The Midwest, People!
It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was pretty great to be honest.
First off, if you missed me saying so, I’ll be at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival July 26th and 27th. On the 26th I’ll be doing a GLOW panel with the showrunners and some of the ladies. On the 27th I’ll be doing a solo show at a nice little theater. You can get tickets through the link at wtfpod.com/tour.
Second off, the film I did with Lynn Shelton, Sword of Trust, is opening in more theaters than I thought initially. They’re adding some! You can go to swordoftrust.com/tickets for all the info about where and when for that film.
So, as many of you know I was hesitant about St. Louis for reasons that weren’t entirely clear to me but they became so through a strange sequence of events. Obviously, there’s a lot wrong with Missouri politically. Heinous, actually. That in itself is enough to be wary. That wasn’t really it though. St. Louis is one of those blue cities just surrounded by red. I just didn’t think I had a draw in that city though. I had been there once like five years ago. I played a rock club called The Firebird and I remember it wasn’t a great show. It was difficult. It was in a rock club I just barely sold it out and it’s only a couple hundred seats. Something about that experience had stuck with me enough to decide I didn’t really need to go back to St. Louis.
This time, heading into the dates, I had sold over 900 seats and ended up selling 1000-plus tickets. I definitely had people there. They were great crowds and I really had amazing shows. Did some new stuff. Built out a couple of longer bits I had been working on. I did a lot of riffing. There was no trouble. If there were people there with aggressively different opinions than mine they kept it to themselves. So, my audience didn’t have to deal with me dealing with the job of babysitting an infantile, aggravated, wrong-minded loudmouth. Something else happened though.
The first night, Thursday, my feature act, Mary Radzinski, who was great, had to deal with a woman sitting up front alone who had a very distinct and disruptive laugh. It’s an odd problem to have as a comic. To have someone doing what they came to do and what you want them to do but it’s actually distracting to the audience and disruptive to your flow. She was nice, a bit odd, but it was a little tricky.
I got up there and I noticed it but somehow, I just ignored it. I didn’t acknowledge it or it would’ve consumed my set. Her laugh. Her over the top, loud staccato laugh. The set was great. I was actually so focused that it didn’t bother me at all. After the show the woman came up to me at the meet-and-greet and told me she had been at my show at The Firebird years ago. Then it hit me. Fuck. That’s why that show was not a good memory. I was completely distracted by her laugh. It drew too much attention. I was probably even a bit mean to her from the stage and it became the theme of that show. Annoying.
I identified the trauma.
The following night, Friday, I was backstage when Mary took the stage and I heard that laugh, again She was back for another show. It was like some kind of test. Mary got through about 5 minutes before she acknowledged her, by name, because she asked her her name the night before.
I couldn’t believe it. I went out into the showroom to see where she was sitting. So, once again, she was there sucking focus with that laugh. I got on stage and just said, 'Tonight will be an exercise in tolerance.’ I explained the conundrum of a comic being annoyed by an audience member’s laugh and it was a good riff. She faded into the background as I focused on the work. It wasnt her fault. It was just her laugh.
She didn’t come a third time but me and Mary were a bit traumatized and worried before each show. They were five great shows.
Today I have a very intense talk with Eve Ensler about her new book the apology. It’s moving and real and heavy. FYI. On Thursday I talk to veteran Boston comic Steve Sweeney about his new film, Sweeney Killing Sweeney. Great talks.