to my fingertips. I leaned into his personal space. “No, here’s the thing. You ran a shitty show and I need paid. I don’t care about your damn hot dogs.” I think I said more, but the anger was clouding over me. He changed his face from apologetic to smug. “Um…, it ain’t happening.” More tingling, warm rage. “You made two mistakes! One, you told me you didn’t pay your bouncers, so no one has your back. Two, you don’t fuck with a redneck!” (I don’t why I said that, but it felt good.) My two hands shot out like lightning and closed around his neck. He began flailing about and tried to break my grip. He quickly reached into his pocket with one hand while the other slapped against my forearms and handed me $50. I stormed out and as the adrenaline left me, I realized I better get in the car and get the hell out of the there. Get your money. Trust me, if you don’t deserve, you’ll quit getting booked eventually. Take what you’re owed. Oh and learn a good chokehold just in case.
I have seen a couple articles recently about comedy on the road, so I thought I would shed some light. I don’t do nearly as much as I used to with a family now, but for about four years I hit it pretty hard. Here’s some insights.
Most comedy venues put you up in a hotel. Their goal is to put the room within their budget, so they usually strike up a deal with a local venue for a good price. This means about 40% of the time, you’re staying in an absolute shithole. I’ve stayed in rooms where there were fresh makeup stains on the pillow, the carpet was a version of that putt putt green stuff you see on boats, and a motel where a drug couple had their pit bulls tied up in front of their room to keep people away. My goofy golden retriever almost got eaten by wandering too close. Even worse, sometimes they decide you’re cool with staying with the other comic, which I bet is fun for female comics. I’ve been put in a room with two other comics (I paid for my own room) and once the bar forgot to book a room on the little town’s busiest weekend of the year. I had to drive 18 miles in the wrong direction and share a bed with a grown man. I built a wall of pillows between us like the Mongolians were attacking.
You learn to fight back. I had a hotel once tell me, as the feature contracted to do 25-35 minutes that the show was supposed to run two and a half hours. I told them that was incorrect and offered to get the email, but they didn’t care. They insisted, so I did over 50 minutes. The headliner went up, did 45 and got paid more than twice what I did. Another show the headliner went to the wrong city, so I had to “fill” the time until he showed up. Rather than delay the show 15 minutes, I had to do an hour and 15 minutes with almost no prep time. The last 20 or so minutes I was literally telling stories from college and even asked if anyone wanted to come up and sing. When the idiot finally showed up, I passed the mic off. You know what I got for my heroism? The same pay and five free beers. I learned pretty quickly what doing favors gets you – nothing. Except for sometimes five beers, which actually is pretty cool normally, just not I’m dying in front of 45 strangers for 20 minutes cool.
Car problems. Don’t ever underestimate you are driving yourself to the gig the day of. This means your whole weekend is usually shot and God forbid you have a shitty car, like 98% of all comedians. I’ve had a battery die on me, got a speeding ticket that exceeded my show pay and got stuck in the snow by myself in Sault Ste. Marie. I had to cram an old shirt under the tire to make it and perform at an Indian casino with no stage in a cafeteria for 15 people. It was a pretty hot venue – Bubba Sparxx was there the next week, so you know it was happening. I’d rather be a backup dancer for Ms. New Booty than tell jokes again in a cafeteria.
That’s a start, maybe I’ll do part 2 later this week, but I’m having flashbacks of awful shows and I need a break and perhaps a therapist.
I have actually had to retype this blog seven or eight times now. I wanted to start with Weinstein but the creeps kept coming. Holy Toledo, is Harvey Weinstein and James Toback and fill in the blank Hollywood scumbag news depressing. In fairness, most news is – there’s so many child abusers and killers running around all areas of society it’s staggering. I read account after account and it really is stunning – ranging from bizarre creepiness to nine women accusing him of rape. I think the only fair thing is to cover him in pheromones and toss him into a giraffe pen when it’s in heat like the Romans managed to figure out. The aftermath has been very eye opening and here’s what I’ve learned so far.
These guys are way more powerful than I thought. (I’m going to say all these are alleged and based off new stories because no one has been convicted yet and I’d rather not get sued, just in case). Bill Cosby was an enormous star, but he drugged all his victims. Harvey and the more recent vermin didn’t even bother – each woman that came forward was fully cognizant and this story has been simmering SINCE THE MID-80’s. Many of the victims were intimidated, but there were way too many people that knew about this behavior and it was tolerated because they personally benefited (or could benefit) from Harvey’s power. The same Hollywood crew that routinely gives us smugness, infidelity, hypocrisy and debauchery, managed to slide in a conspiracy of silence and their own female cohorts suffered tremendously.
In both Toback and Weinstein’s cases (and now Louis CK’s – more creep edits!)…and this is even weird to type…did they think their “methods” would seduce these women? Harvey is a fatback with a pock marked nose and offered to shower in front of these women? Didn’t work, so how about I pleasure myself in front of you! Toback is said to have humped Selma Blair’s leg…if a dog does that you turn a hose on him. Both of these guys look like they couldn’t seduce a woman without a Hollywood type of mind control device in a shitty superhero movie. Even removing the assault factor, who thinks women would ever go for this? “Hey girl, want watch me soap up this saggy, bloated, corpse looking body?” “Oh God no!” “Well, how about I really wow you by rubbing my high school boner on your leg?” “Well, why didn’t you offer that the first time!” (The end rolls across the screen, shot of the two of them running through a meadow).
I completely believe this is going on much more than just Weinstein and crew plus Corey Feldman’s pedo alerts are potentially something more explosive than this…if more people come forward. There needs to be a serious press from authority. I’m constantly hearing people call for other industries to raked over the coals. If gas goes up .10/gallon, people lose it and mutter about crooks and thieves in Big Oil. Big Pharma is under the gun for drug prices and possible opoid addiction ties. Big Hollywood needs more than a quick gaze if rape and assault are being passed around like candy on Halloween. Even Kevin Spacey was terrorizing men and boys, according to reports, so it’s even men being targeted and no doubt children from some of these animals.
The #metoo campaign was very exhausting. I saw way more personal stories than I ever thought possible. My only issue with it? Like most internet trends, now what? I read some stories from some friends that were really sad and my blood began to boil that many knew their attackers, who are still just walking around, living life. I hope it changes some behavior, but I have a pessimism that those willing to rape women really don’t care about a hashtag. I’d like to see some of these dbags get sent away. I also think, like most great ideas, it gets dragged into the weeds. I saw some people slapping #metoo on their pages for horrendous acts of violence, but others were using it to lambaste others for using it incorrectly according to their perceptions of what to do with it. That’s the worst part about the internet activism. People try to make it their “thing” and police others instead of just taking in the magnitude of an event.
Even in comedy – good ol’ fun time comedy. Bill Cosby, America’s dad in the 80’s has been brewing for a decade. The Louis CK story has been hinted at, then outed for years, but it’s just now making waves, probably due to the avalanche of accusations being revealed every single day. The sad thing is both men used their incredible talent for humor on one hand and abused women by being a lech on the other, hiding behind fame. Both also alluded to their behavior in jokes also, which is even stranger. Not just producers and comics – Kevin Spacey tried to come out as gay as a defense to the story of him climbing on top of a 14 year old and was thankfully trounced when everyone saw through the ruse, then dozens more stories started pouring out.
I guess the one cautionary tale I will offer is that yes, in the majority of these cases victims have been ignored for years, but there is the basic foundation in this country of presumed innocence. I had a good friend falsely accused of slipping a roofie in a girl’s drink and I literally saw her steal a beer out of his fridge with my own eyes. It nearly went to the cops and a lawsuit before the claim was correctly dropped. His reputation was trashed and took a lot of work to rebuild. Then again, in Weinstein and Cosby’s case, it wasn’t an isolated incident, it was dozens of victims.
Another common reaction I see that is disheartening is lumping everyone into something they didn’t do. Example: not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every gun owner is a killer, and so on. I thought very hard through my past to uproot any predators and I can’t think of one I was friends with ever doing anything like this. I vividly recall my fraternity brothers putting drunk girls in their rooms and standing outside the room to make sure no one got any ideas. I remember being yelled at by a girl years ago because I confronted her boyfriend about rumors he hit her frequently. She went off on me and I really, at the time, barely knew her. Years later, she actually thanked me for trying to help and thankfully had moved on. My point is, no, most guys not only aren’t like this, a stout majority don’t put up with it. I’ve had several other males tell me they heard things, but the victim asked them not to say anything or get involved. Getting a bullhorn and screaming at men like we have a secret Y chromosome rape pact is pretty pointless and actually probably shuts more ears than turns hearts. I can assure you, if anyone touches my wife or daughter, there won’t need to be enough evidence or need to take written statements and lie detector tests, I’m pretty sure I can figure out castration on the fly. If you want to attack anyone, go after the ones that knew and sat on the sidelines. Looking at you, Matt Damon and Russell Crowe. Hope it was worth calling off the dogs ten years ago.
That’s my stupid thoughts on all this disgusting behavior. Encourage and support victims and if you see an opportunity to get their attackers off the streets with prosecution, please help. I hope the next story I read in this mess is about a trial and conviction for one of these sickos. Or maybe getting hit by a car also, that’s a lot faster. Don’t look both ways, Harvey, it’s clear!
Let’s face it, if you watch the news, it’s a veritable grab bag of animal droppings. Even this story I’m about to share is awful, in many respects. I saw this pop up on my feed -`http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/03/health/cancer-patient-christmas-trnd/index.html
It’s a story about a nine year old that’s been fighting cancer for over half his life and has been given a month to go. He wants to get a bunch of Christmas cards, so click the link and send him some cards. As in now, please. Also, if you’re on Twitter, hit up @starwars and ask them to get him a movie viewing. They did it for a guy once who was a huge fan, so I know they can do it for a kid. (He’s a huge Star Wars fan). That would be really cool – not sure if there’s any other way to message them; I’m not exactly connected to Hollywood these days…or ever.
So to recap – 1) send this kid a card and 2) tag @starwars on Twitter to see if they can help arrange a movie viewing soon (it comes out in December) and 3) come see me at the Columbus Funny Bone tonight and buy all my books for stocking stuffers. OK, forget #3, but do the other two if you can and spread the word. I’ll hashtag stuff, kids seem to follow that. #trump #nfl #xbox #beer #nakedpicturesofsomeone #russia #freemoney
Last Saturday I had a show to raise money for the Botkins Fire Department. Side note – women reaaaaalllyyy love firemen. It really is some kind of voodoo magic. Well, good news, ladies, I was a volunteer fireman for three days in high school, but the other two guys quit and I couldn’t do the program myself, so I had become a gym aide for the credit. Of course, I wanted to quit when they made me hoe weeds in 95 degree heat while I they sat in the shade and drank cold Mountain Dew, but the other two beat me to it
The night got off to a good start when I got pulled over five miles from the venue. I had a headlight out, but the cop was cool and let me off. I sure the karma in the universe shifted and I’ll get diarrhea this week while I’m driving for that good fortune. They were putting away the food when I walked in, but thank God they still had some in the back, so I got the last possible plate (more diarrhea heading my way, I’m sure). I think the entire crew was at the show so I was hoping no one had a fire in Botkins. I’m sure nothing interrupts a set like 15 guys sprinting for the exits. I’m used to only 10 doing that per joke.
The show went very well, both comics, Kenny Mock and Josh Sneed, killed it also and the emcee did well also. He was their 77 year old local sheriff and mentioned that this was the only fire department not to have to pass a tax levy thanks to this fundraiser and two chicken cookouts. Of course, he did 25 minutes of crowd work also. Good luck lighting a man nearing 80 who can also arrest you after the show.
I forgot to plug my merchandise during the show, because my real job is in sales, so why would I remember to mention my book and beer coozie? They closed out the show with an auction, which was interesting. One item was an Ohio State mini bar on wheels with a cooler built in and four liquor dispensers. They kept tossing liquor bottles on top of it to raise the bids. Some tall drunk guy meandered over by me and said, “What’s for sale?” I raised my arm to point and it hit me that I nearly bid $500 with that move. Luckily no one saw me or I would have been dragging a mini bar behind my car at 70 mph. Looks like three days of diarrhea for this guy coming this week!