Thursday, October 09, 2008

Oroville Casino Gig

A gig is a gig is a gig. Right? Most of the time they are. Last night I performed at the Gold Country Casino in Oroville, CA. With a casino gig you know that the check will be good but the concern is always how the stage is set up. You know how casinos have those bars by a stage set up for a band? Its great for a band but since the “room” is open to the casino there is a wall of noise like thunder that you have no choice but to yell over. Any joke with subtlety anything that requires the crowd to pay attention is lost to the sound of slot machines, bells and the occasional buzzer sound. In other words, it is a shitty place to do comedy.

I don’t get it. I really don’t. If you are going to go to all the trouble of Booking comics and putting on a show then be smart enough to understand that stand-up and bands have very different requirements for a successful show. Screaming into a mic as I try to get the attention of a room filled with disinterested red necks is not my idea of where I want my career to go. It looked like a NASCAR convention. Every guy had a ball cap on and a sweat stained t-shirt. The casino itself looked like a retirement home. They know who their clientele is. The room I had was beautiful. A huge bathtub built for two and a shower with no door and a ledge to sit on. You know how draining a shower can be. It’s nice to have the option of sitting down. Handrails were all over the bathroom too. You will never feel more lonely than masturbating in a tub big enough for two.

When I asked the DJ whats the big news in town or what the big thing going on lately was he thought about it for a second and then replied, “We have a big problem with meth.”
Yeah. I am goanna pass on that local reference.
The only other thing I was told about the town was that the lake was low. In fact, the girl at the Burger King counter told me this as if it was her fault. Sorry to bring it up.

These little towns in the central valley are like time capsules. I saw a shakey’s pizza place. I haven’t seen one of those in ten or twelve years. I never ate at one. I don’t like to eat at a place named after a symptom.

When I show up at the gig the MC/DJ dude sits me down and tells me the best way for me to succeed at this gig is to “…ignore the audience.”
I am consistently amazed that the guys in charge of these rooms are surprised that they have more bad shows than good.
“If the crowd yells something stupid out. Ignore it and please don’t say fuck you to them.”
Do you know what the signs are for a consistently poorly run show? Telling a comic you just met that the crowds here are prone to drunk yelling and more than a few comics have just said, fuck it and walked off the stage early.
They have done stand-up shows here for two and a half years.

He introduces me as being from San Francisco. When he says it though he says San Francisco with a noticeable lisp.
You should always create a stereotypical hole for the comic to climb out of the second he hits the stage.
I end up doing OK for what it was. People would just file in or come and go as they pleased. At one point I was telling the crowd to check out my site and that I needed to wrap up. The MC/DJ walks up to the stage and motions for me to bend over to him with his hand.
“Dude. You have to do another 12 minuets.”
No shit rhythm killer. I doubt you have seen many pros on a gig like this but walking up to the stage in the middle of a joke is a stupid unprofessional move.

Sorry. But everything about this gig was bad.
From the moron girl who couldn’t use the computer to check me in because she just got her nails done with little pumpkins on them to the MC/DJ’s girlfriend reminding me that she was indeed his girlfriend when I asked her what her name was again. Thanks but no thanks. I was asking to be polite not so I could fuck you. Honestly darling, do you really think I want to hook up in Oroville?
And that’s pretty much how the gig went. I drove three hours, hung out in a beautiful hotel room alone-it’s bathtub for two mocking me-and then shouted jokes over the din of people playing slots to a mostly indifferent audience of rednecks in baseball caps, got back in my car and drove three hours home. It still beats working for a living but these are not the gigs I want to have anything to do with anymore.


Dean said...

Ahh... road stories... my favorite. SHAKEY'S? I remember eating at Shakey's when they still had a guy in the styrofoam straw hat and red/white striped vest playing a banjo...

Joe said...

I have been trading E-mails with the person in charge of getting the checks out to the comics. Mine, as you might guess, has not arrived yet.
The Booker sent an E-mail asking me to Fax a I-9 to them so I could be paid at the gig. I did it a month early. Then I get an e-mail a week before the show asking where my I-9 is. I fax another one.
The day before the gig I get the same E-mail asking where my I-9 is.
At this point I just say fuck it and send an E-mail saying, listen; I have faxed my social security number, name and address twice. I will just bring the form and you can cut the check there. I show up, track down the woman whose job it is to cut the checks, give her the I-9 only to be told that all the check signers are gone for the day. Fine. Mail it to me then. As of today, Thursday- no check!
people wonder why comics are not fun off stage. This is why.

Anonymous said...


Sorry to hear about the shitty Oroville treatment. True to form to the blog entry you have. Let me know if you need someone to bust kneecaps for you.
Will be glad to come through.
Saw Phil Johnson last week with the same shitty crowd. I think he'll want some kneecaps too!
Take care and email if you need follow up.

Ken (from Chico)

Joe said...

Check came today. It is a full time job just trying to get paid sometimes!