Monday, May 16, 2011

Road Journal Part 1: Pacific Northwest

5/13/11: Tacoma, WA: I find road-journals tacky. Extremely tacky. Some people use it as a platform to just boast about what they’re up to, others as a last resort at solidifying some type of accomplishment, others as something to later give their unborn children that they probably should reconsider having. Then, of course, there’s that special something that occurs when it’s done right: It’s incredibly fun and therapeutic to read. And it has been done right, just read Henry Rollins or Michael Azerrad. That being said, I can’t promise that I’ll do this right. But, I can promise that my intentions aren’t to excessively drop names or validate myself or anything else, there’s plenty of that going on elsewhere, and besides I’ve got nothing to prove. My intention is to provide something mildly informative and entertaining for anybody who’s wondering how this little tour of mine is going. I guess it’s less common for a comic to go on an extended run hitting charted out cities in the same manner that a band does when they go on tour, but plenty of comics do, I’m not the first or last, and quite frankly I think that’s a good thing. So, moving right along, Tuesday night, May 10, I hit a few spots in Pittsburgh and said my goodbyes to some of the comics there. Early the next morning I flew out to Seattle with my final destination being Tacoma Comedy Club. First and foremost, wonderful club, wonderful people. Couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. I got off the flight from Minneapolis at about 11:15am. I was operating on about 2 hours sleep, although I slept most of the time on both flights so I caught up some. I had a bag of pretzels on one flight and cookies on the other, they let you pick your snacks at Delta, woot! When I landed I knew I had to somehow find my way to Tacoma. Despite having lived in this area for several years I had only been to Tacoma three times and all three times were for gigs so I was in and out, needless to say I didn’t know the area very well or how to get to and from. I called the club owner about getting the key to the comics’ condo, and he told me he was planning on picking me up from the airport and taking me there, which was thrilling to hear. I went to baggage claim, and waited for my ride.

Wednesday night was open-mic night. The owner asked me if I wanted to stop by and I said yes, I wanted to get the stage-jetlag off before the weekend started. I ended up hosting, and apparently it was an off-night as only a handful of comics showed up. Still, we all had a fun time.

On to Thursday, Ian Edwards is headlining this week and he’s fresh off a Conan appearance. He’s been doing boatloads of local press for the shows this week so the club’s been busy getting him to local television spots and whatnot. Dug his set, he has a bit about sharks that made me laugh so hard my ribs hurt. That doesn’t happen too often, and usually when it does it’s when I’m hanging out with my former college colleagues from the Governor’s Mansion. Earlier that day I took a long walk to downtown, they had a farmer’s market going on which was nice. Tacoma’s tiny so I walked all the way down to the port. Tacoma’s a nicer place than people give it credit for, but in terms of scenery I’ve got to say I’m itching for Seattle.

5/14/11 I’ve had an odd craving for sushi the past few days which has gone unquenched. I’m trying to monitor my budget and grocery store sushi just doesn’t seem rational as it’s expensive and not all that filling. As today’s the last day of the club run, I decided to load up on some groceries for the day at the Safeway up the hill. I had previously been going to Save-A-Lot, so I thought, “what the hell, it’s sunny, it’s my last day here, I may as well splurge and go to Safeway!” As I approached the parking lot I saw a woman yelling at her child. She picked him up, held him chest-high with one arm, and then proceeded to beat the shit out of him with the other. After a few blows she put him down, and then continued beating him while he was standing. Kid started crying and she continued yelling at him, I have no clue what this kid did or could’ve done because one second they were just walking to the car and the next she’s kicking the shit out of him. I now know why the locals tell you to beware the Hill-Top. I still stand by what I said, Tacoma is nicer than people give it credit for, but I did write said statement before I wondered up to the Hill-Top Safeway. I still stand by it, but with far less enthusiasm than I had yesterday. The Safeway wasn’t anything to write-home about, tiny, small selection and over-priced even for Northwest rates. I looked at a few sandwiches and deli options, everything was at least one-day old and I could get a cheaper sandwich at Subway. I left Safeway empty-handed and instead opted for the Subway down the road.

Due to a conversation I had at the Maproom, one of my new favorite bars, I’m reading “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” It had been on the list for quite some time and I never got around to it, people have told me it’s the perfect travel book so I decided it’d be my first summer-reading on the road. I think once I’m done I’ll do something else light, because later in the month I’m planning on diving into some heavier works some of my colleagues had recommended.

I haven’t mentioned the shows much thus far, and that’s for the sole reason that I’m slightly weird and superstitious about that sort of thing, especially club weeks. Meaning, the shows were going strong, so I didn’t want to mention something on Friday and then jinx the rest of the week. Alas, strong shows were had from start to finish. Late show Saturday was tiny bit rowdier because there were a lot of fairly drunk people, but nothing unreasonable or out of line, crowds were great all around, all the comics were great to work with and even got to meet a few people popping in for guest sets from out of town.

5/15/11: My original plans to hop a bus to Seattle at my leisure changed when the bar manager, Brian, invited me to his birthday brunch at Salty’s at Redondo Beach. If you happen to reside in the Northwest area, their seafood brunch is absolutely incredible. I joined Brian and his wife, Sharon, who also works at the comedy club, and then they told me they’d take me to Seattle because they were going there for the day for his birthday. Needless to say it is a very, very pleasant surprise to enjoy an absolutely incredible seafood buffet and make some new friends when you were originally planning to spend way too long on a Sound Transit bus. Kudos to Brian and Sharon for being so flippin’ cool. They dropped me off in Capitol Hill and wished me well, I told them we should plan on doing this again next time I’m in the area.

I hung out at the Tully’s near the Odd Duck Theater because I had all my stuff with me and didn’t want to be walking around too much before the show. I got some e-mails sent and writing done and sipped on a cup of coffee. Staying in trend with pleasant surprises I got a call from Brian Boshes saying that he was going to be meeting his girlfriend in Capitol Hill and that he’d head up early so we could chat awhile at Tully’s. I’ve always pegged Brian a renaissance-man because he has a technically demanding job at Amazon, is a very funny and talented comic, and he can build shit. Turns out he’s an entrepreneurial mind as well! It’s always great to catch up with old friends. Which I got to do a lot of last night! It was amazing to see some familiar comic-faces at the show last night, and it was super, super awesome that some friends came out to the show and are letting me crash at their place. Shout-outs to commence later.

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