Family vacation!

“Boy, we sure could use a vacation to relieve some stress!” – America right now. “We’ll see about that, you bastard!” – my vacation last week. We decided to pack up and head out when my wife’s schedule changed and found a great place on Lake Erie. It had a small private beach, pool and even a full playground on the site. Then the worst storm since 1972 hit the day we were leaving. The temperature, which was almost 90 degrees in mid May, dropped under 50 with 40 mph winds. Literally an hour before we were supposed to leave, the condo owner called me up. “There’s massive flooding, the bridge is out and we can’t get to the condo, what do you want to do?” Well, thanks for asking. I was going to boost up the nitro in the family SUV and Bo and Luke Duke it over the river. Seriously? We aren’t coming today, I guess.

There was one small issue. My daughter heard they had a pool and a beach. She was swimming today come hell or, well, high water. I called an indoor water park – full. I called another and they had literally one room left. The lady was very nice and began describing it to me in great detail. “Does that fit your needs?” What is it with these questions? IS IT OPEN? YES? I’LL TAKE IT. Of course it was a great bargain booking the day of on a three day weekend, but whatever.

I had to call the next morning as our check out was mere minutes away. “Hey, any updates?” He replied, “Oh yes, everything is good, the bridge is back to operational.” GEE THANKS, I WAS IN NO HURRY TO FIND OUT. The rest of the trip went well, excepting that the storm had washed up two massive dead fish and a goose onto the small beach area…and the pool was closed due to sand washing up into it…and my son got up at 2:30 for absolutely no reason the first night and stayed up…and my daughter began projectile vomiting all day the last day we were there. Other than that, it was very relaxing and my next vacation will be traveling to the laundry room with a handle of Dewar’s and Pantera on my iPod.

Well poop, comedy is back

I finally had another show last Saturday and it was a blast. More on that later. I haven’t blogged in two months. I hadn’t written a joke all year (until last week). I honestly had lost interest. Beyond that, I was tired of people talking about it. “Chris does stand-up!” NO I DON’T ACTUALLY. I had to fight snapping at people that asked me since all this went downhill. I understand that stand-up comedy was not crucial to society during a pandemic, but it was rather amazing to some parts of my brain working again.

I was asked by a booker that I really respect (David Lee) to headline 31 West in Newark, Ohio. From the time I was asked to when I walked on stage, the mask requirements had changed, people were actually ready to go out of their houses, yet the show was still respectful of distancing and safety. I didn’t even realize when I got there if I had updated my web page as I haven’t had any desire to blog. My site has comedy in the url, so no comedy, no updates. I didn’t know three of the four comics on the show, which is rare at this stage for me. No shows, no open mics, no meeting new comics. In fairness, I don’t really do open mics anymore. I have two kids so using a hall pass to hear 23 comics work out new material is borderline criminal.

I enjoyed watching the other comics and I felt myself both enjoying hearing jokes and also rewriting their setup and punchlines in my head. I could feel rust flaking off parts of my cerebellum or cortex or wherever the funny is supposed to be that haven’t been used in a while. Since February 2020, I had done exactly three shows. THREE. My busiest month, granted, pre children, was 17 shows in 31 days. I did three shows in 15 months. I absolutely hate comics that call comedy therapy, but it was definitely beneficial to my demeanor. NOT THERAPY FFS.

I actually took a very small cheat sheet, but didn’t have to use it (much) and felt like I had a solid set. As a bonus, the crowd wiped out my merch, which hasn’t since the day I released them years ago. I can say for the first time in a long time, I actually feel like a stand-up comic and I actually have interest in comedy again. So tune in, I’m going to make an effort to blog more and write more for my next show…which I don’t have scheduled yet, so maybe this was all for nothing. Suck it COVID! If you’re vaccinated or masked or rolling around in a bubble, go enjoy some comedy.

The road trip is over – RIP Bob

I haven’t blogged in a while, to be honest, it’s a couple things. The pandemic, the lack of shows and the politicization of everything have worn me out. No, I don’t need sympathy, but another factor was finding out some news a few weeks ago. The comic I did more road trips than anyone since I started almost 14 years ago was Bob Cook. I found out that he passed away in January and I had no idea. It was, to use Bob’s comedy bio line, a punch to the gut. And sadly, I wasn’t surprised.

When I first started, I kept hearing his name as a great comic in the area, but I never saw him for months. It was worth the wait. Bob was, even to this day with the touring professionals I’ve worked with, the best “bar comic” I’ve ever seen. People that don’t do comedy have no idea, but about 90% of your shows are in bars. A comedy club gig is great, the patrons are there to laugh, pay to get in so they are invested in the show and can be tossed if they are bothersome. A bar show is a gladiator pit and Bob was at home like a pig in its own shit. He was vulgar, crass and animated. The crowd saw him as the funniest guy at the bar finally grabbing the bull by the horns and doing something with his big mouth. They loved him.

Bob and I finally ran into each other and we had a lot in common. We were both from Southeastern Ohio, both really blue comics with a fondness for alcohol and shock jokes that weren’t too far off from reality, if not completely rooted in the truth. He had me drive him to Petoskey, Michigan and then Findlay, Ohio for what was then my longest road trip. I got single handedly zero dollars for the trip and actually took a hit at the blackjack table, but I got to do my first casino show and had single handedly the funniest crowd interaction story of my comedy “career” as it is.

I opened the show and the stage was almost ten feet directly above the six people at the bar under my feet, then a huge dance floor chasm for 40 feet sat just past them, with table in the back. It may have been the worst comedy set up outside of being handed a mic in a bathtub. I couldn’t physically look straight down, so I played the back of the room, always a tough move. Some guy under my feet kept screaming and yelling at me. I finally looked at my toes and went to unleash my wrath, but discovered the gentleman in question was clearly special needs and just yelling with excitement. I immediately knew I had to suck it up and take the distraction like a man takes a last cigarette before the firing squad. As I left the stage, mostly defeated, Bob strolled up the long ramp, shook my hand in passing and said, “Don’t worry, I got your back.” I only had time to twist back and whisper scream, “Don’t do it!” Bob grabbed the mic stand, with gusto, and with his back turned said, “Sir, have you been unlucky at the casino tonight, because it looks like (he spun and aggressively pointed at the young man) you’ve been unlucky in life!” There was a three second pause and then I heard Bob say, “Oh Goddammit.” He realized his white knight moment had ruined him and his set. In the probably one hundred shows I did with Bob, this was the only one I saw him sweat and struggle. I guffawed from the back, immediately absolved of my bomb onstage and also knowing there was literally no worse thing that could have emerged from his mouth. That said, as soon as he left the stage, Bob classically destroyed himself and learned from his error and moved on.

I did shows with Bob in probably two dozen small towns in parts of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana I had never heard of and will never visit again. I got to learn about his family and how brutal his childhood was. I saw a comic that should have been at the very least, a professionally touring feature act, but always managed to drink too much or piss off the wrong person.. We talked comedy strategy, compared notes and often planned shows I kind of knew would never happen. Bob was a thinker and planner and a fantastic comic that just couldn’t quite get from the one nighter to full time comedy. He was endlessly frustrating and supremely talented and I considered him a real friend, which I can’t say is common with comics. Even when he started having serious issues with his drinking and personal life, I saw comics repost private messages where he was funny as all hell, despite being on the streets. He always had a joke in his pocket.

Bob and I had epic road trips through ice storms and blizzards all for a bar show with 45 people in the crowd on a good night. I can still see his one eyebrow raised as he talked out of the corner of his mouth while cramming a cigarette into his lips between one liners and stories. I also saw the destructive juggernaut that is a terrible childhood and the Siren’s call of addiction destroy a powerful voice that brought laughter, not to hundreds, but tens of thousands of people. We lost contact for years as he was switching phones and Facebook accounts regularly, when I found out he passed, I was friends with five of his accounts. For my stupid part, he was a big part of my comedy experience, a good friend, an endless source of frustration but also laughter and I miss his stupid ass and also want to punch him in the neck. And I know he would shrug reading this and tell me he gets it.

I think there is no better tribute than sharing some of his material, so here goes. Yes, I will butcher some of these, it’s been years. “You ever black out and wake up and your friends are all laughing because they drew a penis on your face? I was like big deal, people do that all the time, but my buddy was like, yeah, but that’s mine, I traced it.”

“Bob Cook is a really basic name unless you take an “O” from my last name and put it in my first name, then my name is Boob Cok and everyone’s happy.”

“No one’s ever like building me up, like check out my friend Bob, they’re always like, don’t make eye contact with Bob, he’ll tacklefuck ya in the alley.”

“Guys are pigs, they’re always making a justification that women are sexy. My buddy was like, “Check out that bartender with the glasses, she’s got kind of a hot librarian thing going on.” Guys are like, “She’s got kind of hot pirate thing going on, what with her missing limb and eye patch.”

“Now that I ponder it a smidge.” I can’t even remember his joke for that but I love that line.

“I could never be ghost because I never did anything important enough in life. Ghosts always have unfinished business. No one is going to be like “On a cold windless night…when the moon is full….you might catch a glimpse of ol’ Bob Cook’s restless spirit…jacking off and playing Xbox.”

“My wife and I made a porno. It’s called Girls Gone Tired.”

I can’t even start the “who’s got the bigger penis” story he told from Michigan City, maybe I blog about that one some time later. There’s so many more, but it’s not worth butchering more of his jokes off the top of my head. Well Bob, you jackass, I will miss you and you stink. I’d say more, but you’d make of fun of me while your Xbox is loading. Rest in peace, dummy.

Well, I guess I still do stand-up

I had a show Saturday, my first one since I think July. I don’t even know what month it is now, all time has melted into one pandemic sized pool. A long time, however, by far the longest I have ever had between shows. AND YES IT WAS SAFE. I had COVID in early December, yet still wore a mask while walking up to the stage, plus the crowd and audience followed mask and seating guidelines. It is amazing to watch people adapt to the rules versus when this all first hit. Gives me a glimmer of hope in humanity that will probably disappear after the first comments section I happen to read of any news story.

I actually did almost zero prep work. My last shows all the way back in the summer of I think this year, I butchered a joke horribly and felt off, so I did what any true professional does and just let it rip. I did have a few minor pandemic related references and one joke just to address the elephant in the world. As I started, I fudged one punchline a bit on a joke I hadn’t done in a year, but muscled through and looked down at my watch at one point. I was over my needed time by five minutes. I had about five more jokes ready to roll, but closed it out and got off the stage. I also enjoyed watching the headliner’s set, it was strange all around to sit and see a real show going on.

So, I guess, in summation, I still do stand-up and I was beginning to wonder. I got so annoyed when people asked lately, I was beginning to resent comedy. It almost felt like an older player forced into retirement before being ready, except in my example, the old player is really old and never had any talent outside of public speaking and saying stuff most people wouldn’t in front of strangers. Anyhoo, it was strangely natural being onstage and I’m grateful I got to do it. It was nice to see people enjoying my material aka stroking my fragile ego and need for attention. Now back into my cave until the next one! See you May 22, Newark, Ohio!

Complaining about the complainers

I complain. A lot. There’s a lot to point out, after all, everyone is subject to stupidity (except you, reading this very intelligent tour du force). Lately though, I think I hate the internet commenter more than anything on Earth or possibly the solar system.

Fresh example one: The Super Bowl Halftime complainer. Do I enjoy the Weeknd’s music? Not so much. I hate the way he spells his name and really only know one or two of his songs. (It’s one, but I’m assuming I know another and didn’t care to find who sang it). The halftime show? It was weird, but people were actually bitching that he didn’t dance. You know why I don’t care? Most “singers” on the show dance but don’t sing. So I commend his strange ass. He had the balls to sing live at the Super Bowl. Good for him. That said, can we get GNR on the damn show before Axl turns 70? Seriously.

Example two: I saw a thread of people hating on the Marvel finale Avengers: Endgame because the time travel didn’t fit their understanding of it. Oh, I’m sorry, are you a time traveler? No? You work at a Speedway? GTFOH. Also, you’re going to watch a man design a metal suit and push a live nuclear missile into a wormhole, then fall to Earth again to rejoin a 100 year old soldier, a radiated green goliath, the Asgardian God of Thunder and other made up characters, but you have an issue with the nuances of fake time travel. Go take a garage nap with the engine running, you wanker.

Now here’s a real complaint to get back to my normal surly self, who has legit complaints. Can everyone with $5 in Robinhood stock acting like Gordon Gecko? Having Reddit doesn’t make you a Wall Street Tycoon. I think it’s interesting and love the support for struggling businesses against hedge fund dbags, but just stop it with “insider info” you spew like these billionaire blue bloods aren’t two days from tanking your stimulus check because they have the time, money and insider wet kisses that your internet chat room dreams about.

Basically the point of this blog is only I can complain about stuff and you can’t. There. Glad we are all on the same page.

I’m pretty sure I just became a smuggler

My wife got a message from her cousin that they won an auction online for a kids’ grocery checkout for almost nothing, but they didn’t realize it was an hour away, so they offered it to us. It was a nice one – Melissa and Doug brand – which for non-parents means wooden and educational/not cheap. Sure, I mean it didn’t have sneeze guard or tabloid magazines telling me about Jennifer Aniston or Jennifer Lopez or Jennifer Kardashian, but kids have imaginations, so why not?

I pulled into this warehouse with a huge “FOR LEASE” sign and about 120 cars, semis and trailers moving around like an intersection in Bangkok. I finally got a parking spot next to a pothole lake that could have been a swimming pool and stepped out into freezing rain and a line of at least 40 people. I was one of three not wearing sweatpants or showing signs of leprosy. As my body temperature began to plummet and the secondhand smoke from the absolutely not at all socially distancing riff raff began to sap my will to live, a redneck in a “USA” leather jacket decided to talk to me. SIDE NOTE: I AM THE MOST SURLY, UNAPPROACHABLE ASSHOLE IN THE MIDWEST. WHY DOES EVERYONE SEEK ME FOR RANDO CONVERSATION?

This gentleman surmised if you only had one item, you could walk right in. I don’t trust people that wear leather coats in the rain, but lo and behold, he did it. Some other guy then zoomed past us on a forklift and made the same proclamation. So I went in. The inside was even dirtier than the forsaken wasteland they called the parking lot. There were two more lines, 20 and 15 people deep trying to checkout and rows upon rows of damaged boxes. I was now convinced my wife’s cousin was indeed a pirate to have found this derelict den of thieves. After not being able to discern the forlorn patrons from the rundown staff, I just plowed ahead and found the box myself in row 3. Thankfully, there was a huge sticker showing how fun it is to scan groceries and I snagged it. I was so ready to run for the hills, I tossed it on my shoulder, despite a sticker saying “team lift”.

It’s time like these my COVID after effects kick in and I got rather tired, but at this point, I would have carried it to Juneau to get the hell out of there. I lucked out as a homeless looking man with a scanner checked me out, mostly from sympathy of seeing me lug this around and off I went. Amazingly, it was almost damage free and my daughter sold me two empty cups and my wife vanilla ice cream (WTF right? Empty cups vs. ice cream? I got the short end of the stick). Now I just need to install a lotto machine and liquor store and dad can play smuggler’s den grocery too!