Every once in a while you encounter a living metaphor. I spent the weekend in Medford, Oregon performing at a sports bar. That's not the metaphor part of this story but its close. Saturday afternoon, the other comic, Dax and I went for a drive. I had met Dax four years ago in the Seattle Comedy Competition. The first thing he said to me when I saw him was, "Are you still in love with that girl?"
I was teased constantly by everyone for having my cell phone always up to my ear talking with Samantha.
"No. I am pretty much a shattered man these days."
Funny how that sentence changes the mood in a room.
I wanted to get an oil change but when we couldn't find a place I settled for a car wash. Ten minuets and five bucks in quarters later, my car was free of the dust and mud a five hour drive put on it the day before. Less than a minuet after we left I pulled up to a light. Dax and I turned to look and there on the corner stood two cheerleaders going through routines as they pointed to a car wash sign.
Imagine that. Just half a block away stood girls in skirts holding sponges ready and willing to clean my car but I had already washed it.
Ah life! How you love to mock me!
You can't turn into a gas station for a hand wash from cheerleaders with water literally beading on your windshield. Well you can if you want to be an Amber alert.
We smiled at the girls who smiled back, all of us seeming to appreciate the irony of the situation. In fact, even the homeless guy standing on the opposite corner got into it. When he saw them dancing, he danced too, sign in hand. It made an affect on a guy riding his bike. He stopped and gave the homeless guy a dollar.
The light changed and we were on our way again.
Medford is a quiet enough little town just pass the Californian border. The shows, sponsored by the local classic rock station, went well. It was a classic one nighter gig. The crowd was rowdy, it was a riff-a-thon from word one and just up the street from us was a town named white city. What is white city? It is a trailer park where people are known for making and selling meth. In fact, more than a few people came up to me after the shows and said, "We call this place Meth-ford. Not Medford."
A place with meth and mobil homes could only be named White City if you think about it. That or they should put up a sign that reads, Irony?
All in all the shows were fun and the drive wasn't too bad. My little Honda handles the distance with ease. Once you get up toward Mt. Shasta, the scenery is beautiful too. It wasn't my first time doing comedy in Medford either. Driving around with Dax, I remembered staying at a Red Lion in town for a show that was canceled. The other club in town where comedy use to be done is named, Ground Zero. If it sounds like a stupid name before 9/11 then you have to wonder why they didn't change the name after 9/11. I had worked there about 10 years ago. It stands out in my mind only because I went home with a girl I met after the show. everything seemed to be on track for a fun night when I had to excuse myself from the girls room. I went outside and proceeded to spend the night vomiting in her drive way till morning when the other comic who went home with her friend came and picked me up. Ugh!
I vividly remember making the five hour drive home thinking I cannot drink anymore. As I recall, it still took a few more embarrassing instances before I actually did quit.
Back then all I wanted was to headline these gigs. These days I turn these gigs down more than I say yes to them. Between the cost of gas and the average crowds at these road gigs it just doesn't make sense to put the millage on you or the car. Not for what the average gig like this pays anyway. I took this gig because the pay was better than what you normally get for these. I also wanted to get in with the Booker who books a lot of stuff in the greater Pacific Northwest.
It was only once I was there that I realized I had been here before. That might be the lesson on this trip. Each time I have passed through Medford I have been in an agitated state of mind wondering about my career in comedy and my future. This time was no different. Maybe it's not about finding meaning or deciding where I want to be in comedy. Maybe it is just about acceptance. If I want to make a living at stand-up, the work is out there. Problem is there is a whole lot of other Medford's out there and what is required to make those gigs work is not always what you can justify to your sense of doing art.
Thats the lesson or, if you want to get a car wash, don't turn into the first place you see. There might be high school cheerleaders around the next corner!