My buddy, Mike Gardner, books a fun open mic/professional show on Tuesday nights in Indianapolis. It’s at a place called the Beer Sellar and Mike does a great job of making the shows good by paying a nationally touring headliner to close the show. He had me booked for Tuesday night. When I got there, Mike told me that a couple really good comics driving through Indy were stopping by to do some time. He said they were Nicholas Anthony and Joe Zimmerman. I told him not only did I know them, but I’m a fan of them. Both Nicholas and Joe had opened for me over the past few years and are 2 of the best acts I had worked with. Also, with them was Morty’s comedy club owner/standup comedian Chris Bowers. Add to this that very funny local comics Todd McComas and Jackie Pawulich were on the bill and the show was pretty stacked.
Now, I had mixed feelings at this point. On one hand, I knew it was going to be a good show, but I also knew that the show was going to go longer and I was going to hit the stage with the audience being pretty laughed out. Now despite the Beer Sellar being a bar gig, the audiences are pretty good there as they have a regular weekly clientele coming to check out the festivities. Well, I was close to right about my prediction on how the show would go, except that everyone who hit the stage had gotten even better than the last time I had seen them, plus the only person I had never seen before, Bower, hit a homerun on-stage.
Watching this happen, I told Mike that I wanted to cut back my planned 45 minute set and he could keep some of that money. Mike is a standup guy (and a really funny standup comic) so he told me cool (and then still paid me in full at the end of the show.) By the time I hit the stage, the room was pretty laughed out, but it still turned out to be worthwhile, as the new bits I did got the best response from the audience. When new material works it’s the biggest rush I get as a comic. I actually don’t understand how veteran comics can stop trying new material. I get that it can be easier to rely on the stuff you know will work, but it is way more invigorating to do something new and get off from the new sensations that come from that. (Am I still talking about comedy? Hmm…)
After the show I hung out with my friends and it was a great atmosphere. I have never lived where there was a great comedy scene, so it was cool being around a lot of funny people who all had just enjoyed the rush of the stage. (Indy is getting better on that front, though.) Comedy is a pretty solitary life and I’ve stayed out of a lot of trouble by not hanging out afterward, but I also know I’ve lost some opportunities at camaraderie with other comics by making like Houdini after each show. On Tuesday night, I got to enjoy some of that collegial spirit among comics and it was cool. It made me realize I need to embrace that more.