I did a gig in a barn. No really, I headlined a show in a barn. They stacked bales of hay to make bleachers for people to sit on. Before the people came in it looked something like an Aztec pyramid built by hillbillies or a massive white trash game of Tetris. The crowd was all from Point Reyes, Ca. If you know west Marin then you know the people there are neither white trash or Hillbillies but instead some sort of hybrid between farmer, activist, liberal and hick by choice who enjoy their pot and wine. I’m pretty sure that’s what the 20-minute intermission was for, to let the crowd step outside the barn and get high. That’s what it smelled like anyway.
It was a benefit for a benefit for a benefit. Let me explain. They wanted to raise money for schools in the area so they thought, let’s put on a concert! Well, that costs money so they put on a benefit to raise money for that. That’s where the comics enter into this. If you want to know the food chain of artists its right there. The only artists broker than musicians willing to work cheap are comics. I wonder if that means they had a benefit to pay us with poets earlier in the month?
In typical benefit show tradition the show was overbooked. It started at 8PM and I didn’t set foot on stage until 11PM. Actually, I went up after the intermission where everyone got high followed by a 3 women burlesque group with fake mustaches glued onto their faces you might of missed checking out their other attributes, a raffle where the deaf women in the front row won free tickets to the concert, another comic and then finally me. Mind you, this was after the first half of the show with three comics already performing. By the time I got to the crowd they were tired, getting loud and most definitely ready to stumble home. Within 10 minutes of being on stage a woman offered me evening lodging in her truck with a dog, a woman applauded for me being adopted and a man far up in the hay bleachers wanted to inform me of the 4th of July parade in another town. The table of four people up front and at my stage right was faced entirely toward the wall. There were bags of animal feed staked above me and because it is California the “barn” not only had Tibetan prayer flags hanging from the rafters but it also had a café, yoga studio and art gallery attached to it too.
Inside a barn with drunk on wine high off weed well-meaning liberals, ballerina and high heel clad dancers with mustaches I performed because God damn it; it’s for the children.
At the start of June I performed outside at a winery to people either spread out on a lawn or seated in plastic lawn chairs. You would think being June and being in the East Bay it would be warm. Nope. I live by the beach in San Francisco. The beach in San Francisco is not the Bay Watch bikini and babes type of California everyone thinks of who doesn’t live here and knows the truth; it’s cloudy, cold and frequently the last stop anyone needs to be pushed over the edge before going through with their suicide plans. On this day a place that routinely has temperatures 20 to 30 degrees warmer than in the city had worse weather than down by the beach. I ended up going back to my car and getting my emergency change a flat by the side of the road Vietnam style jacket and black North Face beanie. In other words, I looked like the guy you would never pick up hitch hiking. The “green room” for the comics was located in a storeroom for the winery. It held giant casks of wine, boxes of their bottles awaiting shipping on pallets and a few bottles for our enjoyment. At some point for reasons that were never exactly made clear to me a group of underage cheer leaders walked in the room too. I guess they were helping out on this benefit as well. Great, wine and cheerleaders two things I can’t have anymore in life!
When I was in Reno working the Catch a Rising Star comedy club inside the Silver Legacy Casino, I had more than a few nights where I wished I had on film. The week started with the host, a guy who sat behind a piano and his usual gig was performing in an Abba tribute band introduced me instead of the feature act. It was surreal to hear my credits and then a black guy walks on stage. After his set when it was actually my time to be introduced the host prefaced my intro by saying, are you ready for the white portion of the show? I ended up riffing on this for a while and little did I know this would set the tone for the week. When I made fun of Reno and the generally sad condition of the place economically and socially judging from the homeless people, thriving pawnshops and more casinos closed than open a proud citizen in the audience repeatedly said, “I’ve been to Cairo!”
What did this mean? It took me about 15 minuets to figure it out but her logic went something like this, I had said earlier I was from Illinois. Illinois has a town named Cairo that is apparently a shit hole far worse, in her opinion than Reno and since I had insulted her town she was now insulting me with the only bad place she knew of in my home state. Oh, and she was a teacher. Her class must be getting some really messed up geography lessons from her.
So goes the life of a comedian.