As it gets colder, I remembered the string of shows I agreed to do in December of 2012. The weekend before Christmas, I had a run of shows over four days that started in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan at an Indian casino on a Thursday. It took (best guess) 14 days to get there. The snow was so bad that my car got stuck on the off ramp. Luckily, I had an old towel in the trunk I was able to shove under the tire and get moving. I knew I couldn’t stop, so I barreled through every stop sign left on my route, but in fairness, I was going 12 mph. The turnout, by the way, was low – apparently doing a show with no stage in a cafeteria during a blizzard is less than ideal.
My next show was Saturday, where I had two at a casino in Milwaukee, but they were putting me up in a nice hotel in downtown Milwaukee. The issue? I had to drive across the Upper Peninsula. The snow was so deep already that the middle of the two lane road was being used only – you couldn’t see the edge lines. So, I drove about an hour a pop before I saw a lonely dump truck full of Sasquatch oil or whatever they haul in in the North Pole, then I drifted over enough to offer prayers of mercy that I didn’t get run over or go into a ditch and die alone next to a gas station that had been closed since 1943. Needless to say, I was glad to have the extra day to travel. I would have enjoyed Milwaukee, but it was 13 degrees out, so I didn’t leave my room other than to get a 12 pack and do the shows. They didn’t go well, in case you were wondering. One had about 10 people, one about 18 and in total, 27 didn’t like me. The headliner won over the crowd, only 23 didn’t like him.
Finally, I had to go back north to Escanaba, Michigan and I regretted starting comedy. I contemplated seeing a fortune teller like on the movie Big, so I could get a card that made it so I never had done comedy ever before. The casino there was an Island theme, which looked great against a background of snow that resembled the planet Hoth from the Empire Strikes Back. That show actually went very well – huge turnout and great crowd reaction. Of course, then I chose to take the longer route through Chicago just to avoid the Upper Peninsula, so I drove the entire day Monday, actually excited to drive in Chicago holiday traffic because that meant other humans existed in the area I was in, which normally I hate.
For all my toils, I made a small profit of several hundred dollars (gas ate a few hundred bucks of my pay) and did irreparable damage to my car, but I got see the safest area from a nuclear attack in the continental US and rundown several survival scenarios in my head involving sub zero temperatures. When I hear a young comic talking about wanting to get road work, my mind drifts back and I smile a bit, realizing they probably have no idea what in the hell it’s really like. Make sure you take a road flare, some firewood and a trunk full of beef jerky – you’ll need it.
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