The following discussion is about a show I’m guessing will be in the top 5 on my list for surreal places to do a show. I was booked to do a show at a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Yeah, you are not high (well maybe you are), it is legal to obtain pot in Michigan, much like it is in California.
I’m doing my show at the OM of Medicine. It’s located on the 2nd Floor of one of the buildings in downtown Ann Arbor. I get there early because I wanted to scope out my show. In a setting I’ve never done before, I like to get the lay of the land, kind of like a football coach checking for slippery spots on the field. I hit the intercom downstairs which is answered by the OM and then they buzz me up. Then I walk up the stairs and walk into the beautiful space that the OM is. I don’t know what most medical marijuana dispensaries look like, but this place looks like one of the coolest loft apartments you’ve ever seen. Funky furniture, wood floors, and funky art pieces which are hanging from it’s brick walls. The owners were really friendly dudes right from the beginning and made me feel at home. I left to go to my hotel to get ready.
When I got back to the OM, there was a group of about 20 people. The shows are set-up for members (more on that soon) and they were all sitting on couches or chairs passing around volcano bags like it was a pitcher of beer. I’m not sure how these bags work, but it appears like they are similar to a bong, only they look more like a reynolds cooking bag you would use for a turkey. Now, to partake, you have to get a prescription from a doctor for some type of ailment that pot will reliever and then you apply for a license which you pay to the state of Michigan on an annual basis. It costs 100 bucks, which allows you to go into any medical marijuana dispensary and purchase your medicine. The menu of different strains is remarkable. Just look at the OM of Medicine‘s site.
As those who know me well, I don’t use drugs. I had a stretch in college where I enjoyed shrooms, ecstasy, and cocaine, but I was never much of a pothead. I’ve probably smoked pot a dozen times over the 20 years I’ve been in the comedy biz which I think would make me seem like I’m part-time narc sent to infiltrate standup comedy and bring down pothead comics. I don’t know if I’m lucky or not, but I just have never enjoyed mellowing out. My edge is my creative gift and pot takes that away. Now, even though I don’t use, I’ve always been a huge proponent of legalization. The drug war is a sham and filling the prisons up with mainly drug offenders is a poor solution. I’ve always been for doing what California and now Michigan are doing, having some monitoring over people who are going to get high anyway and most importantly, not losing tax money to the underground trade.
My opening act, Katie Hughes, it would seem is a big fan of weed. Now when she found out that what she initially thought was a nirvana gig would not legally allow her to partake, well it gave her a great little story to begin her show. Click on the youtube link below and it will start out with her story.
Now I have done a few shows in people’s living rooms and this one had a bunch of people definitely happy to be there, so that made it easier than it would have been without the medicine. What I quickly learned is that when you are performing for a group of around 20 very baked people in a small space, everything that comes out of your mouth sounds kind of like you are yelling at them. To combat this I made the show very conversational and spent a decent portion of the show sitting on a chair like I was Bill Cosby. At one point I even laid down on the couch next to me, as I was sharing some raw stories from my childhood and it felt like I was at a therapist. That portion follows Katie’s initial story on the YouTube clip. Notice when you are watching towards the end the volcano bags and listen for the crinkling sound they made.
The show went well and the audience couldn’t have been cooler. As I mentioned, the owners and staff of the OM of Medicine were great people and it made me wish I lived closer as I think I would reexamine my relationship with pot, as if it was legal it would be a good place for me to occasionally visit. If there is a major theme to this blog it would be that just playing chain comedy clubs is no way to explore the road less traveled. This gig definitely fits under that category.