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Tulsa, OK to Nashville, TN - Nine Days on the Road 

Alright, now that I've slept and had a minute to reflect on the trip I just got home from. 

I left last Tuesday to head to Tulsa, OK for a show. I did all new stuff there and then stayed in a house on the wrong end of a remodel. No carpets, no thing. It was scary and weird but a good way to start the trip because literally everything since that night has been a huge improvement. We were originally supposed to stay in that house another night but I called the nicest guy in the world, Ben Vogt and he set us up w/ a hotel room using his travel points. Patrick and I hung out in a luke warm hot tub that night and slept like kings in big comfy beds. The next day we went to a small water fall and hung out a while. 

The first show on the trip where I did a version of the hour I'm recording in October, I was using notes because I hadn't done that chunk of time in about a month. It went well but was a tad sloppy. No one seemed to mind. After the show when we were driving to where we were going to sleep we were pulled over in Joplin and I was given a sobriety test that I passed with flying colors. Lucky for me, I don't like to drink before I do stand up so I was stone sober even though I admitted to having two beers 6 hours before the encounter with the police. 

Slept in Anderson, MO that night and the next. We did a show at a small music club called Nomad's. It was very fun and even though it was only the second time I'd done the hour (night after Joplin), I was back in action. No notes. Felt good. Added some new lines. While traveling to Fayetteville, AR, we stopped at Crystal Bridges which is a giant art museum compound thing in Bentonville, AR. Bentonville is where the Walmart family is at and from and the money the community has via taxes and donations for tax exemptions are insane. It's a beautiful area and the museum is awesome. I highly recommend going and yeah, you'll be very confused and maybe a little bummed that Walmart is responsible for something so cool. 

Next day we drove through the Arkansas mountains. I had never spent anytime in that state and I gotta say, it was beautiful. Every hill we went over made the next lay of land look like a painting. It all looked fake it was so awesome. It's a shame that Arkansas holds the head quarters to the KKK. That is located very near Harrison, AR which is where we did a show at a pizza place called Ugo's that was really delicious. Going into Harrison I was a bit paranoid after learning about its KKK affiliations but then we arrived at the home of where we were staying and who had put on the show. A gay man living with his husband in the woods of Arkansas near the town where the KKK has a post office box. I don't mean to sound dumb but I find that incredibly brave and exciting. The venue where we did the show is ran by a wonderful family. The father of the home "used to be a racist but then he grew up". He now runs a restaurant with his birth children and his adopted black daughters. My experience with Harrison was one of the most diverse settings we went through yet is only known for its racism and intolerance. I hate to exploit these people living there but I absolutely loved what I was seeing. Where hate lives there is also tolerance and love that doesn't care about gender or race and we lived it. It was one of my favorite stops on the tour and maybe ever, just to be reminded that nothing is ever as simple as we think. I applaud their efforts to force diversity into that community. 

After Harrison we did Little Rock at a spot called EJ's. The only gigs on the tour that had guaranteed pay! We did sets for comics in the area bored enough to come and hang out. It was very fun. When you can get a room full of comics laughing, you know you're onto something. We had a great time hanging out that night and were lucky enough to be staying a block from the venue and the apt we stayed in was upstairs from a bar so no driving. No fear of a sobriety test like in Joplin. We may have taken advantage of this convenience. 

Next night was in Memphis. We each only did 10 minute sets on a showcase but it was a welcome change. Exhausted. As always, Memphis comics treat visitors like family. Clean blankets, free drinks and good company. I really love going through Memphis. 

Next night was Florence, AL. We did a show in a record shop and we stayed with a woman and her boyfriend through Couch Surfer. The woman, Milly, owns a vintage clothing store in town called Southern Trash. I recommend checking the place out if you find yourself in Florence ever. Cool store but she's awesome. Her boyfriend, Austin, is in a touring band called West Means Home. I looked the band up after they had all went to bed and was going to be super bummed if I didn't like it because they were both so nice but then I liked it. That was pretty sweet. If you're into the mid-2000s resurgence of post-emo thing that's happening then you should check them out. They sound like Microwave from Atlanta. I hope they do well. 

Last night of the trip was Nashville, TN Zanies which is always a treat. The club treats you like a king. Free food, all the drinks you can handle and they pack that room out. I won't lie, the crowd at the show we were at was pretty quiet. Could be the rain. Could be that they hate comedy because no one did particularly amazing in my opinion and that is not a critique on each comic. The room just didn't seem to care for much of anything unfortunately. That said, Zanies is still amazing and I'll go back any time.  

After Zanies, Pat and I decided to just drive back to St Louis since it's only 4-5 hours. We got in at 3 am and I slept like a baby. 


Random Observations:

I watched Pat learn to get out of his way officially and trust himself. He did very well the majority of the shows. 

I thought my hour was "nearly ready" and I'm still adding jokes and rearranging things for the recording. It's all positive changes but it's odd because I was so sure I was done messing with it. 

During this trip I realized I could submit my available dates to Funny Business for more work through them. I like this. They pay and it's consistent work. 

I missed my wife way more than ever before. I have no idea why. I've done several trips but this one was really hard for some reason. 

I'm glad to be home. 

Working Hard? Or Hardly Working? HAHAHAHA 

I have a nasty habit of doing half the work I'm capable of and convincing myself there is absolutely NOTHING ELSE I COULD BE DOING! I'll catch myself doing this when I should write and I decide a joke is "close enough" and I'll mess with it on stage (reasonable for a first draft), or when I need to start emailing bookers and shows and doing the tedious work of comedy. I find ways to not do that work by telling myself those dates too far out, who knows what is going to happen between now and then, yada yada. 

I am a lazy person. If I don't care about the project or it doesn't effect me, I will take years to do things like clean a stove. I just don't care. Comedy has kept my attention for 6 years though. Writing at home, writing at coffee shops, going to mics, recording, listening, rewrites, etc. I realize 6 years isn't as long as as some and is much further than others but for me, 6 years is the longest commitment I have ever had to anything. I am not afraid of the work that has to go into comedy but as I said before, I tend to convince myself I'm working very hard when deep down I know I am not.

I want to do stand up comedy professionally more than I want anything in the world so I'm always confused whenever my brain convinces me not to do work. I'm more confused that I listen to it and don't put my foot down and put up a fight. I think this is part of a symptom of treating comedy as a job instead of a career. If I'm working as hard as everyone else I'm pulling my weight in the job that is Amateur Comedy but like any job, if I wanna move up and have a career, I gotta put in way more work than everyone else. I routinely forget that this industry doesn't simply reward you for biding your time and waiting for your chance to do something. You have to go out and earn it and prove your worth and you can only do that if you're going above and beyond in every single way all the time everyday. 

I'm not sure what I'm getting at with this post. I think I'm writing it for me as a way to call me on being kind of lazy this last week. I got back from a 9 day run of shows I set up and used that as an excuse to "take a vacation" from comedy and writing which is fucking dumb because again, it's what I want more than anything. The trip was fantastic and I would leave today to do it again yet I act like I've had it rough out there doing exactly what I wanted to do. I guess the thing is at a certain point comedy isn't the fun, weird thing you're doing anymore and you hit a crossroad. Is this a hobby or a job? I'm choosing job and with that my brain is treating it like work but in a negative way where I need breaks and time to regroup. I didn't realize I was doing this to myself until today because I wondered why I don't feel driven to be creative every single day. It's apparently because I've earned a break from doing my favorite thing. I'm an idiot. 

I'm going to work on writing everyday even if it's only a few pages and I'm going to try to get to mics more regularly to grow new ideas and build them up because it's what I want to do and it's what I have to do if this is going to be the life that I want it to be. I worked at a music store for 2 years in 2008/9 and I did as little as possible the whole time and I got a paycheck every two weeks.

Comedy doesn't work like that. If you work hard you are rewarded with shows, better material, a positive reputation and the satisfaction that you are doing work that you care about. If you don't put in the work then nothing will happen and that's way worse than failing, right?  

Bookings, Travel and the Inevitable Anxiety  

Something about leaving to new cities to do comedy with comics you haven't met before and bookers who you sent a video to is the most exciting thing in the world and also the most nerve wracking. On one hand, I get to go on a week long trip and see new places and eat new food and make new friends. On the other, I have a sincere worry (always) that I'll show up to a show and forget everything I've learned about stand up. I'm not talking just forgetting my jokes, I mean something like I show up and find out that I was never funny and the last 6 years have been a dream and now suddenly I'm in reality and everyone fucking hates me.

I feel that way before most shows but it intensifies when they are shows I've worked on getting. Emailing, sending video, coordinating dates and having people put trust in me to show up and do a good job. Those are the shows that I am most afraid I am actually a fraud. Everything always works out fine and it gets less intense each time I put myself in this position that is very uncomfortable and unnatural to me so I figure after another 15 years it might go away. Then again, it may not go away and I'll just hate every time I have to leave to do comedy. Even with a stomachache it's still better than most jobs. 

Going on the road and putting myself into situations that really make me uncomfortable have made me an infinitely better comic than I was before focusing on travel. I spent the first few years having an ego for no reason other than you have to when ya start or you'd quit but after that starts to fade, you're left with reality, which for me, was not getting paid bookings in my city and feeling kind of confused and scared about it honestly. So I started getting depressed and aimless and then I decided to go to Memphis for a few days on a whim and do some shows there. I had a great time, I didn't "KILL" but I did well and had fun. Then I came back to St Louis and had that same hopeless feeling creeping in again so I decided to go to Nashville for a few days and do some shows. I did a showcase spot at Zanies that was packed and did very well. Felt amazing. Then came back to St Louis and started making an effort to fight off that negative feeling and it actually worked. 

My focus has shifted a lot in the last year. I book lots of things now and stay busy working in St Louis because there are shows coming up on the road and I can't bomb without looking like a dumb ass. It has made my city a gym instead of the means to an end. When I have a new idea, I work it out at open mics because I am going to be leaving again soon and would like the bit to work wherever I go next. It's a small shift but just being in my city and writing and performing every night only to end up throwing the jokes out later was really killing my motivation. Now that I think of all material, shows and lessons as pointed toward the goal of being a "touring comic", I have a new found excitement and love for stand up again. Working hard is easier to do when you have a goal in mind. 

I guess the point I'm getting at is if you're feeling stale as an artist, put yourself out there. Do something new. If you're nervous, you should be but you'll rise to the occasion. Or you won't. Either way you'll learn something useful. Either what to work on or that maybe you're not as bad as you think. 

Good luck and seeya on the road, babes.